Saturday, December 15, 2012

"Porque no le haces una base plana!!!"

It is known that I enjoy spicy, Mexican food from time to time. Actually I could eat it every day. Some friends and I were standing around on a city sidewalk one afternoon. One of the guys in the group asked, "Let's get something to eat. What is everyone in the mood for?" I said, "How about Mexican food?" My friend then replied that he had eaten Mexican food yesterday. Now, I don't know about you, but I find that remark rather funny and illogical at the same time. The return reply from me was, "A good portion of Mexico had Mexican food last night. Guess what? They're going to have it again tonight." Well, I got out voted and I think we had Thai food in the end.

But I do love Mexican food.

Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce
Yesterday Raoul brought me lunch to me at work from the restaurant almost next door, Chile Pepper. It's a sort of Tex-Mex Mexican Restaurant. I still haven't figured out the Texan part of the menu. Raoul brought me Shrimp in Chipotle Sauce. He left and then I opened up the container and there it was, red and steaming with the heat of a thousand suns. I took a bite and I don't think I actually took another breath until this morning. It was h-h-h-h-h-h-ot. Oh Lordy was it ever. I texted Raoul and told him that this dish should come with a warning label that the fire department is not included. I ate it very, very slowly. The dish came with three wonderful flour tortillas which I wolfed down to cut the heat. All in all though, I loved the dish. Next time I will ask her though to cut back on how many chipotles to place in the dish. We all know her and she knows all of us here in town. It's that kind of town. The photo above is of the shrimp in all of it's glorious red heat. The photo was taken with my new discovery. The Canon 35-80mm modified Macro. I also took a very close up macro shot of the Texas Yellow Trumpet Bush which grows wild here in the desert. There is also another macro photo a lamp shade. Notice the detail with the fibers of the fabric.
Lamp Shade Detail

Detail of Texas Yellow Trumpet Bush

"Porque no le haces una base plana!!!"

Last night for dinner Raoul prepared Mexican Tacos with ground turkey, Raoul's delicioso Pico de Gallo, lettuce, cheese and my favorite girlfriend, Cholula. Raoul and I always seem to have to quote the little boy in the commercial for hard tacos with the flat bottom. They were muy sabroso!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Macro Surgery

I have been doing a little bit of amateur photography now for quite a few years. My first camera was a Minolta (I forget what model. It's in storage and I should probably rescue it at some point). But since the advent of the digital photography age I put off making the jump to digital photography for a long while until I eventually purchased my first DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera a couple of years ago. I did that in anticipation of the annual flowering of the Chihuahuan desert every March, April, and May. However, that didn't happen because we didn't get any rain for the next two years.

Homemade Bread and Tuscany cheddar rolled in pepper and  grains. This was a rye seed and  red pepper flake. Canon 35-80mm converted to Macro
I have since been taking pictures however of the small flowers and small things that inhabit this desert I live in. I am very much interested in taking photos of the little things, or as it is called, macro photography. After extensive research I decided to purchase a Canon T2i DSLR. It came with a standard lens 18-55mm and then I purchased the Canon EF 100mm macro lens as well. Those are the mainstay of what I use when I take photos here in the desert.

However, I really would like to get closer to my subjects and that would mean purchasing the Canon MP-E 1x-5x macro lens. Starting at the low, low price of 950 bucks left me breathing out of a small paper bag for a few minutes until I stopped hyperventilating. Well, I guess that's out of the question. So, there is always more than one way to do something. I set about doing more research on how to accomplish my goal of super macro photos on a cheaper budget. And what do ya know! I happened to see a forum for photographers that said I could purchase a lens for relatively cheap, under 50 bucks, and after a bit of minor easy surgery on the lens, produce a super macro lens.
Very small camera screws-converted 35-80mm Macro Lens
Canon 100mm Macro Lens
So I did just that. But not without some trepidation. I mean, actually take something related to a camera apart? Well, it felt almost like I was committing sacrilege on a sacred object. So I said okay. I purchased two Canon 35-80mm standard lenses for cheap on Ebay. I received the lenses yesterday and kept one to use as a back up lens for photos and the other I performed surgery on. Wow! I was impressed with how close I could get to the subject and produce a basically good photo. As with any macro lens, the closer you get to the subject the narrower will be the depth of field or how much in focus the area around the subject will be. There is practically no way around that...almost. There are programs that you can use to get around that. You would need to take multiple photos of the subject with each progressing to place the focused area in different areas of the subject. Then the program would combine those photos to make one photo with most of the subject in focus. I have not tried that yet. Yet.

I have taken photos of the same sample subject using my now converted lens and my Canon 100mm macro lens in order to compare the two. Notice that the 100mm lens has the subject as being sharper but also just at the 1:1 ratio or as the same size as real life. It is impressive I think. All the photos were taken utilizing only a small lamp on a table and hand held. I didn't want to go to the trouble of setting up the tripod. The sole purpose of this was just to see how much of a difference it would make versus using my current 100mm macro lens. Using the 100mm lens I was able to step back quite a bit from the subject but a 100mm macro is a fixed lens and it will only allow a certain distance. However, the now converted  35-80mm lens has zoom capability but one still has to physically move themselves forward or backward to gain focus while zooming in on the subject. I am impressed with this method.

Canon 100mm Macro Lens
Converted Canon 35-80 mm Macro Lens

I cut open a malted milk "robins egg" from the makers of Whoppers malted milk balls.  Canon 35-80mm converted to  Macro

I think I'm going to have an interesting next few months playing around with this new macro lens. I can now get closer to my subjects here in the desert.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another Damn Terlingua Sunset

It was a beautiful sunset tonight in Terlingua. Both Steve Mehall and Douglass Kolling would have enjoyed it if they were still alive. I am trying to write a song. The music tune so far, is still under major construction. So far I have managed to pluck out a few measures of the music that popped into my head, however, like I stated, it is still metamorphosing. In the meantime, enjoy the sunset.


World AIDS Day 2 December 2012

World AIDS Day December 1, 2012 Post for Facebook.

I wish I could make it go away. I wish that I could turn my back. I wish I could forget. But I can't. HIV and AIDS is not a part of my world. HIV and AIDS is a part of our world. When people begin to view HIV and AIDS as a problem that we all have instead of a problem "they" have, then perhaps a difference will be made. 

There isn't a week that goes by that I don't think of my friends that are no longer here. When I take photographs, Douglas Kolling is there with me helping me to arrange a better shot. He gave me my first camera, a Pentax SLR with a zoom and a standard lens. When I look at the art and beauty of female impersonators and drag, make-up, sequined clothing, I think of Douglas telling me what he could do with three wigs and make up. Douglas designed and made his own clothes and costumes. 

I remember Doris Fish. I hear Doris Fish at the Castro Street Fair in San Francisco. I hear her standing above the crowd on stage. Doris is dressed in a chartreuse polyester pantsuit, blond bouffant and dazzling white teeth (she bleached her teeth before it was popular). Doris is entertaining the crowd with her wit and charm and speaking in that all too familiar Aussie accent, raising funds for AIDS charities in San Francisco.

To this day, I feel that Douglas follows me around and visits me on occasion. Douglas did not like drag, at all. He loved it! I was always so jealous that he could wear heels and not need a painkiller. I tried to wear heels once. Once. Once for eight hours on Gay Pride Day. They were four inch heels, black patent leather. After four hours, I was limping. When I arrived home my toes were bruised and blue. For hours afterwards my feet were semi permanently fixed in high heel position. I don't know how he did it but he did it fabulously. Douglas liked to dress in red sequins. After he passed on. No matter how many times I moved or where I moved to, I would always find a red sequin. I found one in the shower once. It wasn't mine. I certainly don't own anything with red sequins much less shower dressed in red sequins. I still find them from time to time. And chartreuse is my favorite color.

When I listen to music, and I do that everyday, whether it's on the radio or in my head, and yes it is always playing in my head, I think if Steve Mehall. I hear him break down the song into segments and take it apart. I hear him call me when he runs across a club version that he knows I will like. I hear the excitement in his voice when he describes to me a certain concert of the Grateful Dead. I remember the Blonde Ambition Tour Get Together at his flat on Haight St. and again, the excitement in his voice as he is being the perfect host and making sure everyone is taken care of. Steve had the most amazing music collection, vinyl and CD's I've ever seen outside of a record store. Steve could take a word and put together a collection of songs of any genre based on that one word and pull it out of his collection. This was before the internet or computers were what they are now. He just did it from his head.

I was there. In the room when the relatives of two of my friends came to the house. At different times, I roommates with both of them. I have carried this memory with me to this day. When a person dies, what they leave behind. Their belongings are a sort of memorial of who they were. We, the friends that are there, know them. We breathed the same air that they did. We ate from the same table, cooked and ate the same food. Shared experiences and conversations with one another. What I witnessed when members of the family arrived was to me, traumatic. I watched as they picked and pawed through the belongings. Tossed aside things that to me were important and would have been important to my friend that had passed on. They never asked us once, how their son or brother or cousin was. Not once did they inquire as to their personality or that they wished they had known that side of them. One of my friends family were religious. I'll leave it at that. What I felt they did was censor what they would carry with them and toss the rest in the trash or to the wayside. I could very well be wrong about them. Perhaps they did inquire but just not of me. The reason I'm revealing this is that I feel we should accept who these people were, regardless of whether we agree with who they were. If we censor who people are, then are we not lying to ourselves? And disgraceful to all that they were? A half truth is not the truth at all. I know my friends and I know that any one of them, alive or no longer with us, would rather be all that they are, than to live the lie that others would rather they be.

I have friends who still deal with AIDS and HIV not on a daily basis, they deal with it on an hourly basis. They set their clocks by it so that they don't miss a single dose.

It doesn't matter that people may not agree with who they are. It doesn't matter that you don't know who they are. It matters to me and it matters to those of us who knew them. And it's a shame that you will never know them. It's a shame that you will not experience their great talents and their wonderful, energetic zeal for life as it was cut short by a horrible disease. It's horrible because that's what it is. I've seen it up close and personal. And it hasn't gone away.

I miss them. They made me laugh. They helped me dream. And they helped some of those dreams come true. They helped me believe in myself and by their example they helped me believe in others. If you believe that we are the sum of those around us. Then you should care that they are gone. I believe there is only one word that matters the most above all others. It would go along way with helping this world be a better place and it would go along way with helping AIDS and HIV go away. That word is...CARE.

I miss you.