I wanted pinking shears for a special request bulletin board I’ll be doing later in the week, but apparently that’s not a thing anymore, because I had to buy a set of 12 “decorative scissors” to get the one pair I needed. They’re not as high quality as the ones my mom used to own but the whole set was $13 so I’ll probably get my money’s worth. Testing them out tonight, I accidentally made this flower, which I then painted intentionally and glued down with matte medium. Cute. I’m on a mission to get paint on every time of this floor.
All week I believed I was going to make a bulletin board featuring a picture of a date palm, but somehow when I got to school, I made a bee on an opuntia flower. Admittedly, it’s not my absolute best work. The school ran out out of black paper and it was about 100° outside and I just wanted to finish because it was 5 pm everyone had gone home and I still had 3 more engagements for the evening. But it’s not a bad bee. Or a bad flower. Still, whenever I do anything, I immediately see how I could have done it better. But this is better than not doing it.
Anyway, school’s out on Thursday, both my district and the Kids’ district, and the pool water should hit 80° this week, so it’s as summer as it can get. Summer I, I should say, since, of course, we have 2 summers in southern Arizona. But I like them both. There’s nothing like a summer sunset in the desert, especially if you observe it from your own back yard, next to your own pool.
Monday again. This weekend I finished up a T-shirt design I’d been kicking around for a while, a fairly simple one based on a comic panel. There’s one more 1/2 finished comic panel T-shirt in my files, and another T-shirt I started years ago that I’d like to get done before Thanksgiving, but I first have to write a lot of book reviews and get the cover for The Hermit finished. And some other products. And I saw the uncorrected proof for the comic book, which I should have in the next couple weeks.
Right now, I have got to get off the internet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prince’s death didn’t hit me the way Bowie’s death did, even though I would say I enjoyed the work of both artists about equally. The different, I guess, was that my enjoyment of Prince was more public. Prince covered the airwaves in the ’80s. Everyone was always singing “When Doves Cry” on the playground. Prince felt pop, even though in retrospect I’d say his music had great depth. My experience of Bowie was more private. Labyrinth was a movie about inner worlds that spoke to me internally; The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was an intensely personal experience.
Or maybe I’m just burnt out on watching great talents pass.
But that’s what I drew a David Bowie tribute comic, and all I have for Prince is this pun.
An ex of mine always said that if I were a car, I’d a little red Corvette. Later on, he thought I was just going to hold him back, but in the end he realized he’d made a mistake. It was too late, then, anyway. I guess I was too fast for him after all.
Managed to get some writing in and put together part of a complicated comic with ridiculously complex artwork and too much text that nobody is going to appreciate, and that in a weekend with 2 parties. Starting to feel more hopeful, more full of creative energy, and more focused.
Another San Francisco capture, so don’t ask me to identify. I only do flowers of the American Southwest, and even that, not terribly gracefully. To me, tiny bug on tiny flower is the most macro of all macrophotography images. I know some people like to take extreme closeups of currency or body parts, but the things I want to see in minute details are tiny bugs and tiny flowers, so pictures like these are synergy.
Anyway, if you zoom in on this one you can see the cool little sticky bits that look like white fluff around the edges quite clearly. I don’t know if it’s moisture in the air that stuck to the flower or something the plant secretes for some reason, but it’s interesting to see.
Per the new schedule, I’m not even attempting to draw a comic until Friday, so I can consider the possibility of writing a few words. It would be nice to work on my T-shirt shop, too.
Oh! I got another paying photography gig. I guess I can call myself a professional photographer, since this will be the 3rd time that’s happened even though I’ve never even told people that I take pictures for money. They just sort of offer it to me. It’s somewhat nerve wracking: formal portraits for a wedding. Like, if you screw those up, you’re not just screwing up a photoshoot. You’re screwing up someone’s memories. The Vampire Bat does a ton of wedding photography, and it seems crazy-making to me. In this case, I’m fairly certain that neither of the brides will bride-zilla on me or make unreasonable demands or be nitpick-y about the work, but I’m sure that people who make a living at this must deal with that all the time. I can barely deal with writing clients, and I know that I know what I’m doing for them.
Maybe I should take a photography class? Then, one day, I’ll remember which aperture and which shutter speed goes with which environment, and how to set these things on my camera. Until then, it’s great that modern technology can handle a lot of those decisions for you.
One of the limitations of macrophotography, I’ve found, is that the gradations of depth are so fine that keeping your entire subject in focus is almost impossible unless your subject is 2 dimensional. I have about 10 shots of this dandelion. In some of them the, anthers are in perfect focus and the stigma can barely be seen. In others, the stigma are insanely sharp, but the rest of the flower is just a yellow blur. This image is sort of in between; you can see all the parts, but everything could be sharper.
My sister-in-law gave me a book on macrophotography and I’d like to read it; maybe there are solutions to my problem (short of photoshopping 2 images together) but man am I busy all the time. Although being sick for 10 days has, necessarily, cut into my productivity. Now this blog post is 14 hours late and I have to go get the kids in 24 minutes even though I’m not dressed and only halfway through breakfast.
Back to this flower. I love dandelions and I think people who kill them so they can have boring expanses of useless grass are wrong and in need of education about what’s important in the world. So-called “weeds” are the best part of having a lawn. We don’t have many dandelions here (this photo is from San Francisco), but we have other amazing volunteer flowers on our quarter acre: apricot mallow, wild daisy fleabane, evening primrose (you have to catch it at just the right time or you’d never even know it was a flower).
On this same roll I also had a decent shot of an ant (pretty well in focus but the ant is in a shadow, so it’s imperfect) and an excellent picture of a water strider, very sharp and clear but just not as colorful as this. The macrophotography books suggests that, while flowers and insects are the most popular themes for macrophotography, there are other interesting things you can do with it. Personally, I find that if you can shoot a clear image of a bug on a flower, there’s nothing more interesting.
We wanted to see some friends out in Silicon Valley before we headed back to the desert, so The Man used one of those apps that allows you to rent someone’s car for a day, which didn’t cost much more than the train would have for 2 of us, and allowed us some extra freedom. He got this zippy little Fiat, which was insane, because who drives a manual transmission in San Francisco? I was a little worried that we would roll backwards down Lombard Street and die in a blaze of fire before we got out of the city, but it worked out quite well.
Before we met our friends, we stopped at Gray Whale Cove and hiked down to the beach. It’s not too many stairs, compared to someplace like Wreck Beach in Vancouver, but it’s a decent number. Great view, though, even on a foggy day. We didn’t see any whales, unfortunately.
Down at the bottom, growing out of the cliff wall, I found these weird flowers. Some of them were more normal flowers, with yellow petals, but there were a bunch of these with bizarre little spikes and no petals, all exuding this strange, milky sap. So unusual.
We also saw a bunch of ducks surfing, and I took some fun macros of tiny dead sand crabs. There’s a very old bunker, from WWII, I guess, which people were climbing because obviously the stairs and the hills aren’t enough climbing. The Man thought he saw Wilson the volleyball rolling in the surf but I think it was actually something that broke off a buoy.
Wednesday we go home, which is where I need to be. Depending on how late we get in, there could be a Dragon Comic, or there could be more macrophotography. I don’t know why I even bother bringing the Wacom tablet when I visit my family. It never gets used.