Sunday, September 27, 2015

Oh, Happy Day.....

Saw this online and it made me chuckle.

Actually, had not heard before that August 19th has been the designated day to salute this art form.

Apparently for quite a few years.

Giving credit to "someecards" because that's who posted it.

Years ago - yikes, 12 years - I put aside my 35mm film cameras and embraced digital photography.

And, never looked back.

Opted for a small fit-in-your-pocket point and shoot Canon camera and have been amazed how much they have been improved.

Actually wore out two of them. About 3 years of my heavy usage and they tend to get "tired" and I look for a newer model.

My Canon sx260HS brought back my joy of having a serious zoom lens again.

This beauty, a bit thicker than a pack of cigarettes or a deck of cards, offered me the "bonus" of a sharp 25mm to 500 mm zoom.

And no carrying around extra lenses or having to change out various individual "prime" ones.

It hung in a convenient small packet on my belt so I usually had it with me. But, as I said, it developed a problem ( a disquieting grinding noise) when the zoom would extend or retract, causing the camera to shut down.

I "limped" through a trip to New York City and several days in Quebec City, re-booting it after it shut down so I could get a few more shots before it stopped again. Grrr.

My Mom had saved one of my early film cameras, back when I was in Middle (Grammar) School, and people ask about the Kodak Duoflex II when they see it on my bookshelf.

Next to it I placed an unusual "camera" that really is a funky pencil sharpener. Hey, I am NOT known as a dour, serious guy.

But, back to my Canon pocket-size camera.

Repairs on the Canon sx260 would not have made much sense. I had paid only $189 and it was no longer even being made.

I went online and saw most of the current models lacked features I liked and was used to. So I checked out the Canon sx289.

Bingo! Canon had stopped making them in 2013 but I could get a brand new one for $209!

Now I see there are Nikon cameras with a 30x zoom, about the same size, for $300.

BUT, none of my collection of batteries and chargers would work.

I would have to start over if I switched to "the other brand" from my trusty Canon. Not going to do that right now.

Have marked my Google Calendar to make sure I observe  World Photography Day next August 19th.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.) Thanks for stopping by. Please visit often and send me some comments. Love to get them!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Shhhh. it's a secret.....

First of all, because of the secrecy, these pictures probably will have nothing to do with the topic.

Not even these recent North Charleston photos.

Right after this, I headed for a Subway Sandwich Shop. Burp.

These just happen to be some I took at Riverfront park and have not used in a blog yet.

So, do not try to imagine that that Cooper River park is part of this.

Nor is the secret as huge as a Navy sub secret.

The government and the armed forces certainly hide things from the general public. And from each other.

This picture merely shows the propulsion end of a nuclear submarine.

You saw this "cavitation" demonstrated in the movie The Hunt For Red October, a film inspired by the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, book 3 in the series.

Nope, science is not what the secret topic is about.

I'm finding this is frustrating, tip-toeing around and not being my usual straight forward person.

It was explained to me that violating this secret could have serious consequences.That would never be my intent.

Speaking of the military, this picture was taken at Old Navy in the Tanger Outlet shops.

Walking by, this image caught my eye but I never really had a chance to use the snap of these nude mannequins in a blog.

Well, up 'til now.

The secret has nothing to do with these buff dummies.

Nor with these outlet stores that apparently are set up in destinations about 75 miles apart.

No closer.  Not 50 and not 100 miles apart. Well, maybe between here and Savannah?

Tourists like to shop while on vacation and Tanger is pleased to provide that opportunity.

Yikes, this food reference shot is creeping closer to the secret I'm trying to write about without being specific.

*Note: this was taken inside a restaurant on Rivers Avenue and I reversed the shot so the sign could be read easily.

If it had been painted this way, passers-by would be very confused.


I had a similar problem when I was traveling overseas and unable to read Czech or Hungarian signs.

OK, I can't keep dancing around this.

The beer sign indicates another part of the secrecy dilemma I have.

Suffice to say I had two days of fun. A lot of waiting around but among interesting people.

And some great meals.

A hint: Adam Sandler was NOT involved this time.

There, that's it.

No more shielded comments.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

OK, share my happiness...

I got to be an Extra again. Shhhh!

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Sunday, September 06, 2015

What a difference a year makes....

 Almost a year ago, I wandered through this main downtown railway terminal in Budapest.

I was on a 5-country vacation trip in Central Europe.

This year this Keleti station in Hungary has been the center of worldwide migration attention.

Syrian refugees tried to pass through on their way to a new life in Austria or Germany.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were denied access to trains and "camped" trackside and in the spacious lobby.

My time there was brief.  The train from Bratislava, Slovakia, was very late and we finally arrived in Budapest well past midnight.

The station emptied quickly and we wandered around the huge space, looking for an ATM.

We had no local currency and finally found the machine we sought and withdrew 100,000 HUF, in Hungarian Forints.

I raised my eyebrows at having a hundred grand of any money in my hands  - and looked around nervously - but used my calculator and quickly saw it amounted to only about $355 USD.

The cab driver nodded when we gave the address of our rented 4-room flat at 29 Andrassy Ut. and, ten minutes later, we arrived safely at our private lodging for the next few days.

The added bonus of renting an apartment instead of another hotel room, was there was a washing machine in the kitchen.

The young man who was there to meet us with the keys - and to accept the rent in cash - had stuck around of course.

He walked us through the second floor apartment and quickly left.

It was 2:00 in the morning and it had been a long day.

We had started out from Vienna and got off the train in the capital of Slovakia to spend the day.

The late train was a bit frustrating but luckily, when it did suddenly arrive, we had our bags and tickets ready and had scrambled on board.

Later that day, we came out of our flat and saw the Opera House was right across the street.

Pretty classy neck of the woods, as they say.

Our rental had lots of brochures and suggestion on nearby places to eat. And to bar hop.

We had a late breakfast at a nice place around the corner and realized we were the only "tourists" in the place.

We ordered with a lot of smiles, nodding and pointing at pictures of items on the menu.

I'm looking back at how we fared a year ago compared to the anguish these migrating Syrians had to suffer as their stay in Budapest extended to many weeks, forcing many of those fleeing to pick up their scant possessions and start walking toward a new life at the Austrian frontier.

(Click on the photo and links for more details.)

I wrote a blog posting about this trip last year but the news breaking in this city - and the Hungarian government's reaction to a sudden flood of men, women and children - seemed reason enough to re-visit.

Have a happy and safe vacation everyone.

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Friday, September 04, 2015

Mixing red paint and Merlot...

 Smokey Bones on Rivers Avenue sends me discount coupons each month.

"Buy $20 worth of food and pay only $10."

They have BBQ and burgers and lots of other things but I like the Salmon with two sides.

Last night I got the fish, mashed potatoes, baked beans ...and a 
colorful live action show going on in the corner. had about 20 would-be artists gathered for an evening starting with a blank white canvas and ending with a finished painting.

The result on the right was the targeted desired effect and Haley Metcalfe, the artist leading the class, explained the steps she had taken with various colors of paint and brushes to get there. 

She also filled a blank canvas step-by-step so the participants could see  and follow her lead.

Oh, did I mention a waitress came through with refills and fresh drinks for the neophyte painters? This is a restaurant and bar after all.

The slogan for PaintNite is "Grab a drink, grab a brush and, let the fun begin."

As the salt-rimmed glasses were refilled and wine glasses topped, the brushes were in motion.

Beers were consumed and paint was applied.

Creativity was unleashed and the enjoyment factor flowed. 

Haley looked over shoulders, made suggestions and gave gentle reminders.

"If you draw branches that you absolutely hate, don't worry. You can cover them with the black leaves you're going to add later."

Haley asked me if I had ever painted and I responded that I had not. 

I said my camera challenges me to create using a lot of the same guidelines such as "Rule of thirds" and off-center framing.

I combine colors for effect and maybe even use "tricks" such as a fisheye lens or a zoom lens to compress space.

She said an artist can leave out distracting objects and focus on things pleasing to the eye.

Before Photoshop, and other tools, I had to observe carefully the background behind my subject.

Errant telephone poles could not be removed later!

Today, photos with a rude person popping up in the background, is called "photo bombing."

I used a fisheye lens effect to distort this scene of an artist and her progress.

The almost empty wine glass adds to the surreal image.

Hmm... maybe less red paint and more red wine?

PaintNite also has "classes" at Liberty Tap Room in Mt. Pleasant and at Two Keys Tavern in Ladson.

The website shows a cost of $45 with all things needed supplied.

It also points out how to get discounts and encourages people to team up for a fun evening.

I can attest to that. This was a happy crowd and showed diversity when compared to the target image.

These efforts dispute the old poetic saying that only God can make a tree. The tree's look is in the eye of the beholder.

Or, in some cases, this night, in the eye of the beer-holder.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Haley may have whetted my appetite to put down my camera and try to create something with a different medium.

I'll get a few friends to join me and see how I do while sipping a Jameson whisky on-the-rocks.

I can always go back and cover my errors with dark bushy leaves...unless it's a beach scene.

This is definitely NOT paint-by-numbers which I tried when I was a kid.

Check it out. Could be a fun evening.

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