Category Archives: photography

30 Minutes with Photoshop

I have a desk­top wid­get that acts as a sideshows pho­to frame on my devel­op­ment machine. Hav­ing some­thing pleas­ant to stare at when my mind goes blank on a prob­lem is nice.

This morn­ing, dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly intense “now how the hell is that sup­posed to work” spell the pho­to below came up.

big file of the original photo

fish foun­tain in Oax­a­ca

Click on the pho­to to see a much big­ger ver­sion of the orig­i­nal.

I like the pho­to but it was tak­en with my lit­tle point and shoot and has way too much depth of field. I real­ly don’t need to be able to iden­ti­fy the make and mod­el of the cars in the back ground. So I loaded it into Pho­to­shop and spent half and hour or so mak­ing a quick and dirty improve­ment. A lit­tle selec­tive select­ing and copy­ing. Then a cou­ple of rounds with the blur fil­ter and I got this.

a nicer version of the Fish Fountain photo

a nicer ver­sion of the Fish Foun­tain pho­to

Again click on the pho­to for a much larg­er ver­sion. Don’t look too close­ly though. The illu­sion of shal­low­er depth of field works fine in the 400 X 300 pix­el ver­sion above but you can see the seams between the lay­ers and some oth­er arti­facts in the larg­er ver­sion. Still for half an hour of futz­ing around I end­ed up with a much nicer pho­to to use on a web page.

New Pictures

Two gal­leries of pic­tures from last week’s day-trip to the Fri­day Har­bor in the San Juan Islands for the pur­pose of pick­ing up the pig. (Yum­my fresh pork!)

First a gen­er­al gallery — most­ly shots that Jim took.

docking at anacortes

dock­ing at Ana­cortes

And a col­lec­tion, most­ly mine — a few of Jim’s, tak­en at the fer­ry dock at Lopez Island on the way to Fri­day Har­bor.

detail of a bumper (jim's photo)

detail of a bumper (jim’s pho­to)

Photos from Puerto Vallarta

two quick gal­leries with­out any edit­ing work -



19 years and counting — in Winthrop

Last week­end J and I spend a few days “away” in Winthrop WA. It was a nice chance to relax and spend some down time with each oth­er.

Fri­day after­noon was hot and dry when we left Seat­tle. The long route through the moun­tains (up to Hwy 20.)

The canyon below Dia­blo dam was com­plete­ly dry.

diablo dam and diablo lake behind it.

look­ing back up the riv­er to the dam

Sign van­dal­ism is a pop­u­lar pas­time. This one is a bit more clever than many.

modified sign

dude, that’s gonna hurt

We stayed at the Rio Vista Hotel right in the mid­dle of the kitsch­i­est part of town 😉 It was great.

rio vista hotel in winthrop wa

lots of bikes in town — you can bare­ly see my car 🙂

Sat­ur­day was Hot. We walked around some in the morn­ing tak­ing pic­ture and peep­ing at the lit­tle town.

If you get out ear­ly enough in the day you can see the deer mov­ing around.

deer checking out the shrubbery

ear­ly in the morn­ing the deer make their rounds

We also saw this ear­ly Sat­ur­day morn­ing. It did not fol­low us home. I’m not sure if I’m grate­ful or sad about that.

72 norton commando

yes it’s real ’72

Yes, it’s also kick-start only, and yes it was priced real­is­ti­cal­ly at $6k. (I can read the phone num­ber in the orig­i­nal pho­to is you real­ly need to know.)

This is just one of the Old West style build­ing on the tourist route.

nothing to see behind the sign

one of many false front build­ings in town

It was a great week­end and now we’re start­ing on year 20.

The art pho­tos of Dia­blo Dam.

More pics from around town.

New Glass

We spent a lit­tle time down at the expen­sive toy store ear­li­er this week­end. We came away with two new-to-us lens­es.

The first is rather dull — it’s a straight across replace­ment for the 70 – 300 that we already had. The new one has VR, Nikon’s image stabilization/vibration reduc­tion pack­age. The longer the lens the more I appre­ci­ate VR.

The sec­ond lens is a bit more inter­est­ing. A 12 – 14 f4 aspher­i­cal. (Tok­i­na.) We bought it because I want a wider lens for get­ting good shots of the crowd­ed nar­row streets and aisles in Mex­i­co. So that I can get things like these pic­tures of the road to the farm.

heading down the road

our road

I’m con­sid­er­ing using this one on the new Black­dog and Mag­pie web­site design. Doing some thing with a ver­ti­cal image on the left side rather than the total­ly pre­dictable head­er image.

the road outta here

look­ing down the road from the pas­ture

If you know my back­yard well you’ll be able to see the amount of squash­ing in this pic­ture. It’s actu­al­ly a long way from the rock pile to the edge of the saw buck. You can also tell that the hood doesn’t fit  per­fect­ly and that at 12mm there’s some inter­fer­ence with the edges of the image. Oh well, I’ll have to see what I can do about it.

the rock pile never gets smaller

the back side of the work yard

The oth­er rea­son for get­ting a nice fat round lens is to be able to take good land­scape pic­tures. Admit­ted­ly about the only thing we have around there this fall is green but it’s nice crisp detailed green.

green and lush even in late summer

why yes, we have a few ferns

And some more green things.

shiny leaves

more foliage, up close this time

But best of all is the abil­i­ty to get close and shal­low on those days when the lilies look good but the patio fur­ni­ture is a lit­tle dingy.

that's hot

the last of the Stargaz­er lilies for this year

In this morning’s exper­i­ment­ing I found that the cam­era con­sis­tent­ly over expos­es shots if I let it have too much say in the expo­sure, espe­cial­ly if I let it choose a shut­ter speed. A lit­tle care in shoot­ing and a  lit­tle nudge in Light­room and I get those love­ly water drops on the lily… hap­py.

This time next week I’ll be writ­ing the first of the posts from Oax­a­ca and the Mex­i­can bicen­ten­ni­al cel­e­bra­tions. Can’t wait!

Day 1 — In Which We Slack

The first day here in Oax­a­ca is always a lit­tle slow.  I’ve been beat­en up by the air­lines, the alti­tude change is more than 5000 ft, and there’s the nec­es­sary trips for sup­plies (beer.) Lead­ing to not doing much.

A brief after­noon stroll to try out the new lens was all the ambi­tion I could muster.

We first stopped at the church of Soledad. One of my favorite land­marks.

dramatic clouds

a stormy look­ing sky, but it didn’t rain

Then turned around on looked up the street and made a cou­ple of test shots of the new 12 – 24mm and the kit lens (18 – 150mm) that I’ve been using for the last two years.

With the old kit lens — which is still my go-to lens for any­thing that doesn’t require big zoom. Get­ting the wide shot here push­es the lens a lit­tle too far.

taken with an 18-105mm Nikor kit lens

every­thing bends a lit­tle at the edges.

But the new lens takes this sort of back-against-the-wall and hope it all fits in the frame stuff in stride.

taken with a 12-24mm aspherical lens

that’s bet­ter, the walls are straight.

A few blocks lat­er it allowed me to cap­ture this nov­el screeen with­out hav­ing to shot at an angle. Those bright bits are the mesh shop­ping bags that you see by the dozens in the mar­kets every day.

those used to be shopping bags

pret­ty sub­stitue for tarps

Sun­day is a slow day here. A few hours lat­er the Zoco­lo will be packed with strolling fam­i­lies and the local band, but this ear­ly in the after­noon there’s just not much hap­pen­ing.

what? no double parked cars? must be sunday.

slow sun­day

Though a hint of the evening’s crowds is here in this line­up of ham­burg­er and hot dog carts on their way to the cen­ter of the town.

on parade

the ham­burg­er and hot dog carts mov­ing toward the zoco­lo

I spent my time play­ing with a new lens — but Jim was work­ing hard and got some great images. You can see them on his own blog — obser­va­tions. Ignore the chimp­ing pho­tog­ra­ph­er. le sigh.

Day 3 — Marching Bands and Plants

Oof. It was late last night and I post­ed this entry to the wrong blog. So here it is about 12 hours late.

For break­fast this morn­ing we had march­ing bands. One of the largest of the local high schools had their parade to the zoco­lo in hon­or of the Bicen­ten­ni­al.

First there was a bit of a pro­fes­sion­al band (bor­ing) and then the school ban­ner.

Moises Saenz Garza

Moi­ses Saenz Garza High­school

Fol­lowed by the school’s drum corps…

they love drums here


… and then the stu­dent body. Loose­ly orga­nized, and very hap­py to wave and say hel­lo and make fun­ny faces at the folks peer­ing out of the Casa’s front door.

peace to you too

smiles and hel­los for every­one

The bulk of the day was tak­en up with a tour of the botan­i­cal gar­dens at San­to Domin­go. Jardín Etnobotáni­co de Oax­a­ca.

I’m still work­ing on get­ting all the pic­tures sort­ed out. There will be a nice big gallery of them lat­er this week. But for now here are a hand­ful to give you a feel for the gar­den and its plants.

The tour starts with a dis­cus­sion of the native food plants. The tri­umvi­rate of squash, beans, and corn. These are squash plants.

squash growing in the foreground

squash, beans, and corn

In the back­ground are bunch­es of the large marigolds that dec­o­rate the altars at Muer­tos. I am death­ly aller­gic to them.

This lit­tle red flower on the oth­er hand doesn’t make me sneeze. It’s a dahlia. Seri­ous­ly. All those fan­cy gar­den flow­ers (Hi Elise!) have been bred from one lit­tle red flower.

awfully nice for a single

the orig­i­nal dahlia

Of the com­mon trees in Oax­a­ca the one that I can always iden­ti­fy with­out a doubt is the pochote. But when you’re look­ing at some­thing with points like this…


unmis­tak­able thorns

The gar­dens are locat­ed behind the build­ings of the Monastery of San­to Domin­go. The church’s walls pro­vide a back­drop for the large col­lec­tion of dry eco-sys­tem plants.

straight lines

typ­i­cal water chan­nel

Maguey cac­tus. The source of mescal/tequilla. Also just plain pret­ty.


As we were leav­ing the gar­dens and head­ing toward lunch we ran into anoth­er march­ing band. This one was fol­lowed by dancers.

dancing ladies!

the flow­ers are par­tic­u­lar­ly nice

Mean­while Jim would like you to know that he is hard at work cat­a­loging the var­i­ous motor trans­port options in the area. Today, I think it’s work­ing bikes.