After a discussion today about ahi, I couldn’t stop thinking about the wonderful ahi salad I had the last time I visited my friends Susan and Chris in Port Aransas, Texas, more than a year and a half ago. We went to lunch at a very upscale restaurant and were served a sinfully delicious mixed green salad with balsamic dressing, topped with bleu cheese, candied walnuts, sliced pears, and heavily peppered ahi—yellowfin tuna caught earlier that day in the Gulf of Mexico. I crave the fresh seafood available in Port A and miss that ahi tuna delicacy. When I drove home this afternoon, I stopped at Whole Foods and found a six ounce chunk of fresh ahi with my name on it. I encrusted it in coarsely ground black pepper, grilled it for a couple of minutes, sliced it thinly, and served it on a bed of spring greens lightly dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette that I made with blood orange balsamic. Whole Foods also had some candied walnuts so I didn’t have to spend the time making my own and I found some crumbled Gorgonzola to use instead of bleu cheese. The resulting feast looked so beautiful I decided to take a few shots. Food photography is becoming a sideline of mine lately. I wish we could serve this at Famous Mo’s but since we don’t have a hood in the kitchen, we cannot cook any meat or seafood from scratch. Maybe we’ll have to start serving sushi.
I couldn’t resist running outside to photograph the hummers this morning. All my camera gear is in the trunk of my car so I had to go with the 24-70mm lens again. When the two that were bathing in the fountain flew into the shrubs, I stepped into the brambly mess behind the fountain and took some shots. What I learned today is that I really do need to remember to switch to manual focus when I am trying to get a subject behind something else, like nine jillion twigs and leaves. This morning’s effort resulted in one in focus shot out of ten; the camera took over after I thought it was focused on the hummer and decided it preferred the leaves and twigs.
I did like this one, though. I did minimal processing because I don’t have any time this morning. I decreased the clarity a bit which actually surprised me; doing so resulted in a clearer shot. I also increased contrast and saturation and cropped it.
Ron’s guitar came to life again last night at Famous Mo’s. Kyle Rowland, a talented young blues harmonica player, asked my permission to play the guitar, which hangs on the wall at Famous Mo’s. He told me he just wanted to rehearse something with his band in the Green Room. Kyle played Ron’s guitar after his show in May when he appeared on our stage for the first time. At that time, he tuned the guitar and played it for me after everyone had gone home. He must have liked what he heard because after the first set last night, Kyle reappeared alone on the stage with Ron’s guitar and performed a solo set. When the set was over, Kyle walked to the wall and respectfully replaced the guitar in its holder. That guitar still has a deep throaty sound, sort of like Ron’s voice, and it did my heart good to hear it again so I know Ron would have been pleased to hear it too and to know that it is appreciated.
Last night was a fun evening at Famous Mo’s and I met another photographer who recommended that I take a photo of Kyle’s harmonica case. I told her I had already done that the last time Kyle played at Mo’s. After thinking about this post and linking it to the previous post when Kyle played Ron’s guitar, I realized I had never shared the photo of Kyle’s harmonica collection, so, thanks to my new friend, Patti, I’m including a photo I took of it a couple of months ago.
I have been reflecting a lot today about how sporadic I’ve been posting to this blog which has been such a dominant part of my life for the past two and a half years. Despite the fact that it is my blog to do with as I please and I am under no obligation to anyone other than myself to keep it up, I feel tremendous guilt. In Focus Daily has been a wonderful creative outlet for me and I have learned so much about photography since I began publishing it, so I plan to keep blogging away. However, my infrequent posts of late make me think I may (when I get some time) need to restructure it a bit so that I will alleviate some of my guilt for not posting everyday. Okay, that said, I have been taking lots of photos this week, I just haven’t been posting them on my blog. Most have found their way to Famous Mo’s Facebook Page because we had bands at Famous Mo’s Thursday and Friday and I’ll be taking photos at Mo’s again tonight for our third band of the week.
Now that my guilty conscience is somewhat assuaged by talking about my inability to keep up with my blog, I did spend a couple of hours this afternoon struggling with another kind of reflection, reflections on glass. I am trying to create a trio of black and white photos that will be printed on canvas and that will be hung at Famous Mo’s. My favorite of the three is an empty wine glass that I have blogged about previously. Here are the links to those previously photographed wine glasses: my first try, and my second try.
Today, I took photos of a clear glass cup and saucer and a straight-sided beer glass to accompany whichever wine glass I decide to use. I like the reflections on the cup and saucer but I am not thrilled with those on the beer glass. I may have to try this again. I changed the photos to black and white and used various filters on them. I took both at f/16 with a relatively slow shutter speed.
Sir Walter Scott’s words came to mind as I downloaded photos I took this morning of a huge garden spider. Spiders give me the creeps and I have always been afraid of them but today I managed to keep my life-long arachnophobia in check. Photography has changed me in many positive ways, one of which is that I make it a point to try to overcome my fears when it means that I will be able to capture an interesting photograph. When I saw this spider outside the window of my gym this morning, I knew I had to photograph it. I jumped off the treadmill, grabbed my camera, ran outside, tramped through the shrubs, and squeezed around the huge web to capture the best angles. I used my 24-70mm lens and cropped these shots to eliminate all the distracting background and for dramatic effect. I was about 24 inches from this creature (yikes) and it is really quite large; the body is probably an inch and with the legs, its overall length is probably almost 3 inches. If it had been jumping spider, I would never have ventured this close. As it was, I jumped about three feet when the spider moved suddenly and when I got home, I let out an audible gasp when I downloaded the shots to my computer and the first one came into sharp focus. It brought back memories of my inability to touch the pages of National Geographic Magazine when I was a kid reading an article with creepy bugs or spiders pictured prominently on the page. A short time later, I let out a loud shriek when I realized that one of the shots showed the spider actually spinning silk to repair its web, something I didn’t notice when I took the pictures because I was so intent on the angle, lighting, and focus. And, I should add, that shriek was one of delight, not horror. Wow!
Wow! Jennifer Batten appeared on the Famous Mo’s stage last night with a phenomenal multimedia presentation and wicked guitar licks like you have never experienced. Jennifer kicked off her west coast instrumental multimedia extravaganza with fellow guitarist Jesse Solomon. The WOW! factor was front and center. Jennifer’s guitar rendition of ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ would have made Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov take notice. When she played it, I was awestruck. This is a piano piece I have never managed to play more than a few notes of, although I once mastered “Bumble Boogie,” a boogie boogie version by Jack Fina that remains one of my favorite piano challenges. Jennifer played with Michael Jackson on several of his world tours and was featured on stage when he appeared at Superbowl halftime some years back. She was slated to go on tour with him at the time of his untimely death.
“Hugely entertaining, wickedly cool blues, and roots rock with a twist…masterful harmonica” is how the San Francisco Chronicle describes Rick Estrin and the Nightcats, an incredibly fabulous blues band that performed at Famous Mo’s last night in their second engagement at our venue. I took so many photos (again) that they are still downloading. Our lighting, perfect for performances, is not so perfect for still photography so I turned this shot to black and white.
Faith turned three on Saturday. Faith is my personal trainer’s daughter and I have been taking photographs of her since she was just a few months old. Her third birthday party will be held in a couple of weeks and, today, I was at her house taking photos in hopes of capturing a demure, pink princess for her princess-themed birthday party invitations. The 105° heat kept us from spending too much time posing outdoors and Faith was just not in the mood to wear her new pink princess dress, her tiara, or her pink plastic high heeled slippers. She was acting like a three year old, squirming and in constant motion, that is, until Mom handed her a birthday cupcake left over from her family birthday celebration on Saturday. By this time, we were back inside, princess dress stripped off, sitting at the kitchen table. She was contemplating blowing out the candles (again).
The theme for the July meeting of the Placer Camera Club is closeups or macros. Since I don’t have a macro lens, I suppose my entry qualifies as a closeup. I had basket of luscious strawberries from the nearby strawberry stand and thought one of the berries would make an interesting closeup. I used natural window light from the front and a small lcd flashlight to backlight the leaves and cropped the shot.
66mm focal length