Thanksgiving Cactus Photos

February 24th, 2010 by Matt

Thanksgiving Cactus Photo

Thanksgiving Cactus

I took this series on the beautiful Thanksgiving Cactus back in 2005. What a magical little plant!

Ah, nature. Photographers are forever travelling to remote regions to capture exotic, beautiful images…think National Geographic photos from Africa or Asia…or exotic travelogue photos from some South Pacific island paradise… But how often do we ignore the beauty that is right on our doorstep, in our backyards, or even, gasp…in our house! This magical little cactus, our houseplant(!), called, wonderfully, the “Thanksgiving Cactus,” just started blooming, and what a reminder that nature and her beauty are everywhere! And true to nature, this little plant is blooming on her time, in January!

I had to see if I could capture the grace, color, and beauty that our little friend radiated. I spent a couple of hours yesterday coming up with these images. These are the images that I’ve chosen for “the finals,” from which I’ll choose three to four, max.

In a recent post, I mentioned the new 12.8 megapixel Canon EOS 5D. Well, I bought one last month or so, and have been gradually learning the camera’s features and developing new techniques to get the best photos out of the camera. I am thrilled with this camera’s performance! The ability to see my results as I shoot has really expanded my creativity in unexpected ways. I no longer have to guess about exposure. I try it and adjust on the fly! I no longer have to balance film and developing costs with trying many different composition/exposure combinations. Shooting now is virtually free! I can shoot until the memory cards are filled, download them to the computer, and edit to my heart’s content. What an amazing improvement in productivity, speed, and cost! And the sharpness, clarity, and color of the photos are amazing!

I waited a long time to get into digital, mainly due to wanting to be able to enlarge photos up to 24 x 36 inches, and not wanting to lose the “wide angleness” of my wide angle lenses. (This Canon has a full–size sensor, so there is no “multiplier” effect on lenses. In most other digital SLRs, a 17–35mm lens, for example, ends up being a pedestrian 28–55mm lens. That is not what I want, since I do much of my shooting with wide angle lenses!) And with 12.8 megapixels, huge enlargements are possible. It is absolutely a win–win situation!

Anyway, take a look at this little natural wonder. What composition do you think is best?

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Jack Kirby Museum…Redux

February 24th, 2010 by Matt

Back in 2005, I blogged about the then–new Kirby Museum on the Web. I just took a look and it is indeed going full–tilt, hitting on all cylinders! There are a ton of new articles, and most importantly, tons of great Kirby art to enjoy, such as this great take on Mickey Mouse as Doctor Doom. Awesome! The following is the original article in its entirety.

Jack Kirby Museum Logo

Cool Jack Kirby Museum Logo!

I just found this on the Make Magazine website…an online museum dedicated to Jack Kirby’s comics career, art, and life! This site was just inaugerated on August 28, 2005 and features a biography of Jack along with a smattering of his fantastic art. There is also the beginnings of a database that the museum promises will be a “complete, online Kirby ‘Catalogue Raisonné’.”

Fancy-pants terminology aside, from a design point of view, the web site is really clean with a nice tabloid “feel” to it. The developer is using nice clean XHTML with CSS…my kind of designer! The logo is also really nice. Those bits of “Kirbyesque” machinery in it are choice! Kudos to the designer!

I think this site is a great beginning. With a lot more of Jack’s art and a few more features, it will be a really strong reminder of just how great an artist Jack Kirby really was.

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Mikey and Char-Char In Stroller

February 15th, 2010 by Matt
Mikey and Charlotte in Stroller

Toothy Grin

Mikey and Charlotte in Stroller

Sweet Faces!

Mikey and Charlotte in Stroller

Serene and Satisfied

I love this set of photos! Mikey (my son) and Char–Char (my niece) decided to sit in a stroller together. Mikey has different smiles in each photo, while Char–Char is serene and seems at peace with the world. Never mind they just finished chasing each other around Grandpa’s back yard! At the time of this photo, Mikey is 3 years, 7 months old, Char–Char is 1 year 6 months.

This photo was taken with my trusty Canon EOS 5D at 1/125 sec, F4, ISO 200, with my old Canon 28–105mm lens at 53mm. (Isn’t EXIF info great? I would never write this stuff down!) I also used fill flash using, in my opinion, the best flash attachment you can buy, the Lightsphere II – Clear, by Gary Fong. This clear bounce attachment takes all the worry and fuss away from lighting your subject and produces fantastic, flattering, well–lit people photos. Try one, you won’t use anything else!

The Lightsphere can be used for many other types of photography, too. Take a look at this series on the Thanksgiving Cactus using it.

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Indiana Jones Trilogy Pixelmashes!

February 10th, 2010 by Matt

Here are links to David Court’s great work on the Indiana Jones Trilogy. Enjoy everyone!

Raiders of the Lost Ark Animated GIF

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The new year started off really well when I received a nice e-mail from David Court, of Star Wars Pixelmash fame. In a previous post, I said that I hadn’t figured out who the creator of these great Star Wars animated GIFs was. Well, David was kind enough to let me know, and now you do too!

Temple of Doom Animated GIF

Temple of Doom

David also let me know about his new Pixelmash collaborations…Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade! The Indiana Jones animations are in the same familiar, although slightly taller 129 x 94 pixel format as the Star Wars offerings, and if anything, they are even cooler and more detailed in their animations. There are tons of small animated figures and even more detailed facial expressions. The opening “Raiders” scene where Indy is being chased by the natives had me cracking up!

The Last Crusade Animated GIF

The Last Crusade

Finishing the Indiana Jones Trilogy, we have the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade pixelmash, “live and and in living color!” I love the zeppelin! Awesome job, David!

Needless to say, I’ve really been impressed with David’s efforts. Who knows what great stuff he’ll come up with next? Thanks again for the “heads up,” David!

Posted in Fun Stuff, Graphic Design, Movies and TV, The Web | No Comments »

Star Wars Trilogy Animated GIFs!

February 8th, 2010 by Matt

Back in 2005, David Court created a sensation on the web by recreating the Star Wars Trilogy in animated GIF form. These are works of art and deserve to be kept out there for everyone’s viewing enjoyment. In that spirit, here are links to the original Trilogy, as well as some I am housing here on my website, in the spirit keeping this great web–based art available to everyone.

I’ve corresponded with David from time to time and have enjoyed our brief conversations. He is a nice guy with a delightfully sardonic sense of humor. I wish him well.

Star Wars Animated GIF

A New Hope

This is too cool for words! I found a link to this on another blog and just had to mention it. This animated GIF file contains all of the main scenes from Star Wars IV: A New Hope, all in a 168k file! Awesome! My kudos to the designer, David Court!

Empire Strikes Back Animated GIF

The Empire Strikes Back!

Another fantastic GIF animation, this time it’s Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back! Man, it takes a lot of work to animate something like this, especially to do it this well!

Return of the Jedi Animated GIF

The Return of the Jedi!

The final piece of the puzzle! And once again, a fantastic GIF animation, Star Wars VI: The Revenge of the Jedi! Awesome!

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View from Cerro Alto

February 4th, 2010 by Matt

Late Afternoon Morros Photo

Late Afternoon Morros

Here’s a nice shot I took in April of 2005 on a hike up to the top of Cerro Alto, off of highway 41 near Morro Bay, CA. This is the highest peak, at 2624 feet, in the area. Beautiful!

Posted in Fun Stuff, Hiking, Photography | No Comments »

Photographic Proof of Global Warming

February 1st, 2010 by Matt

In 2006, I read a disturbing article in the January/February issue of Sierra magazine entitled “Climate Chaos Has Arrived,” by Bill McKibben. In it, the author reports on various examples showing that global warming is indeed a fact: a scientific revelation in September 2006 that reported satellite images showing that the polar icecap is now 20% thinner than historical averages, the increasing frequency and severity of weather–based disasters, and most convincing, historical before and after photographic evidence of the melting of our largest glaciers. Take a look at these photos and say they aren’t a little scary, I dare you!

Grinell Glacier, Glacier National Park, 1911

Grinell Glacier, Glacier National Park, 1911

Grinell Glacier, Glacier National Park, 2000

Grinell Glacier, Glacier N. P., 2000

Pasterze Glacier, Austria, 1875

Pasterze Glacier, Austria, 1875

Pasterze Glacier, Austria, 2004

Pasterze Glacier, Austria, 2004

Rhone Glacier, Switzerland, 1859

Rhone Glacier, Switzerland, 1859

Rhone Glacier, Switzerland, 2001

Rhone Glacier, Switzerland, 2001

Portage Glacier, Alaska, 1950

Portage Glacier, Alaska, 1950

Portage Glacier, Alaska, 2001

Portage Glacier, Alaska, 2001

Showing these “before” and “after” photos side by side really drives the point home! This is scary stuff! Environmental photographer Gary Braasch has made a career of photographing many of the world’s ecosystems, especially in the areas of climatic change and biodiversity. Thanks to people like him, the truth is becoming clearer and clearer. Dramatic photos such as these shots of the melting glaciers provide all the proof I need that the climate is indeed getting warmer! For more on this topic, please take a look at

Posted in Life and Living, Photography, The Environment | No Comments »