Saturday, March 31, 2012

Keep your Eye on the Ball!

All you need is a base...a bat...and a ball.  And a pitcher and catcher!

Nice job, Big D.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Big H's birthday: Part 1

The Big H celebrated her first birthday recently.   The first two were taken early that morning at the local Dunn Bros. 

And, she likes Papa's hat.

But, she liked the cake more.

Happy birthday, Big H.  Your Papa's got your back.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Games with the Big B

Meet Big B. 

I have two children, a daughter and son.  This is B.  The daughter is the Big S.  Although, she doesn't like to be referred to as the Big anything.  B and his lovely wife are the parents of the Big D and the Big H.

B is the creative, mischevious sort.  When he was in JH and HS, he and his friends invented a game called Ping Pong Pelt.   In short, a game of table tennis was played to a winning score of 3.  The loser had to lift up his shirt (yes...all guys) and put it over his head so he couldn't see.  The winning player could then SLAM the ping pong ball from across to table into the losing players body.  The shirt was to protect the face.  The objective was to leave a welt from the ball hitting the skin.

It was a hilarious game.  Well, the sound effects were hilarious.  There were many nights I heard a "smack" followed immediately by an "OOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW" and screams of laughter. 

The conclusion of the game always invovled showing off the welts and more laughter.'s a guy thing.

Here's his new game.

Thanks B!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Experimenting with "B"

Last Saturday night, about 11:00 pm, I experimented with longer exposures. 

It was a beautiful night, no visible moon, no wind, and no mosquitoes!  A perfect night to set up the tripod and see what we can do with the "B" setting.   "B" stands for bulb.  With this setting, the shutter stays open for as long as you hold it down.  

Necessary items: 
  1. Tripod.   You can't hold the camera steady without it.
  2. A shutter release:  A cable that connects to the camera with a button you push to release the shutter.  This has a lock on it so you can push it, lock it, and walk away while the shutter remains open.
  3. If you have auto focus lenses, you want to turn them to manual focus.  The auto focus activates a small gyroscope which can cause the camera to vibrate in the tripod with the longer exposures.  This is NOT good for image clarity.
I was pretty happy with the results!

The first two images are of solar lights on a glass table-top.    The exposure on the first was about 10 seconds.  The exposure on the second was about 15 seconds (smaller apature setting)

I was rather excited about this last photo.  The exposure was about 15 minutes.  I was stunned to see shadows on the water and how sharp the image was.  The lights are small garden solar lights.

I definitely will try this again.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

AS400 Anyone? Anyone?

Within the scope of my job, I have the privilege of working with some very smart people.  Now, I've had my hands deep inside a number of Windows systems.  I've even tinkered a bit with Linux, Open BSD, BSD, and a few others. But, I met my match when I ran into the AS400.  Just keeping track of the names is confusing enough for me.  It is commonly known as the AS400, the I Series, the System i, and the i5. 

I have been corrected for my lack of correct terminology a few times by this gentlemen:

Meet Doug. 

Doug is our i5 starship captain.  Today we celebrated his 3 years with the company and he was gracious enough to invite me to his celebratory lunch.  I had to pay for my own lunch.  iSeries guys are like that.

But, he KNOWS this system.  And, he's been a great asset to us.  And, he's cracked me up more than a few times.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mike and Jeff

About 100 years ago, I spent three summers guiding canoe trips into the BWCA and Quetico Provincial Forest.  Those were great times.  I spent many nights around a camp fire.  I had the chance to see both bull and cow moose with calf (yes, they are really big!), bears (closer than you want to be to them), and plenty of other wild life.

Mike and Jeff were two of the guides.  Over the summers, we became good friends.  We used to have portage contests.  A portage is when you can't paddle any longer because you have either run out of lake or the rapids are too dangerous.  So, you pick up everything and carry it to the next lake or around the rapids.

Now, a true guide never put his canoe down.  That was...unacceptable and totally unguidely. So, being manly men (note: I did not say smart), we decided that competitions for distance and time were appropriate.  Alas, I did not win.  Mike did.  I could not beat the 23 minutes and 20 seconds for 517 rods into Stewart Lake.   At the end of the last year, we decided that we needed to do the Grand Portage, non-stop, of course.   We drove to Lake Superior and dropped the canoe in the lake.  We flipped a coin.  I won..and I elected to carry in.  If you don't know, that's 9 miles.  2 hours and 45 minutes later, I dropped the canoe int he Pidgeon River.   We camped.  The next morning, Mike picked up the canoe out of the Pidgeon River and carried it to Lake Superior.  His time:  2 hours and 23 minutes.  In my defense, going in included a 600 foot increase in elevation.

When this youthful adverterous time in our lives moved on, we each picked up these figures.  Mike has "Jeff and JP".  Jeff has "Mike and JP".  And, I have Mike and Jeff.  Each Christmas when the nativity scene comes out, I carefully place Mike and Jeff next to the wise men.  They have their place.   And, it makes for excellent conversation when guests are over and see them.

I would have trusted my life with either of them.  Mike was the toughest guide I ever met.  And, Jeff kept us both out of trouble and was a constant source of humor.  I laughed so hard I cried a few times. 

I may just need to get into the woods this summer.  I wonder what Mike and Jeff are up to.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Vendors and Peers Continued: Doofus

One of the other people I had the opportunity to run into at the vendor "happy hour/bar food" event on Thursday was Scott.  I've known Scott since about 2008 where we cross paths, and had a chance to get more acquainted, at the RSA Conference.

I like Scott.  Nice guy.  Polite.   Intelligent.  Sense of sublte humor.  And, a SU (that's Spousal Unit) who has named him Doofus. 

So, at the event, as I dragged out the camera and we chatted about the blog, he told me about his YouTube videos and the reason his wife named him Doofus.   I promised not to tell.  So, here goes.

First, Scott picked up a Flip video camera.  
Second, Scott did what anyone with such a camera would do, he took videos.  He took videos of the dogs (really a cute puppy, I might add), chipmunks, birds, and even fireworks. 
Third, he created a YouTube series of his videos. 
Fourth, his wife named him Doofus.

Now, I can't be sure that the name Doofus was formed BEFORE the Flip video camera.  This could be YEARS in the making.   But, according to Doofus, ahhh...Scott, that was the moment.

At any rate, meet Doofus and his wonderful collection of videos!  He knows now, of course, that in all future professional meetings, he will be known as Doofus.  EXCELLENT!

Thanks Scott!!!   And, make sure your SU knows what she has started!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Vendors and Peers

I occasionally am invited to an event hosted by vendors in the information security space.  These typically are at a nice restaurant or bar.  They often feature a speaker or two chatting about the market and their products. 

I really enjoy these events, not only for the information I pick up.  But, I get to touch base with friends in the business.  It is an amazingly small world sometimes.

Tonight I was at such an event.

I first met Keith about 8-10 years ago.  He didn't have as much grey hair...and I had hair!  Keith is one of the smartest guys I know.  He was, almost single handedly, responsible for the successful migration of two different data centers into a single, monster data center.  I had the priviledge of working with him.  And, I learned early on that if Keith is talking, I should shut up and pay attention.  He KNOWS!

It was VERY fun running into him again.  He is a guitar player and has excellent taste in hats.

This is Mike,  I caught him chatting with Keith and someone else as he overheard my blog story.   He just caught my movement with the camera.  So, you can see he's trying REALLY hard to listen to whomever he is chatting with, and he's trying to figure out what I'm up to.  But, he DID say I could use this pic!   Mike, if you want another shot at it, let me know!

Finally, this is Jeanne.  She was representing one of the vendors.  She also overheard part of the blog conversation with Keith and Mike and was trapped!   So, she graciously let me take her photo.  Nice smile!

My thanks to all three of you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Calibrate Me, Please!

OK.  I know this blog is supposed to be about portraits.  But, now and then I need to go on a tangent and do something different.  Today, I wanted to talk about camera lens calibration and actually show how it is done.

I belong to a local camera club.  We have something like 1500 members and we have regular events where any number of us could show up.   That is how I ended up at the hot air balloon events in February.

A while ago, we had a lens calibration event.  Since I had no clue what this really entailed, I thought I should go. 

To begin with, a lens depth of field (DoF) varies with the distance to the subject and the f-stop settings.  Let's assume the DoF, given a distance of 10'and an f-stop of 2.8, is supposed to be 12" for this specific lens.   That means that 4" should be in focus IN FRONT of the focusing point and 8" should be in focus BEHIND the focusing point.  For some lenses, this is adjustable!

Below is the "before" photo where we did the baseline setting of the lens.  Notice that on the middle scale to the right, you can see clearly up to almost the 20 mark.  And, looking to the back, you can only see clearly to the 4.   Since the point of focus is on the red "0", this is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.  Did I say, "bad?"

This explains why I was a bit surprised when I took the photo below.  I fully expected the DoF would include more checkers in the back of the board.   I thought I had another 1.5-2" of DoF that just wasn't there.

So, after carefully reading the manual, which states something like, "this is not for the faint of heart and you shouldn't do this at home without a trained professional", the lens was calibrated.  The entire process for two lenses took about 15 minutes. 

Notice the DoF in the photo below!   Here you can see the 10 in the front is almost totally sharp and in focus.  But, the 20 in the back is sharp and in focus, too. 

Calibration is NOT that tricky. Using this device helped a lot. If I recall, this little set up costs about $300.  But, the deal was to bring in two lenses and have them calibrated for $10.  With the exception of that date with the McKenzie triplets, this was the best $10 I ever spent.  But, that's a different story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Home Away from Home

Meet Tyler and Alyssa.  They were in the table behind the Girl Scouts at Dunn Bros.  I noticed them because hey were FOCUSED on what they were doing.  Text books and note books were spread around the table.  Well, they were trying to be focused.  It was a bit difficult with me wandering about with the camera and chatting with the Girl Scout mothers.

So, as I finished up with the scouts, I asked whether I could also take their photo.  They had heard the entire explanation of the blog.  And, I handed them a card so that they could check it out.

I really like Tyler's eyes!  They are crystal sharp.   And, Alyssa has fantastic hair and a wonderful smile.

Oh, the reason for their being focused was that they were studying organic chemistry.  Heady stuff for a Saturday morning.   They mentioned that this was their home-away-from-home.

I asked if they were married and Alyssa said, "soon, he just doesn't know it yet." 

Look out Tyler, I suspect she is plotting a surprise!

My sincere thanks to you both!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Girl Scout Cookies

With the nice weather, I decided to walk up to the local Dunn Bros coffee shop.   It's about a mile through a nice park.

While sitting out side, enjoying the weather and a great cup of coffee, the girl scouts moved in.  Now, I don't know the duration of the cookie drive.  But, it seems to me that the girls, and their mothers, put in a lot of time. 

So, here are two mother's extraordinaire.  Meet Heather and Tina.  Their daughters were on the front line selling cookies.

Good cookies!

Thanks Heather and Tina!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Style'n with Shirley

I had a business event this week after work.  The weather was nice.  And, the restaurants were seating people outside.  It necessitated a jacket with the temp a bit below 60.  But, the sun was warm and it was quite tolerable to chit chat in the fresh air.

As I was getting ready to leave, I noticed this woman.  She wasn't in our party.  But, I had to comment on her hair.  

Meet Shirley!  75 years young and out in style!  If I remember correctly, she is the great grandmother of twins.  But, I loved the hair!  Mine would be that color, if I had any!

Thanks Shirley!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ye Old Ice Cream Shoppe

Blessed with unseasonably warm weather this week, we have seen the snow disappear 4-6 weeks earlier than normal.   I am not complaining.

With the warmer weather, people are outside again.  I see them walking dogs.  Walking kids.   Walking cats.  OK...I haven't seen anyone walking a cat yet.  But I may!

I was invited to tag along with the Big D one night this week while he was out running errands with his mom.  If you remember Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie, and Aunt Bea, you may remember the small town soda shop. 

Meet Rick at Two Scoops and catch a glimpse of his business.  It was almost like walking back in time.  He was having a great time visiting with both new and old (ahhh..that could include me) customers.  And, the shop was BUSY!  I thoroughly enjoyed watching him in action.  I have a lot of respect for the small business man.  Well done, Rick!

The colors and flavors were...enticing!  Can you imagine being a little kid and looking at this?  Hard to choose.  Let's see...I was pretty clear about what most of these flavors were.  But, "horehound" does have me a bit perplexed!

Sucker anyone?

I confess to having a thing for chocolate, cherry, marshmallow malts.

Strawberry, orange, and grape soda!!

Ahhhh yes.  Good to the last drop.

Even Sasha and Kodiak were hanging around looking for a handout.  Good thing the Big D finished his before he walked outside!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun with Things that Go Bang: Revisited

Walter and I took a nephew into the wild woods that day when we visited his hide-away.  The nephew definitely enjoyed himself with the two of us filling his head with our worldly wisdom.  Walter and I can make up stuff good .   And, we certainly had fun.  I am sure that Chris was a bit nervous when we brought out the hardware.   But, we did remember to bring out the hardware BEFORE we bring out the beer.  The order is really important.

Living in a very unfriendly 2A state, Chris hasn't gotten to shoot much.  So, we introduced him to the hardware and proceeded to take apart a few targets.



Did I hit it?  Why is it still standing?

Rest assured, all woodland creatures returned safely to their beds that night. But, we did manage to kill the #7 pin.  For those interested, the small bit of grey just below the 3:00 position on the pin is the bullet.  The #7 pin was tough!

Thanks again to Walter..and to Chris.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fun with Things that Go Bang!

Below is Walter.  I like Walter.  The guy is amazing with his knowledge of cars and he is a natural born salesperson.  We share a number of common interests, including hats and things that go BANG!  I hadn't noticed this before I saw the photo.  But, anyone notice anything interesting about Walter's shooting style?  I saw it immediately.  But, a non-shooter may not catch it.


These photos were taken at Walter's hide-away.  10 acres of forest with a trailer, electricity, and space for a nice large camp fire.  A person can relax out there after a little blasting!.

Thanks Walter.  We really need to do this again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Contest!

Care to venture a guess who this may be?  A hint:  He is a well known literary figure. 


The winner will get the accolades of millions of people around the globe.  Maybe!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Home and Garden: Again

It was very fun walking through the various vendor booths seeing the hint and hope for spring.   Spring is the time of year when the earth wakes from the deep sleep of winter.   It is the time for hopes and dreams and, most importantly, for life.

The woman below was absolutly charming.  She also has a Caring Bridge website.  She is recovering from cancer.  Under that green hat, she is quite bald.   And, she is proud of it.  She mentioned that she actually preferred it that way.  She doesn't spend ANY time on her hair!  I said, "Neither do I!"   And, we shared a laugh.  She said, as I was walking away, "I am fine.  I am going to make it."    Thanks Kathy for the wonderful visit.

I liked this guys hat, beard and mustache, complete with the rainbow scarf.  He was stylin'!    Seriously, I liked his look. 

 I added this photo so that I could included the ear stud. 

The couple below were delightful.  If I recall, they were parents of twins.  So, I am sure that keeps them moving.   They ran a small construction company (note the roof louver in the background).  It's been a difficult time for construction in the economy.  But, these folks, with a couple of kids, have been working hard to care for them.  Well done!  A good looking couple, too!

Finally, no spring post would be complete with the garden gnome.  This little guy was about 12" tall. He didn't authorize the photograph.  But, I am not sure he cares.  He's looking for temps in the 60's and 70's soon.  The snow is MELTING!!!! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Home and Garden Anyone?

In the midwest, we need signs of spring.  Hence, the Home and Garden Show can drum up quite a crowd in the midst of a winter snow.

Note the warm smile and the positioning to get the company name included!

Note the tag teaming!  And, seriously nice guys.

And, note the smiles from relaxed feet!  This booth sponsored a foot massager.    I didn't try it.  If I had, I would still be there.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

RSA: Wrapping up

Time to wrap up the RSA conference theme.  Here are a few miscellaneous photos taken during the week. 

First:  Street performers abound in San Francisco.  Fortunately, the weather wasn't bad and I managed to catch this guy in mid-juggle!  He was actually standing on a small board that was laying across a ball.   Pretty impressive!

This young lady was with her husband along the waterfront.   I liked her hat and how it nearly matched her eyes.  She and her husband are pentecostal missionaries to Austria.  Her husband was Austrian.  I don't recall if they were on their way there, or on a break.  But, it would be hard to be on a break from Austria! 

Near the Moscone Center is the carousel.

A street scene on the walk back to the hotel.  I like the DoF on this image. 

And finally, a good bartender to help break up the journey back to the hotel.  If you ever get to San Francisco, check out Lefty O'Doul's on Geary St.  This place has class!

Friday, March 9, 2012

RSA: A Session

For those interested in what an exciting session at the RSA Conference might be like, I thought I would show a photos from one of the law sessions.  This particular session started at 8:00 AM and I was there to do photos before the session started.

What was interesting in this session is that a sitting federal judge was on the panel along with a couple of attorneys and VP of antifraud services from a financial institution. The moderator was a senior security architect from a large firm. 

The topic of this session was, "Whose Fault is it that I Didn't Know it Wasn't You-An Update".

The panel discussed two recent judicial decisions where two customers sued their respective banks claiming that the banks did not follow secure practices around wire transfers.  Each of the customers had lost money in fraudulent transfers.

In one case the judge ruled, via a bench verdict, that the bank did NOT follow sufficient security practices and found in favor of the customer.   In the other case, the magistrate judge found that the bank's security practices were reasonable. 

The panel discussed the facts of each case.  The moderator did a great job.  At one point, the two attorney's disagreed with one another.  The moderator simply turned to the crowd and said something like, "Two attorney's disagreeing.  Imagine that!  Fortunately, we have a judge to resolve the issue!" 

Heady stuff for an 8:00 session!

I have several photos of the panel, complete with name plates.  But, it is my practice to not provide full names.  So, I didn't get a clean photo of everyone in the panel, as individuals. 

I liked the moderator.  This guy has style!

One of the attorney's

Another attorney

And finally, the technical support that makes it all possible.  This guy is responsible for queing up the correct presentation and ensuring the microphones and lights are working.  I asked whether I could take his photo and he gave me this!  NICE STYLE!

My thanks to all who sat still long enough for me to get the shot in some rather dark and poor lighting conditions.