Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's the Last (GASP) Mail Order Before I Go

Today I put in what will probably become the last mail order (B&H order) before my trip. Oh, what an order it was too. For starters, my Internet was running very slowly tonight. My Firefox kept jamming up and it was not happy. Then, I had to do a bunch of research, because I had been looking to get some ND Grads, and thinking about getting them for the trip. But, oh no, you can't just "get" ND grads. No, no, no, no, no. You have to get an entire "ND Grad System" complete with bells and whistles and little YouTube videos telling you why *your* ND Grad system is really the bees knees. It's like torture only a little more painful, really that is. (In case you're curious, I still have not gotten an ND Grad system. I've opted instead for a new lens, a couple of circular polarizers, and a bucket load of Compact Flash.)

I'm eying the Cokin ND grad system, but you can't just go and get the Cokin, no, no, no, no, no. There's the Cokin X, The Cokin P, the Cokin XP. (Really. Did I use the word "torture" before? And you thought that maybe just maybe, I might have been kidding? HA!) And all of these depend upon the size of your lens and the size of the lens that you maybe want to get one day because all of them, well most of them anyway, can go smaller but not larger, but then you have to decide if you want this big honking ND Grad system filter holder stuck onto the front of your lens while you are walking around the ten million steps of Santorini. Oh God, I need a drink! (For those curious, and frankly, I don't see how you could be at this point but, just in case, I am seriously thinking about either the Cokin X-Pro or the Singh-Ray. Each has there pluses and minuses, with Singh-Ray being very expensive and of the "threaded" variety, so they only really fit one lens, while the Cokin system is a bit like buying a razor blade-they give you the razor for free and then promptly yell out "Sucker!" while you're still waiting in line at the cash register, because they know they've now become your crack dealer of choice, only their "ND grad filter system" is actually legal, and so they can get away with this nonsense, and actually profit from it. And did I mention you will now be a customer for life, having to go back time and again for this and that-the textbook definition of nickel and dimed to death only more expensive. Oh the humanity!)

Did I mention that Firefox froze in the middle of all of this? Oh yes. While I had something like 23 items in my shopping basket at B&H (none of which they would let me save, by the way) my Firefox crashed so badly I had to restart my computer. While I was frantically running around looking for a pad and pencil (you do remember those, don't you?) to write down what I could remember from my two hour shopping excursion into the depths of ND grad filter systems, circular polarizers, and the like, I got lucky (and I use that term loosely, believe me) in that, when Firefox restarted, it had saved my shopping basket. Yay! (I mean, um, BOO! because now I have to pay for all of this crap.) After all of that, I so feel like I need a drink (or twelve.) But still, last big order before the trip and all. Yay! Now I really feel like I'm going, at least the Compact Flash will be showing up soon, so I must be leaving to go somewhere (isn't there a rule about that? If not, there should be.)

And, in case you're curious, yes, I'm still trying to workout (exercise as much as I can.) I'm in nowhere near good enough shape to handle the steps but I'll just have to hope and try and try to hope and just grunt and get up (and down!) somehow.

While I was deep in the bowels of the B&H ordering system (AKA "the Compact Flash Factory") I started to think about a couple of things. For starters, I still have Fry's and Precision Camera, so I can run out and get anything I might have forgotten (should I happen to have any money left.) Ahem, for those of you in the "drug trade" (by that I mean "camera dealers") these would be my "local suppliers." Oh goodie! I'm not entirely doomed yet. (Heck, I still have two weeks left. Two entire weeks! Go me!)

Then, I started to think about the mannequins. I wonder why kind of mannequins they might have in Santorini. I can only imagine. (Oh! And I'm about to find out real soon now too. Oh joy!) That and toothpaste. I wonder just where in the heck the toothpaste is going to end up. (I have to wonder about this because, as you know, I tend to think about these things.)You know, you just know (well, you would if you've read my blog before) there's always *something* involving toothpaste. (Somebody always forgets some, there's an international incident, some Japanese tourists attack, you know, it's all about the toothpaste, really it is. Coming soon, to a Greek Isle near you!)

All of this and British Air today wrote me and asked me (again!) what kind of meal I want. Don't they realize I'm a barefoot Hindu now and they don't even need to ask these things? (Geesh.) That's right. I'm soon to become a barefoot Hindu Compact Flash yielding photographer from the lowlands of Texas, without an ND grad filtering system to her name but enthusiastic none the less. You won't be able to miss me, should you happen to be in Santorini, as I'll be the one who can't make it up the steps or use Firefox without emitting some kind of primal scream. (Maybe with, or without, toothpaste, you'll have to speak Japanese to find out how that story ends.) Oh, and I'll be spending a lot of time checking out the mannequins while I'm there too. (Ah, Carol's Greek Adventure, I can hardly wait.)

Kidding aside, I'm seriously looking forward to this trip. That is, if it doesn't kill me before I even get into the airport shuttle. 

Until next time...
 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Step It Up - The Steps of Santorini

As you know, I'm headed to Santorini sometime soon. One of the things about Santorini is that, since it's basically a series of little villages built into cliff sides, there are a lot of steps there. When I say "a lot of steps" I basically mean A TON of steps. There are steps, steps, and more steps. Everything is up two flights, down one, over there, up another two flights. It's like the steps mated and had more steps. They are all over the place, multiplied like bunnies in the springtime, those steps they did.

Something that's happened recently is that, well, I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I'm horribly out of shape. Yes, it's true, I can hardly walk up a flight of steps these days without getting winded, wheezy, and out of it. So, what's a girl to do? Lately, I've started using my exercise bike. Every day. Each and every day, I've tried to ride my exercise bike for twenty minutes or more. And, believe me, it's actually helping a bit. Now, mind you, this is not a "diet" of any kind, no, I'm not trying to drop pounds or look good for my trip, no, we're shooting for pure, raw stamina here. Maybe it's sort of working, a bit anyway. I mean, I feel a bit better. There seems to be a bit more of a spring in my, excuse the word, step since I've started doing this (or tried to do this.) At least I think I can get up a flight now without keeling over which, while still not very good, it's a bit of progress, no?

But, I've got a long way to go, not a lot of time left, and there are a lot of stairs there...a lot of stairs there (did I mention lots of stairs there? Mmm....thought I did.)

So, now I'm feeling really stressed over these stairs. I mean, what am I to do if I get there and I just can't make it up to my hotel room? (My hotel is actually situated on a cliff, overlooking the Aegean Sea. How many hotels in the world can say that about themselves? Wouldn't it be a disgrace if I couldn't make it back up to *that* hotel room? Oh the humanity!)

The wheels in my head have started to go 'round and this entire "step it up" thing has me thinking. Maybe I should make a photo project out of this? I could call it something like "The Steps of Santorini" and actually start shooting the steps, all the steps, any of the steps I see. Do you think this would work? (I mean, would anybody actually believe it?) On the one hand, it's better than letting the steps actually kill me. On the other, well, it sounds sort of like a kind of cheesy project, doesn't it? ("The Steps of Santorini?" Really?) But, it *would* give me something to do with those horrible steps. Well, something besides go up and down them all freaking day long.

For a while, I was thinking, "The Steps of Santorini" will not kill me, no, they won't. I won't allow it. I am going to own those steps. I am going to conquer those steps as the great Spartans did years ago. Those steps? Why, they are destined to be SCHOOLED by the likes of me. I'm not going down! (Well, actually, technically speaking, I am in fact "going down" but I'll be going down the steps and not "going down with the ship" as the saying goes. Oh, and I'll be "going up" too. So there!) Steps, I don't care if I do a photo project of you or not, I'm so going to *OWN* you. Do you hear me? As God is my witness, I'm going to own you and school you and you will NOT be getting the better of me. No, sir, you won't. I'm not going to take this. I'm not going to elevator and escalator anymore! I'm taking the steps, I'm owning the steps. Out of my way, I've got some climbing to do!

I'm really trying to step it up for my trip. I really hope I have enough time and I can make it up (and down) enough steps between now and then that I can actually walk around Santorini and I don't bog down the entire group with my wheezy out-of-shape self.

Yes, I've really got to step it up for this trip, and I'm trying, believe me, I'm trying.

Until next climb...

Monday, September 01, 2014

It's Greece For Me

Tonight I'm finishing off booking my next trip. As the old expression goes, "God willing and the creek don't rise" I'll be going to Santorini, Greece to attend a photo tour of the island.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "She's crazy!" (Well, I am actually.) "Why is she going there?" and probably even some of, "She never mentioned Greece before." It's true, I didn't. But, I'm going. It's one of those places that was always on my radar. As is typically the case, a trip popped up and I just could not pass it up. So, Greece it is. I'm Santorini bound! Wish me safe travels, good light, and all of that if you're so inclined, please, for I can use all of the well wishes I can get.

The next days will find me both excited about the upcoming prospects of photographing the Greek countryside and also taking on a frenzy of activity as I prepare for my workshop. I'm already tied up with things like booking travel, ordering flash memory, getting lots of last minute items together, plus a host of research and going over in my mind what type of work I'm inclined to do there. All of that plus, well, tonight I booked the Blue Van. (Exciting, I know, but that's the life of an international jet setter I guess. I mean, I have to get myself to the airport somehow, right?)

I'm so glad they have flights from Austin direct to London now. Makes it easier for me to visit places like Athens and Santorini. It's just one less flight hop I have to make, not to mention I get to fly on the dreamliner which, you know, it's nice.

As an aside, British Despair, I mean, um, British Air (yeah, that's it) offers some kind of service called "Premium Economy" which is not much more expensive than the seats in the back but offers you a large screen TV in front of you plus a bit more "wiggle room" for your legs. I've opted for this "Premium Economy" class, since it was only $100 more and, had I booked regular ole' generic "economy" I would have had to pay $75 more for baggage (or so.) For $25 and a 9 hour flight to and fro, I figured it would be money well spent.

One of the decisions I now face, thanks in part to this new "Premium Economy" foof, is that I get to decide upon a meal. One might think this an easy task, but, man, the page for meals is oh so confusing. They have ovo lacto vegetarian meals (I think this means eggs and milk but no meat) they have Muslim meals (no pork.) They have Hindu meals (no meat.) They have vegan meals. (You know what they call a fat free, gluten free vegan brownie? Compost....kidding, I'm kidding. Actually, maybe not so much.) They have an entire web page devoted to all of this meal foof, not to mention another web page where they tell us how we have to take off our shoes before boarding the planes (I think this is on account of being American but don't quote me on that.)

All of this shoe-less ovo lacto nonsense prompted me to tell my mother the other day, "You see, Mom," I said to her on the phone, "you thought you gave birth to a daughter but, in actuality, I'm about to become a shoeless Hindu on board a flight from Austin to London's Heathrow airport."

How much you want to make a bet they will still somehow manage to screw up my meal and give me a steak sandwich mid-flight? These things, why they always seem to happen to me, but I somehow manage to just make the best of it whenever I can.

But, Santorini bound I am. I've even got the Blue Van reservation number to prove it. British Despair or not, I'm flying away soon to Greece, Santorini to be exact.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's Good to Be Back and in my New Chair


Untitled

OK, so maybe I never left. But, I have to say, while I was gone a lot of stuff happened!

For starters, the ahem "good" folks at Flickr broke the "Blog This" button. I guess, in hindsight, they told me to go off and blog this. Yahoo! is sure going out of their way to ruin Flickr but, I guess, that's par for the course.

I did my taxes. Nothing crazy there. Just crammed about three weeks of work into one long weekend. It was crazy and I felt totally beat up afterwards. After all that hand to hand combat, what do I have to show for it? I'm getting back about $200. Oh joy! I wish I could trade all of the paperwork I had to endure for that $200, believe me, I wish I could.

I've been strangely fascinated with birds. This image here I captured from my car window. It's a murder of crows that I frequently see on the way home from work. Mmmm. Snapseed. Oh how I love Snapseed. Let me count the ways. Oh, and the crows are really cool too. My strange fascination with birds continues.

I'd had this horrible injury to my thumb that has made typing very difficult. It hurts to even type this. My fingers ache but I so continue to endure. I must press on for the fans. (Well, ok, all three people who still check in here once in a while to make sure I'm like still alive and all. Howdy, folks! Yup. Still here. Sorry, you don't inherit the crock pot just yet.)

Perhaps the best news in a long time. I *finally* got my chair. What chair? You might be asking, and I'd be here to tell you. Sometime, back in November, I ordered this spiffy new desk chair for my home office. It's grey leather and it's something called a "Stressless." Oh, let me tell you. It's stressless alright. I hardly want to get up and get out of it. It's....ah....oh so comfortable.

For a long time, you see, I had this really crappy desk chair. It was horrible, not to mention just really bad on my back and all. I had wanted a new desk chair for a long time and just couldn't bring myself to pick one out. They were all sort of....well....ugly, if I may be so blunt (and you know, you just know, how blunt I can be, don't you?) So, back in November, I happened upon this store that sells contemporary furniture and that's when I saw them. The STRESSLESS chairs. Oh my! They were oh so pretty. I just had to have one. I ordered one right on the spot, in leather even, because, well I could and I just did, ok? They told me back then that it would take a few months and that my chair had to come from Norway. It was specially made for me in Norway. A chair specially made for me was coming all the way from Norway. Oh joy!

Well, needless to say, Christmas came and then they had called me and told me there was a mix up with the order and yada yada. No worries. I was in no hurry. I had put off a lot of blogging and website design for so long, what's a few more weeks, right? At this point, I was putting stuff off because my desk chair was so uncomfortable I hardly wanted to use my computer. It was like OUCH in here. It was cramped and dark and the chair really sucked. Then, the chair came in. Finally made the trip from Norway. Oh what a chair it is too. It's *so* comfortable. Now, and I know you're going to laugh at this but I must confess, I have a completely different problem.

My chair is so comfortable I can hardly get out of it.

There. I said it. My chair is so comfortable, I've been avoiding sitting down at the computer because, instead of knowing I'll be uncomfortable, I now know I'll be so comfortable that it will take all but the house burning down to get me back out of this silly chair. 

Seriously, the other day? I ordered pizza. I almost didn't order pizza. Not because I wasn't hungry, no, simply because I thought to myself, "My God, I'm sitting down! If the pizza dude shows up, I'll have to get up and out of the chair to answer the door." I was seriously considering going hungry, just because I didn't want to get up for one split second to go and answer the door. Oh the humanity! Oh, the chair! Ah, the chair. I'm all about the big, comfy chair these days.

So, you see....Flickr broken. Eh, what's new? Tax returns? Meh, I have to do them every year, why should this year be any different? Birds? Oh, they are migrating again or something like that. My thumb hurts like the Dickens. Ah well, that's nice. Please just don't ask me to do anything that requires me to get up and get out of my new chair, OK?

Welcome back, Carol! I'd tell you to come in and pull up a chair but so sorry I've already got the good one and I ain't giving it up.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 01, 2014

A Carnival of New Lights


BlueAndOrange_5581, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, recently I purchased some new lights for my home studio. I went out and got myself a set of Fiilex P360 LED studio lights. These are dense matrix LEDs with full spectrum tuning, so that I can dial-in just about any color temp I could possibly want. How fun is that?

Still working on my home studio setup and doing some show preparations tonight, but I wanted to share the good news with you about the lights.

A funny thing about lighting too, nowadays anyway it seems like everybody is all into the strobes. Everything is Strobist this and Strobist that. I've always been a fan of continuous lights but what am I to call myself? A floodist? That sounds like somebody who loves springtime in Iowa when the winter snows melt and everybody is out playing with sandbags, not a photographer. A continuist? Is that even a word? Geesh. We have to do better than that, no? What? Am I like an anti-Strobist? That doesn't really sound like me either. (I guess I'll have to get back to you on this one with some kind of oh-so-clever name at some point. For now though it's safe to say I've just gone out and gotten myself some new lights.)

Also, we're coming up on carnival week so there's bound to be a lot of fun down in New Orleans this week as well. Really wish I were there but, sadly, I'm back at the ranch, getting things setup and toiling away.

And, it goes without saying really but, man, watch out for any "Floodists" you might find down in the 'Quarter this week.

Until next time...

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Year of the Horse


OrangeDragonNo1-1, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Happy Chinese New Year, everybody! It's now the Year of the Horse. I was actually born in the Year of the Horse and my mother was also born in the Year of the Horse. In fact, when I was born, there was some kind of astral event so I'm actually (technically) what they refer to as a "Fire Horse." It's a bit whacked out in Chinese New Year speak, but both my mother and I are "Fire Horses." How fun!

They say the Fire Horses are almost like strong horses. I have always thought that "Fire Horse Studios" would make a great name for an encaustic studio. In fact, I should open one by that name some day. I think it would work, don't you?

I have always loved the Chinese New Year and the iChing even if I cannot always follow along with what they are presenting. It's fascinating to me and such an inspiration artistically. I love these puppets and the Chinese dancers (acrobats, really) and also tons of fireworks, plus the wonderful zodiac symbols. It really is a wonderful source of artistic inspiration, even if you don't really believe in all of the musings.

For this Year of the Horse, since it's my year (sort of) I am going to try to concentrate on making things better for the future. I hope that one day I can be an even more exciting, dynamic "Fire Horse" creature.

I hope you are having a great Chinese New Year. Happy New Year!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dear Old Man Winter: B is for Bite Me!


FlyingBInTheRain_8172, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

OK, so I must admit. It's COLD outside. In Austin, we've had this weird freezing rain, sleet, ice-like crap falling all over the place. It's happened for two days now. First last Friday and now today. For two entire days now, it's been snowing, iced up, sleeting, whatever you call it.

Now, I know you folks up north are probably saying things like "Yeah, yeah, cry me a river!" since we here in Austin seldom get winter. But, it's very bad here. You see, we just don't *do* winter in these parts. We don't have sleds, mittens, warm kettles full of hot cocoa. Nope. We've got none of that. We have shorts and sleeveless T-shirts. What in the heck am I supposed to do with a sleeveless T-shirt when it's 29 degrees outside?!? Get my point? See where this is going? It's supposed to be a WARM climate and, frankly, we just don't understand all of this *winter* crap, not to mention our roads, why, they just can't take it.

You see the roads here are hilly, or at least a bit more sloped then what you are used to back east or even in other parts. We have slopes and ridges and odd medians and big hills and places where, once the road ices up, you just can't get to. Things get blocked off, people grow impatient and crashes start to happen. Lots and lots of crashes, in fact, Friday alone, there were over 200 crashes in Austin. Today, I heard on the news how there was a crash involving a school bus and two of Austin's police cruisers were involved in wrecks.

One of the main roads you might take when traveling through Austin is Interstate 35, or I-35 as the locals like to call it. It has these big fly-overs and places that just don't do well at all with ice. Today, it was deemed "impassible" due to the ice. For a brief period of time, it was completely closed today in a special ceremony. You see, it's been renamed "Ice-Thirty Five" on account of all the sleet we've been having. Mopac, another main highway through the city which is usually packed (hence its nickname: MoPacked) was like a skating rink, not to mention completely empty. Void of traffic because none dare venture out into the land of many crashes.

It's the strangest of conditions, really, since everything is covered in ice and yet nobody really remembers it raining. Not to mention this sleet stuff is doing nothing to help fill up our lakes and rid Austin of its pesky drought conditions. No, it's not helping with that, this crappy sleet is, rather it's just muddling up our traffic. Ugh! I really hate this crap. honest, I do.

Now I know I've been complaining a lot. "I'm sick!" "It's sleeting!" Yada yada. But, this really is the current state of affairs here in River City. Bad allergies gave way to the flu which is turn morphed into sleet covered broken dreams. I really hate this winter and I know that, in just a few months, I'll be complaining how it's too hot around these parts. I know, I sound like a cross between a broken record and a complaint machine, but there you have it. It's my blog and I'll rant if I want to. There's just too much winter for me to take this quietly. I know this is a season and we're all supposed to get this "winter" stuff and all, but, man, it's killing me! And, I know I'll get little sympathy from folks back east who have it worse, much worse, than I but I can still complain, can't I?

Old man winter, if you would, please turn it down a notch or two, OK? We're like all collectively kind of getting sick of you. (Enough said!)

Until next time...