More Pics Than You Can Shake A Selfie Stick At

I have been taking pictures since I was a child, back when it was expensive to get a camera, buy film and have it developed, wait weeks to see what turned out, and treasure the magic of those twenty-four shots at a time. 

I still treasure the magic even though it works faster and further, and since going digital over a decade ago I’ve probably taken over 80,000 pictures, some of which aren’t worth paper they weren’t printed on and many, as I continue to improve with such vast practice, are pretty delightful.

I do consider it practice still, and I also realized I already have more pictures than I need, but it doesn’t make me stop. I still enjoy looking for new shots to take and even finding uncaptured frames accidentally. (Never mind the search for particular ones afterward, that’s becoming less a stroll and more a marathon.)

I also write songs and music, stories and scripts, joke, laugh, love, eat… I don’t intend to stop any of that either. Life is a journey of learning and experience, and it’s better when you embrace it that way, as if you are on a trip and not just standing still. Even if you are. Your perspective doesn’t have to stay the same even if you are standing in one spot.

—David

P.S. Maybe that’s why 360s and panoramas are popular, it’s a secret metaphor….

More Pics Than You Can Shake A Selfie Stick At was originally published on Creative Uploads

Trial Trail Mixing It Up, or: Photo Diet?

We make an annual visit to the Luminarias at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden during the holidays. For those not in the know, it’s a Mexican tradition at Christmas time where you line a street or path with small paper bags lit by candles. Some people even put them on the roof. Arizona, despite its occasional regressive outbursts, has a rich and treasured history of embracing Hispanic culture and this is one of my favorite visual feasts. (Mexican food being one of my favorite actual feasts.)

So for several weeks during Las Noches de las Luminarias, the DBG lines its many pathways with 8,000 luminarias, most with the traditional candles and perhaps a few installations with electronic versions, and with spotlights on the cacti and twinkle lights wrapping the Palo Verde trees it makes for a festive evening, cider and hot chocolate mixed with various live bands and storytellers adding just the right magical touch.

It could be a romantic outing with the wife, but being that we take the kid every year I wrote that off ages ago and bring my camera and tripod instead for long exposure and low light photography experiments. This often leaves me behind and not holding my wife’s hand often enough, so I have been trying to streamline the process. Given that I have thousand of photos from over the years, this time I planned simply to take less, both in equipment and in photos.

I put the Canon Rebel on a tiny tripod and out a spare battery in my pocket and off we went.

TIP: When going minimalist on the equipment, or just keeping it simple and fast, find a small lightweight aluminum tripod, attach it securely to your camera and leave the head loose and just let it dangle from the bottom of the camera with the strap around your neck or shoulders.

A quick release plate is optional but in that case attach a strap to the tripod as well. You won’t want to carry it all the time, although you will find that on occasion it’s comfortable to have the tripod extended and ready to open quickly to drop for a shot, especially on a timer so you can get your face in one or two pictures. But you always want a strap on the camera, and you don’t want to drop the tripod because you forgot you detached it from the camera. Right? I have indeed been there and learned that.

You can also set the camera timer and lift the camera up high for a different angle, though you may want to take additional shots and review until you learn how to angle the camera on a stick exactly where you intended.

TIP: I used to set my auto timer to take the maximum 10 shots on group portraits and the like and have dialed it back to six. It’s usually sufficient to get what you want without boring the cast, and if it isn’t, it’s easy to press the shutter again for more.

I decided to shoot RAW which leaves more room for later editing especially regarding exposure adjustments, and tried to keep my shot count low which let me pre-edit what I might really need a picture of.

I also found a balance where I could shoot 1/20 to 1/30 manual shutter at a reasonable ISO which let me take a deep breath and shoot some quicker handheld shots. If you’re starting, stick with 1/30 to 1/40 when practicing on more important shots. Blur is after you.

Anyway, did a pretty good job keeping up with the family and under 150 shots. They might even remember I was there wth them this year.

And the Desert Botanical Garden is worth seeing in the daylight too, just not always as much of a novelty or event to an Arizona native.

—–David

P.S. I didn’t even take out my phone camera. Not for the auto HDR function (though I took  bracketed exposures for later editing). Not to tag myself in social media. Didn’t even check my messages after dinner (to be fair it wasn’t beeping at me for attention.) So pretty good and when I wasn’t dragging behind that left a hand free for my wife.*

* So I had my phone in hand free mode?

One more shot

P.P.S. The post title format is a nod to “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoons of my youth, which would parody dramatic cliffhanger serials and end them with two ridiculous pun titles. Can’t recall any at the moment, look up the cartoon though. Especially The Fractured Fairy Tales. So comically subversive I was ruined. To think they were in reruns by the time I got to them….

Trial Trail Mixing It Up, or: Photo Diet? was originally published on Creative Uploads

Boxes Are Helpful

Don’t get put in a box. Don’t get boxed in. Think outside the box.

But you know what this good advice has in common? Yeah, a box.

Boxes are good. They help compartmentalize an issue. Literally they hold stuff together so you can carry it around and store it or put it away somewhere.

They define the edges of what you can typically do, and what might generally be thought of as the usual solution.

That’s good stuff. That’s organization. It’s order out of chaos. Being able to find your notes. Keeping delicate stuff from casually being broken.

Don’t get me wrong. When I worked in cubical world my email signature for years was:

Allison loves being tossed around and tipped over in the box (yeah, reasonably gently.) It’s kind of like watching that scene from “Singing in the Rain” (But unlike the scene in the Lionel Richie “Dancing on the Ceiling” video.)

    __ 
 /__/  Think outside.

Absolutely break that boundary, often. Think outside the box. See the situation from more than one angle.

But check the box. Don’t you need a box to know when you are on the edge, or over it? And remember, that’s just awareness, not judgement. What you do with that understanding is where the excitement starts.

—–David

P.S. No I don’t always put kids in boxes, but you know what? They love it. They get it. Boxes are helpful playthings. This is my daughter enjoying being tossed around in a refrigerator box back in 2006.

P.P.S. Happy Boxing Day!

Boxes Are Helpful was originally published on Creative Uploads

Happy Holidays Bring A Musical “Change Of Season”

Glittering Phoenix Luminarias

Change Of Season instrumental
on BandCamp

I was a huge George Winston fan on discovering him in college (in addition to many other influences in very different genres) and always felt I didn’t play piano as well. That’s probably still true, but I can play and this song certainly touches on some of the same reflective feelings his music brings up in me.

Unlike him I usually write lyrics to my music, lots and lots of lyrics. Really surprised that I didn’t for this tune, but that’s how the song wanted it. Someday I’ll want to transcribe the music and recreate the melodic track it with a proper guitar, and I know just the guy to help.

I’ve  had a languishing BandCamp account for a while now, so I tidied up and hid a sloppy demo of something else and offered up this plaintive but optimistic gift from the hands of the creative tendrils we all share through my hands to yours. I took the photo last year as well on a trip to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Seemed fitting.

Happy Joyous __________ to you and yours.

—–David

P.S. Pretty certain you can listen to the song without having to buy it, so please enjoy in any way you can!

P.P.S. My megawatson.bandcamp.com liner notes: This reflective holiday instrumental, created in late fall 2015 using GarageBand on the iPad with midi connection to a Roland digital piano. Built out of an improvisation with a second improvisation added on top, I literally don’t remember how to play it beyond the four-chord opening that urged me to plug in the recorder. Crazy. Slightly remixed this Fall 2016.

Happy Holidays Bring A Musical “Change Of Season” was originally published on Creative Uploads

Creativity = Good

Daily Creativity has a positive effect, according to scientific evidence.
Works for me.

Delicious Yin and Yang

TL;DR: Doing one small creative thing a day can promote a happier attitude. But you don’t have to take my word for it. I linked to an actual scientific study!

—-David

P.S. So this qualifies as Me Time, if you want to call it that.

P.P.S. And surely chocolate helps too. I wonder what I can do creatively with chocolate to double the effect?

Creativity = Good was originally published on Creative Uploads

Oh, It’s The Holidays…

This is when you have delightful inspiration and flashing lights and magical moments and music everywhere.

But no time to start or finish things.

ainbox

Now Presenting

Where there’s no time to organize things, but you grab piles of boxes to take out things and scatter them around your house in an organized fashion.

When you end up on paved streets driving to malls and stores and houses, and yet many of us put up a literal tree, or symbolic one, in our house instead of getting out in nature.

Where in the season of love you don’t know what to say in case someone gets mad about being wished HappyMerryHannuKwanzmas….

We have weird holidays.

Keep it creative!

—–David

P.S. That’s from my first digital camera, a Sony which I still have. My niece, who would be mortified if I identified her, is now in high school and can’t be put in a box. But she’d probably still hop in for the joke.

Oh, It’s The Holidays… was originally published on Creative Uploads

As Seen on TV! Close Captioning For YouTube

So I suppose you were aware you could add closed captions to YouTube videos? What’s that mean? It means you can add text to your video that viewers can turn off or on, and it’s generally used to allow the hard of hearing to read along with what is actually being said in the video. I can imagine some other ways to use it, as subtext and commentary but let’s start with the intended choice, which most of us are familiar with from television.

 

Anyway beginning with this song, a parody of David Bowie’s Space Oddity I called “Space Oddity 1998 aka Major Glenn” in honor of the old spaceman when I wrote it in 1998, and the then late John Glenn when I recorded it recently, I decided to explore the caption options available in YouTube. You don’t have to do them before you create the video, and in fact you can revisit any of your videos and add captions.

I picked this one because frankly I had the lyrics all typed up already and that was most of the content.  There was more to it than that though.

In the YouTube video manager on the left I chose a video and click the Edit button for it, then in the tabs along the top row clicked Subtitles and CC (closed captions) which opened up the utility page. You have the option to pay someone to do them, even, and you can have them done in another language. That means you can buy a translation if your target audience is only not your native language, but I will leave the idea of subtitles to you to consider. You’ll have to set a primary language for the video first. Then you can click a blue button upper right to add them, which gives you these choices: Upload a file, Transcribe and auto-sync, Create new subtitles of CC, Buy subtitles.

I uploaded my lyric file. You might want to transcribe. Your instructions are to “Type everything that’s spoken in the video here, then click “Set timings” to automatically line up your text with the speech in the video.” with a convenient box to cut and paste if you prefer. An automatically checked box pauses the video as you type so you can enter a few words, it will play a few more seconds and you can type more. Really a fantastic setup. I had an intro so I added that part in front of the lyrics and then clicked Set timings.

It chugged along for a while and then took me to the page you see above. This is probably the page you get if you straight up decide to transcribe and I found it pretty intuitive. Thanks, Google!

Here is where you can play your video as a preview and then use the boxes shown below the video to adjust the caption display. In my case it didn’t do a great job of aligning the words with when they were sung and I imagine it’s better for just speech soundtracks. Also I wanted the captions to lag a little behind the singing so as not to spoil the joke for people who could hear and read fast. So I scooted the boxes on the lower right over (you can drag either end to adjust the display length, start and end times).

I also copied and pasted lines out of some boxes to the next ones (as seen on the left ), and sometimes clicked the little plus box to get a new child box to add a break to the display and make the captions fit better. You know when you read something it’s kind of annoying to have it break in the middle and start a new thought at the same time? I tried to arrange the caption boxes so they held one thought, or maybe a rhyming couplet, instead of ending a verse with one line and shaving the line beneath it starting the next sentence but not finishing it until the next caption.

Then I previewed it and fine-tuned my edit. You may not want your timing as precise as I did, but it’s nice to have the option of perfection.

Now because I am a smart alec I do see the amusement in captioning a musical song for the deaf, but hard of hearing people can enjoy musical and performance content on levels you may not even consider. Aside from the visual of the performance and lyrical content, sound is a vibration and that relies on a different sense: touch. If you have a well-functioning ear that vibration touches your eardrum and manages to get converted into electric nerve impulses that your brain feeds you as sound. If you have a sense of touch you can feel the rhythms and vibrations by touch, through your feet, hands or even chest if the bass is pounding enough (flashback to a very uncomfortable set at a Justin Timberlake concert I attended with my wife.) But I have seen deaf people put speakers facedown on the floor and shoes off, trip the light fantastic. Plus good lyrics are poetry however you receive them.

Not these lyrics of course, they are literally a joke. 🙂

—-David

P.S. You can click the link above to see this video, then turn on captions to see how it turned out. If you like it, click like and I will feel special.

P.P.S. Off topic: Wow, the iOS WordPress app really doesn’t care if you are trying to make a draft and just throws it up online. I probably clicked the wrong button but I accidentally posted this days ago while I was just making a note to write it. So pay attention to the screens and notifications flashing by, right? I ended up immediately setting it to private so I could decide whether to keep, edit, delete or set the post to draft like I meant to do in the first place.

 

 

As Seen on TV! Close Captioning For YouTube was originally published on Creative Uploads

Good Dog! Happy Dog!

Funny thing is the video that this comes from went on for a long, long time without even being a gif.

Wag wag wag

Happy Dog

—–David

P.S. Created by Google Photo Assistant. Well, I took the video on the first place, but all the times I meant to make an animated GIF of something I never did, or found a simple app to do it, so yeah! Couldn’t figure out how to link it live in WordPress of course, but one thing at a time. I could only create it as a link in the mobile app, but I was able to open the draft post in a web browser, click add media, then paste in a copied URL to an option on the left with that name. I got the URL from the “Copy Image Address” you usually get when you right-click an image in a web browser. Or when you long press and hold an image in a mobile browser.

P.P.S. The dog is not wagging his tail to the beat of the parody song I posted the other day, but he might be wagging it at the same tempo. If you want to check this theory you can sing along here. I put captions on it just to see how easy it would be. (Spoiler: pretty easy but took a little time to fine tune the timing. I’ll have to write a post on that, it’s a good way to expand your audience plus it’s a responsible thing to do.)

Good Dog! Happy Dog! was originally published on Creative Uploads

Hey, Mr. Spaceman – The Musical

I decided to finally record the John Glenn parody song I posted lyrics for the other day.

Here’s the YouTube blurb as background:

Honoring astronaut John Glenn’s passing: in 1998 there was some controversy on sending John Glenn on the space shuttle at 77 in an expensive mission instead of other qualified candidates. I wrote this tongue-in-cheek political parody to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” but never recorded it. So here’s a recording, with all the possible verses (in the real world some would have been dropped to fit the original song). Hey 2016, thanks for bookending the inspiration. Now quit it.

Since this blog is about the dreaming, creation and publication of artistic endeavors, it felt like I ought to finally record a version and share it somehow, right? At least it took me less than twenty years. And I didn’t have the publication outlets then that we do know, where it can not exist one day and be available worldwide the next (not necessary known but at least available).

I also left in all the verses, breaking an important rule of parody songs: get in, state the joke and get out before it’s worn out it’s welcome. Hey, that applies top a lot of other things too. But it’s a historical document at this point, so there’s the whole draft. Just to show how editing can help focus something and make it better even if you have to leave out a joke you like.

Hope you make it to the end.

—–David

P.S. Tang really was marketed as the breakfast drink of the astronauts. There’s a hilarious double entendre in that these days but it was a more innocent time. By the shuttle missions Welch’s had replaced it as the powdered drink sent up on missions. Ironically, Congress likes to welch on their promises to properly fund NASA. Go figure.

P.P.S.
I just imagined
how long an unedited
haiku would become, i mean can you imagine if the guy just wouldn’t shut up and kept spouting aphorisms and potentially insightful observations with no understanding of the reader’s mental digestion ability?

Note to self: edit more, talk less.

 

Hey, Mr. Spaceman – The Musical was originally published on Creative Uploads

Hey, Mr. Spaceman

So back in 1998 when there was some controversy about sending John Glenn up again at his age and in an expensive mission, I wrote this parody to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Thanks for bookending the inspiration, 2016. Now quit it.
I thought he was great even if Shepard beat him up, he took the space race into orbit.
 
Here's a western scene: This is a stickup! Reach for the sky!
Space Oddity 1998 lyrics by David Watson, music by David Bowie
 
Ground Con-trol to Ma-jor Glenn
Ground Con-trol to Ma-jor Glenn
Take your vi-ta-mins and put on your De-pends
Ground Con-trol to Ma-jor Glenn
The guy from Wheat-ies called a-gain
Can you read me? Put your hear-ing aid back in.
This is Ground Con-trol to Old John Glenn
Turn your left blink-er o-o—off
‘Cause it’s been on since you missed that a-ste-ro-oi-d
And the a-li-ens be-hind you are a-nnoy-ed–
He trained Spock, Mc-Coy and Cap-tain Kirk
So NA-SA, have no fe–ar—
He’s the on-ly thing up there o-lder than Mi-ir
Well, ex-cept the hip that got re-placed last yea-e–e-ar
Here am I sit-ting in the ship’s can
Thanks-to fi-ber pillsPla-net
Earth is green, but it’s no-thing I’ve not-seen
I may have been se-cond all a-long, but I’m still in the race
Like Viagra I’m back up where I belong – My frequent
flier miles beat Shepard and Arm-stro-o-o-ong
I got a sen-ior dis-count on the suit And made the Se-nate pay
and I hope my space-walk makes it on C-SPAN
So my grand-kids can all see me wave my ha-a-a-and
Here am I sitting in a tin can, Looking for the Tang
The spaceship’s have all changed, but the planet looks the same
This is Ma-jor Glenn to Ground Con-trol
I’m step-ping through the hatch and I’ve fall-en, can’t get up, but I can fly
Got-ta go now, Meals on Ro-ckets com-ing by-y-y-aye
Oh Ground Con-trol to Ma-jor Glenn you for-got your hel-met, come
back in
Can you hear me, Ma-jor Glenn?
Can you hear me, Ma-jor Glenn, Can you
Here am I, float-ing in my mem-ories
Far too old for this
Planet Earth is pissed, but it’s some-thing that I missed.
(Who cares what it cost to get back something that we lost…..)
 
(converted from a WordPerfect document: time flies….)

Hey, Mr. Spaceman was originally published on Creative Uploads