Archive for December, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions 2011

December 31st, 2010 No comments

This year, the name of the game is: finish stuff. If I had to roll all of my goals into one resolution, it would be to keep focused on one project at a time (okay, at least a very small number of  projects) and see it through to completion before moving on to a new project.

So, with no further ado, here are the projects I’m looking to work on — and complete — in the coming year:

  1. Learn Spanish: Dore and I have always wanted to learn another language, and Spanish will be very useful for both of us.  So we are both resolving to really learn Spanish this next year.
  2. Learn salsa dancing: This one should be pretty simple.  Dore has us all signed up already.
  3. Visit the Caribbean: Notice a pattern? 🙂  Dore made me promise that our next vacation would be somewhere tropical.  Something about our last two blizzard-filled ski trips, I think…  So anyway, to the tropics it is.  Anyone have cool suggestions of off-the-beaten-track locales to scope out?  (And no, Ian, the Lesser Antilles don’t count just because they have “Lesser” in the name.)
  4. Complete a proof of concept of a web application I’ve been thinking about for a while: More details to come…
  5. Complete my second novel, Virus: I got a strong start last year, but fizzled when various other things came up.
  6. Complete a photo book project: I’ve been working on collecting photos for an artistic book for a while.  We’ll see if anything materializes in the next year.  I don’t quite have enough shots yet.

Well, that’s the list for now.  I’ll add a follow up if I think of anything else.  For now, it’s off to pack for our flight back home tomorrow morning and a good night’s sleep.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Categories: Create Every Day Tags:

Easy ISO Adjustment with the Nikon D7000

December 31st, 2010 1 comment

Warning: Camera nerd talk follows.  You’ve been warned. 🙂

I’ve been playing around lately with the Show ISO/Easy ISO adjustment feature of the Nikon D7000 (menu feature A3), and I have to say I love it.  In a nutshell, the setting changes the camera’s behavior to:

  1. Display the ISO setting in place of the shots remaining (on both the top LCD panel and in the viewfinder) whenever the meter is active
  2. Allow the ISO to be changed without pushing any other buttons when in Program, Shutter priority, or Aperture Priority shooting modes.
  3. The number of shots remaining can be found by either turning off the camera (where it is displayed on the top LCD), letting the meter turn off, or by turning on the INFO display.

For me, this setting overcomes two of the issues I’ve had with the Nikon user interface in the past, namely that you have to press the oddly placed ISO button to change or display the current ISO setting.  Given that ISO is so much more important to any given shot than the number of shots remaining, I find that having this information readily available very useful.

The main downsides I’ve found with the Easy ISO setting are that:

  1. The ISO setting can get changed if the controls get bumped.  But this isn’t any worse than the shutter or aperture settings, which can get changed by bumping the controls, too.
  2. It’s sometimes difficult to remember which dial controls what.  That’s because the ISO adjustment dial changes places depending on what mode you’re in:
    • In Program (P) and Shutter priority (S) modes, the front dial controls the ISO
    • In Aperture priority (A) modes, the rear dial controls the ISO
    • In Manual (M) mode, you still need to manage the ISO setting with the ISO button

Fortunately, the logic here isn’t too hard to follow: The ISO control piggybacks on the control dial that isn’t otherwise used. (In Manual they’re both used, so there’s no place to put ISO, thus it reverts.)

On the whole, I’ve found that the benefits outweigh the downsides, so I’m a happy camper.  It’s definitely nice to be able to control the camera’s interface to this level, and nice that Nikon’s engineers seem to have spent a good bit of time thinking out how this would all work.

Categories: Cameras Tags: ,

New Year’s Resolutions for 2010: A Review

December 30th, 2010 No comments

Well, it’s that time again.  The new year is rolling over, and it’s time to play the Resolutions Game.  Hooray!  Time again to see what I want to do in the new year, and what I’ll look back on with groans next year.  Oh, what fun!

Actually, I think that making resolutions — even the ones that don’t pan out — is a good thing.  For me, it provides a way to keep track of what it is I’m working towards, and a record of where I was and where I thought I was going.  It’s also a way to sum up one year and lay out grand plans for the next.  Sort of a “year in review,” if you will.  So I’ve learned to value my resolutions, even if they are a bunch of pie-in-the-sky ideas.

I think people get tied up a lot in the idea that goals that got dropped by the wayside are somehow indicative of major failures.  Well, sure, they’re failures.  But not always the way that people expect.  There are lots of reasons why resolutions fail, and usually it’s because they weren’t very well thought out to start with.  I think people would value resolutions much more if they took the time to look at why they didn’t pan out.  So, in that vein, here’s a few from last year, and why they did (or didn’t) work out:

  • Maintain my blog – Well, it’s from two years ago, but I carried renewed this goal in 2010.  I’ll give this goal a B-.  I did manage to keep posting, but not nearly at the rate that I had initially wanted to.  I think that the realities of trying to post and keep a semblance of a life are much more difficult than I thought.  I also need to start doing shorter posts.  But it seems that every time I sit down to write it always gets longer than I expected.  Maybe I should add a new goal to be more terse in my writing. 🙂  This one will stick around into 2011.
  • Process and upload at least two photos per week – Well I’ll be darned… I think I made this one!  Granted, a big chunk of those came from Dore’s and my trip to New Zealand, and another chunk of recently posted shots, but I did manage to do it.  I’ll give this one an A-, as I still see room to improve in doing more artistic postprocessing work.  Hopefully that will be an easier now with the super-cool DxO software that Dore got me for Christmas.  Another keeper for 2011, although perhaps with a stronger emphasis on artistic quality.
  • Critique at least one photo per week – Not even close.  Well, not in any written form.  I have been doing a lot of critiquing as mental exercises, and have been making a conscious effort lately to view and comment on more photos on Flickr.  But nothing very organized.  I’ll give this one a C-.  But I think that the goal may have been a bit misplaced.  If this makes it onto the 2011 list I expect it will be in a revised form.
  • Make three fine-art prints (due April 1st) – A dismal failure.  I don’t think I printed anything this year.  I still want to do this, but I don’t see it happening immediately.  I’ve got some other projects to do first.  I’m thinking of going with a photo book project in 2011 instead.
  • Finish unpacking our apartment – Yay!  This is both complete, and we’ve started paring down our belongings.  I hope to continue this trend in the new year.

There are a couple of other projects I see on my backlog, but I think those are enough for now.  Overall I’m pretty pleased, and in a couple of cases really surprised.  Last year wasn’t as bad as I thought for resolutions.

Hopefully 2011 will be similarly blessed. 🙂

    Categories: Create Every Day Tags:

    So… Many… Cookies…

    December 28th, 2010 No comments

    If there’s one thing you can say about Nana’s house, it’s that there is never a shortage of cookies.  Dore and I have been doing our best to keep to some semblance of a reasonable diet, but with so many cookies and fudge about it’s been anything but easy.  And cookies are just the tip of the iceberg.  We’ve had cinnamon spiced chicken, prime rib, lefse, an Indian feast, and a bunch of other tasties I can’t recall at the moment. 

    So many tasty things… so little time.