Every Dog Must Have His Day

foodiptychDogs and people seem to have a lot in common and maybe that is why they usually get along pretty well. Every dog must have his day and today is the last day of the year. It seems like a long time coming and now that it is here I’m a little sad that the holidays are coming to an end. All the old songs and cliches seem to be coming to mind today. Sayings about dogs, days and life in general are flooding my brain and there is some sort of Beatles compilation playing in the kitchen which keeps reminding me of things from a long time ago.

I’m trying to figure out now if I learned anything in the past year or just managed to get a little older. The songs on the radio make me think we had all the right answers a long time ago, so why is the world such a mess now? This blog is about the good things in life so I would rather concentrate on those while they (and I) last.

We went out for a bit last night but there was nothing to do and no one interesting to look at. We went to a very good party the night before and I took photos of just about everyone there. There was a good white ceiling for bouncing the flash off of and I got decent (shadowless) results for the most part. I dragged the shutter a little too much in some cases and got some motion blur at times but I like the ambient light so that’s what happens occasionally. I wore out a set of flash batteries taking photos. People are often reluctant to be photographed but then everyone wants the photos after you have taken them. Trust me, I’m not going to post photos that make people look bad if I can help it.

It was very cold in Chicago but totally worth it to finally get out of town and see some decent holiday window displays and stylish people on the streets. Sometimes I can have a blast just taking out of focus photos of Christmas lights. It’s been done a thousand times before but it feels like part of the holiday tradition to get blurry photos of abstract color.

The Pelican Carry On (1510) Case went on its maiden air voyage this week. Another valuable feature is that you can use it as a table and not worry about spilling coffee on your camera gear. The other great thing about the Pelican case is I was finally able to relax and not worry about some jerk beating my gear to death trying to get their jumbo sized bag in the overhead. Peace on earth and peace of mind. Thanks Pelican!

Six out of ten family members were traveling this week which is is sort of interesting. At least one had the sense to go somewhere warm.

So we are down to the end of 2009 and New Year’s Eve is a holiday without religious or cultural liabilities and that is fine by me. I was getting tired of worrying about stepping on people’s toes for the last month or so.

Happy New Year to everyone! Tomorrow we push back from the dinner table and start working out.  😉

iPhonography

The iPhone seems to be the cure for boredom. After playing with it for the last several days I’m pretty impressed with all the things it can do and a few things I am prevented from doing like using it as a modem for my laptop or downloading really big files. My lovely assistant ordered a book for me online as we drove to the airport the other day and verfied our flight. When we got to Chicago we navigated to our dinner party with the iPhone. I used it on the metro line to track our progress using satellite images. When I tired of watching the passing rooftops, I listened to music and took candid photos.

I’ve even made a phone call or two from the iPhone and now I’m writing the blog while I watch TV in bed.

Light Snow Falling

ornamentsWhile other parts of the country have been hammered, we were getting mostly flurries or plain old rain. It looks like the snow is now falling in earnest and since it is Sunday there is not likely to be much effort to clear the roads until much later tonight.

I am warm and happy, looking out the window at the chilly display and wondering if I want to go out for a walk before I go to work. It looks like I have to take Louis the Furtography dog out since his owner did not. The guy on the radio says it’s twenty seven degrees outside. Brrrr…

Louis decided he wanted to go for a long walk in the snow and ice and after a while he had big chunks of ice stuck in his paws and was doing his lame dance. He was about half frozen which is his own fault so I had to stop the photography and carry him all the way home trying hard not to fall down on the snow covered ice. Between the dog and the massive camera bag, I was breathing pretty hard by the time I got home. Now that I’m warm again I think I might run over to the market to get something for lunch and dinner.

While we were out Louis and I stopped at the dog park where he started barking at a painting of a dog on the side of a utility company junction box. That was pretty funny and Louis was a little embarrassed when he figured out it was not a real dog. A lot of these big green utility boxes have been painted over with interesting designs. One of my flickr friends who goes by “formica,” took Brownie Hawkeye photos of the ones where he lives in Asia. I have thought of photographing the ones around here before but have never gotten around to it. Today I took a couple of snaps of the ones at the dog park . I’m not fond of photographing other people’s art but since these are somewhat transitory I guess it’s not bad to have a photographic record of them. Most of the works are unsigned so there is no way to contact the artists.

I want to get photos at the park downtown but I guess that will have to wait for my day off. I’m still thinking of trekking up to Chicago for a day next week. I hope the airports are not on total lock-down because of the lame attack on the Delta flight the other day. That was a close call and I’m thankful that there was a positive outcome. This is not a political or social commentary blog so I’ll leave it at that.

I’m going to walk over to the store now…

When I returned from the store I dumped the morning photos to the laptop and got ready for work. I’m taking my camera just in case I decide to go outside at dinner time and grab some quick shots.

Holiday Marathon

LightsI have only been to a few holiday parties so far but I am in the minority. While I was sick with a cold everyone else was going to a steady stream of parties and having a grand time. It is now plain to see that all the parties are having an affect and people are starting to get worn out. Meanwhile… I am beginning to feel a little better but still on the tired side and wishing I could just hibernate for the next month or so.

I’t time to start thinking about getting some exercise so that when Spring arrives I will be able to fit into my traveling clothes and go somewhere exciting. I’m still trying to get out of town to Chicago or New York but the weather stinks right now and the flights are probably super crowded as well.

You can’t tell from this photo but I have gotten my hands on a new lens and I will be testing it out over the next couple of weeks if the sun ever comes out. The best reason for getting a new piece of kit is not just so you can say you have more stuff than the next guy but to give you an excuse to try new things or new ways of doing things. Most people will advise you to spend your money on really good camera lenses instead of the camera body because the lenses last much longer (at least in theory). I went the other way around when I got my last camera because I wanted a bigger viewfinder, faster focusing and more frames per second. The LCD display on the back of the camera was also a big improvement over the postage-stamp sized display of my old camera.  My idea was to get a camera that was more user friendly for the type of photography I liked to do and I’m pretty happy with that decision. Fast forward a couple of years and in my typical wishy-washy style, I finally convinced myself to bite the bullet and buy a new lens which is actually worthy of the camera.  I just hope I’m worthy of using it to take decent photographs. There is nothing worse than having a good piece of gear at your disposal and then finding out that you are a complete hack. Fortunately even hacks can learn and grow in time if they try hard enough.

I’m not suggesting that it takes a lot of money to make good photographs because in my experience some of the best photographs are produced with simple and inexpensive cameras that can be bought for under ten dollars. I just finished a roll of film in my Brownie Hawkeye Flash, that I converted into a pinhole camera. I somehow managed to get the shutter mechanism stuck and only one side of each frame was exposed. In fairness, the camera is over fifty years old so I could always blame my problems on that. The truth is that I had a lot of fun and it didn’t cost me nearly as much as taking photos with my ridiculously expensive digital camera.

I have also been having a lot of fun the last few days taking low resolution blurry photos on my ridiculously expensive iphone camera. My favorite application at the moment is called “Polarize,” which is a free app to make your photos look like old Polaroid SX70 photos. I have only had the iPhone for a couple of days but it is hard to imagine being without one if you are any sort of social person at all. It’s instant gratification times ten. Instant photos, instant messages, instant movies everywhere all the time. I don’t know if that is bad or good because the newness has not worn off yet and I’m still in the honeymoon phase. My only hope is that it lets me get more done instead of just wasting the little time I have.

Mid Century Modern

I have just arrived at that place in time that people have been looking forward to since the 1950s.

I just got a new iPhone for Christmas. I could never completely make up my mind about getting a new phone. My old phone was terrible and I often left it at home because I hated using it.

The iPhone is a blast. I never cared much for text messaging and never bothered with social networking sites. I left it up to others to keep me informed about what was going on in the family.

The iPhone makes keeping up with everyone simple, which is great for people like me who are late to the online game.

So I’m sitting in the car listening to NPR on the radio as the rain comes down. The last of the holiday shopping is getting done as I write this post.

Welcome to the future.

There For Anyone To Change

fortunetellerI was going through some photos this morning and thinking about all those things that a person thinks about at this time of the year. There are still a few parties left to go to before the end of the month and a couple of presents to open but then the year and the decade will finally be over.

I always have the random lyrics to a few old songs rattling around in my head,  half-forgotten. The ones that came to mind today were from Jackson Browne,

And while the future’s there for anyone to change, still you know it’s seems
It would be easier sometimes to change the past…

Some people are frightened by what is behind them, fearing that the past might catch up with them while others fear what lies ahead waiting in the dark. I’m not sure which is worse but both are pretty scary. I’m no good at telling fortunes or making fortunes. I don’t even have a reasonable explanation for things that happened last week and maybe that is due in part to having a cold this week and not really feeling like I am living in the present moment. I don’t have any serious problems of my own to worry about so I’ve been worrying about the things I hear on the radio instead. I wonder if we will ever get things right on this planet before we completely ruin the whole thing. Parts of the world seem stuck in the dark ages.

The few people who seem to care enough to do something about the problems of the world seem to get pushed back on every front. Peacekeepers and relief workers are slaughtered along with the rest of the ravaged population.  There is a lot of evil in this world and once in a while there are moments of incredible beauty that seem surreal. How can the two things exist at once? If I keep thinking about it long enough I’m sure I will drive myself insane.

Is there anyone out there who still feels like we can change the world? The future is there waiting for change but who will change it? I’m still trying to figure out how it all works. Tomorrow or the next day when my body has battled back against the cold virus, I will be more positive and optomistic. I will try to do better and be kind to people. I will try to keep on smiling.