Whadderyoo Looking At?

There is so much I have yet to learn about making good photographs. Each step along the way seems like I’ll never sort it out, but I keep at it. I snap photo after photo until I finally understand what makes a particular aspect work. It’s usually one photograph that turns out just right, and I say “hey, maybe I’m starting to get the hang of this.”

My current studies are about macro photography. I’ve owned a macro lens for a quite a while now, but have used it only rarely as I’ve never happy with the results. It’s the photographer’s fault, not the lens. It’s a fine lens, but a macro in the hands of an inexperienced photographer can yield some funky stuff (and not in a good way).

To me, a macro lens is amazing because you can get such detail, but that detail can come at the cost of clarity if you don’t have it focused just right.

Well, the practice continues, and since my pets must suffer their fate as the subject of my ongoing photography education, today I present to you another photo of my beloved male betta named Benito.

Last evening I pointed the macro lens his way when it was his turn to cool his fins in a holding cup. Freshly treated water in his tank was warming up to a comfy level while he waited.

Snapping him in the holding cup helps because he doesn’t have as much room to move and spin and twirl and turn his body into a perfect u-shaped form, thus creating ever more blurry photos of half a fin or an out of focus gill.

He’s very responsive when I speak to him and comes right up and looks at me. Sure, he wants me to feed him, but I like to think it’s because he knows I’m his human and here to take care of him.

I like looking into his little eyes, and wanted very much to capture a photo where you could see the clear domes over his little fishy eyeballs.

I think I succeeded. He was very patient while I fiddled with the focus and turned the knobs on my camera and cursed and snapped away.

For this photo, I used a very shallow depth of field and I like how his head is very clear and the rest of his body blurs to soft focus.

Benito is not really a fan of having a camera aimed at him, so I only took about eight photos, but I’m pretty pleased with the results.

I’m learning!

click image for larger size

This week’s Theme Thursday assignment is turn.

Photo by Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons license, as posted in the right hand column.

Worst Quote Ever for Serious Musicians

“Touring is no longer an ordinary thing where you play an instrument in jeans and a T-shirt. It has some pizzazz these days, and I’m definitely bringing the pizzazz with a lot of bells and whistles.”

So says Katy Perry while discussing the addition of smells to her upcoming tour.

See the thing is, if you are an honestly good musician, some people will actually pay to see you standing there playing an instrument in jeans and a tshirt.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane! No, wait…it’s not that at all.

Today in the San Francisco Chronicle‘s online edition, the SFGate, there was a very brief story on the front page for a few hours.

Here’s the headline:

Pot-firing catapult found at Arizona-Mexico border

Ok, in a nutshell, the story is:

“Drug smugglers trying to get marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border apparently are trying a new approach — a catapult.

National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening.”

Blah, blah, blah, the Border Patrol and National Guard seized the catapult and about 4 pounds of the green stuff.

A fairly amusing story, all in. But that’s not the best part.

SFGate allows readers to comment on articles, and that’s where it gets good.

Here’s a selection of the best of what SFGate readers had to say:

“The catapult has been held without bail”

“Time for US to spend a few billion dollars to develop counter-catapult technology.”

“When trebuchets are outlawed, only outlaws will have trebuchets.”

“Total distance traveled by projectile: Over the border;
Time to impact from launch: 2.5 seconds;
Angle of launch: 45 degrees;
Temperature at time of launch: 65 degrees Fahrenheit;
Dimensions of projectile: 8 inch wide x 12 inch long cannabis;
Force of gravity: 32.15223 ft/s/s;
Muy bueno!”

(that’s geeky goodness)

“OMG it’s raining pot!”

“sounds pretty half baked.”

“No doubt these guys got the idea for their new delivery method from playing Angry Birds on their stolen iPhones.”

“They left this part of the story off:

‘Shortly after the seizure, the Mexican troops contacted the Americans and offerred to capapult 10 kilos of marijuana to the American side of the border in exchange for 10 large combination pizzas and a case of Doritos.'”

“Sophisticated criminals use a trebuchet.”

“Green Express. When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

“This is what you get when the smugglers trade pot to an engineer for design work…”

“Save the bales!”

“The free Mexican Air Force is flying tonight
Flying so high yi hiyeeeeee!!”

I guess I should expect no less from the Bay Area, a place notoriously in favor of the use of the same stuff that is being lobbed over the wall.

Buncha smartasses. *grin*

Image from Icanhazcheeseburger

The lump in my throat, feeling kind of homesick, photo of the day

From the National Geographic Photo of the Day site:

(click photo to see larger size)

Photo by Troy Lim, taken December 2010 at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

As a school kid we went on a field trip to the Bosque del Apache and I also went a couple times with my folks. It is one of the most visceral feelings I’ve ever known to sit in among the vast amounts birds at either sunrise or sunset and hear them all calling, honking, tweeting, whatevering at each other. It is a feeling, truly, that nature is much, much greater than you.

And I miss it.

Cheers to you, my Fair New Mexico.

With The Passage of Time

While toiling away at my desk job every day, I like to keep the day going by listening to the radio in the background.

Generally, I like to stream the oldies country station out of Albuquerque, channel 104.7. It is very comforting to hear familiar music mixed in with ads for local ABQ businesses. It’s also very perplexing for my coworkers, which is an added benefit.

This afternoon while crunching spreadsheets and lobbing emails over the wall, the circa 1969 song “Okie from Muskogee” came on the radio.

Now, as you know, I do love a Merle Haggard song.

For some reason today, instead of just mindlessly singing along, I listened in on the words.

It’s a pretty outdated song by many accounts, yet in some ways still feels relevant.

Take this, for example:

“We don’t let our hair grow long and shaggy/
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do.”

Well, for one thing, long and shaggy hair is commonplace now. It’s actually mainstream.

For another, there’s not any hippies in SF these days. I don’t think the free-love folks from the sixties would even recognize the place anymore. Funny how scads of money tends to move the needle toward conservative, no matter where you are.

That said, that’s still my favorite line in the song. I sang it at the top of my lungs when I saw Merle in concert this summer. The absurdity of singing a line deriding San Francisco while being near San Francisco was just too delicious.

Then there’s this part that has always cracked me up:

“We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse/
And white lightnin’s still the biggest thrill of all.”

So he’s singing about how being a square is a good thing. About having good clean fun. About waving the flag and being upright and just.

Oh and he’s also singing about drinking an illegal alcohol substance.

Marijuana? No. Moonshine? Just fine.

Am I the only one who finds that just a little…oh I don’t know…ironic?

Plus, I can guarangoddamntee you that Mr. Haggard has sampled of the green stuff. More than once. More than once today.

Merle has said he wrote “Okie from Muskogee” as a protest to the Vietnam protestors. He found them a little hard to take after he’d been released from San Quentin.

Oh wait. So the flag waving good clean fun guy was in prison?

Five different times, actually. Doesn’t that seem…uh…also ironic?

Which makes me remember that the whole song, while conservative and flag waving and a bit chiding in tone is really, actually, all done tongue in cheek.

It’s a bit of a ruse, and a well-done ruse. A Grammy winning poke at society.

And that’s where the title of this post comes into play. With the passage of time, The Hag starts to look a little less like a musical outlaw and a lot more like a musical genius.

Plus he helped me get through a really rough day. Thanks Hag.