RED CHRISTMAS CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

Red Christmas Cactus Blooming FOTD – 05/15/19

I’ve been taking pictures as the blooms budding and as they open. It has been pretty spectacular. This morning, it was amazing. For reasons of pure laziness, I shot these two pictures with my 100-300 lens.

I was very surprised at how well they came out.

Remarkably, it worked really well. I got exactly what I wanted, which was the entire plant in context with the other plants by the window.

I got it!

With only the light from the French doors after four in the afternoon …
Shooting in low light can bring out stronger color

WHY I WAS BUYING A LAMP AT 3 AM – Marilyn Armstrong

And there I was. Amazon. It’s three in the morning and I’m online looking for an inexpensive lamp.  Why? Because Garry managed to fall over getting out of bed.

It was only a matter of time. Because our bedroom is pretty small, there isn’t really room next to his bed for an end table, so he doesn’t have a light he can just reach for so he can see what’s going on. This time, he got all tangled in the thing he uses as an end table (it’s actually a three-legged step-ladder), followed by a solid thump as Garry hit the floor.

Garry’s end of the bed

“Is anything broken?” I asked him.

“No,” he said, limping to the bathroom.

That was it. That man needs a light and someplace he can put the remote control, his glasses, the headphones and a lamp he can turn on with a simple switch. So I bought him a little lamp, much like the one I use — I could have given him the mate to the one I use, but it’s a glow-in-the-dark Snow White lamp and I thought maybe something less girly would be a better “fit.”

My night-light. Garry could have its mate, but I went for something less girlish.

Not that he would really care. He is long past trying to establish his masculinity and has always thought he looked good in pink, especially pink shirts with white collars. And a well done Windsor knot in his tie.

So, in the end, I spent $10 on the lamp, and another $29.75 on two very narrow end tables that should fit into the available space (they are only 13 inches square). It won’t make the room bigger, but at least he can turn on a light and not fall over.

We aren’t getting any younger and a little bruise from twenty years ago feels a  lot bigger today.


Thursday’s Special: Backlit

When your subject is between the light and the camera, you are using back lighting. Sometimes, it’s on purpose — as in these shots — to give a silhouette effect.


Typically, you don’t have a choice. The sky and sun is over there … and here is the only place to stand. Shoot backlit, or don’t shoot.


It works pretty well for landscapes, not nearly as well for portraits.





Confession time. All my portraits of people over “a certain age” are soft focus. Closeups and perfect focus are for the young, teenagers with tight, flawless skin. For everyone else, a little kindness, a bit of glamour glow, a gently de-focused 90 mm lens.

All three of these were done with a bit of glow and in soft focus. I also am careful about lighting (shady or overcast). I also try to use one of my portrait lenses which tend to produce the most flattering portraits.



72-Ellin_06-2Kaity HOF


A new bouquet. Another opportunity to run the macro lens through its paces. The light wasn’t very good, but the lens seems surprisingly forgiving despite that. It isn’t a particularly fast lens, just f2.8. Apparently there are things critical to focus other than bright light, notably contrast and texture.


Some colors seem to come into focus easier than others. I find reds and purples the most difficult. To be fair, they are the most difficult no matter what lens I use. Plus, I find red the most difficult color to reproduce accurately without distortion.


After that, in order of difficulty, white, pastels, and very dark blue. Medium colors — orange, yellow, pink — seem to be easier.


Finally, just one garden shot — the white Hydrangea blooming with the day lilies. Using the exact opposite lens — my longest 4/3 telephoto.


Acceptance In Advance

Getting an award. Accepting an award. Waking up the next day and realizing that the festivities are over and wondering if anyone even remembers the day before … then being pleasantly surprised to discover …yes, they do. It doesn’t hurt to have a lot of pictures posted of the event. It helps the remembering.

With Harvey Leonard (WCVB, Channel 5)
With Harvey Leonard (WCVB, Channel 5)

As a photographer, event photography has never been my strong suit. I don’t have the right equipment and in this case, yes, it does make a difference. The right lens, a good flash unit … they make a huge difference. You want a fast lens or a good strobe that recycles fast and has oomph. And bounce. A really good, fast camera … one that focuses quickly even in low light. I had the camera. I had a lens. A portrait lens. No flash.

Well. I have pretty good equipment, but it was never intended for this purpose because this stuff doesn’t come up all that often. And I can’t afford it. A small matter, but crucial.

When Garry was still working, it came up a lot more often. He hosted events. We were guests at events. Regularly. I used to actually own (and need) a separate formal wardrobe. Garry owned more than one tuxedo. That was then …. not at all now.

Here, in sleepy Uxbridge, fancy dress is anything clean that matches. Or minimally, doesn’t clash. Wearing earrings makes it formal. For men, a belt rather than a drawstring is formal wear. I am not exaggerating. Okay, maybe a little. But not much. It’s more than merely casual here.

The best moment - Garry and Anton, together.
The best moment – Garry and Anton, together.

It’s dress down time every day of the year, but especially on weekends. You should see what people wear going to church. Even the ministers don’t wear suits or ties. So far, never seen the pastor in shorts, but I’m sure it will come soon enough.