hydrangeas in december

I’m obsessed with hydrangeas, photographically, at least.  Luckily I live in an established neighborhood with lots of old gardens full of an amazing variety of hydrangeas, and since I am on good terms with most of my neighbors I can photograph their plants from spring through late fall.  But once December comes and those lovely brown dry flowers blow away in the winter winds, it gets tougher to get my hydrangea picture fix.

Luckily made-up bouquets in grocery store floral departments help take up the slack.  I found these blue and white hydrangeas in a Trader Joe’s in the south suburbs of Chicago, and shot them with my phone camera.  All images are cropped, some to my favorite squares.

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good advice

On this busy day (I’m working on your Winter Holiday present), a wander through the phone camera’s galleries found this gem of good advice.  IMG_20141029_165103Let’s be careful out there.

Question of the day: is the phone camera archive really a new kind of visual notebook?

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kandinsky’s birthday

Today is the birthday of the painter Wassily Kandinsky, and he’s been honored by a well deserved Google Doodle.  I thought I’d join in the celebration with a black and white portrait photograph of the artist from my tumblr collection, but I dont have one.  This  very cool Google image search soon found a worthy addition.

It’s Kandinsky’s photo ID. From the Bauhaus.Wassily Kandinsky-500x665


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best of the drawing of the day, week 137: doctor elabo

drawingoftheday-week137-doctorelaboIn spite of the caption, here’s someone who needs no introduction.  Doctor Elabo is in the house!  He’s a jolly, funky, mystical guy, and very much the spirit of my new Pilot Elabo fountain pen.  (Yes, the one I was feeling so guilty about a little while ago.)  I will say my guilt is lessening every day I have this pen, because it is quite amazingly flexible and a joy to use.

Drawings like this one are really more sophisticated versions of the test pages I do for new pens, like the one you see in the link above.   This one is finished, but it is still a sampler of sorts,  designed (on the fly– it’s a lucky drawing) to try to explore some of the different ways you can shade with this pen, and to demonstrate what I think are pretty much its full range of line weights.  And a pretty dynamic range that is, for a medium nib.  It’s a serene, powerful, but essentially forgiving pen, just like Doctor Elabo himself.

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tumblr sunday: the five persons, or the powerful hand

five personagesOK.  My goal here is not to offend anyone’s religious or cultural beliefs.  This image, called The Powerful Hand or The Five Persons, is a time honored symbol in a Mexican and Puerto Rican folk religion and combines Catholic symbolism with concepts originating in traditional and indigenous cultures.  It’s quite fascinating and you can read something about it here. No disrespect is intended.

But, taken just as a piece of art, it’s pretty amazing and sort of … wacky.  God with a triangle halo! Holy finger puppets!  Two headed angels that are just heads! Sheep drinking blood! Click on it to see a larger version! It’s like something out of a Western Hemisphere folk art version of Hieronymous Bosch.  I like it.

(And because I know you are curious, the finger puppet holy people are, from the right, St. Joachim on the thumb, St. Joseph, the Christ Child on the middle finger, the Virgin Mary, and St. Anne on the pinky.)

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at ten minutes of four …

Well, it was about ten minutes of four when I saw the clock in the first image, and I thought it was a funny coincidence.  But by the time I cropped the photo in question, and the other ones, and frosted the cookies, and berated the Dire Corgi for stealing five of them, and got around to setting up this post, it was 20 minutes after five, so you will have to take the joke as a given.

Don’t worry about the Avenging (or Ascending?) Angel– you already know that he survived the match to have a snack afterwards with a small fan in a pink hat, as seen in the first post in this “Wrestling at the Moose Lodge” series.

It is the Dire Corgi’s birthday today, so it turns out that he has stolen his own special treat.  At least he was nice enough to share his illicit birthday cookies with his brother.

So there you go.  The chronicle of a Saturday afternoon: taking and editing photographs, wrangling corgis, making neon blue cookies.  And writing a blog post with about 22  24  separate edits.

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more wrestling action! from the moose lodge

Let’s get ready to (small scale) rumble!  Here are some action shots from my famous “wrestling at the Moose Lodge” shoot of last Sunday.  TV wrestling this was not, but its more intimate distances made for some most interesting photographic opportunities.  As I mentioned in my first post, I had way more fun with this than I expected to have.

These guys are very entertaining performers and put a lot of energy and passion into their work.  Their facial expressions are priceless.  All of these shots were cropped, mostly because I am not used to a zoom lens and the art of composing on the fly.

A small sensor point and shoot, even a good one with an excellent lens like my Fuji X10, is really not the right tool for shooting action in low light.  The relatively fast shutter speeds you need to stop action require the use of very high ISOs (a measure of sensor sensitivity) to record enough light, and this makes for grainy, “noisy” pictures, particularly on small sensor cameras.  And you can see from some of these shots that shutter speeds of 1/100 or 1/200,  which were my compromises, were not always fast enough to fully stop the action.  Watch for a bit of motion blur, particularly on the hands.


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best of the drawing of the day, week 136: holiday ad

drawingoftheday-week136-holidayadHere’s hoping one more holiday ad isn’t going to drive you around the bend.  At least this one doesn’t have a horrible little song to go with it, like that Surface Pro 3 “Winter Wonderland” spot that has pretty much destroyed the country’s will to live at this point. (It comes apart, I see./It’s got a USB …)

So, in place of all the musical hoopla, have a handsome sphinx hawking a hot cup of coffee in what appears to be a nice, quiet, peaceful print campaign.  It’s a genuine cup of coffee too, maybe a Kona or a Sumatra, not a peppermint bark latte or whatever.  Yes, Knotted Rope Sphinxes normally have catlike tails like those of a lion or a tiger,  not big bushy squirrel tails.  But how else is he going to balance his coffee mug?

(oops.  Eagle eyed readers will note that there was no “best of the drawing of the day”  last week.  Thanks for not ragging on me for it.  It was a weird week.  So this is actually last week’s “best of …” and we’ll catch up over the weekend.  Or something.)

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wrestling at the moose lodge

Pro wrestling.  At the local Moose Lodge.  Not necessarily an inviting invitation at first glance, but my husband pointed out that I could take my small camera.  Heck, a challenge is a challenge, right?  It might be interesting.

It was amazing: a wonderfully difficult shoot, pushing the capabilites of both the small sensor Fuji and its not so experienced operator. I ended up having a lot of fun taking a lot of really bad photographs.  But there were some good ones too. Action shots tomorrow (I’m still sorting them), but in low light,  a small sensor is at its best during the rare pauses. Here are three of my favorite quiet moments from a very rambunctious Sunday afternoon down at the Moose Lodge.

Figure studies (and strong pinks) I never expected to find going in;  the camera, as always, defines its own moments.

(The first two shots are straight out of the camera; the third has been cropped.)

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take a ride on one of those great japanese matchbox labels

f0cf7cf359dc4c21338eb70e97a55a6c (1)Saddle up your favorite snail (a pal is always good for a lift) and come with us for a trip to that very special realm of imagination, the world of the Japanese matchbox label: where absurdity meets high levels of craftsmanship for some of the best, and some of the weirdest, small scale printmaking ever.  The level of detail in this little image is delightful.   Ride ‘em bee-boy, even if you look more like wasp with the head of a praying mantis. But that only makes it more fun.

(Find my new collection of Japanese matchbox labels on the “labels” board on my Pinterest. My handle is “blackberry fox”.  Pinterest.  A most amusing internet obsession.)

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