Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Anthurium no. 1589 "Anita Waistline"

Hello again.

So I've gotten to the point where the camera and I are sort of getting along (except for the speck of something that's gotten into the lens, which I haven't done anything about yet because I don't want to send the camera away while there are Schlumbergera seedlings blooming for the first time, lest I miss the chance to document the flowers entirely). The adjustment process has been about 25% finding default settings to use and about 75% adjusting my expectations for what the photos "ought" to look like.

After sitting with the last post for a while, and encountering other reading material and etc., I've decided to change the name of seedling 1592 "Maliena B Itchcock," but the next several names on the list of possibilities are also problematic in various ways, and I'm beginning to think that maybe the whole drag-queen-name thing was ill-advised from the beginning. So I don't know what the new name is yet, or when I'll have time to make the changes.

Anita Waistline isn't a brilliant or unproblematic name either, but it's okay, much like the seedling it designates:


The spathe is small. I think the plant has only produced one bloom so far, too, which isn't exactly a recommendation. The foliage is probably the best thing about it.



The seed parent was 0330 Faye Quinette; I was expecting much more interesting colors than this. But that's Anthurium-breeding for you.

Anita is a sibling of both 1592 (whatever her name's going to be) and the also-uncomfortably-named 1594 Roxy-Cotten Candy.

Let's see. What else?

The Leuchtenbergia principis seedlings (mentioned about a month ago) did in fact germinate, or at least a lot of them did:


When these photos were taken, the seedlings were a mere 15 days old.


Presently at 15 new first-time Schlumbergera seedling blooms, including a very disappointing one from one of the NOID yellow's offspring, which I won't spoil for you. You can find it yourself in the Schlumbergera seedling gallery, if you so choose: it's seedling 369A.

Have become more or less convinced that Schlumbergera 057A Pyrotechnic and Schlumbergera 057B Oxomoco are in fact the same seedling, and have begun calling them both "Pyrotechnic."

Also have some news about the weird yellowing-veins thing that "the Erlenes" do with their leaves, which doesn't answer the question of why they're doing it. but does provide more evidence.

I'll try to get that into the next post, whenever that is. Life is actually pretty acutely stressful right now and I'm having a rough time of things, so I'm not going to make any promises. But I haven't forgotten about the blog.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Anthurium no. 1592 "Maliena B Itchcock"

Not quite sure what the correct form of the name is here. The "Maliena" part is consistent in internet searches, but the rest of it appears variously as:

Bitchcock,
B Itchcock,
B. Itchcock,
B ItchCock,
B-itchcock, and
b itchcock.

And I could be leaving out a few variations.

The no-period, separate initial, non-CamelCase, capitalized surname version seems to be what Maliena uses on her Facebook page, so I'm going with that.

The name makes me a little uncomfortable, as I imagine it was meant to. I admire the compactness -- it's quite a feat to reference a filmmaker, a gendered slur, and venereal disease all at once1 -- but otherwise it's gross, which I'm sure Maliena knows (it's probably deliberate), and I'm thinking we probably don't need to spend any more time on it than that. Though now that I've spent all this time thinking about and disapproving of the name and puzzling over which version of it is correct, there's a decent chance that I will eventually change it.

Anyway. There's a seedling! It's . . . not amazing.


I mean, I guess that isn't terrible, either. Smallish, but it did manage to do this in a 3-inch pot, so there's reason to think later blooms might be larger. The color is reminiscent of the seed parent (0330 Faye Quinette) without being identical. Though that might change with the next bloom as well.

Foliage is okay. Thrips damage present but not extensive.


Not a ton of offsetting yet, but too much suckering is sometimes as bad as no suckering at all, as far as I'm concerned: some of the seedlings produce so many offsets that they're constantly needing to be repotted.


So the overall grade is about a B-, and Maliena has been moved up to a 4-inch pot already. Though this has not induced her to bloom again yet.

As for the state of the blog, and me personally, and so forth:

I've been being absurdly careful with the new camera. The main reason the photos from the old camera got blurry and crappy was because stuff got into the lens housing, so that by the time the camera actually died, I was shooting every photo through a layer of uncleanable dust. Since the main thing the new Canon's had going for it is that the photos are really clear, I was doing everything I could to keep this from happening to it too: I barely took it out of the house, never put it in my pocket, kept it in a file cabinet instead of out on my desk when I wasn't actively using it, took pains not to let the camera actually touch the plants when taking photos, etc. And you'll see where I'm going with this by now, so I'll just show you:

(Schlumbergera seedling 079A Yayoi Kusama)

That lighter circle in the lower right? Yeah, that's a piece of something or another that got into the camera and is now sitting on top of the lens. I can't reach it to remove it; I can't blow it off the lens. In this particular case, I could crop it out of the photo and everything would be fine, and in some situations I can angle the camera away from the light such that the speck isn't visible, but it's a sign of what's to come. And this is after having the camera a mere two months, and being as absolutely careful to keep dust and particles away from it as I could possibly be. Which is terribly discouraging.

The good news is that it's still under warranty, and I can send it to Canon and they will fix / clean / replace it as necessary. And I'm probably going to do that. The bad news, obviously, is that doing so leaves me without a camera at all, in the middle of Schlumbergera season, for an unknown period of time. And I may have to do it again in January, when another speck of something gets into the lens. And then March. And May. And July. At which point the warranty will expire and I'll have to just live with the slow crudification of the images.


In other other news, the current posting schedule is likely to continue until at least the new year. Don't want to say why publicly, but there is a specific and unavoidable reason, and not just me having a difficult time keeping up with life in general. Not happy about it, but this is how it's going to have to be, so.

-

1 I tried throwing together a joke name that hit the same three items, a la "Dick H. P. V. Kurosawa," but didn't come up with any that worked half as well. Which is not surprising, of course, since I imagine I'm the first person ever to set out with that specific goal in mind, and since it's kind of a dumb goal to set specifically.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Random plant event: Cyperus alternifolius

This is sort of two random plant events in one, actually. The first is that the Cyperus alternifolius plants in our east window started to bloom about a year ago.


I mean, that photo is from January, but I assume it had been going on for a while before I got around to taking the picture. In any case, I was surprised that the plants would do this indoors, and even though the flowers aren't particularly beautiful, it was interesting.

I was less happy about it by the summer, because the flowers were kind of messy, dropping a fine dust all over the place that might have been pollen and might have been dead bits of the flowers; I couldn't actually figure out what it was from looking at it. Mainly I was just irritated with the dust, because I was having a bit of a ghost mite problem on some of the nearby plants, and the dust made it hard to see whether I had ghost mites or not.

I'd gone in with the paintbrush and kind of randomly brushed flowers around a couple times, just to see what would happen. Nothing changed in any kind of obvious way, so I concluded that my technique or timing or something had been wrong.1 Then at some point this fall, I discovered scale on the Cyperus and dealt with it by cutting down all the leaves. I'd wanted to see what the plants were going to do in the end with the flowers, but stopping a scale infestation is more important.

But then in early November, I noticed these:


So it would appear that at least some of the dust the plants were throwing everywhere was probably made of teeny-tiny seeds. And now we know it can be done.

As far as I can tell, the scale problem is over. At worst, it's been much reduced.

Meanwhile: some of the new camera's photos have already been added to the Schlumbergera gallery post, if anyone cares. 208A Raspberry Possum's new photo is worth checking out, in particular.

-

1 (And in any case Cyperus is so easy to propagate from cuttings that it seemed kinda silly to worry about growing them from seed. It's always interesting to see if that sort of thing is possible, but worthwhile is another matter.)


Monday, November 6, 2017

More of the Same

A nice photo of Schlumbergera 070A Delia Webster. 070A appears to be campaigning pretty hard to win the Schlummy for Most Improved Returning Seedling, 2016-17 Season: it started blooming early (23 October), it's been blooming heavily and continuously since then, and the flower color seems a bit more intense this year besides.

The Canon is now officially mine, paid for and everything, and we are . . . getting used to one another.1 I have some default settings to use,2 and I (briefly) managed to get gallery photos for all the Anthurium seedlings that had bloomed up until that point. (Some seedlings have bloomed since then, so I'm not caught up anymore, but for a little while there I was, and it was glorious.)

Unfortunately, I feel like I'm not that much closer to resuming regular posting than I was a week ago; things keep coming up. Purged the 3-and 4-inch Anthuriums, moved a bunch of the survivors around, potted up 64 new seedlings, started a bunch of Anthurium and Leuchtenbergia seeds,3 replaced some light fixtures, had a (routine) doctor's appointment, another (less routine) doctor's appointment is coming up, I've been mildly sick (just a sinus infection; unrelated to the doctor stuff), I moved a batch of Schlumbergera seedlings into the plant room on 17 October,4 I still haven't found new places for the Coffeas that summered outside this year to live during the winter, there are a couple family visits coming up, and so on and so forth. Just a lot of stuff going on. None of it's a big deal, some of it's actually nice, but all of it takes time and energy to deal with, and the blog is the logical thing to drop while all this is happening.

So the good news is that everything is basically fine; the bad news is that I don't know how much longer it's going to be before I can start blogging like I was, because I don't know how much more unusual stuff I'm going to have to deal with. In the meantime, I'm still taking, sorting, and editing photos, and sooner or later posting will have to get back to normal.

Probably around Thanksgiving / Hanukkah / Christmas / New Year's when you are all too busy to read the posts.

-

1 (, he said, through gritted teeth)
2 Not the same default for all photographic subjects, unfortunately: currently there's one group of settings for light orange, tan, beige, and brown; one for red-adjacent oranges; and one for everything else. Which still doesn't work all the time, but it's better than what I had before, and I don't have to take a dozen different sets of photos in the hopes that one of them will give me something serviceable.
3 I don't know whether the Leuchtenbergia seeds will be viable; they're from the cross-pollination in 2013. I mean, you'd think that a desert plant would be willing to wait around for a few years before germination, in case there was just no rain that year, but I don't know. Either way, I suppose the odds of germination were getting worse the longer I waited, so better this year than the next.
4 All of which are new, and a couple of which are definitely old enough to bud, because they started and aborted buds a few times while in the basement. They all got moved too late to be blooming now, but I'm guessing they'll start in mid- to late December. When that happens, the hope is that we'll see a bit more color variety from the Schlumbergeras: the seed parents of this batch include a few we've already seen (the NOID magenta and NOID white, both pretty boring seed parents last year), a couple we haven't seen previously but that aren't likely to give us anything terribly new (the red/white 'Exotic Dancer' and the red-orange/white 'Stephanie'), some second-generation seedlings from 025A Clownfish, 026A Brick Wall, 057A Pyrotechnic, 082A Strawberry Madeleine, and 088A Cyborg Unicorn, which might or might not do anything interesting, and then a solid chunk of NOID yellow seedlings, from two different batches, which are probably our best bet for something interesting to happen.
And so we wait to see buds.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Progress!

I am still here. I also keep having unusual, somewhat urgent things happen that are of higher priority than the blog.

Three camera-related developments:

1) The Amazon third-party seller has removed the camera I tried to buy from their list of products, demonstrating, I guess, that they can be communicated with. Not by me, apparently, but by somebody. Amazon continues to tell me that the order I've cancelled at least three times is being processed and should arrive by October 12;1 since the order remains technically open, I cannot rate the seller.

2) I have started to deal with the enormous backlog of images on the computer (~2500 total; I hadn't done any photo-sorting or -editing since 1 September), and as a result am feeling somewhat better about the quality of the Canon images compared to the Olympus ones, in general, and

3) I have identified some Canon settings that produce more accurate colors than others, though there doesn't seem to be a single setting that consistently produces the best results, and the Canon remains bad for color reproduction in one particular group of subjects.

The way I achieved number 3 was through brute force, more or less: I took photos of two different Schlumbergeras using all possible combinations from the two menus having to do with color balance,2 then compared the photos to one another and to the actual plant to see which combinations were most accurate, then worked backward from there to determine what settings were my best bets for a serviceable default setting.


For both photos:
Columns from left to right: automatic, sunny, cloudy, fluorescent, alternate fluorescent, "this is white."
Rows from top to bottom: off, vivid, neutral, "positive film," light skin, dark skin, vivid blue, vivid green, vivid red, custom.


The best settings for one bloom weren't the best settings for the other, of course, but this does at least narrow it all down to something like a manageable number of options.3 So that's progress.

I get poor color reproduction, even with those settings, from Anthurium blooms in the peach / tan / brown area. Anthuriums 1299 (Sinthia D Meanor) and 1727 (Mercedes Sulay) in particular always come out bafflingly green and terrible. I plan to try all 60 combinations on those soon, though I'm worried that I'm going to find out that no combination of settings results in accurate colors for those particular plants. Which would be upsetting.

My hypothesis is that the Canon is confused by colors which are basically [skin tones + green], and decides to amplify the green as a way of coping with the confusion. Just a guess, though, and if true it doesn't really suggest a way to compensate.

In the course of trying to deal with a mix of Olympus and Canon photos all at once, I've done a lot of comparing of the image quality, and the Canon really is better at everything except color: the pictures are much sharper, the colors more vivid (sometimes too much so, but that's easy to fix), it takes photos much faster, and it gives better results in low light. Also the Olympus had a lot of crud behind the lens, that gave every bright object in a photo a halo, which I guess I had just gotten used to because it happened gradually and more or less disappeared if I turned the brightness down enough. The halos are really noticeable in comparison to the Canon pictures.

So if I can just find a way to cope with the skin tones problem, then we're back in business, more or less. I could even wind up happy with the new camera. I mean, don't hold your breath or anything, but . . . eventually. Maybe.

-

1 (fingers crossed!)
2 One menu: automatic, sunny, cloudy, fluorescent, alternate fluorescent, set white balance by pointing camera at something and telling it "this is white." There's also an incandescent option that I left off because it has always been obviously terrible and I'm not sure we even have any incandescent lights in the house still.
Other menu: off, vivid, neutral, positive film, light skin, dark skin, vivid blue, vivid green, vivid red, custom settings.
The second menu's custom settings option includes seven sliders (contrast, sharpness, saturation, red, green, blue, skin tone) each with five options. If I ran through all the possible combinations there, I'd end up getting 4,687,500 different images of the same bloom to compare to one another (4,687,500 = 6 * 10 * 57), which seemed a little too thorough, even for me.
3 The orange bloom, 101A Julius Erving, was closest to reality on cloudy + positive film; the NOID yellow looked best with cloudy + custom. The differences aren't huge, though, so I think I can probably get away with any combination of (sunny, cloudy, "this is white") x (off, vivid, positive film, vivid red), for subjects in the magenta-pink-red-orange neighborhood. Which is like 90% of the Anthuriums and Schlumbergeras.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Still ugh.

Looks like we're headed for either Plan B or plan G, as the person who offered to send an unused but functional camera (Plan D) has not responded to e-mail asking if the offer was still open. As it was a generous offer when first made, and I felt a little uncomfortable about considering it then, I feel like it would be bad of me to pester them with more inquiries, so I'm just going to let that option die, scratch my head about what happened, and hope that the person in question is okay.

Amazon is still claiming that my order (for the Olympus which would exactly replace the camera that just died; this was Plan C) is being processed, and I should expect it to be delivered by October 12. I don't care about the order still being open in and of itself: clearly there is no camera, and my credit card hasn't been charged and it feels safe to assume that it won't be. However, I'm really pissed about the order still being open, because while it's open, I can't rate the seller. And I really, really want to rate the seller.

Saturday is the last day I could return the Canon to Target. In theory, I could still work my way through the other four to six models of camera in my price range that Target sells, using each one for two or three weeks and then returning it until I luck on a camera I like, but if I'm honest with myself about it, I don't actually believe that I'm likely to find a camera I like better than the current Canon, even if I don't actually like the current Canon. And the idea of dragging this out for another three months because maybe one of the unexplored options is exactly what I'm looking for, is just . . . I can't. I don't have the energy to keep caring about this. Caring about things is exhausting. The amount of time and energy the stupid camera replacement has taken from me already is ridiculous; why through good energy after bad?

So Plan G (end blog, become Amish, die in threshing accident) is looking better and better all the time.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

UPDATE 10/22/17: A reader e-mail made me realize that I've been keeping you in suspense, which I didn't mean to.

Elected to keep the Canon. Didn't really expect another camera to be any better, didn't have the emotional energy to keep trying and returning them anyway, and didn't have the physical energy to return one even if I'd decided to. It's been a rough month.

I've also realized, kinda, that the timing (camera dies right as we're headed into Schlumbergera season again: camera died on September 19, first Schlumbergera bloom was 069A Sweetie Darling, on September 25) made this all much harder to deal with than it would have been if the camera had died in, say, June. If there's any time a person needs a camera with accurate color reproduction, it's at the beginning of Schlumbergera season.

The newer photos have been better than the earlier ones, partly because I found the color-balance settings menu (none of those options seem to work by themselves, but some may give more easily-edited images than the default automatic white balance) and partly because I figured out that the camera has been trying to tell me that images aren't in focus all along, it's just that it did so with a rectangle in a different shade of green than the green rectangle that means the photo is in focus. (The Olympus used orange-red and green for the same messages.)

So. Not going to begin my farrier training right away, I guess, though I'm not ruling it out, either.

Blog posting will likely resume soonish, though I do need a little time yet to get my feet under me again. There have been sixteen (!) new Anthurium blooms and one new (?) Schlumbergera just since the camera died, so I have a lot of catching up to do. You'll never guess what color the Schlumbergera is.



Kidding. Of course it's orange.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Ugh.

Still no acceptable camera replacement. It turns out that if an Amazon third-party seller doesn't feel like responding to any of your messages, and doesn't provide Amazon with tracking information for their package, there's not really any way to find out if they actually have the product they're offering, or whether it's been shipped, or whether it might be shipped in the future. And you can't exactly cancel an order either, because both parties apparently have to agree to cancel. If your seller just declines to respond to all communication on all topics, it seems they can hold an order open indefinitely.

(Amazon claims to have spoken to them on my behalf, but I'm basically positive that Amazon just sent the seller a message which will be ignored, as all the messages I've sent them have been ignored. And although I've been assured that the whole thing will be over by next Monday, there have already been multiple points in this story where Amazon's solution was to message the seller and wait two business days for a response, and then no response happened so there was no resolution.)

I've had good third-party Amazon transactions before (mostly books), but it's going to be a very, very long time before I ever try this again.

In the meantime, I don't know what to do. I have made a little progress on the Canon color balance problem, but it's still right on the edge of what I can realistically afford, and it isn't producing photos of the desired accuracy even with the progress, so I'm inclined to want to return it. And by the time you read this, the deadline to return the Canon will only be 7 or 8 days away. So now we're on Plan D. I also have Plans E, F, and G, but none of us will like Plans F or G.1

PROTIP: It would probably have saved me a lot of grief if I'd looked more closely at the seller's profile, and/or tried to contact them before placing my order. Though they had a high satisfaction rating (94% overall, out of 165 ratings) compared to the other sellers offering the same camera, and a lot of the reviews specifically praised the speed with which items shipped (part of the reason why I chose them in the first place, and paid extra for "expedited shipping on top of that), 164 of those 165 ratings happened in or before October 2015:


Which makes me think I was dealing with a zombie account: still technically active on Amazon, but no longer actually filling orders, checking e-mails, etc.

-

1 Plan A: the cheap but terrible Sony.
Plan B: expensive Canon with bad color reproduction.
Plan C: third-party Amazon seller to exactly replace the Olympus that just died.
Plan D: used Fuji, offered by a blog reader some time ago but postponed in hopes that the Olympus was going to work out.
Plan E: cheaper Canon from a local, non-chain business which was, itself, more money than I had intended to spend, and that I disliked the first time I saw it, but which is probably better than the terrible Sony, definitely cheaper than the expensive Canon, and much more likely to exist than the duplicate Olympus.
Plan F: abandon photography entirely; continue blog by describing blooms in exhaustive detail; lose mind during Schlumbergera season due to insufficient English synonyms for "orange."
Plan G: end blog, never photograph anything ever again, renounce all technology, locate nearby gay-friendly Amish colony, die in grisly and horrifying threshing accident.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Anthurium nos. 1752 "Reyna Terra Esova" and 0642 "Bianca Donk"

So this camera-replacement thing is going on way too long, and I'm very frustrated about it. You'd think it would be as simple as going to Amazon and finding a third-party seller who had the camera,1 finding somebody with the best balance between camera condition, buyer ratings, and price, and then ordering it. But no. After a week, I have no camera, no evidence that the seller has actually shipped a camera, and no response to my message to the seller asking whether I would ever be getting my camera. I mean, Amazon has apparently also not charged my credit card yet, which is good,2 but the deadline for returning the expensive camera that thinks tan is green3 is approaching and I'm getting nervous.

And as if all that weren't enough, we've got a couple seedlings today that are difficult to make interesting.4


Reyna is fine, I suppose -- decent shape, and she seems to have some thrips resistance, but she's also just another pink / pink, and the foliage is only interesting insofar as it doesn't have a lot of thrips scarring, and the leaf texture is a bit unusual.



She does have interesting genetics -- she's another seedling from the NOID pink-green. All four of those so far (Reyna plus 1372 Shelita Taylor, 1373 Donet McKim, and 1750 Dreuxilla Divine) have had very ordinary colors, but in theory they could produce unusual children. Not sure if it's worth it to try, especially since I'm already basically out of space for the Anthurium seedlings.5

Almost positive Reyna's one of my own names, so there's no real queen to talk about.

0642 Bianca Donk has only produced one bloom so far, I think,


and that's actually not terrible. I mean, if we must have a pink, this is at least a strong shade of pink, and a sort of interesting spathe shape. And the seed parent was 0276 Zach Religious, who is not without his problems, but who does at least seem to bloom pretty freely, and the inflorescences are large and long-lasting. They even sometimes get more interesting with age.6 Bianca also takes after her father in that her leaves show the same sort of venation, the type I was calling "fishbone" venation,


and Zach also puts a long narrow tip on the end of the spathes and leaves like this. So it's possible that Bianca would get more interesting and attractive with age.

On the negative side, Bianca waited a long time to bloom, and hasn't bloomed much since she got started. Sometimes plants bloom really hard and heavy once they're moved up to a larger pot (0105 Deanne T. Christ is a good example of this -- took forever to complete a first bloom, but once I saw that it was a good color and moved her up to a 6-inch pot, she's been knocking out one inflorescence after another ever since. Always at least four spathes at any given moment.), but that doesn't happen reliably enough to count on, and even if it could be counted on to happen, Bianca's still only pink, so why bother. Also, for all the offsetting she's doing, her foliage overall doesn't look great:


It's possible that that would also straighten out if she were given room in which to grow, but . . . ennh.

There are only three blooming seedlings from Bianca's seedling group (BN): Bianca, the disappointing 0645 Mabel Syrup, and the unfortunately-also-named-Bianca 0648 Bianca Del Rio. So none of them have been great, and there are only two BN seedlings left to look at, neither of which is very promising.7

Of the five BNs, 0648 Bianca Del Rio is the only one that might end up having offspring someday, and I'm still undecided about that. So maybe the whole batch of them was a bust. Oh well.

"Bianca Donk" is probably a name that's been used by an actual drag queen at some point or another, but I'm not aware of anyone who regularly performs under this name.

-

1 (a third-party seller because the camera is no longer being produced, so Amazon itself doesn't have any)
2 (if also the literal least that Amazon could do)
3 (which it still does; I have not found a way to convince it otherwise, though there has been some progress in teaching it that orange is not pink. It is also unexpectedly bad at photographing Schlumbergera blooms: it's okay on the oranges but surprisingly bad on the reds, and has difficulty figuring out where to focus.)
4 (and, uh, spoiler alert: I'm not really going to try making them interesting, either)
5 I think I'm past due for another purge. I've just been too preoccupied with the camera, and other garbage, to bother.
6 In particular, the color and veining on Zach's older spathes gets kind of weird. Example:


I think this is at least somewhat attractive, though it doesn't look good from a distance.
(Incidentally, this is one of the better photos the new expensive camera has managed to produce so far.)
7 0649 Layona Davenport produced a thick head of tiny foliage from lots of suckers early on,

(24 May 2016)

and has interesting color on the new leaves, but she's never attempted to bud, and the foliage is falling apart lately: individual leaves yellowing and falling off, some suckers dying entirely. It's unclear how much of this is my fault (probably from miswatering) and how much is lack of stamina on her part.
0650 Phyllis Deen has larger and more-interesting foliage, but it's all chewed up by thrips, and although she's started to bud twice, neither bud managed to complete development and open a spathe.