Focusing Your Attention

January 12, 2010 By: erik Category: Geeky, Photoshop 95 views

Bishops and Pawns (crop)After my recent splash back into the tilt-shifting pool, my Photoshop muse has been working on ways to focus a photograph viewer’s attention to a particular part of the photograph using, well, focus. While what follows are technically fake tilt-shift effects, the aim in choosing the photographs and choosing the focal depth of each image was not only to make the subjects look miniature, but to draw your attention. All the photographs are mine, plucked from my photo library. I highly recommend viewing them all larger than they appear here, as they are much more impressive large.
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Drop Shadow Fail

January 11, 2010 By: erik Category: Colindres, Funny, Geeky, Photos, Photoshop 198 views

Drop Shadow FailMy little town has two photographer shops and two framing shops. In both, the shop windows are filled with examples of their work that has recently been finished and is waiting to be picked up. The main frame (computer joke) shop is right downtown and I walk by there every day. Usually they have certificates, caricatures, cross-stitched scenes, puzzles, and occasionally a painting or two. Yesterday, as I was glancing at what my fellow townspeople were having framed that day, my brain registered that there was something very wrong about one particular certificate. The text reads, “Second prize, shop window competition, 2009”. See if you can spot what’s wrong.
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It snowed. Kind of.

January 11, 2010 By: erik Category: Colindres, Photos 32 views

Snowy ColindresThe evening news lately, with footage from all over Europe, has resembled the March of the Penguins or Never Cry Wolf. In other words, I always end up feeling colder after I watch the news than before it starts. Down here at sea level, we almost never get any snow, but on Saturday night we finally did. When I woke up on Sunday morning, this is the view that I beheld upon opening the blinds.
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Pre-Bedtime Silliness

January 08, 2010 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos 40 views

thumbNormally Nora is at her most adorable right after waking up and having her breakfast bottle, but sometimes, just before bed, she gets a drunken silliness about her that makes it a blast to be around her. The video that follows was shot on December 16th, the last night that my parents were visiting. I’m hardly unbiased, but I think it’s pretty cute, especially the giggle around 1:27. She was like this for at least a half hour that night.
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Shuttle Tilting

January 08, 2010 By: erik Category: Geeky, Photos, Photoshop, Science, USA 74 views

Endeavor Tilt-Shift (crop)I’ve always been fond of photographs of the space shuttle. There’s something truly magnificent about a space-bound rocket sitting on the launch pad. It saddens me that the shuttle era will come to and end this year. I just hope its successor doesn’t take too long to get off the ground, so to speak. When I saw some photos of the roll-out of STS-130 yesterday, I selected a couple as good tilt-shifting candidates. Below I present to you the results.
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Optimizing Picture To Border Ratio With Phi

January 07, 2010 By: erik Category: Art, Geeky, Math 10,574 views

Frame Geometry DiagramThe other day I was looking at a framed photo in my house and wondering how the area of the border around the picture (called a mat board in the framing industry) compared to the area of the picture itself. Immediately I remembered the master of all aesthetic ratios, the golden ratio, Phi! 1.61803398874989… I thought, “I bet if the ratio of the area of the picture to the border was Phi, it would look good!” So I set off on an algebraic quest to find the answer…
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Polishing Shoes

January 06, 2010 By: erik Category: Family, Photos, Spain 244 views

Shoes out for Wise Men to fill with giftsAccording to Spanish tradition, on the night before January 6th, the same three wise men who visited Jesus when he was born fly around Spain on their three camels, land on the roofs of houses, rappel down to each balcony, break in, and leave gifts for the little girls and boys who have been good all year long. They especially make sure to fill the shoes that the little children have left out for that purpose. Does this sound at all familiar to my American audience?

I learned a lot of this last night as it was being explained to my daughter why her shoes needed to be polished. Apparently first impressions are important in this arena. So we each set out our shoes last night for the Wise Men to find and fill with goodies.
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New Sounds

January 05, 2010 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos 36 views

thumbIt’s curious to watch Nora, who is now nine months old, learn to make new sounds with her mouth. She regularly says “Papapapapa”, “Mamamama”, and “Dadadada”, although I remain unconvinced that she assigns any significance to these utterances. Just before Christmas she learned to “blow a raspberry“, a skill she uses with higher frequency when moving in her stroller or in the car. I like to think that she’s imitating a motor, but so far she hasn’t learned to switch gears. On one particular walk over the Christmas holidays, I had to wipe her chin about every fifteen meters because it was soaked with saliva expelled during said sonic production; that is when I shot the video you see below. Her vocal creativity is positively correlated with boredom, so if you talk to her or give her attention in any way (like pointing a video camera at her), she immediately stops. It’s only in moments of inattention that she feels the need to entertain herself.
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It's all speculative

January 04, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Media, Musings, Stuff I Found 68 views

Today I stumbled on this awesome speech written and given by Michael Crichton back in 2002 about speculation, and how the media – which he defines as movies, television, internet, books, newspapers, and magazines – is, to a large extent, a gurgling blob of useless drivel. It’s a shame that he probably didn’t get to watch much of the farcical climax of vacuous speculation that was the 2008 US presidential election, as he died on the day Obama got elected. My favorite part of the article is how he talks about the fallacy that we all commit (a recent favorite topic of mine) when we read the newspaper, or receive information from any news source for that matter.
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Europe, home of Leonardo and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin art

January 04, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Marketing, Politics, Weird 426 views

Europe, home of Da Vinci and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin artYesterday, as I was digging through my coins to pay for a cool European lager, I happened to glance at the artwork on the heads (Or tails? Who can tell anymore?) side of the coin. At first I thought it was some kind of joke currency or bizarre token that someone had slipped me in mistake or trickery. So I saved it, pretty sure it couldn’t be real. But lo and behold, it’s a special 2009 commemorative 2€ coin. To quote the Official Journal of the European Union (PDF):
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