Word and Image

Portrait

Tolerant

My cats are very tolerant. (If) There are no other subjects at hand. Cat portraiture, it is. Spring is here. Soon, I will plant the flowers. And then, we can begin flower pictures again. Meanwhile, I do not have a grandchild in sight. So, cats it is. Tolerance is a plus. And yes, it is still hard to photograph a black cat. I got the eyes. There is not much detail in the black fur. The sister has dark patches. You do see detail in the whiskers. None of the grandkids have whiskers. I continue to work the eyes. Focus on the eyes and you have a picture. Have a camera at hand or you miss those fleeting moments.


Black

I said a black cat is hard to photograph. I have few good pics of my black dog, Reggie. Maybe, I wasn’t very good. Interestingly, if you are too good, you can see the dust in Tillie’s hair. Or, dandruff, whatever! But I get it. Eyes, it’s all in the eyes. You get the eyes and the picture pops. Black, against a white background, helps in this instance. This time around I think I am up for a challenge.


Out for a stroll

We let the new kittens out of the bathroom for a stroll in the big house. They found our bed – perhaps our smell – and made themselves comfortable. The lighting is good. I need a reflection in their eyes and the big window gives great indirect light. I bet you don’t care. Peas is not a pretty cat. At least that’s my opinion. Colleen has seen many more cats and I am overruled. My first naming was Butt – as in butt ugly. Don’t laugh; it’s part of the reason I ignored her in the pet store. But Peas has the sweetest personality. She is the quintessential embodiment that beauty is skin (fur) deep. When I first picked her up, it was about a second later, she melted my heart.


Another six

Yeah, yeah, seven pictures. But the last picture (Nutley) illustrates emotion. Colleen swears the cats can “express.” Nutley just got “wopped” by Spice. He has the look of “what?” He (Nutley) is bewildered and subservient to her (Spice’s) aggression. Can you see that? Six cats. I roam the house and shoot the cats. Ha! It’s not “hunting.” But periodically the cats settle into their morning routine. At that point I can get a shot. Cute!


Gee! photography… again

“When you see a disposable photo you know it’s real and it wasn’t crafted or put together,” he said. “It just happened and it was captured. That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Gee! WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get. No filters?! Not Instagram? It’s still social media. Better? Who knows? Every time you turn around someone is inventing the wheel and trying to make money from it. Good!? Real photography is work. Huh? Or is it that no one wants to work? Or…. Whatever. It seems to be an excuse to not blame the workman for the poor workmanship. Spontaneity? Freedom? No responsibility? It’s pretty easy to see how spontaneity can slip into “staged.” But, keep to your fantasy. You still have to press a shutter. And, something is better than nothing. Do you need to chase fame? Do you need a million followers to feel fulfilled? Whatever?! Someone is due to make a ton of money on this idea.


Confusion reigns

It was just a joke in the beginning. Back in 2015, I did a Photoshop mash-up of our three cats. Crude, would be too kind a criticism. But then again, it was an “in your face” mash-up. The sisters arrived in January, 2017 and the twins came in July, 2018. Sometime in July 2018 we did a family portrait. And, in December, 2019 we followed up once more – a picture, not more cats.

In November, 2020 we did two takes on the same day. The ladies at CVS were amazed when (with a straight face) I told them that all my seven cats just lined up on the table upon my command to do this group shot.

Confused? It feels like a history test on which general won what battle on which date? Yeah! I went back to find dates. My vaunted file system failed until it was successful in tracking down the photo shoots and their dates. There was no group shot in 2016 or 2017. I don’t suppose you care too much for the dates or my search of a catalog holding hundreds of thousands of images. Our family continues to expand and contract. I will be more diligent of keeping track of family groupings. But, as of this post we are up to date. Alas, Patch passed away in February. That will change my next shot.

Make no mistake, you don’t simply go out and replace a pet. Patch’s recent death has left a hole in our hearts. And, you may continue to shake your head and think we are nuts. Somehow the chaos of cats all about is an acquired taste. And, I didn’t do it correctly – see – two new kittens, not one, Tillie & Peas (in 2021). Patch fly with the snow geese; we miss you.


Family pic

As they said in the movie “Jaws,” We’re gonna need a bigger (boat) table.” Ha ha. After Patch passed away in February, it just wasn’t quite as chaotic as we are used to at feeding time. We held tryouts. It wasn’t that hard. Cat’s just gotta snuggle in your arms and dig her claws in – she’s going home with you! Tillie (black cat) is on double secret probation – ala “Animal House.” She snarled and growled at me. Me? Have you ever played, ‘spin the cat?’ Ha ha. I think Tillie has an opinion. Meanwhile, Dave said, “No more cats!” What can I say? Tillie and Peas are sisters – from different mothers? And, the pet store ladies laugh when they see me come in. They even asked if I wanted another, “Please?” when we came in today for more food. Colleen does higher math: that would be 3 1/2 sets of twins and a single (Elle).


Changes

Subtlety. Hmmmm… not me. I like things larger than life. Since covid we have been watching the background on TV behind the guests. Some guests have gone as far as placing books and such products to promote their own works. My background? It got busy, not so much by design but because I was more too lazy to bother to stage things more thoroughly. I surmise last year’s picture was taken in the summer. The crowded background makes things more cozy? Some folks prefer minimalist. I am helpless. We live with things and our lives are full. And, I must admit, it’s a nice life.


Herding cats

It’s the annual Christmas picture. And I am even posting at an apropos time. Colleen casually drops – “Do you know what? …. We should do….” And then it’s about …. hours, days of work for me. Yeah, I try to ignore her. Dammit! I get sucked in. The cats suffer. We all have to sacrifice…. First I round them up (each cat). They pose only very reluctantly. Seven cats!! Sure, I could just pose one twin twice three times …. no cheating! And then we have to take a shower – hair’s gotta be right! Note: no pants were worn for this photoshoot – by animal or human. (Ha ha) And then it’s hours in photoshop. Yup, it takes time. I’m ok, not great. But the effect…. Hey! Add some text, like merry and happy. Never ever listen – “Do you know what?” …

YES!!! They all just jumped up at once and let me take their picture…. really!! Honest! Truth!


Coming going

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I don’t often have cooperation from my cats. This one time they stayed put till I got around to the front of the window. Elle, Ray, and Nutley are an unlikely trio to sit in the window together. Just trust me on this point. And, to find her in the middle is actually quite brave of her. I feel like thanking them for posing. Crazy! Yes!

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Pet portrait

I could never be a pet photographer. Sure, I get great cat pics. There’s no pressure on me. If I get a good shot, I got one. Otherwise, send me on a mission for money… I have three sets of twins and one orphan. Right! I can’t tell them apart. Oh sure, there are some markings that tip you off. But on average I can tell which set of twins are which and not much more in a single glance. Seven cats. I ran around for a few minutes trying to photograph each in turn. If I showed you the same cat twice… Every once in a while, I set myself to see if I can get a shot of all seven within a single shoot. Ha ha!

One more comment: there are seven cats and eight pictures but nine cats in all the pictures. Need a pet portrait? ..willing to work for food.


Special

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Well, this post was planned about two months ago. Somehow the text to go with the photo was separated (lost). The picture is one of the white twins. Patch or Willow? Colleen would know. Me? I just guess. Patch. Special? They are all special kitties. And Patch? He doesn’t talk, never complains, and just gets along with everyone. Yeah, he’s pretty special. Or, it’s special that I got this picture of Patch. He never looks at me. It’s special when I get a good look into his eyes.


Tele(photo)

Prime lenses are commonly wide-angle lenses. When they discuss the best all around lens it’s usually in the range of 35mm. it’s good for portraits and landscape and street photography, an all in one all-purpose lens for all occasions. For me? I’m usually shooting at max tele on my zoom lens. I get rid of distracting background. I don’t have to move closer. It’s a good all-around lens for the lazy photographer. I don’t get the idea of 35mm. I can shoot at wide angle. My zoom allows. But I find most of my shots are near to max tele. It’s how it is.


On the move

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Dave’s been in one location for too long now. Kathleen’s sister had a child – Gio. I won’t comment upon the name. You look it up. “Noa” is pretty rare to hear too. On the go… Dave’s traveling again. Restless? Maybe west? There are a lot of options and there aren’t. But, as the country reopens, the possibilities are endless. And, he’s had Corona, we think; we can’t get him tested, but probably. No social distance if you are living with someone. I get to kiss Colleen but not hug Dave. No handshakes. They came to say good-bye. They’re headed to see the new baby. Risk? There are choices. Relaxing?

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Have you ever had a day when everything came together – light, smiles, background…?


Cat blog

I should be doing a cat blog. They are my/our kids now. So, they (the cats) get a lot of photo ops. They cooperate. There’s one good shot after another. How many good cat shots do you need? I can get a good portrait. I’m working on action. Don’t laugh. I have a camera everywhere I sit. Behavior happens in an instant. You gotta be ready. I try.


Portrait

Typically, a portrait is vertically composed. With iPhone it’s mostly? Vertical too? Most folks are too lazy to turn their phone. With a camera, the photos (portraits) are mostly horizontal. Same, you can’t be bothered to turn the camera vertically. Enough! Vertical! Horizontal! I will admit I am mostly horizontal (camera). Lazy! Guilty.


Second look

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I turned away for a bit. Lightroom presents my library images in a viewer of 28 per screen. Hey! It’s sorting. It is easy enough to go to a single image and examine it in more detail. Lighting. With all the new light bulbs around here, the color temperature of the light I am shooting with has varied wildly. Most folks don’t notice or care about the quality of light. They get what they get and are happy enough. And iPhone and most digital cameras make it easy. Why work? I don’t (work) either. But, I notice. I suppose it is the difference between words and poetry. I get my share of duds. But, sometimes, just once in a while, it all comes together. And then, it makes me glad I try. Colleen – says Feather is my favorite cat. True enough, I hug her (Colleen, too) a lot. Is it because she’s always in my lap and I’m her favorite human? Though there are imperfections, this will be a favorite shot for a while. (Shhh… I love Colleen more than the cat.)


Cuteness

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So little time, too many images, I would post one… but who can choose? It’s like your kids. You like them all… equally. Well, no, but, you must get my point. Pick? That’s editing. I edit by gestalt now. I look over a large group and one or two stand out. Done. It’s too much to agonize over each individual and way too slow to wait for each to upload. And yet, I continue to sneak in multiples. You/I would be better served by one outstanding shot. But then again, no, maybe not.


Critical

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Ego, shy? I don’t photograph well enough to be happy to post images of myself. Hmm? You could take that statement two ways. Whatever! This is part of the ongoing selfie series I started with the new camera. Today’s tech gives me more ways than ever before to shoot. Better? I think so. This shot involved a monopod, an iPhone triggering the camera remotely, and a Wi-Fi capable connection to my camera. Complicated? You bet. I could’ve done it with just the iPhone. But, then what would have been the fun? And it would have been harder to get the end result. hmmm? … another two way statement. Was it worth the effort? I would’ve swapped the model for my beautiful wife. She is patient but not willing to experiment with me while I endlessly tried different combinations.


Elle

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When there are no kids or grandkids at hand, I shoot the cats. My dearest wife has declined. She’s good natured enough. But…  and while I am breaking no new ground, I can photograph well enough to get good portrait shots, too many, too numerous to count. Once in a while it’s good to post one. There are categories – photo journalism, iPhone, selfies, etc. Sometimes it’s nice to have a good portrait.


Screen shot

I am limited by technology and laziness. We have a birdfeeder. It has not been particularly productive to see many interesting birds this year. Mostly it has been LBJ’s. It’s term Colleen uses. Her mother used it before her and it does not mean LBJ, the president. It’s “little brown jobs.” I did not bother (lazy) to remove the window screen this year. Then, a cardinal – male and female – and a woodpecker showed up. My bad, there is definite image degradation due to the window screen. And I was further limited by the camera at hand. The lens was simply not strong enough to pull in the bird. The little image in the corner was due to the limited (Canon) lens. Even at 150mm the bird was tiny in the image. The electronic (Sony) telephoto did a much nicer job. Both camera’s images were degraded by the (window) screen. But, as always there is something to see. Any camera is better than none. Otherwise, this would not be an illustrated post.


Elle

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Elle is delicate. I have large cats, mostly. But, Elle, she’s a delicate cat. Look at the feet. Pretty. Trust me, she’s got beautiful feet. She’s a cutie. She’s timid and shy. When we first met, she’d run, literally run, if she saw me raise a camera. Nowadays, she’s mellow enough that I got shots without too much objection. Maybe she’s resigned like my kids. Get it over with Dad! I would usually get a forced grin from the kids. (You know the expression.) But Elle, she just sits patiently until I go away.


Ian and kids

Ian and kids

99.9% of images I post, are my own. Hey! It’s my blog. But there are/were two…. This would be #2 and it’s by Ian. I laugh because most of the shots I get as messages/shared are throw away awful. Yes, they are never lost, but, they are pretty unimpressive and technically wanting. No matter, the subject, kids, makes them instant keepsakes. I don’t criticize. No, it’s not photo lessons – offered or taken. But, even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Ian, you did it! I’m gonna enlarge and frame this one! …someday.


Experi(mental)

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In a follow-up to the new camera post, here are some shots and observations. Different? Better? Needed? Canon EOS M6 II, mirrorless digital camera

Film cameras are done. Like time, life is one way, forward. Film is around. I will likely never shoot another frame.

  1. From the early film camera of my youth – Argus C3 “brick” was the camera my mother got and I used once. I was an utter dismal failure. Don’t ask. Later, Kodak Instamatic to Nikon SLR to DSLR.
  2. From the early film camera of my youth – Argus C3 “brick” was the camera my mother got and I used once. I was an utter dismal failure. Don’t ask. Kodak Instamatic to Nikon SLR to DSLR. I believed that I had evolved to the pinnacle of development. No, NO!
  3. Flash has always been a challenge (for me). But, it works. I prefer to defer (rhyme). Cameras have built-in flash that leaves a lot to desire but it’s there.
  4. WiFi, Wow! Double wow! The darn camera connects to my iPhone and I can download images to my phone, hence, to message and email instantly. I know you could do this before. But, moi? It’s the first time it worked without agony for me.
  5. Selfies? Never easier.
  6. As an aside, we live on a pond and the water level/table is high. The neighbors have a pool. It’s the oddest…. attached to the house no more than a few feet wide and about twenty feet long. What do you do with that? Laps, it’s too short. Frolic, it’s too small. Just picture me – puzzled.
  7. So far as digital cameras go, they almost cook your breakfast now. There are a myriad of settings and adjustments that you can customize on the fly. TMI!! But it’s there. It’s a steep a learning curve as you like. Or, you can shoot in automatic and the camera will do a spiffy job. Whatever! We’re a long way from film. I have my iPhone (thanks Dave) but I keep my camera ready 99% of the time.
  8. Need? There’s wine and there’s wine. There’s beer and there’s Bud.