Dirty Laundry

Every so often it becomes obvious that Tisen isn’t the only critter in the house who needs a bath.  His collection of toys often starts to look a little, well, crusty.  I guess if you were carried around in a slobbery dog’s mouth day after day, you might get a little crusty, too.

Poor Lamb has turned into the black sheep of the family–her once white-as-snow fleece has become charcoal gray.  Skunk shows stains less, but still had quite a coating of dried dog drool.

But what is the appropriate way to clean stuffed squeaky toys?  I opted for the gentle cycle in the washing machine.  I gathered up all the toys that were in the house (who knows how many more are lying abandoned in one of the cars) and tossed them all into the washing machine.

I even found one of Twiggy’s toys Tisen apparently stole from her the last time she stayed with us.  It’s a very clever skunk.  Instead of being stuffed, it has a velcro closure at one end that allows it to be opened so a plastic bottle can be inserted inside the skunk.  I don’t know what is so appealing about a plastic bottle to dogs, but most of them seem to love them.  Tisen loves this toy better than any of his own–I suspect it is because it belongs to Twiggy.

I removed the plastic bottle before adding Twiggy’s skunk to the wash.

The toys all came out of the gentle cycle in tact, but very wet.  We tried drying them on the delicate setting, but they were still wet after.  I then tried a medium heat setting.  Still wet.  Since it was a hot sunny day, I opted to spread them out on the edge of the balcony to see if that would help.

Tisen was a bit nervous about his family being spread out on the balcony.  He felt compelled to guard his flock.  He seems to have a strong herding instinct that becomes apparent whenever a stranger comes into the house.  Watching him sit and watch over his toys made me wonder if he didn’t end up with some Border Collie genes somewhere along the line.

Twiggy was less concerned about the welfare of Tisen’s collection (or even her own skunk).  She just enjoys the view from the balcony.

In the end, Tisen’s flock did dry–I flipped them once after a few hours like a bunch of cute, furry pancakes.  Twiggy’s clever skunk dried the fastest of them all.  They are all fluffy and soft now.  Many look new again.  Lamb, however, has only transitioned from charcoal gray to slightly lighter gray.  Perhaps next time I’ll try the “heavily soiled” cycle.

Nice to Monaco

Street scene between Monaco train station and the conference

Street scene between Monaco train station and the conference

One of the challenges of having a conference in Monaco is getting there.  While the conference was relatively small–less than 2000 people–there wasn’t sufficient housing (at least not within most corporate budgets) for everyone to stay in Monaco.  As a result, those of us who booked late had hotels in Nice.

The solution was to send large tour buses to the hotels in Nice to pick up those who were staying there and then drive everyone over to Monaco.  In the morning rush hour traffic, the drive took a good hour and a half.  The bus had little A/C and most of us were feeling like we needed a second shower by the time we arrived at the conference site.

Lovely view while stuck in traffic on the bus

Lovely view while stuck in traffic on the bus

The really sad part of the bus ride was that we didn’t take the coastal road, so we didn’t get to see some of the best views.  At one point, we were stuck in traffic for a good 15 minutes while overlooking a lot that looked like it was used for industrial waste.  Not exactly the kind of thing you hope to get to see when you go to the French Riviera.

We did get an occasional glimpse of the sea, but it was infrequent.

Looking for things to take pictures of through tinted bus windows resulted in creating some really strong vignetting in the images.  I don’t know how much more pronounced this effect was due to the camera being an iPhone vs using a DSLR, but all of the images through the bus windows were the same.

A quick glimpse of the sea from the bus

A quick glimpse of the sea from the bus

When at long last we reached the conference site, we got to experience modern office buildings butted up against the rising hills of the landscape.  There is not much about Monaco that makes you think there should be office buildings there.  It created a surprise effect.

In the end, what i learned from the bus ride was to take the train.  The next day, I slept in instead of getting up extra early to catch the 7:15AM bus.  I caught a train much later–a 10 minute walk from my hotel.  I rode in comfort along the coastal tracks, enjoying views of the sea the entire way (except when we went through the many tunnels).  It cost 3.70 Euro to ride the train.  The entire train trip took 20 minutes.  And, I happened to sit next to 2 other people attending the same conference who knew how to get there from the train station, so I made it there on time without getting lost.

Office buildings in Monaco

Office buildings in Monaco

Nice Views

The lovely "beach" in Nice

The lovely “beach” in Nice

If yesterday I attempted to make you feel sorry for me for having to travel to Nice and Monaco, today I might make you jealous.

I arrived in Nice around 9AM on Monday morning.  When I arrived at my hotel, my room wasn’t ready yet, but after only a few minutes in the lobby, I was given a key and sent upstairs.  This was a good thing because having not slept a wink on the flight over, I was about to nod off in the lobby.

Interesting building on my round-about way to the shore.  Using HDR created ghost of a pedestrian in my shot.

Interesting building on my round-about way to the shore. Using HDR created ghost of a pedestrian in my shot.

I climbed into bed and set my alarm so that I’d get in a nice 2 hour nap.  Or should I say a Nice  2 hour nap?  In either case, I have found that it’s best not to sleep more than 2 hours when I arrive in a new time zone, especially when traveling in an Eastward direction.

I woke up before my alarm went off.  I jumped out of bed feeling panicked that perhaps I had missed a meeting.  I logged in immediately to see what emails I’d gotten since falling asleep.  Given that it was only 7AM back in the Eastern US, I hadn’t received much of anything.

The fake peninsula (created by shooting panoramic with iPhone default camera app)

The fake peninsula (created by shooting panoramic with iPhone default camera app)

After convincing myself I hadn’t missed anything, I jumped in the shower to discover it was one of those weird adaptations of a tub with a curtain on hooks shooting out from the post the shower head was installed on like a star.  I pulled the curtain around me, but it only went about ½ way around.  I did my best not to spray the entire bathroom.  This might explain why the toilet (and toilet paper) were in another room–it could be the only way they stay dry when someone showers.

Fake inlet (also created by shooting panoramic with default iPhone camera app)

Fake inlet (also created by shooting panoramic with default iPhone camera app)

Feeling wide awake and fresh, I threw on some casual clothes and went out to take a walk along the shore.  Unfortunately, I was somewhat disoriented and walked the wrong direction.  By the time I found the shore, I wasn’t feeling so fresh anymore.

But, the beach was lovely.  The wind was blowing and the air was fresh.  What more could an American on a business trip ask for?

A plaza along the way to the beach

A plaza along the way to the beach

I experimented with panoramic shots on the shore with my iPhone.  I ended up creating a peninsula out of the rocks I was standing on and turning the shoreline into an inlet because of the effect of shooting panoramic.  It was kind of fun.

A more realistic view of the beach

A more realistic view of the beach

Dinner Date

Tisen giddy with excitement

Tisen giddy with excitement

Tisen is experiencing the emotion of conflict of interest.  He loves Twiggy and he loves his mommy.  He just isn’t sure how to love both of us at the same time.

If Tisen and I were two humans with the same relationship, we would be in therapy.

I have never understood possessive, jealous people.  Any guy I ever dated back when I was a single person (E-gads!  It’s been decades ago!) who had issues with me having friends, having a career, and having interests separate from his didn’t last long.  (Well, excepting my first “adult” boyfriend, but that’s another story.)  I guess because I identify with Tisen in more of a mother-son sort of way, his possessiveness and jealousy seem simultaneously more strange and more tolerable.

Twiggy giving "the Look" that probably results in her getting what she wants 100% of the time

Twiggy giving “the Look” that probably results in her getting what she wants 100% of the time

Perhaps more tolerable because I don’t actually have to argue with Tisen and convince him that he’s nuts for being upset that I’m petting Twiggy.  I just pet Twiggy and let him deal with it.

It’s also more tolerable because it’s amusing to watch Tisen flip back and forth between wanting to play with Twiggy and wanting to remain between her and me.  When Twiggy moves away from me, he grabs and toy and follows her, trying to get her to play tug-o-war or keep away.  When Twiggy comes back my way, Tisen drops his toys, dives head-first onto the sofa, often landing completely across my lap.

Twiggy decides to take advantage of the fact that there are 3 humans present who are capable of rubbing her belly

Twiggy decides to take advantage of the fact that there are 3 humans present who are capable of rubbing her belly

Of course, Tisen eventually wears himself out and decides he really can share me.  Then Twiggy happily sits next to me and raises a paw so I will rub her armpit.

I got out my iPhone and attempted to capture a few images of our favorite dogs (in Tennessee–no offense to Paris and Bonnie who are, of course, our favorite dogs in Ohio).

Twiggy extends her neck to place her head directly under her daddy's hand

Twiggy extends her neck to place her head directly under her daddy’s hand

Low light and motion are not ideal conditions for shooting with the iPhone.  One thing that might have been helpful would have been to turn on the flash.  I’ve found using the feature in Camera! that turns the LED light on like a flashlight works better than using the LED like a flash.  It helps the phone find focus for one thing.  But, I think I end up with a faster shutter speed this way.  I’ll have to test this theory.

In any case, with so much excitement going on, catching either dog in a moment of “paws” (sorry for the pun) was a bit challenging.  Without the LED light on, the iPhone takes a very long time to find focus and fire, which makes getting decent images of moving dogs even more challenging.

Our guests and Tisen (Big Dog is also on the floor, partially cut out of the frame)

Our guests and Tisen (Big Dog is also on the floor, partially cut out of the frame)

This is the kind of situation where, if you want an image to capture a memory and you’re not really after a specific look, the iPhone is just fine.  But if you really want a stop-action kind of shot, a DSLR would be a much better choice.  Or even just a point-and-shoot with fully manual control and higher ISO settings.

None-the-less, I enjoy any pictures of the dogs.

A Walk in the Park

The native lens in the iPhone does not make for a great way to capture Great Blue Heron

The native lens in the iPhone does not make for a great way to capture Great Blue Heron

Today when Tisen and I made our morning round of the park and I spotted a Great Blue Heron hanging out on the railing of the bridge, I promptly reached into my pocket and pulled out the only camera I had with me, my iPhone.

Now, I use my iPhone for work even though it’s my personal phone.  This is an example of what corporations now call “work-life integration.”  I remember when it used to be called, “work-life balance.”  I have the advantage that I need only have one phone number and one device.  The company has the advantage that they don’t have to pay for my service.  I suppose it’s win-win.

I'm sneaking up on the heron.  Can you seem him yet?

I’m sneaking up on the heron. Can you seem him yet?

I mention this because one of the really horrific disadvantages to using my personal iPhone for work is my company requires special security before they’ll allow corporate email on a mobile device.  That security prevents the camera from starting without unlocking the phone.  It also forces me to use a long password with special characters that, on average, take me 3 attempts to type in correctly.

So, back to our Blue Heron, here I am, walking in the park.  I spot a Great Blue Heron on the railing up ahead.  I tell Tisen “Wait” as I pull my phone out of my back pocket.  While holding the leash and trying to see the screen in bright sunlight and with sunglasses on, I use my thumbs to key in my password.

Can you see him now?

Can you see him now?  (Hint:  he flew to the left)

Cultural note:  the phrase “All Thumbs,” as in, “She tried to enter her password, but she was all thumbs,” should have been a really strong indicator to the inventors of smart phones that a keyboard requiring you to type using only your thumbs might not be the best answer.

I get an error message.  I look up.  Heron hasn’t moved.  I enter my password again.  I get another error.  I curse under my breath and check the bird again.  Still there.  I try a third time and just as I am about to hit the return key, Tisen moves, pulling the leash, which moves my left hand, which jerks the phone and causes me to hit an extra key as I hit the return key.  3rd strike.  My phone is now counting down until the self-destruct sequence begins.  I frantically enter my password one more time.  The planets align!  I get my phone unlocked, my camera app open, and the heron is still sitting there!

Now you can at least see a silhouette!

Now you can at least see a silhouette!

However, as you can see from the photos, perhaps there are times when it truly is better not to have a camera at all.  The Camera! app was not set in rapid fire mode.  It took far too long to shoot to capture the heron taking off from the railing.  Of course, with no optical zoom (my mini-telephoto lenses back at home), I’m not sure it’s possible to actually tell where the heron is in most of the images in any case.

Tisen giving me the "Oh mom, you're so crazy" look

Tisen giving me the “Oh mom, you’re so crazy” look

Vintage Twiggy

Miss Twiggy looking cozy in black and white

Miss Twiggy looking cozy in black and white

 

Well, it’s 12:48AM.  I just finished working (although I took a break to go to an Audubon Society meeting for a couple of hours).  Just for fun, I added up how many hours I’ve worked since Monday morning.  I’ve worked 35 hours so far this week.  I guess that’s not so bad.  But, it looks like I have some longer days ahead of me and I’ll probably be working this weekend.

Miss Twiggy looking a bit like lemonade

Miss Twiggy looking a bit like lemonade

Such is life.

But, in the interest of self-preservation, this is going to be a really short post.

I did a little experiment with Hipstamatic the other day.  Our friend and his dog, Twiggy, joined us for dinner.  Twiggy was lying on our sofa on top of the blanket we use to protect the sofa from the dogs.  Twiggy and the blanket were an almost perfect match.

A more realistic coloring on Twiggy and Sofa, but still a bit yellow

A more realistic coloring on Twiggy and Sofa, but still a bit yellow

I pulled out my iPhone and used Hipstamatic with the Jimmy lens (I think) and tried it with both the color and black and white tintype film.

I wanted to get Twiggy blending into the blanket in color, but for some reason the images all came out more yellow than they looked in real life.  I did not adjust any of the images–these are how they came out of Hipstamatic.

Final black and white version--I didn't notice how she holds her back feet until just now

Final black and white version–I didn’t notice how she holds her back feet until just now

To Spring or Not to Spring

Flowering trees in the neighborhood next to the restaurant

Flowering trees in the neighborhood next to the restaurant

Returning to my home town for the first time in quite a few months, I was disappointed to discover it was still winter there when I arrived.  The temperatures dropped to the upper 30’s and the rain seemed never-ending.  I was regretting having left spring behind in Chattanooga.

Fortunately, the expression “if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes,” is as applicable in Columbus as it is anywhere else I’ve heard it uttered.  While it took more than 10 minutes to make a significant shift, the sun appeared, the rain dried, and the temperature started to rise.

I went from wishing I’d brought a winter coat to worrying about not having a raincoat or umbrella to wondering if I even needed a light sweater in just a few days.   I suppose it’s typical for spring–it comes in fits and starts.  One day it feels like August, the next we’re back to January and gradually the ratio changes and the high and low temperatures keep staying higher until most of the days feel like August.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember it’s a process.

Our friend on the patio while we wait for food

Our friend on the patio while we wait for food

By the time we met friends for dinner on Monday night, the weather was cooperative.  This was especially good because the restaurant we ate at had about 5 tables inside and 10 out.  Had it been bad weather, we would have been waiting for a table for a long time.  As it was, we were able to sit outside without a wait because the sky was gray enough to elicit looks of suspicion from patrons hovering around the bar with their food.  The weather may have been cooperative, but just barely.  By the time we finished eating, we were wrapping our jackets around us tight trying to stay warm.

Our other friend cooling off after walking to meet us and his wife

Our other friend cooling off after walking to meet us and his wife

One of the great things about eating in a new restaurant in our old neighborhood was that we actually ran into other friends while we were sitting there.  Friends we hadn’t seen in a really long, long time.  It made me think maybe we should try the approach one of my friends who moved to Seattle uses when she comes into town for a visit.  She schedules dinner at a place where people can easily come and go without throwing the staff for a loop.  Then, she invites all her friends to meet her there.  She gets to see many friends in a 2-3 hour window this way.  It does sound much easier to coordinate than trying to schedule 3 meals a day with different people.  However, I’m not sure I would get to actually talk with everyone that way.

In any case, it was cool to get to catch up with 4 friends at one meal.  Unfortunately, our surprise friends arrived after it was too dark to take photos with my iPhone.  I did manage to catch some blooming trees and the friends we’d scheduled our dinner with via Hipstamatic.  I should probably start experimenting with something other than tintype soon.

Tisen refusing to hold still after we returned to our host's house

Tisen refusing to hold still after we returned to our host’s house

Road Trip

Gina looking fierce in front of unwanted graffiti

Gina looking fierce in front of unwanted graffiti

Loading the car for a road trip used to be simple.  It was a matter of throwing in a small bag with some clean underwear, a change of clothes, maybe some special face soap, and, of course, my purse.  Now, it takes a whole lot more.

This would be a little more timeless without the sunglasses

This would be a little more timeless without the sunglasses

There’s the additional wardrobe required for business meetings.  This, of course, must be accompanied by additional baggage required for a laptop, a phone, a tablet, 3 chargers, headphones, business cards, and miscellaneous forms of paper.

Then there’s the additional wardrobe required for hanging out with friends and encountering a variety of social settings.  Limiting myself to 2 pairs of shoes is quite a challenge.

This reminds me of the kinds of photos my grandparents used to take

This reminds me of the kinds of photos my grandparents used to take

But the mass of what I loaded into the car was photography equipment.  It took two big bags of stuff plus my tripod–that’s without my umbrella stands.  Had I brought Tisen with me, the volume of stuff would have doubled.  Fortunately, my husband is taking care of Tisen for a few days and we’ll meet up later.

I managed to get the car loaded in one trip with my husband’s help.

I like driving.  At least, I like it until miscellaneous body parts start going numb, my shoulders start burning, and I realize I’m clenching my jaw like I’m performing one of those rope tricks in a circus where a lady is spun and swung all over the place while she bites on a rope.  Then, I would like a more comfortable seat and perhaps a massage.

I keep thinking I should make the drive at a leisurely pace, stopping to shoot interesting sights and exploring the area each time I stop.  Unfortunately, I never have that kind of time to get from one place to another.  This time, I opted to drive a few hours the night before I needed to arrive at my destination.  Then, I stopped at a hotel for the night before driving the rest of the way.  This divided the drive up nicely, allowing me to get a decent night’s sleep and also to miss rush hour traffic outside a major city in the morning.  Had I not stopped, I would have needed to leave by 5AM to make sure I got to my meeting on time.

Gill and Gina looking strangely contemporary in this tintype-effect Hipstamatic shot

Gill and Gina looking strangely contemporary in this tintype-effect Hipstamatic shot

After doing my work stuff, I got to have some time to relax with my hosts, who we like to call Gina and Gill.  It’s a beautiful sunny day for a change.  Gina and Gill have the perfect porch for a sunny day.  We ended up hanging out on said porch, enjoying the warmth and the breezes.  I decided that the big front porch on their 100+ year old house was the perfect setting to pull out the Hipstamatic app and use the tintype film.

After taking a few shots of Gina and Gill on the front porch, Gina and I took a little walk where we found some unpleasant graffiti to shoot her in front of.  I like the urban look.

Fishing Along the Riverfront

Tisen looks so happy rolling in the grass

Tisen looks so happy rolling in the grass

If I am guilty of getting carried away with my new fisheye lens for my iPhone camera, please forgive me.  It’s pretty darn fun.  And combining fisheye with Hipstamatic is particularly fun–the square format works well with the round shape of the image created by the fisheye attachment.  However, I do like the increased bulging effect of the fisheye lens in the rectangular format.

Tisen rolling Hipstamatic Tintype Style

Tisen rolling Hipstamatic Tintype Style

The biggest problem with the rectangular format is that the lens must be perfectly centered over the built-in lens or I get uneven roundness and even wide black edges in some cases when the fisheye attachment gets bumped off center (which seems to happen frequently).

This problem is compounded by the inability to see the screen to tell that the lens attachment isn’t centered.  This results in images like this one:

Oops--the fisheye adapter got bumped

Oops–the fisheye adapter got bumped

By comparison, the Hipstamatic version (which is really the equivalent of a cropped image) is zoomed in far enough that the curved edges do not show.  Even when the lens is well off-center like the one above:

Same shot with Hipstamatic

Same shot with Hipstamatic

Of course, cropping the first image would eliminate the issue. For some reason, I just really like the bubble effect.  I guess if I’m going to go fisheye, I want it to be obvious.

I really like the fisheye effect for putting Tisen into an image that includes local landmarks across the horizon.  While I had fun with this in the images posted yesterday, I especially like the images of Tisen rolling in the grass in the foreground with the Market Street Bridge (and glimpses of Walnut Street Bridge) in the background.

Tisen on the steps is also cute, but then, I have a hard time not loving any picture of Tisen.

Looking through the railing

Looking through the railing

For those of you who are Tisen fans, you may notice that he is not carrying any of his beloved toys in these images.  However, if you happen to look back at yesterday’s post very carefully, you might notice that Tisen has his armadillo/opossum toy with him in those images.  Those images were shot on the same walk as today’s.

Tisen on the steps old style

Tisen on the steps old style

This is a sign of SPRING!  Finally!

As the weather gets warmer, Tisen’s interest in walking around with a furry toy stuck to his tongue decreases.  He still insists on grabbing a toy before we go out the door, but by the time we get less than halfway through the walk, he’s ready for me to take over carrying it.

I, however, do not employ the same method of carrying his toy that he does.  I feel foolish enough walking around the park with a stuffed animal.  I’m fairly certain people who only see us in warm weather think I have some sort of phobia that causes me to carry stuffed animals everywhere I go–one more thing to blame on the dog.

No Tisen in this one, but I like the extra curve of the sculpture

No Tisen in this one, but I like the extra curve of the sculpture

Perhaps I should shoot Tisen’s toys with the fisheye?  Why do I suddenly see a future of retaking every shot I’ve ever taken with a fisheye lens now?

And, yes, I shot it with Hipstamatic as well

And, yes, I shot it with Hipstamatic as well

Fisheye

Multiplying the effects--Hipstamatic Tintype with Fisheye lens attachment!

Multiplying the effects–Hipstamatic Tintype with Fisheye lens attachment!

I have been on a new mission:  to learn how to get better photos out of my iPhone.  As those of you who visit my blog often have undoubtedly seen, this led to getting addicted to the Tintype-like settings in Hipstamatic followed by a shooting spree of many of the same landmarks I’ve already shot far too many times before.

Similar to first image, but shot with the Camera! app instead of Hipstamatic

Similar to first image, but shot with the Camera! app instead of Hipstamatic

Well, now I have a new toy.  So, I’m on a whole new spree.  I succumbed to the temptation of taking a simple, no-need-to-carry-anything-extra device for photography, and added stuff that complicates it and requires carrying more stuff.  However, this is the stuff:

The three-lens set

The three-lens set

Perhaps it’s not obvious from this image, but the size of these little lenses are about the diameter of a quarter.  One acts like a 2x teleconverter for the iPhone (or any smart phone) camera lens, making images appear 2x closer than they appear through the phone lens by itself.  A second provides both wide angle views and (by unscrewing part of it) macro capabilities.  The third creates a fisheye effect.

Fisheye Tisen using Camera! app on iPhone

Fisheye Tisen using Camera! app on iPhone

 

Nearly the same image but with Hipstamatic app and Tintype effects

Nearly the same image but with Hipstamatic app and Tintype effects

I have often wanted to try a fisheye lens.  There are just times when fisheye looks so darn cool.  However, no matter how much I wanted to give it a try, with prices ranging from $600-$1600, I just felt like it was more than I wanted to spend for something I wasn’t likely to use all that frequently.

In contrast, the fisheye attachment for the iPhone would have been $20 if I’d bought it by itself and was closer to $15 because I bought the 3-lens kit.  Now, of course, I’m not going to get the same quality of images shooting with an iPhone with a $15 attachment stuck over the lens, but playing with what fisheye will do allows me to find out whether it is something I will use regularly or not with very little expense.

Tisen heading down the path

Tisen heading down the path

The lens attaches to the phone by sticking a magnetized washer that fits around the built-in lens.  Once the magnet is adhered, the lens itself sticks to the magnet.  Or, it could be the other way around–the magnet might be in the lens.  In any case, it’s a simple but not foolproof way to attach the lens.  The magnet is not strong enough to keep the lens from moving around when bumped.  Because the screen is hard to see in bright sunlight, it’s hard to tell if the lens is no longer properly centered.  Other than that, it’s a pretty ingenious system.

I am really digging how much of the foreground and background can be fit into a single image with the fisheye effect.  I love being able to put Tisen in the foreground (at the end of a 4 ft leash) and still have the skyline in the background.  The only problem with the extreme wide angle of fisheye is the tendency to end up with your feet in the image.

Looking down into a courtyard

Looking down into a courtyard