Showing posts from January, 2011

January Final

I said when I started this that there would be a motley collection of images to come parading across these posts, that they'd probably look like crap. This post's image shows I'm keeping my promise.

When I left work today I drove south on Alafaya and then turned right onto Lake Underhill and followed it to Andes. I wanted to drive slowly enough to make sure I didn't miss anything on the way home, and Andes is the back road into the Executive Airport holding area for the blimps.

I got to the area, but it was empty. I felt a bit forlorn, which is a silly emotion to feel about a blimp not being there, but there you are. As I was driving back down Andes and under the 408, I happened to look up and see the dramatic light and shadow playing on the expressway as sundown approached. I liked it.

I used to look for scenes like this when I was in art school. I loved to draw in charcoal and pastels on fine toothed paper. This takes me back a few decades.


This is my 43rd…

Lucy Daydreams

Anthropomorphism, the attribution of human characteristics to our animal friends, such as my Lucy, is frowned upon in the scientific community. That's because it's based on an unprovable assumption, that animals can experience emotions that match our own.

I do believe through personal observation of my Labs and cats, as well as other pets and wild animals, that they experience emotions every bit as sharp and sophisticated as our own. It is the height of species chauvinism to assume they do not. To assume they do not gives us license to kill them indiscriminately; if they're not like us and can't feel like us, then it makes it easier to treat them with indifferent cruelty, without consideration or conscious.

I like my animals and the mysterious ways they live. That they should choose to live with me is perhaps the greatest mystery of all.

Kiki's Mexican Restaurant

I'd be remiss if I didn't write a little about the last local restaurant I ate at before leaving El Paso.

Kiki's is another local restaurant with gobs of atmosphere and great food to match. The dish I almost ate was Machaca with Chicken. The Machaca has the distinction of appearing on the Food Network's "Best Think I Ever Ate" segment. Food Network showcased Machaca with Beef.

I say "almost ate" because there was so much food I didn't eat it all. I didn't realize how much food was there. If I'm ever at Kiki's again I'm going to ask for a half portion.

At the end of the meal I drove up the Scenic Drive that looks south over El Paso, the Rio Grande, and into Juárez. In the night it all looked peaceful and prosperous. I would have liked to have seen this view during the day, but the conference and the flight out of El Paso kept me occupied during the daylight hours. Again, if I'm ever in El Paso, maybe I'll be able to better…

The Eyes of Ruby

One of the consequences of travel for long periods is that the animals get anxious that I'm not around. When I return, the younger ones like Ruby stick to me like velcro for a few days until their confidence that I'm home finally returns. So Ruby follows me around the house and out the door into the yard and back in again. Wherever I stop, she takes up a position on the floor or part of the furniture and stays there watching until I move again.

Photograph was taken with the Sigma 30mm opened to f/1.6. This is as close to wide open as I feel comfortable using. I have tried wide open with this lens at f/1.4, but I have never been satisfied with the results. Nothing appears to be in sharp enough focus wide open. When I say sharp enough, I'm not talking resolution so much as acutance. There's enough around Ruby's eyes to give a decent spot for the observer's eyes to easily rest on.

This is probably the last photo I'll take with this E-1. I'm shipping it up…

What Were They Thinking?

Many digerati were all aflutter over brazen raids conducted by the FBI against those who allegedly participated in last years DDoS attacks against certain financial-service companies who refused to do business with Wikileaks. Operation Payback, as it was called, included members of 4chan and /b/, as well as other "anonymous" participants who felt it was the Right Thing To Do.

An unknown (but apparently guessable) number of the Operation Payback participants used LOIC, or Lower Orbit Ion Canon, an interesting open source network attack application. While it can be useful by itself, it's real power is in numbers. According to an Ars Technica article;
In the attacks on the financial-service companies, thousands downloaded a tool called LOIC—or Low Orbit Ion Cannon—that joined their computer to the group attack on the target of the moment. However, the tool did nothing to hide a user’s IP address, making it possible for the target website to hand its server logs over to the a…

Going Home

The trip home from El Paso was probably the worst airline trip I've ever experienced on any airline, and that includes the old AirTran from the mid-1990s. My trip home started out poorly on Thursday, when I tried to check in 24 hours before my Friday flight. I wound up in group 6, the last group to board the aircraft.

On my way through El Paso security, I was chosen by some of TSA's finest to be both irradiated and patted down. Apparently the fabulous irradiation machine thought I was wearing a necklace, so that they had to check around my neck just to make sure. I have no idea what a guy with a necklace could do to an aircraft, especially one packed to the rafters as the one I flew, but it must be pretty bad.

Of course, I wasn't wearing one.

On final boarding I was pulled aside "randomly" to have my computer bag checked one more time. I guess they wanted to make sure they hadn't missed anything. That action calls into question the competency of their screen…

The Power of the Olympus E-1

When I traveled to El Paso this week I took two cameras with me; the Olympus E-P2 and E-1. I had planned to use both equally, and had brought the E-1 body in case I was going to be in something adverse, such as dust or blowing sand. Except for being a little on the chilly side, the weather in El Paso has been, for all practical purposes, perfect. For no good reason other than laziness I used the E-P2 for the majority of my photography. Today, however, after the conference I attended all this week had ended, I followed the El Paso Mission Trail and visited some of the historical Spanish missions on a mini-photo expedition. The weather was clear and bright with no clouds in the sky. I took the E-1 with me and gave it pride of place over the E-P2.

The first mission stop was the northern-most Mission Ysleta. The photo was taken with the E-1 and 50mm macro. All photographs were taken raw. Lightroom 3.3 converted the raw images straight to JPEG with no other adjustments other than to modify…

The Equestrian

There is a large bronze statue of a Spanish conquistador on his horse that towers over the public entrance to El Paso International Airport. Over the course of the past week I've been experimenting with different ways to photographically interpret this statue, trying different angles and times of the day. It's a bit funny to look over the series as a whole; when I first got to El Paso I used the 9-18mm to capture a wide view of the statue. But as the week progressed I slowly started to "creep up" on the statue until I created the final image you see below.

I'm going in reverse chronological order; the photo above was taken this morning right after sunrise. I post-processed in Lightroom 3.3 using Color Creative - Yesteryear 1 and B&W Green filters. I then added a little highlight recovery for some added highlight details and fill light to recover details in the shadows. I like this one for its apocalyptic tone, especially with the horse staring down at you.


Dining by the Cemetery

Tonight, after another long day at the conference, my friend and I took I-10 west into El Paso proper and had a great meal at L & J's Cafe. Once more, Yelp was a great help in determining that it was a great place to eat, as well as provide clear directions to get there. This time, I managed to pay attention and drove us both there without any mistakes.

And just like I'd read, it was "The Old Place By The Graveyard." Concordia Cemetery looks to be pretty large and pretty old. The section above is dedicated to Buffalo Soldiers. The last time I saw something explicitly dedicated to the Buffalo Soldier was when I was at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. I'm going to have a half day to myself tomorrow; I'd like to come back out and see if I can explore this section.

L & J is a small neighborhood bar and restaurant with huge personality. It was packed when we got there, and it stayed full while we ate in the back. The people were warm and friendly, and were there …

El Paso, Day 3

Today was another long stay at the conference. After it broke up for the day, my compañero del viaje and I decided to find a real Mexican restaurant (or as close to real as you'll find in Anglo Texas). Since I have a pathetically primitive cell phone, it fell to my compañero del viaje to use his iPhone 4 and Yelp to find Forti's Mexican Elder Restaurant.

Yelp gave Forti's an excellent rating, and even provided real-time directions on how to get there. The application knew when we missed two turnoffs, and managed to get us to the restaurant in spite of my bad driving. I am Officially Impressed.

Once there we were quickly seated. The service was fast and when it was delivered, the food was excellent. I had the chicken enchiladas platter with red sauce, and my friend had the carnitas platter. We both cleared our plates.

I loved the atmosphere within Forti's. After all the chains, it's great to find a really good local place to eat in any city or town. I just wish I …

A Morning in El Paso

I got up early enough this morning to see the sunrise touch the foothills behind Ft. Bliss. As I was driving near the airport, trying to find a clear spot that didn't have something man-made blocking the view, I came across a chunk of real estate closed off by a wall topped with concertina wire. The photo sort of took itself.

I'll try a different spot tomorrow morning. And maybe more later today when I get a chance. But this one stands alone.

El Paso, Day 2

Day one of the conference. I'm still on eastern-standard time. Woke up and showered by 5:30am El Paso time. Packed up my bags, checked out of the Wyndahm. Walking out in the parking lot, it's still night-time. There's a brilliant half moon glowing in the western sky. It takes your breath away.

Drove down to a local Village Inn and had one of their ultimate skillets for breakfast. I had an iPad with me (a loaner from work), and the Village Inn had a working hotspot (like they do in Tallahassee). Sitting alone I ate my breakfast in silence while I cruised the news sites on the iPad. Paid for my breakfast and headed out the door, back to the airport and the conference.

The dawn was just beginning to break, and the mountains behind El Paso were bathed in the most beautiful pink light I think I've ever seen. I didn't know where to stop, so I slowed down, the better to enjoy the sight as much as possible before it was cut off by the Wyndham. Now that I know what's c…

El Paso

I finally made it to El Paso Texas, via DFW. It was a long trip with a three hour layover at DFW (courtesy of my companies desire to save money; this was a cheap flight). The following week is a conference being held right next to the El Paso International Airport. Right now I'm beat and not too chatty. Maybe more tomorrow after a decent nights sleep.

Today's image is a huge bronze statue right outside the entrace to EPIA. I think I'm going to enjoy my visit to El Paso.

In Orlando, everything is covered in over-watered, over-fertilized grass. In El Paso, the ground is covered in stones.

During my layover in DFW I came across this abandoned information kiosk. I can only imagine why it was abandoned.

'Burb Porn

Today's post title draws inspiration from The Online Photographer, "On Porn". The gist of the story (or at least my interpretation of it) is that a couple of highfalutin photographic critics with too much time and too little sense decided to deride the published work of others while corrupting the true meaning of yet another word (porn[1]) in the process. I'll let you follow the link, but I know porn when I see it, and landscapes and torn up buildings aren't pornographic, unless you drape butt-naked women all over the place. Then it's porn. Or maybe it's just art, if said butt-naked women are tastefully draped all over the place. Whatever.

But in the spirit of taking advantage of yet another artistic frontier, I have decided to create a new photographic school of expression which I dub "'Burb Porn". Burb Porn, or BP, is all about wondering around various suburban areas and taking photographs (preferably in digital) of all the crap we've…

Living with old tech

You're looking at a frame capture from my second generation iPod playing an episode from Babylon 5 via the Netflix application.

Under normal playing conditions you wouldn't see all the soft controls, but I had them up to provide context. With the controls hidden, the view of the image is clean and covers the screen.

It is amazing what such "old tech" can accomplish. My iPod 2G is running iOS 4.2.1, and because it's just a second generation device, key features are disabled.

But that doesn't matter. I can listen to music, stream video flawlessly via WiFi, play games, surf the web, or read news sites directly, such as NPR. All that capability, and more, resting lightly in the palm of my hand.

Even old Apple technology sets a highly competitive bar to meet. I say this in the context of a review of the Barnes and Noble Nook Color I wrote. In spite of the fact that the Nook Color is two years newer, larger, and with double the computational capability of the iPod …

TGIF Week 3

A capture if you will of a major church construction project on the corner of Curry Ford and Econlockhatchee here in Orlando Fl. I'd add "sunny", but today was anything but. It'd rained pretty thoroughly the night before and into the morning, leaving the rest of the day overcast and gray. The lighting was even, the better to illuminate the subtle patterns in the concrete slab walls making up the church and lending a depressing bunker-like atmosphere to the whole structure.

Still working with the E-1, learning more and more. Biggest lesson so far is that five high-quality mega-pixels can produce remarkably good photographs if you just let it. Combine the output of the E-1 with today's RAW converters and post processing applications (such as Lightroom 3.3), and the output is nearly indistinguishable from its more advance descendants, the E-3 (10 MP) and the E-P2 (12 MP). If anything, the E-1 has broken the crazy fever I've had lately to buy the latest high-meg…

On using the old/new E-1

Today was the first full day I used my latest camera, the Olympus E-1. I blogged about receiving it yesterday. After updating the firmware and tweaking some of the settings in the camera, I spent every spare moment I wasn't in my office out with the E-1. For lenses I used the ZD 9-18mm, the ZD 40-150 MkII, and the Sigma 30mm. I shot RAW and processed everything in Lightroom 3.3.

The image above had minimal post processing. According the LR's history, I performed a tiny bit of cropping to remove the shadow of my head on the bottom edge, some smidgen of exposure correction, a little sharpening, and boosted black clipping to from 4 to 10 (I like my blacks black). I could have left it alone and simple converted from RAW to JPEG, but I tinker with all my images; it's part of the enjoyment I get from photography. For the most part, however, the glorious colors captured above were already there in the RAW image. I just wanted to accentuate them a bit more.

Compare the image above…

The Big Blue Blimp Returns

The DirecTV blimp returned to Orlando this morning. I saw it while driving to work. And for a brief instance, I saw it and the MetLife blimp moored side-by-side on the open field next to the Orlando Executive Airport. I should have exited the 408 right then and there and gone over to capture that moment, but I thought they'd both be there when I drove home after work. Unfortunately, MetLife left both airfield and Orlando not long after I'd driven past. Yet again, another of Life's Lessons: act quickly when the opportunity presents itself.

"Helium Source" was one of the last group of photos taken before I finished for the afternoon. The helium to the left is being fed, through the long orange hose snaking across the field, to the blimp.

The DirectTV is a much larger craft than the MetLife, and it shows in the scale of the gear used to service the blimp, such as this mooring mast. Compare the size and sophistication of the DirecTV's mooring mast with that used…

Comments on the Incredibly Stupid Olympus E-PL2 Red Dot Catastrophe

I don't own an Olympus E-PL2, and I doubt I will. Not because I think it's bad or because of the RED DOT CATASTROPHE, but simply because I have in my direct possession an E-1, an E-3, and an E-P2 (not to mention an OM 4T film camera). Just how many bodies does a body need?

No, I bring this up because there are apparently a gaggle of hysterical forum trolls who are so upset over some Chinese forum images that exhibit the E-PL2 RED DOT CATASTROPHE. Well guess what. It's not unique to the E-PL2.

If you'll cast your peepers at the photo leading this post, you'll see a deliberately bad photo taken of the sun (as apposed to all the bad photos I try not to take). If you look carefully around the sun, you'll see a number of RED DOTs. If you look really close, you'll see the same regular square pattern of red dots that some of those Chinese forum photos exhibit, although not quite as distinctive.

This photograph was taken April 16, 2009, nearly two years ago. Let me…