Tag Archives: random snippets

Random Snippets: Digital Photography and Movies

Pretty flowers grow near a reflective bridge on a lake.

Usually I’m a big Scott Kelby fan. Not only is Scott great at writing photography and Photoshop books, but you can tell from his blog that he loves taking photos. He’s a true fan of photography and almost is giddy when he scores a great assignment like taking pix at a National Football League game. Just like any of us amateurs would be.

But when Scott threw down a photo gauntlet in his blog last Friday, I rolled my eyes, folded my arms, and said, “I’m not playing.” Scott challenged his readers to shoot in the “old school” way, like back in the day when we used film. Remember pre-digital photography? It was like shooting blind—no switching your ISO (ASA for film) to keep up with changing light conditions, no clicking off as many pix as your memory card will hold. And, most importantly, no checking the LCD to see what you’ve shot to make sure the lighting and shutter speed are right and that eyes all are open.

Reddish blossoms

Yep, we’re spoiled, and I love it! I shot film for about 40 years, and I would never go back! Digital photography is freeing. Sure, you still can take bad shots, as I well know. But it’s easier to capture good—even great—photos because of the instant feedback. I’m a fan of new and improved technology. Digital cameras allow us to be better, more creative photographers.

So when I grabbed my Nikon D700 and Nikon 105mm macro lens last Saturday and went off to take photos, I purposely ignored Scott’s challenge. I didn’t limit myself to 24 or 36 photos (a roll of film) nor did I put tape over the LCD monitor. I happily snapped away, chimping when necessary to check lighting conditions and to make sure I got the shot I wanted. I had so much fun shooting flora and fauna—it was a wonderful experience, helped enormously by my digital SLR.

And after I put the photos on my iMac, I used Photoshop to make them look a little bit better (never underestimate the importance of cropping), which was another Kelby no-no for this task.

Perhaps I’ll embrace the next challenge Scott throws down . . . as long as I can play by my own rules!

By the way, even Scott had trouble with his own challenge. We are such creatures of photographic habits!!

Two Thumbs Up

Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried, collects letters written to Juliet.

We saw a couple movies over the weekend that we liked. First, the Mister and I watched “Letters to Juliet.” It was slow-moving and formulaic but very good, helped by gorgeous scenery of Italy. The highlight for me? Hearing “I’m a Believer” sung in Italian! What I found hard to believe? Sophie, who was ably played by Amanda Seyfried, supposedly was writing a story about one particular letter to Juliet and the quest to find that Juliet’s Romeo, yet she never snapped one photo! Not even with a film camera!!

Donkey and Shrek once again are animated stars.

On Memorial Day, the four of us enjoyed “Shrek Forever After.” It was excellent; I truly loved it. A highlight? Hearing “I’m a Believer” for the second straight day; this time it was sung in English, of course. Ogres rock!

Random Snippets and Few Apertures

Richard is an old soul on “Lost.”

Tuesday night we were subjected to a rerun on “Lost.” All the momentum that had built up as the mysterious show with way more questions than answers rolls to its May 23rd finale? Gone!

And we continue to be lost!

Sirius Black, Harry Potter’s godfather

From the mouths of “babes”

First, my #1 son: “What is Sirius Black’s middle name?”

“Lee!”

Funny! Next up? My “third son,” Chase: “That’s an old person’s song.”

The tune he was referencing? Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.” Written in 1984! Hey!! Not so funny.

Mitchell and Cam enjoy a moment with the camera on “Modern Family.”

A TV snippet

The Mister and I love “Modern Family!” A funny show that’s not over the top, it’s mostly appropriate for its 8 p.m. time slot. I love the family dynamics. My favorite character is Cam (Eric Stonestreet), followed closely by Phil (Ty Burrell). It’s Wednesday must-see comedy!

A recent episode connected “Modern Family” with “Lost,” our Tuesday must-see drama: A mean youth basketball coach was played by Eric Lange, who did a turn as mean Radzinsky, the head of research in the Dharma Initiative.

Things that make me go “hmmmm”

• The Zurich Classic, a golf tournament, was played in Louisiana. Is the New Orleans Open held in Switzerland?

• Here’s why hyphens are important (from a ZDNet e-mail): “iPad owning Windows users targeted by hackers.” Without that helpful, little punctuation mark making “iPad” and “owning” an adjectival phrase, it seems like the iPad owns the Windows users! Is Apple really that powerful?

• A recent “Houston Chronicle” sports headline: “Texans eyeing Pro Bowler Faneca.”

Sirius Lee, my first thought was, “A bowler plays pro football?!?”

Random Snippets & Random Apertures

The day moon (hope I'm not being too technical!)

Time to empty my brain (not that it’s full of anything important) and ponder a few things. Like the moon during the day. I snapped this photo (Nikon D700 and Nikon 70-200mm lens) while waiting to pick up the #2 son from track practice yesterday. It always seems so odd to see the moon out when it’s sunny. Yet it still makes a compelling photographic subject.

Hurricanes and Himicanes?

The Lady Canes are in the green uniforms.

I wrote about our high school’s basketball teams Monday and Tuesday. Our opponent in both games is known as the Hurricanes (pretty apt given Houston’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico). That appellation is shortened to ’Canes for the boys and Lady ’Canes for the girls. Why the “Lady?” Hurricanes were named after women from 1953 (my birth year, although I’m sure there’s no connection; the Mister might not concur, though) until 1979. And I think the fans are well aware that it’s the girls playing instead of the boys.

I’ve never really understood this need to distinguish between the boys’ and girls’ sports teams when it comes to what they’re called. Back in the day when I was a sportswriter, I refused to refer to a girls’ squad as the “Cougarettes” (how demeaning!) or “Lady Wildcats.” They were as much the Cougars or Wildcats as the boys were.

Our team’s mascot is the bulldog. What woman wants to be referred to as a female dog?!?

Mailbag—A Contradiction in Terms

Hmmmm . . . .

I’ve gotten this offer a few times in the mail, and I always wonder the same thing: How can something be free and pre-paid?

Now that I’ve finally opened the letter, I see that one can win a pre-paid cremation by returning the reply card. But shouldn’t it just be a paid cremation?

Not that I really want to be thinking about that subject now!

Looking Back at 2009, Part I

The first photo used on my blog—my beloved MacBook.

Tomorrow is my one-year blogiversary! I’ve written 263 posts, Monday through Friday, for an entire year. That’s a lot of words!

In those many posts, I’ve spouted off about a lot of subjects: Photography, especially indoor sports pix and exposure compensation (a personal favorite of mine!); movie and TV reviews; food; clutter; friends; and family . . . especially my sons and spouse. You readers know that I call my sons #1 and #2, mainly because it’s easy, and my husband “the Mister.” In case you’re wondering what their real names are, #1 is Jake, #2 is C.J., and the Mister is Rick.

This blog actually started with a different focus. It was initially called “Get ’er Done,” because I was looking for motivation to declutter my house and life. But by the end of March, I had deep-sixed those get ’er dones and had decided that my blog really was about random snippets (deep and shallow thoughts) and apertures (photography). I officially changed the blog’s name on May 1. Definitely more fitting!

Here’s a quick look back at some of my favorite posts and photos during the first six months of 2009.

January:

This was my first blog post: A Fresh Start.

C.J. shoots a free throw during a middle school basketball game.

My tutorial about indoor sports photography: Waitin’ and Hopin’.

February:

Rare snow on Jake in December of 2008

I wished the #1 son happy 17th birthday: Happiest of Birthdays, #1 Son!

Taking nonflash photos of an Arrow of Light ceremony: Fired Up!

March:

Jake tosses a mini disc at UTSA while his dad looks on.

March was a month of college visits for my #1 son, who is a high school senior. In this post, I wrote about how my sons kept themselves amused while we were at the University of Texas at San Antonio: Staying Amused.

I love bluebonnets, Texas’ state flower!

Bluebonnets took center stage here: Photo Friday Wildflower Style.

April:

I also love azaleas!

Can you tell that I love taking photos of flowers? Photo Friday: Awesome Azaleas!

#2 son to tower: I'm heading for my landing!

I did a photo tutorial on using burst mode. The #2 son was a great model! Photo Friday: Burst Mode

May:

The #2 son has the football in his sights.

Sports photography was on display, complete with an explanation of the word “bokeh”: Flag football Action Photography.

Shadow dancer

I chronicle the highs and lows of  indoor photography at our high school’s annual dance show: A Devil of a Time Shooting Angels.

June:

#2 laughs as big brother feeds him.

The #2 son celebrates his birthday: My Baby Turns 14 Today!

A blackfoot penguin takes a refreshing swim.

We traveled to Pensacola to visit my #1 son’s then-online girlfriend. While there we enjoyed the Gulfarium: Sea Lions and Penguins and Dolphins, Oh My!

My nostalgic look back continues tomorrow!

Random Snippets & Apertures

This would make a nice painting . . . if I could paint!

As we near the end of 2009, I find myself getting more reflective. I suppose that happens to everyone as we’re about to turn the calendar page to a new month, year, and—hard to believe!—decade.

It looks like wheat, but it isn't. But what is it?

For us, 2010 will usher in an 18th birthday, high school graduation, and the start of college for our #1 son. Meanwhile, as #1 graduates, his younger brother will turn 15 and get his learner’s permit and probably will drive us crazy wanting to be behind the wheel. We also hope that there’s a wonderful, uplifting track season for #2 in the spring.

Here's more of it . . . whatever it is!

The Mister and I face our 20th wedding anniversary at the end of April with a specific goal in mind . . . and, no, it has nothing to do with trying to get along better. Although, maybe we should strive for that, too!

Intriguing fluffy, purply stuff!

Every new year seems to hold so much promise! Goals, hopes, and dreams are written down on January 1. By December 31, will they be firmware or vaporware?

More of the purply stuff

At the end of every year, I ask myself questions. Did I achieve any of my goals? Was I a good mom? Am I more organized?

Did I write blog posts for the sole purpose of showcasing my photos that had absolutely, positively nothing to do with my subject matter?

Can't get enough of this purply stuff!

We don’t need the Magic 8-Ball to figure out the answer to that final query, apparently!

Get This Song Out of My Head Now!

A hibiscus from our backyard

A hibiscus from our backyard

Marching band bass drum mallets at the ready

Marching band bass drum mallets at the ready

Kansas City flora

Kansas City flora

Roses use a cheerleader's megaphone as a handy vase.

Roses use a cheerleader's megaphone as a handy vase.

No, there isn’t a connection between the four photos. It’s just that I’ve got that “Five dollar footlong” song from the Subway commercial stuck in my head, playing on an endless loop all the live-long day.

Until it decides to exit my brain, I’ve got a Monday disconnect kind of day going on.

And, no, I’m not having lunch at Subway today! No five dollar footlong for me!!

Random Snippets and Apertures

Nailed it!

Nailed it!

Or should that be Apertures & Random Snippets?

This is a bonus shot from Monday’s roofing blog post (where “bonus shot” means I liked it, but it didn’t seem to fit with the other photos). It was snapped after the original shingles and detritus were tossed off the roof. Shot wide open (f/2.8) with my Nikon 17-55mm lens on my Nikon D300 for a bit of lovely bokeh blur.

Sidebar: I’ve seen the word “detritus,” which means waste or debris, several times lately, both online and in the newspaper. Trend follower that I am, I felt compelled to use it. Originally I had typed “what-not.” Not very trendy. But actually somewhat descriptive!

Moving on . . . random snippets fill my mind

Aly Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, and Gaelan Connell star in "Bandslam"

Aly Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, and Gaelan Connell star in "Bandslam"

The Mister and I dragged the #2 son with us to see “Bandslam” recently, and we all really liked it. The actors are talented and cute, and even the music is good.

Sidebar: When it comes to music, I believe the best songs were produced between 1964 and 1972 or so. Almost anything else isn’t worth listening to, as I like to tell the #1 son, who loves music so much he practically considers his iPod Touch to be as essential as his aorta. Oddly enough, he doesn’t agree with my astute assessment.

The movie’s title, “Bandslam,” comes from an annual music competition. Will, played soulfully by Gaelan Connell, remakes a band fronted by Aly Michalka (who plays Keely on “Phil of the Future”; love that Disney Channel!). Will falls for the characters played by Aly and Vanessa “High School Musical” Hudgens, followed by a fair quantity of the kind of teenaged angst that the 17-year-old #1 son is going through. Lisa Kudrow does a wonderful turn as Will’s mother.

The song I liked best in the movie was a remake of Bread’s “Everything I Own,” sung by Hudgens. When was that song released? 1972. So no surprise that it’s great.

Middle-aged PDA

Be thankful that I don’t have a photo of this!

I was in the express checkout lane at my local HEB grocery store the other day. In front of me was a couple that had to at least be in their 40s. They were all over each other, kissing and hugging, right in front of me and my Banyan Foods’ Original Tofu Egg Rolls (they’re so good!). Gag me, peeps!

It’s bad enough when the teens have their public displays of affection, but people close to my age?!? Wait until you get in your car!

Fruit for Thought

I was chatting with the boys about the movie “X-Men Origins.” I looked over at my 14-year-old #2 son and noticed he had a quizzical look on his face.

“I thought you said ‘sex and an orange,’ ” he explained.