About Chuck

I am retired after a career in electronics and in publishing. Today, my wife of 50+ years, Sylvia, and I live in a house on a hill beside a dirt road in rural west Michigan. We enjoy living in this country environment where livestock and wild life out number the human population.

Capturing the Scene

The enhanced picture

The enhanced picture

Yesterday, I posted the picture of Sunday’s sunset as my camera saw it.  I wanted to show you what I saw on the canvas of my mind.  While better, this still doesn’t do justice to the fiery glory of that sky.

I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it were it not for what happened last evening.  Sylvia had called from Glen Lake and as we were talking I heard the distinctive sound of air brakes.  Sylvia said a big truck had just stopped in front of the cabin.  Soon, I heard a male voice with a Carolina accent.  The driver asked for permission to shoot a picture of the lake, which Sylvia granted.  I heard him say, “My wife won’t believe this when I get home to South Carolina!”

The time was about 9:30 PM and the sun was below the horizon.  The cabin is a couple hundred feet or so above the lake.  The view is spectacular.  Sylvia said, “I don’t know what he could have captured in this light.”

He was pleased.  I heard him thank her as he returned to his truck and continued on his way down the road.  (It’s down in every direction from the cabin, except across the road which continues to rise.)

With today’s digital photography he may have done okay.  I’m surprised at what my new camera does.

That’s what inspired me take “digital liberties” with today’s image.

More to follow on this topic.

Timing

The bard wrote these lines for Brutus in his play, Julius Caesar.  “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

My mom used to put it this way, “It’s to late to close the barn door after the horse is out.”  You probably know more expressions of the importance of timing.

I’ve seen the critical nature of timing many times while trying to catch action in a photo.  Thanks to digital photography and burst mode, I’ve been able to capture action in a still shot.

Last night, I saw that illustrated in nature.  I was on the phone with my son, Scott.  I was walking toward the office to check on something when I looked out the window.  I continued to the office, picked up my camera and went out onto the front deck.

Sunday sunset

Sunday sunset

Unfortunately, the camera does not capture the vivid contrast that my eye saw.  I didn’t want to mess with the image so this has only been resized.

As our conversation continued, I told Scott what I was seeing.  And as I watched, the glory began to fade.  Rather slowly, but it was also obviously fading.

Have you experienced the importance of timing?

Dramatic Sky

On Saturday, I went out to check the garden.  The peas were ready for picking.  Everything else was looking good.  That’s when I realized that there was something different about the light.  A glance at the sky sent me back to the house to fetch the camera.

Here’s what I had seen:

We don't often see shelf clouds like this

We don’t often see shelf clouds like this

On the front deck I capture more images.

This looked ominous

This looked ominous

Peas can wait.  I’m taking pictures.

The front kept moving toward me

The front kept moving toward me

A couple of seconds later, I could see an interesting boundary passing over head.

Does it make you feel uncomfortable?

Does it make you feel uncomfortable?

There would be no more images of interest in this system.  I turned and walked back in the house.

Shortly after the door closed the rain began.  Heavy rain.  Very heavy rain.

Zucchini and butternut squash are not appreciating all this rain.  I don’t like to see their yellow leaves.  However, it was fun to watch this front approaching.

Observations

Recently, I sat here at this computer as I surfed the Internet.  The bright sunlight coming through the window seemed to be blinking . . .  What?

In one glance, I could see that swallows were feasting on insects flying near the house.  Could I capture an image?

I stood and then I saw the spectator bleaches at the air show were full.  I slowly lifted the blinds, but the audience remained calm.

Perhaps they like the warm pavement

Perhaps they like the warm pavement

I particularly enjoy watching these fellows in flight.  They are so graceful–maneuverable too.  They are frequently there to keep me company as I mow.

Rabbits

A few weeks ago I looked out a window at the garden.  I detected movement.  Oh no!  Two rabbits were checking our romaine.  I stepped outside and started to talk to them as I waked toward the rabbits.  They watched, not twitching a muscle.

Then I clapped my hands . . . loudly.  The rabbits panicked.  And started to run to the opposite side.  The first one leaped and made it through a hole in the fence.  As that one ran away, the second one followed.  Leap and stuck at the hips, he was left hanging in the fence.  Feet flailing air.  He managed to back out.

A second try met with the same result.  I continued to approach talking and clapping.  The poor bunny was terrified.  He ran to another end where the path is blocked with chicken wire fence.  No wriggling through that.

He turned hard left running beside the fence and into more fence.  Spin around and run as fast as you can, he seemed to be thinking.  Then as he sped toward the end, he gave on tremendous leap and cleared the 24″ fence.

I laughed as I watched him run out of sight.  Do you suppose that rabbits tell their grandchildren about their great adventures?  Hhmmm . . .

Dark & Stormy

No doubt, you’ve heard that cliché story opener, “It was a dark and stormy night.”  That overused line actually applied here last night.  It was a little after two AM when I awoke.  I hadn’t been asleep very long, so why was I awake?

Then a light came on.  Went back out.  What?  Out of bed.  On my feet.  A bit more alert.  It happened again.

Lightning!  A muted rolling thunder followed sometime later.  It was far away.

I looked out the bedroom window.  The action is to the south.

In the office, I lifted the blinds.  There was a light show going on over Kalamazoo.

Thirty second exposure

Caught in the act

You can see lightning bolts in this image.  They are not as bright as you might like.  This is the result of average brightness over the 30-sec exposure time.  Still, they are clearly visible if not as dramatic as they appeared to my eye.

The colored lights in the lower center frame are not part of an alien navigation beacon system.  It’s just a reflection on the window I was shooting through.  The light on the right is in my neighbor’s house.

Come four AM, I was finally asleep.  Heavy rain had started to fall on the roof a couple of minutes earlier.

It is Finished!

The title comes from Sylvia’s words when she came in from weeding the veggie garden.  It had started in the flower gardens.

Granny's Garden has some begonias now.

Granny’s Garden has some begonias now.

Upper walk-out flower garden

Upper walk-out flower garden

Lower walk-out flower garden

Lower walk-out flower garden

The veggie garden -- here unfinished

The veggie garden — here unfinished

After pulling the last of the weeds in the veggie garden, Sylvia planted a row of green beans.  The first planting usually comes to maturity while she is with her family at the lake.  I pick some and recruit some help with the rest.  #arthritis-stinks

Joy and Beauty

Joy and beauty are where you find them.  One person’s joy is terror to another.  In bragging about his wife, the old German farmer is said to have said, “She ain’t much to look at but she’s hell for stout.”

It rained last night and this morning’s sky is cloudy.  I’ve been saving two pics for a day like this.

Love that rich color

Love that rich color

I remember teaching my sister how to make a doll from two hollyhock blossoms.  Did you ever do that?

Beauty like this should be shared

Beauty like this should be shared

We’ll be meeting with our son for lunch today.  Lot’s of joy in that.

I’m having mixed feelings today.  This is the second day that I can’t get to Facebook.  I don’t know whether to be joyful or sad . . .  Perhaps it’s a thing of beauty?

Don’t try this — Ever

Will someone tell him this is not an air race

Will someone tell him this is not an air race?

Austin didn’t win
At the end he spun up high
Don’t try this at home

At the end of a rain delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, a freak accident sent 25-year-old Austin Dillon flying inverted over two rows of cars.  That phase of his terrifying ride came to an end at the catch fence.  His car went from 180 MPH to full stop in about two car lengths.  The car fell back on the track and slid to the side.  The ride wasn’t over.  An out of control car came spinning his way.   Another hit sent the demolished vehicle into another spin.

Shock and near panic followed.  Crew members ran to Austin’s aid.  He climbed out and waved at the crowd.  Austin suffered a bruised tail bone and arm.  Some spectators were also injured.

Can you believe he finished seventh?  He did.

This is not why I watch NASCAR races.  I like to see the ballet of a well executed pit stop.  Or a clean, smart pass.  It’s good to see a different strategy develop and bring the driver and car to victory lane.

I suppose it’s like water polo or hockey, if you don’t understand the rules and strategies, it can be very confusing.

Life is like that too.

Independence Day

Today, we observe a federal holiday, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.  All over this land people will be celebration our nation’s 239th birthday party.  How great is that?

Do take time to review the reasons for this day and why our forefathers approved the Declaration of Independence 239 years ago today.  You can review the document here.

Yesterday, something seemed different.  I was walking down the driveway toward the mailbox, but my usual escort, the killdeer, was nowhere to be seen.  What’s going on?

They've hatched!

They’ve hatched!

The day before, four eggs filled the leaf-lined depression (center frame).  They must have hatched.  Hooray!

The chicks have come out of their shells and are now learning about independence.  I see young people who are going through a process of learning about it too.  It’s a beautiful thing, but it’s neither easy nor cheap.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians (5:1) wrote: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  He goes on to warn them not to abuse their freedom.  Those are words to live by.  Consider reading that fifth chapter of Galatians.

Finally, I hope you are celebrating Independence Day and not In Dependence Day.