Friday, April 29, 2011

What's in my camera bag?

Check out what is in my camera bag over at Campfire Chic.

camera bag - for campfire chic

camera bag 2 - for campfire chic

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I can't think of a good "catchy name" for this type of post

In high school, I would go from track practice to dance class to karate. Then, I would go home and watch TV and do crunches. Lots and lots of crunches. Between track, karate, and my living room, I would do between 800-1000 crunches a day. My friends and I would get together and do workouts in my karate-obsessed friend's basement dojo. My dad, brother and I would hike and bike on the weekends and I would do road bike races a couple of times a year. Suffice it to say, I was in shape.

In college, I had marching band (more hardcore than it sounds - woodwind drill is crazy cardio and trombones are heavy) and a gym buddy that I would either work out with or take long power walks with every day. On vacation, we would ski and scuba dive.

Then, I started my crazy busy CPA career and stopped doing all my active things. It's like the job sucked all the energy out of me and I became woefully out of shape. Before I got married, I lost weight and went to the gym religiously during the fit-into-the-dress frenzy, but I fell back into my pattern of sloth after the honeymoon. Happy contentedness makes you lazy.

So anyway, a point. Part of this whole move to Colorado, go back to school, do all the things I have been putting off for years, journey is to get my physical self back into shape along with my emotional and intellectual self (that sounds corny, but it's true). I've changed my eating habits a lot (cooking almost every meal, not eating crappy foods), and I hike, go to the gym, and do 30 day shred and visualize punching Jillian Michaels in the face (just kidding, as it gets easier, I like her more). That sounds like a lot, but I'm not always regular with my routine and I have a hard time motivating myself sometimes.

I want to know the things you do to motivate yourself to stay in shape and be healthy. What activities do you enjoy? What's your fitness journey? What's a catchy name for this type of post? Life Makeover?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Treasures

1. Prezi online presentations. We used this program for one of my classes and I had a lot of fun with it. It took me all day to create the presentation because I was messing around with all the settings. Basically you put all your information out on one surface, and then you map out the presentation, zooming in and out on the different photos and text boxes. It sounds weird, but it makes it easy to organize all your information and it makes it look all zippy.

2. The new Star Tours ride sounds like a lot of fun, even though I have an unnatural attachment to the original. Disney has this neato passport program if you're a super nerd (like me) and you want to get it stamped for all the planets you visit. Or if you have children for which these things might be more age-appropriate...

Yep, I'm a huge dork. Ignore my hand in front of my face, there. I felt like this photo had the right facial expression.

3. Instagram and the fact that I only seem to use it to take pictures of my cats.



Happy face

4. Remember back in the day when you had to go through the process of getting film developed and you would pick up the prints and it would be amazing because you finally got to see your pictures for the first time? I'm really glad I still get to do that, because it's still fun.


5. Matt Smith as The Doctor. It's well known among people with whom I have discussed Doctor Who, that I loved David Tennant as The Doctor. I thought he was hilarious, moving, handsome, and had just the right amount of intensity for the role, which is kind of a lot of intensity at times. I put off watching the David Tennant specials for a very long time (until the next Comic-Con, actually, because you don't really want to go into Comic-Con without being caught up on your favorite shows) because I knew what had to happen, and I just sobbed when I finally watched (yep, pathetic). I was reluctant to see if Matt could live up to his predecessor. I just have to say, he is amazing. He is humorous, intelligent, tear-jerking, and just all-around great as The Doctor. He completely blew me away. So here's to you, Matt, and here's to Series 6 kicking off! If you're a fan, do yourself a favor and watch these interviews.

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Shirt Designs (it's like crack to me)

Yep, more about The Doctor, because he is like crack to me, too. Pick your favorite Doctor. It seemed reasonable to make 4, 9, 10, and 11 to start.

And don't forget this piece of sage wisdom:

And this one, which might be my new favorite, inspired by the clip which follows it.

And as much as I like you, Jack, that's exactly what I think when I look at a screwdriver.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Panoramic Tutorial


There are several ways of making panoramas without fancy equipment. First, I would check your camera and make sure you don't already have a panoramic program option on there. A lot of cameras have a panoramic setting where, if you take several photos in succession within the program, it will stitch them together for you in-camera.


Even if you don't have an in-camera program, you can create panoramas with any camera using free software. There is a free demo of Autostitch available for Windows, which I what I used to make my panoramas. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on a Mac unless you are running Parallels. Boo. They do have an app for iPhone if you usually take pictures on your phone. I had heard good things about Hugin, also free software, but works on all platforms, so I used that for this tutorial.

panoramic 4

Before we get to that, I have some excellent articles on panoramic technique for you. This short course in panoramic photography is extremely helpful. Just remember that stitching programs will fix small mistakes in exposure at the stitching points (but you should use exposure lock if you want perfect panoramas) and cropping will fix any leveling errors (not everyone wants to hike up a mountain with a big tripod strapped to their back, I did all my photos freehand). Here's another helpful article on panoramic photography. Lifehacker also did a tutorial on creating panoramic images using Hugin.

These articles are all supremely helpful for the little details and advanced techniques. I thought, for the purposes of this tutorial, I would give a simple step-by-step and show how to use the software to create basic horizontal and vertical panoramas (because often tutorials give too much information). Then, you can go experiment on your own if you wish.

First, import your photos by clicking Load Images:

Just go with the default settings for now, you can always experiment later. The lens type can actually be changed later on in the process, but I change mine to Equirectangular. I just used a focal length multiplier of 1x.

Once images are loaded, click align to have the program automatically detect the stitching points.

Go have a cup of coffee. Depending on how many photos you have, aligning might take a while.

Once you have aligned the photos, the preview screen pops up and you can make changes to the various settings. Don't worry if you can see the lines between the photos. Those will go away.

Click over to Layout and make sure the control points make sense (i.e. the photos are lining up correctly).

Try cycling through the options on the projection menu to make the photo look the most correct. Make sure to save your project before doing this because going through all the project options crashed the program for me once. Equirectangular seemed to work best for me.

I have skewed the photo in the Move/Drag menu to illustrate what it does. This photo did not need to be moved, but I had to use this option below in the vertical tutorial.

Cropping is one of the most important steps because, chances are, your photos aren't lined up perfectly, so you want to crop out the black gaps at the top and bottom. The program does this for you automatically, but I changed it to get more of the horizontal landscape. To do so, I had to crop out more of the sky at the top and the land at the bottom. Just click and drag on the cropping rectangle

If you are interested, the program will show you where all the control points are by checking the box in the preview menu

You can also maximize the preview screen to make editing the photo easier.

Minimize or close the preview and click Create Panorama. Choose where to save the finished photo. 

Once it is done, you can open it up and see your newly-created panorama! Make sure to save your work file in Hugein as well, so you can make changes later if you wish.

For a vertical panorama, there are a few different steps.  Complete the same steps above until we get to the Projection option. I experimented a bit, and the Stereographic setting seems to work best for vertical panoramas.

Then, use Move/Drag to correct any distortion. You just click on the photo and drag it upwards to adjust where the center point of the panorama is.

Use Crop to adjust out the black areas.

And you have your own vertical panorama!

Let me know if you have questions!

Software comparison (if you're interested):
  • Hugin gives you a larger file size to work with (i.e., a higher-quality photograph)
  • Autostitch is more user-friendly and less complicated, but Hugin gives you more customizable options. 
  • Hugin takes longer to stitch photos together (due to larger size of photos, which you can change). 
  • Autostitch does not let you crop photos in the program, you need a photo editor to do the cropping. 
  • Hugin incorporates custom cropping and other options into the panorama creation. 
  • Hugin has a shinier user interface. 
  • Hugin works on Windows, Mac & Linux, whereas Autostitch only works on Windows.
  • Autostitch is a demo, whereas Hugin gives you the full program with no limitations.
  • Hugin lets you save the panoramas to go in and make changes later within the program.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Geek Shirts

So, I've scoured the geek shirt world, looking for some very specific designs, and I can never find exactly what I want. I would find something similar, but it just wasn't the right wording or style. I realized that my ideas probably weren't available because maybe I was a nut, or maybe no one had thought of them before so my obvious solution was to design them myself.

I checked out all the self-made t-shirt stores, and the one that has the best selection of original geekwear with the lowest cheese factor seems to be redbubble. They have a very professional look, and you can order shirts in a variety of colors and styles. Plus, they only accept .PNG files, rather than having an online editor program, so you know that the sellers have to have some design competence.

A lot of my shirts are "Keep Calm" style spoofs, because I love that kind of stuff. Most of them are Doctor Who, because I'm obsessed, but I threw a little Harry Potter and Futurama in there. 

I loved designing these. I am excited about the idea of being totally outfitted in my own designs at Comic Con, considering most people don't come up to admire your shirt, they come up to tell you that they have the same shirt, and I like to be more original than that.

That being said, if someone came to Comic Con in one of my shirts, I'd probably die of excitement.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Treasures

Tuesday Treasures

Route 66

1. Driving music. We know I worship at the altar of Top Gear for all things car-related. The boys did a call-in voting thing during Series 6 to determine the top 10 driving songs. Here's what they came up with:

Rank Band Song
10 Fleetwood Mac "The Chain"
9 AC/DC "Highway to Hell"
8 Led Zeppelin "Immigrant Song"
7 Kenny Loggins "Danger Zone"
6 Motörhead "Ace of Spades"
5 Deep Purple "Highway Star"
4 Steppenwolf "Born to Be Wild"
3 Meat Loaf "Bat Out of Hell"
2 Golden Earring "Radar Love"
1 Queen "Don't Stop Me Now"

Not bad. I love me some classic rock. I may have some additions to my usual driving mix, which is built around:

Baba O'Riley by The Who
Panama by Van Halen
Life is a Highway (the Rascal Flatts version, usually)
(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 by Bobby Troup, sung by any number of people (Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode,  Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, John Mayer, etc.)

... and usually includes embarrassing music from various musicals as well

I also discovered that Top Gear has several albums of driving music that they have released, with some contemporary music as well as classic rock. Those are well worth checking out for more driving music inspiration. There were several songs I never would have thought of that I'm adding to my driving mix as we speak.

By the way, that's Tow Tater up there, the original inspiration for Tow Mater, in case you were wondering. 

2. Red Dwarf returning to TV, with the original cast. That's pretty smegging fantastic.

3. Science Fiction curse words. Number three is a smegging, fragging, frakking, frelling, gorram good time. Be careful, don't say 'I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle,' that one will start an interstellar war. Don't believe me? You must be stark-raving fahrbot and you can go belgium yourself to Hezmana before I kick you in the mivonks. PetaQ!

4. Hot Springs. I'm planning a little hot springs vacation for myself next month and I am really looking forward to it. Soaking in a natural hot springs is one of my favorite things ever. So soothing and relaxing.

hot springs

5. George R.R. Martin's reaction to that stupid New York Times article, to which I will not link. I liked this article, too, which basically said just the opposite of everything in the NYT article. By the time this post goes up, Game of Thrones will have premiered on HBO. Who is watching? How do you like it? I've started the first book, which I've had on my to-read list for a very long time. I haven't decided whether I want to start watching until I'm well into the book, but I will watch eventually.


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