Early Spring

A Bloomin' Early Spring

We’ve had an exceptionally mild winter this year. Very little rain, even less snow, and since the new year, very warm temperatures. This tree usually blooms in late March, or early April. Here it is February 28th and it has burst out with color.

This is a shot from the G1, captured in camera raw format, with mild edits made in Aperture, then saved to JPEG using Photoshop’s “save for web” feature.

What. A. Game.

Excited Wil (Wheaton) is excited. on Twitpic

This photo (of and by my fellow Goaltender Wil Wheaton) best represents today’s Olympic Gold Medal game in Men’s Ice Hockey that wraped up the 2010 Winter Games just over the border from me in Vancouver, B.C. If you missed it, you missed an epic game, filled with more thrills and excitement than can be described. Team USA came back from a 2-0 deficit and tied the game with 24 seconds to play. This forced the game into overtime.

Overtime. Sudden Death. It is how the ultimate games should always finish. Play until you score. None of this shoot-out stuff. The 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway ended their Gold Medal game with a shoot-out after overtime expired, with Sweden edging Canada for the Gold. As a hockey fan it was awful to watch, as games should be played to win, not forced into an artificial conclusion via a shoot-out. Overtime play however is never artificial. It is thrilling beyond belief because it is real, it is intense, and the end can come at any moment. Some of the best games ever were decided in overtime. Many have become legend: The Easter Epic. Bobby Orr’s flying goal on May 10, 1970. The Miracle on Manchester. The “Monday Night Miracle” in game 6 of the ’86 Conference Finals. The epic goaltending battle between Hasek & Brodeur in the ’94 Playoffs (both had shutouts going, and Buffalo won in the second overtime 1-0 over the New Jersey Devils.) The five overtime Flyers-Penguins game of the ’00 Playoffs. The Canucks quadruple-overtime win over Dallas in ’07.

Nothing is more thrilling than overtime hockey.

Team USA played very well today. Our Goaltender Ryan Miller won a well-deserved tournament MVP award. They put on a show that nobody expected, and that delighted everyone who watched. They played their game, and took the heavily-favored Team Canada right to the very brink. Thank you Team USA. You earned every ounce of the silver around your necks, and then some.

Photo: E-type Tach

Speaking of photography… Here is a shot I just snapped off with the G1, right here on my desk. This is raw, and unedited, exported out of Aperture 3, just to show how nice this camera & lens combo is (14-45, at 45mm here, manual focus.)

The tach is out of the 65E for a refurb and upgrade. It has been inaccurate for a while and that will be fixed soon. It took me several hours of work to get the bezel removed!

Life on the Bleeding Edge, sometimes you get cut.

When I finally jumped to a new camera last year I took a chance on the new and emerging format of Micro Four-Thirds. This is a sort of compromise between the consumer-grade point & shoot and the bulky DSLR. It has all the benefits of a DSLR: Interchangeable lenses, large sensor, significant exposure, aperture, and shutter speed controls… but without the immense weight and bulk of a traditional SLR camera body. I chose a Panasonic Lumix G1. It is remarkably light weight and compact compared to a DSLR. This is mostly due to the lack of a mirror and the attendant mechanisms required to use a mirror. Instead it has a viewfinder which is essentially a video screen off the actual sensor.

The lenses for this camera are built by Leica and are amazing. I have two so far; a 14-45, and a 45-200. They were the only two available (beyond a fixed 20mm “pancake” lens) when I bought the camera last year. I waited for over six months to buy the camera as the price dropped so far that the telephoto was essentially “free” compared to if I had purchased it when it first came out.

My preferred lens for shooting close ups of cars is a very wide angle lens, which did not become available for the M4/3 format until very recently. Unfortunately it is very expensive, so I’ve been making do with an old .7 lens adapter that makes my 14-45 into a 9.8-31.5 lens. However it vignettes badly at the shortest focal lengths. I live with it for now, and either don’t shoot at the shortest or just keep the corners of the frame in mind when composing in-lens.

I have an RSS feed for a few M4/3 websites and I noted recently that one proclaimed a price drop on this wide-angle I really want. Whoo hoo! I rushed off to Amazon to see how far the price had dropped, with memories of the several-hundred dollar drops seen for the other lenses over time… only to find this:

Ninety Five Cents!

A whopping .95¢! Sigh. I guess I’ll be waiting a while.

Yeah, it is not a very fast lens, but it is right in my focal-length sweet spot, and the sort of shots that I want to do with it don’t have to have a real huge aperture.

Literally a few months after I acquired the G1, Panasonic produced the GH1, which adds HD Video to the feature list. Oh well. My “cut” from being out on the bleeding edge isn’t very deep or losing much blood, it just stings a bit now and then. I know the native lens choices will only keep getting better, so patience is key.

BTW I haven’t shared much of my output from this camera here on my website yet, beyond my father/son road trip last summer and a few random shots. I promise I’ll rectify that deficiency soon! In fact I’d love to see if you car-spotters can also spot a G1-produced image, so expect bonus points if you add “which camera” to your “name that car” comments!

A Truck Load of Salt

I took my son Nicholas to see his favorite musician, Jonathan Coulton play at the Moore Theater in Seattle last night. We drove down from Arlington, with a stop at Seattle institution Dicks for a bite:

Mmmmmmm. Says Nick. on Twitpic
The opening band was Paul & Storm:

(and yes, panties were thrown at the performance last night… seven of them in fact.)

Nick acquired a “Skullcrusher Mountain” T-shirt and stocked up on so many nerd hit points that I’m certain he’ll dominate the next D&D match he plays.

There was really only one downer for the whole night. A few rows behind us was seated a guy who was not only really loud, but also cracked wise at every pause in the show. Paul & Storm strongly encourage audience participation and this guy took the bit and ran with it… non-stop.




Literally not a minute of the show went by without this guy hollering a punch line, or wisecrack, or just something stupid. One or two of his remarks/heckles/outbursts were quite funny. Three or four of them were picked up by the performers and made for funny moments. But the other eighty six of them were just tiresome, annoying, and several times threw the performers off their game. We ALL paid good money to see this, and more importantly HEAR this event, but at literally every quiet moment this yahoo became a bellowing distraction.

Like spice in a well-prepared dish a bit of audience participation is a wonderful thing. Had the audience last night all sat like cadavers, it would have been pretty dull (though one song demanded that we become zombies!) However too much is just too much. In this case a pinch of salt would have been perfect, and this one guy in the audience (let’s call him “Richard”, or “Dick” for short) arrived with a dump truck loaded with sodium chloride, backed up (beep… beep… beep… beep… ) into the auditorium, then dumped two tons of salt all over the show.

Really? Don’t be that guy.

Car Photo of the Day: Name the car, from the engine

I really like this photo. I snapped it at the Art Center Car Show last summer in Pasadena, California. However, unless you are an aficionado of the marque, I imagine you would not be able to name the car. So I shot a photo of its engine bay and perhaps with these two hints you guys can name that car:

I have a bunch of shots taken from the Art Center show of some amazing, rare, and historic vehicles which I should start showing here. Stay tuned.