Word and Image

Insect

Puzzled

Wildlife. Animals (or insects) pop up during our travels. Some wild, some domesticated, I get the shot as the opportunity presents. We chanced upon a photographer doing a full on shoot of this dog on the ratty couch. Dog? Couch? The poor pup was totally bored and uncooperative. No posing, no looking at the camera, no interest in the least. Food! A treat! Distraction! Nope, none, nada. It was about as dismal as the couch. I kept my mouth shut and we quietly left. Photographer? She had the gear; she was mounted on a tripod… Um, close, but that ain’t how I’d do it. (See: I kept my mouth shut.)


Opportunity

We returned to the scene. Ordinarily, there are no second chances. The last visit was only days ago. Colleen. It was her call. I’m glad we did – return again. I was always told a bright sunny day was less than ideal for photographing. Who knows? I love the bright white contrasting against the autumn sky. Give me a few clouds. And, the monarch butterflies were out, just for me. It seems everyone else was ignoring them for the lighthouse. I worked the scene and had a grand time. It was all Colleen’s idea. She’s a genius.


News that fits

No, hardly the NYT. I’d never pass proofreading. Nature. Remember the nature shows that brutally depicted lions taking down a poor animal and shredding it on camera for our initiation into “survival of the fittest?” This spider did brain surgery first. Logic or convenience? It ate the bee? Starting at the head. I got my initial shots and later on was amazed that there was very little left except for some disconnected bones. Nothing goes to waste. You need a lot of energy to spin a web.

Wooden thread spools? We got a jar…. somewhere, at some point, in the past. Why? Dunno. Colleen went through it looking for pink thread. She hates pink. She got sidetracked, as often she does, and looked up the names. Some of these spools date back to the 1800’s. Really?! Well, for sure they stopped making wooden spools a good 50 years ago. How’s that for useless information I did not know I needed. Antique wooden spools, imagine that?

Bad day: tell me, based on the damage and position of the vehicles, how this accident occurred. Did someone do a 180 or 360 circle? We passed this accident. The gray car was second along the road. No time to get a proper photo. I was not trying to hurt the feelings of those involved. They were already having a life changing moment and a very bad day. The damage was bad enough to stop both vehicles immediately. The position of the damage argues against head-on. Or, not? So?


Choices

I think in color. No black and white for me. I started in BxW. Color slide film opened my eyes to a whole new world in photography. BxW conversion is easy in Photoshop/Lightroom. Sure. I just don’t think in shades of gray. I admire those who do and who produce great images in black and white.

Single or gallery? I post multiple images these days because there are too many worthy (?) images and not enough posts. TMI. So, I lose subtlety of fine detail. It’s easy (for me) to see Elle is a great cat pic. But the water droplets or the grasshopper or the bees are harder to discern.

Sometimes I just think I must have closed my eyes and pressed the shutter. Images jump out of Lightroom to grab me. I shot that? Luck or skill, my images come from experience and experimentation. I have practiced “what if” scenarios in order to be in this place. But I readily admit I am not some landscape photographer who will patiently sit day after day until the perfect elements align. I have never, and, I never will… No one ever accused me of being patient. Me? I’m all “go!”


My place … or … yours?

Life. Some people are neat. As in, they keep their house neat and precise, everything in its place, no clutter. I could hardly say that about my house/our house. We were at each other’s throat when I pronounced that our mess had to … straighten up. We are never really clean, it’s all under the proverbial rug. Hey! That’s us! So! A tale of two webs: side by side, they are in adjacent windows looking out from my desk. (Sorry. You have to enlarge the pics to see this. Then, laugh!) For practical purposes, they are there to catch other bugs in order to feed the spiders. One web, for sure, has at least three spiders using it. And, that one is messy. Roommates, they do not appear to clean up or maintain; they just partake of the bounty of bugs caught in the web. The other web is quite nice and geometrically arranged. It appears a single spider maintains her home neatly. Why is it always a woman? … just like my ex-wife… whom I do not particularly miss, by the way. Colleen and I live with the mess we created and are as “happy as a bug in a rug.”


A revelation

Did you know… spiders will share a single web? … will repair, do repair a damaged web? When I say spiders… I saw the big one, Momma? – and then not one but two little ones. Two. ?? They (the little ones) were both out at the same time. OK! TMI! But it does account for the less than precise appearance of the web. Big Momma has only been seen at night since the little ones appeared. Mostly, there is no one patrolling the silk. Another web in the adjacent window pane has had no sign of any spider. Shy? Gee! The things you learn when first you ….

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott, 1808)

Drama at the website: it’s gruesome, encased and mummified in silk. It is a soon to be dead bug. Yes, it is still moving. Big momma is out tending to the silk. Maintenance, someone’s gotta do it.

Men in Black, the movie? I’ve seen this guy out running before. He wears a lighted safety vest. Yup! He looks alien! And just as I was getting my shot of “Big Momma,” he went by. Sorry, I coulda done better, but, he went by so fast!


Old joke

By now I can be accused of pushing an old joke… too far. Museums. Irreverence. Heinous. Not quite. You would not call (my composite) art too? I’ve been at it for a while. Don’t ask me to collect the past examples. Fun? You bet. The essential element? A tolerant wife. It’s collaboration. After all Colleen took all those pics of me. Ok! That said, we found a typo in one of the exhibits: 2923, wrong date. We are still masking up. That’s a mirror – reflection, not doorway.

Droopy spider web? It seems in the morning mist/fog with the water droplets upon it, a spider web will droop. Who knew? There was a big old hairy ugly spider who had this web. Along came an albino juvenile. It just happened to wander into my picture. As you can see the web is not so architecturally symmetrically accurate. Should we be disappointed? Or, all spiders are not OCD.

As long as we are talking mist and water, can you appreciate the small droplets and detail at the end of this hibiscus flower? Macro photography opened up a new world for me this summer.

Too many images, too little time/space to post.


One that got away

I hate bugs. It doesn’t stop me from photographing them. The clouds do not form up every day for pictures just for me. It is nice when they do. And, sometimes I close my eyes. Or, I just press the shutter and hope for the best. Yeah, scientific. There are days when you press that camera shutter and you have no idea what will come in the edits. Yes, I’m laughing too. I will never admit it. Skill! But, I’m thinking horseshoes. Close! It’s enough. Oh! The green bug(?); he got away from the spider. Close call!


Dog days

90/90 – temp/humidity. Enough said. We got corn! I guess some of the bird seed germinated. Yup! A single corn stalk grows in the midst of one of the containers. Ha ha! Veggies? This is the garden harvest. It’s going to sauce. We are unable to keep up with the cherry tomato crop. The peppers? Four months of diligent watering and all I got were a handful. I have to rethink what I am planting. The flowers are fading. Bugs are all around. I like detail. It’s time to prepare for fall.


Strictly amateur

professional

1. relating to or belonging to a profession.

2. engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

Strictly amateur, though I might have pursued photography more seriously, it was never my day job. I chose something a bit more exclusive – brain surgery. Ha ha. Who knew? I quit surgery and am still doing photography. Hmmmm… Photography (for me) is random and unrestricted without any mandate to get “the shot.” It is (continues) a negative cash flow as I buy new camera equipment. Rewarding can be altruistic as many family members appreciate my efforts. Colleen can be (is) such a kind audience. No pressure! I am quite content to let luck be my guide. The neurosurgery department motto (my residency) was: “Better to be lucky than good.” This more or less refers to a miraculous save during surgery that transcended the basic skill of the surgeon. Of course, it helps to be both.


Hopeless

It seems a lost cause to try to limit myself to one picture and one story per day. Some days have too many – stories and pics. Sorry. How about an upside down dragonfly? ?? Really?! Yup! It flopped to the deck right in front of me with a thud. Truly! It was an act I did not realize until I did the edit. Later, it flipped and flew away. Relief!

The building – it was across the street from the restaurant – beer flight – inside on the wall was a black and white photo ala this view – for $700. Nope! I’m not kidding. Sorry, I would not pay that kind of money for that kind of shot. I have too many of my own in the discard pile. Really! Balls; ya gotta have ‘em to take that shot and price it like that.

Flight time? You can order a “flight.” This allows you to taste five beers as a sampler. Fun! Yes! Colleen loves dark beer. To me they all taste the same and are bitter. She can appreciate the nuance. I appreciate that she loves the experience. I’m still struggling to appreciate the BxW building on the wall next to me.

Still life – note the flattened peaches. I did it subtly so as not to squish out the juices. That is a large tomato for scale? – or small peaches. Watermelon in the background – I am in a watermelon eating stage right now.

The cat and sunset are throw-ins. It’s the end of the day. I keep a camera at hand all over the house. Ha ha! I have enough cameras to do this. And, sometimes you get the shot because things were there at hand and jumped onto the memory card – all by themselves. Gee, I’m lucky sometimes.


Learning curve

Hey! Look how close I got to the dragonflies. They were all over my yard. They land on a point and rest. They move away when you approach but tend to circle around and alight on the same spot. They get used to you, hence, I was able to get in close. I presume the western wildfires may be responsible for the spectacular clouds blowing in from my west. And, what else is there to add to the fact that my spiffy macro lens catches great flower details. Yes, enlarging the images in Lightroom lets me appreciate things I might never otherwise notice. (Double click the image, it will enlarge somewhat.) I’ve been at photography a long time. … and still learning.


Focus

The camera does what it will. The difference between great and ho-hum is making the camera do your bidding. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t work out as I’d like, most of the time. Good? Bad? It’s mixed. The detail in the dragonfly eye is stunning, especially enlarged and up-close. You can see “hairs” in the flowers. But, though there be motion and blur and reflections, other images still work. For my cats, I find that sharp focus on the eyes is key. Maybe it’s not for you, but, I’m ok with the surprises I find when editing. It’s fun. I’m not shooting for money. Fun would be work. Nope. Strictly amateur, I get a free reign to shoot for the pleasure of good images amongst the lot.


Detail detail

What do you notice? Detail! Detail! DETAIL! Japanese beetles humping? Spider web. It’s tough to focus on the darn web. Hard! What do you see (lily stamens)? It’s subtle but different. And, subtle makes all the difference. There’s a fine line between oooh and aaah. Simple? Sometimes less is more. I just ended up with stuff I thought I would share. It’s just a drop of water.


Nut?

Wing nut is an insulting slang term for a person who’s considered eccentric or who has extreme political views. … It’s also called a butterfly nut (because of the “wings”) or a thumbnut (because it can be easily turned with the thumb and forefinger).

When all those around me are crazy… it must be me – who’s crazy?! Hlep! hmmm, that would be help? Place the emphasis on eccentric. Me? I should stick to photography and the beauty around in the world. (Remember, I hate bugs.) Mike didn’t want to be in this picture. For real. He has always said being on the edge of the shot makes it easy to crop him when he is dropped from the family. In this case, I am newest – last in. There are those who would certainly drop me. Interestingly, half the family got the time for dinner wrong and they are not in the shot. No, I did not try to wrangle more chaos into a coherent family picture, later. Instead, everyone ran around taking individual memories with iPhone. It works. I do what I can. No one was hungry at the end of the evening. I, too, am on the edge – documenting someone’s family, or, intruding on their fun. From the motley collection of poor black and white old photos, and, faded out of focus color shots – it is the good time that matters. Regrets about poor photography were never the point. Perhaps it is a blessing that some memories are not so clearly remembered.


Who’s it for

Nikon just released the Nikon Z fc camera. It is a brother to the Nikon Z50. Of course, I just gifted a Z50 to Jules and family – and a new model/comparable is released a few weeks later. My (bad) timing is so impeccably typical!! Alas! Drat! Double drat! Laugh – all of you out there – at me, who once again did not get the 411. But, who is this ‘retro’ style camera for? Is its appeal to the old film photographer in me? Ummm… does Nikon know that the last film I shot was in 2004. Film was gone not long after. And, soon enough, all the photographers who shot film will follow. It is comparable to making a Ford Model T for the masses. I think if Ford did not do it, Nikon is heading up a dead end too. But, then again, that’s my opinion. I laud the idea and admire the camera. Right now, I am thinking of my next new iPhone. Hmmm, do I care about the meal I’m eating or the pan in which I cooked the meal?


Camera or operator

Am I good? Or, am I good because of good equipment? Or, does the equipment make me good? And so on and on… Luck? This butterfly cooperated. This all has a lot to do with the butterfly, who held still for its close-up. My good luck! Look at the detail – eye, the hairs. Pretty nifty! Hey! I’ve done this before. It’s not my first. But, its rare enough that I appreciate it’s not a given. A lot of things come together to get to this point. Ho hum. Whip out an iPhone and shoot. Uh uh. Not by the hair of its chinny chin chin.


Red butt

Wheel bug, assassin bug, you don’t see a red assed bug in your garden very often. They are not seen much so an internet search is pretty easy. I do not think they are native around here. So, this was worth a picture. And of course, the bug refused to cooperate. A proper photo was not easy to get. The bug kept crawling under a leaf or into the shade.


Ticks and bees

I dreamt about posting/blogging. Yeah, weird. I never did that before. The old question arises. Am I shooting for the blog? Or, are my shots “worthy” photos? Technically correct, many of my images are good. But, worthy? Goofy! Goofy? My garden – I discovered a tick (looking at the flower picture) after the shoot. Ha! I thought it was a spider. Wrong! And, long gone, there is no finding that tick. Now, I have to worry about my cats. Bee? Almost, but no cigar. The focus missed by just that much. Alas. Focus!? Ah, an antique store with old cameras. Wonderful, but, they are film. Collector’s item? No, more like they are dust collectors. Covid is pretty much done. There are no rules any longer. We are half masked, or, not. Brain coral celosia? Close, but not quite, I am still working on focus and lighting. Poor Peas, the calico kitten, has her own problems. She’s cute. The older Maine coon cats are jealous? They keep jumping her! I mean pouncing, hissing, loud, mean, ambush type altercations. So, ticks, are a problem but not foremost among what I think about.


Bug

I hate bugs. Icky! I don’t mind taking pictures of bees… or, perhaps a dragonfly. Here’s an example with my spiffy macro lens. It ain’t easy. Everything is moving – subject and photographer – in 3D. There was a breeze swaying the flower. Luck and some skill is involved. No complaints. I got nice detail. Focus and detail, it all came together. This is better than before I used a macro lens. It’s still rare to get this confluence; the right place and right moment are hard to come by. Having the right tool at hand makes it easier to get the shot.


Big deal

This is the 17 year cicada brood in Ohio. They have red eyes. Oh!? They are silent when it’s cold. It was. No noise! Then, we got a nice day. It was noisy. For me, it’s background noise and hardly noticed as one would not smell a noxious odor after a few minutes. But, for others in the family, the noise remained deafening and annoying. Ok. I was happy enough for the photo-op. 17 years, I probably won’t be around for the next cycle. It’s a long long time to be dormant.


Different

What catches my eye? Something I have not seen. There’s plenty. … I have not seen. Key: Bees? They look like bees – humping. Bumble bee – flying into the foxglove. All the way in! Orange flower – it’s in my garden. The label (wazzit it called?) is long gone. Willow – yawning in the reflection. Hey! It was all in the same day. Lucky? Not really. I just have a camera at hand all the time. Some days you make your own luck.


Death wish

It’s the middle of winter, sort of. And, this was taken in summer. That’s water on the praying mantis. I had just watered the plants when I noticed him. Notice – there’s an ant crawling up his left arm. Nuts! That would be a tasty snack. Shudder….


Monarch butterfly… & bee

A monarch landed on the deck among the mint blossoms. It stayed for 780 images. Yup!! Most times they have defects in their wings – damage from flying about. So? Which images were worthy? To be sure I have monarch butterfly pictures. (And, I have a whole lot more now.) These two made the cut. One – I never get a curled proboscis. Two – my goal has been to get a bee in flight – one next to a monarch butterfly – priceless!! To be honest, the bee simply flew into my picture. It was the one and only image.