Hands and CookooBird Bikers

Ye Gods – no post since September!  Well, as the old saying goes:  “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  In truth, it also flies when one is not having fun!  So I’ve discovered.

True, I have been busy with my Camera Club activities, my new social life, and entertaining visitors.  But, despite good intentions to get back to posting, it seemed that whenever I got some leisure time I would either be too lazy to post or use the time to catch up on my reading.

And I have just now discovered that WordPress changed the posting process – rather confusing, but I shall soldier on!

I intend to write in the future about some of the things that have happened since my last post but this post relates to the weird title above.

First – Hands

The theme for my Camera Club’s January competition was hands.  Actual judging will take place tomorrow, January 20.  I was not very enthused about this theme but I suppose it helps one to improve one’s skills trying different things.  I took many photos of hands – both mine and those of others – and finally settled on entering the following two in the competition.  Frankly, I’m not very enthused about them.

The first photo is of my own hand.  I placed a black foam board against the back of a dining room chair for the background and set my camera up on a tripod a foot in front of the chair.  Then, after I set the camera aperture, ISO and shutter speed to fit the lighting and depth of field I wanted, I set the timer to 10 seconds; leaned way over so that my hand would be approximately where I intended it to be when the photo was taken; pressed the shutter button half-way to set the focus on where my hand was; pressed the shutter button fully to start the 10 seconds; rushed behind the chair and and posed my hand holding two dice in front of the foam board – and waited for the shutter to snap the photo.

It took a few tries before I was satisfied with the following:

Baby Needa a New Pair of Shoes

The second photo I chose was of two elderly ladies’ hands.  I enhanced the photo in Photoshop by posterizing – a process that thickens edges and overall adds emphasis to almost every feature.

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Second, Cookoobird Bikers:

I couldn’t think of an appropriate word to describe a group of more than a hundred crazy bikers, who for the 2nd year in a row on Martin Luther King’s Birthday (National Holiday) staged a foolish and dangerous demonstration to encourage people to put down their guns and get on their bikes.  Nice thought, I suppose; it certainly is a good thing to discourage violence – – but I’ll let this video I made from part of a local newscast show what craziness was going on in South Florida yesterday.

A wee bit of the top of the TV screen unfortunately doesn’t show in the video because I had my camcorder on the kitchen table in my breakfast nook aimed at my little kitchen TV and didn’t realize it wasn’t quite high enough to capture the entire screen.

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An Amazing Statistic

     Several days ago I read an article in the Miami Herald about the number of people in Miami-Dade County whose drivers licenses had been suspended.  That number was mind-boggling.

     I got to wondering after I read the article what I might have guessed the number to be if I’d been asked before.  First, I know there are a lot of people living in the county – close to 2.8 million, and according to the article there are about 1.8 million licensed drivers.   Second, I know there are several reasons licenses get suspended: serious and/or multiple traffic offenses; failure to show up in court when cases are tried; and failure to pay related fines or fees come to mind.  I would have guessed that the vast majority of people either don’t get cited for traffic violations, or if they do will either pay their fines or obtain legal help to fight their cases.  So I would have thought that at the very worst maybe two to three percent of people would end up having their licenses suspended.  That would have led me to an estimate of from 36,000 to 54,000, and I would probably think that I was a bit too high.

     The actual number is approximately 550,000!  That’s 29 percent of Miami-Dade County drivers!  Yikes!

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Story Behind the Header Photo

The photo up top is one of my favorites – mainly because it took a lot of courage from yours truly to capture.  🙂

I spent Christmas day of 2009 at the condo of my nephew’s son’s in-laws, located in a high rise on the Julia Tuttle Causeway which crosses Biscayne Bay from Miami Beach to downtown Miami.  The condo, as I recall, on the 11th floor, has a tiny balcony which faces northeast towards the upper portion of Miami Beach – a beautiful view.  But I’m not fond of heights and this particular balcony made me especially squeamish.  The barrier came barely above my waist – that, plus the balcony floor was only a thin slab of concrete sticking out from the building with nothing beneath it.  I admit it – I’m a weanie!  I really wanted nothing to do with that balcony.

But the view was so fantastic I had to take some photos.  So I gathered up some spine and ventured out onto the balcony.  Staying a ways back from the barrier I took several single shots as well as three overlapping photos spanning about 140 degrees which I intended to merge into a panorama using Photoshop.  Here is the result:

Panorama-Miami Beach

You have to click on it to see it enlarged to fully appreciate the view.  A double-click blows it up even larger allowing closeup detail via scrolling.

When I turned around to reenter the condo, however, I noticed that to the left a narrow slice of downtown Miami could be seen between the building you can see on the left in the above panorama and our building.  Cowardliness be damned, I had to capture that view!  I went over to the end of the balcony and leaned way over the front barrier, stretching my arms out as far as I could, camera in hand, in order to grab as much of the Miami skyline as possible – all the while in my mind I was visualizing myself leaning over so far that I would topple over the edge and drop eleven floors.  But – Ta Da!  I survived, and here is the original uncropped version of the one shot that my nerves permitted me to take:

Miami Downtown Original

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A Few Videos

I took my annual trip to Myrtle Beach in May, arriving on Saturday, May 9th just as Tropical Storm Ana was passing by out to sea heading for a landfall a little further north near Wilmington, North Carolina.  It was one nasty day – very windy, and rainy, very chilly for May.  Needless to say, we spent the first day inside.  I took this video from our balcony with my smart phone.

The weather quickly warmed up midday on Sunday and the rest of the week it was delightful.  Every morning we took long walks on the beach – two miles north to a fishing pier and back every other day and on alternate days to and beyond another fishing pier to the south about 1.2 miles away.  We were fortunate that the tide was out each morning.  At high tide the very wide beach completely disappeared. Strolling on the beach was impossible as is demonstrated in this video.

On Monday the 11th of May I drove to St. Petersburg with my nephew to attend the opening baseball game of the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Park.  While we and over 30,000 others were patiently awaiting the gates to open the team mascot, cheerleaders and break dancers performed accompanied by music played so loud that I was seriously concerned about damage to my hearing.  The break dancers were very entertaining.  I wanted to capture them on video but there were too many people in front of me.  Later when we got inside, though, I was able to make this short video of  some of them performing for people entering the stadium.

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Gadzooks!

Egads!  I have not posted to this Blog since February 25th – definitely a record length hiatus for me!

The reason? Well, I was terribly busy for quite a while, entertaining visitors and travelling.  Since then, I have been decompressing; enjoying the return to my dull sedentary lifestyle.

I had three sets of relatives stay over, one couple for ten days – very enjoyable, but also very stressful.  There were also trips of varying lenghts to Orlando, Brooksville, Myrtle Beach, Naples (Florida, not Italy), Jupiter (Florida, not the planet!) and St. Petersburg ; plus several photo-shooting outings nearby with the Camera Club.

Naturally, I spent money like a “drunken sailor” – eating much too much at too many expensive restaurants, and piling up many miles on my odometer – so much so that I decided it was time to get a new car, which I did a few weeks ago.  I will likely post some photos of my new four-wheel baby soon!

Thankfully, this Summer should be a quiet period, at least it has started out that way.  There should be no more visitors until the last week of September when I’ll have a niece and her husband as well as a nephew come for a week.  I’ll be taking them to a Miami Marlins game in their new stadium and an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills.  They are crazy Bills fans, planning on wearing their Bills jerseys to the game.  I will have to buy and wear a Dolphin jersey, of course.  The rivalry between the two teams is intense – but the rivalry between the fans is even greater.  I must make it quite clear where my loyalties lie!   🙂

I have quite a few photos to post in the coming days, as well as a few videos.  This post was just to announce that I am still “kicking” and have not abandoned the Blog.

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More Festival Photos

As I wrote in the previous post I took lots of photos at the Renaissance Festival.  Here are some other than close-up face shots.

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Faces – A Picture Post – 2/23/2015

I went with a group from the Camera Club to the Renaissance Festival last week.  It’s an annual 6 weekend attraction in a park in Deerfield Beach, Florida celebrating the Renaissance including a Crafts Village with period glass blowing, hammered pewter, wooden toys, pottery and clothing; hundreds of performers in costume – sword fighters, minstrels, magicians, battling knights on horseback and archers; many rides; lots of food and stage performances.  In addition over a hundred costumed performers roam about amidst the crowd.

I took hundreds of photos, many of which I intend to include in posts.  This post contains a few of the close up photos I took of people.

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