A Merry (macro) Christmas!

The gifts have been unwrapped, the noche buena enjoyed (but not completely finished off), and it's time for the cycle to begin again.

Out-of-focus tree lights (ala Banana Republic, but it would work better if the lights were colored).

Martinelli's sparkling cider.
Shooting hand-held with a 105mm micro (Nikon-speak for macro)  isn't really recommended. Any slight movement you make means an out of focus shot. But it's still fun to try.
Home-made ornament. It takes a lot of patience to cover a ball with sparkles, and the patience ran out.

Macy's musical snowball (wait for the post-Christmas sale for a good buy).

A hand-painted clown angel ("Homer! You have it set on whore!")

And finally, my goal for next year's Christmas.

The right lens for the job

Back in 2003, I shot a pan of the city from the Marin Headlands, using the D2H and the 70-200VR. It's one of my favorite photos, and shows off the clean long exposures from the D2H and the image quality of the 70-200VR. Tuesday was a very clear day, so I decided to do a similar shot, using the D3 and 105mm DC.

Bad idea. After spending hours in the cold (to the point where I couldn't feel my fingers), I looked at the full size images, and discoverd lens decentering on the right side of my 105mm DC. I didn't know this, since I never used this lens for landscapes. I should have checked it first before I selected this lens for the job. I compounded the issue by shooting the city from Treasure Island, making two shoots ruined by picking the wrong tool. A case of wrong lens for the job.

Despite the failure, I did learn a few things. One, I hadn't set up a menu bank on the D3 for long exposure shots (long exposure noise reduction, exposure delay, 2sec self timer, etc.). Two, it can get really, really cold up in the headlands. Three, the iPod Touch flashlight program works nicely to light up the bubble levels on my tripod and quick release base in the dark. And finally, always, always, always check your settings before you shoot.

I'll have to go back after Christmas to do the shoot again (before they turn off the Christmas lights on the pyramid and Embarcadero Center). I think I'll use the 85mm f/1.4 this time around. I also want to shoot the pyramid from Chinatown/North Beach.

Winter cleaning

It's the winter solstice, and I got the idea to clean up my bedroom closet to give me a little more storage space. I found two boxes full of VHS tape, with stuff taped off the air, from laserdiscs, and some fan-subbed anime. Time for all of them to go in the Netflix age.

Time also for all my old cassette tapes to go as I have most of them on CD/mp3, even the OPM stuff. I did convert two cassettes to mp3's, which was a bit of a chore. My Dell XPS420 came with some Roxio stuff that was good at recognizing the beginning and end of the songs. Good for the pre-recorded cassette, but not so good for the one of a live performance. Luckily, CS3 comes with audio editing software, which allowed me to do stuff like fade ins and fade outs, and deleting bad sections.

I did manage to clean up my TPB's, and found four(!) sets of duplicates. I think I'll bring them to Aardvark and see if I can get some money back. I still didn't find the hardbound copy of '1609' that I think I bought, which probably means that I didn't buy it.

I also downloaded Andrea Bocelli's Christmas album for my mom from Amazon ($2 cheaper than iTunes). Not my type of music, but she and my dad like his stuff. It's the holidays...

Last weekend before Christmas

We had lunch at Win's on Taraval. My craving for beef with scrambled egg over rice satisfied, we took the L metro (now up to $2!) to check out Union Square. It wasn't as crowded as it should be with less than a week of shopping. There were no lines at Macy's, although there was a queue at See's. Oh, and a really long line at the skating rink.

Saw a clean pagoda 280, with a nice interior that had probably been repaired. I'd love to have one of these cars. It's funny to see a car without headrests. Sadly, none of the currently available and affordable cars is attractive enough for me to want it. Hopefully things will change in five year, which is when I should be in the market for a new car.

Just one more photo, this one from a window display in Union Square (I can't remember which store though, but I think it's Shreve & Co.).

On the way back, we stopped at Aardvark Books on Church street to pick up the last calendar (shopping hint, they sell next year's calendars and datebooks for ~$5 starting in November). And three TPB's to add to the growing mess.

One more week

Until Christmas. This will be the first time in five years that I'll be spending the days after Christmas in the bay instead of in Hawaii (damned economy!). The warm weather in Hawaii feels more like home than the typically wet and cold weather in the bay. There's nothing like lying on the beach on Christmas day.

Ah, to be in Hawaii...

LA Autoshow

The photos from the LA Autoshow are up. Skipped the SF show this year and went to LA's instead. More show cars, more cars, more walking, but more fun. The lighting was good enough that the D3 didn't go to ISO3200 that often. The crowd was thick though, which meant some waiting to get a clean shot if possible. The turntables need to rotate just a bit faster...

Being LA, the Dub (who else!) GS with the Bentley front end shouldn't come as a surprise.

The wireframe Lexus LF-A was a nice touch. Lexus had a big presence at the show, showing off the LF-Ch proto with two Nikon cameras that you could use to take photos of the car and view on a large touch screen tv.


Tried out Pink's Hotdogs last Saturday during my (short) visit to SoCali. Never thought of BBQ sauce with a hotdog, but I enjoyed it very much. The line wasn't that long (it was a wet day), and no celebrities were in sight.

Price is reasonable (cash only). They have tables with umbrellas in the rear, and free parking.

America the Beautiful (12" Jalapeno Dog, pastrami, bacon, lettuce, & chopped tomatoes) and a simple 10" dog with BBQ sauce

Welcome to my blog (AKA I gave in)

And decided to start a blog (well, I do have a lot of time on my hands...). Hopefully this won't turn into a case of oral diarrhea or TMI.

So what are my goals for setting up a blog?
a. Post photos with more frequency than I do on my website (www.ottosphotos.com)
b. Give the world some insight into what's going on in the mind of a "middle-aged Asian man"
c. Something else to pass the time

Let's see how this pans out

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