May 29, 2009

sybarite \SIB-uh-ryt\,

A person devoted to luxury and pleasure.

Today's word-of-the-day subject is Mike. Mike, a homeless man from Raleigh, sits on this bench at the bus stop and sells chocolate, hot dogs, buns and other things out of a big duffel bag. (I bought a giant chocolate bar for $1.)

For those of you who can't tell, I'm doing something different today: using an antonym to illustrate a point. Mike is one of a whole slew of homeless people who live in Raleigh. You can't walk through downtown without being asked for change.

What's the solution? I don't know, but I'll tell you what it isn't: $6,000 Segway scooters for cops. Get a bike, jerks, and send some of that public money somewhere useful.

"Can't catch me, pigs! I'm going up these stairs!"

Anyhow, Mike seemed like a good guy. He buys his food from Kroger and runs his little business from the bus station. Though I might not buy a hot dog from a duffel bag, I would highly recommend his chocolate bars. Delicious.

If you've got any sybarite or antonym photos, send them along to me in an email!

Update: This photo from Amy; looks like she caught on to the antonym thing for today.

"I went to the Dominican Republic in February for a week for a medical mission trip; basically we set up clinics that consisted of tarps and sheets hanging from trees (for privacy) at a woman’s house in a town called Veron, which is about 10 minutes from Punta Cana, a beach resort area that I guess you could say is visited by sybarites. It was a humbling experience seeing the social status change so dramatically in a 10 minute drive, but it was also really great that we had so many people willing to help (non-sybarite students tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and doctors hundreds of thousand dollars out of debt)."

Thanks, Amy!

Update #2: Thanks to Amber for sending this very sharp, well composed photo.

"This Honduran fisherman is a good example of a sybarite antonym. He was fishing in the crocodile and snake infested Cuero - Salado river to provide some food or income for his family, and not for luxury or pleasure. This photo was taken in December 2008 near the Cuero y Salado Wildlife refuge in Honduras."

May 28, 2009

avoirdupois \av-uhr-duh-POIZ; AV-uhr-duh-poiz\,

1. Avoirdupois weight, a system of weights based on a pound containing 16 ounces or 7,000 grains (453.59 grams).
2. Weight; heaviness; as, a person of much avoirdupois.

I think the guys at were trying to get me to photograph a fat person with today's word of the day. But, luckily for me, and luckily for the feelings of every slightly chubby person on the street that would have taken offense at my accusations of weightiness, we just so happen to have a scale in the house.

The word avoirdupois (which I'm sure no one reading this blog will include in their everyday conversation) describes our system of weight, which I never knew to be quite so complicated until a search this morning. This entry from Wikipedia shows just how ridiculous our system of measurements can be. It's a little embarrassing, really.

For the photo, I used only the light coming through the window in the kitchen. It's a bit overcast today, which is why the light is so soft. A long zoom and wide aperture give me the very slight depth of field. Black counters are cool for this photo, but I have to say; in real life, they're not that great.

If you've got any photos to use for avoirdupois, don't forget to send them to me in an email!

May 27, 2009

sagacious \suh-GAY-shus\,

Having or showing keen discernment, sound judgment, and farsightedness.

Man, I did some serious running around to find my subject for today's word of the day. You wouldn't think it would be so difficult to find a Magic 8 Ball, but I guess they're not in very high demand these days.

Somehow, the 45-square-mile Wal-Mart nearby didn't have one, despite their droves of useless pool toys and barbie products. Nor did Target deem it necessary to stock such a trusted and timeless item of life guidance. And for those of you with small screens who can't read this alternative fortune cookie's words of wisdom, this one says, "Outlook not so good."

The question I asked, for those curious readers, was, "Will anyone submit a photo for today's word?" Well, let's try to prove this elusive collector's item wrong by sending all your sagacious photos to me in an email!

May 26, 2009

pejorative \pih-JOR-uh-tiv\,

1. Tending to make or become worse.
2. Tending to disparage or belittle.

Readers, I went ahead and took Memorial Day off just to give myself a little break. I hope you all weren't too discouraged. We're back on course now.

A little bit of parental advisory for today's word of the day. This is about as edgy as I expect I'll get on this blog, so you're really experiencing the best.

New roommate Jeff likely was already flicking me off when I took this photo. But that's probably only because I was yelling at him for his cake fight from last night.

I hope you're all as totally edgy as I am for your pejorative photo. Send me what you've got in an email!

Update: Thanks again to Jeff for sending another awesome photo. This one is from the Republican National Convention. It was a tough choice between this one and another from a Nazi rally, but the composition of this photo is just too good to pass up. Thanks, Jeff!

May 22, 2009

buss \BUS\,

noun, verb:
1. A kiss; a playful kiss; a smack.

I know today's word of the day photo is a typical one, but, as a wise man once said: if they're gonna lob 'em in there, I'm gonna knock 'em out of the park.

This isn't a photo I went out to take today, but for some reason, I had a really difficult time finding people who would kiss in front of the camera this morning. I didn't necessarily ask people on the street, but the few calls I made were to couples missing one of the pair. I really need the whole set.

This is a photo I took on spring break last year with now-fiancee Jamie in Mazatlan, Mexico. It was a pretty simple setup. I'll give you the step-by-step (I'd say the first two are the hardest):
• Find pretty girl
• Get her to kiss you
• Place camera on beach chair, shooting directly into the sun
• Focus
• Set self-timer
• Focus, again.
• Be romantic

It's all fairly simple. If you'd like to get out and try it for yourself, send me your buss photos in an email!

Update: Dear Jessi, Please stop one-uping my buss photo with your more romantic, awesome wedding photo. Love, Robert.

Update #2 It's like obnoxiously-romantic photo day here. This one's from Alison again!

May 21, 2009

immure \ih-MYUR\,

1. To enclose within walls, or as if within walls; hence, to shut up; to imprison; to incarcerate.

The photo for today's word of the day shows a real life prison for my turtle, Rob. Now, before you go jumping down my throat for naming a turtle after myself, let me give you just a little background.

Rob was one of three turtles that Josh and I bought in China Town in New York a few summers ago. Josh named his turtle Rob. Naturally, I named mine Josh. And the third, sadly, never had a set name because we always thought he was on the brink of death. (What can you expect with pint-sized turtles you bought in China Town?)

Unfortunately, two of our young turtle friends didn't make it. Rob is the only one left. He now shares a (very, very dirty) tank with three baby catfish named Peter and two snails named Bryan. There used to be a frog named Grace, but we're pretty sure Rob devoured her.

In any case, I'm sure the tank is a lovely place for Rob and his friends to hang out and get fed. It's definitely better than the way we found him, but it's still not quite the same as being in the wild.

Also, did anyone think of this other photo when this word of the day came up? I sure did.

If you've got any photos for immure, send them along to me in an email and I'll put it up with my portrait of Rob the turtle!

Update: Thanks again to Jessi for sending this photo of Smith along. "Sorry for all of the the photos of Smith," she said. "He's an easy test subject." Don't apologize! Send photos!

Update #2: Alison sent this cool photo: "I took this picture in San Gimignano, Italy a couple summers ago. Not the worst place to be immured, but hey." (Way to use the word of the day in your description!)

Update #3: Thanks to Jeff for sending this excellent photo along. Check out his blog for work from UW-Madison's Badger Herald.

May 20, 2009

satiety \suh-TY-uh-tee\,

The state of being full or gratified to or beyond the point of satisfaction.

Firstly, thanks to ____________ for helping out in today's word of the day. (The identity of the subject of this photo is protected because of the nature of his or her pose, which is not meant to be flattering.) I really appreciate ____________'s dedication to this blog and my art, and I couldn't do it without ___________.

The image is only made better due to the fact that I shot it at 12mm. For those of you who aren't cameraneers (yes, I just made that word up), lenses wider than about 50 or 60mm can start to distort the image out at the corners. With such a close-up on ___________'s belly, and with __________ pushing it out as far as he/she could, it makes the belly look rounder. It did not, however, make the belly look harrier. That's just __________.

If you've got any ideas for a satiety photo, send it along in an email so I can post it with mine. Clearly, no caption information is necessary.

May 19, 2009

fey \FAY\,

1. Possessing or displaying a strange and otherworldly aspect or quality; magical or fairylike; elfin.

In the photo for today's word of the day, I captured a phenomenon not understood by most scientists: Bryan's ability to hover over any surface for a fraction of a second.

Yes, that's right. Bryan can jump, just like everyone else. But it is a cool idea for a photo of fey. It's a cool photo with a nice blue background from the sky, which is definitely a staple in my photos.

Short post today because I'm really important and have a lot of things to do. But get out there and take some fey photos and send them to me in an email!

Update: I almost forgot to mention: I took the photos of a wedding dress designed by fantastic local designer Katelyn Wells for a competition she's in. The dress is great, so if you get a chance, vote for Katelyn on the contest website!

May 18, 2009

pernicious \pur-NISH-us\,

Highly injurious; deadly; destructive; exceedingly harmful.

Today's word of the day has a little bit of fake blood on the sidewalk outside. Or is it fake?

Yes. It's actually a mixture of corn syrup and food coloring (mostly red with a drop of blue). I got the recipe from Josh, who liked to make slasher movies in our basement last year. It's just mixed up and then strewn on the sidewalk with a leftover straw from Wendy's.

For post processing, I just brought the contrast up in curves in Photoshop and used another layer on top, in "soft light" mode, with about 40% opacity. It gives the photo a pretty cool feel, but you can adjust the opacity so that it's not too overwhelming.

This is a really fun word of the day, so if you're out shooting something pernicious, send it to me in an email! Happy Monday!

Update: Thanks to Amy for this awesome photo of pills that she clearly got illegally. Well, maybe not. But they definitely seem to fit the theme of today's word. Thanks, Amy!

May 15, 2009

quer⋅u⋅lous /kwer-uh-luhs, kwer-yuh-/,

1. full of complaints; complaining.

Today's word of the day describes everyone who will read this post and realize that the photo has nothing to do with the word of the day. (Pretty good, huh?)

I tried to figure out how to justify this, but I thought it'd be better just to come clean.

Today's going to be a busy one, so I won't have time to get the photo of the day. But I'm not leaving you empty handed.

Last night I went out to ride around and just take some photos, and the one in this post is from my excursion. It's just a lamp post taken from underneath, facing up. There's a grassy patch near the government revenue building where I went to do a little snooping and shooting, and I got a couple good/mediocre photos.

For those hardcore followers among you, I'd still love to put your photos up in the post. Hopefully I haven't cheapened the project too much. Send me your querulous photos in an email!

May 14, 2009

unctuous \UNGK-choo-us\,

1. Of the nature or quality of an unguent or ointment; fatty; oily; greasy.
2. Having a smooth, greasy feel, as certain minerals.
3. Insincerely or excessively suave or ingratiating in manner or speech; marked by a false or smug earnestness or agreeableness.

I went downtown to get a photo of this bail bond place for today's word of the day. I thought it would be fitting get this kind of greasy business.

It isn't hard to find a bail bond place in Raleigh. A Google search for "bail bonds Raleigh" brings up 808 results. But this one was particularly nice because it's just a hole in the wall. I guess it doesn't take much money to get into such a business, but I wouldn't want to be involved.

No joke: this is one of the Google ads when you type in "bail bonds."

In Jail? Call Our Bail Bondsmen
24/7 to Regain Your Freedom Now!

Poor marketing, I think. As far as I know, they don't get Wi-Fi in prison. But I may be mistaken. I've haven't been there. (Yet.)

I also happened to get a flat tire (on my bike) on my way down there, which was a good excuse to be lazy and have a roommate come out and get me. I'm too out of shape to be riding all around anyway.

Hopefully you're all out taking pictures of unctuous things. (I'm sure I've inspired you enough to get out and do that every day.) If you've got anything to contribute, send it to me in an email!

May 13, 2009

abnegate \AB-nih-gayt\,

transitive verb:
1. To refuse or deny oneself; to reject; to renounce.
2. To give up (rights, claims, etc.); to surrender; to relinquish.

Today's word of the day features Jeff's magnificent hands and talent. I thought I would put him to work while he stays on the couch. He's fantastic and I think I love him.

That pea in the photo is actually left over from yesterday's photo of peas. It's clearly important to me that these photos are thrifty, and I recycle ideas every chance I get.

Sadly, today's post is going to be a nice, short one. But I hope you've all got photos of abnegate to contribute. If so, send them in an email!

May 12, 2009

odium \OH-dee-uhm\,

1. Intense hatred or dislike; loathing; abhorrence.
2. The state or fact of being intensely hated as the result of some despicable action.
3. Disgrace or discredit attaching to something hated or repugnant.

I lied a little bit for today's word of the day. I don't hate peas; I actually really like peas. But I know many of you probably do have at least some mild dislike for them, so I thought they would make a good subject for today's word.

For this photo, I headed to the grocery store to buy a $1.50 bag of frozen peas. I probably won't eat them, but I would say it's still worth the five gumballs I could otherwise enjoy. I put them in a bowl and shot them with the homemade tilt-shift, which I've been meaning to play with for a while.

It seems like the tilt-shift needs a good bit of light to shoot well, and even then, it can get pretty grainy. I think I'll blame that on the Bronica lens that I bought to make it -- in your own photo adventures, I might suggest a better one. But this one still seems to get the idea across, and it gives that cool, distorted depth of field that can make even a photo of peas interesting.

I hope you've all got a good odium to take a photo of! If you do, send it on over to me in an email and I'll put it up with mine!

Update: In an email from (older sister) Katie:

"Maybe this was merely an oversight on your part, but I seem to remember a point in your life when you really did HATE peas. It was a weeknight like any other, when a devious older sister persuaded you to stick a pea up your left nostril, insisting it would be fun and harmless. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you had some pea odium then. Yes?"

May 11, 2009

bombinate \BOM-buh-nayt\,

intransitive verb:
To buzz; to hum; to drone.

Today's word of the day showcases the engine of my awesome car. Sadly I don't know anything about cars, so I'm not sure if that's the part of the engine that hums or drones, but I'm fairly certain it is.

My poor car got a good sized dent in it about a week ago when I was at N.C. State shooting the Art to Wear fashion show. Someone must have hit the back when they were parking and then drove off without leaving a note. I was pretty pissed -- I think if they realized how poor I was, they might have been a little more considerate. But maybe not.

Sort of a gloomy day out, but if you happen to have any photos for bombinate, send them along to me in an email and I'll be sure to put it up!

May 8, 2009

aliment \AL-uh-muhnt\,

1. Something that nourishes or feeds; nutriment.
2. Something that sustains a state of mind or body; sustenance.

I took a short trip to the farmer's market this morning for today's word of the day. The people there are always really fantastic, and I sort of regret not buying anything while I was there, because their food is fresh and usually very good.

The nice lady at the L&G Farms stand let me take photos of her food. It was all set up really well, so I actually only spent about 45 seconds there while I took one shot.

That'll be all for a short post today. As always, I won't be posting on the weekend as I am very important and have many important things to do. I'm proud of you all for contributing so much this week! Keep up the good work by sending me pictures of your lunch for aliment in an email!

May 7, 2009

coruscate \KOR-uh-skayt\,

1. To give off or reflect bright beams or flashes of light; to sparkle.
2. To exhibit brilliant, sparkling technique or style.

I set off another fire cracker in the house for today's word of the day. Actually, I took the fuse out and used it for smoke and sparks, but as you can see from the photo, it didn't do much for me in the way of sparks.

No matter, smoke still works for the purposes of making this photo look like a far more brave and, excuse the French, badass photographer was at work here. The first time I used a fire cracker for the photo, Kevin and I cowered in the corner with a glass half filled with cloudy water - in case the house caught fire, that 10 ounces would like have done nothing in the way of extinguishing it. I am, by no means, a "pyromaniac."

In fact, I think only a very small percentage of people who make such a claim can back it up. It used to be the cool thing to light some matches in your back yard and claim "pyro" status, but it's only when you haven't stopped playing with fire well into your adult life that you can truly call yourself a pro (ahem, father-in-law to be).

Back to important photography things: I used a cross-screen filter on the ol' 12-24mm Tokina today, which gave the hanging light bulb its flare. Then, in a one-second exposure, I lit the fuse of the fire cracker and it gave me a whole lot of smoke as I pranced around it, frightened.

There's a lot of potential in this word of the day, so send me your coruscate photos in an email and I'll be happy to post them!

May 6, 2009

lugubrious \lu-GOO-bree-us; -GYOO-\,

Mournful, dismal, or gloomy, esp. in an affected, exaggerated, or unrelieved manner.

I headed over to the Oak Wood Cemetery in Raleigh this morning for today's word of the day. It was, though a bit creepy, a very interesting visit. Some graves at the cemetery dated back to the late 1800s. It's a very large place, and I'm sure it has tons of history.

According to its web site (yes, apparently this cemetery has a web site), the 102-acre cemetery is home to nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers, which was the purpose for its founding, at 2.5 acres, in 1867. They also apparently offer no-interest financing on your grave site for five years, if you're looking to buy.

Late N.C. State basketball coach Jimmy V is buried there, as well as John Edward's son.

Well that was sort of a downer of a post. But I guess that's what today's word was all about. If you've got any lugubrious photos, send them on over to me in an email!

May 5, 2009

quaff \KWOFF; KWAFF\,

1. To drink (a beverage) copiously and heartily

It's words (of the day) like this one that make me wish I had time to, say, go out shooting at night to get photos of my friends drinking into a hearty stupor. This one could have been fantastic.

But all's well, because coffee, apparently, can be drunk copiously and heartily. "As of December 2008, USDA forecasts world coffee production for 2008/09 at 138.4 million bags." Yeah, I would say that's copious.

This photo, as many before it, was taken at the Morning Times in Raleigh. I realize that I take a good many photos from the coffee shop, but it's also my day off. So, whatever.

I hope you've all got some fun quaff photos from this weekend. Get out there and celebrate, and send me your pictures in an email!

Update: I seem to be getting people with photos of puppies and drinking, maybe I should change the theme of this blog. Here's one from Ronny from the Raleigh Times Bar.

May 4, 2009

tyro \TY-roh\,

A beginner in learning; a novice.

Readers beware: today's word of the day photo may be too adorable to handle.

I usually don't love pictures of pets and all, but this is just too much; I couldn't resist. And this photo has led me to a very important decision (that in reality I had already made): I need a puppy. Now.

What I'm really hopeful for is that this photo inspires you, my many readers, to get out there and take some adorable puppy photos. (I know many dog people may be against this, but I'll take kittens, too.) I promise to post whatever puppies I get, especially if they're in some sort of costume. Today's the day, let loose and send cute photos to me in an email!

Update: The puppy photos are flying in. These first ones are from Jessi of her adorable and rambunctious dogs (respectively), Molly and Smith!

Update, again:
Laura sent me this photo of Rainer, who now weighs about 2,308 pounds more than he did in this photo. Thanks, Laura!

May 1, 2009

risible \RIZ-uh-buhl\,

1. Capable of laughing; disposed to laugh.
2. Exciting or provoking laughter; worthy of laughter; laughable; amusing.

I know the photo for today's word of the day is a crappy joke. But I'll tell you what: I ride past that sign just about every time I go downtown, and I chuckle at it every time. Childish? Maybe, but I don't care.

It's funny that this word of the day came just two days after I took one of Bryan dressed up as a clown. But these things happen, I guess, and now I'm stuck with a red nose and a picture of a moderately humorous sign.

That's it for this week! As always, I won't be posting on the weekend, but get out there and take some photos for risible and send them over to me in an email so I can include them!

Update: Thanks to Bryan for sending this photo along (from his phone - shoutout: Shawn Rocco). That seems to be my brother lighting candles in his mouth, which is much more worthy of laughter than that sign above!

Update #2: Also thanks to Ronny for sending this one of friends Josh and Nick over. This is brilliant.