Word and Image

Insect

Three star

I rate my pictures as I edit. Two stars – technically good, not outstanding, but a good shot. Three stars – a little bit better. I’m looking through three star edits. No worries. Good shots. Fun. Solid. Wow! They might make you smile. It’s not necessarily an easy shot to get. The smiles are real. I can admire my technical prowess sometimes. It’s like kids. Don’t you love them all? Equally?


Fast forward

Life is in fast forward these days. There’s no let up soon. We returned from Maine and flew to California. Day trips. Thanksgiving at our house. Ohio a couple of trips. We are on the go. In between there is a lot of fleece to wash, card, and spin. No boredom around here. Looking back at the first part, maybe that was the slow part?

Family, kids, nature, cats… repeat.


Spider

I don’t sit still. It’s hard! I never did – sit still. Colleen laughs. She has every right – to laugh. A spider was out in the open settled on his/her web waiting. We were – Colleen was – stripping golden rod to make a dye bath for her fiber. Natural dying!

Not being able to sit and not helping to strip, I experimented. I put a flower on the web. The spider reacted quickly. Dinner?! Interesting. It encapsulated the flower and then cut it from the web. No trash! The debris might otherwise make the web noticeable like the red balls on a powerlines to warn passing planes. Yes, interesting.

It is a feat of engineering – a spider web. It was not perfect in a geometric sense. Invisible. For sure. Almost unnoticeable except for the big fat spider. I wondered. It got spooked and retreated to the nearest plant, nearly invisible itself. I guess the plan works. It was not a thin looking spider.


Best boy

How long is mourning? Not a day goes by lately that I don’t miss our departed Ray. I guess it was his sudden death? Nutley, his brother, is identical in photos except for the color of the fur around his neck. It’s hard to tell. Trust me. I edit and it’s hard to tell Ray from Nutley. Our other twins – Spice and Feather – are equally hard to distinguish in pictures.

Storm’s coming. Here’s a neat trick. I have trained the cats. I clap hands and say, “Go!” They trot to the door and come in off the deck. Yes!

You will notice the clip and rope around Ray’s neck. He and his brother staged frequent jailbreaks over the fence of the deck, hence, the restraint.

As I said before, we miss Ray.


Bugs

Almost, not quite… I leaned over a squash blossom to photograph the pistil and stamen. Aha! A caterpillar! And then a bee? Landed. My focus was not quite dead on. I got shots. They were okay but not quite …. Oh well, you can see…pollen all over the bee. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs.


Lately

What’s up?

Today is a series of non sequiturs. Bugs? Caterpillars? They walk into my pictures and jump onto my camera sensor on the way to my memory card. See the fine hair detail on the bug? There’s not much detail in the caterpillar. Was it me or the worm? Colleen made a cobbler from fresh picked white peaches. Yum! Cats preoccupy our attention. I am charged with getting their pictures. It’s a specialty. Cats do not pose on demand. Ever! Clouds? Lately the clouds have been distinct against a bright blue sky. Great! Flowers? Macro lens and super detail. The featured flower gives me the impression it is waiting to devour an unsuspecting bug that wanders into its maw. So many pictures so little time…


Cruisin’

I cruise the garden for photo ops. I sit and photo the dawn and dusk out my window. I get a gallery’s worth of pics. My cats are not exactly cooperative. The key is to focus on their eyes. They won’t look at me. Boring. Me?! Ha ha! Bugs come and go. They fly in and I shoot. Water? It rains and I water. It’s another opportunity. Life is pretty peaceful right now. I hope it stays that way.


How many?

37 shots. I got 37 before the dragonfly broke free of its bonds – the spider web. You need one good shot for illustrative purposes. Free the bug? Nope, it was on the other side of my window pane. How’d it get free? It struggled mightily and beat its wings until the web finally broke. Meanwhile, I leisurely shot away with my macro lens. I never did quite get the perfect focus upon its eyes. I was close. But no cigar.


Drama

The good pictures “pop!” Pop? Well, they stand out. I take lots of technically sound images. The ones that stand out for me? I have no particular criteria. Like it or not. It just stands apart from the other choices. Notable! Noteworthy! And then forgotten. Not forgot but just moved to the back; there are more better images coming all the time. TMI. Who can keep up in today’s digital world? Indeed, I feel overwhelmed. Whereas I shot parsimoniously in slide film, digital is a free-for-all. It is nothing to pass thru my garden and have several hundred good images of the blossoms each day. Oh well, bugs and cats, that is my world today. Tomorrow another subject will catch my eye.  


Wild kingdom

Survival of the fittest, they called it on the nature programs of my youth. This was the euphemism used in the program after particularly gruesome kills in the wild. I got a “bug” cat, Nutley. He stalks, hunts, and catches. Ah, a butterfly, he bit off its wings without killing it. He pawed and soon lost curiosity. The thrill of the chase appealed to him, but, Nutley had no appetite for bugs. Tillie soon saw and was curious without any hunger. Finally, Spice – capture, kill, and eat. Her sister was curious but bore no appetite. Yeah, I watched it play out in real time. No bug for me. The cats hunt. I do not.


Rated well

I go with what strikes me as I edit. No overthinking. I just go with the gut. One star – ok, but not quite. Two star – good solid technically good. Three star – rare, it just stands out. Four and five – hardly ever.

Water is always good in a flower shot. It’s above ordinary. I don’t get water too often. Cats – my black cat is hard to image and she is hard to pin down for a focused shot of her eyes. You’d think it’s easy. I get the eyes on all my other cats. Nope! And getting texture on the fur is a challenge too. But the eyes… except, it’s nice to see the tongue. Cats do not stick out their tongue. It’s different. Worms and bugs – not so easy. I got this caterpillar by chance. I nearly missed it. It was so tiny. Focus! It’s critical. Otherwise, it’s not a shot. And the moth? Not so simple, this one was all over skittering from blossom to blossom. I stood still and just waited to shoot when it landed again. Focus, otherwise, it’s not a shot. There were a lot of “not” shots. Among thousands of shots there are only a very few rated three stars.


Who’s missing?

Missing? Ha ha. It’s cats and flowers. I simply have too many. Flowers are available in great quantity, too numerous to choose one above the others. Cats, I have seven. Try to herd them together. Nope, not happening. The best I can do is to get some individual shots (of the cats) and usually I will not see them all at the same time. Feather is smart enough to avoid me when she wants to hide. Smart cats? Oh, yes! May I also “point” out that the family responds to command and suggestion differently as is amply on display here. They are cooperative but can be hard to herd together too.


Technically good

At this time of the year I am taking pictures of the flowers in my garden. And there are so many – too many – good shots – to mention or to post. Pick. Right! I suppose the bee that flew into my picture would be serendipitous. Fun! Yes, pick one. I can’t. With so much material to edit, I am helpless to pick a single image among the lot. It’s ok. No need to be alarmed. We can post as we may. It’s all in fun. There was a time when film cost money and experimentation was limited. Nowadays I am no longer constrained. It certainly allows you to explore and find new ways to do things.


Back…

… home. Can you say wilted? My flower garden wilted in my absence. We have just returned. A cousin watered. The garden took a hit. You’d never know from these pics. A bee fly? Yup! Never seen one, it’s new to me. No longer. I got to leisurely shoot one out in Colorado. Deja vu all over again?? Meanwhile, a caterpillar walked into my picture. Really! And another bug, looks like a firefly, but it’s more ominous, I’m sure. The colors have changed. The flowers missed me. Return to normal? We’ll see. Meanwhile, Miracle Gro for all!


Bee fly

Ok! I’m sitting looking at a cut flower arrangement and the wildest looking bee ever flies up and lets me take its picture!! Over and over! Like, it flew away and came back and again and again. Get it? I was so privileged. Anyway, the internet says – bee fly. Wow! The details in flight were quite something. It all came together for a few magical moments. There was a ruby throated hummingbird flying around too. Nope! My luck did not go there.


Macro (lens)

It’s sort of like micro as in microscopic but it is more telephoto or close-up of near objects rather than birds in a tree. Got it? It is a 105mm lens. Portrait? Well, not really. I can focus down to within an inch of my subject… get close… closer.

Great cat photo! I was surprised. The macro lens did a better job than…? Hummingbird? I happened to have the macro lens mounted on the camera as the bird flew toward the feeder. Serendipitous! Ditto, the bee, it was in my picture from the corner of the lens/my eye as I pressed the shutter. Spontaneous capture, definitely, unplanned. No error! It was skill! Ha ha. Sometimes I just close my eyes and press the shutter. Yes!


Cheer

I’ve been morose. Ok! Enough!

I hate bugs. Ha ha. I love a good BLT! And, I especially love them when Colleen made it for me. Mmmmm…. Flowers never fail to cheer things. Ready! By the time this post is published, summer will be on its way.

Last year, about this time, I was engaged in scanning my collection of slides, once and for all? It was a huge daunting task. I was running two scanners – don’t ask, again – and two laptops. It went faster than one and took forever to complete.

Red, it perks me up. Time to go have a BLT. Yes!


Snap(shot)s

Random today… selection of pics. I have evolved from a single pic and story. Too many images, too little time. Good? Cats are our – Colleen’s and mine – life these days. We share much love with them. Yes… she loves to eat out, water view preferable. A frog, a duck, the sky, the moon, a grasshopper, all are fair game. Imerfect, (sic) true. Ha ha. I’m glad to have had the opportunities. A single shot/picture? Maybe once again, someday, but, not today.


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!