Saturday, February 28, 2009

Book Planning

I think I'm pretty much done with planning the concept of my SoFoBoMo book. This is going to be fun, and I'm looking forward to a project that I can work on right here at home.

The main concept is that the book will be sort of a guessing game for Henry (the book is for Henry, BTW). The idea is to have a close up and slightly abstracted photo of something he knows well followed by (on the next page) a wide, big shot of the whole thing. E.g. a close-up of one of the wheels on his yellow Tonka dump truck followed by a wide-angle shot of the whole dump truck with our backyard in the background.

The reason behind this concept is two fold:
1. I wanted a project that I could feasibly do within the rules of the SoFoBoMo project (so working at home is easy enough for me).
2. I wanted to make a book with some use. Creating a kids book is a good idea, IMO, because Henry can use it and also my younger son, Michael, when he gets older.

The next phase will be for me to select items around the house and backyard and then plan out the shots. Each item will require two photos.

So, that's an update! Let the planning continue...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Henry

Happy 4th to the monkey-man, my older son, Henry :-)

Comet Lulin and More

I tried hard last weekend to see and photograph Comet Lulin. Unfortunately, the high amounts of light pollution here in Houston prevented me from seeing the comet with the naked eye (the comet is now bright enough to see, but only in very dark skies). It did, however, show up faintly in a long exposure:

Comet Lulin - Wide Angle (Feb-22)
Canon 40D with 24mm f/1.4L II
f/1.8, 6 sec., ISO 800

Comet Lulin - Telephoto (Feb-22)
Canon 40D with 400mm f/5.6L
f/5.6, 4 sec., ISO 1600

Since it was not visible to the naked eye (or even my 10x42 binoculars), I resorted to taking 6 second exposures with my 24mm lens and then scanning the LCD screen to look for it.

The first night I tried it (two days prior to the photos above), I couldn't find it. I gave up and photographed other things in the sky.

Crescent Moon (Feb-20)
Canon 40D with 400mm f/5.6L + two 1.4x teleconverters
f/16 (eff.), 1/4 sec., ISO 800

Saturn (viewed at 100%) (Feb-20)
Canon 40D with 400mm f/5.6L + two 1.4x teleconverters
f/16 (eff.), 1/90 sec., ISO 1600

One note on using stacked 1.4x teleconverters: when used on the f/5.6 lens, the maximum aperture increases two stops to f/11. I stopped down one to increase sharpness a bit, so the above photos were effectively at f/16.

And just for fun, while I'm posting astrophotography stuff, here's a shot of a nice moon halo we had in early January. Again, this is from my backyard here in Houston.

Moon Halo (Jan-7)
Canon 5D with 24mm f/1.4L II
f/2.0, 6 sec., ISO 800

Walking Goals

It's been a very long time since I've posted an update on my walking progress. My walking program kind of fell apart last May when I twisted my ankle badly and it hurt for a month. Then it was just too bloody hot here. Then we had a hurricane. Then my IT band beside my right knee started acting up and hurt like hell. Then the baby came.....

I guess I could go on with excuses, but the short of it is that I didn't reach my goal of walking 1000 miles in 2008.

Oh, one other excuse: we cancelled our lawn service last spring and I started to take care of it myself again. This cut into my walking time, but it also made me exercise (I don't turn on the self-propel on the lawnmower - makes it much harder).

Anyway, here is the grand total:
Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 2008 = 408 miles

Interestingly, between Nov. 26, 2007 (the date when I started my hard-core walking program) and Nov. 25, 2008, I walked 508 miles. So, that's half of my 1000 mile per year goal, but done in an offset year period.

I didn't lose any weight, but I didn't gain any either. I'm just about exactly where I was one year ago. I guess it's good that I haven't gained weight :-)

I've picked up walking seriously again this year. I've made about 44 miles this month (and 58 miles total since Jan. 1). It's a slow start, but I'm on it...

My goal for this year? Realistically, I think 500 miles is a safe bet, but I'll try for 600 or 700. We'll see...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SoFoBoMo here we go!

I'm taking the plunge and will embark on the SoFoBoMo (Solo Photo Book Month) in May. The concept is that you shoot, edit, and create a photo book within a 31 day time period.

I have an idea, and my book will have a very specific purpose when it's finished. I'll post updates here as the project progresses.

Just in from Canon...

It's all over the 'net right now: Canon has introduced an updated version of their 24mm tilt/shift lens and a brand new 17mm tilt/shift lens (world's first T/S that wide, AFAIK).

All I can say is WOW. Price for each lens is being estimated at north of $2K. Ouch.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Photos from a 3-year Old

A while back, we got Henry a little kiddie camera. It's a low-quality web-cam adapted into a "child-proof" camera body. I'll vouch for its robustness, but the picture quality is terrible.

Henry and his cam.

I put together a little gallery of Henry's photos yesterday:

click to see gallery

There were some interesting photos in the bunch. One interesting observation is that he often shoots things from his eye-level, i.e. he does not look upwards. Another problem is that the camera has a terribly long shutter lag, so he's often putting the camera down while it's in the process of actually taking a photo. He likes to shoot the TV a lot. There were several dozen photos of some of his favorite TV shows.

Some photos seem completely random and some are accidents. He'll depress the shutter sometimes when he's holding the camera at his side.

click to see gallery

But some photos seem like he's actually seriously thinking about the composition when he takes them. It doesn't seem possible because he photographs like a madman, running all over the place rarely standing still for more than 3 seconds. Maybe he'll make a good photojournalist someday?

Michael and Henry

The boys are doing fine and getting bigger each day. Although Michael is the one growing amazingly fast.

the boys outside
(click to see gallery)

I'll punch your lights out
(click to see gallery)

Here's a link to the latest gallery of their photos:

Big Bend Extras

Last Friday, our DSL at home went out and I spent the following weekend without Internet access. I felt somewhat deprived, :-) but I spent some of my usual 'net surfin' time looking back at my Big Bend photos from last September.

Tornillo Creek near the Rio Grande
(click for larger image)

I found several photos that I'd not processed before, and I thought they'd be worth sharing. Nine new photos came out of this late post-shoot digging, and my three favorites are posted here.

Soil plates on the Rio Grande
(click for larger image)

One of my favorite moments from the trip was the cloudy, humid afternoon we spent near the Hot Springs. The confluence of Tornillo Creek and the Rio Grande River was nearby, and I found a lot of water flowing down Tornillo Creek. I didn't expect to see so much water in the creek.

Terlingua Ghost Town Cemetery
(click for larger image)

The cemetery in the old ghost town is another one of my favorite spots out there. It is unique and rustic as the surrounding area, and adds to the otherworldly feel out there.