52 Frames (June 2021)

✍️ 🕑 June 2021 • Series: 52 Frames • Tags: mauimilkweed

We've just hit the half-way point in 2021. I know, because we hit photography challenge number 26. Multiply that number by two, and you get the number of weeks in the year.

I'm beginning to feel like I've gotten better at doing these weekly photo assignments. Arguably, I haven't half-assed one since the first week of May, meaning that we have a near two month streak of decent-to-great photos.

As the year has gone on, I've become a lot less reticent to take advantage of the ridiculous editability afforded by RAW files, messing with local adjustments, particular color changes, and fiddling with shadows and highlights with reckless aplomb. Overall, this is a good thing, because I do think it has enhanced some of these photos without looking too unnatural.

Hopefully you agree with me too. :)

23. Music

Despite Hawaii being somewhat famous for its musical instruments: the ukulele and steel guitar, I was not in a position where I was around too many of them, and I was feeling like this was a particularly ill-timed challenge. (I have plenty of musical doo-dads at home that would have sufficed for... a photo.)

Then serendipity happened.

I had been hiking around the King's Highway, and a local recommended that I follow a particular turnoff down to a "secret beach." Surely, it can't be so secret when the palm trees are visible from the trail, when it's location is noted in guide books and on crowd-sourced trail websites, and when you're telling any random tourist to high-tail it down there. But, whatever, I was convinced.

Of course, the "secret" was out already, and the secluded beach was occupied by some folks who were all off swimming in the water. They had a radio with them, which loudly played reggae music, and so that's what I photographed.


I shot this using a wide angle lens with a circular polarizer. I probably should have paid more attention to which way the polarizer was facing, as I think I helped wash out some of the colors. Still, I rather like the effect. It reminds me of film.

I also like the sharp focus on the white chair, and the people who can be seen swimming off in the right half of the frame.

I cropped this somewhat heavily, from an original ~36mm equivalent focal length to something more like 50 or 60mm equivalent.

I probably could have lifted the shadows on the trees a touch less, as they're a little too unnatural looking.

A Sojurn on Maui (May/June 2021)

✍️ 🕑 May & June 2021 • Series: Maui 2021 • Tags: travelmauihawaiicoronavirussite updates

A beach in Wailea
A beach in Wailea

Earlier in the year, when my sister and future brother-in-law announced their plans to hold a destination wedding in Maui, I was somewhat skeptical. I was not looking forward to the realities of pandemic era travel -- mask requirements and the questionable ethics of potentially spreading a fatal illness in an isolated area with a limited health network.

Color me doom and gloom, but having spent the last year under siege with battened down hatches and at-risk housemates, it was hard for me to imagine that I would soon trade the lush forests of Pennsylvania for Hawaii's sunshine, strong surf, and sharp rocks.

Fortunately, by the time the wedding date rolled around, I was fully vaccinated, and very ready to get out of the house. I spent some quality time with family before the wedding, and a fair amount of enjoyable time by myself afterwards, doing a combination of work and travel. #DigitalNomad

A sailboat out near Molok'ai, shot from a balcony in Kahana
A sailboat out near Molok'ai, shot from a balcony in Kahana

How to Liveblog on a Static Site, Or: A Thoughtless Kludge

technical detailswebsite designprogramminggetzola

Okay, so I recently decided to make a blog post that automatically updated. This turns out to be super, super easy to do with my current setup, which uses the Zola toolkit to generate a static website from templates and markdown files, as well as Netlify, which automatically redeploys my site whenever I push a change to the git repo.

My approach took me five minutes to write, and it definitely works. It is completely lightweight and nice on my end. It is not completely lightweight and nice on my webhost's end, and I would recommend using it extremely sparingly, if at all.

The Goatibex Constellation (Book Review)

book reviewssoviet literatureabkhazia

Fazil Iskender's 1966 novella The Goatibex Constellation is that most timeless of things -- a satire of state-planned agriculture and journalism in the Soviet Union.

The story?

A young journalist returns home to his native Abkhazia, where the local newspaper in gripped by fervor for the republic's latest scientific achievement. Local agriculturalists, spearheaded by the support of agricultural journalist Platon Samsonovich have created a new goat/ibex hybrid called the "goatibex," whose unique biology bestows upon it a variety of claimed talents.

Naturally, the success of the project is all but assured, especially given its support from a prominent scientist, whose scientific works were the envy of others:

"There were, it is true, certain envious individuals who complained that no one had been able to repeat the great man’s ingenious experiments. Such complaints were countered, however, with the quite sensible reply that what made these experiments ingenious was precisely the fact that they could not be repeated." (16)

The novel is a bit of a shaggy tale, mixing in visits to the sea shore, a business trip to another town to investigate reports of anti-Goatibex behavior at the collective farm, memories of World War II, and moments in which our protagonist is captivated by the beauty of his country.

52 Frames (May 2021)

✍️ 🕑 May 2021 • Series: 52 Frames • Tags: mauiwildlife photographybad selfies

Oh, so it turns out I'm a few days late in posting my thoughts on the whole 52 Frames photography challenge thing. Drats!

Here I was busily thinking of what I'd do for June's first theme (music), due mere hours before I am reunited with my collections of albums and musical instruments. Alas!

Well, what did I accomplish over the last month? In short, I accomplished at least one very good photograph that I'm immensely proud of, as well as one that is as tossed off as it could possibly be. Well, let's get to it, shall we?

Eurovision 2021: Live Blog

eurovisioneurovision 2021live blog

I've never tried writing a post that updates live, so I figured I'd do it now & see if it works. :)

These are just my notes on the Eurovision Song Competition 2021, which I decided to watch on a Saturday morning as if I had nothing better to do.

Coming into the competition, a number of solid, songs were axed from Semifinal 1 (most tearfully, Croatia and Australia.) Semifinal 2 did not, however, break my heart. The main outcome: the ballads that qualified from the semifinals are the best ballads on offer. (No "Amen"'s here.) The bops are more numerous, but more varied in quality.

Having watched neither semifinal, I'm going into this fairly blind. I don't know who has a good performance, and who struggles to hold their high notes.

Fun fact: for those of you anywhere in the world, the whole competition can be livestreamed with English-language commentary from Iceland's broadcaster here.

Click "read more" and the page should automatically update every three minutes -- approximately the length of a Eurovision song, whilst it is live.

Eurovision 2020 vs. 2021: Battle of the Songs

eurovisioneurovision 2020eurovision 2021music

We're a mere two weeks away from the start of the 2021 Eurovision song competition. I'm looking forward to it, but unlikely to be tuning in live or providing much further commentary due to other engagements. So, I thought I'd write this post instead.

Eurovision 2021 is remarkably similar in lineup to the cancelled 2020 competition. Initially, all of the countries that would have participated in 2020 confirmed their participation in 2021. Two thirds of these countries eventually decided to select their 2020 artist for a second time.

What this means is that I have the unique opportunity to sit down and listen to two three-minute long pop songs from 39 countries, and pontificate from my armchair about which one is the better number.

I can hardly think of a better usage of my time and yours.

Vincent Bueno is ballading hard in his 2021 entry for Austria, 'Amen.'
Vincent Bueno is ballading hard in his 2021 entry for Austria, 'Amen.'

Let's get started!