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Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Sweet Transvestite pinewood derby car is coming along.

By coming along I mean it's not working at all. The graphics I want to do call for a skilled illustrator to freehand paint some stuff where I'm going to have to rely on decals, but the idea was to make a car that was Frankie from Rocky Horror in honor of the Boy Scouts ongoing commitment to inequality. I guess my scouting experience wasn't totally positive, though I wasn't a transgender kid, or even a gay kid, I can relate on a lot of levels to those who didn't fit into Scouts for those very public reasons.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Love of My Life

My wife pretty much always wears a braid. Except when she lets it down and I think it's super sexy when she does that. But it's at least as inconvenient as it is sexy, so it's kind of a rare treat.

But I said something the other day about pigtails and she decided to try two braids instead of one. Pretty cute.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Zen & the Art of Long Exposures

Riding home from work, something I really enjoy to unwind is some urban landscape photography. Tags, city scenes, the star trails of automobiles, that sort of thing.

I can have listened to incredible bullshit at work, 'Obama is a Muslim who was trained to be President at a special school by the Chinese and the Arabs to bring America to its knees,' for instance. I'm not exaggerating, a guy actually said that to me and when I didn't seem sold, he acted like I was a deluded idiot. But you know what, he was a customer, and you know what they say about how the customer is always right.

The Obama hater was frustrating not just because the idea that the 'Chinese and the Arabs' got together to even order a pizza is laughable, but because he's not some wino on a park bench. This motherfucker has a real business and generates enough income from it to at least leverage a high end German car. I've met real life winos who make more sense.

But I can set up my Nikon on a tripod and leave the shutter open for a few minutes and wait and wait to see what I get and it mellows me the hell out and I don't care. Which is good, because the one thing worse than a freak who thinks Obama is the worst thing that could ever happen is someone sending people off to 're-education' camps to further systems that actually are as bad as a lot of Republicans think Obamacare is.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of Obama. Or Obamacare. I can't say I'd prefer McCain, Palin or Romney to our present figurehead. In fact, they all seem scarier in a lot of ways. Obama is probably 'weak' in foreign policy, for instance, much to the Ukraine's detriment (if Putin thought Obama had an appetite to put American troops in Ukraine to protect historic borders, there wouldn't be Russian troops in Ukraine obliterating those borders). But while it's a good thing for assholes like Putin to think America will just throw down at the drop of a hat, it's abad thing when we have someone like W. where it's actually true.

Because when it's true we accidentally invade the wrong country on false pretenses of weapons of mass destruction. Or in another era, JFK, whatever his faults, is sitting in the Oval Office with everyone he should trust for military/strategic advice urging him to launch nukes at the Soviet Union, there is no tomorrow. He might have been a lousy husband, a sorry excuse for a leader in a lot of aspects, but at least he was sane enough to ignore all those five star generals. I literally wouldn't be sitting on this comfy couch venting from my nice Macbook if we'd had someone like W. in office for the Cuban Missile Crisis. George wouldn't have had to hear it twice, he would have pushed 'launch' as casually as if it said 'lunch.'

Oh, the photographer and client on the bridge? They're a little outside my usual subjects but as I set up on the bridge by the FBI building the other night, there was a photographer doing some portrait work, putting a girl in a baby doll dress on a concrete wall, having her stand out in possible traffic, etc. I was mostly waiting for the light to change for my tripod shots but they were just too fun not to shoot.

And when I get a night shot just so, it's so worth it. It doesn't happen all the time, as you can tell by these shots. And I shot a lot of frames, these are the ones I felt willing to share, and it's not like they're all that.

I'm Awake Now

I was running late for work but my timing was pretty good to catch the 107—this gets me from 7th & Minnesota to 43rd & Rainbow in about ten or twelve minutes, then I can either cut through Westport and/or the Plaza, or I can go up Booth, Belinder, through Mission Hills, cut over on 71st or 73rd into Waldo. Both seem to be about the same miles and time, the main advantage to the Kansas side route is when there’s snowpack on the KCMO streets, the longer I can delay crossing the state line the better.

Anyway, I put my bike on the rack and I watch it out of the corner of my eye as I play with my phone. I watch it because the first time I tried the bike on bus thing, I might not have gotten the hook on the front tire right or something, but my bike got thrown. It took me a couple years after that to even experiment with the bus.

But anyway, I’m playing Words with Friends and the bus stops and out of the corner of my eye I see someone grab my bike off the rack.

I Freaked Out. I went lunging out the front of the bus screaming expletives and ready to beat someone to death with my U lock. The kid looked genuinely frightened, and then I saw that my bike was still on the bus rack.

It was a second bike, the poor kid I was ready to kill had just grabbed his own ride.

What a way to wake up.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

So it's long overdue I shoot Mo's official 'senior portrait.' I think it's around the same time I did her sister's last year, but the weather was much, much better.

Me and Em froze our asses off on this project, it was around 70ºF for me and Mo. Awesome.

I worried the mid-day sun would be too direct overhead but mid-day was when we got started and I found some good light-modifying buildings and whatnot. We started in the River Market, then went to the West Bottoms.

The West Bottoms is such a cliché in portrait photography, I literally had to wait for other photographers to finish up so we could use backdrops. The neighborhood almost needs a number system like a deli counter. But there's no place in town that offers so many interesting backdrops in such a small area.

I reject the notion that you have to go somewhere else to be creative, that's like saying if you're serious about painting something original you should go someplace other than the art supply shop to buy paint. The West Bottoms offers good paints and canvases, you still have to bring your game to it.

Which I tried to do. Mo loves to have her picture taken, but with autism it gets more complicated than that. If I tell Mo to smile she generally will, but there's smiles and then there's smiles. If she thinks what we're doing is dumb, she's not one to fake it.

I guess on the flip side of that, I see a lot of terrible pictures where people are backlit by the setting sun. Their faces in shadow. If I put Molly with the sun in her face, she's not visually impaired, she naturally closes her eyes like anyone else. But if I tell her to open her eyes, she'll at least try.

Then there was the moment when I asked her to hold up the reflector (I brought a reflector to try and shine light up into Molly's face, and she held it but often at the wrong angle, often up where it was in frame, etc.)—and instead of holding up the reflector, she held up Tweetie, who I hadn't even realized she'd brought along on that outing.

So anyway, this is what I got out of 364 shots, these are the 'best of.' A lot of them have photographic flaws I'm aware of them, they probably all have flaws I'm not astute enough to even catch.

But they're all my youngest daughter, one of my two 'little girls' who aren't so little anymore.

The light on the bridge was actually getting to be just about perfect when I realized Mo was done, she couldn't really muster much more cooperation she was worn out and sick of the whole project. I told her we could try again another time if she wanted, it really wasn't a bad way to spend an afternoon with her.

As we were driving home I spotted another backdrop we could use and asked if she wanted to take a picture in front of it. 'Yes,' she said, then 'Go home, YouTube.'

So maybe I'll try that backdrop in a couple of weeks.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Cat's Cradle

Corinna set up an old doll cradle with a blanket in it, it's become one of Zippy's favorite places to hang out. It's on the roof of Sheba's dog den, but he doesn't seem to mind that much.

Gonzo has likewise adopted an improvised cat bed Corinna made from an old pillow and bandanna. She made it with Bulldog in mind, but it's worked out to be more Gonzo's bed.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Daddy's Little Girls

Sorting through some long-overdue-for-sorting boxes I found some old pictures. Including a batch of photos my friend Julie took one fine day.

I think Julie was living in Prague at the time, so she must have been back for a visit. Looks to have been an overcast day, and I stopped by her parent's house with my honyocks.

I remember Ted, Julie's Dad, giving the girls donuts, I have the mental image of Molly really enjoying her almost-as-big-as-her-head donut.

And as we were chatting, Julie went and grabbed her cameras and started shooting. She was still shooting film, I guess this would have been right around the time when digital was starting to get good enough for professional photography. Maybe. I know for a long time, digital meant a huge investment and a compromise on quality.

So Julie just started clicking away. Cut some flowers for Emily, directed us a bit. Then she gave me the rolls of film.

I get accused every once in a while of being a good photographer and I'm always like, not really. I mean, Julie is the real thing. I shoot a lot, and a lot of times what I get is mostly junk. In 100,000 shots, you're bound to get a few winners.

And that's with being able to chimp, to preview on the camera's screen what I'm getting and make adjustments on the fly. Adjustments you would have to switch to a different kind of film for, for example, by switching ISOs to get more or less light sensitivity.

I think Julie had two Nikons and a light meter that day, no reflectors, no flash, no fill lights, just the natural light on an overcast day.

I took the film to the lab, they developed and printed them and I got it back. And really, every shot is good. Some are better than others as far as facial expression, shadows, that sort of thing, but they're all at least good shots. Actually probably better than the look here because scanning a print, you lose a little. And color correcting scanned prints, I hardly ever get the colors quite the way I want them.

I think too, this was right around the time Molly's autism was diagnosed.

She started to get some language, then lost it. And she started to get spotty on responding to verbal instruction. One day hollering 'Stop!' would actually slow her down as she was on her way to some act of mayhem or other, then it was like she couldn't hear us.

I can see it a little in these pictures. Throwing Mo up in the air would get a reaction, but most verbal inputs from me or Julie or anyone else just bounced off.