Friday, March 30, 2007

A New Direction

Until two days ago, I had posted on 86 (almost) consecutive days. But guess what I decided...

Quality is more important than quantity.

Lately it has been harder and harder to get pictures up every day without putting up pictures that don't really serve a point. More of an issue is that I find I just can't put much time into each post, so they end up being more of a 'this is a picture of Dora taken for a DPChallenge contest' (such as below, which I didn't bother to post a few days ago). Lets be honest, just showing pictures is not that interesting. Telling a story is.

And while I'm not really trying to get lots of readers, I have a picture repository on my computer, and if I just simply wanted to share them with people, I'd use a Flickr account (note to self, get Flickr account).

So this is what I decided -- this is no longer a photo-a-day blog, more of a photo every 2-3 days type blog. Actually, more to the point, I'd like to actually get posts than mean something up, which many times will take more than one picture. So, yeah, I'll keep updating, but I'm going to slow down and do fewer, better posts.

So, hopefully in the next few days, I'll change the appropriate headings to fit this new direction. I've also been meaning to put 'best-of' links in the side-bar and do some labeling.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kicked in the Head

This past weekend we took some Easter photos with the kids (it is really hard to find flower gardens around Stanford right now for some reason!) and then took a few more pictures for DPChallenge with my son on a tire swing. The picture above occurred when I was a little too close with the camera and almost got nailed by his foot.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Penny Macro

This is what happens when you mix the reversed 50 mm prime (with extension tubes) and an off-camera flash. I covered the flash with a piece of paper to diffuse (and reduce) the light.

Who ever thought Lincoln was so detailed on a penny? I can't wait until I can take a picture of a bug like this :)

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Lizard in a Garden

Found this little guy in the cactus garden too.

Sadly, I'm really starting to realize how much chromatic aberration my Tamron 75-300mm has at long focal lengths. Sadly, the macro option is only at the long end, so it hurts it a lot as a macro lens. With this lizard, I just couldn't get all of the CA with Paint Shop Pro XI. In fact, a few other pictures just couldn't be saved.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hairy Cactus

Hairy cactus... interesting.

Hairy cactus with a pink flower sticking out of it? Photo worthy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cactus Garden

It is a little-known fact that there is a cactus garden on Stanford campus (hidden near the mausoleum). Yet, the cactus garden is one of the more interesting spots -- my next few images will be from the garden.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Photo Booth Strip

I decided to have a little fun and set up a "photo booth" by putting the flash and umbrella behind the camera and shooting through it. That, and the white wall behind me, gave a pretty decent photo booth look. So, with my wife's help (she was having a bit too much fun snapping off pictures until I saw stars) I put together a little photo strip for Revolution Prep, the SAT prep company I work for to make ends meet.

I thought they came out pretty well, actually. The strip shown isn't the one I posted on the web site -- I put it here because you can see how my wife was bugging me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Monday, March 19, 2007

Fountain Abstract

Haven't shot too much lately, but this one (and the next one) are from a few snaps of one of the many Stanford fountains. Just a bit of cropping, digital 'enhancement', and I post them.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Strobist has inspired me to really go after off-camera flash. Strobist is such an awesome resource for learning how to use cheap flash to get quality results.

I obtained a Sunpak 383 flash (~$80 new from B&H) along with a variety of connection devices like an optical slave ($11 on e-bay), wireless radio trigger ($30 on e-bay), and hot shoe to PC cable connection ($9). Then, I obtained an umbrella ($18 from B&H), umbrella bracket ($15), and stand ($20 from B&H). The combination, along with balancing ambient light, allows me to really control my lighting and put a nice polish on pictures.

For instance, about a week ago (right after I got the umbrella and stand) I set up a little studio in my kitchen. The picture of my daughter's "Teddy" above is a result of the set-up (trust me, the pics of my kids are much better than the lighting test above). I was amazed how easy it was to set up and balance yet get very professional looking pictures.

All told, I've maybe spend $200 on flash equipment, with more on the way. I'm trying to do it as cheaply as possible, but having large quantities of portable light allows you to be really flexible when you are taking pictures. If I did it again, I might save a bit and get an old Nikon flash to start. SB-24s are very popular, although I've just purchased a broken SB-20 on e-bay (hopefully I can fix it) and I'll purchase another when I can get a good price. If I can fix them both, that will give me two more lights. SB-20s go for $30 or so (including shipping) but they have all the necessary ingredients for a flash (although less power than the 383).

Saturday, March 17, 2007

THIS is why kids are scared to play rugby...

The look on the kid's face to the right is priceless.

Oh, and if you haven't noticed, I've realized the power of saturation :) I'm probably overdoing it, but I'll figure it out soon.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Women's Lacrosse...

This was taken before I was told to move from behind the goal (probably something about getting nailed in the head with a hard yellow rubber ball).

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Here's a photo of the Stanford archery club -- yes, it is overexposed, but I like the way it turned out.


I took a tour of the athletic fields on Sunday and took some pictures of lacrosse, rugby, soccer, and archery. Most of them were relatively unremarkable, but the next few days I'll post some of the better ones.

This shot of two rugby teams is interesting although the composition of the photo isn't outstanding.

Oh, and yeah, I know I'm posting this a bit late, totally forgot about posting today so I'll make it up now. Still, 70+ days of photos without being late is pretty good.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Watch (again)...

I submitted this photo to the DPChallenge Speed Challenge on time. I actually didn't like it (compared to what it could have been) mostly because I only had about 10 minutes to edit it and felt like I didn't do a good job. It is also time to get Paint Shop Pro XI so I have a powerful and reliable photo editing platform.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Watch...

Here's a picture of my watch, taken using the cheapo macro studio idea I got from Strobist. Pretty amazing how nice an image you can make with just a box and some copy paper (I did very little editing, I could make it look even cleaner and nicer). FYI, the green is the glowing of the hands (I popped a flash before the long exposure.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


While taking a picture of the hawk, this woman walked by with her cockatoo (I think that's what it is at least). Oddly enough, we'd seen her over a month on another dish walk -- I have to assume she walks it often.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Red-Shouldered Hawk

These hawks are all over the place -- we saw a number of them when we were walking in the foothills. I've even seen some of these huge birds (think small turkey-sized) in the trees right next to our apartment.

For this one, I could have gotten closer, but I didn't want to spook it. It would have made a good picture, but it wouldn't have been fair to the other hikers who wouldn't get to see it.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Stanford Postcard

I really like this view of Stanford from the dish. Dare I say, it might even make a pretty good postcard.

Not to say that it couldn't be better, but I'm quite happy with what I captured and the angle. When I took it, I didn't realize that I had a shot of Hoover Tower, the new stadium right behind that, and the bay behind that including the Dumbarton Bridge. Even though it was a somewhat hazy day, that actually helps distinguish the distances. I was using a very long focal length (I believe it is over 300mm for 35mm equivalent).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


This is one of the many squirrels around Stanford.

Although, this squirrel lives in the foothills near the dish, so I'm sure the Stanford squirrels think he speaks with a redneck accent.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Golden Arches

While walking up to White Plaza I snapped this picture because of the interesting way the sunlight was shining on the second arch.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Without warning, this guy came through White Plaza riding a wheelie. Yes, literally, he came around the corner (probably started out by Tressider) and rode a wheelie through the plaza. I got a few pictures the first time (I got lucky that I was facing the right way) but waited around since it looked like he might go through again. And sure enough, he did, and this was the best picture from the string I took.

Pretty incredible since he probably rode a wheelie, through a decent amount of foot traffic, for 200 yards or more. Not that out of the ordinary though -- a lot of teenagers (and college students) come to Stanford to practice skateboard and bike tricks. At least once a week there are guys outside of Gates doing jumps off of the 3-foot concrete blocks. I've also seen skaters attempting to jump down a six-foot rise of stairs and bicyclists hopping up on to the 1.5 foot blocks. Often, these guys have a friend with a video camera or photo gear to get a record of a trick if they actually land it.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Girl Scout

The girl scouts had a table set up in front of the bookstore selling cookies. This girl in particular was walking around shouting "Girl Scout cookies for sale! You know you want some!"

I didn't quite get the shot I wanted, but I also didn't want to make it obvious that I was photographing her. This one turned out nicely though.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Working in White Plaza

I took a walk around White Plaza last night and took a few pictures. When I arrived at the fountain, this woman was talking loudly on her cell phone but she eventually switched to some work on her laptop.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Thursday, March 1, 2007

DPChallenge: Low Key

Here is my entry for the DPChallenge Low Key II theme. Low key means a mostly dark picture, and I was going for a creepy guy in a closet (for the record, the creepy guy is me). After I took it, I realized it really needed something else, either a really strange angle, or (better yet), something for me too look at.