If you love art, music, clockwork, steampunk … you must see these beautiful “bird pistols” recently auctioned at Christies. They are strange and elegant and silly objects of gems, gold, enamel and elaborate mechanisms, the epitome of beauty for its own sake. Attributed to Frères Rochat, they sold for $5.8 million. (Thanks to George Wilson for the link.)
I’ve spent the better part of two days working on a multimedia slide show that will be played on a DVD at a memorial service. Unfortunately, the service is for a friend. I didn’t get emotional until the end of the project, when I added his name and the dates of his life. The photos are a celebration of his life, but somehow, the text made his passing more real. Tom Breen was a journalist’s journalist who traveled the world and lived a great life. He was a kind philosopher, an obsessive reporter, and a warrior for what he thought was right.
Amid the emotion and creativity, there’s also been not a little bit of technical frustration. I thought I’d share one thing I learned that might help Macheads like myself. I got a new Mac recently, running system 10.6, Snow Leopard. (What’s with the stupid cat names? Honestly, I can’t keep them straight.) I love having a new computer with lots of memory and hard drive space, but the upgraded system also means endless upgrades of software and new trials in attempting to make my old devices work with the new beast. I haven’t tried my old Nikon slide scanner yet, but from what I’ve heard, people are having mixed results. However, I learned that for my old Epson Perfection 1200 Photo, I was probably going to have to pay for scanning software. Epson’s would not install or load (though the driver did, which then had to be updated with Apple’s Software Update). Then I discovered that Apple’s Preview, which is commonly used for a quick look at photos and PDFs, actually works as scanning software, too. And it worked just fine. One hurdle gone.I use Final Cut Pro for movie editing, but I thought I’d try iMovie for the slide show. It neatly fits your slides to a song and enables lots of interesting transitions, effects, control over timing, and titles. Unfortunately, iMovie ’11 also has its problems. It couldn’t “finalize project” because of a “heap zone” issue (documented by many but not solved in the Apple support forums). This is despite the ample memory and hard drive space on my computer. In addition, at startup, the program wants to update “Aperture Videos Event” (are there Microsoft people writing Mac software now? Is that English?) – in other words, it searches my already massive Aperture library for new stuff for several minutes. So I don’t foresee myself using iMovie all that much. I used to recommend iMovie heartily to anyone wanting to dabble in movie editing, especially because it comes free with Macs. Now, I’m not so sure.
While you need a storm to shoot lightning, one of the obvious side effects of a storm, the rain, is a real hindrance to lightning photography. And when the severe storms came to the Space Coast tonight …
I’m a year behind the times, but thanks to GalleyCat’s list of Moby Award-winning book trailers, I just saw the one for Sloane Crosley’s “How Did You Get This Number?” You’d never guess it’s for a book, or a book of essays, if it didn’t ultimately tell you, but who cares? It’s a wonderful piece of animation that makes you want to watch it until the end. I made my first book trailer last year for Susan Hubbard’s Ethical Vampire novel “The Season of Risks” and would love to make more. I’ve got to play with animation! Check out the Crosley trailer:
Meanwhile… I just got back from The Hukilau, the tiki festival held in Fort Lauderdale. I shot a lot of video with my Nikon D7000, trying to learn its mysterious ways. One, I’ve learned, even with the external mic, it’s hard to get good sound when bands are playing at deafening levels; and two, the autofocus is pretty awful for video. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see that on the screen in the middle of the action. It’s best to use a tripod, and the camera works best in situations where you can take your time and set up your shot. Of course, reality isn’t always accommodating. Fortunately I also have HD video cameras that are great for action.
I also took a few stills. This is one of my friend Kathryn at the Mai Kai Polynesian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. It was just one of those moments when the light was right, and she looked wonderful, and I had to take a photo. Do you agree?
Wow. I found this on YouTube. The wind and debris are incredible as this camera/home apparently just got sideswiped by the Joplin, Mo., tornado of May 22.
With several friends, I chased a line of severe storms in Nebraska on May 30 that offered much in the way of photo opportunities, even if they cut off our northern route in a beautiful landscape with almost no roads. What are you gonna do? Every trip is a mix of hits and misses (for instance, four tornadoes, but none on the high risk day), but it’s always educational and frequently fun – when it’s not frustrating. Like anything worthwhile, it takes a lot of work and, in this case, a lot of miles. To be precise: 11,865.
It’s always surreal returning home. Home is Florida, where it’s soupy and hot and summerlike, a big contrast to the breezy and cool spring of the Plains. Our rainy season hasn’t kicked in yet, so we’re not getting much in the way of thunderstorms. The dull drum of domesticity is met by the pleasure of being home. I’m watering the tomatoes, petting the dogs and catching up on sleep. I’m trying to find my rhythm as I get into a new career of self-employment. And I’m hoping for more adventure.I want to thank all the great chasers I caravaned with or otherwise hung out with on the road this year, among them “Dr. Wedge,” William “Bill” Hark; the storm chasing doctors Jason Persoff and Robert Balogh, who acted as first responders twice, including after the devastating Joplin, Mo., tornado; New Yawkers Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland; Mark Robinson and his team of Canadian “Storm Hunters,” Brad Rousseau and Dayna Vettese, Heather Reynolds and Meghan Yeo; Australian videographer Daniel Shaw; the crazy guys of Cloud 9 Tours; and Bill Reid and the Tempest Tours folks.
As for that lurker who followed Bill H. and I one day, what the hell was he thinking? Storm chasing isn’t like what you see on TV. It’s no Disney ride. It would be a lot simpler if it were.
It’s always nice to hear about winning something other than millions from a Nigerian prince. Though if that were true, it would be nice, too.During my storm-chasing trip I got the news that I’d won a first place, Division I, from the Society for Features Journalism in the Reader Engagement category. It was for an interactive project I worked on at Florida Today called Bon Appetit Brevard. A lot of people were involved, but I wrote the stories, took photos, and shot and edited videos of the 10 semifinalists in this contest, which featured fabulous amateur chefs making their favorite recipes. I also shot and edited a half-hour TV show featuring the finalists making their dishes and competing to win a scholarship at Keiser University in Melbourne. Fun stuff! You can still see the videos online. Taryn Ireland won, and Francisco Abalo and Renee Durette were the other finalists. All the dishes were great, but I could use a piece of bread topped with Francisco’s chicken liver pate about now.