Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Photography”

Biff’s Backyard Photography: Pre-Autumn Edition

A few days ago I was feeling guilty for not using the camera that I just had to have several months ago.  I was also feeling guilty for not posting in this blog for awhile.  So I put two and two together and said, “Hey!  Why not take some pictures and post them on this little blog of mine?”  And so, here I am.

The problem with that idea is that I live in a very non-picturesque part of the world.  I am surrounded by literally hundreds of square miles of suburbia.  So, I have to take pictures of what I can find (which isn’t much).  It’s like looking through a thousand pounds of grass clippings hoping to find a rose.

Anyway, below is what I came up with.  How I envy people who live in interesting places!


I found this little fellow in the joint between my fence and my house.  He thought he was hidden, but I managed to sneak a picture of him.  Geckos are very plentiful here, and I encourage them any way I can.  They eat a lot of things that I don’t want inside the house (like roaches and june bugs).  All that twiggy stuff in the background is the remnants of some Virginia creeper vine that I tried to eradicate a few years ago.  However, I couldn’t get rid of all of the tendrils it put down since apparently Virginia creeper glues itself to the wall with the equivalent of two-part epoxy.

IMG_0834bImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This is the last canna lily of summer.  It has not bloomed fully yet in this picture.  It is amazing how lush these things look in spite of it not having rained in over two months.  I used to think that canna lilies were exotic and delicate, like orchids.  I have since come to learn that they are basically weeds here in Texas and throughout the Deep South and will grow anywhere and everywhere.  They will grow up through cracks in the sidewalk.  They will take over entire sections of your yard and choke out everything else.  All they need is about two drops of water a month to look like what you see here.

IMG_0839a.jpgImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Here’s another gecko (a different one).   I think he panicked and thought he was a chameleon for a moment.  In his mind he probably thinks he is as red as the brick he is on.  I didn’t have the heart to disillusion him.  I often feel the same way when I’m at work.  I think I am the same color as the cubicle walls and that no one can see me.  I am almost always wrong in this thinking.

IMG_0844a.jpgImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This is the view looking into the side of a stack of firewood.  It seemed appropriate to the rapidly approaching Halloween season.  Would you stick your hand in there?  I sure wouldn’t!  Firewood is a favorite lair location for black widow and brown recluse spiders.  They’re the reason I let geckos have the run of my house.

IMG_0852a.jpgImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

I’m not sure what these berries are.  They appear periodically in one of the scraggly trees in my backyard.  I haven’t figured out the cycle at which these things appear.  It seems to be random.  Apparently the birds love them, because I never see them on the ground.  The tree itself is not very attractive, but it provides shade, and in Texas, that is like a goose that lays golden eggs.

IMG_0853.JPGImage copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

 

So there you have today’s installment of “Biff’s Backyard Photography“.  I hope you enjoyed.  And for all you people who live in interesting or picturesque locales, count your blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Autumn Comes to the ‘Burbs

Practically overnight, this tree turned from green to bright yellow.

Autumn happens quickly in Dallas … you have to be ready for it or you’ll miss it.

Notice the trees in the background are still green.

IMG_0865b.jpg

Image Copyright ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Soon …

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Photography: Pigeons at the Dallas Galleria

Pigeons at the Galleria.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

 

These young lovers were caught billing and cooing in the shrubbery outside one of the entrances to the Dallas Galleria this morning.  Far from being embarrassed at having been caught in mid-bill (or mid-coo) they just looked up at me as if to say, “Do you mind?

I did not mind.  In fact, I took a photo of the loving couple.  They were unflappable, as evidenced by the fact that they did not flap their wings and fly away.  In fact, I got about two feet away from them to take this photo.  Then I continued on in to the Galleria.

It felt odd, though, being followed by a pair of eyes (one eye per pigeon) as I went along my merry way.

Camera:  My aged phone

 

Boring Backyard Photography: Morning Glory

Here are some photos of a Morning Glory vine that has taken up residence on a rose trellis beside my house.  It has nearly choked out the rose bush that is growing there.  There is a single yellow rose growing near the ground that is nearly obliterated by the Morning Glory.

Morning Glory #1Image ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Morning Glory #2.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Morning Glory #3.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

I love how Morning Glory looks, but it redefines the phrase “invasive species”.  No one plants it.  It just appears.  It suckers you in with its pretty purple flowers.   You see it growing and think, “Well, that’s pretty.  I think I’ll let it stay.”  The next thing you know, your entire yard is covered in Morning Glory.  The plant you see in the photos above appeared and grew to the size you see in about 2 weeks.  I have seen it growing in cracks in the concrete of major freeways.

Anyway, here are a couple of photos I took of it before I try to remove it to find the yellow rose (of Texas?) beneath it.  And when I find it, I plan on saying, “Dr. Livingston, I presume?”  No one will laugh but me, but I’m sure the rose will be grateful.

Meanwhile, the Morning Glory will say, “Curse you, Biff!  You may have won this time, but I will be back!

And it will, too.

 

Camera:  Canon T6

 

Boring Backyard Photography: Bunny In Grass

Bunny in Front Yard #1.jpgImage ©2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This little fellah thinks he’s hidden in the St. Augustine grass in my front yard.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that even I, with my poor eyesight, was able to discover him like he was in an entry-level version of “Where’s Waldo?“.  But I was kind and let him believe that he was hidden.

Although, now that I think about it, me stopping to take his picture might have ruined my attempts to let him believe he was a ninja bunny.

Camera:  Canon T6

 

Photography: Setting Sun Over the Florida Gulf Coast

Florida Gulf #3Photo © by Biff Sock Pow

Here is a photo I took on my recent trip to the gulf side of Florida.  This is not the raw photo.  I saturated the hell out of it and cranked the contrast up to make it look like the sun was exploding behind the clouds and to make the gulf waters more inky.  The raw photo was very flat and boring.  I also turned up the blue a little because the original photo was too yellow.

 

This was taken with my Samsung phone since I didn’t have my T6 with me.

 

 

 

Garden Spider

I found this black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) literally hanging out in my crepe myrtle tree this morning.

Garden Spider

I was finally able to get a good picture of her with the macro setting on my camera and by manually focusing.  The auto-focus simply did not see her and kept focusing on the branch behind her.  I perhaps rely too much on auto-focus due to my less than perfect eyesight.

The photo is misleading and makes her look huge.  However, she is quite small.  I think the tips of her legs would just barely touch the edge of a dime if spread out like the spokes of a wheel.

I hope she has a good long life and grows to be 2 inches or more across.  These spiders are highly desirable in gardens because they eat lots of pesky insects.  Plus they look really cool!

 

Scenes From Downtown Dallas

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent several hours Friday in downtown Dallas visiting the Dallas Museum of Art.  After visiting the museum, we walked the short walk to Klyde Warren Park.  The picture below is a view from the outside of the DMA looking towards KWP.

01 KWP from DMA.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Klyde Warren Park is very unique in that it is built on 5.2 acres of “land” that was created over a freeway.  The Woodall Rodgers Freeway (aka Spur 366) has always run through a concrete valley carved out of Dallas between I-35 on the west side of Dallas and highway 75 on the east side.  They recently put a top over a portion of this sunken freeway and built a park on it.

Here is a picture taken from the edge of the park facing East.  You can make out traffic on the freeway in the center of the picture.

03 KWP and Woodall Rogers.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Below is a zoom on the above picture to show the traffic more clearly driving under the park.

03a KWP and Woodall RogersImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

This was my first visit to the park and I was really impressed.  They did a very good job of this.  Throughout the decades I’ve lived near Dallas, the downtown area did not have much in it to attract visitors at nights and on weekends.  It was a joke here that they rolled up the sidewalks at five o’clock.  Except it wasn’t much of a joke.  Downtown Dallas was built for business and commerce, and outside of business hours it was largely deserted.

However, within the past five or ten years Dallas has made a concerted effort to attract visitors and residents to downtown Dallas.  They built a lot of condominiums, both traditional, and high-rise ones such as Museum Tower, shown in the next few pictures.

04 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

In the photo below, it’s hard to believe that there are about 8 lanes of freeway traffic about 20 feet below!

05 Museum Tower from Klyde Warren Park.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

06 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

07 Museum Tower (Condos).JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

In addition to these new high-rise condominiums, there are a plethora of other beautiful office buildings.

08 IMG_0320.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Below is the Hunt Oil Building.

09 Hunt Oil Building.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

Back at Klyde Warren Park, we decided to eat at food truck alley.

02 KWP Food Truck Alley.JPGImage © 2017 by Biff Sock Pow

About 12 food trucks were lined up along the park offering anything from ice cream to barbecue to lobster.  I chose a nice chicken quesadilla with a spicy avocado drizzle on it.  It was very tasty!  Unfortunately, the weather was not very spring-like but instead was 99 degrees in the shade with the humidity nearly 80%.  It was quite steamy!   It was still a nice visit to the park, though.  I’m sure I’ll be going back soon!  (Probably in the autumn.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Trip to the Dallas Museum of Art

To celebrate the start of a 4-day Memorial Day weekend, my daughter and I decided to take a trip down to the Dallas Museum of Art on Friday to spend a few hours.  I haven’t been there in probably ten or more years and even in all the decades I’ve lived in Dallas, I’ve only been there maybe five times.   I am definitely one of those people that give credence to the axiom that people who live near well-known sites never go to visit them.

I found that a lot has changed since my last visit.  Much of their collection was new (to me), but also some of my old friends were still there, such as Church’s “Iceburgs” (see below).  It was a wonderful visit and I highly recommend a visit to anyone who finds themselves in Dallas with a few hours or a day to spare.

Below are some of the pictures I took while I was there.  I took well over a hundred photos and there were thousands of things I didn’t take photos of, but these are my favorites.  I apologize for the poor quality.  Flash photography is not allowed and so I had to do the best I could without a flash and with a camera that I’m still not familiar with.

01

Oscar Bluemner

Space Motive – A New Jersey Valley (Wharton)

01 Oscar Bluemner's Space Motive

I really like the clean lines and lush coloring in this painting.  Bluemner used color for emotional expression rather than literal renderings, and that really comes through in this painting.

 

02

Charles Demuth

Buildings

02 Charles Demuth's Buildings

Demuth blended common renderings of everyday objects with cubist aspects.  I’m not a big fan of cubism, but, as he kept the cubist elements to a minimum, using them as accents rather than making them the star of the picture, I like what he’s done here.  The painting as a draftsman-like quality to it and, like the Bluemner above, I like the evocative colors and clean lines of the painting.

03

Edward Hopper’s

Lighthouse Hill

03 Edward Hopper's Lighthouse.jpg

What’s not to like about an Edward Hopper painting?  I love how the strong contrasts between light and shadow capture a very specific moment in time.  The sun, though we don’t know if it is rising or setting, is in a very specific place in the heavens.  It may be telling us the day is young and rife with possibilities, or calling us home for dinner and warning us that it will soon be dark.  But even if it is telling us that darkness will be coming soon, the lighthouse itself strips the darkness of any real power over us.

04

Alexandre Hogue

Drouth Stricken Area

04 Alexandre Hogue's Drouth Stricken Area.jpg

I live in Texas and drought is just a way of life here.  Hogue has captured this perfectly.  Brown is the color of summer here.  The vulture, while here perhaps symbolizing death, to me represents the trepidation that people in drought-prone areas live with constantly.  Whether it is raining or sunny, we live with the ever-present dread of each rain shower perhaps being our last for a while.

05

Thomas Hart Benton

Prodigal Son

05 Thomas Hart Benton's Prodigal Son.jpg

I just enjoyed the imagery of this painting.  While in the Biblical story the prodigal son returns home after living a life of excess and debauchery and was welcomed with open arms and lavished with all manner of gifts and honors, the artist returned from living in New York to his home in Missouri to find things bleak and dour.  Such was life in the south during the depression.   The pain and surprise of Benton’s realization is obvious in this painting.  Even the clouds have a kind of sinister, predator-like look to them.

06

Francis Guy

Winter Scene in Brooklyn

06 Francis Guy's Winter Scene in Brooklyn.jpg

I just liked this painting.  Not sure why.

07

Robert Preusser

Tonal Oval

07 Robert Preusser's Tonal Oval.jpg

I only have momentary and fleeting interest in abstract art.  This one caught my eye and it was interesting for a minute or two, but it is ultimately forgettable and looks like something that would be hanging in the reception area of a corporation.   I do like that this painting has depth (as in the cylinder-like shapes and the ribbing in the elements), and is not just random swirls of pattern and color.

08

Jackson Pollck

Cathedral

08 Jackson Pollck's Cathedral.jpg

I’m not a huge Pollock fan.  I feel his work is mostly a deliberate mocking of the pretentiousness of the art world (and maybe rightly so).  The art world, however, doesn’t seem to get the joke.

I’m not saying I could do what he does (I probably couldn’t), but I also don’t think I could gaze upon his work for any length of time with anything approaching enjoyment.  But since this was the closest I’ve ever been to one of his paintings, I decided to take a picture of it.

09

Gerald Murphy

Razor

09 Gerald Murphy's Razor

Though this is a cubist work, I also feel it has certain art deco elements.  Art deco is my absolute favorite art style, bar none.  I also find myself drawn to pop advertising art for some reason.  I guess that is just the very root of advertising art.  It is a deliberate play for our attentions.  This one succeeds on that account, though it is not an advertisement per se.

10

Gerald Murphy’s

Watch

10 Gerald Murphy’s Watch.jpg

As an engineer, I was immediately drawn to this work.  I love intricacy and detail in art, and it is here in abundance.  I also drawings that have a mechanical drawing vibe to them.  I like artwork that has a schematic diagram feel to them.  This is a beautiful combination of all that, plus contrasting symmetry and non-symmetry.

It is also a surprisingly large work (78  square inches or about 2 square meters), which I thought was a contrast in itself:  a giant depiction of a tiny watch mechanism.

11

Leon Frederic’s

Nature or Abundance

11 Leon Frederic's Nature or Abundance.jpg

 

12

François–Auguste Biardh

Seasickness on an English Corvette

12 François–Auguste Biardh's Seasickness on an English Corvette.jpg

I love well-done comic scenes that contain a great amount of detail.

13

Frederic Edwin Church

The Iceburgs

13 Frederic Edwin Church's The Iceburgs.jpg

This is my favorite painting at the DMA and has been ever since I saw it a few decades ago.  This picture of it does not do it justice.  It is a huge painting.  Its framed dimensions are 85 x 133 x 5 inches (2.16 m x 3.37 m x 12.7 cm) and weighs a whopping 426 pounds (193 kg).  The DMA used to have it in its own separate room with viewing benches in front of it.  They also used to have special lighting on it to enhance the eerie green glow of the ice.  Now, however, it is just hanging on a wall in a huge gallery with other paintings.  But I still love this painting.  It is gorgeous and haunting all at once.  I could feel the isolation of the scene and the tragedy that no doubt happened here a long, long time ago.

14

John Singer Sargent

Dorothy

14 Sargent's Dorothy.jpg

Just thought I’d toss in a famous painting.

15

Claude Monet

The Seine at Lavacourt

15 Claude Monet's The Seine at Lavacourt.jpg

Monet is my favorite impressionist of all time.  His paintings always fill me with serenity and peace and a desire to go back in time and view the scenes that he was painting.  Things always seem so placid in his paintings.

16

Claude Monet

Water Lilies

16 Claude Monet's Water Lilies.jpg

One of Monet’s water lily paintings.  It was so odd to be able to get within inches of this (or any) famous painting.  One would think that they would cordon it off with velvet theater ropes or something.

17

Claude-Joseph Vernet

Mountain Landscape with Approaching Storm

17 Claude-Joseph Vernet's Mountain Landscape with Approaching Storm.jpg

Another one of my old favorites from the DMA.  Vernet beautifully captures an approaching storm.

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And thus concludes my day-trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.  It was a wonderful day and the museum, while not the Louvre or the Metropolitan Museum, has a lot of very interesting items in it.

Also, it is the only museum I know with a sense of humor!

18 Van Gogh Vana

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