2:00PM Water Cooler 5/31/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, this also is a travel day for me. Yesterday, I posted briefly on Robert Frank, the photographer (hoping also that the photo Butte, Montana, would prompt more comments on Montana from readers). Today, a few words on photography.

I’m too lazy to dig out the link, but at some point in the past year or so I posted a link to the effect that taking up projects is one way to keep the mind sharp (and that goes, I think, for people of any age, and not only those of advanced years). For example, since I began taking photographs more or less regularly, and thinking about what I was doing, I noticed that my dreams were much more colorful and realistic. So, the mycelial mat of my brain was putting forth new filaments!

Which brings me to the pictures of plants for Water Cooler. I am very grateful to readers who send them in, and what follows is in no way a criticism. The purpose of Water Cooler is documentary — these are your photos — and I don’t want to turn NC into an art gallery, even if I could. We like text!

That said, photographic projects are really wonderful. I notice a number of you take regular walks, and look at the plants on your route; my father did the same when he walked to work, noting the trees in their seasonal cycles. For my project this summer, I’m going to do the same thing; I’m going to find a plant, or a patch, and photograph it every day, and see what I get.

I encourage those inclined to take a similar approach. And here are some ways — I’m rushed, so I have to allude to these concepts, rather than link to them — to make your photographs more of a pleasure to the eye (aside from the pleasure one takes in simply having nurtured a plant, or watched it grow).

1) If you must shoot into the sun, avoid lens flare, unless the effect is consciously sought.

2) The horizon must be level.

3) If you can’t answer the question “What is the subject of this photograph?” consider reshooting the same subject tomorrow.

4) The subject doesn’t have to be in the middle of the frame; try the Rule of Thirds.

5) Omit needless things by moving closer in or reframing.

Professional photographers and visual types please chime in!

* * *

If you start thinking about taking photographs, you’ll be amazed at how fun it is (and how different the many styles and techniques of photography are). This summer, I’d especially like to see images of entire beds or gardens, as opposed to individual plants. That might not be so easy! And gardening is another project, eh?

See you at tonight’s extravaganza!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here.

And here’s today’s plant (AM):

AM writes: “I can report that it has been unseasonably warm and sunny in northern Wales. Grass here is tenacious, clinging to the bunkers at Royal St David’s GC in Harlech and at Conwys GC in Conwys.”

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Mark

    Frank eventually assumed his rightful place in the modern pantheon despite his “drunken horizons” and other offenses against mid-century good taste. There was a terrific exhibit of his lesser-known work at Bowdoin earlier this year — I hope you got to see it.

  2. Max

    I found a great article for the Guillotine Watch:
    We Bought a Crack House

    You will experience an emotional rollercoaster as a young couple attempts to buy their third house, a multi-tenant boarding house, and convert it into a 4000 sq ft family home for four people. Despite running up against Kafka-esque zoning regulations, tenants rights laws, and incompetent contractors (because they can’t afford to pay market rates), they are eventually successful, only going half a million dollars over their budget.

    1. jrs

      I don’t know that I would exactly put them on the guillotine watch, more like a: “greed completely F’s people up in the head” watch.

      Yes they are privileged in some ways, but mostly what stands out is they are making decisions that more sensible people simply would not make. It’s one thing to make bad decisions out of need (poverty in other words), but those two are making them out of GREED.

      Who buys a house sight unseen? What pregnant woman goes around cat feces house just to check it out? What sensible person goes with cheapo house repairs to save money? It would be one thing if it was poor people doing what they can to hold on to shelter, but for these folks, if you can’t afford the repairs the truth is you can’t afford the house. But it’s not like they are going to be homeless at that point, they do own a condo. Who will endure such psychological torment just for love of chasing the almighty Canadian dollar? Most people in that situation would say F IT ALL, it’s not worth developing psychological problems just for this, I’m going to move back into my condo and have my mental health thank you very much.

      “We watch closely for news of interest rate hikes or attempts to cool the market. One major shakeup and we’re back to nightly panic attacks.”

      Most people at this point would say: screw the money, I need to be able to sleep at night, it’s like the old advice: if your investments make you lose sleep you shouldn’t be in them.

      They were mostly victims of their own greed.

      1. Carl

        Agreed. They did a lot of really stupid stuff. “You mean I shouldn’t hire some guy who walked in off the street?” Dunno how the sales process works in CA, but seems like the sellers were allowed to get away with some shady practices as well.

      2. Not_TheAccountant

        Exactly, and plus, the guy works part time as a professor (which means he has a highly flexible schedule outside his class hours) and she is an editor for a website. I wonder if she even has to be at a physical work place daily. My point is, they’re in Toronto and they can’t afford a house at market rates. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to simply look further out from town at the expense of a longer commute, which likely isn’t much of a problem given their occupations? I think they were just determined to get a large house in a certain area they couldn’t reasonably afford to live in.

    2. diptherio

      They hired a guy who just wandered up, for $35/hr, to do structural repairs on a house they paid over 500K for, sight unseen…excuse me while I don’t feel at all sorry for them…

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Multi-tenant boarding house vs. 4000 sq ft family home for four people.

      In the former case, the old building gave shelter to multi-tenants (presumably more than 4).

      In the latter, the improved structure will house 4.

      What will happen to the tenants? Where will they go?

    4. Arizona Slim

      I’m in the process of renovating a middle-aged house. (It’s in its early sixties, like I’m about to be.)

      My place isn’t nearly as bad as this one was, but it has its challenges. One of them has not been hiring incompetent people. To man (no women hired — yet), they’ve been great workers. One of the guys told me that he thought one of the other contractors overcharged me, but he also complimented their work. Live and learn, I say.

      And there you have it. My little reno tale.

    5. Steve

      It is good to see that the power of “Stupid” is strong in other places besides the US :)

    6. Mike

      We considered cutting the electricity, changing the locks or just starting the demolition with the tenants inside, but it didn’t feel right.

      These are bad people.

      1. ambrit

        They’re also stupid. Haven’t they ever heard of assault with intent? One of the reasons for the Sheriffs Department anywhere is to prioritize property rights over personal rights. Evictions are what Sheriffs do for fun and profit. Plus, demolition is different from tear out.

  3. Carolinian

    Photography: Robert Capa said “if your pictures aren’t good enough you aren’t close enough.” He was a war photographer but I’d say that applies pretty much to all photography. Perhaps the art of photography consists of deciding what the subject is. Reality does the rest.

    1. hreik

      Good luck. Hope it works out for you and your interview landed you where you want to be.

    2. Altandmain

      Oops meant to type crossed.

      Thanks though. It is a pretty solid opportunity (of course you never know until you physically are there).

      I think though that there are solid signs:

      – They tried to sell me on the company
      – They were impressed by my knowledge of the industry (aviation)
      – Asked good questions during the interview
      – If hired, my future boss praised me on my hobbies (Toastmasters)
      – They liked my previous work experience
      – Felt I had a good relationship with the Director in the firm

      So it is a very strong possibility.

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Same here.

      Been looking for a higher end bartending job in the Tacoma, WA area.

      BTW, when are we going to do a Seattle/Tacoma/Portland meetup?

      Lot of triangulating Socialists round this part!

      1. Altandmain

        Good luck!

        I don’t know what the market is in WA, but I can imagine jobs are hard to come by as well on the West Coast.

        I know the market for sure is really bad here in Canada.

        1. ambrit

          The coasts are a paradise compared to the hinterlands. Here, labour conditions are approaching Dickensian dimensions. I was admonished for getting more than twenty hours of work last week. My query was, “Am I making the company money?” The reply was, “That doesn’t matter. You have to keep to the rules.” My rejoinder, “So, your bonus trumps my paying my bills?” Reply, “D–n right.” Now I know why everyone in this town is applying for every job in sight, 24.7.
          That is retail. Plumbing repair jobs here are now on a strict commission basis. A rumour is that the “chain” plumbing franchises will slowly introduce a pre set hours per project worker payment system. Which would be standard neo-liberal “branding,” but stupid from a pragmatic point of view. The dealer auto repair systems might be able to get away with it, but house repairs are notoriously non-standard in nature. This society is taking on the attributes of a giant standardized clusterf–k. “Place hand A in pocket B and remove contents while placing hand C on crotch D and squeezing gently.” Trumps “grab ’em by the p—y” is just a plain description of basic social relations in Moderne America. Somehow, I think that Melania would avoid being so vulgar as to state plainly, “Grab ’em by the d–k.” HRM HRC might go either way in this controversy.

    4. Carl

      They’ve changed their minds, apparently, and will now pay compensation for the rebooked flights. Not before pissing a lot of people off, though.

  4. craazyman

    what if you’re drunk? does the horizon still have to be level? I don’t think it was all that level for somebody like William Eggleston. But it was for Carlton Watkins. It depends . . .

    Here’s the top 10 tips for taking good plant photos

    Don’t try to talk to the plant or youll make it self conscious

    Tip #9
    If the plant starts talking to you, see a psychiatrist.

    Tip #8
    If the plant doesn’t look green in your photograph, then it might not be spring or summer.

    Tip #7
    If you photograph the grass, be sure it’s not cut too short or it might look like artificial turf.

    Tip #6
    You can take a picture of more than one plant at once. But not more than 1000 at once. That’s 999 options. That should be enough to get going.

    Tip #5
    Try not to get telephone wires in the background unless they’re beautiful.

    Tip #4
    Don’t try too hard. Let the plant do the work. it’s better than you anyway.

    Tip #3
    Look at master paintings of plants, Then go take pictures of plants. It might rub off.

    Tip #2
    Don’t be too eager to show people your pictures of plants. They’re probably not as good as you think they are. On the other hand, who gives a shit? So show them to whoever you want because it doesn’t matter. That’s 2 tips in one.

    and tip #1 for taking good plant photos.

    -Walk around! Don’t plant yourself in one place and expect lots of action. hahahahah

  5. From Cold Mountain

    I never understood why people liked and wanted to buy my photography. But I know I see balance and patterns where other people do not. I wish I could share my work but I do not want to expose my identity.

    Now that everyone has a camera I gave up photography. Too much noise to signal. There is no investment involved when it comes with your smartphone. And an Instagram filter can do in seconds what took hours in a darkroom.

    I will say that the subject of a good photograph is more often a feeling than it is an object, and capturing a feeling takes an introspection that happens when you are doing nothing. Looking for a photograph will make a bad, or even worse, a commercial, photograph. It also takes a perfectionism that is almost debilitating.

    1. Carolinian

      or even worse, a commercial, photograph

      Ansel Adams did lots of commercial photography and wasn’t ashamed of it. But I suspect he may not be one of your faves.

      It’s a subject with many approaches and opinions. Myself, I’d say the main point is to put something interesting in front of the lens.

      1. craazyman

        that sounds like an enormous amount of work — especially if trees are involved. You’d have to dig them up and haul them and stand them upright again.

        It’s probably a lot easier to put the lens in front of something interesting. Especially nowdays with small cameras, not like the outhouse-sized contraption Ansel Adams hauled around.

      2. From Cold Mountain

        Ansel was a hack. It is easy to to beautiful pictures of beautiful things. He was just lucky. But even he did not like commercial work.

        And what is worse is I feel I can blame him for exposing the national parks to people and turning them into the human infested trash heaps they are today.

        1. Carolinian

          I don’t think you know much about Ansel. His techniques were quite elaborate, not “easy.”

          And historically the work of great photographers and painters are one reason we have National Parks.

          But that aside, much of the world’s great photography has been “commercial’ work for magazines. It’s kind of a pointless distinction. A good photo is a good photo.

          1. From Cold Mountain

            You are right, I never met him, all I know about him was written by all his fan-boys. They study his techniques day and night and never make an original photographs.

            And I did not say his techniques were easy, I said it is easy to take photos of beautiful things. His technique would be pointless without the subject.

            I guess you would not be surprised that I am against National Parks?

            1. tongorad

              I guess you would not be surprised that I am against National Parks?

              OK, I’ll bite. What do you have against National Parks?

              I LOVE our National Parks, and that’s probably an understatement. For me National Parks = Church.
              Besides the obvious appreciation of Natural Wonders, there’s the social element. For the most part, I experience people being friendly and playing nice when I visit.
              We all should be encouraging each other to visit our National Parks. Maybe as a way to grow the commons?
              This land is your land, this land is my land…

              1. From Cold Mountain

                Here is a start, but it takes work to wake up, so I will leave the rest to you.


                …long before Yosemite became a popular tourist destination, the Ahwahneechee Indians who resided in the region knew it as “Ahwahnee,” or “gaping mouth-like place.” During the Mariposa War in 1851, California soldiers “discovered” the valley while pursuing the AhwahneecheeThe soldiers expelled the Ahwahneechee and renamed their valley “Yosemite.” But the Ahwahneechee returned, and worked humiliating jobs entertaining tourists as “Indian performers” to remain in their homeland. The national park finally evicted the last of them and burned down their remaining homes in a fire-fighting drill in 1969.

                1. witters

                  Being from Tasmania, I think the place would be better off simply as a National Park…

                  But yes, NP’s emerged from an ancient and venerable elite tradition: from the Royal Reserves and Hunting Parks, where all who had actually to live in and with nature were shot as poachers.

                  1. Carolinian

                    Supposedly the world’s first national park in the modern sense was Yellowstone. I’m not sure royal tradition played much of a role. However Wikipedia reports

                    Australia’s Royal National Park, established in 1879, was the world’s third official national park.

                    Meanwhile in England the royals were fickle ecologists as the country’s great forests were cut down to build the Royal Navy.

                2. Carolinian

                  I think it’s safe to say that if the National Parks didn’t exist we wouldn’t have Indian land in their place but rather oil derricks and strip mines. In the east where I live the Great Smoky Mountains were rescued from lumber companies which had already clear cut much of it. The Smokies, because of their geography, are one of the most biodiverse areas in America.

                  Most of the Cherokees who lived in that area had long ago been sent west by Andrew Jackson. Now the ones who remain have a casino which does well.

                  I recently toured out west and most of the people I met in the parks were not Americans at all but Europeans and Asians. While Europe has great cathedrals and palaces we have the National Parks and those from abroad are here to see our best, not our rather tacky cities. The parks are our glory and while you don’t agree they do exist to preserve what’s there. You can say this is being done at the expense of native Americans but then you could say that about the entire country. It really doesn’t have much bearing on whether the parks themselves are a good idea.

                  1. maria gritsch

                    We’ve visited a lot of National Parks and State Parks over the years and have always noticed the high ratio of foreigners to Americans.

                    1. From Cold Mountain

                      I do not use facebook and reddit because I think upvoting is silly. Please do not bring it here.

                  2. From Cold Mountain

                    It is just another extension of capitalism. But it is useless to explain. Try thinking outside of the narrative you grew up in.

                    But i cant believe you said “Now the ones who remain have a casino which does well.” about the native americans. Really?

                    And the smokies were logged into extinction already and the park was pushed by capitalists to bring money to the area.


                  1. ambrit

                    Shouldn’t that be forged, Chicago social conditions being what outside observation suggests they are?

                    1. optimader

                      Actually, like most media presentation, the “social condition” is mostly hyperbolically presented. Live in a nice burb now, but spend much of my time in the City. A great place, particularly in this time of year. In fact we moved our office here. 10-12 minute walk each way to the train and a 40 min walk at lunch along the Chicago River.. Very pleasant indeed.

  6. grayslady

    Now that those of us who enjoy photography are also our own developers, I swear by my simple, ten-year old Nero Photo Snap program. I prefer Nikon Capture, because it is equally easy to use and has more options for adjusting skin tones; but I can’t afford to purchase the software package right now so I guess it’s fortunate that most of my photos are outdoors these days. I tried the stripped-down version of Photoshop and found it needlessly complex and tedious. Mostly, I need to lower the color saturation on my photos, although I knew that was an issue when I bought my camera. Almost any adjustments can be made on the camera itself, but I prefer the relative simplicity of using the computer for slight technical modifications.

    1. HotFlash

      Best wishes from Toronto!

      edit: Mercy,that was supposed to be to AltAndMain, I musta pushed a wrong button?

      1. Propertius

        GIMP still only supports 8-bit color internally (it will input and output up to 24-bit color, but the internal representation is 8 bits). This means that if you use even an amateur DSLR with 12-bit color you’ll lose most of the color information in the image by processing it with GIMP (99.4%, if I’ve done the math right). That’s probably okay for display of small JPEG images on the web with uncalibrated monitors, but it’s useless for more demanding output. You’ll lose more if you shoot high-end digital or are working from a professional quality film scan.

        It’s just not a serious tool. 16-bit color is now scheduled for 2.10, but the GIMP developers have been promising this for the last 15 years or so, so I’m not holding my breath (I’ve used GIMP off and on since its initial “pre-release” in 1995).

        Cinepaint is a fork of GIMP developed for the motion picture industry that supports 16-bit color internally. I don’t think it’s under active development anymore.

        LightZone was a promising alternative, but it never seemed to get much traction. It’s now open-sourced under the BSD license. I don’t know how much active development is going on. Unlike Photoshop and GIMP, it was explicitly designed for use by photographers, not graphic artists.

        Darktable looks kind of interesting. There was some reason why I didn’t stay with it (probably something to do with medium format raw image processing), but I don’t remember precisely what it was.

        I’ve been playing around with Affinity Photo – it’s got some rough edges, but I assume it will improve with time.

  7. HotFlash

    Ah! I’d always been shy of sending you my plant photos, now I am terrified. I take a lot of plant-pics, I love my garden plus I draw and paint plants — I mean, I draw and paint pictures of plants, I don’t actually put paint on plants, not like painting the roses red (b/c I am sure at least craazyboy would want clarification on that). My DH says my photos are OK, he was a pro photog at one time, but I am still not sure. I have no idea whether or not I am shooting into the sun, I really just don’t care. If I see what I want, I shoot it. Most of my stuff is low and close, I like my plants face-to-face. No idea what my horizons are, never considered. IOW, I have no idea of the rules, never cared.

    “From whom did he take lessons in breaking the rules?” — M Hatsumi

    I never thought it important to learn the rules of much of anything, I do not find the rules helpful in most disciplines.

    1. craazyman

      It’s a lot easier to paint the plants in Photoshop AFTER you take the picture. Photoshop has rendered plant painting obsolete. Just think — If Monet had known about Photoshop he probly wouldn’t have had to paint the plants in his garden so they’d be all those different colors when he set up his easel.

      1. HotFlash

        Just an old-fashioned girl here. I use ‘natural’ pigments, (mostly crushed rocks of various sorts, but some vegetable materials too) and gum arabic, cherry gum or linseed oil as a binder for paints and stains; walnuts for ink, also India ink.

        Not crazy abt Photoshop — spend the money??? I like Irfanview for my modest needs, if I need something heavy-dutier I use GIMP.

  8. Judith

    The largest species of Pinus is Pinus lambertiana, the sugar pine tree. It only grows in the mountains of western North America, along the Sierra Nevadas and into the Cascades. It was named for the botanist Aylmer Lambert, who was of the founders of the Linnean society. The pine cones are the largest of any conifer, up to 68 cm in length. (There are some cute pictures on the internet of small children holding enormous pine cones.) And it has very sweet resin that can be used as a sweetener.
    So I guess Lambert has a tree relative.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I’ve seen those cones; you don’t hang around under a Sugar Pine. One could knock you senseless. They fall closed, and look like a masochist’s fantasy, covered with hooks.

      If you put one on the heater, it will open and the winged seeds will fall out. I still have most of the cone.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You are correct and it’s a Coulter Pine cone I was talking about. My bad – my memory is not improving. I should have known: the tree it came off of was not huge, and Lambert Pines are.

  9. clarky90

    Re photographic images

    The Kathy Griffin Controversy

    “Comedian Kathy Griffin got into some hot water for a staged photo of herself holding a realistic-looking severed head that looks like President Trump.”


    But but but, she is a “comedian”!

    Hollywood and the MSM are just spamming us with junky images, thoughts, “values”, heroes….

    Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam – Monty Python’s The Flying Circus


    1. Angie Neer

      Talk about feeding the trolls: I first learned of this image on Breitbart (I check in there to see what’s happening in the trollosphere), where it appeared in at least four different places on their home page. Do people in Griffin’s business simply subscribe to the “no such thing as bad publicity” philosophy (like Trump!), or do they not realize they are writing Breitbart’s material for them? Or both?

  10. TK421

    That’s a lovely photograph, I think. Sun shining on grass is pretty much all I need to find a scene visually appealing. I was thinking it was some sort of historical site–an old fort? an abandoned motte and bailey?–until I saw that it’s a golf course :)

    1. Benedict@Large

      Makes the same essential point as Shattered does, and one that I’ve been trying to make for a long time now. The only point of the Democratic Party is, understanding that the system only allows for two parties, to occupy the second party, and keep it from being a rallying forum for any resistance to elite control of the world’s wealth. The party has no purpose insofar as representing any sizable portion of the American electorate. In fact, it’s point is to do exactly to opposite.

      1. clarky90

        Well said. They are just place holders, standing first in line, making certain that no-one else gets anything, other than crumbs, if a shipment of bread finally arrives.

  11. LT

    For anyone sad about the possibility of the USA dropping out of the Paris Accord, look at the major way the country will sacrifice to save the world:
    It’s known that Americans leave a huge carbon imprint.Our healthcare industry will knock off a good portion of population over the next decade.
    Bad side, the over-bloated polluting USA military will still be rampaging all over the world.

    1. jrs

      the U.S. might also save the world by self-destructing at least as a major imperial power, Trump is helping. Seriously though that’s the possible upside (most of Trump is pure downside of course), but he may reduce U.S. influence in the world.

      Is China or Europe or Russia ready to step up and be a better steward of the planet that this mess of a country ever was? The moral leader at least on that issue that the U.S. never was? I don’t know (and Russian’s short term benefit may be climate change full speed ahead).

      But the U.S has failed as a country, as leaders of the world including very much so as environmental leaders, and in doing so it’s leaders have failed as human beings. That’s just all there is to it.

      1. LT

        800 + bases. Is China, Europe, or Russia ready to speak out against that?
        Then I will believe there are stewards in waiting.

    1. jrs

      I thought they might be saving for retirement as they are probably the first generation whose PARENTS don’t have pensions, so that their parents might advise: open a Roth! Put money in that 401k! (and do so with an urgency generations with pensions never could for their kids).

      But working a dream job strikes me as a fair bit more delusional than hoping social security and lousy 401k returns will help slightly in one’s feeble old age. Jobs are gonna suck regardless. They might be improved some if we had a labor movement, more than we do right now, but at present ….

  12. robnume

    Since this is an open thread, I hope that you won’t mind, Lambert, if I link to an article I read today in CounterPunch. It’s about the takeover of the Democratic Party by the technocracy, which is, indeed, as far as I’m concerned, the biggest problem with the Dems and is why we will never get that party back to its roots again. Time to start a third party. http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/31/how-facebooks-mark-zuckerberg-and-other-billionaires-are-killing-the-democratic-party/

  13. Dead Dog

    Jealous of you NYCers I am. I want a full wrap

    Thanks the the photographic advice, Lambert. I was fortunate to pick up a used Canon EOS for only 150 bucks recently. Boy, has that got me more enthused about photos. It takes big RAW files, which I then take to GIMP to crop and perfect before converting to a JPG file. Even with my 12 MP camera, the differences to a point and shoot camera are stunning. I am still learning about the ability to change more than just the white balance in the RAW files, but I like a challenge.

    The young guy who sold it to me was a tradie. I said why are you selling (I mean it’s a quality DSLR unit) and he pulled the latest Samsung phone out of his pocket and said, hey, if I want a picture, I use this.


    Back when I had better means, I bought the latest 2MP Canon – my first digital camera (phones didn’t have them back in the early 90s) and I remember the simple pleasure of not being constrained by 24 negatives on your film.

    1. A Farmer

      You are right. My phone in the late 90s (and first decade of the 21st century) hung on the wall. If I was outside, all my boss could do was leave me a message. Ah, the good ol’ days.

  14. crittermom

    Lambert, I’m glad you’ve discovered the joy of photography and look forward to seeing some of your photos in future ‘water coolers’.

    I’m still using my 19 yr old 8 mp Canon, but manage to get some good shots just the same.
    Photography is the one thing that has kept my sanity these past 6 yrs. (Sanity being a relative term, of course)

    1. ambrit

      Our relatives would not pass even a minimal psychological “balance” test. I used to take and develop my own black and white roll film pictures. I once tried a rocket camera, for those little self built “model rockets.” Quite an interesting “perspective” on terrestrial existence.

  15. MsExPat

    As I get older, I realize that emotion and light are the two key qualities that make a photo special. Actually I think that photography is the art of moving people’s emotions through light.

    I’m pretty much only shooting with my iPhone these days, as the play of light is elusive and unpredictable, and the iPhone is always with me to capture those moments when I’m standing somewhere and can almost feel the light vibrating on my skin.

    Long ago in some workshop I was taught the trick of backlighting, which triggers an emotional response that makes any subject feel compelling in a visceral way. The iPhone is actually terrific for shooting into light and catching odd rays and flare that create pleasing effects.

    Hong Kong, where I live, has extraordinary light. The combo of mountains behind, water in front, and spiky skyscrapers that diffuse this light into unexpected random shafts makes the city a dream for a light-sensitive shooter!

    1. HotFlash

      Actually I think that photography is the art of moving people’s emotions through light.

      Ah! You have just said the most important thing! I draw, but I also carve wood. So I work with light, too. Some day I would like to work with glass — light with colours!

    2. HotFlash

      Actually I think that photography is the art of moving people’s emotions through light.

      Ah! You have just said the most important thing! I draw, but I also carve wood. So I work with light, too.

  16. Massinissa

    For Guillotine watch:


    Wages aren’t rising because “workers with personal, educational, or professional connections can more easily find jobs. Right now, those networks aren’t strong enough to create the kind of jobs boom that forces employers to raise wages. ”

    Wow. The bar just keeps getting raised higher and higher. Now its not enough to get into tens of thousands of dollars of debt for credentialing and take unpaid internships to gain ‘work experience’, but now youre expected to do lots of unpaid hours of networking as well.

    The capitalists keep blaming the workers for why companies are not hiring and why wages are not rising.

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