Sunday, May 24, 2009


Only a few weeks ago I received my new Limited Edition Fire Orange Alien Bees B800 strobes. Looking to put them to good use very soon. Now if only I can find a willing victim model...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Changing the Sun With A Piece of Nylon

For portraits taken outdoors a very handy tool is a large, translucent panel often called a silk. My friend John often uses a silk in film and video work to soften harsh, direct sunlight and make soft, more pleasing lighting on the subject. A silk is basically a big sheet of nylon stretched onto a frame of some kind. Photo/film/video gear is usually expens(overpriced)ive but I recently learned on the Internet that one can be home-made for a fraction of the price. My first task was to locate the appropriate fabric, rip-stop nylon. DONE! Next I need to build a frame, probably from PVC tubes and figure out how I want to attach the fabric. Since I can't wait, because I have little to zero patience, I did some test shots by just hanging my nylon sheet to one of the beams over my back patio so that one side was hit by full sun.

Using my self as the reluctant "model", here are 3 examples: a. Direct sun. Notice how uncomfortable the subject is. b. Sun is shining through the silk. Hard to believe it's the same person! c. The silk can also be used to bounce (reflect) the sun back onto the subject so shadows aren't so harsh or, as in this example, to fill in some nice light when the subject is backlit. Gah...I need to get someone else to pose for my experiments! But this hopefully gets the idea across.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


I don't know, ever since getting my nikon d90 in October I've taken probably close to 5- or six-thousand photos. Not that they're all keepers and surely leaving the camera in continuous shot mode results in a lot of accidental duplicate images (is this one better or this other one?). Still, I'm shooting something almost every day. And it's not like I have such a wide variety of subjects, either. I rarely go anywhere so I've just about shot everything around the house that could make at least an ok picture. Doesn't keep me from looking though, or coming up with some new silly thing to try. It does present a particular creative challenge to try to see boring household items in interesting ways. I took pictures of the Weber for kry's sake.

My latest deal is flash photography. I never owned a flash back in the days of film, and cameras then didn't have built in, pop-up flashes. So I've been playing around with an SB-600 speedlight, bouncing it off walls, white cardboard, or through stuff trying to get a soft, diffuse quality of light that doesn't look like a flash. It's been kinda fun, and kinda dumb. The SB-600 is great in that it doesn't have to be fastened to the camera's hotshoe to work. It can be triggered remotely by my camera's built in flash and any camera tripod can be used as a light stand. I've realized this flash I have will suffice for a lot of the things I want to do, but I don't want to buy a lot of add-on equipment that's available to make it do all of the things that bigger studio strobes do better. My goal is to have proper lights to take portraits of friends and family so I think my next move is get a hold of some gear that is really designed for that.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lost Toys

About a year ago I cleaned off my desk and temporarily threw a bunch of stuff into a plastic bag, including some of my favorite desk toys. Somewhere along the way I misplaced the bag, thinking I'd accidentally thrown it and its contents away. My WACOM pen was also missing and I thought it was gone with the toys (but it later turned up somewhere else entirely).

This morning while collecting unused items to be donated I stumbled upon the bag with the long lost toys! Yay! Here's a pic.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


My desk is strewn with random notes on stickies and empty envelopes that were headed for the recycle bin. That isn't to say my desk isn't normally a disaster's totally normal for there to be piles of stuff scattered about, just waiting for me to spill my drink on them (which lately has been the only thing to force me to clean up). It's just that I DID just clean off my desk last week, anticipating a visitor who was a no show. People are always flaking but that's a different story. There are a lot of details to handle when one's dad passes on. Especially if you're the person responsible for Everything (with a cap E).

My mom will receive a change in her Social Security from what I was told. Technically it is an increase. Practically she won't see ANY of it. Once again, Medi-Cal laws ruin everything. They only allow an old lady to keep $35 a month for personal expenses. The mistaken theory is that if a person is living in a care home, almost all of their personal needs are met. But the care home doesn't buy her clothes, cut or fix her hair, trim or manicure her nails, supply lotion, candy, sodas, or pay for her to have a root-beer float or some kind of entertainment once in a while. Not only that, the food there is not very good...some residents don't even eat it and their family bring their meals. A couple of weeks ago when my niece was visiting at dinnertime, the food was so salty it was inedible. By the way, my mom is supposed to be on a low-salt diet.

So of course, $35--which is a figure that might have worked back in the 1960s, and certainly the last time it was reviewed for acceptability--doesn't cover it all. And I didn't even list non-covered medical expenses like transportation to her doctor or over the counter items. Lawmakers in this country really aren't concerned enough with my mom's well-being.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


My dad passed away peacefully just past 7 a.m. Tuesday, June 3. Plans will be made soon for a memorial service. He would have been 100 years old--a full century--on August 31st. I'm willing to give him the next two months, so I'll just round it up. My mom has taken his passing okay considering they were married for 73 (!!) years. As for myself I'm doing the best I can to look for the silver lining...although some of my parade has been rained on because losing my dad means I'm also out of work a double hit. And this might seem redundant to say: After working to exhaustion with barely any time off in the past 5 years don't expect me to be looking for a job any time soon!*

In an unusual coincidence, my landlord's mother died the same morning as my dad. Weird.

It may be a while before I'm comfortable with an empty house.
*For unemployment insurance purposes I can neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of this statement.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Day Everything Changed

Friday was a big day. I don't mean big in a good way, but also not in a totally bad way. I'm trying to mind the positive aspects of what just happened, on the fringe of a trajedy that isn't yet over. I read The Power Of NOW months ago and I think it's helpful that I've been practicing living in the moment and worrying less about the past and future. Yeah, that is a helpful way of thinking for this.

My dad went to ER Friday and is going to be in the hospital for a while. In fact, he will not return home.

Suddenly I must adapt to this change, one that I knew would come eventually and that I have been bracing for, preparing best I can (as if I even know what that means), knowing there wasn't "enough" time to really be "ready".

At home it is just me and the dog. That is strange, scary in fact. You'd feel the same way if you'd never lived alone in four decades. Both my parents' bedrooms are now empty. I'm okay right now except that earlier, for no reason, the dog barked at "something" in my dad's room. He almost never barks. I know people say their dogs don't bark when they actually do bark often, especially people who are trying to rent an apartment. But I'm serious, my dog hasn't barked in the past 3 months until today. I checked and there was no one out in front of the house, no one at the door. Weird. Scary. Creepifying.

I'm gonna just take things slow for a while.