Sunday, December 02, 2012

Spinning Wheels

The title of this week's blog post is allegorical. No, I'm not out there on the ATV, spinning wheels in the ice and snow... I'm in here, biding my time, waiting for winter.

Or more correctly, waiting for this crummy weather to end. I LIKE winter. I revel in crisp, white, squeaky snow. I enjoy getting out and walking in it, I have fun clearing it, shovel and snowblower last year and ATV this year, I like putting on a down jacket and boots and hat and gloves and seeing my breath. Or watching big fat snowflakes fall.

What woke me up this morning was the sound of rain on my roof. The snow on the ground is gone, there's a steady downpour going on out there. I DON'T like cold, damp, rainy days, the temperature hovering a touch above freezing, a cold rain, gloomy days even at 11am (when I'm writing this). I said I'd try to do something more upbeat this week, but it's really hard when it's so ugly outside.

The trick is to stay inside. So the other day (yes, it's been going on for a while), I threw another log on the fire, made a fresh pot of coffee, and sat down to catch up with some of the stuff that needs doing. I find myself forgetting things, or not doing them because they're not top-of-mind, so I made a "To Do" list and posted it on the fridge. Not for short term things, but for projects and the like. There are actually 16 items on it (18 now, I thought of two more and pencilled them in). Daunting. Do I do them one at a time in prioritized sequence, or try to multi-task? In the 3 days since I wrote it, I've addressed exactly ONE of the items, and that because I had to. Today might be the day...

Speaking of staying inside

What's a more welcoming assault on the senses than a cheery roaring fire? How about the smell of freshly baked bread?


...and after!  

I forced myself to go out and shoot a couple of pictures this morning, in the rain. The Inn across the road still had their Christmas tree lights lit (see? Daylight, and they're still bright!), so I thought I'd try again for a mood picture. Pictures don't have to be pretty all the time, do they?

I took a few frames, not liking what the metering was giving me when I looked at the back of the camera, then when I got inside, I put them together in HDR Efex Pro. I chose a monochrome preset, then masked out the lights with a couple of control points. A vignette in Lightroom 4 finished it off.  

In contrast, the same scene a couple of days ago looked like this. See what I mean about winter?

Not quite there. Wait until the snow's a foot deep and there's some structure in the sky! There's more processing in this image, an HDR, masked layers in Photoshop, and a white vignette this time in Lightroom. Although it's colder out, there's a sense of warmth and invitation in this image.

Automatic ISO revisited

While I was at it this morning, I shot a few frames on Auto-ISO. I still haven't done it right for testing and reporting purposes, though. I was on "A" (aperture-priority) and the camera bumped up against the upper limit I had set, so I didn't get true ISO bracketing, it selected a slower shutter speed for the lighter shot, while maxxing out the ISO at 6400.

It works pretty well, actually. The 3 exposures were at ISO 1400, 5600 and 6400 and although there is some noise in the composited image, it's not bad and Lightroom took care of a lot of it. I used a couple of control points in Nik HDR Efex to bring the red flag saturation back in.  


As some of you know, I run a First Aid supply company. I also have some medical issues including two persistent cancers. Back in 2006, I created a free Emergency Medical Information Card for myself and then posted it for other people to download.

I believe that everyone should carry an Emergency Medical Information Card in their wallet or purse. Maybe you don't have any allergies or medical conditions that emergency staff should know about, but shouldn't you have something that tells them whom to contact in an emergency, that tells them who your doctor is?

So here's the link to an interactive .pdf form. You open it and fill it out (nothing goes out online, it's completely private), then print it out. You can laminate it at Staples like I do. I strongly urge everyone to print one out for themselves and all their loved ones.

Here's the link again. Cut and paste it to an email to people you care about.

There is absolutely no cost asked or implied. All that I ask is maybe that you visit my blog from time to time and tell others about it.

Some Wallpaper for you

On a cheerier note, I decided to emulate one of the other bloggers I read regularly (Anne McKinnell. She and her husband are embarking on their second nomadic year in a motorhome, and posts great images from the wonderful places she visits that put you vicariously there I have to figure out how she managed to build up 30,000 followers!).

She selects the occasional image and makes it available as wallpaper (the computer kind. I have a very eclectic mix of followers here...). Many people like to change their background images from time to time, and I thought I'd offer some of mine occasionally. Here's the first one.

The wallpaper versions of this do not have my watermark in the corner and you are free to use them non-commercially. I prepared two sizes: this one is for a wide-screen monitor, and this one is for a regular monitor. Simply click the appropriate link, and right-click the image to download it 

If you do use the image, please let me know by email, or just click the Google +1 icon at the bottom of this post and reference +faczen (I think that's how it works!) If there are any other of my images you'd like to have as wallpaper, drop me a note and tell me which one(s)!

One last thing...

A few months ago, I mentioned that I have a source for full coloured, double sided, full bleed photographic business cards for $20 for 1000 cards. An incredible price. How about making some as a Christmas gift for someone (or for yourself!). Here's a link to the original post or drop me a note by email for more information. Time's running short!

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