Friday, October 12, 2012

A simple tale of the end of a day.

It had been a beautiful July evening.  Typical of the East Bay, a coolness blew in about 5pm and took away the days modest warmth.  The light cloud cover flirted with the yellowness of the setting sun, but never really lit up in a majestic way.

There was a party played out below that cool evening sky.  The family enjoying a summer gathering to celebrate the success of one of the younger members, you know those parties, graduations, engagements, new jobs.  One of those.  In amongst the crowd was one of the older cousins, a beautiful young woman.  Those around her who knew her best noticed an extra glow to her this evening, and not after that third whiskey sour, but when her i-phone started beeping.  There he was, crashing this party via TXT, but she looked so good on it that they didn't care.  They all kinda knew by the way she had been acting of late that there was someone new on the horizon, and they all wished her well.

She bowed out early from the gathering and headed home.  I think we should follow her to make sure she doesn't stray.  Her claims of being unwell seemed real, her voice had been husky, and she had been a little less chatty than usual.

When she got home the first thing she did was to try an old remedy, a hot toddy and a warm bath.  She started the water running into that old claw foot tub (I kid you not, it was an older house), and reached for the bottle of Bodytime bubble bath, custom scented the way she liked, vanilla with a hint of ginger and cloves.  Then she returned to the kitchen and started the kettle, pouring a generous shot of whiskey into a tumbler and adding a spoonful of orange blossom honey and the juice of a fresh lemon.

Onto the bedroom where she started to disrobe.  The thin silken scarf had eased the evening chill, but as she discarded it she knew it was pretty but had not been practical enough.  She rubbed the sides of her slender neck, rubbing some warmth in.  She kicked of her strappy shoes, and reached behind to unfasten her playfully short dress, the one that had left her slender legs to cool too far.  She knew who would be wanting to help unzip her, she’d been teasing him by SMS all evening.  She wanted to be unzipped by him, but not tonight, not with this nagging sore throat, not with having to be ready for a day’s hiking tomorrow.

Stood there in her bra and panties, she saw herself in the full length mirror, and imagined how he would look at her.  She knew he’d see only the good things, but what does he like?  She imagined him stood behind her, the way he’d described a few weeks ago in a playful email, just holding her gently, an arm around her waist, and kissing her here, she reached her hand to lift her hair clear of the back of her neck, caressing where he would plant his lips next time he saw her.

Her reverie was broken by the piercing whistle of her kettle.  She grabbed her perfunctory terry towel robe and went into the kitchen to add the final ingredient to her drink.  The alarum had also brought her to the bath in time to find the water tank had flushed through its slowly gathered hot water, and was now running in tepid.  She pulled the sleeve up on her robe, and swished the scalding and mellow water layers together.

The finishing touches? Yes, light a couple of tea-lights, turn off the overhead light. Robe, bra and panties to the ground; and step through the cool popping bubbles into the sub-foam tropical water. She sank to her knees and painted sleeves of bubbles onto her graceful, slender arms. Her limbs delighted in the delicate feel of lacy foam.  Her nose pleased by the baking smells of her bath. She sank her cute behind onto the cold iron of the tub, stretched her limbs to the length of the bath, and sipped on the warming toddy. Her body started to warm not only from the drink, and the bath but also from another source; that final ingredient being a lusty glow for her new beau.

Hot Chocolate

Have you ever been sat in a coffee shop, enjoying a warm mug, when a beautiful woman walks in? There is a ripple through the room.  It starts with the not so studious student at the back who glances up from behind his Steinbeck or Kerouac or Proust, to see who caused the bell to ring, or the breeze to blow, or the traffic noise to enter.  You know it’s someone interesting because his glance is not 5 seconds, but 25, or 45 seconds.  Then this reverie is replaced by him losing himself back into his fiction and his vivisection of the author’s words.

The next to notice is that old codger, one who would have been sucking idly on a pipe, but this is 2013, not 1973.  They have evolved over the years, depending where and when you are.  It would have, at one time, been a peaked cap like a sailor’s, and a Guernsey sweater, or fair isle, but now, and here, it’s an aging hippy, a soft collared shirt replacing his homemade tie day, and a grey haired ponytail, the remnants of a tamed dead head.  The eyes carry that “if I were ten years younger look”.

These clues and cues get other middle aged, middle classed men turning to see the attraction, and the wives, girlfriends, daughters all turn to see what the fuss is.  And this transient wave of admiration and smiles of varying caliber passes swiftly through the place.

Have you ever been sat in a coffee shop, enjoying a warm mug of cocoa, when a beautiful woman walks in?  Your day has been stacked on your yesterday, and your yesterday’s yesterday, and each has been longer than the preceding one.  You are lost in idle thoughts, watching the swirl of chocolate syrup melt into the whipped cream that is melting into the cocoa.

She walks into the room and notices you didn't notice.  You didn’t flinch at the bell.  You didn’t stiffen at the breeze.  You didn’t huff at the hum of traffic.  The wave passed over you, and all that happened is your peripheral vision registered legs to your left, not a threat, just a presence, not related to you.

Have you ever been sat in a coffee shop, enjoying the look and smell and feel of a hot mug of cocoa that warms you after the mid-fifties chill wind which whipped foaming waves off the giant Californian sea loch, when a beautiful woman tugs playfully at a wisp of stray hair on your head, a playful non-verbal “Hey you”?  And before you have chance to pick up your spectacles and put them on, she is stood talking to the barista twenty feet away.  You’d felt vaguely aware of someone alongside you, but they had not addressed you, and though your peripheral vision had acknowledge “legs like hers” you had not perceived “her legs”.

You look across the coffee shop, now fully focused, with corrected vision, back in this world and not lost in your own.  There she is, and that wave has past, and everyone else has had their moment of paying heed to that grace and beauty, and you alone are looking upon your loveliness; knowing the sound of the voice too distant to hear, hearing the order for tea, imagining the phrasing, the politeness, the softness.  Though all you can see is the back of her head, you know the smile that rests on that face; you know the transient expressions that meet each challenge from the server.  And then she turns to rejoin you, and you can see that her days too have been too long, but her spirit shines through, and you know your spirit is lifting and you feel a shine through your own jaded self, just knowing she is there for you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

When HDR doesn't work

HDR Versus Normal

Using the in camera HDR on my DMC-LX5.  I think in this case the deeper shadows win.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Flowers.

On a weekend when I intended to take a bunch of pretty flower photos I only took two.  This is the better one.   This is one of my new plants in my garden, and it stands almost 4 inches tall.

I promise, next weekend, rain or shine, camera goes taking pictures.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A whole roll from my new old camera

This is the fabled Billyclack Agfa camera.  It's shoots 6x9 exposures on 120 film.
First problem is that the exposures are twisted on the negative.  See that black band at the bottom of the scan, it really does slope on the negative too.
Second problem is that the camera shoots somewhere about 1/30th of a second, which is hard to hand hold, especially with the shutter release being at the front of the bellows while you are holding the camera by the body.
Thirdly I left the camera on bulb for some of these shots, and have 1/2 or 1 second exposures for some of these.

 The fourth problem is that the winder simply is that.  There is no ratchet to stop you at the end of the frame, you look through a little red window at the numbers on the back of the film.  The #1 lines up, and is easy to see, but when you get to #2 you see half a number too at the top of the window, then another full #2 in the window.  As you progress through the film the gap gets bigger, this is because 120 film defines a film width (edge to edge), but does not define the length of film used each shot.  My camera shoots 6x9, others aspect ratios seem to be more common.

The winder is just that, a film advance winder.  The winder is not coupled to the shutter cocking mechanism, that is all in the shutter release button.  So I goofed, and forgot to wind the film, causing the double exposure above.

The sixth problem waited for me to have good light, and correct shutter mode before it manifests itself.  You will see the vignetting in the corners.

I am looking forward to trying color film in this camera, but I am not sure it is a color camera.  You may scratch your head and say "but isn't that down to the film", well I have a slightly newer camera that boldly claims "for color".  See, the "chromatic aberration" is a prismatic effect where different colors of light get deflected by different amounts in a lens.  This camera seems to have a very simple lens, I wonder how it will cope.

I am also looking forward to shooting different depth of field with this camera, I'll be interested to see the bokeh because the iris is circular.  Most modern cameras have a 7+blade changeable iris which is continuously variable, but this camera has 3 distinct irises.  This should be most interesting in night shooting, where scratches on the lens will also bring their own artifacts to the image.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Trying something new

So the first new thing I am trying out is my Lumix DMC-LX5, it's a point and shoot camera which is willing to let me take control too.

The second thing we are trying out is the HDR function on the camera, and seeing how images compare with and without HDR.  The pansies above seem to be helped by the HDR, we can see detail in the foliage which was lost in shadow otherwise.  We also have a more uniform color of the petals.


Looking at the house though, I'm not so sure I like the HDR.  Sure we keep details in the trees, that shady tree on the left would have been just a silhouette.  Now look at the bay window on the house.  The detail seems bleached out, and so it's not so good.  I'm on the fence.

The third thing we are trying is a blogging plug in for my newly acquired Lightroom.  For all these years I've just been using either Picasa for a minor tweak, or using the Nikon software.  Now I have a none Nikon camera that part of the equation is changed.  The plug-in is unregistered, and so is limiting me to 300x200 images.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Over Exposure

So yes, it was hard to focus, but the fuzziness is mostly motion blur.  This was a 30 second exposure.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shooting with an old broken camera.

So not every photo is perfect.  To make life fun I decided to put one last film through my granddad's camera.  I decided to get some black and white.

The camera has shutter speeds of 200, 100, 50, 25 and B.  However it only shoots somewhere around 1/50th on the 1/200th setting.  You can also see some darkening around the corners, another artifact of its aging.

Of course, for the last 20 years I've been shooting SLRs, and have always been able to see if I'm close to being in focus.  Prior to that I'd always had fixed focus, and more recently I've been using auto focus.  So to go back to a camera where I have a viewfinder offset from the lens, and to have to estimate distance to the subject, and dial it into the focus ring was fun, and frustrating.  It did give some interesting results, and wasted a few frames as well.

The following photo was taken on this camera 20+ years ago.

This last photo was taken on my cell phone, and is of the camera that was used for the rest.