Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Invisible Man? His car?

No, wearing sunglasses does not make you disappear.

I know, I know, in the movies - and on television - people who want to hide usually put on shades.

They dye their hair (I'd also have to do my 'brows).

Or grow a beard if there is enough time.

Dressing differently is also part of a disguise we see in films.

Some people use plastic surgery to alter their looks. A different nose. Puff up cheeks with injections.

Hmmm. Never have seen a person's ears changed.

They're pretty prominent and unique but usually  not included in a nip & tuck by the surgeon.

But that's all about looking different.

Basically just details.

I'm talking about disappearing.

Like driving a stealth car during a recent road trip up to Charlotte.

When you come up behind a shiny truck, and watch the reflection, you expect to see yourself. Mirror-like.

You and your car looking back. At you and your car. Well, technically, I was in the passenger seat. Kind of creepy when you're NOT there.

It had already been a strange trip.

I went to Charlotte to celebrate the Blues.

To see Eric Clapton in concert. A Legend.

I could tell I was really getting into the music genre when I saw a picture a friend took of me when we got to town.

The Avatar in IMAX 3-D? Poppa Smurf?

The Blue Man Group?

This had happened before.

Changing colors around I mean.

The green was close to March 17 so I can understand that happening. It's an Irish thang.

This whole topic about changes and appearances revolves around the lack of reflection on the back of a milk tank truck.

As I recall instances when "I wasn't myself," these images came to mind.

And there are others.

It all goes back to my love of photography.

And tools that change things when you use them in post-production. That's the time period after you've put down the camera for the day.

In my youth, they were called "darkroom tricks." Now, they are named "Topaz plug-ins" that you use with your computer to change reality or, at least, to enhance it.

Of course I had erased the image of the car from the rear of the shiny truck and I had shifted the whole color spectrum to BLUE, using various plug-ins in combination with my basic photo software called Photoshop Elements 10.

Another example of the fun and diversity of using these creative tools is the treatment I made of a shot of twin oaks.

Here is a BEFORE and AFTER of the beautiful moss-draped twin oaks. With several signs.

I saw and snapped this image during a Photo Walk last Saturday down in Rockville.

About 17 of us went there with our cameras a week before the 123rd annual Rockville Regatta.

I won't say which is which.
(Click on the photos to see more detail.)

I bought a new Topaz enhancement tool today called Camera Lenses. It lets you go back and create effects that could have been done if you had a different set of lenses. A "fisheye" look added later.

A shallow DOF (Depth Of Field) that makes the object in front really separate from the now-blurred background.

This will help me fill the gap between my small digital camera and those biggies that the big boys carry around.

And I still have a camera that fits in my pocket.

Size matters.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

So, 93 years ago.....

My Grandmother, Alyce May Boyd, was a single mom who raised two boys here in Charleston.

One young man was my dad.

In the mid-1920s, she was with the Country Club of Charleston.

My granny was featured in the front of a booklet that was produced about the prominent golf course.

I found the booklet recently and stopped by the CCC to see if the current Manager Bates would like to flip through it.

 Ron Gillette, the manager, said he would like to but was totally involved with an upcoming USGA event.

The 2013 U.S.Women's Amateur  Championship will be conducted for the first time here in Charleston, he added.

156 top golfers will arrive August 3-4 and the tournament runs August 5-11.

He asked that I contact him later next month.

I keep forgetting that even though I'm retired, others have jobs and deadlines. I said "Sure."

That's my grandmother with her sons.

My father Jerry is on the right and his older brother Eddie on the left, posing in Hampton Park.

With their proud mother.

I love the 1920s slogan for Charleston: "The City By The Sea."

Hey, Conde Nast, you're a little late coming to the party.

Their readers recently named Charleston the number one travel destination in the world.

Golfers have known about us for quite a while.

In fact, I have a signed print from the 1990 Charleston Golf Expo that shows the first golf clubs shipped to America arriving in Charleston harbor May 10,1743.

People ask me if I play a lot of golf since I retired in 2004?

I laugh and say "No, I got a call from Tiger Woods and he asked me to give up golf...for the good of the game."

Not a true story of course, but if I ever wanted to shoot my age for 18 holes, I would have to be about 110 years old.

Need to work on my drive.

I was told I'm too close to the ball. After I hit.

Once I sank a long, long, up and down 20-foot putt that amazed me as well as others waiting to play.

I said "Man, I needed that! For an 8," as I marked my scorecard.

Wonder if my grandmother had a similar view when she would come to work at "the Club?"

I took this when I stopped by a few days ago.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

My bag and clubs are stored somewhere downstairs.

Wonder if I could still remember my swing?

Oops, oh yeah, THAT was my real handicap.

However, I did enjoy the 19th hole.

Thanks for stopping by "on the turn."

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Canon 35mm film cameras ...and lenses

Ten years ago I decided to put aside my film cameras and check out this new thing called  - digital.

Glad I did and I'm on my 5th small digital camera.

By small, I mean it's only about the size of a deck of cards.

A nice camera with lots of settings that fits in my shirt pocket.

My newest one is the Canon sx260 with a 20x optical zoom.

That's roughly a 25mm to 500mm lens. But, it still slides into my pocket and is usually with me.

Back in my film days, the largest I had was a 75mm - 200mm zoom (the one pictured front and center).

Actually I had about four lenses I carried with me, in a bag slung over my shoulder.

And several camera bodies so I could have two  -with different lenses ready to use - draped around my neck.

Hey, that's what it was like 10 years ago.

Back in the 1960s, when I worked for a San Diego newspaper, I had toted a 4x5 format Speed Graphic, a bag filled with lenses AND many, many 2-sided film packs.

So, carrying around several 35mm cameras was quite a relief.

Usually the short, "standard" 50mm lens was on the main camera.

It was a good, general focal length so I was able to quickly bring the camera up to my eye for a grab shot that suddenly presented itself.

Having been a press photographer, the credo was "Get the shot" and then, if there was time, compose and snap more as you analyzed the situation, the lighting, the event taking place, etc.

These modern digital cameras make street photography fun.

People are not as likely to be startled when you raise a small camera - similar to their iPhone or Android - and catch an expression or special lighting.

My newest "tool" is a device that makes the image on the back of a digital camera easier to see in bright light.

You wear the light rubber "hood loupe" on a lanyard around your neck and can hold it in place as you use the whole combo as a viewfinder.

Follow the action in sports or out in nature watching birds flying around.

It appears I am pretty well set with my digital choices.

Now, I wonder if anyone is looking for some nice 35mm film cameras. Or, perhaps adapt the "glass" I have sitting on a shelf to their larger digital SLRs (Single Lens Reflex).

Hmm. That bears looking into.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

I also have a 28mm "wide angle" lens and a smaller zoom that goes from 28mm to 85mm.

The camera in my pocket obviously can't produce the excellent results like the larger ones.

But it does what I want.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Welcome (Oil) Change...

 Wow. Lucky me!

Just found a "lost" coupon I had bought for a discounted oil change. With tire rotation.

Yikes, I saw that it would expire this Friday.

So today I drove out Folly Road, just past the Wappoo Bridge, to Clair's EXXON station for a full-service experience.

I went inside to show the coupon and Mary Court assured me I was in the right place.

This "place" was started by her father more than 50 years ago.

I commented that gas was probably only 29.9 cents a gallon back then. We both sighed.

I saw another unusual sight from the past: pumps marked "SELF  SERVICE" and "FULL SERVICE."

Mary said they clean the windshield and check the oil while you remain seated in your car.

I remember how great that had been during some bitter Winter days when I lived a year in Minnesota.

She smiled when I mentioned that and she added "Also a good idea to establish a relationship with a nearby station so when a mechanical problem pops up, you have a friend to go to."

I was a little late for the free coffee but Mary's husband Julio got started on my oil change.

Before he raised my car on the lift, Julio checked the fluids under the hood and added whatever was low.

Not surprisingly, windshield cleaning fluid needed a glug or two.

Well, nearly half a gallon.

Yellow pollen, smashed bugs, etc. use it up. You don't think about it until it's empty and you're staring through a smeared windshield.

He loosened the lug nuts on all four wheels, then began exchanging them from the back to the front on each side.

I've watched enough NASCAR pit stops to see he had a pattern and rhythm as he placed them near each axle to make sure none was missing.

I didn't time the process but it seemed like only about 20 minutes from start to finish.

The owner, John Clair and his brother Chris, were working on some cars in the bays.

I waved and thanked them for this full service treatment.

Julio completed the rotation of the tires and brought the lift down to add the new oil.

He even reset the reminder on my odometer so I could keep track of when the next oil change would be due.

I have written about past experiences as I try to maintain my 7-year old Saturn.

It has been basically a maintenance-free automobile.

Unfortunately, Saturn no longer exists and my Ion, the four-doors-but-only-two-door-handles model
was offered for only two years.

People still gawk when I open both passenger doors wide and slide in a very large carton.

Would not work in most other cars.

So yes, when it's time to check the oil and other fluids, I'll probably come back to Clair's.

As a special treat for the car, I filled the tank with a 0 percent mid range Ethanol gas.

Still leery of that 10% stuff.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

If you're looking for a change, go see Mary and Julio down by the schoolyard, er, I mean.. at 334 Folly Road.

Enjoy a free coffee.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Celebrate - Have A Pluff Mud Porter!

It was the Second Anniversary for the makers of Pluff Mud Porter.

I went to where the craft beer is made and bought one at Holy City Brewing on Dorchester Road.

Wow. What an exciting two years it has been for Charleston and we beer drinkers.

They make more than just the porter that I really like.

I didn't sample them all but I did buy a t-shirt.

The celebration was set for Noon to 8:00pm and I got there late - around 6:00pm.

At an outside stand pouring my porter, the staffer remarked it had been very busy and now was calming down.

She added that there was a nice breeze all day.

Biggest breeze-maker I've seen in a while.

I did arrive just as the Keg Tossing contest started.

Don't know if he won but he had good form and the crowd murmured approvingly. And sipped their beers.

Because it was mainly a family gathering with lots of children running around, I was not surprised to see a small black 6.5 gallon keg brought out for the small fry to toss.

It too was empty of course, although I heard comments like "Well, maybe it's a Lite beer,  and something about "half-pints."

I was late so the band had just stopped playing. I had hoped they were taking a break but they laughed when I asked.

There was an impressive large storage container sitting across from the main buildings.

It was a perfect "canvas" for the familiar skyline of our Holy City.

I neglected to get the name of the artist but I'll ask and update this later.

That's my way of doing reverse fact-checking.

The beer was good, the day had cooled off and I wanted to show my appreciation for some nice guys who make a fine product.

You'll see me around town wearing my new black t-shirt.

Probably with a Pluff Mud in my hand.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

The link to the brewery has some excellent photos by Chrys Rynearson.

He has a REAL fisheye lens and knows how to use it!

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday "Morners" at the Cemetery...

 Went with my camera to Magnolia Cemetery this morning.

Only my second time there, which is sorta unusual for a native.

First time was many years ago with a large group from The Post and Courier when a beloved editor was buried.

She had died in an horrendous crash on the old Cooper River bridge. Much too young.

Today I wandered into a CSA (Confederate States of America) burial ground section. I'm told there are generals buried there.

The grass had not been mowed (mown?) and the flowers placed by this stone had died, but the flag looked fresh.

Soldiers bodies had been re-interred here after battles in the north, according to a small plaque I saw.

About 26 members arrived early with their cameras, lenses, tripods .... and bug spray.

I had to use a cell phone for directions on where to find them.

This place is HUGE.

I described ourselves as a group of "morners" for obvious reasons.

There had been drizzle and was still cloudy but heavy rain held off.

Muggy, of course, so our activity was at a slow pace as angles were considered and results planned.

 My camera is called a Point & Shoot and usually manages to take shots where EVERYTHING is sharp.

Today I wanted results with a shallow DOF (Depth of Field).

A standard DSLR can do this easily but I had to "fool" my camera into keeping the foreground sharp while letting all else become blurred.

Being cloudy - and less bright - I did not have to use any dark filters to let me open the lens much wider.

My camera has an f/2.0 settting so I balanced all that extra light with a low film speed (ISO).

Also used a faster shutter speed (1/600th of a second) to achieve the relatively shallow area that would be in sharpest focus.

Sorry this is getting technical but fellow photo group members always ask about things like this so we all can learn and advance.

You're getting this as a bonus!
 As I've noticed before, photographers get very intent on capturing an image they envision in their head and ignore things like sitting on wet grass.

Sometimes, even nearby alligators. Yikes.

This NOT a good idea.

(There was a sign posted warning there might be 'gators around but I didn't see any.)

On past field trips snakes and other critters have been seen.

Well, we ARE wandering in their area after all.

I could not resist using some of the new post-production tools
that let me alter the look.

This let's me change what was actually in front of my eyes.

The top picture of the flag - and the dead flowers - has been "aged" and given what is called a "mild grunge" appearance.

I felt it gave a more somber and respectful feeling to the image I shot.

The angle itself follows certain "rules" that lets your eye follow a defined "line."

Another is the "Rule of Thirds" which avoids putting thing in the center. Instead the attention is in a third of the picture.

OK, That's it for lectures today. Go have fun.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

No, that was NOT an original CSA flag.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

"Frankly, my dear, I do give a ........"

Joined some members of my Photography Group on a Photo Walk last night.

It was Third Thursday in Summerville and there was not a drop of rain. Well, not at my house <smile.>

I was driving, getting close to the main site and saw a group of people I recognized. They all were carrying cameras.

I parked and caught up with them. They were heading to Perfectly Frank's.

What a coincidence. That place was high on my DDD  list (Diners,Drive-Ins and Dives.)

Images were exchanged and viewed as digital cameras were passed around. The line was long at the Order Here counter but it moved quickly. Perky young ladies brought out the dogs and fries to the tables. A nice, comfortable crowd, mainly families.

Some of the pictures showed an earlier shower that had dumped a LOT of rain on Summerville.

Standing water. Flooding. Streams racing down streets.

Because I don't eat hot dogs I just engaged in interesting conversations. What a diverse gang!

They closed at 8:30 and we all left.

I drove a short distance, parked and headed into the Montreux Bar & Grill.

I'd been there before, after a Photo Shoot in Azalea Park with my group a few months ago.

This could be a good habit to get into.

(Click on the photos for details.)

Really? A bratwurst is considered a hot dog?

But, it's healthy...right?

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Monday, July 15, 2013

The Writing's On The Wall.....

I have not been to all of the Charleston places where the sign says "Guy Fieri Ate Here," but I'm working on it. The production company has a stencil they use to spray paint his "mark of approval" on the wall. Look for it.

Guy is the host of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" (Triple D or DDD).

My first stop was at Fuel for some Caribbean flavors.

The Chicken Jerk Sandwich did the trick and they are smart enough to include the 7-minute DDD segment on their website.


Yep, the stenciled sign was very visible.

I stop at Tattooed Moose pretty often.

Tasty pub grub and an array of craft beers.

Sort of the last "dive" bar outta downtown before you hop on I-26 to head home.

(Nearby Royal American though is another newcomer on the dive menu.)

This time I chose the Chicken Salad BLT.

Hmm, not showcasing any red meat.

Maybe I AM eating healthier?

No, that's a myth as I demonstrate on my next chicken meal,
Well, when they are as proud of this as they are, it drew me in.

Breakfast + lunch?

Fried chicken and toasty waffle.

Syrup leaking over everything and a cuppa hot Joe.

A friend had seen the sign and asked if it were diced chicken added to the waffle batter?

Not exactly.

Real fried chicken placed next to a golden waffle.
As a native, I tend to favor seafood.

Fish, scallops, shrimp and grits and plates like that.

It appears I was on a "Chicken Kick."

At home, lately, I'm preparing a large spinach salad, which sounds good for you.

But then, I add tomatoes, a sliced boiled egg, garlicky croutons, shredded cheddar, a Greek Vinaigrette salad dressing and fresh ground pepper. Ahhh.

But, you don't see Guy Fieri's mug in places that serve spinach salads.

The "Moose" has it sprayed on one of the doors of the iconic wooden coolers. Very cool.

I still have not looked for the stencil signature at Glass Onion, although I've been there but didn't know it was on the list of local places where Guy had taped shows.

I also have not been to Summerville to check out Perfectly Frank's, a Cuda family tradition, and a true hot dog joint.

They too were wise to include their segment on DDD on their web page.

Willing to bet the stencil is not hidden away in a dark corner.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

If there are other places around town where Guy has kidded with the chef and chatted with the smiling customers, I hope someone tells me.

The DDD guy has an interesting spiked hair style.

Wonder how I would look?

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

You have to walk the plants & water the dog...

A buddy called to say he's "house-sitting" for a friend at the beach.

He invited me to come see this awesome place with fantastic marsh views.

I brought my camera gear because he added it offers a beautiful sunrise too.

Well, as it happens when you have a beer or two, the old clock on the wall eventually said it was 2:00 am.

When I awoke around 10:00 am, the sun had risen hours before. I bet it WAS beautiful.

I had my camera on my tripod so I focused instead on the magnificent views of the marsh.

I noticed the clouds were scudding left to right at a pretty good clip.

Very quickly the blue sky would be gone.

Using ND (dark Neutral Density filters) to shoot in the bright light,  I was able to slow my shutter speed down to a long time open.

A 15-second exposure showed everything else stationary but the clouds were in motion. The blurring effect was very obvious and added drama to the photo.

Still have to get a sunrise at the beach.

Have to keep an eye on the time.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Sunsets happen later in the day.

And that's a good thing.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Shirts optional .....

Monday nights at The Sparrow near Park Circle offers various adventures.

They said they wanted to draw in a crowd on a "slow" weekday night and it works.

This is where a few months ago I saw a guy on stage have people attach dollar bills to his body.... with an industrial strength staple gun.

He didn't even flinch.

I did for him.

Went there last night to hear four (4) "rockabilly" bands. Or maybe it was "Gypsy" music?
Was supposed to start around 9pm but was closer to 10:00 before the first trio began the evening.

Saw a trend start early - men in the bands would take off their shirts and display their ink.

I was told all four groups were on the same label  and toured under the banner of Wayward Parade.

The sound and lights guy was asked to crank the volume up and lower the lights. Bad for my camera but my ear plugs made sure I enjoyed the sound.

Oh, another thing, the bands formed their own "mosh pit," bringing some of the instruments down into the swirling crowd. I missed the shot when a bandsman whizzed by on a unicycle. Didn't see that one coming.

I did watch the man playing his upright bass as he worked his way over to the door and then stepped outside - still playing.

I followed him out and caught a shot as he headed back in.

That one I could anticipate.

When the third band ended, I finished up my beer and was preparing to leave.

Cami Kind, the co-owner of The Sparrow, said "You're going to miss the headliner Tex Railer's Doomstown."

Looking at my watch, I saw it was only 12:30am, so I ordered another Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout.
Retired means you get to sleep in when you're out and about late.

A lot of the pictures I took were much too dark to reproduce.

Really too dark to even try.

The crowd shot in front of the stage is just barely passable and probably I'm the only one who can make out what's shown.

That's because I was there.

With my shirt on.

Did I mention The Sparrow serves its draft beers in a Mason jar?

I'll have to check and see if that's a proper pint.

When they opened about a year ago, City Paper detailed the menu of really good bar food.

Lots of meat and cheese.

And things deep-fried.

Tonight the interest was on the music.

And a beer or two.

I know this picture looks like a nude band but mainly only shirts were removed.

Well,  the drummer did add a scarf but he wore only shorts.

The guitar man is wearing light colored jeans, stuffed into his boots.

Nobody in this particular band had a visible tattoo.

That you could easily see.

In the dim light.

(Click on the pictures for more detail.)

At some of the venues I go to, the regulars don't even show up until 11:00 pm.

Saw two people come in here about 12:15.

They paid the $5 cover charge.

Thanks for hanging out till the wee hours.

Hope you can sleep in.

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Sunday, July 07, 2013

All The World's A Stage.....

One of my favorite Blues venues here is Home Team BBQ. 

Pretty good 'cue and some really good Blues shows on its small stage.

Arrived a bit early on a Friday night and families still were finishing up their tasty fare - small kids running around - and we noted the Deb Callahan Band - due to start at 9pm - had not set up yet, no sound check, etc. 

BUT, I did find a swell seat at the bar. Then I looked at the stage.

" Wow."  Grabbed my camera for a few fast shots and then, only moments later, guys were hauling away the added dining setups.

I have had lunch there before and the stage was bare but I had not seen the use-all-the-space-efficiently concept before. 

Maybe it's done on weekends when the crowd is larger? 

I'm usually there for a 10:00pm or 11:00pm show and the kitchen is cold.

After the sound check, the band started with two upbeat songs then brought onstage the leader of the band. 

Yes, Miss Debbie Callahan has red hair. And green eyes. She's a lovely lassie.

I talked to her during the break and said I last had seen her at the A Dough Re Mi during a Blues Fest.

"Yes, that was a strange room - but comfortable," Deb said.  "Good sound and good pizza. Sorta like here."

They don't have pies on the menu at Fiery Ron's Home Team but I knew what she meant. 

The Philly band is Tom Walling on drums, bassist Garry Lee and guitar by Allen James.

Deb has been described as "a shouter, a crooner and a soul-belter." 

She showed all of that Friday night.

One of her albums sure to be popular here is "Grace & Grit." Hmm, but we tend to think of grits as plural.

Speaking of former venues, I miss "The Dough" where I saw a ton of performers, along with a slice of pep.

And another old favorite was "The Map Room." And "Mistral" on the Market. Across from the old "Chef & Clef."

And Gary Erwin's annual Blues Bash. C'mon Shrimp City Slim, we need that February musical fix.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Always strange to see small children wandering through a Blues performance. 

At least they were there with their parents.

A good learning curve.

Start 'em young.

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