Tag Archives: General Nonsense

Silly Lens Review Comments

The North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte

We photographers all spend a certain amount of time looking over the lenses we don’t own, sort of in an “ask your doctor if this lens is right for you” way. 😉  Yesterday’s surfing took me down the rabbit hole of the recently introduced Tamron 18-300mm zoom lens. I’ve been thinking of renting a copy of this lens to evaluate its suitability as a do-everything lens for travel and wanted to check out some reviews. I was amused by a couple of the comments that seemed especially contradictory:

“Not as sharp as my Fuji lenses, but perfect for travel photos.” So…travel photos don’t need to be sharp?

“If you’re an amateur/occasional photographer maybe it won’t make much difference but if you shoot on a frequent basis, I highly recommend looking at other options.” I don’t take a lot of photos so I won’t know if the lens is good or not?

“A great Kit lens, but image quality and focus are lacking. The edges and corners are soft at most focal lengths, and it focuses poorly at the longer focal lengths, 200mm to 300mm. I was never able to get an image in focus of birds on a rock. The focus seems to be behind the subject. I even shot at 1/1000 of a second to make sure there was no camera movement. It’s a great kit and travel lens if image quality and critical focus at the higher mm lengths aren’t important to you.” Hmmmm. No.

Why We “Process” Our Photos

After (L) and Before (R)

Often, a non-photographer will ask me if I “Photoshop” my photos. My answer is usually something like “I don’t use Photoshop, but I do process my photos.” The follow up is usually some version of “why.”

As we photographers know, cameras today give us lots of latitude for exposure adjustments, which is what I use the most, along with straightening horizons (a lot!), removing dust spots (almost as much!), cropping, contrast & saturation adjustment, and more. And while it is possible to get way beyond reality, I tend to try – as we all do – to improve upon reality just a bit.

After (L) and Before (R)

Ansel Adams is credited with the words “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” A bit modest, perhaps, but that pretty much summarizes – with a bit of humor – what we do and why.

After (L) and Before (R)

Here are 4 photos I made at the summit of Haleakala that show what I mean. The ideal time to get even lighting in the crater is when the sun is directly overhead. But that unfortunately is one of the hardest conditions to photograph anything else! So I did my best to counteract the highlights and shadows in order to bring everything back to what my eye was able to perceive.

After (L) and Before (R)

Something In Red

Siena, Italy

These aren’t all “decor” photos, but they are RED!

Tom’s Mustang at the Davis General Store in Croft, North Carolina
Karman GhiaCars & Coffee in Charlotte, NC August 3, 2013
Ferrari
Red Corvette
National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
St. Petersburg, Florida
John Hippley gardens and public park in Columbiana, Ohio
Videographer aboard Sea Princess departing from San Francisco, California
Ship’s photographer in Victoria British Columbia
Skagway, Alaska
Neil’s Harbour, Nova Scotia
Motif #1 at Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Massachusetts
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Loch Katrine, Scotland
Tabasco Factory in Avery Island, Louisiana
“Big Red Lighthouse” at Holland State Park in Holland, Michigan
Fall Colors near Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Hollywood Beach, Florida
Golden Rock Plantation Inn in Nevis, West Indies

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Magic Wings Butterfly House, Durham, North Carolina

Going with the green theme on a Friday!

Golden Rock Plantation Inn in Nevis, West Indies
Little Glade Mill Pond Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway MP 230
Romney Manor, home of Caribelle Batik on the island of St Kitts
Key West, Florida
Romney Manor on St Kitts, home of Caribelle Batik
Jungle Gardens in Avery Island, Louisiana
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Limberlost Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Morris Childers’ 1938 Chevy
John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, Waterloo, Iowa
Green Giant Statue, Blue Earth, Minnesota

Call Me Mellow Yellow

Yellow Goatsbeard aka Jack-Go-To-Bed-At-Noon growing on the Torrence Creek Greenway, Huntersville, NC

Kathy & I are working on a decorating project and looking at various groupings of colors.  One of the themes is “Yellow.” Yes, a lot of the photos are of flowers, but there are a lot of yellow flowers! 😉

Bearded Beggarticks (Bidens aristosa) along the Torrence Creek Greenway in Huntersville, North Carolina
St Thomas, USVI
Nassau, Bahamas
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Cone Flower along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Linville Falls
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas

Thoughts On Personal Opinion And Individual Choice

Sticker Shock

Kathy and I were walking through the neighborhood yesterday and passed a neighbor taking out her trash.  “Let me ask you a question,” she said as we walked by. She then proceeded to ask a question (it was related to Covid), but asked it in a way that indicated that she wasn’t looking for our opinion – she was only looking for an opportunity to tell us hers.  We listened politely for a couple of minutes, uttered a couple of pleasantries, then continued our walk. I then decided to add Covid to the list of things I don’t discuss with others, which includes religion, politics and money.

Social

A day doesn’t go by without someone posting on antisocial media that they are “quitting” something.  The latest thing is Spotify, which I think is ironic because they cite a couple of musicians – who are famous and opinionated – quitting because of some other famous and opinionated guy who they disagree with. Also ironic is these folks, some of whom had previously “quit” Facebook, post about it on Facebook. As an aside, I wonder how many of these former listeners were ad-supported listeners and never actually paid any money. Just yesterday someone announced that they were quitting Facebook and Instagram because their account was “hacked.” It probably wasn’t, but anyway…. There are plenty of reasons to actually quit Facebook, and privacy and security are two of the biggest.

Old Rockers

It is fortunate that we live in a country that allows for personal opinion and individual decisions. Personal Freedom, we call it.  Some folks carry things a bit too far, some way too far. But everyone has the ability to have their own opinion, influenced by whatever influences them and using whatever ideas and facts they are comfortable with. Where things get really sideways is when someone feels that others’ opinions should be the same as their own, and if they aren’t the others are “wrong” and feel the need to “prove” or “fix” it.

Hosed

Right and wrong is often a continuum, not just a Yay or Nay, Yes or No. There are some real extreme opinions everywhere.  I hesitate to use the words that come to mind because it would imply judgement, and I don’t wish to judge. Every position is someone’s Right and someone else’s Wrong. Suffice it to say that it is possible to find someone who you align with, regardless of where you fall on a given issue. The trick is to make it our own choice, not someone else’s that has been imposed on us.

Ball point

Since Spotify is the flavor of the week, I’ll use that example.  I am an avid listener of Spotify and use it daily. I pay for a subscription to support the company and so I can listen without advertising (I also pay for ad-free XM, Pandora and Jazz Radio – all for a fraction of what cable TV would cost).  I play Spotify on my computer, in the car and through Sonos.  I love that I can find just about any album ever made and listen to it online, for less than the cost of a CD or download each month. I even listen to a few podcasts through Spotify, (although my favorite one hasn’t posted since May 😉 ).

Dirty Book Sale

There are lots of things I don’t listen to on Spotify, and probably a lot of things I would find annoying or even offensive. But that is the case with all media.  There are even people at the NY Times and Washington Post I disagree with, but I still subscribe because overall I find value. A lot of attention is currently being focused on one person, and I know the name but have never been interested in listening.  A lot of people are fans and Spotify paid a bunch of money to carry his program, some of which comes from my subscription money. But as long as the service gives me what I want and costs a reasonable amount, I’ll stay with it. I know that a lot of musicians don’t love Spotify because they don’t care for the payment structure, so they also choose. Hopefully they can do better on their own or with Apple Music, Amazon or Tidal, but those companies aren’t exactly known as being artist-friendly either.  But they – and we – can choose.  Vote with our feet, as it were.

Two Windows, Salisbury North Carolina
For Sale or Rent
Salisbury, North Carolina

Should there be some kind of limits on content? Probably, but who gets to decide? Whose “facts” are we going to base our decisions on? There is a fine line between content moderation and censorship – anyone tasked with that role is going to have their own biases.  We already can’t agree on anything, so trying to limit content would likely just make things worse.

The Boys. Washington, North Carolina

Anyway, listen on! Be polite to your neighbors regardless of their opinions.  But have a pre-rehearsed statement that allows you to excuse yourself when the conversation gets uncomfortable.  And perhaps don’t walk through the neighborhood at 3:00 on Trash Day. That’s  the time the HOA says you can put out your can and by 3:15 half of them are out!

Doing The Bada Bing Thing

When a restaurant bills itself as “The Best Italian Restaurant in St. Petersburg” and is walking distance from your motel, you need to go, right?  Such was the case with Gratzzi Grille.  Yeah, maybe the name isn’t spelled ‘correctly’ but I’ll bet it gets pronounced correctly!

One of the items on their menu is what they call ‘Cavatelli Bada Bing.’  It’s prepared tableside by one of the owners, and uses a lot of flaming vodka to prepare a very cheesy, very delicious cavatelli dish.  I had to try it! It’s a bit more of a show than it is an example of fine Italian cuisine, but it was fun.

I didn’t take photos or videos, because I just wanted to watch.  But the video below shows it better than anything I could have shot anyway.  And the guy doing the cooking is the guy who did mine.

And that’s the Bada Bing! 🙂

YouTube player

A Very Good Year, All In All

Welcome to Texas (Kathy’s Photo – I was driving!)

I know not everyone is able to share this sentiment, but from my perspective, 2021 was actually quite a fantastic year.  I admit that we were quite fortunate to have not faced a lot of the trials that impacted others.  Luck, circumstance, perspective and attitude make a huge difference, of course, as do flexibility and acceptance.  Kathy & I are happy, positive people with a good outlook on life, a sense of adventure, and it doesn’t take a lot to make us happy.

Evening light at Sandy Bay in Rockport, Massachusetts

What matters to us most are three things: (1) are we healthy?, (2) are our family and friends healthy and safe? and (3) can we pay the bills?  The first two have gotten a little complicated lately, but we deal. The “New Normal?”  Nah, that’s just Life.  And in the words of (Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon made famous by) Mr. Sinatra, “as funny as it may seem, some people get their kicks stompin’ on a dream. But I don’t let it, let it get me down ’cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around.”

The town of Oatman, Arizona is famous for its wild burros (and tourists) roaming the streets. A Route 66 attraction.

This is not intended to be a political or philosophical post, but I think what gets a lot of people down is that they pay too much attention to shit that doesn’t affect them.  Kathy & I remain peripherally aware of current events, just enough to know what big things are happening in the world.  We spend very little time on (anti)social media, stay mindfully aware of and avoid the hysteria boobytraps that lurk there.  Yes, we’re aware of all the boogeymen (and boogeywomen?) out there, but for the most part the idiot politicians, celebrities and bazillionaires (real and imagined) have very little direct impact on our life or our happiness.  And hand wringing about things that are out of our control is pretty much pointless.  Play on!

The Motel Safari on Historic Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico

We’ve traveled, mindfully and – where necessary – carefully.  We drove over 22,000 miles, visited 12 new states, met some new friends and caught up with some long-time friends.  We even took our first cruise in nearly 2 years.  And I took over 16,000 photos – not quite as much as 2000 but almost!  Some of the precautions and protocols inspire a forehead slap or an eye roll.  But if it needs to be done to do what we want to do?  Roll with it and move on.  Complaining about it just makes you look like another idiot – not the image we want to present to the world.

The Blue Swallow Motel on Historic Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico

So anyway, I took some photos.  I don’t generally feel the need for a “My Year In Review” retrospective, but it is sometimes interesting to go back and look at what I saw and aimed my camera at.  I don’t try to a “Best Of” or even a “Favorites” post, because as we discussed on Joe’s Blog a few weeks ago, the selections tend to change every time we look.  I’ve long contended that for most people the quality of the memory is more important than the technical quality of the photograph.  Which is why you see so many cell-phone-out-of-car-window photos, selfie sticks and other various head scratchers.

The “Cadillac Ranch” near Amarillo, Texas on Historic Route 66

I chose a group of photos that show my year.  I didn’t even limit them to 21 (as in the year 2021).  Some of them are pretty good technically, some of them might even be OK artistically.  But mostly they say, I was here and this is what I did/saw/felt/experienced.  And ultimately it doesn’t get a lot better than that.

Kathy & I send our sincerest wishes to everyone for a healthy, happy, amazing and fulfilling 2022!

Night time in Rockport Harbor in Rockport, Massachusetts. Pardon the noise – ISO 12,800!
Our first view of the rocky Maine coast on Dyer Point near Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Early morning in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
The Maine coast off Ocean Point near East Boothbay, Maine
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse near Bristol, Maine.
Waiting for sunrise atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine
Fall foliage along SR 112 near North Woodstock, New Hampshire. In White Mountains National Forest
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Freezing conditions at the top of Mount Washington, New Hampshire
“Welcome to Roswell” art installation. Roswell, New Mexico
Prada Marfa is a permanent sculptural art installation by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, located 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine, Texas, just off U.S. Highway 90, and about 26 miles northwest of the city of Marfa. The installation, in the form of a freestanding building—specifically a Prada storefront—was inaugurated on October 1, 2005. The artists described the work as a “pop architectural land art project.”
Big Bend National Park in Texas
Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Maine, at the Easternmost Point in the continental US
The Very Large Array at the
National Radio Astronomy Observatory near Socorro, New Mexico
Titan Missle Museum near Tucson, Arizona
Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, New York
The George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York, on the estate of George Eastman
Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona
Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument near Coolidge, Arizona
Hoover Dam from the
Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
over the Colorado River in Nevada
Nassau Harbour Lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor in Nassau, Bahamas
Hackberry General Store along Historic Route 66 in Hackberry, Arizona
Burma Shave sign along Historic Route 66 approaching Seligman, Arizona
Historic Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona
My very first view of the Grand Canyon. From Grand Canyon Village near the El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Desert View Watchtower area of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Lawrence Lowell Telescope, which was used to discover the planet Pluto at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in Arizona
Wukoki Pueblo at Wupatki National Monument in Arizona
Twin Arrows, an abandoned roadside trading post located along I-40 in Arizona between Flagstaff and Winslow
Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona
Riding the Sandia Peak Tramway to an elevation of 10,378 feet.
Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
The Narragansett Towers along Ocean Street in Narragansett, Rhode Island
Morning along the river in Mystic, Connecticut
Historic submarine “USS Nautilus” at the Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut
Map of US-60 through the Salt River Canyon between Show Low and Globe, Arizona

Prescience?

Breakwall in Burlington Harbor, Vermont

“Once, man turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free.  But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.

Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind.”

Frank Herbert’s Dune, 1965

I’m currently reading the first of six books in the Dune series.  Why watch a movie when you can read a 500+ page book, right? 😉  I was particularly struck by this quote when taken in context of the world we live in today.

I started this book years ago  as a teenager and couldn’t get through the first few chapters.  It’s a different writing style than I had become accustomed to reading Asimov, Heinlein and Bradbury.  It took me a while to get into it, but now that I’m over halfway through I think I’ve gotten the hang of it.  Will I read the rest of the series?  Likely, but no rush!