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Monday, June 19, 2006

Going, Going, Gone

A crop from a panoramic I did. I digitally cross-processed and adjusted the RGB midtone levels.
I ask for prayer as I depart for my two and a half week adventure in Wisconsin. It will be a barracks enviroment and will not require my full battle gear! Woohoo! Easy money if you ask me. The highs all this week are going to be 70's and 80's, with the low at night right around 60. :-D Friggin' sweet! So I leave you with some stuff I did in Photoshop for one reason or another.
---Playing with blurring filters, layer masks, color curves, and levels. Not a very interesting shot, but a good expirement. By looking into this shot, you may be able to see the intended subject that autofocus didn't catch.
Again playing with blurring fliters and reveal masking. Again with the digital cross-processing and levels adjustments. I actually had to desaturate this by -20 to avoid color burn. Not intended to be a good shot, merely another expirement. :-)
An expirement in design. I think I'll go with this sort of design someday for a coffee table photo book for potential customers of my services. Perhaps an animated flash front page for a future website? Any way around it, I find it pleasing to my eyes. Though the only feedback I've received so far is mom saying it is cool. Further feedback would be a-very nice-a.
Currently Listening To: Death Cab For Cutie - Soul Meets Body - Plans - 2005

Friday, June 16, 2006

Memphis Again

I'm leaving for Memphis today at 12:00. I'll be back Sunday night as usual. When I come back, I'll have two short days to prepare and relax before I fly out for annual training.
This is my latest desktop setup. If it shows 1024x786, it's really not, Blogger sizes down overly large images usually. I'm using 1152x for my res. Anyway, the theme is one of the latest after the release of AstonShell 1.9.2 Beta 3. Features a desktop Google search, animated start menu button, and support for a ton of new elements and plugs (which aren't developed yet). I still need to modify the top bar and line it up for my resolution.. hah oops. So yeah, I use Yahoo Widgets for the weather, the stock ticker, spelling bee (instant spell check.. hehe), and picture frame. The picture frame is set to my screensaver gallery and is set to change the photo every 5 minutes.

Without Yahoo Widgets running (and no other app running) the RAM usage is just over 230 mb. Not bad, not bad.
Currently Listening To: DragonForce - Black Winter Night - Valley of the Damned - 2003

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mom's PC

I had the pleasure of building a nice AMD rig today for my mom. It was by far the easiest build I've ever done.. easier than my first A64 rig thanks to a better motherboard (a-bit > chaintech). But yeah, I just got done putting music on her computer with her sitting there picking stuff from my library. She was shocked to end up with 1.6 days of music. Anyway, here's the specs!
---Spire ATX Case
Thermaltake TR2 430W PSU
A-Bit KN8 939 v1.1
AMD Athlon64 3000+
1 GB Wintec DDR400
nVidia 6600GT (the pwnage)
Maxtor 160GB SATA150
LG 16x DVD
WindowsXP Home SP2
Yeah, it pretty awesome for being a mom pc.
---Currently Listening To: Taking Back Sunday - Cute Without The E (Acoustic) - Punk Goes Acoustic - 2003

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Could It Be?

Native American memorial at the Memphis Zoo. Nice idea, but too little too late in my opinion. Sad. Anyway, I split-toned the image in CS2.

Alright, it's that time yet again where I reveal another job interest. This one does involve finally going to school. I'm going to take Christian Counseling through the North Tennessee Bible Institute's online program. Surprise! Why Christian Counseling? I've had enough people tell me I'm a great listener and that I give good advice. Some of you may or may not know that side of me. No matter, I'm not going to go into this much further as I'm always saying I'm doing this and doing that. The one thing I've really done is the Army.

Oh, and for those that are wondering, I'm going to Wisconsin for the Army Reserve annual training.
Currently Listening To: Racer X - Snakebite - Technical Difficulties - 2000

The Countdown

A meerkat (also known as a meekrat to us cool people). I would've done a much better crop, but that darn light leak.. :-(


Hmmmm, only about a week and I'll be gone for Wisconsin to be a soldier for a while. I'm not to worried about it. It's amazing to see how I go from confused and "what will I do?" to knowing exactly what I'm doing and completing my duties as they're given to me. My training was good I guess. Hehe... Alright, so Memphis was crazy fun. I gave my digital to Enoch when we went to the zoo and told him to take as many pictures as he wanted. He loved it! Haha, got some good shots too. Some were better than mine thanks to a hole in the shutter of the Minolta. The light metering on the Minolta is spot-on, by the way. It's totally analog needle metering, and it rules. Anyway, it didn't help the light leak any. All my shots got a "ghost" burn in the lower right of the image. So yeah, I had to do some crazy cropping. Other than that, I'm totally not used to the camera and screwed-up several shots. Sigh... But yeah, it's still got a big bundle of potential if I could fix the cloth shutter.
---A "surprise" picture of Alicia when she was all dressed-up for a clogging event. She's going to kill me for this! Hahahaha!
Currently Listening To: Static-X - Cold - Queen of the Damned - 2002

Friday, June 09, 2006

On The Road Again

Gone to Memphis! Be back Sunday.

Here's my current "Playlist" :
Keane - Under The Iron Sea
Random CD (shuffle, picking songs I like)
Taking Back Sunday - Louder Now

Subject to change, of course.
Currently Listening To: Nine Inch Nails - Hurt (Live, with David Bowie) - Closure - 1995

Monday, June 05, 2006


Finally fixed that old 19 shot panoramic of mine. I ended up using 15 of the shots, but it still ended up being 15400 pixels across. This is the sized down version, not to mention digitally cross processed for the love of it. I have a non-cross version, but what's the fun in that? Heh... enjoy.
Currently Listening To: Massive Attack - Euro Zero Zero - Teardrop - 1998

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Digital Cross-Processing

Cross-Processing is a darkroom technique involving developing E6 transparency slide film in C-41 chemicals, or developing C-41 color negative print film in E6 chemicals. I finally found a way to simulate this effect in photoshop via a great tutorial on dA. I haven't got it memorized yet, and I doubt I will. Memorizing the plot points on Photoshop's Curves table is quite difficult. Anyway, here are the examples. Once again, Steven is the lucky victim. Hehehe.. Hope you don't mind, man.

Before and after, of course. To me, the shape of Steven's face appears to be thinner in the right photo... but I'm pretty sure it's just some slight warping on my monitor since I didn't do any skewing or transforms. Anyway, all I did to the first photo is the auto-levels adjustment and +3 to saturation.
More to come...

Currently Listening To: Cake - Long Line of Cars - Comfort Eagle - 2001


This is called "split toning." It's the effect of making a black & white image have a colorized look. I've memorized this technique and will be working to bend it every way I can for any color combination I want. Why don't I just use the duotone feature provided by Adobe? This way offers more control.
This is what I call the "scary mud" technique. I first converted the image to sepia. Either by filter or by toning, either way works. I used the virtual photographer plug-in for Photoshop. After that, create a new levels adjustment layer and adjust the midtones (middle) slider under the details in the image appear harsh a defined. Flatten the image and duplicate the background layer. Apply heavy gaussian blur to the 2nd layer and invert it. Change the blend mode to Color Burn. On this image I desaturated by -45 using a hue/saturation adjustment layer afterwards. I made one of Alicia and I, but it look absolutely evil. To the point of not even saving it. Hahaha.. but it looked like we were two gremlins covered in mud, even or teeth. Thus the "mud" part of the name. So yeah, I'm have a good time. Perhaps when the lighting becomes better outside I'll grab some more shots. I'm not in a photography mood today unfourtunately. I need to get a roll from the Minolta developed before Friday though, so I can see if I need to refoam it any.
Currently Listening To: Ben Folds - The Last Polka - Ben Folds Live - 2002

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Matsui

When dad told me over the phone that he had found an old camera at a yard sale for $5 that was "like my others" , I was excited and had no idea what to expect. I thought that maybe it was a classic with worn shutter springs, causing it to seem "broken" when all it needs is a good dry run of all the speeds a dozen or so times. I completely did not expect to find a lomography gem. The camera is a cheap Chinese Matsui Camera "B" . Yes, that's right. The only name I could find on the camera other than the maker was Camera "B" . I have searched and searched for anything about this camera but with absolutely no luck. I can just imagine that it's a company that got into the "toy camera" market far too soon. Before the $20 wonder known as Holga came along.

You see, there is a whole different crowd of photogaphers out there. In fact, they don't even call themselves photographers. These are lomographers. People that see a rough pressure plate as the producer of "creative" scratches on the film. People that see light leaks as neat effects to odd photos. People that cheer when their cheap plastic lens produces harsh vignetting around the corners of the photo. You may think that this would be a collection of junk photos that any child could take. You may be right. But every now and then, a lomographic (or "toy") camera can make even the most mundane subject appear fascinating.

I have loaded a cheap roll of FujiFilm SuperHQ 200, though 200 ISO may be too slow for this camera's f/6.3 "lens" . It's difficult to call this thin piece of plastic a lens. Even better, it came with a huge (and heavy) hotshoe flash! Crazy! I detached it though. It's quite rare that a flash will do anything but ruin a lomo shot (if such a thing is truly possible). The camera takes standard 35mm film, two AA batteries, and is motor driven. Crazy, no? It provides two methods of setting up a frame. Standard rangefinder port on the far left end of the body (way too far, anything midrange will be offset by at least a foot), and a top down mirror view through a circular port directly above the lens. This is a neat feature as this is quite common with medium format cameras. Of course, things appear completely backwards through the top viewfinder. But who cares? Anyone "setting up" a shot on a lomo is doomed to fail from the start. I am really anxious to see this first roll developed. It's bound to be... interesting at least. ;-) I really wish I knew the shutter speed. It's a fixed speed. Usually lomos have a fixed speed of 1/125 sec. Fast enough to avoid handshake blur and slow enough to be versatile.

Oh, I finished HL2:Ep1. I'm still saying "wow" about the ending. Amazing. Oh yeah, after the credits it shows a preview for HL2:Ep2. :-D Frickin' sweet. There were some amazing HDR effects at the end. Made me pretty glad I purchased my 7800GT.

---I'm still madly in love with Alicia. There are so many new things in this relationship. Things I've never experienced before. It's exciting. I get to see her Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Woohoo!
And finally, I'm going to bed. I've been up since 3:30 AM this morning. Had to go to Evansville and do a drill day for SRP. They want everyone's records straight before AT and "just in case" we "ever" mobilize. Duh, anyone that joined the Army knew they were going to mob eventually. I'm not excited about it, but I know it's coming sooner or later. I have 4 years left on my contract, do you really think I'll get that lucky? Methinks no.
Currently Listening To: Prince - When Doves Cry - Purple Rain - 1984

Friday, June 02, 2006


My Pawpaw friggin' RULES!!! I come home from work, ready to grab a shower and go to bed (I have to get up at 3:30 to go to Evansville), I walk in my room and see a camera laying on my bed. At first I think "who the heck was touching my Yashica." But then I realize.. "the strap is.. this is.. what.. the.." and shouted "A MINOLTA!!!!" Yes, I am now the VERY proud owner of a 1975 Minolta srT 102 35mm camera. Full. Working. Condition. The lens needs a tiny bit of extra cleaning and the body has some scratches, but otherwise the camera is great. I can't wait to load a roll and click away. I've missed it. My Yashica will hopefully be repaired someday.. but I'm still looking over manuals and sketches (the only available image documentation of its construction). It's too bad the Minolta uses the MC mount isntead of M42, but that's okay. The awesome 50mm stock Rokkor lens is f/1.4 . And I thought the Yashica's f/1.9 Yashinon was a crazy wide aperture. Exciting! I'm still on the way to buying a new Digital Rebel XT right after AT since film simply isn't a good idea for event/wedding photography.

In other news, I'm looking at a Real Estate agent class in Paducah. Could be interesting. All for the love of photography.
Currently Listening To: Third Day - I Got a Feeling - Wire - 2004

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Half-Life 2: Episode One

I haven't even beat it yet, but I'm a few hours into it and it is friggin' amazing. Even if I had beat it already, it still would've been worth way more than $20. The fact that this amazing game is $20 and still pwns is enough reason to buy it. More than HL1's crafty AI, more than HL2's creepy Ravenholm, this game is one long rush of excitement. Not once have I thought "this is boring." Still, the Source engine being memory sensitive as always, I had a crash in the first two minutes of gameplay. However, after a reboot and changing my (cruddy) memory timings to 8-4-4 instead of 8-3-3, it was rock solid all the way. Through use of new pixel shader tricks and the awesome HDR (High Dynamic Range Lighting), this totally competes with the current games on the market when it comes to graphics. The audio is pure Valve magic. Through perfect 5.1 mixing, I was jumping and turning during some of the creepiest pitch black scenes in any game.

For instance, imagine you and your sidekick (Alyx in this case) have shotguns. You're waiting for an elevator to come up and there are absolutely no lights but a couple sparks and your flashlight. Alyx doesn't even have a flashlight! Headcrab zombies, fast and slow are coming from all directions. You and Alyx are blasting away, every now and then popping an explosive barrel and creating a minimal amount of light from the fire. The fire quickly fades and so does your flashlight power. It blinks out and you begin blasting away at the pitch black darkness while it recharges some. You panic, so you try and click it on for a brief moment to find out what's attacking you only to see at least six or seven zombies, all in close range and attacking you. The light blinks back off because you didn't let it recharge more. Yeah, this game invoked moments of sheer terror in me.

I have only one gripe about this game. There are times that Alyx will say things that make you turn and look at her like "seriously, what?" However, the more I think about it and study her facial reactions, I see that she's saying things that some would expect a young woman to say that was trying to impress someone she liked or whatever. More or less flirting. But some of the things really are obviously dumb sounding. Haha, I don't know if she's supposed to come across a little ditzy, but she does. Other than those few moments, it's easy to feel like I'm actually fighting next to a real person. The new facial animation system is outstanding! Never again do I have to deal with stiff mouths lip syncing text. HL2 had amazing animation, but wow did they really push the envelope. Out of all the game companies that have impressed me through the years, Valve has really done the best job. Now everyone keeps asking "what about Half-Life 3 ??" I read that Valve joked that they should've changed the name to "Half-Life 3: Episode One." Let me just say, if this is how they deliver Half-Life 3, then fricking YES.
In the woods behind Alicia's house. It's frickin' awesome back there. But there were a ton of bugs and spider webs. Plus a snake slithered through the grass at one point which freaked out Alicia because she hates snakes. I, being the brave man I am, protected her of course. Hehehe.. I hope she doesn't read that.

In other news, yeah, I'm typing another blog thanks to Steven's words of encouragement. That and Alicia is out of town.. er.. more out of town and I need to do something to keep my mind occupied. ;-) Hehe.. yeah, I'm uber-manly like that. Oh and hey Steven, I'm having trouble finding a counter to put on the page. Any tips?

And I'll be working Friday day and night as well as having to go to Evansville Saturday (be there by 7:00 AM.. UGH..) for SRP (records review prior to AT). Later mad peeps. Or something.
Currently Listening To: Opeth - To Rid The Disease - Damnation - 2003

Half-Life 2 is copyright of Valve. Like, the image I posted is one I captured, but like, it's all Valve's work. So.. don't like, throw any books at me.