Tag Archives: photo

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. 

The Season of Lights

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Luminarias show the way on the darkest of nights. 

I fully intended to draw a comic today. I fully intended to do a lot of things. But none of those things happened. Other things happened instead, but very few of them were intentional or productive. The season of very little natural light does funny things to my brain.

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The fountain in the cactus garden under red and gold lights

The biggest bump to this day was the publication of my article about Travis Hanson, who draws awesome dragons and other things like that, sometimes with magical tales to go along with them. I urge you to check it out if you’re the least bit interested in that sort of artwork and storytelling.

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Do you know why this tree is blue? Maybe it hates winter as much as I do.

In lieu of something hilarious, please accept these photographs from a luminaria event at the botanic garden down the street. It’s a fun evening of lights and music, and even though I’ve lived here for 6 winters and have had a garden membership for a lot of that time, I never attended before, in part because it cost money and in part because I don’t tend to do a lot of Christmasy things. But in this case, I got in free, because The Man’s band was among the many musical acts of the evening. Since it’s a klezmer band, it wasn’t too Christmasy, either.

Everyday Beauty

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There is a roof on this porch now; art to mark the passage of time.

I had an idea for a really deep comic; it took me about 45 minutes to write the script and another 30 to just figure out the storyboard, which source images to use. Since the comic itself is about symbols, there were a lot of choices to make. Most of the text would make sense with a variety of images, but the meaning would shift slightly depending on which image paired with it, and I wanted to draw some very straight lines, so to speak. Sometimes it’s easier to make an appeal to the present by talking about the past.

Now the concept of the comic is locked down, but it’s past midnight, which means this interesting idea won’t see the Internet until Tuesday. And all I have is a couple artsy photographs of all the construction work we’ve been doing around this place. That’s one great thing about photography; it helps you small the small, everyday beauty of things to people who haven’t got an artist’s eye.

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They came off the roof, and they’re going back on the roof.

These pictures aren’t color corrected or anything. The second one could probably benefit from a little red boost and some judicious cropping, but it also has some merits without any help.

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A little slow on this one; it could have been a picture of 4 hands in the window, one of which was holding a hammer. So the meaning changes a little. Perhaps it’s more ambiguous.

Everything has its lovely details if you know where to look, or if you’re compelled to look for small beauty because the ugly details are huge but hard to focus on.

Friday is the kickoff for the 4th Ave Winter Fair, which means I will see the Bear! And maybe buy some new prayer flags for my new porch.

Bee Cool, People

She works hard for the honey, so hard for it, honey.

She works hard for the honey, so hard for it, honey.

Here’s a crisp little honeybee for your pleasure. Captured this image near the pollination garden at ASDM, which was simply buzzing not only with her close kin, but also her cousins, the solitary carpenter bees. Despite the fact that carpenter bees are unreasonably large and fairly slow moving, I was unable to get a clear shot of one that day. This is unfortunate, because they’re shiny and astonishing and people don’t seem to be familiar with them. At my old place, there was a particular one living in a dried agave stalk who used to always hang out when I was doing yoga. They’re perfectly comfortable with humans.

I did minimal color correction on this one. It was already pretty sharp. I like the little grains of pollen on her head. I guess bees don’t suffer from allergies.

Tonight, The Man and I attended a Yelp Elite event at the Tucson Botanical Gardens in conjunction with Natures Connects, which is a traveling exhibit of giant Lego sculptures. In addition to free nighttime access to the gardens (very nice this time of year) we got tamales from the Tucson Tamale Company, small batch paletas (a kind of Mexican popsicle, if you’re not from around here), much booze (a hallmark of Yelp Elite events), a chance to play with Legos (with an Instagram contest for best Lego tree), and a scavenger hunt (tied for first, winning 2 free passes to the gardens–usually we have a membership but ours has lapsed, so this is a nice bonus). There were also gift bags with nature-themed playing cards, a jigsaw puzzle, a tie tack, a highlighter that’s also a Lego block, and a coupon to the gift shop.

Last night I wrote a sonnet. Tonight I’m playing with fonts.

No New Art Today; Here’s an Image

I could have drawn a Dragon Comic about little kids wanting to pick up every single creature they come across but after the nonstop mayhem of my sister’s wedding, my brain is scrambled. I want to sleep, and even if I did draw a comic, I probably wouldn’t be able to upload it, because this hotel has the world’s worst wifi. (I’m using The Man’s hotspot but we have to turn it off soon because data costs money.) Anyway, my eyes are swimming. No drawing today.

Here instead is a photograph I took of some interesting plants growing out of what I assume is a pylon that once supported some kind of dock in Lake Whatcom, which is a funny name if you pronounce it as it’s written. The T, however, is silent: “WA-cum.” I guess it’s a funny name either way.

How long do you have to leave a chunk of wood sticking out of a lake before nature starts to reclaim it?

How long do you have to leave a chunk of wood sticking out of a lake before nature starts to reclaim it?

I had to wade out about 20 feet from the shore to get this shot; I was very cautious with the equipment. I really wish I had a waterproof camera, though, because then I would be showing you some stunning images of dragonflies on lily pads. Trust me, they were beautiful.

Pictures from the 123rd Annual Meeting of the International Cryptozoology Association

Not pictured: Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Abominable Snowman, and Skunk Ape. Best session of the weekend!

Not pictured: Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Abominable Snowman, and Skunk Ape. Best session of the weekend!

If you don’t get it, then query “Bigfoot” or “Loch Ness Monster on Google Image Search. It’s just a little joke. That’s all I wanted to tell today.

We used to report a lot of cryptozoology news on the defunct website, In the Weird. I’m sorry I let the domain expire, because we had done some cool stuff there. At one point we had a dozen regular contributors and were regularly getting 100s of hits a day. Even after we still updating the site, it was still seeing about 500 visitors a week. I’ve been thinking about hosting some of the content on this blog, at least some of my favorite posts. It’s very different stuff from what I would write now, much darker and more sarcastic than what I do here. I guess I thought that when the domain expired the content would still be available as a Blogger blog, but apparently I would have to reupload every single post, and there were many posts.

My big project is about 90% done, and should be visible here on Friday. It’s coming out pretty well even if it’s taking 4 times as long as I intended. Only one more complicated piece and then 2 more easy bits.

It’s a flat, 2-dimensional work that I’m giving as a gift, and tonight a woman suggested that the best way to get a cheap frame is to go to a thrift store and buy an ugly painting of the same size. Brilliant.

Road Trip Memorabilia

The day before we left on our epic Grand Canyon adventure, I was at Target looking for things to entertain kids when a thought occurred to me. The Man doesn’t use printed maps anymore, depending entirely on his phone for directions, so I thought it would be fun for the kids to buy a state map and mark our route on it as we traveled. It could provide a sense of perspective that you don’t get from a 5.7 inch diagonal display (The Man is a fan of his ZMAX phablet).

But what would we do with this map afterward? Would its destiny be to moulder amongst other forgotten relics of road trips past?

Perhaps influenced by my Trickster’s Hat experiments, I had another idea. I saved up all the ephemera from the trip (national park handouts and such) and printed out a couple dozen photos. (When was the last time I printed out photos? Maybe 2006! We didn’t even print our wedding pictures.) Then I mounted the photos on the map.

6 days of no holds barred sightseeing, compressed into a single rectangle.

6 days of no holds barred sightseeing, compressed into a single rectangle.

As it turned out, there wasn’t room for the ephemera. There were empty spaces, but none big enough for the inset maps or other things. Instead, I printed out a second round of photos with small details like flowers, petroglyphs, and animals, and added them like marginalia.

Close up on (most of) the route.

Close up on (most of) the route.

Then I remarked the route, color-coding it by day so you can easily see where we drove on each leg of the journey. We were gone for 6 days, which allowed me to make the color code a rainbow. Then I bordered each photo with the corresponding color so you can easily see on which day any particular image was taken.

Use this product to stick things to paper.

Use this product to stick things to paper.

This project is perhaps a bit craftier (rather than artier) than the stuff I usually do. As evidence, I present this glue product. I wasn’t sure what to use, so I asked the Cat, who is an accomplished scrapbooker. She recommended this stuff, which is a very sticky glue loosely affiliated with a waxy tape. You just run the device over the thing you wish to glue and the glue transfers effortlessly from the tape to your picture, and doesn’t wrinkle the paper like some glue does.

You have to be careful because it is extremely sticky. If you run the device over a spot you’ve already gotten glue on, it can jam the works; and once you place your image, it’s pretty difficult to get it back up again, so you need to get it right the first time.

I had the map professionally framed, because it’s a weird size and there was no way I could buy a frame off the rack. Although lately I wonder if I ought to learn how to frame things myself. They mounted it and made it look quite professional, and I picked it up this afternoon. The kids loved it. The framers loved it too.

Detail from days 5 and 6: hiking Boyton Canyon and the Sinagua ruins near Sedona.

Detail from days 5 and 6: hiking Boyton Canyon and the Sinagua ruins near Sedona.