Monday, December 11, 2006

More Shiftyness

Sunday morning, after a rough night, Kate, Dylan and I drove up to Hamden to see the house they're trying to buy - a nice place, but not without its quirks. Afterwards we went to the Milford mall, and then to downtown Westport. I had my camera in tow - F5.6 Lensbaby attached. I actually managed to get a few good pictures!

This is a photo of Kate walking towards Starbucks in downtown Westport. I'm very happy with the light focus on her hair, as well as the texture in her shirt. I think the trick to using this lens is going to be: Have lots of natural light. Lensbaby works well with the on-camera flash as well, but it's a less "genuine" look.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lensbaby Goes to War

On my recent trip to the city, and to B&H, I picked up some new toys. First-off, I replaced my POS tripod, with a low-end Manfrotto. I also picked up a Lensbaby Original; a neat little tilt-shift lens for an SLR camera. Not quite sure if it's going to be a permanent addition to my camera bag - I suspect that it's not. Hopefully it gets easier to use with practice.

Sometimes I'm afraid that Captain Sheffield Doesn't have My Best Interests in Mind

In the toy section of CVS I found a wonderful thing: Plastic Army Men. Not only were there fresh bags of Army men (A toy which I'd figured had gone extinct), but there were two different colors. That means I could have a little war! And if that wasn't enough, it seems that these aren't the cheep ones either. There are no less than 12 different poses for the little warriors.

  • Bazooka Guy

  • Recon/Radio Guy

  • Wading-through-chest-high-water Guy

  • Crawling-under-barbed-wire Guy

  • 30cal-machine-gun Guy

  • C.O. Guy

  • Kneeling-with-rifle Guy

  • Running-with-rifle Guy

  • Prone-with-rifle Guy

  • Bayonet Guy

  • Minesweeper Guy

  • Mortar Guy

I'm thinking that with all of my new subjects I might do a war documentary. Something about an embedded plastic journalist inside a platoon of plastic soldiers seems like it could be funny. I just have to keep from running afoul of the plastic censors at the plastic pentagon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Smoke

Sunday morning, after the Wii fiasco, I headed into Manhattan to take some pictures. Because I had family plans in the afternoon I parked my car uptown (where we'd be ending the night). I then walked from 85th on the east side down to the 30s and over to B&H to buy a new tripod.

My old tripod was a Sunpak and made with an almost supernatural-cheapness. On Thursday night when I went out to take pictures it was a bigger hindrance than a help. So now it's been replaced with the bottom of a good line. A low end light-weight Manfroto with an integrated ball head. The ball joint seems a bit cheap, but it's cast aluminum and it has a long warantee so I'm giving it a shot. It's only 2.5 lbs, but its significantly bigger than my old tripod. I think it'll need to travel in it's own case.

Also took some time to talk to one of the sales people at B&H about the elusive Nikon 18-200mm lens. This lens is by all accounts amazing: Not only is it incredibly versatile (IE: you only need one lens) is ridiculously affordable. Well, the salesman , using similar superlatives, confirmed that it's so rare he didn't expect to see one for a while. He said he expected to see some next year. I'm excited to see if he's right. While we were talking I happened to catch a glimpse of an inexpensive piece of photographic equipment that I've wanted to buy for a while: The Lensbaby.

The Lensbaby is a soft-focus lens which allows you to manually move the focus-point of the lens around by compressing a bellows. Much the same way you would with a large-format box camera. So far this lens has been trying my patience. As soon as I get a shot that I like, I'll post it.


My long walk down the East Side led me to the 59th street bridge. I took some time photographing the cars and the bridge and the cable-cars. But eventually I got fixated on the smokestack immediately South of the bridge. I took quite a few shots of it. This is one of them. Morning light, Polarizer, Rust. Sweet.

Wii-diculously Hard To Get [NAP]

I'm sorry for the irrelevant nature of this post, but I need to vent about how ridiculous it is trying to find a Wii.

My first attempt was on Black Friday: Earlier that week, an employee of the Best Buy in Stratford, CT told me that her store was sitting on a decent sized pile of Wiis. She told me that the store was holding them and releasing them on Black Friday. So at 3:30 on friday morning I got up. Liz, Sam and I got to the store at 4am to wait around for the 5am opening. After an hour we raced through the doors only to be told - not that they'd run out - but that they'd never had any. Words could not describe the depths of my hatred towards this store.

My second attempt was on Sunday - the universally designated Wii re-launch day. This time I didn't even make it to the store before Jeannie called to say, Toys r' Us in Westport only had 14 Wiis, and she was about #44 in line. No rain checks, nothing. Just a "go home, you're out of luck".

There is nothing I can say or do. I hate this. And it has turned me off shopping for x-mas presents altogether. Don't get me wrong. I understand that there's supply and demand and they aren't always equal, I just wish resellers would offer alternatives to the eye-gouging race to the checkout that they hope to inspire.

I'd like to think that negative in-store experiences like these cause a decline in holiday sales. Alas, I don't think thats the case.


Okay, Lots of new pictures: Here's a tivo-eyed view of the some wii all-stars. I took about 100 candids of Kate, Dylan, Max and Liz playing the new Rayman game for the Nintendo Wii. Most were pretty dark, but I got a few which look pretty outstanding when displayed large and on a really bright screen.

Kate looks bored

This image is a perfect example of a problem that's been affecting me more and more lately. Bad monitor gamma calibration. In an attempt to fix this I picked up a Huey. Huey is a monitor calibration tool designed to make sure your on-screen colors are accurate. For those of you unfamiliar with digital image manipulation, this is a problem with some subtle complexities. If my monitor is inaccurately reproducing colors, then the image I'm looking at will look and print differently in another environment. Hopefully Huey makes my images a bit more universally viewable. Too bad half the world uses dim or crappy CRTs. Alas.