pecunium: (Default)
I worked some more on the stuff from yesterday.

The poppies in this series were shot a little earlier (perhaps half of an hour) and the light was warmer, harder and a trifle richer (there were scudding clouds, which changes the fill from skylight).

Crepe Paper
Crepe Paper


Ruffed Collar
Ruffed Collar

The next one I really like, because of the way the seedpod seems to rise up, and congeal, out of the wash of color.


Now for something completely different

pecunium: (Bee Butt)
Last week I commented that I'd not had much luck taking photos of some kinds of flowers (specfically Birds of Paradise/Strelitzia (which happens to be pollenated by birds, which is why they have such a thick, and gooey, nectar, but I digress).

So I've done a bit more work on them (incorporating some of the techniques suggested). I also took a stab at Statice/Limonum (which I think of as "crepe flowers" because of how the wrinkled petals make me think of crepe paper, even though they are much stiffer).

I've not had much luck with them either, because they are so busy, and the self-same purity of color which draws the eye, seems bland when I try to take a picture.

Hard at Work
Hard at work

I don't know if I'd have tried this without the bee. The pattern of the blossoms (and the interesting nature of them, papery white-bits which are fleeting, and the purple which seems to last forever), is interesting, but I can't seem to make it arresting.


This one is interesting because it was affected by the weather. The exposure was for 1/125th That's usually fine for flowers. The day, however, was windy, and while the shutter was open the flower bobbed. If you look at it closely you can just see it above the projection. It's also got some Georgia O'Keefe like aspects.


This one is a better treatment of a subject I've really struggled with; shooting these blooms in close up. They are fascinating, but I've been missing some essential aspect of them, and they come out either busy, or dull.

Headress B&W
Headdress B&W Red filter

A bit of variation, so the shape , and texture, can be more evident than the colors.

There are also a number of photos of spiders, and a few more flowers, of a sort I've never had trouble getting decent shots of.
pecunium: (Default)
No small part of why I bought a "Pro" account at Flickr was the stats feature, which has been improved a couple of times in the past year (the most recent being a close to real-time feature. This is balanced by "today" seeming to start earlier than it used to, or being somehow linked to when one logs in, but I don't care enough to try and suss it out).

I can sort my photos by comments, favorites, "interestingness" and hits. (for those who aren't squicked by strange looking creatures, Camel Spider Cricket is the hands down winner. I get 5-20 hits a day from Google/Google Images/Yahoo Images. In the time it's been up more than a thousand people have looked at it. Camel spiders seem to be a big search term).

This week I had an anomaly, 1,500 hits in a couple of hours, about 1/3rd of my images got looked at twice, from, "unknown" sources.

But mostly it's the usual. I'll post a shot to a group, and see a cluster of hits to related images. Or someone will fave a photo of mine, and other people will follow it. That, and links from here (here being Lj in the generic) pretty much account for my count.

It's gone up. From a background of about 20, to 60 to the present about 120 (with spikes when I make a post).

But sometimes there are strange ones, like this one from, of all places, youtube. I got two hits from that. From the video (how to use a Nokia phone, of some sort). It doesn't help the hits weren't to the same image (I tracked one down, to a photo I put up today [even though it's listed in yesterday's stats, see above about the strange timing of, "today"]. With 511 images, I'm not going to scan all the ones which only got one hit).

And the charming ones. A seem to be the beneficiary of people mistyping things: losanges windows as a google string gets to a picture I too, as the first hit under, "did you mean lozenge windows"?

So, the image which youtube directed a hit my way:

Mourning Cloak
Mourning Cloak

Which I took today, when we released her. She'd been brought to Marcia by another teacher, who found the branch outside her classroom. It's a good thing she was with us, as the school sprayed the bushes last week.
pecunium: (Default)
Three pictures; without clicking through, do you know what they are? So all may play the game, please use ROT-13, to post answers.

Pregnant Pause

The Edge of a New World

Hunkered Down

They are all of the same thing, though they aren't all the same one.
pecunium: (Default)
I've been doing a lot of photo work lately (honestly, it feels as if all I've been doing is the day to day of living, and photography).

On the way to Maia's, where I was going to clean the mice (she's on a two week set of trips to Ariz.), I saw a couple sets of flatcars on the rails. I like machines. I like trains. I had my camera with me. What could I do but a little bit of gentle trespass(the rights of way belong to the railroad, despite being open, they aren't public spaces).

I walked around the back end of the string (it was a good 1/3rd of a mile long, one end was enough), shot about a roll of film's worth of images. Since I've been shooting animals and flowers lately, and this was all angles and man-made, it was a different mindset.


I like that one. It was one of the last I shot. Stepping back a bit and trying to show a little more of the human details which are lost in the close-up shots of trucks and wheels, and the like.

I also had a serendipitous mistake. I was doing some other work, for TKP and made a whole bunch of "styles" for my image editor, which meant things were crowded in that toolbar. Since I have a number of them which are no longer needed (they were special purpose, for clients), I purged them. A quirk of the application is that those styles were all applied to the image I was editing, which turned out like this:


It's not anything I would have tried to make, but I like it (so I saved it as a style. We'll see how useful it is).

I've uploaded about 60 new pictures, as well as those. A lot of flowers, and a lot of B&W treatments of same. And squirrel is pretty cute.
pecunium: (Bee Butt)
I take pictures. I happen to think some of them are pretty good. But thinking one's own work is decent isn't hard to do. Harder is to figure out what other people will like.

I think this

Lefty Grapes

is a pretty good picture. Based on other people's reactions, I'm wrong; it's a damned good picture.

On the other hand, some of the things I think are outstanding, e.g.

Booby and Lizard Lobos(PS-sat)_AP51874

don't seem to resonate with people.

So, yesterday I got a comment on this picture, telling me the detail was really good.

Butterfly scales Punched up

I got it from, of all places, the National Museum of Wales

It took a little time for me to realise this was the actual flickr account for the Museum of Wales (why shouldn't they have one, the US Library of Congress has one). I don't know who manages the account. I don't know what criteria that person (or people) use to decide what to look at, much less what to praise.

I do know the various photos they have (at the museum's flickr account, and at the actual museum pages) include some nice macro, to include some wing scale details.

So I'm feeling tolerably pleased with myself.

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Feb. 27th, 2008 11:56 am
pecunium: (Default)
T. Schevchenko

This is a detail shot of a statue of Тарас Г Шевченко in Kiev.

I worked to get the halo effect of the clouds right behind his head. In this shot it looks almost effortless. But that's a function of cropping. In it's entirety the shot is...


The hard part (such as it was hard) was making sure the full frame would be decent, and waiting for the passers by (of a late evening in July) to not be blocking the foreground. The woman sitting on the pediment was a nice grace note. The greying of the lower clouds, and the winking of the windows was something I couldn't avoid. The same light which made the upper clouds so brilliant, was the painful blow-out of the windows.

I'll have to find the prints of the photos I took of the statue dedicated to him in L'viv. He sits in front of a rising wave of, for want of a better term, thoughts, littered with the bits and pieces of his stories.

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pecunium: (camo at halloween)
(this was written while I was in Germany. Because I wanted to add photos, I didn't make it public. Because I did add photos [and rather a lot of them; [personal profile] athenais there are a couple of stained glass pieces for you] I am putting in cuts. If you just want to read, then you can. If you want to see the pictures, you know what to do. The comments to the photos are independent of the narrative)

It’s been what it always is; mostly they could do the whole thing without me. The corollary is that every so often, they really need me. I earn my pay for the ten minutes every couple of days when my presence is essential.

Saturday was a social evening. I was checking some e-mail when Joe came in (on his way to the night shift of overwatch. Should something go wrong which needs a linguist, he’ the poor schlub on the spot), to tell me that Merrill had been drafted to go bowling and wanted some backup. I like bowling, so I changed into mufti and hied myself off to the lanes.

Where I wasn’t needed at all. It seems everyone was there. I did take advantage of the apparent relaxation of the rules on drinking to get some local dark. It was tasty. As for the bowling... I wasn’t at my best. I was barely at “acceptable” Three games, not one of them was I able to get so much as 120. I did manage to break 100 in all three, and (amazingly) I won all three (relative to the people with whom I was playing). The last was the reason I say amazingly. In the 5th frame I was down 30 points. I was unable to pick up a trivial spare because a pit had fallen forward of the sweep, and was blocking the 10-pin.

Trying to deal with it in the top of the 6th, I guttered, and then bounced the ball off of it to pick up a 10-pin spare.

I was down 20 points in the 8th, but a pair of strikes and a 7 pin final throw put me not only over 100, but over my competitors as well. Back in the day it wouldn’t have been close. There was a time my average was about 145, and 120 would have been the score for my last game of the evening; because my arm was getting tired. Saturday I was robbed of a few strikes (I was using a light ball, both because I am out of practice/bowling shape and because my joints aren’t what they were when I was 20, so flinging 14 .lbs; accurately, isn’t as easy as it once was), but I missed some easy pick-ups (single pins, from my failed strikes). A couple of those and I’d have been more where I want/expect my game to be.

The next morning we all headed off to Nürnberg; there to enjoy our day off. As days off go, this wasn’t the best planned. Germany isn’t really open on a Sunday. The Christkindel’s Markt was open, and cafés, and most museums but shops; not really. No matter, this was our best chance to play tourist all planned to avail themselves.

Photos )

Joe skipped sleep (if he wanted to sleep he had to forego the city) and we piled onto busses. Got to the town and we told to be back to the busses twelve hours later. Weather was nice (temps in the forties), and scattered breaks in the clouds threatening to turn into actual sunlight; which hopes were, eventually, dashed.

Before that, however we did get to see one of the more charming aspects of the town. On any number of walls were to be found sundials, so that one might know the hours, in the absence of clocks and watches.

Photos )

The market was a pleasant madhouse. Joe and I grabbed a kinderpunsch glühwien and warmed our insides. Then we headed into the throng and, almost immediately bought a brötchen. I had mine with butter and emmentaler (I didn’t feel like salami, and am not so fond of camembert). Thus braced, we strolled the booths, looked at the wares, smelled the food and listened to the people. It was reminiscent of Dickens’ Fair, mostly because of the smells.

The air was awash with the smell of wursten roasting, glühwien mulling, and someone; somewhere, roasting nuts in cinnamon and sugar.

We worked our way out the far side, up to the museum of handicrafts (we decided not to go in), and up the street, to a cafe. I wanted coffee, and got some hot chocolate. It wasn’t as good as the chocolate in Ecuador, but was more than worth a few moments indoors, with the strangest streudel I’ve ever had.

Mostly because it wasn’t anything I would have described as streudel. It was filled with a pleasant mix of lebkuchen spices, but the wrapping of this filling was more a dense, slightly sweet roll. Coffee wouldn’t have gone with it very well. The whipped cream was very good.

One of the things one notices, when strolling about, is the large amount (at least in the older city) of carvings on the buildings. Arms, knights and other relicts of the past are everywhere. Above it all, is the castle. Nürnberg, to Nürnburg

Photos )
We’d signed up for a walking tour, but missed the start, so I bought a couple of tickets into the castle museums. It was worth it. A nice selection of things found around the grounds, coins, tools, old swords (some dating back to the earliest days of the castle [ca. 1300] and decayed to a blackened lacework of corroded iron. One still had a couple of letters, inlaid in silver, from an inscription on the blade) and other pointy toys. As the things got closer to the present, they were in better shape, until; by the 16th century they were pristine.

We saw a relief of Gustav Adolph (who fought part of the 30 Years War here).

From the tower we could see all the town, the peaked roofs of apartment buildings, the domed projections of renaissance dormers and more modern garrets; the scaffolding which shrouded the church towers, and all the modern impedimetia which blocked the “pure” view of the city (cranes, radio towers, etc.).

Photos )
So we wandered some more. Back to the market, around the shuttered shops (the sex shop was closed, the brothel was open), and into the festival in the Rathaus. It was vaguely medieval. I got some thaler (which were very pretty, but more than I wanted to spend on a coin as souvenir, rather I did as was done at glüwein stands all over town, and kept the cup I bought my biertrinken in (the way it works is, you pay a deposit to get the cup of drink, if you wanted to reclaim the deposit, you returned the cup. If you didn’t, they would give you a new cup. I now have three of them. Each different to the other, and each about 200ml). The biertrinken was a mulled dunkles, mixed with dried orange slices, clove; some cinnamon and (I think) a hint of nutmeg. Being long stewed I don’t think it was a violation of the no-drinking rule (which was idiosyncratic to the Utah Delegation). After about 150ml it was also a bit much. I finished and when I asked for the cup to be rinsed, so I might take it away, they looked as me as if I were simple; and gave me a new one.

Photos )
As the sun was fading we saw a small marketplace (enclosed, just inside the 16th century city walls, and wandered about the tin shops, haberdashers, lebkuchen sellers and into a wienstube A meal of kraut, nürnbergers (a type of wurst, much like a breakfast sausage in size, and spicing) and braunbröte, with a glass of dunkles (it was amusing, everyone assumed that the non-Mormons would be drinking their way across the city. I decicided this was an off-day, and allowed myself one beer. I don’t know what Col. Summit would have done had he seen me drinking. I suspect I’d have gotten a stern talking too; and he’d have been disappointed, but his concern was to keep people from being stupid, and I wasn’t, to quote him, “puking on a clean floor”).

On the way out the gate of the market, I bought 200g of chestnuts. I realised, as we walked the dead ground in front of the old curtain wall, part of why I like chestnuts, and why Maia doesn’t, they remind me of lobster. The texture is, somewhat, like them, one has to break into them (harder with gloves on) and they are richly flavored.

As we trailed our way through the shuttered shops (and the market was closing up) we saw a final piece of history under glass... a wakizashi which was (IMO) a lot overpriced.

Photos )
Then we worked our way back to the rally point.

Back to the bus; back to the barracks, and back to the war.

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pecunium: (Grab Bag)
Not pictures, this more about tools.

When I started doing photography, tools was a simple concept. Body, lens, film.

It grew, I added tripod, and flash (because it's about control. The tripod controls the camera, and flash adds more control of light), some reflectors, cable release, filters and the like.

In there too, I moved to the darkroom, and a whole new set of tools/controls. Now there were developers, in addition to films, and temerature, push, and pull processing. After the negatives are developed one gets to ponder the same issues for paper (chemistry, temperature, filters). Paper was amazing. It still is.

If one only goes to the shop to get prints made, then paper comes in two kinds, glossy, and matte. I prefer matte. Yes, the surface finish reduces some of the sharp edges of things, and that reduces contrast; a touch, but there is, to me, a naturalness to matte finish, and it's more inviting to the viewer.

If, however, one goes to the darkroom to make prints, the paper choices swell to level of a kid in a candy shop. We have brands to choose from (Oriental, Ilford, Kodak, Agfa, Fuji), surfaces (matte, semi-matte, glossy) grades of contrast (or multi-grades), and tone (cool, or warm).

With so much to choose from one built habits. Paper/film combinations which one sets as standard (for me it was Ilford HP4/5 and Ilford Multigrade Pearl) because we like the look. But some things were special. Oriental Seagull Fiber Based warm tone makes incredible portraits. If one wants to imitate Hurrell, this is the stuff to use)

Enter the digital age.

The basics are the same. Body and lens. The film is built in. Scratch one set of choices. No more do I get to pop a roll of Velvia in the back.

Well, I can, but I have to learn how to tweak the controls; set a bank of adjustements to get what I want.

But I don't need to. Because, where I used to take my color to the lab to process, now I have to do it myself. Which is interesting. I can shoot a picture (like the poppies I shot last April) which were made for Kodachrome, and make them look like Kodachrome. I an also, in between a set of poppies) shoot something (like a field of grass, just between new yellow, and ripening green) which cries out for Fujichrome Velvia. I can mix in some portraits, and make them look like Provia, etc.

Great... or not so much. Because I am now the printer too, and I have to have machines which render the color right. So I need a tool to calibrate the monitor. Adds a couple a' hundred bucks to the the sunk costs. That, of course, pre-supposes I have the software to do it, (the learning to diddle the print will come, trial and error, and maybe a couple of hundred dollars worth of books; to learn the hidden bells and whistles. Some can be gotten from the library, which is probably a good idea, buy the ones which are good referents).

So, we've got the image, we've played with the colors, contrasts, extended the tonal scale, compressed the washed out shadows and made a picture worth showing off.

If we don't want to have the computer in the room (or we want to send a copy to Aunt Millie), we have to print it.

Which brings us back to paper.

Assume we have an adequate printer, which aren't that expensive. Some of the ones getting top marks, perhaps the one being used when you order an oversize print from the store, are running $500, and can be found for less; with sales and rebates, so a printer isn't that big a deal. Forgo that new lens until Christmas, have the printer for your birthday. When looking at one, however, think about the ink costs, which can be horrendous. If so, plan to use that printer for nothing but pictures.

The colors aren't in the paper anymore. But the surface is, and the paper sets the white point. Digital hangs on the white point, The brightness of the paper will be the difference between blue-white snow, and merely pale.

Buy the expensive packs of 4x6, or 8x10, and test them. Ilford Photo Pearl Paper give a more luminous tone to things. The colors seem to print true, but the surface is stippled, and the edges blur (which can be fixed, some, by oversharpening the image, just remember to fix it before printing on glossy).

Ilford's Printisia has a more red shift to it. Sie by side images show a difference in either hue, or saturation (I think the latter). Canon's Photo Paper Pro Glossy does the same, so I think it has to do with absorption, at the surface, as well as diffusion by the viewing light source.

I have a lot of papers to try (I want to see how Oriental's digital photo papers look. The specs are interesting) but, on the plus side, there's nothing to worry about, if I have a large supply of various types on hand. I don't have to keep them in the fridge to prevent them from going bad.

Which is a long way of saying, "plus ça change, plus ça la même chose."

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Oct. 28th, 2005 05:23 pm
pecunium: (Default)
I've been getting up at the same early hour Maia does. Some mornings for the days baking (I bake about three times a week, for a total of about five lbs. of flour).

Other mornings, when the clouds are in abeyance, it's to drag my sorry self to the beach, and take pictures.

There are several really nice places along this part of the coast for taking pictures, Morro Bay, Avila Beach, Pismo, Oceano, Pelican Point, the Dragon Caves.

Pelican Point has become a favorite because there are a lot of birds. Cormorant, Grey Gulls, Seagulls (the sort with the red spot on their beaks) Rock Doves (a more evocatice name for the common pigeon), and some various birds of the foam (long billed and long legged, digging for small animals in the wet sand) as well as the seals, sea lions, surfers, passing dolphins, California Grey Whales, and Sea Ottters (I saw one this morning. I was giddy to the point of slap-happy glee. I was glad no one was there to see me as I bounced around going, "I saw an otter!" interspersed with moments of tongue lolling agogment, staring to see if she would come back. I pointed her out to an Italian family, a pair of elderly women wearing dusty perfume, a couple who might have been from Britain; a long time ago, and a middle aged woman who was stopping to stretch her legs on a trip from Carpenteria to SF. This was the first otter I'd seen in the wild. At first I thought it a seal, or sea lion pup, but the lens told me different).

The air is redolent of kelp, and salt. There is sound, the crashing surf, the crying gulls, beak-clacking pelicans, pebbles being dragged by the turning tide, wind, and the occasional person.

So, just in case any of you wondered what sorts of things one can see at such beaches.

Behind the links (all open in new windows) are some pictures.

Be warned, this first one is large (and has some so-so photoshopping to remove a sprig of grass which was in the way), because I just couldn't bear to crop it anymore. It's 1200x795, at full size, so I sent you to the picture page, which is adequate, click through at your own risk.
Morro Rock
Surf's up

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I am loathe to use LJ Cuts, mostly because text isn't that big a deal to me, and scrolling happens anyway. But this has a lot of pictures, so I'll cut those, lest I make the reading too hard for those who are on slow connections.

So Maia and I managed, at long last, to go see some wildflowers. We were going to join friends at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve on Sunday. Satuerday we loaded the truck, unloaded the trailer and limbered it, so we could take it to the trailer store for some service. We were behind our time and the schedule was getting tight, which meant her being pulled over was even less well recieved than usual.

It was a legitimate, but bogus, ticket. When hauling a trailer one is limited to 55 MPH, and the right hand lane; unless passing. She was doing a little faster than speed of traffic, because she was passing. The CHP officer thought she waited too long to pull back to the right (she did, but I'm leery of just popping back to the right, because people do stupid things in the blind spot). But the faster than 55 is crap. Why? Because I've had more than a few semis pass me when I was doing speeds which I'd not bitch (not for the ticket, maybe for the cop padding the call, so he can do me a favor and write me up for less than that, but more than I was doing... but I digress) and I damned near never see them pulled over.

But we got to the trailer place (in Bakersfield) just in time to have the trailer hauled in for the night, so it didn't have to sit out for two days (they being closed on Mondays). And then off to the campground.

Spunky Creek looked good on paper. About 15 miles from the poppy reserve, and with a good review when Maia looked it up. Only she failed to note when the reviewer had been there. It was locked up tight when we found it (after dark).

So she poked around a bit and we figured out why... seems the creek had been more than a trifle spunky and things had been buried. The standard issue concrete picnic tables were bench deep in sand. In the morning we could see trash cans, which live on stands, off the ground. They were buried too.

Trash Barrel )
pecunium: (Grab Bag)
A few people have said I ought to take pictures of my food.

To them I say, "hah!". Food is notoriously hard to shoot.

On the other hand I had Maia take some pictures of me when I was butchering the meat Thursday, and I post them for the hell of it. Any apparent flaws are my fault, as this is not her camera, and my preferred settings make the auto-focus less reliable; for the non-familiar.

I may elect to use one of them, as an Icon, to let people know I'm doing food porn (as the Kelp Bubble is being used to let you know this is a photography post, though perhaps the line is blurred on this one).

The pictures are here Cutting Meat

Preparation was straightforward. Strip the table, cover it with plastic, lay out the knives, steels, a bowl and the cutting board.

One big knife (I'm fortunate to have a quartering knife, which is suitable, in size, for anything from sectioning a whole steer into primal cuts (but isn't really the tool for the job, it won't go through bone) to the big cuts I was doing.

One general knife. I used my favorite all-around knife. Straight backed, with just a touch of clip at the tip, and rounded on the edge-side. Moderately thick in the blade. I tend to like square handles.

And a flensing knife. The house has two of these because when one takes the beef-production class (which she an Alexa have both done, one must by both the knife, and the text (and for proof that tinkering with the tax code leads to funny things, meat is no longer butchered after slaughter [which is now called harvesting] but manufactured, which means commercial butcheries get the manufacturing credits of the first Bush II tax cut, but I digress. It took me awhile to find out why this infelicitous language was being used).

It's a handy little knife. The sharp rake means it will dig very deeply into a large piece of meat with a nominal amount of wrist action, but the short length makes it easy to work around things. It has a thin blade, and a lot of flexibility. I was happier with it in action than I thought I would be when I was sharpening it.

The steels. I use stones to put the shape, and edge on my knives. But use dulls them, so steels take off the damaged teeth (to simplify the mechanics of sharpness, the edge of a knife is like a microscopic saw, and the teeth break, and bend with use). I have a ceramic steel, for big repair, a fine steel after that, and a satin steel for the last bit of edge.

I don't have one of the block steels sold with knife sets. They are too coarse for the edge I keep on my knives (which is both sharper in angle, and finer in detail than that recommended by most cutlers, and even cooks [save those who make sushi). The satin steel comes out only when I need to do something like this, and a razor's edge is needful.

I think I touched up the knives three times, after the cutting started.

The procedure was about the same for both pieces of meat. Look at the whole thing, decide on a couple of uses, make the cuts, look at the rest and repeat, until I ran out of smaller cuts to make. Even at that, I left a couple of larger cuts for roasting/using for lots of people (we are planning to have weekly get-togethers, starting next quarter), and I can still cut them down.

The loin was sliced at the 1/3rd point, turned sideways and sliced again, and then cut into disks for medallions. I can also cut those down again for chili verde, or stir-fry.

The rest of the loin was easy, as I just made it into roasting pieces, from some I will probably cube, or sliver for ingredients, to the monster I'll use for a tuesday night when we expect to have eight people at the table. I got ten sub-cuts from it, which will probably, when leftovers are figured in, make for 12-13 meals.

The rib-eye was about the same. The shape of the parent cut is pointed oval. So I cut the narrow part off, which makes it easier to cut thick steaks and still have a reasonable portion size. It also made it easier to slice off the fat which runs along the edge, in a hard ridge ( about 1/12 lbs, clean, white and flaky. Too bad I don't have need of it. We'll use it to train the dogs).

I cut some steaks, about nine, made a couple of small roasts, one medium roast, sliced some, along the grain for stir fry and made a lot of stew chunks; for soup, chili, stews, with the really densely marbled bits, and the meat in, and around, the fat.

It took about an hour and-a-half, from slicing the first one open, to sealing the last piece into the vacuum bag.

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