Day 12 – Still ‘togging

In case you had forgotten, I’m still sharing a photo each day of the lockdown.

You can see them here.

Today’s image is from an impromptu sesh yesterday afternoon, once the kids had finished their schoolwork and I had done the washing and cleaned the house.
I’m writing this post yesterday evening, and I’ve set it to publish a couple of hours later than usual today so that I can upload the image to Flickr tomorrow this morning so that you can see it when you’re reading this. (The Flickr one is different to the one below.)

We (the kids and I) played with some oil and water photography: a flat-bottomed dish suspended by some books (and a couple of cartons of UHT milk) above an iPad with some bright images on it. I reckon I got three half decent(ish) shots, post-editing, one of which I’ll pop into the album linked to above, and the other two I’ll at least stick onto Flickr if only to see how much better I get when (if) I try this sort of thing again.

All in all, it was a reasonable success: and another hour of lockdown boredom killed before some Minecraft (the boy wonder), a class Zoom call (the girl wonder) and some exercise in the drizzle for me.

As far as entertainment goes, it was completely immiscible.

Starlink photos?

Let’s cut to the chase. This didn’t happen. But it wasn’t for want of trying.

Here’s what I was up against.

First off, here is the visible sky from Chez 6000 last night. And those teeny tiny red dots right at the very bottom demonstrate the path of the Starlink train. They are very, very close to the horizon.

And it wasn’t even dark. Not even close. Here’s a 4 second exposure of that bit of the sky at that time:

The foreground is out of focus because it’s close to the camera and the satellites are a long way away. The likelihood is that those satellites are actually in this image, but sadly, they were far too dim and the sky far too bright to even dream of seeing them.

I did hang around outside and hope for something… anything. And sunset was pretty, if unremarkable (#noRBOSS).

But there were no satellites.

There are no viable Starlink passes predicted over Cape Town for the foreseeable future. I’ll obviously be revisiting this project at some point when they return.

Rage against the dying of the leaf

…with apologies to Dylan Thomas.

I was out in the garden yesterday, when suddenly, the light – already beautifully muted by the smoke from the fire in Paarl – caught this dying leaf on the Fatsia japonica. This photo needed to be taken, and once taken, needed to be placed into a square crop.

I did the biz:

Bit of a messy background – a smaller f-stop would have helped with that. That said, I was already on f/2.8. And I only had 30 seconds to run in, grab the camera and get the shot before the light was gone. First, get the shot, then make it pretty.

It’s still a constant learning curve, and so next time, some of that 30 seconds will be spent knocking the f-stop down to f/1.8. I’ll know what I need to do before I press the button.

But considering how brief the time was from finding this shot to it not being there anymore, I quite like this one.

Staining slides

It’s been a really long time since I’ve done any microbiology. I do miss it.
I had a weird, brief flashback to the lab today. And then, coincidentally, I chanced upon this photo:

Even now, I can tell you exactly what is going on here. You don’t stain TB for several (or more) years and just forget how to do it.

I’d be able to do so much more with this photo these days, though. This was 10½ years and four cameras (and a whole lot of experience) ago.

If anyone out there needs photos taken of some slides being stained (or any other biomedical technique), please just give me a shout. Nice guy, reasonable rates.

Best photos 2019

It’s mid-December and I’m beginning to write a few posts for the upcoming weeks in order that I don’t have to write a few posts during the upcoming weeks. Bloggers need a break too, you know.

I watched this video today: a comparison of golf and photography, which (eventually, excruciatingly) gets around to the point that much as you don’t have to break a course record each time to play a round of golf to enjoy your day, neither do you have to manage to get amazing photos each time you take your camera out.

Be realistic. Manage your expectations. Concentrate on getting the basics right. Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Have fun smashing the ball around the course, never mind if you don’t hit the green every time. Enjoy getting out and about taking photos, and worry less about the results. Learn from your mistakes.

It’s all good advice.

I’ve taken over 12,000 photographs this year. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations, and I make that over 1,000 each month. And this month hasn’t even finished yet. The vast majority of those were for a work project, and I’m pretty happy with the way that things worked out there. But maybe only around 120 of those were real top-notch “keepers”.
I’ve been doing some rudi… ag… look, it’s about 1%.

The joy of digital photography is that you can go and shoot almost limitless numbers of images in the hunt for that 1% or that 120. Had I not been a) traveling and b) often under time pressure, I’d like to think that I might have managed the same number of good shots (or even more) from a much smaller overall total. There are different ways of getting a reasonable amount of decent photos and this high volume approach suited my needs for this project. Incidentally, if I did the same project again, I’d also probably manage a better ratio: it was a steep learning curve.

As for Flickr, I uploaded “just” 143 images this year, against my overall average of 630. 35 of that 143 were from our Karoo road trip and 17 of them were from the above mentioned work project, meaning that just 91 (64%) of them were from “non-specific” occasions.

And of them all, I can count just 10 that I think are really good. Not worldbeaters, not course records, but just decent images that I am properly happy with. 10 out of 143 out of 12,175.

Sadly, very few of that 10 can be used as easy blog fodder over the festive period, because I have already shared them because I liked them so much. Which leaves me the choice of about 133 mediocre images to put on here until whenever I start “properly”blogging again.

Lucky you.