2010 June : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

So…I’m curious about your opinion

I know, I know. I’m usually the opinionated one here.

But I have a photography related question and I know that my readers are both smart and savvy. And many of you have an aesthetic that is not to be beat!

So I’ll cut right to the heart of the matter.

I spend a fair amount of time looking at websites where amateurs with varying degrees of talent and experience post their photos.

There are some amazingly gifted photographers out there.

And…there are some amazingly gifted photoshoppers out there.

I tend to wince a little when I see photos that are lovely but are WAY post processed. It seems to be “the thing” these days to massively post process photos. So much so that I think we as photographers are losing the skill of setting up the shot on the camera.

When I mention this to fellow student photographers, everyone looks at me with a condescending smile, as though I’m the Village Idiot.

I don’t mind doing a little touch up work, a little color correction, things like that.

But the full scale photoshopping…well. I don’t know, it’s a thing for me.

But I sort of digress.

There is one particular photo treatment that bugs me. And yet intrigues me.

It is basically a photo in black and white where one color is pulled out.

Here, better to show you what I mean. This is my first attempt. I did this photo using the Colorsplash app on my iPhone and touched it up a bit using Photoshop Elements.

It’s not the finest example of the technique, but you’ll get what I mean.

Behold, my bowl of oranges, moments before they were juiced. Delicious!

I’ve seen some really well done versions of this technique, and it can create quite an emotion.

But I can’t help looking at a black and white with one color photo, especially my own, and thinking it is something akin to the old fashioned photo-in-a-brandy-snifter as far as classy effects.

Then again…it creates laser focus to one part of the photograph which can make all the difference in the viewing experience.

Perhaps I tend to lean a little too much toward conventional.

So I’m curious if I should spend some more time perfecting this effect in Photoshop (and thus may learn to love it more) or if I should move on to other lessons?

Thoughts on both sides of the argument are really, really helpful. Feel free to Google “black and white photo with one color” to look at other examples before you render a decision.

Just curious. All thoughts are useful!

Thanks in advance!

Magic Spray – Cures What Ails Ya!

So ok, this year I’ve been keeping up with the World Cup. It *is* the biggest sporting event in the world.

From the giant vuvuzela to the US team’s fairly decent showing. Yes! I’m onboard.

And so of course, I read with fascination a brief Yahoo Sports Blog entry about this elixir known as Magic Spray.

Especially the bit about “…no matter what part of the body the player is clutching in anguish, the attending doctor pulls out an anonymous looking spray can and gives the player a liberal dousing of white mist.”

Hmm. Magical mist, eh? Do tell.

“Sometimes it works like spinach for Popeye, sometimes it only serves as a stopgap until the stretcher arrives…”

Ok. I’m in. Where do I get some? I need it. Gotta have it. Yup.

Magical mist = want.

Especially if they make in emotional flavor.

Boyfriend makes a cutting remark? Spray, spray, all better!

Yahoolio cuts you off in traffic? Spray, spray. No more mad!

Can’t seem to get past the trauma from mommy and daddy grounding you for bad grades? Therapist just leans over, gives you a solid crop dusting, and you’re back in the game of life!

I like it. Of course, it *must* come with a crew of trainers and physical and emotional therapists.

I imagine the scene goes something like this:

Boss loses his mind all over you because you whiffed a deadline.

You call, “Time out, time out!!!”

Your team of windsuited trainers comes jogging out, squats down beside your emotionally prone body, “how you doin'” they ask?

You answer, “Not so good.”

Spray, spray. You are back up and limping, but you are in the game.

The clock starts, and then you tell your boss, “Hey! If you would bother to prioritize the work, maybe I’d meet your arbitrary deadlines!”

Goooooooooooooooooooooooal!

Ya’ll picking up what I’m putting down here? Magic. Spray. Magic spray.

Gotta have it!

Soot of a Most Sorrowful Kind

Over the weekend, I read on “Only in New Mexico that there had been a fire on the highest trestle bridge of the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.

A Google search netting me an article in the Denver Post with a photograph of the fire on the Lobato Trestle that is both beautiful and heartbreaking.

The sadness immediately hit me in the heart. The Cumbres & Toltec railroad, billed as “America’s Highest & Longest Narrow Gauge Scenic Railroad,” holds a special place in my heart.

In fact, I did a post about my memories of the Cumbres & Toltec back in 2007. Looking back to that post, I rather enjoyed reading what I wrote, and I was filled with melancholy at the idea that the railroad won’t be running this summer due to the damage.

I believe that either New Mexico or Colorado, or both, will fix the bridge because the railroad is a big tourist draw. However, times are tough and money is tight. So who knows how long it might take before the Cumbres & Toltec is up and running again?

On his blog, Jim Baca was kind enough to post a couple family shots from his adventures on the Cumbres & Toltec.

Having recently semi-reorganized my rather vast pile of family photo albums, I did a dive into the memories and dug up a few photos of my own. There was a family trip back in August 1978, and I found a couple photos worth sharing.

As mentioned in my 2007 post, Captain Type A, also know as my dad, rousted us all early from our beds in the Apache pop up trailer we’d camped in the night before. I’m unclear why we were up so early, but it was, ostensibly, to go and catch the train.

Chama sits at 8,203 feet, so even on a nice day the mornings are rather chilly. Getting out of bed wasn’t the easiest of tasks that day.

I recall my dad being pretty excited and the rest of the family being…well. Um. Fairly excited?

Look at this happy group! (I’m the shortest one in the front.)

Man, is that a spouse and three kids that are LOVING the head of the household right now?

And also…helllooooooo seventies! How much denim is in that photo?

This is the station where the journey begins on the Chama side. That little figure huddled off to the right sitting on the wagon under the Chama sign is me.

Cold. Cranky. Waiting.

But I suppose there was a payoff. Once the sun came out and it warmed up and the train actually got moving…well heck, look at that face!

I’m diggin’ it!

I remember really having a lot of fun once we were actually on the train. The end point of the trip, Antonito, was a charming little tourist town. I thought it was big fun since I’m a longtime lover of souvenir and tchotchke shops!

We ended the day covered in soot and ash, tired but happy. It ended up being worth it, a fun family trip, even if the beginning was a little rough.

I’d like to think that the Cumbres & Toltec will get up and running again, because there are whole legions of children who haven’t yet been tortured by their early rising father at an elevation of eight thousand feet.

Flash Fiction & Fables Finale – New Mexico Folklore

And so it is that we’ve come to the last day of this fun and different sort of week on the blog.

What a ride it’s been!

My goal was to shake up my brain a little bit so I could get some fresh blog posts out of the ol’ noodle.

Well, it worked. I already have a list of about ten fresh topics that will start coming your way next week.

For today, I have what I consider to be the grand prize for coming along with me on this ride.

Today is the Fables part of the week.

After scouring both books and the internet, I’ve selected an item from a book called Cuentos de Cuanto Hay. The subtitle is “Tales from Spanish New Mexico.”

This story collection is published by University of New Mexico Press, and was edited and translated by Joe Hayes.

The stories were originally collected by J. Manuel Espinosa in the 1930’s. He traveled around Northern New Mexico collecting verbal tales from the Spanish speaking residents, then transcribed and published them. That first published book was called Spanish Folk Tales from New Mexico.

Joe Hayes found a copy of the book and had loved it through the years, so in 1998 he worked with Dr. Espinosa to clean up many of the stories, added in a few more, and republished the collection.

It is charming, odd, and packed full of deep rooted stories from the Hispanic culture.

Just like New Mexico itself, many of the stories are a bit quirky.

Even the title of the book reflects the beautiful slow moving, “Land of Mañana” charm. Joe Hayes translates the phrase Cuentos de Cuanto Hay as “tales of olden times.” Literally translated, it means “stories of whatever it is.”

Which seems sort of New Mexico to me. “Eh, tales of whatever!” with a dismissive wave of the hand.

The story I’ve selected, “Juan Pelotero” also brings a lot of that New Mexico mischievous sense of humor. There is a line in the story where two characters agree to meet at “such and such a place.” Details, feh, who needs ’em!

The name, Pelotero, is also symbolic. In today’s vernacular, a pelotero is a ball player, usually baseball, but pelotero can also refer to futbol. The first line of the story gives you the clue to the more archaic use of the word: “Juanito Pelotero was a gambler.” Pelotero back then meant a player, a rogue, a roustabout.

You’ll also find the story tends to move fast in some parts, skipping over details. At just a few pages long, it packs a lot of story in there.

Since these tales were originally an oral legacy passed down from family member to family member, I’m going to bring “Juan Pelotero” (and maybe others) back to the verbal tradition.

Today, I’ve made a recording of the story and it’s posted below for your listening pleasure. I suggest putting the story on in the background while you go about your work checking email or what have you.

As I converted the file to MP3 format, feel free to download the audio file and put it on your iTunes or iPod to listen later if you would like.

I recorded this using a podcast microphone and Garageband software.

Do not expect recording studio quality, please. The quality reflects my gear and my room. I’ve done my best to keep the sounds of The Feline and my iPhone out of the recording, but I live in a creaky house and it’s windy today. You get the idea.

If listening to a story isn’t your thing, but you’d still like to read it, I’ve posted a .pdf. Click here for that. (remember, this edition of the story is copyright the University of New Mexico Press, so don’t run off doing anything naughty with it, you hear?)

______________________

The story of “Juan Pelotero” was told to Dr. Espinosa by Bonifacio Mestas of Chamita, NM.

Run time is just over nine minutes. File is just over 4MB, so it may take a few moments to load. Player opens in a new window.

Enjoy!

Karen Fayeth reading “Juan Pelotero”

Footnotes:

1. Sorry about the high-pitched whine behind the audio. I think it’s from the internet router on my desk.

2. In case you are wondering what a sacristan is, click here. I had to look it up too.

3. Yes, I think the part about the talking spit is weird.

4. The dove sounds I’m making are read as written in the story. Cucurucú is how it’s written. I did my best….:)

Flash Fiction – Day Four & Final

Whoooo, yes! Fist pumps and happy jigs. I managed to pull off this massive stretch goal of writing a new Flash Fiction story four days in a row.

I’m not going to lie to ya, this has been challenging. Getting today’s story done was tough, and I think it reads like it. This challenge really took some work.

Today, the overworked Muse got a little silly. I hope you’re willing to come along for this final ride.

Tomorrow, as promised, I’ll be posting an oral reading of a New Mexico folktale as my wrap up of this crazy off beat week of Flash Fiction and Fables.

It’s a good one, I think you’re going to like it, especially the readers/listeners from my home state.

But for today, my randomly generated word is: portability

Without further ado:

The Device

by Karen Fayeth

Darryl and Sean worked quietly, side-by-side in the corrugated metal work shed they referred to as “The Lair.”

Work was wrapping up on their invention, a device without a name so far. If you asked them, it was totally a fusion reacting, power providing, super über top of the line invention.

The whole deal was this, it was a small reactor that creates enough power to run a small city. Clean burning, no electricity or fuel required, and it only fills up a small footprint.

The genesis of the invention came when Darryl had entered a project in his college science fair to show how he could make small fusion reactions.

Sean had also worked on an entry for the fair, but wasn’t able to complete it in time. His was a device for efficient distribution of power in a small space and without heat or exhaust.

The two ideas put together was an invention in which Pajaro Ventures had invested $3 million in R&D money. It would totally pay off, assuming they could get the device to be stable.

Initial trials were not as successful as they’d hoped.

The Lair had been replaced three times due to what the boys referred to as “misfires.”

But if they got it to work right, they could rule the world. Literally, they hoped, because that would be cool.

When they weren’t working on, or fighting over what to call the device, they were arguing over what to call themselves. Darryl favored Captain Hazard as his superhero slash evildoer name. His costume included a bright yellow vest, the kind road crews wear to be seen by passing cars.

Sean was leaning toward Dr. Reaction. His costume was a bit more ill defined, consisting mostly of a white lab coat with nuclear symbols attached to both shoulders like epaulettes.

The U.S. Army was interested in the unnamed device, as they needed strong, reliable power at many of their installations in the Middle East. A clean burning self-contained unit that kept them off either generators requiring gasoline or power lines requiring infrastructure was looking real enticing.

However, the U.S. Army was a bit skeptical that two recent college grads had the gonads to actually pull this thing off. No matter, the risk was on Pajaro Ventures. If it worked, Parajo got a huge contract. If it didn’t, Pajaro ate the R&D fees and the U.S. Army would keep on looking.

Early on, Darryl and Sean had flown out to Washington to meet with senior ranking officials, including one five star general. The field commanders gave the boys their list of must haves and nice to haves around this thing.

The team agreed on device specs. Darryl and Sean would come back in six months to demo their progress.

That demo was due to take place the next morning. After a good night’s sleep, the boys rose early and got ready. A black Suburban rolled up and men in dark sunglasses loaded up The Device and the boys and delivered them to the airport, where they boarded the Parjaro private plane headed for the Pentagon.

The flight went without a hitch and soon Darryl and Sean found themselves in a large auditorium surrounded by a lot of people, most wearing dark green uniforms.

“Yeah, so, ok, let’s get right into this,” Darryl said, doing the talking. He was the more eloquent of the two.

The Device sat on the floor in front. When signaled, Sean hit the go button.

Fans whirred, parts rumbled and the machine’s lights flashed.

“As you can see,” Darryl said, “It takes only a few moments to come online. Once you see an orange light here, at the side, it’s fully charged and ready to go.”

The light came on, and Darryl took the plugs from a refrigerator, a clothes dryer and a microwave and plugged them into the outlets built into The Device.

“These high power drawing items are but a fraction of what The Device can power. When up to full capacity, this device could power a small city, say the size of Austin.”

The assembled crowed murmured their approval.

It worked. The Device was generating smooth power. It shook a little, but no fires so far.

“Gentlemen, I believe this meets your requirements for high voltage yet safe and steady power. We have achieved your list of must haves. Oh, wait, there’s one more item we haven’t demoed,” Darryl said, flipping a red switch on the back panel.

Immediately a bright blue undulating hole, about a foot wide, ripped into the fabric of time and space above the machine.

“And there you have it, General, sir. Your requirement is complete.”

General Johanssen looked at the eerie opening in the air that was starting to exert a gravitational pull.

“What the sam hell have you boys done?” he shouted.

“You said that your key requirement was portal ability. We’ve succeeded. The Device not only facilitates powering your base camps, but also provides the beginning stages of time travel. This really is a cutting edge machine.”

General Johanssen’s face turned tomato red with anger. “I said it was mandatory that this device have PORTability, meaning moving the stupid thing as our troops relocate around the world. I did NOT ask for goddamn portal ability! What the hell is that, anyway?”

Darryl and Sean looked at each other, eyes wide. Darryl began frantically fiddling with the red switch.

“Boys, close that goddamn worm hole before someone gets hurt!” a major called out from their left side.

“Um, I’m trying, sir,” Darryl said, sounding panicked.

Suddenly, a nearby office chair was sucked into the depths of the wormhole and sent two thousand light years ahead into space. It landed with a “whump” on the fifth moon of the planet Kranon, killing the opposition leader of the attempted violent overthrow of the King of the Kranonians.

Two thousand light years back on Earth, Darryl could only reply, “Whoops.”

Creative Commons License
“The Device” by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

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