Monday, August 17, 2009

DDR Style Alarm Clock

Undoubtedly you've seen people in a video game arcade stomping on colored lights to the beat of a song like crazy people. That's the basic idea of Dance Dance Revolution -- to tap squares in a specific sequence at faster and faster speeds to keep in the game.

Some clever and also evil inventor thought that would be a good basis for an alarm clock. This little gem requires you to use your fingers to tap out a DDR style sequence in order to turn off the alarm. There is no way I could turn this off on the first try -- or the tenth try for that matter. You can order it on the ThumbsUp site by going here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

GDGT -- Gadget Review Site

Last month I read this New York Times article that described a new site for the review of gadgets called gdgt. Founded by guys that were involved with Gizmodo and Engadget, the new site is different in that all reviews are written by consumers rather than paid writers. I guess that could be good or bad depending on who contributes. Has anyone written any reviews for the site?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Second Strobist Bootcamp Assignment

The second assignment in the Strobist blog's summer bootcamp was food photography. The classic approach for a typical food dish photo is to have the key light coming from the top down using a softbox. I made a softbox quite awhile ago using a shoebox. I lined the inside with aluminum foil, cut a hole in the side just big enough for my flash, and topped it with tracing paper to diffuse the light. It was pretty well for a simple, homemade contraption.

The first photo is of red lentils, brown lentils, and split peas arranged in a bowl (thanks to Dianne) that is sitting on top of a black IKEA cutting mat. I used just a single flash into the softbox that was held pretty close to the subject just above and behind the bowl. I also used a silver reflector just below the camera in order to soften the shadow on the front of the bowl. I like the lighting and the colors.

Lentils and Peas

The second photo is of my favorite vegetarian dish -- a lemony chickpea stirfry. The lighting setup was the same as the photo above. The recipe is from the 101 Cookbooks blog. It contains tofu, kale, chickpeas, the zest and juice from a lemon, and zucchini. The bowl is sitting on a red IKEA cutting mat. I wanted the red to compliment the green of the kale.

Lemony Chickpea Stirfry

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bandsaw Skills

Thanks to the Random Good Stuff blog, I ran across this YouTube video showing a guy with some crazy skills on the band saw. I'd only have 7 intact fingers left if I tried to do something like this. Check it out!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Strobist Activity

I certainly have a backlog of photo work to describe -- things I've done over the last few months. The Strobist blog has probably had the greatest influence on my photo activities of late. The basic idea of the Strobist group is to get your flash or flashes off the camera to have the light coming in at different angles on the subject. You can use that approach to create interesting effects or enhance natural lighting and balance the overall exposure.

Since I'm new to the Strobist ideas and how to apply the concepts with my equipment, I've been experimenting with non-macro subjects. This summer the Strobist blog is having a lighting bootcamp where assignments are given every several weeks. The intent is to get the basics down by forcing you to try different techniques. The assignments have also been geared to try and help others in some way.

The first bootcamp assignment was to make two headshots that was somehow related to the state of the economy -- and also get a photo folks could use for a resume or website or whatever. One was to be a self portrait and the other had to be a friend. I've always wanted a teaching related photo so that one was easy. I talked Dianne into getting a photo in front of her computer since all her work is computer based.

For my photo below I used three flashes. High and right front I bounced a flash out of an umbrella for the main overhead light. A second flash with a grid came from the left behind my head and was focused on the writing on the blackboard. Finally, front low left there was a third flash to ease the shadow on the right side of my face. I was pretty pleased with the result.

Thinking About Molecules

For Dianne's photo, I first adjusted the exposure settings to get a good exposure on the monitor -- that was in effect my key light for the exposure. The main flash light came from high left bounced out of an umbrella. That light put a huge shadow on her face because of the ball cap. To reduce that shadow, I put a second flash low and right with a grid that was focused on the underside of her cap. If I were to do it again, I would soften that light a bit with a diffuser so there would be a little more of a shadow. But not bad for a first try. I'll describe some of my other Strobist style photos in future posts.

At The Computer