Xingfu means blessed.

Xingfu means happy and blessed in Chinese. Even though 2014, the year I started this blog, was a busy and, at times, difficult year that is the word I thought of for this space. Mama not because I have many children but because I seem to fall into a caregiving role. Sometimes I feel like Mama to the world.

The name XingfuMama means Happy Mama with undertones of being blessed.

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge 2021-Week 25

A PHOTO CHALLENGE OF PLACES WE SIT…OR MIGHT SIT…OR ART ABOUT SITTING

Welcome to week 25 of the Pull up a Seat Challenge in 2021.

Take a load off and share a favorite perch by linking your post to this one, either with a comment or ping-back. For more detailed directions go to Pull Up a Seat page.

It is always fun to see the variety of ideas this theme evokes.

Continue reading Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge 2021-Week 25

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge 2021-Week 24

A PHOTO CHALLENGE OF PLACES WE SIT…OR MIGHT SIT…OR ART ABOUT SITTING

Welcome to week 24 of the Pull up a Seat Challenge in 2021.

Take a load off and share a favorite perch by linking your post to this one, either with a comment or ping-back. For more detailed directions go to Pull Up a Seat page.

It is always fun to see the variety of ideas this theme evokes.

Continue reading Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge 2021-Week 24

Swiss Army knife?

I carry a Swiss Army Knife. I always check a bag so I can have it with me when I am traveling. The one above is kind of grotty from living at the bottom of my bag.

I use the knife blades to slice open that ridiculously tough plastic packaging that almost every thing comes in, or as a letter opener, or (after washing) to cut cheese, fruit and other snacks. My second most common use is as a can or bottle opener. Followed by the screw driver…then the corkscrew. Sometimes the tweezers come in handy.

One does not use a semi-automatic machine gun to open a letter, slice an apple, open a can, tighten a screw , uncork a wine bottle, or take out a splinter. Most importantly: No one has ever shot up an elementary school with a Swiss army knife. To compare an AR-15 to a Swiss army knife is a false equivalence.

The federal judge who made that statement is both irresponsible and dangerously wrong.

This is the second time this week that a ridiculous false equivalence about guns has crossed my path. The first was in the comments of a thoughtful post by Fandango: Second Amendment Thoughts.

That one bothered me even more: the person compared owning a gun, favoring the AR-15, to having a smoke detector. Excuse me?

The same person said that more people are killed with knives than rifles. I looked it up. If you are talking about gun homicides, the number was 10, 372 of 15,318 homicides total in 2016, the year that Breitbart’s bad faith narrative is based on. A far cry from the 374 deaths stated to be from rifles that year. It needs to be noted that, in many cases, the type of gun is not specified in police reports so the 374 number is not accurate. That year the number of deaths from knives was 1500 or so (10% of the firearm homicides). Fact check by Snopes. The beloved AR-15 is sometimes counted as a rifle, but not always, it is often classed as a pistol. The harping on this incomplete data is a bad faith, diversionary tactic.

The ridiculous analogies and harping on a single incomplete data point are a deliberate deflection from the serious discussion that needs to occur about firearms. People who do this are manipulative, evil and immoral. You cannot trust what they say.

The culture of video games and TV programs is a player in this mythology as well. Guns are often portrayed as sexy and cool. They are not.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t have a problem with people who own a gun, learn how to use it, store it safely, teach their kids that it is very dangerous and not a toy, then hunt deer, or ducks, or something-so long as they eat what they kill. I grew up in a rural area and learned to use a firearm, but that was long ago. These days, if I were to shoot at a squirrel, crow or rabbit I might hit a neighbor. A risk I am not willing to take. We chose to not have firearms in the house when blessed with a mechanically adept child.

These false equivalences, comparing guns to useful things and safety measures, are extremely dangerous. They encourage people who aren’t going to bother to learn how to use the guns safely, or store them safely, to buy one without taking adequate safety measures. A gun is as far from a safety device as you can get.

A gun is dangerous and children are often victims: Thousands of children, teens killed by guns annually in the US.

Owning a gun is a responsibility.

Anyone who can seriously compare owning a gun to having a smoke detector, a dog, or a Swiss army knife clearly does not get it…or worse, gets it and doesn’t care how many people die (the definition of a sociopath).

Between showers

Yellow rose cover in raindrops, sidelit by the westering sun.
Yellow rose at golden hour.

A chance ray of sunlight lit this rose, making it pop from the surroundings.

Chiaroscuro

I continue my exploration of chiaroscuro.

This is a Renaissance painting using chiaroscuro:

Caravaggio, The Calling of Saint Matthew, 1599-1600
Caravaggio, The Calling of Saint Matthew, 1599-1600

Directional light

I took these photos yesterday between rain showers. One typical feature of chiaroscuro is the light coming from a specific direction. In this case the sky was a mix of dark clouds and blue, when the sun hit a break in the clouds it came between some nearby trees.

Detail in the bright areas

Another feature is that the brightly lit subjects have a lot of detail. Since I wanted detail in the highlights I chose what some would consider an under exposure (I used the P mode and set the exposure compensation to -0.3) and made sure the depth of field was great enough to get the whole flower. The settings were F 4.0, 1/320s and ISO 100 the focal length was 8.8 mm (24 mm 35 mm equivalent).

High contrast between the lit subject and the dark surroundings (a.k.a., tenebrism)

I used Raw Therapee to darken the shadows without loosing detail in the highlights.

Moving the photo into the GIMP, I made a duplicate layer of the image, switched the duplicate to multiply blend mode, adjusted its opacity then used a tone curve on the resulting image to fine tune the contrast.

For Jez’s Water, Water Everywhere and Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Light and shadows

I’ve started a little artsy-fartsy project for this month, exploring a method I learned of recently called “chiaroscuro”. It was coined during the renaissance.

Definition of Chiaroscuro

Painters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods wanted to engage their viewers. Like the cinematographers of classic Hollywood, they used the play of light and shadow to give life and drama to their images. The word chiaroscuro is Italian for light and shadow. It’s one of the classic techniques used in the works of artists like Rembrandt, da Vinci, and Caravaggio. It refers to the use of light and shadow to create the illusion of light from a specific source shining on the figures and objects in the painting. Along with linear perspective, chiaroscuro was one of the new techniques used by painters of the Renaissance to make their paintings look truly three-dimensional.

https://study.com/academy/lesson/chiaroscuro-in-art-definition-technique-artists-examples.html

My project:

Because June has naturally bright sunlight and the shadows that go with it, plus lots of flowers blooming, I am using flowers lit by the sun. Here are a few I’ve done in the past couple of days.

How I got the effect:

I intentionally looked for flowers that were in the sun where the background was shadowy. To make the photos more dramatic I used post processing. First in Raw Therapee (I shoot in Raw) I intentionally recovered as much detail as possible in highlights, keeping them as bright as possible without blowing out details, and darkening the shadows. Then, in the GIMP, I duplicated the image to a second layer then used the multiply blend mode, then adjusted the second layer’s opacity.

Do you ever challenge yourself to a project?

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Flowers. Seems appropriate, since this is intended to be a Fun Foto project! I’m hoping to learn to use the manual mode on my camera better and test out different post processing methods.

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