I’ve Got Sunflowers on a Rainy Day

Rainy, humid morning. My initial thought was I’d slip on some waterproof shoes, a rain jacket and go stomping through Pomerance Nature Preserve but, when I opened the door and felt the oppressive, 95% humidity, I said ‘no thanks. I’ll just go early to the coffee shop.

Getting out of the car at Aux Delices I spotted the sunflowers next door at Porcelanosa and decided I could make them my subject for the day.

2021.08.19: First picture – lens fogs up just as I’m about to press the shutter release and suddenly I lose not only a clear shot, but also a bit of the focus

I ran into an unexpected problem early on: the humidity and relative heat outside the car caused my lens to fog up almost immediately when I removed the cap. The first pictures I tried to take (the one above being the first) didn’t come out so good. Patience, however, is not only a virtue but allowed me to wait until the temperatures of camera and outside evened out. Then, I was able wipe and keep the condensation off the lens and proceed.

2021.08.19: Sunflower seen from behind – after the lens cleared

Last year I had taken pictures of the sunflowers growing here using my iPhone. Today I had my Olympus with a 14-42mm lens which allowed me to get some decent shots from fairly close (about 7 inches), so I concentrated on trying to get some detail shots.

I know nothing, really, about sunflowers – or flowers in general – and, so, every time I take a close look at them I’m amazed by how otherworldly they seem…

… and by seeing something I’d never noticed before, like disk florets: the center of the sunflower pictured below is a field of flowers inside a flower! Maybe nothing new to anyone who knows anything about them, but it’s been all I can think about since I took these pictures, just adding to that otherworldly feel for me.

So, though I didn’t get to go on my usual morning walk, it wasn’t a water morning: I not only got to take some nice pictures, I got to learn something new as well!

Equipment: All pictures taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5III (mostly set on auto) using an Olympus M.14-42mm lens at various focal lengths and edited using Snapseed on my tablet while drinking coffee.

Ordinarily I like to use aperture priority so that I can get some depth of field – for example, I would have liked to capture the church in the background in a couple of shots – but it was a bit breezy and the flowers just wouldn’t stand still for a longer exposure.

Palm of the Hand Story: A Tale of Birth and Death

With fall arriving in a little over a month, I thought I’d tell you a story about leaves. No words, just pictures – all taken this morning with my iPhone outside a coffee shop in Riverside, CT

Recovering From Carelessness

This morning I took a few pictures of the sun rising over an area called ‘Swamp Vue.’ To do so, I put my camera on ‘manual’ and took a few shots at different settings finally getting the shot I wanted with the aperture at f/22, the shutter speed at 1/160 sec, and the ISO at 250.

Swamp Vue

Usually, when I do this, I finish by setting the camera back to ‘auto’ before replacing the lens cap and turning the camera off. Well… I forgot to change the settings. Walking a little farther up the road I came to a bed of Chinese Roses (rosa chinesnis) and took a couple of quick pictures without paying attention to the settings. This is what I got…

When I got home later I was disappointed to say the least. Wondering whether I could rescue the shots, I transferred them to my iPad to go some quick editing with Snapseed – I figured if I could make a halfway decent job of it, I’d try a little harder later on my laptop.

I started by fiddling with the brightness, ambience, highlights and shadows; decreased the grain; then one thing followed by another. The results are passable – definitely worth spending more time on

Undressing Magnolia at Breakfast

Magnolia Blossom was lying under a tree at Pomerance Park when I met her, near the ruins of Wyndygoul, the old Seton home.

A chance encounter, almost didn’t see her, almost stepped on her actually.

I found her interesting and took her home where I set her on my desk then proceeded to ignore, and eventually forget, her as I worked.

I found her there this morning as I was getting ready to go out for my morning coffee. She was pretty much as I had left her. Though having lost some of her freshness and looking wilted, she was still attractive, interesting, still so full of colour.

I took her out to breakfast.

Alone together in the upstairs room of the coffee shop, I began to undress her.

[Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0]

56mm; f/13; 4.0s; ISO 250
20mm; f/4.3; 1/60s; ISO 400
22mm; f/4.5; 1/60s; ISO 400
70mm; f/5.5; 1/160s; ISO 1600
25mm; f/4.7; 1/60s; ISO 320
20mm; f/4.5; 1/60s; ISO 320
150mm; f/5.6; 1/160s; ISO 1600
25mm; f/4.7; 1/60s; ISO 320
150mm; f/5.6; 1/160s; ISO 1600
22mm; f/4.5; 1/60s; ISO 250
150mm; f/5.6; 1/200s; ISO 1600

all images edited in Snapseed: Cropped or expanded to 5×7 ratio; a little vignetting, detail reduction to give a soft focus look

Jim Hates Being Photographed – That Don’t Bother Me None, Tho

2021.01.28: Jim hates having his picture taken, so we worked out a compromise

One thing that’s happened this past year has been the great reduction of my social circle. It was never big to begin with – a group of women I usually sat with for morning coffee during the week, a bunch of regulars I would see and talk to at various pubs and restaurants, a couple of guys I would have coffee with on the weekends – but now it has diminished to, essentially, 7: two people I see daily for coffee, two couples my wife and I see occasionally, and one other guy – a crazy-talented artist who drops by with paintings every once in a while, the intervals between which have increased since, after nearly a year of unemployment, he found work.

2021.01.29: Jim hates having his picture taken

One of my coffee friends is Jim. I’ve known Jim at least three years. We became friends a through mutual appreciation of alcohol – a friendship which developed over the years over our common interests in software development, politics, art, whisky, and general conversation.

2021.01.30: Jim at breakfast not having his picture taken

In a recent post I mentioned my inability to stop taking pictures. This includes pictures of people I’m hanging around with. Jim presents a problem. He doesn’t like having his picture taken – at least not candidly and with the frequency that I take them. I decided to turn this reticence into a sort of regular feature of my Instagram posts.

2021.01.30: Jim not having his picture taken during a recent writing workshop – the cork pictured is from a bottle of Brenne, a French single malt

In addition to morning coffee, we meet regularly for dinner at the couple of places we feel safe going to, and almost weekly on Thursdays for a <air quotes> writing workshop </air quotes>. The reason for the air quotes is that, actually, it’s my wife attending a writing workshop while Jim and I discover the benefits of good whisky (Scotch, mostly, but bourbons, ryes, and others are welcome).

Anyway, thought these would be fun to post here. All photos taken with my iPhone XR Rear Camera (ISO and shutter speed whatever the hell the phone thought it should be) and edited in Snapseed using a combination of filters – including ‘tune image’, ‘details’, ‘curves’, ‘vignette’, ‘brush’, and ‘vintage’ – sometimes more than once each.

2021.02.02: Attempting to avoid having his picture taken, Jim tries to blend in with my morning paper
2019.11.06: A rare unobstructed picture of Jim

Snow Bounding

Monday we had a large snowfall here in southern Connecticut – the largest in five years. By some reports we got 14 inches, by all we got no less than 12. Not a lot by some standards, but certainly more than we’ve become accustomed to here.

2021.02.01: Brookside Park, Old Greenwich, CT (Canon Rebel T2i – 27mm, f/5, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800)

Around 3PM, snow still falling heavily, wind gusting to 30 miles per-hour, I got cabin fever, bundled myself up, and went out for a walk – initially just around the property, eventually about six miles around town. Of course, I had my camera and phone for pictures.

2021.02.01: Walking up Marks Road, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR, Front Camera, 2.87mm, f/22, 1/121 sec., ISO 50)

Though the selfie above doesn’t show it, except for the occasional wind I was pretty comfortable.

2021.02.01: Skiing on Riverside Ave., Riverside, CT (iPhone XR, Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/184 sec., ISO 25)

I was happy to see I wasn’t the only person out. There were people enjoying the nearby Bruce Park and I was passed by a woman cross country skiing down Riverside Avenue.

In my editing of these pictures – all on Snapseed after transferring them to my iPad – I tried to give them a winter postcard effect through the combination of a number of different filters, sometimes using the same ones more than once.

I may have mentioned before that, in addition to Snapseed, I use GIMP on my desk- or laptop for editing as well, but I must say I was surprised (and continue to be surprised) by the variety of effects I can get out of playing around with so simple a tool as Snapseed, which I once dismissed as a silly phone app when my daughter first recommended it. But, then again, my daughter, recommended it and she knows what’s what, so I had to give it a try.

I hope you’ll enjoy these efforts as much as I enjoyed both the walk, taking the pictures, and the editing.

2021.02.01: Swamp Vue, Riverside Avenue, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/217 sec, ISO 25)
2021.02.01: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Riverside Avenue, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/98 sec, ISO 25)
2021.02.01: Old Farm Structure, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/244 sec, ISO 25)
2021.02.01: Old Farm Structure, Riverside, CT (Canon Rebel T2i, 55mm, f/6.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 100)
2021.02.01: Ada’s Kitchen and Coffee, Riverside, CT (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/320 sec, ISO 25) [SIDE NOTE/FUN FACT: Ada’s was at one time Riverside, Connecticut’s first Post Office. It eventually became a candy store run by Ada Cantavaro until her death at the age of 88, a very popular establishment with the kids attending the near-by elementary and middle schools. After her death, her family restored it and opened a deli in this location, keeping her name.]
2021.02.01: 127 Winters and Counting, 98 Riverside Ave., built 1894 (iPhone XR Rear Camera, 4.5mm, f/1.8, 1/235 sec, ISO 25)

Shooting While Doing Shots

2021.01.31: Nighthawks at the Wine Bar [a nod to both Edward Hopper & Tom Waits] (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 800)

Perhaps its something I need to see someone about, but I can’t seem to stop myself from taking pictures. Everywhere I go, I look at people and things from the perspective of whether or not I could make a good picture of them. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation, something will catch my eye and I’ll reach for the camera; or walking with someone, they might suddenly find me half a block behind taking pictures. If I don’t have one of my cameras with me, I’ll at least have my phone. On those rare days I have neither, It must be funny to see me frantically patting myself down and cursing.

2021.01.25: Stool Samples (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I met a friend for an early dinner at a local wine bar & salumeria – we go early because the bar will be mostly empty, the friend and I wound up staying later though.

It’s one of my favorite places to go because of its interior design: marble bar, red leather barstools and booths, exposed steel beams, an interesting sunlight, and creative lighting.

2019.11.06 – The Skylight (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 250)
2021.01.31: The Bar (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/120 sec, ISO 1250)

For me, the place is so picturesque I find it hard to concentrate on my drinking – but I manage mostly because the phone doesn’t need me to play with aperture or shutter and film speed. Sure that takes some of the creativity out of it, but I make up for that in the editing later.

[Photos taken at Lugano, Old Greenwich, CT]

2021.01.31: Boulevard of Broken Drams (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.17: Tools of the Trade (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Light and Colours (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Camera Shy (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2020.01.25: End of an Evening (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/20 sec, ISO 640)

What Do You Do When it’s Too Cold to Go Out to Shoot?

At 29°F, I thought yesterday was cold. I was wrong, this morning I woke up to 14°and the promise of a high of 19. So, yesterday I was too much of a wimp, but today I’m too pragmatic to go walking around taking pictures. (I know, I know: 19 is practically balmy in certain parts of the world during winter, but if I don’t need to be out there…)

Still, the need to take pictures won’t go away simply because I can’t get out, so I carry my camera around with me when I go for coffee, across the street to get lunch or to meet a friend in a warm bar for a drink (we can still do that here, in Connecticut, for now). If the camera’s forgotten, there’s the phone.

2021.01.28: Aux Delices (iPhone XR, back camera 4.25mm f/1.8, 1/60 sec)

Yesterday morning, finding myself alone in the upstairs dining area of my local coffee stop, I found it a great opportunity to take a few indoor shots.

One thing I’m always curious about is how light affects a picture taken with the same settings – I often see examples of these in photography magazines, but to me it seems obvious that, often, they use the same photograph edited to simulate the difference in lighting or settings. The two pictures below are actually different, taken with my camera on manual, and using the same settings: 18mm lens, f/22, 6.0 second exposure, ISO 200.

2021.01.28: Lights On – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.28: Lights Off – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

I usually like to play around with my pictures using either Snapseed (on my iPad) or GIMP (on the desktop or MacBook). Don’t know why… to me, the picture never seems complete until I’ve done something to it, whether to enhance the colors, the texture or just go to town messing with it using all sorts of filters and effects.

2021.01.28: Lights Off, Edited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

It’s the rare picture I post on Instagram or ViewBug that hasn’t had something done to it.

2021.01.28: Reading Material (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2021.01.28: Table Leg (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 2500)

What looks like dust on and around the lens in the images below is actually fallout from my croissant. A good reminder to keep my lens cap on while eating.

2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 320)
2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/24 sec, ISO 640)

Postcards from Brooklyn

2021.01.24: Anchorage Place, near Plymouth Street

Saturday my daughter passed along an invitation from her boyfriend for me to come down to Brooklyn and ‘hang out.’ She said he was eager to show off his new white Negroni recipe. If you keep reading you’ll find neither the recipe nor any pictures of the drink here, but I will tell you that it was delicious, garnished with cumquats – three stuck onto a toothpick, as like olives in a martini – which I enjoyed eating during and after the drink was finished.

Recently, I had purchased a Joby TelePod tripod/selfie stick that came with a Bluetooth shutter release – I call it ‘the button.’ This gave me an idea: I prepared for the drive by rigging a cheap (ultra cheap!) mount for my phone on the rearview mirror using two purple rubber bands from the super market that had held together bundles of asparagus. I opened the camera app and got on the road.

I got a little push-button happy and took something like 140 pictures on the way down, another 200 on the way back. I edited and used 24 of them, posted them on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/joearf) and deleted the rest (well, not entirely – they’re all on my desktop hard drive where they’re automatically downloaded to from iCloud)

After driving around for a while looking for a free space, I parked in a garage on Front Street. As I was a little early, I decided to take my camera for a walk.

I tried to give these an old postcard look.

Most pictures shown here were taken with my Canon T2i (a couple with my iPhone) and edited with Snapseed.

2021.01.24: Brooklyn Queens Expressway (love the near, modern, building on the right though the older, farther one’s pretty cool, too)
2021.01.24: BQE, Exit 28, looking at the Brooklyn Bridge
2021.01.24: Anchorage Place, looking south from Plymouth Street
2021.01.24: Corner of Plymouth Street and Anchorage Place
2021.01.24: A view of the Brooklyn Bridge from Main Street Park
2021.01.24: The Manhattan Bridge
2021.01.24: Pedestrian Traffic on Water Street (outside Butler)