Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another sunny day

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and so I scuttled like an overgrown cockroach betwixt the comedy club and my apartment.

I was going to say a well-dressed cockroach, but I didn't realise until 5pm that I had neglected to do up my flies. Say what you like about cockroaches, you don't see them risk inadvertently exposing themselves.

Some people might say that's due to the anatomical differences between cockroach and human, but I prefer to think of cockroaches as the last bastion of gentility and politeness in the insect world.

For example, on Friday night I meandered into the kitchen to find a cockroach quivering inside the roll of kitchen paper. He already knew I was going to squash him, so he'd helpfully prepared himself to be tidied away. Unfortunately, his resolve to assist us broke, and he made a break for the sink.

On any other day that would be a good place to hide, but every Friday our domestic helper clears out the fetid heap of dirty dishes that has accumulated over the week, and so our new friend had no natural cover. Bertie, as I couldn't help but think of him, scurried round and round the sink until I burst him with the bottom of a bottle of water.

Even after we'd committed his remains to the bin, Bertie left reminders. Or rather, he left one of his forelegs for me to discover when I looked in the sink yesterday. Wracked with guilt at what I'd done, I drank five cans of cheap lager from 7-11 and a bottle of Hoegaarden Premier Cru. (Which is the posh Dutch equivalent to one of those Extra Strength cans of fighting juice beloved of the career drinkers/wifebeaters of Olde England. How I miss it so.)

Thus today was less than productive. I went and performed my roles as a deceitful husband, and later as an ineffectual parent. I should be glad that I get these roles, I just wish I could be typecast as something more pleasant.

In between these rehearsals, I went to Starbucks with a big pair of scissors and prepared a bokeh mask for my camera. I'd taken the idea from Flickr; basically you put a piece of card over the front of your lens with a shape cut out, and then the circles of light in the out of focus parts of your photos (the bokeh) take on the outline of the shape.

There's a handy tutorial that somebody put up here - although a large part of the video consists of him taking his camera out of his bag to show to you. The useful bit (and on reflection it should be fairly obvious) is to make the size of the hole you cut in the card roughly the same diameter as the aperture you'll be shooting at. So if you're using a 50mm lens at f2, the diameter of the hole needs to be 25mm. (Using a zoom with this technique would be fairly horrible if not pointless, but I suppose you could do it - you'd effectively have your aperture set at each focal length by the mask, which might not be helpful.)

Anyway, in between eavesdropping on a Dutch couple's argument, I took a few interesting shots with a triangular mask, and then went home to build an egocentric mask instead. It was odd to be blundering around with a great big pair of scissors in public, but unlike England, nobody seems overly concerned. I suppose perhaps as long as I'm not actually stabbing people, everything's ok.

Bokeh mask test


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