Thursday, June 29, 2006

Where Does One Get Itty Bitty Blindfolds and Who Would Be Dexterous Enough to Put Them on Ants?

Originally uploaded by katzeye.
The latest research (did we pay for this with our tax dollars by the way? Just curious), is that ants count their steps, and that is how they know how far to go to find their homes (after they leave mine with whatever it is that was so important).

That sounded pretty bizarre to me, imagining the ants counting, two million, thirty-five thousand, and...drat, I forgot where I was!

But it gets better. It seems that there have been many theories over the years, here are some:

"One is that they do it like honeybees and remember visual cues, but experiments revealed ants can navigate in the dark and even blindfolded."

I just want to know who blindfolded a bunch of ants, and how they did it!

"Next, the researchers performed a little cosmetic surgery.
They glued stilt-like extensions to the legs of some ants to lengthen stride. The researchers shortened other ants' stride length by cutting off the critters' feet and lower legs, reducing their legs to stumps."

Just where is Peta anyway???

"The ants on stilts took the right number of steps, but because of their increased stride length, marched past their goal. Stump-legged ants, meanwhile, fell short of the goal."

I am just imagining all these ants, their "feet and lower legs" cut off, unable to get home again. This is truly heart-breaking. And then those ants on stilts.

Who answered the ad to put stilts on ant legs anyway? What was the going rate for that task and what kind of people showed up to apply for the job? And what about all those ants on stilts who marched right past their home?

At least I know where they are, they are marching into my kitchen! Ants on stilts!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Died Tragically While Rescuing His Family From the Deck of a Sinking Battleship

Sky frame
Originally uploaded by katzeye.
I often see little snippets of films. It's because I will haul some laundry in front of the TV, and just turn it on. I find things like sorting laundry to be tedious, so I like the distraction, and sometimes the little snippet is pretty interesting. Sometimes it's just a bunch of commercials for equipment guaranteed to, at last, get one totally in shape in just 15 minutes a day, and it folds down compactly to store under the bed, too!

Recently I was matching up socks and saw the end of "The Royal Tannenbaums." There is a visit to the grave and it is revealed what has been inscribed on the marker, "Died Tragically While Rescuing His Family From the Deck of a Sinking Battleship."

It is a comic moment that is also tinged with pathos. How many of us lead very ordinary, very safe lives? How many of us are Walter Mittys, imagining heroic acts?

And how many of us would just like to have the sense of humor to arrange to have such a thing engraved on our own headstone, knowing that no one would actually believe it and just chalk it up to one last attempt to break away from the mundane?

What say you?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Happiness and Gratitude!

Originally uploaded by katzeye.
I went into my flickr files to find one of my favorite macro shots, one to portray the sense of gratitude and joy that I feel, knowing that soon I will be back to taking photos like this and whatever else moves me.

For those who are waiting for me to do their family photos, just hold on a bit longer. For those who are taking the photog class, I will demonstrate primarily with your equipment and the ability to demonstrate (with my own stuff) ought to expand along with your ability to comprehend. For the rest of you, watch out, because soon I will be back in the game.

I feel like I am anticipating Christmas, birth, a wedding, a trip to Europe, or all of the above, or whatever is exciting, and taking too long to get here.

It has been an interesting journey as I have experienced various ways of being, from the initial shock and loss, and how much it felt like something important had been amputated from my soul, to the ways of getting around it:

sorting photos, going through and uploading the ancestral photos that my sister copied with a digital point and shoot, seeing what my p&s could do, trying various devices (close-up filters, telextenders, etc.), and generally getting out of my own way to keep the creative juices flowing, in little streams, around the massive dam of the missing equipment.

I am OVERWHELMED and AMAZED at the generosity of others. It is such a healing balm for the wounds I suffered at the greed of a thief.

You people have so restored my faith in humankind, for this, and for many other misdeeds commited, not just against myself, but against all people. I know that sounds like a political speech or something, but I mean it. I can get bogged down with how much hate and violence there is in the world, but hey, there are still kind and generous people everywhere. That makes me happy to know this.


I am most humbly and gratefully indebted to so many of you. I will find a way to thank you each in a meaningful way.

I can't say thank you enough. While I am still rather paranoid about the thieves amongst us, I feel like the sun is starting to shine again. I feel like soon I can come out and play again, only with a new appreciation for what I can do and an immense gratitude for the ability to do it, and for the tools that make it possible.

Thank you with all of my heart!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Teaching Photog Class Soon

Reaching for the sky
Originally uploaded by katzeye.
Starts the end of the month. Haven't taught photography in a while. I will begin, at first session, by assessing student levels and what they want to learn. It's a really casual class, obviously.

Was starting to think, though, of a way to share the class with any online friends.

Any suggestions?

Monday, June 12, 2006

My Grandma Was a Photographer!

My Grandma was a Photographer!
Originally uploaded by katzeye.
Last night we uploaded the photos that my sister took while staying at our mom's. She took a bunch of photos of old photos, so the quality was not always good (faded, wrinkled photos, etc.)

In this photo, my grandmother is taking a portrait of my mom, the little girl sitting in the chair.

My grandmother has the marcelled bob of a flapper, and the newly shorter skirts. She kneels to get a good shot of my mother, in her bob haircut, seated in the rattan chair. This was taken somewhere in southern CA, possibly in Santa Monica or Long Beach, where they had been living at the time.

The date on this would be around 1925-27.

What I discovered, as I looked through the hundreds of photos that my sister copied, was that there were a considerable number of good photographs. Typically, the photos that people have of their ancestors are stitled, posed, lined up in bright sun, etc. But my sister found many, many wonderful photos of people riding in model-Ts, playing on the beach in swimsuits to their knees, etc.

We also discovered that the photos that our grandmother took were, pretty much without exception, well composed, creative, and compellingly wonderful. (The photos she was in were never quite as good!)

What a delight to discover that my beloved grandmother, who was capable of sewing anything that I could conjure in my mind and sketch on paper, was also a gifted photographer.

It makes me feel as if some of her is in me, and that perhaps, she watches me and takes some joy in watching me compose creative photographs.

What a wonderful discovery!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Politics, as Usual...

Mother and Child Portrait
Originally uploaded by katzeye.
About a week ago, I wrote to my senators about an item about which they were about to vote. It was an issue of great import to me. When I got to Barbara Boxer's (aka Sachez) site, there was a form for those of us wishing to communicate with her about such issues.

In order to send one's commentaries to her, one was REQUIRED to choose a topic for the commentary from among the ones that she listed.

There were quite a few topics, and I scrolled through them at least three times in an attempt to see if any of the topics listed was related in any way at all to my commentary, and none of them was even remotely related.

My topic was related to families, and her topics were the war, immigration, civil rights, illegal aliens, taxes, etc. None of her choices fit.

I tried to send my topic as "other" or with no topic chosen, but the commentary would not send until a topic was chosen.

So, I just chose the very first topic which was the "War in Iraq." I wrote my commentary and I even apologized for choosing the first topic on her list, randomly, in order to be able to send my commentary. I explained that I wasn't writing to that topic, but another that did not fit into any of her categories.

I just got a reply from Senator Boxer today.

She writes, "Thank you for sharing your views on the War in Iraq." Then there are several paragraphs which elaborate on her personal opinions on this topic.

I suppose I should not be surprised in the least, but it is as if I got to the end of the yellow brick road and discovered that the wizard is just a little man behind a curtain.

So, she has all of her commentaries already written, to go with each of her topics, and when her constituents write her, she just has the hired help fire off the form response to match the topic.

So good to know that our elected officials actually want to know what we think about things.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Internet as a great source of entertainment...(or Duck X-Ray Reveals Alien Head)

Originally uploaded by katzeye.
Maybe we should call it the Enternet, or Intertainment.

I was looking up the filter size for a particular lens that I need to replace, eventually, and somehow found the pathway to some bizarre hoaxes and well, whatever. In any case, I came across this:

Duck X-Ray Reveals Alien Head

I admit that I clicked on it, and immediately started laughing the moment I saw the picture.

In today's world, we all need a good laugh at least once a day. That was mine.

We are also entertained by the hollywood, gossipy, petty, shallow magazine that I accidentally subscribed to.

It all began when we ordered a pair of shoes for a teen boy whose mother recently died. They say no good deed goes unpunished.

Just as I was clicking on the "send order" button, I saw, too late, that the box was checked that we would receive a free subscription to Star magazine. Agggghhhh!

Oh well, it has been entertaining to keep up on the petty details of the lives of people we don't know and don't care about. The writing and the photos reveal more about the writers and photo editors of the subjects, anyway.

So, we have that source of entertainment until the free subscription, thankfully, runs out, at which time we will likely be bombarded with special deals on renewal along with subscriptions to national enquirer and whatever that one is in the supermarket that always has peoples' (or aliens') heads pasted onto the bodies of sumo wrestlers.

Which leads us back to the alien head found in the duck. Have you had your laugh today?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Film or Digital?

Dusted it off
Originally uploaded by katzeye.
I was a dyed in the wool film fanatic until I tried digital SLR. I still see the value of film. It has a certain warmth and depth that is not always captured with digital. It's like the difference between listening to a vinyl record and a CD. But the differences are subtle.

Film has a certain, um, sense of permanence, in that every image that you take is on a negative and/or a print. You can hold that in your hand, hold it up to the light, and say, "Ah yes, here is the photo that I took of Uncle Bob doing the Marenga." The only things that can make that image go away would be: fading over time, fire or flood, or having the negative fall out of a box on the freeway while you are moving.

Digital images need to be backed up on the computer, on CDs, on an external hard drive, made into prints on paper that doesn't fade too rapidly, etc. And when one is shooting digital, one is making more images than one can possibly have the time to back-up adequately! I often have the sense that my digital images are not much more permanent than my thoughts. And often enough, I have lost images one way or another, through computer melt-downs, through corrupted files, and theft. I have easily lost far more digital images than film.

But all of these points, and more, have been argued by many. Here is my own take, as a lover of film and manual cameras, and the victim of the theft of my digital SLR.

About a week ago, I got out an old, refurbished manual SLR and loaded it with B&W film. I decided that without my D-SLR, I would return to my roots and shoot film and choose my settings manually. I expected some kind of glorious epiphany, some kind of back-to-the-land kind of simple joy.

While it has been an interesting experience (the smell of film was a fond memory, and I enjoyed the winding of the film around the spool, and then there is that wonderful click that occurs with the mirror), it has also felt like returning to a horse and buggy. While that may be fun, and a kind of novelty when on vacation, it doesn't fit in so well with our present-day lifestyles.

I found myself taking fewer and fewer photos because the joy of seeing what I had just taken, and trying again until I got it the way I wanted it was entirely missing. I was less experimental, relying upon tried and true (from several decades of photographing) compositions, lighting, etc. I was inclined to be more conservative because I couldn't take the risks I could with digital. I had only a set number of exposures on the roll of film, and would need to pay for every one of them when I got to the end of the roll.

It feels like I am simply sketching some ideas, and then, filing them away. With the digital SLR, the idea was there, and then there was the execution of the idea, and the immediate feedback, and the response, "Oh, that won't do at all! Delete that and try it this way," or, "Hey, look at how that one turned out, that is not what I expected, but I like it! Let me try pushing the envelope a bit more in that direction and see how that looks."

With the D-SLR, when I approached my subject, the camera and my eye experienced a kind of merging and they became a team. There was the seeing, the adjusting, the capturing, the editing, etc.

It seems that with digital SLR, my eye and my mind are working in a different, more creative, more energetic way. There is more synergy and more serendipity. There is more exploration, and more enthusiasm for risk.

So, what do you think? Do you prefer digital or film, and why?