Changes to xenogere unseen

My photoblog, xenogere unseen, will be undergoing dramatic changes over the next day or two.

The justifications are simple.

(1) Can you think of a reason I should use a photoblog setup with which I host my own photos whilst simultaneously I pay for image hosting at SmugMug?  Nope?  Me neither.  Truth be told, I have far more versatility with SmugMug than any other picture-hosting service, yet I fail to take advantage of that with the present configuration at xenogere unseen.  Making these changes will enable me to more fully utilize SmugMug for all my photos instead of just those seen here.

(2) I’m capricious.  I probably mentioned that before.  The xenogere unseen presentation (theme) has grown tiresome for me, so it’s time for a change.  That requires more significant work than it would here since the architecture at my photoblog hinges directly on the theme and hosting system used for pictures.

Oh well.

Needless to say, you should expect some issues while I make changes there as part of this rebirth.

Patterns in the sky

Darkness shrouded the eastern horizon, the faintest hint of sunshine still well below the landscape.  I ventured out into a new day after saying my goodbyes to The Kids.  We would not share time together this day for my journey had just begun.

Supplies neatly packed into the car, my camera and bag set in the passenger seat within easy reach, I backed out of the garage and drove into the predawn hours.

Interstate 20 runs through Texas like an east-west artery carrying all manner of traffic right through the heart of the DFW metroplex.  The highway would be my primary landmark for three hours during my trip to the family farm.

Settled comfortably into the car with coffee in hand, I let the sound of Annie Lennox serenade me into deep places of thought and emotion, places sometimes shadowy and sometimes brightly lit.  Her poetic, sentimental voice brushed my cheek gently with each chorus, each verse, and I let her lead the way even as the Lexus practically drove itself on our familiar course eastward.

When finally almost an hour later the sun began spilling into the sky, it clashed ominously with thunderstorms forming in my path.

Crepuscular rays at sunrise as light shines through growing storm clouds (20080809_10437)

Crepuscular rays pierced the clouds where they could not hold back the sunshine.  In my reverie I could not help but notice the profound beauty of the scene, so I made my way off the interstate to the service road where I could stop long enough to drink from this magnificent cup.

The storms seemed intent on robbing from the sun every opportunity to shine, and all too soon the horizon turned dark behind towering shadows.  Disappointed yet satiated all the same, I returned to the confines of the vehicle and rejoined the tide of automobiles pouring eastward toward the storms.

Yet our warm star had not completed its attempts to penetrate the growing tempests, to pierce through the dark blanket with swords of light.

Crepuscular rays at sunrise as light shines through a growing thunderstorm (20080809_10446)

I felt drawn in even as I drove, eventually holding the camera out the window to capture the scene as best I could.  I knew it would vanish before I could pull over and stop, something it had already done to me twice after my first pause.

Crepuscular rays at sunrise as light shines through a growing thunderstorm (20080809_10447)

Only ten minutes passed betwixt those images, only ten minutes for the sky to change over and over and over again.  I knew the storms grew rapidly, violently rending control of the sky from both the night and the day.  And I drove right toward them.

Roiling storms clouds overhead (20080809_10450)

Twenty minutes later brought the first rain of the morning, a powerful yet small storm that slowed traffic and captured my attention with celestial grandeur befitting a god.  What stunning designs it painted!

Roiling storm clouds overhead (20080809_10460)

Again I eased off the road and parked behind a truck resting through the show.  I fought to protect the camera from the driving rain as I attempted to steal from this magic a bit of its glory.

Looking in all directions made me realize the wonder I felt could never be appreciated except by those in the moment with me, those capable early that morning of taking in the whole of the scene with their own eyes.  Only from horizon to horizon did the storm’s arresting potency become manifest.

Roiling storm clouds overhead (20080809_10464)

It was the first of three such storms through which I drove that morning whilst making my way from Dallas’s urban core to the majestic silence of East Texas’s Piney Woods.  It was the first of three artists drawing patterns in the sky.

Now you don’t

Now you see it…

A male giant robber fly (Promachus hinei) clinging to a half-eaten leaf (20080817_11050)

…now you don’t.

A half-eaten leaf where a male giant robber fly had been just moment before (20080817_11051)

I can’t begin to express how real my walk became Sunday, how personal, how divine.  For now at least that’s one story that shall remain untold.

But for hours before it changed so magically, I trotted about White Rock Lake as though I had no other care save one: to enjoy the morning in surroundings that become discovery at every turn.

Unending rain failed to dissuade me from mindless meandering.  Mud be damned! I thought (although much later when tediously washing my shoes for the umpteenth time, I began to wonder precisely how wise my flippant mindset had been).

Little caught my eye that I hadn’t photographed a thousand times before.  Flowers here, insects there, all manner of birds rushing to and fro.

The partly cloudy skies did little to improve my mood.  As I’ve always said, such days make photography difficult when the clouds create a painfully dynamic situation where a photo is painstakingly setup to perfection only to have a drastic lighting and color change when the push of the button is already mentally committed.

Nevertheless, I wallowed in luxurious nature while trying to ignore the anthropocentric hoopla.

Lush vegetation captivated me as I made my way along the edge of the woodlands along the flanks of Dixon Branch.

Watching crows battle a hawk—at least until the juvenile’s parents showed up—made for better entertainment than any television program or movie.

Bathing my senses in what heavy rains had created offered diversions aplenty…even if a bit usual.

Then behind thicket standing taller than my own head I spied a large insect buzzing about, flitting from spot to spot without landing.  I had no clear view of it of course, and shorts with a tee shirt made infiltrating the brush a daunting and unwise task.

But how I wanted to capture a photograph of the beast.

So I held the camera above my head and swiveled the LCD screen so I could see what I was aiming at.  Then I waited.

Finally landing upon a half-eaten leaf, I zoomed in on the creature and captured the first image, one setup for cloudy weather and snapped just in time for the sun to make an appearance.

Drat!

I quickly fiddled with the camera to change the options for sunlight, held the soul stealer above my head once again, and tried desperately to find my mark.

There it was right where I left it, on the same leaf in the same position doing the same thing: waiting for breakfast to fly by.

Clouds heavy with moisture provided a modest yet safe opening through which sunshine poured onto the scene, a space large enough to ensure the image would not be ruined by unwelcome changes in illumination.

Although too far away to see it even through brush pushed apart gently, the camera’s zoom brought the massive monster right to my eyes, right in front of my face—relatively speaking, that is, considering I held the camera at arm’s length above my head just to see over the verdant obstacles.

Despite wind that had ruined several images by moving my subjects about randomly at the moment I pressed the button, this target hid in a small opening protected by lush vegetation on all sides, including an impenetrable treeline standing tall against the backdrop of a creek I could no longer see.

I pointed.  I focused.  I centered on the object of my attention.  Then I pulled the trigger.

Just in time to see the second photo.

The doggoned fly dashed into the air in that split-second between mental command and physical obedience.  My mind already had captured a stunning, detailed close-up of it.  My fingers had yet to make that a reality.

And it was gone, off chasing some potential breakfast into the woods and out of sight.

Damn you, you cursed bugger!

Had I not been restrained by my own sense of superior decorum, an unsightly foofaraw would have unfolded right there for the world to see, a tantrum of explosive disappointment and undirected irritation.

But I have my reputation to uphold, one of being better than everyone else, so I waited until I returned home before sending The Kids into rattled annoyance as I blathered ad nauseam about the one that got away.

[photo is of a male giant robber fly (Promachus hinei)]

I won’t do that anymore

I admitted to my parents during my recent visit that, aside from images appearing on xenogere unseen, I intentionally degrade the quality of photos posted on my blog.

The reason seemed justifiable: Disable the ability of anyone save me to utilize the pictures for anything, including printing.

But I realize now that I can still do that without causing the more significant loss in quality that stems from compressing them as well (something that long ago became habit when I hosted all of my own photos and videos).

While I doubt I’ll go back and update all previous images, I can say without hesitation that I will no longer devastate presentation quality in the name of copyright enforcement and cost savings.  It’s unnecessary.

Also, please pardon my lack of activity over the past several days.  As I told Jenny today at work, I started a project of updating and patching all of my home computers.

That became drastically complicated.  Before I knew it, all of the computers found themselves in a constant state of installing and rebooting, followed by more of the same, and not just for OS and application patching.  It became a quest to update, replace, reconfigure and manhandle just about everything I set my eyes upon.

Oops.

Enjoy the calm

I haven’t a thing to say or share.

Rather, I have plenty to say and plenty to share, but I’ve been working all weekend and have little energy remaining.

For now, what I’m capable of belongs to The Kids and those chores I can address.