A small butterfly of unknown species, landed and less than a couple tenths of a second later, aloft (click them for the bigger pictures):

(click it for the bigger picture)

I sat snapping way too many shots of this butterfly on a succession of leaves — all of them with its wings up — hoping it would lower them so I could capture its colorful pattern. It would eventually take off and flutter around the backyard before coming back to rest in the vicinity and close ’em back up. After a few minutes my patience gave out and I gave up, thinking I hadn’t gotten what I wanted. But upon reviewing the series of images, it turns out by sheer luck I triggered the shutter at that exact same micromoment it started to lift off from a loquat leaf.

I’ve proudly tossed this pano I snapped yesterday morning up on, Facebook, Flickr and the wall of the Mobil Station bathroom on Silver Lake Boulevard and Bellevue. The reason I’m posting it here isn’t just because I’m incorrigibly redundant so much as incorrigibly interested in showing off the largest version of the image so you can see how much I literally lucked out. Seriously, I’ve been doing panoramas since the early 1980s and I’ve never achieved one as large and as detailed as this. Hell, in the fifth frame from the left you can even see a flock of gulls (probably somewhere about a mile away from my lens circling perhaps over the Silver Lake reservoir).

Unfortunately I kept getting an error trying to upload the 350″ x 38″ version to WordPress, which wouldn’t accept the file despite its 5.4 megs being well within established maximum size parameters. So the file connected to the thumbnail below represents a half-full-sized version at 175″ x 19″ — still pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

And along the theme “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way,” I’ve bypassed WordPress and gone ahead and FTP’d the full-size file to the server, viewable in all its 25294 x  2739 pixel glory. Hope you enjoy it (and I hope its loading doesn’t slow down the internest as a whole).

I think occasionally I’ll come up with an amazing photograph (or at least one that I find so), simply because I take so many pictures. It’s a law of averages that once every couple thousand snaps I’ll be blown away by what I find. It’s certainly not from a mastery of camera mechanics so much as a massive amount of frames made.

The corner of calles Allende and Madero in historic Queretaro, Mexico.
(click it for the bigger picture)

Take the above photo for instance, which I thought was lost when my previous desktop computer crapped out for good last November (but it turned out I’d had the foresight to migrate my photo archives to an external hard drive). It’s a timed exposure — about five seconds in length — with the camera handheld but braced against the balcony railing of our room overlooking Calle Ignacio Allende at the spectacular La Casa de la Marquesa Hotel in Queretaro, Mexico, during our extraordinary visit in the summer of 2008.

I did the long exposure simply because it was too dark to get the scene of the beggar in a doorway without using the flash and destroying all the rich color and texture. And it’s doubtful the flash would’ve illuminated the mood even if I’d used it.

So I opened the shutter it turns out a moment prior to the couple coming from around the corner and walking past the woman ignoring her and her outstretched hand that held a cup presumably to catch any spare pesos that might be offered.

Little did I know that the headlights of a vehicle approaching Calle Madero on Allende from the right would have a bonus strobe effect on the couple’s legs as they walked past.

Pros could certainly argue why it’s not a better fauxtograph than photograph. It’s blurry, busy, and not an easy or quick read. But to me it’s one of my favorite shots of the thousands I took during that trip in large part because of the serendipitous inclusion of the passersby, ghostlike and fleeting against the flesh-and-bone woman looking for a handout. I don’t want to dive too deep into tortured symbolism, but it juxtaposes the fantasy of affluence against the reality of poverty.  I couldn’t have intentionally captured that even if I knew what I was doing.

In my boundless wisdom and foresight, when me previous Mac desktop — which had long been buggy and glitchy — reeeeaaaaally started to act a fool and make me cry, I transferred all my photos onto an external drive.

We’re talking something like 20,000 of them dating back eight years.

Sure enough the computer booted up for its final time last November and I can’t tell you how relieved I was that I’d salvaged my digital archive. We’re talking various Death Valley trips, plus our travels to Africa, Italy, France, Mexico, Yosemite, Big Sur, Kings Canyon, not to forget the thousands of photos of local stuff.

Of course, when it came time to start building our 2011 calendar, I went looking for and couldn’t find the file. At first I fully freaked. But then I calmed down, knowing that it had to be there somewhere, maybe buried as a subfolder somewhere in that terrabyte of hard drive space that I’d eventually discover.

That day came yesterday, and in celebration of joyfully reuniting with all my past pixels, I give you what is one of my favorite images, taken from our rooftop patio of the hotel we stayed at in Guanajuato during our visit there in 2008:

(click it for the bigger picture)

Besides the unexpected bonus of the cloud containing a ghostly visage in profile looking at an angle heavenward, what I like next most about this image is what you can’t see. First off, it’s about a 3- to 4-minute exposure, and it’s illuminated  at the front by the moon up high out of frame. Making it even more dynamic: the face is backlighted by a series of intermittent if steady lightning strikes from a distant storm (hence that bright spot at center bottom at about where an ear might be).

I would be a lousy wildlife photographer. No patience. Fortunately in the case of catching hummingbirds at our front porch feeder, I didn’t need to have the level of inner peace that would typically be required by a professional. Still even standing at the camera for even a couple minutes taxes me — at least until this happens (click it for the bigger picture):

Now it’s on to a quick trip to the hardware store before parking myself in front of the TV to find out who’s going to the big dance. Personally, I’m hoping the single syllable teams beat the double syllable ones. In other words: Bears beat the Packers, and Jets top the Steelers.

The moon popped up into view last night in the northeastern skies and for the first time in almost a year owning a spotting scope, I hauled the device out into the backyard to check out earth’s 60X satellite and — wow! I was blown away by the topographical detail that could be seen.

Though having tried and failed so many times in the past to photograph the moon (ending up most of the time with either a blurred image or a blinding white hole in the sky), I hustled inside and came back with the point-n-shoot, which I pushed up against the scope’s eyepiece, trying to center the moon in the frame and not shake — two things way easier said than done.

Surprise, surprise: I came away with a shot the likes of which I’ve never ever ever gotten before (click it for the bigger picture):

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