Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice 2013

The sun is lowest, the night is longest, winter is here. 

Tonight I tried out an old technique by using intentional camera motion (ICM). The concept is to establish the camera settings so as to take a relatively long exposure and then while the shutter is open you intentionally move the camera body to blur the image. The results can be to soften the subject matter and give the photograph an ethereal or impressionistic result. The thing about these types of images is that they are fun to make. There is no pressure or preconcieved notion of what the end result should be. You can work very fast, and the fun of it is to find subjects that produce pleasing results. Today was the winter solstice and the sun was low and further southeast in the sky. This shot was taken near the Tempe Arts Center as the sun was setting. It may look like a fire but it was just the sun slowly moving behind the mountains.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Some Thoughts on Happiness

I thought that I would post a list here so that I could refer to it as needed. Like many people in today I sometimes struggle with my state of happiness.

I watched the movie "Happy" this week and discovered a number of interesting facts about happiness. First, our overall happiness is derived by three components: (i) 50% is our genetic set point or range, the disposition we are born with; (ii) surprisingly only 10% of our happiness is based on our circumstances, social status or health; (iii) the remaining 40% of our happiness is based on actions that we choose to do or things that a person can do on a regular basis with intention. Second, the movie also discussed two types of goals, extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic goals are focused on something external to ourselves: money, image or social status. Intrinsic goals are internal psychological needs that we can satisfy, such as: personal growth, relationships and desire to help. Extrinsic and intrinsic goals (or values) are in opposition to each other, but studies have found that people that focus on intrinsic goals are happier.

Over the years I have jotted down actions that put me on a better path, some of which I have listed below. This is just my list, but I would be interested in knowing what is on your list of actions that you take to settle the mind, lift your spirits and put you in a better mood. I was happy to see how consistent my list was with the ideas that were explored in the movie.
  • Exercise your body daily and eat natural foods

  • Be conscious of relationships and make sure to be exposed to healthy, positive and quality people

  • Be in constant appreciation of all one has in life - inform this with exposure to those less fortunate than yourself

  • Perform acts that support, contribute and advance another person's life

  • Live a life that strives to move towards moral ideals

  • Make an effort to ensure life-long learning, increasing knowledge, developing new skills beyond one's comfort zone and pushing to understand complex subject matter

  • Have strong control and constant awareness as to the amount and type of media that one is exposed to and consumes

  • Be prepared, show up on time and apply yourself

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Six years of sporadic life events

I started this blog on May 22, 2007 so as of today it is officially six years old. I haven't posted very much the last three or so years but having this blog always available to me if I chose is still kind of cool.

A lot has happened in those seven years. I initially started this blog because I was headed to Hawaii for the first time in mid-2007 as part of an award that I had one from my then employer Wells Fargo. I also felt I needed to start keeping track of my travel after attending the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland the previous summer, a bi-annual international golf tournament that one of my friends suggested that we go to.

I thought it would be a great place to share my experiences there and post some photos of those two adventures. Looking back now I'm very happy that I started it. And reviewing my post today, I was happy to relive some memories of those events and be reminded of some events that I had forgotten. This blog's greatest value to me isn't as a place for me to become famous or to make money but as an online journal of my life.

Ironically, when I started this blog Facebook had recently opened to the general public and not many people were using it (or understanding it frankly). Twitter was started in March of 2006 but wouldn't come into wide spread use until a few years later.

So why do I mention Facebook and Twitter? Because this blog was initially started as a place for me to share my life with my friends, family and co-workers and initially it worked. The first year or so, I would forget what I had posted and it was strange to have people come up to me and mention something that they had read in one of the post, back then it was a bit startling and unsettling, but now everyone "blogs" through social media. I don't think it is uncommon at all for people to expect that you might know about their dinner, trip or family life from social media.

Moving forward my goal, as always is to post a little more often. Ironically, I'm not the best at sharing on social media, but for some reason this ability for a longer form post, with more context appeals to me. I realize that this spot on the internet isn't for site statistics, traffic, Google Ads sense or fame, but it is really a place for me to document, reflect on life and keep events in perspective.

In many ways it has been a difficult seven years (housing bust, loss of my employment), but reflecting back on some post this evening I realized it has also been a productive, interesting and fortunate six years.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I have been trying to learn some of the new 3D features in Photoshop CS6. I have to admit they are very cool and a bit more approachable then the interface that was in CS5.

In any event, I decided to challenge myself to create something using the new tools. So in honor of Bloomsdays, I "extruded" (Photoshop term) a map of Ireland and placed it on a simple background with a quote from the book. Like everything creative that I try for the first time, it's muddy, and awkward, but in some self irony, I'm going to try to learn from the quote that I used and think of it as a source of new discovery.

Thanks to Corey Barker, who had a great class on the Kelby Training website on how to use these new features.

Happy Bloomsday everyone.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"...but then I figured out my sorrows could swim."

"I really thought I was becoming mad. I started to drink, I was really, really deep into drinking, because I was sad. I thought that I could drowned my sorrows, but then I figured out my sorrows could swim."
-Tranquilino Castaneda on the affects of dealing with the massacre of his wife and nine children at Dos Erres, Gutamala in 1982

While on the treadmill at the Y tonight I listened to a recent episode of  This American Life titled "What happened at Dos Erres". The podcast is an hour long.

Between images of Piers Morgan interviewing Chaz Bono on one television screen and TMZ playing on the other television screen, I listened to a very moving story about a place and people I had never heard of.

The first 30 minutes are rough - incomprehensible evil by one set of humans on another. The second 30 minutes was more inspiring, the story of a mystery solved and the realization by a survirer that he wasn't alone in the world after all.

The podcast can be found here: What happened at Dos Erres

And a video of the reunion between father and son was posted on ProPublica's channel here:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Rock & Roll Stops the Traffic

While I was in San Francisco last week attending the Google Plus Photography Conference I participated in the Embarcadero photo walk with Trey Ratcliff. As part of the walk we came upon the Vaillancourt Fountain and I realized that this was the general area that U2 held a public concern years ago. I vaguely remembered that Bono had spray-painted a sculpture and had gotten in trouble with the city. No one on the walk seemed to remember the incident and when I finally got a chance I looked it up I found this YouTube video.  The incident occurred during the bands Rattle & Hum tour in 1987. In the video Bono climbs up on the sculpture at around the 2:50 mark and records the message that "Rock & Roll stops the traffic." The graffiti was removed long ago, which is sort of a shame since it was an iconic moment and it would have been fun to still see the paint today and remember a moment 25 years ago.

I've included a few more of the photos at my Google+ page which you can find here.

Update: Unfortunately the video was pulled by YouTube for copyright reasons. I think if you search "U2 Embarcadero" there are still some other videos out that show some of what was in the video above.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cooking Video - The Best Tacos

Recently I have been taking a Final Cut Studio video editing class. With all the new technology built into today's camera it is a natural extension to move from photography into some amount of video capture. Just like using Photoshop in photography, post processing video can improve the quality of final product.

I've had some video clips that I took with my Flip HD camera a few months back while my friend Angelica and I made her recipe for tacos. I think these are the best tacos I've tasted so, using my newly learned skills I cobbled together the video below. This certainly is very rough with some choppy moments and some miscues but I'm happy with the progress that I am making and I learned a lot by forcing myself to try and make this a completed video. By the way, the music is from which is a site that provides a one time license for a song for two bucks, so I don't have to feel guilty about stealing someone's musical work.