5 – even more random

National holiday today, and luckily, I don’t work in defense anymore, so I got the day off.

Some snaps from this morning’s outing.

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I’m dreading the day when my K2 longboard is no longer usable. I’ve got the hang of it now and it’s a great way to get around for short distances…

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I asked Sara what she was doing stooped over the lawn and it turns out she was looking for four-leafed clovers. She said that there is a one thousand to one chance that you’ll find one. We looked for five minutes and didn’t find one.

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I did find some dew left over from the morning. So, I broke out my trusty ZD 35/3.5 macro lens and shot it at 1:1 magnification, then some brief post-processing using Snapseed on my phone.

It’s such a great workflow.

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4 – more random

I think whenever I have a ‘random’ post, it’s basically an outing with my kids. It’s not really ‘random,’ per se, rather, it’s more ‘spontaneous’ and ‘unscripted.’

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I edited the picture above using Snapseed on my phone before I uploaded to WordPress – it was too dark before the edit, so I brought out the details and made it brighter. I also figured out that WordPress was adding compression to uploaded images from the Android app, so I disabled that feature. Hopefully, these pictures look better than the last post (which I updated, BTW).

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I took a picture of this tetherball pole and video with the BCL9 fisheye. The video is so much cooler because I spun around the pole while keeping focus on the closest chainlink – the effect of the background with fisheye distortion was pretty cool.

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I find that a lot of the shots with the BCL9 are more ‘fisheye’ if I deliberately shoot from an offset position. If I take the horizon line and make sure it’s above or below the middle of the frame, then the distortion is more evident. Also, the BCL9 won’t have the neat starburst patterns that the Rokinon 7.5/3.5 had – mostly because I don’t think the BCL9 has blades for its fixed f/8 aperture. It’s probably just a small hole that’s perfectly circular.

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3 – random

Some random B&W snaps taken this afternoon with the EM5 and BCL9.

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Sure, the pictures aren’t perfectly-focused, nor are they especially sharp, however, they captured the moment with a lot of context in the background.

I uploaded everything to WordPress from my phone (the images were sent via Bluetooth)…and now, I’m editing the post on the Chromebook.

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This workflow is so much faster and convenient. I could probably hook up my bluetooth keyboard to my phone, but I like having a full-sized keyboard.

…unfortunately, it looks like there was some degradation in quality somewhere in the workflow. I’ll have to investigate…

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2 – Portability

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I got two pretty essential add-ons for my EM5 today.

First, I got the Olympus BCL9 lens – which I owned briefly a couple years ago but ended up returning to Amazon. This is basically a focus-free fisheye lens with a fixed F/8 aperture. It’s awesome – see picture above. With hyperfocal focusing and a very small front element, this fisheye can go places where ‘normal’ fisheyes won’t. I cant wait to put my camera in the fridge again.

Yes, our house is VERY messy.

Second, I got the Olympus PP-1 Penpal – this allows my EM5 to transfer files via Bluetooth to my phone. Now, my phone will always have an awesome camera with my favorite b&w art filter…and most likely, I’ll never post process a picture using Lightroom again…

I also traded my flash for a Chromebook and I’m hoping the Penpal will work with it.

As much as I like being able to use my phone for things…I sure don’t like using it for blog posts…

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1 – New Year Again

It’s yet another new year, and already, I’m behind with my blog posts.

I had two weeks off during the holidays but we really didn’t do much – we’d go to different parks every day and make it home before it got too cold.

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Being in Southern California, ‘cold’ is relative, so it’s quite normal to still play with water games in the end of December (I’m sure the water was recirculated, considering we’re in a drought).

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Additionally, we don’t have snow sleds – we have scrap cardboard and a play structure hill with sand strategically poured over it. We could spend hours here.

Other than that, we did a lot of chillaxing. It’s good to sit sometimes and just get lost in a book or a magazine…

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15 – Bikes and changes…

Things have been pretty busy and I haven’t kept up with this blog nor my photography…but here’s my last attempt in 2015 at catching up for about three months of negligence.

After the last post (in September), I had a few more trips to the UK – and during one trip which spanned a weekend, I had some time to walk around Crawley’s “high street” and in the middle of a shopping area, there was an interesting old church.

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The church was surrounded by grave stones – all of the land around the church was converted to a graveyard – which was both eerie and strange (to me).

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It looked like the church was having services, so I didn’t want to be disrespectful and walk around the grave stones, though I did see some dated from the 1700’s and 1800’s.

In all, I probably spent about five weeks traveling to the UK for work in 2015. I’m hoping my travel schedule next year will be more manageable.

Other than that last trip, we’ve gone through some changes at home, or rather, outside the house.

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Sara finally got a full-size BMX bike and now, we’re outside and terrorizing the parks and schools whenever the kids have an opportunity. I was hoping she’d be able to do long distance riding so she could at least keep up with me while I run (Matty rode alongside me while I ran distances ranging from 5 miles to 11 miles).  Unfortunately, Sara gets bored on the bike trails, so she insists on being someplace where she could climb around or play on swings every now and then…

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Fortunately, Matty is easy to please, so while Sara explores, Matty will ride around wherever he can.

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Honestly though, they probably spend most of the time chasing each other and generally just having simple fun on their bikes.

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I often just end up just sitting and watching them…and longing for those simpler times when the most important thing in life was who gets to ride first and who gets to choose where they ride to.

My bike has transformed from my long distance training bike to my weekend commuter – the bike rack is permanently on and I haven’t used my SPD cleats in months. Luckily, I have two-sided pedals – platforms on one side, SPD clips on the other.

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That’s about it for this blog in 2015. There were only 15 posts this year – granted, there were some pretty drastic life changes and significantly more international travel than before.

My photography has suffered quite a bit since my desire to capture moments has taken a back seat to experiencing the moment.

In terms of my photography kit though, I now just have the following:

  • Olympus OM-D EM5
  • Sigma 19/2.8
  • Olympus 45/1.8
  • Olympus 40-150/4-5.6
  • Olympus 35/3.5 macro (with 4/3-t0 m4/3 adapter)
  • Olympus FL-36R flash

I traded my recently-acquired Panasonic 14-42/3.5-5.6 PZ lens for the Olympus 45/1.8 lens, and honestly, I think I got the better end of that trade.

What’s in store for 2016?

I do have a goal, which I intend on fulfilling: I’m going to self-publish a book (or three) by the end of next year.

This was something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, but I think it’s time that I actually just do it.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:

Alric figured he was a screw-up, which in his fatalistic view, was nothing wrong or shameful. Some people are just born with better skills than others and Alric kind of assumed that he just wasn’t born with any. Alric already settled on the fact that he wouldn’t amount to much and would spend the rest of his life just being Alric – shorter-than-normal, slightly thin due to rations constantly being taken away, Alric. Unlike everyone from his ward, he never aspired to be selected for Generation – he knew that the best and brightest eventually would be selected for Generation Duty, which if you think about it, was the most important duty of all. Procreation and the continuation of the population was a tremendous responsibility and brought with it a host of benefits – your own suite, rations whenever you want them – granted you had to share the suite with at least three or four other girls who were matched with you. Sure, your job was to impregnate them and grow children, but Alric imagined that would get boring after a while.

In any case, the readiness mark on his arm was still yellow, so he wasn’t even ready to procreate. Just like his voice, it would take a few more cycles.

Alric looked down at the directions he scribbled on his slate: go down main Walkway One, left after Ward Three, right after Ward Seven. He had just passed Ward Seven and if he were to go left, he’d just go back to the other Wards. If he were to go straight, he’s go into a commissary and as hungry as he was, he didn’t hear the announcement for Ward Thirty yet. Alric checked his pocket for his ID, and he had it, and it still said Ward Thirty.

To his right was a walkway that was better lit than the others – there were definitely more torches overhead compared to where he had just come from. Alric turned and moved as quickly as he could down this hallway and at the end, there were double doors that were simply labeled, “Air Quality – entry only to assigned personnel.” He pushed on the doors and they wouldn’t move. He would have tried the door handles but they were nonexistent. So, he knocked and stepped back.

The story and subject matter are probably best described as sci-fi; it should be noted that my favorite sci-fi genre is post-apocalyptic, near-future, and alternate reality.

I will occasionally post teasers on this blog.

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14 – More Travels

A week after our Grand Canyon vacation, we went to Legoland to celebrate Matty’s birthday early. The kids don’t really like “amusement parks” and luckily, we didn’t really pay full price (we had a buy-one-get-one deal). Let’s just say that the kids have outgrown most of Legoland…and since neither of them want to ride the roller coasters, then we had a fairly short day trip. Here are some pictures.

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We signed Matty up for a 45-minute Lego Mindstorms session, which he really loved. I’ll need to find a way to continue his interest in programming – I was surprised at how simple the interface was and how he just needed a little bit of explanation and he was able to understand things right away.

It was HOT during the day, so by around 2:00, we were ready for water rides…and we were pretty soaked and miserable by 5:00 (we had LOTS of water sprayed on us from two rides and from spectators…).

Anyway, the day after Legoland, I had to return to the UK to make sure that test activity was executed per schedule, which meant I had long days and nights again. I brought my camera with me but it never left my room.

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This was the view outside of my hotel room. Green. Quaint. Kind of wet. Kind of cold. A typical English summer.

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I forgot to take a picture of this last time. Instead of an in-room coffeemaker, there’s an in-room kettle and there’s instant coffee, but there’s pretty good tea. Also, they don’t do half-and-half in the UK, but there’s milk. So, my morning coffee just didn’t have that ‘texture’ that I was used to…

Anyway, my trip was only a week, but when I landed at LAX, there was a bomb threat and none of the traffic was moving, so I hiked it to the Marriott parking lot where my car was parked – it was only a mile and there were plenty of us walking with our suitcases and bags up Century Blvd.

For Matty’s birthday, my parents and sister bought him more Legos, so he and Sara have been busy with their new creations.

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All pictures above are SOOC JPEG, resized for the interwebs. I finally sold my Olympus full-size 4/3 14-54/2.8-3.5 and replaced it with the Panasonic PZ 14-42/3.5-5.6 pancake lens, which I had mounted on my OMD EM5 and sat in a small Crumpler bag in my hotel room…

In my main Crumpler 3MDH bag (which is relatively small), I have my OMD EM5, Sigma 19/2.8, Panasonic PZ 14-42, Olympus 40-150, and the trek-tech T’Pod tripod. To think that a year ago, this bag held my Olympus E-3 and a single lens – now, it holds an entire camera kit.

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