Jul 29, 2010

Song Lyrics

Those of you who know me are used to me always having music playing.   Now I'll admit that sometimes it's limited and I can be close minded about a few things (country, some blues, jazz) but overall the bands that I enjoy so much are those that have wonderful lyrics.   Not the "oh oh baby oh oh" stuff.   Can you image RUSH doing a song with lyrics like that?  hahaha.  So I gravitate to artists with strong lyrics - U2, Genesis, Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd etc etc...

As I'm sure each of you go through life there are days where you will hear a song that you may have known for years but suddenly the lyrics have a special meaning or something going on that you can relate to. I always thought "you know posting something like that would be cool but might make me look wimpy" and stuff like that.   Well screw it!  LOL.

Different songs and lyrics have effects on people throughout their lives.  What is meaningful today isn't tomorrow.   Some people gravitate to quotes and the written word.  Heck we see it on everyones Facebook pages and in their blogs.    Although I run across quotes I love - just check Sherry and Natalie's profiles on Facebook.  Amazing quotes!   But for me it's music.

Candis has something cool she does on her blog (which I will link on here when she is ready to go public - she's working on the layout and code), it's called Friday Cloud Blogging.  Every Friday she posts pictures of clouds from through the week.  Pretty cool and some amazing shots.

Now I'm not going to be as regular as every Friday, or it might even be daily who knows, but I'm going to post lyrics that touch me on a particular day.    Heck, lets see how many people recognize these songs and have ever noticed the lyrics ;-)   And do they have a meaning for you?   Sometimes I won't post the whole song, as it might be just bits and pieces that touch me.

I have two songs for today.  The first is one by Ted Nugent called "Fred Bear".   Although the song is about hunting, which I personally don't do anymore, there are some wonderful lines (hi-lighted).   Those who have ever had the honour (and it is because I rarely invite anyone) of spending time in the bush with me knows how I am when I'm out in the wild;

Ted Nugent - "Fred Bear"

Listen Herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-8WQhNmh2A
(note the kick ass guitar rift!)

There I was back in the wild again.
I felt right at home, where I be-long.
I had the feeling, coming over me again.
Just like it happened so many times be-fore. eh.
The Spirit of the Woods is like an old good friend.
Makes me feel warm and good in-side.

I knew his name and it was good to see him again.
Cause in the wind he's still a-live.
Oh Fred Bear
Walk with me down the trails again.
Take me back, back where I be-long.
Fred Bear
I'm glad to have you at my side my friend
and I'll join you in the big hunt before too long
before too long.
It was kinda dark, another misty dusk
it came from a tangle down be-low.
I tried to re-mem-ber everything you taught me so well.
I had to de-cide which way to go.
Was I a-lone or in a hunter's dream.
Cause the moment of truth was here and now.
I felt his touch I felt his guiding hand.

The buck was mine forever more!!
Oh Fred Bear
Walk with me down the trails again.
Take me back, back where I be-long.
Fred Bear
I'm glad to have you at my side my friend
and I'll join you in the big hunt before too long
before too long.
We're not alone when we're in the great outdoors
We got his spirit We got his soul

He will guide our steps and our arrows home
The restless spirit still roams
Oh Fred Bear
Walk with me down the trails again.
Take me back, back where I be-long.
Fred Bear
I'm glad to have you at my side my friend
and I'll join you in the big hunt before too long
before too long.

I'll try not to post more then one at a time but as today is my first crack at this there are two ;-)   This song has been on my mind  since I first heard it released 30 years ago.   The Moody Blues lyrics have always been amazing but when it comes to love songs this one completely speaks to me.  Those who know me well will recognize the parts below in green.  I spent so many years happy wondering life alone and was inspired by it.  That has changed within me this past 5 years, and I yearn to be with someone,  but they have captured it wonderfully in lyric.

 Moody Blues - "I Know Your Out There Somewhere"

I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know I'll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
And somehow I'll return again to you

The mist is lifting slowly

I can see the way ahead

And I've left behind the empty streets

That once inspired my life

And the strength of the emotion

Is like thunder in the air

'Cos the promise that we made each other
Haunts me to the end

The secret of your beauty

And the mystery of your soul
I've been searching for in everyone I meet

And the times I've been mistaken
It's impossible to say
And the grass is growing
Underneath our feet

the words that I remember

From my childhood still are true

That there's none so blind

As those who will not see

And to those who lack the courage
And say it's dangerous to try
Well they just don't know
That love eternal will not be denied

Yes I know it's going to happen
I can feel you getting near

And soon we'll be returning

To the fountain of our youth
And if you wake up wondering
In the darkness I'll be there

My arms will close around you

And protect you with the truth

Jul 28, 2010


Hey guys, sorry no posts the past 2 days.   Two very long days in the office.  Dead most of the day followed by late afternoon meetings resulting in me getting home late.  So by the time I get supper made (cooking now), eaten, cleaned up and chill a bit it's bed time.

Besides not much to report.  Got curtains yesterday and have those up in the front room.   Need to hem them but will look at that in a few days when it's quieter.   Everything else is quiet.    Only a few of us in the office as everyone is on vacation so pretty boring in there.   Spend part of the day playing facebook scrabble.  Not exactly a proper use of government time or equipment but nice to catch a lull in the workload.

If I think of anything later tonight before bed I'll come back and post it  hahaha.  Still no weekend plans.  Gonna have to check the weather and make some decisions or next thing I'll know the 3 days will be gone ;-)

Jul 27, 2010

Long Weekend

Just realized we have a long weekend coming up.  I can't sit around for 3 days but the parks will be full of campers and boaters as will the lock stations.

What should I do this weekend? I'd like to go away somewhere, but no real money.  One advantage of no pets, I can just up and go.      hmmmm, think think think..........


Jul 26, 2010

Lightroom 3

Hey all!  Quiet day in the office so thought I'd sit down and jot down some of my thoughts on Adobe's Lightroom 3.   Click here for the product.

For the past 3 years or so I've been using Nikon Capture NX2 and Photoshop CS3.   Both very good products.  Capture NX, IMO, was ahead of it's time.  No layers, non-destructive editing, control points (which I still think is the coolest thing ever!) but needs a pretty hefty computer and can crash suddenly.  Photoshop is by far the best software in the world for photographers.  If you can figure out how to use it.   To be fair most of the stuff that we all use is pretty basic.  Not to many people get into the full power that this huge and expensive program offers.   But it is the best and if you can find what you need it's the most powerful.      In addition I also use Noise Ninja for noise removal (my camera sucks in low light) and PixResizer (best program available in freeware for properly resizing images for the web) and that is pretty much my workflow.  Capture - PS - NJ - PR.

I shoot mostly RAW (NEF for Nikon) so I'd open the image in Capture NX2 and do my crop, leveling, levels, colour correction, etc etc... and then save it off as either Tiff or jpg depending on how much more work needed to be done.   From there into Photoshop for resizing, text, borders, spot touchups, dodging, burning and the deeper funky stuff.  That would be the finishing touches unless it was noisy.  Then it would go off to Noise Ninja for cleanup and finally to PixResizer to resize for the web.    Not a bad workflow but it was jumping around from program to program.  Fortunately I have a fast computer, big screen and loads of video and computer RAM.   But it's worked nicely for me over the past few years.

Now I'd tried Lightroom 2 and either I put no effort into it or I really didn't understand it or was having a day but toasted it in disgust.  But this time around I downloaded the trial at Adobe who gives you a 30 day trial.   It installed nicely with no problems on my Windows 7 machine.  And it's 64bit!  Woot!

Almost immediately there was confusion.  How the hell do you open a file?   Well, Lightroom does have one issue that I'm seeing in more and more programs that I hate.   You have to import and export the images.  What the hell ever happened to File - open  and  File - save as?    I-tunes works this way as well and I can't seem to wrap my head around it.   It's a Mac thing or old dog new trick thing I guess.  hahaha.  (Remember I use both Windows and Mac depending on who has the best package - right now Windows 7 is better in my eyes)  But I guess it has something to do with the way it works with the images in a non-destructive manner.  Your originals don't get touched so you can't screw them up without really trying.   I see so many people working on originals and I shudder in fear haha.  

So this is what the import screen looks like.  On the left you have your input where you can select images on your hard drive, your camera, memory card or whatever.  In the middle you have the images and you select the ones  you want to import.  On the top you can copy, add, delete etc.   On the far right is the destination.  This is where you select where the images will be put.  Click import and it brings them in.  So it's setup like a workflow, left to right, Input - select images - Destination.

Now that the hard part is over, the rest (for me) was pretty straight forward.  At the top of the screen move from library into develop and your now in the editing mode.

On the left you have a thumbnail of the image and below that you can see your history of the actions.  So you can go back and forth, just like in Photoshop.   In the center you have the image, can zoom in and out on the image as needed.   There is also a really cool feature where you can put the original photo beside the modified one so you can see the differences in the work that you are doing, I find this invaluable and one of the best features going.    Across the bottom is "film strip" of the photos you imported.   As you click through them they show up in the center for you to work on.  If you have edited the photo it puts symbols on the image so you know you've worked on it.   As well you can rate your images (the same as in Adobe Bridge, so this replace Bridge and Photoshop).

The key stuff is on the far right.  It's setup almost like a perfect work flow.  Work your way from top to bottom.  It starts with crop, red eye, spot fixing, leveling etc.   Next down is exposure, fill light, contrast, brightness etc.   After that is done you move into the colours, make them more/less vibrant, saturation etc.   Forget what's next (cause I don't use them - split tones and stuff) but then your into sharpening and noise reduction.  Now these work really really well.  I have been a huge fan of noise ninja for many years.  This is as good if not better!   I took some images that had major noise and they look wonderful now that I'm done with it.   Sharpening works really well, almost like a high pass filter versus unsharp mask.  Very very impressed.  Next is vignetting which can be black or white, change the feather, roundness and numerous other options.   Then there is an add grain section, something I haven't played with.

From there I believe (haven't investigated much) there is ways of adding text, watermarks and I believe borders.   I'll take a look later.  

As there is no "save" or "save as", I would then use the export command to save the image.   I'm not sure if that is the proper way of doing this?  It works but I think there might be an easier method that I'm missing.  Anyone care to enlighten me?  Candis, I think your a Lightroom user correct?

For an image that was captured properly in a camera this program is wonderful.   Once I got past the whole import/export thing this program is a HUGE time saver.   What takes me 5-10 minutes with my other workflow is done in well under 5 minutes with Lightroom, with in most cases, superior results.    Proof that simpler is better.

I should also mention that it does a wonderful job converting my RAW images, no need to do it in the Nikon software first.  It also has lens correction software build it.  It detected my lens without difficulty and applied the proper correction.

I have only scratched the surface on the features.  There are built in presets for artistic blank and whites, colours and filters.   You can build your own presets and have the program do batch processing on any images that you select.   But the best part is, it all makes sense!   It's not like the big Photoshop where you have to dig for features and still feel that your only using 3% of the program (which you are lol).  For me Lightroom is a very logical flow and it's very easy to figure out and how to use.   I didn't watch any tutorials or do any reading.  I just picked up the program and in 10 minutes I was editing photos.

I was given a batch of portraits to work on back a few weeks ago.  Wonderful material but the photography was very very poor.  The images are noisy, red eye in most pictures, bad jpg artifacts, focus issues etc...   From the batch of about 60 photos I pulled about 30 and in about 2 hours I had completely transposed them with Lightroom.   They now look as close to professional as you can get with the original quality.  I had spent several hours using my old work flow on 5 of the images and my results were not as good as what they were with Lightroom.

The workflow is laid out perfectly for me.  Input, straighten the image, crop, red eye, spot removal, exposure issues, levels, colour tweaks, sharpening, noise removal, vignetting, export.     All in one panel.   I'll include text, borders and copyright to that flow once I figure it out.  And the beauty?  All done from 1 program!  

But then I still put them to pixresizer for sizing.  HAHA.  That little 3 meg program, IMO, is the best for resizing.   Can take a 3meg jpg, strip out the exif and take it to 1024x768 and still be under 100k in size with no real noticeable reduction in quality.

So that's my review of Lightroom 3 from working with it for 3 hours.   It has me pretty sold.  If your stumped by Photoshop (or don't have over $1000.00 to buy it), don't like Capture NX (most don't) or are sick of jumping from program to program, give it a try.  Nothing to lose with the 30 day trial.

Cheers all!  Back to work ;-)


For those who don't read the comments.  Candis gave some wonder links to help with;


Jul 16, 2010

Two Things to Think About

I came across 2 different things today that had/have me thinking;

From Cynthia ;

There comes a time in life when you walk away from all the pointless drama with people that create it, surround yourself with people that make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus on the good...life is too short to be anything but HAPPY!

From Nat (this sounds good but practicing would be a long, yet rewarding, road);

Variation of Bodhisattva vow

May I be a guard for those who are protectorless,
A guide for those who journey on the road;
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.

May I be an isle for those who yearn for landfall,
And a lamp for those who long for light;
For those who need a resting place, a bed,
For all who need a servant, may I be a slave.

May I be the wishing jewel, the vase of plenty,
A word of power, and the supreme remedy.
May I be the trees of miracles,
And for every being, the abundant cow.

Like the great earth and the other elements,
Enduring as the sky itself endures,
For the boundless multitude of living beings,
May I be the ground and vessel of their life.

Thus, for every single thing that lives,
In number like the boundless reaches of the sky,
May I be their sustenance and nourishment
Until they pass beyond the bounds of suffering 

Jul 15, 2010

Welcome to "The Farm"

Good day all!   Welcome to my home.

I have affectionally nicknamed the place "The Farm".  You will hear me say, come on out to the farm!   I do like it here.  It's a bit warm in the heat but overall the breezes are great, the air is lovely, lots of natural light, horses everywhere and it's comfortable.  I'm very attuned to good and bad feelings and this house has a good feeling.  This has been a happy home.  It has it's warts - it's old, no range hood, no light over the sink, no real closets, plugs in the wrong place etc etc... but it has character and really feels good.

So enjoy the pics and descriptions.  I still have lots to do, you'll note there is little on the walls yet, working on it and the curtains will come with time.  The new windows just went in last week so still trying to get a handle on curtains - I want colour and bright!  No more dark living for me.  Enjoy;

Welcome to The Farm!  I rent the top and main floors.  Basement is currently unrented, and I hope it stays that way.   This way my subwoffer can work overtime. A lovely wrap around deck for relaxing in the evening and watching the sunrise in the morning.

Yard is big enough to store the Canoe and Kayak (to the right).  Horse fields behind and to the right.  Landlord mows the lawn for me, but I'm trying to get my old mower working and I'll do it myself.

The front room.  I found it to be too small for a living room so I sort of made it a "mud room"  The front door is to the right.  The bench is my working bench and beside it is the entrance to the kitchen.  I'm standing next to the stairs that go into the loft.   Going to put some nice light curtains in here to give it some colour and maybe extend the bookcases in the future.  Lots of light!

My living room.  Not very big, it's formerly a bedroom (with a 7' window).  One of the girls at work was nice enough to get me the free TV in the corner (thank you Cynthia L!), a futon to the right for snoozing and my stereo gear which is always blasting the XM radio!

The important side of the living room.  The computer and command station haha.  Lots of light!

Bathroom.  This used to be a bedroom that they made into a new bathroom for me.  The old pictures (later) show the original.  It's bigger then it looks, I'm standing next to the washer/dryer and a shelving unit.  Not huge but a nice comfortable size.

The kitchen.   A really nice size!   Not huge space for storage but more then enough for me.  The way to the mud room is to the right (around the white microwave).   The shelf doors are a bit wacked, I need to adjust them so they will stay closed, on my list of things to do.   New curtains in here in a week or so.

The kitchen from the other side.   My Bermuda friends should recognize a few things in this picture ;-)  Through the door is a spare bedroom.  It's a mess right now with a small deep freeze, a book shelf, filing cabinet and a bed.  Kids like it but I need to sort it out at some point.  There is also a closet (the former stairs to the basement) in front of the fridge that I use as a pantry.  The spare bedroom is also the only room with a closet! haha  But the room has no door - was thinking of hanging 60's style beads.  Anyone have any?  ;-)

Welcome to "The Loft"!   To me this upstairs made me fall in love with the place.   To the right is a steep staircase coming up.  The upstairs is an open L shape (you see in a sec).  The floors are old wooden planks.  It has so much charm and just feels so good up there.   It actually stays fairly cool with the air flow, but I do have an air conditioner for when it gets stupid hot.  Still have another dresser to go in for all the sweaters and stuff (in the boxes to the left).

Looking the other way down the loft.  Now excuse the mess, still trying to sort this mess out.   The boxes on the right are all BOOKS!   I need wayyyyy more book shelves.  You'll also notice the paddles hahaha, swapping from the kayak to the canoe results in paddles and stuff ending up in the bedroom ;-)   As I have no real closets, except for a walk-in downstairs (the former bathroom), all the stuff I don't wear gets hung up here.  You'll also note the AC unit is in the window, it's stupid hot today.

Looking down the L of the loft.  My storage area.  All my tools, boxes, camping gear, golf stuff and other odds and ends.  I really need to sort this mess out one of these days.

Well, that's pretty much it.  The Farm!  I also have a small shed out the back of the house.  Windows are broke and it needs a good cleaning but good enough to store the few things I don't want in the house.   Also mentioned is the walk-in closet downstairs.   We took the old bathroom and made it a walk-in and storage.  It's also a mess, filled with my wine bottles and my work clothes right now.   On my list of things to do ;-)

This was my first look at the house back a few months ago;

Now the living room.

The Kitchen - mud room to the right.  The grey stuff is leveling the floor.

The spare Bedroom

The mudroom

Mudroom, looking towards the stairs.

The original bathroom.  The hole is where the toilet would sit.  NASTY!   This is now a walk-in closet.

The loft, before my touches ;-)

The outside before the new windows, painted deck and all the crap laying around.

So whadda think?  Most people went running after seeing the original state of the house.  But I could see the gem.  The landlords - Shirley and Mike did a really good job and bent over backwards to accommodate me.   New floors, new windows, new bathroom, new kitchen (mostly), new paint throughout etc etc...  The wanted me in the house pretty bad and I don't think they have regretted it.  They are amazed how clean everything is and how quiet I am.

The only complaint they have made to me?  "Scott we've noticed that you haven't been walking around the farm taking pictures of the horses.  You have free access to everything you know."   hahaha, I have been meaning to get out and photograph the horses (there are 50 of them on the farm) but I just honestly haven't had the time with everything going on, but going to make a point of it here shortly.

Well I hope you have enjoyed a tour of The Farm.  Each of you is welcome to visit at any time.  There is always wine and beer available along with interesting chat while sitting on the deck.  Still need a BBQ and a few other odds and ends but we're surviving!