Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just Exploding with Stuff

While yesterday found me in the horrors of the car shop, today I've got new tires. Yes, it's true. After suffering through several hours of what can best be described as "tire change foof" I'm now the proud new owner of four new tires and a properly aligned car to go with them.

It was quite an ordeal to get the new tires put on, let me tell you. I landed in the shop early morning, hoping to get a head start on the day and maybe not waste all of it there. They were very nice in the tire place, I mean, at least as nice as tire place people can be. The guy helped me pick out new tires and told me he hoped it wouldn't take very long. They had some kind of sale going on so I'm to get a mail-in rebate of sorts (we shall see if that actually manifests itself or not. I'm guessing probably not here but, eh, that's ok.)

The waiting room at the tire place is not nearly as nice as the one at my car dealer. (My car dealer, it would appear, has been spoiling me all this time.) They did have some coffee that looked to be a few days old (read: sludge) and they had a flat screen TV of sorts, but it was about 30 degrees in Austin and the place was not too well insulated (think cold here.) I never took my coat off. Every time somebody came in or out (and they seem to do that a lot at tire places) I would get this cold breeze. Brrrr. Not to mention they have those loud guns that kind of go "Zzzztttt" as they screw on the tires. So, there I sat, for a few hours, stuck fiddling with the iPhone and watching odd morning style TV. (That was an experience, let me tell you.)

For starters, they had this show on called something like "Good Day Austin!" (or some such thing.) The nice lady came on and started talking about something called ice wine and Thanksgiving pies from Round Top Pies. Now, I've been to Round Top before (it's actually not too far from my house) and I know what the pies are like (they are yummie. Actually more like yummie yummie yummie kind of yummie) so it's a good thing I had predisposed knowledge of said pies. All I heard from the TV was an endless stream of, "Yes, and this year they even have a pie made of...." ZZZZZttttt (goes the tire gun) "....and a special pie just for Thanksgiving called the...." Zzzzzzttttt. Oh joy! That was a fun experience, let me tell you. It did leave me rather curious about this "ice wine" business-that's something I'll have to check out at a later date (note to self: drink some ice wine and figure out what the heck it really is. Zzzzttt be damned.)

After this "Good Morning Austin" (or whatever) the next show that came on was "The Price is Right." I hardly know what to say about this. It's like a joke that's its own punchline, that, really it is. For starters, I didn't even know this show was still on. It's a new, modern version of the old favorite, I'd guess. It was really quite difficult to watch with the tire gun going off again and again and the breeze blowing in and odd times. You might just have to use your imagination here but it went something along the lines of this:

"Ok, Wendy, now for $200 tell us what you think the price of this mustard is..." Door slams open. "Woosh" of cold air is almost as loud as small/cheap flat screen TV set.

As Wendy gets cheered on by the crowd, "I'm going with $2.39!"

"Ohhhh! Let's see if the price really is $2.39....shall we reveal the price of the mustard.....drum roll please....the actual price of the mustard is....." Zzzzztttttttt. [Back door opens while Carol freezes.] Ah, that was a fun experience indeed. You might think that, after all of this, I'd be about as angry as a wet hen. Normally, too, why you'd be right about that, but not this time. No, you see, this time I actually got new tires for my car. Four of them. Yes, it's true, I got four new tires.

You see, I had forgotten how good it feels to have new tires. When I got back into the car, I felt like I was sitting on a phone book. And the car? Why the car actually stopped when I wanted it to stop and drove when I wanted it to drove. It was no more hoping it would stop. No more, "please, oh please, let me get to the next corner without taking a mailbox along with me." Nope, it was none of that. I feel like I got an entirely new car. It was amazing.

My car, you see, had gotten so bad, it was hardly stopping at all. I guess it's one of those things-kind of like boiling a frog-it got worse and worse and worse, little by little and I hardly noticed it. It was a slow decay that eventually reached a breaking point, only I didn't see it because I was right in the middle of it fussing with the radio too much. My car wouldn't stop very well. It had gotten so bad that I was almost afraid to take in passengers. I would tell them silly things like, "Oh, I think the brakes are going or something. This is an old clunker. When it comes time to stop...help me out here...I'm going to need you to sort of...well....think stationary thoughts. Imagine if you will a brick. Don't just imagine it. Become one with the brick. Picture the brick. Picture it not moving through time and space. Yeah, let's hope the car does that at the next stoplight, mkay?" This was not pretty.

Then, one day it rained. Oh that was a joy, let me tell you. I tried to go slow, but it wasn't slow enough. Approaching a turn coming off one of the highways near my house I wound up doing a Tanner Foust and almost ended up right on the sidewalk. Seriously. I drove sideways and drifted through a turn, and it wasn't even raining that hard. I clung to the death wheel thinking I had just lost my mind or something (never suspecting I needed new tires.)

But now? All of this is over. No more bricks. No more Tanner Foust. My car rides like new. It's like I'm sitting on a phone book in there. It's so comfy. It stops! It goes! When the red light is red it actually stops at something approximating a normal distance. I can hardly believe this. It feels so good. It's like I'm happy again. I feel like I have a new buggy. Zoom Zoom!

There's a passage in Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine written about a boy getting new sneakers for the summer. Bradbury writes about how high the boy can jump, how fast he can run. I'm always reminded of that when I get new tires (or new shoes.) It feels....well...just good. So now I'm happy again. All new tired up. My week has, in fact, turned around. I somehow managed to pull the boiling frog out of the water and I can now enjoy life (well, at least driving) once again. Ah! They tell me the cold weather is even going to taper off this week. I still don't know the actual price of the mustard but, hey, I take my good stuff when I can get it. There is happiness once again in the kingdom that is little Carol's world. Rejoice!

Until next time...

PS This shot is one of my "exploding buildings" from Santorini. Fun stuff that...playing with the zoom. All that and everything's blue!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two Blue Domes and a Flat Tire to Spare

Earlier today, I was sitting watching a movie with the folks when there was a knock upon our door. Turns out it was a neighbor being neighborly enough to drop in and tell me that my car tire was going flat. After a more careful inspection, I noticed that  the tire did indeed look a bit low so I had to call the auto club and now I've got one of those little "doughnut" spare tires on the buggy. Oh, you know, you just know how much I *love* those little "doughnut" tires (in case it's not obvious, I'm being sarcastic here. Man, I really *hate* those stupid little "doughnut" tires and, Lord, please help me get to the tire place tomorrow morning without incident.) So now I've got the stupid "doughnut" to contend with. Blecky poo! That's all I have to say about that. Well, that and at least the movie was pretty decent.

It's cold, it's almost raining here in River City, and there's just no light to be found today. On top of that, the weatherman promised, man, he totally promised that the sun would come out today and that it would be "warmer with a sunny afternoon." I'm calling balderdash on that one. It's cold, almost raining, and there's not a light to be found in the sky. It's one of those dark, dreary days where you just want to stay in and have a bowl of soup. Not even enough light to do good black and whites. (For you non-photographers out there, that's really not a lot of light in the sky at all.) All of this, wonder of wonders, and my tire's gone flat too. Oh joy! (I really hate it when they tell me it's going to be sunny and warm and it turns out to be cold and rainy instead. I feel like I was robbed or something.)

Yes, I know I'm being just a bundle of joy today. Like a field of unicorns pooping out rainbows of happiness everywhere I go. Sorry, can't help myself. I'd say I've driven myself crazy except that the car doesn't really move all that well, what with the silly "doughnut" and all, and I'm really slightly crazy to begin with so it's not that far of a drive on a good day.

I thought I would take myself back to a sunnier place, so sharing this image with you today. It's our "local two blue church domes" from Santorini (these were right near the hotel) and the Aegean Sea in the background. Taken on a nice, sunny, warm day, early morning-ish. I don't have the EXIF handy but I can guess at this one: ISO 100, walkabout zoom set on the wide (near the 28mm end.) Stopped down and near the 1/100th range on account of the nice, sunny, warm, day. (Guessing here, but there probably wasn't a bowl of soup, or a flat tire, in sight.)

Until next time...


Friday, November 14, 2014

Old Doors and New Doors

Went to a reunion tonight and ran into a bunch of old friends. It was pretty amazing to see where people ended up, who was where, who was doing what now, and the like. I'm always amazed by these types of gatherings. You can bring together old friends that you haven't seen in ages and it's sort of like you never left sight.

When I go to these type of gatherings too, everybody always seems to ask about my photography. Are you still doing it? When are you going to quit your "day job" and the like. Yes, I'm still doing it and yes I'm not going to quit my "day job" anytime soon. Photography is a wonderful hobby but it can be a bear of a way to make a living and, frankly, I'm not sure I'm ready, willing, or able to jump into the deep end of that pool just yet. Even so, it's good to catch up, to talk about how far I've gone or to talk about things coming.

Some people have a beard. Some people wear jackets now. Others lost weight or got dressed up nicely. It's kind of fun to see everybody again, to just catch up, over a beer and a lot of conversation.

Did you ever go to a reunion of this kind? Did you like it? Did you hate it? What was it like? I'm curious if folks have the same kinds of experiences. Fun stuff, that is.

This image from the town of Oia on the Greek island of Santorini.

Until next time...


Friday, November 07, 2014

Black and White and Night

Not much to say here except that I rather like this one. Maybe instead of the "regular" black and white challenge I should propose a "black and white and night" challenge, where people have to post an image that's not only black and white but also taken at night. Phew! That's a mouthful. Anyway, you get the idea.

This one is also from Santorini. It was taken on top of a hill that we had marched up, in order to better capture the sunset. We did get some great shots up there, mostly of the church and the caldera and the like, but I happened to spot this house on the hill and I rather liked it. The color image of this one I rather like as well, so you'll be seeing that at some point in the not to distant future, I'm sure.

Night shooting. Gosh, how I love it so. Everything looks so different at night. I such a night owl at heart. But, man, I really love me some night work. It's so much fun to do this kind of stuff, really it is and, I have to admit, I rather like this one. Thank goodness for the black and white challenge otherwise I might never had made it.

What's black and white and night all over? Hey, I need a punchline to go with that joke!

Until next time...


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Get Your Rocks Old

See these rocks all lined up in a row? They are actually some mighty old rocks. You see this image was taken inside the prehistoric town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini. Legend has it that the French created some quarries there (in more recent history) and, as they were digging out to mine something else, they happened upon this ancient city. After the Greeks heard about it, they put a roof over the entire place and now it's a popular tourist site. It's actually indoors and it's about four stories deep (underground.) The "indoors" part is why you see the shaft of light-it's actually light filtering through the slotted roof they put over the site to help preserve it-so that they could dig out some more and get to the bottom (literally!) of this ancient settlement.

Another story about this site was that, while the French were digging, they happened upon what they thought was a throne. Yes, they dug out something they thought was a throne to the entire place-you know the spot where the king, queen, or other type of "ruler" actually sat. Well, turns out it was a "throne" all right, but not that kind of throne. The French, you see, had re-discovered the toilet. Talk about something you might just not want to unearth, but there you have it.

And so, my friends, that's the story of the ancient prehistoric city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini.

Until next time...


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Yes, I Know I'm Missing A Day

So, I was supposed to post this as part of yesterday's challenge but I came home late, started watching TV, and then just fell asleep without posting anything at all. Here it is now.

I was trying to think of something clever and witty and my usual "self" to publish today. I couldn't think of anything. It's raining here now and my back feels a bit off. I'm sore and achy, just not feeling all that well today.

Since I needed to post something, I decided to surf the webs a bit to see if I could copy something witty and clever and interesting from somebody else (because, heck, let's face it, that's what I usually do anyway. Me and George Takai, right?) but I couldn't even do that. Facebook is full of silly cat videos, cute animals, weird political rantings, and oddball kind of stuff today. I so was hoping to post some serious photography tips or something worthy and all I got was stuff like pictures of the golden studded bra from Victoria's Secret. Not that there's anything wrong really with a golden studded bra and all, but, like, I'll never have one and I tend to find that kind of stuff useless really. I mean, how am I even supposed to comment on something like that? "Nice studs you got there?" seems kind of, well, excuse the pun but flat right about now.

Oh, in case you think that's a bit over the top, Popular Photography is running some Facebook repost about new breakthroughs in gaffer's tape. I kid you not. Gaffer's tape. How am I supposed to even comment on this? Gaffer's tape? You must be joking? Gaffer's tape? What could you possibly say about it other than, well, it's gaffer's tape? Ugh!

Instead, I give you another shot from Santorini. This one without the grunge filtering, but kind of in the same style. Exploding houses on the little cliffs and all. Hey, it's the best I could do on short notice, ok?

And, as far as making up the day, the black and white challenge and all, yes, I plan to do that as well. I'll try to post two images today or just ran an extra day to make up for it, get in my "top five" as I am supposed to get them done now that I have accepted the challenge. 

Oh, and, in case you're wondering what to surf around, want to avoid the, ahem, "historic" advancements in gaffer's tape, the wonderful folks over at Adore Noir Magazine are posting some lovely (and by that I mean "absolutely gorgeous! Stunning really. Go check them out right now, what are you waiting for beautiful that is") black and white work on the Internets right about now. I recommend you check them out along with their wonderful magazine, as they are quite good looking, especially in this day and age of endless streaming cat videos and wild advancements in gaffer's tape.

Until next time...


Monday, November 03, 2014

Ghost of a City

OK, I admit it. I'm having way too much fun with this black and white challenge. Does this one even count? I mean, it's not *technically* a black and white, it's more like a brown and white but, seriously, there's no color there and it looks like a toned black and white print so, yeah, OK, we'll go with that theory.

This challenge is forcing me to get more creative and to plunk around with images I would not ordinarily touch. Am I allowed to admit that in public? Is "plunk" even a word? Ah, I guess it is now.

Seriously though, sometimes these silly little challenges can bring out the best in you. I mean, they force you to get creative. And then, when that fails, they force you to get even more creative. More creative, even more creative still until you just suddenly burst. Kidding about that last part, of course, but I do feel like it's been a fun little challenge. "OK, let's run around and see what we could 'plunk' into a reasonable black and white image, given that I have to have one to put up today and all."

Don't be surprised at who I manage to tag in this little foray into darkness. Chances are, if you are a photographer and I know you, why, you'll be dragged into this too. (Enjoy the ride!)

In case you're curious, original shot was exposed in Santorini, Greece (taken from my hotel room balcony) with my 70-200mm f/4L lens (white lens) processed in Photoshop with a grunge filter.  I adjusted the tones and contrast in Photoshop after applying the grunge filter.

Until next time...