A change of pace (and topic, sort of)

Gonna talk about my pictures today. First, I know that this is all amateur stuff, and it is just a hobby. But an interesting conversation with a friend inspired me to learn something I didn’t really know before. And now I have a much better understanding of what is happening with my pictures.

It all started with my going through my iCloud Photostream, clearing out pictures. Ever since I started taking more pictures (and learned that I have the ability to take more shots by just holding the button down) my photo cache has gotten quite full, often with shots I am just throwing away. Well I was seeing some of the shots Kim took with her phone on the camp trip with Danny last weekend. And I thought, gee I really hope that both of us upgrade to the new phones this fall, so that she will have a much better camera available when she takes pictures.

Well I mentioned this to my friend and proceeded to get an eyeful (we were chatting online) about how even a point and shoot camera is better than a camera phone. After some back and forth he mentioned something that I had sort of wondered about, but never actually took the time to learn about: the difference between optical and digital zoom. I found this nice explanation online. 

What digital zoom does is take a central portion of the image and enlarging it, thus ‘simulating’ optical zoom. In other words, the camera crops a portion of the image and then enlarges it back to size. In so doing, you lose image quality.

See I never really knew that before. And to be honest I hesitate to use the zoom in my camera because the effects in my phone camera are always so odd. But now I will try to make more use of the actual zoom with my camera, knowing it is still trying to take a good picture.

This is all really an exploration, finding out how to use aperture and speed settings, when to use zoom and what it does. So far I really like a lot of my pictures, but as I learn more I think I will learn to like what I take more. And that really is the goal.


Dedication to new hobby helping out

A lot of things are helping me out, improving my mood and evening things out. The therapy, learning things about myself. The medication is likely starting to kick in. Getting my schedule to even out a little as far as getting time to myself. And things beginning to quiet down schedule wise. And last I think it has helped that I have really started to dedicate some time to my photography. I’m not going to pretend that I will become a great picture taker overnight. But I am enjoying learning Photoshop and making existing photos better.

Today I wanted to share 3 pictures that I have taken and then improved. I will share them in the order that I have worked on them.

Jimmy on Main Street in Disneyland

Jimmy on Main Street in Disneyland

This was the original, taken with my iPhone, near the entrance to Disneyland at night. It is a cool shot on it’s own, but a little dark, and Jimmy doesn’t stand out like I would like.

Jimmy Main2

Here I cleaned things up, increasing the saturation on Jimmy and the flowers around him. tinting the buildings so they are not a bright, and making the streets black and white to bring out the other colors. It is a little busy still but I think a much better picture.

Kim poolside at Glacier Lodge

Kim poolside at Glacier Lodge

This is a nice picture of Kim watching the kids playing in the pool. But there is a lot going on and I wanted to really bring out the colors.

Kim pool2

Again my primary objective was to improve on the colors in the picture. Reduce the glare of some of the smaller objects, and allow it all to come together. I really like how this ended up, everything looks so much richer and vibrant.

Trail to the sky

Trail to the sky

I got lucky with this shot on a Scout hike. It is on a trail between the Beidleman Center and Holmes Middle school. It was real lucky to get the framing shot of the Peak in the distance. And that was what I really wanted to emphasize.


This was a simple one, brought out the colors in the sky and darkened the sides of the trail. Then applied a blur to the bottom and sides. I think I achieved what I wanted which was to highlight the image of the trail rising to the Peak.

As you can see I am still learning how to use all of the tools in Photoshop. But it is fun. And I am anxious to get out and get some more pictures to work on. Best of all it is the kind of thing I can do at home in peace and quiet, or while Kim watches a show I am not as interested in.

Finding a way today

It has been a long week and today I am feeling the effects. It was a real struggle to get up and get moving, and a fight to even get things done and get to work. Had to fall back on some comfort food to make it through the morning. But I am here and think I can make it.

It’s been rough this week to get to sleep. The combination of the heat, plus the usual night time obsessions have made it a real bear to get to sleep. And last night, after a game of Blood Bowl I had an even harder time, being still keyed up. And I know it will be harder this weekend, with the 2 night camp out with Danny on Sunday and Monday. Maybe I can get some rest tonight and Saturday. Now that I am more aware of it I can really sense how this has all affected my mood, making it a real struggle.

Last nights game was exciting, too exciting. I ended up getting a tie against the one team that I had always lost to. It was tough, because I had the game in hand before the dice turned and he was able to come back, I needed him to blow one last dice roll to keep just the tie. So, very exciting, frustrating but I can count myself lucky to have finally broken that losing streak against him.

So I have been playing with photography this week. I talked with Kim and I do think that it is one thing that I can do that will keep me entertained and be enjoyable. I have been working with some pictures I have taken along my regular running route along the Midland trail, focusing on the effects that flooding has done. Here is a shot from last fall when we were suffering from the big floods:

Flooded trail from October 2013

Flooded trail from October 2013

And here is the link to the Public Flickr folder where I am keeping more of these shots as I work on them. I chose shots of this area as a focus for my pictures for now, beyond family shots.

Summing up, I know it is a struggle today. But I am doing my best to counter that. And I am working on finding things that I can focus on that I enjoy as a refuge when I need that alone time.

More from our trip: Disney characters

There are a lot of reasons to take a vacation to Disneyland (or World.) The rides, the shows, the weather, the shopping. But one thing we made sure to participate in was to see the characters, and get pictures with them. I did my best to get good pictures with them all. I have created a public Flickr album of just the pictures:

Disney Characters

But here are a couple of special ones that need some background or have stories.



It is important to remember that Disney is no longer just Mickey Mouse and Princesses. Disney owns the rights to certain Marvel characters, and has made several excellent movies as a result. So when I saw there was a chance to see Thor, by golly I made sure we got in to see him. The odd thing was how the kids all grouped with him and I was there but on one side, which made it easy to just crop me out of it.



We got this picture early on the first day at the park. And that led to some rather constant harassment of Jimmy about Tinkerbell. Yep, nothing like harassing the tween boy about whether he likes a girl, particularly when that harassment comes from younger siblings. I myself remember being on the dishing out part of that sort of thing with my older brothers. By the end of the trip Jimmy was pretty tired of it and I had to put an end to it, but we will always have this picture.



Ah yes, lines. In many cases you have to wait in line to get your picture taken with these characters. The more popular the character the longer the line. Kim and Emily held their place in line to see Anna and Elsa for 2 and half hours! Over 2 hours just for this picture! Hope it was worth it sweetheart.



For many years now, I have used the term ‘goofy girl’ as my nickname for Kim. Not entirely certain now where it came from or why it stuck for me. But when I had a chance to get a shot of my goofy girl with Goofy, well I had to take it!

Camping images & more thoughts

This formation, within easy walk of camp is what gave the campground it's name.

This formation, within easy walk of camp is what gave the campground it’s name.

This is a really cool rock formation, consisting of 3 or 4 large rocks, with all kinds of little caves and open areas. It is one of the highlights of this annual trip, being able to walk up there and really explore. And it is kind of surprising to find up in the woods, even in this part of Colorado.

I managed to capture this shot right after a rain storm.

I managed to capture this shot right after a rain storm.

It rained a couple of times during our stay, but never for very long. But I did manage to get this shot of the rain drops on a tree right after one of the storms, I thought it was pretty cool.

Daniel discovering that you can also roast hot dogs

Daniel discovering that you can also roast hot dogs

Not that this was his first time, but I don’t think that roasting hot dogs over the fire is the first thing that Danny thinks of for a camp fire (that would be marshmallows.) But he got a real kick out doing this with a hot dog, and seemed to enjoy the taste, so something to ponder next time we have a fire (outside.)

Day 2 of camping, gotta find something to do with the hair.

Day 2 of camping, gotta find something to do with the hair.

I just like this shot, Emily loved that she got to wear her hair like Mommy for a change. And of course getting to eat Pringles never hurts an experience.



The tween boys huddle together, discussing something, I’m not sure what. As I mentioned it was remarkable to me that these 3 boys were able to bond despite not real prior experience together. Some of it was self defense against the younger kids I’m sure, but still I was really impressed.

Holidays result in my having to learn and manage another system

We had a very good holiday. Aside from Kim suffering through another cold and my momentary phase of wanting to go hide in the basement we all had a good time. The kids had a good Xmas morning, getting what they wanted for gifts (I know this because I made a point of asking each of them that question before they went to bed. We all ate very well. And there were some fun games played. So as a parent I consider it a success. There is only 1 drawback to all of this. I now have to add management of another software ecosystem.

For many years I was strictly a Google man. At that time all I really had to manage was some files and our digital pictures, so it was easy. Then I got the iPhone, which meant the addition of iTunes and the iOS ecosystem. And I was content with that for quite a while. Then last year Flickr announced a massive upgrade in the free storage so I have moved my photos there (also because Picasa became almost as annoying and machine intrusive as iTunes, which I am stuck with.) But now with 4 Kindle Fires in the house I have to add the Amazon ecosystem. Which will mean copying music to Amazon. And then maybe some movies and pictures.

In the end I think that Google will end up the loser in this. Their photo storage and management has just become too unwieldy, and that is really I use it for. We are going to possibly get a new laptop and a new external hard drive, and with that purchase I just might download all the Google pictures and then upload them elsewhere. I won’t end the account until I am 100% certain everything has been transferred, because the failure of our last external drive almost gave me a heart attack over lost pictures.

This is all just another project for me to start on over the next week and a half holiday. I took the time off until the kids go back to school. Which means that my posting will be down some. I have some fun things planned. I have at least 1 Blood Bowl game, I am setting up another Magic day for Jimmy and his buddies, I will set up at least 1 play date for Danny & Emily’s friends. And I will watch some amount of football. And there is some painting that needs to get done, and of course some running and at least 1 more family event, so I won’t be bored.

Rain and traffic failed to stop us from having fun

This was an odd weekend. Kim and Danny were off at Cub Scout day camp, so it was me and the other 2 kids. We had one big event on tap, going to the Colorado Rapids game. And otherwise I got some work done around the house, including preparation for some big landscaping. And I watched a little bit of the first NFL preseason ‘game’ with the boys.

Occasionally we will go off and do things with one kid, leaving the other kids with the other parent. So that wasn’t totally unusual. But, this was for 2 nights, and taking Danny out the mix definitely changed the dynamic between Jimmy & Emily.

Fortunately for my sanity I had won tickets to the Rapids game Saturday night, so I had something to do with the kids on the second night, kept me from having to cope with the dynamic of oldest brother and little sister with no real diversion for a good chunk of time. The biggest negative was the traffic up to Denver (and home at 11:00!) was horrendous, stop and go for a really long stretch, really stretched my nerves. Once we got there we had a good time.

I took some pictures and posted them on Flickr

There was rain, so bad that there was a weather delay due to lightning, so we all got kind of wet. But even that didn’t really dampen our moods.  Even not being able to play the electronics I took along for her didn’t bother Emily that much.  So I was really glad we went.

And I discovered 2 very big things. First, soccer is way more interesting to watch in person. I have gradually learned to enjoy it on TV, and I think that TV has learned how to broadcast the games better. But watching in person gives you a much better appreciation for the game, and how everything flows together. Second, Jimmy really enjoyed watching the game, and has a pretty deep appreciation of soccer.

Both days I did some work, planning for our front yard. In preparation for a lot of work next weekend. Going to start the conversion from dirt and weeds to rock, first in our walkway to the front door. I’m not exactly excited about the work, but I am looking forward to getting something done.

Sunday night I tried to watch some of the NFL game. The play was pretty bad, so it was really more a precursor for me, a taste, just to whet the palate. I tried to have the boys watch the game with me. So I could go over the rules with Jimmy, and so Danny could get credit for his Scout advancement.  I took away one very big thing: I have not passed along my love of football to my sons. Jimmy tried to watch and follow along, but all he could do was complain about how slow it was, and why did they have to keep hitting each other? Danny just didn’t care at all, and focused on his iPad game. And I don’t feel bad about that, of all of my various interests and ‘addictions’ I think football is one that I am perfectly fine with my kids not following.

All in all an interesting and revealing weekend. Jimmy likes soccer, but isn’t exactly enamored with football. Soccer is an excellent live sport. And just because the numbers were reduced to 2 did not make the time watching the kids automatically easier, as the age and gender gap took precedence over even numbers.