Friday, December 26, 2008

Frustrated with your ClearPlay breaking down? Bugged that CleanFlick got snuffed? Here's an alternative.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

On this eve of Christmas in which we celebrate the birth of the Savior, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Photography by Mark Mabry: Reflections of Christ.

Reflections of Christ DVD

Don't slip on the ice, it hurts

Famous Footwear sent me a card for $5 off $5 or more. So I thought I'd stop in the store and get some free socks. Instead, I used the card to reduce the price on a pair of Yaktrax for my wife. And of course I had to put them to a test. I walked a couple miles in them after it dumped a couple feet of snow. I walked on ice. I walked on compacted snow. Verdict: awesome. Pretty much like walking on clear ground. I think I'll grab a pair for myself.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Letters from Mojave I and II

These are my most recent photographic images, having worked on them over the last couple of days. I find it often takes several different sessions of work to complete an image, making an adjustment here, an adjustment there. Coming back after even two minutes time can help to see it fresh again, to see what needs adjusting. This is true for something more produced as are the following two images, as well as for a straight photo without obvious manipulation, which still requires adjustments to saturation, contrast, hue, etc.

The original image that these two images are products of, I thought looked pretty good after the initial lengthy work session. It didn't look so good when I did a second one. That second one needed quite a bit of tweaking, and then the third one, too, needed a bit of tweaking. These final two images are the results, with the original image being scrapped.  These two may get altered again after time has passed allowing me to see something I don't like, but for now, I'm kinda liking them.

I initially titled them Letters From Nowhere I and II. I was thinking that the joshua tree indicates desert, and the desert is "the middle of nowhere," but that seemed too negative. So I changed it to Letters From Mojave.

The envelope that is blended with the joshua tree image is from 1929, if I can read the year correctly. My wife received it when she purchased a set of old postage stamps. The joshua tree image is from near my aunt and uncle's home in California. I photographed it nearly a year ago, during one morning of my final trip to visit my grandfather, my dad's dad, before he passed away.

Soon to be available at etsy, they are now available here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The perils of CF card readers

A while back I posted about Photorec, file recovery software that I found to be stellar at recovering corrupted photo files from my CF card. Not only is it good, it's free. (Although, if you use it, and love it, the software author does accept donations.)

But, how do files on a CF card ever get corrupt anyway? Although my investigation didn't provide the exact answer, I did find enough info to be of help.

Why do files get corrupt?
The answer: card readers.

The two times I have experienced corrupt files on my CF card has been when I have used a card reader to try and upload photo files to my computer. Not all card reader use has turned my files unreadable, but two of the dozens of times that I have used the card reader, files have been corrupted. Not sure why, or how, but that was my experience, and in my brief investigation I found a few other people across the internet who had similar problems when using a card reader.

The solution: use the camera and it's USB cord to upload any irreplaceable photos.

I still use my card reader all the time. I use it to transfer files easily from one place to the next, or when I am uploading photos from a photo shoot where moving the camera would ruin my set up, and the photo is easily replaceable since I'm doing a studio photo shoot. But if I have wedding pics, or a location shoot to transfer to my computer, I ditch the card reader, and connect my camera to the computer using the USB cord. I have uploaded photo files using my camera's USB cord hundreds of times without a hitch.

If you're concerned about this sucking your camera's battery, consider buying a spare. A spare battery will give you extra juice for file uploads, while still having enough power for shooting Billy's birthday party.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Karleigh hits 100, I hit One (then two)

Pretty nifty. My wife, Karleigh, reached 100 sales at etsy the other day. That same day I got my first real* etsy photo sale, a print of the Grand Canyon. The day after that I sold my second print. In time this will be routine, but for now, it's pretty cool. 

However, I have been featured in the gift guides at etsy, twice now, in the last month, thank you very much. Both were longstitch journals I listed in Karleigh's shop, and both sold. This one, and this one.

*Prior to this print sale I had previously sold two postcards, kind of as a mercy buy from someone, so they don't really count - the mercy sales came due to this forum thread my wife began (how long do these threads stay in etsy's archives?). 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Etsy Gift Guide, Yet Again

So, one of my longstitch journals was again featured in the Dad Gift Guide on etsy. Second one in a month. This one, however, sold in short order, within a few days or less of being featured. It's great to be featured, but to further improve the experience I wish etsy would inform sellers when they have an item here. The first time I went on a hunt because the views of the journal were so unusually high. This second one Karleigh discovered it when she just happened to be browsing the guide.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So it appears I make better books than...

... I make pictures. The week before Thanksgiving I began making a few longstitch journals to put into my wife's etsy shop, but looks like I should have started making them sooner.

In the last five days seven long stitch journals have sold, going back to 12/7 for the first sale. (The longstitch are the rustic looking, folded leather journals.) Compare this with the number of sales here. One of my first listed journals was even featured in etsy's gift guides for fathers. This is a huge deal, as all the items in the gift guides are picked to be featured there by the etsy administrators, and there's a great increase in hits to the items and shops of anyone featured. The items are remain in the gift guide pretty much until they sell, which this one did today after being there since the end of Nov.

My wife, Karleigh, on the other hand, has sold well not just in the last few days, but over the last several months. Her work is quite good. Consider one of her latest custom orders here, and one of my recent favorites, a "Macbook" journal (which is an idea I sold someone on who was looking for a gift for her husband, and then Karleigh made it). Forget the photographs, I'll join forces with her to work on our evil plan to flood the world with handbound journals. Mwah, ha ha ha. (Sorry it's late.)

The window of increased sales will probably close here soon, but it's been fun the last few days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Free Prints for Everyone! Well, half of everyone.

One of Every Two Will Win - Through Dec. 31st

Here's the deal. I wanna sell some fine art prints. And you want them for free (who wouldn't?). So this is what we're gonna do. From now until December 31st of this year, if I sell 10 prints, half of all those who purchase them will have their money refunded. Capice? Capice. 

Check out my etsy shop, find what you like, make the purchase, and you got a 1 in 2 chance of getting it free if you're one of the first 10 customers between now and December 31st. Them odds ain't shabby. 

What if 10 sell? What then? Then the names are drawn, five people get free prints, and the count starts over again, and the second set of 10 prints that sell are part of the same promotion up until Dec. 31st. Sweet action.

Small print:
  • Limited to Kodak Endura prints,  $18 value or less. Which allows from 4x6 up to 8x12. If the size you want isn't currently listed, contact me and your wish will be granted.
  • All images in my shop may be printed on Kodak Endura. If it isn't currently offered, please convo me and your wish will be granted.
  • Offer available for prints only, not frames and matting. If you purchase a frame and win, your print price will be refunded, but not the frame price.
  • Shipping will not be refunded. Shipping is a flat rate of $5.95. Need it asap? Next business day is $10.75 (allow one day processing so it should arrive in two business days. Note, if you wish me to sign the print (available on request) I cannot ship next business day, but there will be a delay of about three business days before I ship to you.
  • Limit per customer? None. You could, in fact, buy 20 prints rightnow and half of them will end up being free!
  • I may make further changes to this fine print to reflect my intended purpose and rules of this promotion, but in no way will I renege on what is fair and true to the intended rules of this promotion.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What is the Christmas spirit?

At this time of year I find it easy to lose the meaning of what this time of year is all about. The following words help keep the spirit of Christmas with me:

“True happiness comes only by making others happy—the practical application of the Savior’s doctrine of losing one’s life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service.

“It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring ‘peace on earth,’ because it means—good will toward all men.” David O. McKay

Friday, December 5, 2008


It's been sometime since the last post here. Busyness elsewhere has put this project on the back burner, but I now plan to write once weekly, if not more, but at least weekly.

I've spent a lot of time at lately. If you don't know what etsy is, check it out. It's one of the coolest sites on the web. While you're there you can see my shop, and my wife's shop, and our son's shop, and you'd be crazy to pass up the chance to see Corinne Barker's shop which my wife and I are managing for her. Her work is phenomenal. I'll talk more about etsy another time. For now, check it out if you'd like, and if you'd like to see the twenty-eight year old founder talk about his creation check out the following videos and article. At the time of writing this, the embedded video here gets cut off on the side due to the layout of my blog. If it bugs you, you may click here to see it uncropped.

Over at there's another vid and an article about etsy's Rob Kalin.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fundamentals of Photography

About seven years ago I picked up a digital camera my dad had borrowed for the weekend and walked around town taking photos of whatever caught my eye. Like many people who do such a thing I was pretty much immediately hooked. And what's more, I was actually almost good at it.

None of what I shot that day has any real value, but what I shot that day did show that I had a way of seeing things that lent toward the capture of interesting images, and what I shot that day showed that I had a natural tendency toward good composition. But I didn't know squat about photography. With the camera set to auto I was pretty much at the mercy of the machine to set the exposure for me. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO weren't no part of my working vocabulary. Yet an understanding of these variables, and how to use them, is critical to consistently creating great images, no matter how much a love the photographer has, or how much raw ability the photographer has in the art of seeing. Go to any photo forum and you'll find posts galore about the technical dooditties of photographic equipment. While it can be useful to know about all the techno-wizardry of modern cameras, this stuff is very much of secondary importance in a photographer's bag of knowledge. Taking great photos ain't about your pixel count.*

When it comes to the technical aspect of the craft, what is of primary importance is setting the proper exposure. What began my real education in photography (besides just going out and doing it) was reading Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson. Illustrated with beautiful photographic examples, he writes simply and clearly about how to adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in order to create the exposure you choose so as to capture an image in the way you wish. If you set the camera to auto, you'll sometimes get an exposure you want, sometimes not.

It seems so simple. You have only three variables for creating the proper exposure. But they interplay with each other in ways that can be a little complicated at first, and takes time to understand, requiring the photographer to play with the variables in many different kinds of photographic situations in order to master them. Bryan's book gave me years of learning in a matter of 158 easy to read pages, loaded with great example images. If you don't know what exactly an f-stop is, but would like to, or even if you don't, but want to take your photography to a higher level, Understanding Exposure is a great place to begin. The fundamentals of any craft are necessary to learn for anyone who wishes to create consistently good results. This book is an excellent course on the fundamentals of photography.

After having read this book, I now almost always shoot in manual. Sometimes I select aperture priority, sometimes I shoot in shutter priority, but most of the time manual. It's about being in control of the exposure so I get an image according to what I want it to be, not according to what the camera thinks it should be.

*Understanding pixels can help you understand and hone your final image output, but does nothing for image quality if you don't know how to handle the camera. More isn't better. It's just bigger, and maybe you need it and maybe you don't.

Aperture priority
: camera setting where you choose the aperture, and the camera selects the shutter speed to get the exposure it thinks is accurate.
Manual: camera setting where you choose both the shutter speed and aperture, and the camera obeys.
Shutter priority: camera setting where you choose the shutter speed, and the camera selects the aperture to get the exposure it thinks is accurate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Firefox 3.0 and PicLens

If you use the Firefox web browser, version 3.0 is now available. It's supposedly 2 to 3 times faster than version 2 and when I first used it I noticed it to be decidedly snappier.

A pretty spiffy plug-in for Firefox is PicLens. It works with many photo or video sites. For example, if you do a search on flickr, you can use the PicLens plug-in to view the results in a cool, 3-D wall of images sorta way. Spiffy.

As a photographer one of my continual quests for learning the craft includes studying other photographer's work. One way I do this is occasionally scanning through flickr photos to find images of which I can reverse engineer the lighting. Now that I've used it, wouldn't want to do this without Piclens.

My wife has an art blog for which she needs example images for the assignment each week. She'll search google images and use the Piclens plugin to scan through them. She loves how much easier and quicker it is to view this way. (Note: her use of the images is legal under fair use laws, as she uses them for a nonprofit educational purpose. Be careful about how you use an image. Just because it's on the internet, doesn't mean it's fair, and legal, and honarable to use.)

Piclens also works on So if you have Firefox 3.0 and install the PicLens plug-in, then go to any of the galleries at Just click the PicLens icon in the upper right corner of your browser window, its right next to the search bar. Now you can see the images in the cool, wall of images style that PicLens creates. Nice.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The problem with self-esteem

What's wrong with self-esteem? Two thoughts on this. First, self-esteem is an unhealthy distortion of the healthy concept of having a sense of worth and in having an appropriate level of confidence. Second, an idea I heard told not long ago by my Personality Theory professor, is that esteeming yourself at all is problematic. Not just the self-dislike, but the self-like also. What? Yeah, I know. More on that in a bit.

The first thought mentioned above is addressed nicely in an excellent talk given in 1995 by Paul C. Vitz. I could pick at some of what he says, or at least wish to discuss with him some points he briefly made, but all in all what he says is spot on. My main gripe would be found in this statement, "... only two things can truly change how we feel about ourselves. Real accomplishment and real love." This is well and good, but he goes on to explain that in order to develop genuine self-worth, real love has to be received. What he does not discuss is the importance of developing self-worth by giving love. Giving, I would suggest, is of greater importance than receiving. (I could go on and on about love and it's definition/s, but will save that for a later post. Maybe.) Vitz further writes that self-esteem is a "narcissistic emphasis in American society [that] is a disguised form of self worship." Ouch. Is self-esteem so bad? In it's often expressed incarnation, it really is. This is because it is a distorion of a true principle, but it is not the true principle. His entire talk may be read by clicking here.

The second thought, about the problem of esteeming yourself at all, goes like this. Rather than seeking to be happy, instead of seeking to love self, one should not consider such things. Instead, we ought to focus on others. This idea would say that if I'm down on myself it is only because I am focused on myself. Turn that focus toward others in a positive, serving sort of way, and *poof* no more problem with self-esteem; no more problem with depression. An accurate sense of self-worth will then follow. While self-esteem seeks to be fed, self-worth is content, and is fed mostly by course of feeding others. (I can go on and on about depression and it's definition/s, but will save that for a later post/s. Almost certainly.)

I find myself wanting to continue, to elaborate. But this is good enough for now. Read Vitz's talk. It's good to think about.

More Vitz: Psychology As Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship

[Although a professional photographer, psychology was my area of study in school. I expect to return to psychology related topics frequently in future posts.]

Friday, August 15, 2008

This is one of my wife's and my favorite sites. You can search for recipes, submit recipes, and save them in your online recipe box, or even print them. You can search for recipes by ingredients you want, or ingredients you don't want. The reviews are key to the value of the site. Make sure to read the reviews instead of just relying on the star rating. The reviews often provide helpful tips by those who have tried the recipe before, tips that you may wish to have before giving it a go.

There are also clearly written articles, illustrated with photographs. One I found useful for the one time I made bagels is Forming and Baking Bagels. If you like to cook, or don't, but have to, may make cooking more fun.

Some of my favorites:

Chocolate chocolate chip cookies I like them cold from the refridgerator, my wife likes them fresh from the oven.
Canola Oil Pie Crust
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Whole Grain Waffles
Aussie Chicken

Monday, August 11, 2008

Joelle Einerson Photo Shoot

I recently had a photo shoot with Joelle Einerson. She's at the beginning of a bid on the LDS pop music scene, and is in the process of recording her first album. Prior to the shoot she expressed an interest in photographs that were "edgy." Mind you, when she played me some of her newer songs to help me get a feel for her style, she jokingly referred to the songs as her "heavy metal." Pure hyperbole. This new stuff of hers was simply a step into something fast and lively in comparison to the gentler strains of say, her song Treasure Inside, which as of this writing is the first song on her myspace page. Edgy is relative.

We talked location, scouted out some places, and two days later went to shoot.

At the start of a shoot I like to start with some ideas in mind, and allow for a lot of on the fly creativity and exploring of different ideas. A photo shoot often starts off a bit slow, a bit stiff, and loosens up after a bit. So I usually start off with simple and basic to warm up, and this shoot was no different. Especially since I was trying to capture one of the images she wanted, a simple close up shot. In the photo at left a flash in a silver umbrella was about 4 feet directly in front of her as I shot with the camera right up underneath the umbrella's edge. From this initial series of photos I think I prefer this shot better, but the expression at left might be more "edgy," if you will. But, this shot just represents the simplicity of the first series of shots, and as can be seen by her selection of photos she put up on her myspace page, it isn't a favorite. It could also use a touch of post production to make it pop a bit more, but probably not worth it, since there's so many other, better shots to choose from. (None of these photos have had anything but minor color correction or contrast adjustments.)

In lighting the entire shoot I went with anything but edgy light. Instead, I shot with a single strobe in a silver umbrella, usually placed within five or six feet of her. And sometimes I used no strobe at all, opting for the available light only. Any edge or attitude I decided should come from her expression and posture, and in some cases the camera angle and composition. I felt that too much effort at dramatic lighting might not reflect the feel of her musical style. The one light in an umbrella set-up was also a bonus because it is so simple. It's easy to control without a lot of fuss. And since we were planning on a lot of exploring without firm ideas of what images we wanted to create exactly, the umbrella was a good option for beautiful, no worry lighting. With such simple lighting, expression is key. So I tried to draw that out, sometimes actively, as I spoke with Joelle, and sometimes passively, just letting whatever she expressed to come through unbidden.

Serendipity is happily a common experience when shooting. Such unplanned for, but actively sought for bit of creativity in the process of shooting often creates the best images. Two of my favorites were such happy chances. In this first of the two, I saw the electric meters all lined up in a grid on the old building we were shooting behind. I liked the pattern and thought that if I could blur them out so they weren't quite recognizable, it might be a pretty cool shot. We were in the shade so I opted to skip out on the flash, but had my wife and lighting assistant, Karleigh, use the umbrella to shade Joelle from the sun that was just barely peeking over the roof of the building behind her.

In this second of these two serendipitous shots, I had seen the stairwell leading up into the building across the street, and noticed the wallpaper, thinking it might be a nice backdrop. After a few shots on the stairs we went up them and there was this fantastic skylight, sending gorgeous light down. Combine this with the color and symmetry of the background, Karleigh holding up a reflector on Joelle's left side, and voila, for me it was a tie for shot of the day. The photo at top being the other.

All images can be seen larger by clicking on them. For kicks, you can see the entire shoot, the good, the bad, and the ugly, by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Photorec Rocks

A couple months ago I had some images go corrupt on my CF card (how does that happen? more on that at the end of this post). I tried the RescuePRO software that came with my SanDisk Extreme III cards, but while I have been more than pleased with the cards, the software was a bust. Doesn't have the ability to recover raw image files. Hnn?! If I had shot in jpeg, it'd have made an effort at recovery, but I don't shoot in jpeg.

So what to do ?

I did some pokin' around the internet and came across somewhere (I think it was a forum at a recommendation for Photorec, a free program written by Christophe Grenier. While it's free, donations are accepted. On a Mac (OS X), it runs in Terminal, so it isn't pretty, but it rocks. There are also versions available for Dos (?), Windows, Linux, Unix, BSD, and OS/2. Click here to download the version you need.

Photorec even recovered a few files from over a year ago, and I've shot thousands of images on this card since then, and formatted the card dozens of times. Not sure how that works. Although, some of the images from my recent shoot, the one's that got corrupted, were lost. I gather that's not a fault of the software, but simply that some of the images were corrupt beyond saving.

If you're not geek enough to understand the selections you need to make in Photorec in order to recover your images, there's a step by step guide. If you're not geek enough to understand the step by step guide you can email Christophe. I did, and he responded within twelve hours. (Tip: when you get to the point where you need to choose which directory to save your images to, select a directory, then press the Y key.)


After downloading Photorec:

1. I unzipped the file called "testdisk-6.10.darwin.tar.bz2"

This created a folder called "testdisk-6.10" (There are two programs that are part of the download. Testdisk is one, and Photorec is the other. Both are part of the same zip file.).

2. Inside the testdisk-6.10 folder is another folder called Darwin. I opened it and clicked on the file called photorec. The Mac version I used doesn't have a pretty icon, just a gray rectangle with the word photorec next to it.

3. Upon clicking the Photorec icon, Terminal opens and you simply follow the prompts.


Here's my own step by step guide. That is, this is what I selected when I ran Photorec. Not sure if it makes any difference on some of these if I had selected another option:

Disk selection: my CF card
Partition type: none
File opt: crw [which recovered my cr2 files nicely]
For the file partition type I chose FAT.
Then I selected a directory to save the files to and pressed the Y key.


But why do files ever get corrupted?

[Edit: click here to read my post on CF card file corruption.]

I never had the problem until I got a card reader. Before then I had just plugged in my camera to my computer in order to upload images. Since I got my card reader I have now had two instances of corrupt/unreadable images, one time each on two different cards. The images were initially readable by my camera, then I took out the card, tried to upload with my card reader, and poof, corrupt images. My camera couldn't read them after that. Thankfully there's Photorec, but what caused the images to corrupt between taking the card out of my camera and trying to upload to my Mac with a card reader? I'll look into it and report what I find.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First post: Mooving away from the bottle

Okay, a new blog. It'll be abouta whole lotta stuff that interests me, with the intent to be heavy on photography. Here's the first post (not about photography)...

As I listen to my nearly 18 month old son Jadon cry because he wants his bottle as he falls asleep (this is the week we belatedly decided to get him completely off the bottle), I decided to research a bit on what I've only heard about, and that is bottles are bad for the teeth. Figured what I learned would either allow me to give it to him and have a little quiet, or bolster me for the few nights I expect it will take him to go to sleep quietly without a bottle. What I learned has bolstered me. A temporary and ultimately selfish fix is to give the bottle to him. Why is he crying? Because he's sad, of course. Sadness is not bad thing (it is, in fact, necessary), but not learning how to cope with it is. Letting him cry in this situation, allowing him to learn to deal with it, will be an incredible service to him. And in a few nights he'll be sleeping quite nicely without a bottle, with better oral health, and less moolah spent on moo juice to boot.

Here's a few links:

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Defined
When Baby Won't Go To Sleep On Her Own
A picture's worth

The second link above is for those who just have to "be there", in some way, for their child. I completely understand that desire to be there, but I often try to take the most practical course, and for me, sitting next to Jadon as he cries and cries isn't so practical. We're going the macho (and much faster) route and letting him cry it out alone. And he'll actually cry for less time that way, too, sparing him and us. ...Hey, he's asleep already.