Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Color Red

Well, I think I have finally found a solution to the magenta shift in photos of red flowers. Photoshop offers a "Deep Emerald" photo filter in its set of Adjustments available under the Image dropdown menu. This 25 percent density filter appears, to my eye, to restore the color to what I saw when I took the photo.

Here are four examples:

Just in time for February.

Day 53 of 365

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Azalea Days

I beat my head against the wall because it feels so good when I stop. I love the rain because . . .

... when the sun finally comes out everything is so fresh and beautiful.

These are the first azaleas in my neighborhood.

And while I was out admiring the flowers, The Kid was out filming at a skate park in Sacramento. The Kid's latest skate video features a new member of the Shughe team.

Satur-Dane from shughe on Vimeo.

Day 52 of 365

Friday, January 29, 2010

Camelia Days

I really shouldn't wait until after 11 p.m. to put together the day's post. I'm tired and it feels like I'm just doing it because I said I would. This is all made worse by the fact that I'm not particularly happy with the result.

Red is not my color. Or it is not the camera's color. I've tried a bunch of Photoshop tricks with filters and such, but I just can't get red to look like red.

This looks like it is made out of pink paper. It was much more interesting on the bush.

This is about as red as red gets, but it's just not what I saw.

In comparison this white-stripped red camelia looks absolutely dazzling. Now that's sad.

And then you have pink and you wish everything looked so beautiful. It almost makes up for the dread red.

Day 51 of 365

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nymphs, Cowhands, Blue Moons and a little animal life

My photographic plate runneth over. My bouquet of flowers spills from the vase. Soon there will be no room here for anything without pistils and stamen.

So today I bring you a brief respite.

on my walk yesterday I found this garden nymph seated in a bush. I love the muddy cheeks and feet.

Another roadside find: A cowhand! I found this next to the Pasadena and Pasadena bus stop. I don't know what that has to do with anything.

And, of course, the second full moon in a month is the blue moon. Give me five.

I was standing next to one of the redwoods in my front yard when I noticed a squawking sound. For some reason I first thought it was a seagull, but then I looked up and realized this is what was talking to me. No idea what he was saying or might have been trying to communicate. He wasn't alarmed at all when the camera flash went off.

And the biggest thrill of the day was capturing this macro shot of a ladybug. Don't get many shots this close and that sharp.

Day 50 of 365

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I've been anxiously waiting for the sun to part the clouds long enough to photograph the first daffodils of the season. I discovered the patch of yellow flowers on a morning run and I've been monitoring their growth each day I pass by the house. They are amazingly resilient considering the beating they have taken in recent storms.

Back in my Digital Art Desktops days I discovered the joys of daffodils. They come early and stay late. They make great photographs. When I started this 365 days of photography project I knew daffodils would be almost as prominent as cats.

So the clouds finally parted in the early afternoon but I couldn't leave my desk. I watched as the sun crept lower and lower. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer and I gathered up my camera and started walking.

It's about a mile from my house to the patch of daffodils around a tree in someone's front yard. I suppose I should have taken a car, but I still have this aversion to driving from my transitarian days. And I'm still paying the penalty. Today I arrived at the flower bed just as the sun dipped behind the house. Had I been there 15 minutes earlier I would have had the ideal late afternoon sun.

So that is my excuse for these two rather ordinary snapshots.

The next shot is from a different flower bed.

This patch is just starting to bloom. I'll be back.

Tonight, when I was putting this blog post together I was looking for information on when daffodils normally bloom. And that's when I learned the formal name of the flower, Narcissus.
"As divine punishment Narcissus falls in love with a reflection in a pool, not realizing it was his own, and perishes there, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection."
I love irony. What could be more narcissistic than blogging about your own photography? Ah, blogging about your Photoshop skills at manipulating a Narcissus into a painting.

VoilĂ !

And so ends

Day 49 of 365

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The doorman

For more than 27 years I had just one employer. My job was narrowly defined. It was predictable to the point of boredom. And then I got laid off, and suddenly I was cast adrift.

Today I have one half-time job and a home-based business building and maintaining websites. Mixed up in all of this new-found part-this and part-that stew is my husbandry role as a Honey Do... rancher and my occupation as a doorman.

It is the doorman gig I'll use for today's photo spread.

The front of our house has a brick facade that extends up to just below the window of my office. The cats have learned that they can jump up on the ledge created by the facade and walk over to my window. One meow and the doorman leaps up from his desk to take his position at the front door.

The cat will then walk along the edge and around the corner to the door.

And without touching the porch, the cats leap from the ledge into the house.

Of course, the door swings both ways and sometimes it sits open while the cats decide what exactly it is they want to do -- In? Out? One in; one out. After the count of three, any cat who can't decide is threatened with becoming door jam.

All in a day's work.

Day 48 of 365

Monday, January 25, 2010


I spent a little more than three years in the Navy. It really helped me decide what I didn't want to do for the rest of my life -- be in the Navy -- and introduced me to some ideas of what I might be able to do -- go to college to become a journalist.

So the other day as I pulled into a store parking lot and encountered a flock of grounded seagulls I was temporarily transported back to sea.

I did my time in the enlisted ranks, working in maintenance administration of an F4 fighter squadron. Mostly I talked to the pilots to find out if the jets had any problems and then I told someone who cared. I suppose there were lower forms of enlisted life, but low I was.

You always had at least one guy who tried to stand out, never quite appreciating that the Navy hierarchy was as rigid as a steel bulkhead and just a permeable. What other branch of the service invests as much manpower in serving officers their meals? At the time I was in the Navy, the guys serving in the officer's mess were still mostly Filipinos.

The officers -- they were always above.

I watched the machinations, the maneuvering, always appreciating that, to paraphrase Gatsby, officers "are different from you and me."

And the flag-rank officers? Gods. Immortals.

Day 47 of 365

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday in bed with the flowers

Yesterday's excellent cloud adventure also provided an opportunity to photograph some more flowers. In particular, I experimented with setting the camera to aperture priority so that I could manually close the aperture and therefore increase the depth of field.

One of my "disappointments" with earlier flower photos has been the extremely narrow area of the image in focus. Each of the photos in today's collection has a much larger depth of field.

This whole experiment was made available by the brief periods of direct sunlight. Previous shooting under cloudy weather limited my ability to use the smaller aperture because the smaller the aperture the slower the shutter speed. And I've learned from sad experience that I really need a tripod when shooting at anything below 1/100th of a second shutter speed.

What is the evolutionary purpose of whiskers on a flower bud?

Day 46 of 365

Saturday, January 23, 2010

After The Storms

This was just too good. An afternoon of big, fluffy clouds and a real sunset, the first since I began this 365-day photo shtick.

The first three were taken around 2 p.m. from the stadium parking lot at American River College.

I loved the stark contrast of the oak against the clouds.

Oaks in winter remind me of old men. Not frail, gray old men, but strong and heroic sentries who have watched for ages as time and seasons have come and gone.

The real value of the storm is the revelation of the beauty afterward.

And those photos would have been plenty, but then the sun started to set as The Wife and I were headed to the Cal-Expo Costco. I drove behind Costco into the lot next door and got out my camera. I don't go anywhere without it now.

I shot more than 100 photos in the time it took for the sun to set.

Birds flew by . . .
. . . and a plane sailed into the sunset.

Years ago when I was taking photos for my Digital Art Desktops website, I would go looking for shots like this, but I never captured what I was looking for. You can't manufacture this. You just have to be there at the right time.

Day 45 of 365

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hawaii Five-O, or The Return of Hawaiian Eye

As a high school graduation present, The Wife cashed in a bunch of timeshare credits and purchased accommodations for a week in Honolulu for The Kid and five of his friends. The other boys had to pay their own way over and cover their own expenses once there.

The Kid packed two high-definition digital camcorders and an old Super-8 film camera and his skateboard. When he left on a direct flight from Sacramento, The Wife and I had visions of 18- and 19-year-old boys gone wild. But the story that accompanied the boys on their return was something quite different.

On the first day in Honolulu, the boys learned that skateboarding is illegal -- everywhere.

The Kid and his friends are street skaters. By definition nothing they do is legal. Over the years I've allowed The Kid freedom to skate (as though I could prevent it!) in exchange for a promise that he would abide by two rules:
  1. Never deliberately destroy private property
  2. Never run from the police
You can't street skate -- grind ledges, skate handrails -- without doing some damage, but I didn't want him wantonly trashing property.

The second rule stems from a youthful indiscretion on his part at the age of 9. He and some buds were at Mira Loma High School skating the senior steps when sheriff's deputies arrived. The kids (remember they are only 9 and 10 years old) tried to outrun the officers and, when that failed, tried to hide. All they succeeded in doing was getting the deputies angry. Each of the boys lost his skateboard and had to appear before a juvenile court judge.

I was raised in Los Angeles. My mother taught me from an early age that you say, "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" to police. No quick movements, keep your hands in plain sight and never, ever, run. You just don't back-talk people with guns, she lectured.

The Kid apparently took the lesson from Mira Loma to heart. Years later, he was caught with several friends skating the water slide tubes at Water World. I got a call from the Cal-Expo police asking me to come down and pick up The Kid. When I got there, the officer in charge was absolutely effusive in his praise for how "nice" The Kid was, how polite. The Kid got off with a "Don't do that again" lecture from the officer. He even got to keep his board.

All of this is to say, I wasn't surprised to learn that The Kid spent every night in Honolulu illegally skating, collecting film footage that will be used in his next DVD.

Early in the trip, the boys located a wide cement ledge that provided a ramp to a long handrail. Every night, The Kid hit that spot attempting to 50-50 the rail. Translation: The Kid attempted to ride the skateboard on the rail, sliding on the metal trucks that house the wheel axles.

Night after night he tried, and night after night he failed to land the trick. The video below shows two of those failed attempts, including a collision between the skateboard and the camera. [Warning: If you are at work, mute the sound.]

And then, on the second-to-last night in Hawaii, The Kid landed the trick. [The Kid won't let me show the clip of him landing it; that's to be reserved for the DVD.] It was about 2 a.m. and the boys were still celebrating when a car pulled up to the curb and two Hawaiian girls started yelling at the boys. The Kid picked up his camera and was walking over to film what was happening when four very large Hawaiian men came up behind the boys and started throwing punches.

The Kid was hit it the face and knocked down, but managed to get to his feet and beat it back to his hotel. The boys figure the girls dropped the guys off around the corner and then drove up to distract the boys while the attackers snuck up on them.

Two days later he arrived back in Sacramento with a modest shiner as a surprise for his mother. (We didn't learn of the misadventure until we met at the airport.)

The Graduate had his Hawaii 5-0 and returned with his Hawaiian eye.

(Yes, technically, it was a Hawaii 50-50, but we're not going to let a little fact like that get in the way of our fun.)

And as a bonus I'll throw in a glowing edges treatment of his shiner.

Day 44 of 365

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Somewhere Under The Rainbow

If anything, I'm learning to keep my camera with me when I'm traveling around town. Not that I travel that much, but The Wife had a dentist appointment yesterday and I offered to drive her around on some errands afterward.

I was sitting in the parking lot of the dentist's office a little before 4 p.m. when the clouds opened just enough for the sun to generate a rainbow over the opposite side of the city.

A heavy hand with Photoshop nicely simulated overexposing the "film." Eventually I'll learn how to manually change the exposure on the camera. Eventually. But when it's so easy to cheat with Photoshop, it's hard to work up much interest in reading the camera's thick manual.

Day 43 of 365

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Afternoon Delight

Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated. [Wikipedia]
That pretty much sums up what happened yesterday when I was getting ready to drive to midtown for an appointment. As I was closing up my computer to leave, the rain stopped and the clouds parted. Maybe I won't have to reach into my rainy day supply after all, I thought to myself as I tossed my camera into my backpack with my computer.

I headed down Business 80. At about CalExpo I caught a glimpse of downtown in the distance and remembered once taking photos years ago from the old city dump on 28th Street. By the time I got there, I was disappointed to discover that I couldn't get a clear shot of downtown because of power lines. But after a bit of a hike I did manage to come up with something worth posting.

And, of course, since I felt the downtown shot was only so-so, I had to try out some Photoshop magic. I can't explain how I got here, but I like where I ended up.
This effect is easier to explain. It's just a "stamp" filter. Had to tweak the photo before I could get the detail I wanted.

When I turned around to leave, I was greeted by this bucolic scene.

Then I turned around again and captured the multilayered clouds over downtown.

Clouds are becoming something of a guilty pleasure -- just too easy to be considered serious work.

Day 42 of 365