Sunday, December 30, 2007

Spinning and spinning...

Toward the of the day and after we had watched more movies than any one family should be allowed to in a single day Desirae was pretty hyped up and was literally spinning around the living room. Deanna tried to get into the game too but just couldn't figure out how to spin as well as Desirae was doing it.

Desirae got a sewing machine for Christmas from Uncle Gary but it was damaged in the box. Denise spent some time trying to figure out a way to make it work but in the end I think we are going to need to just give up. I think it was her mom that said if she tried to just make this one work and it was bad then it could really make Desirae's first experience sewing not a good one. So she is going to come up with a better solution so that to alleviate that possibility. I mean Desirae still may not like sewing but at least it will not be for that reason.

Update: I have been going through my photographs and trying to consolidate the images into my main Lightroom library. I am really amazed just how many images I have. I finally got to 2006 and I thought I was up to date except I found the original archive with 12,856 images in it... So as it stands right now I have:

  • 2000 - 222
  • 2002 - 1,040
  • 2003 - 796
  • 2004 - 2,799
  • 2005 - 9,228
  • 2006 - 1,048, importing 12,856
  • 2007 - 9,329

    Now I realize that (I hope that) there are at least 1,048 dupliates in my 2006 section... Oh well. The good thing is I have been missing some shots from that year and now I think I know where they are! So if everything is correct that is 36,270 digital images and that doesn't include what Denise has capture or our earlier non-NIkon stuff. So at 36 exposure roles that would be around 1,007 roles of film. I would guess that would be around $7 a roll for the film and process so it is about $7k. Wow...

    I am also sending off my Sekonic tomorrow to test out their service. I had waited because I thought I would use it this weekend... I didn't... Oh well.

    I am also waiting on the Photoflex guys to tell me when the new case is in stock. I still haven't figured out how I am going to send that one case back... So all in all I am not thrilled with their support but I am going to wait to see how this plays out before I make final judgement...
  • Saturday, December 29, 2007

    In trouble...

    I think I am in trouble with this one... She is just too darn cute! Then again Desirae is pretty darn cute too. Anyway we went to lunch today to get out of the house and I took my camera along. Deanna was REALLY hamming it up and just laughing up a storm as I was taking photographs of her. It was pretty funny and I think there is just nothing better than when she smiles!

    I should have used a whibal or something because the white balance was WAY off but I didn't take anything other than the camera.

    I did finally finish the image transfer and I am starting to work with my older images. I still need to consolidate libraries and will probably start that tomorrow (maybe).

    Backup hell...

    I have just about filled up my 500GB external drive. Take that and the fact because of my current problems I have moved my main working archive onto that same external means that I do not have the hard drive space to have a duplicate copy of everything. Yesterday I TRIED to move things around and consolidate but it quickly became clear that any further efforts in that vein would most likely end up with a significant amount of images that would be lost forever. So I bit the bullet and bought ANOTHER external firewire drive but this time a 750GB. So, let's see if I can remember this correctly. I now have:

  • Western Digital My Book 750GB (FW)
  • Western Digital My Book 500GB (FW)
  • Lacie 250GB (FW)
  • Western Digital Media 160GB (FW)
  • Generic 250GB (USB)
  • Western Digital Passport 160GB (USB)

    So for that past, hmm 7 hours, my system has been diligently copying all the files from the 500GB drive to the 750GB drive. I am HOPING that the reason for the slow down is that I am sending files from one firewire drive to another. I would have HOPED that it would have went fast but alas it didn't. I'm telling you digital asset management is a MAJOR pain. Trying to protect your files and secure your data is a daunting task. I am not really sure what the correct solution should. Once I get the initial copy of the data on the new drive incremental updates will be much more manageable. The problem is with this initial load. Anyway it should complete soon and I am calling it a night!
  • Thursday, December 27, 2007

    Customer service test...

    Well, it is always a pain when something breaks or fails to work correctly, but it is always a good test of how good a company's customer service is. So I get the opportunity to check the customer service of both Photoflex and Sekonic, lucky me. So in April you may recall that I bought a PhotoFlex StarFlash 1000 Gemini Kit. It has worked out VERY well except the other day a wheel broke off the large case that carries everything (I mean everything too the darn thing packs up with 4 lights, 4 light stand, umbrellas, and 4 large/small soft boxes). So bringing it home after the shoot at Ann's I ripped the wheel on coming back in the house. So I called PhotoFlex earlier in the day and they said send pictures and the receipt and they will decide what to do. So far so goo so I spend a few hours searching for the darn receipts and send everything to them in email a few moments ago. I HOPE in the morning (hmmm, technically isn't it already morning) I will receive good news on how they are going to deal with it.

    Continuing my broken gear saga I also have a problem with my Sekonic L-358 light meter. When we were back at Denise's brother's place I ordered the module to go along with my Pocket Wizards (I love Pocket Wizards, I mean how can you know love something that has pocket and wizard in it's name). Well the meter never recognized the radio module so today I finally connected with the people at Sekonic and they said it sounds like the meter is toast or at least the part that talks to the module. So now I have to box that up and send that back to them so I also found those receipts today as well.

    Honestly I think the Sekonic is going to be a more straight forward test of service with the only thing being how quickly they turn everything around. I don't like being without a meter for a couple of weeks but I suppose I can fake it and just guess on my light settings using histograms and previews.

    On a finally note when I was searching for information on Pelican Cases I was looking for a blog entry where I thought I spoke about it. In the end it appears that I bought the case BEFORE I started blogging so there was no mention of it. Anyway the interesting part is going back and looking at old entries. The really amazing part, at least for me, is that until the page comes up I don't really remember the instances but when I see the photographs and text it really brings everything back. It is also amazing to see how LONG ago things happened. I have only been doing this for a couple of years but there are things that I thought happen last year but it was longer. So if you are border venture in the past and see what happened. All I can say is blogs are really an amazing thing...

    Tuesday, December 25, 2007

    Merry Christmas!!!

    Well it was a whirlwind day with more presents under the tree than I think we ever have. It was kind of funny because at one point I thought "we" hadn't bought that many until Denise kept telling me other places to bring them in from. When it was all said and done it look like the beaches of Normandy with all the paper and boxes all over the place. I am not sure if the kids got EVERYTHING they wanted but I think it was close! So we had a nice quite day in the house go through al the different presents and playing with them.

    Denise bought me a camera case backpack thing that I can put my computer and camera stuff (some camera stuff) in. That should make it easier when I am going back and forth to work where I want both. Generally I take everything and the only thing I pull out is the computer and never use the camera stuff. But, when I don't bring the cameras something happens that I wish I had it. Kind of one of those irritating catch-22. Well at least I get to test it out tomorrow when I go back to work!

    Well I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and got everything they hoped to get!

    Monday, December 24, 2007

    Unexpected in-town adventure...

    Shortly after Nana and Max left we loaded everyone up and headed in to town to do some running around. The plan was to hit the Murray Family Farms and then Camping World.

    Murray Farms was pretty cool (Denise was searching for Cherry Preserves) and Desirae ran around for a bit. I thought the fruits they had out looked pretty cool so I took some photographs of them.

    The next stop was a bust because I missed the turn for Camping World and by the time I was able to turn around and get there they were closed. It was kind of a drag because I needed to return something and buy a new part to fix a problem with the trailer. Oh well. From there we hit CompUSA and I found out that they are going out of business and are closing. Even with EVERYTHING (including the furniture and shelves) on sale I didn't find anything to buy. Another oh well...

    From there went to the Flying Mushroom aka Macaroni Grill for dinner. With all the good food we have had in the last couple of days going there probably wasn't the greatest idea but the food was pretty good.

    The one thing I did want to do was do some night photography before we got home. There is an industrial area near were we were for dinner so I found a secluded place and did some different angles of the lights and smoke of the area. It was pretty neat (although cold) and I think I made some neat captures. I was a bit worried that security was going to come and make us leave but no one ever came over. It probably helped that it was dark and we didn't leave the lights on in the truck.

    Saturday, December 22, 2007

    Waiting for early Christmas...

    The kids were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Nana and Max for Christmas. They came down for the weekend before Christmas and because they can not stay until Christmas day we end up doing their gifts a bit early. Anyway so we knew they should arrive any moment and the kids were so excited that they were looking out the window to see they drive up.

    The gift exchange started out with the kids giving Nana and Max the things they bought for them plus the stuff we got for them. It was pretty and the kids were excited giving them their presents. The kids then opened their stuff and pretty much spent the rest of the day play with their new stuff.

    The real funny part was Deanna though. She doesn't really understand everything but she gets so excited about everything. So her face just lights up and she is just really happy about all the stuff and colors and such. She actually helped Max crumple up some of the packing paper so that Max could photograph it.

    Denise then made her English Christmas dinner which is just outstanding. It is a roast, Yorkshire pudding and other stuff that is just amazing. Everyone was pretty well stuffed when dinner was over.

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    Carol's Retirement...

    Today was the retirement ceremony for Carol Allen. She is the administrative assistant for the 95th CS Commander. She just recently came back to the squadron and enough though she was planning to retire in the next couple of years because of restructuring of positions she decided to leave early. It has been a very bitter sweet event. We don't want her to retire but we are all excited for her to move on to the next phase of her life. So a couple of the Lieutenants organized a small "Tea Party" theme for her retirement party. Quite a few people packed into the room and it was a pretty cool event. The guys from my flight (Mission Systems Flight) pooled some funds together and bought her a flower arrangement. So when my time came to present I handed off my camera to Lt. Jason Read and he took over the photographer duties for a bit.

    I also had the opportunity to process some of the basket ball photographs. Todd introduced me to this new collection of filter presets that enable me to modify the look and feel of the images. Personally I think it really saved the entire lot of shots because the heavy noise really made the photographs look a bit rough. Anyway I put the images up here! In theory the guys at work want to make large prints of the images that Todd and I captured and put them up in the "Comm Closet". That is the "break room" that the guys put together. Anyway, if they decide to do that it is going to be cool to have my images up on the wall.

    Todd sent me this photograph of myself. It's kind of cool to actually see how much of a goob I look like when I am photographing something! Tomorrow there is another game and depending on schedules I may try to make it back out there. I know Todd is planning on bringing different equipment so it is possible that he will get even better shots. I think with my equipment I am going to be stuck with more of the same. I could try to use my 50 1.4, which is my fastest lens, and that MIGHT give me a boost with lower ISO otherwise I am stuck with my 2.8 lenses (which are considered fast).

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    Mission accomplished!

    Well, Randy made his way back up to the tower today to finish the job he started last week. Unfortunately I was stuck in meetings while he and Donavan were finishing their work but I did make it back up to the site after the sun went down and made this capture. I am VERY pleased with the capture and the final results of all their efforts. You can not see the lights from great distances but you can see if from the roads surrounding the site. So I am sure everyone who is driving past it is wondering where the 140' Christmas tree came from! With the red flash obstruction light it really does look like a gigantic tree. You know when Randy first came up with the idea I thought he was crazy but I am really glad that he did it. It pretty simple and pretty silly but I hope that it can help put a smile on someone's face as they are either going home for the day or coming back to base.

    Since I also happened to be at work late today (tonight) Todd talked me into going and photographing the Communication Squadron's basketball team. It has been a LOOOOONNNNNGG time since I have photographed sports and basketball in particular but it was GREAT fun and I am very glad that I went. By photographs were basically crap but it was exciting to get back in the grove and to be thinking of different angles and such to try and capture the action that was going on. Considering most of my photographic work lately has been more planned out studio or landscape shots shooting action was a bit different a chaotic. For the most part I just put the camera in do everything mode and tried to follow the action. The lighting was pretty bad and the ISO was pretty darn high but I did get some usable shots. Hopefully when I finsih processing them the guys will enjoy them. Todd shot a lot too so it will be interesting to see how his stuff turned out. He has been shooting a lot of sports lately so I am sure that he got better stuff than I did. But, bottom line, I had fun and that too is something I haven't done in a long time either!

    Sunday, December 16, 2007


    Well today was interesting and I decided to head out to Tehachapi for a boondoggle. I went looking for coffee (Starbucks), batteries, and photo opportunities. So after getting the first two taken care of I ran across this old building near the railroad tracks that was light with a string of Christmas lights all the way around it. It was kind of weird because the building was really run down and there was nothing (I could see) inside of it. I imagine they are going to refurbish the place but it was just an interesting view.

    The only other thing that happened is we lost the last set of keys to the van with the remote entry thing. So now we can not drive the van without setting the alarm off. I also have the side benefit that since I have been using the van to drive to work last week I also lost my wedding ring and keys for work. Before you ask about the ring I just have to say I HATE jewelry and generally I do not wear it. I have been wearing my wedding ring for a while BUT I only put it on when I leave and take it off as soon as I get home. So I just clip it on my keys so I have it them when we leave... I am still banking on the idea that Deanna ran off with them somewhere around the house and we just haven't found them yet!

    Saturday, December 15, 2007

    Eating cookies

    Denise and Desirae made sugar cookies today to do something special this weekend and to be more in the holiday spirit. We also decided to do another photoshoot with the girls being silly and eating their Christmas cookies. This particular image was an out take because the background lights didn't recycle. It is however kind of neat that the background turned gray when it was in fact a roll of white paper. The modeling lights keep the lighting even but the strobes not firing didn't turn it white like it was supposed to be. Either way it is a neat look. Considering we were supposed to go camping this weekend (although I am not sure what we were thinking with the weather turning) we needed to do something different! On the camping front though I did fix some problems with the trailer so it was nice to get that stuff taken care of.

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    Operation Guiding Light...

    Okay, first here's the deal. I sent Randy and Donavan to the Air Force Tower Climbing Certification class a few months ago. This class trained them to climb our different radio towers and to train people locally to climb. Since they have returned they haven't had a chance to climb. So earlier in the week Randy came up with the idea to do a climbing exercise and to run Christmas lights down the three legs of our 140' self standing radio tower. Before doing this he coordinated with all the necessary organizations on base to make sure it was legal and today he and Donavan set their plan into motion. They were not able to finish by the end of the day and will finish on Monday but they made pretty darn good progress. Even though they only lit up one leg of lights (they finished two) it looks pretty neat. I termed the event Operation Guiding Light, just click the link for the rest of the pictures...

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007


    I got goat roped into going to a meeting with Todd, Mark and Jason. We were working on some objectives for an upcoming presentation that both Todd and Mark have to do (individual taskings). Anyway it was an interesting view so I grabbed my camera and took a bunch of snaps. The ISO was pretty high so the images are graining (noisy) but they are cool. Plus I have proof that we do-do work at work...

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Death Valley (again)

    Denise talked me into taking a solo trip to Death Valley this last weekend. This was similar to my 8 Feb 2006 trip I took a LONG time ago. I almost didn't go considering I couldn't leave on Friday but I went ahead and loaded up the trailer and headed out on Saturday. It was only an over-night trip but it was just what I needed. It was also the first time I have went anywhere with the trailer by myself so it was kind of cool and worked out very well. It was incredibly peaceful and quiet out there and pretty darn relaxing. I ended up camping at Stove Pipe Wells in the full hookup RV park (12 spaces) with only one other trailer there. Granted I was not really there long enough to interact with too many people but it was still nice to be out there. I spent most of my time near the Sand Dunes. The weather was pretty nice too. It was a bit warmer than California City but still cool so heat was more of an issue instead of cooling. Either way I was pretty darn comfortable in the trailer and it worked out VERY well. This was also the first time I had the chance to use the power jack and that made set up and tear down much easier than before. Well I may try to post the rest of the images later when I get a chance...

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007


    I realize my mistake with my last rambling post from a few weeks ago... So with that all I am going to say is that I can't sleep (again) and it is getting old. Since that is the case I thought I would post this picture. I liked the way it looked when I took it.

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    She's a little runaway...

    I had an idea about a “runaway” series of photographs so since we decided to go into Tehachapi for lunch I figured I would grab our old suitcase out of the garage (the one we only use as a prop) and see if we could make some pictures on the way back. Desirae really wanted to be a model today so she was up for it. So we found a deserted stretch of road and sent Desirae on her way. Deanna also wanted to “play” so we got a couple of shots with her and Desirae going together. Denise had another idea for a different location so we loaded everyone up and headed to another area and made another set of images. The only problem we had is that I made a very amateur mistake and didn’t watch my shutter speed. So A LOT of the 487 images were “soft” and out of focus. Oh well I should have caught that one. Either way I was able to pull about 10 selects from the shoot that I think will work pretty good. Plus we can refine this and shoot it again later. Besides once we were done we thought about different things we could have done.

    We did have a really good lunch at a new place called City Slickers. Well, it isn’t really new for the area up there, but it is new for us. They had really good food and everyone seemed to enjoy it. One nice thing is that Tehachapi is a bit closer than Lancaster and they have just about everything you could need up there.

    Saturday, December 01, 2007

    More pictures and tree...

    All day Desirae wanted to take photographs. Toward the of the day she was watching a movie, and still wanted to take some pictures, so since I had a softbox up and went ahead and took some shots of her on the couch while watching a movie. I have done this before but she was much more color coordinated this time. The only bad thing is that she looked so sweet when before we started but once we started shooting she wasn't really happy. I am not sure what the deal was there. I did get one shot of her almost laughing but I thought this was the best one out of the series.

    So the tree assembled with out a hitch and Denise and the kids helped decorate. I took some shots but my "artistic vision" just didn't work out very well and most of the shots didn't look too good. I did get this nice one of Devin checking out the lights. He was a pretty good helper too. Denise has a knack for decorating trees and it turned out pretty darn nice. We still have some more decorating to do but for the most part we are done. Now it is just a matter of counting down the days!