May 2009
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Month May 2009

Outlaw Cat Via Brushes Redux

A picture of Outlaw Cat painted entirely using the iPod Touch app Brushes.

This week’s New Yorker cover was painted by artist Jorge Colombo entirely using that spiffy iPhone/iPod Touch app named Brushes which I wrote about in early January.

Steve Sprang — the developer of Brushes — also put together a neat companion application named Brushes Viewer which allows the replay of the process of painting.

Even though I’m still not used to painting on an iPod with my knobbly, misshapen fingers, I put together a little demonstration of this amazing software just for you. Take a look.

Heat Reflections

Several old china coffee cups, plates, and saucers stacked within a cupboard.

A broken chair, still stately, sits before an open garage door.

A motorcyclist bows into the headwind as he accelerates on the interstate.

Try To Keep Looking Up


I really miss the bright night sky sometimes.

Of Damselflies And Dragonflies

This photograph depicts a female ebony jewelwing -- a small dragonfly with long dark body and wings -- perched on a leaf. The tips of the wings have white dots.

In this photograph, a female Widow Skimmer -- a dragonfly with nearly transparent wings (save for two stripes of brown which stretch across them) -- clings to the stalk of a small plant.

This photograph shows the female Ebony Jewelwing from the front. Its large eyes dwarf the diminutive face. It's a flighty creature! Constantly moving.

Damselflies and dragonflies belong on every list of favorite insects. Beyond their beauty and inoffensive nature, they possess a ravenous appetite for mosquitos, which makes them allies to every human and warm-blooded animal.

(Years ago, while hiking near lakes in the Oregon Cascades, I would sometimes pass through clouds of dragonflies. They almost appeared to be hovering as their wings beat against the breezes off the water.)

More Coffee, Coffee Cat?

I have so many ears...

As always, this is based on an actual conversation with myself.

(Bonus: a quick sketch of Calliope.)

Signaling The Airship

Pilot of a scout monoplane signals an airship regarding the location, size, and composition of an enemy fleet below.

I’ve been on a bit of an airship kick lately. Or perhaps, an early 1930s aeronautical sketching streak. There’s something about that time which stokes my imagination and these recent efforts serve, more or less, as a self-tutorial in the aesthetics of the period.

Richard K. Smith’s The Airships Akron and Macon arrived on Monday. The book is a fascinating read and an incredible treat for the eyes. Smith must have gone to some astounding lengths to collect and distill the information he provides in his book — I’m continually astonished at his insights into the design of the airships as well as the political issues which surrounded their construction and employment.

More on that in future posts, perhaps. I’ll close this with a poor copy of one of the most beautiful, poignant photographs contained in Smith’s book: the USS Akron (ZRS-4) emerging from a bank of clouds. As you look at it, just imagine the smell of rain in the air, and the music of her engines against the wind in the distance.

U.S. Air Force file photo of USS Akron emerging from clouds. Photographed from Richard K. Smith's book entitled 'The Airships Akron & Macon'

The Better To See You With

A dark timber wolf is shown trotting behind the trunks of some trees on its way to meet the rest of the wolf pack.

A dark timber wolf chews on an unidentified object while gazing at the viewer.

A dark timber wolf chews on an unidentified object while gazing at the viewer.

A few more photographs of these magnificent wolves. I have no idea what’s being consumed in the latter two photographs — or, more importantly, why the wolf was looking at me while so engaged. The object was apparently desirable. While taking these pictures, my friend noticed another wolf pass by, steal a bit of the discarded material, and bury it — perhaps for later retrieval and gnawing.

(See these wolf-related posts, too: You Silent Mirror, You Wolf, All Wolves Must Sleep, and The Hidden Garden.)

Skies And Curves

A school bus drives along an interstate beneath a collection of large clouds.

Arching overpasses on an interstate accentuate a vast, textured sky above.

A man on a motorcycle as seen outside the window of a passing car. A sticker on the car window in the foreground reads -- in reverse -- 'first place finish'

As regular readers are probably aware, I’ve been exploring the rational limits of in-car photography lately (1, 2, 3).

The images above were all shot in that way — this time, however, using the diminutive Leica D-Lux 4/Panasonic LX3 instead of the larger, more difficult to maneuver Canon 20d.

For a small point and shoot, the D-Lux 4/LX3 is surprisingly adept at spontaneous photography of this type. Like an old-school rangefinder, the aperture, shutter speed, and focus may all be pre-configured. After that — as always — it’s all about luck and speed.

You Silent Mirror, You Wolf

This photograph depicts two timber wolves asleep near each other, their backs opposed as though mirrored. One is white. One is black.

This photograph depicts two dark timber wolves standing beside each other, as though mirrored.

This photograph depicts a white timber wolf walking beneath a bright green canopy of leaves.

Visited the wolves again this weekend while geocaching. Between myself and a friend, three more caches were discovered — including one containing a plastic grasshopper. Our wanderings took us far from the main gate, however, and we barely made it out of the park in time.

(If you like this post, you may also enjoy All Wolves Must Sleep and The Hidden Garden.)

Over Tahiti In A Flying Boat

Yesterday, I finally ordered a copy of Richard K. Smith’s The Airships Akron and Macon (aka ZRS-4 and ZRS-5). This is generally regarded as the best published work on the two U.S. Navy ‘flying aircraft carriers’ of 1931 through 1934. I was a little surprised to find it was out of print, but then I suppose there aren’t many semi-rigid airships zipping around in the skies these days.

While researching Wright Cyclone 9 engines early this morning, I somehow stumbled across a few nice Youtube videos of the elegant and venerable Consolidated PBY Catalina. This ‘flying boat’ succeeded the P2Y-1 Ranger aircraft which recently featured in one of my sketches.

The first is a short scene from the beginning of the rather sappy Spielberg-directed movie Always. Aside from the night-flight at the end, this is arguably the best scene in the entire movie.

The last video is easily one of the most beautiful video sequences I’ve ever seen via Youtube. Entitled “My Grandfather at Age 26, WW2 over Tahiti”, the film captures a few beautiful moments within the aft section of a military Catalina during World War II.

A screen capture of a frame from the Youtube video titled 'My Grandfather at age 26, WW2 over Tahiti' uploaded by user named 'spanishmackerel'.