Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Andrew Zuckerman's Wisdom: 50 Unique and Original Portraits not only contains beautiful portraiture, but is packaged together with a 60 minutes of the portrait subjects discussing the meaning of wisdom. At wisdombook.org there's video excerpts from the interviews, plus 'making of' footage and commentary, and even has portraits of all the subjects. The book, however, has large, beautifully printed pages of these portraits, plus other images of each portrait subject, along with text, wisdom, from each person photographed. It is a beautiful book, and is on my wish list.

From a photographers standpoint, I found it fun and instructive to watch the Making Of: How It Was Made video (click link in upper left when you get to the site). Catching glimpses of the photographer at work, seeing his use of light, and seeing a bit of how he works with his subjects, all good stuff.

A few favorite quotes from the interviews:

"One of the reasons I haven't slipped into some sort of retirement is I always feel I'm learning something new all the time." - Clint Eastwood

"I always thought that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work." - Chuck Close

"I don't know if political change can affect that much. Change has to be in the heart." -Kris Kristofferson

It's fascinating to see in so many of the commentaries on wisdom, how frequently the comments stem from the professional experiences of those who are being interviewed. Maybe that's obvious, but, there is something about it that I can't yet put my finger on... I just found it fascinating, one person of one background juxtaposed with one of another.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blog, blog, blog

Funny, but I already broke my weekly blogging goal, but that's not what's funny. What's funny is that I broke my blogging goal because I was blogging. Been ramping up to launch two new blogs, one anonymous, the other to be found here. It's tough work getting all things ready to do what I plan to do for these blogs, but it's gonna be fun. Within the week they'll be launched. 'kay, gotta go, and blog some more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Miss Photography

I was posting the photo at left to flickr in order to submit it to a contest , when I peeked at my recent activity (comments to my photos and such). I looked at the favorites of one who favorited one of my photos and then spent the next couple hours looking through photostreams on flickr using this list of favorites as my guide.

Here are a few of my favorites from my viewing.
(To see larger, click each photo to go to the photographer's photostream.)

salt flats by antimethod

I Think I'm Falling For You... by GoodMolecules

There's No Escaping It by stephaniedan

Morelle by Elle Moss
Elle Moss is also on etsy, where I became a fan of her work.
Finding her on flickr was fun to see some work that's a little different from her stuff on etsy.

Wacom Bamboo Fun, Not Just for the Kiddies

After a month or so of illustrating with a mouse, my shoulder had it. It ached. So I looked into getting a tablet. Glad I did.

Quality Counts
Second rate products don't cut it with me. Much rather spend double for quality, than half as much for junk. But I crave value, and can give up the best for something still quite good at a more easy to swallow price. So I looked at the competition, searching for a great value. In the end, I couldn't bring myself to go for a second tier brand. Reviews too mixed, and the build quality was pretty much universally considered sub par. I went with Wacom.

Price Counts Too
But the Wacom Intuos 4 is just so dang pricey. This illustration gig is still experimental for me, and the Intuos isn't set at an experimental price. I looked at the Wacom Bamboo Fun. Then I read every review on Amazon. Seeking for the only reviews that I could rely on: those who use the Bamboo as professionals. I found, I think it was two (note that different colors will have different reviewers, so I read reviews from all available colors). They were sold on it. So was I. Now, nearly two months later, I still am. It's a great little gadget.

Beautiful Design
On opening the box, I could see what a sexy piece of peripheral it really is. A few years ago I used a 12x12 Intuos 3. Huge, thick and clumsy for me. This Bamboo Fun is sleek at an 8.75" x 5.5" active area (11" x 9.25" total size) and feels nice in the hands. Drawing on the surface has a nice pen on paper feel. Very nice. If I could, I'd go for the new Intuos 4, only to get it's extra buttons. I don't need it's extra levels of pressure sensitivity, as I don't use this feature but occasionally in Photoshop, and not sure if it would make much difference for my style of use anyway.

Buttons: customized
The four buttons on the tablet are customizeable. Make them a keystroke, a couple keystrokes, run a script, whatever. I have mine set for undo, redo, shift, and control. My two pen buttons are set to alt (for dragging and zooming), and the second one opens my custom contextual menu. I could use one more button on the tablet. I'd make it the delete key, and then I'd rarely touch the keyboard. But otherwise, I haven't any thing I want more from the Bamboo. There's also a zoom and scroll pad on the tablet. Don't much like the scroll, but very much like the zoom.

Contextual Menu: customized
This is what made the Bamboo better than I hoped for. I set one of the buttons on my pen to open a contextual menu, in which I can put anything I want. Tools, dialogs (palettes), save, etc. All of my 'most used' can be placed in this menu, so I don't have to use the keyboard, or reach all the way over to the tool palette. Click, select tool, get to work. Repeat. Time saver. Patience saver. Arm saver. Love it.

The medium is just right for me. Not too much space to travel the pen across for clicking on menus, and not too small for drawing. Any smaller would be too small, and my experience with the 12x12 Intuos 3 a few years ago, tells me bigger isn't always better. It just didn't suit me. This 8.75" x 5.5" active area suits me fine.

Black, Silver, or White
I chose the silver, because at the time it was the least expensive of the color options. I looked at other sellers, but Amazon was within $10 of the cheapest seller, and I trust Amazon. Other than the cheapest seller, all other sellers were no better priced, and usually pricier.

Wacom Bamboo Fun at Amazon.com
This has been a Wacom Bamboo Fun Review

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How I Became An Illustrator

Okay, so that title is a bit of an overstatement. Illustrator. Time will tell if it becomes an accurate description of what I do, but to date, I have only just begun learning to illustrate. Here's a brief telling of what actually is a, well, a brief tale.

For about sixteen months I had been contributing occasionally to a microstock photo agency. (Aside: If you're a creative that's down on microstock, I can understand, but I've come down on the "I'm cool with it" side of the microstock model. Times, methods, models, and technology changes. I figure those who don't appreciate the change, and don't adapt, risk falling behind as others take their place. Those who do adapt, succeed just as well as they did before. They can succeed by doing things how they used to, albeit with some modifications, or they can take the new road altogether. But some sort of adaptation must take place. For certain professions in this blink of an eye technological life we live in, that's how life seems to be. But this is a whole other topic. I'll discuss it further in depth at another time.)

So, I've been contributing photos to microstock, and wanted to take it further, so that I might be able to make a living this way. I submitted to other agencies, which brought more sales, but realized I needed help to do this at the scale I needed to. But I didn't have built-in help, and couldn't yet afford to higher help. So, I figured I'd supplement my photography with illustrations along the lines of Nick Monu's fantastic work, which is an image style that doesn't require illustrative skills so much as design skills. I thought, "I can do that." (After a little dabbling, I have yet to do that kind of illustration, as you can see by the few images in this post.)

Enter Inkscape 0.46, a free, open source vector illustration software (0.47 will be released within the week). Free is a whole heckuva lot cheaper than what I believed was my only alternative, Adobe Illustrator or a similar pricey package. Inkscape rocks. More on this nifty piece of software at a later time.
So, I downloaded Inkscape, dabbled, looked up tutorials and instruction from many sources online, and over the course of a few weeks felt pretty comfortable, and in a few weeks after that, even more comfortable. I studied the work of others, found a lot I liked, and few I really liked (including Steve Mack, Bob Staake, and Russell Tate), and began to make some work that was somewhat alright.

It's late, and I'm not feeling well, so I'll finish this up Thursday sometime, including a few illustrations.
Thursday: Okay, feeling worse, and better at the same time (Thanks D. Fish), and it's late again and so I'll get back to this post on Friday.

'kay, I'm back, six days later...

The topmost illustration was my first complete one. It was inspired by Maurizio Santucci's sweet 3-D paper illustration in the April '09 Popular Mechanics (an interesting article, to boot, about the improved technology that is behind the latest 3-D movie craze of late).

These last two illustrations are my effort at using texture within the vector software itself (click any image to see it bigger). Steve Mack uses Illustrator 10 to do his illustrations, from sketches all the way through to the final illustration. Even his texture is done in AI, which is
significant, since everyone who uses texture so heavily takes the vector image into Adobe Photoshop or some other bitmap software to add the texture. That's how he used to do it, but to streamline workflow he developed a means of texturing within AI. I wanted to emulate Mack's work somewhat (he has such good stuff), and the texture was key. Since he was hush hush about his vector texture technique, which by all appearances seems unique to him, I went out and tried to figure out what he might be doing. These final images are my first efforts. The last one, too, serves to counterbalance all the cheeriness in the first four illustrations above it. Bah humbug.

I've more to say about what I've learned and am learning about illustration, but that's the beginning, and enough if not too much for now. Good evening, and goodnight.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Karleigh Hits 200

My wife Karleigh creates handmade books. Journals, photo albums, notebooks, sketchbooks, guest sign-in books, and so on. You can catch another glimpse of her work in the sidebar, or visit her shop by clicking here.

In less than six months she reached her second 100 sales at karleighjae.etsy.com. The first 1oo took about a year. She rocks.

In addition to selling her books, she sells lambskin leather, the same stuff she uses on her hard bound, leather bound books. It's soft and supple and sells at a price much cheaper than you can likely find anywhere else. She buys in bulk to lower her per hide cost, and then sells the extras at a low price for a quicker sale. People have bought her leather for bookbinding, purse making, and clothing. For those interested, you can see her current color choices in her shop, or make a request for the color you're looking for.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

White Mamba

It wasn't my doing. I was dubbed. There's the Black Mamba, and now there is me. White Mamba. Okay, okay, okay, let's put this in perspective. Three games of two-on-two. Me and my early twenties brother, against our late fifties Pop and our mid thirties bro. Hey, that's the way the free throws fell when we shot for teams. Although Pops can still compete, he started out tired, and our older bro has been training for marathons, not for leaping, cutting, picking, in your face two-on-two basketball. He's got all the stamina in the world, but he felt like he had no quick, no hops (not to mention no shot). Me? I had my way. Driving, shooting, rise up over the screen and put it in the cup from twenty. That's the way it goes. I don't touch a ball for months, and then the first game back, I got a sweet shot like no other. If I play again within the week, look out, bricks be fallin' from the sky. That's just the way it is.

After three games of two-on-two, same teams each game, it was 3-0. White Mamba. Pops bailed, and the three of us played three games of twenty-one. Would you believe I ended the night 6-0? White Mamba. Cutting, driving, corner threes, reverse left-handed layups. Fall away jumpers. Even a few Magic over the Celts baby hooks. White Mamba. I haven't done much of anything athletics-wise since Vegas, so by endgame, my legs were like jelly. Doesn't get better than this.

Another bro is coming tonight. Gonna play again. Watch your head. Bricks be fallin' from the sky.

Second night recap: White Brickamba

Friday, June 5, 2009

Conversations with a two-year-old: Teasing Mom

[Earlier in the day, Jadon had been playing with the dog, Rizzo. Jadon came inside crying after he got bumped on his head as they played together.]

[Later in the day, on the back porch, eating lunch]
Jadon: It cold.
Karleigh: Yeah, It's cold from the wind. I have goosebumps. You have goosebumps too.
Jadon: I have bump.
Karleigh: Where's your bump?
Jadon: Forehead. I got hurt.
Karleigh: How did you get hurt?
Jadon: Rizzo. Tail. Bum piece wood.
Karleigh: [laughing] Rizzo's tail is not a piece of wood.
Jadon: Tail hurt. Piece wood on bum.

[Two minutes later...]
Jadon: [points to his bum] "I have bum." [He laughs] "I tease mom."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I love my Lotto Primatos

About two years ago my cleats died after a long, action packed life. One of the cleats broke off during an intense game of ultimate (frisbee). I lost the cleat on the same play I lost my lunch, having sprinted the length of the field twice, on back to back plays, at the end of a long point. But you don't want to hear about that (and neither do I since I was scored on to boot). I was bummed, but it was the best thing that could have happened to my feet. The old cleats had probably been best retired much sooner, but I tend to wear things into the ground, even when I shouldn't necessarily do so, such as with athletic footwear. The old cleats were Adidas brand, and I had a high opinion of them, so expected I might replace them with the same.

I lived in a small town with few store options. Nothing I could find was suitable. So I turned to the internet and three different stores that rock when it comes to shipping and returns:


If I was looking for cleats today, I'd add another store to my shopping list, one owned by Amazon.com:


Free shipping, free returns

What's great about these stores is that I was able to buy a half dozen shoes, try them on, then return what I didn't select without paying shipping, not even return shipping. Sweet deal.

What I tried

In looking to buy, I researched a great deal, as I tend to do, but can now only remember two of the boots I tried but did not end up choosing:

  • Adidas Predator (I forget which iteration of this model) - These were stiff, kinda plasticky feeling, and the toe didn't fit right. A soccer cleat should fit to the toe, and this left too much space in it's pointy end.
  • Adidas Copa Mundial - Nice fit and feel, but just couldn't justify the $100 tag. In the end, the Lottos I bought had a similar feel, but at a better price. In fact, I think I liked the Lotto's sole/cleats much better.
What I bought
Lotto Primato. I love, love, (love) these cleats. Instantly comfortable fit. Light weight. Clean, classic styling. And I almost never slipped on dry or damp ground. They just bite into the turf. In about thirty games, and three times as many practices and scrimmages, I've gone down to the ground due to slipping only two or three times while wearing my Lottos. They work equally well on grass or artificial turf (the new stuff that looks like grass with rubber bits that fly in the air when you cut hard).

About Fit
A soccer cleat is designed to fit to the toe. The shoe conforms to your foot, and you shouldn't have any excess room at the tip. Because of this, as you wear them they leave the foot looking much smaller than you may be used to them looking. With my Lottos I came to realize how much excess room there was in my old cleats. With my old boots, my toes tended to drag too frequently, but with a proper fitting cleat I felt much quicker just by reducing this unnecessary toe room. These fit true to size. I bought a size ten, which is the size I usually wear.

Lotto Primatos come in black or white.

Buy at Zappos.com!

Free Shipping and Free Returns at Shoes.com


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Movie Review: Bella

I'm a tough critic when it comes to media. If I'm going to spend time and money, I want the material to be well crafted and to have a worthwhile message. I'm even cool with something light, and silly, if it fits my sense of humor and doesn't leave me feeling scummy. But not much out there gets past my quality filter and into my "wanna own it" list. I like a lot of movies okay, but many don't appeal to me beyond a first, or maybe even a second viewing, as its flaws just don't end up seeming worth my time.

Having said all this, I think that Bellais just about perfect.

Beautifully filmed, written, and acted, with an inspiring message to boot. There are a few bits that were flawed. I noticed two minor visual technical weaknesses, which were a touch distracting for me during those scenes, but nothing terrible, and they seemed more due to the film's lower budget as an independent film than any inability of the filmmakers. The storytelling and acting were so strong that they more than overcame these two minor visual weaknesses. Atthe end of the film there is a passage of time that didn't seem very well conveyed, and thus left me a bit confused for a few moments until I realized that it wasn't the next day, but a few years down the road.

I should say I sat down to watch the movie with no previous knowledge of the film other than what the cover had to say. Coming to it with no great expectation allowed the film's simplicity and nuanced performances to do what they were intended to do. That is, tell a good story, without pomp, but with dignity, warmth, and an eye and ear for what is beautiful about life. That is, what is beautiful about real life, rather than movie life.

I considered embedding a trailer, but the trailer was pretty weak. Better than this is the interview with star and co-producer Eduardo Verastegui at Amazon.com. The interview is on the left hand side, just under the movie images on the left.

“A Perfect Film, An Artisitc Masterpiece”
Tony Bennet, Grammy & Emmy Award Winning Singer/Songwriter

Warm, sweet and funny.
Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com

“The Best movie of the Year. Everyone should see this film.”
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

“A sweet, life-affirming picture”
Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

“A bear-hugging embrace of sweetness and light”
Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Versategui is a natural on the big screen, a compelling presence.
Ruthe Stein, San Fransico Chronicle

Powerful and moving… a true inspiration.
CNN, Ana Maria Montero


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Edition

Meet our second! Ethan Alexander, born May 30, and weighing in at 7 lbs 5 oz at 21 in. long. I know, I know, he's cute, right? Notsofast. This is the 26th of 28 photos taken of him over his first two days on earth. And the only cute one of the bunch :) Hey, it's true. I just don't think newborns are especially cute looking until about two to three weeks into life. My suspicion is most people secretly feel the same, but wouldn't ever admit to it. It's okay. We still love him.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dust Furniture

This is too cool. My wife found Dust Furniture on etsy, and when she showed me, my whole insides smiled. I felt a twinge of envy, as the woodworker in me oggled over their work. Give them a look and see if you don't come away smiling inside and out.
Dust Furniture website
Dust furniture on etsy