Saturday, August 8, 2009

Macro Special Effects by Nature

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Most of the time, no camera movement is necessary for this effect in the Tehachapi Mountains. You would quickly go broke renting wind machines to photographers in Bear Valley Springs. We can always count on a slight breeze, at least, and the gusts occasionally threaten small structures and rearrange garden furniture.

I had become fond of macro photography before we moved here and, occasionally I get a tad frustrated by the still relatively new-to-me conditions. Fortunately, I also like to experiment with photos like the one above. Yesterday, I had gotten in a little shooting before the slight breeze gathered strength, then decided to stick around for something different. After all, the Red Harvester Ants hadn’t found me, and I was giving their bed a wide berth. Since my enemy and I were coexisting peacefully, I let the wind show me a few tricks.

Of course, the downside of this session is that I now want a neutral density filter for my 100mm macro lens. The desire for more gear is a lot like the wind in the Tehachapis: a constant.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Macro Photography With a Touch of Pacino

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As I walked to the kitchen, a couple of mornings ago, I took a second, as I always do, to admire the view of the mountains to the south and the horses waiting for breakfast. I was delighted to see that the first rose had bloomed on the rose bush that The Husband planted a couple of months ago. Naturally, I was excited about getting out to the patio for a closer look and maybe even a photograph before the wind picked up.

In my enthusiasm for the delicate new rose, not to mention the hollyhocks, the geraniums, and the sweet wild daisies, I began wandering about in the untamed area off the patio. It is, unfortunately, typical of me that I was looking through the viewfinder and not thinking about my feet. I took my time enjoying all the offerings of our little yard and was headed back inside to prepare breakfast and begin the day when I felt a sharp stabbing pain under my left arm and a strange burning sensation that rushed across my upper body in the direction of my breastbone. It was like nothing I had ever felt before and stopped me in my tracks. I said to The Husband that I felt strange and sat down. Within seconds, I felt another of the pricks on the right side just below my waist and once again the burning sensation ran toward the center of my body. I was feeling pain—although minor and mostly peculiar when The Husband got up and said, “Don’t move. There’s something in your hair.”

Well, let’s cut to the chase now. I had stepped in an ant bed and the little suckers were getting even with me. After my shower with the ant-infested clothes safely in the washer and an antihistamine in me, I looked at the ant bed The Husband wanted to point out to me. (It’s pretty obvious, by the way. Just a stupid moment on my part.)

I didn’t get any photographs because almost the moment I stepped outside the wind had picked up and I had to wait a couple of days for my photographs. But, I learned that the ants we have at our place are large, mean, and pack a sting that my immune system doesn’t handle well.

It turns out my attackers are Harvester ants. (While doing research on the web I found this charming little tidbit at : “Red Harvester Ants can be aggressive and have a painful sting that spreads through the lymph nodes, sometimes causing reactions, especially in those allergic to their venom. In addition to their potent sting, Red Harvester ants can bite ferociously.” I can vouch for the accuracy of this information as well as the fact that they are creepy ugly.)

I may not know much about these beasts, but I know this: I want them dead. I want their mothers dead. I want their fathers dead. I want them all dead. I can deal with the ground squirrels that eat flowers and burrow under fence posts and the house, for crying out loud. Heck, they are cute and I am a little attached to the one who has the penthouse outside the window. But, the ants? Those guys bring out the killer instinct in me.

This morning, I got brave enough to once again venture out to the wilds and actually got some pictures. This time I didn’t make a move without checking first to see where I was about to put my feet.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Creative Itch

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Do you get little warnings before you about to enter a new phase of your art? In some instances, I experience signals that are difficult to describe, but I sense that something is coming ‘round the bend. It’s vaguely similar to that feeling when you are really busy, then become aware of your stomach even before you know you feel hungry. Or, maybe the instant you know you are going to sneeze before you actually do sneeze. Or, fragments of a dream that hover on the edge of your consciousness, just beyond reach. There, but not there. Promising to come within reach, even while fading.

That’s where I am at the moment. There isn’t so much as a ripple on the surface yet, but underneath there is activity. There a change coming. I am not certain where I am going, much less why. It may be a move so subtle as to be almost imperceptible, or it may be an abrupt shift. It may arrive full-blown one day—a fait accompli, or it may emerge only as the germ of an idea that takes a months, or years, to mature. It might start strong in one direction, then suddenly veer off in another. Let’s face it, whatever this is, it could start as a blast out of the gate, only to fizzle out to a big, fat nothing. I have no clue where this is headed. But, something seems to be brewing.

I’m curious about others. Do you get these warning rumblings? Maybe you are more prone to sudden shifts that come out of the blue. Or, is slow steady growth more your style?