Also published at Only In Pittsburgh.
Greenfield, Pittsburgh, PA
This thing is called a rain chain. The idea is you hang it from your gutter instead of a downspout. The rain fills up the little flowers and trickles down. Seems like a neat idea.
I love back and white photos from other photographers, but never seem to like my own after I remove the color. I felt this one worked without color.
Orchid show going on now at Phipps Conservatory. I can't wait for the spring show!
Customized birthday M&Ms, with the birthday girl's face on them.
Here is a better photo of what they looked like:
At some point during my search for gainful employment I decided it would be a good idea to have business cards to hand out to people I meet at conferences and meetings. I wanted something more than just my name and number on a 3.5" x 2" piece of card stock.
I opted to stick my name and number on the back side of a 3.5" x 2" piece of card stock with a nice glossy photo on the front. My goal was to take a photo that was unusual, eye catching, and represented "computational chemistry". I figured even if I didn't impress the recipient, at least they could stick the picture up on a cork board.
Unfortunately, the bleed for the printer I use is 1/8". This is not a big deal for a 8" x 10" sized print, but on a 2" wide card moving the image 1/4" either way makes it look pretty lopsided. I sent my centered image off and hoped for the best, but to my disappointment it came back trimmed exactly 1/4" from one edge. I either need to find a different company with more exact specifications or redo my design so it won't look so lopsided after trimming.
If you are curious about how I took the photo, below are two shots of my setup. I have no real photo equipment aside from a camera and lenses, so as you can see, I need to...improvise. My light stands are inverted stools from my kitchen with $5 utility lamps from the hardware store. The light diffusing tent is a cut up cardboard box covered in tracing paper, and that big pole holding the wires in place is a Swiffer Sweeper.
If you look real close (big version), there is a spider hidden somewhere in this photo.
San Francisco, CA
I bet the window wasn't so scratched up in 1962 when the monorail began service (wikipedia).
On picnic day, my friends saw a bunch of sorority girls selling henna tattoos (Mehndi). We must have waited around in line (in the sun) an hour, and maybe 20 minutes more for them to get tattooed. I don't know what they were using for their dye, but it was most definitely homemade. I could have artfully smeared some mud on their arms in about 5 minutes. Same net result. At least they had fun!
One of those days...
I have another LaTeX entry all typed up, but figured I better keep my postings mildly entertaining so people don't give up on me. You probably have never noticed this, but every once in a while you will walk over little bits of glass (often purple in color) embedded in a sidewalk of a big city. I've seen this in San Francisco and Seattle. This picture is taken standing in an underground tunnel underneath the sidewalk, looking up. The plants are growing out of the sidewalk and UNDER the sidewalk...
Under a Sidewalk somewhere in Seattle, WA
Here is another HDR shot, this time taken from the outdoor viewing area on the space needle, looking toward downtown. I was a little annoyed that most of my EXIF data went away after I saved a photo using photomatix, so I started to play around with ExifTool to copy over the original EXIF data from the raw files. It couldn't be easier!
$ exiftool -tagsfromfile IMG_xxxx.CR2 IMG_xxxx_tonemapped.jpgIn this case, the HDR is constructed from three shots, +/- 2 EV from the center, metered one. EXIF data for this center photo has been copied to the final HDR jpg.
Downtown, Seattle, WA
Yesterday I sat outside in the cold rain waiting for a hundred plus guys in spandex to speed by on their bikes. I positioned myself at the last corner before the sprint finish, hoping everyone would be going crazy trying to get to the front of the pack and get the sprint points. If they were, they rode past too quickly for me to see.
Downtown Davis, CA
Global Village, Dubai, UAE
With so many things being built it was surprising to see one being torn down. The full version is more impressive.
Deira, Dubai, UAE
Courtyard, Dubai Marina, Dubai, UAE
It is difficult to snap a photo in Dubai without getting a construction crane in your shot. While roaming around lost one day, I had the inclination to climb a wall and snap a picture of just what these guys were working on. You really need to zoom in and look at the full version to see any details.
Post processing this shot was a bit of a challenge. The biggest problem I've run into with the 10mm is getting the correct exposure for the entire shot. The sun is behind the cloud in the middle, and the construction pit is in the shade. Without Photomatix, this was either completely black in the pit, or crazy blown out at the top. I think I came up with a nice balance using pseudo-HDR. I've also blurred some HDR artifacts, selective color and adjusted the brightness / contrast in selected areas. It was a tad overexposed to start with, so the shadows are a bit grainy. If I wasn't peaking over the top of a wall, I would have broke out the tripod and taken a real HDR shot.
No, not that Old Navy. These planes were flying around the bay as I was walking around Angel Island. Kind of neat that they were so low.
Below is a video of Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) mocking the suggestion that bicycles may alleviate some dependance on foreign oil. I put over 4,000 miles on my bike last year, and not even a quarter that many on my car. I fill up with fuel every other month or so. The reason I can do this is because my city invested in a bicycle infrastructure (a few signs, bike lanes, tunnels, paths, and even a couple bike signals) that allow me to pedal to the store, work, school, etc.
Rep. McHenry - maybe a bike would also help you and your constituency shed a a few pounds?
I thought I uploaded this one yesterday, but I guess not! This is the yummy looking liquid inside a pitcher plant. This is where the magic happens. The nasty little bugs fly in there, drown in the black goo, and start dissolving releasing the vital nutrients that the plant then absorbs. The plant gets no calories or energy from the bugs, but does get minerals and other chemicals that the soil doesn't provide.
Lolplants anyone? They just look so cute and lifelike.
I'm in ur gardens drowned ur bugz!
This carnivorous plant had a tag that said "Hot Lips", and I am guessing it is a Nepenthes Ventricosa but I could be wrong.
Another carnivorous plant. This one has caught itself a fly and sucked all the life force from it. Check out the full sized picture for a better view.
I now regret being so focused on taking pictures rather than reading the signage and writing down the names of the plants. I believe this carnivorous plant is of the pitcher plant variety. Specifically I have estimated it is some type of North American Pitcher Plant belonging to the genus Sarracenia. If you are a plant person, feel free to correct me.
I've been slacking on the photo stuff. I have pictures to post I just haven't done it. Sorry! I started ordering actual prints of some of my photos again and have been really pleased with the results. If you see a picture or two you want in physical form, let me know and we can figure out what would look best.
Here is a hawk I captured a couple weekends ago in San Francisco near the ocean.
It is tough to take pictures of chemistry demos, since many of the ones in the magic show involve something changing color or exploding, both of which are hard to capture with still images. This is just some H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) decomposing into H2O (water - as steam) and O2 (oxygen). There was a catalyst in the bottle that accelerated the reaction as he poured in the peroxide. You can see him yanking his hand away as its started up, splashing peroxide everywhere.
This is a photo of an aquatic plant. It had a long stem, at least five or six feet up in the air and the alien looking thing at the end was a little bigger than my fist.
Edit: Thanks to ana, who pointed out this thing appears to be a lotus seed pod. Based on my own googly investigation, I would have to agree.
If you live in the Sacramento Valley like me, you already know how hot it is. At least 108°F today, and it looks like the high will be over 100 through the weekend. Albert has the right idea splashing around in the water!
I don't know that I am taking pictures of fireworks this year, and it will be the 5th of July by the time I get them home and online, so I give you a flower photo I've titled "Flowerworks" as it reminded me of a fireworks explosion. Taken at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers on Sunday.
Enjoy the day everyone!
Taken at Sutro Baths.
This is a straight crop. I can zoooom now, but I can't zoooom quite enough to capture a nice, crisp moon image. This is the best I could come up with. About 24 hours before the full moon.
I didn't feel like taking pictures today, but my friend Melanie sent me this one a few days ago. I liked it so much I wanted to share it.
She asks you email her for permission before reproducing the image, so creative commons does not apply to this one. Thanks.
I had jury duty today. I was excused without being called. I just sat around listening to them ask all the other people questions. It was not quite as boring as I imagined. Both the lawyers and the judge had a great sense of humor and were cracking jokes the whole time.
I tried to take some pictures of the courthouse on my way out, but the nice men with machine guns kindly told me to move along. Hurray paranoia!
So I give you a picture of the kitchen sink. That guy in the middle? That's me!
I only adjusted the colors a bit with photoshop, no crazy effects were used - only what came out of the camera.
Right outside my apartment there is a street lined with olive trees, for maybe five or six blocks. Yesterday they did the worst pruning job I've ever seen. Just chopping these giant branches right in the middle on only one side of the trees. They look so lopsided and sad now with these giant bare branches sticking out into nowhere. Every single tree was like this, for all five or six blocks.
Is this the standard way to prune olive trees, does anyone know?
I got a new toy for my camera. A Canon RC-1 wireless remote. This lets me trigger the shutter without touching the camera. It is much smaller than I expected.
I biked out west of Davis Monday evening to take pictures of the sun setting. I shot in RAW with multiple exposures with the idea of doing some HDR stuff, but I am too tired to figure it out, and my camera was inadvertently in ISO 1600 for the entire 2GB collection of images, doh. Here is the best I have to share at the moment. Maybe something better later this week.
Summer is here, and my plastic patio chairs are 133°F according to the little wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer I have sitting on them. I decided to bring the light tent outdoors and see what temperature it actually was with my Taylor High-Temperature Instant-Read Pocket Thermometer. One hundred and one degrees fahrenheit, in the shade. Dare I say it is hella hot outside?
While there may be training wheels on the bike, the little girl is most certainly in the zone.
Look at that expression, priceless!
I was a corner marshal at the 2007 Positive Energy Kids Triathlon on Sunday. A number of the 6 and under group rolled on past sporting some training wheels. Rock on little man.
Yoink - An exclamation that, when uttered in conjunction with taking an object, immediately transfers ownership from the original owner to the person using the word regardless of previous property rights.
I am feeling a little photographically uninspired this week. I got half a flat of strawberries at the farmers' market on Wednesday and they taste amazing. I put a bunch in my beaker and stuck it in the light tent.
I learned today that strawberries and coriander (cilantro) share a lot of the same flavor components so they go really well together.
Since I usually google my goofy titles before I use them, I also learned that it is pretty easy to get the DNA out of strawberries without any fancy lab equipment (although they do suggest using a beaker - who the heck would have a beaker in their house??). I am going to eat all my strawberries' DNA, thankyouverymuch.
My favorite application for strawberries is marinating them for a couple hours in a bottle of red wine, honey, lemon zest, and a dash of ground black pepper (yes really - pepper - just try it!). My friends, this is the path to strawberry shortcake nirvana.
This is about a block from my apartment. The buildings are university ones and all the mailboxes belong to the domes. I took maybe a half dozen of these trying to get a nice one with a car driving past (like this one!). This is when some crazy lady plowed her ginormous SUV up on the sidewalk and started verbally assaulting me for standing there with a camera. She didn't approve of night photography I guess.
I made some subtle adjustments to my "light tent" and was able to get a decent picture of this waterproof camera with a highly reflective plastic casing (not an easy task without a light tent!). I bought it to bring river rafting. I went to three different "1-hour photo" places in Davis on Monday to try and get the pictures in here developed; they all had "broken" photo processing machines and told me it would be anywhere from 3 days to a week to get prints back. I finally convinced Rite-Aid to just process the negatives and digitize them to a CD. What a huge hassle this film stuff is. Sadly, the picture of the camera itself is more impressive than any photos that came out of the camera.
I tried to take some night pictures, being a full moon and all, but people get a little crazy when they see a guy with a camera. I need a "photography is not a crime" t-shirt (or bullet-proof vest).
Albert playing the shell game with transparent cups, pool balls and his foot. I'm sure it made perfect sense to him.
The past two days are a sign I need to get out and take some more pictures.
Strange things happen when the keg runs dry. People start drinking...other things. Mike and Chris reached for a Bartles and Jaymes premium wine cooler. It would appear that they misplaced their sanity somewhere near the bottle opener.
Keep that pinky out! They thank you for your support.
I turned the flash on to use the autofocus assist (since it was so dark). I forgot to turn it off and ended up taking the picture I wanted to take using flash, then took it without flash. I liked the way the rock looked without the flash, and I liked the way the water looked with the flash, so I just photoshopped the two together. It isn't a perfect merge, but it would be hard to notice if I didn't tell you.
Since I had a bit of fun with Mike yesterday I figured it was only fair that I oblige his request for today's photo. This was the heaviest, most sturdy laundry pole ever constructed. As if the overuse of concrete wasn't enough, that top piece was a solid rod of steel, not a hollow pipe. This thing weighed enough to turn the two-wheeler you see below into a one-wheeler.
I believe there were at least one or two jokes likening the whole thing to the flag raising on Iwo Jima:
As soon as Mike finished his beer (lower right), he immediately wanted another. We told him the rest was buried at the corner of the house and hilarity ensued.
For those who don't know me (or Mike) the caption above is a joke. We were digging up fence posts that someone put in with waaaaaaay too much concrete, and the resultant holes were quite large, as Mike is demonstrating in this picture.
I love asparagus. Steamed with a little cracked black pepper or cooked out on the grill with a little olive oil. No vegetable matches its magnificence for me. The downside to the wonderful green spear is the unpleasant odor 20 minutes after ingestion. The chemical responsible is unique to asparagus, a disulfide called asparagusic acid. Only about 40% of the population has the enzyme necessary to metabolize this chemical into stinky pee. So you may be thinking right about now, "hey I am one of the lucky ones lacking said enzyme!", but you may be wrong. Not everyone has the ability to smell the stinky metabolites. So even if you've never noticed an unpleasant stench after you ate asparagus, doesn't mean your pee don't stink. Me, personally.. I can both metabolize asparagusic acid and smell said metabolites.
As the comment system seems to be largely underutilized (outside of the
spammers advertising community, of course) I pose this question to you, my readers: does your pee stink after you eat asparagus? The comment board is open!
I was going to title the post tiny bubbles, but they're more average sized bubbles if I had to score them. The kid's expression is a cross between curious, confused and terrified. I say it is never too late to experience the joy of scary looking plastic Disney characters spewing out iridescent spheres of surfactant laced water.
Yea. I took a picture of myself.
I've added links on the side of the main page to be my Netflix friend or my Facebook friend, if you are into either one or both of those things. I also linked my site's RSS feed to my Facebook notes, so when I add a new entry here, it should show up there. Syndication rocks!
You've missed your opportunity to attend Whole Earth Festival 2007, but incase you want to attend next year, I will give you a few pointers based on my observations this weekend. The first step seems to be moving your living room furniture outdoors. Perhaps this is part of the eco friendly ritual - unifying your couch with nature?
This weekend I made a macro light box ala strobist, but the pictures didn't look as great as I wanted. I only had one desk lamp and I need way more light. Here are two pictures using different settings. The brighter one I actually used a couple of LED bike lights, but it ended up being way too blue. I need to buy a couple nice bright lights and it should work out great.
I painted this mug myself, so even if the pictures don't impress you, maybe the art itself will!
Here is a picture of my lame setup:
I walked around the Whole Earth Festival today and took pictures. I've decided I need a longer lens.
I thought I had posted this before. It is from the UC Davis Picnic Day chemistry magic show.
If you start a strip of magnesium on fire, sandwich it between a couple slabs of dry ice, it will react like crazy. The overall transformation is 2 Mg + CO2 -> 2 MgO + C - so in other words, it would not be wise to use a CO2 extinguisher on a magnesium fire.
My friend Natalia (who organized the wonderful surfing weekend in San Diego) sent me an email last week after seeing the flower photos:
Saw your pictures and wanted to show you these two shots I took when I was in high school.
So with her permission, I give you the guest pictures of the day:
Here is a picture of her from our surfing weekend. Complete with surfboard (and beer bottles).
I've added the remainder of the San Diego pictures to the gallery.
I was going to try and take a nice long shot of my friends walking across the beach, but they were using their cell phones as makeshift flashlights, so all I got was a big bright white streak across the shot. I cropped them out, but if you look (bottom middle), you can see the shadow of someone's legs, as cast by the light of a cellular phone display.
I spent the weekend in San Diego with some friends. I surfed, kayaked, BBQ'ed, laughed and walked along the beach. We were staying about a block from Windansea Beach (be sure to check out the wikipedia link, they have an image of the exact same surf shack as I have below - only in daylight) where I took some amazing pictures in the middle of the night. I have six that I liked and I'll post one each day this week. These are all moonlit pictures, long exposure using a Gorillapod to hold the camera steady. It was not foggy out at all; the fog looking stuff is actually the water averaged over the entire exposure of the shot.
This is Matt practicing last Monday for his qualifying exam. I photoshopped two shots together, the left and the right half are from different exposures using the same technique. The neat effect though, was all in the camera. It looks like Matt is super fast but in reality the shutter was just super slow. I had it stopped all the way down - f/36, 4 sec exposure, ISO 100. I would need a nice ND filter to get the correct exposure with any longer shutter speeds.
Here is a pink flower. I should mention that by far, the most popular images hotlinked from my site are the images of roses I took back in 2004. To the hotlinkers, just take them, please.. stop hotlinking.
Have trouble with vanishing liquor? Install a false wall, secret door, and a safe - like I found at the Filoli House.
I really like this first shot, and the second is just for context.
Here is Greg, hard at work, studying for some exam.
Let us take a closer look at what exactly he is doing...
Ahhh.. Good old acid (and base!) dissociation constants.
I have this giant beaker at home that I like to drink water from. I'm such a total chem geek... It was sitting on my desk one day when something blue popped up on the screen and I liked the reflection of the label on the water. As with all the entries the full sized version is available from the photo page.
I was watching the national news a couple days ago, and noticed that just about the entire country was cold, except for of course where I live. This picture was taken a short time ago driving back from Lake Tahoe. It is pretty blurry, but considering we were each traveling 30+ MPH head on, I think I did pretty well.
While waiting in line to start The World's Largest Bicycle Parade I saw these two guys trying to ride their bikes facing backwards.
Mike, pushing his son Albert around in a brand new wheelbarrow. Albert doesn't really know how to use his words yet, but unfortunately his parents taught him the American Sign Language sign for 'more', and so the wheelbarrowin' continued.
Part of our Linux cluster, redline. Take a look at some of the calculations we run on these computers.
I didn't edit this picture at all. The overhead lights were off, so the only lighting in the room came from the computers themselves and other electronics in the room, captured with a 30 second exposure.
Some random kid at the Davis Farmers Market who seemed way too happy about water squirting out the sidewalk.
I spent a bunch of money on a camera a while back, and haven't been using it as much as I should, nor have I been posting on my blog with any frequency. I figured posting a picture everyday would solve both these issues.
I proposed this idea to my friend Ursula, and without her
nagging encouragement, I probably wouldn't have done anything with it. So I thought it fitting for my first picture to be a nod to her. On our way to Lake Tahoe, our GPS navigator sent us down some road that happened to be closed. This was a bad thing. The good thing was the dam and lake at the end of this closed road made for a great picture. Here is her picture, and below is mine. I touched it up a bit, dodging the sky, and adding a little bit of a blue hue.