My darling Ivy, my friend in the cave


My darling Ivy, my friend in the cave. Don’t know when she got there. Don’t know why she would stay. The glint of her eye says she might once roamed free. But, she has no voice and could never tell me.


Sometimes I see very cute faces in things, like last week when I was behind a Jeep without its spare tire. He had a really goofy smile.

But every now and then I see a freaky Cave Demon. GAH! Burn it with fire!

For your reading pleasure, see Jiangang Liu’s IgNoble Prize  for researching what happens to the brain when you see Jesus on a piece of toast.

Austin Fossil Specimens: Cretaceous Period

My 9 year old has a developing interest in fossil hunting. It started a few years back when his grandfather, a former elementary school teacher, took him on fossil hunting trips around Austin.

Now I’ve developed an interest in specimen photography. Honestly? I am terrible at fossil hunting. Is this a fossil? (No, mom. It’s a rock. Put it down.) But is THIS a fossil? (Yes, but we already have a bunch of those. Put it down.) IS THIS A FOSSIL????

I’ll just stick to photography.

I experimented with using a black background, white background, and then making an in situ re-creation.

1. For the black background, I have 4 angles of the Exogyra ponderosa fossil.

2. I used a whitish background for my son’s science project.

3. For the in situ re-creations, I used “crafting” sand from JoAnn Fabrics. When I needed a taller background, I used limestone I picked up at the fossil sites.


4.  Issues/Problems/Concerns

  • BLACK BACKGROUND: As always, use clean black velvet. I was being lazy about that. WELL WELL WELL. Guess who had to spend way too much time with the clone tool? Stitch in time, people.
  • LIGHTING: I took these in daylight in the west side of my house. I turned on all the kitchen lights and used only one continuous light. I wanted drama/interest. I decided to enhance the shadows because so many specimens in books and online did not provide sufficient detail so that my kid could identify his fossils. Words are not nearly as helpful as a picture which captures the fossil’s significant details.
  • UNDEREXPOSE: My camera’s automatic exposure settings caused problems with the specimens (flattened the items/loss of detail). Underexpose slightly from what your meter says. You want to grab the shadows to keep the detail.  Then increase exposure a bit in post-process. If you blow out the highlights by overexposing, you will lose the tiny details which make a useful specimen. Increasing “clarity” in PS will just make a digitized mess of things and won’t get the depth back.
  • LENS: Yes, I took these on my kit lens for my entry-level Nikon DSLR. I haven’t bought a macro lens of any kind. For my purposes (blogging), I can crop and not worry about the final product having sufficient pixels. If you actually want to print these and have adequate detail, seek out a macro lens so you can get closer.
  • APERTURE: Depended. Just like focal length. Use your best judgment.
  • SPECIMEN MEASUREMENTS: I used a tape measure for my kid’s project. If you were going to assemble a large number of small specimen photos, I would not recommend that. Just give the measurements in a caption.
  • SPELLING: FRIIIIICCCKKKK. So many errors along the way. If I were to make a book, I would require an editor.
  • EXOGYRA ARIETINA v. ILYMATOGYRA ARIETINA: I see both online. It seems like books prefer the Ilymatogyra genus. Fossil taxonomy: I am no expert. Just interested in the pics. Again, I would require an editor for a book.




Abstraction and Shapes: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Geometric Abstraction

Used to be, I could spend hours shooting different angles and vistas in the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans. Now you have to be a part of an official tour group. Why? Rampant vandalism.

Thanks, assholes! Brilliant damn idea to vandalize a cemetery.

how faux-emo of you; gosh, you just rage against the machine; much point made painting a famous tomb a hideous bright pink. MUCH.POINT.MADE.; no narcissists here; fake anarchists

Angles Blocking and Hidden Horizon

The light side:

At first, the Catholic Church refused visitors other than family members of the deceased. I completely understand. It took thousands of dollars to clean up the stupid mess. I’m not religious, but I do respect history and the emotional connection people have to geographical locations and certain architectural structures. (No, really. I am attached to a couple of tangible items and would be sad if they were damaged by some dumbass.)

The church then decided that visitors would be allowed as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult AKA a tour guide. Considering what (fake anarchist) people were doing, this is a fair outcome.

Also, I learned a great deal about body decomposition in New Orleans. If I had just been focusing on taking pictures, I would not have learned what I did from my tour guide. The pressure of having two kids with me along with the time limitations also led me to make abstractions and focus on angles instead of documenting the place. I hadn’t done that in the past.

Tour: French Quarter Phantoms  I took two tours from them with Sam, who has a passion for the history of New Orleans. I love historians! Knowledge is power. It’s the one thing no one can take from you.


As far as plant cuteness goes, there is a tie between pussy willows and moss. I happened upon a small patch while looking for fossils with my 8 year old.

Plush moss near Hamilton Pool Road.

This area of Texas is fairly dry and rocky, so you wouldn’t expect to find moss hiding out under the trees. But there it is! Bein’ all cute with its wittle teddy bear fuzz.

Claudette in Crinoline


Here’s my favorite icky baby doll wearing Momma’s crinoline petticoat.

Now there’s a sentence an infinite number of monkeys might type.

(About the photo: Another spur of the moment phone pic. I liked the lighting from my bathroom on the crinoline. Sure. I admit that a petticoat on the bedroom floor is kinda strange. But i buy interesting items to inspire me. No editing aside from a crop. I like the noise. Makes it a tad unsettling.)