Word and Image

Flowers

Black

Black flowers are deep dark purple… well, it’s black to me. There are no such black flowers. Okay! It sure looks black to me. But then again, they don’t exist. I have to wonder how the owner came by these unusual annuals? We were on a house tour of historic New Castle. I like finding things they tell me don’t exist. And, I have never seen a magnolia tree seed pod (rock, under, me). – That’s the pod upper right.


Hard to do

The conditions need to be just so in order to photograph a spider web. The camera does not want to focus on the tiny strands. I did it… yay… but it’s not particularly inspiring. I will wait another day. Meanwhile, it’s not easy posing your cats. And for that matter it’s hard to photograph a strawberry… without eating it first. That happened to the blackberry (no pic available).       


I can do it again

Jen’s garden philosophy is “sparse” but “showy.” Her specimens cry out of a garden catalog unlike the chaos that reigned in my garden. Each flower occupies a center of attention while it blooms akin to Japanese zen. Same picture, four times, different flower, one handed – I had the beer in the other hand.

And once more (twice now), seven cats, three sets of twins and Elle. I made up for it with two shots of Elle. I like even numbers. It wasn’t roll call. Can you even tell them (twins) apart? Same photographed cat twice? I have seven dishes to feed them wet food. And there is a cat for each bowl. The twins eat isolated in the bedroom to prevent them cruising the other bowls. The vet observed Nutley was a little too plush/f’ass (fat ass). F’ass? Balme Covid, everybody – you know who (shhhh) – gained weight? (I’ll pay for that last statement.) No names, please!! I’ve been done in by most excellent cheesecake. And yes, it was contagious – the darn cheesecake, no matter how small the slice.


So many subjects…

… not enough time. Two guys decided to make a spectacle of themselves as much as play golf. Hmmm, they are only a letter away – as(s). Meanwhile, Colleen went into the garden and made a cut flower arrangement. Ok! Successful! Wow! Really, I am being complimentary. I am less destructive and would not (couldn’t bear to) ordinarily cut them myself. She’s got a good eye. Cue, the applause.


Detail

We’re beyond just another pretty flower. I have been striving to get detail – close-up of the inner anatomy of flowers. For some flowers it’s not an easy task. The angle and the light conspire to obscure the target. Bees have it easy. But it’s not so for me and my camera. And then, you get it! Serendipitous? No, skill. Ha ha!  It’s more like 50% close your eyes and shoot, and, 50% skill. Eh? Let me tell you that it took all summer to get to the point where I got these shots.


Pan(dem)ic

I am a firm proponent for cameras. After all, right tool, right situation. Soup should not be eaten with an iPhone for a spoon. Alas, I am shoveling shit against the tide. Digital camera sales are 10% what they were in 2010. Aha! Everyone has one. The system is full! Nope! Not hardly, it’s more like everyone uses an iPhone as their prime camera. Can you really squeeze all that power down from my trusty digital camera into the little itty bitty iPhone? Uhhhh… no! But that doesn’t stop most of the world from using iPhone. My lament, a lone voice among so many iPhones. I suppose you can drive either a Hyundai or a Porsche. You choose. The camera fallout: fewer cameras to choose from. It’s not so bad. Hardline phones have evolved into mobile communicators. We see the world through two eyes. There’s no telephoto zoom on my eyeballs. Check the fine detail in the flowers. iPhone would have a hard time matching my camera. Easy or hard, it’s a choice. I shall not let a podiatrist do my brain surgery.


White dots, black background

Astrophotography. It requires a whole new skill set. It’s another language to locate stars in the sky. I was never particularly good at locating the North Star. It’s about as easy for me as to see duckies among the clouds above. I’m hopeless. I could never follow trail signs to get that Boy Scout merit badge. If you take me somewhere, I will always get home again. But, certain things are complete confusion for me. I sought that elusive Neowise comet streaking through our skies. It won’t be back for 69 hundred years. How about that? I won’t be here when it returns. Darn! I got a bunch of white dots on a black field. You may laugh. Please! There was a single streak. Aha! The comet?! Nope, probably camera movement. It’s not the tail. Settle instead for another flower picture. It looks like it’s in the daisy family. Alas, I don’t know its name either. But, it’s a better pic than my astro shot.


Right place…

…right time. Margie came over for a visit. Her pedigree was uncertain so we ‘masked.’ It was blazing hot and 100% humidity. We sat on the deck and sweltered in place. It was horrible. Colleen hates being hot and sweaty. Funny! She didn’t crack a bead of sweat. So, there we were. I was hot melting in place and the ruby throated hummingbird made an appearance. A few shots, wrong camera, no time, I got what I could. Not bad, eh? Eh?!!!


Something…

Different? Same? You get in a rut. I am (in a rut). Cat? Flower? All the posts run together. Good pictures. Boring? When I was in Jeddah, I was (gently, Carol) reminded, enough fish. Ha ha! It’s easy to be caught in the moment. I am/was (lately) shooting the cats and flowers. So, what else? We’ve been on self-imposed lockdown. It’s nice that the one (my dear wife) I love has insisted we be safe. That leaves me hanging between flowers and cats. Clematis. We got a second round of blooming. It’s a bit unusual, this specimen. I haven’t seen it in the nursery. If I look, I will find it among my African pictures. Instead, here’s a recent shot. It was a lot easier than diving into the archives. My own memory bank is still better than my database.

Ha ha, when you run out of cats and flowers…


Rain

It rained. The light is muted. And the raindrops, oh the raindrops! Spectacular! Nature is kind to me. The flowers are great in their own right. But, add the rain – sublime.


Deck time

I’m too far ahead. We are in July as I write and it’s November as I publish. Too many good images, too little time. I should have made a cat blog. Have I said that before? They (the cats) like to look out through the rail. What? I don’t know. Longing? The photo below is not a selfie. It’s my attempt to shoot a view of the flower that is on a plant 6ft tall overlooking the rail. It’s a reverse view (like a dive with a full twist in pike position…). Forget it. I got a bee! That was a bonus. I did not intend to see myself. That was an unforced error. My cats? They are still wondering what’s outside the rails. …not me.


Finally…

I’ve been trying for a “flying bee” shot. No dice. Persist. Finally! It’s not the bee I wanted to photograph. Hey! I did it! Now, what’s wrong? The wings are beating too fast to capture in the image. Ha ha! I have to use a superfast shutter speed. Nope, it’s not happenin’. Meanwhile, I shall seek to shoot a honey bee its legs loaded down with pollen…


Angel light

I was once told that the sun rays emanating from the clouds is angel light. That’s good enough for me. We had a good day. Gratitude, I got plenty. A couple days back, a couple posts ago… happy – to be here… and with the one I love.


Exercise

I have a good example of the zoom capability of the Sony RX100 VI. Three successive photos show the telephoto detail of the hydrangea in the distance. How far? … near ½ mile. You can’t see the petals. But, that dot of color indeed is a large hydrangea bush.

Of, course, if you saunter over, you just might get some nice blossoms.


Detail

Subtle details are often revealed when I take the time to look closely. That’s when you need that “critical focus.” It also helps to have multiple shots. There’s always a blurred image – (as with any group picture, there’s always someone with their eyes closed). Fine hairs? See the hibiscus. I credit a darn good lens. And water is always tricky. Close-ups don’t give you a lot of depth of field. Sometimes nature conspires. The steady rain wilted my newly bloomed lily. I got some nice water. Colleen says my eye sight is failing. At least the camera lens compensates for other shortcomings.


Pollen

I’m still trying to catch a bee in flight. Someday… Meanwhile, I get my share of bees. Pollen collects on their legs. It’s fun to get a detailed shot. I have lots of good shots. Some stand out a bit more. I’m happy to share.


Different

Every day you take the same photos. Once in a while you take something different. It might be a long time between. It’s worth it. Patience! It’s something I lack. Don’t laugh. If you don’t wander the garden because the same flowers are there same as yesterday…


Evolution

No, not the genetic debate. (Shhh… there really isn’t any debate.) …It’s the change occurring in my photography as a result of change in my cameras. It has caused my technique to evolve. Evolution is slow and the change that results is subtle until it isn’t. I found the DSLR viewfinder of my Nikon D610 to be restricting. I got (am now) used to a movable LCD screen that allowed me to get down to eye level with my cats. This translated to: getting down to eye level with the flowers in my garden. There are a lot of moving variables to consider: shutter, composition, focus…. I get it that iPhone users just want to click and forget. All around me, family has little or no interest and they are quite content to have iPhone as their primary camera. That little tiny lens… Yes, a screw driver is a hammer in a pinch. But, the converse is untrue.


Bugs

I liken my flower photo expeditions to the dives I did in the Red Sea. Walk around the garden and shoot the flowers. Not fish, flowers. And then pick out the best. And sometimes I get fauna – bugs. Lady bug, bee with pollen. Neat! It’s a plus!

I don’t Photoshop. I can. I would. I don’t much. Can you get it? But, there are exceptions as on this occasion where my vision and the photo needed tweaking to match my imagination.


Asian lily

Once a year for about two weeks… just for the briefest period, I am treated to the most spectacular show. It’s private, me and Colleen. There are no other relatives available to appreciate them. They have/had not arrived for summer in time. So this show is purely ours alone. Timing, it’s all about the timing. That’s it, just a couple weeks. Nothing, the rest of the year. Worth it? Ummm, you bet!

Spectacular! Gone too soon. What a show! It was!


Circle

My gardening goes back through my mother who used to plant salvia and allysum to make a stunning bed in West Virginia. She would laugh because her flower bed was always more attractive than our neighbor’s, who was a florist. In my decades of gardening I have had luck with allysum. Salvia were temperamental.  Lately allysum have been finicky. So I have largely abandoned them. They fade in hot weather. No luck for me. This year’s container garden had both salvia and allysum again. They were not the stars but for a brief time they provided pleasing color. My mother called them scarlet sash. It’s an incorrect naming. That’s what makes this a special memory for me.


Old

I took these pictures. I know it because they are in my files. And it was from my deck container garden. Do I remember? No. I’m old and headed on to demented. Oh well, we knew this would happen. I hope not. Memory is a funny thing. I have forgotten more than I remember. I remember more than you know. I constantly amaze myself with obscure trivia that just pops up on demand. My images are my brain’s external storage. My photos have always served as an anchor. I can often see a random pic and recall the circumstance and place where it was taken. This flower and moth in my container garden? … not a clue. Demented? …every day you meet new people.


As time goes by

The saying goes, “The shoemaker’s son has no shoes.” We cleaned up the back of beyond. All the dead brush and the phragmites are reduced to near nothing. Phragmites are locally invasive (very tall) grass that obscure my pond view. Efforts to remove it did not get beyond talking. So, one January day when the temp hit 63 degrees, I cut them down with a manual hedge trimmer. It was tedious! To my surprise it worked and the grass never returned in any significant quantity. Who would’ve guessed? This year we put the final touches to the cleanup. I sought before and after pictures. Easy!? Nope. It was hours before some pics were found. And it seems I don’t have a good shot of when the phragmites obscured the view. Imagine that? I was at a loss for a picture!

The front of the house was unique, which was a nice way to say – “odd looking.” The appearance is indeed unique, as one would love a special child. It’s a work in progress. Before, there was no hint of interest. Now, I have been on a multi-year plan to obscure the balcony with green. Wisteria and ivy are growing in. There is a climbing honeysuckle. Yes, I know wisteria take over and the climbing honeysuckle may be more nuisance at a later time.

For better or worse, this remains a work in progress. There is a very fine line before I cross over into messy. For all the pictures that I take of every single thing and event, you would think that I would have extensive image documentation of this change. Surprise! There’s not much to show. Ha! I culled more than a few but it was harder than I expected.

We are in a border dispute. When I cleared the phragmites I found a park bench on the edge of the pond between the pines. Ours? We had a bench and I didn’t know it? Or, the neighbor? It seems that the neighbor has claimed the bench. He can have it. There are too many mosquitoes.


Keepers

I have nice flower photos too numerous to count. We could go into a long discussion on technical tips. I aim and shoot. I shoot multiples. I get about what I expect when I edit. There are a lot of duds. And there are some keepers. Wasteful? If I set up would I do better? Inasmuch as I don’t know in advance, whatever comes out works for me. It’s rather unplanned and not knowing if you got what you want is maddening. But, it’s not to me. What makes the cut? Focus, first and foremost. Then composition, background, color, and detail. There, and, I still get too many good shots to ever bring to post or to show off. When I look at the efforts of casual iPhone users, I sigh. One good shot, done. One sitting, I have too many good shots; it’s a matter of perspective.