Friday, February 11, 2011

Kern County Cowboys

Apparently, when Waylon and Willie were singing "Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys", they didn't get through to some mamas in Kern County. There are quite a few cattle ranchers up here. On our way to the DMV, earlier this week, we passed a bunch of cowboys branding calves and just had to steal a couple of minutes to take in the sights. The scene we saw was a rare treat for us. We see lots of cattle roaming the hills up here, but we have never run across a work day like the one we encountered that morning. There were half a dozen horse trailers parked off to the side and quite a good collection of riders along with those working on the ground.

It was fascinating to watch everyone work. No hotdogging, no drama, just getting the job done—roping, branding, castrating, vaccinating, all the jobs that have to be taken care of with each batch of new calves. The calves were squalling and their mamas were bawling—afraid for their babies. But, in the midst of the smoke, the dust, and the bawling the cowboys and cowgirls seemed to be in good spirits.

We parked across the road and watched the folks work for a bit before we had to scoot. We were hoping they might still be there when we came their way again. But, the crew was too efficient. By the time we got back the place was cleaned up, and you would never know that all those people and all those cattle had been there a couple of hours earlier.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Free at Last

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Lately, I haven't published posts about places I have been and I am combing through archives for photos. That is because I haven't been anywhere! Things have been very quiet in my life for a several months now.

But, things are finally changing. My endurance level has increased and, in the last few weeks, the pain level in my back has decreased dramatically. My left leg is still a bit strange. But, at least it actually feels like it belongs to my body.

Besides, my being mostly housebound was about more than physical issues. I haven't had a valid driver's license for months. It came due for renewal late last year and the last thing on my mind, at that time, was driving.

Tuesday, The Husband and cruised down to Arvin for my appointment to take the written test. (Yes, the photo, above, is another of those drive-by's and taken with the G7. I would love to say that I spotted the hawk first, then waited for the right moment. But, that would be a lie. We were moving way too fast. I am grateful for all gifts, great and small.)

All went well at the DMV, and I now have one of those temporary paper licenses that fills in, until I get the official one in the mail. By the way, I have read that, in California, the delay on those plastic cards can be two months—or more. Interesting, since the temporary license expires in two months. Hmmm. Wonder how that works?

Nevertheless, for now, I am a legal driver. I feel like a kid who just got out of school. At last, I am free to see how much driving I can do without stirring up my back. Being more independent will open up considerably more photo opportunities.  Hot dog! Time to fill up those hard drives.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

To Computer Hell and Back

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Edit: Fixed the link.

I never went into detail about the computer chaos last week and thought I would elaborate a bit. When I booted up my system that fine morning, I found that two hard drives (a 500 GB and a 1TB) contained no data. Big surprise to me. They happened to be the master drive and the backup drive for 2010 and 2011. No big deal.  Eeeeeek!

After innumerable deadend efforts to locate the source of trouble, (including painful excursions on hands and knees under the desk checking connections) a System Restore restored the missing data. It was good to breathe again. The particular shade of blue I was acquiring is not a good color for me. I took a short break (believe me, I needed it), then returned to open CS3. I was ready to get to work, finally. But, no. I was greeted  by a charming little note from Adobe informing me that I had five days in which I must repair and re-validate my program. What?!!!

Now, to grasp the full impact of this notice you have to know something about the way my brain functions. When I see long strings of number, my eyes begin to cross, I start sweating, and breathing fast. (Admittedly, breathing fast is preferable to not breathing at all, but it still is not ideal.)  Naturally, the Adobe form and instructions consists of, you guessed, it several interminable strings of numbers. What we had was a 9.7 stage episode of formaphobia.

The Husband wasn't around to revive me had I passed out, so I braced myself and called the Adobe phone number hoping for the best. Somehow I got through the repair and validation still conscious. I even had a valid and fully functioning CS3.

By that time, I was wrung out and decided that, in the time that had elapsed from the moment I entered computer hell until I emerged, I had clearly lost an hour of my life.

Flash forward to 2031. Anita is winding down. When the moment comes, The Husband looks at the clock, shakes his head, then turns to the doctor and says, "I know she would be ticked off about this." "She had a good," the doctor begins. But, The Husband interrupts, "Had it not been for that computer scare back in 2011, she would have have had another hour to live. She would have been able to see the series finale of Justified." Of course, by that time Timothy Oliphant (as Raylan Givens) is quite gray and moving a bit slower, but Anita would still say, "That man does know to wear a hat and cowboy boots."
Note: I  realize that, in light of my silly ramblings, it's a bit macabre; but, yes, the photo, above, is from our Death Valley Trip. Let's not read anything into that. Okay?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Is There a New Camera in My Future?

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

For the last couple of days I have felt an urge to experiment with my Canon G7. Off and on I have enjoyed shooting with it, but I bought at it at just about the worst time to have purchased that camera in Canon's line. The G7 shoots only jpeg and I cannot talk myself into being satisfied with that format when I have worked so long with RAW files.

The last couple of days, I have been reminded of how nice it is tote the lightweight camera. It's quite handy for my walks. The photo above was taken during my Sunday evening walk/therapy session. I walked two-thirds of a mile in my trip to the mail boxes and back. Finally, I am moving beyond our drive. One thing was clear: for now at least, a DSLR would have been heavy by the end of the jaunt. Still, as convenient as the point and shoot is, I miss the controls of my DSLR's, and I miss the heft of the heavier cameras when it comes time to frame and trip the shutter.

Unfortunately, I recognize this urge to use the G7 for what it really is. I am flirting with an upgrade to the G12. There are several reasons. Better performance at higher ISO's would be a welcome bonus. The sensor in the G7 is several generations old, and I feel confident that the G12 would give me more flexibility to shoot in lower light. Still, the ultimate frustration with my current version of a point and shoot is the inability to shoot RAW files. That is the true source of this edition of gear lust.

No doubt the smaller camera would always be my second choice and picked up only when conditions make a DSLR impractical. Not surprisingly, the G7 suffers badly when compared to the 40D and 50D. I have no illusions that a G12 will fare dramatically better in a direct comparison.

I am still on the fence about this. I know there are many photographers who are deeply satisfied with the Canon S90. While some of them are people I greatly respect for their more informed opinions, I find myself stuck on the notion of a G12. I can't determine whether I am dense, stubborn, sentimental, or just old enough to be stuck in my ways.

We shall see how this turns out. But, for now, the G12 is the clear front runner.