Monday, January 26, 2009

Perhaps the coolest site I have ever seen. Check it out.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Never Forgets

I went to San Diego two summers ago with my wife and her family. We towed along our then six month old son Jadon, going to Sea World, Balboa Park, the beach, and the zoo. I shot this elephant photo then, and just now got around to doing something fun with it.

The image further below is what it looked like out of camera.

Here's what I did to create the image above. In Canon's raw software, Digital Photo Professional, I made a sepia tone and upped the contrast, then cropped it square.

I didn't care for the original background, it was too distracting for me. So I thought I'd play with blending the elephant head and another photo, a close up of it's skin. The skin close-up was to be used as background, blending it into the head photo using a mask in Photoshop. This wasn't working for me either, so I took a break from it. I often think my creative best when lying down with my eyes closed, and so I killed two birds and thought about this image as I lay down to rest my weary eyes from this mornings photo excursion (more on that in a later post).

To clean up the visual mess surrounding the elephant's head, I decided on adding a background of an old textured wall. Adding this wall image as another layer in Photoshop, I used a mask to cut out where the elephant was, allowing it to appear in front of the wall. Then I played and played and played with also blending in the close-up photo of the skin, giving another layer of texture on the background. Ultimately, that proved too distracting, so I just vignetted the image of the wall, added to the wall a gaussian blur at 3 pixels, and then it was nearly done. I cleaned up some white specks on the elephant's face, probably bits of grass, and that was that. I wonder, though, if the fact that it is eating hay is a detraction to the image. I may come back to this and try painting it out, but that'd be quite the Photoshop workout.

[Note: the above is slightly simplified, as there are other adjustment layers in the image, and a few blendings of redundant layers, one altered one way, the other altered another, all to give a somewhat different look than what the above simple description would have given.]

Monday, January 12, 2009

If someone you know struggles with this whole computer/internet thing, this'll bring a smile

Perhaps you know this guy? Perhaps you know at least three or four people like this guy. All is not lost for those new to such newfangled gadgetry. Call the helpdesk.

About the video: Helpdesk support back in the day of the middle age with English subtitles. Original taken from the show "Øystein og jeg" on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) in 2001.

The "official" version (posted by NRK) may be seen here, but to me, the text is harder to read than in the version above, although, there are a few seconds more in this official version that add one more joke to the skit.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's that time of year...

...where resolutions are made, only to be broken within a matter of weeks, if not days, or even hours. For any who wish their resolutions to stick, here are some suggestions for increased stickability:

  1. Make sure it is attainable
  2. Design it so it is measurable
  3. Set a realistic plan for achieving it
  4. Be accountable to someone for it

1. I might be able to realistically set a goal to put on 10 pounds of muscle in the next 6-8 months, but I know me, and if I were instead to set a goal to put on 25 pounds of muscle any time this year, that wouldn't be realistic.

2. I could set a "goal" to be nicer, but that wouldn't be measurable, and thus not really much of a goal. I'd have to design it such that my niceness is measurable, so that I could keep track of my progress. If my ultimate aim was to be nicer, I'd have to set goals of hugs given per day, or count the number of fist fights I get into each day (to find a baseline) and then reduce that as time goes by.

3. Part of this includes not setting too many goals all at once, because too many might very well be unrealistic to plan for. Make sure any goals you do set can be realistically worked in to the available time of each day, week, and month. In many cases, setting a goal will require cutting some other activity in order to make time for achieving your goal. If I want to read the complete works of J.R.R Tolkein this year, I have to plan time for which to do it, which will require that I choose what other activity I am going to cut out to allow me time for my reading. Some goals are complex, and will require a succession of steps to attain it, all which have to be planned out, with enough flexibility in your expectations to allow for setbacks or stalls or changes in your plans.

4. If you're married, discuss with your spouse what goal or goals you have, and have a daily or weekly accounting with him or her. If you're single, discuss with your parents (whether you live at home or not) your goal or goals, and have a daily or weekly accounting with them. Be sure the person who you choose to be accountable to has a genuine interest in your attaining the goal, or this step won't be much of a motivator to continue to work on the goal, but instead could actually be demotivating. If the goal isn't directly important to your "accounter," then explain how important it is to you, and why, and he or she may then be able to understand the importance to you and therefore have a desire to help encourage you to achieve your goal.

Honestly, these are pretty theoretical for me, but others have had success by implementing these (and often times other) principles in their goal setting.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Want to Remember Everything You'll Ever Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm

Do you forget stuff? Then this Wired article may be of interest. It's worth reading just for how well it is written. It's about Supermemo, a memory enhancing piece of software.

Supermemo really is an incredible concept. For me, the author of the software, Piotr Wozniak, is a wee bit extreme about using it, but even using it more lightly for a few things here and there could be hugely beneficial.

Here's an excerpt:

SuperMemo is based on the insight that there is an ideal moment to practice what you've learned. Practice too soon and you waste your time. Practice too late and you've forgotten the material and have to relearn it. The right time to practice is just at the moment you're about to forget.

(Tip for reading the article: click the "full page" link, at the bottom of every new page of the article, if you don't want to click the "next" link after reading each page.)

Words I looked up while reading:


For Mac users, try mindburn, based on the same concept.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Last year I submitted this image to the 2008 Adobe Design Achievement Awards, for which I was selected as a semifinalist. I also submitted another image, that I'll show here when I get back to my own computer where it's stored.

The above image was made with five different photos, then mixed together in Adobe Photoshop to create the final image.

For lighting, I used two or three Nikon SB-80 DX flashes, with dome diffusers on them, behind the mother. She is in a small 4'x5' "hallway" that connects three different rooms. This 4x5 space was closed on three sides by doors and a wall, creating a light tent effect, wrapping her in glowing light.

In Photoshop I blended the photos of each leg, one of each model's head, and one of the mother's arms and torso. The infant photo was actually taken several months prior to the mother photo(s). I warped the mother's torso to create a more upright and squared look to her back and shoulder. Several different adjustment layers created the coloring and added to the high key effect of my lighting. Also added lighting effects to the infant's head to help it look more like a part of the image.

I think I need to revisit this image, to try and achieve a more natural look to the infants head, making it look less like it was added in to the image. But overall, I'm pretty pleased with it. Thanks to my wife, Karleigh, and son Jadon for modeling.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve Eve sledding

We went sledding a couple days ago, along with a couple of my bros and nieces and nephews. It was my son Jadon's first time. I took him on three or four runs, the first time he came up crying (a bit scary maybe, or perhaps the snow spraying his face) but he came up smiling the second time, saying "snow" "face" and "jacket" over and over again, pointing out where the snow got him, amused by the spray in his face this time.