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Monday, December 29, 2008

A Reflection

It's been nice, this past week. Naturally, I'm on break. Having some time to myself is a nice change. Even though I've had more time on my hands, though, it still feels like that I've gotten less done, that time has passed faster. Funny, how it works. Not having rigid schedules that dictate what you have to get done when tend to make time wander away. There are still several deadlines that must be met before classes begin, so I've not been doing nothing. Nonetheless, and I quote, "hours feel like minutes and days like hours." Having work to do but so much time to do it in, productivity quickly takes a tumble down the priority ladder. By the time I look up from whatever I'm doing, it's already one in the morning. Day after day passes, every one very much alike. I suppose pressure boots efficiency, but still.

I know I haven't been updating recently, and I've already missed three or four Skywatches without noticing. But never fear, I'll be back.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Madrigal Dinner

This weekend's madrigal dinner was also my last. We sang, feasted, and Renaissance-d away our past few days in several great performances (with an exception or two). It was held in our high-school cafeteria this year, unfortunately, but the audience and other atmosphere more than compensated. I did spend much of the first day feeling rather ill, though.



I also learned that:
-Volumious sleeves don't work well during meals.
-The audience can tell when nearly all members of an ensemble don't know their music.
-Singing after stuffing oneself with food is a bad idea.
-Wearing pants under one's costume gives one the handiness of pockets, but
-Reaching up one's skirt is only an option if others' views of one are blocked.

Good times.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Dicken's Christmas

Every year, as the holidays approach, our town holds a festival downtown. During the busier hours, the streets are bustling and graced with lights. The atmosphere is crisp and cold (but not this year; it was freezing), snow falls, and occasionally the sound of bells or hooves can be heard. It's really quite picturesque.


Now, I've been for a while part of a madrigal group that comes down here to carol every year. We set up shop in a local business that's graciously let us use their building, sing some traditional music, and it's terrific fun. I unfortunately have no pictures of us to share- can't take 'em if we ourselves are performing.

Usually small ensembles of instrumentalists, our fellow students, also play in a shop down the block. I dropped by to listen to them today (or yesterday, rather), and... well. I'm jealous.
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Until next time-

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Skywatch & More Snow!

Pardon another old photo- I needed this, as colorful sunsets are becoming rarer as the days grow longer. Just last week we had sky nearly as clear and beautiful- it quite reminded me of this sunset, so I brought this out. It was quite a sight in person. Unfortuantely, it didn't all fit into one frame, and so has been hastily and rather badly stitched together.

Anyhow, we are well on our way into winter. It's always held some sort of charm for me, especially right after snowstorms when the trees are still coated in white (people often say that infrared photographs remind them of snow-covered branches; I find snow-covered trees more interesting because they resemble infrared ones). Earlier this week
we had some fresh snow. It came in gloriously fat, wet flakes that clung to every surface for days.
Snow also has the advantage of being highly reflective. This is not so great during the day, but at night, especially clear, moonlit nights, it practically glows. So recently I've taken to setting up night shots. Both forest photos in this post are long exposures taken at night.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Winter's Arrival

This sky shot is actually from last year, but perhaps a little earlier in the year. Winter has been coming on and it has been a while since we've seen the clouds in this kind of splendour.

We had snow about a week ago- the first real snowfall, not the palsy stuff that dusts the ground and melts in a couple of hours, but enough to shovel. I actually bundled up, siezed my camera, and trekked the neighborhood.

There was a good good bit of excitement over this, but to no avail. In a few days it became a good part slush, and by now it's mostly frozen slush. I'm not going to lie, but slush is really not as great a subject as snow (not to mention wetter, messier, less interesting, and a with greater tendency to produce nasty slopping noises when stepped on), and ice is really just a pain (unless it gets classes cancelled).



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spontaneous Setup

There are ways to create (functional) makeshift photo studios indoors. The key is experimentation, otherwise known as trial and error, and simply using whatever you may happen to have on hand. I thought I'd share what I did recently. I needed to shoot portraits, or, rather, I needed one shot of me (not a good idea). Evidently, humans are not my usual subject, but hey. You live and you learn.


As the background was large, unmoveable, in a slightly awkward position/location, and simply not suited to being a backdrop, everything had to be set up around it. Portable, flexible-necked lamps with translucent shades are particularly useful. I normally prefer to simply hand-hold cameras, but in this case it was really not possible. That may sound obvious, but as setup and adjustments took so long, the benefits of using a tripod outweighed the adaptibility of going handheld. Sheet-draped surfaces work wonderfully for backdrops as well. Those large, folded cardboard presentation boards are great. Fortunately, I had help and did not have to rely on selftimer this time...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Twilight

As you may be aware, it's Twilight day.

Now, there are two primary types of people, it seems- those that think that Twilight is shallow, and then there are the rabid, drooling fangirls. I believe I can safely ascertain that I belong to neither. Let's call this being a reluctant appreciator of the story. For some time, I'd been seeing people, many of whom I had never before seen with a book in their hands, buried in the Twilight series. As the number increased exponentially, it became evident something had to be drawing all these readers in.

One can infer much about any given piece of pop culture based solely on its fanbase. The fact that nearly all Twilight readers, as far as I could tell, were teenage girls, made me yet more resolute in resisting (Overlooking the fact that I technically do demographically fit under abovementioned category). Anything like that must be superficial, silly, and a bit self-indulgent. But alas, I eventually succumbed. I have to admit that I don't regret having caved in. Obsessed, no. But addicted? Well... yes. I recognize that the later books and the film are catering very much to the fanbase, to appeal to the masses. I don't usually latch on to blind crowd-following, so it shouldn't be some sort of terrible vice if I do it. Once, that is.

So today I went to see the movie. Before we turned into the theater from the street it was already evident that the size of the crowd was going to be just as ridiculous as predicted. Inside, it was packed nearly from wall to wall. There was a slightly disturbing amount of squealing and screaming going on, and even the normal levels of anticipation in the atmosphere was palpable. Fortunately, the film turned out to be much like the books, so I walked out without being disappointed. Many a decent book has been ruined by its film adaptation, but here's an exception.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Many Thanks

... To lindabutterfly and auntcindysattic for including my maple (25 Sep 08) and storm (15 Nov 08) prints, respectively, in their Etsy Treasuries.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

November

I looked out the window today, and received something of a shock. Autumn has come and gone in the blink of an eye. November, it feels, came long ago, but only within the past week or so has it actually begun to feel like November. The weather is miserable- it's cold and wet, and the next week is likely to see a mix of snow, rain, and the like. The sky is almost perpetually a dreary blanket of steely grey that casts a watery light over everything. The sun showed itself a bit today, though. The trees are bare, and straggling lines of geese can be seen winging across the sky. Usually I welcome the start of cold weather, but it feels a bit different this year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

!!!

So election results are out.

That's right. Here's that beautiful American democracy at work. Just look at it.

Moving and appropiate speeches from both candidates tonight. For once, both people running are not only capable but decent.

And moving to other, more trivial matters- I must now forgo my sleep to do this (at left). Yeah, I'm a nerd. But not that much of a nerd. I actually have to do this.

Edit: Take a look at this article. It says everything I'd like to say (there's a point when everyone needs to stop gloating, moping, or nursing a grudge, whatever the election results caused), but it's much better worded, of course.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Coda: State Finals


It is the fateful November 1st- Mt. Pleasant marching band heads to Ford Field, Detroit for MCBA state finals. An instrument breaks in the morning. A moment of triumph- a glorious sunrise behind us as we rehearse ("You made the sun rise... If that's not General Effect, I don't know what is."). Then we run behind schedule. Pieces of instruments go missing. Miscommunication. We arrive, unload, warm up, and wait. And then we play.

We came into finals fourth in the state for a school our size, and exited holding the same position. This is something we are not only satisfied but very, very happy about. The three above us are always the top three, and have massive bands of 100 to 200 members- we have 79. We also scored the highest we have in eight years: 79.35.

Seventy-nine. Point. Three-five.

The season is at its close. Thank you, marching band. We love you. Ladies and gentlemen, that was a beautiful day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

But Wait, There is More

That's right. We're too cool to be the marching band. We're the marchin' band. (Tho' we're on the verge of becoming a bazd.) The tower does not lie.

More, I say- marching band is not yet over. Today we had terrific fun playing at the last home football game, but this time it really is the last. The weather was spectacular- not freezing or raining, for a change. A video will be posted as soon as I can force it to upload. Meanwhile:


Instrument sharing abounds; playing in the stands.


Edit: At long last, I've uploaded a fight song during the game.

video

Here is also a three-minute recording (batteries were running out) of a run-through during our rehearsal (this one known affectionately as the shirtless run-through). It's not a terribly good video, I'm afraid, it doesn't include the best parts of the show, and the angle is quite limited. The camera was sitting on my keyboard, so at least one of my instruments is audible, for a change.

video

Click here for another great video of the Friday performance. It's the best recording I've seen yet.

Monday, October 27, 2008

At the End of the Day

For the past several months marching band has been devouring all my time. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, because despite all the exhaustion, they've been some of the best I've experienced. How I wished I had joined earlier. (We rehearse in all weathers, don't use flashy visual props, are consisted entirely of voluntary members, and we get to play rock music. Of course we're awesome.) Unfortunately, the end of the season is in sight, as state finals are this upcoming weekend. It's been a spectacular year.

Here are some snapshots from the past few weeks:


Playing at the last(?) football game.

Happy band members after a competition; marching back to the bus.


Lifesavers; an armful of trophies.

We've also scored quite well as of late; at this point we're ranked fourth in the state for our flight. As for finals, we're on last this year. It's a good feeling, I tell you.

Belding 54.85
Atwood-Flushing 63.60
Clarkston 71.05
West Bloomfield 74.00
Plymouth-Canton 70.35
Huron Valley 74.70

And finally, a video of a game several weeks ago- the only thing I did not take. For some reason it focuses more on the pit than everyone else (will you look at that- my section is sadly lacking in discipline- though that's no surprise, is it ...?). But then again, I'm not complaining, because I'm in pit.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Elections (Are You Serious?)

Really. I'm voting-underage by one year. One. And subsequently missing what possibly might be the most important election of our lifetimes. As if that weren't enough, some people who are voting understand even less of the issues involved than some of the people who can't.

[/end non-partisan portion]

The following is merely an expression of personal opinion. I am in no way attempting to persuade anyone. Kindly do not take personal offense.

Let's face it. Getting any side to view an issue without bias is impossible. But there are some things, that no matter how much they're distorted, must be true. Typically I try to be non-judgmental when it comes to politics, but sometimes, enough is enough. Even a child could have noticed that the Republican party has been in general more likely to issue more negative ads, more scathing personal attacks, more opponents' innocent remarks blown out of proportion, and just a greater number of, well, dirty tricks. It's not that democrats are completely blameless, or that I have something against republican supporters in general, but isn't it slightly ironic that those who advocate morals and values are the same ones being especially nasty to their opposition? This is not a phenomenon restricted to this year. Comb over past political disputes, and just look it all over for a minute. Please, people. Play fair, and everything will be fine.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Star-Spangled

First attempt at photographing the night sky:

30-second exposure, using a Nikon D40 and tripod. Now that is cool.

It was 11:30 and the temperature hovering barely above freezing, but the sky was clear. This was the best shot out of the two or three taken. (Focusing in the dark can be difficult.) Trying longer exposures would be amazing, but at the moment I haven't been able to set any past 30 seconds, not to mention the amount of noise involved...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Of Scarlet, Tangerine, and Gold

Ah, October.

It seems as if autumn has rather snuck up behind me. In previous years I've always gone out with a camera to capture the feel of the season, but I don't think I've done much of that yet this year.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And This is Why...

I know, I know. No posts for weeks, and none with good content when there are. I apologize for this lack of updates; for the past month I have not had any free time whatsoever, unless you count a few hours of sleep here and there- so I've made nothing new, and there is little to say about the little I've done. Exhaustion would be an appropiate adjective here. Once these few hectic months are over, I'll be back with some substance.

This is what has been eating up my time:

Top to bottom: endless homework; sectionals at marching band; college applications.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Free Shipping!

Because who doesn't love free shipping? I'm offering an end-of-summer savings in my Etsy shop- buying any two or more items together equals free shipping for your whole order! Cool, eh?

It lasts only as long as summer though; free shipping is good until September 21.

I've added some new and old prints. Look out for more to come.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Still Alive and Kicking

Despite the lack of new posts recently, I'm still hovering around here. There are some things I'd like to put up on this blog, but you won't be seeing anything until I: a) get some pictures taken, b) get something interesting done, or c) actually have time to do A or B.


EDIT: It looks like the first of the autumn foliage is here at last. That means many things, the start of term not the least. It hasn't yet begun, of course, but I'm already mired up to my head in my schedule- not a particularly accomodating schedule at that.

Okay, folks. Sorry, but I'm out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Into the Dark

Who can resist a labyrinth of low twisting passageways that open into cathedral-like spaces, stone draperies, underground waterfalls rushing away into the dark, and seemingly bottomless shafts?

I can offer no tales of international travels this year either, I'm afraid, but for the past several days I have with family visited the Mammoth Caves area, not just the national park but also other cave systems. My friend also has a snippet about Mammoth in her blog, here.

After taking all the typical touristy walking tours, I can ensure you that the novelty wears off after the third or fourth time. Then there is the following around slow-moving packs of fellow tourists and the listening to repetitive explanations about formations. Usually half the information offered is well-enough known to the general public. The depth of the explanations given by tour guides also seems to be inversely proportional to the number of people present. It is therefore quite worth a drive out to see lesser known caves.

Obtaining good photographic results in these low-light areas takes additional effort. Moving with a group makes anything but snapshots impossible, and minimal time to adjust camera settings. Without a tripod, shutter speeds need to be faster, but that also cuts out much of whatever light is available. I did not end up with very many decent shots. Eventually I had to resort to using flash, which I generally avoid for its ugly, flat white balance.

All a well-spent few days, nonetheless.

Friday, August 1, 2008

First Sale (and Other Things)

It's been only a little over a month since I've set up shop, and today-well, not anymore; yesterday- I made my first sale on Etsy! If that in itself isn't enough, it was an international customer. That simply made my day (I was bouncing off the walls for an hour). Thanks so much!

In similar news, I'm considering putting up a couple of new prints in my shop in the next few days. Color, anyone? Let me know what you think of the above, for instance.