Archive for March, 2007

Sepia Spring Scenic

30 March 2007

Maine is known for its fall foliage. I kinda like the monochrome look of some other times of year. In November, after the maples and birches have had their fling, the oaks take over, giving us a palette of umbers, siennas and ochers.

In early spring (otherwise known as mud season) everything has a sort of sepia look, like an old photograph. Especially on a morning like we had today, when the sun struggles to break through the overcast. Even the white pines that make this the Pine Tree State seem subdued.

This is a stream through a salt marsh in Falmouth:


This was my first trip to the Falmouth Nature Preserve. I didn’t know it was there until yesterday. I should’ve worn my crampons; I spent too much time trying to keep from planting the camera lens-down on the ice, something that brings the shoot to a sudden and expensive end. I speak from experience.

This part of the trail wasn’t bad, because it was level:


The place is obviously a large dog run. I like to try to spot what animals have been in the area, but all I saw today was dog tracks. And dog poop. And that pretty much guarantees that there’s not gonna be much in the way of wildlife.

There are little spots of color, but you have to look for them. Like this checkerberry poking up through the snow:


An interesting place. I think I’ll be visiting it again.


Another View

29 March 2007

Yesterday’s crocus, done at dawn this morning, with more care taken in the shooting.

Kinda funny exposure, giving it a Mean Green Mutha From Outer Space feel. Except it’s not green. And the closest it’s been to outer space was when it went into free fall when I tossed the bulb into the back of my truck.


It took me almost an hour to post this. WordPress kept telling me it was uploading the pic, but nothing showed. The mysteries of the intertubes…

It’s Back! Rats. I really need to check for titles I’ve already used.

29 March 2007

One of the little darlings that was buried by the last snowstorm is once again showing off its cute bits. Yeah, I know most of you have been seeing this stuff for weeks, but Spring arrives slowly in Maine.

This is an illustration of the use of RAW format. The camera’s automatic white balance function was confused by the lighting and I didn’t feel like going out and crawling among the rose thorns again. Here’s the crocus without correction:


This is what it looked like after I used the “shade” white balance setting in the GIMP that I should have used on the camera:


It’s like having a moron safety net. Sweet.

Moon Over Miami

27 March 2007

A blast from the past. I just came across this one as I was searching for something else in my archives. Shot at dawn from Miami Beach, looking west, towards Miami. I used a long lens to compress the perspective. This is a slide that I later scanned into the computer.


Spring Snow in Maine

25 March 2007

I learned a lesson from the shoot at Bug Light the other day. I’ve been shooting my images as TIFF format, just because I’m lazy. After I get ’em on the computer, I have to convert ’em to jpeg format, and then resize the ones I want to post here. The problem with that is that sometimes I’m stuck with an image whose exposure is not what I want; but at that point I can’t do anything about it.

Today’s shoot was strictly RAW format. It adds several (long) steps in processing, but the advantage is that I can adjust the exposure and white balance after I get home. My back likes that: hunched over the keyboard is a lot more comfortable than bent over the tripod. Plus I’m not gonna lose the light or the subject while I’m getting the perfect exposure.

Here are a couple of examples:


This is a tidal creek at the Fore River Sanctuary in Portland after last night’s snow. I think that’s a mallard in the middle, but I can’t identify it for sure.


Spring snow on some sort of pine. I didn’t stop to identify the species.

The RAW files take up an awful lot of room on the memory card. I may have to invest in another, but it might be worth it.

Oh and the GIMP roolz! Take that, Winblows! That’s one less program I need to keep that crappy so-called OS around for.

This Bug’s For You

24 March 2007

I’ve accepted the inevitable. You cyber-beings only come here for the pretty pictures. I don’t know whether this is a commentary on your literacy or my writing skills, but since you’re the ones who drive my hit counter, you win. Here’s today’s edition. Now! With More Pictures!!

Some day I’ll find the shot of Bug Light I’ve been looking for. Yesterday wasn’t the day, although this one is starting to get close:


Next time maybe I’ll get the horizon straight. And space out my shots better, so I don’t end up with sixty-gazillion boring shots of a boring sunset, with no room to play at the end of the memory card.

This was done about a half-hour after sunset. You can see the channel markers blinking red and green (“Red Right Returning”), and the lights of Little Chebeague Little Diamond Island [edited 070324/1934 after I noticed that I misidentified the island] and Peaks Island in the background. Strangely, the problem I had was making it look like it was a half-hour after sunset. I did three versions before I got an exposure I thought I liked; they all looked too “daylight” in the LCD. Since I only had room for one more shot, I had to erase all the other attempts to keep this one. Now that I see it on my monitor, one of the others might have looked better.

Most of the shots were anything a tourist with a decent point-n-shoot could get. For example:


Bug Light and Fort Gorges at sunset. In this one you can’t see the result of Scott’s mommy not paying enough attention to him. I don’t know who Scott is, but apparently he needs to scribble his name on public property so that someone will notice him.

While I was standing there, waiting for the sun to go down to color the clouds behind Portland’s skyline, some guy stopped by to talk about art and poetry. Confusing me greatly, since I know nothing of either subject. This guy looked like a leprechaun who had spent his better years in the gutters of the Bowery and in various prisons — sort of a friendly, diminutive Chuck Manson — but behind the strange tattoo work all over his face, he seemed a very cheerful person. Probably because he had to look up to converse with me, he noticed this interesting conjunction and pointed it out to me:


I scrambled to frame and shoot, but I forgot I was shooting in “manual” mode, so the first shot, although composed better, was exposed to show the moon’s craters, with a vague dark smudge where the contrails are. This one is the result of me cramming the knob over to “program” mode to let the camera decide how to expose it.

Thank you, Leprechaun!

Oh, and the obligatory, ooh-look-at-the-pretty-colors sunset shot:


I got sick of waiting for a colorful sunset, so I cheated. I set the white balance on my camera to “cloudy” which forced it to filter out some of the blue. Like putting a “warm” filter on a film camera.

(There. That oughta hold the little bastards. What? Is this thing still on?)

Bye-bye, kids! See you next time!

Don’t Stare At The Equinox, You’ll Hurt Your Eyes

23 March 2007


I know there are hyacinths, daffodils, tulips and croakers there. I got a glimpse of them poking their little heads up last week, before they were reburied beneath the latest weather event.

I’m supposed to be doing spring cleanup now, while the ground is still frozen. I hate it when the snow hangs around so long that spring cleanup is pushed back into mud season.

The good news? My fingers no longer hurt while practising the saxophone in an unheated outbuilding. The building is still unheated, but not as uncomfortable as when the temps were in the single digits.


15 March 2007

In blogdom, it doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. All I have to do is look at my blog stats page to see that.

But there are some of you who are hanging in there and keep checking for new posts. I admit I don’t have a clue why, but the possibility exists that you actually like the crap I post here. That, or you have lives that are even more meaningless than mine. Either way, I thank you for stopping by.

I’ve been sidetracked lately with several geek issues. I did manage to get my web server running, and I found that PHP isn’t as difficult as it appears when one actually reads the fine manual.

(Note: non-geeks can spare themselves the eyeball-glazing boredom of reading the next few paragraphs by skipping directly to the last section. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Issue One:

My computer is an AMD 64-bit box running an outdated version of Mandriva Linux. As a default, Mandriva installs PostgreSQL instead of MySQL, giving me a LAPP server instead of a LAMP server. While LAMP tutorials and guides abound, LAPP tutorials are non-existent, forcing me to either read the 1422-page PostgreSQL pdf manual or install MySQL. Because I’m running a version of Mandriva that’s several releases out of date, I can’t even install a new (or old) package, so to correct the problem I decided to install a newer release. Only instead of Mandriva, I decided to install Gentoo, the geekiest Linux distribution out there.

Each one of my four Gentoo installations has failed after they’ve been completed and I run: emerge — update –world –deep, and then the other cleanup utilities. This is a non-trivial and time-consuming process. And I still haven’t figured out what about the update trashes my boot loader so badly that I can’t even boot with a GRUB boot floppy. I will, eventually; my obsessive-compulsive nature guarantees it. In the meantime, I don’t have a lot left of my meager store of attention span for other projects like eating, sleeping, or posting on the blog.

Issue One point Five:

Also in the meantime, I’ve installed Ubuntu Linux on a computer for someone else. I chose Ubuntu for this person because she’s a non-geek, and Ubuntu is at the other end of the Geek Spectrum from Gentoo. The installation took less than a half-hour. Installing all the software necessary for her to have the equivalent of a pimped-out, non-crashing Windoze box took several more hours. And all that’s left is to move her music and pictures from the backup I made. Slick. Easy. Plus it has an automated update system.

So why am I beating my head against a wall to install Gentoo on my system? Those of you who know me answer in unison: it’s a control issue! Gentoo offers me more options and control than any other distro. That’s the reason I abandoned Windoze in the first place: I got sick of accepting second-rate crap that someone else decided was all I should have. I like to look under the hood and tweak stuff so it works the way I want it to work. So I’ll keep battling the Alzheimer’s until I get Gentoo to work. In the meantime, posting here suffers.

Issue Two:

Something you can’t notice in the low-res pix I post, but drives me crazy. I thought that once I got a digital SLR, my photography would be all unicorns and rainbows. Unreasonable expectations? Of course! I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have ’em.

With my film cameras, when I changed a lens and got dust inside the body, the dust sat on the film and ruined a shot. Now, with my digital camera, when I change a lens and get dust inside the body, the dust sits on the CCD and ruins that shot and all subsequent shots. I spend a lot of time cleaning the CCD and still end up with dust specks on the images. And I don’t have the cash flow right now to pay to have it cleaned professionally. So I end up not taking pictures. And if I don’t take pictures I can’t post ’em.

Anyhoo, that’s my long, rambling, whiny excuse for the lack of posts lately. You wouldn’t have had to read this, except the dog ate the note from my mom.

Now I gotta go practice my saxophone for a couple of hours, something else that’s suffered lately.