Sunday, September 13, 2009

This one time, at band camp...

Tomorrow I schlep myself, my flutes, my music, and a week's worth of clothing to Williamsburg for what generally amounts to band camp for adult musicians. Never having been to a real band camp, though, I can only assume. We're staying at the Patriot Inn (remember, Williamsburg: Colonial reenactments, Jamestown settlement, home of the College of Williams & Mary, archeological digs, etc.) rehearsing about 8 hours a day for five days and performing two concerts. The whole enchilada is called Williamsburg Consort, and it's by invitation. I got connections, see.

It's only 45 minutes away but with the amount of rehearsing it doesn't make sense to drive up there every morning before 8am and drive back home every night after 9pm. Through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, which at any given time on any given day will have some 30-minute delay. Name a reason and it probably has happened or will happen. And there wasn't an "off-campus" option. I'm rooming with my flute buddy Amy.

My lips are going to go numb and my arms are going to fall off but I'll probably have a wonderful time.

In other news, this is the first year that Old Dominion University (ODU) has had a football team in I don't know how many millions of years. Actually it's been 69 years, according to the website. They had their second home game tonight, or so I heard. I think the fireworks I hear outside are from some ODU football celebration. We won, and I can't even believe I'm interested in trying to understand this whole college football thing. It took me an hour to figure out what division they are (FCS, formerly Div I-AA) and how that compared to, say Michigan State (yeah, right, even I know that Michigan State is, like, the bomb). So, anyway...we're 2-0. Woohoo. All season tickets are sold out, too.

I forgot to mention: some of our favorite people are students at ODU, including Kathryn "Kat," and Kent, a friend works there, we love to hang out in the student union (Webb Center), and it's five blocks from our house as the grackle flies. 3/4 of a mile if you drive.

This is also the first time ever that I've mentioned sports in this blog. It might be the last. Let's just wait and see, shall we? I don't do sports but we're all pretty excited about this ODU football-thing. We usually only get excited about sports when the Army-Navy game rolls around (Go, Navy) or during Olympics season (Go, Ice Skaters. Go, Gymnasts). Did you know you can get one of those football-shaped blue and white foam stress balls, the kind you squeeze like a maniac, at the Shell gas station up the road. It has the ODU Monarchs printed on it in gold. For only 5 bucks. Is that real gold?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Phun with Photoshop

I was playing with digital image color correction last weekend in a way I never have. For some reason this chapter in my favorite Scott Kelby book, The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers, completely escaped my notice. At the time I probably thought I knew it all and I didn't need it. I'm too stupid to figure it out myself really. I swear I'm going to go through ALL my old photographs and color correct them.

Right after I finish that five year plan. In Trebuchet. Or Poor Richard. Cooper Black, perhaps?

The "before" is on the left, "after" on the right, screenshots from Adobe Bridge. The photos don't show up as large as they used to, but clicking on the photo will bring up the larger version and the corrections are more apparent.

Waves and Vegetation
Color corrected. It's amazing what just a little bit will accomplish.

These little guys just skitter around all over the place. Color corrected and sharpened.

Color corrected, cropped, sharpened. I like the effect you get with a long lens. It looks like there really is this wall of water, which there sort of is but it's exaggerated by the 300mm lens. Or whatever I have it set to.

Bird Sans Trash
Major work in addition to color correction and cropping and sharpening...I had to remove this stupid piece of trash from the photo. I lid of some sort, like from a Pringles can or something. I was so caught up in trying to capture the bird that I didn't see anything else. So that was a little tricky but fun.

I think this is my favorite. I sat on the beach and took dozens of shots to get this one, with the shutter set to burst. Color corrected, cropped, sharpened. This was inspired by a beautiful book of photography called Waves by Steve Hawk. I pull it off the shelf every time I hang out at Barnes & Noble but haven't been able to justify the purchase. There is another book, called Beaches, that I just don't care for as much. The Sea/Day by Day looks promising. If you didn't know, you'd think you could be anywhere in the world, instead of little old Ocean View, Virginia.

I had unlocked the car, pulled open the door, looked up, and saw this right in front of me. I don't know who they are but they looked peaceful and a little romantic in an everyday kind of way, which is my favorite kind of romantic. Simple and unfussy. Color correction, cropped, sharpened. I sharpen everything a little. Most of the time I just think it looks better. I can always undo it if it doesn't look right.

Before we moved here in 1994 I could barely pick out Virginia on the map. I just never paid much attention to the East Coast. Now I can name many lovely things about the state, not the least of which is it's proximity to the center of the political and naval universe, not to mention vast expanses of water. Which is really kinda cool in a geeky sort of way. It's weird, brother, who lives in Wisconsin, the upper Midwest, also lives near vast expanses of water. I was reminded of that when I was looking at his lovely photos from Lake Michigan. In fact, Wisconsin has a surprising amount of shoreline. I'll have to look that up. We all live near major water - me, Mom, Sister, Brother.

Wow, I'm definitely going through a beach phase. I posted all these photos to Flickr.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Soup or...

Harris Teeter has impressively expanded their salad bar menu. For lunch we had a coastal South American country.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cone of Uncertainty

We were not in it.

By "we" I mean Hampton Roads. By "it" I mean the projected path of TS Danny, which us weather watchers have been hoping would strengthen and throw up some severe weather, but not enough to make us evacuate. The projected path has bands and it's all known as The Cone of Uncertainty.

By "us" I mean Nick and me.

So every few hours we're checking out The Weather Channel or Wunderground. I've lost some faith in TWC's integrity ever since they started pretending to do "morning show" type stuff. Now that Al Roker is involved...well, gimme a break, huh?

But I love the term "cone of uncertainty." I intend to use it liberally.

Speaking of liberally, we are cooking liberally from our America's Test Kitchen cookbook. We love the French Onion Soup, and have mastered the art of cooking a whole chicken in a covered pot (chicken en cocotte) . Sounds straightforward, and it is. The question is: why doesn't EVERYONE cook it like this? It's so simple and makes the best gravy and the meat is tender and juciy from the thigh to the breast. Oof, is good.

I'm so late with this post...T.S. Danny is a dim memory.