Fresh out of the bath

Fresh out of the bath

I had some focus and blur issues with this available light snapshot but it seemed to catch the moment pretty well. Well today I received second-hand information that claims the web service for my previous blog entries from 2004 to 2012 will permanently shut down in June 2014 and all will be lost.  At least I have found out with enough time left to do something.  The old platform was ideal, nearly perfect actually.  We never dealt with spam and posting was exceptionally easy.  One thing that had always worried me was the lack of a compatible back up method and so the moment to pay the piper has come around.  Last year I was able to download the site onto a hard-drive so that I can actually view it offline, though it can\’t be restored to any blogging platform that I know of.  So today I began a manual migration to this software, which basically means copy and paste all the previous blog entries into new entries.  I think if I can convert 4 months per week, then it will only take until February 2014, if I\’ve figured it correctly.

On a positive note, I believe I had the best Reuben sandwich of my life.  For some reason last week, the topic of good Reubens came up and I had made a mental note to try a burger place that has built a reputation for such a sandwich.  Tonight I made a visit and tested the waters with the question on how many they serve, trying to get an idea about the freshness of the ingredients.  The waiter remarked,   "Well…about every 5 to 6 tables, someone will order one- it\’s pretty popular."   I can\’t say it looked or tasted exactly like a traditional Reuben, however it was hands down the best I\’ve had in these parts.  Seems as though they put the ingredients on a flat iron and dice up it up while adding the thousand island dressing, so I didn\’t notice the usual layering of the ingredients that I\’ve seen elsewhere.  The rye seemed to be well buttered, so all in all it wasn\’t a healthy meal but certainly was tasty. 

Nearly turning into a food critic blog.

 “And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We cannot pick it up.
There is no way at all!”
Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

 

The Bike Ride Box Turtle

The Bike Ride Box Turtle

Not long ago, I was out on the maiden voyage for my new-to-me mountain bike (bicycle) and came across this box turtle after getting off the bike to dodge a gigantic water hole, he was cooperative to hold the pose until I got the I phone out of the pocket.  My bike is probably 4 years old and I was fortunate to acquire it from someone who took really good care of it but apparently had more bicycles that he could transport during a cross-country relocation.  I bought my first mountain bike 27 years ago and I couldn\’t have been more surprised about the difference between the two.  This one has full suspension and climbed up hills and zoomed down slopes that gave me a surprise that it was me doing it. 

Had a lot of fun with it.  The common thing biking has with photography and other activities is that you can not get by with only one bicycle, or camera lens, or fly rod, or computer, etc.  So today I visited more bike shops looking for a road bike to go along with the mountain bike.  At one shop, I had test driven a bike around and around the parking lot and was standing out there asking the salesman a few questions when an obviously experienced cyclist of my age was walking by when I happen to ask this question to the salesman "It rides good….do you think I could keep up with the guys in the bike club with this one?"  I immediately realized I had said the biking-equivalent of "What type of camera do you have, I want to make good photographs like you.".   The fellow stopped dead in his tracks still facing forward and then slowly turned around to take a long look at the fool who asked such a silly question.  The salesman just grinned and said "Well, it won\’t be this bike that keeps you from doing that."  hahaha!  I\’m sure I\’m a butt of a good Facebook post tonight.

 

ABCs

ABCs

 

"Generosity is its own form of power."

from the House of Cards
(the Netflix-produced version seems very good,
originally it was a British mini-series)

Winking at the new year

Winking at the new year

Happy New Year!  I like to think about projects and goals each new year, which are much easier to accomplish than pure "resolutions".  This blog is a long running project, before that I was a journal writer for many years.  I think there is value in looking at something and telling yourself "I\’ll do that and I\’ll do it the best I can…just for myself.".  In today\’s email episode of Seth Godin\’s blog, he says to ask yourself a few questions as a way to take inventory of what you are building with your life.   Specifically, he asks "Are you more trusted? More skilled? More connected to people who care about your work? How many people would miss your work if you stopped contributing it?"  I think those are tough questions that most of us will feel much failure from the answers.  But here\’s a new year upon us to yet try again and to correct our missteps from the previous one.

Which brings me, in a round about manner, to the diary of Samuel Pepys.  Sometimes your work and your projects (either personal or professional) don\’t readily appear important to the world.   Such as it was with the diary of Samuel Pepsy written for about 10 years from 1660 to about 1670.  Pepys kept this journal in a form of shorthand as it was meant as a personal record, not for publication.  In fact, he even recorded more intimate occasions and devised a form of secret code to keep that from prying eyes.  The importance of this diary came to light because Pepys lived through a period of time that was rich with catastrophes and happenings such as the Great Plaque and the Great Fire of London.  It was a daily journal, much like you or I would keep.  Observations from the man on the street and maybe the only surviving account of what it was really like to live in those times.  I\’ve read a lot of it, but not that much in the scope of what is there.  If you\’d like to read some of his diary, you can find the beginning of it here, then you can navigate from the journal volumes on the side of that page.

 “Perhaps the most irrational fashion act of all was the male habit for 150 years of wearing wigs. Samuel Pepys, as with so many things,
was in the vanguard, noting with some apprehension the purchase of a wig in 1663 when wigs were not yet common. It was such a novelty
that he feared people would laugh at him in church; he was greatly relieved, and a little proud, to find that they did not. He also worried,
not unreasonably, that the hair of wigs might come from plague victims. Perhaps nothing says more about the power of fashion than that
Pepys continued wearing wigs even while wondering if they might kill him.”

Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life

 

 

 

Walking on the hill

Walking on the hill

I learned from The Writers Almanac that Monday was the birthdate of the first CT scan to be performed on October 1st, 1971 in England.  The woman was suspected of having a brain tumor and the scan took several hours to complete and process into an image.  The doctors could make out what appeared to be a mass and so performed surgery, remarking that it looked just like the scan did.  The early models produced a file with a mere 80×80 pixel resolution.  A bit of interesting trivia:  the Beatles played a part in the success of the modern CT scanner that was actually first marketed as an EMI-scanner (photograph here).  They had made so much money for their record label that EMI could fund in-depth research into the scanner that (according to the Writers Almanac) allowed the developer to devote 4 years of his work to developing the machine. 

It was a mixed up day sleep-wise but the evening hours were exceptionally nice with some soft rain.  We took a drive back to Portsmouth, Ohio and sampled another of Chicken Ranch Pizza from the Portsmouth Brewery.  When we left, every table in the place was filled.  Spectacular pizza.  The shot posted above was from this weekend, during some really nice weather.

 "Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop.  Die
knowing something.  You are not
here long"

Walker Evans, photographer
(link to a google search of his photographs)

 

Deer at Canaan

Deer at Canaan

Canaan Valley
West Virginia

I may have 2 shots for this week, maybe a couple more if I resort to more of my leaf photos. Spent a few days at Canaan Valley Resort State Park in West Virginia last week. It\’s between seasons, the ski slopes had closed and the golf courses aren\’t yet open. Lots of brown and gray, little color, few keeper photographs for me. But there was lots of time to relax and contemplate in complete silence. The folks up there are really nice and accommodating, the first place had a problem and so they upgraded us with a smile to a large house at no extra charge.

 

Dog

Dog

I watched a movie today about the photographer Paul Strand. I liked the first and last part of it, not so much the middle part about movies. I identify with his earlier photography but I think I most admire the portraits. I\’m looking for more of his series of portraits of famous people, he was quoted as saying they would go to their house and take a quick snap. It was not very comfortable and very often it wasn\’t what he wanted or expected. One photograph that stands out was a picture of Picasso, here is the picture. He said it was an awkward moment as Picasso was on his way to dinner or lunch and was dressed for the occasion. It wasn\’t as if you could say \’Change your clothes, I want you in your work clothes.\’ So the picture was taken just as it was. I find it to be a glaring photograph that cuts through the lens. I think Picasso was ticked off a little bit.

Strand\’s third wife helped him during his later years when cataracts prevented him from seeing well enough to print. Apparently he had the same moments that I have, when you\’re not certain and so you call for help by saying \’Honey…look at this, what do you think?\’ Strand\’s wife said she never particularly liked photography but she really learned to hate it then.

 

At the feeder

At the feeder

Here\’s another bird photograph from the backyard feeder. The weather has been really cold but I\’ve resisted putting on the winter coat until today. It sure has been hot tea weather.

 

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Boy was it windy today. Took a short walk through the woods and met a young lady with a toddler in a backpack. She was really doing a quick step on her way out and muttered something about branches falling out of the trees. Nothing much was stirring because of the wind, so I had to settle for bird shots out the kitchen window.

I can say I\’ve now posted a photo for every day of the year so far.

 

Bug, June 22, 2011

Bug, June 22, 2011
I shot this one in the backyard a few days ago, hopefully I can identify him shortly. I like the layout of the shot, plus the bug has markings that remind me of something Roman. Lots of rain yesterday evening.

\’No change comes without conflict. Perhaps
my destiny is to be the irritant that forces
the discussion, the blister that lets you
know your boots don\’t fit.\’

Kyp Durron

 

Hover Fly

Hover Fly

I shot this in my backyard on some flowers. I\’m fairly sure it\’s called a hover fly but as a youth, we\’d just call them a sweat bee. Evidently, they were never able to sting us anyway and were only after a water supply. We got the rest of the garden out before the rain returned, so I have my fingers crossed. The corn is poking through the dirt now and I hope it turns out tasting better than last years version.

\’If you find me overly critical, perhaps it
Is because you do not fully understand what is at stake.\’

Master Vrook

 

Bluebird in the garden

Bluebird in the garden
Flatwoods, Kentucky

Here is a bluebird sitting on our tomato stakes, her nest overlooks the garden. According to my father, she\’s becoming more tame and won\’t fly at you any longer when you approach the nestbox. I did have to crop the photo some because she was still too wary for a close approach. I\’ve tried to not portray her as being very colorful, the female is quite drab in contrast to the brilliant color of the male.

I bought seed for pole beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, and a few other things. It has begun to rain again but hopefully we can get them out tomorrow. The seasons all seem messed up and the 90 day crops will push us up to cool weather now.

\’You may find after a time that having is not
nearly as fine a thing as wanting.\’

Spock, Star Trek

 

Venusta Orchard Spider

Venusta Orchard Spider
Henry Clay\’s Ashland estate
Lexington, Kentucky

I think I\’ve got the identification right on this one. We\’ve had lots of power outages, one of which hit at the time of uploading yesterday\’s image.

\’Your focus determines your reality.\’

Qui-Gon Jinn

 

Titmouse at the feeder

Titmouse at the feeder
From the backyard feeder. Today was Bob Dylan Day, well his birthday at least, so have a tall one in honor of the great poet that we once could understand.

\’You need something to open up a new door,
to show you something you seen before but
overlooked a hundred times or more\’

Bob Dylan (supposedly)

 

Some sort of dragonfly

 Some sort of dragonfly

Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area
Cabell County, West Virginia

I had a busy day but was able to end up with a speck of time in a couple of recreation areas for some photography. Green Bottom is a wonderful area and is a haven for bug shooting, something new to me but popular in our Ohio Valley Camera Club. We were a bit too early in the evening to catch much wildlife or birds but I did get a couple of photos of a few other scenes in the short time that I had to spare. This area is so much more natural and healthier than the wildlife area that we visited in Kentucky yesterday.

I stopped to make some prints for the owner of the Chevy truck that I featured awhile back. Mike Rosenberg, who is also a member of the OVCC, was making prints and coached me through a few things and the prints turned out pretty OK providing you have enough light when you view them. Do you keep in mind the amount of ambient lighting provided in the display area of your prints? That’s what I thought, I haven’t given it much mind either and I hope mine don’t appear too dark to the truck owner. Anyway, Mike had a number of magnificent prints, some of which came from Greenbottom and that sort of gave me a push to make some time this evening.

We stopped at the book store and I found a good book on how to paint like the Expressionist painters. It was interesting even though I can’t paint, but the next thing I picked up was a magazine that had an article on using textured layers to make impressionistic photographs. That has always intrigued me and I gave it a try once with no success, maybe it’s time to give it another chance.

More later, I now have a backlog of photographs and hope a few of them are usable.