Acting Up

My musings, thoughts, rants, and discoveries. - Scott Maddock

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Location: Redmond, Washington, U.S. Inc. (Formerly U.S.A.)

Back to Blogging

I haven't blogged here since 2012. Why am I making a stab at it again?

I realized two things about social media I wanted to get away from. First was that I was often using it as a journal, which is boring and maybe TMI for those platforms. Secondly I was using it too much for my taste, so that I felt like a tool for marketers rather than using social media as a tool for my ends.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nothing On the Right

As you may have already guessed, I like this tree and how it frames the Space Needle. It is next to McCaw Hall. I've taken pictures three different Saturday mornings, and probably will one more time with different lenses. I'm still working on technique mostly, but I get a few images I really like. This is one, and a cropped version of the post-processed image. I think it looks better full size if you want to follow the links. Bellevue has a lot of glass high rises. Most are not terribly attractive in my mind, but it does let in daylight. I may not post any of them, but I want to get some pictures of reflections on the sides of buildings.
1412 Needle Dream (Crop)

I don't have patience. Not a whit. The last 28 years of uninterrupted republican rule have brought our nation to the brink of destruction, and it was done with amazing speed, so we need to retreat just as fast. Yet, it seems we are too blinded and fractured by single issue lunatics and other noise to see we're on the edge. Denial is so easy until... To carry the metaphor further, we are on a hogback ridge and we can easily tumble into obscurity with missteps in most any direction. I'm saying at least two very harsh things implicitly.

First, I lumped Clinton in with republican rule. Partly because I was in the service when he made the situation even worse for my friends with his DADT (Don't Ask Don't Tell) policy. It is the cowardly kind of passive aggressive approach to supporting, encouraging, and nurturing discrimination I'd expect from the right who don't seem to believe there is any possibility for personal happiness without standing atop of people they delightedly hold in misery. From my viewpoint, he was so far past moderate he became a gop enabler. (And even that wasn't enough for the right, who attacked him incessantly because giving them their way over half the time wasn't sufficient.)

Second, I laid the blame for the descent of our nation at the feet of the republicans. I've made a lot of quips based on observation. Like, "Democrats hold truth as a core value, and one they often fail to meet. Republicans aren't saddled with this burden, as they view truth as an occasional and quaint tactic." "If you want to know what evil deeds conservatives are up to, simply listen to what they accuse others of doing."

My biggest problem with republicans is not that they are sold out to the highest bidder, as that is a widespread non-partisan failing. Now, Democrats at least make a token effort to represent the wishes (good or bad) of their constituency. Republicans first and last allegiance is to the party itself, which serves the very worst of corporate america, and nearly always vote as a block per their master's bidding. They'll use anti-abortion harpies, haters of civil liberty, the christian right fringe (the ones with less tolerance than the taliban), etc. to break up anything which has even the potential of helping average productive people. You see, simply being wealthy is not enough. The less wealth others have, the more power they can wield with their wealth. GOP = Greedy Old Plutocrats.

So, after 28 years of nearly unchecked plutocracy we've approached the authoritarian corporate/government rule over the populace of which Mussolini dreamt. The last eight years have been a race to the finish line. We're nearly there, and we've merly slowed the momentum at this point. Now, we need a head long dash back towards real democracy and fairness for all. The golden showers of Reagan's tinkle on economics never happened, because it relies on the good will and intentions of those whose ethics enable them to horde wealth which rightfully belongs to thousands or even millions of other people.

Let's see if we can't lift up the disadvantaged for just a little while, instead of letting the over advantaged walk all over us. You know, a political system where the government is run by the people rather than the inverse. Where corporations make us stronger, rather than becoming too big to fail and outsourcing their failures along with our wealth and security. Where they pay their fair share of taxes rather than having conservatives siphoning off most the tax dollars we paid for undelivered infrastructure and services.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taking It Out On Art

My fury at the discussions we're having over torture have a root. Beyond the conviction that arguing it might be kind of effective is an act of profound cowardice. Rather, it is a deep feeling of impending betrayal from the country I served for a decade. We surrendered our liberties and ethics so quickly under Bush/Cheney I'm perhaps too cynical when it comes to having faith we will again find our way into honor. If the fear and hate mongers win on this what is the next step? Correcting emancipation?

To get my focus off those thoughts I turn to art, and at times it is just a way of expressing my concerns to move focus outward. This picture is of a different, less directly hurtful form of societal hubris. It still conveys the arrogant disregard of surroundings which gets to me. It is titled Civilization Comes To Spring.
1398 Civlization Comes To Spring (Last)

Right now most of the images are just things I find interesting or beautiful. The buds on the lilac in my yard have become twigs with leaflets and flower buds. This is a different rendition which was intended as an intermediate step. I liked it enough that I kept a copy.
1421 Adolescent Lilac Pink'd

I'm going to try to move away from posting multiple versions of the same photo, though I'll keep posting mulitples to flickr for a while longer. As I play around more with taking shots and processing them I'll start posting my favorite result, rather the bloggy approach I've been taking.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I'm still working on getting my pictures quickly composed and shot, and taking varying exposures with regards to aperture/time, and only occasionally tweaking ISO. I need to get a better understanding of that and exposure length to decrease/increase the degree of washout.

Here's another shot of the Chevy. It took me a while to figure it out, but Dave and Jerry identified it as a late 60's Impala, and with some googling I figure it to be a 1967 Impala. I remember the models about six years later which were huge old boats. It's amazing how much time is eaten up in post-processing. I was low on memory, and just maxed my motherboard, upgrading from .5 to 3.0 gb. (That's more memory than my first four machines had in total -- on their freaking hard drives.) That sped up the editing several fold.

Tweaked the sky, the car, the painted surface of the car, the rest of the background with slightly different effects to bring out the details, before blurring and other effects were applied, and layers blended and merged in different ways and orders to get the following two versions. Here's the original.
1269 Lookin' At Ya'

As I was stepping through blending options this caught me. It has the look cars had in our mind's eye back in the mid 70's when I did a bit of cruising and racing around in a beat up '67 firebird with an overpowered high performance big block.
1269 Lookin' At Ya' (Cruisin')

This is more of an effect to bring out some details and stylizing for an antique car. Some similar affects, but more nostalgic. Rather than trying to evoke the coolness of the cars as we lived for them and defined ourselves with, a purty rose-colored rendition. With the car colors given a bit of a cool feel.
1269 Lookin' At Ya' (Cool)

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I have been in the dumps all weekend. It doesn't make sense. I've actually been moderately productive around the house, saw friends Friday and Saturday, did stage combat practice and class, did photographic art, and the weather has been beautiful. Yet, my system didn't respond the way it normally does with that kind of weekend. There's some nasty aches and pains but they are old acquaintances and don't affect me like this. Then while I was getting into the car to go to class tonight I noticed the car had quite a layer of pollen. I groused, and found that I'm not the only one that allergies can put into a foul temper.

The art went well, I think. I surprised myself, and got a new lens for the camera, as the Kit's a few blocks from my office was having a clearance sale. I liked the people there, and it's a shame because the other one where I'll probably have some printing done come across as arrogant -- not like any other camera shop I've been to. We need good printing on the east side.

Here are four pictures with post-processing. I think all of them look nicer in higher resolution. If you want to check, click on one of the pictures, then the "All sizes" link just above the picture.

This one is growing on me. I thought the colors were a bit glaring at first, but now I really like it. This might be nifty on metallic paper.
1244 Burgeoning Lilac HighPassUnder (Tel Light)

This is an old car that I thought looked nice. I tried an Orton-like effect. It wasn't a good day for that color of car, I think twilight, or a background with more contrast would work better. Still, it came out better than I expected for a first try. I don't think it is a Chevy, so I'll probably have to rename it next time I see it and check.
1271 Chevy O More

Another one that is misnamed -- I think the oaks are on the other side of the street. Again, I Ortonized it a bit, then applied an artistic filter (watercolor), which came out very nice.
1266 Mighty Acorns To Be (WaterColor)

I saw this dead leaf as I was walking to the store, and quickly brushed some of the dirt and fir needles off, set it on the concrete block used as a retaining wall, and took a picture or two. Again I used an Orton type technique and some additional layers. As I was playing with the blending for the last layer, this one caught me. It is one of my favorites so far.
1255 Falling Into Spring

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bartok Chili

I finally found some dried red kidney beans at PCC. Canned ones are easy to find, but just not the same. Learning to not add salt or acidic items until the beans are soft enough not only reduces the cook time, but makes them much better. I had some chicken breasts and chicken sausages I needed to use up last weekend, so I did. It actually worked quite well, except the sausage weren't an Italian types, and didn't really go with the chili. Kind of an atonal note to the flavor. Not bad, but an unexpected palette cleaning. I actually kind of liked the surprising counterpoint. I'm like that with modern classical music. I can't tell you why I like the atonals in a particular piece, and not in another. I just do.

The skunk cabbages I took pictures of yesterday, while lovely to behold aren't so nice to smell. Another atonal or discordant situation. Some critters like the smell, as it is designed to attract them for pollination. I looked them up in wikipedia and found they can be used a food item. If things ever got that bad, I wonder how much competition there would be.

I played with the colors to intensify the image before applying the artistic filters. I really liked the first effect I tried and worked with that. In ascending order of my perception of the urgency the colors imparted, here are the three I uploaded to flickr. I haven't yet decided which version I like more. If anyone is out there I'd appreciate your thoughts, even if it is "Why is Scott wasting my time with noxious flora?"

This one is a black and white version, which has a ghostly quality for me.
1212 Skunk Cabbage Ghosts

This is a hint of another edit which is in progress, maintaining photo quality, but turning the flower red. Blending the edges is pretty tedious (I need to find a better way than smudge/blur/smudge/blur/...), and I'm only about a third of the way done with that -- I'll post it here if it comes out decent. This is less of the blood red used in that version, rather a primary red version of the black and white.
1212 Skunk Cabbage In Red

This is how the image looked before converting to the monochrome versions. I titled it Skunk Cabbage Bar Art as it has a bit of the black velvet look. Sans the ubiquitous presence of The King or canine card sharks.
1212 Skunk Cabbage Bar Art

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stopping to Smell the Stinkies

Quick political rant... The governor of Texas is fomenting his lunatic fringe crowds with insincere cries for succession. Too bad it's insincere. LBJ escalated us into a pointless war, sacrificing our military folks to the delight of war profiteers. Dumbya got us into a pointless war, sacrificing our military folks to the delight of war profiteers. Thus, I've joked about wanting to give Texas back to Mexico for several years.

I made two photo stops in the last two days. Tuesday after my chiropractor visit I drove by Lake Sammamish State Park and was struck by the sunset reflecting off the lake. I didn't have my good camera with me, so I used the old Nikon (Coolpix 950), which I now call my car camera. It takes decent pictures, but I can't seem to get it to stay in raw mode so I didn't capture enough information to do the kind of post processing I'd hoped. Of course it takes a long, long time to write the larger raw files to the memory card so I got to take more pictures in the fading light.

There are several ducks in the foreground, and in the water right in front of them is an otter, which looks more like a small log. It turns out there were two of them floating around, and without the raw format I didn't capture enough information to bring out any details. I had both of them in frame from a different angle, when a couple geese flew by. Totally blurred, but worth noticing. Stopping to take those pictures took me out of the normal routine of driving home. So, I was disappointed with the picture quality. Big deal, it was a beautiful time and place to be for ten minutes.

One nice side affect to adjusting the image exposure/color levels so that it more closely matched the human perception, all the homes crowded around the lake vanished (though I can't remember now if they were visible in the original).
0034 Sammamish Boat Launch

On the way to work today I was driving by a marshy area with skunk cabbage which have been catching my eye for the last week. They have that nice primary yellow, which brighten up even the grayest day, though they aren't so pleasant to the nose. Like when I stopped at the lake, I had to talk myself into making the pause. Good thing too, as it certainly put me in a better mood at the office. Like I droned yesterday, photography seems to tie in with theatre work. I notice what is around me more, which is an important skill for preparing or trying to figure out how to prepare for a role. I was going to say "taking the time to notice..." but it doesn't take any time. Just attention.

Art does seem to have a tendency to nurture itself in wonderful and synergistic ways. Learning to let that work, rather than wanting to force everything to a conclusion is my challenge.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Working Terms

I've not worked on a show for a while. Partly because of the executive driven determined dive into dysfunctionality at work. I'd not felt I had the freedom to take on projects, but as I look at it honestly, I think it is mostly an excuse to support the blues. Recently I've started each morning with an effort to find something interesting and fun about going to work. It's been difficult in both remembering and execution but has been paying off. I found I just have to accept we are now working for the enrichment of elite executives, and figure out how I can best serve customers internal and external in spite of the avarice driven initiatives which impede nearly every effort to get work done.

My assessment of the leadership is a bit harsh The continued claims we are the work/life balanced and customer focused organization we were a couple years ago, has the same ring of veracity as GM claiming they build quality products. GM is still trying to live on a reputation they had in the sixties, which the MBA's have been sucking profit from for 40 years with no continued commitment to quality outside of ad campaigns. (Without a major bankruptcy type re-org I'll never buy another GM. I was screwed on three cars in a row.) Strangely, accepting this is not the ethical, and quality of product and life driven company I started at is a positive step. There are still lots of good people here, and I still get to work with (and for) them.

I was thinking about all this again this morning as I got ready for work. It occurred to me the photography I've been playing with for a needed artistic release may also help my next theatre project a bit. While doing character work, what if I take pictures from my character's perspective? That has potential for me, and as a bonus it could leave me with some photos I could use for prep work.

Now, here are a couple of photots I processed in the last week, which came from my Arizona vacation the first week of March. This one just has the hue and shading adjusted for the flower, which was actually yellow, and jumped out from the background in the same way.
0649 Spot of Bright (Red)

For this one I played with multiple partially transparent layers to achieve results similar to what I've seen for some Photoshop add-ons. It came out more appealing (to me anyway) than I expected. I think this type of processing probably works best on photos that aren't too busy.
0524 Desert Botanical Guardian (Stylized)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


While I was walking to a rehearsal space at Seattle Center on Saturday morning the view of the space needle in the morning haze caught my eye. I took a quick shot and was on my way again. I'm not enjoying stage combat like I expected. There is a young woman in the class who seems to detest me for some reason -- maybe we've met before and I forgot? That is not the reason. It has more to do with having the blues, and still being in constant pain from breaking my leg four years ago. That worries me. However, the rich and interesting dreams I had last night gave me the feeling of rounding a corner. I hope so. Today does feel brighter from the inside than it has for months. Stopping to take that picture helped.

I wasn't happy with the clarity of this shot. I hope when I go to practice this Saturday I have a similar situation. There probably won't be the nice haze, but the morning light... I like the unprocessed shot I took a lot better in black and white (it's on flickr, after I deleted the color shot I decided to add the b&w and some processed versions) The has the feel of the black and white pictures I took with an old 120 box camera when the Space Needle was brand new, and I was too.

This is one of my post-processing attempts. I used some Photoshop tools which didn't appeal to me with other shots I've played with. I step through a lot of things to find combinations and effects I like, and I tried the ones I liked before first, but they didn't work for me here. This also has a bit of a 60's feel to me. Lately I've been remembering when the Space Needle and Seattle Center were shiny and new. Maybe that is why this type of rendering appealed to me.
1126 Needle In The Haze #3

Now for a short political screed. 'Screed' and 'short' are contradictory, but so am I. Back in October I posited that the prosecution against Stevens was intentionally incompetent and compromised, so Stevens could avoid a conviction. Then, despite their worst efforts, Stevens apparently convicted himself by proving to the jury he truly believed he was beyond the law, while loudly blaming his wife and co-conspirators for any moral lapses. So, despite the petulance by which Stevens basically convicted himself, it looks like the plan is finally going to work, though probably too late to allow the aged crook to sneak back into office. Instead, the drones who made errors too blatant and stupid for anyone to believe they could be unintentional are getting some unwanted scrutiny. It's a shame the elitist old crook is escaping what should have been a rock solid conviction, but some of the dubya toadies who abrogated the legitimacy of the DOJ may pay a small price for their actions. Now, the thought occurs, what if these guys weren't the neo-con toadies I assumed? Rather, they'd just be an example of the type of people dubya didn't fire for ideological reasons. I'm not sure which possibility is the worst.

Friday, April 03, 2009

First, so you don't think I'm going soft, a political barb. Have you noticed the change in the neoconservative bullies? From media bobble heads like Beck to K Street tools like Boehner, to the repetitive violent non-compromising pro-multinational corporate talking point recitations they've added bouts of crying. Just like the schoolyard bully who fails to get what he wants through beatings and intimidation, they are resorting to calculated weeping.

If the mouthpieces for the wealthy 'conservatives' can't effectively demonize minorities (by race, gender identity, religion, etc) to distract us from the depredations of their ceo's, they can pretend to weep for the decline to their brand of tyrannical patriotism. They claim to be so worried about government intruding into corporate affairs, so they have opened the door to special interests while shutting out the taxpayers. YES, I do want government to govern the unbridled greed of the conservative's handlers. And I also want the robber barons out of my government.

I reviewed all the pictures I took in Arizona. I was going to say quickly reviewed, but that would be misleading. It took over an hour, as I was reviewing a dvd with several gigabytes of photos -- as each picture is 2-7mb they don't load especially fast on a laptop dvd drive. I found some more shots which caught my eye, some sans processing I posted in a new set. There were a lot of experimental sunset pictures, and my near favorite composition is here. Only the one shot. Too bad, as in higher resolutions the fuzzy focus becomes apparent. I'll have to visit again and hope for a similar sunset.
0785 G'night Folks

Here's a cholla I like. It is near one I took a lot of shots of, failing to catch the streaked sky and highlighted cholla. I loaded those to a set with my first post-processing attempts to get both sky and cholla to show. This picture was a nice find, not composed quite the same, but I like seeing the sky and cholla contrast in an unprocessed shot. There is also a staghorn or candelabra type cactus on the left which adds something for me.
0849 Retiring Cholla

In the set with these pictures there is also one I titled "0527 Gonna Get Ya'", which is reminiscent of sci-critters for The Abyss or the more menacing Alien. Personally, it connected more with Cleopatra from the old tv series, The Addams Family.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Lilac's In The Air

Yesterday morning I took a few more pictures of the lilac in my front yard. It was a typically Northwest early Spring day. Gray, drizzly, and cold. I used a different lens (50mm instead of the 17-40mm). I couldn't get the exposure I wanted, as the fill flash made the twig and buds (I think that sounds funny) too intense, and a regular exposure left them too dark, even playing with the exposure. Eventually, but by then the lens would have gotten wet.

So, I experimented with the selection ability of Photoshop using the magic wand and polygon to select just the lilac plant, so I could turn up the color and brightness there, while dimming the background. Then some time cleaning up the edges with the smudge tool. Not perfect, but I'm pleased with my first try. There are a number of other pictures from my trip I want to do this kind of processing with. This was a non-flash picture. Tonight I'll play with the one of the exposures using a fill flash, if I got one in decent focus (the auto-focus is out on the 50mm - I think it was dropped from a short height).

1086 Seattle Spring