this morning i was trying to take a good photo for my taiwanese-citizen china visa card upgrade. my 2nd aunt is going to taiwan for a month next week and she can bring my old visa passport so it can get replaced. but i need a new updated passport-style photo. i've done it in the past, rigging up a mini photo studio with a white backboard and camera plus flash on a tripod. i've taken it from the bathroom, from the kitchen, from the living room, basically anywhere in the house that already has some natural light.

just so happens it was kind of dark this morning, and there really was no good spot, so i ended up doing it in the kitchen, the poster board taped to the fridge, me kneeling on the ground dressed in my shirt and tie. initially it was just a single flash bounced from the ceiling but the lower half of my face was too dark so i used a secondary flash bouncing upwards near the floor. it still wasn't ideal, but i was pressed for time, and i wasn't looking for perfection. i took more than 50 photos and finally settled on one.

in the past i've printed out DIY passport photos at the nearest staples, but the quality has always been lacking, the colors overly saturated and muddy, not photo quality at all. but i realized that nowadays a lot of pharmacies have gotten into the photo printing business. i know CVS does them but but so does walgreens, so i downloaded their app to give them a try. it was pretty easy and i didn't even have to pay. at just 33¢ for a 6x4" photo i could fit 6 visa photos. there's even a coupon for using their app so i ended up only pay 23¢ (no minimum purchase requirement). i sent it in the order at 1:30pm, ready to pick up at 2:50pm.

i took the motorcycle to belmont. with all that rain we received last night courtesy of remnants of hurricane irma, i didn't really need to water the grass. my primary reason for being there was to eat some leftover pizza for lunch. i ended up watering the lawn patches afterwards anyway, as some spots looked dry. i also uprooted a large crabgrass infestation and patched that whole area, putting up tomato cages as barriers to prevent hailey from accidentally walking through, though it can't stop the squirrels from digging up the patches. elsewhere, a single cupcake cosmo has finally blossomed. i planted a whole bunch this season but they were all eaten up by rabbits and slugs. they look so pretty, next season i may start them indoors first before transplanting them.

i left belmont around 3pm and went to the somerville walgreens to pick up my photo. the print itself is excellent, much better than i could've imagined, but the photo i picked to use wasn't very good when i took a closer look: my head is slightly turned so one of my ears is nearly missing. i think i choose that one because i'm slightly smiling, while all the other photos i have a very serious face. i will need to choose another photo to print.

instead of shooting a new photo, i picked another one from the 50+ i took earlier. one problem was i was wearing a white shirt (actual pale blue but looks white with the flash lighting), and one of the rules for a china visa photo is no white shirts (later photos i changed into a blue shirt). after adjusting the tilt of my head (my head was slightly crooked) and making the background completely white, i tinted the color of the shirt blue with a mask overlay. i also edited out a bit of glare in the glasses from a flash diffuser. if i had more time i'd shoot a new photo, with better lighting. also you can't tell from the size of the photo print, but the sharpness could be better; as far as i know there's no way to autofocus when shooting remotely on the canon 60D, so i had to focus on something beforehand and then hope that when i step in front of the lens the image will be in focus.

* monarch chrysalis darken some more, beginning to clearly see monarch butterfly inside

* unexpected downpours again, my converse sneakers drying outside from getting wet yesterday once again soaked