Sunday slide 12

Bathers at Looking Glass Falls
So, there are a couple of common facets of scenic photography which can be a little (or very) discouraging. The first is that, with any truly dramatic bit of landscape, chances are it’s been done many times over – it’s probably why you even know to go there in the first place. So not only is it somewhat trite to shoot yet again, chances are some other photographer has done a much better job of it than you will; there’s even a bit of photographer’s slang about the idea: ‘tripod holes,’ meaning shooting from the exact same position as so many others that you’re wearing holes into the ground from the tripods. And if you have to travel to get there, you might have a limited amount of time to visit the site and do your stuff; the light might be bad, or water flow is less than ideal, or foliage conditions not up to snuff [what the hell does that even mean, anyway?] Most of the best photos aren’t about the landscape itself, the geography and vistas and all that, but dependent on the conditions and timing, and if you’re not there when they’re optimal, it’s much harder to produce something exciting.

And then there’s the popularity, especially if it’s easy to get to or particularly well known. In such cases, you then have to contend with what someone else might be doing, including being in your shot, or with the amount of trash that’s been left behind, or just the necessities of tourist attractions that really don’t add to the impact, like fences and signs and souvenir shops. When you see the empty and serene images of places like Stonehenge, such things were taken in extremely specific conditions, sometimes even with assistance from local authorities to keep everyone else out of the frame long enough to get the ‘lonely’ shot.

Looking Glass Falls in Brevard is one of the most popular waterfalls in North Carolina, featured in countless publications about the state. Moreover, you can practically drive right up to it – it’s actually visible from the road, and it’s a short walk down from the parking area to the overlook, which was only a dozen meters behind me and to the left when I took this image. I was standing in the river downstream, purposefully out away from the other tourists – but there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about the teenagers cavorting in the shallow pool at the base of the falls. The further back I got, the more people would be coming into the image. And yes, I imagine that they felt the same way about me, despite my efforts to stay off to the side and out of the way.

And the light wasn’t really what I wanted, being a bit too flat, but I also suspect this batch of film wasn’t up to spec. It happens sometimes. Another pair of things that can’t easily be corrected when you are making one stop during a weekend trip.

The curious thing about this one is the very narrow range of settings that I must have used – remember, it’s a slide so I don’t have the luxury of referring to the EXIF info, and wasn’t taking notes. The shutter speed was slow enough to blur the water and even produce a bit of motion from the foreground leaves in the breeze coming off the falls themselves, but not so slow that the bathers are obviously moving. I can’t recall if I timed the shot for a moment of inactivity from them, or just happened to catch it, but it’s a curious juxtaposition if you stop to think about it.

The Girlfriend was with me on this trip, and stayed up on the overlook while I was working the stream below, which gave her the opportunity to hear what others were saying behind my back. A few gossiping tourists were betting that I was going to slip and dunk myself and my gear in the water, taking obvious delight in the prospect, but she kept quiet and didn’t bother to challenge their assumptions, and I was happy to disappoint them.

Not everything

Benjamin Franklin is widely considered to have been a pretty smart guy, credited with numerous innovative and useful ideas. The unfortunate thing about humans is, we tend to take shortcuts in thinking, and believe that someone is so smart that they don’t have bad ideas, failing to recognize that no one is capable of that, or at the very least lending more weight to any given idea than it merits. Isaac Newton, for instance, hashed out some pretty damn slick calculations regarding motion itself, including planetary motion, but refused to relinquish the idea that a god was responsible for it all, as well as the thought that an orbit must be circular. Pierre-Simon Laplace was the first (known) scientist to disabuse us of those notions.

We could use another Laplace right now, especially one able to produce pithy quotes, because we need to finally, once and for all, get the fuck rid of Daylight Saving Time. This was Franklin’s idea, supposedly to “make better use of daylight” as the amount of it changed throughout the year due to our planet’s axial tilt.

Now, in and of itself, it makes sense to take advantage of daylight for all those things that benefit most from it, and this does include being more active when the sun is up and thus not having to spend as much money on heating a cold house, or lighting a dark one. Yet, this level of saving is trivial at best, for numerous reasons. The first is, few people have manually controlled thermostats (much less have to stoke the Franklin stove to warm up the place,) and have to bump the heat up when they get up in the morning. But even those that do won’t drop the thermostat when it gets dark in the early evening in the winter months – they’ll still be up until midnight bingeing Netflix without the chill. And a programmable thermostat negates all advantages from shifting the clocks and is a much wiser investment overall (which would also be a benefit if implemented by the millions of people who keep their thermostat set at one temperature regardless.) Notably, too, in all of the warmer states, the shift actually increases the energy use and spending, except it’s not for heat, it’s for air-conditioning, which tends to be more expensive. There’s another hit to energy in the form of lighting and general activity (coffee makers, TVs, etc.) but, again, it’s trivial, usually not topping five percent of overall energy usage, and easily offset by a smidgen more efficiency just about anywhere – for instance, using better city lighting that doesn’t throw light up into the sky where it accomplishes nothing, not using TVs as ambient noise both publicly and privately, and not dicking around with electronic devices because we’re bored or can’t handle, like, books.

And of course, there’s the argument that I heard my entire life, which is preventing kids from having to wait outside in the dark for the school bus. I’m not sure how it’s escaped everyone’s attention that this never actually applied, since it’s the shift itself that provokes this often enough in the first place, but also the very simple fact that the daylight is less in the winter, period – we don’t gain any by doing this. Not to mention that very few people even let their kids wait out for the bus anymore, but feel the need to personally deliver them to the school’s doorstep, because of the enormous energy saving that this entails.

Which brings us to the very special brand of stupid that we somehow engage in. Start school and work later, as in, eight o’clock rather than seven? Preposterous! How will people ever get used to that? So, instead of picking a different arbitrary number to make an ‘official’ start time, we’ll actually change the period of the daylight when we go to work or school but try to call it the same thing. We shift everything twice a year, but pretend it hasn’t shifted because we have to change the fucking clocks nationwide. The millions of people who don’t have kids in school, or have to be at work at a given time regardless, or have to work with daylight hours regardless – those that derive not the faintest benefit from this shift – still have to undergo it to stay in sync with this asinine practice.

Worse, this shift actually increases the injuries and fatalities nationwide, as people abruptly change their sleep schedules and, once again, begin driving to work in the dark while their bodies are adjusted for a later activity period. Somehow we try to ignore that, and insist that the school bus and heating bill thing is more important.

Hell, I’m strongly in favor of one worldwide time, call it Greenwich Mean or Universal Time Coordinated or Zulu Time, and having done with it. This is far less confusing than it sounds. Sunrise is at a different time every morning – the shift is constant (you know, orbital mechanics and axial tilt) – and it doesn’t matter what number we want to apply to it. Everyone that has to do any integration whatsoever across a ‘time zone’ has to calculate the variation anyway, even when the business they’re trying to call opens at 8 AM, just like their own – in fact, they usually have to do additional figuring because of this: “Shit, they’re in Japan, how many hours ahead is that? Or is it behind?” Isn’t it far simpler to just say they open for business at 3 AM, period? It’s a bit like adopting the metric system: if you’re trying to translate, it can be taxing, but if you start off learning it, it works as well as any other number – better, in fact, because the fractional nonsense of SAE measurements in non-intuitive and easily confusing.

[I feel obligated to point out here that I have a watch with dual time and the second is set to Zulu, mostly because astronomical events are pinned to that and it thus negates having to translate into ‘local’ time.]

I’m waiting to businesses to get fed up and simply switch their hours in the opposite direction when DST takes place. “Oh, the clocks jumped ahead an hour? Funny, we now open an hour later. See you at the exact same time as yesterday.” Once enough places do this, maybe we’ll get rid of this ridiculous convention of fucking with the clocks twice a year for nearly pointless reasons…

What are you planning?

six-spotted fishing spider Dolomedes triton on flooded lawn
Just in case you’ve been, you know, living under a rock or in some heathen country, Saturday March 18th is National Fishing Spider Day, the Dolomedes of March, as it were. Traditionally, this is celebrated with Oysters Rockefeller and Tahitian Treat, but go with whatever you feel is appropriate – on our end, it’ll probably be Three Musketeers bars and grilled cheese sandwiches (not together, you idiot.) We’ll start off, trite as it sounds, with a recital of “Inky Dinky Spider,” but then go a little more progressive and play a round or two of thumb wrestling and, later in the evening, tell all our favorite arachnid stories from years past. Low key, I know, but there’s such a thing as getting too wrapped up in a minor holiday.

Prepared as ever, I have a nice image to illustrate the holiday, but this one deserves an even closer look [you should see a doctor about that cough.] Seen above is a six-spotted fishing spider (Dolomedes triton) which was foraging on an expanse of flooded lawn when the pond nearby had overflowed with heavy rains, and no small specimen at that; if memory serves, it was probably a little less than 20mm in body length alone, which would put its full leg span at about the size of your palm. It was not, however, the only one to be seen that evening, or even the only one in the frame.

six-spotted fishing spider Dolomedes triton inset showing another captured fishing spider
Zooming in on the same image, we can see that the main subject is working on a meal, part of the reason I could get in so close without spooking it off, and that meal is almost certainly another fishing spider, judging from the shape of the abdomen and the other leg visible beneath. Spiders do not hesitate to consume other spiders, including their own species – the name of the game is survival, and competition, ready food sources, and genetic heritage are all factors in the game. The other spider being so much smaller would mean not only that it was not a sibling, but also not of potential as a mate, and thus a rival for both food and genetic line. So it goes.

But don’t let me hog the whole post. Tell us all in the comments what you’re planning for National Fishing Spider Day – traditional, or something new? Having friends over? Doing some barbecue? We’d love to hear the variety of ways people will be spending this day!

Sunday slide 11

N4356V Horace Williams wreckage
Kind of a bizarre one this week, an image I’ve had kicking around since the very early days of slide shooting – in fact, I held off on this one because I suspected that it was from a negative instead, the scan having been in my image folders for years. But since I recently confirmed that it’s from a slide, we’ll proceed.

In 1998, the pilot of a Cessna 195 making a night landing at Horace Williams airport in Chapel Hill, just after touching down, realized he was in a poor position to complete the landing and attempted to climb out again, commonly called a “go-around.” Apparently losing sight of the runway lights and unsure of the attitude of the aircraft, a series of maneuvers ended with the plane contacting the ground with one wing, disastrously.

Horace Williams is a small municipal airport owned by the University of North Carolina, and generally at night there is no regular staffing. Pilots flying in can automatically activate the runway lights by clicking their radio mic several times on the right frequency, and ‘clearance’ is obtained by routinely announcing their presence and approach; all other pilots in the area know to maintain vigilance for aircraft that may be in their vicinity. Otherwise, pilots are expected to be familiar with the airport, which has only runway edge lights and no further approach assistance, much less air traffic control (or even radar.) At night, once the nose of the place goes up, all visual references disappear, and without diligence to the instruments it becomes difficult to accurately ‘place’ the aircraft in a knowable position. This is apparently what led to the accident.

The three passengers were all seriously injured in the crash, and no one actually knew they were there. According to the story I was told, their calls for help were heard by someone who lived near the edge of the airport – otherwise they could have been there for a long time, perhaps even until another pilot flew out in the morning, which might have been too late.

The wreckage seen here was photographed several weeks after the crash, when the accident had been investigated by the NTSB and the pieces relocated behind one of the airport buildings. At that time, I was occasionally riding out of Horace Williams on short excursions with a private pilot friend, who took me back to see the fragments. In the bottom of the photo sits the floor pan of the cabin, with the rudder pedals clearly visible; just ahead of that point would have been the firewall that separated the cabin from the engine compartment, now clearly detached. It illustrates the savage nature of the accident fairly well, I think, even though this is not the accident scene itself but the deposited fragments after clearing the area; it’s safe to say that the wreckage wasn’t torn up to this extent by the accident investigation or the shifting of the aircraft. To me, the image has always been a bit poignant, which is why it’s been sitting in my folders waiting for an opportunity to share it.

Friday color revisited

I could have posted these earlier this week, but that would have ruined a theme I have going.

blue lungwort Pulmonaria officinalis blossoms
I featured these last year, taken in the same location too – while blue lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) are considered native, I’ve only ever seen them in the NC Botanical Garden. But they’re quite small and appear to have a very brief blooming season, so it’s possible I’ve just never been around them in the wild at the right time.

It’s still not quite spring season yet, even though a few select things have come into bloom (and the almond tree is leafing out like a champ,) but I figure I’ll throw down some springlike pics right before the snow storm rolls in on Sunday – it’s not supposed to be a serious one, but it’s poorly timed.

small patch of bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis blossoms
Okay, granted, there’s not a lot of color here, but the white makes the rest stand out, so I’m counting it anyway. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) blooms early like the lungwort, yet still a bit later than daffodils. They’re much bigger than the lungwort while still being small flowers.

weeping cherry blossom against blue sky
And back home, of course I had to do some shots of the weeping cherry tree, letting the sky provide most of the color this time. I just missed an opportunity today to photograph a honeybee visiting these flowers, which is the first actual pollinator I’ve found visiting them, but since the tree produces an abundance of little cherries each year, something’s doing the trick.

Stay tuned; if the snowstorm produces anything scenic, I’ll make the attempt to do something with it. But right now I have six minutes to post this before it’s inaccurate, and I’d have to rename this, “Saturday color.”

Sunday slide 10

American bittern Botaurus lentiginosus not really blending in with the reeds
This week, we travel all the way to central New York, and back – gosh, I’m not really sure what year this was taken (so much for businesslike recordkeeping.) No, that’s not true, it was 2006, since it’s stamped on the slide mount. I was visiting family, and took a side trip out to one of my old haunts, Montezuma Wildlife Refuge at the northern tip of Cayuga Lake. And in the reeds directly alongside the viewing drive, an American bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) was endeavoring not to be seen.

Now, you can see some of the traits that assist in this, even though it’s not working terribly well here. When suspicious of being spotted, bitterns will raise their heads straight up and count on the camouflage lines along their necks and throats to blend in with the reeds, even swaying slightly to look like they’re pushed by the wind. The really cool part, which my model here unfortunately did not demonstrate for the camera, is that their eyes are set in such a way that they can see all the way around themselves when posed like this: they can look right at you with both eyes while their throat is pointed at you, as it were. Or ‘straight up’ from the top of their head, too. I’ve seen it just once, the only other time I’ve spotted a bittern, and it’s very cool.

Bitterns, by the way, are medium-sized birds, a little larger than an average duck but with much longer necks, so (in this position) stretching up to 40cm tall or so. And, when they realize the camouflage isn’t working, they’re also quite adept at sneaking off. Despite my proximity and experience with spotting/following wildlife, when this one drew its head back down and slipped off among the reeds, it virtually vanished, able to duck under and among the plants without disturbing them. On multiple occasions, I would spot it for a moment as it appeared in a gap and, when it disappeared again, I would watch for evidence of it ahead on its path – only to suddenly find it much farther along than I believed, having completely escaped my vision and slipped off with appreciable speed. As this was going on, I had been shooting out the open window of the car and was backing up to try and keep pace without being too obtrusive, only occasionally correcting the car’s path by taking ahold of the steering wheel, or checking in my rearview mirror (I could get away with this because traffic was almost nonexistent, and anyone coming up behind me would be moving at just a few kilometers an hour themselves, as well as coming into sight hundreds of meters back.)

While I think I’ve gotten glimpses of them in flight on a couple of occasions, as yet I have only photographed bitterns twice – have to do something about that.

Podcast: So you want to do this as a business?

Well, far be it from me to tell you how to do it – there are better sources of information out there. But while it’s slow and we’re both bored, I’ll go ahead and provide a little insight, a few pointers, towards approaching photography from the standpoint of making money. Don’t expect a lot, now.

Walkabout podcast – Business mode

Some quick notes:

EXIF Pilot will let you export the EXIF info from a whole pile of images as a CSV; if this confuses you, bear with me for a second. Digital images now all have a list of information added to the file, such as camera type, date and time image was taken, focal length, exposure settings, and so on – it can be very handy information to have, and it’s all stored in what’s called an EXIF file, readable by any serious photo editor, but if you’re looking for something, Irfanview can pull it up easily. EXIF Pilot will let you grab all of this information, or only the bits you find most necessary, and put them into a format that can be accepted by, for instance, a spreadsheet or database program. A CSV file is a common method of exporting – it’s essentially a text file and it stands for comma separated values, meaning each column of the data is split by a comma. Such a file can be imported into a spreadsheet program and will automatically line up the info into proper columns, provided you format it correctly – it might take a little playing around, and knowing how to handle importing and exporting in your spreadsheet program of choice can help a lot. It’s a moderately advanced technique, but the time it can save you is huge.

Sample of Open Office database spreadsheet
Open Office is a great freeware program to do all of this stuff, very close to the capabilities of Microsoft Office but infinitely cheaper. In my experience, it also handles the placement of graphics in text documents much better.

Also, I presently use FastStone Image Viewer to go through my images for sorting and editing – quite versatile, and fairly customizable.

Irfanview, mentioned above, can also do batch renaming and resizing, which at times can be a big help. I also routinely use Oscar’s Renamer to accomplish the filenumber alterations mentioned in the podcast – it can take a particular search string such as the initial “IMG_” tag at the beginning of each image filename, and replace it with whatever you want. It’s handy if you suddenly find, after several thousand images, that you should have some other detail in the filename (telling camera bodies apart, for instance.)

By the way, routinely back up not only your image files, but also your recordkeeping; externally is a necessity, but offsite is also recommended. Here’s the deal: an internal backup such as another internal harddrive (I have three total) is just as susceptible to a virus as the main drive, and only slightly less susceptible to corruption by, for instance, a bad motherboard or power supply. So an external copy dodges all that. But an offsite copy (for instance, at a friend’s house, or in a safe deposit box) is protection against a fire or flood in your home office. It all depends on how valuable the images and records are to you, but I’ve been bitten by harddrive failures before, and someone I know lost nearly everything he’d shot for years in a flood.

Cloud storage? If you ask me, cloud storage can fuck off and die. First off, you have no control, and no guarantee, that whatever provider is going to keep your files a) safe, b) confidential, and c) accessible – an awful lot of businesses have been nailed for various things like helping themselves to client information and files, not to mention including this theft within their license agreements (meaning you supposedly agreed to it when you started using them, one of the many reasons I pulled my shit from Facebook.) And then of course there are the ones that simply go out of business. I’ve already re-uploaded my website twice in the past few years due to hosting failures, and if that had been cloud storage, wave bye-bye. Skip it, is my advice.

Do your own website? That’s up to you – it’s a lot of work initially, and a fair amount when you start doing updates and reformats. But this can also cost you a bundle to have someone else do it, not to mention all of the fancy-schmancy stuff they’re likely to tell you that you “need.” Remember SEO (search engine optimization)? That was a buzzword a few years ago, a screaming necessity if you asked any site builder or web marketer, but it’s almost vanished now, and with good reason: nothing really increases your visibility except traffic. You could have spent a lot on SEO for no reason at all, and with no results – same with social media marketing. Nobody buys stuff because they see it on Instagram.

Like I said, it’s a start, but if you want to get serious about it as a business, do the research and get as much input as you can. Just be sure that you really want to, first.

The triumphant return of the RC-1

I’ve got way too many posts where I recognize that I haven’t been posting enough, so let’s just say “ditto” and move on.

Back in 1997, I think, I got my first “serious” camera, the Canon Elan IIe. It’s relative, of course – while the Elan IIe was never considered a professional grade camera, it was a huge step up from the secondhand Olympus bodies I’d been using before then, and new to boot. With it came one of the brightest ideas Canon ever had, a simple infra-red remote control called the RC-1. Half the size of a cigarette lighter, the RC-1 could not only be used to trigger the shutter remotely (for, you know, the old-school style of selfies,) it could be set for two-second mirror lockup delay. The utility of this takes a little explaining. The sudden sharp movement of the reflex mirror within the SLR body sets up a small degree of vibration, and when doing very high magnification work, such as with a long focal length and a slower shutter speed, this vibration was enough to actually blur the image slightly in certain conditions. Thus, getting the mirror movement out of the way two seconds before the shutter opened could eradicate this vibration and make the images sharper. And of course, the remote could also be used for camera traps, or long exposures of the night sky without touching the camera (and setting up vibrations from that.)

The best part about it was the price, about 20 bucks when I bought it, unprecedented for just about any kind of camera equipment. It even came with a little click-in holder that could attach to the camera strap, and while I never use camera straps (hate the damn things,) mine went onto the zipper tab of the main camera bag and was always available.

Unfortunately, the remote didn’t work with the EOS 3 I later switched to, but I still had the Elan IIe as backup, so I kept it on the bag. Years later I got my first DSLR body, the first edition Digital Rebel (the grey one,) and I found that the RC-1 could be used for that, and so it came back into rotation. I think I even got a spare when I purchased that body, though my original from 1997 was still working fine (and on only its third set of batteries, I believe – it really doesn’t use much power.)

Then a few years back, I switched over to the 30D (in case you haven’t determined by now, I don’t chase the latestgreatest nor worry about ‘professional’ equipment – it’s the photographer that makes the shots.) The RC-1, naturally, did not work with the 30D. I finally detached it from the bag and packed it away, sorry to see it go. I don’t understand Canon’s attitude, from both price and lack-of-option on the higher bodies, that this is a amateur/tourist bit of equipment, but so it goes.

beat-up Canon RC-1 remote with custom battery coverAnd then, just recently, I picked up a Rebel T2i body solely for the option of doing video work, and once again, it works with the RC-1, even though the model has now been discontinued and is supplanted by the RC-6. Even more usefully, it will trigger video recording (this has to be activated within the menu,) so it will come in useful for the high magnification macro work where the camera will be locked onto a tripod to avoid inducing motion sickness from the viewer – I will be able to start and stop recording without touching/wiggling the camera. So yeah, welcome back!

That’s my original in the pic, though it’s safe to say it doesn’t normally look like that. On a trip to the north Georgia waterfalls (the same trip where this was taken,) I fumbled the little thing from my grasp and dropped it down a steep trail. I recovered the remote, but the battery door had popped off and gone missing. In need of one before a new remote could be shipped to me and good with plastic working, I fashioned a new battery door from clear acrylic as an interim fix, and the damn thing still remains.

You can even see it in the pic for this post, which not only shows how small the RC-1 is, it tells you which camera was used for that photo.

Sunday slide 9

First off, the backstory, because it leads into the image better.

I think it was 1999. I was touring Florida on one of my photo trips, and working my way back north along the Atlantic coast, having gone down on the Gulf side. Sitting in my motel room one evening, I was determined to make one more significant stop someplace before wrapping the trip up, but didn’t have any good ideas. I was a member of the NC Zoo at that point and thus of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which provided reciprocal discounts at various aquariums and zoos across the country. I had thoughtfully kept the member list in my wallet with the card, and took it out to see what might be nearby. Just names were listed, not cities, and when I came across “Brevard Zoo,” I was delighted to discover that I was spending the night just south of the county, and the zoo itself was perhaps fifty kilometers away, about a half-hour drive directly up the interstate. Kind of a no-brainer at that point.

It wasn’t a large zoo, but it had a wide variety of geographical areas covered, and some quite interesting species – I was especially fond of the tapirs, which excitedly accepted some bananas from a keeper as she sprayed them with insect repellent, but I was also pleased to see capybaras for the first time. Look both of these up if you’re not familiar with them because they’re cool.

Standing alone under an overhang of grapevines, if I remember right, I was looking with chagrin at the enclosure of the black-capped squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis) from behind a barrier. The wire of the cages was too prominent, and squirrel monkeys too “handsy” to let people get within reach, so I wasn’t able to do the typical trick of getting right up against the cage and either shooting a tightly-cropped version that avoided the wires, or fuzzing them almost to obscurity with a short depth of field. I resigned myself to not being able to get anything useful from a stock photo standpoint – it would be too obviously a zoo shot.

When I was switching to a new roll of slide film and was juggling the film can, one of the monkeys became captivated by this sight, and seemed quite familiar with the object in my grasp. Stretching out from the front of the cage, the primate beseeched me, soundlessly, to hand over the film can:

black-capped squirrel monkey Saimiri boliviensis requesting a gift of a film can
I toyed briefly with the idea of tossing an empty can to the monkey, sure that it couldn’t get it through the wires even if it did successfully catch it, but I was also sure that it could manage to get into other mischief with it, even if only intense agitation when the can couldn’t be pulled through the wire. Also, zoos tend to frown on that kind of thing (with good reason.) But of course I snapped a few frames, with the flash producing an intense sparkle from the eyes that only seems to enhance the proffered handshake. It’s always bad news to shake any hand extended through a barrier.

Two little items of trivia. The souvenir sea turtle shirt that I purchased in the gift shop remained my favorite for better than a decade, becoming The Girlfriend’s favorite once she laid eyes on it some years afterward – I still have it but it’s not really in condition to wear now, and we’ve searched in vain for a new one. More interesting, however, was that when I lived in Florida from 2002 to 2005, I lived in Brevard County, but never got the chance to visit the zoo again, one of my bigger regrets. And I’ve been saving my film cans too.

Friday color

Yeah, I could have had this up sooner, but let’s be real: there aren’t that many people checking in routinely to see what’s being posted anyway.

possibly cherry blossoms, I don't know, white against a blue sky, okay?
The Girlfriend tells me these are cherry blossoms, so we’ll go with that since I’m not knowledgeable enough to tell otherwise. They’re the first of the trees in bloom in the immediate area, and everyone feels this is pretty early, rivaling the daffodils. But it was nice out today and I managed to do a few shots here and there, even though overall it’s still wintry-looking; the almond tree in the yard is just starting to bud, and the rose bush is kicking out a good number of leaves, but nearly everything else still looks bare.

The Canada geese (Branta canadensis) were cavorting in apparent recognition of the unseasonably warm weather.

Canada geese Branta canadensis splashing about
This looks like a composite even to me, but it’s simply one frame where several geese just happened to act at once. There was a lot of activity going on, short take-off runs only to plunge back into the water 20 meters away, sometimes disappearing entirely under the water. Maybe there were some localized gravity fluctuations happening…