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23 August 2021

We associate pinecones with summer vacation, which officially ended today with the first day of school up the street. So, in this case at least, our pinecone is a souvenir of summer vacation.

Pinecone. Olympus E-PL1 with 14-42mm II R kit lens at 39mm (78mm equivalent) with 10x Lensbaby macro converter at f7.1, 1/80 second and ISO 320. Processed in Adobe Camera Raw.

We honed that association over the many years our parents would load us four boys into the Plymouth Sport Suburban (and a bee or two as we drove across the Central Valley) to spend two weeks in a pine cabin on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. The woods around us were full of the things.

These days we keep a planter full of the things by the front stairs because 1) you don't have to water them and 2) they seem more decorative than dead (which can't be said for what we tried to grow in the planter). Occasionally some varmint rummages through them looking for something to eat but we never keep the food there.

So when we were stumbling around the yard looking for things to photograph with our handheld Micro Four Thirds setup, we naturally thought to line up a shot of the pinecones. They're unfailingly amenable.

We liked this composition looking straight on at the scales of one cone as they roll away into obscurity on the right. An asymmetrical portrait of a rather symmetrical subject.

We thought about a black-and-white rendering until we noticed that little bit of green on the end of one scale and decided we didn't want to lose that.

We did want to lose the little bit or maroon from the planter in the bottom corner, though. We managed that with Camera Raw's Color Mixer, dropping the saturation of the Reds to, well, nothing.

The only other changes we made to what our preset for this camera set was to darken the shadows and increase the Texture.

So we salute the first day of school on our block with a souvenir of summer that is, after all, a sort of seed just like the students. One day they will tower over us and, we hope, save this sad and beautiful world.

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