Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Having a Super Time

With all the holiday goings-on, hustle and bustle, work, family, etc. I've just remembered something. I have a blog! And I'm not dead yet. So I must blog!

Here you go: Blog.

There. Happy? Good. Here's some more, just in case that wasn't enough.

Found a new app that is sucking my free time away like crazy. It's called "Super", and it's the creation of Biz Stone, who also helped create things such as Twitter, Xanga, Jelly (which has also been sucking my free time away), and a few other little doohickeys.

I encourage you to try Super if you: love to waste time a lot, love to be creative in short spurts, and want your blog to become neglected. It's done wonders for my blog, as you can see.

Other than that, I plan to firmly resolve to write more, beginning January 1, 2015. I plan to break that resolution on January 2, 2015. But don't be glum. I will re-resolve all year long, and there's no stopping me once I re-resolve.

Have a Super day!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Eagles of Autumn

Once again, I get an opportunity to see and photograph Bald Eagles near my home. They really are amazing birds. No matter how often I see them I'm always taken aback by their size and their beauty.

First outing at the Conowingo Dam, on the Susquehanna River was pretty light on birds, but still worth it. I'll share a few of the better shots here.

On another note, I realize it's been a long time since my last blog post. Someone I used to blog about a bit was one of the Marshmallows, Wolfgang Amadeus Marshmallow. Lady Marshmallow and I got to spend some time with him last month and attend his Junior Year Recital. Special moment. Very much so. I wish I had a link to the recording, but no dice. He played Rachmaninoff, Mozart, and Chopin. Heaven!

As I gather my thoughts and try to pull out of a year's worth of lack of caring for writing, I'll post more. So much went on, but so little desire to write about any of it. No excuse, but there it is.

Enjoy the eagles!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

And Then There Were Three...

Got a real surprise from the Cooper's Hawks the other day. I discovered they will eat one another. As in cannibalism. Sitting out on my deck last week, I heard a cacophony like you wouldn't believe. Knowing the hawks had killed something and were eating it, I grabbed camera and video camera and ran to film the action. I was five minutes into shooting when I realized the dinner wasn't some small, seed-eating bird.

I imagine the conversation went something like this:

MORRIS: "I'm starving."

PHIL: "Me too. What's there to eat around here?"

BERT: "Nothing. We ate all the sparrows."

PHIL: "You ate all the sparrows, you pig!"

MONA: "He ate all the birds. Now there are no more birds."

MORRIS: "Well, there are a few birds, actually" (gives a quick look to Mona and Bert)

MONA (catching on right away): "Say, Phil, you feeling alright? You look a little bit tired."

(Bert, Mona, and Morris begin to skulk towards Phil)

PHIL: "Yeah, I've got this wing that isn't feeling too strong right now, and I really...(suddenly it clicks with Phil)...NO! I feel great. Strong as an ox! Really. Why are you guys looking at me that way? Hey! Move back!"

I think this is about when I heard the commotion. And the result is below. Watch the very brief video only if you like your nature documentaries raw. I have about three minutes of video, but this gives you the basic idea. And yes, the other birds did fight over the dinner bird.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cooper's Hawks: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Screaming

This spring Lady Marshmallow and I were treated to something new. We had a pair of nesting Cooper's Hawks take up residence in our back yard. Being the inquisitive type, I immediately looked up everything I could on Cooper's Hawks, excitedly hoping that their favorite meal would be squirrels or 3ft. tall Macaws.

Squirrels have been eating us out of bird seed for years, and we have yet to find that elusive "squirrel proof" feeder. As for the Macaw, let's just say our neighbors next door like it noisy at their place, and they love to put their monster birds in the outdoor aviary from April 1 to about mid-November. The leader of the squawk pack is a gigantic Macaw with no manners whatsoever. Oh, and that aviary is strategically placed ON THE PROPERTY LINE WE SHARE. Do you know just how loud a Macaw can scream? Yes. Scream. Like it's being murdered. All day long.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned that Cooper's Hawks eat pretty much only seed-eating birds of smallish to medium size. Squirrels rejoice!

A couple of weeks ago, we were treated to something else. Cooper's Hawk babies. Hatchlings? Puppies? Whatever. We went from two to four hawks. Now the fledglings are making their way about and have begun to hunt. I managed some photos, which are below. By the way, juvenile Cooper's Hawks also scream/screech/wail, etc. ALL. DAY. LONG.

Thankfully, the Macaw almost drowns them out.


EDIT: My apologies for removing the photos, but I've recently had one of my best photos lifted and used for commercial use by a company, without my knowledge or permission. The only way to prevent that from happening to other photos is to not make them available for viewing.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Yes, Plagiarism Is Stealing.

In my part-time work as a photographer, I have come to be acutely aware of copyright, trademark, and intellectual property issues. I've seen my own work used for commercial purposes without permission, reimbursement, or attribution. I've seen outright theft of photographs; people swiped photographers' works, removed their watermarks, and took credit for the photos.

But lately I've seen something I hadn't noticed before. Theft of the written word. This is called plagiarism and, apparently, an awful lot of people don't think it's wrong. From what I've seen, they certainly don't think of it as stealing. But it is.

The written word is as important to the person who did the writing as any product is to anyone. The time, effort, and often, money that go into writing a book, for instance, all make the finished product valuable. It counts as property. Just as if it were a car, building, or sculpture that was made by hand, the written word is the property of the creator. Copying it without that person's knowledge is theft.

What prompted this was the incredible amount of work which I saw stolen from a photographer recently. This was not some minor bit of "borrowing" some ideas. Nor was it, as some like to say, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". A fauxtographer took what is essentially an entire kit of workshops, written into ebooks, from a real photographer. One who had worked for eight years and who had spent over $5000 creating a masterful workshop. The fauxtog copied almost every part of the $99 kit, word for word, and began to present it as her own work, charging customers for the same information!

The most egregious part is that she stole not just from the one photographer, but from at least a half dozen other photographers! One of her comments on her Facebook photo page is that she feels that photographers often do things "the hard way". I can only assume she means they take the time to create original works, rather than simply stealing work from others.

What is amazing to me is that most of the time, people who commit this type of theft don't think they've done anything wrong. They don't put it in the same category as stealing a car, or burglarizing a home, or even shoplifting. Because they don't literally take a physical object from another person, they feel that they haven't stolen. That is just sad.

And they then think, as in the case here, that the work they have stolen is now their own intellectual property. I am happy to inform them and anyone who will read this that being a "Google Intellectual"* is not actually being an intellectual, nor does it make you smart, original, or valuable.

It makes you pitiful, in every way possible.

* I looked on line for this phrase to make sure I wasn't stealing it from someone else first!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


In order to keep this sad, sad blog going, I know I have to post once every so often, even during its hibernation. The two people still reading this please, for god's sake, comment!

So, in the spirit of winter, here's a little photo I snapped with my iPhone 5. Yep, my iPhone.

I bought a $39 slip-on macro lens for it, figuring I had nothing but $40 to lose and everything to gain if it worked. And it works! Enjoy the snowflake, taken at 28mm (that's the iPhone's focal length) and a 21x macro lens, which does something to the focal length, but I'm too lazy to determine just what. 

Technique for getting the photo:

 - get a piece of glass plate (mine's about 13" in diameter).

 - take glass plate onto back deck while snow is falling.

 - EXTRA TIP! Let the plate get nice and cold before setting it horizontally. That will keep the snowflakes from melting immediately upon landing.

 - lay plate on deck railing, so that part of it is hanging off.

 - let flakes land.

 - VERY quickly, place iPhone with macro over the snowflake and snap away. - repeat about 500 times until you get one good photo!