Wednesday, May 26, 2010

White Wedding Day (Pretty Much Every Day in SLC)

One television show that I really can't stand is "Say Yes To The Dress".
It isn't that I don't like seeing wedding dresses; I actually do, very much.
In fact I often treat myself to a walk around the corner from work just to see what new style wedding gown is in the Bridal shop's window.
I just don't like the television show because it makes the dress seem so critical to the success of the wedding day, rather than the actual marriage between two people.

Plus I can see all the wedding dresses I want on happy newly married brides any day of the week.

I just have to walk two blocks to the Temple Square Garden and before I know it, I am surrounded by blissful brides and their grooms.

Romantic scenes are everywhere!

It doesn't matter when I go: it can be snowing, raining, hotter than heck, and still, there WILL be brides and grooms posing in impossibly beautiful scenes.

Their smiles are real: they have married in their temple just moments before.

Such happiness is even found on the streets: mothers arrive with white gowns which they too will be wearing at the wedding as part of their faith practices.

Sometimes it is quite humorous to see the couple gliding past construction machinery....
A favorite picture place: when the water is still the couple gets a perfect reflection of themselves and their Temple.

And yes, sometimes the bride will be seen arriving in the midst of downtown traffic.
(I am always jealous of the brides whose husbands pick them up and twirl them about. I don't know why I didn't think to have Bernie do that with me when we got married. I certainly was light enough for him to do so back then, unlike now...)
In Texas brides plan weddings so they can be photographed in the bluebonnet field. Here in SLC, an April or May wedding allows for pictures to be taken surrounded by tulips. Yes...I am jealous of that too.

The semi-down side: Wedding couple traffic is heavy; often two or three, four or even five couples may be seen getting their "special day" photos taken. The more the merrier, or does each couple feel a little less special sharing the space with others who also just got married?

(Personally I've always enjoyed meeting couples who got married on the same day as I did. I'm not sure how I would of felt meeting them on my wedding day.)

Being surrounded by blooming trees and bushes isn't too shabby either.

Now here's a trend I wish would pass: Brides who think it is just so cute to wear training shoes or flip flops or army boots with their gowns.

Sorry girls: it's been done before, and done to death. Pick something different to put you own stamp on the day. May I suggest an interesting cocktail style hat for instance?

This particular bride apparently was a cheerleader; she was at one point draped in a letterman's jacket and did typical cheerleader jumps and poses.

Well, in her case, I am willing to make an exception. Perhaps she slipped the shoes on after the ceremony just for the pictures.

Now when there is snow on the flowers....
And snow on the grass....

I just don't understand why there would be flip flops on the feet of the bride.

If it had been a beach wedding...maybe...but this is anything but a beach wedding!

Maybe she is pretending it is a beach wedding, standing next to the water and all. Except at one point I heard the photographer ask if she wanted to wear her shoes or her sandals in this shot.

It is also quite amusing to observe the couple as the pictures are taken.
It become quite quickly apparent who is in charge of the moment.
Sometimes it is the photographer.
Sometimes it is the bride's mother
Sometimes it is the bride that is barking orders as to what needs to be done next.
Funny thing though.
I have never hear a groom say a word.
They just stand there and look happy, dutifully posing away.
And if you look closely, you can see they are really just waiting until it is all over and they can escape to their honeymoons at last.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I feel safer now.

Strange times we live in, no?
Yesterday morning the deck was snow covered.
The snow set a new record for latest measurable snow fall in SLC in recorded history.
Then named Salt Lake City the nation's 5th best city to live in!
I have to agree...I do love living here.
Of course no place (besides Heaven of course) is perfect.
There are things about SLC that we just don't talk about with outsiders.
No sense in stirring things up.
(Maybe I should sign up for that class after all...)

Monday, May 24, 2010

I feel sick: How many days until November again?

Yes, I love photographing pretty things, and am even a bit giddy about the record breaking late snowfall we are having today.

But then I read this in an editorial by the brilliant Mark Steyn.
Maybe you missed reading it.
I think maybe you should; I've copied some of the more significant portions below:

Like a lot of guys who've been told they're brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy, and doesn't always choose his words with care.

And so it was that he came to say a few words about Daniel Pearl, upon signing the "Daniel Pearl Press Freedom Act."

Pearl was decapitated on video by jihadist Muslims in Karachi on Feb. 1, 2002.
That's how I'd (Mark Steyn) put it.

This is what the president of the United States said:

"Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world's imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is."

Now Obama's off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge.

But he's talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see.

Furthermore, the deceased's family is standing all around him.

And, even for a busy president, it's the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving and true. Indeed, for Obama, it's the work of seconds, because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.

Instead, he delivered the one above, which in its clumsiness and insipidness is most revealing.

First of all, note the passivity: "The loss of Daniel Pearl."

He wasn't "lost." He was kidnapped and beheaded.
He was murdered on a snuff video.
He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp.
And the circumstances of his "loss" merit some vigor in the prose.

Yet Obama can muster none.

Even if Americans don't get the message, the rest of the world does. This week's pictures of the leaders of Brazil and Turkey clasping hands with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are also monuments to American passivity.

But what did the "loss" of Daniel Pearl mean?

Well, says the president, it was "one of those moments that captured the world's imagination."


Evidently it never captured Obama's imagination because, if it had, he could never have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl's fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: "one of those moments" — you know, like Princess Di's wedding, Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, whatever — "that captured the world's imagination."

I just want to take a moment here on my blog to express my anguish about the horrific murder of Daniel Perlman. It has been eight years now. We must never forget what was done.

I personally will never be pleased that the "freedom of the press" allows murderers to release their acts on video so their sympathizers can glory in it.
I also want to point out what other Jewish people are currently facing in their own country of Israel.

If you have eleven minutes, watch this video by a former US general who will spell it out for you.

If you have just a few seconds, then please...pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

May 24 2010: Surprise!

I did check the weather forecast before I went to bed last night.
Nothing was said about snow.

So here it is 7:48 in the morning, the snow is falling in big heavy clumps and sticking to the road.
Guess it was too early to take off the snow tires after all?

If the snow sticks at the airport, this will be the lastest snow on record for SLC.


Update: It is official: Today is the latest snowfall of the spring season in SLC on record!

Thank you global warming!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

They are toying with me...

My camera is on me at all times now; hummingbird season has arrived in Utah.
The high pitched sound of a TRRRIILLL above my head has me whirling about, looking for a flash of red and green that would signal the presence of a little hummer.
Sometimes I get lucky:

My dinner sat getting cold as I held my camera to the window beside our kitchen table, waiting for the hummer to land so I could get this shot.

It was worth the wait, don't you think?

Almost like shooting a sitting duck!
So easy!
Now I want to know what it would take to get a photo with non-blurred wings too.
Clearly a faster something or other camera setting.
I'll have to drop by the camera store and ask if there is a way to do that with this particular camera.
My birthday gift camera (A Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5V) pulls a 10x optical zoom.
That's quite an upgrade from my first digital camera that I got four years ago.
It only had 3x optical zoom.
It was a DSC -W50; it still does an awesome job on macro, but since the electronics were beginning to break down (spots started showing up in my pictures) and then I dropped it and the display screen went half black...well...let's just say that I used my birthday gift money to indulge my passion for nature photography.
Thank you Bernie, Mom and Dad S. and Mom and Dad D.!

Even with 10x optical zoom, I still stretch out my arms as far out as I can to get just a tiny bit more detail in my shots.

Sometimes (like this morning for instance) I take 43 shots of a resting hummingbird in order to get four that are in focus.

The picture above: not quite in focus. That's because the camera display screen shows where the focus point resides in any zoom shot; my vision and sometimes shaky hands often do not co-operate to make tiny bird fit into the "sweet" spot perfectly.

Above: Here's how the picture looks when I get it right!

And I do want it right: I want to see each tiny jewel like feather on the bird's little bib.

Add to the challenge the fact that the rosy red feathers only flash red at certain angles.
In a nano second the bird can shift just slightly and I will miss the shot that would have captured that wonderful glistening red.
The top shot of these above two is still a pretty good shot...but I want to see the red!

What a big difference is created with just a teeny tiny shift in bird posture.

(I personally think they know that, and shift about deliberately just to toy with me.)

Here's the bird at mid-zoom.

Above: Here is what the scene looked like as I stood looking for the bird without using my camera.

(Oh, and added to the challenge: I am a nearly blind photographer; I need to bob my head to line up my eyes with the progressive tri-focal prescriptions in my glasses while trying to figure out where the bird is on the camera view screen that is being held arms length away. My arm muscles and chest muscles hurt after about an hour of this kind of fun.)

Can YOU see the bird in the picture above?

Not so easy is it, huh?

(Hummer is at the center of the bottom of the picture. Click on the picture to enlarge it, then click on it again to see the bird.)

So the name of the game is to first spot the bird, (in this case, Bernie spotted it first) then switch the camera on, zoom it up, move the camera around until the bird fills the view screen, then try very hard to hold the camera steady (as I am usually standing on a rock or a slope or something tippy), then click I shoot at where I think the bird still is.
Then I check my pictures...and realize that I was just a little off in getting the perfect picture of the tiny bird with a fuchsia bib at full display; picture like the one above only in focus.
The bird sat on this twig for perhaps seven minutes.
I took power shots where the camera fired off ten shots in a second.
I took landscape and portrait mode shots.
And in the end...I got maybe six pictures that were in perfect focus.
The bird chittered a bit (hard to tell if it was laughing at me or trying to encourage me...) as it flew off.
We both know that humming bird season has barely started.
The flowers are just beginning to grow and the hummingbird feeder is not as tasty of a treat as the flowering trees in the area.
Eventually the feeder will become a much more popular hang out.
Eventually, over time, I think we will become friends.