Dye Lots

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The title of this entry could have been something like The Color of a Day, but something told me that Dye Lots was what it should be, so I opened up my web page editor, saved a blank page with the title on it and went about my work on the images.

I was afraid the title would elude me, like the fleeting of a butterfly, only to become a part of the ethereal mist of the Internet.

But it saved, and the title's genesis comes from the hibiscus plant that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Titled Closer and Closer, the piece takes apart some of the process I go through working on trying to get an image that is "just right."

I remember the first years after we moved into this house, of wading through piles and piles of wallpaper books trying to find the right pattern for this room or for that.

No matter what was picked, somewhere or another was a warning to only take rolls from the same dye lot, as subtle changes in color could occur between rolls of paper.

And so it is for the Hibiscus, the lone yellow flower on a bush that has put forth hundreds of orange blossoms this summer.

I was so amazed at the unique blossom that I grabbed the Olympus to record the image after I came home from a quick trip to the office.

Just moments before three of us, all coming from different locations. Arrived at the driveway within 30 seconds of each other. My parents had arrived for the balance of a short visit, middle child was home for the weekend, and there I was, trying to get my rightful place in the garage.

Just moments later both of us were found outside, she working on a film project for school and I working on trying scoop up an image of some bees having an afternoon feast in the side flower bed.

Curious thing, the photography gene that runs in this family.

My father started with his own darkroom eons ago, which he has just rebuilt in the last year or so.

I always liked having a camera in my hands as a kid but it was my brother who went on to photography school and became a professional commercial photographer. A serious accident that injured his back left him unable to lug around all that gear so that put an end to the photography.

Eldest, who will graduate from Law school on DEC 16 has two undergraduate degrees, one in photography.

Middle child is enrolled at the University of Michigan and she is majoring in film and psychology.

The topic for this project has to do with the clash of the urban and nature.

Guess where I suggested we go after she was done shooting the flowers in the back yard? (see previous entry)

But first I pulled out the big gun and changed the lens.

The first image was fired off at 4:45, and the one above, a daisy mum, was taken about 5:30. It was taken on the west side of the house. The darkness in the background is the shadow from the neighbor's house slowly creeping toward the front of the flower bed.

I kind of like this bee, just chillin and wiping his/her chin as it were.

It was a glorious late Saturday afternoon, in fact just sitting there in the sun began to border on hot.

I checked the times on the images in this series and all told, between trips to download images and review them on the computer, an hour was spent just clicking away.

I drank a blue bottle of Gatorade while I sat out there. It was cold and it tasted great.

For the technically inclined, I used an old manual "macro focusing zoom lens" - Vivitar 28-105mm and will focus down to six tenths of an inch.

That means that me and the bees were kind of face to face, or should I say lens to face?

After the last rays of sun hit this Marigold I got up and went into the house to download the balance of my images.

It was now 5:40pm.

Spouse and daughter were in the living room watching a movie and I yelled in from the den, "You know L, I've got this perfect place for you to shoot for this project. Trust me, It's just perfect."

"Where is it?"

"You know the Commerce Theater? Just in front of the theater, and behind the grocery store is a great pond right up against the road.

It's over by Costco.

And it's right on your way back to school, so we might as well do it. Besides, the sun is perfect and if we hurry, we can get there for the best light.

She had to pack up the balance of the camera gear, and finally after a couple of "Come on, Let's GO" we finally made it out of the driveway by 6:30.

I figured we could make it to the pond in 15 minutes and I thought that it would give us maybe a half an hour of good light, if we were lucky.

But as soon as we headed out of our subdivision and pointed our cars west, I noticed the cloud formation in the western sky.

I started running through possible places where I might have an unobstructed view of the sky after we shot the birds. I kept mulling it over as we pulled into the parking lot.

Pay dirt.

In all the years I've driven by this place, tonight it just chock full of egrets. Normally I see three, maybe four in the water and perhaps one up in the trees.

I've got one image of 6 of them together in the deep reeds, and I suspect that there were 14 or 15 in the pond.

At 7:12 there was very little light left but I was able to get nice and close (relatively) so this image is much sharper than the one I posted on the previous entry.

Just before I shot my last group of images my daughter picked up her tripod and said that she was heading for the other side of the pond.

"Call me before you guys leave."

"OK, but I may want to run out of here to shoot the sunset."

Minutes later the last egret with a good reflection just up and decided to leave.

The light was gone, and so did I.

The time was 7:15.

I slung the tripod across my shoulder and headed across the road to the car. On the edge of the little strip mall that is just west of the pond is a Starbucks and Mrs had been sitting there eating a salad while we snuck around hiding behind the trees.

She motioned me over to join her, and I walked half way over and said, "No we gotta get outta here, the sun is setting and it's going to be good."

We called the daughter and she was still filming on the other side of the pond. She had thought we might be able to get something to eat but I wanted to blast on out of there because I had decided to try and make it to a beach that was about 15 more miles away.

By the time I had packed everything up and were on the road again it was about 7:25.

"With luck we will be on the beach and shooting by about a quarter to 8. The best sky will be between five minutes to 8 and 10 minutes after."

Ok, I'm anal.

I watched the sky the night before and noted the times.

The first shots were fired off at 7:46.

Big color at 7:58

Big Sky at 7:55

Larger panorama here

8:03 and the lights are headed out.

I stood and watched till the red was gone and walked across the sand for the drive home.

It was a day of work and wonder as nature showed its colors in lots and lots of different dye.