July 31, 2011

Photo of the day: 050

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 4:56 pm

I’m having a hard time getting bugs to stand still for me in the heat of the summer. By the time it’s light enough to shoot, it’s already warm enough that they’re not cold and slow. This was a lucky shot–she was darting from stalk to stalk, and I just had time to find manual focus from 8 inches away. She’s got a little dew on her back still.

This little guy was scrambing around the bloom like mad. I threw away 40 shots to get one in focus. Now that I think of it, I was also scrambling around the bloom–must look pretty funny to see me hunched over and dancing around a tiny flower.

Evening walk. This is about how far I usually fall behind. Mabel stayed with me, then we took a short cut across the field.

Two months ago I was shooting these same leaves in full luscious green health. The leaves, not me.

I mowed our lawn yesterday, because this is how tall the clover was in it.

Jim and Madelyn still have flowers in their garden. How are they doing it?

July 30, 2011

Photo of the day: 049

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 7:49 pm

We got home from Spec in Lamoni last night. Mabel had dug a foxhole under our porch to try to keep cool. It was time for a bath. She didn’t think so.

“This wouldn’t be happening if I’d stayed at the pound.”

“You get that my ear is on inside out, right?”

“Great, the neighbor dogs are watching. Hank’s going to be all over this.”

“Let me share this rinse cycle with you, my friend.”

“I need some goose poop to roll in, and I need it now.”

July 29, 2011

Photo of the day: 048

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:57 am

Jeanne and I are at Leadership, Arts, and Sports Spectacular in Lamoni, Iowa. Jeanne has been teaching watercolor all week. I was holding down the dog at home until Wednesday, then came up. As soon as Jeanne finishes teaching in the mornings, she zips across the hall in the arts building to the ceramics room, then spends the rest of the day there throwing pots and soaking up the spun wisdom of the potters.

This photo is not in fact Jeanne, but her brother Tom, or at least his hands, pulling up the sides of the pot he’s working on. He’s gotten very good at this. In the background is one of the students, over his own wheel.

That’s Jeanne in the far hazy background, perched on a desk during her class.

And this is Gail , Tom’s wife, teaching her class on stone carving. I appreciate a woman who looks natural with a pneumatic disc grinder tucked under her arm.

I followed Tom from the first centering of this vessel to the last scraping.

One of Jeanne’s students, rapt.

Stone carvers in a row. That’s Tom in the hat at the end.

Tom, beginning to open up the vessel. (I’m leaving out some shots along the way.)

I’m always a sucker for fingernails and a ring that pick up the colors in the palette.


Deepening the vessel. The whole thing strikes me as a magic act. I can make round stuff on a lathe, but it’s purely an extraction process–you start with a nice solid object, affix it firmly to the lathe, lever the cutting tool against the object, and watch the part you don’t want to keep disappear to reveal the part you do want to keep. There is a level of remove–it is more that you watch the cutting tool work in partnership with the wood, than that you “make the bowl.” Watching Tom wrist deep in clay–as much water as dirt, its insolidity essential to the process–his hands secured in their calmness and precision only by his own tendons and muscles, I see him conjure the bowl out of the air, or earth, or the cosmos–it seems to rise into being of its own accord…but “it” must be understood to be both Tom and bowl–he is fully present in the vessel’s rising into being–you can’t distinguish which part is his hands and which part is the mud as “it” comes into being, and even after he takes his hands away and the bowl goes into the oven, that is still true.

More hands conjuring in creation.

You can see Tom’s right index finger moving clay skyward, crawling up the side of the bowl. His left hand presses outward from the inside of the vessel.

Jeanne’s hands helping a student, who watches closely.

Tom cleaning up the inside of the vessel with a scraper. After this he will pass a wire under the bowl to free it from the wheel, let it dry for a bit, then trim the bottom. I don’t have photos after this in the process, but I’ll see what I can get today.

July 26, 2011

Photo of the day: 047

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:35 pm

I woke to a low fog in our valley. With the heat, I knew it would burn off in the time it takes to put on shoes, so I didn’t.  In this photo, the sun is a few minutes from coming over the ridge in the far background, but sunlight is already refracting through the fog to backlight the clover, and the mist has left its fine droplets, and I’ve laid down in the driveway to get the shot. Also, you’ve got the three ages of clover on one stalk. So there you have it.

The grass really is greener on the neighbor’s side of the fence. This is a fence that was straight in both directions when we moved in, but boys hopping it to fetch baseballs, footballs, and frisbees has made it into a fence I like. And, our horse piled into it a few times before we ran electric tape around it. There’s that fog again.

Little misties everywhere.

In honor of the ten-thousandth day above 140 degrees in Kansas City, I invoked ice.

And cold drinks.

This was lit by a single bulb on the right side of the glass, in an otherwise dark room. Therefore, those highlights on the left must have arrived through the glass and its contents.

Behind our barn, in the spot that doesn’t get mowed, because that’s where I throw the mulch/bonfire brush/broken porch swing.

Totally love those green pinstripes.

July 24, 2011

Photo of the day: 046

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 4:54 pm

On my early morning ramble I was surprised by clouds, then tiny drops of rain, blown five or six miles from the dark sky to the northwest. Since we moved from the west coast to Kansas City six years ago, I’ve been unhinged by big rain storms. Our golden retriever, Millie, was so afraid of thunder that she would pancake under our bed as far as she could, with only her rump left in the room. Our house leaked whenever the rain came hard from the west. Millie doesn’t live with us anymore, and the leaks are fixed, but I still quiver when storms gather. This morning was different. Aware that our lawns and trees and collective midwestern psyches all need rain badly, I was able to experience the hard rain, when it came, as blessing. Mabel, who isn’t psychotic about rain, and I, perhaps a recovering psychotic, stood out in it.

Sunlight coming over the ridge lit up the gathering clouds.

Before we came back inside, I picked up a couple of leaves that had been toasted and munched to an early autumn by the heat.

I was shooting back out through our front window, so this is mildly backlit, with the shrubbery adding some nicely muted colors.

July 23, 2011

Photo of the day: 045

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:12 pm

I’m going to alarm my friends today by posting only 3x the limit for the photo of the day. I hope that my having chartered a plane to do a fly-by on these islands will make up for it.

Astonishing sunset over field of poppies.

Julie walked into the kitchen just as I was set up to take those two pictures above. The light was bouncing sweetly off the countertop, so I took a shot. Naturally, I then took twenty more, but this was the first, and best, as is so strangely often the case.

July 22, 2011

Photo of the day: 044

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 3:10 pm

Last night, light not really that golden, more like smoldering. My thermometer reads 104 in the shade right now. When I finished my ride this morning it was 102, and felt like it. 27 hilly miles, many of them on the prettiest road I’ve found around here: Blue River Road. A tunnel of trees, easy rollers, didn’t pass a single car in either direction in an hour.

Found this spider early this morning, waiting for me to walk into her web so she could run out, wrap me in webbing, and save me for a really big party.

Every flower outside has been reduced to its skeleton by days and days of  blistering heat.

So I’ll photograph their carcasses.

Here’s a tiny spot of color. And the south end of an ant.

Even in the heat, life goes on. Seeds waiting for transport.

These are tiny, but not totally smoked…

…like this one. Still, she retains her dignity.

I featured this same bloom when she was in her lavender prime.

They can still dance.

July 21, 2011

Photo of the day: 043

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 5:03 pm

I’ve been in a bit of a drought the last two days. Everything outside my door seems withered, sun-blasted. I’ve come up with only a few images that seemed to have anything going on…mostly I just walked around, early and late, with my camera in hand, surveying what was not. So I didn’t post yesterday: “If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it.”

As I came out of our drive yesterday morning at 6, I could see a man standing in the middle of the road a block away, arms folded in what could have been thought. I didn’t recognize him. I wanted to line him up for a shot down the lane toward the sun without drawing his attention, but it was awfully quiet…I figured I would get only one shutter release. Just as I got ready to snap it, two bucks came out of the woods and crossed the road only a few feet in front of him. He didn’t twitch. He was waiting for a concrete truck.

I don’t think I would have noticed the grasshopper if her antennae hadn’t twitched. It appears she has yet another bug on her leg.

I just like the muted colors in the background, with her interjected legs akimbo.

This little green lady was even more camoed–never would have seen her without her big sister tipping me.

July 19, 2011

Photo of the day: 042

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:17 pm

Got into KC late from Seattle last night, didn’t get out with my camera in the early morning, didn’t get out until the golden light was almost gone this evening. I was going to try something arty with the acute light coming through Jim and Madelyn’s ornamental grasses, when Mabel came bounding from our front porch to join me. Turns out she is more of a photo dog than a hunting dog.

These blooms in Mike’s yard across the street are getting along in years, but still backlight alright.

Alright, one sort of arty, Mabel-free grass shot.

Backlit ducks reflecting backlittedly on the pond just the other side of Jim and Madelyn’s.

Tried to coax the light through this dense pod.

A little more open.

This is what has become of Jim and Madelyn’s yucca, the last couple of weeks.

July 18, 2011

Photo of the day: 041

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 5:36 pm

Yesterday morning we took a little hike around Padden Lake in Bellingham. For me these days “hiking” means walking sporadically while taking photos frequently. So I’m always running after Jeanne, who has a more kinetic sense of the word (I used to be the one who couldn’t be bothered to stop for scenery/potty breaks/medical emergencies). These four ladies were watching a Greek worship service at the lake, and I wanted to take their photo without alerting them to the fact. I had on a long enough lens, but Jeanne happened to pause between them and me. I texted her: “Move.”  With no point of reference for the request, and without taking on a thimbleful of umbrage, she did.

A path through trees is a reliable compositional device.

Leany trees are even better.

The sort of stuff I stop for when “hiking.” I’m getting faster at taking the shot…to minimize the running after I have to do.

A big tree tipped over recently.

If you like moss and slugs, you love Bellingham.

Not the best pixels ever arranged in the shape of a duck, but I got only one chance.

The fog finally lifted, sort of, at dinner time. The ridge across the valley always has some mongrel weather going on.

This morning the fog was peasoupy again, diffusing the light sweetly and potting its little cat’s-feet droplets all about.

A spot of color through the gray mist. Lichens grow on even the youngsters here.

The grand portal to my aunt/uncle/mom/dad’s house.

Just as I surrendered to the fog and headed back in, I passed a tiny spiderweb pointillating in the mist.

The web was billowing in the breeze, knotting my depth-of-field knickers. I had a sixteenth of an inch to give…the web was curving two inches. If you can find one droplet in focus, be happy.

If you could look closely enough, if the photog were better at focusing, and if you had a good imagination, you might discover that every droplet is lensing my aunt/uncle/mom/dad’s house behind it.

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