Archive for December, 2011

I dug deep into my archives for this image. Hop into the way back machine for a ride back to State College, PA during the winter of 1968-1969.

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Fran and I were classmates and friends at Penn State during the 1968-1969 school year. After all these years I simply can’t remember the circumstances behind this shot. I have the candid portrait of Fran and that’s enough.

The original is an old color slide with obvious damage. I cropped the horizontal image tight and converted the color scan to B&W. I did this conversion a few years ago. I like it and hope you will as well.

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The Christmas season cries out for color so I dug deep into my archives and found two images I remembered taking years ago. The images were lurking on my seldom used Windows computer.

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I remember how this scene grabbed my attention when I walked past our dining room one evening. I grabbed my camera and took a quick shot. I think it had snowed. The reflection of the electric candle is obvious, the other reflections are from the outside lights strung on the bush outside the window.

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I either zoomed, moved closer or both to get this shot. I can’t remember which because I took these photos 10 years ago on December 8, 2001. How do I remember? I used my digital camera so the files have EXIF data.

I was an early adopter of digital. That camera, an Olympus, sported a big 2 megapixel sensor. I don’t use the camera now because it’s an expensive paperweight. Nobody makes the memory cards and haven’t for years. The experience has soured me on digital. I dropped $500 on that puppy (with accessories) and it was useless after a few years.

Only 2 megapixels? They were quite enough. I made a few very good images with that camera.

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Tyler's Lips

I’m putting all other plans for this week’s Monday Musings aside because Monday, December 12 is Tracy’s birthday. Happy Birthday dear and no, I’m not saying which birthday this is. That’s Tracy’s job if she so chooses. My lips be sealed.

My mother and I pulled off a successful birthday surprise for Tracy after dinner on Sunday. I bring mom over to our home each week for Sunday dinner. It gets the old girl out of her house for a few hours and Tracy likes to cook a nice meal on Sunday because it’s the one day of the week when we can relax and enjoy.

I suggested Chinese takout and both Tracy and mom liked that idea. All Tracy had to do was pick up the phone and order. Mom and I stopped on the way back to my house for the food. When I brought the big bag of Chinese food in, I snuck the surprise into the refrigerator.

Ok, Ok — I’m getting to the surprise. Remember, we had to pig out on Chinese first while I put a fresh pot of coffee on to brew. When we finished our meal (not quite because we always have dessert and coffee after our Sunday repast) I slipped the cheescake out of the refrigerator, turned around and both mom and I sang happy birthday.

Tracy didn’t jump up and down clapping her hands but she came close. “OH Wow, cheesecake!” Tracy loves the stuff. Mom and I had gone to the Amish Market on Friday where we bought 1/4 cheesecake, the rich kind — smooth, creamy and smothered with cherries. We stashed the cheesecake in mom’s fridge so Tracy wouldn’t catch on.

Cheesecake and fresh coffee are foods of the gods. I got the idea from Ann Marie’s birthday post — Happy Birthday, Dammit. It never occurred to me that cheesecake would make the perfect birthday cake. Thanks Ann Marie.

Did I mention that mom and I love good cheescake too? We do, especially when paired with good coffee (I already said that). Mom gave Tracy a nice card with a couple of twenties inside. Tracy loves to shop so I’m sure she’ll have fun with the money.

I’ll put my card on the kitchen table after Tracy goes to bed so she’ll see it first thing in the morning (I’m writing this post on Sunday night). So what am I giving Tracy for her birthday this year? I already did.

Tracy mentioned that she’d love a nice cozy robe for her birthday and I was all set to go out shopping. For me, shopping for clothes is like going to the dentist or taking out the trash. You have to do it but you don’t have to like it. Tracy loves to shop for clothes.

I was all set to buy a long fuzzy robe when I had an idea. I had three gift cards from Tracy’s favorite department store that I’ve been carrying around in my wallet for months. I asked Tracy if she would rather pick out her own robe. She thought that was a splendid idea so I gave her two of the cards.

Good thing I did because Tracy bought a short robe and a nice pair of warm cozy pajama bottoms to match the pair she bought (and loved) the week before.

But everyone should have a surprise on their birthday and Tracy got her cheesecake. Happy Birthday Tracy!

PS — I took the photo of my nephew Tyler ten years ago. The occasion was Tyler’s first birthday party. The mess was the remains of his birthday cake. I titled this image “Tyler’s Lips” for obvious reasons.

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Sepia Rosebud

annmariedwyer aka ‘Red’ left this comment on my Rosebud post:

*Idly hopes sepia is in the future* and here it is.

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I use sepia toning infrequently and sparingly. I see too many images that IMHO should not have been sepia toned or that have been toned poorly. Sepia toning, when done properly on carefully selected images can be lovely. Thanks for the nudge Red, I like the way the sepia version of my rosebud turned out.

How did I do this sepia toning? I used Picture Window Pro 5.0 (PWP).


I’m adding this information quoted from the PWP user manual. It describes the tint transformation using a sepia photo as an example.

“The tonality scale in a sepia photograph goes from black to a sepia color to white. We already have the black and white end points. We just need to create an intermediate sepia point. To create a new point, place the mouse cursor in the center of the range, hold down the shift key and click the left mouse button. A new point is created. Notice that it is assigned the number 2 while the end point is now number 3.
The new point 2 must be set to a sepia color. To set it, double click on the 2. The Color Picker is displayed. Select the sepia color you want. Lighter tones are generally preferable to darker ones because they preserve the most contrast. “

I’ve tried converting B&W to sepia using other photo editors and found the process tedious and not nearly as powerful as the tint transform in PWP.  By setting the new point to the midpoint, you are operating on the mid-tones of the image. The black point and the white point remain unchanged. There is also a percentage slider that you set for how strong you want the sepia toning to be. Most of the time, I set that percentage low for a subtle effect. This time I tried three different settings before I decided that 100% worked well with this image. 100% not only tones the image, it darkens the midtones as well, affecting the midtones the most while maintaining the gradual transition from black, through sepia to white.

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I haven’t processed any new images in the past few weeks. The films are still in the cameras unfinished. I was poking around in my archives looking for an image for this week that wasn’t trees, water, rocks or fog. I found a nice one.

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I shot this photo a few years ago when I was shooting color transparency film almost exclusively. Yes, this macro of a rosebud was converted manually from a scan of a color slide. I like the B&W version. It captures the essence of rose without the distraction of color.

This photo would have been taken using my usual macro rig: Nikon f3HP, Nikon 75-150 zoom with nikon 3T two element close-up lens and of course mounted on a tripod. The film was either Fuji Provia or Astia.

If you’re curious, here’s the link to the original color version (second image).

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Christmas is coming and I was in the mood for color today so I dug through my archives for an appropriate image.

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I took this photo of poinsettias in our kitchen window two years ago. Since it’s color, I probably used Tracy’s little digicam.

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Babies just want to become. As we get older we lose our innocence, we forget that every waking moment can be an adventure of the spirit, of discovery and settle for what is until we reach an age where we long for what was (and can never be again).

We’re young and can’t wait to grow up. We’re old and wish we were young again. Neither is possible or desirable. How can we possibly recapture the innocence of the young? Realization? Understanding? Dawning? Try mindfulness, living in the moment. It’s what babies do before we lure them out of their innocence into a life of expectations.

When we dwell on the past or worry about the future (in the words of John Daido Loori) “…we miss the moment-to-moment awareness of our life and barely notice its passing.” Life isn’t yesterday. Yesterday is gone forever and no longer exists. Life isn’t tomorrow. Tomorrow is over the horizon and doesn’t exist. Yesterday and tomorrow are head games that exist only in our minds.

Circle of life

Wheels circle round on edge
Not yet now comes past and gone
Unwinding life’s line

I wrote Circle of life (my version of a haiku) several years ago. I was inspired and mystified when pondering the rotation of the wheels as I rode my bicycle and realized that as the wheels go round and round, the tiny patch of rubber contacts the road now, in the moment.

Life is that small patch of now. Life is a journey, each moment to be savored. Through living each moment we become more. When you wash the dishes, wash the dishes. When you prepare a meal, stir the pot and inhale the aromas. When you embrace your lover, embrace your lover. Life is now. Live life now — in the moment.

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The Sycamore trees lining the path to the pier in Red Bank Battlefield Park have lost all their leaves now (I was there this afternoon). I took several pictures of the trees a few weeks ago on a bright, sunny afternoon and captured the last of the autumn ‘colors.’

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Sycamore trees resonate with me. I love the shapes of the branches, the unique bark and the tones and patterns made by that bark. I enjoy the play of light and shadow in B&W without the distractions of color.

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Both images were taken on the same day with my Nikon N8008s/35mm AF lens combo. The camera was loaded with LP400 film (Fuji Neopan 400). The combination of a moderate wide lens and fast film allowed me to get the depth of field I needed for these shots.

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I was sitting in my favorite chair in my home office (I don’t know what else to call that room) one lovely morning about a month ago. A small patch of sun snuck through the window and reflected this image onto my wall.

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I ran into the other room, grabbed one of my cameras and shot this photo before the image disappeared. I think it’s kind of neat.

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