Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Big Christmas Gift

My Parents and siblings, all six of them, got together to buy me one big special gift for Christmas this year: A Lensbaby 2.0.

This is an interesting little device that takes the oldschool lens-design concepts of clarity and sharpness and throws them clear out the window, onto the street and under the tracks of a passing convoy of tanks. The Lensbaby instead gives you a manual-focus, manual exposure lens that creates a "sweet spot" of sharpness surrounded by an area of increasing softness that turns blurry as it goes out.

I've spent plenty of time working with the beast, and here's what I've observed: This is not your usual photographer's tool. This is something different.

Let me explain: a camera does not create pictures, a photographer does. The camera, along with all other photographic equipment, is but a tool. I know I salivate over nicer cameras all the time, but that's just because nicer tools are often easier to work with, less likely to fail and can handle tougher jobs.

Now let's get really deep into an analogy. There are two workhorses in my camera bag, my 70-200mm and 17-35mm zooms. These two lenses produce thousands of images each month and will continue to do so for the next decade or longer. They are like my sledgehammer and crowbar, that is they do a great deal of work and can always be called on because of their versatility and durability.

The lensbaby, in demolition terms, is more like a stick of dynamite, that is, it is far more powerful than a sledgehammer or crowbar in terms of work done quickly. However, a stick of dynamite can only be used once. Likewise, the soft-focus effect of the lensbaby gets really, really old if overused. Setting off dynamite all day will irritate people, and producing a large quantity of images with the same effect will do the same.

The lensbaby is a special-effect lens. It is not a workhorse. Fortunately, it's only a $150 special-effect. Ultra-wide angle lenses are also special-effect lenses, but they can cost much more.

However, from what I've seen come out of this little lens, I know it will really come in handy with weddings. Speaking of which, I've already started booking wedding dates for 2006, so interested couples better call me in case I fill my weekends. ;)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Lensbaby Fun

 Posted by Picasa

Lensbaby Fun

 Posted by Picasa

Lensbaby Fun

 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Black Ink Monday

I missed it because of Finals Week, but December 12 last week was Black Ink Monday.

Sez Cartoonist Daryl Cagle:

The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) has responded to recent cartoonist job losses by asking their members to draw cartoons in protest. Monday December 12 is "Black Ink Monday" when the cartoons are posted....

These are difficult times for the political cartooning profession, which seems to be suffering a slow, painful death. This is ironic because the editorial cartoon continues to be one of the most popular features in a newspaper; but cartoons also cause trouble, and editors are more comfortable editing words than pictures, so cartoonists often are the first to find their heads on the chopping blocks when newspapers make cuts.

I ask you to follow the link, read the cartoons, and think about what it means for newspapers and the future.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

My hand is bleeding.

In related news, I just gave Vader (my cat) a bath.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I'm now a victim of ID theft

It's official, I fell victim to identity theft. But everything's ok.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a $25.00 expense on my American Express receipt. It said that it had been spent at something that involved travel at a retail location in Phoenix, Ariz. Since I have never been to Arizona, I disputed the charge.

Good news: Got a letter from American Express today. They credited my account with $25.00. Good Job, American Express. You can have a cookie.

I've gone and f*cked things up again

Remember this post?

Well, I've done gone and took a potential relationship and plowed it into the ground. Sort of.

The truth is, I sabotaged it. This girl, who will go unnamed to protect her privacy, wanted to date but not have any exclusivity.

We went out on a couple of dates and I kept trying to see any signs in person that she was interested in me, but all I got around her was utter disinterest. Then, one day while chatting online, through a process I can't explain, she told me she had a crush on me and I admitted the same for her, only for her to tell me time and time again that she'd been sending all the flirting and sublety she could at me. Thus, my head started spinning.

She wanted to meet up every once in a while and go out together and have fun, but no commitment or titles or anything serious. I was OK with this because we live 80 miles apart and would not have been able to kindle a real relationship. To her credit, she was the first to say that.

Anyways, we were in this state of grey limbo where I had no damned idea where I stood, but all of a sudden she was making a bunch of phone calls wanting to talk and talk and talk about stuff and getting mad at me for not being able to keep a close, intelligent conversation going with me. I mean, she just suddenly transformed from regular girl to attention-hungry girl, but wanted me to just be her doormat... er, friend.

(To those who haven't noticed, I've developed a very strong aversion to women that say they want me to be their friend but really just want to use me, especially with the frequency with which I've have been encountering them in the past couple years.)

This really left me confused because I thought we had agreed we were just friends, who dated from time to time, but she was acting like a jealous girlfriend. Then there was this cold, uncomfortable conversation about who we were together, and we haven't talked to each other much since.

And I just read on her blog that I am a jerk.

Maybe I am. Maybe I'm not.

I just know that I really have no idea what the hell is going on.

And that giving up on relationships as a whole is looking like a better option every damned day.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Finals week

I had my first final at 7:30 this morning for Public Speaking.

7. 30. AM.

I now have a desire to set the department head on fire.

Got a match? Or some marshmallows and sticks?

Monday, December 05, 2005

New Gear

Here is my latest piece of equipment. It's a lightstand with built-in boom. It reaches up to 9 feet at the joint between the stand and the boom, and the boom has clips that hold a reflector. The reflector in the picture is 52" across.

This allows me to reflect light from my on-camera flash up at the big-old reflector, giving me nice soft light on my subjects. Posted by Picasa

The counterweight is homemade from an old pair of jeans (the leg), a hander, some thread and nice amount of gravel.