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Oakland Holiday Parade


Today at the pump

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Under here.

February 11, 2012

To Think Of It
Saturday. An uneven night's sleep last night. Well, shorter than I might have liked, it having gotten close to eleven after watching the third and fourth chapters of the Deadwood series on DVD. I'm following it along, finding it interesting, although I wonder if it will hold up. You never know. We'll see.

Anyway, to breakfast and back a little later than usual, the day overcast with just a bit of rain while I was eating inside. They're saying sun later in the morning or afternoon, making it a nice day for the Chinese New Year Parade. I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes. It starts close to dark at five-thirty, some of the web sites say five-fifteen, so I'll be on the ground shooting by four, on BART and back to Oakland by six. I've never actually seen the parade, just the forming up and have found you really have to work to get decent photographs. No complaints, some of them have turned out OK.

The same thoughts this morning I expressed last night on the three drinks I had through the evening, three shots neat of Jack Daniels over some two hours. Felt good, I was just less willing to do anything other than watch television (and plink about for maybe fifteen minutes with the guitar). Sake seems somehow nicer in retrospect, a soft pillow instead of a hard pillow on which to lie the head, both with their advantages, both with their downsides. But then most everyone is familiar with these questions, one of the things we all work out pretty quickly in this life, some with less than pleasant outcomes than others.

We're wandering again.

We are. There's a certain level of appreciation for why some choose to walk into the sunset with a bottle of gin. We're very far from there, not really worth all the babbling, but who knows what the future may hold? Maybe keep an eye on it. Bad enough I put so much stuff off, no reason to slip into other bad habits.

I had to think twice when I saw the gas prices this morning. They'd gone up six cents yesterday and then another four today. Ten cents a gallon in forty-eight hours. This is a completely brainless conceit, tracking gas prices at this one station in Oakland (not the highest priced station in the neighborhood, by the way) as they don't even really affect me at my retired age here in Oakland, but for some reason I've continued to follow it along.

Maybe the old economics studies in school, the current national and international financial situation making more than some vague sense, stuff right smack here in real life that I'd only read about before in books. Be interesting to know what is really going on in back offices (actually front offices) around the world, playing to their monopolist's advantage by under the table bending of the supply-demand curve. You know they're fiddling, but you can't quite tell what or how. The when, we know, is now.

Later. Still overcast with lots of clouds, so we're not going to see clear skies later now that it's two in the afternoon. A walk along the lake, through the farmer's market area in Splash Pad Park, on to the morning cafe for a scone and a coffee. A walk then back around by the Grand Lake theater to take a picture or two, on to the ATM and then back to the ice cream shop. Two necessary stops, let me tell you.

So, again through the market, on to the white columns and then to the apartment. I took a picture of two birds I wanted to identify, one to confirm it was a Ring Billed Gull and another to find out what in the hell it was, as we've got a bunch of them mixed in with the Canvas Back gulls. A Lesser Scaup. I had no idea. A Scaup. Best to get a proper picture of one of the Canvas Backs and be sure they're not something else.

Off to San Francisco in another hour. I'm interested in seeing how it goes. Here in the duck swamps of north Lake Merritt, swimming with the Lesser Scaups in the cold.

Later still. A dry mouth heading out, a bit of the double vision with the surroundings going a bit weird for maybe ten minutes when I first got off BART, but clearing up to settle out and then all was well for the rest of a clear late San Francisco afternoon for the parade.

I find the Chinese New Year Parade somewhat difficult to shoot, not so much because the preparations take place in low to very low light - the cameras are now good enough to take care of that - but because it is, for all its size and notoriety, in many ways a small home town parade. Lots of high school marching bands, grade school kids in traditional costume and similar floats and entries that don't really provide the candid portraits I like.

Kids, unless they're in full costume and such, aren't subjects I'm after for reasons both obvious (who's that old guy shooting pictures of the kids?) and more personal (they don't fit my photographic bent). Oh, and the princesses and various other adults don't get on their floats until the very last minute, generally after I've left or, if I'm still there, they as often as not duck candid photographs. Which is odd, being it's a parade. A performance. Half a million people watching. It's more like a music event: no pictures without signing their “we own your pictures” contract but without the contract.

That said, what the hell, I shot for close to two hours, got some pictures that turned out and I'm back now at the apartment at six feeling good. Too late for my six o'clock Italian-German-Scandinavian whatever it is police procedural, but they rerun it at nine. Past my bedtime, but I'm allowed.

Evening. Enough photographs, it turns out, for two sections on artandlife. Which is good. Decent photographs, one or two very good, although they're somewhat similar to the ones I took last year. A bit of noise in the images shooting at ISO 5,000 for the D3 and 6,400 for the D3s, but nothing that shows up in the finished photographs, certainly not for those adjusted for the web. I'll have them finished and posted sometime tomorrow. Hup.

Watched the (Swedish) police procedural at nine. I'm not sure I sympathize with any of the characters, although I'll admit it's a little different and therefore in some ways more interesting than what little I know anymore of the usual American fare. But I did indeed follow it playing along on the guitar. Not enough to call it a proper day's practice, but we'll make up for it tomorrow. Which is what I said yesterday, come to think of it.

A portrait from a 2006 studio session taken with a Nikon D2X mounted with a 17-55mm f 2.8 Nikkor DX lens.