Monday, November 21, 2022

Murals

In the go big or go home department, I've always liked the big wall murals. There have been more and more of them showing up in Calgary. They are an interesting photographic challenge. The biggest problem is the clutter between you and the mural; cars, people, railings, and those planter boxes in parking lots built to keep people from parking like idiots. I've nothing against those things in general, but it's annoying in the particular between me and a subject. Then there's the problem of getting the right distance from it for the lens you have available. Light and shadow can play a role for good or bad. Much of the time you're looking up, which can distort the image. Sometimes the only place to stand for the photo is in a parking spot, or to risk your life standing on the street. Which explains why I like to go with a buddy for these sort of expeditions. It's good to have someone else to keep an eye out.

In the event, Kelly and I met up at the under construction Stampede LRT station, and we wandered around the east end of the Beltline for a while. I was in a film mood, and only brought the Canon 7. This has a 50mm lens, which puts a cramp on the distance issue. We had a wonderful time strolling along. I'm really pleased with how the images turned out.

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5.

6.

7. As a bonus you get this piece of art work. I was working hard trying to get the whole ball in the image, in focus, and hoping to get a nice gradation of tones from the bright side of the sphere to the shadowed side.


I don't know who the artists are for these, and would love to credit them. In most cases, all you're seeing is a portion of the whole work. (Remember what I said about a 50mm lens?) Michelle was kind enough to send along a link to the BUMP festival website, where you can find out the artist info. 

Of the Day
Driftwood

Flower

Peony

River Reflections

Tombstone

Fox was a bit twitchy about us.


Lynx

Film
This is the last of the Tombstone 6x9 photos. However, I just got back 3 rolls of 35 mm film, and some of those will start showing up here. There's lots more digital Tombstone photos to come.


Thursday, November 17, 2022

Metal and moss

During our picnic at 40 Mile on the Yukon River, I found some remains of mining equipment, gradually getting overgrown with moss and grass. I was up early and looking over photos, and realized these would go together. 










Of the Day
Also at 40 Mile, River Reflections


A 40 Mile Landscape

Driftwood

Flower

Peony

Fox. We were also allowed inside the fox enclosure, but there was only one fox. 


Lynx

Film


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Wordle kicked my butt, again

I was doing so well, with a 57 games winning streak. That ended a few days ago. And then again today. I am crushed. Here I thought I was good at words. Sigh.

But thinking about words has me thinking about the blog. To be honest, I'm finding it harder to have anything to say that might be of interest to my readers. I call my readers a small but loyal band, and thank you for showing up to read. But you deserve a quality blog, and it's been a bit of a struggle lately. Note, I'm happy to get comments or thoughts about this, either in comments, or more private correspondence.

I don't really believe the stats that Blogger serves up, and I've never really understood the ones that Google gave me. But both agree that readership is trending down. Now Google is updating to a new stats thingie, and I keep getting notices to sign up and the old one is getting turned off. But considering I go many months between looking at it, I don't think I'll miss it when it goes away.

But even the numbers that I do know are down, and that's on me. The number of blogs published peaked in 2019, with a trip to New Zealand and the resulting zillion photos driving publication more than once a day over the year. You'd think during COVID I'd be able to write more, but was involved in a complicated work contract that sucked up a lot of energy from mid 2020 to mid 2021. Then output went down dramatically in 2021 to a bit less than every other day. Then 2022 output, projected to the end of the year, is a bit lower again.

Another related thread is photography. I want to take better photos, and have been reading lots about that. There is the technical angle, get better gear, get better at using that gear, follow these "rules" to create better photos, use software editors to edit the photo out of all resemblance to the original scene, or use these new AI tools to sharpen the photo. Bah! Cameras now are amazing, and they've been amazing for more than a decade. Many of the most famous historical photos were done on gear that is now considered primitive. Equipment limitations are not the problem.

But to elicit a response beyond "it's nice" or "very pretty", you need to show a photo that has meaning. It must trigger an emotional response in the viewer. So there's two hurdles to overcome there. One is to produce such a photo, and that's on the photographer. Even experienced pro photographers admit it's a  difficult task. One of the general rules is to produce fewer photos, but spend more time thinking about each, and curate ruthlessly. That's one path I'm trying to take.

The other hurdle is for the viewer to find the time to actually look at the photo and think about it, rather than mindlessly scrolling onto the next one, and the next one, frantically trying to avoid the advertising served up in the feed. That's on the viewer, but in many ways they are the victim of social media conditioning. TLDR is a real thing, and I've heard people say that tweets are too long. There's days I despair over the future of literacy.

A test for you. Ask someone that just scrolled through their Instagram (or any other social media) feed, which of the photos they saw was the best. In fact, ask them to describe any of the photos they saw, even in general terms. Well, more detail than a face, or a landscape. Odds are they won't be able to, unless one of the photos happens to either be of a person related to them, or by pure happenstance there was a remarkable photo in the feed that caught their attention.

So back to the blog. I'm still noodling through possible changes, trying to decide what changes I should make. The fundamental question is, why am I doing this? What is this blog for, and the related photoblog? Perhaps some clarity there will drive the content. At the least, I should let my readers know what to expect. Or, like I said, you could let me know what you want to expect, or what you don't want.

Of the Day
Just so you know, I've been thinking about this feature. It started with driftwood, because I had a zillion photos of driftwood, and I know that most of my readership is mostly not interested, but several are, and I am. So I figured posting such a photo every blog, down at the bottom, would be a fine thing. Those interested could scroll, and those not interested could stop when they got there. 

Then more things got added. Flower photos. The cats. Landscape photos from trips. Other photos. The check list I made, which indicates if there's so many things I need a list to remember, there's probably too many things, is: Driftwood, Flower, Peony, Lily, Landscape, Green Fools, Film, Celina, Bee, Tombstone, Caribou (and soon it will become Fox), Lynx, and River Reflections. 

In fact, there's been several blogs where the Of the Day photos were the main feature, and one where it was the only thing. I wonder if if I've been overdoing it. Maybe I should curate harder, and say that instead of lots of nice peony photos spread over a year, I should boil it down to a few remarkably good photos and show those. When I say that's hard, some photographers would hear "I'm lazy." Or, as a hint, if you want just the best photos and very little story, check out my VERO feed. Note that to see the big version in all it's glory, you need to actually create an account (free!) and log in.

And yes, some of this snow is still here.


So enough blither.
Driftwood

Flower 

Peony

Lilies are all done now, see you next year!

River Reflections

Tombstone

Film

Caribou (the last one, stay tuned for a cute fox)


Lynx

Sunday, November 13, 2022

The start of a return to normal?

I used to be a news junkie. That got pared back when I saw that newsmakers were more often trying to inflame emotions to hide what they were up to, than trying to act responsibly. I don't like people trying to push my buttons, which explains why I bailed on Twitter years ago. As far as I'm concerned Musk can burn it down and it's just dandy if he loses multiple billions of dollars along the way. Or if he carries on down the road he's on so far, the regulators will shut it down, just like they shut down other hate sites.

There is a huge difference between trying to put the best face on an issue, or to present your proposals in the best light, and actually lying. A simple example. In both Canada and USA elections are done via an established process. Voters are checked against a list, there is a process to deal with legitimate voters not on the list for some reason, they are given a ballot or ballots along with the instructions to fill it out properly, the ballots are counted and recounted, the whole decentralized process is supervised by people appointed by the relevant authority, carried out by numerous volunteers, there are provisions for partisan oversight, and there is a process to resolve a close or disputed vote count. There are any number of cases where the loser of a close count asks for a recount or judicial review. There is a process for that as well, and it's a completely legitimate request. 

And then there is outright election denialism, to say that an election was stolen or fraudulent, sometimes even before the election. We're seeing that a lot in USA in recent years and it's bullshit from end to end. There are a small (tiny) number of illegitimate ballots cast by honest mistake, and an even smaller number that are actually cast fraudulently. Out of millions upon millions of ballots cast, we're talking a few dozen cases at most.  

As a digression, for the purposes of this discussion, I'm not considering gerrymandering to be voting fraud, though it is, in a sense.

There were a variety of methods employed to overturn the election results. One of them was to say that because the other side had protested the results, it was fine for them to do so as well, equating a legitimate recount process with an illegal attempt to substitute fraudulent electors into the process, all the way to advocating a violent overthrow of the entire process. The two processes are not remotely equivalent.

Before any candidate is allowed to run for any office, they should be required to read the existing voting process and associated dispute resolution process, and then sign off that they understand it and will abide by the election results, and to publicly state the same. Anyone saying they won't accept the results of the election should be removed from the ballot. Such people have no place in our democratic process. That ought to be easy to enact, and would help us avoid the circus train wreck happening in USA.

It's not so easy to enact a formal fact checking mechanism, with an associated hook to drag the liar off stage. After all, it's a long and slippery slope between obvious verifiable facts, through probabilities, incomplete truths, lack of context, faulty reasoning, honest mistakes, slips of the tongue, attack dog gotchas, dog whistling, retail lies for immediate gain, to wholesale lies intended to denigrate the entire process. 

We could use such a process. We have a variety of carpet bagging politicians that are using such tactics to appeal to their base. The question is how big that base is, and how much the base can be expanded. In the USA it's clear the Trump poison quickly spread from a small rabid base, to almost half the electorate. It seems there is no lie so stupid that it will turn off a partisan believer.

Here in Alberta we have a new premier in Danielle Smith. She is a former politician who betrayed her party by crossing the floor in a crass attempt to gain power. She and the other followers were all voted out at the next opportunity, and rightly so. She's spent her political exile as a shock jock radio announcer pandering to a base that feels ostracized from the mainstream. Every day, such a person has to come up with new red meat for the audience, to keep them agitated. It leads you to saying stupid, sensational things, or audience goes elsewhere.

This is no way to run a province. She's already had to walk back a statement that the unvaccinated were the most discriminated group in history. Bah! The unvaccinated are merely living the consequences of a decision they made on their own.

There is hope, though. Smith recently won a by-election, though the numbers are hardly overwhelming. But let's start with her selection as party leader. It took 6 ballots and barely more than 50% of the vote, from a pool of 112,000 UCP members, who already skew to the conservative side of the spectrum. In the by election she got about 54% of the votes cast, which is about 21% of the eligible voters. Not what I'd call a ringing endorsement. 

Soon she is going to face the general public, many (most?) of whom are to the political left of people who hold UCP memberships. No wonder the NDP is looking good in the polls. For the past several years Notley had the easiest job in Canadian politics, opposing the clown show that was the Kenney government. So far, Smith hasn't made Notley's job any harder. I'm sure there are staffers in the NDP that have been documenting every stupid thing the UCP politicians have said, and will bring it up in the next election.

In other signs of hope in the USA, Trump and MAGA-ism seem to be on the ebb. The Democrats did extraordinarily well in the midterms, holding the senate, and it remains to be seen where the house will end up. Considering the Republicans were expecting a red tidal wave, and historically an unpopular president loses seats in both houses, maybe the pendulum is swinging back to the middle, back to normalcy. We can but hope.

Of the Day
Driftwood

Flower

Peony

Lily

Landscape, but could be river reflections.


River reflection (Yukon)

Tombstone

Green Fools Clown wedding


Celina, apricating

Caribou

Lynx. It's less than 10 feet from me at this point.


Film, the beaver pond beside the Dempster.