Posted on Saturday, February 7th, 2004
Along with my new Canon EOS Digital Rebel camera I purchased a FireWire memory card reader to get the photos into my computer (the camera only has USB-1, which is way too slow). But last night I didn't have my reader with me, and so I had to hook up directly to the camera only to find that the USB port doesn't work... in fact, it's so loose in the camera that I don't think it's even connected! So now I am having to send back a brand new camera to have it repaired. That seems to be my luck lately.
Posted on Saturday, February 21st, 2004
For the past few weeks, I've had the worst luck getting a decent night's sleep. This sucks because I'm in a constant state of zombie-like tiredness throughout the entire day... and yet I still can't seem fall asleep each evening. Tonight is no different. I barely have the brain-power to type, so anything too complex is out of the question. Mindless blog surfing seems the perfect solution! And that's when I run across an entry on Adriaan Tijsseling's blog about the futility of a new photo rating system in Apple's iPhoto. It does seem like a bizarre feature, but a great way to kill time until SNL comes on.
I've got nearly 2000 photos packed into my iPhoto album, and quickly find that most of my photos are "average," so I am giving them 3 stars. On the rare event that something seems 5-star worthy, it's not really because of the photo... it's because the subject is 5-star worthy. Like, for instance, this amazing sculpture I snapped at the Vatican:
And this really cool shot of the Eiffel Tower:
Or this beautiful photograph of the Grand Canyon at sunset:
See? It has nothing to do with me. It's not like I've done anything smart or artistic... how could anybody make those shots look bad if they had a decent camera? So do they really deserve 5-stars just because I happened upon them? Or do I reserve a 5-star rating for some piece of subtle genius like this shot that I took in Stockholm:
Heh heh heh... it says "fart!" Oh well, I give up... there doesn't seem to be much point in rating my photos, and SNL is on in five minutes.
Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2004
I was pretty upset that my brand new Canon EOS Digital Rebel camera had a defective USB port. I was a little more upset that I was expected to pay for shipping it to Canon to be fixed (hey, it wasn't my fault their Quality Control Dept. screwed up!). But that is nothing compared to the fact that I was told it would be 7-14 days for the repair... and now it's day 15 and I still don't have my camera back.
Canon is saying that they didn't enter it into the repair shop until the 17th... but I have a FedEx confirmation of delivery on the 10th. Which means they sat on it for 7 days. When I complained, I was told this was a "normal" amount of time. Well, if a 7-day delay is normal, they should stop lying about a turn-around of 7 to 14 days and instead give a more accurate time frame of 14-21 days.
Needless to say, I am really pissed about this. Why is it that everything you buy is total crap anymore?
Posted on Monday, March 15th, 2004
Well, it took over a month, but Canon finally returned my brand new EOS Digital Rebel camera. The non-stop screw-ups in regards to them repairing a camera that was faulty out of the box has me seriously questioning whether I will ever buy another Canon product. First they lie about the 7-14 day turn-around (it takes that long just to check it into the repair facility!), then they have me send the camera to the wrong place at my expense (where it sat for TWENTY-FIVE DAYS until they forwarded it to the proper place). Then, only after coming completely unglued and demanding to speak with a supervisor, did I get any results. I understand that mistakes are bound to happen, but to be treated like this when the camera was brand new and the problem was in no way my fault... well, it sucks ass. I guess next time I go with the Nikon.
Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2004
I was browsing through iPhoto looking for a picture I took of a sleepy cat when I noticed a tendency I have to snap photos of interesting textures. I never really thought of it before because they are always scattered amongst dozens of other shots. But, thanks to iPhoto, I can easily create an album of just the textures which ended up being pretty cool. A few of my favorites...
Vacherie, Reykjavik, Sedona, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh.
Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2004
Oh yeah, about that sleepy cat photo I was looking for in my last post: Cats fascinate me. They are always doing something that leads me to believe that they are smarter than most people I meet. Cats also have attitude. They hop up on your lap and demand your attention and then, without notice or provocation, they'll bite you and run off as if to say "I tire of your inadequate affections, begone with you" (which, oddly enough, can sum up most of the relationships I've had).
Last night while watching Friends, Phoebe was singing the "Smelly Cat" song, which somehow hit my brain as "Sleepy Cat," which reminded me of this cat I saw at the Roman Colosseum.
While the landmark is overrun with dozens (hundreds?) of wild street cats, it was this one in particular that caught my attention...
The sun was shining, so it was a nice day despite the crisp December air. I was walking along when I saw this cat taking a nap, oblivious to the swarming tourists around him. As I approached, the cat suddenly realized that the sun had moved and left him under a shadow. He then moved one foot to his left so he was sitting in the sun again then promptly fell back asleep. After walking around the Colosseum, I came back to where the cat was and noticed he had to move again.
My digital camera was full-up with Colosseum photos, but I deleted one just so I could get a shot of this cat. I'm glad I did, because it ended up being one of my favorites from that trip.
Posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2004
The minute this week's Theme Thursday mailing hit my in-box with the subject of heavy metal, I knew exactly what my photographs were going to involve. The back-alleys of my home town here in Cashmere, Washington are filled with all kinds of interesting metal fittings... heavy metal doors, pipes, grates, and bars are everywhere. Most people would probably think that this makes the city look junky, but I think it's actually pretty cool. We've got a post-industrial kind of funk going on that makes an interesting contrast to the "Early American" theme that's decorating the town. My favorite shot from today is of this old fire door that's just been torn out...
Other heavy metal contenders...
My favorite old structure in the entire city is the so-called "Modern Apartments" building that might have actually been modern at one time, but I remain skeptical. Talk about heavy metal... if that concrete and steel balcony should ever fall on anybody, they're dead meat!
Every morning when I ride past that building, I wonder if the typeface for "Modern Apartments" actually exists, or if I should use it as inspiration to create a new typeface of my own. It's so very retro-cool.
Posted on Thursday, April 8th, 2004
I never look at other people's entries for Theme Thursday until I have posted my own... I just don't want to be unduly influenced by somebody else and end up stealing their idea (even subconsciously). So after posting my heavy metal photograph, I took a run through everybody and was surprised to see how many used metal bridges in their shot. That's a pretty good idea, especially if you live in Pittsburgh, because there are some really cool photos to be had there. This one was taken last summer...
Pittsburgh seems to have the image of a dirty old steel town that's truly undeserved, as it is actually a beautiful city.
Posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2004
In honor of the one-year blogiversary of Blogography (just five days away!), I've decided to add a gallery to the site. I've received more than a couple requests to do this, but always resisted because most of my photos are filled with friends and family that may not want to have their picture posted on the internet.
I know, it's kind of a lame excuse... I was just too lazy to look for photos.
Anyway, a gal e-mailed me to point out that there are already hundreds of photos scattered in my blog, so I had plenty of "acceptable" pictures readily available if I would just get off my ass and make pages for them. She was right of course, so I guess I'm out of excuses. It will take a while to get everything set up, but I'll try to add a couple of new galleries each day... so, if you're interested, check back from time to time to see what's new.
UPDATE: Obviously in the day-and-age of Google Image Search, having a local gallery page is a bit silly, so my old gallery pages have been removed. Ah the price of progress!
Posted on Wednesday, April 14th, 2004
As I was prepping some New Orleans photos to add to my gallery page, I ran across a link to a nice Photoshop "action" that will alter your images so that they look like they've been taken with a Lomo camera (thank you Jason Kottke!). For anybody not knowing what a Lomo is, it's a nifty Russian-made camera that takes intense pictures dripping with color. I had a used Lomo a long time ago and liked it a lot, but it was badly damaged on a hiking expedition and was not long for this world. I've always wanted to get another one, but there are so many models to choose from that I can't make up my mind. You can see the Lomo line-up at the official Lomography web site.
The Lomoizer action can be found on RedScreen for free, courtesy of Jake Ingman. I just made a quick pass through all the photos in the gallery, and they look pretty cool, but I'll probably experiment with the effect when I have more time and tweak them more to my liking. Here is a sample of the Lomo effect on a couple of shots:
Hmmm... now I really got to save up some cash to get a real Lomo!
UPDATE: Sadly, the Lomoizer action has long since been discontinued.
Posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2004
Of all the Theme Thursday's I've done so far, none have been easier than noise. Directly across the street from my office are the train tracks through town, so all day long I've got painfully loud train whistles blowing noise at me as I am trying to work. I don't seem to notice the trains as much as I used to... unless I am on the phone. Then it's impossible to ignore them since you have to repeat everything several times while screaming so that the other person can hear you.
Taken outside my office door... in the background there, you can see the train speeding through town. Here comes the noise...
And there goes the noise. This time taken across the street. Note that I did not tilt the camera while shooting this (the little building is the one that's crooked)...
Still playing with that Lomoize action in Photoshop here.
Posted on Friday, April 16th, 2004
It looks like The Friday Five came back for a week, only to disappear again. I hope everything is okay with Heather. Anyway, I added a few photos to my ever-growing Blogography Gallery. This time there are photos from the stunning Hard Rock Hotel in Bali. If you're looking to get away from it all, this is the place...
Somehow, I think my upcoming visit to the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago will pale in comparison, no matter how great a job they made of it!
Posted on Tuesday, April 20th, 2004
This morning I was awakened by the sound of torrential rains slamming into my roof. It made me almost glad that I was driving my car today instead of my motorcycle. But in the time it took me to get up, take a shower, and get dressed the rain had stopped. When I finally stepped outside, all I could see was the aftermath; flowers crushed, leaves and blossoms stripped from the trees... a pretty big mess. After I ate some toast for breakfast and headed off to work, the sun was coming out and Mother Nature was already starting to recover...
I guess even fragile things can be tough when they have to be.
Posted on Sunday, May 2nd, 2004
Salt Lake City is an interesting place to me as it's one of those rare major cities where I simply don't know anybody. Unlike L.A. or New York or Chicago or London or Tokyo... or whatever... I have no friends in the area. I guess it's simply because I don't get here very often (which is bizarre, because it is the closest Hard Rock Cafe to where I live: 3 hours by plane, 12 hours by car). Oh well, it's nice to just kick back, watch a movie, and be alone for a while.
Northwest Airlines doesn't have a direct Seattle-Salt Lake City route (this is Delta territory!) so I took a quick 2-hour Sky West flight on a very small plane. It's kind of a boring trip but, once when looking out the window, I did see PacMan!
There are actually a lot of PacMen down there, but the one in the middle has an eye on him which was kind of nifty. After a while, I noticed a lot of cool patterns that I thought would make great "modern art" with a little help from Photoshop.
"Lilly Pads," "Circuit Board, " and "Pink Polka Dot Infusion."
Posted on Friday, May 21st, 2004
Yesterday when I walked over to photograph my Theme Thursday entry, I took a quick 5-minute walk through Pioneer Square, one of the many great places in the beautiful city of Seattle. I have several fond memories (like go-go dancers at Doc Maynards!) and a few not-so fond memories (like being held-up at knife-point!) from this area of the city. If you are into architecture, this is the oldest area of Seattle, and filled with amazing old buildings.
The heart of Pioneer Square is Occidental Square, a beautiful little park with a leafy canopy of green above it...
A friend introduced me to the J&M Cafe and Card Room (the oldest bar in Seattle) which is home to my most favorite shooter drink... The McNasty! While it's not the same as ordering up a tray of McNastys with a bunch of friends, you can make this yummy concoction at home... fill a shot glass half-way with hot coffee. Add Sambuca Liquor and then float a little Bailey's Irish Cream on top... fantastic!
Not many people realize that UPS (United Parcel Service... those delivery guys in the brown trucks) was started in Seattle. At the very spot that UPS began, they have created this amazing little oasis in the middle of Pioneer Square and called it "Waterfall Garden." When work-related stress takes me to the breaking point, just ten minutes sitting in this amazing little park can work wonders...
One of my favorite places in the Square is the Elliott Bay Book Co. In a day and age when wonderful old book shops are being replaced with online behemoths like Amazon.com, places like this are a true treasure. The eclectic and well-informed staff has littered the shelves with small cards pointing out their favorite books and other items of interest, which makes browsing here a real treat. I try to support this nifty store by buying a new book every time I visit...
Sure the Space Needle and Pike Place Market are worth visiting in Seattle, but if you ever come to this wonderful city, you owe it to yourself to wander through historic Pioneer Square and discover all of its wonders for yourself.
Posted on Monday, May 31st, 2004
Finally I am home! On the way to my apartment, I pass by the cemetery where Memorial Day festivities are in full display. Hundreds of flags decorate the perimeter, and even more have been placed next to the markers of those who served in the armed forces. If you can put aside the inherent sadness that comes from visiting a cemetery, it's a beautiful sight.
To the men and women of all nations who acted in service of the freedoms we are privileged to have... thank you.
Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2004
Today was an incredibly busy day, which was heartbreaking because my latest toy arrived... a brand new 50mm f/1.4 lens for my Canon Digital Rebel camera... and I had no time to play with it. The camera originally included a 18-55mm lens of fairly low quality, and I had been longing for a sharper, brighter, more color-accurate lens since day one. Well, now I have it, and have spent the past hour playing around with it.
After I placed the order I had a bit of remorse over buying a fixed $400 lens when a cheaper $70 version existed at f/1.8. But this lens is so sweet that all my reservations disappeared in about 5 minutes. It is absolutely brilliant, and even mundane shots look amazing...
The only problem is that the Digital Rebel has a magnification factor of 1.6 for any lens you attach, effectively making my 50mm lens 80mm. So now I need something a bit wider for landscapes and architecture shots. The sweetest solution would be to get Canon's lovely 16-35mm ultra-wide zoom, but it's astoundingly expensive at $1400! I suppose that I could sell a kidney or something, because I really, really want it...
That's my beautiful new 50mm on the left and the object of my desire, the 16-35mm on the right. Is it too much to hope that $1400 falls from the sky before I start traveling again?
Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2004
For anybody who is curious about the Canon EOS Digital Rebel's 1.6 magnification factor "ruining" any chance for wide angle shots, it really doesn't... if you spend the money to make it happen. I seem to have caused a bit of confusion yesterday when I posted shots with a "wide angle lens" that were not very "wide." The reason for this is that I limit photos on Blogography to a 425 pixel width in order to save bandwidth, which makes any detail in wide shots drop out quite badly. Keeping that in mind, here are a few shots at 16mm, cropped out of the middle of the full-frame...
Pretty sweet, I know. It was very tempting to "accidentally" forget to return the lens! Ordinarily I would attempt to correct some of the barrel distortion in Photoshop, but I didn't do that here because it actually isn't too bad.
The truth is that even with the 1.6 magnification, 16mm still gives you about 25mm, which is still a respectable wide angle. I was pretty happy to finally be able to shoot an image that came closer to capturing my field of vision with this camera... but at the same time dismayed that it's going to cost $1400 to get it (that's more than the camera!). Sure there are cheaper alternatives out there, but if I decide to spend that kind of money, I'd rather pay the extra and be assured of quality.
Decisions, decisions... buy the lens and starve to death or don't by the lens and forever be stuck with a narrow view of the world?
Posted on Saturday, June 19th, 2004
I just got an e-mail from my little brother (a far more talented photographer than I am) with the most amazing panorama shot of our home here in the Cashmere Valley. It would seem that while I was slaving away at work, he was out in this beautiful weather on a motorcycle ride. Lucky bastard! You can click on the photo to open up a larger shot in a new window...
He notes: "Shot with Canon S500 in panoramic mode and stitched together in Canon stitch software."
Posted on Tuesday, June 29th, 2004
Yesterday I ordered my dream camera lens, the Canon 16-35mm Wide-Angle. Tomorrow is payday. That makes today the mid-point between spending money I didn't have, and collecting the money I already spent. What this all really means is that I am poor for the next several weeks. I may end up having to beg for food, but at least I'll be able to beautifully photograph my poverty with a $1400 lens.
Ack. I think I'm going to be sick.
I sure hope I take some amazing photos on my upcoming journeys to justify this obscene expenditure.
Posted on Tuesday, July 6th, 2004
Back again to Salt Lake City. Today I managed to squeeze in an hour in-between jobs so I could visit Temple Square and play around with my new wide-angle lens for a while. Having such a lens certainly makes it easy to fit large structures in the frame. Unfortunately, I forgot my polarizing filter back at the hotel, so stray light on a bright day like today has a tendency to wash things out somewhat. Playing with curves in Photoshop helped to get a bit of the contrast back...
My previous photos of the Assembly Hall barely managed to fit the building in the shot, but now I have the option of adding a little scenery around it to better place the structure in context. The building itself is a beautiful example of gothic architecture, so it's a bit of a shame that it's obstructed by so many trees, but it does make for a peaceful setting...
Unfortunately, the lens does have a few pitfalls... shooting really wide causes some freaky distortion (especially at the corners), and there seems to be a bit of a lens flare problem that creeps in from time to time (even when the included lens hood is attached). I suppose you could look at the bright side and consider that you can use these "features" to your advantage and get some interesting shots out of it...
I can't wait to head south this weekend, because I'd imagine this lens will do astoundingly well with the scenery there!
Posted on Friday, July 9th, 2004
After my work had finished in Salt Lake City, I rented a car and took a 4 hour drive south to the city of Moab, which is famous for its spectacular location among three parks that contain some of the most beautiful scenery you will ever find: Arches National Park, which preserves numerous naturally occurring archways that have been eroded into their present shape over millions of years. Dead Horse Point State Park, with one of the most incredible scenic vistas I have ever beheld... rivaling even the Grand Canyon. And Canyonlands National Park, which picks up where Dead Horse Point leaves off, a features even more spectacular scenic overlooks.
If you are a photographer, the entire area is a dream come true! Just a few shots from yesterday and today...
Boy, having a wide-angle lens and a polarizing filter came in handy this trip!
And, lastly, before I forget... for anybody visiting the area, a company called "Canyonlands by Night & Day" gets my highest possible recommendation if you are looking for excursions into the beautiful countryside. I took both their "Land Before Time" 4-wheel drive tour and their "Where the Wild River Runs" jet boat tour and found them to be exemplary in every respect. When visiting these kinds of places, it's often difficult to know which company to choose, because there are so many and all of them advertise being "the best" (and sometimes end up being complete crap) but I got very, very lucky in finding this one. My only regret since I got here is that I don't have more time so I can sample some of the other adventures they offer (or do the two I've already done all over again).
Posted on Saturday, July 10th, 2004
The wonderful thing about having a digital camera is that there's no film to waste, so you can shoot absolutely everything and sort it all out later. Usually, I keep only a quarter of the shots (or less) that I take and trash the rest. But Southern Utah is proving to be an exception. I took 552 shots in Moab and kept 170, which is about a third. I guess having a good subject gives you a better ratio of keepers.
Today, after a long drive to the other side of the state, I stood in awe of the miracle that is Bryce Canyon National Park and shot 232 photos in under 4 hours. Now that I sit here looking through them, I can only find 17 shots to toss out. Sure many of them look the same but, thanks to a lucky break, there was a layer of clouds out today that caused nifty tricks with the light... so it seems everything I shot turned out amazing. I mean, how in the heck can I possibly delete cool stuff like this:
Obviously I can't. Every blasted one of them looks like a bloody postcard. I have found a photographer's Nirvana.
Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2004
This evening was my first time without plans since I arrived, so I decided to explore a bit by night and get some dinner. London, like any large city, is abuzz with activity at all hours. Here in the West End, most of that has to do with people heading off to the theater... Hasselhoff is in town, after all.
I took a few photographs to see how my new lens does at night, and ended up with a freaky set of images, where the sky looks completely drained of color, while objects in front of it appear normal. I have no idea if this is an effect of the lens, the camera, the scene, or a factor of all three. To me, the result looks a bit fake, like the sky was desaturated in Photoshop or something, but it wasn't... what you see is exactly what I got:
I cannot decide if I like this rather odd-looking effect or not. I think I will take my other lens out tomorrow night and see if things look more "normal."
Posted on Sunday, September 26th, 2004
Surprise: It would seem that the initial delay I had getting into LAX for my recent trip to Korea was not because of a power outage... turns out somebody didn't perform a monthly reboot of their Windows 2000 Server, causing it to crash over some kind of data overflow. Why am I not surprised?
Lost: I finally got around to watching Alias creator J.J. Abrahms new show: Lost. I was not surprised that I ended up liking it, but was surprised that Matthew Fox turned in a decent performance. Who knew?
Flickr: While I would prefer to make my own gallery to put my photos on the web, server space is starting to become an issue. There are a lot of free photo sharing services out there, but the first one I've ended up liking has been Flickr (see my test gallery). Free accounts only get three albums (with only the most current 100 photos displayed), but you can cram in as many photos as you like because there's no storage limit, just a bandwidth limit of 10 megs a month. Manipulating and organizing your photos is pretty easy, but the nicest thing about the service is the ability to keep track of your friend's photos and see what they've been up to (if you invite a friend to join, their albums will automatically be added to your list!). Once Flickr is out of beta, they will offer paid upgrades to Pro accounts so you can have more than three albums and view more than the last 100 photos... if it's reasonably priced, I'll absolutely be signing up.
Photographic: Speaking of Flickr, be sure to check out the Flickr Blog. Here they highlight some of the more interesting photo albums from their users, some of which are amazing. One of the best is Guys on Bikes, which is a photo journal of a trek four guys made across the USA on bicycles.
Fable: The new Xbox release, Fable, was developed by Peter Molyneux who created one of my favorite games of all time: Populous. I've been too busy to look at it much, but the hour I did manage to spend playing (while backing up my laptop) was pretty cool. It's nifty how the game kind of changes depending on the choices you make. I just wish it weren't so complicated... navigating through a half-dozen menus to eat an apple from your inventory is ridiculous. This is only the 3rd time I've had a free moment to turn on my Xbox since I bought it months ago. Why did I even bother to spend $50 for a game that I know I'll never have time to play?
Hah!: I'm not even here today! My entries for yesterday and today were posted automatically by a new feature in Movable Type that allows you to pre-date your posts. That's kind of a nifty way to keep your blog fresh when you know you won't be able to post in person! But it's also kind of spooky. I mean, what if I am was in a car wreck and died tomorrow yesterday morning? That would make this a post-mortem post! If that's the case, I think I would like my last words here to be "funky taco."
Posted on Thursday, September 30th, 2004
I just got an email from Flickr, where they are releasing the pricing for the Pro Account upgrades... it's $59.95/year (but, while they are still in beta, you can save 30% and get a year for $41.77). Back when I signed up for Flickr, I had asked myself "how much would you pay for this service" and came to a price of $3.00/month, or $36.00/year. So, with the sale price being fairly close, I went ahead and signed up... but I'm not so sure I would have spent the $59.95 "original price." Sure the Pro Account gives you a nice way of backing up a full gigabyte of hi-res photos each month, but it it really worth sixty bucks?
Uhhh... probably not.
So whether or not I continue on with my Pro Account after it expires will probably be decided by what new features and conveniences are added in the coming year. I really like the idea of Flickr, so I'm hoping they keep making it worth my while to remain a customer. Some things I would like to see:
In the meanwhile, I plan on pushing that 1-gig limit every month so I can get my money's worth!
Posted on Sunday, December 12th, 2004
Oooh. While cleaning crap off of my PowerBook's hard drive, I ran across this strange photo that I don't even remember taking...
I believe that this is Milwaukee from my last flight, glowing under the cloud cover. The low-light made the photo pretty grainy, but I think it looks kind of cool that way.
Posted on Saturday, December 25th, 2004
Mom's Christmas Tree as I see it without my contact lenses...
Posted on Sunday, December 26th, 2004
When I woke up this morning and grabbed my laptop off the night-stand, I knew that it was going to be a sad day before I even opened it up. You don't have the most powerful earthquake in 40 years strike without any ramifications. Sure enough, the news coming out of Asia is horrendous, with the resulting tidal waves ravaging coastal cities in six countries. I think of the time I was walking along the beach in Phuket, Thailand and realize full-well that it could have been me being swept out to sea.
Setting aside the world to get a slice of toast and hot cocoa for breakfast, I notice that something good has happened when I look out my window to watch the sunrise...
Snow has finally come!