A Friend Retires

A Friend Retires

My friend, John Kidd, from California called today.  Yesterday was his last day at work.  He finally retired!

We had a nice talk, mostly about camera equipment — lenses to be exact.  It seems John has some birthday money and is looking to get a faster lens for low-light situations.  It will interesting to see what he decides to do.

I suggested to him that since he’s now retired he come spend a couple of weeks out here.  I could definitely keep him busy.  Plus, it is fun to see your surroundings through someone else’s eyes for the first time.

—–

There must be opposition in all things.  Lehi said that in the Book of Mormon, and it is a law of physics – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Sometimes news follows that pattern.  I was really brought down by the media touting how great it is that some parents in Southern California took their little girl in for a sex change operation all because this little girl had tom-boy tendencies.  Wow.  Where was Children’s Protective Services during all of this?

Nobody knows where our thoughts and feelings originate.  I’m not discounting that perhaps this little girl had some strong tom-boy feelings and a personality to go along with it, but to mutilate a child in such a way that they can no longer pro-create, and removing from them that choice at such a young tender age is just plain evil.  Yes, I’m sure the parents believe they are doing the best for this child and have no malice in mind.  When other hormonal changes kick in with this child, will her thoughts be the same as they are at age 5 when she’s age 12?  13?  16?  18?  30?

(At age 5 I wanted a pink bedroom.  I thank God I was not born in this era to some misguided parents who would have taken that as a sign I was meant to be a girl.)

As a result, I entered our stake conference feeling a bit down that we, as a society, have become so depraved that we would not only allow a doctor to perform such an operation, but it would be celebrated by the media and special interests group.  Some say we have evolved to a higher state as a society.  I disagree.  This put me in a mood where I didn’t know if I could be uplifted by the conference I was about to attend.

But, thank goodness for opposition in all things.  My down mood was lifted by the messages of conference.  It was repeated often we should have joy and hope.  After all, “men are that they might have joy.”

I don’t think Mormon and Moroni or John the Revelator or Isaiah would have had words to describe some of the bad going on in the world today.  Perhaps that’s what Isaiah was trying to say when he wrote…

16 ¶Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:
17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,
19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
21 The rings, and nose jewels,
22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.
24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.
25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.

I think Isaiah tried to describe the grim circumstances of our days (which will keep getting worse), and these were the only words he could find.

More Grove Pics

More Grove Pics

I got a request for more pictures of the Sacred Grove, specifically the trail leading in to the grove.  They also requested more pictures of the inside of the threshing barn.

While I was working on my assignment, I noticed newly painted benches along the trail.  This one particularly caught my attention.

copyright 2014 db walton
Bench and Temple

It’s a meme waiting to happen.  A picture in need of a caption.  Symbolic.  (Feel free to comment with your suggestions.)

A big bus load of youth pulled up while I was there.  I feel compelled to write to these tour companies explaining the impact of visiting Palmyra, but taking their tours elsewhere for their meals and not giving them time to actually shop in the village, or visit the Historic Palmyra Museums.  (There was a good story in Deseret News a couple of weeks ago about the museums.)

Our economy needs your patronage.

I also took a trip to Artisan Works.  I’m in an artist slump and needed to wander around their eclectic collection for inspiration.  Got a lot of ideas.

They really have some valuable pieces there.  I wish they had more display room as I know they have stuff crammed in corners that would be cool to see.  At the same time, the crowded space is part of the charm of the place.  Artisan Works is a MUST see attraction when visiting this area.  I love taking people there.

After all, any museum with a Corvair is cool.

Image Manipulation

Image Manipulation

A good portion of my day was spent manipulating images.  “Manipulating images” is the proper way to descript the miss used phrase, “photoshopping”.  Adobe makes it very clear on their web site that Photoshop is their registered Trademark and it is improper to use it as a verb.  (I wonder if they’ve actually sued anyone to protect their copyright?  I know they have come down hard on some writers who have used Photoshop as a verb, but I wonder if they have actually threatened to sue?)    Another miss used phrase is “editing photos”.  Editing photos goes back decades when people would sit with a stack of slides, Polaroid prints or contact sheets and determining which ones they would keep and which ones they would throw out.

This brings me to the proper term, image manipulation, or another acceptable term is retouching, although image manipulation includes retouching.  This is the process removing flaws and blemishes, painting portions of the photo, etc.  And, in my case, today it was going a step further and actually painting from a photograph.

My project today is trying to create Patrick Nagel style images.  It turns out it is tougher than I thought it was going to be, but being determined.  Nagel used very smooth edges and lines and solid colors.  It is hard to imply shape with solid colors, and I’m learning how to get those smooth edges.

copyright 2014 db walton
Work In Progress

I started out using Adobe Photoshop to do this.  Then, I thought, what if I try using Corel Painter X3 instead.  Wow, Corel does such a nicer job with paths (vectors) than Adobe.  Adobe leaves you scratching your head half the time asking, “How do I make my curve go in this direction”, but Corel Painter’s implementation seems much more intuitive.  This has eased my frustration quite a bit.

As you can see from the sample, there are still some rough edges, white showing through (tedious touch up required with a tiny brush) and some shapes that need adjusting.

Living Waters

Living Waters

The term living waters references water that is moving.  When you see stagnant water, it is normally surrounded by dead or no plants, it doesn’t support fish and other aquatic animals.  Hence, stagnant water is dead; moving water is living.

I decided to take a walk through Corbett’s Glen this afternoon.  Of course, I took my camera with me.  It was overcast and cool — a perfect day for a walk.  There were no mosquitoes and it was quite pleasant.

Living Waters
Corbett’s Glen

Right after I got there, I heard a noise and some 5 pound poodle came charging at me barking and growling.  As soon as I turned to face him, he backed off.  Then, I noticed the BIG sign that said, “Leash laws strictly enforced.”

Why am I not buying that?

Later, there were a couple of ladies power walking with unleashed dogs following.  Sounds like Monroe County Sheriff’s office needs to patrol the park a little more often.  Having been bitten, quite badly, by a dog, I’m all for leash laws.  (And, when I reported I had been bitten, the owner’s response was classic, “My dog’s never bitten anyone.”)

I spent the rest of the day trying to come up with something to paint.  Some times it just comes out naturally, and other times I just can’t seem to find the right subject and style to fit my mood.

False Claims

False Claims

It is tiresome reading the false claims on social media, in particularly, Facebook.  One might say it is no different than back in the 70s of someone claiming that… oh, I don’t know… Alice Cooper was Mormon, or Frank Zappa was the kid on the Gerber Baby Food Bottle.  Ah, but yes it is.  Today, we have the Internet and can do research to validate the claims.

Oh, but wait… some of those Internet searches return bogus information too.

Hmmm…

I’d say people should use common sense, but that doesn’t work either.  In fact, Elizabethe and I were talking about the dumbing-down of American and could it be related to poor nutrition related to GMO foods?  Pollution?  Lack of social responsibility to become educated?  Who knows.

Common sense tells you that smoke, from any source, is bad for your lungs, right?  Yet, there are postings on Facebook that claim smoking marijuana is good for you.  (Uh, huh.  Right.)

Common sense tells you if someone posts something about Congress, you can go the congress.gov and get the facts directly from their web site.  Yet, there are people who will read something quoting a bill (i.e. H.R. 1023 to make up a number) and they won’t take the time to go look up that bill and read what it actually says.

Face it, smoking, booze, coffee, etc., are bad for you no matter what someone claims to the contrary.  Congress and the Senate don’t pass secret bills, they get posted on government web sites.  (Thomas.gov being the official site.)  Claims about lots full of unsold cars, claims that you can unravel an orange and other stuff like that can be validated/invalidate with a little research… and common sense.

Wow…  I just made some claims.  Let’s hope someone doesn’t take my words for their face value.

—–

copyright 2014 db walton
Working on Some Patrick Nagel Style Stuff

I’ve been working on some new styles.  This eventually (above) will be come a Patrick Nagel styled print.  I’m about 3 steps in to the process, but this is how it is looking thus far.  I have to do some detailed painting now that I’ve got the litho part worked out.  It should be fun.  I need something to snap me out of my artist’s slump.

High Shot

High Shot

Today I went after another high shot.  This time, at Hill Cumorah.  I went early in the morning so the sun could be behind the monument, and it paid off.

These high angle shots are not easy.  The hard part is getting the image framed.  When you have a long pole, the smallest of movements are magnified.  It also means I have to choose a fast enough shutter speed to avoid motion blur.

 

copyright 2014 db walton
Moroni Monument Atop Hill Cumorah

Today being Memorial Day, Palmyra held a parade.  This is one of our smaller, but important, parades as we honor fallen war heroes.

 

copyright 2014 db walton
Memorial Day Parade, Palmyra, NY

Along with the parade, they had a service at the Palmyra Cemetery.  We often forget our liberties were bought by soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend them.

Later in the afternoon, the Village Park became the venue for a concert by the Red Elvises.  This group is a cross between the Surfaris of the 1960s and middle eastern music.  They are not a cover band, but a unique blend of eastern music with 60s surfer music.

Listen to this by the Sufaris…

Now, listen to this by Red Elvises…

Okay… I admit, that one sounds almost like a cover of Misirlou.

It was a fun concert, as you can see from some of the pictures…

copyright 2014 db walton
Red Elvises in Concert in PALMYRA!

 

copyright 2014 db walton
Congo Line to Sad Cowboy
copyright 2014 db walton
Igor and the Red Elvises

The Red Elvises were started by 3 Russian immigrants who now play at Malibu Beach and travel and do concerts.  These guys have literally played around the world.  So, it is a great honor to have them come to Palmyra and perform.  For a small village, we sure have some great things that happen here.

Free Speech

Free Speech

We’ve all heard free speech is on attack, and we’ve heard it for some time.  Things still keep getting worse.  And, so, here’s my claim:

Nobody is forced to read my blog, nor anything I post.  My blog is just that — it is my blog.  I can say what I want and how I want to say it.  You, the reader are free to stop reading, agree, or disagree.

I bring this up because I posted my opinion about college degrees (of which I hold a couple).   I basically said there are colleges where a student can attend, pay tuition, and complete assignments and they will get a degree.  Note, I did not say ALL colleges do this, but there are SOME that do.  In fact, there are some that make it even easier.

Well, someone took offence, complained, and my post was removed as being “offensive”.

If my opinion is offensive, then what about yours, or the next guys?  Where does the offense stop?

There is a lot in the press (print and on-line) that I do not agree with.  In the case of the press, I don’t purchase the magazine or newspaper.  On-line, I don’t visit the web site.  (Heck, there is a ton of stuff on MSNBC that I find offensive and disagree with, but I don’t try to shut them down.  Instead, I just don’t read it.)

Offensive, to me, is more than someone voicing their opinion.  Offensive, to me assaults the very core of decency.  In fact, trying to silence those who disagree assaults that core of decency.

I find it hard to understand that a man who claims to have a graduate degree from a prestigious university wouldn’t understand that concept.  At the same time, I’ve seen people like this who are offended because someone wants to start a high school graduation with prayer, and on the other extreme, those who are offended because someone says they don’t believe in God.

The way Facebook handles this is quite good.  As much as I dislike Facebook’s management style, they have a good model in this regard.  A while back, people were complaining they didn’t have a “dislike” button.

Hey, folks, it is easy!  If you don’t like it, don’t hit the “like” button!

They have now allowed people to filter what they see.  Like life, not everything you see is going to be agreeable.  This Facebook model allows you to make choices like, don’t show responses from this person, don’t show this response, notify this person why you don’t like the response, etc.

Does this mean I am against censorship?

I am against censorship of people’s opinions.  In the early days of on-line chat rooms, the phrase, “IMO” (In my opinion)  or “IMHO” (In my humble opinion) were quite frequently used to let people know you were stating your opinion.  However, it has got to the point where too many people think if you go against their opinion, you should be quashed.

I am for censorship if it is harmful to society — especially children or the vulnerable  who cannot discern what is good and bad, or who can be easily swayed in a bad, evil way.

Here’s a real funny example.  Again, it had to do with education…

A while ago, I quoted an article from Kiplinger regarding degrees that could be harmful to your financial future.  This guy contacted me and threatened to file an ethics complaint against me.  (Obviously, the guy who took offence must have had one of those degrees.)   What?  For quoting a newspaper story?  Seriously?  But, this man felt I should not be quoting newspaper articles.

Along this line, I seldom visit Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Huffington and many other news sources.  But, when I do, I often visit the comments.  While complaining to the host service that a post is offensive and asking for its removal is passive aggressive, there are the more aggressive attacks.  These show a display of immaturity that adds to the reason I don’t visit such sites.  For example, if someone says it is their opinion that ____________ (fill in the blank) is wrong, their post is met with vicious attacks of name-calling.  Such name-calling, again, defies free speech and is a vile attempt to shut up the other person.

Years ago, about the only thing that would rile this type of attack was religion.  Now, there seems to be a vocal minority who fight hard to censor people who are against such things that only decades ago were considered wrong by most people:  pornography, homosexuality, body disfiguration, tattooing, fornication, etc.  This vocal minority is relentless in their movement to silence those who disagree with their lifestyles and habits.

When religious freedoms come under attack, which they have been for years now, the next step is to silence the opinions of others.   The next step, will be the silencing of those whom you simply don’t like — for whatever reason.

So, the next time someone disagrees with you, be thankful you can still disagree.

Spring Day

Spring Day

“It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring 1820″, wrote Joseph Smith.  Today was a beautiful spring day, so I thought I’d take a walk through the grove and take my camera.

copyright 2014 db walton
In the Grove

This time of year the leaves are just starting to come out on the trees, and the ground is still bare in many places.  That said, it is late spring.

So, what does the Sacred Grove look like in early spring?

copyright 2014 db walton
Sacred Grove on April 6, 2011

I know there is a popular LDS blog where this brother states the First Vision must have been March 26th, 1820.  I will be the last to put any specific date on it, and in March of any year, it is going to be quite barren in the grove, this March date is pure speculation (even though he took a research approach to arriving at this date.)**

In a discussion with some brethren regarding the use of some of my photographers, I pointed out to them that in early spring the grove is quite barren.  It was then one of them said it is a belief held by many (at church HQ) that when Joseph Smith, Jun., wrote that it was an early spring day, he may have been speaking from the observation of a 14 year old boy.  That is, it was green, flowers were blooming (which would put it mid- to late-May), bees were humming (which would put it late-May/early-June), and birds were singing (which could be anytime of year here).

Many of the paintings we see show the grove as it would look mid- to late-summer.  So, I leave you with pictures of the grove on a spring day (late spring), 2014.

 

copyright 2014 db walton
Sacred Grove, May 24, 2014

 

**Reasons I believe Lefgren’s conclusions aren’t accurate:  Temperatures and climate in this area vary drastically.  As one missionary pointed out, it can be raining in the grove and sunny at the temple (across the street).  Some of his research was based on data gather at Sackets Harbor which is no where near Palmyra, and although he contents Sackets Harbor and Palmyra are in the same weather pattern, anyone who lives near Watertown, NY, can tell you Palmyra and Watertown weather patterns are as different as night from day.  His exercise is interesting, but should be taken as a theory, and not doctrine or fact.

Shwarma

Shwarma

I found a place where I can get shawarma wraps as well as Za’atar.  In Henrietta there is a Turkish grocery store that sells a lot of eastern foods.  The wraps, I think they make there, are huge and about $4 for a bag of 4.

When I got home I noticed the iris were wet and took a few pictures.  What looks more dramatic?  Color?

Shwarma
Iris in Color

Or, black and white?

Shwarma
Iris in Black and White

We also stopped at an art supply store in Henrietta.  They’ve lost their lease and so everything was 40% off.  I picked up a kit with a little lap easel for about $12.  Perhaps that will motivate me to draw and paint more.

Aerial Shots

Aerial Shots

“Hi Elder Walton, we’d like you to get some shots of the Moroni atop the Palmyra Temple from the tree tops,” is the way the conversation went.

“How do you propose I do that?” was my thought thinking about this aerial shot.

“You’re creative, you’ll figure out a way,” is the way the conversation ended.

Hmmm…

I had a 23′ painter pole that I was going to adapt, but couldn’t find it.  (How does a pole like that just disappear?)  So, I went to Lowe’s and bought a new one.

Fitted with an adaptor that has a 1/4″x20 screw on top, I put my little Canon G12 with a wireless remote shutter release on it.

There are two problems I discovered with this contraption.  1)  If it is sunny, it is hard to see the LCD screen from more than 15′ away.  2)  If it is breezy, the pole bends in the wind making it really hard to line-up a shot.

Aerial View of Moroni
Moroni on Palmyra Temple

Perhaps this photo is proof that I pulled it off.  And, proof that the blue in the sky poked through the clouds long enough to get a good shot.

So, I was on a roll.  Why not go to the Smith Farm and see what I can get there?

Aerial View
Palmyra Temple from 23′

I need to make a few changes to my contraption.  One will be a remote monitor.  It’s kind of hard to look 23′ in the air and see a tiny 2.5″ LCD screen against a bright sky.