One Saturday in December…

My daughter, Georgia has been in ballet since she was in diapers. For the past couple of years, she has had various parts in the Charlotte Youth Ballet presentation of the Nutcracker. This year, Georgia was a soldier.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 300mm f/4 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 1600, 1/200s, –0.7EV

Being a soldier means you’re in all six shows. Three on Friday, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday. So we were busy that particular weekend. My wife spent her first years in college at Florida State University back in 1993 when they won the National Championship in football and Charlie Ward won the Heisman trophy. Though her collegiate endeavors moved her away from FSU, she remained a fan. And as circumstance would have it, FSU is the number one ranked team in the land and would be playing in the ACC Championship in Charlotte on Saturday evening, the same Saturday Georgia had two Nutcracker shows. And FSU had the eventual Heisman trophy winner, Jameis Winston.

But before Georgia had her two Nutcracker shows, she had to perform in a concert with her afterschool singing group and my wife gave me a green light to try to get tickets for the game in a subtle hint during the concert. Fortunately, the game wasn’t sold out yet. Unfortunately, the only tickets left were nosebleed seats.

I snuck my A99 in with a Lensbaby Composer Pro, put my 200mm f/2.8 in the diaper bag, and once I got to my seat I tried my hand at some tilt-shift.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Composer Pro Edge 80 Optic (80mm f/2.8 @ f/2.8), ISO 1600, –0.3 EV

It looks like the electric football game many of us had growing up. I was too far away to get anything really good, unfortunately. I can say I saw the eventual Heisman Trophy winner  Jameis and the number one team in the land (at the time).

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 1000, 1/250s
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Hidden Talents and Forgotten Secrets

I have what I like to call a “hidden” talent. It is not a particularly useful talent, though it is amusing to anyone who witnesses it or is the beneficiary.

What is my hidden talent? I can easily spot four and sometimes five leaf clovers among their three leaved counterparts. I’ve stopped my riding lawnmower to not mow a four-leaf clover I saw 10 feet in front of me. There are (at least) five in this photo.

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SLT-A77V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/200s.

This talent is not something I am proud of when I think long and hard about it. It took me a year to rid my front yard of clover. My back yard, however, is a clover haven. Clover is evil. And I really am not sure it is a talent more than the odds are in my favor and statistically I am average. Who knows. I do entertain my wife and kids and family friends though.

Clover, in itself really isn’t interesting to photograph, to me. It is really cluttered, especially in patches and is too close to the dirt to really get any good shots taking advantage of shallow depths of field unless I’m actually planting my camera on the ground to shoot level. The mathematician in me sometimes likes to play the “one of these things is not like the other” game, other than that, photographing clover to me is basically like trying to prove I found yet another four leaf clover. I once investigated means for preserving and selling them on eBay. I find them constantly.

Of course, the reaction I have from finding a five-leaf clover is premature and I wind up doing the impatient thing and picking it. I have yet to photograph a 5 leaf clover while still attached to the ground.

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I was doing something in my workshop room the other day when I went into a cabinet I hadn’t opened in a while and I had forgotten the contents. Well over a year ago I was on the road and bored and I was perusing random stores and I came across a pawn shop and it had a Lensbaby Control Freak for the Sony Mount and they were asking next to nothing for it. I bought it and tried it out. I really didn’t “get” it, other than it could move around in odd directions. I figured I would reconcile the package by purchasing replacement aperture discs and I could sell it at a nice profit if I couldn’t figure it out. Then I came across the pinhole optic on sale a couple weeks later and I figured I would try it out. All I know is I had more sensor and mirror dust than I could possibly imagine as it is something ridiculous like f/117. None of it visible, but at f/117 the dust was there. Not good for someone who can be obsessive about sensor or mirror dust. So I put the thing in the cabinet.

Fast forward to about 3 days ago, I come across this little contraption and I figure I would give it another shot. I know more about photography, I can try it out.

Spring came late this year, and we got pounded by rain, which stripped all of my flowers’ petals, so I really didn’t get the photographic Spring I had in the past. My subjects were gone. I tried it out on the Japanese maples.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Control Freak Standard Optic @ f/2, ISO 100, 1/800s

Nothing bad, nothing out of the ordinary either. I stopped the thing down, played around with angles and focus distances.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Control Freak Standard Optic @ f/5.6, ISO 50, 1/13s

Again, nothing spectacular, other than the colors. I start walking around looking for subjects and I come across a clover patch and I instantly see two 4 leaf clovers next to each other.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Control Freak Standard Optic @ f/4, ISO 100, 1/25s

The one on the left was about a half inch lower than the one on the right but I played around with the angles to make them appear around the same height. I walked a couple yards and came across another.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Control Freak Standard Optic @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/20s

OK, a little better, but I still see some fluff I don’t like, and I am a little off-center. I tried a couple of other things with the next one I found A little less steep in angle, but closer.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Control Freak Standard Optic @ f/4, ISO 100, 1/25s

In all I got at least 10 unique clovers in about 15 minutes. This one ended up being my favorite of the bunch.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Control Freak Standard Optic @ f/2, ISO 100, 1/20s

And I did some creative post-processing to produce this result. I also had much more aggressive of a lens tilt.

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SLT-A99V, Lensbaby Control Freak Standard Optic @ f/2.8, ISO 50, 1/25s

I have a feeling I may not get rid of this thing after all.