Month: May 2008

Fern with Stitching

Fern with Stitching

Pasadena, California. The Huntington Garden. This fern has an interesting embossment on it that reminds me of the stitching on a pair of jeans. I wonder what purpose the embossment serves on the leaf structurally. Could it be like the "creases" in the sheet metal of car bodies, put in to give those large expanses of metal more strength? Or maybe it has to do with guiding water down the leaf to the roots. Could it be that these bumps are caused by insects who, in some symbiotic way help the plant? I also wonder where the embossment came from in the evolution of this plant, and where it is going. After all, a photograph of a plant is a snapshot in evolutionary time: a single frame in a long life history linked to many others, or should we say "stitched" to many others.

Depth of field resources

In the photography world there is much discussion about how to control depth of field through the focal length of the lens, aperture control, the distance from lens to subject and the distance from subject to background. Here are some web sites that discuss and offer resources for understanding and better using depth of field to compose photographs.

Bob Atkins Photography DOF calculator
Depth of field calculators for Photographers
Cambridge in color: depth of field tutorial
Online Depth of field Calculator
Photo Composition Articles: Depth of field calculator
DP Review: Depth of Field
Depth of field Calculator

A Superhighway to Bliss

A Superhighway to Bliss

The New York Times has an excellent piece on Jill Bolte Taylor who I posted about in March with the the TED video.

In February, Dr. Taylor spoke at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference (known as TED), the annual forum for presenting innovative scientific ideas. The result was electric. After her 18-minute address was posted as a video on TED’s Web site, she become a mini-celebrity. More than two million viewers have watched her talk, and about 20,000 more a day continue to do so. An interview with her was also posted on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site, and she was chosen as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for 2008.

If you’ve not seen the TED video of that address: TED | Talks: Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight I urge you to watch it.

[via Stormie]

Naked oriental poppies

Naked oriental poppy

Pasadena, California. The Huntington Gardens. Out of all of the places to photograph at this photographer’s paradise, two places should not be missed: the herb garden where this was taken and the desert garden with all the cacti and succulents.

While most of the tourists are off photographing roses you can have both of of these gardens to yourself. Anyone who lives within driving distance should not miss this place.

Two naked oriental poppies

Nice to get two of these babies in one image.

If I ever get to Afghanistan, you know I’m going to be photographing opium poppies, I just love these totemic forms.

Sydney Pollack, Film Director, Is Dead at 73

Sydney Pollack, Film Director, Is Dead at 73

Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood mainstay as director, producer and sometime actor whose star-laden movies like “The Way We Were,” “Tootsie” and “Out of Africa” were among the most successful of the 1970s and ’80s, died Monday at home (in Los Angeles). He was 73.

Wow, I’m shocked. His directing and cameo roles were always first rate. He will be missed.

For those of you who don’t know who he is/was, here’s an old clip from Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman and Pollack.

Experience and camera gear

In a discussion on flickr on what it takes to be a “great photographer” the conjecture is that one can’t do it with a point and shoot camera. It’s both an immature conjecture and an interesting consideration wrapped up together.

O/T Point and Shoot Rant

In one of my replies as I was struggling to voice an opinion I came up with this, which may be my first koan in the photographic world:

An experienced photographer can do more with less. An inexperienced photographer does less with more.

The Obama Connection

Roger Cohen has an excellent editorial in today’s NY Times: The Obama Connection where he discussed the connection between Obama’s experience as a community organizer putting him in a perfect position to appreciate and use web-based communication and organizing to help drive his campaign and introduce himself to people who don’t know about him.

If Obama has promised to appoint a chief technology officer, to open up government via the Web, and to make dialogue rather than war a centerpiece of policy, it’s because he knows he must speak to a 21st-century world.

The Diagonal Method (of composition)

The Diagonal Method

The rule of thirds on steriods.

In my experience with visual design and eyeing a composition, one can do it by one’s gut feeling (based on experience) or one can think of learned rules (things that groups of people agree upon) and use those rules as an overlay. What’s interesting is that people who seem to have an “eye” for photographic composition (gut feeling types) seem to compose according to the rules without even knowing about the rules. This may give some strength to the idea that the rules are based on some agreed upon aesthetic or, there are just a bunch of people who are born with “good” taste and the rest of us have to use a book to figure out how to mimic it.

The thing that always bothered me about the golden section, fibonacci sequences and the rule of thirds is it seems like a mathematical rationalization for something that is by and large learned. I mean, I’ve never seen any behavioral research into children responding to this stuff, only adults who are looking for a rationalization to hang an aesthetic on.

No matter what, this is an interesting read.

[via Dale Allyn]

Future hay field, Macricostas Preserve

Future hay

Washington, Connecticut. This field is part of the Macricostas Preserve of the Steep Rock Land Trust. I first knew it as a corn field but this year it’s planted with grass and will be hayed in late summer.

This lone tree is the only one on the entire field and it no doubt either gives the tractor driver fits or gives him or her a challenge. I’ve always wondered why it was never cut down, must be that it’s a challenge.

Grass, trees, sky

The trail I am on stays on the perimeter of this field and runs in front of the trees in the distance. On the right side of this frame the path crosses Bee Brook and a swamp and then works its way up the hill behind in a series of switchbacks. The end of the trail, on the top of the hill which, in typical east coast fashion is called "The Pinnacle," is a spectacular view of Lake Waramaug.

David Brooks: The Alpha Geeks

David Brooks has written an intersting column today: The Alpha Geeks.

But the biggest change was not Silicon Valley itself. Rather, the new technology created a range of mental playgrounds where the new geeks could display their cultural capital. The jock can shine on the football field, but the geeks can display their supple sensibilities and well-modulated emotions on their Facebook pages, blogs, text messages and Twitter feeds. Now there are armies of designers, researchers, media mavens and other cultural producers with a talent for whimsical self-mockery, arcane social references and late-night analysis.

The one part of this “culture” that I can’t stand is the unspoken rule: it’s cool to be smug. Dexterity is one thing, but showing off dexterity for the sake of showing off looks childish.

Many “A list” bloggers look like either Will Hunting or the snotty Harvard guy Clark, in the bar scene in Good Will Hunting.