Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 7

This is a sad, sad photo (in terms of quality and all that).  However, I think it does embody the theme...

Bright and Clear
Not the best photo for the theme, but the glass is at rest... 

Day 7: Let There Be Rest

Happy New Year

I hope you all have a happy New Year and don't eat too many cookies! ;)
That reminds me of some letters written to Santa asking him to not eat so many cookies because they didn't want him to be fat (maybe they that Santa being overweight is a bad example for kids), and for the jolly fat man in a red suit to stop saying Ho, ho, ho, as it could be (or was) deemed offensive to women.  Seriously.
Some people...and I'm not even going to start talking about the Darwin Awards. :)  It quite obviously has a flawed premise, but many of them are hilarious all the same.

On another note, my cold is just about gone, but I suggest if you have a cold, go find Ricola Natural Cherry Honey and/or Natural Honey Lemon with Echinacea cough drops.  No, this is not a paid advertisement/endorsement; I just happen to like those two types the best, with the Honey Herb flavor coming in third.  When you have a sore throat and are taking couch drops like candy because they provide temporary relief, you probably want them to taste good as well - at least I do.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Only One Level

Are you good at thinking games?  This one is very simple (only one level!), but it might drive you crazy...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Day 6: Land animals and man

If only I knew how to do serious photo editing with Photoshop...hopefully I'll figure it out soon.
My photos will probably look a lot more interesting when I do.


I "met" this guy wearing a kind of odd combination of black clothes and white shoes and he agreed to be the model for my photo...some people think he would look better if he smiled, and I'm inclined to agree with them.   Ha, you've probably figured out who he is by now. ;)  

Day 6: Let There Be Land Animals and Man.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow recap

Some of you would like to see more photos of snow from my house?  Very well, here are a few (the sun is out now, it's no longer snowing, and the snow is melting, but there's still quite a bit of snow outside):

Great White under a blanket
Hitting a Gnome with a snowball

The front yard as seen through my window

And white covered everything
And the water froze and became like needles
And the leaves became a sculpture carved, as it were, by God's own hand...

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Today we had the first real snowfall of the winter (around three inches, maybe).  
In fact, our church service was canceled because of the dangerous driving conditions.
My younger siblings played outside and I took some photos that didn't turn out splendidly...I didn't want to go outside to get better shots since it was snowing and 1) I didn't want to get my non-weather-sealed camera and lens wet, and 2) I don't have waterproof shoes and pants.

Unfortunately, I've had a sore throat since Christmas Day, but it's not horrible...I think I gave it to my dad though, which is not helpful, hehe.  Although we didn't have a Christmas tree this year, no big Christmas dinner, etc., etc., I can't complain like some people have. (!)  Even if I didn't get a single gift this Christmas, I am very blessed as it is.

Anyway, here's my Macro Monday photo:

Don't Mess With Santa
Don't Mess With Santa

And another:
A handful of light
A Handful of Sunlight

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, everyone!
We've been given a Gift with love, so find someone to show the Giver of the Gift's love to today.

My grandfather gave me a Lowepro camera backpack as a gift, so now I will be able to take all my lenses with me when I go somewhere.  I just need to get some more lenses to fill the backpack up. ;)
My grandpa also gave me a Canon EF 35mm f/2 prime lens (and he got my brother the "nifty fifty"), so now I have my first EF and prime lens, and I'm going to be trying some things with it like astrophotography soon (I just ordered a remote shutter release), so stay tuned.

For some reason, even when using my 35 f/2 or a 50 f/1.8 wide open, I still end up with lots of blurry photos when shooting indoors without lots of light.  I think I just have shaky hands...maybe if I had a f/1.2, 1.0 or .95 lens things would be different. ;)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Creatures of the sky and sea

Duck in the drink
Hey there!

Maybe the second one is kind of cheating, but I didn't get a chance to take any photos of birds or fish recently - our cockatiels probably wouldn't come out of their cage if I wanted them to, and if they did, they might not get back in, and if the cats got after them...

Day 5: Let There Be the Sea Creatures and Birds.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Name brand vs. third party accessories

This will be a random, boring post, but I haven't posted anything in a while (even this one has been a while in the writing), so it's something.
Question: "Is it better to buy accessories for an item from the manufacturer of the product or from a third party?"  
Answer: (as is often with me) It depends.

In some cases, going with third-party accessories might actually make more sense than going with the factory items, but in other cases, it's worth it to pay more and get quality stuff.
For instance, official Nintendo Gamecube controllers are supposed to be better built than off-brand ones, and judging by my experience with third-party N64 controllers which broke (the official ones are still around), that's probably true.

Canon has accessories for their lenses that are usually's what I think about considering them if you have a Canon DSLR (I plan to stick with Canon lenses mainly because of my familiarity with them and possible compatibility issues I've heard about):
1) If there doesn't appear to be any difference in performance or a third-party accessory is better and it's compatible, it might be a good idea to go with it, rather than using the factory item.  For instance, batteries and battery grips from third-party manufacturers sometimes have good reputations and are often cheaper than Canon's, and I've read that there are third-party external flashes that
2) I used to think that lens hoods were just pieces of plastic, so why buy Canon's?  However, I found that Canon's lens hoods (Canon is stingy, BTW, and makes you buy lenses and lens hoods for non-L lenses - they don't come included) have felt or some other black material on the inside of them to block light.  Also, they're probably better built, can be mounted backwards (at least with some lenses) unlike screw-on hoods, and third-party lens hoods might cause vignetting or not block enough light at certain (or any) focal lengths. 
However, any lens hood should provide a minimal amount of protection in the event that you drop a lens on its face.
3) As far as I can tell, Canon's lens caps aren't special; other than the words on the front (i.e. Canon, and Ultrasonic, like on my EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5) and matching color in the case of the gray L super telephoto lenses, I don't see why you'd want to get the official Canon ones.
In fact, I've read that some Canon owners actually used Nikon lens caps for the center-squeeze attachment device.

OK, that's all for now.  Congratulations, you've just wasted three perfectly good minutes (or however long it took you to read this).

For all you photographers reading this (if you are), here's something that will interest you slightly more...or not.

Behold, the moon:
The 75-300mm f/4-5.6 is not an impressive or expensive lens, but since it's an EF lens, its 300mm focal length becomes 480mm on my cropped-frame Canon - much more reach than my EF-S 55-250 f/4-5.6 IS lens, which is why this photo of the moon has much more detail than the previous ones.

More marbles

I like pretty marbles, as you might know by now. :)

Losing my marbles?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just another day in the world we live...

...but the hero can enter the stage later; I've got more photos right now.

Fluffy white stuff on the bushes

Pretty snow makes me happy.
So does nice cars:

Porsche 928S
Porsche 928S

As does the sun:

Let there be light

And pretty lights:

LED Christmas lights bokeh

I hope you enjoyed some of them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Monday photo challenges

Bokeh photos:
The first one (an old favorite) will be my entry, but I thought I'd add some more as well, just so everyone can see them.
Losing Focus

There's a little bit of lens flare or something in this one, but I don't think it's particularly noticeable.

One White Rose

Moon (but you knew that already)

Finally, I am finished.  Now I am going to bed.


This has got to be one of the coolest videos I've watched in a while.  What do you think?

PEOPLE ARE AWESOME. (the creator's or uploader's or someone else's title, not mine)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


As in, a new addition to the family.  At about 1:01pm, my mom gave birth to a baby girl, now named Jubilee.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How People Work

Here's a very interesting video about how people work and are motivated.  Sorry for not giving a better explanation, but if you have 10 minutes to spare, you mind find it makes some very good points and you can think of a tagline or synopsis or whatever for yourself.

Also, if you're looking for a very interesting nonfiction read, check out Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink.  It's somewhat similar to this video in the fact that it discusses popular misconceptions people have (in this case, about the human mind).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chilly Updates

OK, maybe the title is slightly misleading, since it might be implying that something dark and sinister, horrifying, or any adjective of that nature has happened, which is not the case.

This morning we left for Durham so my mom could get a massage.  As you probably know, I'm always looking for good camera deals on Craigslist.  Recently, I saw a listing for a used silver Canon EOS Rebel XSi kit for $395, which included the kit lens, a 4gb SD card, extra battery, battery charger, and more.  Since my budget is about $400 (unless it's an amazing deal like the one for $650 I mentioned recently) and especially because the XSi in question was silver, a rarer, more expensive color option that I like better than black, I contacted the seller and offered $375.  He said that would work if I didn't want the SD card, but he couldn't go lower than that.  That worked just fine for me, since I already have a 4gb SD card as well as a 1gb, and even if I didn't , I could get one for less than $10.  Unfortunately, somebody else had already bought it yesterday.  

Right now, my camera is listed on Craigslist, and I've been gradually lowering to price to get a buyer, but I won't go lower than $400.  The problem is, if I manage to sell my camera without getting another one first, I'll be out of a camera, but if I get another camera without selling mine, I'll be basically out of money, and if another great deal comes up, I won't be able to take advantage of it.
Optimally, I would be able to sell my camera and upgrade nearly simultaneously, but things don't always work out as you'd like them to.  Since I'm pretty sure I could sell my camera (at least I'm hoping I can) for $400 or more, I'd rather have two cameras and be broke while waiting for a buyer than having $400, no camera, and no good deal to take advantage least, that's what I'm thinking.
Because of that, I'm wishing that I'd bought one of the used XSi kits on Amazon or Adorama that were listed at less than $400; the fact that they're black rather than silver doesn't bother me much, but I'll have to wait for another deal to come around.

In case you're wondering why I want to upgrade to an only minimally better XSi rather than sticking with my XS, here are a few reasons, although there might be more:

1) If I can sell my camera for, say, $400, and get an XSi kit for the same amount, I'll be no worse off money-wise and I'll have gotten a slight camera upgrade in the process.  If I can sell my camera for more than I buy another one for, I'll have even made money in the process.

2) Due to the Rebel XS being the entry-level Canon DSLR, lots of beginners have them, and although a pro can do wonders with any camera, I have a feeling that I'm more likely to be taken seriously as a photographer if I don't have the DSLR that everyone else does.  Of course, lots of beginners also have other Rebels, from the XSi to T2i, and sometimes even a 60D or 7D if they have the money and decided to start off with a mid-range or semi-pro camera body.  Besides, having something with more or better features is kind of cool.

3) Like one person who offered to buy my camera (for $250 - I declined) does, eventually I hope to be able to buy camera equipment at good prices and cycle through cameras, selling them at a profit, and gradually upgrading.  Of course, I won't be able to do it as easily as he does, since he lives in Charlotte and goes to Raleigh for work (so a lot of the listings are nearby).   

4) I've seen XSi kits listed multiple times, in multiple places for $400 or less, which I can afford, although I'll definitely need to sell my camera to make the money back.  If I can do what the guy I mentioned above did (get a 40D with 18-135mm lens, battery grip and more, for $300), I'd do it in a heartbeat, but I think those kinds of deals are much rarer.  The fact that my camera uses SD cards rather than CF is convenient for me because I have a built-in SD card reader on my netbook and on my desktop as well, but I'd naturally forgo the convenience if I had a 7D, 50D, or maybe even 40D (I might sell that one and get a T1i, though, even though I like certain things about the 40D, such as ergonomics, ruggedness, and shooting speed, more), which all use CF cards.  

OK, back to what happened today.
First, the reason for this post's title is quite simply the fact that it's been cold recently, at least to me.  For you people who consistently have sub-zero or at least below-freezing temperatures, the '40s might be warm to you, but when it's that cold inside, I really don't like getting out of bed.  Not that my lazy self ever likes to get out of bed ;) , but it's even more difficult when it's cold.

Now, back to the day's events.
We stopped by a Whole Foods and might have bought something like a bag of marshmallows, but the main thing was we found out where the nearest public library was.  I stayed with my younger siblings there while my mom get a massage.  The library was certainly little-kid-friendly, as it had large cardboard boxes decorated to look like Old West buildings, where little kids could sit and read in, and coloring tables.
Helpfully for me, the library had free Wi-Fi internet access, and I'd brought my netbook with me.  Yes, the wireless network was unsecured, but unlike a place like Starbucks, I doubt there were any hackers waiting to steal my information, and I didn't/don't do work or make purchases like that, so I shouldn't have anyt info worth stealing.  Besides having to break up the quibbling little ones from fighting and keep them quiet and occupied, I didn't have to do a whole lot, since the older ones of my younger siblings just found books and read.  Unfortunately, Noble ("The Gnome") had a dirty diaper, and there wasn't anything I could really do about that since I didn't have wipes and diapers.  He played in the cardboard houses for a while, colored, and did some other stuff, but after a while he pulled the "Mama" whine that I'm sure you're quite familiar with.

I took the two little guys outside for a little while, and both managed to slip on the ice and fall, but there were no real injuries other than a possible bruise.  

I got some photos outside of the snow; it wasn't snowing then, but it must have earlier.
I still won't be finishing this post tonight, but here are a few photos:
He wasn't in a good mood

After my mom got back, we went to eat at the 'Ole Time Barbecue restaurant, and the food was pretty good, even though, sadly, they didn't have any apple sticks that we had had last time (kind of like mini versions of McDonald's apple pies).  Since we were right by the European Performance service center and dealership (the dealership is part of the same place, but I forgot its name - something Motorcars), my mom didn't mind that I wanted to stop and take some photos this time.  Here's one:
Porsche 911

'67 Shelby Mustang GT500

I think you should be able to tell which photo I haven't gotten around to editing yet.  The GT500 (a '67, I think) has a price tag of $295,000, if I remember correctly.
It was kind of cold outside, but I got dome decent photos - I wish they'd turned out better, but I'm not that good just yet, and my lenses and camera aren't that great (I know, I know, it's the photographer more than the equipment, but I think if I had better lenses, I might be able to get better results sometimes).

I think we went to the Whole Foods in Cary after I'd kept everyone waiting for a while. 
We all got to try the samples the store had to offer...that's one good thing about the one in Raleigh - good samples!  There was cheese, egg nog, white chocolate peppermint pretzels, and more, and it was all pretty good. :)  

I think that about sums it up.
A few more photos, as promised:

Porsche 911

Porsche 928S
Ferrari 512 BB (replica?) 

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Earlier, we had the first snow of winter!  Granted, it lasted only about 15 minutes or less before turning into rain, but considering that here in southern NC we've only gotten snow like once or twice a year, snow is special.
Of course, back when we lived in Hawaii and then Guam we never even saw snow (in Japan we got flurries), but it's still rare enough over here to be worth mentioning.

Friday, December 3, 2010


It really is amazing how much difference lighting can make in a photo.  For instance, compare these two photos of a white rose, taken on our dining table:

The first photo was taken three days before the second, if I remember correctly, and both were taken with the flower vase on the dining table in almost the same place.
I did take the second photo with a tripod and the f-stop set to its highest number in the second, and even though my diopter has a very shallow DOF it actually seemed to make the parts of the photo near the edge show more in focus and more detail than previous, while shooting wide open or nearly so.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Wednesday Again

Yes, that means more midweek photo challenges.  In case you like my rather unprofessional writing, you'll have to wait until I go somewhere interesting, or at least do something out of the ordinary.  

1) On Cloud Nine and Lovely Photo Wednesday 
White Rose
I can't think of a good title right now, so that's why I named it like that.  Perhaps I did too much HDR editing, but although the rose is white, it looks orangeish in the photos.  But when I tried adjusting the color temperature a lot, it looked blue...I still have to figure out how to get whites to look white.  I suppose I'll get it sometime.  
Speaking of which, watch this video about why you usually get what you pay for and see if you find it as funny as I did.

Lovely Photo - Wordless or Not-So-Wordless Wednesday at Aspire 

2) Day 3: Let There Be the Waters (Photo Challenge #3 of 7): 

The second one isn't very good, but I haven't taken a lot of water photos recently.  I have a lot of old "water" photos that I think are pretty decent, but I don't have a lot of even horrible new ones.

One last photo, just for fun: