December 27, 2011

Photo of the day: 109

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 8:36 pm

I was out early Christmas morning, while waiting for rolls and teenagers to rise. Delicate frost–breathing on it was enough to chase your subject away.

Where the sun was hitting straight on, the frost was melting first. Same reason it’s hotter in the summer, of course.

Same principle works on the leaves.

Nice blues/grays/whites.

Lucky sun flare across the little pond, which is filling back up these days.

I’m ready to ship the jeweler’s workbench to my friend Janet tomorrow. She doesn’t want it quite yet–still in the midst of a dire remodel–so I’ve been able to obsess happily on the spacing of the drawer fronts. I’ve employed a feeler gauge…had the whole thing apart a dozen times to make a three-thousandth adjustment here or there…your eye can see that much difference. Three hundredths is a thirty-second of an inch, three thousandths is a tenth of that.

It’s made of quarter-sawn sycamore, sawn by my friend Jim Walsh on his frontyard bandsaw mill. I bought it a year ago on a day when I needed only one little walnut board to finish a project. First he filled up my truck with walnut, then he found a piece of boxwood I’d asked him to look out for, then he mentioned some persimmon, which is like box in its weight and turning qualities, then we tripped over a stack of sycamore he couldn’t figure out what to do with–some of it with that basketweave pattern you can see in these photos, especially on the top boards. I’ve never come home yet without a full pickup load. I sticker it in our barn to wait for a project. I’m using up the last of the walnut on a hutch for Bruce and Janet, and about half of the sycamore went into this workbench.

That one piece on the front of the top, which keeps beads from rolling off, is cherry. It’ll darken nicely over the next couple of years to make a contrast. I think the sycamore isn’t going to get much more amber than this. It was pretty white before the oil went on. The three drawer fronts are cut from one wide board, so you can see the grain travel across them.

A slide on each side pulls out for Janet to rest her elbows on when she’s working closely. The bench goes on top of another table, and the artist sits at a stool.

I used a sliding dovetail to attach the drawer fronts to the sides. Hadn’t done that before. It was a little easier than half-blind dovetails, but I found a way to make it plenty finicky. It’s a good way to go if you need space for drawer slides. The three drawers should hold lots and lots of jewelry makings.

December 24, 2011

Photo of the day: 108

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 8:03 pm

Took some photos this morning while the orange rolls were rising. Kind of Christmasy.

The leaves in their last days are like jewels. The silvery light is bounce off a little pool of rainwater.

A lattice of missing leaf.

A blast of sideways light, a crayon box of bokeh.

The yellows/oranges/browns of these big leaves gets better every day.

A little green still out there.

I’m going to miss all of this purple and teal when spring comes back. I had no idea how colorful the onset of winter was going to be. By the way, Jeanne says that if you want to mix up some of that teal, you lay down a gob of French ultramarine and wave a whiff of new gamboge over it.

Deeper focus, more leaves.

Somehow blue is showing up in these leaves now.

And they’re growing age spots and breaking in half.

Ice crystals, too.

Yellow berries and another sweetly subtle backdrop.

Way way past their prime, but still got some panache.

This was the second batch of orange rolls this Christmas season. I made a trial batch so Mike could have some before he left for Sault Ste Marie. I might make one more round tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

December 14, 2011

Photo of the day: 107

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 2:31 pm

I haven’t been taking photos lately. The shop’s been occupying me…and it’s a little gray out there, though the excuse that there’s just nothing new and pretty to photograph is exactly the idea I spent the fall trying to pound a stake through. On my way somewhere else this morning, I noticed a little light bounce off the innards of the piano…

…which then led my eye out the front window, the site of so many pajama-and-slipper shoots of the last few months. It was dark enough at 10 AM that the twilight sensor on our snowman/penguin display was fooled, and I was up for some heptagonal bokeh. You can make out the shape of Frosty behind the plant.

It’s getting so I can’t watch a television show anymore without being drawn to the light bokeh in so many scenes. Was this always there and I just didn’t notice? There are some shows I watch now only to see what the cinematographer is up to.

It’s almost like the subject is there only to frame (or reverse-frame, I suppose) the background. That light streaming in from upper left, that fade from indigo to watery aqua upper right, the repeated motif of golden shards…

I guess all photographs are really about light…this one seems to be only about light…

A crosshatch of dark and light, with Frosty adding a note of smeared unseriousness.

Where in the world does this one new red bud come from on December the 14th?

December 12, 2011

Photo of the day: 106 (Kenya)

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 8:38 pm

Just over a year ago I visited Kenya for the first time. I spent most of the day I took this photo in Robert Adie’s side yard, with his chickens, his neighbors, and a sensational 50mm f1.4 lens I was about to fall in love with.

This was the first time I took seriously what a bunch of out-of-focus blobby stuff could do  for you compositionally. The chickens were charming, too.

And this was my first sighting of a kid that would soon occupy hundreds of frames on my backup drive. Both his caregiver and that wall are pretty neat, too.

This is Robert Adie his very self, teaching me how to use a funnel woven out of grass to press oil or syrup.

When Robert came around the corner into his side yard and saw me sitting on an upturned bucket taking close-ups of his chickens, he said, “Ah, Paul Davis, you’re seeing things in a new way.”

I love her soapy hands. This was the sole shot in a long series in which she wasn’t smiling at me quizically, as if to say, “I’m only doing the dishes.”

Love his skin…and those eyes.

For this shot I’ve left Nairobi, inland at 6000 feet, for Mombasa, on the Indian Ocean and a whole lot hotter. Ageless eyes in a very young girl.

Sitting on the same steps a little later, Bunda Chibwe and the ten-year-old who would be the star singer at church the next day. Love their hands.

Moving on from Mombasa to Kisumu, other side of the country. Lunchtime on the grass.

Girl sheltering on mom.

Girl carrying brother to mom.

December 6, 2011

Photo of the day: 105

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:34 pm

Sunrise on December 1 over the ridge to the east of our valley. This ridge is the first place I look every morning when I get up. In the winter the trees go stark and reaching.

Larger slice of the sky with the 50 mm. The first was with the 100…but the whole sky was glowing, and I wanted more.

Sunset, same day. It was a good day to be watching the sky. Also the last day it was almost warm enough to sit on our back steps to watch the whole show.

The clouds had two layers going on–cotton balls and cotton candy.

First snow of the winter this morning.

After taking these photos I went out to the shop to put the last touches on a jeweler’s workbench for my friend Janet. I discovered I needed a small tool from the hardware, so I hopped in my truck. It was a little slick, but I made it up the big hill. After turning on Pryor I came upon some traffic cones. Their meaning was ambiguous, but I guessed accident at the sharp curve at the bottom of the hill, and I turned around and found a place to park. Seemed like a great excuse for a snowy hike.

When I got back to the bottom of the hill on foot, I saw that a moving truck had been pulling out of a driveway as a car approached. The car had slid on the new snow and gone under the truck, probably at less than five miles per hour. The airbag hadn’t popped, but the hood of the car, the top of the engine, the A-pillars, and the windshield were all peeled back. The driver was standing by the car talking on her cell phone, excited to be alive. The moving guys drank their coffee and waited for a tow truck to extract the car.

At the hardware I bought my small tool and two pints of finish, then walked over to the grocery to pick up the goods for a lasagne recipe I’ve been wanting to try. Now I had a couple of hilly miles back to my car with thirty pounds of stuff in four thin bags. No, I didn’t forget that I was on foot.

I got back to the moving truck just as it drove away. The peeled car was about to be loaded on the tow truck. I nodded to the same policemen I’d nodded to on the outbound.

As I reached the top of the hill and my parked truck, all of the traffic that had been waiting came by. It was one of those days that having a car slowed you down.

In the afternoon I dug through my lumber piles for the last of the walnut I had milled in Boise in 1992. It’s leaning upright and stacked on benches all over the shop now, waiting to be picked for legs, tops, sides, door rails and stiles, and raised panels for two more pieces for Janet and Bruce–a hutch and a steamer chest. I won’t have to move that tree again.

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