Day 244—Dip-de-dip-de-dip

And now, it’s less than an hour before the real blue moon reaches its peak of fullness. When I came downstairs this morning, my tripod was still standing by the front door where I left it last night and when I opened the door to get the newspaper, I couldn’t resist peeking out to see the moon’s progress. It was setting in the west and I knew that it wouldn’t still be there at 6:59 AM so I put down the newspaper, picked up my camera and tripod and marched out to the driveway for a few more shots. The redwood trees obscured part of the moon’s face as I snapped but I think it adds a little interest to the subject. The moon has turned (I suppose it’s on an axis) since I took the last shot I posted last night.

The camera is still set to DX mode, I used the sunny 16 settings but in post processing, I increased the exposure by 1 and 1/4 stops and added a bit of clarity.

Day 243—Bomp-baba-bomp

I fell in love with the song “Blue Moon” by the Marcels when I first heard it in 1961; I excitedly played it for my mother who was clearly aghast when she heard the doo-wop sounds of “bomp-baba-bomp a ding a dong ding, blue moon” emanting from the radio. “They ruined that song!” she exclaimed. It was news to me that it was an “old folks” song and that my mother actually knew it! Until that moment, I hadn’t a clue that Rogers and Hart wrote it in 1934 when my mother was about the age I was when I discovered it. I never played it in Mom’s presence again, but I still love that song and whenever I hear a standard version, it seems somber and doesn’t have the pumping rhythm that the doo-wop group gave to it.

I’m posting two photos of today’s “blue moon.” It’s technically not a blue moon today, although my Google moon phase app says the moon is full now. The blue moon, a rare second full moon in a calendar month–hence the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’–actually occurs, according to everything I’ve read, at 6:59AM tomorrow morning so I’m a little early. Although I posted a moon shot a few days ago in honor of Neil Armstrong, I have to thank my photoblogger friend Melinda who asked me if I was going to photograph it despite having recently posted a moon shot. Since I hadn’t taken a single shot today until I took the moon shots, I have to thank her for giving me my “photo of the day!” I cropped and added a cyanotype preset to turn the moon blue. The second shot is cropped but is the color of the moon when I took it as it rose in the eastern sky.

And . . . several hours later, here’s how it looked; photo taken in DX mode and cropped; lots of camera movement on all three shots, despite the tripod and my holding the lens still, but not too successfully:

Day 242—Glorious Morning

My neighbor’s morning glories beckon to me and I have taken photos of them before, even posting one to my blog last year. I love the shots I took today. The wind came up as I was shooting this morning, so I upped the shutter speed to 1/1250 to freeze the motion. I made several of Scott Kelby’s Camera Raw adjustments. I think I am finally comfortable with making adjustments to my photos to improve them. Here are two versions of the same shot. I couldn’t decide which crop I preferred so I’m posting both.

Day 241—Chain, Chain, Chain

I didn’t see a chain of fools but I did see a rusty chain around a rustier construction dumpster and I liked the earthy, worn metal look, especially since today’s challenge theme is “metal.” I added some contrast, increased the blacks a bit, and added a vignette. I took the shot at midday so the sun was at its peak creating crisp shadows but, the harsh light accentuated the rusted, eroded metal making the flaws even more apparent and that was the look I wanted. Ever since taking this photo, I can’t seem to get the sound of Aretha Franklin singing “Chain of Fools” out of my head. “Chain, chain, chain….”

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 100
WB Fine Weather
Cropped, etc.

Day 240—Let’s Boogie

When I was sixteen, I bought the sheet music to Jack Fina’s “Bumble Boogie,” a jazzed up boogie-woogie version of Rimsky- Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” At that time, all of my piano training was strict, by the book, classical instruction and I chafed under the rigid, stiff, and what I perceived as boring, musical genre into which I was thrust. By the time I got to high school, my mother had released me from my that regimen and once I was free to play what I liked, jazz, pop, and boogie became my passion. The day I bought this music, I visited my muscially talented high school friend Linda Moore and handed her the eight page score. She sat down to her grand piano and played it through without, as I recall, one missed note. I struggled with the piece and learned only three of the eight pages before I gave up playing when I went off to college. When I finally got a real piano about twenty years ago, I started playing again, even revisiting some of the old classical songs that I’d hated when I was learning. But learning “Bumble Boogie” all the way through was always a goal. And, after some practice, I did learn it. Boogie is so much fun to play; almost as much fun a playing ragtime. I’ve gotten a bit rusty in the past few years so I’m going to have to dust off that keyboard and get back to it. I miss that toe tapping boogie bass line that permeates the song.

Today’s challenge theme is “song” and since this is one of my favorites, I chose it for the challenge. I used my 24-70mm lens on a tripod. ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/30, WB Fair Weather. The first adjustment I had to make was to white balance. It was set to fine weather and once again, the camera’s LCD showed the same as I could see, yellowish brown, aged paper. But when I downloaded the shots, the white balance was completely out of whack on the computer screen, making the sheet music look almost orange. This has happened twice now so I guess it’s something I need to investigate. I have never noticed this happening prior to two days ago, and it is a bit disconcerting. To make it presentable, I used Lightroom’s Preset light antique and added a vignette as well as changing the white balance and making a few other tweaks.

Day 239— “One Small Step. . .”

“. . .for man. One giant leap for mankind.” Those were the words of Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Yesterday, Neil Armstrong, age 82, died. I cried as I read his obituary in the Sacramento Bee this morning. It brought back a flood of memories about that time when everyone knew the names of all of the astronauts and they were our heroes. That day marked the culmination of an incredibly spectacular journey that began a decade before when in 1960 President Kennedy challenged the United States to put a man on the moon within the decade. I have always felt a part of that journey because my father’s company, Sunset Line and Twine, Co., played a significant role in the space program during that era and my family watched, hearts in our throats, every Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flight as they settled back to Earth on the parachute cords manufactured by his company. Sunset manufactured parachute cord during World War II and continued to produce it during the space race with the Soviet Union. I am sad that Neil Armstrong is gone but at the same time, I am proud that my family had a part in that incredible journey, regardless of how small that role was.

When I read Neil Armstrong’s obituary, I knew that I would photograph the moon today for my blog. I went out a few minutes ago and there it was, a 77% waxing gibbous moon, not full, but big enough to pay tribute to Neil Armstrong. The sky is still light but I took the photo at ISO 100, f/16, 1/100, the Sunny 16 rule. Once again I used Scott Kelby’s Camera Raw tweaks to make it pop. The Sunny 16 settings made the sky darker than it really was when I took the shot. I set the camera to timed release. I took three shots, and on the third, this shot, I held the lens to keep it still. It was set to 300mm and the weight of the lens and the camera cause camera shake even when it’s on the tripod.

Day 238—Watermelon

Today I was inspired to try to make a salad I had the other day when the Anderson’s treated me to dinner at Lucca in midtown Sacremento. It is an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. I have a tiny seedless watermelon and a single heirloom tomato, well, sort of an heirloom; it’s actually a hybrid of Brandywine and Better Boy called Brandy Boy. To date it’s set only one tomato and that one’s ripe. I don’t know how my salad will turn out as the ratio of tomato to watermelon at Lucca was about 4 parts tomato to one part watermelon and I suspect my salad will be the opposite. Once again, I followed the Camera Raw steps recommended by Scott Kelby and boy did I need it today. I have no idea what’s going on but the downloaded photos looked nothing like the photos on the camera’s LCD screen, nor immediately after downloading. For some reason, as soon as the files loaded for me to view them, the color intensity increased to overwhelming redness. I had to make major adjustments to exposure. I also changed contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity. But nothing looked right until I adjusted white balance. The original setting was fine weather and despite the fact that the natural daylight overwhelmed the weak overhead incandescent light, I needed to change the white balance to overcome the distinct yellowness of the shots. This was shot with my 50mm lens at ISO 100, f/1.4, 1/40 and it’s cropped as well.

Day 237—Balloons

I gotta hand it to my gym for providing me with seemingly endless photo ops. This morning as I walked in, a bouquet of colorful balloons being used to mark the entrance to a job fair also being held there this morning, caught my eye so before I even started my workout today, I had taken my photos for the day.

I shot into the morning sun because I thought that made the most interesting light and it created nice shadows and reflections. I used Scott Kelby’s 7-point Camera Raw system except no “adjustment brush” and I added a vignette to the first one. I think I’m beginning to like the modest adjustments I’m making to my RAW photos and I’m beginning to realize that I really need to do something to make them better. So, I’m thinking that the SOOC label that I used so smugly for a year and a half really wasn’t showing my best work and that if I’d shot in JPEG instead of RAW, my photos would have looked better SOOC. I also cropped both shots, the second one in the wide screen 9:16 ratio. I haven’t tried Scott’s wide screen ratio, 1:2.39. Maybe tomorrow.

I used my 50mm lens set at ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/1250, WB Fine Weather

Day 236—Day and Night

Today I shot an abandoned bank deposit box because today’s challenge theme is “letters” and I rather liked the cut out letters that say “Day and Night Deposit” on the aged metal box. I used some of the techniques I learned yesterday at Scott Kelby’s Photoshop workshop and then I applied one of the presets that Melinda gave me called “Newsprint” that gives an even more aged feel to the letters. Then, I cropped it severely using the 16X9 preset crop that I believe is the normal setting on HDTVs these days.

Focal Length 50mm
ISO 100
WB Auto

Day 235—Great Scott!!

My friend and fellow photographer and photo blogger Melinda and I spent all day today at the Sacramento Convention Center participating in a Photoshop for Photographers workshop given by Photoshop guru and photographer extraordinaire Scott Kelby. We’ve been waiting for this for quite a while. We first tried to see Scott in mid July only to discover that Melinda and I were the only two pre-paid participants not notified of his schedule change. Kelby Training, however, instantly refunded our money and comped our tickets for today’s event. It was well worth the wait and well worth the money, except that we didn’t have to pay any money for it!

Despite my obsession with posting SOOC (straight out of camera) shots, Scott made me realize that post processing is a natural progression of the photographic process. I learned so much today. He has a great stage persona and he really knows his stuff. Plus, he cuts to the chase and makes the complexities of Photoshop disappear…at least some of its complexities. The workshop lasted from 10 AM until past 5PM and we were not bored for a moment, nor were the more than 400 other people who attended. Our front row seats also made the workshop very pleasant as did our rather nerdy seat mates. We sat directly in front of Scott so we did have to turn a bit to see the giant screens on which he demonstrated his Photoshop techniques but it was nice not to have to lean one way or the other to see him. I really do plan to start processing my shots. Especially since I shoot raw and raw files really do require processing.

I used my 50mm lens and I processed each of the shots I took today using some aspects of Scott’s 7-point system for Camera Raw that we learned today. I didn’t do all 7 steps for the photos but at least I’m learning to process a bit. I had to use really high ISO which continues to bother me but I am going to work on reducing noise in Photoshop, only not tonight. I’m too tired after today’s session to attempt anything beyond simple things I already know how to do.

Here is Melinda, photographing me before the workshop. I didn’t get the colors or the white balance quite right but at least I’m trying now.

Scott is very accessible to his legions of fans. I took these shots of him interacting with the hordes of people surrounding him during breaks, but I cropped them out in camera.

Scott, Melinda, and me after the workshop, photo taken by one of our front row seat mates. He took three shots, the first two were unusable due to various anomalies but when I got home, I discovered a third that was really quite nice. I made some exposure adjustments but I think it still a bit underexposed.

Afterward, the Andersons treated me to a fabulous dinner at Lucca in downtown Sacramento and of course Melinda and I entertained the waiter with our photographic shenanigans. Since I love the blue water glasses at Lucca I had to photograph one.

Here, the waiter offers my Malbec.

One of our workshop companions recommended the zucchini chips at Lucca so we had to try them and they were wonderful.

Finally, Lonnie and Melinda toasting a successful and fun day.

Day 234—Red Reflections In A Harley

My gym and its parking lot seem to offer an endless stream of photo opportunities for me. This morning as I left the gym, I noticed a beautiful dark red crape myrtle and took a few shots as a biker guy on a “dude” Harley roared in and parked next to my car. It didn’t look like a Harley to me so I asked him what it was and he assured me it WAS indeed a Harley. He is a member of the OG Riderz M.C. and I don’t know if this club is as bad-ass as some of the more notorious biker clubs but some of the x-rated stickers on his helmet indicated that he was not a Boomer turned biker wannabe. But he was nice enough and seemed genuinely pleased when I told him I loved the mirrors on the bike and that I wanted to take some photographs. The red crape myrtle is reflected in the mirror both in focus and out of focus and I am reflected in the rear lights. Today’s challenge theme is “starts with ‘R'” so both ‘red’ and ‘reflection’ would meet the challenge.

Day 233—Morning Sun

This morning I took a few shots in my front entry and under my neighbor’s oak tree. The light was lovely and enticing and I snapped three or four of my laughing garden ornament (who has previously starred in my blog) and of my neighbor’s hens and chickens. I’m glad I did because I just realized I hadn’t yet posted a photo for today. So, here are two shots that I love because of the morning light.

Day 232—The Real Me

Anyone who knows me knows that I laugh all the time. I can almost always find something funny in just about any situation and I laugh at myself most of all. Taking today’s photo made me laugh. And I needed that today. I have been so focused lately on taking photos for others that I really needed a break from serious photography and today’s challenge was the perfect, silly subject for me to photograph.

The theme today is “starts with ‘N'” and for some reason, “nose” stuck in my mind. Since I have a trio of fake noses, it seemed the perfect subject for the theme. But I struggled with focus on a multiple exposure, me being the nose model. My stuffed, mechanical macaw served as my focus model but he failed me today. For some reason it didn’t bother me that my focus wasn’t perfect. I started to giggle when I saw my first results, out of focus but funny as hell, to me anyway, so I perservered. I never could achieve focus on all three for some reason but then I didn’t really try too hard. I really started laughing when I remembered that another recent Flickr challenge for which I hadn’t yet submitted a photo was “your personality.” Since I tend to look at the lighter side of life, taking this photo seemed like a ridiculous but amusing thing to do. So, along with the “starts with ‘n'” theme, today’s photo shoot seems to fit the personality challenge, too. It is a little horrifying to me that I look a bit like the wrinkly character in the old Dick Tracy comics (Pruneface?) but even that is funny to me.

Focal Length 60mm
ISO 200
Flash (-.7) I used the on camera flash (!) for this photo.
WB Fine Weather
Exposure -2/3 stop; cropped

Day 231—Sax

Foxtrot Mary played in Auburn tonight so I went up and took some photos. This is Marty Deradoorian, one of two phenomenal sax players with Foxtrot Mary. Marty’s solos were incredible, especially when you realize that only two weeks ago, Marty had a hip replaced. No walker, no canes, mind-blowing sax. Wow!

Focal length 300mm
ISO 5000
WB Fine Weather
Increased exposure; Human Interest preset.

Day 230—Sunset Leaf

The sun was setting and I hadn’t taken my photo yet today so I walked down to the mailbox with my camera in tow (50mm lens attached) hoping to capture my neighbor’s morning glory (even though it was not morning any longer) but as I walked by, I realized that the flowers were all fading either from the unrelenting heat we’ve had here or just because. So, I walked around the corner to the landscaped easement behind my house. As I looked at the pin oak toward the setting sun, I liked the look of the leaves with what little light remained. I had to enhance the photo a bit with adjustments to blacks and whites and clarity and vibrance but I like the end result and of course the bokeh.

Focal Length 50mm
ISO 200
WB Fine Weather

Day 229—And More Birds

Without a clue what to photograph today, I walked out to the patio, with my camera of course, and checked the levels in the hummingbird feeders. As I turned, there was the hummer, a bit upset that I was so close. I got off only a couple of shots before he left for the safety of the trees but within a few seconds he reappeared at the other feeder so I captured a few more. These shots are all cropped and I increased the exposure 1 to 2 full stops because I was shooting into the sun.

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 200
WB Auto

Day 228—Birds

I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, I always feel better when I’ve successfully photographed a bird. My “life is good” sense comes when my blog features a bird and today is one of those days. In fact, I photographed lots of different kinds of birds along the water in Benicia when I drove over to spend the day with my friend and fellow photoblogger Melinda today. Some of my shots were good. Others were a huge disappointment. It is obvious I still have so much to learn but with Photoshop (or Lightroom) to the rescue, I managed to save some of the shots with Melinda’s help.

When we arrived at the water near Benicia’s tony West K Street, this ring-billed gull lolled serenely on a picnic table. I had to tweak the exposure a bit and crop but I like the shot.

A Western gull flew overhead and I took several shots. Because I forgot to up the shutter speed, most were not in focus but this one was good.

Then, the Canada Geese made their entrance. They were not heading to the water but to the grassy picnic area near the water’s edge. Melinda helped me save this shot with Lightroom adjustments so that the goose stands out from the background.

Day 227—It’s What’s For Dinner

I could almost hear Sam Eliot’s deep, gravely voice intoning, “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” tonight as I photographed the meal that Sysco Foods called “Taste of Sysco.” The perfectly cooked Filet Mignon with chimichurri and white shrimp wrapped in pancetta with an Israeli couscous blend and roasted asparagus was a delightful meal that tasted even better accompanied by several glasses of various red wines that eventually became a custom blend in my wine glass. The delectable chocolate torte that was really more like a chocolate candy bar accompanied by French pressed coffee was a perfect ending to the meal. Yum. If that’s what’s for dinner, bring it on! Oh, and I wouldn’t mind if Sam Eliot himself joined me for a glass or two of that custom wine blend!

Day 226—Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Well, not exactly, but as Blood, Sweat, and Tears once sang, “What goes up, must come down,” and “Spinnin’ wheel, got ta go round” which I, too, discovered this morning at the San Mateo Marriot where I encountered Beverly, who spent much of this morning on the patio, happily spinning wool into yarn on her traveling spinning wheel. I haven’t seen anyone spinning wool since I, myself, was a spinner and natural dyer in the early 1970’s during my quasi “Earth Mother” days and I have never seen a traveling spinning wheel and I have certainly never seen anyone spinning on a hotel patio. I was fascinated to watch Beverly as she quickly spun the long fibers into yarn. She told me that the dye she used to color her wool was Kool-Aid. I forgot to ask what flavor! I gave up spinning after I took a couple of classes at Santa Rosa JC but I loved the experience of working with wool fibers and playing with colors made from natural sources like walnut husks, marigolds, and onion skins; I never tried Kool-Aid. And, spinning on a hotel patio can be considered no stranger than my propensity to ask total strangers if I can photograph them.

Day 225—Lace

My grandmother crocheted and memories of her crocheting delicate lace are among my fondest. When I was very young, she began to crochet a lace tablecloth for my wedding present as she did for each of her three granddaughters. When I finally married, a couple of decades after my two older cousins, Gram was 95 and although she had completed most of the tablecloth by then, her eyesight prevented her from finishing it. After she passed away the year after my wedding, I was amazed that my mother, Gram’s daughter-in-law, arranged to have the almost completed tablecloth finished by a friend and Mom proudly presented it to me. For most of my life, Gram and my mother were estranged but they reconciled a year or so before Gram passed away and because of that reconciliation, I now have my lace tablecloth. Today’s challenge theme is delicate like my precious tablecloth.

Focal Length 300mm
ISO 200
Auto WB