Friday, September 28, 2007

Canon 85mm f/1.2 DOF chart

In case you were looking for it, here's a Depth of Field chart (in both feet and meters) which I compiled for the Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens @ f/1.2. Click on the image to see the full sized version, which you can actually read.

Take it and use it how you will. I hearby release it under a Creative Commons "Do whatever the hell you want with it, man. I don't care" license. (Forgive me. I don't know the actual license name.)

It's based on Canon's DOF chart (which I've found in meters only) found here, and this online meters-to-feet conversion utility. All I really did was save you some cutting and pasting. Consider it my gift to you, semi-anonymous future internet visitor.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Bwahahahah! I love the sensationalist graphic that accompanies this story about a rabid kitten in DC:


I can hear the network hacks brainstorming now "So, how can we make a kitten scary?"...

F*cking media.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fly me to the moon...

(Above CC licensed photo linked from misterbisson's flickr stream)

My buddy Joe recently blogged about this interesting little bit of information:

NASA posted a hiring notice for new astronauts Tuesday, seeking for the first time in almost 30 years men and women to fly aboard spacecraft other than the shuttle.

So I'm thinkin' I gotta apply, right? I mean, sure, I'm not remotely qualified. Not in my wildest LSD-induced dreams (not that I do, or have ever done that kinda stuff, cuz that would disqualify me too, I imagine). But how many people can say that they even *applied* to be an astronaut? It's got to be good for at least 2 or 3 minutes of cocktail-party conversation.

So, just to see *how* unqualified I really am (before submitting my un-qualified resume), I'm looking over the job qualifications required and my aspirations of spaceflight are stopped dead in their long-strided tracks by this:

* Standing height between 62 and 75 inches

Goddamn our miniature astronaut force!! What the hell is America going for? Dwarves in space? If there's a war for the moon, we sure as hell don't need a bunch of little people up there battling it out with bigass Ruskies (or MoonTerrorists). We need some big, hearty flyboys, damnit! So, NASA, I call on you to abandon the mini-nauts program and open the astronaut force up to us "big-n-tall" types. At least raise that upper limit to 78".

Ah well. More institutionalized height discrimination. What can you do?

My favorite part of the job overview for astronaut...and I quote:

*Frequent travel may be required


Yesterday I had shoved down my throat (figuratively), another shining example of why we, as a society, are doomed:

After reading this article (via BoingBoing) on how plastic grocery bags are procreating at a rate which will allow them to be the dominant life-force on the planet in about 3 weeks, I've developed a solid aversion to them. If given the choice between paper and plastic, my response used to be "eh, whatever". Now, it's a hearty "paper, you planet-killing bastard". For years, I've hauled bags stuffed full of bags back to local grocery stores to be recycled. Recently, I was pretty happy to learn that Whole Foods is phasing out plastic bags entirely. You get paper, or their reusable cloth sacks. Being the Earth friendly hippies the wife and I are, we bought two or three.

So yesterday I go to [national drug store chain] and pick up a few things. They, being not-so-progressive as Whole Foods have phased out paper bags eons back, so I'm left with little choice. I get plastic. I then wander to the far end of the mini-mall and pop into Michael's-We-Shit-On-Your-Planet-Craft-Store. I pick up a single, small picture frame. When I get to the checkout, the girl stuffs it into its very own Michael's plastic bag. I say "You know what...I don't even need a bag, I'll just stick in in my bag from [national drug store chain]", which I do. So friendly I-Hate-The-Earth checkout girl grabs the abandoned brand-new plastic bag and shoves it into the trash can next to her. If I'd have just accepted it, at least it would have ended up in plastic-bag-recycling-heaven, and not landfill-hell.

Some people just *don't* get it.

(Creative Commons licensed photo above taken from Pete Arkestra's Flickr stream).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wedding v2

So Saturday was my most recent attempt at wedding photography. Ben had lined up a shoot in MD with a bride and groom who's original photographer had bailed on them. I told him I was happy to come along to help out and build my skill set (not to mention portfolio).

The day was busy. We met at the bride's mother's house at noon. Ben soon went off to the church to shoot the bride/groom/groomsmen prepping. The bride was supposed to be arriving there well before the 3pm ceremony. I stayed at the house shooting the 8+ bridesmaids and junior bridesmaids and mothers and grandmothers and aunts and cousins (*big* family).

At 2:45, the limo arrives. The girls pack in and head for the church while I follow along behind. We get there a hair before 3pm and proceed to cool our heels until the bride finally arrived at 4:30pm.

Once the wedding finally begins, Ben and I cover different angles. He's down in front, I'm alternately off in the wings and up in the balcony with my longer lenses. It's taken me a while to like the shots I got, but I'm coming around.

The reception followed at a neighborhood community center. Lotsa guests, darker complected bride and groom, white wedding dress, gymnasium lighting requiring high ISO settings and less than picturesque backgrounds made for some challenging shooting. In a lot of my images, skintones look nearly blue. It's taking some post-processing time to get things looking right.

By the time the final frame of the bride and her girls was shot... was after 9pm and Ben and I had been shooting for 9 hours. We had expected to be done by 6. Ah well. Here's hoping future weddings run a bit more on schedule.

I have a ton of shots to process for delivery. I may post a few more if I manage to find some that I really like.

Monday, September 17, 2007

More beer.

Dear future me,

A bit more about beers the past-you like:

Flying Dog Tire Bite Ale is pisswater. It's like Budweiser with an extra hop. And not even a tasty hop. Avoid this one. You can't stand it. Trust me on this.

Longhammer IPA is a good one. You tried that a while back and liked it. Stone IPA is great. And HopDevil is damn fine too.

I offer you this, future Gary, an attempt to keep a best-to-worst running list (not that it will help you when you're sitting at a bar getting shitfaced):

Bear Republic Racer 5
Stone IPA
Redhook Long Hammer IPA
Vicory Hop Devil
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA
Heavy Seas
Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale
Monkey piss
Tirebite Ale

There's a bunch more to add (not that I drink a lot or anything). This is all I can come up with at the moment. Cheers.

--Edit to add---

I've discovered the secret of Tire Bite Ale. If you drink it straight from the bottle, it's not as bad. Don't pour it into a glass. You have to hide both it's pale-yellow, pee-like color, and it's unfavorable Budweiser-like aroma and it becomes bearable. I wouldn't suggest you run out and buy more. But if you find yourself stuck in a bar offering only Bud Lite and Tier Bite. Go for the Flying Dog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wedding, Meeting, Meeting, Wedding, Wedding, Wedding

A couple of weeks back, a former coworker who left the 9-5 world to join her husband as a full-time wedding photographer contacted me. She wanted to know if I'd be available to assist her shooting a wedding that she had scheduled. I jumped at the chance.

The ceremony and reception were held at an estate in MD. A few rough-shots are below. (For the record, they are ultra compressed, ham-handedly resized, and didn't have much post processing work done to them. Essentially, these were meant for small web-display only. The final, full-sized versions are better.).

For months now, Ben and I have talked about getting into the wedding photography business. It's interesting, fast-paced work. There is tons of room for creativity. And, if you're good, it's lucrative.

Things really started to come to life when a coworker-friend of ours asked us to shoot his late-September wedding. We agreed. Since that initial booking, Ben's been much more active in moving things forward. He's started a company (linked above), at first focusing on portraits, but now moving into weddings. Recently, he's taken to combing Craigslist posts on wedding photography, and posting a few of his own ads. I told him I'd be happy to be an assistant, or "second shooter" for any weddings he schedules. I feel like I need to get some more real-world practice before I jump in, ready to solo.

Last night, we had our first client meeting. A bride and groom who's wedding we're shooting in October. Tonight, we have our second client meeting. (Told you things were moving now). A bride and groom who's wedding we're shooting on Saturday (*gulp*). Apparently, this couple had a photographer who bailed on them last-minute.

On top of all that, my former-coworker-friend just contacted me again to see if I'd be able to assist her with another wedding she's shooting this Saturday. Unfortunately I had to turn her down, as I'm already booked (with Ben) shooting the "our first photographer bailed" couple.

Moving along indeed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Maternal Instict

I swear to god, this is the first line of an email sent to me by my mother today:

"Just thought I'd touch base to see if you are still surviving/thriving alone. While I was cleaning my toilet bowls (inside) I thought of you..."

The sentence continues, but where it goes doesn't make it any better.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Blackwater 2k7

I made a trip out to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge again this weekend. The first summer-time trip ever, I think. I left the house at 4:30am Saturday and got to the refuge by sunrise ~6:30). I shot during the nice morning light, went and checked into a campground a few miles from the refuge during the harsh mid-day light and took a nap, then went back to the refuge for the evening hours and shot until sunset (roughly 7:30pm). Sunday, I was back at the refuge by about 7am and shot until a bit after 9am, when I headed for home. The shooting was decent; I saw a couple of red-tail fox, a couple of the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrels, three Osprey (which I'd never seen before), and ~5 bald eagles, and a number of decent sized snakes, specific flavor unknown. Additionally, there were countless egrets, herons and small shore-birds about as well. Two of the snakes were in the water, and if I remember correctly, MD only has two species of water snakes: the copperhead and the cottonmouth. And these weren't copper in color.

For the trip, I rented a Canon 100-400mm lens. I've pretty much decided that I will never buy one of these lenses. The 100-400mm is a nice enough if your subject is close. If it's even a little bit distant, the image quality goes to crap. Fast. An example (click the images for the full-sized shots): Here's a shot of a heron, pretty close to me...maybe 15 meters away:

Nice enough, right? Now here's a bald eagle farther off. Probably 50-75 meters or so:

Looks like crap, right? This is the longest lens I've ever mounted to my camera, so I don't have much experience with this kinda thing, but I have to imagine that 500mm and 600mm (and 1,200mm, for god's sake) lenses exist to take photos of things far away. If distant things always looked like, I doubt Canon would have much business in the long-lens department.

So, as an alternative (not that anybody cares), I'll be looking at the 400mm f/5.6 prime, the next time I have $1,300 burning a hole in my pocket. Word on the mailing lists is that this lens significantly out performs the 100-400mm lens at the 400mm end. When I have the 100-400mm on the camera, at least 95% of my shots are at the 400mm end. So I won't miss much giving up that 100-399mm range. And the improvement in color/contrast and sharpness I gain will be well worth the trade.

Here are a few other keeper shots from the weekend. I may also have one or two more to post later. For the record, I'm not sure I'm digging this Flickr thing. I like the way my old Pbase site works in conjunction with my blog better, I think.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Achtung! Halt! Papers Please.

Well covered in many other more widely-read forums is this guys account of being arrested after failing to show his store receipt (and driver's license) upon exiting a Circuit City store in Ohio.

This boils my blood (and scares the holy shit outta me). I had a similar, much less severe run in with a store goon years back when I waltzed out of a local electronics store without producing a receipt. I despise being asked to account for my personal property when leaving a store. I'm not a criminal, don't treat me like one. If you saw me steal something, bust me. If not, fuck off. Leave me alone.

So I donated a few bucks to the guy's legal fund. And I'm writing Circuit City a letter (on actual paper) and mailing it (with an actual stamp), telling them that unless they resolve this, publicly, and in the above referenced guy's favor, the money I was planning on spending there this year (after getting my new high-paying job) for the new ~50" HighDef TV and DSLR camera system will be spent at a competing store. (I never said I wasn't a liar).

Don't fuck with my rights. Or anyone else's for that matter.