Category Archives: photgraphy

Winter Wonderland

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These colors exist in nature.

This is my first experiment with filters; I didn’t actually do the work in Photoshop, but in the Photos app that comes with this Mac OS. There’s something very magical to me about this image, although I think I could improve it by giving the sky a blue cast. In reality, it was a gray, cloudy day when I took the original photo, and no amount of tinkering changed that. Maybe I should have cropped it?

The Chicago Botanic Garden has long been one of my top places in the world. I grew up just a few miles down the road and my parents always had a membership, so I spent a lot of time there as a child. This is the Japanese Garden, Sansho-En. I consider it unique among gardens in that it is equally beautiful and interesting regardless of the season. Even in the dead of winter, even under many inches of snow, it still retains a quality of life that always inspired me, even in the deepest throes of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

One of the main reasons I moved to Arizona was that autumn and winter in the midwest were draining my life force, physically and emotionally. The changing of the leaves, the fading of the green, filled me with great sadness. But at Sansho-En, these things did not happen. It is always colorful. It never looks dead.

Prepare to Enter…the Scary Door

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Really, it’s more magical than scary. But it’s mostly a door. 

This should have been a post about how my novel was now available in paperback, but apparently it won’t be available in paperback until tomorrow, and I have no links. But I do have a picture of this magical door. The Man took me to see an old barn for my birthday, and while it doesn’t sound very enchanting when you put it that way, it was quite the charming barn, particularly in the right light. Plus we were in northeastern Kansas, so the options for excitement were limited to begin with.

This barn has a name: the John Dickenson Barn. Apparently, it has achieved a measure of fame among old-barn-enthusiasts. It was built between 1852 and 1861; that is to say, it took 9 years to build. It’s in fairly good repair–the owners have put a lot of work into it since the 1980s–and has hosted many weddings in the last 12 years. This is my favorite shot, but there was one more that was almost as good, which shows a wide section of the loft, where various items–animal skulls, wagon wheels, tacks, and tools–are displayed.

As we drove, south to north, across the country, The Man and I noted a large number of crumbling and abandoned buildings, and discussed a photodocumentary project where we just stopped at every single one we saw.

Doing my best here to keep my promises to myself, re: art. But it’s tough. Generally speaking, I have been a pretty angry person my entire life, which is something I spend a lot of time working on. I’m not really angry now, though. I’m mostly terrified and despondent. Any words of encouragement are welcome. I actually had an idea for a comic–a funny one–tonight, which is the first time that’s happened in weeks. Maybe I’ll even remember it for later.

Sunset over Seed Sorghum

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I risked frostbite to bring you this image. 

We saw this huge pile of seed sorghum–milo, if you like to be specific–by the side of the road in Kansas, just in the last hour of sunlight, glowing like (The Man and I agreed) the sand dunes at Death Valley and the hills of the Painted Desert combined. I took about 100 pictures, most of which were pretty breathtaking, and settled on this one with the grain auger visible (top right) to represent the set. The different strata are caused by the different weights of the parts of the grain, the chaff and such. Every section shifted into its own spectacular pattern, so choosing a favorite wasn’t easy.

There was also a lovely field just to the south, all full of rolled hay bales. It was cold as a narwhal’s nose but at least it hadn’t snowed in that part of the world, as it had in Denver the day before, rendering all my pictures washed out and gray skied. It’s a long story, why I didn’t update Friday, but this is Friday’s update.

 

Nope Nope Nope Nope

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I mean, right in the face. You know what I mean?

We’re having this little altercation with the city concerning the state of our yard even though we’re working on those stupid weeds. All. The. Time. So anyway I decided to tackle some amaranth and some kind of little tree growing in a very narrow space between the house and the neighbor’s wall, maybe 3 feet wide. And this lady is just hanging out with her massive abdomen right in my face, 4 feet off the ground in the middle of her 3 foot wide web.

After recovering my composure and documenting the event with my macro lens (and then gently relocating the dear thing in her massive home with the farthest end of my loppers and then hacking away at the weeds for 15 minutes) I determined that I had likely encountered a female banded garden spider. With a surprisingly large abdomen and distinctive stripes, it’s seems like an easy identification. They’re also prominent in the autumn. According to the internet, they probably won’t bite you unless you really tick them off, and that their bite is only mildly annoying if they do.

Higher res image hosted at imgur. 

What is this, a doorway for ants?

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Yes, that is exactly what it is: a doorway for ants.

There were a couple interesting shots on my last roll, including a couple decent but not mind blowing bee pictures, some vast sweeping vistas, majestic trees, weirdly blue skies beside ominous silver clouds, lines of distant storms on the horizon, things of that nature. But this seems to be the most striking image. It’s a yucca flower, into which the ants have cut their own ant-size door for nefarious ant purposes. Took a couple good shots of ants on other blossoms slipping in and out between the edges of the petals, but this bud must have been especially tasty, because the ants just couldn’t bother with all that mucking about between layers. They just went straight for the core, like a mad scientist with a mole machine. Ants are pretty interesting.

I messed around with the contrast and such in Photoshop just to really bring out as many details as possible. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of yucca flowers, which grow in great, beautiful clusters, but they don’t seem to really stand out in pictures. I guess that’s true of most white flowers. Maybe if you put them against a black background.

Also found a couple recently deceased figeater beetles. These are large bugs with splendid iridescent green shells. I wanted to say “carapaces,” but Google told me that carapaces aren’t associated with beetles, and only refer to the top part of the shell, whereas the figeaters are more resplendent on their undersides, for some reason. Will try to figure out how best to capture their visual essence.

Had two positive, encouraging, useful interactions with great writers today. That’s always nice. They both have suggestions for things I must do to be more successful, on top of the list of things the Rabbit has already told me I have to do to be more successful. The Fox cancelled our Tuesday writing meetup due to an in-law situation which required his emotional support, but Misses Kitty came over instead and persuaded me to make her brownies. I tried to invent a new sugar-free, gluten-free brownie recipe and instead invented a new sugar-free, gluten free chocolate cake recipe. It’s pretty good. You’d never guess it was sugar-free or gluten free.

It’s not even midnight. I promised to create a logo for someone, which will benefit me in the long run, so even if it’s not necessary an integral part of the list of thing I must do to be more successful, it’s still a thing I should day. And I guess every time you succeed at something, you are more successful.

ETA: Redditor blacksheep998 seems to think that this door is too big for ants and that it is actually a bumblebee door.

Stigma and Anthers

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Macrophotography of flowers on days equal parts scorching and windy in the high desert. Click here to embiggen.

One of the top shots from Sunday’s drive over Mount Graham. Been wanting to photograph this plant for a while: it’s the desert poppy, a showy white blossom that stands on a tall stalk and develops a thistle-like pod when the petals fall off. As I mentioned yesterday, they’re ubiquitous in the high desert, but I live in the low desert and only see them on road trips.

All day long I was thinking of various comics a person could draw about life, stuff about kids and summertime and introversion. Normal comic fodder. But my brain was on a short fuse all day, and just before dinner, when I went to get the mail and found we had received a single letter, from a medical facility threatening to send us to collections despite the fact that we made 3 separate attempts to pay the bill in the last 3 weeks and their billing department was apparently not competent enough to do something as complex as run a credit card or return a phone call, and my head basically exploded. I didn’t even make an effort after that; feeding the children took all my remaining willpower and I knew there was no chance of accomplishing anything else.

On the plus side, The Man fixed the problems I was having with the Wacom tablet/Photoshop for the last 3 months. I spend weeks with tech support working on the issue and never got anywhere close to figuring out the problem. The Man fixed it in 5 minutes. “Oh, CAD has that feature,” he said, once he understood the problem and considered possible solutions. He also fixed the scanner, which stopped working thanks to my implementing the aforementioned tech support’s unhelpful suggestions. So we’re back in business. If only the artist were competent to write and draw today.

The Fox invited me to a writing party tomorrow (yes, I know that’s a drawing party, but it’s a metaphor and the same basic concept). Maybe I can write and draw in the same day.

The Blink of an Eyelash

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If I were a character in a movie I would be very wary about opening this chamber.

I keep coming back to this image even though I’m not 100% happy with its clarity. I did sharpen it up a bit in Photoshop but there aren’t really any simple fixes. This is a flower I shot in San Francisco, but beyond that I know nothing about it, except that it looks like it’s full of eyelashes and I wish I knew how to get the entire thing more focused. There’s so much going on in this flower, but not all of it comes through in the photo.

(Click here for full sized, enlargeable version.)

It’s not perfect, but it’s still cool.

WordPress seems to be doing everything it can to prevent people from viewing my images at full size. It used to be that you could just click on them and get a version that could be viewed at high resolution in great detail. Then it changed so you had to right click and specifically tell it to open the image in a new tab. Then even the new tab seemed stuck at 680 pixels wide, but I could set the width to anything I wanted in the URL and then give that URL to people. But today, that trick failed and I just got “file not found.” For the full size version of an image I had uploaded 15 minutes earlier. And I know its exact size: 5184 pixels wide. But WordPress is just blithely pretending that I’m not being penalized for using too much bandwidth because people want to see full size versions. So I uploaded that one to imgur but it still doesn’t look like 5184 to me. Whatevs. What the hell do I know about art, right?

Delivered the wedding photos today; hope the brides think they’re worth the money they spend. The Man and I are exploring alternate income streams. Would be nice to get regular photo gigs, I think, even if having someone’s memories in your hands is a bit nerve-wracking. Two shoots a month would make a huge difference.