Dogs and Fireworks

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Dogs are frequently afraid of fireworks. I would venture to guys that dogs fall into two categories: Those who are completely oblivious and those who think the world is coming to an end. Tisen does not like fireworks. Nor does Twiggy, who is visiting with us again while her mom and dad are on vacation.

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Tisen seems somewhat embarrassed about his fear of fireworks. Like he knows he’s supposed to be a big tough boy and not be afraid of loud noises. Instead of whining, howling, or barking, which would only draw attention to his cowardice, he hides. But if you happen to look in on him from time to time, you’ll discover he often has a puzzled look on his face like he can’t understand why his humans are not distraught by all the noise.

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I think there is a simple explanation for this disparity in human and dog interpretation of loud noises. I think it’s hearing. While one might speculate that canines have less ability to understand the source of loud noises or to reason as to whether they are in potential danger or not, I really think it comes down to pain. The deep, reverberating booms and high pitched crackles sound so much louder to a dog than to a human, it seems quite possible they are in physical pain.

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This being my theory, I was doubly surprised when I spent the entire length of the Riverbend fireworks out on the balcony of the common room (where dogs are not allowed) and Tisen remained parked by the front door waiting for my return instead of hiding under the sofa, desk, or Daddy. Twiggy cuddled with Daddy, leaving Tisen to fend for himself as the stalwart guard patiently awaiting the return of Mommy. I felt pretty guilty when I got home and found him still waiting for me.

I wonder if he is more afraid of losing Mommy than he is of fireworks? This also made me feel more guilty getting on a plane the following morning.

Tisen braving it out at the door

Tisen braving it out at the door

More of the Same

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Continuing yesterday’s list of tips on photographing fireworks . . .

Fourth, think carefully about depth of field.  If you’re shooting wide and trying to get the landscape into the photo at all, you’ll want to stop down the aperture as much as possible.

Fifth, as a contrary point to the above, be aware that because the fireworks are so bright, you aren’t going to be able to get a single exposure for both the fireworks and the landscape unless the landscape is brightly lit (like the city lights).  Some photographers solve this by combining two photos manually later.  Be aware the HDR settings will not be very helpful (although may be interesting) because of the motion of the fireworks.  To combine the two manual exposures, you would need to be able to layer them together in an application like Photoshop.

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Sixth, fireworks move.  To get long, bright streaks of light in the sky, you need a fairly long shutter speed.  This helps with the fourth tip–you get more depth of field as a bonus.  I’m pretty happy with the size, shape, length of the streaks I get at about .4 seconds.  However, there are some types of fireworks that look better with longer exposures.  The only downside of exposing longer is that you get more smoke showing up in the process.

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Seventh, I once missed about ½ of a fireworks show trying this trick, but maybe it will work better for you.  Supposedly, you can put your camera on bulb and use a piece of paper or your hand to cover the lens in between the rockets being fired.  Then, you can get multiple fireworks into one shot.  This might have worked last night when I was in very close proximity to the launch point.  However, from a further distance, I just got very dull looking fireworks that were often barely visible.

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Shooting Fireworks

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Well, there comes a time when we are all caught off guard by ill preparation.  I can list a long number of excuses as to how this happened, starting with working way too many hours for my day job, but the truth of the matter is that I didn’t give getting my blog posts ready ahead of time top priority and, therefore, it didn’t happen.

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So, I am about 45 minutes away from leaving for the airport.  I’m headed overseas on a business trip where my internet access may be limited and my time most certainly will be.  And, I have only photos of fireworks ready to post.

So what’s a daily blogger to do?

Well, I’ve decided to do some really short posts on the theme of “fireworks.”  We’ll see if I manage to get a post a day up!

For today’s fireworks-themed post, let’s talk about some things I’ve learned about shooting fireworks.

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First, if you’re going to be really close to the fireworks (in this case, we were within a .10 of a mile as the crow flies from where they were being fired), put your widest lens on your camera.  Since most of us now have cameras with 20+ megapixels, cropping to get tight photos is an option and there is a bigger problem with fitting all the action in the frame.

Second, if you know which way the wind is blowing, find a spot upwind.  This will help reduce the amount of smoke in your images.  Unfortunately, that was not a possibility for me, so I do have a lot of smoke in my images.  I managed to do some adjusting to reduce it’s appearance, but it’s still annoyingly visible.

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Third, your cameras metering is useless while you’re shooting.  It will jump all over the place as the fireworks create large amounts of light and then fade.  By the time you adjust exposure, it will be too late.  Remain calm.  Check your photos on your LCD early even if it means missing a shot of the next one going off.  It’s better to miss one or two getting your exposure set right than to get home and find that every shot you took was completely blown out or too dark.

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To Sunset

The fast-fading glow in the Eastern sky

The fast-fading glow in the Eastern sky

No energy.  That’s me tonight.  I’ve barely been able to keep my eyes open since about 8PM.  I hope this doesn’t mean I’ve caught something (again).  It’s just as likely Tisen is the cause.  He is back to scratching all night again.  I feel like I did when we last had a puppy–being awakened every hour or so and finally settling down for the best sleep after taking our boy out to go potty in the wee hours of the morning, just before the alarm would go off.

The park fading into shadows

The park fading into shadows

Except there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  We are trying a drug we’ve tried before that helped.  We’re trying a new dose because it made him sick the last time we tried it.  We’ll see if giving him less helps without the side effects.  I feel guilty about this.  At some point I wonder how much is about my need to sleep vs ending my dog’s suffering?  Should I really be trying to give him a medication that made him sick?  And which is worse for him?  Scratching and chewing himself until he draws blood or a drug that makes him vomit and have diarrhea?  Can’t we have a nice easy route to ending his allergies without side effects?

Only gray is left to the East

Only gray is left to the East

In the meantime, I’m nodding off over the keyboard yet again and wanting nothing more than a good night’s sleep tonight.  I look at these photos of sunset and think that’s an apt way to describe how I feel at the moment–like the light is fading fast.  But, the sun will rise again in the morning and I’ll be blinking, squinting, and, with much resistance, dragging myself back out of bed regardless of how much or how little I sleep.

A bright glow remains in the West

A bright glow remains in the West

Going to be is far easier.  Here’s to sunset!

One final shot of the glowing trail the sun has left behind

One final shot of the glowing trail the sun has left behind

Last Look and Eating Badly

My favorite view from the easily accessible overlooks at Cloudland Canyon

My favorite view from the easily accessible overlooks at Cloudland Canyon

These are the last of the photos I will share from a week ago when we went to Cloudland Canyon (I promise).  The sad truth is that that was the last time we did anything physical.  Well, other than my Friday morning yoga class and walking Tisen–the last vestiges of exercise in my life at the moment.

Tisen poses pretty well for me for the 2nd time in the same day

Tisen poses pretty well for me for the 2nd time in the same day

I was thinking about an article I read a long time ago where health researchers looked at evidence from anthropology findings about the life style of hunter-gatherers.  The theory went that since humans were hunter-gatherers for the majority of our history, our bodies are most likely geared towards that type of lifestyle and, therefore, for optimal health, we should emulate the variety in diet and level of exercise from that time in our history.  The one key difference was that they speculated that while there were periods of famine for our ancestors, the findings (based on other studies) suggested that our bodies response to starvation, while allowing us to survive, is contrary to long-term health, but that’s another discussion.

The canyon walls on the other side of the creek

The canyon walls on the other side of the creek

The point I am (slowly) getting to is that research suggested that hunter-gatherers spent most of the daylight hours walking, climbing, picking, and, well, gathering.  There were occasional springs and jogs, but most of the time our ancestors were in gentle motion.  I compare this to my lifestyle of spending 10-12 hours in front of a computer at a desk five days a week.  The only thing that could possibly be further from our ancestors lifestyle would be to sleep for 20 years straight, Rip Van Winkle style.

Closer look at the end of the canyon ridge

Closer look at the end of the canyon ridge

It strikes me as rather ironic that through all our progress and technology, we have jobs that keep us from doing what makes us healthy and we struggle to find time to get the exercise we need because we’re so busy working, but if we spent our day gathering food instead of making money to buy food, we’d get all the exercise we need.  Mind you, I’m not suggesting I want to go back to a hunter-gatherer world.  I’m not that fond of famine, ice ages, disease, and all the other things that kept life expectancy down to something like 30.  I guess that’s the big flaw in assuming that our bodies are honed to that lifestyle–the hunter-gatherers didn’t life long enough to have a lot of the diseases we struggle with today.

Vertical view

Vertical view

I contemplated all of this, of course, as I was eating a large hunk of a baguette slathered in about two tablespoons of Irish butter.  I found myself wondering why I am able to still tell myself “tomorrow I’ll eat better” and shove a week’s worth of saturated fat into my belly and think it’s OK.  The thought crossed my mind that it’s like committing suicide slowly.  I did a little googling, but I couldn’t find any “I’m about to eat badly” hotline numbers.  Then I went and dished up some ice cream.

 

iPhone panoramic from the second overlook

iPhone panoramic from the second overlook

The First Overlook

Panoramic view taken with the iPhone

Panoramic view taken with the iPhone

This is going to be a short post.  I’m writing at 11:15PM on Thursday night.  I just finished my “day” job 15 minutes ago (I guess that makes it a “day-and-night” job) and if I try to write my usual 500 words, I’m likely to end up writing this post in my sleep (yes, I’ve done that before–check this out).

Cloudland Canyon is one of those must-see places if you’re anywhere in the area.  They have nice facilities including campgrounds, a picnic area with restrooms, an interpretive center, a spectacular view, and lots of great trails, including backcountry trails.

Looking the opposite direction down the gorge

Looking the opposite direction down the gorge

That said, if you are having a low-energy day, there’s also the leisurely walk around the mostly flat path along the cliff top.  There are several nice overlooks that always make me feel like the $5 parking fee was well worth it even when the path around the cliff top is the only path I walk that visit.

Looking up the gorge at a rolling valley covered in dense green you can hear a distant waterfall

Looking up the gorge at a rolling valley covered in dense green you can hear a distant waterfall

All of the images in this post were shot from what I think of as the first overlook.  It’s only the first overlook if you start with this one.  🙂  I like to park at the far end of the cliff top path and walk uphill around the rim.  I don’t know why I like this, but it might be because even when the park is really crowded, there are usually still parking places in this end of the parking lot.

The other reason is because it’s a short walk from the car to the first overlook, so there’s a quick payoff.  One drawback is that the restrooms at that end are often closed, so stopping at the first set of newer facilities (in a concrete block building) may be imperative, depending on your situation.

Rocks and trees along the cliff top

Rocks and trees along the cliff top

A short walk down a dirt path followed by a steep descent down metal-mesh steps takes you to a panoramic view up one leg of the gorge.  I, of course, was standing there with my 5D Mark III and my husband’s T4i with a 70-200mm lens on it (don’t ask) hanging around my neck while I stood on the overlook creating panoramics with my iPhone.  I sometimes think I should get my husband to take a picture of this with his iPhone just so I can see how ridiculous it looks!

Tisen does not like metal-mesh steps

Tisen does not like metal-mesh steps

The Face of the BDC

It must be odd to be face-to-face with yourself

It must be odd to be face-to-face with yourself

My husband is an expert in vintage guitars.  He’s been buying and selling them for about 20 years or so. But he was always passionate about building replicas.  While it’s really cool to play a collectible vintage instrument, they’re rare and irreplaceable.  They’re also really expensive.  So, if you can’t afford the real thing or don’t want to risk damaging it, you might choose a replica instead.  Replicas are usually force-aged to look like they’ve been through years of use like a favorite pair of jeans.

My husband is one of those genius people who can figure out how to make or build anything.  He invented a 3-dimensional routing machine about 18 years ago and had been collecting parts to build it since before we moved in together in 1997.

A big grin for my iPhone Camera! app

A big grin for my iPhone Camera! app

He would periodically pull our cars out of the garage and set up shop, turning our over-sized 2-car garage into a woodworking studio.

He built custom guitars when he got this itch.  Usually he did it as a favor to a friend.  But he periodically would come to me and start talking through a plan to build guitars to sell.  I felt he needed to either be a vintage guitar dealer or a guitar maker, not both.

Ultimately, he agreed with me and he kept guitar building at the hobby level until one fateful day.  That was the day he googled guitars shortly after we’d moved to Chattanooga, looking for potential places where he might find collectible guitars to buy.

A very special custom guitar project incorporating wood from a very special tree

A very special custom guitar project incorporating wood from a very special tree

He discovered there was a guitar shop in the large, mysterious building across the street from our apartment call the “BDC.”  One evening, we went in the building to look for the guitar shop.  What we learned was that this was a Business Development Center and the guitar “shop” was actually a guitar builder.  They made original-design electric guitars.

As Pat learned more about the BDC and the support they provided to new businesses, he decided maybe it was time to make the shift from being a guitar dealer to being a guitar builder.  So, he launched Coop Guitars in January of 2012.

He recently was asked to be one of the people included in a collage used for a banner advertising the BDC.  He gets teased about this now.  His fellow BDC residents like to tell him they just saw a group of beautiful young women standing around giggling over his picture.  Or that a bunch of people were there earlier waiting for autographs.  One of them told him he’s “the face of the BDC.”

An S-style body with curves to die for (photo by Pat)

An S-style body with curves to die for (photo by Pat)

He is taking it in stride.  After all, it’s just a banner in the lobby of a building.  I have to say he is looking mighty fine on that banner, though.  I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were having trouble keeping girls from lurking in the lobby hoping to run into him.  That’s probably what I would do if I were single.  🙂

A collection of coop guitars (photo by Pat)

A collection of coop guitars (photo by Pat)

Footprints

A wide view of the Evening Primrose in a meadow

A wide view of the Evening Primrose in a meadow

I was walking in the park about a week ago.  It was probably a weekend day fairly early in the morning.  As Tisen and I emerged from the building, we spotted a young couple in the shadows of the hillside in the early light.  I suspect they had been out all night behaving romantically.  At the moment I saw them, they were gathering a bouquet of flowers from the hillside.  Flowers that had magically appeared almost overnight after holding out through one cold snap after another.

A clump of evening primrose

A clump of evening primrose

I felt bad for those flowers–to be heartlessly neutered after having waited so long for the chance to procreate.  It struck me as ironic that the young couple who were clearly caught in the throes of hormonal influences would be the ones to remove the sexual organs of the plants carrying on their own romance on the hillside.

Part of me was tempted to ask the couple how they would feel if they were quietly carrying on wooing one another and some giant came along and plucked their genitalia, but I thought better of it.  It’s hard not to come across as insane and potentially dangerous when you start using words like “plucked” and “genitalia” in the same sentence.

A couple of blooms filling their cups with light

A couple of blooms filling their cups with light

I glanced at the sign that read, “Flowers are here for everyone to enjoy.  Take nothing but photographs; leave nothing but footprints” posted about 20 feet from where they were gathering their bounty.  I considered lecturing them on the inconsiderateness of taking flowers, not only taking from this season, but also stopping the offspring for future seasons to come.  Once again, I decided to hold my tongue.  Perhaps the act of thinking about saying something but not caused me to stare at them in some way that made them uncomfortable.  Whatever the cause, they made their way off the hillside and stopped their pillaging.

Not quite macro with my 24-70mm lens

Not quite macro with my 24-70mm lens

Having witnessed this act, I was doubly happy to notice the sea of flowers taking over the hillside this week.  The evening primrose, a lovely native, seems to have found its way into every space between the other grasses and flowers growing in the park.  They seem to have reached some sort of equilibrium that allows space for a wide variety of flowers at the same time.

The last, but maybe the best

The last, but maybe the best

The evening primrose was looking particularly sparkly about 2 hours before sunset the other day.  Like the blades of grass in yesterday’s post, I had a hard time not shooting it and an even harder time reducing my rather redundant set of photos to just 1.  I guess this was my way of gathering my own bouquet.

Bridges and Blades

Market St Bridge with grass foreground in Renaissance Park

Market St Bridge with grass foreground in Renaissance Park

The weather seems to be as confused as ever, but at least we had fabulous weather today–the kind of weather that reminded me of a late September day in Columbus.  The kind of day where, after months of heat and humidity, you take a deep breath and think, “Ahh.”  Interestingly, it just isn’t quite as refreshing when everyone is waiting for spring and it’s acting more like fall.

A pair of budding something shooting above the juvenile grasses

A pair of budding something shooting above the juvenile grasses

At least the flowers had finally reached the same point they were at by the end of March last year.  I figured it was a good time to get out with the camera.  Since I was walking Tisen, I opted to just take my favorite walking-around-lens, the 24-70mm.  It’s a nice range for shooting both landscape and getting pretty tight when close to the subject.  It does not, however, do well at macro.  That I will have to save for another day.

Closer to out-of-the-camera than the earlier image.  I really like the tree on the right

Closer to out-of-the-camera than the earlier image. I really like the tree on the right

It gets a little old shooting landscape in the same 100 yards or so along the riverfront.  While I’m sure there are an infinite number of angles to take, at some point, I just get bored.

Glowing blades of gras

Glowing blades of gras

I decided to try for some new angle on the Market St bridge.  It was about then that I discovered a bunch of grass that had been allowed to grow to it’s maximum height and was in the middle of going to seed.  I thought maybe it would make an interesting foreground for the bridge.  It wasn’t quite as interesting as I hoped, but making some extreme adjustments in Aperture helped at a little pop, at least.

I had a hard time choosing between the grass images--I might like this one best

I had a hard time choosing between the grass images–I might like this one best

Tisen had other subjects in mind.  He quickly pulled me across the walkway towards some fresh green grasses that, for a long time, I thought was bamboo.  I’ve been told by someone who is much better with plants than I am that they aren’t bamboo at all but are a native grass in Tennessee.  I will take their word for it.

More of the Market St Bridge

More of the Market St Bridge

On this particular day, the sun was hitting them at a really interesting angle that made them turn into glowing blades of green.  They were being backlit by an early evening sun.  I couldn’t help but take about 100 images of these glowing blades.  While I did crank up the volume slightly in Aperture on the contrast between the background and the blades of grass, they really looked pretty much like this in person.

One last look at the grass

One last look at the grass

Tisen was not, it turned out, impressed by the blades of grass for their aesthetic appeal.  He sees them as a superior communication medium.  He can mark along the clumps of grass and get both height an breadth that cannot be achieved with tree trunks or other grasses.  A little secret–I couldn’t get Tisen to hold still so I could get a shot of him carrying Jack.  So, I snuck a shot when he stopped to mark and just cut the back end out of the frame.  I guess it’s still pretty obvious what he’s doing.

Can you tell why Tisen is holding still in the this photo?

Can you tell why Tisen is holding still in the this photo?

Cove Lake

 

A nostalgic version of a fisherman sitting by the lake

A nostalgic version of a fisherman sitting by the lake

For anyone who has gone boating on a lake, one of the more popular boating activities is referred to as “coving.”  While coving sounds like something romantic two doves might do, coving can be among the most dangerous of activities that boaters undertake.  It largely consists of bobbing around in the water with adult beverages and hoping that no one runs over you with their outboard motor when they decide to leave after bobbing around drinking large quantities of said adult beverages.

I knew of one person who lost a leg when one of those inebriated boat drivers failed to avoid running him over in spite of dozens of people screaming at him to stop.  I was not there, but the story has soured the concept of coving for me.

A collection of clouds formed over the mountains in the distance in an otherwise clear blue sky

A collection of clouds formed over the mountains in the distance in an otherwise clear blue sky

On the flip side, coves are also coveted by water skiers, especially early in the day for their calm water that can look like glass when there’s no traffic on the lake.  Where there are water skiers and power boats, coves can be both exciting and dangerous.

Where there are no power boat, coves become a quiet area coveted for fishing.  Cove Lake State Park appears to have no power boats, only row boats (although I didn’t see any boats on the water on my way home last week).

What is perhaps the most odd circumstance of Cove Lake is that in spite of the quiet, secluded solitude its name implies, it’s cradled in the nook of two major highways, one of which is I-75.  When I got off the highway to check it out, I saw a lake from the freeway, but I assumed that was not Cove Lake.  I was wrong.  You can watch cars zooming by on an overpass from some parts of the park.

The row boats was patiently for someone to take them for a spin

The row boats was patiently for someone to take them for a spin

Curiously, the proximity to the freeway doesn’t make the park any less peaceful.  If there was noise from the freeway, I didn’t hear it.  From the number of fisherman gathering in the parking lots, preparing for their evening fishing, I’d guess it has a healthy fish population.

Tisen and I didn’t stay long enough to see anyone catch a fish, but it seemed like the guys in the parking lot had the kind of equipment only serious fisherman own and made a regular habit out of fishing at this little lake.

As we made our way back to the car, a Canada Goose couple started honking their alarm to their young, who immediately started hustling toward the safety of water.  I have read that geese who have never seen a canine will still respond with alarm to a canine-shaped animal, suggesting innate fears can be passed from one generation to the next.  I don’t know if these geese had seen a dog before, but Tisen barely had time to decide whether he was interested in the geese or not and turn his gaze their way before they were all in the water.  I’ve never seen goslings move faster!

One final shot of the lake as it continues its course around the bend and out of sight

One final shot of the lake as it continues its course around the bend and out of sight