A wintery drive to Drumheller

I met my friend Nancy when I first joined Critical Mass in April 2000. She was my first project manager, as we slugged away at the Proctor & GambleĀ Presiva project (it’s a fringe product that thankfully died out about eight or nine years ago). We reunited on the Mercedes-Benz USA project, where we continued to do battle with the forces of … uh … weird client requests? Sure, let’s go with that.
Nancy (wisely) left the digital agency world over a decade ago, and went off to start her own business, using horses to teach leaders how to be effective. It was a novel approach, and it’s done well. One advantage of her doing that was moving out into the country (after all, that many horses do not do well in city limits). Which means she started to make good contacts with her neighbours.
Including one that raised sheep.
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Four fun-filled days

I sit here at my kitchen table, rubbing the weariness from my eyes. Not the things you’d normally hear from me, mind you — I haven’t been working too hard as of late (as you know, my big project is done). No, this is from something much better — spending time with my family, and notably you, Monkey.
The last four days have been a lot of fun. Maybe even too much fun. Both of us are pretty pooped. You went to bed and for the first time in a long while, there wasn’t hours of chatter from your room. I think you pretty much passed out. I won’t be too far behind you, I think, but I do wish to describe the fun that we’ve shared.
‘Cuz, frankly, I’m not sure how the heck I survived it all…
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A Day In My Life

Over the last (almost) year, I’ve had a number of people ask me what a regular day is like for me. It’s not an easy answer. First of all, there is no such thing as “regular” or “ordinary” in my job. Every day is different (one of the few things I truly love about the advertising world), so there’s no set pattern to easily relate to you.
Even where there is pattern, it’s high level: I get up, I get ready for work, I go to work, I work, I go home from work, I spend time with my family, I go to sleep. The details vary almost constantly, epecially with the “I work” part — in the 9 years I’ve been with this company, I’ve yet to have the same day twice.
And I’ll tell you — explaining all that ain’t easy. But I’m gonna try…
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Why the right tools matter

A few years ago, I went off to Japan to visit my friend Chris. I took along my (at the time) fancy digital camera: a Canon Pro 90 IS. Fancy in that it was big mega-pixels (for the time) and had an image stabiliser built-in (that’s what the “IS” stands for). Like I do now, I used it to document the heck out of my trip.
One thing Canon had on its prosumer cameras at the time that they took out of the DSLR line was the panorama assist mode (I don’t think it exists in any of their models now — does it?). A handy feature, it let you create panoramic views by being able to line up your previous shot. Then you used some included software, and BOOM!, you had a panorama.
Or that’s how it was supposed to work.
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My Canon Rebel XT doesn't work

It’s weird. I’m not sure what it is. When I was in Panama a few weeks ago, I was out happily snapping pictures when, for reasons I simply don’t understand, the auto-focus stopped working.
My first thought was condensation. My camera had been inside an air-conditioned room for a day or so, and Panama is warm and humid. Bad combination for cameras, I tell you. I figured enough time to warm up and allow the condensation to leave should be enough.
It’s been a few weeks. The auto-focus still doesn’t work. The camera still seems to take decent pictures (manual focus is still available), but I’ve come to rely on the auto-focus to make sure my pictures are tack sharp.
I’ve checked the AF regions. I’ve reset all the settings. I’ve cleaned the pins and lens contacts (it happens with both my lenses). I’ve cleaned the mirror, too.
Anyone know what might be wrong? I’m outta ideas, and sending my camera to the shop to fix here in Costa Rica raises a number of language-based issues.

The Obligatory Vacation Recap

In the few minutes I have before I dive back into another conference session, figured I’d cover some of the items of our last vacation. This was a 2.5 week excursion mostly to Scotland, with a few days in England. Alex planned most of the trip, with me handling things like the transportation and hotels to stay along the way. Overall, about a 50/50 split on the events et al.
Sadly, at the end, it wasn’t a usual vacation. Until now, it’s always been either just me, or myself and Alex. Now there’s three of us, and the Wee One doesn’t have our stamina for travel and has a pseudo-schedule that needs to be followed from time-to-time.
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Wireless photography rocks!

I’ll keep this one quick (mostly ‘cuz I gotta run home ASAP), but I finally got my shipment from B&H Photo today, which included my new Lumix FX-30 (yes, I intentionally chose an older model) and an Eye-Fi card.
The ability to take a photograph and have it automatically appear on Flickr is totally awesome. I love this thing.
It’s going to get me in so much trouble…

Read this book

Are you getting into digital photography? Wish that your pictures looked better? I know I do. Every time I see one of those pro shots — especially if they were taken in a place I’ve taken a picture — I wonder how they got it? What techniques did they use? What about the technical specs (e.g. f-stop, aperature)? This is what frustrates me.
Normally, I’m not big on books. They rarely give me the information I really need. I’ve got lots of photography books — presents from various people, and a couple I’ve bought myself. But they’re more artsy than anything else. Which means “mostly useless” for what I truly need.
What I truly need is time with a pro. Someone who I can go shooting with who can give me all the little tips and secrets that make a mediocre shot look a million times better.
Problem: I don’t know any pros.
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How to get good portability

Yesterday, I drooled over the MacBook Air. At least until I found out that it has an integrated battery. Then I sulked in a corner.
I still have the fundamental problem: How do I get good portability? The answer still seems to be eluding me. Understand — this is more a question than anything else.
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Pictures from my new lens

On the weekend, I spun by a very busy The Camera Store to pick up my new lens, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. This is the standard prime used for virtually every camera for the last 60 years or so. Even the digitals picked it up for it’s sheer standardness (if that is, in fact, a word).
I just haven’t had a chance to really play with it yet. But I figured a few pictures of work done around the house would be a good place to start.
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Things seen along the way

As we’ve moved along over this journey, I’ve taken pictures of things for posting to the blog. Some of them didn’t make it, for one reason or another. But hating to waste good pictures, I thought I’d throw them into a blog posting for all to experience.
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