I’m heading to Florida this week and so today’s post is a photograph I took in Florida last year. It’s a Burrowing Owl whose burrow was on the edge of a busy neighborhood park on Sanibel Island. It was past 7pm and the sun was beginning to set, the light was golden, and the owl could barely keep its eyes open. But, it looks very owlish.
Playing the piano makes me smile. And my piano is smiling too, thanks to my Nikon 8-15mm Fisheye lens. Although I added a vignette to the edges of this shot, all 88 keys are in the photograph. I set my camera a few inches away from the keyboard to capture it in its entirety and the sheet music too, which, by the way, is my all time favorite piano piece, Jack Fina’s Bumble Boogie. Bumble Boogie is played “eight to the bar,” eight notes to a measure played very fast and its captivating beat is classic boogie woogie.
Bumble Boogie was written in 1946, the year I was born, and I used to hear it on the radio and on television in the 1950’s when I was a kid. I loved its boogie rhythm and its play on Rimsky-Korsakov’s frantic Flight of the Bumble Bee. I started taking piano lessons in the mid-1950’s. When I went to Junior High School, rock and roll became a big part of my music world and I began to resist playing classical music. Finally, after 6 years of classical piano lessons, the last two a constant argument with my mother about practicing, when I entered high school, my mother let me quit those weekly lessons.
After “hating” playing piano for what seemed to me like a lifetime, when I no longer had to practice and I could choose my own music, I began to actually enjoy playing again. I decided to visit Stanroy’s Music Store in downtown Santa Rosa where in large bins next to the paper-sleeved 45’s from Elvis, Ricky Nelson (my first rock star crush), and the Shirelles, I found a new world of sheet music that wasn’t classical. So, for the first time, I had piano music that was modern and hip and not composed by Chopin or Bach or Haydn. I was thrilled to find the sheet music for Bumble Boogie and I knew it was 75 cents well spent. The irony that was lost on me then is that the music is based on a classical piece.
It took me months to learn the first three pages of Bumble Boogie and before I knew it, I was in college and away from the piano. When I came home to visit I’d play the first three pages of it but never got beyond that, let alone playing all eight pages. Twenty years after I quit taking lessons, I got an electric keyboard and began to learn piano again. I played mostly Rag Time Music by Scott Joplin and although the shortened keyboard required me to do some musical editing, it brought back the joy of piano music for me. And, it was forty years before I once again had my own real piano, the Kawai upright pictured here, and the time to spend practicing music again. I took jazz piano classes and those classes inspired me to relearn to play my precious Bumble Boogie sheet music that had moved with me throughout my life. After all that time, I finally learned to play it all the way through, and it was so gratifying to play those tricky notes with my fingers flying across the keyboard.
Passion for photography has replaced my passion for piano but every once in a long while, I’ll sit down at the piano and play a little rag time or pop music from the 1960’s or even some Chopin. It’s been several years since I played seriously but, what always makes me smile is playing Bumble Boogie even though I can barely make it through the first three pages again.
My new 8-15mm fisheye lens is a fun lens to use but as I have discovered, it produces some unexpected results. When it’s set at 8mm using an FX camera like my D850, it produces a circle and has a 180° view. Yesterday after I finished experimenting with the lens, I set it on the kitchen table and walked across the room to check on another camera. I’d been having some syncing issues related to the remote I use, Nikon’s wireless Wr-R10 system, and I wanted to see if the other camera would fire when I triggered the remote after using the D850 with the same remote. I was satisfied to learn that indeed it did so I shut that camera off, shut off the D850 and downloaded images. I was surprised to find this image which was the result of both cameras firing at once. I suppose I could set up a home surveillance system with this very wide angle lens. It captures all suspicious-looking activities.
It’s taking me some time to get used to my new 8-15mm Fisheye lens. I’ve only had a real chance to use it once, when my camera club went to the abandoned train tunnels at Donner Pass. I’m going to spend some learning more about it this week but I just reviewed the handful of shots I took the morning after I got the lens and I overlooked this shot of my fountain and the shrubs (and weeds) that surround it. I was surprised to see the sunburst extending beyond the circle that the lens creates when it is set at 8mm. Hmmm. Something to look into.
Visiting the abandoned train tunnels at Donner Summit is a fun and fascinating day trip. When my camera club visited there a couple of weeks ago, we all agreed we wanted to return another day because there was so much more to see. I, for one, moseyed along so slowly I barely made it into the third tunnel before our adventure had to end. This is the second tunnel. My shutter speed was 1/2 second so the people walking through at a faster pace than a mosey are blurred.
When I’m grilling, I don’t often wait long enough to get a bed of coals that is perfect. I think tonight’s chicken fajitas will be sensational with these coals! These coals just registered 425°.
A week or so ago, I had dinner at a friend’s house up in Meadow Vista. While visiting their garden that had mostly gone to seed, I was intrigued by the artichokes, heads bowed, purple choke exposed, leaves dried.
While I enjoyed a glass of Old Vine Zin on my patio Tuesday evening as the air quality improved and the temperatures were bearable, a pair of Lesser Goldfinches came down to enjoy the bubble in the fountain. Only the female perched long enough for me to capture an image. She looked curious about something