Simplicity In Black And White

A few weeks ago I posted a few images of mushrooms growing in our neighbor hood. Back then my next door neighbors had a single mushroom that was grown-man-palm sized. As I was taking a leisurely stroll across my front lawn I found two more mushrooms on my neighbors side. I am not a mushroom man. I don’t pick them and I certainly wouldn’t eat any mushrooms I have picked myself.

Anyway. So I took to images of these wonder mushrooms in the front yard of my Iowa transplant neighbors and then pondered what to do with that mushroom image. Because let’s face it mushrooms are in general nothing to write home about and I am writing on my second post about mushrooms. So clearly, either I m al out of ideas for this blog or the image is so special, that you in your anticipation have kept reading even to here.

Without further ado here they are – you ready?

I love the stark contract of this black and white interpretation of my mushroom still life. There is simplicity in the abstraction of what used to be mushrooms in a sea of grass blades. The color is gone the viewer is left with few shades of grey between the two opposing ends of the spectrum and a sense of texture on the mushroom hood. Simplicity. This shall conclude our philosophizing about the front yard mushrooms (good bandname: Front Yard Mushrooms)

The size of these two mushrooms are ore than five inches in diameter for each – pretty big where I come from. As I am looking at them, I was asking myself something that I will ask you now: Where do mushrooms come from? How do they reproduce? Anybody?

Alright, this is it for this morning.

be cool

Yours Markus \m/

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It Comes In Cans, Too OR Continuous Learning

Last Friday, I wrote a quick post about the Champagne Of Beers. Since I don’t drink beer nor do I have any interest in beer, my amazement is genuine about the tagline of Miller High Life. Yesterday, our neighbor’s boy turned 21, which meant there were alcoholic beverages available, too. Among them, to mark the occasion appropriately, the Champagne Of Beers. This time however the beverage was not contained in the elegant bottle, but in the a-lot-less-blue-blooded can, as evidenced by this photo.

I wonder, getting back to Prince Charles and Camilla, if Prince Charles wears in his thin spare time “wife beater shirts” just to unwind a bit from all the stiff protocol and then he downs a can, instead of the much more civilized and sophisticated bottle.

I love the outlandishness of the claim and the obvious humor, yet Miller insists that the High Life beer is the champagne of beers.

The funny thing is, I can think of other tag lines for other products, but none of them are as daring. e.g.: Bobby Car The Bentley of Go-Karts. Most other products and brands desperately try to stand on their own and companies pour millions into advertisement to make their product unique in perception, but Miller just latched onto an already existing paradigm for splurging luxury – that copy writer was worth every penny in my book.

Markus \m/

P.S.: I want to apologize in advance for using the Prince and his wife of the house of Windsor to illustrate my points about the market placement of Miller High life – no disrespect. Ross, Joanne, Sue, Robin and Robert, please forgive me any verbal trespassings. But you’ve got to admit, that even though this beer comes from the (o.k. former) colonies, a beverage that is called the Champagne Of Beers should easily be a contender for princely approval.

Guarda La Luna, La Pazza Luna…..

“La luna attira la donna verso l’uomo.”, saya Loretta’s (played by Cher) granddad in Moonstruck – this didn’t happen in our household because I was sick all day yesterday. But after 18 hours in bed just dragging, tonight the moon woke me up at 2:40AM. You know when you are just wide ready to dig up trees, that’s how wide awake I was. So I got up walked through our quiet and dark house and sat out in the backyard enjoying the silence. I was a warm, cloudless night and the moon shone brightly (this sounds like Snoopy when he writes his novel), but that really how it was.

It didn’t take me too long and I started grabbing my camera to take a few images of the moon. The next few lines may get a little bit technical, but bear with me because it will help you take better moon pictures yourself. I zoomed all the way out which on my little digital camera is a focal length of I think 112mm – laughable for most of you. My ISO setting (film sensitivity) was set to 100 (fine grain, renders fine details – requires longer exposure time). I also set the aperture to f/8.0, the biggest my camera can produce (will create a sharp image, because depth of field in at maximum – again will increase exposure time). Hence, the built-in light meter suggested an exposure time of 6 seconds. I took the first image according to the light-meter reading and got the always popular white circle with halo on black background – not cool.

Moon at ISO 100, f/8, 6 sec exposure time

After some experimentation I arrived  the proper setting: ISO 100, f/8, 1/125 sec exposure time. Now pay attention, because this is important: As a rule of thumb you can assume that your ISO setting is equal to your exposure time at f/8. e,g,: ISO 400 => 1/400 sec, ISO1600 => 1/1600 sec at f/8.

This is what the final image looked like when I shot the moon at ISO100, f/8, 1/125 second.

Moon at ISO 100, f/8, 1/125 sec exposure time

See how the moon transformed from a white over-exposed circle the disk you actually see in the sky with all the crater-scape details – cool.

If you want to get more detail of the moon, you should use either  higher resolution (more MP) camera or better use a larger focal length 300mm or 500mm or even 800mm. Put the camera on a tripod and expose with time delay shutter, remote control or cable release to avoid shaking the camera. In fact you really want to have maximum focal length, because here’s what the uncropped final image looks like – pretty thin.

Alright, your day has probably had its first highpoint, you’ve learned something today.

Carry on and do good.

Yours Markus \m/

Weekly Photographic Summary: 7/17/10 – 7/23/10

Alright, honestly (not that I would lie to you) there isn’t much to post this week and I definitely don’t want to post my new running shoes again – I got enough shit for that one.

But, I had lunch with my friend Holly to exchange a few ideas on business and life in general. At the place where we had lunch I took a great picture that exemplifies great advertising and exceptional marketing of a rather mundane product – beer. Now I don’t drink, but when I saw the image below, I was immediately sold.

The label on the beer bottle said: The Champagne Of Beers. The whole thing was credibly arranged in basked with a cotton napkin and two champagne flutes. When my dad or my father in-law read this and see it, they will think: “A Miller is a Miller, is a Miller. Lipstick on a pig doesn’t turn it into a super-model.” We Germans tend to look down on beers from other countries, but not quite as bad was we do with cars (but c’mon no arguments there from anyone, right!?)

Anyway, I think that this was a world-class effort with a sense of humor to position a simple beer way up in the beverage Olymp.

Here you go in color and black & white.

This is what Barbie and Ken drink when they go to paint the town red in her pink Corvette.

Clearly more classy – it’s black and white and it has this vintage feel to it. Consequently it is absolutely plausible that at the very least Prince Charles and his Camilla enjoy the champagne of beers at sunset in Santa Barbara overlooking the Pacific after a successfully played Polo match, when they visit the (former) colonies.

Alright gang that’s it. Smell ya later, dinguses.

Markus \m/

My Sense Of Withdrawl

I am looking at the raw wooden floor that has been sanded and then just clear coated – varnished. I can see the wooden base boards that surround me as I am lying on the floor. My fingers move, so do my toes. I am entering the conscious world, I am still feeling the relaxation in my body, my mind – just thoroughly relaxed, I just am and I am moving from just being to being present. No, I am not going through some chemical experiments that have been advertised in a Cheech & Chong movie nor did I stare too long into the lava lamp. I just finished my Yoga practice and as any good practice, this one ended, too with a Shivasana relaxation and meditation. Now I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

So what is Yoga giving me? What is all the hubbub about? New age stuff glamorized by celebrities.

I poopoo-ed it for a long time – Barbara has been doing it for years. I would joke, that she shouldn’t forget her Yoga helmet. Yoga was for people who were too lazy to go mountain biking, swimming, road-biking, running or do other “manly” stuff. To shorten a long story, one day in the Summer of 2008, I saw a Yoga book, was intrigued by the photography and bought it. An 8 week home study class, where I did a daily session at 6:00AM before work or at home. Quickly, I saw that there were benefits to the practice and much more, that it wasn’t an excuse to sit around and take her easy – I was breaking a sweat pretty heavily, even when I didn’t think a practice was particularly strenuous.

Fast forward to 2009, when Barbara gave me a 12-pack of practices at the Yoga Studio for my birthday. Having a teacher definitely facilitates practice, because it allows the practitioner to relax even more by focusing on breathing and sinking into the poses. The teacher sets the pace and the direction by announcing the next pose. The teacher also provides pointers for specific poses or in general, such as that non-violence starts with the self – do not force positions, just do them as best as possible, while continuing to breathe. Patience for me has always been more a great Guns and Roses song, than something I was really good at. Yoga taught me that there is value in exercising patience and more importantly, how to be patient and how to notice progress through patience.

And so now we are at the end of today’s practice. 75 minutes just my mind and the body my mind lives in. Within 20 minutes I was drenched and so was my mat, which makes it always interesting, because the mat gets slippery (can you spot the allusion to another 80’s hair metal album). Anyway, I am in a good place right now. I have found work again, we are so excited about what’s ahead of us, the place the people, the co-workers, the culture – it’s going to be an adventure and you’ll get to share in it through the blog and the photos I will post – maybe some of you will even visit.

I will close now, because I want to write another post on a different subject.

Take care or namaste, as they say in Yoga.

Yours Markus \m/

Get’em While They’re Hot – Extra New News

“What the …., where are you going with this? Running shoes, seriously…running shoes?” you may ask yourself. Alright, Markus has found employment. No, it looks more as if  I may have fond a career. The meetings in Bangkok last week were successful. We know where the next paychecks will come from and thusly we decided to have lunch (no this is not uncommon, but we went out for lunch) and then I bought a pair of new running shoes, since my old ones were “very, very vintage”  and “worn” and the original roses smell had faded a bit, too. So come Wednesday morning 5:30AM, when I go run with my friend Jeff, I will be in “Autofast” and Jeff will curse the company that hired me and afforded me the new shoes – NICE!

More soon.

Stay sharp.

Yours Markus \m/

Night And Day

Our little trip to Asia comes to a close. I asked the Hotel staff most politely, whether I could get access to their roof-top, because I wanted to take a few fare well photographs of the Bangkok skyline. I got access twice – first in the afternoon just when it started to rain and then later in the evening for a few night shots. It’s amazing what the old smile & charm mix can achieve !-)

Anyway, here are two shots from the rooftop – same view taken at 3:00PM and at 9:00PM

Rooftop view towards the south-east at daylight around 3:00PM

Rooftop view towards the south-east at night around 9:00PM

And for those in love with color – here comes your turn.

Rooftop view towards the south-east at daylight around 3:00PM – look at all the colors, man

Rooftop view towards the south-east at night around 9:00PM, look at all the streaks that the headlights make.

Without tooting my own horn, not bad for handheld, huh?

You guys stay sharp, until the next post.

Yours Markus \m/