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Monday, December 27, 2010

Sheeple and the Hoax

One of the greatest things about Social Networking, (Facebook) is the ability to spread a message quickly through the network. Even TV has to struggle to keep up with the speed of this amazing conglomeration of friends, fans, family and assorted hangers-on. Raising awareness, raising money, and simply raising spirits are all easily accomplished with the amazing thing that is Facebook. It is a powerful tool, made even more powerful by the very people who use it.



Power comes with a certain amount of responsibility. The people behind Facebook do their part trying to keep the users safe from the Loonies out there in the cybersphere trying to cause problems. Mischief Makers, and hackers, those that would create malicious viruses, and those who would steal our data and identities. Yet there is another responsibility that we can't depend on anyone but ourselves to exercise, and we must get better at wielding this responsibility.



The reason that we can spread a message so quickly is because we have easily grasped the "copy & paste" method of status updates. In many cases this has been a boon, spreading Amber Alerts across the world in a matter of hours. Getting out the message that Dragons are dangerous, (or that they like you with ketchup!) thanking our mothers and step-mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and every other family member that we want to butter up. We can raise awareness of anything and everything that we think needs the awareness of raised. Sometimes we get carried away and forget that not everything we read is the truth, and before we know it we have become part of a problem rather than a cure.



There are far too many people who get their kicks by starting and spreading misinformation and trying to scare society in general, and far too often they do it so sneakily that nobody bothers to check the facts. The facts are the biggest thing that most people forget. They can read a post that includes the words "on the news" or "from a reliable source" and never bother to check for themselves whether something is true or just some knucklehead trying to start a panic. When we are sitting at our computers we literally have the WORLD at our fingertips.



Snopes.com, Facebook security, and at least a dozen other websites specialize in finding the facts of any crazy "news" story that crops up online and spreads like wildfire because people copy & paste without ever looking for backing facts. No matter how outlandish something seems, if people read the words that their friends post and "saw on the news", they will copy & paste into their own status with all urgency and never look back. They feel that they have done a great service to society and never bother to see if any of it is true. Sometimes it's harmless, but other times, it throws a giant monkey wrench into something that was going so well, and doing some good.



The best example of this happened in the first weeks of December. According to a story on ABC News a group of friends in Greece ( the Mediterranean country not the town or city) decided that it would be fun to try and subvert their Facebook profiles and replace their usual pics with cartoon characters. This morphed into something with people trying to raise awareness of child abuse. So by putting a cartoon character in your profile picture, and copying and pasting the status one would be "joining" the cause. Even for those who did no more than read the status updates and see why suddenly, all of their friends had cartoon profiles, there was a little good being done. In the follow-up stories there was a notable spike in donations to child welfare causes over the second week of December, over and above the normal rise associated with the holiday season. Cut to the second Monday of December and suddenly there appears in the statuses the message that The cartoon characters are "a ploy by pedophiles" to snare children with their friend requests. It was "on the news" and "seen on TV". But it was nothing of the sort.



In fact what DID make the news was that the campaign had actually had the effect it had intended, raised awareness of child abuse and neglect. As cited above there was a spike in charitable donations world wide towards child welfare charities, yet all it took to dry this thing up, was the mere mention that it was a ploy by pedophiles. Within hours, in fact probably 5 times faster than the original "Change to a cartoon" Status, there came the wave after wave of the warning, all caps and screaming that it was "ploy by pedophiles". The hoaxsters know the buttons to push. In a matter of a day, all the good that was done in two weekends of cartoon characters was washed away.



18 hours after I first saw the "pedophile" update, I finally found the debunking of the hoax on Snopes. But it was too late, too many people had already seen the hoax and jumped on the band wagon, without ever doing their own research to verify the source of this "TV News Show" where this story supposedly broke. The Sheeple had fallen for the Hoax, again.



I can't blame people for being cautious, but what I do blame them for is being cautious in the wrong way. These days of 24 hour news channels have made people live in fear. What once upon a time would have been a regional story at best, lost hikers, parental kidnap, high speed pursuit, or anything that might make the local TV news is now blasted nationwide in a matter of minutes, especially on a slow national news day. Every story gets it's own graphic and trumpeting lead in. Teasers into the commercials, and shots from every angle, inside and out, up and down. Society has become the lookouts for "the next big story." Cellphone video makes the 6 o'clock news and gets picked up by CNN and MSNBC and FOX News. The stories are picked apart and analyzed by any expert who wants to make a few bucks and a little screen time. We are NOT the better for it. We panic at the slightest provocation, looking for a bogeyman behind every bush, and if we can do our part we feel that we have done right.



But our part is to be responsible with the power that we have, taking a few minutes to look for a few facts to be sure that we are sharing the truth with our friends and family. THAT is doing Right.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where did the year go?

So here it is, the first of December, and my birthday is fast approaching! 43 this year,sure don't feel like I'm that old. Somewhere in the back of m=y mind I guess I'm conscious of it, but the rest of the time I feel like I'm still in my 20's and just learning how to live. Then I see the kids in the fire hall or the bar, and I know that I have so much more experience. It's not really doing me that much good in general, but it does give me the smarts to stop drinking way before I get into hangover territory. Haven't drank myself unconscious in years. maybe that's what I need... nah. I can live the rest of my life and not miss being on my knees in front of a toilet bowl heaving the last bits of mucus out of my guts because that's all that's left!

SO, what have I done with my life this past year, let me see if I can take some stock. I have realized that I have a talent and I have decided that it is what I will pursue for the rest of my life. Looking for some satisfaction in the work I do. I am a photographer. I may not be the artist of Adams, or Freytag, but I know what I want to do, and I know how to get there. I have to learn how to conduct business. That';s something I have never really had a hand on, but it's something that I know I can learn. So the goal here is to learn how to make a living with my photography, whether it is selling prints or doing senior pics, family portraits or even school sports. There is a living to be made with it, I just have to figure out how to do it. As I learn the mechanics of taking consistently good pictures, I am also figuring out how to market my particular sill set. It can't happen overnight, but it will happen.

Still single. Haven't really had much luck in lady-land. Not really for lack of trying, but more for a lack of dedication. I have become so used to being alone and being rejected that I just don't seem to enjoy the search like I used to, and I don't follow the opportunities. There have been a couple of chances, at least I THINK they were chances, that I just walked away from. I may be just so far out of practice that I don't know how anymore. I did figure one really important thing out about myself though, when I meet someone who is single and I am aware of that fact, I do and say stupid things right away. I never get the chance to be the smart and witty guy that I really am. I put way too much pressure on myself, and I try to impress instantly and I screw it up in a big way. I realized it when I was introduced to a friend's wife recently. Because there was NO need to try and impress her to try and get her to see me a second time, I was my natural sweet self and I made a great first impression. so it's in my own head, I just have to learn to control the "stupid Impulse" a little better. Secondly, I am still single because I have no place that I would like to take a girl. Can't take her home, and don't want to hang out all night someplace stupid, like a bar or Tim Ho's.

Joined the Fire Dept. as a social member. That means that I don't run into burning buildings! I get to hang out and drink beer with the guys who do! I joined for the opportunity to take pictures of firefighters in action. I have been to one fire scene this year, and many training sessions. Not really that unhappy that peoples houses didn't burn down. In fact I can only thing of three structure fires that dept was involved in, and I was nearly first on the scene for one of them, and none were in our home district, all in neighboring areas. But I have been having fun getting to know new people and leaning new things. I have become a fixture at bingo, and the ladies there love me! I actually enjoy the time I spend there, because I get to talk to people and hear some gossip about the town. I have fun selling raffle tickets to the customers, and calling numbers. I get to make a few jokes here and there and get people to laugh, so all in all that's pretty cool.

Working again as a DJ. Still sitting with the decks. Well, not really! These days all my tunes are in the computer. I still have to run a mixing board, and pick and lay out the song list and keep people happy, but The pile of gear is a lot less these days! I'm not running all over hell and back to get gear and to do shows, I work one place with their gear and that's all I have to do. It doesn't pay as well as the other way, but I still get paid for doing a pretty easy job.

Debt. Man, I got myself into a hole over the last few years, and I had to make it bigger before I could make it smaller. Learned a WHOLE lot of shit about the credit card system this year, and if I knew in January what I know now, I would be SO much farther ahead in my pursuit of financial freedom. Live and learn I suppose, but at this moment I don't have a shred of credit. If I don't have money in the bank, I don't have any to spend. and sometimes that ain't easy. But I keep plugging away, and fingers crossed I may be ahead again in another year or so. Look at this post next year and see where I am!!

Health.... I don't know, the weight is back up, and I am not feeling as good about myself as I would like. I have been having the hardest time with controlling my eating. I have been binging something fierce, and I think I know why, but knowing the reason and stopping the behavior are 2 different things. Every day I wake up and start over and some days I do really good, and some days I do really bad. Sadly, the bad days are out numbering the good ones. I really believe that the biggest piece of the solution puzzle is going to be a place of my own. That's going to be at least another year, until I get my truck paid off so that I can put that money towards rent. I'm sure that by the time I have the truck paid off it will need something major and will take all my spare money again. Like my life always seems to go, but I am looking in that direction at least. I don't know if my waistline can wait another 10 months, but I'm gonna have to try. I just don't see any solutions sooner than that.

This year overall? I going to say that the positives seem to outweigh the negatives, but it's really a delicate balance. Something small could tip the scales. I hope things stay positive.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life's little annoyances

Well judging by the title, one might think I'm in a grumpy mood, but truthfully, that's not the case. I have been too far gone from myself in the last few months to even know my own mind, and I'm not sure why. I have been busy, and bummed and broke. Some of that isn't new, seems that I have spent most of my life broke, but then unless you're born with the silver spoon, you did too! I guess broke is a subjective thing, because we all look at it based on our own experience. To some broke is about being able to do whatever you want to do, and to other broke is about being able to eat, so in that respect I guess I'm just not happy with my ability to Purchase and provide amusements. I am working on clearing up some of my excess debt for two reasons, One is so that I may finally be able to work on getting my own domicile of some sort or another, be it an apartment, or finally building my house. The second is so that I can get some more Photographic equipment, to go towards living my dream of becoming a professional photographer.

The bummed I am certain has 2 reasons, one is my simple loneliness in the love department. Being alone is nice for many things but when you want to share stuff with someone and there is nobody around to do it with, .... Second, bummed is because I am in serious need of a vacation and yet I don't have the time and money to take one. I'm not even meaning a trip to Europe ( as much as I would LOVE to go) just getting out of state for a week would give me a GREAT new outlook on life. There is one other bummed too, but I think it's about my overall frustration with my situation. I have gained weight like a pregnant elephant! I have nearly put back on all that I lost last year. in fact in the last 2 months I have gained nearly 15 pounds alone. last weekend I finally got disgusted enough with myself, and I have lumbered back up on the wagon and I am monitoring my carb and overall caloric intake. So it's a daily struggle to get a handle on my crazy appetites and cravings.

I know that part of the frustration comes from being lonely, and another comes from lacking my own place. I think they are linked though because I don't have the privacy to bring someone home. Oh well....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Man I should write something...

I have this damn blog and I haven't been writing in it much lately I haven't been too creative feeling in the writing phase at least not here anyway. I have been writing on Facebook, why? because I have Friends there who will see my stuff!! I like to write, and I like to do other stuff too, the problem lately is that I am much more busy with my other stuff. The other reason is that my ire hasn't been rised up much lately. Mostly because I have found a certain disgust with humanity and I have resigned myself to the fact that most of them are surrendering braincells and free will simply because they either don't know enough to think on their own, or they are willfully ignorant. Anyway, I just needed a post to keep my stuff active!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meanings...

I have to laugh. People can read the same exact words and take them completely differently. Seems like some see them for what they are and some see them for what they want them to mean.

Any language has connotation, and simple phrases can mean many different things depending upon who says it and how they say it. The spoken language is rife with the easy double-entendre, and many people assume the more risque meaning. But that's not even what I was speaking of in the first place. I love facebook, because it is so easy to misunderstand what someone means in their updates. You really come to realize just how many people can't spell, but not only that, how few have a true grasp of their own language. How do they expect the world to take them seriously in the need to use English in America, when they can barely use English effectively themselves?

I was never really a grammar guru, unless someone was actually trying to sound intelligent, then I was always glad to help. I have always been proud of the fact that I can speak properly when I need to, but I also love to mangle the language on purpose. Sadly, too many people mangle the language completely oblivious to the fact that they are doing so. I'm entirely too lazy today to find and post examples, but one of my pet peeves is the current usage of the phrase, "All of a sudden..." entirely too many people are beginning to say, "All the sudden..." Absolutely incorrect, and the most annoying thing going right now. The other one that is killing me, is in the written language, when people say the word "Should've," ( which technically isn't really correct either as it should be "should have") and then spell it as "should of". It kills me!!

Oh well, sadly it will only get worse. "Idocracy" is more premonition than comedy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The eulogy I wrote for my Gramma.

Mary Louise was born on April 19th, 1924, and she lived for 86 years and 8 days. That’s 31 thousand, 400 and 19 days. Humanity marks time in many ways, from the tiny nanosecond to the Earth changing epoch. But the most prescious time that we have, is our lifetime. Because we can only remember the one that we are living.

Mary Louise, Was, Is, will always be, my grandmother, and I will always remember her as Gramma. But she was far more in her lifetime than just Gramma. She was Daughter, sister, Aunt wife, Mother Grandmother, Great Grandmother and even Great Great Grandmother. All those things, plus she was also known to many more as friend. She truly lived a Lifetime.

My gramma was a woman who’s life could have filled many lifteimes of an ordinary person, but Mary was rather extraordinary. She didn’t take the easy way out, and she didn’t give up. Born in the roaring 20’s she saw the great depression, and studied her way through World War II. She became a Nurse, and married Grampa Oliver and raised a family. Not seperately, but at the same time. In a time when most women gave up their careers to be homemakers and mothers, she kept her career and took care of her family too. She didn’t have a womans lib agenda, she just knew that what she and Grampa wanted from their life would require hard work, and she was never afraid of it.

She gave the world her time, her love and 4 amazing children. One of them, my father. Mark, Barbara, Danny and Steve. Each one a testament to the woman that she was. Mark, independent and strong willed, Barbara , Loving and devoted, Danny adventurous and hard working, and Steve clever and dedicated. All of them Intelligent and informed, they found their way in the world using the tools that Mary and Oliver had given them. Each in their own way finding sucess and enjoying their own Lifetime.

Mary Spent 40+ years as a Nurse at Strong Hospital in Rochester. She touched so many lives in some of their darkest hours, and she always brought a little light. She cared about her patients and her co-workers as well. I remember Gramma in her nurses uniform, all crisp and starched, cap on just so, and her crepe soled shoes, always spotless. ( which wasn’t easy in a house full of kids and dogs!) I remember sitting in a hospital with her some years ago and she commented on the lax dress code of today, and how nurses no longer wore the starched whites and caps that they worked so hard for in her day. She told me that it was one of her proudest days when she recieved her nurses cap, and to her it was better than a tiara, because she earned it.

I know that in her lifetime, she found many smiles, because one thing that Mary loved was to laugh. She had to have a sense of humor to live in our family anyway, because without it she probably would have just gone nuts! We are lucky in this family that our Gramma wasn’t camera shy. We have pictures from so many occasions, and in so many of them she is laughing at something that one of us had done. Whether it was making rude noises or sly comments, we gave her plenty to laugh at.

Gramma had her foibles too, and who can blame her, Nobody is perfect after all. She hated rodents, especially mice and rats. during the first winter after Grampa passed I came to stay with Gramma and help her out. One of my duties was to put out rat poison. I told her that I didn’t mind doing it, but that the little buggers would probably die in the walls and stink up the place, but she was adamant, She said she would rather smell them rotting in her walls than Pooping in her cupboards! I came home from work one night and found all the lights on in the house and the TV going, but no car in th driveway. When I got to the house there was a note on the door that said “ I’m at ma’s, come and get me after you clean out the mouse trap behind the stove.” When I got to Great Gramma’s house to pick her up, she told me that she was watching the evening news when she heard the trap go off, and she stood up and put on her coat and grabbed her purse and walked out the door! She wasn’t gonna be in the house where she knew there was a mouse twitching around under the stove!

When I think of Gramma, I have so many memories that I barely know where to begin, but certain things stand out in my mind. Being a little kid an gramma giving me a bath in the kitchen sink. Gramma making pancakes on a sunday morning at the farm. Gramma never sitting still during thanksgiving dinner. I remember sitting with her in the twilight waiting for the first star to appear, and trying to see who would spot it first. I think she won more times than I did. Gramma always had some candy stashed and other tasty treats around.

One Lifetime. It’s probably one of the most valuable measures of time that Humanity has.

I know that in her lifetime she touched many lives and I truly believe she made each one better. In my memory she will always be laughing and smiling. I hope that she will be doing the same in yours.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Gramma...

Today the world lost a pretty cool person. My Paternal Grandmother passed away this morning in her sleep. She had been sick for a while now, and while it was something that we have been preparing for, it was still a shock when it actually happened. A woman who was born in the Roaring 20's and was a child of the The Great Depression, She was a college student during World War II and became a mother to 4 Baby Boomers. Three sons and one daughter gave her a full house and a full plate, but not only that, she was also a RN. She worked at one of the biggest Hospitals in Rochester NY for Over 30 years on top of being a mother and wife. . That barely scrapes the surface of who she was, and Let me tell you all, she was something!

My Gramma was a cool lady. Even when she didn't fully approve of what you were doing, she would give you the respect of letting you make your own mistakes. I spent a good portion of my early days living under her roof, and in later years I even spent part of a year living with her as an adult. She had her quirks, but she was a tough lady, and she didn't put up with crap she didn't like.

When I was a kid, her and my grandfather owned an old farm in Allegheny County (NY) and while they didn't raise much more than some chickens, the occasional pig and plenty of dogs she was still "Farm Gramma" to me for most of my childhood years. I always looked forward to going to Farm Gramma's house for a weekend, or better yet for a week in the summer time. Gramma always had things around that I liked, she had a bag of ballons in the buffet in the dinning room. She always had sliced cheese in the fridge, and Ice cream in the freezer. In the summer time she always had a plentiful supply of little jars to put fireflies into after my cousins and I captured them. Gramma's house was where we all went for Thanksgiving dinner and she always put out the relish tray at noon, so we could snack on gherkins and carrots and little chocolate mints while we waited for the turkey to be done. We always had to clean off the dining room table before we could set it for dinner. I am sure that I inherited my "flat surface syndrome" from her and Grampa. Gramma was a good cook, but she never trusted her memory for recipes, she ALWAYS used the cookbook or the recipe card, and she measured everything precisely. But she always had consistent results! She made the best custard and lemon meringue pies. She made great tasting biscuits, even if you could knock someone out with one if you threw it at their head! Gramma always had time to explain stuff to me.

It's funny the things I remember about Gramma. She hated rodents, especially mice. When I was living with her, I used to work a couple of late shifts during the week, and I wouldn't get home until after midnight, so usually she would be asleep in bed and most of the lights would be out. Well, one night after setting out mousetraps in the afternoon, I got home from work and as I pulled into the driveway, I see that every light in the house is on, and her car is gone. So I head for the house and I found a note on the door, that said, " I am at Ma's house, come and get me after you empty the mousetrap behind the stove!" She had been watching TV in the living room when she heard the distinctive snap of the mousetrap. She immediately got out of her chair, grabbed her coat and purse and walked out to the car. She never paused to turn off the TV, or any lights. She hated mice that much. When I put out poison for the mice and other vermin, I told her, they will eat the poison and then die in the walls and stink up the joint, and her answer was that she would rather smell them rotting in the walls, then know they were alive and peeing and pooping in her cupboards! She had her limits!!

A few years ago she suffered a mild stroke, and while it didn't take away her motor functions, it did affect her short term memory. It was heartbreaking to spend time with her, because we could have the same conversation five or six times in an hour. She loved to read the newspaper, and she had to dog-ear the pages so that she would know that she had already read them. Sometimes that didn't help, but it was always new news each time she turned the pages!

I will remember every day that I spent with her, every holiday, and special occasion. Every car ride, and each lesson that she taught me. The skinned knees and the scraped knuckles. Cuts and bruises bandaged and tended. I will remember the spankings that I definitely deserved, and sleeping in the beds that slid apart in the night. Her crisp sheets, and the warm, comfy quilts that she made for us. I have pictures of her that I will treasure. and memories that make me laugh. Stories that I will be telling until I get to see her again. Gramma will be missed, but she will live on with me far as long as I have breath.

SO... Dear Gramma, I love you, and I'm sure gonna miss you. You were the best Gramma a guy could hope for. XO

Sunday, April 18, 2010

what life has in store...

we are born, we live, we die. Everyone follows that basic path in life, but some of us fill the middle part with so much stuff, that it seems like they have lived 3 lifetimes. Other people, well, let's just say that they complain more about what they don't do than what they actually do.

Yes, I am one to complain, but I am also one to go and do too, so I fall somewhere in that middle ground. I like to try new things and see new places, and sometimes even meet new people. At the same time, I am limited in what I can accomplish because of financial or time barriers. Usually the time barrier is based on trying to overcome the financial barrier, but still! So that said, I have found that sometimes it is not the things that we go out and seek that bring the most fun, or satisfaction. Occasionally it is the surprises in life that are really the best things.

I have found that when I am open to new experiences, I find them. Whether it is trying new things, learning something new, or simply meeting new people. Everyday that we walk this planet, we have a chance to try something new. It's simply a matter of making s different choice than you have made before. Step outside of your usual rut and find something different. Have you driven by a particular road for years, and always wondered what down it? Take a few extra minutes on your way home some afternoon and see. Maybe you will find a park or a pasture, or someones flower garden that makes your day. Have you always wanted to travel but can't afford it? Maybe take the time to learn the language of someplace that you want to visit. You don't have to become fluent, but open your mind and perhaps find some friends who speak that language and practice. You will find a new way of seeing the world when you can describe it in a new way.

As a photographer, one of the things that we always try to do ( at least good photogs anyways!) is try to see things in a way that is unique and interesting. There are somethings in this world that have been photographed so many times that you may never have a chance to get a unique pic, but if you are looking for it, you just may find it. How many pictures have you ever seen of the Eiffel Tower in the fog? SO if you're ever in Paris and it's a foggy day, Go take that picture, you may just have the coolest picture ever! And all because you were open to something different.

We are on this planet for a relatively short time and while there is much debate about what comes afterward, the one thing that we know for sure, is that most people only remember one life at a time. Since we only get one chance to remember it, we may as well have some fun with it!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Crazy stuff

I never know what my life is gonna show me, and sometimes it surprises me. For many years I have guarded my credit rating like a fiend, scrimping and saving to make sure that I got my credit card bills paid on time. I have spent way more than I should have and then worked mad overtime and second and third jobs to cover the bills. On top of that I have been paying finance charges for nearly 25 years now so I guess the companies have made their money back from me and a pretty nice profit too. Last month I gave it up. I let the bills go delinquent and enlisted the services of a debt settlement company. I took the harshest road I could and went for the 2 year payoff. The sad part is that for the last couple years I have been trying to consolidate my outstanding debt and get it paid off, but nobody wanted to help me that way, they were making way too much off the finance charges. Now that I have gone off the reservation they are all telling me about these consolidation deals that they will offer me. Too late dick wads!! Tired of dealing with it all so now you can take what the agency will negotiate, and I am sure that it will be significantly less than I would have paid had you helped me when I was first asking. I never wanted to do this, it just turned out to be the way to get the end that I needed. I have cut up the credit cards and now if I can't pay cash. I don't get it. Pretty simple and it feels good. It will take a while to get used to the lack of plastic for any little thing, but in the end it will be better for me. Good riddance!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lesson in Focal planes

Ok Little brother, and anyone else who happens to read this blog, I am giving lessons today! This lesson is about Depth of focus and the art of photography, If you look at this first picture you will notice that pretty much each stem of the Crocus shoots pictures are in sharp focus. This is what many professional photographers would call "snapshot" it's a pretty picture and the subject is in focus, but to the professional, the pictures is cluttered and has no attention drawing point in it. Go ahead and click on it and see a bigger version of it to study it a little bit.
Now we come to the next picture and you will notice that there seems to be a huge portion of it that it out of focus, and indeed, there is. What has happened is that the depth of focus has been shallowed out to the minimum of the lens set-up. Because it isn't a specifically designed "macro" lens, the minimal depth is about 1.25 inches, rather than millimeters, however it is what I have to work with so it will do. As you look at the picture you will notice that the very front stems are in focus, from the ground to the tips. Both the foreground and the background of the picture are out of focus and the eye is naturally drawn to the sharp field. The Camera has not been moved from the first picture, only the F-stop has been changed thereby narrowing the focal plane. Go ahead and click on it and study the larger version for a minute or two.
Now we come to the 3rd picture and this time the focal plane has been shifted to the center of the group. Again the eye is drawn to the sharply focused stems in the center of the field. Notice that the white stripe in the center of the bent stems is in clear focus, making it very easy to identify these stems and the blades of the Crocus plant. Would you have as quickly noticed that in the first or second picture? Maybe, but probably not, and now there is now doubt what you are looking at, because it was brought to your attention by the selective focus.
Now we come to the last picture where the focal plane has been moved to the back of the group. Does it do anything special to the picture, other than making the front really fuzzy and the tips in the rear sharp? Not really, because there is really nothing in that area to show. So why show you this picture? Because it shows you that you weren't really missing anything from the other two. Generally it is quite expected to soften the areas of macro pictures that don't have any specific details to look at. The goal is to direct the eye of the observer to the interesting parts of the picture and keep them from wasting time on the useless background.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of the uses and desirability of the soft background in photos. I also hope that perhaps you will take notice of it and how it is used in the pictures you see around you day to day. There are many places where it is desirable to have perfect, crisp, clear focus throughout the entire picture, such as landscapes and forensics, but for Portraiture of specific artistic subjects, sharply focused pictures are a detriment.







Friday, March 12, 2010

Peevish

One thing that drives me nuts is when people screw up their own language, especially when they do it thinking they are correct! I don't mind it when someone knows better and simply makes a point of mistakes, in a joking manner. Like when someone pronounces "scissors" as "skissors", or when they pronounce the "k" in knife, knee or knob, that is funny and obviously a purposeful mispronunciation . What drives my nutty however, is the misstatement of a normal everyday expression, and there is one in particular that has been bugging me lately and it seems to be getting worse.

For all of my life there has been an expression using an adjective, to express surprise, and the expression is, "All of a sudden..." Somewhere in the last few years I have noticed various people using the misstated expression, "All the sudden..." Apparently it began as the slight misstatement, "All of the sudden..." but somewhere along the line people began dropping the "of" from the expression and they have managed to bastardize an already bastardized expression! What the hell is wrong with saying it correctly? Drives me nuts!!

Now the other thing that I have been thinking about lately has to do with relationships. Specifically, how people treat each other in them. I have been noticing recently that many people in long term relationships treat each other quite poorly. It is odd to me how the behavior that we wouldn't tolerate in strangers, or even our friends, we let our "lovers" get away with regularly. We often let them walk over our feelings and treat us with near disdain, and disrespect. Yet, if the people that we called friend treated us with half of the same disrespect we would drop them from our lives and probably never talk to them again. However, when the person that we share our life with treats us this way, we give them chance after chance, and yet they do it over and over again. If you caught a friend lying to you on multiple occasions, you would walk away from them and find new friends. If you found your friends stealing from you, you would not remain friends for very long, still, time and again those that we "love" are allowed another chance. Stupid people. If you can't be friends with someone, how can you fall in love with them? I just don't get it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Give and take...

Reading Facebook recently I have come across a lot of friends and acquaintances who are having trouble in their relationships, in some cases it is with new relationships, sometimes it's an old one. Sometimes it is a boyfriend or girlfriend, and sometimes the husband or wife, but whatever way it goes, it always seems to come down to honesty and communication. Somebody does something that they know they shouldn't be doing and then tries to cover it up, or lie about it outright. Here's a little something I have learned over the years....

If anyone wishes to have a strong and lasting relationship, they must first be honest with themselves about what they want and what they expect from their relationships. If you don't know what you want, or worse yet, don't know what you are bringing to a relationship, then you have a terrible chance of having a successful one. Unrealistic expectations are also another problem. The world is not a romantic comedy where you have witty repartee and funny arguments, make up and live happily ever after. Don't get me wrong there really can be a happy ever after, but this doesn't mean that you don't have to work at it and grow. Many people believe in the old adage that opposites attract, and in truth they do, but in general, they aren't good matches, the same as you don't wish to have a partner who is the exact same person as you are. So what works? Complementary couples.

No, I don't mean that you have to always compliment each other, ( but it sure doesn't hurt!) what I mean is you need to find someone who fills in your weaknesses. Are you great with faces and names, but not so good with jobs and families? You need a partner who remembers those types of details but may not be necessarily good with faces. You become a team with all the details covered. Are you great with people, but have trouble standing up for yourself when you need to be a little assertive? You need to find someone who knows your limits and is willing to stand up for you when you can't, yet won't take advantage of that very same weakness. Do you like to walk in nature and look at the birds and the trees, you need someone who likes to walk in nature and look at the flowers and the critters, this way you can both enjoy nature and you will see danger from above, while your partner will see the danger from below. This way you are a stronger pair than either of you would be alone.

Of course you need to have somethings in common too, you have to be comfortable with certain aspects of a relationship. Big ones, including sex, family structure, child rearing, if you differ greatly on these then your relationship is gonna be rocky. Sex is HUGE, because if one partner wants it all the time and the other would rather not, then sooner or later the unsatisfied partner is going to look someplace else to get what they aren't getting at home. Then they lie about it, usually. This is a place where honesty is extremely important, because being incompatible in the bedroom will never be a great relationship. So if your partner is a horny little dog, and you are happy with once a month, get it out in the open and get a grip on what this really is gonna mean. If you don't want to get it on with your partner, then be willing to let them get it someplace else with the understanding and agreement about safety and discretion. This seems like an odd thing, but think about it, without the agreement there is lying and sneaking around and when the truth comes out there is harsh words and hurt feelings and a huge emotional mess. If you were upfront in the beginning, you would have a much healthier relationship in the long run. And less stress. Sexual differences cause more stress in relationships than money or in-laws!

Family structure, who wears the pants? Who makes the BIG decisions, and how are they made? Do you work together or is one person in charge of the house and the other in charge of the vehicles? Do you decide you want something and then whine and wheedle until you get it? It really doesn't matter what your particular system is, as long as it works for BOTH of you. You have to agree on this set up, because if one feels like the other is taking advantage, or working against them, they are not happy and sooner or later it bubbles to the surface as anger and again, harsh words and hurt feelings. Hurt feeling do more to damage a relationship than any other single thing. As much as we are supposed to be able to forgive and forget , we get the first one, but the latter is much less likely. It gets filed away in the hurt bank and it builds interest and you can be sure that it will come back when it is least expected. Not good.

Child rearing is another big one. A child is smart, and they can quickly learn that if mom and dad don't agree then they can be played against each other. Discipline, responsibility, chores, grades, you name it and kids will figure out how to play parents against each other when their parents don't agree. A united front by parents gives kids a solid home and that is the best thing in the world for kids. And what is good for the kids is good for the parents too.

Life is hard enough and Love is even harder, and if you want it to work, you have to go into it with your eyes open, and contrary to popular belief, you have to keep your eyes open, and keep each other honest. Without the Honesty to yourself, you won't be honest with your partner, and eventually it will all fall apart. I have heard people say that in every relationship there is a reacher and a settler. Nobody should ever settle in a relationship. You will never be truly happy if you settle for what you think you can get. Don't be in a hurry and know yourself, then you will be able to find your second half, and the person who you can be truly happy with.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A surprise for Natalia...

Beautiful lady! You know I am thinking of you often, and I wish for you to be able to reach me directly anytime that you wish, so I am leaving my email address here for you today. troll@marksrv.com I would be very happy to hear from you much more often and to be able to write to you much more often as well. Please use it well. You may also use this to find me on Skype, which would be a great way for us to be able to talk.

Here is a picture that I took last night, of the sunset!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

For Natalia,

I know that other people will read this, and that is fine, But this post if directed at one person in particular, the beautiful Natalia! I am happy to share everything with you, and for that reason I have this link to my other public gallery So that you may see more of my pictures. I hope that you will take a few minutes and perhaps you will sign up on Facebook and then we can talk much more often and not need to use the agency and their expensive services. I believe that you have enough command of English and I have enough of Russian that we will find our meanings no matter what. I will be looking for your messages very soon!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

trying again...

Once again I am off and running on the weight loss trail. Heaven only knows how well I will do this time around, but I am trying again. Last year I didn't start until April, and I managed to lose close to 65 pounds before the summer was done. This year I am already working at it, albeit a little bit slower.

Sometime in October I tumbled off of my wagon and fell face first into a Large Pizza, it took a while for me to surface and swim through a few bowls of Nachos and pasta, but I have arrived back at shore, and now I am trying again. Immediately following Thanksgiving my pops was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Not really surprising since it runs in the family. He has changed his eating habits quite well, and as much of a pain in the ass it is for me, I am happy for him because he is improving his health. Why is it a pain in my ass? Because it seems that with his new regime of portion control and carb counting, he uses more dishes each day than any four people and I do the dishes around here. Secondly, it seems that no matter what I wanna make for my dinner, his comes first and I have to wait to use the kitchen. Pain in the ass. Oh Well.

Now for me, I have been trying to figure out what exactly it is that causes me to binge so uncontrollably, and I have come to the conclusion that I am, 1) an emotional eater, 2) an addictive eater, 3) a frustration eater and, 4) a social eater. I rarely eat just because I'm hungry, I do happen to eat when I am bored, and I put that under the frustration heading. I also never eat just until I'm full, or just have something in my tummy, I seem to gorge. I eat until I'm feeling stuffed like a bloated hippo. I guess it is because food never refuses my advances. No matter what I look like, what I think or what I have just done, food doesn't judge me, refuse me, or make me feel bad about myself. (While I am eating it, after words I may have a little guilt) So I eat because it's easy.

Easy is gonna kill me if I don't pay attention! The easy food is the worst food for me, and yet I can't seem to get enough of it most of the time. I have to start judging myself when I eat. Once again it is portion control and exercise that is going to help me through this. My goal is to lose 90 lbs. from my current weight. Today I stood on my shipping scale and I saw my weight at 310 lbs. That means when I am where I want to be, I should be somewhere in the 220 lb. neighborhood. I KNOW I can get there, but Man it is gonna take me some real work and discipline.

I'm up for the challenge, because it will make it a lot easier to take pictures, to sleep at night and maybe to find the love of my life. ( I could find the love now, but I want to be a better version of me before I do! )

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Discovering my gift..


I don't know if it's true or not, but I have been told that I have a gift for photography. I don't see it so much as a gift, but rather a drive. I constantly feel the need to capture something that I see, in a way that will make it interesting. It doesn't always work, so I go out and see if I can do a better job with it. I don't really know if I will ever be completely satisfied with the results that I get.

I guess you could say that I am driven to do it better each time. Sometimes this means by getting better equipment, and sometimes it just means finding a new way to see it. One of the things that the professionals and the critics say consistently is, "see it differently". and what they mean is that if you can get an image of something in a way that hasn't been done before, then you have something interesting. One of the best examples of this would be the Eiffel Tower. How many different ways have you seen pictures of the Eiffel Tower? Daytime, nighttime, holidays, in the rain, in the sun, at sunrise, at sunset, from the top, from a plane, from a helicopter, from the bottom, in the snow..... and so on and so on. In the 100 or so years that the Eiffel Tower has been in existence, it has been SO photographed that it is nearly impossible to come up with a new way to get it. Reflected in a window? Yep. In the background of a cafe shot? You bet! Try as you may, you will not find a unique way to photograph the Eiffel Tower, however, simply finding a way that YOU like can be all it takes. Do you want to see it backlit with the setting sun? Then this will be your picture, perhaps you get the chance to see it when the clouds are so low that they obscure the top, then you have something that perhaps not many people have done. Truthfully, most unique picture opportunities came along by happenstance rather than good planning. The photojournalists who have managed to get those particularly memorable pictures were not the ones who planned the best, they just happened to be in the right place at the right time with their gear ready to go.

Sure they have a great body of work behind them ( or in many cases still to come), but the truly iconic pictures of the ages are just pure luck. The Execution on the streets of Vietnam, the photographer turned a corner and saw the interrogation happening, he lifted his camera just as the commander pulled his pistol and stuck it to the head of the saboteur. Dumb luck, and he has said so more than once. Sports shots? the guys catching the ball in the end zone, the perfect contact punch from ringside? All Luck. Yes, there is skill and practice in the way the camera was set and loaded and held, but you can have a million technically amazing shots in your files, but it is a fluke of timing to get the "perfect" picture.

I have been entering pictures in various contests this past year, and once I enter I then have to keep looking through the other entrants. Every contest seems to have at least a dozen or so pictures of certain iconic places in the world. If it is a nature, or outdoors geared contest, there is always the pictures of The Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Yellowstone and Yosemite. I will not argue that these aren't awesome amazing pictures. Technically wonderful shots that show beauty and grandeur. They are also Common. Everyone with a camera gets something similar. I am just as guilty of submitting common shots, but I am trying very hard now to study the previous contests and the winner and to see if I can find something unique to submit. A common submission is a rainbow, usually from a rainstorm backed by the gunmetal gray storm clouds that spawned it. There is the occasional waterfall rainbow too, but I think I have found an interesting twist on the theme, I took a picture of a waterfall rainbow as it stretched over gorge wall covered in ice and snow. I don't recall seeing this particular style done before. Now I have done it! There are often various pictures of state and national parks, showing the big attractions, the waterfalls, the geysers, and the lakes, the trees or the wildlife, but what about the historic structures inside the park, in a way that they are rarely captured? Stone picnic tables in winter covered in snow and tree shadows. Something that isn't seen as often. It is built on spectacular colors or a once in a lifetime scene, but rather the way that it is, when nobody is around. People don't get to see this image, because they aren't there to see it. The question though is can I make that image compelling?

To show the tables in the snow is not really enough is it? How about a series of tables set in a tableau that makes them appear as steps on a hill? Covered in snow to resemble mushrooms? In the same place they are every day of the year, but surrounded by virgin snow? Does any of this make the image of something as mundane as picnic tables seem compelling? I hope it does, because it is what made it compelling for me!

In the end it comes down to who is looking at the picture and how it makes them feel. One day it may move them, and the next they may find it to be pedantic and a waste of time. That is the nature of art, what moves one person is nothing to the next, and yet we all keep trying.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting inspired...

I look at the blank page and wonder if I have a thought in my head. When I read the newspaper in the morning hundreds of ideas flood my brain, and If I could sit and write at that moment I would have a days worth of typing to accomplish, but after the working day is done, my mind is tired and the ideas have all faded away. I read the editorial page and I get incensed at the ignorance of the people who write to the editor, yet when I am ready to sit down and write my own piece, My brain is dead. Global warming Yep I have thougts. Terrorism? yep Got lots to say there, Politics in general, yeah I'm sure I could make a fool of myself, but when the TV is on, and my head isn't into concentrating.... No good will come of it!

So I will try again in a few days when I feel like concentrating, I can turn on some tunes and let my mind do what it wants to do!