Theme update…

Damn.

I’ve been using the same theme since the day I began this blog so long ago. Hold it… how long ago was it?

I opened up on 19 February, 2008.

Wow.

I knew I had started this thing not too long after purchasing my first dSLR (in December 2007), but it doesn’t really feel as if it has been almost 3.5 years. That’s longer than most every job I’ve held!

Anyway… Don’t think this change is change for the sake of change. Nope. Nothing that banal. I’m comfortable with… well… comfortable. I don’t usually feel the need to mix things up if only because I have that urge. Instead, this change has been brought about for a couple of reasons.

First, I had grown weary of the font size on my original theme (which was, if you weren’t around previously): a white-on-black theme. It was a smaller-sized font and this made it tiring to read at length in my opinion. Seeing how the blog is mine my opinion does have some weight and merit.

Second, and perhaps related to font size, was the problem with colour-shift of the font. It was common to notice a slight greying of the white letters at the periphery of my vision and while my eyes may now be 46-plus years old I remain 20/20. I can only imagine how irritating it may have been for others venturing to this online tome.

Third, and again related to font size, I have recently purchased a new laptop, which is actually a 13.5-inch variant as opposed to my previous laptops all being 15.6-inches. This had the unfortunate affect of making the already smallish font appear even smaller on this smaller screen. And as I do most of my postings for WP on the laptop… well…

Fourth and finally, besides wanting to address the font issues I wanted a theme which appeared simpler. Neater. Cleaner. Lighter. The dark white-on-black looked and felt heavy. While I have liked it up until very recently my opinion had changed of late and I believe I would have made this change even without the font issues.

However, while fiddling with the various options available to this WP theme I noted a handful of upgrades which could be had for a price. For instance, there is an option to alter both the font and font sizes for the header, titles and text. Cool. But it’s $30/year. Personally that seems a bit steep to me, but I am curious.

I have no intention of becoming a coder so that I can make my own blog, etc., preferring to leave such matters to the experts at WordPress. But I’m not certain I can justify $30/year for font creativity just so that I can more personalize my blog. Yet… I am intrigued and wonder if the $30/year price is per blog or per account. This is important because I have more than one WP blog, but they are all under one account. It would seem to me a more reasonable expense if I were able to utilize such across multiple blogs.

I think I’ll check into that.

So there you go. New theme. New style. Hell… I even changed my header picture to something different just to mix things up a bit. Just a bit. Oh! And since this is a blog dedicated to photography, how about a photo?

The Daughter

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Fear and loathing in Adobe…

It feels as if it has been an age since I posted anything to this WordPress blog. I guess it has been seeing how I usually post every week and yet have only posted twice since 18 March (some 25 days ago). But it’s not my fault….really. Events have conspired against me. Truly. My little side job requires that I finish off the bits and pieces I have before I take my work back to my client in about 10 days. The daughter and her emergency appendectomy. Waiting for the new photo-editing software to arrive. Waiting to find the courage to install said software. Yep. Courage to install software. Sounds pretty lame doesn’t it? Well suck on this for a minute before I explain…

daffodils-at-home

I have discussed this before, but it begs for repeating: I’m afraid of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. Believe me…no one is more surprised than I. I’ve always been one to jump head-first into new software. Always anxious to grab it by the neck and throttle it for all it’s worth. But for some reason I have been experiencing this incredible sense of trepidation when it comes to both Lightroom and Elements.

I’ve been using other photo editing software in the likes of Phase One’s Capture One 4 which I received for free with the purchase of a high end media card. It really is a nice bit of software: resource light, intuitive (for the most part), covers the basics well, and has an user’s guide one could read in an hour on a Sunday afternoon. Lightroom? The first hint it might be a powerful programme is one looks at the retail price of USD300. The second hint is the pdf of the user’s guide, which weighs in at 175 pages. The third hint can be found at the Adobe website, where one can find what seems like a million or more web pages dedicated just to using Lightroom. Yet, why should this cause me any hesitancy? I’ve used other applications that have large user’s guides and the like, but for whatever reason, this is different.

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And then there is Elements! At least Lightroom only took a minute or two to install on the new iMac. Elements took something akin to ten minutes! And talk about intimidating! Over 300 pages can be found stuffed into the user’s guide. THREE HUNDRED! And, of course, there are tonnes of pages dedicated to Elements on the Adobe site, etc.

In a way I think part of the problem is that I don’t even know where to begin. Sure, one can open the user’s guide pdf and start plowing through, but that is, unfortunately, boring. Capture One 4 was so light and basic in comparison that it was difficult to go wrong. And even though one can fix “wrong” with Lightroom or Elements, it just feels far more intimidating to begin with.

Regardless, I finally took the plunge and installed both applications to the new iMac. I also took the liberty of watching a fistful of introductory videos on the Adobe site in relation to Lightroom. Just the first few so that I would have a clearer idea of how to import, catalogue, and develop pictures so that I could clear my camera’s media card and get some shit uploaded to Flickr.

mallard

So my first experience with Lightroom went reasonably well. Everything imported just fine. I was able to make the changes I wished without too much difficulty or fussing about. I was even able to make use of the Graduated Filter feature without much difficulty….at least on two images. A third one never worked correctly and so I abandoned the effect. Oh well. On the whole I will consider this to have been a reasonable success what with me just dabbing my toes into the waters of Lightroom. So to speak.

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But now comes the really hard part…integrating pictures into Elements and getting creative!

I’m so fucked.

“We were never being bored”

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted much in the way of pictures of late. For some of you I imagine this comes as great relief, while others are probably beside themselves without a regular photographic fix from the ol Forkboy needle of imagery. Well fear not my friends……tie yourself off and prepare to be bedazzled……..

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I know…..it’s a cat. Not precisely the subject some of you (who, for a switch, shall go nameless) get excited about, but I do. They are our children in no small way and when they are being nice, polite and quiet I find photographing them almost uncontrollable. However, the dearth of pictures of them of late should clue you in as to how nice, polite and quiet they have been……of late. The day I took this picture (as well as one of Maggie, which you’ll just have to see on my Flickr account) I couldn’t help myself as I just love the sofa/couch in the t.v. room. It has just fantastic colours and the cats look so good sitting or laying on or near the damn thing.

Maybe some of you recall the self-portrait thing I did for the 16-Things About Yourself bit a few weeks back. Well, I know at least one of you remembers it (wink-wink)……anyway…..from that same shoot I took a few pictures of myself, trying to work at the table, while our cat Aries decided it was far more important for him to park his ass on the table and demand homage from father as evidenced below:

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Aries has this tendency to hate it when folks are paying attention to anything other than him, but this characteristic is magnified quite strongly when there is a computer/laptop involved. I don’t know why and the little shit won’t tell us. Never-the-less it tends to lead to conversations centered around sentences like “Get your ass down!” or “What are you doing?” or “Where were you twenty minutes ago when I wasn’t doing a damned thing?”

At the end of February I had need for another picture for the group project’s theme, Speed, and had journeyed to a local spot where I thought I might capture some good fast-moving train shots (which we all know didn’t quite turn out that way). While I stood about waiting for a train to come by there were two young lads enjoying some of the bike trail (paved) for the purpose of skateboarding. One was doing stunts at the top of the hill (located under a roadway overpass), while the other had brought his long-board for the purpose of “bombing” the hill.

The “bombing” guy (Chad, as I would later learn) stopped and asked if I were a professional photographer, which I thought was so nice to hear. Laughable, but nice regardless. Then again, I must have looked quite impressive out there with my fancy Manfrotto tripod, Canon 40D and Canon 70-200mm f/4L USM IS lens. Yeah, it was impressive looking no doubt.

I told him that I was just some “bozo” amateur out to grab a few pics of a passing train for a project. Satisfied with my response he turned to walk away, but turned back and asked if I might be interested in shooting some pics of him skateboarding the trail. “Interesting?” thought I, but I wasn’t certain how I felt about it after my attempts at shooting moving targets in the way of sledders on snow-covered hills. I told him I’d think about it and quickly realized I was just being stupid (surprise!) and told him I’d give it a go.

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Apparently he is involved in some skateboarding magazine (I’m still not certain if it’s online or print) and said that if anything good came of the shoot he’d be glad to get them published with full credit. Aces! Of course I didn’t think anything useful would come of this particular venture, but in the end I am pleased to announce that there were a handful of pics that turned out reasonably well.

But the best part was that I learned something about my camera. Of course, I learned about it after the shoot, but I think it will help in future shots like this and I have made it clear to Chad that I’d like to try this again. We are, at this moment, trying to hook up so that I can snap a few pics and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be even better this time round.

Maybe.

A journey into the world of digital SLR (dSLR) photography……

Back on 20 December 2007 I made something of a major purchase in my life. Monetarily it wasn’t a huge expenditure, but considering where I am in life at this time job-wise (none), fiscal-wise (see previous), etc. it was a major purchase. And it was a purchase that spawned other purchases and will, no doubt, spawn even more purchases into the foreseeable future. In case you hadn’t already figured it out, which I hope you have, I purchased my first digital Single Lens Reflex camera (hereafter called dSRL for the sake of simplicity).

My journey has thus far been rather quiet. I confess that many weeks went into the purchase process and there was much in the way of hand-wringing before I finally made a……well….final decision. The other day I realized that this sort of journey, which not only deals with photography, but with the technology of modern digital photography, might make for an excellent blog. Mind you, the idea seems excellent, but I do not promise that the blog will be such. I will always be direct, honest and convey my thoughts, opinions and such regarding this trip. But let me make clear that I am not, in any way, trying to convey to anyone that my particular opinions expressed about any hardware or software are anything more than my in-expert opinion.

So there it is. A blog about my venture into digital photography with all the hardware, software, techniques, trials and tribulations that will no doubt come from such a new venture. And now I shall close this introductory posting and offer my first posting directly related to this journey: the decision process for making my first dSLR purchase.

Are you excited?