Pleasantly Planned Luck

Jumping back to the photography related posts for this entry. If you spend any time on my little off ramp here, you have probably noticed that a large portion of my time behind the glass is spent shooting wildlife – particularly my feathered friends and the larger mammals when the opportunity arises. In truth, I actually take a lot of pictures of different subjects but generally keep those to myself unless there is something unique (leopard moths) or creepy about them (think arachnids). Every once in awhile I’ll go crazy and take a picture of a perfectly still mountain or lonely tree. These choice shots I tend to leave for my wife because that is her domain and I wouldn’t want to intrude on that or we might get into competition on who has better focus principles, who has better mastery of composition or grasps the concepts of light. Everybody knows I’m not really one for competition especially when it comes between a husband and wife. Unfortunately, a certain someone has started creeping out of “her” ummm let’s go with “their” comfort zone…. maybe taking big game shots and pitting them against other wildlife shots. I’m fine with that, of course, just saying…

So today, I decided to branch out a little myself just to mix it up a little bit around here. Linda and I were out at Jubilee Park, once again checking out what the park had to offer for photo ops. The birds have been a little scarce the last few times we were there forcing me to look a little closer to ground for interesting subjects. This led me to a clump of purple wildflowers filled with activity.

As the norm these days, the D7000 was supporting both the Beast and 1.4 Tele (I need to give this one a cool name too).  What better time than to get a little practice in on using big glass on smalls.  For those who have not tried this, to characterize it as a difficult is a huge understatement.  It is hard enough trying to get a bird tack sharp while hand holding glass this heavy, but to accomplish this on a subject that is smaller than the central focus can drive you crazy.  Looking at it from a different perspective, the better you get at this level, the better you will get a pictures that matter… I mean pictures of birds – yes birds.  There is definitely one major advantage of larger glass in this arena – at open aperture it throws the background into silky smooth bliss.  A nice benefit over having to fight the extremely tight depth of field.  You can get a feel for just how tight that is in the next shot.

Taking into account the size of the bee, you can extrapolate that to the size of the flower.  Notice how the back half of the flower is fading out of focus – probably looking at a couple of inches of play at best.  Now comes the tradeoff in the field.  Do you continue the fight to keep the center focus exactly where you need it and compensate for the likely drift of the focus and any inherent movement of the subjects or do you buy yourself some contingency by stepping the Aperture down (higher f# but in truth it is inverted).  There are tradeoffs whatever decision you make, but in truth all of us amateurs have a great debt of gratitude to the inventors of digital media – I would hate to even think about the bill for developing the number of shots we actually took that day.  In my mind, the right decision is to do both – experiment, learn and hit that magical delete key on the less than perfect.

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Continue reading Pleasantly Planned Luck

Movie Recollection: Atlas Shrugged II

I can’t believe how busy I am at the moment.  I have a run I need to get prepared for, Project Auunold to get to a specified state before next Thursday, an event to plan and as of 2 hours ago a well to fill.  What has fallen off the table are my posts and for that I must apologize.  Not wanting to throw in the towel yet, I’m still working on posts just primarily in my head.  Actually, in my head an on my lunch break.  As mentioned previously the main inhibitor of speedy posts is the self imposed prep work.  This is lessened by going the photography route since I have become pretty proficient at the post processing workflow.  However, in those cases where I do not “hammer” (ah, a clever foreshadowing) you with photo topics, I need to awaken the creative juices and build a graphic from scratch.  Since time is scarce at the moment I’m forced to improvise and simply drag out a piece of paper and a pen/marker and throw something together over lunch.  15 minutes later I had today’s post graphic.  Not spectacular by any means, but it will do.

If you haven’t figured out by the title or the graphic, the recollection today is on the recently released Atlas Shrugged II.  This movie series has become somewhat surreal for me.  If you recall from me previous post (link here) , the first episode of this movie didn’t exactly leave a very good impression.  I think shuddered was the word of choice.  Once again, my friends wanted to go see the second part and weighing in the aspects that I had already invested time in the first movie and it was a chance to hang out with friends I hesitantly agreed to go.  At worst case I figured I might get another post out of it.  Turns out at least I got another post out of it.

[hold please … have to go get another 400 gallons of water].. tick tock tick tock…  [back now – the water is now being emptying into my well so I have exactly 15 minutes to complete this post]

Now I get the premise of the book and the clear evils of big government theory which aligns with my own opinion.  I also believe that the rest of the people in the theater have the exact same political position.  The problem is one of preaching to the choir.  It isn’t people like myself this message needs to get to, it’s the people like those that continue to embarrass themselves by writing comments/opinions into the local paper or those that ooze out of every biased media channel you tune to these days.  So in essence it is really a wasted effort unless you can entice those people into sitting through the message.  To do that you need to be entertaining to a fault – flashy if you will.  Maybe have Adele create the soundtrack or employ special effects people to produce visuals that don’t look like they were done on a lunch break.  On the latter I must admit that they have improved over the last movie (translated, no ridiculously long train shots) but better in this case still gets a failing grade in my book.  Case in point, when a plane crashes into a field, I’m guessing the cockpit won’t look like the carpet was just cleaned by Merry Maids.  Want to know another key to success in a multi-episode film – try to at least keep the main characters played by the same people.  I’m am not sure there was even one single repeat character which makes it harder to pick up a plot line for sure.  Oh, per the comment regarding making it entertaining… this means the director needs to understand what shots should stay and which sections should hit the cutting room floor (or in some cases melted in a red hot fire).    The finest example of this is the completely baffling scene of watching a leading character remove furniture from a cottage and put it out on the lawn.  One piece after another…and then the scene switches with zero context on what was removed (or why for that matter).  Just gobbling up some of the 112 minutes I guess.  Trust me, there were plenty of examples like this that could have reduced this episode down enough to actually include the third episode and at least tell me who the hell John Galt is.

There were two parts in the movie that stuck out for me.  The most shocking part is that Teller (from Penn & Teller) had a line in the movie (I’ll let you ponder on that for awhile).  The other part involved a portrait they panned over.  Every single person in the audience turned to the person next to them and said “Is that Jay J[]?”  That would be reference to a local ambulance chaser that would probably try to sue me if I actually used his full name.  I’ll give you a hint though – his commercial touts him as a “SUPERLAWYER”.  We all had a good chuckle over that one.  By the way, a third thing that stuck out [ha] was what I’ll refer to as cleavage cam.  What they skipped in special effects shots they clearly made up by making sure their actresses’ assets where ummm well lit.  Beyond those moments, this movie is pretty much one big snooze.

Almost forgot to elaborate on what makes this series so surreal.  Atlas is all about the competitive marketplace, the payback on investment, the earnings on creativity and the rail against handout if you will (looky there, one huge novel reduced to a sentence).  Applying those concepts to the present, one should be rewarded for the originality of the movie (eesh) just like the theater should profit from the experience they provide yada yada yada.  Pretty sure I mentioned in the first post I lucked out and was given a ticket to see the first episode (too tired to check right now).  That played a small part in the equation to convince myself to go – guilt over getting a free ride the first time out.  So up to the counter I went to lay my hard earned cash down …. when the theater owner directs the two of us in line to get our ticket at the concession stand.  That would be a first time for that at this particular theater, but off we went.  The guy ahead of me (who was actually from our group) was asked what show he wanted tickets for.  Oddly enough the clerk was busy glancing at a monitor when he asked this.  When my friend responded with Atlas the clerk checked the monitor out again and proceeded to tell him the movie was free today because the computer was down.  He then asked me what I wanted to see while once again glancing at the monitor.  This brought on the exact same response after another glance down at a monitor.  That’s 2 for 2 in seeing the movie for free.  Now the guilt was overwhelming so I was forced to purchase a small drink which was literally half the ticket price ($3.50).  We asked the other members of our party whether they had to pay and turns out they did (computer must have been up then).  15 minutes later more of our group came in and turns out they had to pay too.  Living the good Karma!

The last of the 2000 gallons of water is now safely down the well – it’s finally time to hit the sack – have to get some sleep because tomorrow I have to learn how to tile.