Paul Fussell: The Boys’ Crusade
The End of the Space Age?

Heron With Fish


Taken a couple of weekends ago. I was too busy trying to get a decent picture to see if or how he (she?) swallowed that fish, but I suppose it happened.

I'm thinking of getting an external monitor to use with my laptop at home--maybe ask for it for my birthday or Christmas. I do my photo evaluation and tweaking on the laptop, but the pictures look significantly better on my machine at work, where I'm doing this post, so I wonder if sometimes I actually make them look worse by trying to make them look better on the laptop. But then every one viewing this has a different monitor. This picture looks much crisper on my work machine than it did at home: if you click on it to get the full-size version, you can see the heron's eye quite plainly.

Speaking of photos: we think of Amy Welborn primarily as a writer, but she's also quite a good photographer: see thisthis, and especially this, though it's really the title that makes that last one. And notice the header.  (I really need to update my links sidebar.)


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What is that last one?


A hand about to pluck a snail from its happy home on the side of a bucket.

By coincidence I looked at 'Charlotte' on Sunday night and thought how good the photos were.

Well, I recognized the hand the bucket. :-) I couldn't tell what the snail was.

I like your picture.


I am often struck by the quality of your pictures, Mac. What is the camera that you use?

I'm glad you like them. My cameras are nothing real special, and I'm not particularly skilled, but sometimes I get lucky. Also, I rely on Picasa to spruce them up--nearly always brighten them, and this one, for instance, is cropped. "cameras," plural, because until about 6 months ago it was a little Nikon CoolPix. Can't remember the model number, but it's pretty old now, for a digital camera--5 or 6 years anyway. More recently, it's a Fuji Finepix (again, can't remember the model number), also not very new. It was my wife's, and she upgraded because a little door that has to be closed over the memory card in order for the camera to work broke. But I find that a piece of scotch tape holds it just fine for a while. I switched to it mainly because it has a 10x zoom (vs. 3 I think on the Nikon), but I think the image quality is better, too. I would not have been able to get this picture without that zoom--the heron would have flown away before I got this close.

Glad you liked it, Janet.

Actually my favorite of the pictures I've taken in recent months is that one I posted a couple of weeks ago, In the Rearview, which was taken with the crummy camera in my not-smart phone.

Thanks so much! I wished the snail were turned just a little bit more to pick up his antennae...

I actually am really frustrated with my camera and my inability to use it well. I am probably going to try to take a class this fall. That header and the photo of my son in the lake with the ducks are the result of editing...

You're welcome. That about the snail's antennae is exactly the sort of thing I'm always thinking about my pics--there's always something not quite right, at best, or more often not at all right.

You had a picture for your header a while back, probably at least a year, that I really loved. It was a church sign juxtaposed with something else...I can't remember the specifics now, but if you have a gallery somewhere that should be in it.

That heron picture is pretty near perfect, Maclin. You have a really good eye for pictures.

Amy, I don't have time to look around at blogs, so I haven't seen many of your pictures, but that header, edited or not, is gorgeous.


Thank you. I just can't quite accept the idea that I have a good eye, because I'm so much less visually oriented than so many people I know, and so much less interested in the visual arts. I mean, my wife and I can go into a church, and when we come out she will have noticed all sorts of things, both general and specific, about its architecture and decoration, while I can recall only a very vague impression. But I've always had a love for photography, so maybe that brings out some sort of latent ability in me.

I recently bought a new camera, a Panasonic Lumix with 16x optical zoom (this one). So far I really like it, though I have been a little disappointed by the image quality in low light.

Neither was I quite prepared for the massive size of the pictures and video that the camera produces. I like to upload them to a website so that my parents can see pictures of the kids, but with the new camera the process can take up to 12 hours!

That may be the same camera that my wife upgraded to when the Fuji broke. A very nice one. I'm sure there are settings you can change to reduce the size of those images and video. I haven't worked with video very much at all, though I would like to. One of the many things I wish I could find time for. I got as far as using Microsoft's product--Movie Maker?--to get a 1-minute video from many tens of megabytes to about eight, and it wasn't especially complicated, just a format conversion I think. Of course that reduces the quality some, but for viewing on the web it would be ok.

I *really* like Picasa (free from Google) for editing photos. It has just the right assortment of simple tools for someone like me who doesn't know much about graphics and can't cope with a full-featured tool like Photoshop or Gimp. Also, it makes it really easy to export a web-friendly lower-res and/or smaller version of a photo while preserving the original. The downside of it is that it does a lot of file management behind the scenes, and if Google decides to discontinue it and I need to switch to something else, I'll have a bit of a mess.

I found a place on my camera to reduced the number of pixels. Also, there is a program that comes with Microsoft Office--MS Office Picture Editor--that does that easily.


Before I got Picasa, I used Microsoft Picture Manager. Is that what you mean? It does the job, too, though I like Picasa better.

Oh, I like Picasa also. It's terrific. My Mac came with something called iPhoto, but after struggling with it a few times I went back to Picasa. It's very easy to use, and, as you say, it makes sharing the pictures and video easy.

(One problem is that although it will automatically reduce the size of video synced to a web site, it does the reduction after it is uploaded, so that it still takes a long time, despite the small size of the final video. I don't know a good way to reduce the video size in advance.)

Part of the beauty of this picture is the colours - the blues on greys

I guess that credit goes to God and the camera. :-) The bird, btw, is officially known as Great Blue Heron, but it's not very blue--a bluish grey, at most.

Once Bill and I went on a tour of the Atchafalaya Basin. (Spell check doesn't like Atchafalaya, they suggest Jambalaya instead.) It was in November and there didn't seem to be much wildlife around for the guide to talk about. About every five minutes he would say, "There's a great blue heron." I always remember that when I see one which is fairly frequently nowadays although that was the first time.

Because it was November in Cajun country, almost everyone else on the boat was from France, so the guide spoke mostly French and told what must have been a lot of jokes because everyone else was laughing. Or maybe they were laughing at us.


Did anyone ask why it wasn't blue?

"Atchafalya" is one of those words that's fun to say, like "hyperbole."

By the way, I think that's a catfish this heron has caught. I sure would hate to swallow a live catfish.

I could go for a dead one, though.


And I've always loved that word.


The first thing the phrase "dead catfish" brings to mind for me is what I see frequently, one rotting on the beach. But replacing that with what you're presumably thinking of: yum.

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