Souvenirs, Part 3

Another day, another ticket stub, or maybe two or three, to talk about. But which ones? I’ll go with opera, rock, and comedy, in that order.

And no, I’m not talking about a funny rock opera, although that would be awesome. Has it been done? I don’t think so. Somebody, please write one.

Metropolitan Opera, New York City, 2002

Last time, I told you about seeing “Rent” in May, 2001. Well, a few months later, my daughter Erica and I found ourselves back in the Big Apple, and this time we were staying with my cousin Gina, an actress and dancer who lives about a block from where the story of “Rent” took place.

Gina was appearing on stage at the Metropolitan Opera, one of about a dozen dancers in Strauss’ “Die Frau Ohne Schatten,” and we had tickets. Walking into the classy Met was an unforgettable experience. Everything seemed so polished. We climbed several steps to get to our seats in one of the balconies. It was probably the top tier (the cheap seats). By the time we’d gotten there, my daughter had twisted her ankle.

Photo by WikiImages @ pixabay.com

The opera itself was unforgettable. It isn’t the music that I remember, but the sets, which were dazzlingly detailed. There was one scene that required an underworld and a celestial world, and this effect was achieved by means of a huge mirror that split the set horizontally.

I recall the dancers, too. From my seat in the upper atmosphere, though, I couldn’t really tell which one was my cousin. And I didn’t understand the plot, either. The words were in German, and even though they were translated into English in real time, on individual screens that sat directly in front of each person’s seat, it was like watching a movie with subtitles – a movie written in the early 1900s, no less.

We had to leave during intermission. My daughter’s ankle had begun to swell. Oddly enough, the next time I went to New York, I twisted my ankle, too. I’ll save that story for another day!

Jeff Beck, New York State Fair, Syracuse, 1999

I remember little about this concert, probably because I’m not a Jeff Beck fan. I know he’s thought of as one of the world’s finest guitarists, a “guitarist’s guitarist,” even. Maybe someday my taste will change, but for now I have to say he’s not my cup of tea. I wish we’d gone to see Lucinda Williams, who also performed there that year, instead. Britney Spears was at the fair that year, too … at the age of 17.

Late Night with Conan O’Brien, NBC Television Studios, 2001

My kids and I were big Conan fans (boy, is he ever funny!), so for our 2001 trip to New York, I got us tickets to his TV show. It was exciting for all of us. Conan came out and introduced himself to individual members of the audience before the show began. He stood right in front of me (boy, is he ever tall!), and shook hands with one of my daughters. Then, during his monologue, they cheered extra loud, and his response (“Thanks, ladies!”) was directed at them. Unfortunately, he put little air quotes around the word “ladies,” which was both funny and not funny. (We have it on tape.)

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This is post #11 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

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Souvenirs, Part 2

We interrupt this Souvenirs blogcast to bring you this important message:

I had a good day.

It began at 6:30 a.m., when I awoke to the rude realization that I’d only gotten 5.5 hours of sleep. (Thanks, #NanoPoblano!) Once I decided to skip my 8:00 yoga class, though, I felt much better about life. I turned over and went back to sleep for another hour. 

Next, I had breakfast and picked up my 7-year-old grandson, whom I would be watching for the rest of the day. (It was a teacher conference day; no school.) 

First, we played a game of chess at my house – and when I say chess, I’m using the term loosely, since it included about two dozen plastic Army men surrounding the board and another dozen or so squeezed onto the board alongside the regular pieces. (I just go with the flow.)

Sometimes we made some crazy moves. I remember one of the knights (mine) moving in a straight line like a rook toward the end of the game, for example. We laughed a lot. By making sure not to stress him out since he’s just learning how to play, I’ve learned from him not to take the game seriously. Kids can teach us so much.

Of course, we had to have a mock funeral for the pieces on the losing side (mine). After the ceremony (during which he made the pieces miraculously come back to life), we went to McDonalds, something I haven’t done in 25 years. Yes, it was a good day for bending rules.

No, not that kind of bending!

Then we took a 2-hour tour of a state historic site, Ganondagan, a Seneca and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Indian cultural center that houses a museum, longhouse, hiking trails, and more. We both learned a lot and really enjoyed our time there.

Now that I’ve spent so much time telling you about my Not Terrible, Not Horrible, Good, Very Good Day, I haven’t left much room for Souvenirs, Part 2, the next installment of my series about concert tickets I found the other day. But here’s a little something:

Jackson Browne, Solo Concert, Hochstein Music School, 1996

It was my second or third time seeing Jackson Browne in concert, but what made this time so special was the fact that it was a solo concert in a really small auditorium (less than 850 seats). Also, while accompanying himself on piano, Jackson Browne forgot the words to one of his own songs. I’ll never forget the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face when that happened. This made a huge difference to me when, years later, I started performing myself. I had stage fright and was always afraid I’d forget the lyrics and freeze up on stage, but telling myself that even Jackson Browne could forget the words to a song helped a lot.

So, how was your day?

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This is post #10 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

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Headline photo by Ylanite @ pixabay.com

Souvenirs, Part 1

My photography critique group’s assignment last month was to submit three photos inspired by song or book titles. I’ve already shared one of those photos in my post, “Secrets Revealed” — the one called “Chelsea Morning,” which was inspired by a song by Joni Mitchell. Today I’ll show you my photo titled “Souvenirs,” inspired by the song and cd by John Prine.

If you’ve never heard of John Prine, I highly suggest you listen to him singing “Hello in There,” and then listen to Brandi Carlile sing it, too (with an amazing introduction by Stephen Colbert). Don’t be put off by Prine’s voice, which I’ll admit isn’t the best. It’s his honest, down-to-earth persona and absolutely devastating lyrics that get me.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about him:

 John Edward Prine … was an American singer-songwriter of country-folk music. He was active as a composer, recording artist, live performer, and occasional actor from the early 1970s until his death. He was known for an often humorous style of original music that has elements of protest and social commentary.

… Widely cited as one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, Prine was known for humorous lyrics about love, life, and current events, as well as serious songs with social commentary and songs that recollect sometimes melancholy tales from his life.”

Wikipedia, Nov. 9, 2022

Sadly, I never got to see him perform live. He passed away from COVID-19 on April 7, 2020. But before he died, I’d listened to his “Souvenirs” cd many times. I’d sung along to it in the car so often that I’d memorized all of the lyrics and most of the little inflections in his voice.

I decided to use the song, “Souvenirs,” for my photo assignment. I knew I had a stash of memorabilia in my guest room closet (I’d recently been in there looking for something), so I went back in and retrieved a handful of ticket stubs. Here are just a few of them:

These ticket stubs really brought back some good memories. For example:

The Kinks at Melody Fair, 1995

I remember Ray Davies entering the stage wrapped in a British flag, and the excitement of hearing him and, I believe, his brother Dave, performing all their greatest hits from the 60s. I particularly remember his energy. And now, every time I listen to “The Kinks Choral Collection,” an album of Kinks songs Ray sings with a symphonic orchestra and full chorus of backup singers, I feel that energy.

No, not that kind of chorus.

It’s this kind of chorus:

And, believe it or not, they blow the roof off of “All Day and All of the Night” and “You Really Got Me.”

Rent, Nederlander Theatre, NYC Theater District, May 27, 2001

In 2001, my daughters (ages 17 and 21 at the time) and I took an all-girls vacation to New York City. I’m not from the BIG city, so it’s always a thrill for me to go there. We had fun and saw lots of Big Yellow Taxis, the kind Joni Mitchell wrote about.

It was my 17-year-old who suggested we see the musical “Rent,” and we managed to nab cheap tickets that very day. The production was great. My favorite song was “Seasons of Love” (“525,600 Minutes”). Seeing “Rent” had a major impact on my daughter’s decision to become a social worker, which she still is to this day.

In the next installment of “Souvenirs,” I’ll share more memories jarred loose by seeing these ticket stubs. Which ones do you want to hear about next?

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This is post #9 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

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Shameless Wordling

While working on Wordle this morning (see below for my pitiful results), I was reminded that I haven’t written a shameless plug recently. And so, without further ado, or should I say “ADIEU” …

Shameless Plug:

Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds
(Books 1, 2, and 3)
by Lori Bonati

Now available on Amazon
and selling like hotcakes in England
because … I don’t know,
they’re written in English?

Each book contains 30 original, 8-line poems (poems that rhyme!) about the daily act of Wordling, along with diagrams that shamelessly reveal my results for all the world to see.

But: No SPOILERS!

Also: No words were harmed in the making of these books.

These one-of-a-kind, self-published poetry books would make great companions as you sip your morning coffee. (That’s when I always play Wordle.) They also go well with tea and scones. (I shamelessly mentioned tea and scones because of my fans in England.)

That reminds me of the time Homer Simpson complained about having to study English in high school. “English?” he asked. “Who needs that? I’m never going to England.” Well, maybe I’ll go to England someday. A book-signing there would be fab. Do any of you Brits own a bookstore?

The poems in these books are so short and rhyme-y that you’ll have no trouble memorizing them. That way, you can easily impress your friends with your love of poetry. Recite the verses (be sure to call them verses) at dinner parties, and place several copies on tables throughout your home.

Okay, I’m just being silly now. But seriously, even if you never read them, they just look cool because every Wordle fan will recognize them by the colors of their covers: fabulous Wordle Green, acceptable Wordle Yellow, and the less popular Wordle Gray.

AND, for a really special effect, you could purchase the compilation volume, which contains all three books in one (that’s 90 poems altogether!) and comes in a color heretofore unknown to Wordle gamers: Wordle Evergreen. This dark beauty will really pop on your bookshelf, especially when placed next to the other three books in the series.

You can use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to read some of my Wordle poems. I hope some of them make you smile. That’s my main objective with the book, and with my life, too, I think.

Okay, that’s it for my shameless plug. Now, here’s my shameless Wordle result for today. My average is 4/6, so this 6/6 is nothing to brag about.

Do you play Wordle? And have you ever self-published a book? Let me know in the comments below.

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This is post #8 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

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The Magic of Light

In 1666, while young Isaac Newton was quarantined in a dark bedroom to avoid catching the plague, he noticed a tiny beam of light pouring through a hole in his window. Using a glass prism, he bent the light to make a rainbow of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo. (Not violet, but that’s coming. For now, it’s just ROYGBI.)

Next, he reunited the ribbons of light using a second prism, turning them a solid white again. This was how he proved that light, which we perceive as white, is actually made up of several colors.

Newton then drew a chart of the six rainbow colors, adding a seventh one (you guessed, it, violet) by combining the first (red) with the sixth (indigo) in order to connect the arc together in a continuous circle.

And finally, he labeled his seven-color wheel with the letters A through G. Why did he choose these letters? He wanted them to match the seven notes in the western musical scale. I think he felt a connection between colors and music … as many people do. The connection is kind of magical (one could even say it’s a Rainbow Connection, especially if one were Kermit the Frog).

Here’s Newton’s illustration of the Color Wheel. Note that the sections are unevenly spaced, corresponding to the way notes on the musical scale are arranged (full steps after A, C, D, F, and G, but only half-steps after B and E).

Speaking of colors, here are some colorful autumn scenes, taken just last month. Click each one for a bigger burst of color.

Since Newton’s birthday is December 25, I’m going to go out on a limb (an apple tree limb, of course), and guess that his favorite colors were red and green. Mine are yellow and indigo. What are your favorite colors?

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This is post #7 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

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Does Anybody Really Know

Last night, I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. reading #NanoPoblano2022 blog posts. At least, my phone said it was 1:30 a.m. But what time was it, really? Had Daylight Saving Time ended yet?

I thought about getting up to check the other clocks in my house, but I was tired, with a sore arm and a mild fever after getting my COVID booster that morning. I just rolled over and went to sleep. When I awoke this morning, my phone said it was 6:30 a.m. Was that really 6:30, or was it 7:30? Or, was it 5:30? I was so confused.

I stumbled into the kitchen. My microwave said it was 7:30. I set it back an hour, still not sure how many hours of sleep I’d actually gotten. (Not that it mattered. I was going back to bed as soon as I let the dog out.)

It was like one of those horrible math questions:

If a NanoPoblano blogger with a 99.8-degree fever stays up reading other NanoPoblano blogger posts until 1:30 a.m. on the night that Daylight Saving Time ends, and then has a dream that she'd taken a train that left the station at point A at 1:30 and arrived at point B at 6:30, and if the clock in the train station says it's 7:30, but her analog watch says it's 12:32 because she forgot to wind it, what time is it in her kitchen, and how many cups of coffee will she need before she can write a blog post of her own?

I need more coffee to figure that one out. Meanwhile, here’s a reblog of a post I wrote way back on Nov. 4, 2017 for NanoPoblano. It’s about Daylight Saving Time. (I think you have to click “Continue” in order to read the entire post … the technical aspects of blogging are also something requiring more coffee.)

Are you affected by Daylight Saving Time? If so, what do you think of it? Should we do away with it?

This is post #6 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

And, to read more of the NanoPoblano posts written by the supportive blogging group “Cheer Peppers,” click the image below.

featured photo: mohamed_hassan at pixabay.com

Listen to the Trees

In my Nov. 2 post, Secrets Revealed!, I shared the story of how I came to write a little ditty called “Home Alone.” Today, I’d like to talk about another song I’ve written for my new songwriting club.

Our prompt for this song was “inspiration.” We were supposed to try and write songs having to do with a quote that means something to us. I bent the rules a bit and used the title of one of my photos for inspiration. Here’s the photo, which also can be seen in my Nov. 1 post:

The stillness and vulnerability of the trees, and the way they seemed to be listening to and supporting each other, made me want to write something quiet and reflective to support them, something that would say “I hear you.” I grabbed my guitar and played one of my favorite chords, A-major-seventh (Amaj7). Here’s a photo of an Amaj7 chord that I found online. It’s one of the easier chords to make!

Photo by sweetlouise at pixabay.com

Major chords, or major triads, are often described as happy. The notes are bright and positive-sounding. Minor chords can be described as sad. The second note of the triad (third note of the scale) is dropped by a half-step (one fret on the guitar). For some reason, this brings out sad emotions. But major SEVENTH chords are really different. They add an unexpected fourth note – a half-step below the octave – and the result is a little bit dissonant and melancholy, but at the same time warm, sweet, and hopeful. At least that’s how I hear major seventh chords.

After I played that Amaj7 on the guitar, my hands drifted up the neck a bit and sort of accidentally landed on the strings in places that, when strummed, sounded good to my ear. Turns out it was a chord called Cadd9. (I had to look it up.)

My new song, “Listen to the Trees,” ended up with ten different chords altogether, and it all started with that Amaj7. It has a bossa nova beat which makes me think of the great Brazilian jazz composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, who used a lot of major seventh chords in his own songs.

Here are the lyrics to my song:

LISTEN TO THE TREES

Whispers in the forest, carried on a breeze

hear the quiet chorus of the trees

branches are bending, roots move underground

messages that barely make a sound.

Telling their troubles, each in their own way

helping each other through the day

around them only silence, actions too few –

and the trees, they know this is true.

     Take the time to listen, listen to the trees

     know what they are saying, get down on our knees

     tell them we hear them, do what they need

     and give a word of thanks to the trees.

Inhale the essence of treasures we can lose

be mindful of the things we choose

learn nature’s lessons from branches above

wrap our arms around the ones we love.

I’ll try to record it and post a link, if I can remember how to use Garage Band. That could take me until next November, though!

Have you ever written a song, poem, or story about trees? Post a link in the comments below if you have!

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This is post #5 of the month-long challenge known as #NaBloPoMo or #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, please click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

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Featured image at top of post by Gordon Johnson at pixabay.com

Glasses and Me

Six-Year-Old Me:

I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since I was six years old. My first frames were red. Red PLAID, that is.

Not my actual glasses, but close!

Adult Me:

As an adult, I’ve been careful when purchasing eyewear, in the hopes of not looking as dorky as I did in first grade. My last pair was trendy, a Warby Parker style in a dark blue color called “Beach Glass.” I paid $325 for them in 2019. Here’s an actual, unretouched photo of me in my glasses:

I see I’m still wearing plaid. Oh well.

By 2021, I realized my vision had changed, and so had my taste in frames. Maybe the pandemic changed me. All that dreary news, all those drab and dreary masks. I no longer want such dark frames. It was time to go shopping for glasses. Things went downhill from there.

Late 2021:

I found an eye doctor in my new town and went to see him. When I arrived, there were no cars in the parking lot. That should have been my first clue. Inside, the office looked run-down, there were no other patients waiting, and there was loud classic rock music playing somewhere down the hall. I considered leaving, but then out he came to greet me. He was an older gentleman who seemed a bit forgetful, but he was very nice. I went ahead with the exam and got a new prescription.

Early 2022:

I found frames I liked at Zenni.com (a company I’ve bought glasses from before) and ordered them online. They were really cute: pink, cranberry, and black in a tortoiseshell pattern. Best of all, they only cost $126, including progressive (no-line bifocal) lenses and non-glare coating!

Pink and black … uh-oh. Maybe I’m stuck in the 50s.

Mid-2022:

I received my Zenni glasses. The prescription seemed off, so I returned them. Zenni inspected them and discovered a manufacturing error. They remade them for me free of charge and sent me another pair … but those were even worse. I couldn’t read the TV screen; I couldn’t even read street signs while driving. I returned this second pair of Zennis. They were inspected as well, and Zenni commendably admitted they’d made another error, just a slight one this time, but enough to earn me a full store credit. I haven’t used it yet. Don’t know if I ever will.

Summer 2022:

I had another eye exam, and my vision had by now changed again. With my new prescription in hand, I decided to take a chance on the optician playing the loud classic rock music in the other half of the office. Boy, I don’t know how to take a hint, do I. When I picked up my new Kate Spades, a right-wing talk show spouting conspiracy theories, instead of classic rock music, was booming out of the guy’s radio. I paid for the glasses ($450) and vowed never to return again.

I had to return again, though, because although I could read street signs off in the distance, I couldn’t read anything else .

Fall, 2022:

It was second opinion time. I saw a new eye doctor, who really seemed on the ball. She said she’d corrected my vision to 20/15 (the best it’s ever been), and I could tell when I looked through her equipment that it was true. The new prescription was a far cry from the one I’d gotten only a few months earlier. Finally, I was getting somewhere! At least, that’s what I thought.

Because now, I needed to find a pair of well-made, affordable glasses. I decided to visit the optician who was part of her practice. Almost immediately, I fell in love with a pair of stylish rose/mauve frames that looked great on me.

The friendly, talkative optician couldn’t  have agreed more as she cheerfully worked up my price quote: with lenses, $832, plus tax.

I. Don’t. Think. So.

I went home without ordering, wondering how a pair of glasses could cost that much. When I started looking into it, I learned that, according to Forbes, The Guardian, the L.A. Times, and other news outlets, there’s been something close to a monopoly in the eyeglass industry for years, and it’s run by a company called Luxottica. And Luxottica actually seems proud of their “vertically integrated business model” that allows them to market their brands through LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Target, etc. Not quite a pyramid scheme, but almost.

Here’s an excerpt from their website:

“Luxottica is a leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of fashion, luxury and sports eyewear. Its portfolio includes proprietary brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Arnette, Costa del Mar and Alain Mikli, as well as licensed brands including Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Bulgari, Chanel, Coach, Dolce&Gabbana, Ferrari, Michael Kors, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Valentino and Versace. … One of the Group’s competitive advantages is the vertically integrated business model built over the years, covering the entire value chain: design, product development, manufacturing, logistics and distribution.”

Yep. The eyeglass industry seems to have gone the way of Big Pharma. Since they control distribution, they’re free to charge the consumer whatever they can get away with.

November, 2022:

I’ve been trying to find out if I have insurance coverage for glasses. (I don’t, but after NINE phone calls between various optical companies, my insurance benefits office, and a company called Eye-Med, I’ve discovered that I’m eligible for a discount program with Eye-Med that I have to pay for in order to get the discount. And the information on their website is so confusing that I still don’t know how much that discount is.

I’ve gone back to wearing my three-year old glasses for now. I’ll probably try to find a pair on Warby Parker that I like. I just can’t see spending over $800 on a pair of glasses when my prescription changes about once a year.

How much are YOU willing to pay for a pair of good quality eyeglasses?

This is post #3 in this year’s #NaBloPoMo challenge, a.k.a. #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, just click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

Thanks!

Songwriting Club

My sister Lisa recently suggested I join her songwriting club. The group is given a prompt and then meets once a month to perform their new songs for each other (followed by polite applause and short critiques). Even though I get nervous performing in public, I decided to give it a whirl.

What’s the worst that can happen, I asked myself. I’ll be on Zoom, and if I can tell by their faces that my song really sucks, I’ll just mute myself and blame it on my computer!

This month’s prompt is Home. That’s a pretty broad topic. Maybe a little too broad, I thought. And for an entire day or two, I wracked my brain trying to come up with a clever idea. I even made this list of phrases using the word “home,” hoping it would lead me somewhere:

But that list just led me in circles. In desperation, I sat down at my piano keyboard. Now, mind you, my piano skills are somewhere between beginner and advanced beginner. But sometimes my fingers accidentally land on notes that lead me to a song idea. This time, it worked.

I played a couple of simple chords, and – lo and behold – some words popped into my head. I hate to admit it, though: they were pretty dumb words. The words were:

“Since my baby left me.”

Yeah, I know, that’s been done before (in the song “Heartbreak Hotel”). But what good is a good song lyric if you can’t steal it, I asked myself.

Just so I wouldn’t be sued by the estate of Thomas Durden, who wrote Heartbreak Hotel, I decided to give my song a more positive twist. Somehow, I’d turn heartbreak into happiness.

Writing a song about heartbreak turned on its head was difficult. The struggle was real, as these pictures will demonstrate:

In the end, I DID manage to come up with something positive, and, I think, positively funny. Here’s what I’ve got so far for my new song, “Home Alone”:

So now you know a few of my songwriting secrets, and also what happened “since my baby left me.”

P.S. The song above is a work of FICTION. My baby didn’t leave me, and I don’t like being home alone!

This is post #3 in this year’s #NaBloPoMo challenge, a.k.a. #NanoPoblano. To follow my blog, just click below where it says “Follow loristory.”

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Secrets Revealed!

Welcome to Day 2 of NaBloPoMo and NanoPoblano (November’s 30-day blog post challenge).

I have a new camera!

Yes, about two weeks ago, I bought a Nikon Z5. It’s a step up from my Nikon D3200, and it comes with some awesome features like full frame sensor, mirrorless, better sensor, image stabilization, tilting touch screen, and more focus points. Plus, it even has the ability to stack several photos on top of each other.

Secret #1: I don’t really understand any of that, but I’m hoping for some interesting results, eventually!

I also bought a new lens to go with my camera, a 28-75mm zoom.

Secret #2: My old 18-300mm zoom lens was fairly crappy. The more I used it, the more I came to realize that. In low-light situations, or when zooming all the way out (for example, when trying to capture birds in flight), everything was either grainy or out of focus. It was frustrating. My new lens seems to be doing better. It only zooms out to 75mm, but that’s okay, because I think it’s a better quality lens. Eventually, I’ll buy the 28-200mm I have my eye on, but for now I’m just going to focus (pardon the pun) on learning to use what I’ve got.

Here’s one of the first shots I took with the Z5 – a zinnia in my garden. For this shot, zoomed out to 75mm, I got close to the flower and set the f-stop at 2.8, which gives the photo that soft, blurry background known as “bokeh.”

And here’s another one of my first “new camera” photos. I think it’s the first still life I’ve ever attempted.

I set the camera on a tripod and experimented with different lighting, including filtered window light plus a floor lamp. For the background, I went to a fabric store in search of black velvet. The closest they could come to that was brown velveteen, which I settled for, and I’m glad I did … I like how the soft brownish tones go with the toast.

But … Secret #3: I wish I’d gotten more of this photo in focus. I could have done that if I’d taken my time and adjusted the f-stop from 5.6 to a higher number.

By the way, that plate in the picture? I spent $10 on it at an antique store, specifically for this picture, and … Secret #4: I promptly smashed a chunk of it off when I accidentally banged it against the bowl of oranges while arranging the shot. I cobbled the plate back together with clear packing tape, and then … Secret #5: I airbrushed the crack line in the photo using my Lightroom photo editing software. (Okay, now you know all my secrets.)

This still life is based on a song, “Chelsea Morning,” by Joni Mitchell. Do you know it? Click the link and you can watch her singing it live in 1969. I actually just met someone online who had never heard of or listened to Joni’s song, “Blue,” and that made me sad. If you’ve never heard “Blue,” I urge you to listen to it!

But now, back to Chelsea Morning. The song, one of Joni’s earliest recordings, includes the following lyrics, which you’ll hear at 1:38 in the video:

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
and the first thing that I knew
there was milk and toast and honey
and a bowl of oranges, too.

After all this talk about songs, I think my next post will be about my own attempts to write a new song, which I’ve titled “Home Alone.” And it isn’t the least bit sad!