SQUARING THE LAMPLIGHT – FILM NOIR IN BOSTON #11 – Marilyn Armstrong

Squaring the Lamplight

Since Becky already named this, I thought it was a good time to use a photo I have always loved, but definitely needed a redo. This was taken under the streetlights on the sidewalk next to Boston Symphony Hall. It was December and we were there for the Christmas Concert.

The shadows and grain of the photograph made me immediately think of film noir and its dark shadowed moods. If you use your imagination, you can imagine stories about this one.

In the shadows under the streetlight in the heart of Boston

BIRDS CAN BE SQUARE TOO #10 – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

BACKYARD BIRDIES IN WILD ABSTRACTION (AND THE NUMBER ISN’T IN ORDER, EITHER)

It was a sunny afternoon and my camera was ready. I was ready. Were the birds ready? That is always the question. As for light, see that hint of golden sun on the trees and the birds? That is the reflection of the late afternoon winter sun. Photography is all about light.

I take pictures every day if there are active birds on the feeders. It’s a timing issue and I have to hope it isn’t the exact same group of birds that seem to actually live on the feeders. When I see enough interesting birds or types of birds, I try sneaking up on them and hope they won’t hide or fly away. I think they are laughing at me as they fly into the woods.

Flying: the bird in front is a Tufted Titmouse and the bird in the back is a woodpecker, either a downy or a hairy.

Last week, I dumped the flat feeder and the very damaged wire feeder. I got a smaller feeder with smooth sides and a rim for birds to hold onto. It is designed for smaller birds. I already owned a finch feeder, but I’d never bought food for it. I had Owen put up a third hook and invested in a small bag of finch food.

A Goldfinch on the finch feeder

It took about 72 hours for the birds to discover the new feeders. For a few days, there were almost no birds. On Sunday, I woke up and looked at the feeders and they were empty. I don’t mean that they needed filling. They were 100% empty, down to the last seed.

Woodpecker and Titmouse

I filled everything up and waited. The Goldfinches are back and so are the woodpeckers. The Cardinals have come home, though they refuse to sit still while I take their picture. I think they should show some appreciation, but they aren’t here as my friends. They just want to eat. I still think they could at least let me take pictures. Show me a little bit of gratitude.

Hairy Woodpecker

They hide on the opposite side of the feeders where I can’t see them. I have to wait for them to decide to ignore me and some days, they manage to elude me until I get tired and give up.

A beautiful Tufted Titmouse … and a surprisingly big oneToday I decided to exhume the SD card from the OMD and see what I had collected. I decided to play around with this batch. Others are less abstract. I admit it. Sometimes, I just want to play with pictures.

FEATHERED FRIENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

UPS is very slow delivering this year, so all the birdseed I have left is black-oil Sunflower seeds. It’s healthier to mix them, but the other two bags of seed haven’t arrived. They are weeks late. Just one seed isn’t the best I can do, but at least it is food and they like it.

I think it’s two birds having a little tiff. Hard to tell but that’s my best guess.

Owen shortened up the feeders today. The wind has been pretty strong and the feeders were blowing around like mad. He was afraid they would just blow right off the hooks — which they have done before.

Goldfinch

Nuthatch

He’ll have to feed the birds until he puts the long hooks back because neither Garry nor I can reach the feeders at that height.

Goldfinch and a bird in flight Probably a Titmouse (going by feather color).

Cardinal in the snowy branches

These are interesting pictures with birds in flight and in one of them, at least two birds mixing it up in the air. I think they are Titmice, but it’s hard to tell just a swoosh of feathers.

Goldfinch and Chickadee

 

FROM DUST WE COME, TO DUST WE RETURN – Marilyn Armstrong

A few nights ago, we watched one of the “Orville” episodes on Hulu. This episode was about finding a lost cell phone from a “time capsule” on earth and how someone recreated that world on the Holodeck. He fell in love with the girl on the phone, but of course, it couldn’t work. Past is past.

I love time-travel stories. In fact, Garry and I are quite addicted to them. The first movie he ever brought over to show me was “Somewhere in Time” which is a time-travel love story. I liked the movie so much I haven’t wanted to read the book. I want the images from the picture.

I understand, as a generation, we will disappear rather faster than previous generations simply because so much of the material we’ve created is electronic. Our things have no physical structure. We can’t store them except on our devices. When we pass, our computers will pass too if not immediately, then eventually. Time will make our computers useless anyway because technology is everchanging.

Dawn in Vineyard Haven.

Our photographs will largely disappear when we die. As we vanish, our memories will vanish unless we wrote them down somewhere in a book that isn’t immediately forgotten. It is a rare family (usually a wealthy one) where the past is saved through centuries. Even those ultimately disappear because time goes on beyond remembering.

Vineyard art

I’ve visited a few castles of great lords of Egypt (there are a few in Israel, including Lachish), plus of course Canaan, England, Ireland, and Wales. The oldest ones are rocks and ruin. What didn’t disintegrate through time was destroyed by earthquakes or other natural events. Many great monuments remain, but no one knows who built them or when. Personal belongings have long turned to dust so we can but imagine what the lives of those people might have been. I’m sure we are more wrong than right in what we want to believe.

Assuming we find a way out of today’s current mess and build a kinder, better world, bits and pieces of us will hang around, no doubt transferred to some new medium. It will be less than previous generations left.

Giant Rose Famille Ginger jar

I thought about all the photographs. Almost all will be lost because they were never printed. They have no physical reality. I even wondered (briefly) if I should print some — even tiny versions — just so there would be a physical record they existed. Then I realized no one would want the pictures anyway.

Let me rephrase that. They might want them, but they have nowhere to put them. That’s why when Garry was cleaning out his parent’s house, I was afraid he’d bring back stuff. It wasn’t that the material was not important. It was that we have no room for it.

Little things

Our walls and cabinets, closets and shelves — everything is full. The attic hasn’t much in it because it’s not really an attic. It’s full of fiberglass to keep heat in the house.

Funny how insulation was a big issue when we moved here. Now, I wish we had better ways to move air around so it wouldn’t be so hot!

More little things

Times change. Hopefully, enough of our world will be saved somehow and somewhere. For all I know, some planet in the great out-there has all our TV shows, music, books, and photographs. Maybe they are building a new world based on what they see in our old stories and pictures.

PORTLAND STREET ART – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I recently spent two days with friends in Portland, Oregon, the Vermont of the West. Pot is legal and the arts are thriving, all over town.

Our friends drove us and walked with us all around town so we got a good overview of the city.

Beautiful design on a billboard in town

This design covered two buildings next to each other

Artwork on the side of a building

The side of another building. I love the whimsy of this one!

Another cool scene on the side of a building

Courtyard entrance to a shop

On our drive through town, I took a picture of an interesting sculpture I saw on the porch of a house. Later that night, our friends drove us to a local tourist attraction – a psychedelic light show that a local resident projects every night. I realized that this was the house with the interesting ‘sculpture’ – much more interesting with the lights!

THERE’S A WORD FOR IT IN JAPANESE – Marilyn Armstrong

When talking about photography, English doesn’t always make the grade. As it turns out, Japanese does.

The Japanese have a word for everything, I think. I just learned “Komorebi. It means “sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees,” and by extension, the natural filtering of light through anything. Like blinds or curtains, for example.

75-051214-Komorebi-Sunlight_12
I’ve been chasing that light for more than 40 years. This is the word I’ve needed. I’ve been trying to capture that forever.

Komorebi.

Remember it. It’s a great word.

A golden tree and the rays of sunlight
Then there is bokeh, a word so popular it is now included in American books about photography. Bokeh defines something difficult to say in English.

“Bokeh means the aesthetic quality of the blur
(a soft and out of focus) part of an image produced by a lens.”

Like this.

Dry weeds by the river

Or this.

Kaity
I’m sure there’s more, but this is my vocabulary lesson for the day.

DESIGN AT DISNEY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

On my recent trip out West, we went to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA for a day. I was struck by the beautiful design elements and artistic touches I saw all over the California Park. There were also many California Craftsman style pieces as well as Art Deco, often in the most mundane places.

Walt Disney with a map of the original Disneyland

The park is dotted with artistic plant arrangements and mini gardens

California Craftsman style fountain. Similar to Art Deco style.

Pseudo Frank Lloyd Wright style building, with his iconic stonework patterns

My favorite – a total art deco pretzel stand! Gorgeous!

Closeup of a colorful mosaic over a bench

A larger section of the mosaic over a bench

ARTS AND BIRDS: A SMILE FOR THE WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

The cleaning of the kitchen window has produced better pictures, but not nearly as good as they would be if I were outside taking them.

Every attempt I make to sneak outside, they fly away and they don’t come back until I go in the house. I can see them up in the branches, waiting for me to leave.

In warmer weather, I could sit quietly and wait and after a while, they would decide I’m a piece of furniture and come back, but today it was cold and rainy, so I wasn’t going to work well as a piece of furniture.

Two birds

Chickadee

One plump Chickadee

It’s hard to get a grip on whether or not I’ve sharply focused through a window. To be fair, shooting through glass — even very clean glass — is usually a problem for photographers. Either you get too much shine or reflections, or dirt smears so small you can see them come up bright and clear on the pictures.

Two little birds – Chickadee and Tufted-Titmouse

So, until I can go outside and pretend to be a chair, I’m going to be stuck with some good photographs that require artistic treatment.

And this is definitely my smile of the week! I made the birds happy and that made me happy, too.

IMPRESSION OF A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER – Marilyn Armstrong

No matter what anyone says, trying to be artistic with a picture you love that has flaws is a lot of work. I’ve been working on this one for hours. Literally at least two hours.

I tried it earlier, but the colors were all wrong. This time, the colors are closer to true, but I had to use a lot of filters to bring the colors at least close to the way they looked.

Impressionist red-bellied woodpecker …

Now I have to figure out how to get the shot without shooting through the grubby kitchen window at a 45-degree angle!

ONCE UPON A TIME … – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Erratic

Once upon a time, I was a total wacko. That is not an exaggeration. In my late teens, I was nuts. Big time.

Fortunately, by the time I hit my twenties, I had settled a lot of my hash. If I wasn’t exactly “normal,” I was no longer completely loony tunes. As the years have rolled on, I have become more “normal” and less crazy until these days, I’m about as normal as I will ever be. So far, so good which is really the story of my life.

I am not particularly erratic. I am, if anything, a bit inclined towards doing being extra careful. I write with great courage, but I walk with utmost care.

I don’t know if this is how life goes for others who started out pretty wild and weird. I have gone through periods of serious depression and with some good psychiatric talk therapy, found ways to climb out of them. I also learned to control a lot of the mind muck that used to turn me into a mental tar pit.

One shrink pointed out to me that depression wasn’t just a feeling. It was a reaction to life, that it could become habitual. You are depressed because you are always depressed and that is how you see yourself, understand yourself.

And from that point, because he hit a nerve with that observation, I began to be happier. I stopped looking for the dark places and started hearing joyful music.

It probably helped that I was madly in love with Garry.

No, you can’t have him. He’s mine.

PHOTO CHALLENGE: ANIMALS IN NATURE – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge: Animals in Nature

I realized this omitted my dogs, the local milk cows, and the chickens. That left birds. I have seen many wild creatures, but I haven’t gotten their pictures. I can tell you about the tortoises and coyote, chipmunk, bobcat, and fisher cat. Squirrels, deer, rabbits, gophers and I know we have begun to have bears, too.

But when we get right down to it, what I have photographically, are birds.


Reflective 

Turtles

Geese swimming in one line down the Blackstone River 

Our own little Red Finch

Dirty water swan 

Cardinal in snow

Up and away! Photo: Garry Armstrong – Not wild, but maybe he should be? 

Junco, probably.

Great Blue Heron 

Black-crowned night heron 

GARRY DESERVES THE DUKE, BUT WHAT ABOUT ME? – Marilyn Armstrong

Duke is not our first dog. We’ve had a big selection of hounds, terriers, and mutts of various backgrounds, sizes, ages. Somehow or other they have all fit in here because anyone or anything can fit in here, assuming they want to. For years, there has been great howling and yapping and barking in this house and that’s the way we seem to like it.

Duke

The thing we’ve never had, however, are truly obedient dogs. We don’t demand obedience, so we don’t get it. I wasn’t a very good disciplinarian as a mom, either.

Discipline makes me feel guilty. Who am I to demand obedience? Who do I think I am anyway?

Garry is worse. Garry was born with a gene that says “whatever you tell me to do, I won’t do it.” It’s a special piece of DNA that screams “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?” Even in the Marine Corps, when his drill instructor yelled at him, he laughed.

It got him a lot of days scrubbing bathrooms with toothbrushes, but it’s in his blood. He cannot help himself. I cannot help him either. He’s a tough nut. People think he’s so easy-going … and he is … unless you get him mad. Then he isn’t. Easy-going.

Duke is the dog Garry deserves. Duke also has no grip on “Do what they tell you. Be a GOOD dog.” You stare at Duke and he stares back. You can see every inch of Duke screaming “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?”

Certainly not Garry. They try to stare each other down, but Garry starts laughing long before he manages to get obedience … and anyway, I don’t think Duke can do it. It’s not in him. The other dogs, if they hear that “tone” in my voice will do what I say because they hear the “alpha” note — and figure they ought to behave, even if it’s just a few minutes.

Not Duke. Nope. Never. He doesn’t do “obey.” He would make a feral cat look like a well-trained pup.

Unless I’m holding a piece of chicken. Chicken is another level of training and if I actually needed Duke to behave, I would need a lot of chickens. Possibly a whole cow. Or an entire flock of sheep and maybe a school of shrimp. Do shrimp swim in a school or is that just fish?

Anyway, Duke is the dog Garry needed. He is the dog that will go eyeball-to-eyeball with Garry until they are both laughing themselves silly. Well, Garry does most of the laughing, but I swear Duke is grinning.

So we know why Garry wound up with Duke, but what did the two Scotties and I do to deserve him?

IN JAPANESE, THERE’S A WORD FOR IT

When talking about photography, English doesn’t always make the grade. As it turns out, Japanese does.

The Japanese have a word for everything, I think. I just learned “Komorebi. It means “sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees,” and by extension, the natural filtering of light through anything. Like blinds or curtains, for example. 75-051214-Komorebi-Sunlight_12I’ve been chasing that light for more than 40 years. It’s just the word I’ve needed. I’ve been trying to capture that light as long as I can remember.

Komorebi.

Remember it. It’s a great word.A golden tree and the rays of sunlight Then there is bokeh, a word so popular it is now included in American books about photography.

Bokeh defines something difficult to say in English.

“Bokeh means the aesthetic quality of the blur (soft and out of focus) area in an image produced by a lens.”

Like this?Dry weeds by the river

Or that? KaityI’m sure there’s more, but this is my vocabulary lesson for the day.