Saturday, August 29, 2015

August In Texas

It's been freaking HOT, but could have been worse.
Rained once or twice this month--not at all in July--so my lawn is no longer the lush creature of beauty it was after the soakings we got all Spring. Again, could be worse.

Here's a phone photo of a cicada on our patio:
Lit with a AAA LED penlight, all handheld.
Was expecting improvements across the board when we upgraded from the Samsung Galaxy S3 to the S5, but a few details disappoint.
The S3 was a macro delight--you could jam the lens right up to something and it would focus on it. Even had a macro focus setting to tell the camera that the subject was close and to stay in that range, and possibly fine-tune a bit more carefully.
The S5 has no macro setting, but even more annoying is that at similarly close range it will focus on the subject, then snap back to a blurry setting an inch or two behind it--every damn time!
So it's capable of doing what I ask, but just doesn't want to.
I hate shit like that.

Luckily, this cicada was a good sport and stayed put while I went inside and changed phones back to the S3 for this shot.
Yes, I keep my old smartphones and use them all the time for almost everything but calls and texts.
Games, camera, discontinued technical apps, and even using one phone as a pink noise generator while I use another as an audio spectrum analyzer.
Since I have Sylvia's old S3 too, I've even been playing with the pair as a stereo 3D camera!
Testing has been positive, just haven't gotten around to building the frame to hold them.


Up next, a handful of vacation photos.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Clouds + Trees

Among the rare photos I've taken this year using a "real" camera.
My DSLR isn't getting much play time at all, but the Sony F828, with it's infrared capabilities, still gets pulled out--at least in the winter and spring when the clouds do fun things here in SATX.


For these first two, I was being lazy and just shot over our house in a generally northward direction.
The use of a circular polarizer filter instead of one of the pair of ND4 filters that usually live on the end of it's lens resulted in the different level of contrast between cloud and background sky. The 1st photo features our neighbor's pecan tree, and was shot with the sun to my back. #2 (our sycamore) was pointed a bit closer to 90 degrees perpendicular to the sun's rays, resulting in a much more pronounced effect from the CP filter. End result is darker sky, whether shooting IR of color.

I prefer #2.



This pair, I can't recall if the CP was still in the filter stack or not. Angle to the sun is too similar, so it can't be determined forensically, either.

Out of them all, it's my opinion that #4 is the one most likely to end up as a print on someone's wall.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Like An Old Friend

Zzakk's Garage used to be my #2 blog, where I would post pics of stuff that pissed me off, and go on rants.
It's been dormant for years, but tonight I decided to throw up a new post.
Then I went for a stroll down memory lane, and re-discovered the fact that my late brother Ken loved the garage and left comments often. It was nice "listening" to my brother again.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

My father was an Air Force pilot in the VietNam war. He was shot down over Laos in 1966 a few months before my 4th birthday, and Missing In Action until 1995. Only have a few clear memories of the man, but by all accounts he was a great guy. 
Growing up, I never had a good male role model in my life. Mom's boyfriends were douchbags, cheaters, drunks, and abusers. My uncle Jim was all I had, taking me fishing and hunting for a few weeks here and there. Still miss them both more than I can put into words. 
The result was that when my mother died of cancer (I was 24) there was zero knowledge of how to be a man. Some lost years ensued (decades?) but luckily nothing happened that I truly regret. 
To my great fortune I met Sylvia not long after the dawn of this century, and she helped me start healing. 
On this Father's Day 2015 I want to thanks her dad Jesus Cantu for welcoming me into his family with open arms and teaching me the lessons I sorely needed to learn. How to love and forgive, how to keep priorities straight, to have fun without getting into too much trouble, to teach by example, to accept faults in others and ourselves--there's SO much I've learned from my new DAD. Happy Father's Day, sir.


 

And what are the odds that he's retired Air Force, served in VietNam, and plays guitar, too? 


Monday, June 08, 2015

Feeling Cloudy


Been stupid busy learning songs for the acoustic act I recently joined, and learning to play this big crazy beast. It's a Breedlove acoustic/electric bass, and a very different animal from what I'm used to. 
Our first show was this weekend, and it went well. 
The side effect is that by brain hurts as much as my fingers. Too many notes...

My joke is that I almost made it 40 years without ever playing a hollow instrument live. 
In fact, at the end of July I'll have been playing solid body electric guitars and basses for 40 years, so the record got shot down with mere weeks to go. 
Since the guitarist in the band bought this bass for me to use, at least I can still say that I haven't owned any acoustic instruments. 
Not that it means anything to anyone. 
Kind of like how I was proud that I hadn't been inside a movie theater for 29 years. 

I'm weird. You don't need to tell me, I've always known.  



After record rainfall the past month, we're finally drying out and getting some sun. 
Lakes that were almost empty are filling up, as is the aquifer we rely upon. The drought we've suffered from over the last few years is over. A wonderful Spring, were it not for the loss of life and devastation of property. 
A bridge we had driven across near the town of Wimberley, on our way to the wedding mentioned in the previous post, was washed away by floodwaters 3 weeks later. As were many houses and families. 
I guess you take the bad with the good, then carry on. 

                                   
On the tail of the storms, we've gotten some weird skies like today's. 
Kinda wish the contrail wasn't there, but I might like it tomorrow. 
Infrared, of course. 
Perfectly captures how I feel.  

In other news... 

For a couple of months I've been dealing with "old house" problems. 
Multiple plumbing issues, two sections of collapsed fence around the back yard, and a bathroom that lost electricity after being suspect since we moved in. 
All fixed but one leaky sink, so I'm feeling like a real man. 
The electrical problem took me a month to nail down, but I just knew that it was something butt-simple and paying an electrician would end up pissing me off. 
Once I got a helpful hint from a friend I was positive where to find the issue, and it ended up taking 5 minutes and a new part that cost exactly 74 cents including tax. 
Pretty sure an electrician would have cost a bit more than that. 

Not too scared of electricity, since I bend it to my will all the time. 
Once I had the "pleasure" of re-wiring an outlet in an old home near Houston. The polarity was reversed, and it was one of only two or 3 outlets available to power an entire rock band for a party. 
Trouble was, there was no time to track down which circuit breaker the outlet was on so I just fixed it with the wires live. What fun!  

Then there was the time I needed to get a freight elevator working again so we could get our gear out of a downtown SA nightclub at 4am. A bit tipsy at the time. 
The car was stuck on the floor above as I dug into the safety interlock mechanism. 
Took a healthy jolt of 120 volt AC, and as I started fading I also started tipping forward. 
Shook it off just in time to keep myself from plunging down the shaft. 
Fixed it. 

I had a bunch of stuff to post for Memorial Day, which I usually don't miss. 
But in thinking about what I was intending to write, a bunch of baggage and sore spots surfaced which led to the realization that I'm always mad as hell on Memorial Day. 
After more thought, the reasons I'm so angry became clear. 
By then it was too late to put it all together in time, so maybe by next year's holiday I'll be able to get it out of my system.  

Yeah, I'm all kinds of cloudy.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Fireworks

We went to a wedding last weekend in Cypress Falls, near Wimberley TX. 
During the reception the sun was almost down so I went to our motel room for the camera/tripod. 
Down by the river there wasn't enough artificial light spillage to get anything worth using, but while there I was approached by a man in the dark. 


He told me I was lucky that he'd spotted me, otherwise I could have gotten "blowed up". 
Hmmm...a gay come-on done badly? 


No, it was just that I had walked right into the middle of a fireworks launch zone. 
He was nice enough to let me stay and shoot pics from closer than I've ever been before. and it was pretty intense. Every launch felt like a punch to the gut, and they were bursting right overhead. I had a lot of debris on me afterwards. 


He gave me his business card so I could send him my results, but it wasn't from his fireworks business (don't need an architect right now) and there was no website or email address. Googling and checking Facebook for the name he told me turned up nothing, either. 
When I have the time I'll track him down.


Happy Day, Mothers.