Thursday, January 30, 2014

Being Prepared

A big part of taking successful photos is the combination of the right opportunity and being prepared with the right equipment. I found myself witnessing a spectacular sunrise this morning from my office at work, but I'd left my trusty Sony RX100 in my truck. (I thought about using the camera on my phone, but it is pretty bad at capturing scenes that have a wide dynamic range and intense color.)

I sprinted down four flights of stairs, jogged out to the parking garage, ran up five flights of stairs, retrieved the camera, and then it was just a bit too late.

Just prior to the sun popping over the horizon, the low cloud blanket was glowing intensely with hues of yellow, orange, and pink. The sky was on fire, as they say, but the show did not last long. It all happened in the time it took for me to make my way from my office building out to the multi-story garage.

I then looked for reflections off our glass-clad building (which can be pretty interesting combining geometric patterns and light) but didn't find a scene I liked. Looking west, away from the sunrise caught reflections in distant buildings.

The lesson learned is simple. Being prepared makes a difference. Interesting scenes tend to not last long and don't repeat themselves.

The scenes that unfolded before me this morning were not really that spectactular, however it was fun and healthy to engage in a photographic process for just a bit.

Choosing a Lens for Astro/Land-photography

I came across a good article by Ian Norman this morning about selecting a lens for capturing the Milky Way and stars in one, static image. This is exactly the type of photography that I enjoy and practice.

Here is the link:

It's lengthy and full of technical details. It's definitely worth reading. Thanks to Ian for putting this out there.

He ultimately concludes that a 24mm f/1.4 lens is optimum on a full frame 35mm sensor. I agree with that.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ice Day

There's just a bit of ice collecting outside right now. Way down here in Houston, we rarely get conditions like this.

Schools are cancelled. Some roads and bridges are closed. And I'm sitting in the warmth of my home office frustrated that my employer's webmail is down.

Folks from up north are laughing at us for being so cautions about the current conditions. But anyone who has driven in Houston with just a bit of inclement weather will understand that you do NOT want to be around other Houston drivers. You can be cautious all you want, but there will still be a certain amount of drivers who still drive like their rear-ends are on fire and the only water is miles away.

I stepped out on my back porch just now to witness the massive, threatening icicles forming on my house. Yep, they are all 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length.

I shot the above photo with my phone. I never thought I'd see out of focus areas like that from a phone camera. But it's pretty cool and I'm impressed with the technology.

The phone is a HTC One. The camera will shoot at f/2.0 wide open, and it will focus relatively close to objects. The combination will produce a shallow DOF like you see above.

It's certainly not the best quality image, but it's impressive nonetheless from a phone! :-)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cone Inks

About two months ago I got a set of custom ink cartridges and Cone pigment inks for my Epson R2880 printer. I then got busy with the approaching holidays and other projects. Last night I finally got into it and installed my first cartridge.

The system replaces OEM ink, and you have the option of replacing all the existing inks at once (therefore throwing away any unused ink) or replacing the OEM tanks with the Cone tanks one-by-one as they run dry. I bought this system from

The process went okay. I was a little hesitant, but I didn't run into any serious problems. The resulting prints looked just as good as the ones made from all OEM ink (I did a test using the same photo for consistency). Although that's a very preliminary assessment and I won't really know how the Cone inks perform until more of the OEM cartridges are replaced and many more prints are made.

Aside from that, I've been doing very little regarding photography. I'm focused on exercise and getting healthy. In the last two months I've lost 10 pounds. Recently, in an 8-day stretch, I rode my bike about 30 miles and also ran over 12 miles. For being nearly 50 pounds overweight, I think that's doing pretty well :-)

I'm also focusing on finishing a LEGO project that I started years ago. It will be a crawler crane - a 1:17 scale model of a Demag CC5800.

One crawler, center support legs, turntable, and superstructure frame are done. But there is much more to do, and I'm going to finish it this year! (sort of a new year's resolution :-)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Weather Sucks

Since I'm way down in the south, thankfully I've not had to put up with the severe cold that the rest of the US has been dealing with. But it has been significantly colder here lately.
The problem is getting used to it. We go through two big adjustments per year.

The first is transitioning from cool weather in the spring to hot summer temps. Mainly, it's getting used to constantly sweating while you're outdoors and wearing as little clothing as is acceptable.

The second is in late fall when you pretty much have to keep a supply of various jackets and sweaters handy, and then adjust your layers to the current conditions.
It was 23 deg. Tuesday morning. This morning it was 60.

You still sweat however. I went for a run on Tuesday afternoon wearing two shirts and a sweater. I was uncomfortable until I warmed up. Then, 6 miles later, I was cold and soaked.

It's the humidity.... pppfffftttttt.

The photos are Instagram pics from this week.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome 2014

Happy New Year!

I intended to post this yesterday, but this new year isn't starting out very well. I'm sick and my kids are sick as well.

But another year is upon us and I welcome it.

click for larger image

Good bye to 2013. The image above is probably my favorite of the past year, and it was taken December 30th. My oldest son, Henry, threw his hands up at the magnificent sunset we witnessed over Lake Buchanan in the Texas hill country.

I'm way behind on posting here. The past few weeks have been hectic. Holiday preparations, parties, pageants, family visits, celebrations, birthdays, and just about everything else all going on all at once. I always love the Christmas and New Years stretch, but it's always full of events (mostly all good :-) )

So welcome, 2014. I look forward to the year and the photos yet to come.