Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 141 (Pin Bird)

Day 141 (November 20th, 2010)
Title: Pin Bird

Ah, yet another strange ornament to show off!  Today's ornament is just odd.  Its a very old (at least 20 years, perhaps even older!), hand-made bird.  Its made from little glass beads and sewing pins (I believe they are stuck into a pin-cushion of some sort).  It has no feet, so I'm guessing is supposed to be some sort of hummingbird (yes, I know hummingbirds have feet, but they are usually portrayed without them).  Course, it also has no wings, so I'm not sure what's really going on.  Either way, its my oldest and yet most loved ornament.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 140 (Squawkmas)

Day 140 (November 19th, 2010)
Title: Squawkmas

For day 2 of sharing some of our Christmas decor, we have Squawkmas, our Christmas Parrot.  He's a small hand-painted parrot that we got back in 2001.  You'll start to notice that we really like animal ornaments (another bird tomorrow!)  We try to get at least 1-2 small ornaments each year, and we usually like strange animals (see yesterday's fish!). 


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 139 (Kissy Fish)

Day 139 (November 18th, 2010)
Title: Kissy Fish

This week I'm doing another "theme" week (not a Name That Thing - these photos will be easy to guess), mostly because its just the season for it.  This week, I'm showing off some of the Christmas Tree ornaments that we have.  Now, we have your standard "blinky lights", glass bulbs, and strange metal star like most folks, but we also have a few... unique items that I hope you'll enjoy! 

This first one is named: Kissy Fish.  It was a gift that I received many years ago and seriously thought about giving away as a "white elephant" gift.  But after looking at it and laughing every time we saw it, we just knew we had to keep it. 


Monday, December 6, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 138 (Switch 115)

Day 138 (November 17th, 2010)
Title: Switch 115

Well, Name That Thing 2 has finally come to a close and I just want to thank everyone for their input and guesses.  I hope you all enjoyed the photos.  I have a few "alternate versions" of a few of the photos that I'll be posting later this week that also came out pretty well.

Yesterday's photo was quite tricky to get.  I recently upgraded a PC and removed an old, frozen hard drive from it.  I was thinking: "Hey, I wonder what it looks like inside?"  Something that I didn't think about was how hard it would be to get into that darn drive!  Lets just say they aren't meant to be opened (because any small dust particle touching the plates will destroy a hard drive).  I tried screwdrivers, pliers, small arms fire, and finally my trusty Dremel cutting tool got the job done (had to use three cutting discs!  Lets just say tempered steel is unfriendly).  In the photo, you are seeing one of the hard drive plates (or "Platters" on which data is read and recorded) and one of the data read-write heads (the long metal arm).  Depending on the size and type of drive you have, you could have 3, 4, or more plates and reading heads.  Basically its just a super-high-tech record player.  

Today's photo is another computer-related photo, but this one would have been waaay to tricky to get.  It's the little switch near the plug on the back of your computer (the power supply) that changes the voltage from 115 volts to 230 watts.  I remember, in the old days, that these switches were much bigger and easier to accidentally flip basically insta-killing your computer if you plugged it in incorrectly.  Ah, those were the days. [Click] [Plug] [ZAP] [Poof].  "Sir, you're going to need a new computer..."


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 137 (Geek #6)

Day 137 (November 16th, 2010)
Title: Geek #6

Well, we have finally come to the end of Name That Thing 2: Geek Week, and I don't know about you, but I had a great time!  Had a lot of fun guesses and emails about this series of photos and I can tell you now, that Name That Thing 3 will be coming soon!  I've been asked: "Where do you want me to guess?" and you can do so any of the following ways:

If you are on Facebook (and are my friend) you can comment on my daily update
If you see the photo here on the Blog, you can comment on it here (comments are open for everyone)
If you see the photo on my Flickr feed, you are welcome to comment on them
If you see the photo from my Twitter feed you are welcome to send me a message via Tweet
And, lastly, if you want you are also welcome to email any comments (or guesses). 

So, there are many ways you can guess or comment on any of the photos you see (not just the Name That Thing series, but any photo!). 

Yesterday's photo was (as I warned), tricky.  No one, not even my Techno-geek friends got it right - although a few got close.  We also had someone on Twitter get really close as well, so bonus points for all of you!  Yesterday's photo was of a: Jumper!  Also known as a "computer circuit bypass".  Basically, its just an old switch, which is rarely used on computers today.  In essence, it was used to complete a simple circuit on either a motherboard, daughter-board (such as separate video card, or modem), or drives (hard drive or CD-Rom).  Without getting too technical (I know, too late), in the "old days", and we are talking about a millennium in computer-years (12-15 years) you had to tell the computer what everything was by using these little jumpers (technically, the jumper is the little white thing and it is basically a small piece of metal that completes an electrical circuit of the two leads/polls that is covers). 

Imagine you had two sets of polls, if you had the jumper over the first set that would mean "1", if you had the jumper over the second set it would mean "2" and if you didn't have the jumper over either of them, that make the computer insane and go all "Stephen King" and try and attack people by taking over blenders and Vroomba's while yelling at them in Norwegian.  So, you can see that jumpers are important.  Now, everything is automated by software, so generally blenders are safe now.  If you ever pop open your computer, you still might see one or two jumpers, and for DEAR God, just leave them be!  I'm just saying. 

Now for our last photo for the Name That Thing 2 series.  This is probably a Geek Level 2-3 shot, but it was really fun to get.  Lets just say power tools were needed but I think you will enjoy it! 

Let the guessing begin! 

Note: Its not normally red, that was just the color of the background I used in my light-box.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 136 (Geek #5)

Day 136 (November 15th, 2010)
Title: Geek #5

Well, we are nearly to the end of the Name That Thing 2 adventure, and I have to say its been a lot of fun!  Yesterday's photo certainly confused a few folks, but at the same time I think a lot more people got it right than I was expecting!  I blame those darn Intel commercials!  Yesterday's photo was of: CPU (Microprocessor) Chip! (AMD CPU in this case).  The following answers were also deemed correct: "Computer's Brain!" and "Master Control Program Chip" (bonus Tron reference points were awarded!). 

Congrats on all the correct guesses!

Today's picture is just mean.  Its a Geek Level 5 photo, but the good news is its not the last of the photos - I have one more tomorrow that's really neat and not too hard to get!  But today's is tricky.  Its also a bit abstract, so that makes it a bit more difficult.  But, I like the photo, so it gets a chance to trick you all!  And if there was ever a shot that had a "Alien Probe"-esq look to it...


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 135 (Geek #4)

Day 135 (November 14th, 2010)
Title: Geek #4

Here we are already at Day 4 of Name That Thing 2!  Yesterday's photo got a lot of responses, but I guess the Geek Level is getting harder, because only one person got the answer dead-on.  There were a few folks who guessed in the 'ballpark', but weren't quite right.  Some of the more interesting answers include:

Alien Probe (of course)
Adapter (vague, and somewhat right, but still only worth 1/2 points)
Play-Doh Machine (amusing, but not really computer related)
Double set of extra eyes for WALL-E (not quite right, but 4 points for imagination!) 
Saddest Harmonica in the World (no.  just no)

The correct answer for yesterday's Name That Thing 2, was: 4-Pin Molex Power Cable!  This is the cable that connects your power supply to all of the "things" in your computer - Hard Drive, DVD Drive, Fans, etc. 

Today's photo is rated Geek Level 4!  I know it's scary and intimidating, but give it your best shot! 

Enjoy! (and its not an Alien Probe!... maybe)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 134 (Geek #3)

Day 134 (November 13th, 2010)
Title: Geek #3

We have reached the half-way point for Name That Thing 2!  We've had a lot of guesses this time around, and many of them have been correct!  Heck, some people even did research to get the right answer - Bravo!  So, without further ado, here is the answer for yesterday's photo:  It was... an Alien Probe!  No, just kidding, it was a Monitor Plug! (Or, as someone diligently found out: "15-pin d-sub/ VGA connector)

Now we move to Geek Level 3 for the next photo.  You have to be a bit more techno-savvy to get this one I think.  I hope you like it!

(ps: again, not an Alien Probe)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 133 (Geek #2)

Day 133 (November 12th, 2010)
Title: Geek #2

Welcome to Day 2 of Name That Thing 2!  First, the important information; the answer to yesterdays photo!  Yesterday's photo was... wait for it... a PS2 Plug!  (Also acceptable answers: Mouse and/or Keyboard Plug).  I'm proud to say, nearly everyone got that one (although: "Alien Probing Device" was certainly an interesting answer).  For today, we are going to make it a little harder and dial it up to Geek Level 2!

Here is today's photo!  And I'll even give you a clue!  It's not a probing device (alien or otherwise).  Good luck!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 132 (Geek #1)

Day 132 (November 11th, 2010)
Title: Geek #1

You've all be patiently waiting, but the wait is finally over!  Its time for Name That Thing 2!  This whole week I'll be showing macro pictures of things based on a single subject, and you get to try and name them!  For Name That Thing 2, the subject is going to be: Computers (aka "Geek Week"). 

I'm starting this Name That Thing with a "Geek Level 1" photo, that I think most folks should be able to get.  If you can't, its okay, you'll have more chances tomorrow! 


Photo Project - Poor Man's Light Box

One of the pieces of equipment that I've been considering purchasing for a while now is a light box for shooting small things with even lighting and seamless backdrops.  Basically, a professional light box is a cube (12", 16" or 24" square is considered small) that is made from a translucent material (usually plastic) with a metal frame.  One side of the cube is opened so you can put your object in it (please, no Justin Timberlake jokes about 'Junk in the box'.  Yes, I've seen the video, yes its funny, and no, I'm not making a box for you).  Using lights/flashes outside the box, you aim them at the translucent material and when the light hits the walls, its diffuses it and evenly lights the object from all sides, virtually eliminating shadows. 

My concern has been, do I really need it?  Normally they are about $80-$150 for a nice one and that just seems like a lot of money for a box (if I don't use/need it).  So, I thought: "Hey, I've build loads of IKEA stuff and I'm pretty good with Legos, so how hard could it be to build a box!".  Caveat: I'm not really building this box to be at "professional" level, but more as a testing item to see if buying a higher grade light box would be worth it. 

So, here is my first attempt at building a light box for the least amount of money possible! 

Stage I: Locate a box

First step was to find me a box.  I would like to thank Staples for "donating" this lovely box to my experiment.  
Stage II: The first cuts

First thing I did was cut out the first side.  After cutting out the section, I reinforced the remaining edges with packing tape.  You want to leave at least an inch on each edge so you don't weaken the structure too much. 

Stage III: The Second Cut

The second side is done same as the first.  Leaving about an inch for support and reinforcing all cuts/edges with packing tape. 

Stage IV: Back cut

After completing the two small sides, I cut out what will become the back of the light box.  With this cut, I left about two to two-half inches (again for structure).  I again used packing tape to reinforce.

Stage V: Top Cut

This cutout on the top of the box is smaller than the other sides, because this cut is only really used when using a top-down spotlight on an object.  For smaller objects having a spotlight will increase the brightness without producing much shadow.  Again, reinforce with packing tape. 

Stage VI: Inside Liner

Once all of the cuts are complete, its time to line the inside with a white base.  In my case, I used white card stock attached via double-stick tape and tacky glue.  You could also use regular white printer paper or white paint.  I used white card stock because it was what I had laying around.  Its important to note, that this white base later is not the main white element that will be diffusing the light.  This base is just to provide an additional reflective surface for the light and neutralize any ambient color from the inside of the box (a muddled gray in the case of my box).  The next stage will provide the real background/diffusion

Stage VII: Internal fabric/background

Now with this stage, I'd highly recommend doing what I didn't: measuring!  This is really the stage that I needed to purchase anything.  I bought about 3 yards of white fabric from Joanne's Fabrics (cost was less than $5.00).  This stage had a few tricky components.  First, I cut out sections of fabric for the two sides (cutting them a little bit larger than area needed so I would have extra coverage in the corners/seams.  For the back, top and bottom I used one large piece of fabric, secured at the top with small binder clips.  I secured all of the fabric inside using double-stick tape.  I used tape so that if I needed to either a) remove the fabric or b) reposition it, it would be less of a hassle.  One trick, do not attach the bottom of the fabric to the box, let it hang out loosely so that way you will form a crease-less effect and have less shadows. 

So far, the box has done pretty well.  I've gotten some nice shots and I'm certainly feeling more comfortable about purchasing a more professional model.  I'll post some picture taken from within the box soon! 

I hope you enjoyed this little DIY project and if you have any suggestions to make this better or other projects that would be fun to make (and not cost too much), let me know and I'll see what I can do! 



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 131 (Thankfulness)

Day 131 (November 10th, 2010)
Title: Thankfulness

Its that time of the year again, the time we remember what to be thankful for.  I'm not a big politico, but I decided to do a quick list of things to be thankful for and one of them is for where I live.  I'm not going crazy about "US is better than everywhere!" or "Bow down to our Capitalism Might!", but its a more 'general' feeling of thankfulness.  I'm thankful that I live in a place that has cool techie toys, abundance of food (even if most of it is crazy-unhealthy), a general access to a wealth of information and truly wide variety of people that I get to be friends with.  I'm also thankful for all of my family, both close and far.  I hope everyone has something to be thankful for this year, and remember, even if you don't think you have anything to be thankful for always remember this one thing:  And the most important thing that I'm thankful for, is that I'm not a turkey. 

(Note: to any turkeys reading this... sorry.  Please take this "Apologetic Stick of Rosemary-Infused Butter".  If you'd like to rub it all over, I'm sure you'd feel better.) 

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving to all of us non-turkeys! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 130 (Glass Web)

Day 130 (November 9th, 2010)
Title: Glass Web

This is my own "comment" of yesterday's post (Shattered).  While I was generally upset about seeing the vandalism that was done to the Mint building, when I saw the photos I realized they looked really interesting and cool.  I know I can totally hear certain folks (you know who you are!) saying: "See!  Sometimes beauty can come from random destruction and violence!".  Yeah well, that might be true and I'm sure many works of art came from some sort of conflict (be it an external effect like the vandalism I saw, or an internal one, such as a moral or ethical conflict), but regardless I'm still not happy about it! (/4yearold_IdontCareAttitude=on) 

I do aknoledge that the 'ends' resulted in an artisistic work for me (and I'm sure many others) to see and enjoy, but I think the 'means' that got us there was seriously misguided. 

Oh well... Silver lining and all that I suppose. 


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 129 (Shattered)

Day 129 (November 9th, 2010)
Title: Shattered

We were walking around the City this weekend (during the crazy-nut storm that hit!  Lightning and thunder in San Fran is rare) and we walked past the old mint building (near 5th street) and what I saw really made me sad.  Many of the windows were smashed or otherwise damaged.  These windows are shatter proof, but they are also heavily barred so even if you could bust out the glass you could never get by the bars.  I just couldn't see the point on why someone would want to damage a building that has nothing in it of value (well, perhaps if you think 2 ton safe doors are valuable... Ok, I do, but most people don't!), nor would breaking the window even grant you access.  I know sometimes vandels feel they have a message they are trying to get across (such as spray-painting - which I'm not condoning - can be amazing art and really have a strong and emotional message), but pointless destruction annoys me to no end. 

Photo 365 - Day 128 (Coffeetastic)

Day 128 (November 8th, 2010)
Title: Coffeetastic

What better way to start a Sunday than with a coffee.  And not just a 'Bucks, or a Peets, but we are talking about Verve (Santa Cruz's ninja-esq coffee oasis of goodness)!  The most coffeetastic of all coffiness.  I have no idea how the coffee ninja's do that little "milk art" thing on top, but I'm always impressed by it.  Supposedly they actually have a competition for it!  And they have fans in Verve!, that look like propellers.   So, while you're sitting there, drinking you 4th quad-espresso and you decide to look up, it looks like you are being strafed by P-51 mustangs!  So, as the barista tells you: "Sir, you are not being attacked, please get out from under the table.  You are scaring the other customers." you know you are not alone!!  And they have nifty wooden signs too.  With words on them.  That I can't read because my eyes are moving too fast.  I'm thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, I should cut down a bit on the beans myself.  Oooooh!  Look, I can see the wings on a hummingbird flapping!  They are quick, quick, quick!    


Photo 365 - Day 127 (Circus Mirror)

Day 127 (November 7th, 2010)
Title: Circus Mirror

When I look at this picture, I'm reminded of strange, dark tales, like Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury) and The Thief of Always (Clive Barker).  Sinister events that occur with children and the act of growing up and what might be even worse than getting older.  I've always enjoyed stories where the "monster" is more ethereal and you have to use your imagination to create what the evil really is.  As descriptive as great authors can be, I think ones own personal imagination can be even more frightening and scary. 


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 126 (Hi Noon)

Day 126 (November 6th, 2010)
Title: Hi Noon

I love that San Francisco has a lot of clock-towers that still work (and have bells that chime) so you know when to get out there and get some grub! Lunch in the City is one of those crazy localized social rituals that is scary to watch but fun to be a part of.  First of all, you have to start the ritual at least two hours before lunch.  That's when one person sends a email/text to 3-4 people asking the "innocent" question of: "What do you guys want to do for lunch?"  Upon receiving this message, the receivers all groan because they know they are about to join the "Lunch In The City" ritual.  Immediately after receiving the communication, one of the receivers sends out a "I don't care, but not pizza [or any other specific cuisine]!" at the exact time that another receiver send "I'm feeling like pizza!" And the fun is just starting!

Moments later: "I don't mind pizza I guess, as long as its veggie only, without cheese and gluten free."

"Uhm, maybe something other than pizza.  How about Mexican?"

"Oh, I had Mexican last week.  Remember the re-fried beans?"



"Too much MSG!"

"Not at Mr. Lees!"

"On 5th?  That's too far!"

"No, that's not Mr. Lees, that Mr. Lu's"

"How about 'Lou's Italian'?"

"I thought we said no pizza?"

"They have lots of non-pizza things there!"

"At Mr. Lees? Its Chinese! They do have noodles!"

"Oh, I forgot that I brought soup today, sorry!"

"So, how about Pizza then?"

Ahh... good times.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 125 (Bored)

Day 125 (November 5th, 2010)
Title: Bored

Now, normally I don't go out of my way to get many candid people shots, just because I prefer folks to know that I'm taking a picture of them.  But, as with all things there are exceptions to rules!  We were in the Ferry Building in San Francisco browsing for tasty treats when I saw this family hanging out in the food court area.  There was the wife talking on her cell phone, the dad clearly wishing he was home watching some sort of sporting event, and of course the son.  That look on the kid's face has to be one of the most "I'm bored out of my MIND!" looks that I've ever seen!  I was actually waiting for the kid to fall asleep on the dad's head. 

I'm sure when I was a kid I had a similar look when I was ready to go home (or at least get back to my legos), but I hope I didn't look quite as bored as that!  I feel so bad for him that I thought of giving him one of my chocolates... Then of course I remembered they were Recchiuti chocolates, so that just wasn't going to happen.


Photo 365 - Day 124 (Self Portrait ala Bush)

Day 124 (November 4th, 2010)
Title: Self Portrait ala Bush

Sometimes no matter how hard you try and setup a shot, how much planning you put into a project, or dedicating hours to a task, you just don't get what you want.  That's how it is with pictures sometimes.  I was planning out a night-time shoot where I wanted to get pictures of the stars and night sky (uber-long exposure at f/32), but no matter what I did I just couldn't seem to get it right.  I tried all kinds of different combination's of setting on the camera and still, nothing but either black or random blurry splotches.  So, after about 2 hours of trying, I decided that it just wasn't going to happen tonight and I'd pack everything up.  After putting all the cables, tripod, timers, notebooks, memory cards and other miscellaneous junk away and I though: Hey, I have this large lamp out (I had a large light out so I could see everything while I was working - and YES I turned it off before shooting!) and there was a neat shrub/bush thing next to where I was.  I thought I'd just take a quick shot of it before leaving (I was darn well going to get SOMETHING out of this experience).  After the test picture, I noticed my shadow fell across the shrub in a cool way.

Two shots later, I got this nifty self-portrait.


Photo 365 - Day 123 (Spring Roll Therapy)

Day 123 (November 3rd, 2010)
Title: Spring Roll Therapy

In a story completely not at all related to the photo, I recently attended a Photographic Lighting class and I've got to say, wow.  At the end of it, I felt like one of my favorite Far Side cartoons (its a classroom with one student who has his hand up, with the teacher looking at him and the student says: "Excuse me sir, my brain is full, can I go home now?")  It was a crazy-lot of information and concepts that I feel is going to help with my photos.  And, more importantly, I now know when to use a snoot.

As for this picture, earlier in the week we had a bit of drama, and at the time we decided that the best therapy to be had was "Chinese Food Therapy"!  "You don't need doctor!  You need Mongolian Beef!"

Heck, it was cheaper than Kaiser and we had lunch the next day too!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 122 (Berkeley Biker)

Day 122 (November 2nd, 2010)
Title: Berkeley Biker

Ah, Berkeley!  The land of psycho-bikers who have no concept of traffic laws or that there is a possibility of other things being on the street - like cars, or other bikers, or people, or newspaper machines...  Now, working in San Francisco, you get use to the large volume of bikers and generally they aren't bad (except on Critical Mass days when they make me late to catch my bus home!).  Now, in the City many bikers actually follow the rules of the road (and yes, there are actual laws for riding bikes!), such as stopping at a stop light, following the flow of traffic, hand-signals when turning and the like.  There are always a few that believe they are pedestrians (which, if you are riding the bike, you are NOT), and do things like ride on the sidewalk and whatnot. 

Now Berkeley, even though its just across the bay, is a completely different can o' worms!  Bikers in Berkeley believe they have a protective "I am invincible as long as I ride my bike like a total jerk" field on.  I've seen a biker ride from one corner of the street across to the other corner ("kiddie-corner"), RIGHT THROUGH traffic - and the biker got mad at the drivers for honking at him!  Oh well... At least this biker was "nice" enough to wait for the light to turn yellow.


Photo 365 - Day 121 (Duo of Roses)

Day 121 (November 1st, 2010)
Title: Duo of Roses

Finally, I've made it to November!  I'm not sure how I got so behind (other than crazy-sickness), but I finally feel as if I'm catching up! 

Today is the last of my "flower" week series (but I'm sure more flowers will be coming), and I thought I'd do a duo of shots (because "duo" sounds more snooty than "two").  I know, its supposed to be only one photo a day, but its my birthday, so I'm doing two!... Err, I mean, a duo! 

Both shots are of the same rose, but from different angles.  I played with the contrast, vibrance, and brightness to give them a bit more depth in color and feel (although, now they have almost an 'artsy' look - like they were painted). 


Monday, November 15, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 120 (Family of Roses)

Day 120 (October 31st, 2010)
Title: Family of Roses

Warning - The following anecdote is not cute nor representative of what is in the attached photo.  You've been warned.

Well, as you might have guessed I've been focusing on taking shots of flowers the last few days.  And in the first shot I mentioned that I prefer taking shots of flowers in their more natural environment (rather than staged).  Now, this shot is of a lovely bunch of roses in a rose garden, so not staged.  But, I took this picture right after they were watered, so it looks like they have 'morning dew' or other water-ish connection going on.  This is one of things that bugs me - normally getting shots of flowers with perfect little water drops on them, with nice reflections and whatnot is one of of the reasons to stage a shot (normally water and flowers don't cooperate so well in nature.  I blame you Wind!).  So, here I was, taking a shot of something that I feel is in the "territory" of staged photos (again, I don't usually mind staged stuff - just not so much with flowers).  Now, its not the best representation of the "water-drop on flower", especially compared to a staged shot, but its not bad.

As I was looking at this photo, I kept thinking: "I'm not going to use it... Its to 'fake', no one will believe it!', but in the end, my insanity took over and I found a way to make sense of it all...

Instead of those being little water drop, all 'artistic' and pretty, imagine instead that the roses have been stuck in the sun all day, people have been coming up to them, taking pictures, generally bugging them to look all 'cute and photographic'.  These flowers are beat!  That's not nature's little dew drops... that Rose Sweat!  Which, could be a lot worse... if they didn't smell like roses.

Does make you wonder the next time you see a model in a magazine looking like she is standing in the rain... Just think, that might not be rain.  Ewww.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 119 (Sarlacc Bloom)

Day 119 (October 30th, 2010)
Title: Sarlacc Bloom

Okay, with this picture I truly show off my geekness meets artist!  As soon as I saw this flower, the first thing that I thought of was the Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi (its the pit Jabba the Hutt is trying to toss Han and Luke into - that sadly eats Boba Fett).  In the background (yes, my geek powers are so strong, I know some Star Wars background!), the Sarlacc grows from spores in space (Ooo, good name for a cover-band: Spores In Space!).  I was thinking, what if before becoming some giant space worm/leech thingy that eats cool bad guys, that is started as some sort of flower.  I'm thinking Star Wars meets Little Shop of Horrors.

"Feed me Darth Seymour!" 


Photo 365 - Day 118 (Flower Whiskers)

Day 118 (October 29th, 2010)
Title: Flower Whiskers

I have no idea why I named this Flower Whiskers, only that when I see it, the first thing that I think of is "whisker stubble".  I really like how this shot came out, although completely unplanned (of course).  I enjoy the colors, from the deep purple to the light green; the short depth of field so that focal point is really small (and only a few of the 'whiskers' are in focus); and abstract-ness of the entire composition.  I mean, you know its a flower as soon as you see it, but as you look at the individual parts, it's harder to see the overall picture. 

I did lower the brightness and up the contrast a bit to give a little bit more definition in the separation of the colors.  I also tweaked (slightly) the overall vibrance of the shot to bring out some of the more subtle purples.
I hope you like it!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 117 (Blooming Flower)

Day 117 (October 28th, 2010)
Title: Blooming Flower

Flowers... The macro photographers best friend!  I've always enjoyed taking shots of flowers, but at least for me, I love pictures of them in their naturally (such as in the wild or folks gardens).  Many flower photographers have lots of equipment and entire studios setup for "nature" photography (using flashes, light-boxes, light stands, etc), and you can get a great shot using these items but I feel it is counter-intuitive with flowers.  Flowers are like small living paintings, that when put in such a mechanical environment loose some of their naturalistic effect. 

Now, I'm not putting down using said equipment (in fact, I wish I had such stuff!), but just not for flowers.  I guess my thinking is more: "Why setup a whole fake environment to get a 'perfect' shot of a flower when nature has already provided the perfect stage for them?" 


Photo 365 - Day Bleach!

Well, as I'm sure you've all noticed, I haven't posted any photos this last week.  This was due to me being crazy-sick and barely able to leave bed/focus my eyes.  Happily, I am starting to feel better and I will be catching up with my missed photos asap!  My only advice to others is, make sure you read the little "side-effect" booklet with any new meds!  Wow, was that just not fun. 

I hope everyone had a great week and photo's will be popping up again soon (like, within the next hour)!

Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 116 (Oakland Docks)

Day 116 (October 27th, 2010)
Title: Oakland Docks

I got these while visiting Hanger One distillery in Alameda.  They are the giant cranes at the Oakland docks.  These are used to unload/load giant steel carriers off the cargo ships and put them either on trains or trucks.  Normally I see them from my house (much farther away) and they look like those little "bobbing-head birds" that slowly raise and lower their heads.  I had to really mess with the timing on my camera to get a good shot, because the lights were really bright but if I metered off them, I wouldn't get any detail in the shadows.  On the other hand, metering for the shadows made the lights just blow-out any details.  So, its was a fun balancing act of shutter speeds to get a nice shot.  I also like how you can see the stars in the top, but at the same time see the light streaks from the planes coming in/out of SFO. 


Photo 365 - Day 115 (Adult Hamster Feeder)

Day 115 (October 26th, 2010)
Title: Adult Hamster Feeder

Clearly I'm a bit nuts.  I was at Hanger One distillery for a lovely birthday celebration of fun, games, food and drink when I saw a row of spirits (re: Adult Beverages) sitting on the bar.  Now, most folks presented with a row of deliciousness, including vodkas, whiskeys, ginger beers, fruit juices, coffee (augmented to the "Adult" level, of course) would have been grabbing the nearest glass and going to town!  I, on the other hand looked at the top of the vodka bottle, saw this little "pour assist tool" stuck on top and I immediately thought: "Wow, that looks like one of those things you attach to a bottle of water for a hamster to drink out of."  And of course, my brain made me take a picture of it.  So now, no matter how hard I try, I can't get the mental picture out of my head of giant group of folks walking up to the bartender asking for a "bottle of your finest" and then all fighting over it who gets to lick the feeder first. 

Can you imagine in the City? 

"Yo, bro, you need to be stepping off that Krystal, else I be busting a cap in yo head!"
Walks up to bottle... .  Sound of that little marble rolling, so only a little liquid comes out at a time. 
"Ahhh yeah!  That's what I'm talkin' bout!" 

Perhaps not...


Photo 365 - Day 114 (Tahoe Hill)

Day 114 (October 25th, 2010)
Title: Tahoe Hill

Ah, Tahoe!

With your snow-capped mountains.  Your giant pine trees.  Your crisp, cool air.  Your blue, crystalline lake.  Your nearly naked, drunk ass gamblers.  Your recirculated air from 1996.  Your satanic slot machines that possess my pennies.  Your hypnotic beeping and blinking of lights that make me feed your my sad little bills.  Your crazy old man who's smoking a 'cigar' that smells like death wrapped in dried dog hair.

Ah.  Tahoe.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 113 (San Francisco Park)

Day 113 (October 24th, 2010)
Title: San Francisco Park

I was lucky enough to be a part of the Hanger One multi-birthday celebration event that happened a few days ago.  Basically, there are six of us who have birthdays within days of each other.  It was decided to have one big party to celebrate everyone getting older, and what better place to do so than Hanger One!  We had cake, fireworks, crazy amounts of food, and of course, great booze! 

While the party was rocking, I looked out and saw the San Francisco skyline and knew that I HAD to get a shot of it.  I setup my stuff, and started shooting.  I got about 15-20 shots that were all "okay", but nothing that was spectacular (I think I needed to modify my settings a bit - a smaller aperture would have been a good idea).  When I got home, I realized that since none of the shots were great that I would try to do a HDR with them.  This is the final output.  I like the colors and there is enough detail to really identify specific San Fran landmarks (not just the bridge).  What I didn't really notice the entire time was the fence that matched up almost perfectly with the skyline.  Had I thought about it, or had I been able to see the little screen better on the camera, I would have moved closer to the fence so it would have not been in the shot.  But, after looking at it, I kind of like it.  It gives the feel that the city is fenced in and isolated from the rest of the world.  It also gave me the idea of the "San Francisco Park", only the entire city is the park. 


Photo 365 - Day 112 (Kiddie Van)

Day 112 (October 23rd, 2010)
Title: Kiddie Van

I saw a lot of strange things during the Halloween festivities in Tahoe (lets just say, in a casino they really don't care what you wear - or don't wear for that matter, as long as you are gambling!), but nothing comes close to the icky/disturbed feeling I got seeing this van.  Now, I want to preface this by saying I'm sure all the observations that I noted are completely coincidental and I'm sure the owner of said van is a nice, kind person who feeds ducks and squirrels and would in no way be a psychopathic killer... I hope.

First of all, this van is the quintessential "kids, stay AWAY from that!" vehicle.  Lets break-down the "joy" that is this Kiddie Van: Matte black finish, perfect for hiding in the dark alleyways.  An "Ice Cream Truck" look, because all kids love ice cream.  High windows, so small folks can't see out, but light still gets in.  Cute pink window shades for that friendly "I-have-candy" look.  The small hand-prints of other children decorating the outside.  And, and a lovely little phrase: "We've got our eyes on you.", just to cause that extra bit of trauma. 

Yeah, that just screams "friendly" all over it.  Why this thing wasn't followed by 12 police cars and a helicopter I'll never know. 

Enjoy (ish). 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 111 (Spooky Sconce)

Day 111 (October 22nd, 2010)
Title: Spooky Sconce

First of all, this is the first photo that I've taken that I've got to use the word "sconce"!  So, bonus points for me!  This is another shot from The Fat Lady bar, particularly the sconce (twice!) inside by the front door.  I really like this shot, because it really does have a nice "spooky" effect going on, whereas in the bar its more cute than spooky, because the 'fire' is really just some crepe paper blowing up from a small fan (no candle - its just an electric light).  I think the low-lighting really brought out the best in this shot.  I took this using my 50mm f1.4 lens without any flash, just so I could try and get that uber-high contrast feel.  I did very little post-production on this shot.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 110 (Halloween Faces)

Day 110 (October 21st, 2010)
Title: Halloween Faces

We had a great "pre-Halloween" dinner last week and we went out to a really fun place in Oakland called The Fat Lady.  It's a nice restaurant/bar in Jack London Square (right next to the parking garage - so easy to get to).  Now, normally a restaurant/bar wouldn't be something to really get excited about, but the one thing that The Fat Lady does that is really cool is they LOVE decorating for Halloween.  Every year they do something completely different - and they REALLY get into it.  This year they did a great "Greek Tales" motif, including cyclops, minotaurs, Greek gods, and all kinds of other fun (and spooky) stuff!  The only problem (at least in a photogenic sense) was that the place was really dark (added a lot to the atmosphere tho)!  I tried to get a much out of my 1.4 lens as I could, but the shots are still a bit "off".  I really didn't want to use the flash because the place was packed and I thought blinding other patrons might not be the best idea. Course, as soon as I saw others taking pictures using flash, I immediately regretted bringing mine.  Still, I think the shots came out okay. 


Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 109 (Linked Together)

Day 109 (October 20th, 2010)
Title: Linked Together

This is from a small necklace of Theresa's, that I thought just looked cool.  It's not a very large or 'loud' piece of jewelery, but its got some great colors.  All of the gemstones are muted (re: they don't have that 'Bedazzled' look), and the enamel painting uses a lot of dark, rich colors (like the green in the photo).  The total non-chain portion is only a couple of inches long (perhaps 1/2 wide), but this close-up makes it look huge! 

I've also starting using some different methods of shooting these pictures, and I'm hoping it comes out well.  First, this is my first attempt at using RAW format (converted to JPG so I should share it here).  For those photo-novices (which still includes me), RAW format basically means, the camera does not do any compression on the file when you take a picture - it just takes all of the data that the sensor collects, dumps it into a huge file and lets you "develop" the shot later on the computer.  In theory, this is nice because it means you, as the photographer gets to select all the variables on how its compressed (compression is another way of saying: "make the picture file size smaller, but makes the quality of the picture worse").  Its more work, but you have much more control over what the final picture is going to look like as well as more options to fix "iffy" shots. 

Its also the first time that I've used a background to shoot against.  The "green" background I used because I thought it complimented the green color of the leaves, but at the same time gave it a nice "old" feel. 

I'm sure I'll get better with both using RAW format and backgrounds in the future, but for my first attempt, I'd give myself a B-. 


Crazy Day

Its been a crazy long day (its 1am, and I'm not even started with uploading photos yet!  Blargh!), so there will be a slight delay in my daily photo.  I'll make sure to post two tomorrow... err... today.  Have a good night and go Giants (they won game two of the World Series, 9-0!) 

Sleep well!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 108 (Credit Cards)

Day 108 (October 19th, 2010)
Title: Credit Cards

Today was an emotional day for me.  Today was the day that I paid off both my credit cards and then closed my accounts.  I've decided that credit cards are a major part of what gets people in financial trouble, and as I've worked in the financial industry for 5 years, I've seen the damage they can do to folks.  Now, its true (at least for me), I've lived on these cards for a long time.  Buying things I'm sure I didn't need, while using money that I didn't have.  It's taken quite a while to pay them down, month over month, year after year.  This year, all banks were required to including a little box on your credit card (and Line of Credit) statements saying how much in interest you'll be paying them if you paid only the minimum payment and how long it would take to pay the cards off.  For me, over 31 years and I would have basically bought them a new BMW.  I'm not real keen on getting them a new BMW.  Heck, I have to look for change to ride the darn bus!  They are NOT getting a BMW outta me!  So, I decided to forgo any toys for a while and I just devoted all funds to pay these cards off.  So, today when I finally made the last payments (of $7.00 and $14.00 respectively - damn those last finance charges!), I called the bank and had them cancel my cards. 

Getting them to cancel the cards was a job into itself, so if you ever decide to do it, give yourself a good 30 min and a shot of whiskey (ok, I'm not sure how helpful the whiskey was, but I figured why take the chance!)  So, I'm finally free of credit cards!  Wooo!  I think I'll go rent a movie!... oh.  wait.  Redbox.  Doh.  Flaw in plan.


Ps: The alternate name of this photo was going to be: "The correct way to prepare for Tahoe!"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 107 (Stained Window)

Day 107 (October 18th, 2010)
Title: Stained Window

We stayed in this little, run down, hotel for one night and the room was basically as bland as you could get it.  Beige walls, white sheets and blankets, gray counters, white shower-curtain, etc.  Drab.  Blech.  But, I thought for one night, its no big deal.  Cheap rooms don't need art or any sort of expression.  I was pleasantly surprised when I went to take a shower - upon moving the curtain, there was this amazing stained-glass window staring at me.  The sun was shining through it, giving it a great "glowing" effect.  That one little thing changed the whole room, quashing the drabness!  (That's right, it was so neat that I actually used the word "quashed" to describe it!)

I hope the next time you are in a situation that seems, bland or gray, you take a moment to search for that one tiny thing that adds a spark of beauty and light.  And if you can't find one, perhaps you can add your own!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 106 (Old Train House)

Day 106 (October 17th, 2010)
Title: Old Train House

If anyone has visited Hercules, CA recently you would have seen a town that has really expanded lately - tons of condos, new buildings, more fast-food joints than is really necessary, basically a 'new' bustling town.  What a lot of folks don't know, is that Hercules has been around for a long time.  They used to have a dynamite factory and it was a key stop for many railroads.  But, as is the way of things, things changed and the old down was basically left to die (the dynamite factory closed and the trains no longer needed to make as many stops for water/sand as technology got better).  If you go out to the old train yard/stop you can find lots of neat buildings and structures that are closed and slowly falling apart.  This photo is of a house that was near the rail-yard, now fenced off, flowers growing wild and lost to the annals of time.


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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 105 (Steel Frog)

Day 105 (October 16th, 2010)
Title: Steel Frog

Score this one as another totally random thing I see that just screamed "take a picture of me!"  This is a strange, but darn nifty, old hanging steel "thing".  Perhaps it was a planter or wind chime at some point.  But now, its just thing old frog-looking thing hanging on a spring.  It makes little 'jumps' when the wind hits it and it seems like many generations of spiders have called it home (the cobwebs have cobwebs!).  It has these old glass marbles for eyes and the green paint is chipping and faded.  Even with all of those "character elements", it still called out to be photographed.  And who am I to say no to a steel frog. 


Photo 365 - Day 104 (Chalky)

Day 104 (October 15th, 2010)
Title: Chalky

First, let me go ahead and give you the answer to yesterdays last "Name That Thing" spice, it was: CINNAMON!  I hope that everyone enjoyed that little trivia fun, because I know I sure did!  I've already got the next contest lined up!

For today's picture, I wanted to do something simple and fun.  Recently, a friend's daughter had her 4th birthday and a HORDE of folks came.  Now, there were many, MANY games and contests to be had (both for the kids and the adults).  One of the games was an art-based game on decorating a kite (which was just a blank, white, plastic kite).  A table was covered in kite-making stuff, and a box of artsy stuff, including pens, more pens, bigger pens, small pens, and did I mention pens?  Also in the box was a small tub of colored chalk.  I, in my genius way, thought: "Heck, with all these pens I should totally use chalk because THAT would be cool and different.  'True' artist are different!  Yeah!"  So, I began my kite-beautification-ritual using the multi-hued goodness that was chalk.  I'll go ahead and skip the next hour and a half "fun" that was me attempting to write on, what was essentially a snazzy plastic bag, WITH CHALK!  Only later, our friend mentioned: "Oh, sorry about that chalk, that got put in the box by mistake.  That's for drawing on the sidewalk.  Here, try some pens, they work great!"

It seems 'True Artist' means 'complete moron'.  Still, at least the photo of the chalk (pre-me-trying-to-grind-it-into-plastic-mode) came out well.


(Click picture for larger view)

Ps: for what a COOL like looks like, here is what Theresa did:
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 103 (Spice #5)

Day 103 (October 14th, 2010)
Title: Spice #5

 Well, as this weeks "Name That Thing", Spices Edition comes to a close, I just want to thank everyone who guessed and commented on the pictures.  Yesterdays spice, which got a lot of feedback and guesses was: DRIED ONION FLAKES! 

Now, before you get sad and hide under the bed for weeks sobbing because Name That Thing is over, I've got two good bits of news for you.  First, I'm already planning out the next Name That Thing week!  It is related to the Spices Edition, but will be completely different materials!  Second, I got a lot of pictures from this weeks projects, a lot more than just 'one-a-day' and I'm planning on uploading a lot of the unused shots to Flickr in the few days, so that way you can see more of the Spicy Goodness! 

Again, thanks for making this week so much fun!  Have a great weekend (and yes, I will tell you which spice this is tomorrow, but I think this might be the easiest of the week!)


(Click picture for larger view)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 102 (Spice #4)

Day 102 (October 13th, 2010)
Title: Spice #4

Day 4 of Name That Thing is here!  Now the riots can cease and we can get back to guessing!  We actually had quite a few guesses yesterday, ranging from: All-Spice Seeds, Cardamom, Anise, Rutabaga (some people were clearly not on their meds), and the correct answer of:  FENNEL SEEDS! 

Nice job!  That was a tricky one!  Now, we are in the final stretch, the last lap, the 7th inning, the 2nd to last silly metaphor, the 'Fat Lady' is warming up! 

Here is today's exciting spice!


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Ps: For those of you who guessed Rutabaga on the last one, this one is NOT in fact, Pork Rinds.  Take your darn meds already!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Photo 365 - Day 101 (Spice #3)

Day 101 (October 12th, 2010)
Title: Spice #3

Welcome to Day 3 of Name That Thing!  Yesterday we had an amazing turnout of 21 million guesses (+/- 20,999,996)!  After consulting with the judges, two small lemurs, the Norwegian Yak Huggers Associate (NYHA), and a small annoying moth that won't stop bugging me, I can finally reveal to you (and the millions of guessers), that yesterdays spice was:  RED CHILI FLAKES!

Now, on with today's Spice of Spiciness! 


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