Something Fishy

Years ago I got something called a “fisheye converter” for one if my lenses. It fit right onto the end of my kit lens and I really enjoyed using it. I would shoot lots of architecture and landscapes with horizon lines. It was limited by the mediocre speed of my kit lens – and as I acquired faster lenses it fell out of the rotation for me. I was just a cool novelty. A couple of years ago I passed it on to someone starting out with the same system. I forgot all about that lens and moved on to primes and lenses that had a wider use.

 

I hadn’t even considered wanting a fisheye again until I saw that Olympus had a sale on their 8mm f1.8 Pro late last year. I have been experimenting with night sky photography and thought that a fisheye might be a good addition to my kit.

 

What I hadn’t counted on where the many interesting things I could do with this lens. It has become a regular part of my kit. I take it everywhere. I shoot all kinds of things with it. It lets me change the way I see things.

 

Shutterbug Notes: You can control the amount of curve in your images by shooting close for more curve and further for less curve. You also can exaggerate the direction of a curve by shooting above or below it, to the left or the right if it. Using a fisheye lets you tell the viewer what you want them to see by curving around it or curving the subject itself – like shooting shallow DOF it lets you choose what stops the viewers’ eye. 

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

You know the song.

Since Thanksgiving you’ve heard it a hundred times. Listening to the lyrics it’s not explicitly about Christmas, but it is from a movie we watch during the holidays. The list in the song is not my list. I’m not big on whiskers – I prefer the rest of the kitten. I don’t think I need mittens when using a kettle – it’s all a bit disjointed. Lyrically it’s genius – in practical use it’s not my cup of tea.

So what would my list be? I decided for my 100th post to share the list of things that inspire me behind the lens.

Raindrops on…

Anything.

Naked Lady in the rain

Naked Lady in the rain.

You can see my house inverted in this raindrop

You can see my house inverted in this raindrop.

A newly opened dogwood drenched in the rain

A newly opened dogwood drenched in the rain.

Lilac buds shining after a shower

Lilac buds shining after a shower.

I love redbuds - the first color of spring

I love redbuds – the first color of spring.

I’m not so much into bright copper kettles, but I am fascinated with…

Rust.

This is the rust and patina on my copper fire pit.

This is the rust and patina on my copper fire pit.

This hay rake was in my woods when I bought the house - every surface is beautifully rusted.

This hay rake was in my woods when I bought the house – every surface is beautifully rusted.

This padlock was on the jail in Midas Nevada. The lock spoke to me more than the shack it was attached to.

This padlock was on the jail in Midas Nevada. The lock spoke to me more than the shack it was attached to.

I don’t even know what schnitzel is – it sounds odd to me. I know it’s odd to love…

Dandelions.

I like the delicate structure and I like to find a way to look at them in new ways

I like the delicate structure and I like to find a way to look at them in new ways.

The structure of the actual flower is pretty amazing even before it goes to seed.

The structure of the actual flower is pretty amazing even before it goes to seed.

The substructure is so intricate. I shot this with a manual macro lens from the 70s.

The substructure is so intricate. I shot this with a manual macro lens from the 70s.

I grew up in the desert so the idea of sleigh bells is foreign to me, but door bells make me think of home. I have a strong bent towards…

Sentiment and Kitsch.

I love kitsch and I love it unusual places. I have had lawn flamingoes in the front lawn of every home I have ever owned.

I love kitsch and I love it unusual places. I have had lawn flamingoes in the front lawn of every home I have ever owned.

Keys

These are my Grandpa’s keys. I love shooting things that belonged to someone special.

Purple Glass

My Grandma taught me about purple glass, I love to shoot things that are transparent and have color.

Apricot Pit

My great-grandfather carved this out of a peach pit. I love the surfaces of handmade things like this.

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes. I like snow, but not so much for its photographic opportunities. I prefer…

Spring Flowers

First color on the ground often before the grass starts to green up.

Crocus – the first color on the ground, often before the grass starts to green up.

Cherry Blossoms open skyward

Cherry Blossoms opening skyward captivate me.

Daffodils have amazing color before we even notice them

Daffodils have amazing color before we even notice them.

Lilacs open as the sun hits them - here for too brief a time.

Lilacs open as the sun hits them – here for too brief a time.

My garden fairy planted a few of these a couple of years ago in a spot were there was once a cistern. I love them.

Hyacinths – My garden fairy planted a few of these a couple of years ago in a spot were there was once a cistern. I love them.

Cream colored ponies and dogs biting. I’m not too far off here.  I love the company of…

Dogs.

Sunshine is my Goldendoodle. He’s a lovely goofball and is a bit camera-shy, I like to catch him when he is unaware of me.

These are my brother’s pointers – I shot this one Christmas when Vegas had a rare snow. I loved the sheer joy the pups exuded as they ran in the frosted desert.

These are my two female terriers. They hate each other’s guts unless they are sleeping – they are precious when they sleep.

This is a pup I met on a trip – I love that he was interested in my camera. Curiosity is a favorite thing to capture in an animal.

Zipper was my first Kayak dog – he was so relaxed on the water.

Brown paper packages, blue satin sashes, silver white winters – there’s a lot of color in this song. I love color and am drawn to vivid colors. One color draws me more than all the others.

I shoot anything that is…

Orange.

The color of this car drew me to it - hundreds of cars and this was my favorite.

The color of this car drew me to it – hundreds of cars and this was my favorite.

I'm pretty sure I chose this hard drive for that orange bumper.

I’m pretty sure I chose this hard drive for that orange bumper.

In the shop where I work I see lots of color, but this set of mixers caused me to go get my camera.

In the shop where I work I see lots of color, but this set of mixers caused me to go get my camera.

These Tiger Lilies grow wild around the Ozarks. I have them pretty thick in the springs right at the edge of the woods

These Tiger Lilies grow wild around the Ozarks. I have them pretty thick in the spring – right at the edge of the woods.

This sunset was so vivid that I missed an appointment when I stopped to shoot it.

This sunset was so vivid that I missed an appointment when I stopped to shoot it.

Now that winter is here and it’s a grey day, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so … bad.

Chrome Sweet Chrome

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I’m a car nut – have been since I was a little girl. It’s all my Grandpa’s fault.

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When I was about a year old my Grandpa bought a new car for to celebrate his and Grandma’s 25th wedding anniversary. It was a 1963 Impala Super Sport.

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It’s the very first car I remember riding in.

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I went almost everyplace with my Grandpa when I was young. He was pretty crazy about me and I was crazy about him as well.

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While we would drive along he would play this game with me – I would point out an old car and he would tell me the make, model, and year.

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I could never stump him. He knew the differences in the small bits of trim and chrome that separated a ’49 from a ’50 Chevy or what defined a Pontiac from a Buick made in the same year.

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I learned about Buick portholes, Pontiac chevrons, and Caddy V-crests.

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I learned which hood ornaments were on which models…

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Which models had a Continental Kit…

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I began to look at the details of a car as well as the sweeping lines of the whole.

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My grandfather left his family farm as a young man and got his first job in town painting cars.

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He knew how to care for a car’s paint and I learned to wax a car by watching him wax that Impala nearly every Sunday.

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The miles we spent in that Impala – around town, around the state, all over California, and to Nebraska and back…

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When I was very small I was sure the chrome jockey box in between the front seats was built just for me. Later on trips I thought the indentation of the speaker in the back seat was made as a place for me to rest my head.

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In the mid 60s my grandparents opened an upholstery shop. I learned the meaning of tuck-and-roll and grew to love diamond-tufting.

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Grandpa did a lot of furniture but he specialized in car and airplane upholstery. He told me once that a new convertible top would tighten right up when left up in the desert sun for a few hours…

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That the details of the interior were just as important as those on the outside…

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That a perfect interior was the sign of a well cared for automobile.

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As I entered my teens he planned to pass that lovely Impala on to me, it was finally time for him to buy a new car.

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My folks were having none of it so he reluctantly sold it for twice the price be paid for it.

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I learned to drive the family sedan and the first car I ever owned was the LTD he replaced the Impala with. I bought the car from my Pop who Grandpa had passed it onto a few years earlier. It had not been cared for so well after leaving Grandpa’s driveway so my time with it was short.

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Somewhere along the line I bought an old Jeep, just like one my grandparents had owned when I was a kid. Grandpa insisted on taking me out into the desert to learn to drive it off-road safely.

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I went through a couple of odd cars until I was almost through college. I became obsessed with first generation Mustangs.

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I found one I felt I could not live without, the owner said it was 99% restored – I guess if you didn’t count the engine or interior that he was pretty accurate. My Grandpa gave me a loan to buy it and together we restored it. His arrangement with me was that as long as I graduated from college, the restoration was his gift to me.

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The real gift was much more that parts and paint. It was the time we spent each week and the satisfaction we felt as we saw it come closer and closer to a completed project.

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We scoured junkyards looking for elusive parts. He bought me a buffer to keep the paint looking showroom perfect.

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Every Friday for a year and a half we started a new project. Paint, chrome, AC, carburetor, upholstery – the day we had the carpet installed he sat down next to me in the passenger seat and beamed as he told me it smelled just like a new car.

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It may not have been our beloved Impala, but it was a car we both loved. Each time I drove it I could see him in it.

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I could see his hands in the details. One time after our drive he was concerned about a rattle. When we got home he took a screwdriver and disassembled the dash looking for the source of the noise. He did the same thing on his own car.

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When the time came for me to move on to a new town in a new state I packed up that Mustang. I wept upon leaving him, but took comfort in taking a part of him with me in the car we restored together.

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I kept the Mustang for several years until the snows of the Cascades made it impractical. It was Grandpa who urged me to sell it and buy something safer.

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In the 90s I was restoring a 1967 Buick Riviera. Grandpa gave me some good advice and helped me solve a few technical problems. He also told me when it was time to let it go and move on.

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He advised me on all matters automotive for the rest of his life. He advised me on all matters non-automotive as well. His wisdom and belief in me gave me the courage to try new things – to pursue my dreams, even if they lead me away from him.

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I took these photos yesterday. I was at an annual antique car festival in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

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As I saw the parking lots in our tiny Victorian village filled to overflowing with so many gorgeous old cars that had been lovingly cared for, I thought of the details that Grandpa taught me about…

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I found myself identifying so many of them based just on these details.

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The owners patiently listened as people like me shared our memories of cars gone by.

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There’s something about an old car that brings these memories to the forefront. We all remember the cars of our childhood or the great times we had in cars with friends and loved ones.

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These days I live out in the woods where a classic car is just too impractical – even as a hobby. I miss working on one like I miss my Grandpa.

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When I see an old car that’s been lovingly cared for, no matter what the make or model I think of him.

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But when I see an Impala, it all its splendor, I gasp and am taken back to that place where I sat in the passenger seat alongside the most noble man I ever knew…

Ancient American Mysteries – Carhenge

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As Karen and I sped across Nebraska hoping to find the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument we stumbled upon something truly special. Our GPS directed us to take something called “Cut Across Road” which doesn’t appear to exist. It was getting late so we decided to stop and the next town and call it a night. We hit Harriman, Nebraska at about 5 and asked at the gas station to see if anyone could help us find the park. Not only could they not help with directions, the gas station attendant let us know she had never heard of the park. She also let us know that she had no gas and that Harriman had no motels. We asked about the next town and she warned us that Crawford had even less to offer than Harriman, “There’s nothing there!”, she warned. “Go to Alliance!” We took her advice and trekked the 30 miles towards lodging, gas, and information. Once we hit town Karen thought we should cruise the town to check our options. We stopped for gas and I noticed a brown sign (all passport stamp seekers look for brown signs) that said “Carhange – 1/2 mile”. I had heard of Carhenge – I read something about it back in the 80’s in People magazine, so I told Karen that we HAD to go there! She accepted that I was the expert and we headed down that country road hoping to see something truly amazing – we were not disappointed!

For the most complete experience I recommend that from this point on you read with the sound of Leonard Nimoy as narrator in your head…

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Isolated on the Nebraska plain – what can it mean?

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Made from ancient building blocks like this 73 Vega – who would have had the technology to build this?

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It appears to be aligned with some specific axis. It must have been some ancient super race that built it. Their knowledge clearly exceeds that of our society. Analysis of the parts indicate that they were some how moved here from Detroit, Michigan! How is that even possible?

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Time and the elements have taken their toll on the site – this Caddy is slowly sinking into the plain.

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Facing directly east the opening between the monoliths elements clearly points to another clue.

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Facing west the sun sets beyond this ancient and obviously hallowed place.

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The mystical structure is even more mysterious as the sun sets.

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A random tribute against the evening sky – a salmon leaps from the unfamiliar Nebraska ground.

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Karen ventures north to the shrines offered to this mysterious place.

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The fins of an ancient caddy reach up to the Nebraska sky.

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Karen hurries back to the monolith to capture the sunset through it’s ancient pillars.

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The colors of the evening sky illuminate the mysteriously rust-free surfaces of the monolith. I am certain that this is just as the ancients intended.

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The ancient snack bar in the distance must have provided sustenance to the race of men who built this.

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Sunset and mystery – what a conundrum!

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From the east I wonder if this Vega is pointing to Vega?

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What kind of civilization would have so expertly placed a Willys between a Gremlin and a Volare?

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This close-up does little to solve the mystery – no pins or notches hold these structures together!

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An ancient dinosaur stands guard over what appears to be the “rosetta stone” of Carhenge. Will this solve it’s mysteries?

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Apparently some ancient sage believed that foreign cars would end our civilization. I wonder if his descendants drive Hondas?

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A last look back at that snack bar fills us with wonder – we need to find someplace to grab dinner!

When we finally checked into a hotel we found that no one in Alliance had heard of the Agate Fossil Beds either. As I fell asleep at the Holiday Inn, I couldn’t help but wonder if some strange force had lead us to this place of mystery…