Showing posts from 2011

Fave 5 from 2011 Part 4: The End

I'm still having difficulty believing it's December already, and 2011 is now measured in days. With the end of another year you'll be assailed by all kinds of "Top (Fill in the blank) of 2011". I thought I'd look back at the over 1400 photos I took in 2011 and pick my top 5 to be revealed over the final weeks of 2011.

So I decided to count these two as one, mainly because they are of the same subject. This was one of my most fortuitous shots as everything worked out, the stillness of the water, the interesting clouds in the sky and a camera in the car. Nine times out of ten I'll have the first two but won't have a camera, or when I bring the camera all the other elements don't work out. This was an unplanned shot, which I think have been turning out better for me. Or I have lower expectations of these unplanned shots so i'm happily surprised after I see them.

I'm especially proud of these shots because I was able to shoot for my two favori…

Review: The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I should say I'm not the biggest fan of Facebook, but even so, I was disappointed in this book.The fault, though, is partially mine. After having read such enlightening books such as In the Plex and Steve Jobs I was hoping for a little insight into the beginning days of Facebook. What I had hoped would be some kind of documentary had more drama than documentary with the author filling in his perception of what might have happened. If anything the book leaves you with more questions than answers, and I look forward to an official Zuckerburg biography to hear his side of things, though I won't be holding my breath for that.

If you saw the movie, then you're not going to get anything extra from the book, which I suppose should be a compliment to the movie.

On a related note, this marks the 30th book I've read this year. Back in January …

Fave 5 From 2011 Part 3

I'm still having difficulty believing it's December already, and 2011 is now measured in days. With the end of another year you'll be assailed by all kinds of "Top (Fill in the blank) of 2011". I thought I'd look back at the over 1400 photos I took in 2011 and pick my top 5 to be revealed over the final weeks of 2011.

In contrast of last week's large shot, this week's shot focuses on a smaller subject. With summer winding down my mom wanted some photos of her roses to put up in her office. I had taken some kind of boring shots but found this rose with some dew drops still on it. I originally featured a portion of this shot in this earlier post.

Fave 5 From 2011 Part 2

I'm still having difficulty believing it's December already, and 2011 is now measured in days. With the end of another year you'll be assailed by all kinds of "Top (Fill in the blank) of 2011". I thought I'd look back at the over 1400 photos I took in 2011 and pick my top 5 to be revealed over the final weeks of 2011.

Photo number three combines my two favorite types of photos, large panoramas and HDR processing. Originally shot as a standard panorama (Go here to see the original panorama) I decided to try to HDR it. Since I shot the six shot panorama using both JPEG and RAW file types I was able to adjust the exposure levels to give the appearance of taking 3 separate exposures. This technique isn't as possible with JPEG because the file doesn't keep as much information about the shot as a RAW file would.

I wasn't sure how best to process this; HDR all the shots of the panorama then stitch them all together or stitch three separate panoramas then…

Fave 5 From 2011 Part 1

I'm still having difficulty believing it's December already, and 2011 is now measured in days. With the end of another year you'll be assailed by all kinds of "Top (Fill in the blank) of 2011". I thought I'd look back at the over 1400 photos I took in 2011 and pick my top 5 to be revealed over the final weeks of 2011.

So let's start with a splash, literally. My first waterfall shot wasn't some exotic Hawaiian hundred footer, but a small one not more than a mile away from my house. I like how the foliage frames the fall and the sense of motion from the water. This shot allowed me to cross off a subject on my photography list, but I'm constantly in search of waterfalls. The shot is not an HDR, though I did take HDR brackets of it.

This second shot is one of my favorites and decorates my TouchPad as the wallpaper for it. This was shot during an unplanned photo shoot at Fort Humboldt and it's logging museum. (As a side note, Fort Humboldt is slate…

The Moon (Photocentric)

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and were able to survive the Black Friday craziness. I, for one, did my fair share of pigging out on turkey and sleeping in a bit on Black Friday. I refuse to stand in line in the middle of the night for any sale. I also find it sad how Thanksgiving is so often overlooked because of it and it's far more commercially marketed cousin Christmas. It's like two opposing messages being played; be thankful for what you have, but go out and get what you don't have that's on sale at 3am.

I've not been much in the photography shooting mood lately, so this is a shot from my archives. Having a superzoom camera, there seem to be two requisite shots to take with it to show off that zoom; birds, preferably in flight, and the moon. I have no interest in birds in flight shots, so I thought I'd try for the moon. I was surprised at how difficult it is to get a sharp well exposed shot. Obviously you leave the shutter open a little longer th…

HDR Spotting Debut

One of my favorite photography sites is HDR Spotting, a site made in collaboration with Stuck in Customs'Trey Ratcliff and his long time friend Denis Khoo. Photographers submit photos which are screened by a rotating human selection of editors, and those that get approved are put up on the site. Those that are of exceptional quality get an Editor Pick. There are some wonderful photographers on this site, and I highly recommend taking a look.

I've been working up the courage to submit a photo to HDR Spotting now for a while. My blog gets a small amount of traffic made up primarily of friends who either really like my photos, or are too polite to tell me they don't like them. Either way, thanks, but submitting a photo for a group of other HDR photographers to look at made me hesitant. But after some mental pep talks I finally submitted my first photo about 2 weeks ago. I didn't know how long the process was, but after a little over a week I thought I had been rejected. I…

Topaz Adjust 5 (Photocentric)

If the Internet has proven anything else it's people don't like change, but adapt quick. For example, every time Facebook makes a change there's a new group formed calling for Facebook to revert to the old style of whatever they changed. It's vocal for about a week, then "new" Facebook is simply Facebook, and the whole cycle repeats itself every 6 months or so. Most websites are dynamic, changing things so it's expected that they change otherwise how else are they going to keep you coming back for more?

Desktop software doesn't work that way. Most desktop software sees a revision maybe every year, and that's if it's a small piece of software. So when Topaz Labs released their Adjust 5 I had equal parts excitement with the new features and hesitation because of some of the changes made in using it. Plus, I was just feeling really comfortable with Adjust 4. So what's new in Adjust 5?

Well, to start with are the number of preset filters. Wher…

Sunset Pano (Photocentric)

A quick posting today, and one from a year or so ago. I just recently adopted a better system for keeping track of photos, so as I'm going through older shots I'm finding HDR and panoramic source shots that I had forgotten I had. This is one of those missed panoramas. 4 shots with a UV and a polarizing filter. Still too bright though. If I had an neutral density filter this would have turned out better.

In other photography related news I got the chance to sit in on a demonstration on Topaz Labs' Adjust 5 (I use Adjust 4) and I'm really excited about it. Of all the plugins I have Adjust is my most used one. I think of it as my finisher to bring a little more oomph to a picture. Adjust 5 will bring more presets, the ability to stack presets on top of each other, and to brush out an effect on certain parts of a photo. I look forward to using this tool soon.

Convergence Bridge (Photocentric)

This week's shot is an HDR shot from the same set that last week's shot came from. These shots kind of illustrate my planning for the finished version of the shot. The black & white shot I framed differently to get all of the graffiti. This shot I framed to get most of the graffiti but to also get where the bridge ends. And this shot I purposely shot for HDR; 3 auto exposed brackets, whereas last week's shot I didn't shoot a set.

My camera is an older model without the bells and whistles of it's newer versions, but one feature I find invaluable is the C mode, or Custom mode. It allows me to set just about every setting the way I want it, and be able to call those settings up every time. I have it set for HDR work so instead of fiddling in the menus to set up AEB (auto exposure bracketing) I just turn my mode selector to C and shoot. Very useful when mixing in HDR shots with regular shots.

Very little extra processing went into this, beyond the HDR processing th…

Slight Discrepancies

My blog is small. My audience is even smaller. I know this, and yet I obsessively look at my stats daily curious to see what brings in the pageviews and what doesn't. Blogging about TouchPads and HP got me my highest pageviews, a number I won't share because it's not all that high. Basically my "happy"goal is to get 20+ pageviews per post. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't. Imagine my surprise though when I looked at my stats this morning and saw a huge spike of traffic for yesterday. A day I didn't post anything. It didn't look like any of this traffic was going to a specific page other than my home page, which was kind of disappointing. Then I opened up Google Analytics. Yeah, there's a little discrepancy between the two. If you were one of the 70+ visitors yesterday, thanks for coming by. If you were one of the six, bring a friend next time.

HP Ink Challenge: The End

And just like that the HP Ink Challenge is over. It's been an interesting 6 weeks or so, and though I came into it thinking I knew what the final outcome would be, I was surprised how these tests reinforced it. As I think I said from the beginning I figured this would be series of tests that were going to show how much better it is to buy HP inks and papers to go with your HP printer, and for the most part I'd say that's true. For me it was definitely true, though I did see some people who had as good, and sometimes better, results with refill inks. But when you look at the results as a whole the HP inks performed consistently with little effort. The refill inks are very hit or miss, and the money saved isn't worth the degradation in print quality, in my opinion. I had never purchased or used refilled or remanufactured print cartridges before, and after this I won't be tempted to.

One More Black & White (Photocentric)

I've been sick the last couple days with a persistent cold. Unfortunately it was the type of cold that made it hard to concentrate, so couldn't really read Steve Jobs. I had also just finished a complete computer wipe and manual installation of all applications (that I could find) and my data, so wasn't sure how Aperture and my photos were going to work out. So far it looks like things are going well. Then, to top it all off my large monitor decided to die. I wasn't sure I was going to even post this week. Heck, I didn't even really know what day it was when I wrote this.

So I thought I'd share one more black and white shot. With this shot I can effectively check off a type of shot I've wanted to take; the still water reflection shot. Nothing difficult about this shot either. The black and white tones simplified the shot, the color version gets a little distracting with the sky reflection. I knew while shooting this what I wanted to do in post processing; d…

HP Ink Challenge Assignment #4

This week we're moving up. By "up" I mean we're printing full 8.5"x11" prints. I personally don't like 4x6 prints as I find them too small, but I understand that is what is most often printed. I think differences also show more prominently with larger prints, and sure enough we have differences this week. First up to compare 3 of my own photos to look for differences. I've picked one to share.

Neither one is really a great representation of the photo, but that's beside the point of this exercise. The greens on the HP Inks are the closest to the original shot. The Refill inks aren't bad, but they're just not as green. Things to keep in mind though when viewing them on this webpage is how calibrated or not your monitor is. These subtle differences played out in my other 2 shots. At first glance and viewed separately the the versions look alright, but when placed side by side you see differences in color tones. It's not that the Refill …

A Fountain in Black & White (Photocentric)

When I first started reading up on photography there was a lot of talk about "learning how to see", or "training your eyes" to see like a camera. Our eyes, with the help of our brains, are more superior than the lens and sensors of our cameras, for the most part. And as I learned how to shoot HDR it again required me to train my eyes to take better shots in HDR. Although it is true that any shot (and when I say shot I mean bracket of shots) can be HDR'd, the shots that are planned with HDR in mind usually turn out better.

The same goes for black & white. In the digital age black & white photography, for the most part, starts off as a color photo that is massaged in post processing to become black & white. The b&w option on your camera, or the quick b&w conversion in your photo software usually doesn't make for a dramatic photo. Again, any shot can be black & white, but the shots that were seen as black & white while being planned…

A Little Pre-Halloween Fun (Photocentric)

It just hit me today that it's October. That Halloween is just around the corner. I'm so not in the mood for Halloween, so today's shot is to help me get in the mood. Taking a shot from the same set that that this came from, I went to work. This is one of those rare times (for me) that I had a definite idea on how I wanted this to look after I was done.

There's nothing spooky about a graveyard in the middle of the day. I had originally shot this as a 3 shot bracket with the intention of HDRing it. It didn't really turn out the way I had wanted so I left the shots and promptly forgot about them. This time around I HDR'd again with an eye for converting the finished product into black and white. I wasn't going to make it look like a night shot, but I was hoping I could make it look like a full moon. I think it turned out alright.

HP Ink Challenge Assignment #3

As you would expect most of these assignments are going to revolve around printing some control photo or project and comparing them to see which one is better. This is to be expected, but this week Thom, our head ink-ologist came up with a little twist involving water.

Our all HP HP printers printed up 8 photos on HP branded 4x6 photo paper and our refill inks HP Printers printed these same photos on another brand name (Kodak) 4x6 paper to see how they perform with a little sprinkle and a dunk in water. I think you'll agree there's a solid case for keeping your printing accessories all in the family.

Cooking With Gojee

I cooked this weekend. I was originally going to write up about these awesome pillow cookies I made, or this great chicken thing I made (pictures and links down below) but really, who wants to read about that. Especially since I'm not a cook and don't particularly enjoy cooking. But this weekend I enjoyed it, and it got me wondering why.

The first thing that helped me enjoy cooking is probably the biggest hurdle I hate, finding something to make. Yes, there are many recipe sites out there, but they don't work for me. In most things I enjoy reading up on how to do things, but not with food. I want a big picture showing the final product. Not what most recipe sites that I know have, which are little thumbnails surrounded by a column of navigational text, a center column of recipe text, and sometimes a third column suggesting other recipes if I like this recipe. If you want to get me hooked show me big well done pictures of your stuff and make the recipe part secondary. If I …

HP Ink Challenge Assignment #2

Week 2 has, big surprise here, more printing and comparing. Using the supplied 4x6 HP Advanced Photo Paper it was time to print out 5 photos, and 1 black & white of my own to compare between the 2 printers. So I opened up Aperture and picked 5 of my most recent shots and turned one into black and white using Aperture's tools, as opposed to my favorite black & white tool Silver Effex Pro 2. As a quick comparison, here are 2 of the color photos. Click on them to see them larger

As you can see there's a reddish tinge to the refill inks, and the magenta colors on the edge of the pedals are more noticeable with the Refill Inks. The photo is the full photo of the cropped image on the far right of this earlier post. I think the HP inks come the closest.

An Inspiration

Normally on Thursdays I post a photo of mine that I like and want to share. This week's photo isn't of mine, but is worthy of sharing. I'm sure it's been viewed all over the web by now. Many more eloquent and people more familiar with Steve Jobs have said things about him. To me he was an inspiration. A symbol of having a vision and making it happen. He was a symbol of the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, and a name I grew up hearing a lot. His products are simply wonderful to look at and use. He will be missed. Rest in peace.

HP Ink Challenge Assignment #1

Let me get this out of the way now. I am NOT HP's biggest fan right now. I don't agree with their current strategy of possibly spinning off their PC unit, and bailing out of webOS devices before they were really able to do anything with them. But, shortly after these decisions were made, and before the more recent decisions of hiring Meg Whitman, I received a survey to be included in the HP Ink Challenge. There wasn't much in the way of details, but it sounded like a marketing/research project to show how much better HP's inks were over refilled cartridges. I sent it back, and promptly forgot about it.

Well, I got picked for it, and shortly after two HP Photosmart D110a printers were on my doorstep. The first of 2 packages to come from HP, along with what looks to be weekly assignments setup to compare ink quality. I was impressed with just how much stuff HP was going to supply us with; various photo papers, regular papers, ink cartridges, a gift card for charges incur…

HP: How to NOT Make Customers Happy

It should be pretty obvious by now that HP has no idea what they're doing, except they seem to be making potential customers very unhappy. HP TouchPads are the hit tablet device right now, sadly more for it's price than it's great OS. When HP decided to discontinue the TouchPad and all future webOS based devices they set pricing at all time lows for a quality product. Say what you will about webOS, but $99 or $149 for a very capable tablet is a steal. They sold out in a matter of days. Demand was so high (and parts to make them piled up so high) that HP said they'd make some more to satisfy demand (and contracts with partners).

Fast forward about a month or so and it's time to rejoice! HP TouchPads are back instock at HP's Home & Home Office web store, except the 32gb (currently the only one available) is $249, and the unavailable 16gb one is $216. Now personally I still feel this is a good deal for what is a very competent tablet, but if HP is really endi…

Amazon is on Fire

Amazon is finding itself in the spotlight recently and for good reason. Their new Kinde e-readers look great, and more importantly have a starting price of under $99! They also, thank goodness, got rid of that horrible looking keyboard. With different models offering different features it's hard to find a reason not to buy one. The entry evel model has a buttton interface for page turning, wifi connectivity, and shows well designed ads on the home screen and as screen savers. The top of the line e-ink e-reader features an infrared touchscreen (like the latest from Barnes & Noble) and adds 3G cellular connectivity for buying books from Amazon. At these prices I'm having a hard time seeing how Barnes & Noble can compete. Their entry level Nook is $139. The only other thing I used to be able to cite as a big selling point for Nooks were their ability to check out e-books from libraries, but earlier last month Amazon announced their file format was now avaiable in librari…

A Snake in the Tanbark? (Photocentric)

A quick posting today. By the time this gets posted I may or may not be doing my civic duty and showing up for jury duty. I say "may not" because I have never had to actually show up fot it and I'm hoping the streak continues. I would like to serve, if trials were actually speedy.

Blogger updated their templates to include some rather neat dynamic/HTML5 views. Sadly I'm unhappy with how this blog works on them. I'll be doing some changes to see if I can get things to work the way I want them to, so please ignore the dust as I experiment with some things.

Today's shot is a visitor I came across while working in the backyard. Not something I see everyday, that's for sure, and I'm not sure who was more surprised him or me.

The Fog Comes Rolling In (Photocentric) UPDATED

So Blogger has finally updated the way it handles photos. I'm not so sure that it's better than what I was using, but it's not bad. What's so different? When clicking on an image in one of my posts it will show the image in a Picasa viewer, very similar to the Lightbox viewer I coded into the site. It's not as elegant as what I had, but it's a darn sight better than what they had to begin with. I was kind of bummed about it at first because when it was first showing up my Lightbox and their viewer both opened giving essentially 3 layers (the original page, my Lightbox, their viewer) and the user had to close two of them to get back to the page. Thankfully I just needed to take out a bit of code put in the template to get everything working again.

Todays shot is a companion to this shot that I shot earlier this month. Originally I didn't like because it was too colorful, but now I like the different feel of the shot.

Update: Of course after I blog about the c…

Mausoleum (Photocentric)

Today's posting is a 3 shot HDR of a mausoleum located in a cemetery that I happened to see over the Labor Day weekend. The cemetery itself was located in Ferndale where a lot of the movie Outbreak was filmed. It sits on a plot of land that starts off flat but quickly raises up to take up a hillside. I tried to take shots of the who plot of land, but they didn't really capture the steepness.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with this shot. Initially I put it through Silver Efex which gave it a more Halloween like look to it, but it didn't feel right for a shot taken in the middle of the day. I think a cemetery during the day has a much different feel than at night and the monochrome look didn't look right for a day shot.

Hiking Surprise (Photocentric)

I hope those of you who had a 3 day weekend enjoyed it. I took the time to get out and hike some. The first trail we hit didn't look very promising, until we rounded a bend and this came into view. I should have gone back to the car to grab the seldom used tripod that I had in there, but didn't want to hold up the rest of the group so did my best hand-held shot.

So that's the first "problem" with this shot. The second problem I had was that it was washed out and pretty dull looking color wise. Like a previous shot I took, I decided to try and HDR it to add a little punch to it. It turned out pretty good, I think. I really enjoy shooting panoramic shots, but find them a little disappointing when viewing them because they're restricted by my puny 22 inch monitor.

When I first saw the house my thought was they were in a great place; sandwiched between rolling hills with the coast not far. Then I thought of the recent tsunami scare, and thought differently.

The End of Summer (Photocentric)

Took a quick shot tonight that I didn't think would work out, but I'm really liking how it turned out so I had to share before my usual Thursday post. Hope you like it.

Roses Revisited (Photocentric)

After last week I thought I had had my share of roses, but they are back for one last encore. Well, it's more because I wanted to capture the dew drops that were on the roses. I was really happy with how the shots came out; capturing both the full rose and a more localized shot of the rose, and I wanted to find a way to show them all in an easy way. I could have posted my 3 favorite shots individually, but I wanted them all in one layout.

I was surprised to find that an option in Aperture's printing menus allow to do just what I was looking for, but I was disappointed to find that there does not appear to be a whole lot of options for making it happen. So if anyone reading this knows of an Aperture plugin, or stand alone program, that does layouts drop me a line and let me know.

Roses (Photocentric) (Updated)

Over the last weekend my mom seemingly found her camera. My mom often does this, letting her camera sit and gather dust for months at a time, then "finding" it and plays with it as it it's brand new again. It's a little Canon A570is and it still takes some pretty good pictures given how old it is (some 3 or 4 years old) and it's infrequent use. And more importantly it continually impresses my mom, though the fact that it gets forgotten for such long periods of time probably plays into that also. Her latest subject were of some roses she had recently planted. I think over the course of a day I received some 20 (supposedly) different emailed photos of one white rose in blossom. (Thanks iPhoto for making that so easy to do.) So I thought I'd give it a go. Though the shots I did were HDR shots, and taken with a different camera. White roses, outside, while still on the bush were actually quite difficult to photograph. My camera had a hard time focusing on it and…

TouchPad Update

So in case you missed it HP has, for some reason or another, decided to discontinue making phones and tablets with webOS on them (along with some other big news about computers and such that doesn't affect me). This is, of course, right after I had posted how awesome my TouchPad is. I had originally bought the TouchPad as a device to use as a sometimes substitute for my Mac, a developer tool, and in an eco-system that would include a new phone also with webOS on it. It would also do duty as a media playing device and take the job over from my aging iPod Touch. At $500 or so this was seen more as an investment for future webOS work, and I was counting on updates, applications to be added, and new hardware. Of course with HP's recent decision I felt $500 was a bit much for a device with a vague future, at best. So I returned the device to Costco (I love how easy it is to return things there), and happily went my marry way.

HP: A Bunch of Quitters

An open letter to HP regarding the announcements of Aug. 18, 2011

Dear HP,

I have to say I'm really quite surprised with all the news you gave us yesterday; from axing webOS device development, to trying to get rid of your PC business group, and lastly acquiring some little known company for what many see as a whole lot of money for little real value. People are calling this your "IBM moment", basically saying no more catering to consumers and just targeting the enterprise workspace. Oh, except we consumers can still buy your crappy printers, which are still too difficult to setup, then pay exorbitant amounts of money on ink every other week. Thanks for that, by the way.

Using the TouchPad: webOS

I’ve been struggling with how to write this part, there are just so many areas to go into that my original post was better suited as a mini-book. So I’m going to break it down into three subjects, the operating system webOS, Creating Content, and Consuming Content.

I’ve made no secret about how much I enjoy webOS. At CES in 2009 it was a fresh concept bringing in all the information from your multiple sites and merging them together, multi-tasking like it wasn’t a thing, and looking polished. webOS is more than just an operating system, it’s an app also because of how well all the different parts work together.

Half Moon Bay Revisited (Photocentric)

I'm still enjoying playing around with Silver Efex Pro 2, so this weeks image is one that's already been shown on the blog, just black and white-ified. I originally shot the image of a piece of the Half Moon Bay coast to be an HDR shot, and is one of my favorites still, but I thought I'd see what putting it in black & white would do.

One of the really powerful and fun features of SEP is their Control Points which really let you fine tune an image. One of the options in them is to bring the original color back out. So I decided to bring out the orange color in the ground cover that really surprised me in the HDR version of the shot, as it didn't really show up that well in the regular version of it.

Silver Efex (Photocentric)

I probably shouldn't be writing this post right now, but I just finished a webinar on my new favorite photo plug-in, Silver Efex Pro2. First, let me just say I find it kind of funny that after all the advances made in photography, from black and white to colorful 3D images, that a well done black & white photo can speak to me more. And, apparently, flipping the toggle button in the image editor to black & white just doesn't cut it. I had no idea that there are as many, if not more, slider, toggles, and options in turning a color photo into a black & white one. Honestly, the sheer power of Silver Efex Pro (SEP2) overwhelms me, and a 45 minute webinar leaves me with just enough info to be dangerous.

The Physical Side of the TouchPad

Day 3 with the HP TouchPad and I thought I'd share some pictures and thoughts on the physical features of it. A lot of reviewers and sites panned it because, well, it looked like the original iPad, or like most other tablet devices. Now maybe I'm just not imaginative enough but I'm not sure how to make a tablet, a flat screen with camera(s), speakers, and some buttons, look much different than the others that came before it. With that being said, the TouchPad resembles an iPad (the first one, not it's anorexic cousin), and most other tablets out there.

A TouchPad Has Landed

I've been a webOS fan since I first saw it demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show way back in January of 2009. It looked quick and responsive and promised easy app development using web standards. It also had the unheard ability (for 2009) to handle multi-tasking as easily as playing cards. Fast forward to June 2009 and I jumped on a Sprint Pré and absolutely loved it; its only problem was seeing my iPhone toting friends showing off how many apps they have to choose from. Over the years my Pré has been showing its age, so in February when the Touchpad and Pré3 were announced I was excited.

Textures (Photocentric)

This is another taken from a recent day at the beach. I really like the look of the grass, against the dunes with brush on them and finally the puffy clouds. The different textures of the 3 subjects makes it interesting to my eye at least. The first shot is a "normal" processing of the shot. Meaning it's a single exposure with a little tweaking in Topaz Adjust. The second shot is the same shot that I tweaked first in Aperture to get under and over exposed shots then HDR'd in Photomatix and topped off with some work in Topaz. Though I like HDR a lot, I find I like the original shot more than the HDR version. What do you think? Or, what could I do different in either one to improve it?

Review: In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, a long if not accurate title for Erik Larson’s latest book, is one that might be hard to read for some. See, when looking back on history we’re able to point out what should have happened, or how we should have done things, or exclaim disbelief that we let things happen the way they did. But when you’re living during history you can only hope that the decisions made, the actions done, and the final outcome will be good.

Steam Donkey (Photocentric)

Pulling from the not too far back archives for this week's shot. Taken during my visit to the Fort Humboldt State Historic Park this is a Willamette Steam Donkey whose purpose it was to pull logs out of the logging area and into a staging area where the log was prepped for transport. This photo is a 3 shot HDR with a little finishing in Topaz.

On a more modern note, Fort Humboldt is slated to be among some 70 other state parks to close this year due to budget problems. If you feel so inclined take some time to visit the link and voice your concerns to your state representative.

Review: Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To be honest I had low expectations for this book. The subject of a killer storm is of course intriguing, but Erik Larson's previous books had a more human element, and let's face it, they had crime as the subject, which always makes for an interesting read. Isaac's Storm, though a different subject than his previous books, actually had a lot in common.

Sunrise (Photocentric)

Over on Google+ I've been seeing a lot of great sunset photos. I enjoy taking a good sunset shot almost as much as I enjoy looking at sunset shots. The colors are wonderful, and what some of the photographers have done to make them unique is really interesting. But often times just as beautiful and colorful, sunrise photos seem to get left out. Of course it takes a little more work on the part of the photographer to get the sun rise photo, like getting up before the sun rises, but the shots are unique in their own way.

I think this shot was shown before on my previous blog, so if you've seen it before I apologize, but this is one of my favorites. This shot has the rising sun over the hills and a blanket of fog over the bay. The series of shots I took really showed how quickly the sky's colors changed from a deep purple, to looking like it was on fire.

Beach Grass Redux (Photocentric)

I was looking over my library on Aperture, in the mood to process some HDRs, when I came across the source photos of my earlier Beach Grass post. I really enjoyed this panorama and then I noticed I had shot it with RAWs and JPEGs using the camera's Panorama Assist function. I realized I could scratch two things off my photography to do list: a) process an HDR shot using one photo, and b) create an HDR panorama. So I got settled in to start the process.

First was deciding on the process. Should I HDR each source shot first, then merge into a panorama? That didn't seem a good idea as I couldn't guarantee the panorama would look uniform at the end. Plus I didn't really want to process 6 separate shots. So after adjusting the exposure in Aperture for +2, 0, and -2 I went to Photoshop to make 3 panoramas. I was nervous that Photoshop would render each one differently, but got lucky that, as far as I could tell, they were the same. Then I brought the 3 source panoramas into …

Sharks Moves

It's been awhile since I last talked about the San Jose Sharks. If you don't follow hockey you can safely assume that means they didn't win the Stanley Cup, and in the end that's all that matters. We got about as far as we did last year. So what will it take to get us to the Stanley Cup Finals? Apparently General Manager Doug Wilson thinks unloading Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley for Brent Burns and Martin Havlat from the Minnesota North Stars Wild are, if nothing else, steps in the right directions.

Review: The Jungle

The Jungle by Clive Cussler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Jungle is a Clive Cussler book. It's not deep, it's not going to be literary gold decades from now, but it is just good fun. It's a little more toned down than his Dirk Pitt novels, which are basically James Bond based in water, but still pretty fantastical stuff. A group of ex-CIA, Special Forces people make up the Corporation whose base of operations is a tramp of a boat that is actually the fastest, and most advanced boat in the world. They hire themselves out to wealthy people/corporations/countries that are deemed "good" to do high risk/high reward jobs. If you can get past that then the rest of the books, and the series, is quite enjoyable.

A hallmark of Cussler books is starting off in the past with an event (usually involving an object that gets lost) and bringing us to the present where an evil genius has spent his entire life looking for this object that happens to get un-earthed by some unknowing 3…


As some of you may know Google's been on a rampage lately. At the minimum you should be seeing a different layout in the search results pages, and if you use any of it's services you'll be seeing other changes. Right now you can see changes in Google Calendar, and if you want you can check out the new GMail theme, just go into Themes and select the one of the two previews available. That's just at the basic level. Coinciding with these changes Google has unwrapped it's biggest push into the social networking arena yet, Google+. It's not yet open to everyone, it's not perfect, and it is a beta, but it's already got me hooked.

Google Music Update

I've been using and liking Google Music Beta a lot, especially now that all my music is finally up on their servers. But one small issue I have is that the Music Manager software provided to get your music up there doesn't upload iTunes' Smart Playlists. I can understand why, since those lists are dynamic and can change minute to minute, but there's got to be a way to get around that. I mean I keep Music Manager running all the time, so why can't I tell it to, say, check my library a couple times a day to just make sure nothing's changed?

In my listening I rely heavily on Smart Playlists, and it kind of defeats the purpose if I have to make a Smart Playlist, then make a standard playlist with the same songs. So that's my biggest gripe with Google Music. Well, that and there's no webOS app for it so I can cache songs on the phone for when I don't have a data connection.

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Hope you have a good one.

You Shall Not Pass! (Photocentric)

Came across this rather sorry looking... fence, if something this small can be considered a fence, while at the beach. Being the geek I am I was immediately reminded of a scene in the Lord of the Rings movie where Gandalf the wizard tells a much larger, stronger, and scarier monster that it can not pass. This "fence" was nothing more than a weak attempt at keeping people off that trail or dune.

A Portrait (Photocentric)

If you hadn't noticed, the majority of my photos are of places, things, or an occasional animal but never people. One reason is that I'm not near good enough to take portrait shots of people. The other reason is I feel weird taking pictures of strangers. But I saw these 3 kids and felt I'd take a chance at it. It was a quick shot that originally had a lot of extra stuff on the sides (it was originally a 16x9 crop) so I cropped it into a square so the focus was distinctly on the kids. I like the golden tones on the grass and the look on concentration on the kid.

Under the Bridge (Photocentric)

Sometimes I share a photo I had really great hopes for when I take the shot but for one reason or another does not completely live up to what I had envisioned. Today's shot is just such a picture. I had seen a lot of bridge shots and, for better or for worse, had those in mind when I set up for these shots. I couldn't wait to get home and process them... then the disappointment set in. I like the bridge look, but the sky is too blue. Don't get me wrong, it was a clear day, but it wasn't that blue. I need to start working with layers so I can paint in/out things like that. So this is not a finished shot, more of a work in progress. Hopefully I'll be able to finish it and post it.

Barns (Photocentric)

In the back of my head I have ideas and plans to do a couple different photo projects. One of them is a barns project, in black and white. Preferably old barns that are showing their age. They have a certain feel to them when looking at them that new barns just don't have. This shot is the shot that got me started on the idea. Shot with my earlier Sony CyberShot then sent to Topaz Adjust and SilverEfex Pro.

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