Friday, June 25, 2010

SakuraCam - the Field Test

After running around several states taking pictures of things I managed to finish the never-ending roll of film in SakuraCam!
By several states I mean my house, then on the way back from CT in Easton, PA, then in Harrisburg PA... it only seems like several because we drove through so many states before the roll was done, to clarify.
They came back from the drug store and I must say that after playing with them, I can see some real potential with it, but that it will only turn out good images if I stick with very specialized settings.
For instance, in this is a shot of my front porch. It took a very wide angle, catching up under the eaves (which I had not intended) and grabbed every color it could. But it also washed the blue-reds out of it. The butterfly bush I was taking photos of has distinctly dark purple and indigo flowers, and in this image they appear almost crimson. (Click the image to take a closer look.) This became a trend as I looked through the roll.
But with that in mind, and noting that it tended to wash the sky out to a bright white even when the camera was pointed straight at the blue, I continued through and began to see other features of the camera.
It most definitely possesses the dark vignetting so prized in toy cameras, though not to the degree that I had hoped or seen on other photos using the same model kit camera. It does have a beautiful hazy edge around the outside, and only the very middle is in sharp contrast. This could lead to a lot of very awesome setups in the future if I have the right panorama to take photos of.
As I looked through the photos, I began to realize that the camera was capable of capturing very fine detail, even if it was washed out and hazy around the edges. For instance in this image, the picture was taken through a screen door and you can see every square very clearly. You can also make out a lot of detail of the landscape beyond. I enjoy this picture because, as Bob put it, it has a very "Matrix-y" feel to it. It reduced the back yard to colored squares, and the unfocused nature of it made this combination possible.
In the future what this camera will be used for is areas of high detail, landscapes, cityscapes, and anywhere that a lot of detail or a lot of space could be captured. It would look spectacular with black and white film, and I already have a roll of it in there already. Without the color to distract, the vignetting and blurring will come to the forefront as details and would work nicely for that.
I could easily see this being used with 100 speed color film to catch some glorious and beautiful details, as even 200 speed seemed to be a bit too "tight" (I can think of no other word to explain the look) on the edges. With how much light it lets in, I'm betting that it would do well even on a cloudy day. I intend to try it out myself once I have a job and can afford to mess around with film again.
All in all I'm glad to have gotten the test roll out of the way. Some of the images were very bland and boring, and I know that, as with all plastic cameras, sometimes even the best framed image will end up boring and washed out or ill framed, and I just accept it. But now I know what I'll have a better shot at with the camera. I can't wait to take it with me to OCNJ, OCMD and Maine to test it out.
My closing image- one of my favorites captured on this roll of film, the colors are almost entirely true to life. The Artists' Alley in Easton PA, behind the Crayola Factory (ya rly):

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Helen gets schooled on the concept of growing where you're planted

It is getting to be the heart of summer, with birds singing en force and fireflies putting on their unbelievable ancient and electric light shows in the humid night. The flowers are beginning to come up in stages, and I realized I've started to calculate the passage of time by the plants that have come up. Dogwood time is passed, clover time is raging, and tigerlily time has just exploded in orange along the roadsides. I'm hoping this year I can catch them bobbing in the breeze this year.
Perhaps the most surprising thing, though, is the butterfly bush by the front door.
When we first purchased it, it was just a small shrub, maybe a foot and a half. Bob looked at me dubiously when I proclaimed it would get up to 10 feet high by the next year and said "okaaaay...", letting me put it in the ground without much thought.
This year it has put our entire front porch in shade. It is easily 8 feet across and has exceeded 10 feet in height. When it rains the wait curves the branches toward the earth in a semi circle of vibrant green and deep, dark purple.
When I initially planted the poor thing I did my best to amend our horrible clay soil that allows no drainage in the hopes of giving the plant a chance. But after digging down about 9 inches I hit a thick layer of gravel, with even harder clay underneath. I was terrified the bush was doomed to die, and we would never see the butterflies and bees dancing around its blooms.
Obviously I was horribly wrong and a terrible underestimator of plants' desire to stay alive and flourish.
I think what is most awesome -in the true and dictionarial sense of the word- about it is that I took something that was tiny in comparison to myself and put it in the ground. Two years later the thing is huge, and it is definitely established. Unless the next individuals who move in here cut it down, it's here to stay. It can handle rain, snow, drought, blazing heat, wind... and does so with an explosion of blooms each year that screams "NEENER NEENER, is that all ya got?!"
It's amazing. It feeds so many things, and it perfumes the air with the gentle scent so like sweet mead that I stop often just to breathe deeply and smile.
I wonder if they transplant well? If so, I want to take it with us when we finally move.

That brings me to the second focus of these ponderings. Our car was broken in to Monday night at some point. Nothing was taken that we can tell, they were just assholes and dumped the paperwork in the glove compartment shortly before exiting and leaving the car door open so the dome light was probably on. Up until this point we'd never really thought of this place as having security issues. It's a nice place, and when we moved in it had nice people that mostly kept to themselves.
Courtesy of the recession we've seen a turnover in the "flavor" the neighborhood has now. More pitbull owners that let their dogs just shit everywhere. More people who pile 20 in to a house made for 6. More vandalism, more break ins, and in general the place is taking a downward slide. My dislike of the place sort of came to a head when I realized that someone local had to have done this... because the car was in the driveway directly under our office window and right by a streetlamp. Somebody canvasing with half a brain would've avoided the place. So some dickhead, probably a kid, popped in to our car and made a mess of it. And that is now the type of neighborhood I live in.
I was already frustrated with the poor quality linoleum that was peeling up, and the crappy carpet they put in, obviously with the idea that they would be tearing up and replacing it after 2 years because of the usual turnover rate. I'm sick of having to replace every appliance because they put in such low-market crappy things to begin with just to say they had 'em in there on the price tag. I'd been looking forward to getting the hell out of here before the light fixture they've done a crap job if fixing twice now finally crashes down on either my or Bob's head.
After we discussed a few things last night, though, we realized that without significant savings to put towards the house our lives would be miserable and month to month. As badly as I want out of here and in to our own place, it is not to be right now.
There was a moment of despair, sure. I can't paint these walls without being forced to repaint them at the end. I have to caulk the holes for every picture I hang, so we hadn't been hanging that many. We weren't buying furniture because we hadn't anticipated staying here that long. So right now we are jenga'ed in to this place, and though it is definitely home, it still has the look of a way station.
So I was carrying these thoughts in my mind as I came back from the mailbox today and saw the butterfly bush, huge and covered in blooms, I realized that I was sort of missing the important thing; bloom where you're planted, moron. And right now, this is my bed of clay dirt, gravel and potting soil. I'll use this to get big, and when we're finally ready to exit we'll be joyous, dancing, and fully prepared to do it in a healthy fashion. We'll be able to put down roots easily again in new soil.
So I'm going to be content here, in this moment, and I am going to take my hammer and nails and put a ton of holes in the walls to hang artwork. If this is where we are, I'm making this place feel like ours, damnit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June down!

While I’d intended to do a lot more, it turns out that actions taken in the past moved forward today and made it so that I was charitable several times in the last few days.
I discovered Kickstarter courtesy of an acquaintance who asked people to help back her friend’s art magazine she was trying to set up. I took a look, loved what I saw and loved her concept, and threw some money her way. The only thing was, it had to build and rely on the generosity of others, so I wouldn’t know until much later if she would be successful it gaining the funds for the venture. It turned out that she was, and I’m excited to see what comes out from the artists she showcases. I love indie art venues and projects and the new things you’ll see and experience when you don’t go through “official” channels.
Well, after I saw that I realized that there was a world of other projects on Kickstarter hoping for funding just like it. In them had to be some other awesome and amazing ideas, so I began to browse around.
I found a snow cone stand using all natural herbs and fruits for flavorings asking for funding, and an independant horror film that needed funds. So I bellied up to the bar and dropped some coin in their coffers, hoping that both ventures would prove successful.
As of today it appears that not only are both successful, they have both bypassed their original goals. For the snow cone folks it will allow them to fix up an old ice cream truck for use, and for the horror movie it’ll give them a bit more wiggle room for props, costumes, equipment, etc…
The charge for the snowcone stand went through yesterday, which is how I found out that they’d succeeded. This led me to check my other project I was backing, and then discovered that the horror movie would be a go as well.
It feels good to have helped others out to achieve a goal and a dream. Really that was the entire point of this goal, to help out others and help them do something in their lives, or take a major worry out of their life so the energy could go elsewhere.
My only regret is that I did not fund the book-mobile. Being driven around in a bike with a cab for an hour with access to a library sounded utterly awesome. We didn’t have the money at the time. I have my fingers crossed that they did just as well as the others.

With her nine inch nails....

I had a bit of a fallback when one of my nails split during my commencement ceremony. Far away from my nail kit and without even a nail file to save me.. I bit. Deeply.
But only one! The rest of them, when I realized I was starting to get antsy about their length, I trimmed back to where they were thicker and not so flimsy (I have a very bad habit of running my lower teeth under my nails when I’m thinking, which weakens and thins them). Thus abated, they were able to continue on undisturbed.
Also helping out is the fact that I now have some more natural looking nail polish colors, stuff besides blaring bright pink or super shiny gold (picked out online, I did not realize what the colors looked like when I got them!) So now I can have fun cleaning off the old lavender frosty stuff that matched the dress I wore to commencement and put on some real-ish color that isn’t distractingly pearlescent.
I note I tend to nibble when stressed, so more meditation is in order as well as general breathing exercises. That ties in to another goal I’ve got, so that’s just dandy with me.
I’m excited that I’ve gone this far. I intend to keep going until I have a set that comes just to my fingertips and keep them there diligently. I may even get a french manicure to celebrate it when it occurs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Actual Conversation #92 - wherein fastfood's place in evolution is discussed.

(conversation had while exiting drive-thru, to set the scene)
Me: My evolution demands fat and salt! *GROWL*
Bob: *stares at me*
Bob: Are you going to grow a third head?
Me: No. *growl*
Bob: Are you going to start walking around with a blow torch and a stick?
Me: Why would I walk around with a stick? That's silly.
Bob: *pauses*
Bob: I don't know what I was thinking.

I later had to ask why he chose those two implements, and Bob pointed out that I had completely missed the "Pandorum" reference. I am humbled.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May was not the month for this

So I guess I shall try it again another month. Maybe limit myself to VERY short stories this time.
The problem crept in when I was starting to come up with longer and longer story ideas and realized that I wouldn’t finish them in a day. (nor did I truly have time given my programming classes and due homework.) When that realization struck, I was immediately disheartened and put the story down. I have 3 stories that are decent that are half-finished waiting for me out in the ether because of this very event.
It’s crap. I know it’s crap. I’m going to pick up the stories and finish them. Something about not having the pressure of doing a story a day anymore makes it more acceptable to finish the short story at my own pace.
Interestingly, since I started doing this, stories that I was working on have begun to demand my attention again. Things I haven’t touched in 3 years are waving their hands wildly telling me there are new things to be done with them. I love the thought of being able to sit down with them again. They were good characters, I don’t want to abandon them. Someone else might even enjoy them as I do once I’m done telling their story.
All in all, this has been a good experiment. I think redone with some limits, like it can’t be more than 500 words, would be better and better practice. IT would definitely get the creative juices going to stay within a limit.
It will have to wait, though. (Or perhaps not, if they’re all very short stories!) as June is Sketch-a-Day month. This is my attempt to do 30 drawings to improve my drawing skill. I am trying the carousel method of improving my skills since there’s just too damned many in my arsenal half-developed to really devote time to day by day… Perhaps once they’re a bit better I can rotate weekly, or make room for them every few days. But for now… writing will be done as often as can be remembered while working to improve the sketchies ability. I need both to do what I’m hoping to do in the future, so this is a happy medium for the moment.