one of the reasons why i bought an external flash last november was to improve my macro photography. the problem with insects is sometimes i find them in the shade. without enough natural light, i'm forced to open the aperture and bump up the ISO in order to increase the shutter speed. the problem is the fast aperture (f2.8, the fastest on my macro lens) reduces the depth of field. instead of getting a clear shot of the entire insect, i end up getting just a shallow cross-section. however, with the aid of an external flash, i can not only have a slower aperture but a faster shutter speed as well. this would've been the summer where i got a lot of practice shooting flash-assisted macros, if it weren't for my season-ending foot injury. but today i got a some photographic exercise when i spotted a green bottle fly resting on a grape leaf.

spent most of the day over at my parents. traditionally they like to drive up to maine on the 4th of july, barbecue some lunch, eat some lobsters, visit the coastline, maybe do some outlet shopping on the way back (like what we did last year). but with the addition of the dog this year, they couldn't decide if they should bring hailey or leave her at home. i then convinced them they should just stay home instead, with the cost of high gasoline prices being what it is, use that money instead to go buy some lobsters and cook them at home.

don't worry: i'm not going to turn this into one of those blogs where i post a million photos of my pets. although to me, it's just a natural extension of my usual nature shots. hailey the labrador retriever-hound dog mix is particularly hard to photograph because 1) she's always moving and 2) the camera has a hard time focusing on her black fur. at 13 weeks old, she's starting to show some non-retriever like traits, like a more pointed muzzle and longer legs.

we ended up not having lobsters, but just had a barbecue for dinner. lamb chops rubbed with cumin, shrimps, italian sausages, and barbecue corn. missing was one of my favorites, taiwanese sausages.

today hailey learned how to jump onto my parents' bed. after she'd been outside rolling in the dirt, she ran into the house and disappeared. my mother found her standing on the bed, almost like she was waiting for some sort of reaction. as punishment, hailey spent a few minutes locked in her dog pen where she went to sleep.

after dinner i got a ride back to cambridge with some leftover barbecue.

although i would've liked to home gone down to boston to watch the fireworks, the idea of waiting along the banks of the charles river for hours on end before the start of the actual fireworks wasn't something i was looking forward to. and the crush of people leaving afterwards meant i'd most likely have to walk back home. with my bum leg, that wasn't an option. instead i figured i could climb one of the many hills of somerville and watch the fireworks from the summit. i decided to head to prospect hill by union square, about a 30 minute walk. i brought my camera along with the tripod. as i got to the base of the hill, i noticed the barricades and a police detail. looking up, i saw the crowd of people already positioned along the hillside, waiting for the show to start. when the fireworks finally started, most of the view was obstructed, except for the ones high up in the air. 30 minutes later it was all over and i began my walk home.