Wednesday, December 24, 2008

40 years ago today

I was glued to the TV, not eagerly awaiting Santa, which is what most 9 years olds were doing that night, but I was watching coverage of Apollo 8.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

QuickPost Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!

Apollo 8 was the first time a modern human left Earth for another planetary body. It was awesome. Frank Borman, James Lovell, and John Anders arrived at the moon on Dec 24, 1968. This picture is the sight that greeted them when they made their first orbit around the moon, the earth in the distance rising up over the barren lunar landscape.

Hell, it still gives me the chills. And to think the US Space program was so full of promises, plans for lunar stations, extensive exploration of the moon, followed by trips to Mars.

Then a nutcase in the house, Mondale, began belly aching about how much it was costing... when the US could use that funding for more wars (which is where it went..) , and after Apollo, NASA went dead in the water for a while - then the most expensive craft ever flow - the shuttle- but still no real achievements like Apollo.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

O. J. Simpson sentenced

I just spotted the news that OJ was sentenced in the robbery case in Las Vegas.

Karma slowly catches up - but it catches up. Doesn't it? It took it about 14 years, but he's locked up now.

I recall it only because in 1994 his dumbass chase stunt interrupted coverage of the NBA playoffs between Houston and San Antonio. I was living in a nice duplex in a cul-de-sac and neighbors had gathered to drink beer and watch the game. It was fairly obvious to us all he's guilty because he tried to run.

But I do admit those Broncos get nice gas milage at slow highway speeds.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

20081104_Chicago_IL_ElectionNight0981

Stolen from a Flicker group - a historic moment in our nation's history as President-elect Obama is watching the returns on the evening of Tuesday, Nov 4th, 2008, when he was elected President of the US

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

HELL YEAH

HELL YEAH - AMERICA!!

Obama wins in what I can only say is a landslide victory. It's greater than any win by the Shrub from Texas.

Our long national nightmare is over. Or.. will be over on Jan 20th 2009.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More psychic ( or is it psychotic?) housewives

I refer the reader to this previous post.....

An update. The annoying behavior has escalated.

I was with my kid last night at a local grocery store, buying not only various consumables but also the ingredients for fake blood (home made is sooo much better...) when I observed the most recent and very obvious "Annoy Dave" tactic to date:

As I decided we needed more soda, I aimed myself towards the "A&W" canned rootbeer in the handy fridge pack. Coming at me in the aisle is a young guy and a young woman. He stopped the basket giving me plenty of room to grab the box of soda.

When I went for the box, the woman PUSHED the basket so as to block me. Her guy looked over and mumbled an apology as he pulled the basket back, giving me room. I grabbed the soda and was hit by the damned basket because Satan's daughter decided blocking wasn't enough, she wanted to injure me as well, and was trying to put the basket back to where she felt it needed to be - regardless of anyone else being in the way.

I stopped long ago thinking this was the result of a rise in the population of highly medicated dingbats and I know now that it's a concerted effort on the part of women in our society to inflict as much damage upon this author as possible without actually being charged with assault.

There were witnesses to this, my kid and the woman's husband/boyfriend/gigolo.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Product Review - Brother HL-2170W Printer

I typically use a laser printer for printing out letters, model releases, and I will use a laser printer most of the time, unless I am printing photos, which is the best use for an inkjet. You just use up too much ink with everyday printing with an inkjet.

My old Xerox failed. The fuser module failed, so I was stuck with a inkjet annoying me until I went out this past weekend and decided to price new B&W laser printers. I stopped by Office Depot and spotted a nice little compact printer... The Brother HL-2170W, a wireless network printer.. for UNDER 150.00!!! I paid 600 for my Xerox in 1999. OGM! It had a rebate of 60.00!!! Making it 89.99 after rebate!

I had read some reviews online, where the reviews had problems making it connect to the WiFi network, or envelopes jamming or other complaints. I had no issues setting it up. I read where you needed a new router to do the one-step wireless install, or connect via cable to the router and set it up that way. I never connected this printer physically to my PC, and it worked like a charm.

I have printed envelopes, business card paper (Including clean edge Avery cards) and normal paper without any problems. The whole key is to read the manual, and follow directions.

Some online reviews hammer this printer about its graphics quality, but understand this is a monochrome laser printer, and if you print cartoons that are 100% line art, it’ll do fine. It boasts a staggering 32 Megs of memory, and I find no faults with its speed in “graphics mode”.

I am using this printer as a 100% wireless unit, and I have no problems printing to it no matter where I have it placed in my home.

You have to understand that this is a small office or home office printer. It prints one envelope at a time as there is no envelope feeder.

It replaces my older Xerox P12 workhorse, and it’s much faster and quieter than the Xerox. The replacement toner is reasonable and if I ever use it enough to need a new drum, it’s also not a deal killer. The toner for my Xerox also replaced the drum, so it was expensive replacing it’s toner.

All PROS and no CONS.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Short Attention Span Theater

This is very funny!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The candidates as trains


Interesting visual....

Hat tip to
Caroline McCarthy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin again!

Ok - I missed this last night, I was watching a football game. It's hysterical!!!

The sad part is the writers took actual transcripts from the real interview on CBS....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Light table info

Actual image from light table

I’ve been asked about this table by several people, so here’s a quick idea of how it is made and its dimensions.

The table is made from ½” white PVC pipe. I used about 4 10-foot pipes, 10 90-degree elbows, 10 cross T’s and some glue. I highly recommend getting a nice pipe cutter as it makes this work a lot easier.

Looking back, I’d probably make this thing a bit smaller. I think it’s too wide and too tall in the back, but it’s height from the table to the floor is about right.
I had to use combinations of elbows and T’s instead of elbow T’s which would have made for a better assembly, but Home Depot doesn’t have those.

I put a cross bar across the front top, and dropped it in the back to below table height to made sire I can light it without a shadow of a cross bar at the back.
I have attached several photos to show it without the glass or backdrop.

Not every piece of PVC is glued, so it breaks down into a bottom back and front section, and cross arms.

The basic dimensions are 33' high from floor to table platform, then another 36" for the back drop holder. It's 34" deep and 32" wide. I'm going to reengineer this so a piece of white plex in standard sizes can fit, about 24" wide and total length from front to top of back piece is 48" total. Otherwise I'll have to buy a full sheet and have it cut. I figure the thinnest sheet of white plex would work just fine with the glass I use on the table top, so I don't have to buy a piece of heavier plex and have it bent to shape.

Right now I use some vellum in a 30" wide roll, pulled across and over a sheet of glass on the table, and if I need a reflection I'll put some clear plex on the vellum.

Front view with dimensions.

Side view

Close up of the T & elbow for the front bottom

Elbow and off-set back brace at the back of the table

And a view of the elbows and T's for the front top, with a cross support at the front for the glass sheet I use.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain skewered by Letterman

Oh boy.

He's also suspending his campaign until the economic crisis is dealt with (which he helped create anyway) - so does this mean we're suspending the elections as well?

Uhm... could it be because McCain is being tanked in the polls now? ABC's poll showed Obama favored by double digits when it comes to the economy.



This is a very unprecedented by anyone running for President. Was this another in his series of ad-lib decisions which are utterly stupid in hindsight. Not really the type of person who should be in charge of our country. Morally and temperamentally unfit.

Oh, this from CNN:
McCain surrogate Sen. Lindsey Graham tells CNN the McCain campaign is proposing to the Presidential Debate Commission and the Obama camp that if there's no bailout deal by Friday, the first presidential debate should take the place of the VP debate, currently scheduled for next Thursday, October 2 in St. Louis.

In this scenario, the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin would be rescheduled for a date yet to be determined, and take place in Oxford, Mississippi, currently slated to be the site of the first presidential faceoff this Friday.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

On the offensive

*Finally, Obama begins the attack on McSame.

Hurricane Ike in pictures

This is a great YouTube video....



Hat tip: Ed Brayton

Monday, September 15, 2008

Housewives at grocery stores are psychic

I just got back from my local grocery store and formulated this hypothesis that “Women (Housewives) in grocery stores are Psychic”.

First a bit of background.

Most housewives hate me.

This began in the early 90s when I lived in a cul-de-sac of duplexes and I made 100% of my living from taking nudes for the (then) online giant CompuServe (later it was Adult sites on the ‘Web’). Nudes of young women, three to four a month, sometimes even more. Meanwhile, I’d have a TV in my garage and be brewing beer while watching sports. I only had to work 20 hours a week to generate an income of about 3k a month (or much, much more). Being non-gay and single, this was perfect.

Of course, the men in the neighborhood gravitated to my garage like small rocks to a huge planetary body.

Their wives hated me, as I was a bad influence. So we’d stay up and bull shit and drink until the early hours of the morning. *I* didn’t have to get up to go to work. I had lots of young women hanging around, those young women often got nude for the camera.

I was a threat to their world of Husband Control.

So word got around on the housewife circuit – “Hate DAVE”. It’s not openly spoken, it’s a cosmic vibration that went out and was picked up by most housewives on a subconscious level.

“Dave is a threat to us. Annoy him as much as possible.”

Many even attempted to hook me up with their single friends or relatives. In the attempt to turn me into a husband and regain control of the men around them. Yes, housewives seek control not only of their own husbands, but of all men in their circle of reality.

Ha! I like being single. It means I can buy a 42” plasma TV when the money is in my bank, and not send the whole matter to committee, at which it’s tabled for discussion in favor of new furniture. The husband must give up any idea he's in actual control of the house he bought, because everything is controlled by the wife.

Even though I am no longer shooting young women nude, the bigotry continues even today.

So this is how I know a housewife is psychic.

I am in a grocery store, a psychic housewife would somehow know what I am looking for on any given grocery aisle, and align her basket so as to block my access to the item I want. Not to get an item them-selves, as most often they stop simply to hunt for their list, look for a coupon or arrange the contents of their purse in alphabetical order.

This happens often enough on most trips to the grocery store that I cannot conclude this is pure chance.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey does Palin

OK - this is worth a laugh or three. I missed the broadcast, being that I have succumbed to a nasty virus floating around.

Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2008

CNN updates

I certainly hope everyone is safe on Galveston, as they're reporting winds at Cat 3, and CNN was showing video of huge waves in excess of 25 feet slamming across the seawall.

When I was growing up, Galveston was a yearly destination (partly because my sister had surgeries at the Medical Center there) and so my connection to the island goes back to the mid 1960s. I recall all those old houses, red brick, and the submarine housed there.

On one trip, in 1966, some barrels were floating ashore and were being blown up by cops shooting at them with rifles, and the contents caused bunches of HUGE sharks to wash ashore. Somewhere there are photos of me posing next to a big shark, flies buzzing me. This was also back in the day when cars had no seat belts, and I remember standing up in the front seat as we drove around.

Yes, I lived. I recall life was safer back then as we didn't have people trying to scare us all the time on TV news.

Twittering Ike

There is a twitter channel for updates from reporters covering Ike.

Hurricane Ike - Galveston under water


Reports I've read from news reports form the storm tell me that Galveston is already under water.

Some fantastic photos are here from NASA:

Nasa ISS images of Ike

I hope everyone gets out OK and the damage is limited, but my intuition says it's gonna be a mess down there.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin for President

No.. not Sarah - MICHAEL PALIN!!




Hat tip to Greg Laden.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin

Jon Stewart says it the best...


and my favorite:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Andrew's take

I'll quote from a blog I read daily.. Andrew Sullivan:
It was a deeply substantive speech, full of policy detail, full of people other than the candidate, centered overwhelmingly on domestic economic anxiety. It was a liberal speech, more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism. But it made the case for that liberalism - in the context of the decline of the American dream, and the rise of cynicism and the collapse of cultural unity. His ability to portray that liberalism as a patriotic, unifying, ennobling tradition makes him the most lethal and remarkable Democratic figure since John F Kennedy.

What he didn't do was give an airy, abstract, dreamy confection of rhetoric. The McCain campaign set Obama up as a celebrity airhead, a Paris Hilton of wealth and elitism. And he let them portray him that way, and let them over-reach, and let them punch him again and again ... and then he turned around and destroyed them. If the Rove Republicans thought they were playing with a patsy, they just got a reality check.


The limey can write circles around me on politics...

Obama

That was one hell of a speech.

Based upon one thing he said, I quickly made up this logo:



Yes, enough is enough. Although I voted for the "Shrub" in 2000, I changed my mind in 2004. I urge anyone of voting age who reads my blog to register to vote and get out and vote, dammit!

He outlined tonight his plans for changing America, and if he can accomplish even 25%, he'll do more than any previous President since Kennedy/Johnson.

My daughter is a highly gifted, accurate intuitive psychic and she's been telling me since the Iowa caucuses Obama will win and be President.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clinton at the DNC





Hillary gave what I feel is the best damned speech by the loser of the primaries I've ever seen! It hit every point and hit hard on McSame.. McCain. I liked the way Bill was watching and making faces showing his emotions.

At the same time, I recall their daughter, Chelsea, as being a gawky kid, kinda ugly. Not anymore. Damn... she's HOT.



I will bet, that unless Obama really screws up his first term (He's going to be elected... unless the elections get rigged via voting machine fraud)Hillary will just have to wait until 2016 to make another run. If she's up to it. Otherwise, they'll have to be patient and groom the kid to be Senator, then make a run for President.

The reason I believe she isn't on the ticket is because the US populace might elect a black man or woman President, but I really doubt the population could - right now - elect a ticket with both.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ode to Joy

Funny....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Winter music mix

I just completed and uploaded to YouTube a music mix of my 2007 New Hampshire images. It's set to Vivaldi's Four seasons, Winter. Allegro & Largo. This is similar to the other music videos I've uploaded there that use John Fred's songs - Boogie Children and Judy in Disguise.

Enjoy:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

He did it!

8 Olympic gold medals in a single Olympics.

Michael Phelps just swam his way to an 8th Gold Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Guy swims like Aquaman.

I typically watch the girl’s gymnastics and diving. Soft porn for old guys like me. We can watch and make comments without anyone in the house making snide remarks about us being sexist. Usually the one making the remarks is my 16 year old daughter. She doesn't really say anything except "Daaaaddd".. It's the way she says it.

I was watching the synchronized diving and I signed, said “Absolutely awesome”… My daughter figured I meant the dive. Nah – it was the girl’s rear ends. Being a photographer, I feel it is my DUTY to stop and admire feminine beauty when it presents itself.

Out on dates I have to resort to a stealth mode to checkout the babes. I'm really very good at it, not one of my dates, or my ex-wife, have every caught me checkout out other women. Of course, if caught, I'm remark on how that woman would probably make a good model.

After all.. It's my job!

Anyway – first in 1972 records dropped like flies with a very hairy Mark Spitz winning 7 Gold medals, now it’s a super-human bald kid. Maybe Spitz would have done better if he’d had a swim cap and special slick suit, and no facial hair.

And goggles.

The water portion of the Olympics ends tomorrow... so I'll go back to watching babes when I take my kid shopping at the mall.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What ya doing?

Got a phone call from a pal of mine recently. He always asks me “What ya doing?” when I answer.

I’ll reply with what I am doing at that time… and his reply is always “Cool..” then he starts into what he wanted to talk about.

Several people who call me do this. It must be something people raised in the same general area or time period do, because everyone I know who’s around that age does this. A typical mindless response like when a stranger says “How are you?” and you always say “Good” or “Fine”… except they ask and then no matter what I say, they always go “Cool…”

I noticed this a few years ago, and decided to have some fun.

“Hello?” as I answer the phone.

“What cha doin’?” they’ll say.

“Oh, just rebolting my feet on…” Or “Cleaning up after dismembering a body…”

They say “Cool…” and start yakking, and then a few moments later they go “WHAT?”

I have to say something to cause a mental reboot.

It’s in my genetic code.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Videos

Been getting set-up to create some music videos, re-learning Adobe Premiere CS3, which as a learning curve like that of a F-117 fighter.

Meanwhile, I have put together a little video of all the James Bond movie openings, the bit where you see 007 through a gun barrel.

(Yes, it's a gun barrel... some folks think it's something else... but I grew up with guns and if you have a pistol, and look through the barrel at a white wall, you see the rifling and reflections JUST like in those openings).

The bit is as 077 is being watched by a sniper, 007 then turns and fires killing the sniper, and blood drips down and the gun barrel wobbles and drops.

I annotated the video with some interesting factoids. For example, it wasn't Sean Connery in the first three movie openings, it was stuntman Bob Simmons. Starting with the Pierce Brosnan film, the opening was redone with CGI. Before that, it was pretty much the same high contrast drawing from Dr No through License to Kill.

One thing to look for is how Sean Connery wobbles when he crouches and shoots. George Lazenby is the only Bond to drop to a knee and shoot. The editors repeated the same opening (except for music) for the first films, changed it for Lazenby's outing as Bond, then recopied the older openings for Connery's reprisal as Bond. It was the Roger Moore films where they reshot the sequence several times over the 8 films he did.

You can tell I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to the Bond films. I'd sell my ex-wife into slavery in Iran to get to direct one of them.

Anyway - here it is...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Are you better off now than 8 years ago?

That is the question.

Same thing was asked in an election debate some 28 years ago. Reagan was debating Carter. More here:

No one I know is actually better off than 8 years ago - even some folks I know who supported Bush 8 years ago. I know two who are unemployed due to the economy and mortgage fiasco.

ONLY person I know who is better off is (I hate to say this) my ex-wife. *gasp* This is only because she was homeless in 2000 and after years of moving around she got serious and attended trucking school and got a job for a big company who pays well and has great benefits.

THAT is the ONLY one of all the people I know.

So - if you are better off than you were in 2000, go on and vote GOP. Otherwise, vote Democratic.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Film Review: John Adams

HBO's miniseries John Adams.

I caught this one by accident on July 4th, and was taken by the authenticity of the series. I then "Tivo'd" the whole thing and I've finally finished watching the series.

I was taken first by the style of the film-making itself, a non-glamourous way of telling the story. I'm sure there was some literary license in the dialog, but the cinematography struck me as the best for this era of history as the work in "Barry Lyndon" over 30 years ago. I hunted for info and I've yet to find any online articles, but they archived a very natural look to the film, especially in the indoor scenes lit by candle.

The story itself is very, very accurate and gives a nice angle on the US' early years, the birth of a nation and the struggles early on by all factions in creating a government from scratch. The birth of the party system, the intrigues in the elections, the back-stabbing and bickering of strong willed individuals seeking office.

The series offers stark contrast to our modern times of comfort and safety. Congress at this time was more like the way British Parliament is now, the speakers shouted at, shouted down, arguing...

My favorite scene is when Abigale Adams is reading some newspapers about John Adams, calling the President a toothless, crippled old curmudgeon. John replies with "I'm not crippled"... all set to the counterpart of Schubert's Piano Trio... (again, this took me back to Barry Lyndon)

Go rent this one. I call it 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Stunning report on BioFuels

It's been leaked that this push for biofuels has caused food prices to go up as much as 75%, according to a story published in the Guardian:

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.


Between the dumb war in Iraq, further failed foreign policies, and this failed energy policy it's no wonder "W" is the absolute worse President in history. This includes Nixon, Coolidge and Grant. I never thought I'd seen another Presidency tainted and fouled after Nixon, but I am ashamed to say it's happened again.

At least Nixon was really good at foreign policy....

Tofu = dementia?

Yeah - that's right. Folks who eat Tofu (such as my annoying ex-wife) are more prone to dementia (read it right here) !

If that isn't enough to convince you - there is more right here.

Notice please both reports are from non-anti-vegan sources.

Tofu is to me what a grape is to a cat - not considered food. Just try to feed a cat a grape. Same results if you try to feed me Tofu. I may even scratch worse than a cat. I know I'll piss in your shoes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Miss Universe

I have to wonder... why is it call Miss Universe when all the contestants are only from this planet?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

File this under "Duuhh!!"

Allstate insurance released a report showing Austin drivers are again the worst drivers in Texas. (Reported by KVUE-TV Austin, channel 24)

DUH!! You think?

Last week while driving from the hospital after spending a day with my kid while she recovered from surgery, I was cut off by a knot-head in a SUV, weaving across 3 lanes of traffic, TEXTING on his cell phone and not watching the road.

So now it's official, Austin is home to the worst drivers in Texas and just about bottom on the whole list of cities in the US. If it isn't distracted drivers it's stupid drivers.

Stupid drivers go 20 mph UNDER the limit (or speed of traffic) in the left lane. Against the law, but the city prefers to crack down on folks speeding, not going too damn slow.

In San Antonio you see signs telling people that SLOW TRAFFIC must keep to the right. It happens to be a law in Texas only ONE city enforces. The rest of the state is happy allowing the morons to wander anywhere they please on the roadways, no matter how slow they drive.

El Paso was rated top in Texas, I guess because most idiots from the east coast and west coasts only pass through and rarely stop and settle there.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cheap Chinese Plastic saves camera

Yesterday, while shooting some flower images (flowers that were brought to Candice's room during her recovery from surgery)my tripod decided to slip two legs and fall, with my camera attached. I was shooting with the camera attached and turned to give a nice vertical composition, so the camera hit directly on the top.

Attached was a cheap radio slave you can get in FleaBay for under 30 bucks.

This piece of cheap plastic saved the camera, and still works! Busted the plastic housing as it absorbed the impact, but the circuit board is still good.

I dribbled epoxy over the housing bottom which was busted, and reattached the top and it functions. The epoxy stabilized the thing until I get a pocket wizard.

Before being fixed, views of the bottom and the back.

It's been a LONG week.

This past week my daughter had scoliosis surgery. This procedure is called a spinal fusion with instrumentation.

Kinda sounds scary.

It is.

Candice began with a lumbar curve 53 degrees. They opened her up from the 3rd lumbar area up to between her shoulder blades. All to implant this...



We were at the hospital at 0530 (Oh dark thirty) when she was prepped.


Then at 7am, off to surgery.

First word came at 8:30 when they said she was doing great and they're already started placing the screws to hold the rods.

They finished at 1pm. 6 hours. Doctor Shapiro showed us the final xrays and her spine is straight, except a slight curve at the bottom which will correct itself in a few weeks.

The "easy" part was over. Now recovery and transfer to Dell Children's Medical Center. This place happens to be the coolest for kids to recover EVER.

She was up in a chair on Tuesday, up and walking Wednesday and home on Friday. Pain management and getting her up and moving to regain strength and get her muscles used to being in proper alignment.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Harvest

This is bloody genius...

The Harvest

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Drivers in the US

Ok, here I was thinking that the reason the drivers in the US, northwest Austin in specific, were so bad is because they're a bunch of sub-70 IQ morons who somehow managed to get a drivers license. You know, the type who barge out into traffic without even thinking of yielding to oncoming traffic, too busy talking and setting up the DVD for the parasite kid in the back, to pay attention to the small fact they're piloting a huge SUV at highway speeds while on a suburban street.

Then I spot this article on the Atlantic website. The writer makes the argument drivers in the US are not as safe as the drivers in the UK because of all the road signs and speed limit changes.

And I began to think that the American system of traffic control, with its many signs and stops, and with its specific rules tailored to every bend in the road, has had the unintended consequence of causing more accidents than it prevents. Paradoxically, almost every new sign put up in the U.S. probably makes drivers a little safer on the stretch of road it guards. But collectively, the forests of signs along American roadways, and the multitude of rules to look out for, are quite deadly.


It's quite possible this gentleman is correct, all the signs further distract drivers here from the number one task of driving: Watching where you are going.

The local cops and DPS (Department of Public Safety) always spout off about distracted drivers. Cell phones, DVD players, GPS systems, nagging wives, kids, animals, eating, arguing, TEXT Messaging*. All distract drivers.

When I was taking pilot lessons, I learned real quick how not to be distracted. My flight instructor would always try to distract me while I was performing a maneuver, such as landing or taking off. The key here was to teach me to ignore a distraction until I was in a better place to handle it. Like parked and with the engine off.

What the author of the article I quote is missing is the simple fact most of the people in the US are - simply put - morons.

More and more stupid people are procreating at alarming rates and those Jerry Springer stars are now outnumbering us smarter people by almost 5 to 1. It doesn't help that smarter people know what causes babies and can usually plan for one, then only have one or two. Stupid people often have no idea they're pregnant until the kid drops out, many women have no idea that SEX causes pregnancy.

I kid you not. Google that - a lot of women in the lower income classes here in the US don't connect the dots on this fact.

Like populations of fire ants, where the fire ants have overpopulated and pushed out other, more benign species of ants, much to the annoyance of the humans, the lower intelligent humans are over populating our planet much to the annoyance of us more intelligent humans.

I don't mind all the damn signs here. I mind the arbitrary speed limit changes. For example, Anderson Mill Road, when a 2-lane road, was safe at 35mph. When it opened out to a 2 lane road, it goes to 40mph. Two years they worked to change the 2 lanes to 4, now it's a wide open, smooth, easily traveled road, with great visibility, medians, turn lanes ... stuck at 35mph!

What Mr Staddon misses with his observation of our speed limits is this small fact - a lower speed limit on better roads causes drivers to speed, thus SPEED TRAPS to generate much needed income to the county.

*Yes, TEXT messaging. Not bad enough they're talking and driving, but texting as well.

New images

Go check out my portfolio for the new images I just uploaded.

It's under "People, Pets and Other" I have included some images of my kid and a friend doing their "Goth/Emo" thing. Well, not really, as I had to retouch the images to produce the pale look as the kids around here are only Semi-Emo, in that their skin isn't really pale..

My flash portfolio here

If you don't see anything, go visit Adobe.com and install the newest flash player. Don't whine if you can't see the portfolio.

I have some other websites I'll be updating using this, as it prevents "Right-Click" & save issues. All my work is copyrighted, and it's bad karma to steal my images.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The "iGasm"?????

(Ok, back to blogger silliness)

In my previous incarnations as a photographer - my work led to the more steamy side of adult images. In some cases, we employed a vibrator. My favorite was a golf handle attached to a drill...

I just found this article in the Times Online, which is most informative and very funny.

My favorite quote is:

Hippocrates thought the womb wasn't a fixed item but wandered about the body looking for trouble. At the moment of orgasm, it gripped the windpipe causing the breathless panting so familiar to watchers of When Harry Met Sally. From earliest times there was a recognised women's complaint characterised by nervousness, fluid retention, insomnia and lack of appetite. Hippocrates thought that a blockage in the womb was the cause of it, hence it was called hysteria from the Greek for womb (hysteros). Galen, a Greek physician, claimed it was caused by sexual deprivation, particularly in passionate women, and was noted in nuns, virgins, widows and occasionally in married women whose husbands were not up to the job.


Followed by:

A scary French pelvic douche from about 1860 involved what looks like a high-pressure fire hose, trained on the clitoris. It claimed to induce paroxysm in less than four minutes. If marriage wasn't delivering the goods, rickety trains, rocking chairs or horse riding were advised for nervous women as gynaecological Dyno-Rodding techniques. But if the 2.20 from Tooting failed to oblige, there was no option but recourse to a medical man.


That really had me guffawing.....

Which leads us to the most recent items to be found, including
...the latest Ann Summers device, the iGasm. Its various ‘tickler' attachments make it look startlingly similar to something illustrated in the Army & Navy catalogue of 1905. There is nothing new in the world.


Education by the "stuffy" British is most entertaining....

Sunday, June 8, 2008

HRC "suspends" her campaign

What-ever that means... I guess she's hedging her bets in case some whack-job kills or seriously wounds Obama.

So - now what?

For me, it's back to photography blogging. It's hotter'n hell in Texas, already we're hitting triple digits. If it isn't hot, it's hot & humid, with a strong hot dry wind from the south.

Sounds like Southern California on a bad day.

Now for some model recruiting, branch back out to some more artsy fashion stuff.

Until June 22nd. On June 22nd, my daughter is prepared for surgery for her back. At that time, several relatives will descend upon Austin to further snarl traffic between Anderson Mill and the Dell Children's Hospital. My daughter has scoliosis and her curve is such that surgery is required to stop it from becoming worse. So she'll be in the OR for about 7 hours, have a couple of titanium trusses installed, and the rest is recovery and therapy to return her to normal activity.

SO I figure to be back into model photography after July 7th or so.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Psychological illness

Another blog, The AMERICAblog, posted this tidbit, a real disease, not made up, which fits HRC to a "Tee".
Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder revolve around a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and sense of entitlement. Often individuals feel overly important and will exaggerate achievements and will accept, and often demand, praise and admiration despite worthy achievements. They may be overwhelmed with fantasies involving unlimited success, power, love, or beauty and feel that they can only be understood by others who are, like them, superior in some aspect of life.

There is a sense of entitlement, of being more deserving than others based solely on their superiority. These symptoms, however, are a result of an underlying sense of inferiority and are often seen as overcompensation. Because of this, they are often envious and even angry of others who have more, receive more respect or attention, or otherwise steal away the spotlight.

The post left little to the imagination that this is what drives HRC...

Meanwhile, Obama (D. Illinois - Democratic Presidential Nominee) gave a speech which reminded me of Reagan in the 1980s, and reminds others of JFK.


Clinton Derangement Syndrome


As of this moment, ABC news and the AP are saying Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee.

However, sufferers of the what is being called Clinton Derangement Syndrome are in a heavy state of denial.

Clinton Derangement Syndrome (CDS) are the folks who - against all reason - argue that Clinton has the nomination and has won the popular vote. They either must have CDS or are using that "New Math" they tried teaching in school in the 1970s.

The sufferers of CDS come up with one excuse after another as to why Obama didn't "really" win. It's like play day at the paranoiacs conference when it comes to the sufferer. Just as the paranoiac "really" knows that he lost his job because "the CIA is beaming mind control rays into my brain", the CDS sufferer "really" knows that Hillary "really" won because "caucuses disenfranchise handicapped people" and thus aren't representative of the will of the majority of the Democrats in caucus states.

Nevermind that they haven't found a single handicapped person disenfranchised by caucus states or a single bit of evidence that indicated that handicapped persons would vote any differently than any other voters in caucus states. Evidence is not required for the CDS sufferer, just as it is not required for the paranoiac who "knows" that the CIA is beaming mind control rays into his brain.

Last Saturday when the Democrats were meeting to figure out what to do with the Florida & Michigan delegates, I got behind one of these sufferers of CDS, she was driving an old, beat up Toyota, covered in stickers, but was going 10 mph and weaving. Then she stops, then weaves her way into a parking lot where folks typically go to pay their water bill, and where we all voted in the primary. OK, she piles out of the car with a sign, dressed in dirty clothes, gray hair flying, eyes wild, and she begins to demonstrate. Problem is, a demonstration only works when you go somewhere people are, such as the capitol.

I was intrigued. I asked her why the M.U.D. office? She tells me that it's because the big oil monopoly made gas prices so high, she couldn't afford to go to the big demonstration at the state capitol. Then she began mumbling and walking around. I think someone is off her meds, but I guess that means the other folks who're just as rabid as this one about Hillary are also off their meds. I paid my water bill and left... quickly.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I love the smell of Dektol in the morning

It's smells like a darkroom...

In the pre-digital age, as in from 1827 until 2004, darkrooms were a part of life to most professional photographers. Most I knew had a basic set-up somewhere. In 1995 I rented a nice office in a nice studio in Downtown Austin, and I had a ***real***nice*** darkroom. 8 foot sink, two enlarger areas, temp gauge on the water supply. Oooooooo

In 2004 I packed up my darkroom and it's in storage. Not forever, but just until I get a house with room to build a darkroom.

Very, very few places sell basic B&W chemicals and paper anymore, but Free Style in LA does, and so does Calumet, B&H still sells some as well, but NO ONE in Austin sells it. In fact, there is only one decent camera store left in this city. A city of over 1.2 million people, and only ONE camera store left.

How sad.

For my money - it's better to shoot & process real film when shooting B&W, especially for catalog or fine art.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stock Photography Update

Shutterstock:

In April, SS announced a rise in subscription rates to image buyers, and on May 14th they announced a small raise for contributors, but only those contributors who were established and already making cash.

About the same time, it was noticed by several contributors a significant decline in downloads. Mine stayed steady with a sudden, and inexplicable downturn at the end of the month, with a slight rebound first week of May. Last two days have seen odd low numbers. Then today, it's back to "normal". All this goes against established patterns of new uploads equaling increased downloads.

I figured it was people leaving their design offices to go on long Holiday weekends. Guess not. Maybe trying to figure all this out is like trying to figure out the Universe itself at a quantum level.

iStock:

These guys announced subscription plans beginning at the end of May. Given iStock's market share, I expect my sales with this company to begin rising.

123RF already has a subscription model in place. I'm still not seeing a lot of sales at this site yet.

Overall, I contribute to 8 microstock agencies, but I have fallen behind in my goal of shooting every other day and uploading at least 20 images a week. Bad weather has curtailed a lot of my proposed shoots, but hopefully I'll get on track this weekend. That plus less time to edit the shots I do have lined up on my hard drive.

Some have voiced their concerns on various forums over the slump in individual sales - a reply by an administrator at SS said they're having records numbers of downloads. So the cause is increased competition from new photographers who join the microstock agencies.

Meanwhile, an agency I was planning on joined has closed, Lucky Oliver. More of the smaller agencies may begin having trouble.

My goal is to continue, but also to implement the other half of my business plan which is to begin working with Rights Managed agencies more. I am earmarking about 25% of my images for RM now, but I have yet to join any except PhotoShelter. It's a cludge to upload images to PhotoShelter at this time, making the process of loading my gallery there a long and tedious one.

The bar is set a lot higher at the RM agencies - unlike the Royalty Free sites. Although consumer cameras are acceptable at places like ShutterStock, 123RF, and others, places like iStock, Getty, Gemini and others want very high quality images, with Getty going so far as to tell applicants they only accept images made with the higher end, pro-level cameras. Okay by me! I have plans to get a Nikon d300 this summer anyway!

The payoff at RM agencies is far, far greater. Which is why they demand higher quality. Seriously, how many photographers on, say, ShutterStock could get images past a real magazine editor? I have, it's not easy and you can't have a huge ego.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Funny....

Even funnier if you say the caption with an oriental accent...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Photo Shooting Table


Photographing glass, bottles or anything semi-transparent is easy with the right set-up.


Home build rig designed to allow me to photograph a piece of glassware, a bottle, or even moldy bread with the option of lighting from below to highlight a bottle's contents, with some added light from above to fill in the details of the item, with the option of placing a strobe head behind the paper and having it light up the bottle from behind.

It's made from 1/2" PVC pipe, and a lot of T's and Elbows. I have a piece of glass as the top, and I use a roll of high end vellum as the sweep.

Here, I have one strobe head shooting upwards to light up the table with a soft box set as a fill.




The image below shows how this all comes together to make a beer bottle "glow" and create a decent gradient as the background. I added a piece of black cloth to avoid lens flare from the strobe aimed upwards.

The rig ran me about $25.00 in PVC parts and the glue. I'll post some detailed photos of it, including dimensions for anyone wanting to make one for themselves. The key to this design is the rear cross support is well below the level of the glass top, to allow for some back-lit images without having a shadow appear in the images.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Campaign that wouldn't die!




All I gotta say!
















I composited this image from some stock images... Apologies to Mr Christopher Lee (had to replace your head), and to vampire fans everywhere.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Funny Star Wars Parody

Hillary is perfect as Darth, and Bill as the Evil Emperor.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A rant

I’ve got to address this.

I hear way too dang many people mis-using the term "Footage" when talking about video.

The term “Footage” when applied to digital stock video is wrong.

“Footage” as it is properly used, applies to film, usually 16mm or 35mm, and is expressed in lengths, eg. 10 feet, 50 feet, one reel or two reels, etc. A reel of film is 1000 feet, or 11 minutes. Older movies, made from the beginning to the 50s, were timed in reels. If a movie was released at 10 reels, it was about 110 minutes long.

I know this because I not only worked in film during the 80s, I also have a degree in film making.

Video, either analog or digital, is expressed in units of time. Such as Hours:minutes:seconds:frames

(Hence the term, SMTP Time Code for video editing)

Film is expressed as footage, in the following units, reel:feet:frames

For example, a film clip in 35mm, running 33 seconds at 24 frames per second, is 50 feet.

A video clip of 30 seconds is just that, 30 seconds.

When I took a video class in college, we were fined each time we used the term “footage” when we referred to tape. When shooting film, the camera operator advises the director he has 120 feet left, this means the director can only shoot up to a minute and 20 seconds of the next scene. If they’re shooting HDTV, the camera operator can report “only a minute left on the tape”.

I just had to address this….

Maybe the perfect lens


When shooting for stock, or doing portraits, no lens is better than the old manual focus Nikon Series E 100mm lens.

I used one for many years, from 1996 through 2000, when I sold everything to get into digital. I regretted that ever since.

I just got another one from Ebay. It showed up today, and it's a newer version than the one I had years ago, but it's just as good.

Super sharp when it counts, and a good Bokeh. It's wonderful for portraits when you need the background totally abstract. Maybe it's a bit too sharp? The image of my daughter (above) was edited to remove blemishes on her face, as the lens picked up each and every problem she has skin-wise.


I'll be shooting product images again this weekend, and I'll see how it performs then as well.

I will label this lens as a perfect lens, especially for the money. It's manual focus, no CPU so even metering with a newer camera doesn't work, but with digital and a fast review, and a good working knowledge of the basics of exposure, you can nail the exposure quickly. I used the "sunny-16 rule" while testing the lens just now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nutless Wonder


Manny the cat, which this image is a best seller for me at ShutterStock, has returned home from being neutered. At the age of 9 months, he's over 13 pounds!

We had the operation performed at the Williamson County Humane Society, which I highly recommend. When we had the other cat, Moki, neutered, we used a local vet who had us drop off and pick up, but the folks there were not as friendly and lots more expensive. Currently, they charge $40.00 for a neutering, versus $75 or higher.

ShutterStock

In a single month of being with Shutterstock, I have managed to generate 200 downloads, and almost enough for a payout. Almost. 

Other folks I've talked with in the forums there have said it's taken them months to get to the magic amount for a payout, and I'm ***almost*** there! If you factor in last month's downloads, generated in only 8 days live and online there, it's not a bad start.

ShutterStock uses a subscription model, a buyer gets "X" number of downloads for a flat fee. Two other agencies I sell through are starting the same business model. iSTock and 123RF thus far.


Updates

This post is simply a test of uploading content via Adobe's Contribute.

I've also updated by main website - in case you're linked direct to this blog and have missed it.  The new gallery page is made with SlideShow Pro's Lightroom Plug-in.

I'm not as good at Flash as I used to be... a lot has changed.

Ok!  Onward through the mist!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Surreal Images


These images are also known as Ultra-Real, Illustrative, and Hyper-Real. Some good examples come from photographer David Hill.

The effect is helped along by proper lighting. For outdoor shots, it’s best to over-power the sun with your strobe. I use an older Sunpack 522 to blow out the sun, and a faster shutter speed. My Nikon D50 can sync with its internal flash at 1/500th, but with the Sunpack, it’s synced at 1/250 or slower.

Most professional photographers are familiar with the idea of “Key Shifting”. This is where you darken the ambient light while exposing the model or subject with a flash. (More on this in another post)

The steps to achieve this image effect is different for each image, but for the most part you need to flatten out the highlights and shadows using the Image-Adjustments-Shadows/Highlights tool, then run a filter called Local Contrast Enhancer. I set this filter to get as much of an outline as possible, usually 80, 20, 200. You can set the layer to 80% opacity at normal, or leave it at 100%.

For color dodging and burning, I use a new layer on top, fill with a 50% grey and mode set at overlay, and then I use a soft brush with either white or black to accomplish the color dodge/burn effect. There is also an action you can run to accomplish this.

I finish with a copy of the first layer on top, with a high pass filter, the layer set on Overlay.

You can find most of these actions on Photo-Plugins.com and ATNCentral.com and search for some action sets by Chip Springer.

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Century Mark


As of yesterday, I had over 100 images approved on ShutterStock, arguably the 2nd hardest agency to get images approved at. Maybe the 3rd. iStock is the 2nd, with the first being Fotolia. The reviewers at Fotolia are extremely picky. They’ve rejected images which are *big* sellers on the other sites.

It’s a nice way to make some cash from photography, if you can shoot suitable images.

The photograph must be of high technical quality, tack sharp focus, and usually bright and colorful, with a clear concept. My shots of a glass of soda are selling like crazy.

If you want to make money with your photography, try ShutterStock first. That link is to the referral program. It tells them I sent you!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2nd Most Popular Image


This was shot using a glass top with a light under it, fake gel ice and a real cold bottle of Shiner Blonde.

This has been downloaded from multiple stock agency sites since posting late last month.

Quality photography is what sells on Microstock. Not snapshots, not artsy shots.. but quality commercial photography.

Managing the Digital Workflow


Folks, I don’t mean your idealized efficient workflow. I mean what really happens.

At least to me...

I planned some table top shots to test out my new shooting table. All this is from memory, so the actual times may be off.

I spent most of the day shooting and testing my home-built shooting table. Aside from the usual interruptions, the afternoon went well. I’d stop every 20 minutes to transfer the images from the chip to the desktop using Nikon’s Picture Project.

Now, it’s after the shoot and time to edit.

7:15pm: I open Lightroom and import the images into a catalog I have intuitively named “Stuff”. Import goes OK.

7:20pm: Daughter asks to go to friend’s house. I open Lightroom and begin examining images.

7:22pm: Daughter asks for ride to friend’s house. I explain the concept of “exercise” and “walking” and the benefits of each.

7:32pm: Return from giving kid ride. Chase cat away from desk, and resume examining images. Cat insistent on being on desk.

7:33pm: Put cat in hallway, shut door. Begin using Develop module to correct color temps.

7:34pm: Kick cat outside, the whining to get back into room is just too annoying to continue work. Threaten cat with removal of various body parts as he’s shown the door to the great outdoors.

7:35pm: Find myself in kitchen. Huh? Oh, well, pour some beer and get back to work.

7:50pm: Having found a few images usable, I begin export to Photoshop format for further editing. Three images OK to export as JPG for uploading without retouching.

7:59pm: Potty break.

8:00pm: Pour another beer.

8:01pm: Open folder of images to edit. Decide on which one to edit. Open image in Photoshop.

8:06pm: Preview image as JPG. Edit a few missed dust spots. Preview JPG. Save. Next image.

8:10pm: Phone rings. Kid wanting ride home. Again explain benefits of walking. Explain concept of “too busy” to kid.

8:12pm: Save next image as JPG. Answer phone.

8:25pm: Return from getting kid, get back to work, and again chasing cat from desk. See that cat has chewed on mouse. Try to explain to cat that this isn’t a mouse a cat should catch. How did cat get inside anyway?

8:26pm: Cat goes outside again.

8:28pm: Answer cell phone, explain to caller I’m not interesting in a free trip for buying pens for my business, explain concept of “Cell Phone minutes” and “Prime Minutes”. I then suggest a biologically impossible act and hang up.

8:35pm: Explain to daughter how if there is no food to her liking in kitchen, none will be found anywhere else, must make do with what is in kitchen.

8:45pm: Answer door, find several of daughter’s friends. Direct them to her bedroom. Futilely explain need for quiet.

8:50pm: Export two more images, and then proceed to daughter’s room to ask for quiet.

8:52pm: Chase cat from desk again. Cat managed to infiltrate back into house when kids entered.

8:53pm: Toss cat into daughter’s bedroom.

8:55pm: Manage to edit two more images, and deleted one that is, without question, utterly crap from every perspective.

9:00pm: Interruption by kids wanting food. I explain concept of hunting and gathering and how it worked for thousands of years… Give permission to order pizza.

9:04pm: Talk to pizza place to give card info.

9:06pm: Try editing more images.

9:10pm: Noise from hallway. Kids playing some odd teenage game involving yelling, running and hitting things. Yell for quiet.

9:12pm: Yell for them to turn down stereo. TRY to edit another image.

9:20pm: Check email, waste time on various forums posting idiotic advice.

9:30pm: Arrival of Pizza. People in kitchen, mass confusion, fussing about pepperoni from “vegan” kid. Plates are distributed and I issue warnings of severe bodily harm is I find pizza anywhere but on plates.

9:32: Another beer. Try editing another image while eating pizza.

9:35pm: Heartburn meds. Noise from kid’s bedroom drowning out fire engine siren.

9:35:30pm: Fire engine?

9:36pm: Outside as neighbor has emergency. Ambulance arrives. I finish beer, return inside and shut down Photoshop.

That’s a typical workflow for me… Anyone else?

(BTW: I was interrupted many times while posting this...)