Friday, November 20, 2009


Have you ever heard the gripe with wildlife TV shows and photography and such that these things portray nature in a kind of un-genuine way? That looking at wildlife photos and video and such would lead one to believe that there is a moose behind every tree and a jaguar down at the every watering hole and a grizzly waiting around the next bend in the trail. Wildlife porn, I've heard it called. (I thought maybe I should explain the title of this blog article fairly early mom will probably be reading this after all). The theory is that when kids go to nature that they expect all this great wildlife to be on display...and they're bored when it isn't. It really didn't do that for me. I can still remember the fam' sitting around our little black and white TV watching Marty Stouffer's Wild America (after The Cosby Show) and I don't demand constant wildlife viewing action in my outdoor experiences.

Even though the results are mixed (some kids are bored by the actual un-pornographic nature of nature and some kids' interest is piqued I wanna see that) this blog entry aims to show the readers (all both of them) that my photography is not just me happily strolling along wooded, pristine streams snapping pictures when I feel like it between sips of tea and bites of Fig Newtons.

This is really tough, knowing how much entropy to include in pictures. OK so it's not really all that tough. “Really tough” is climbing Mount Everest or having someone you love get killed in a car crash or something. But it does take some thought. Should I include the litter (or errant blade of grass or what have you) because that's how the scene really looks – or should I crop it out because it doesn't look “nice”?

This (somewhat mediocre...VERY mediocre, actually every single picture in this entry is mediocre) picture is a crop of the one directly below. The brighter colored leaves in this picture are floating on top of the water, the bland-colored leaves have sunk to the bottom.

OK, this is the non-porn crop of this picture...this is what's really there.

This is kind of like a picture I put in my last blog entry. Sort of anyway. It's actually just a zoomed-in version of the picture below it.

And this is the non-porn version.

Ahh. At first glance it's kinda questionable whether or not you'd see anything amiss here. Maybe I shouldn't tell you in hopes that you won't see it.

Insert long pause here so you think I'm actually not going to tell

See how the water is flowing in a smooth arc off of this rock? It's a little too perfect (to continue on the porn theme it's kind of like a picture in Playboy. Ahem, that is what I hear about Playboy anyway...never seen it myself. Mom, I can feel you blushing from here). It's so perfectly curved because this “rock” is actually a chunk of broken concrete culvert.

Happy happy joy joy (anyone else remember Ren and Stimpy? We didn't really watch much TV [except Wild America and Cosby] and we didn't even get the station that showed Ren and Stimpy but somehow my brother and I got ahold of a videotape of an episode that featured the amazing flying butt pliers. Trust me, you don't really want me to explain that one - besides that you can get a good idea of what it is just by the name which is pretty descriptively accurate.) this picture is pretty harmless. Just a cheesy “softwater” picture of a stream flowing. Yeah, it's all right but see the picture below for the whole scene.

So just for fun I Googled "'ren and stimpy' 'flying butt pliers' wrestling" and lo and behold I actually got quite a few sites where people actually recall (with fondness) the flying butt pliers episode. Apparently it was a classic episode.

Friday, November 6, 2009

red-hot lava

Yesterday morning I managed to get myself out of bed just a little bit after sunrise, have a pancake breakfast (no peanut butter sandwiches this time) and then head for Memorial Park to see what there was to see/photograph. Well I must've been in one of those The-Grass-Is-Greener-On-The-Other-Side-Of-The-Fence moods because not long after I got there I started to think about how there would probably be all sorts of good pictures at another park here in town (Schreiner's Park. I was down there in the morning a week and a half ago and was wishing I had my camera because the way the morning light was hitting the water in the creek was kinda cool). So I saddled up my bike (which involves throwing my army-surplus ammo-box [that's my camera case] into the milk crate I have tied to a rack on the back of my bike) and took off. Well, it was certainly pleasant down there (I say “down there” because it's in a creek bottom) but the light wasn't hitting the water the way I remembered, and – even though I took lots of pictures – only one turned out to be worth a damn.

This picture I took a few days ago at Memorial Park. It had rained the night before and the rainwater had kind of run down to the base of this slide and posed all nice for me as I took this picture.

Have you ever taken a picture of something you saw – and thought it was going to be an awesome picture – but it didn't quite turn out because pictures have trouble capturing motion? I do that all the time – or rather, I don't expect them to be any good, and am surprised if they actually turn out to be decent. So anyway, this is kind of a ho-hum picture of a little wave action going on in a creek that runs through the golf course here in town...I thought this picture was going to be better.

It's surprisingly hard (for me) to get a decent picture of branches against the sky. The sky is almost always so much brighter than the branches and since the camera's light meter determines the exposure of the image by averaging the amount of light hitting it (can you tell by this half-ass explanation that I don't really understand how light meters work?) the sky (which takes up a much larger area of the picture) kind of overwhelms the branches. If I was a good photographer I'd probably figure out a way to trick the light meter into reading things differently (actually I do know how to do this by using “manual” settings on the camera - I'm just too lazy to do it). So I just simply don't take that many pictures of branches backed up by sky. But “If at first you don't succeed try, try again,” so I actually took a bunch (something like 10 or 15) and this one – to my surprise – turned out to be decent.

So this is the one picture I got (that was decent) after having my The-Grass-Is-Greener... moment yesterday morning and pulling up stakes in Memorial Park and heading for Schreiner's Park. This little water-tumble you see here didn't exist until last spring when a couple of floods came rippin' through this creek and scoured it down to bedrock.

OK so I'm going to try something a little bit different in this blog entry. I'm going to include pictures (in this blog entry these pictures were taken by me) taken while I was out doing what I like to do (not that I don't enjoy going out and taking pictures simply for the sake of taking pictures but you know what I mean). If anyone is horribly opposed to these non-fine-art pictures you can leave a comment telling me so.

So I'm kind of bike nut. I like to ride bikes in places where most people – even fellow bike nuts – would not. This picture is of my friend, Corey (who is also a bike nut and likes to ride in places where other bike nuts think it's crazy to ride, kinda like me) riding down a “low maintenance road” (that's what a sign warns at the start of this road – which, of course, draws people like Corey and I to ride it). As you can see the road is one lane dirt/mud. Corey and I thought it was awesome. Maybe I should say it again: we're nuts...or maybe we're totally sane and everyone else is nuts?

This is Corey again riding on a cool gravel road that leads up a bluff (from the Mississippi R. to the top of the ridge). This road had multiple (I think three) stream crossings. It was awesome too. This was taken on the same ride that the last picture was taken. It was a good ride...if you ask Corey and I. I know some road bikers that avoid riding on gravel like it's the worst thing in the world. Kind of like when you were a kid and playing on the playground and the play equipment was OK but the wood-chips below were the red-hot-lava. Gravel, to some roadies, is like wood chips. It might go without saying that dirt or mud or stream crossings would be like wood chips times ten.