A reminder of summer in response to WordPress Photo Challenge: Yellow.
The third installment of Just Thursday blog hop is here! Today’s host is Rebekah, and Nuvofelt and I are co-hosting. If you’d like to join, you’re welcome to check out Rebekah’s post here. Rebekah is asking a great question: why do you blog? Answer in a comment or in a new blog post and share with us! We’ll be around to visit your blogs and chat with you. Enjoy!
My answer to Rebekah’s question has been changing over the time that I’ve been blogging. When I started this blog about a year and half ago, it was to post a photo a day and see if anyone will engage in any way. Eventually I became a part of community without even noticing, and why I blog now is to tell and listen to stories told in pictures, words or otherwise. And what about you?
It would appear that there is indeed light at the end of a tunnel. I was inspired to this shot by a much better version of the same theme by Albert here. This is my contribution to lovely Lucile’s Photo 101 Rehab, which you can join here. The photo was taken with Nikon D80 and processed in Corel PaintShop. The major edits involved:
- Decreasing brightness
- Deepening shadows
- Enhancing contrast
- Applying local tone mapping
- Desaturating all colours but red
Unlike normal people, I find the seasonal atmosphere oppressive. It feels heavy, overwhelming, blurry. These are the emotions I’m trying to convey with my contribution to Lucile’s Photo 101 Rehab group.
The photo was taken at a Christmas fair with Nikon D80 and processed in Corel PaintShop Pro X6. Here are the major edits:
- increasing contrast
- enhancing sharpness and clarity
- applying local tone mapping
- using a dark blurry vignette effect
- using a heavy black and white filter
I went where you went
You thrive where I—
Am falling apart
I was looking to shoot pictures of autumn landscape for the entire autumn. It was never going to happen. The autumn weather started, but the darn leaves clung to their native trees like a cat lady clings to her cats and refused to sail to the ground picturesquely. Then the leaves finally turned into autumn colours, but I could only suspect rather than see because of the onset of permanent impenetrable mist. When the mist lifted weeks later, the leaves were gone. Bastards. Bemoaning my bad luck, cosmic irony, existential malaise and other smart-sounding annoyances, I went shooting outdoors one of these colourless overcast days anyway.
As a person who suffers from unbearable cold even at the height of summer, it was imperative that I wrap myself up properly for the expedition. I have a set of winter clothes put aside specially for the purpose of rolling on the ground while producing low-angle shots. It consists of items too shabby even to donate to charity, and the full outfit makes me look like a homeless crossbreed of Red Riding Hood and a man-eating wolf. I was wearing the following staple items:
- five-year old jeans, originally grey, presently bleached into yellowish white
- an eight-year old dishevelled black jumper, scarred survivor of multiple cat attacks
- a ten-year old dark red coat lined with the remains of matted faux fur
- twelve-year old boots, originally black and waterproof, now discoloured, cracked and thirsty
- and also: woollen tights, thick socks, vest, t-shirt, waistcoat, fingerless knit gloves and a set of a bright red hat and scarf wound around my head like a hijab
Wrapped up to the point of immobility, I rolled with much effort out of the door. At the pavement, which I blocked in its entirety by the sheer bulk of my clothes, I remembered to set up the camera. Grumbling under my breath under my scarf, I reset the camera settings. Why, yes, this is my idea of setting up the camera because I haven’t managed beyond point-and-shoot on auto yet. And sure, I am ashamed for myself. I was more alarmed than ashamed though when I emitted a muffled victorious cry, looked up and saw a startled father with a twin pram hesitating at the obstacle that was me. I was so surprised that I blurted an irrelevant hello. The man was wearing earphones.
I swiftly crossed the street and walked away. A substantial stretch of road later, I noticed a mildly interesting intertwining of a bare tree and a loudspeaker pole. I proceeded to shoot it but the camera wouldn’t focus. Of course it wouldn’t, I had a macro extension tube mounted on it. Disinclined to climb the mast to shoot a loudspeaker macro, I dropped the backpack with my gear on the ground and set up a camp. As I was squatting on the pavement in a cocoon of clothes, dismounting the lens, I was overtaken by the pram-pushing father again. What the heck, was he following me? He should be on the other side of the road where I left him! Did he want to force on me one of his kids? And exchange it for one of my cats because he finally knew better? The man went past me peacefully.
I produced several shots of my subject from different perspectives, probably giving the impression that I was performing a pagan ritual by dancing around a loudspeaker totem pole. Then I moved on to a small bridge over a narrow stream surrounded by unkempt bushes and illegal dump patches. A group of boys was playing around in the mess, as that’s what boys do. I should have worn earbuds like the father of the twins to shut out the noise. While taking a few desperate photos of the filthy water, I unwittingly and very unwillingly overheard the kids’ conversation and was appalled. There was apparently one sensible kid in the group who tried to civilise the rest, while the other little animals were passing their time by bullying him. Is that called boys will be boys? They went like this:
Good kid: Ima no goin down there, yo, I dont wanna fuckin drown in da shit!
Bad kid 1: Pussy! [climbs down the slope]
Good kid: Bitch! [sits on the rails] Dont fuckin do dat, da bitch got ya on the camera [pointing at me]!
Bad kid 2: Shes fuckin shootin da fuckin beaver, haha!
I frown in an attempt to translate the kids’ bad talk into normal speech, and snort and chuckle. A beaver? In this gutter of a river? Haha! The kids move a bit away to bother someone’s dog shut in a fenced yard. The good kid tries to discourage them, Leave da fuckin bastard alone, y’all!, and I’m relieved that the other kids only ignore their fellow and don’t beat him up. I almost want to adopt the little smart sonofabitch, if you pardon the expression, to save him from the worst. Then I recall I don’t even like kids. I shift on the bridge to broodingly watch the filth flowing below. There’s some movement in the muddy water. A beaver!! I yell with utter abandon. The creature, which is either a small beaver or a large rat, is scared out of its wits and hides. No wild life pictures then.
The wildly barking dog gets fed up with barking wildly, as he has clearly more sense than his tormentors, and goes hide somewhere. The kids are again all about me like guerrilla, climbing to and fro the slopes like monkeys. They sound like they’re speaking Vietnamese until I realise that they’re using a heavy mixture of their native Czech and computer games English. So that’s why they strike as Vietcong, jumping at each other from ambush and talking kills, heals and lives. They’re a linguistically remarkable phenomenon. Also they’re like the killer kids from Lord of the Flies. I’m thinking of entropy, dystopia, apocalypse and other intricate ways to die. Suddenly one Vietcong materialises himself out of nowhere and says to me, Hey! With the presence of mind that I have not, I say, Hi! Kill me now.
I immerse in a nearby bush, not to play the Tet Offensive, but to shoot a conspicuously preserved flower, conserved in mid-bud presumably by frost. An old person (of my age, hence old) approaches me (creeps on me, to be exact). I ignore him. He says Good morning. Silence ensues. I don’t think this misty frosty afternoon is either particularly good or a morning for the matter, but I don’t resist. Good morning, I say eventually, eager to call it a day, but the creepy fellow apparently thinks that a weird woman in a bush would appreciate small talk.
Old man [sleazy]: Uh, so what is the rare flower that we have growing here?
Old me [threatening]: Uh, you tell me.
Old man [dumbfounded]: Oh, I thought you were a woman botanist.
Old me [offended]: Oh, I’m a woman and I shoot things.
Old man [hesitating]: I see, so—
Old me [annoyed]: So good day.
The weird woman in the bush would not appreciate small talk after all. I back out of the bush and crawl into a more faraway bush. The creepy person creeps away. I’m quite sure he’s not really a creep but a perfectly regular guy who just came across the wrong person. Me. *evil laugh* At least now he has a funny story to tell at the table during a boring family dinner. So do I.
Two weeks ago, prompted by the lovely Justine and her Eclectic Corner challenge, I presented an ambiguous photo and asked you to guess what it is. Papict tuned in first and identified the picture straight away as the veins in a leaf. I had a hard time creating a diversion from this correct guess! At this point I realised that I didn’t know what kind of leaf exactly it was, and I imagined a mob of angry botanists storming my house and demanding that I procure a sample for them to classify. Armed with poisonous hemlock, brandishing cacti and thorn-studded armour, the botanists would prepare for me a slow and agonising death, which would be streamed live on the blog.
Much to my despair, Liz went on in the same vein, guessing leaf veins, osmosis-like straws. Of course I had to google osmosis and ban Liz for being too smart to participate. Joke. Trent continued in blasting any sense of mystery and laconically observed that it was snowing on my leaf, referring to the snow descending all over the blog and creating an odd contrast with my summer photos. Andy wondered if Lucile and me were frequenting the same pot/cabbage shops in Amsterdam and sought advice on the proper technique of cabbage smoking. He nearly exposed our secret plot to overthrow democracy and establish the dictatorship of the cabbage.
I resorted to cabbage smoking as Justine came over and guessed leaf, undermining her own game. She also called me tarty kitty only because I virtually married two fellow bloggers without her consent, her being my fiancée to be married at Christmas. Joke. Or not. Lucile arrived smoking a smart cabbage pipe and outwitted me by announcing that the photo depicted the leaf of a malus sylvestris. Google enlightened me that this was Latin for crab apple, and I recalled that we indeed had apple trees in the garden. It became obvious that Lucile was one of the evil botanists in disguise on her way to force-feed me hemlock. Her guess was not just correct, it was hypercorrect.
Desleyjane comforted me a bit by guessing the back of a lizard, but then she spoilt it all by second-guessing a leaf. Lisa expressed her discomfort at the news that besides other atrocities of the world, there are killer botanists. Bor Bor Igmus feared that it might be a leaf mimicking, blood thirsty, soul-sucking spider that camouflages itself in order to sneak up on its hapless prey. Second guesses included a leaf mimicking alien invader from the planet Chartreusia, a man-eating locust and a cabbage-eating moth. Albert offered that it might be my veins because I’m a green-blooded Vulcan. Live long and prosper. And Tightshot concluded it could be a green iguana, a green snake or star fruit.
Thank you for everyone’s guesses, it was only you who made the guessing so much fun! And sorry to have disappointed anyone’s boundless fantasy by snapping a meagre apple tree leaf. I’ll do better next time. Or not.