Monday, March 23, 2009

My Pictures

I use a Canon SX100 pocket camera powered by two double A batteries. It has 10x zoom and a variety of settings of which I use but the simplest. Many pictures I take with the auto setting and for distance shots I focus on the whitest spot and create contrast quickly and easily, rather like the old polarising filter on film cameras. Sometimes i set the camera to the shutter speed (Av setting) and set the light to whatever conditions apply ( tungsten for indoors cloudy or sunny for outdoors) and I play with shutter speeds to get the contrast I want. Other than that it's point and shoot.
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Bill Lovejoy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel told me his main "trick" many years ago and he said get in as close as you can. Can't go wrong if you get in close. So I try to do just that. Sometimes I need to take pictures from further away so I try to make them interesting by the angle or putting something ( a Bonneville?) in the foreground. Or I hold the camera up over my head or I lay in the dirt.
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Making mistakes is easy to deal with because you can check your picture there and then. I try to erase pictures I don't like right away so when it comes time to download I just have the right number of pictures for the essay. I don't use photoshop or any enhancing medium. If I screw up the perspective I crop from time to time ( I did that a lot on the Closely Observed Riders essay).
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Following from my habit as a radio journalist where I carried lots of cassette tapes and flipped them out of my recorder when I heard a good comment I write to the pictures mostly. When I was composing long radio stories I listened to the sound bites at the end of each cassette recording and wrote to the soundbites. Nowadays I look at the pictures and decide what I want to say which makes the writing easy, so each essay takes me about an hour to write and clean up once I have the pictures downloaded onto the "New Post" page on blogger.
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I try to keep up to a week's worth of pictures lined up in the "Edit Posts" page ready to publish themselves automatically at 12:01 am each morning, so I try to keep the writing generic using the old journalistic standby "recently". If the text gives a timeline it's because I wrote and published it that day and moved the others back to give that essay a particular published date. Otherwise the pictures could easily be up to a week "old." I mention that only for people wondering how I keep publishing one a day...
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Night photography takes a lot longer as I experiment much more with shutter speeds. Sometimes the "auto" function works a lot better, other times I use the "Av" stting and manually adjust shutter speeds. Sometimes I like the "golden effect" and use a daytime setting, other times I like the cold white effect (on Casa Marina Court) and use the "tungsten" setting. Up to about a half second shutter speed I try to hold the camera, above that it usually requires balancing the camera or using the gorilla pod. If I balance the camera on the top case I have to turn the engine off as the Bonneville at idle gives the camera the shakes. Frequently with the gorilla pod (a very slinky type of short tripod) I have to use the delayed shutter release (auto timer function) to give the camera a chance to stop shaking before the shutter releases. It took me 45 minutes to get the dozen pictures for Casa Marina Court essay and there were no "spares." Thus I prefer to sleep in the recliner during my lunch breaks in the middle of the night...
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I hope that helps in response to queries. I am not a photographer I shoot places and faces and I produce a blog I'd like to see more of : nothing more complex than daily life as it is lived. I find the photo a day concept too restrictive because I enjoy words too, and a photo a day allows for no nuances. I don't do art pictures or clever compositions because I am not an artist. You may use any pictures or words anywhere at any time- there are no copyrights I give a shit about . I do just ask that you give me attribution because I did do the legwork. I want no money, no advertising and I am open to suggestions for essays. Sometimes I forget, sometime s it seems too much like hard work, sometimes I am simply not organized. Subjects I am holding in my brain are Duval Street Food, Mailboxes, Manatees and something else I forgot.
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PS I don't let my blog interfere with family time with my wife. That would kill this effort deader than dead. Luckily I have lots of time to myself. I enjoy my own company. I don't write about the Police Station because I like my job and I genuinely enjoy going to work. I am skittish about local politics because this is a very small town. If you want to read my thoughts on the economy I have my Mr Hyde website at Conchscooter's Common Sense where I vent my aggravation at the economic nightmare much of this planet is now facing. It is not a joyous place, because I see no joy in our economic future. It's there for me to get things off my chest without smearing them across these happy pictures. About which I have now said plenty.

Closely Observed Riders

A beautiful spring afternoon in Key West and there I was with the car, picking up a dog for a friend and with nowhere particular to be, so I pulled out the camera on South Roosevelt Boulevard:The great avalanche of Harleys is only rarely interrupted by the odd Honda Goldwing or a gaggle of "serious cruisers" riding BMW motorcycles equipped as though they were on an Andean expedition. Sometimes people rumble into town on three wheelers:Of course it wouldn't be Key West without a few scooters and owing to the fact that I had positioned myself on South Roosevelt most of them were rentals as far as I could tell:Scooter rentals come in gaggles too:At least this lot wasn't honking their horns in the usual obnoxious manner. Youngsters like to look cool on their rides:Others ride with their Dads and they wear helmets:The only other helmet I saw that afternoon was covering this gent's noggin, who appeared to be seeking out the Khyber Pass in his colonial topee, rather than simply taking a constitutional under the Florida sun:This dude was wearing a cool beanie as he passed Rescue Three on the inside:I know a lot of people get their knickers in a twist over All The Gear All The Time, especially new riders, but in Florida anyone 21 years of age or older who has medical insurance can ride without a helmet so lots of people puttering around town do their thing helmet free:This guy was riding his sport bike most nonchalantly with only one hand, probably because he is human and finds the crouched riding position of a sport bike tiring. It amazes new riders that motorcycles can be ridden with one hand only. But there you are, helmet-less one handed and enjoying the afternoon, and I don't want to hear it from the peanut gallery thank you. Snow bound Canadians need to remember we can only afford to bailout banks in the US. Single payer health care is too expensive, so we recover from motorcycle wrecks with bake sales and bankruptcy:Well they are riding bicycles, it's true, but bicycle helmets are rare as hen's teeth in Key West, usually only seen on visitors. I have no idea why.I have been reading about the excessively long winter with snow and all that stuff. Personally I have no idea why there isn't a line out the door of people heading south with resumes in hand, but I am told some people enjoy different seasons. I do too, pretty soon we'll be in rainy season which transmogrifies into hurricane season and then into snowbird season and so on. Instead of wondering if you can ride on snow you could be chatting up a neighbor on the seawall overlooking the Straits of Florida:Or riding your scooter in shirt sleeves:Or hauling your wife around in shirt sleeves:And yes I know there are sandals visible on some feet in the picture. I remember reading on a scooter forum once about someone considering a trip to key West but she decided not to come because she thought she would look stupid dressed up in ATGATT (all the gear etc...) which is silly because no one cares what you wear. I even end up on Duval Street after my commute sometimes in my jacket and helmet and stuff and so what?There are other ways of getting around that can be classified as unsafe. Running your boat aground is a pain and can be expensive. How this flush decked sailboat drifted into the shallows I don't know- a sleepy captain or a dragging anchor are likely culprits- but the owner of the casino boat at that has broken loose repeatedly around the harbor may get landed with an $84,000 fine to pay for the removal of his errant boat. This boat may be lucky if there's a high enough tide making an expensive tow unnecessary:If you're a risk taker you can trying getting around on foot but that didn't work for me too well when I tripped and scabbed my knee a few weeks ago and which only now has almost healed...Failing that there are electric cars, the cute kind:Or the more mundane, if slightly more dignified kind of electric car: I was contemplating the beauty of the water glistening in the Straits of Florida when my reverie was rudely interrupted by more people having fun, and they too were helmetless I might add:Just like this guy still cruising his sport bike......or this woman with that magnificent back drop:Better that than bottled up and bored in a car:I guess that fact that I was driving the Nissan made me a little sensitive to all the people out having fun on two wheels.