Planets Closer to Us

Ron Miller, a former art director for NASA, used digital trickery to superimpose scale drawings of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune over the same landscape, highlighting the sheer size of the planets.

How would life be different if we saw our planetary cousins closer to us?  

Encourage or Discourage

But rather than tell people they can’t shoot their food — the food they are so proud to eat that they need to share it immediately with everyone they know — he simply takes them back into his kitchen to shoot as the plates come out. “We’ll say, ‘That shot will look so much better on the marble table in our kitchen,’ ” Mr. Bouley said. “It’s like, here’s the sauce, here’s the plate. Snap it. We make it like an adventure for them instead of telling them no.

I guess at some restaurants they'll help you take better photos, while at others they'll stop you from taking photos. I've never really thought twice about taking photos of the food I eat. But then again, I don't go to anywhere fancy.


This is a photo of Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Mid-day. Nearly empty. It's one of those photos you wish you could capture yourself, but probably won't ever be able to do so. It was taken by the MTA and posted on Flickr. The reason why it's nearly empty is because of Hurricane Irene.

Grand Central Terminal is a sight I'd like to revisit again. The place is huge. And when it's filled with people it feels amazing. Oh, and they're going to have an Apple Store there someday soon.

Motivation and Inspiration

I've been in an inspirational slump. Often, I would bring my camera to any family occasion to capture moments.  But even on those occasions it's been difficult to get up for taking photos.  I'm hoping for a change, a spark.  I would often find inspiration through photos people posted on flickr or on trekearth.  But I've even been lost in this method of motivation.  A new site is helping to spark motivation and inspiration.  It's called

Blue Flame

I heard about the site while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, tacksharp.  The site's concept was created by John Duncan Davidson and Mike Clark.  It's a simple, helpful idea. Daily photo assignments are posted on the site at 9 AM EST.  The hope is for people to pick up their camera and look for opportunities to complete the assignment.  Take one photo or ten, but choose the best to share with the community.  You use twitter to let the site know you have posted a photo for an assignment.  It is then vetted by the site's "magic", then posted on  You can see photos I've taken here.

I hope to go back through the twenty-five plus assignments I missed. I'll try to do a few during my work's winter break. So you may see more photos from me here on the site.  I not only hope to take more photots, but also to be more creative, more expressive in my photography.  

You know this will be one of my New Year's resolutions.

Photography Websites and Forums

One of my sisters recently was given a DSLR as a gift. She went to the Canon side, whereas I'm a Nikon person, so we won't be able to share lenses. But we can share the abundance of resources available on the Internet. I have a few bookmarked sites and podcasts that are focused on photography I can share. This should be good for a few blog posts.

First off, I'll provide a few sites you might consider visiting for general photography tips and information. I'll folllow up with other photography websites I visit for both inspiration and information. And there are also podcasts to listen to on photography as well.

Websites and Forums - One of the first sites I visited on photography. It was easy to find - given the name. But the best parts of the site are the Learning and Community sections. You may want to create an account to post questions and comments. Forums - The main part of dpreview has detailed equipment reviews. But I prefer the forums, where a variety of answers are given to many posted questions. Sign up for an account and post, or answer, a question.

Flickr Groups - Flickr is a great photo community website. A large portion of the interactivity takes place in groups. You can find a group for almost anything photography related. You'll need to sign up for a Yahoo! account in order to access Flickr. - The how-to section on the PopPhoto's website has plenty of information. They provide tips on how to shoot a variety of photos, how to use that new photography equipment you just got, or how to navigate through Photoshop. You might also consider picking up an issue of their magazine, known as Popular Photography.

Photofocus - A well put together blog providing information, reviews, and resources on photography. They also have a podcast, one I listen to when I can.

Nikonians: A good site for information, not only on Nikons, but on photography in general. I'm sure there is a Canon equivelent. They have a strong community, but require paid membership to access. Luckily you can sign up for a free trial.

I'm sure I've missed some great photography websites for information. I'll add more as I come across them.

Shooting in Low Light

My photography background consists of taking a few classes at the local junior college, and what I've read online and in books. All of these resources have helped me along my journey in photography. I've taken a handful of photos that I really enjoy. But I still lack the ability to take a decent photo in low light situations.

When I shot on film, using my Nikon N90, I was always anxious when shooting in low light. I would dread that the photos I took would develop and show nothing at all. Shooting in digital I am less anxious, but I'm rarely happy with the end results I achieve.

I know part of the solution is having the right tools. If you don't have a fast enough lens, then shooting action in low light will be a challenge. The photo above is from one of Kayla's volleyball matches. I used the fastest lens I had, a Sigma 30mm / f 1.4. From the looks of it, the photo came out as best as it could. But the lens is wide, so close up details are not possible. I wish I could move closer to the action. I guess I need a longer lens.

I used the same lens to take this photo of Kaleb in very low light. I shot this at ISO 800. You can see some blurring, as I had the aperture wide open. I didn't take into account the depth of field I was working it. I need to pay more attention to this aspect of photography. I was simply hoping to get a photo without using a flash. I worked the photo a bit in Photoshop, but it could have been much better if I had just a little more light.

So what do I know right now about shooting in low light?

  • If you have a fast lens, use it. As I understand it, a fast lens is f 1.8 or lower. If you have a kit lens it may not be suited for this task.
  • Use a higher ISO. If you use 800 or higher, you may get some grainy photos, so don't be surprised.
  • If possible, use a tripod. A tripod may not work, especially when your subject is moving.

There are plenty of good tips out there. I just need to read them and keep shooting. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Tips, TWIP, and Tack

I enjoy taking photos, but I am nowhere near being a good amateur photographer. My biggest problem is not spending enough time developing my skills. When I took a few photography classes at the local junior college, I managed to scratch-the-itch to take photos in order to fulfill class assignments. Now without that pressure of producing I find it difficult to, well, produce any photos.

This is where a good podcast on photography can help. How? Well, nothing like a bunch of people talking about photography to whet your appetite.v

The first photography podcast I ever listened to was Chris Marquardt's award winning Tips from the Top Floor. I remember listening to Marquardt's podcast on my new second generation iPod several years ago. He is a very knowledgeable photographer with hundreds of podcast episodes under his belt. I listened to the first twenty episodes, taking all the tips he had to offer and trying some of the assignments he provided, before I started decent into nothingness. I haven't listened to this podcast lately, but I'm sure it's still top notch.

The assignment aspect of Marquardt's podcast and website is very important. An assignment helps in thinking creatively and in producing photos you wouldn't otherwise think about taking. If you are gutsy enough, you can post your photos on flickr for comment. I guess I shouldn't say gutsy enough. I have only run into a few people on flickr who can be crude with their comments. Most people are encouraging and provide constructive criticism.

This Week in Photography (TWIP) just started at the beginning of this year. The podcast includes two podcasters I like listening to - Alex Lindsey and Scott Bourne. The podcast is full of photography information and interviews with professional photographers. It's fascinating to get insight from professionals on their craft. They often answer listeners' questions which is nice. I must admit I often find this podcast to run a bit long - closing in at sixty minutes. I have found myself losing interest on the discussion at hand from time-to-time.

TWIP does have a photo assignment / contest. They also have a blog linking contest that runs ever three months I believe. The prize giveaways are very big, so you might find it worth entering. Who knows, you can win a big prize and hone your skills at the same time.

Tack Sharp is the latest photography podcast I've placed on my iPod. I read about Tack Sharp through one of my favorite blogs, Daring Fireball. The podcast is hosted by James Duncan Davidson and Dan Benjamin. James and Dan play well off each other in discussing various subjects in photography. Dan - the amateur photographer - is a nice nice contrast to James - the professional. It's an easy listen and the podcasts are short, lasting about twenty minutes on average so far. There are only three published episodes so far, so you can get in on the ground floor if you subscribe now!

If you enjoy taken photos or want to learn more about photography, I don't think you can go wrong with any of these podcasts. You can subscribe to their podcasts by clicking the iTunes links below. Also, you may want to visit their respective supporting websites, which contain an enormous amount of information and resources.

  • Chris Marquardt - Digital Photography Tips from the Top Floor (Audio/Video) - Digital Photography Tips from the Top Floor (Audio/Video) - Digital Photography Tips from the Top Floor.
  • Alex Lindsay, Scott Bourne - This Week in Photography - This Week in Photography - This Week in Photography
  • Dan Benjamin and James Duncan Davidson - Tack Sharp - Tack Sharp - Tack Sharp

Ketchup with Pepper

I don't know when Farrah starting putting massive amounts of pepper on her ketchup when we have fries, but now I can't eat fries any other way.

When I met up with some friends at Yahoo! for lunch at the local In-N-Out, I notice Gloria did the same thing to her ketchup. I forgot to ask her where she got the habit from. I'm curious, who else do I know that does this? If you do this too please leave a comment and tell me how or why you started doing this? I'm just curious.

Camera Fun

I have had about five digital cameras. I didn't enjoy the Sony Cybershot DSC-T1 as much as I had hoped. Daytime results were good, but anything indoors or at night was very problematic. I bought it before a trip to Hawaii. This is when I learned to never buy a camera right before a trip, as you may not be happy with the results. I was happy with about 60% of the photos I took.

One of the features I liked was the ability to take these consecutive shots and have them as one image. I like this photo I took of Ernie when we met up for dinner one night.


I forgot to acknowledge several accomplishments on the blog. Kayla graduated middle school this year, and Jonathan graduated high school. Congratulations to you both!

I also forgot to mention (probably because I haven't blogged in some time) that I have changed jobs. It's been about a month now since I left my previous company and started working at the new one. It was a tough choice moving on, but change is good, right?

In my new job, I'm exercising a few different skill set then my last position. It is both scary and exciting. Needless to say, I am up for the challenge.


I don't blog about work much, but it's difficult to read that many talented people are leaving Yahoo! lately (here, here, and here). When I was luckily enough to join Yahoo! in 2002, I was met with a work environment very similar to my first Silicon Valley job. The company seemed full of energy, wanting to make big impact on the Internet, more so then it had so far. It was exciting to be a part of Yahoo! and you could feel that throughout the company. The campus always seemed to be alive with energy.

Around early to mid-2004, if I recall correctly, the feeling within my specific group changed. What once was an exciting energetic team, became a stiff corporate group. I can't say whether this was felt throughout the company, but I'm sure it could have become infectious. The change in work culture may have been needed for the company, but the company's focus, and soul, was lost with the change.

Missing Green

For the last couple of months I've had the urge to start running. I was never much of a runner. My lack of endurance only allowed for short sprints. But I think all the walking Farrah and I did in England, France, and New York has made me realize you can get far on your feet. This fact, plus the cost of gas, is making self-powered transportation a good alternative to driving. Maybe I need to invest in a couple of bikes? At the least I think we're going to try to hike more, possibly on Sundays.

Dave's Headshots

Met up with Dave yesterday to do our weekly coffee talk.  I had a chance to test out the replacement 50mm since I needed to get headshots of him for a web site.  Well, here they are:

Classic Dave

Overall I think they turned out well.  I had to remember to enable the flash after the first shot, to fill out the shadows.  I think it worked out.  Man, I never noticed how much I like the 50mm.

July 4th Weekend - Pretty Quiet

It's been a pretty low-key weekend.  I have just been trying to recover from this cold-thing.  Saturday I spent most of the day in bed, hoping I could go out and about on Sunday and Monday.  And so I have been able to do so.

Yesterday, Farrah and I just hit the malls - Valley Fair, Vallco then Fry's - to do a little window shopping for the most part.  Coming back from a late breakfast we ran into Mitsuki and her father on their mid-day walk.  You can see pictures either on my Flickr account or soon to be posted on the photo page:


Today we went over Farrah's house for a BBQ lunch.  I didn't take any pictures, probably because I was upset with the fact that I might have lost a lens.  Yeah, I can't find my 50mm lens.  I'm not sure when I had it last - I think during Kayla's dance recital a couple of weeks ago.  But I'm sure I had it in my bag.  I'm thinking I simply put it down when I was changing the lens and left it behind somewhere.  Luckily it is not a really expensive lens, but it still irks me that I lost it.  Ugh.

Oh well, that's the weekend wrap-up for you.

Mitsuki and Sunny 16

Farrah and I ran into Doug and Mitsuki on their mid-morning walk.  I had the camera with me and started to take some photos of Mistuki, which I haven't had the opportunity to do.  I went to manual and forgot the sunny 16 rule, so few of the shots here have way too much light:

Mitsuki in the Sun

Luckily I could look at the LCD and quickly remedy the situation to get a couple of good shoots as well: