Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Goals

Coorporate Drone

I took a look back on last year's goals, and for the most part everything was accomplished.  We are still working on the house and continuing to clean up.  I expect this will be forever ongoing.  However, we haven't stopped, and with the basement accomplished cleaning up the the other areas is much smoother.

One of the things I noticed is last years goals all fell within the realm of habit forming.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  For example, the more I cleaned and organized the more ideas I had that I implemented, started on, or have planned for the future.  The more I read, the more things I felt like reading.  The more I used the pinhole camera, the more I understood about photography and the more interested I was in other ways to photograph, like wet plates and such.

However, this year I want to build on those habits and go after specific "merit badges".

So, again, in no particular order...


  • Make at least 5 pictures of classic cars with my pinhole camera.  This will start a project I conceived early last year.  I think I have learned enough that I won't waste anyone's time by completely blowing a shot now.  Five is chosen because it is do able and I can only think of three cars off hand.  I will have to do some leg work to get all five.
  •  Make 1 portrait of a non-family member with a 4x5 or larger view camera.  This one requires finding or purchasing a camera and getting familiar with it.  I already know who I want to photograph, scheduling could be interesting for that person though.
  • Draw more, and create 2 finished items this year
  • Get back to a 300+ pounds dead lift.  Yeah, I know, you strong people are snickering, but whatever.
  • I may add run reasonably paced mile here.  But not yet.  I hate running any meaningful distance more than anything.  Adding it as an item would just be torture.  
  • Learn more of the guitar solos on this album.  The exact number depends on if I can manage the time for lessons or not.  I think without them I could learn 2-3, with them I could probably learn many many more than that.
  • Along the way read at least 2 Pulitzer prize winning novels.  I chose 2, because I already have one on "my list" so just reading that one isn't really fair now is it?  I'll pick another one.  They all should be good right?  I mean, they won a prize.
  • Bible reading.  I can't really make a specific goal.  I get through at least part of every book every year.  So, I will aim for that again.  The problem with saying "I will read the WHOLE thing!", is when I've set out to do that it wasn't very beneficial -- the order of the devotionals never made sense, was never where I needed to be.  You only need what you need on any given day, and sometimes you go back to it over and over again on different.  So, this one will not change from a "habit forming" goal-- despite already having the habit.  

  • Redo the office
  • Redo the "music" room
So, I think these will be enough personal goals, the ones just for me.  Have fun making and reaching your own goals!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Favorites of the Year: 2014 Edition

I skipped doing this last year.  I'm in a similar spot to last year, in that there were a few of my favorites I wasn't sure I wanted to stick out there for various reasons.  This year I've decided I don't care.  I miss not having a post to go look at right now. These are not in any particular order.

Rocking Chair

This is one of the 4x5 pinhole pictures I made.  It was captured onto to direct positive paper.  This represents the best out of my pinhole attempts I think.  It looks great in person too.


This was one of my first attempts at a serious portrait with the x100s that was close. I had been using the camera because of its short lens back a lot further. But, I wanted to see what happened closer.

E.  Kindergarten Graduation 

I liked what happened well enough I kept doing it.  This was the last day of school.


The light in this one looks good. I also like that it looks like a studio picture, when the reality is so far away from a studio it isn't funny.

Vacation Picture

This one is nice because it sums up the summer pretty well.


The typical distance I was working the x100s.

Cellos work Outside Too

One of the "planned" pictures that ended up being planned by surprise. I know that sounds confusing. I am not going to explain it though.

Coorporate Drone 

He doesn't do this to often anymore, and I thought this was the most fun from the handful we did this year.

A Restaurant Portrait


These two put together because they represent most of what I did carrying my small camera around everywhere this year.  Its the kind of thing we tend to use cell phones for.  I'm pretty happy these were not done with a cell phone though.  They wouldn't, technically, be as nice.

Truck Panorama

I saw this truck at a car show. It reminded of one my grandfather drove over 35 years ago. I still remember quite a few of the trips I took in that truck.   [ This one is a stitched panorama and looks better over on flickr if you click through. ]

So, that is my look back at my favorites of this year.  I'm surprised how many of these were done with existing light.  It is the majority.  I think it is because I just did more pictures this year with what was there.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Time to look back on 2014

Pinhole Camera on a negative, poorly developed, still learning....

This is probably the first year in a while I'm not happy to be sending off.  It was pretty good.  Sure, it had a few disasters, and yes some really major ones, but all years do.  This year had so many little good things about it, all the difficult stuff was overshadowed.

I read through my goals, and I hit all of them.  More importantly, deliberately chasing these down lead to cool things I didn't plan.  For example clearing the basement led into building a workbench, which led into a whole host of projects including building speaker stands, repairing speakers, building a headphone amplifier, and I finally have one SINGLE place for the handful of tools we own.

I've decided to make the rest of the house the focus this coming year.  I started over the past summer, but we've been in that in between stage where everything is really a big mess for a while now.  Too long, its mostly my fault, I'm just not here enough and I'm the one dumping everything out of the closets and other places we hid it.

We ran off to Kentucky over at the end of July to visit some family friends.  It had been on "the list" of things to do for a while.  Should have done it a long while ago.

Discovered a nearby barbecue place that is pretty fantastic.  The music feed they were playing introduced me to Ray Wylie Hubbard.  If you don't know him, you might be better off-- his stuff ain't Kumbaya --but its well done and entertaining.

Got to meet some new international friends.

Played music on stage for the first time since high school.  Its still terrifying.

Kathryn had a huge year.  I won't list it all out, she's 12, she is embarrassed easily.

I think Tobias finally found an activity he likes -- that doesn't involve video games.

I've had the chance to watch others beat stuff that has been holding them back.  I've seen others succeed in things they thought they wouldn't.  I've had the chance to watch people take huge leaps of faith-- that haven't worked out yet.  But, I think they will.  These things are just as exciting, maybe more so, because I didn't have to live the hard part!

I look forward to next year.

And, yes, I will do a "favorites of the year" post this year.  I skipped it last year, and I sorta miss it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

So I had a great idea idea for Christmas card this year that involved the rest of the family as the three wise men, complete with Sunday school style cottonball beards.

I made the beards.

My wise men are uncooperative.

But, I did get one household member to agree ( surprisingly ).

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

And a couple of outtakes....

Friday, November 28, 2014


I thought I had a good idea.  Actually, it probably is a good idea, but the execution needs some work.  I've been playing with panoramic stitching some more using individual images with low depth of field.  I thought it would be interesting to get in very close to a person for a tight portrait.

The first obstacle was how to get in close enough to be interesting.  I experimented a while and opted to put a Canon 500D close up lens on my 85/1.4 and use it at F/1.4.  I discovered that at 1.4 I couldn't lower my lights far enough, so I stuck a polarizing filter on the front of the lens to cut some additional light reaching the sensor. ( I don't have an ND filter -- but that may change, see below ).

As you can see the image leaves a lot to be desired. I  did this handheld which contributes to some of the issues.  I need to fashion a rig to keep the camera on a single plane, yet still be able to move it around quickly.  The exposure also varied slightly shot to shot which contributes to that blotchy look.  This worried me at first because I thought maybe the lens or the lights weren't being consistent.  But, I believe it was the polarizing filter being at slightly different angles to the subject now.

Photoshop doesn't want to merge these automatically, so I stuck the pictures and masked them by hand.  That was easier than I expected.  I added some noise to make issues a little less noticeable, but needed to keep clean enough to show the depth of field transitions.

The color picture is an uncropped frame to show how full each frame is.  This isn't possible without the close-up lens.

I will keep trying this, and hopefully come across a good tool set and good technique to get what I really want!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Headless Horseman

 After a very long time, maybe a few months, or more I set up my "studio" again.

It was down so long because I had to return the background stand I borrowed about 5 years ago.  To be fair, I didn't really borrow it.  My friend brought it over, dropped it off, and said "You need this.  I'll take it back when I need it."

But, I have my own now, and we are back rolling.

What better way than a new character for Tobias?

This one was relatively easy, fog machine, back light, dump a flash in a pumpkin, press the shutter a few times.... we're done.  Rolling.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Small gear thoughts (with lots of distracting photographs)

I made it a goal this year to purposefully try and think about different types gear.  I decided trying a small carry everywhere camera, and a large format pinhole camera.

This is about the small camera.  More specifically, this a bit of a retrospective of nearly a year with my X100s.

I have taken it Tennessee, and I have even written a bit about it before.  But, I have carried it with me nearly everywhere I went everyday since I bought it.

This had an immediate effect.  I stopped using my cell phone ( as much ) for taking pictures.  I started taking pictures of my kids in restaurants with it.  I used it to document such things as metro's incompetence, dinner, random things that caught my eye because of color or light, etc.  Yes, this was all stuff I had done before with the cell phone, but, at least from a technical quality point of view-- these are much better than if I had used a cell phone.

I can imagine some of you are thinking, yeah, but you own dSLRs you could carry one of those around and do the same thing.  Yes, I *could*, and I did carry an SLR around nearly every day for a year or two prior to picking up the small camera.  But, I didn't use it nearly as much.  In fact, I think the only good it did me was make my back stronger.  It certainly didn't help fill up my picture library with high quality images of everyday moments.  There are a lot of reasons for that, none particularly good.  It was effort to get an SLR out of a bag, my SLR attracts attention, its pretty loud, and did I mention it attracts attention?  In any event, none of those things matter to me if photographing is my primary focus, but for a quick shot it is paramount.

I have also used it for more staged and/or serious pictures too.  It works very well there too.  I tend to work pretty methodically and slowly making those kind of pictures, so the speed disadvantage an x100 has compared to a dSLR doesn't impact me.

This has made me consider picking up one of Fuji's interchangeable lens X-cameras and potentially selling all my SLR gear.  Unfortunately, there are a few things I do that would fall flat if I tried that, and I don't want to support two camera systems.  One is expensive enough.  But, the thought still lingers.

I doubt there are too many people out there that are still on the fence about buying one of these little cameras-- but if you are go try one.  It looks like a an updated model will be out soon so you have 3 generations to choose from!

Okay, this may have been written to give me a reason to put up a lot of different photographs from the year that don't really warrant their own post, and don't easily fit with anything else.