Let’s play baseball

We were driving in the car yesterday talking about T-ball and baseball when Luke piped up from his car seat in the back row, “Um, daddy? I have a good idea!  Mark can be the catcher, mommy can be the pitcher, I can be the batter, and you can be the vampire.”

Mark said, “LuuuUUKke! There’s no vampire in baseball.”

Dinner with the Horns…

On Sunday night, we were expecting to have our weekly dinner with the Greens at our house.  Holly and Shannon are both on the RAW food band-wagon whenever they can be and so Holly wanted to make a nice RAW food meal for Shannon with home made raw chips, salsa, beans, guacamole sauce, etc.  She also was going to put out the normal taco salad meal for the rest of us (with chips instead of salad).

She worked for a number of hours on Saturday and then also Sunday morning and made a huge mess.  She and I cleaned up most of it Sunday after the ball games.

And it was all working out fine for her until the Greens called in sick and canceled so Holly called up Margaret and asked if she’d started dinner yet.  They eat early often and were already underway so Margaret suggested she invite Ron and Jacquelyn Horn–which is a great couple for us to have over because Ron and I have cameras and computers in common and Holly and Jacque both love the benefits of RAW food.

The meal was great.  Holly did a wonderful job.  But I should also warn you that making RAW food is really messy compared to opening up a package of dried pasta and boiling it along with opening a can of tomato sauce and a few packages of greens.

While we were enjoying a post meal chat session.  Mark and Luke went off to play.  At one point, I went by the Utility room to get some water and noticed them in there quietly doing something, but didn’t bother to investigate because they seemed to be getting along fine.

After about ten minutes of quietude, Mark came into the living room with a big fist full of hair in one hand, tiny pair of scissors in the other hand and a big smile on his face.  Luke was trailing close behind with a big grin on his face.  Mark said, “I cut Luke’s hair, ” and stepped to the side so we could get a good look at Luke.

Luke smiled and waited for a response.  He looked like he’d got run over by a lawn mower that could only cut hair.

Needless to say, We were all quite shocked.

I was a bit sad, “Luke, your curls were so cute!”

Luke was not put off or repentant, “But daddy, I wanted to look like Kyle Fossman.” Kyle, the best basketball player the town has seen in many years recently shaved all the hair off his head and Luke just got back from the ball games this weekend.

I said, “But Luke, your curls were just starting to get real long and curly again after the summer trim.”

Luke was adamant, “But I don’t like it when the hair gets down in my face when I’m taking a bath.”

I said, ” But Luke, when people see you, what they often say is, ‘Look at those curls!’ They really think the curls are cute.”

He smiled, tilted his head to the side and said, “Besides, I wanted to look like Daddy too.”  We all laughed.

Well, what can I say to that. I mean really:  If my own son wants to propose that he wants to look like his daddy, I suppose I can accept that argument.

How to take Group (or Team) photos.

These are my notes and thoughts on how to take group photos.  I’ve done this a lot for the Newspaper. 

Each year the Dolphin swim club gets a shot of the whole group for their web site and for the booster ad in the Chilkat Valley News, and sometimes I get to shoot it.  Last year, I think Ron shot it.  I like it when they are in the pool with their goggles on looking tough.    I really like this year’s shot.  I like Gabby’s smile and wave right in the middle of the front.  It really captures the moment and makes me smile.

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Partially more obscuredpartial ubstruction

The bane of the group photographer

is that  individual that likes to lurk behind others. This partial obstruction to the left is pretty bad.  The dude to the right is almost totally obscured.

This last example, below, has a person that is almost totally obscured, as she is placed twixt two girls that are standing arm-in-arm, plus she is not turned toward the camera.Partial to complete obstruction  GRRRrrrrr.

Any time a group is large, it’s tough to get a good shot of everyone because inevitably someone stands behind another person with just their eyes pointing out.  I hate that when someone assumes that their face is visible just because they can see the camera.  Once the group is assembled, the prime requirement is that everyone’s face is visible. .  Explain to them how to find a window for them to look through between two other people that are in front of them. 

Put them in uniform!

Of course it’s best if the group is clearly identified by the picture alone, so the group should be properly attired: in their Sunday best, if they go to church, in somewhat consistent clothes if they’re a family (like jeans and white shirts, they should avoid clashing colors or styles if at all possible), teams should be in uniform and be in a location that they gather, like the basketball court or football field, and they need to look their best so that they are like how they look in the newspaper.  If the group is a basketball team, they should have with a basketball prominently placed in the photo, as seen below.  Even if it’s clear what type of team is in the photo, years later, people will be thankful that the town and year were added to the photo.  A serious scrapbook person or family researcher will even appreciate the individual names in years to come.

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Arranging People (lines, rows, triangle, pyramid, or circle):

Once everyone is dressed properly and on location, then a suitable arrangement of the people is needed.  Often its’ good to get a variety of poses, one for each application: the traditional shot is the money shot, it’s the one that’s going to go on the trophies or in the newspaper, so that’s the FIRST shot to get, then if time allows, try get an alternate shot that’s creative, like putting then in a circle and shooting up at them from the floor or down at them from a ladder, or anything else weird like just acting goofy.  If it’s a stunt team, then they might be in a cool pose. 

Watch the clock

It’s important to keep time restraints in consideration, if the group is a team, and the shot is done during practice, then be as quick as possible, be ready when the coach says it’s time to take the shot, and make the shoot go quickly.

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Distractions, distractions, distractions… 

In the photo above, the distracting background is often best dealt with using a ladder to get up above the group.  Also, the girl on the front had her legs askew, which tends to distract the eye.  When you want a certain body position from the subject, often it is best to demonstrate the proper pose, rather than to explain it, as there is often too much to explain.  Tell them to “sit like this… ” and then show them how.  Notice the girls on the front left spread their fingers out in a claw-like manner and this is distracting.  As a rule, fingers are distracting in a photo and their appearance should be minimized.  In a traditional pose, the legs should be pointed vertically if possible.

A note on camera settings.

I shoot with Canon XXD cameras (a 20D and a 40D).  It’s important to get as much detail as possible on each face, so a Low ISO is necessary (ISO 400 and below is great when using a modern DSLR), this often means a flash will be used, if the group is large, then a smaller aperture will be nice to use to maximize depth of field, and of course, it would be best if the shutter speed were at least 1/60th or so to stop most subject blur and minimize the effect of camera shake.

What about Tripods?

Concerning tripods and vantage points, Image stabilization is preferred over a tripod for stability due to it’s mobility, but will not be sufficient in most cases when the photographer is going to be in the photograph due to the effect of gravity.  Of course if the photographer is going to be in the shot, a nice tripod that extends quite high is real nice to have, alternately if the camera can be placed and stabilized on a high point, like a car, that can work out fine, or sometimes the group can be placed at the base of a hill with the camera up a little higher. 

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Concerning distortion

There is less distortion in the photo if the photographer is further away than if the photographer is close to the group.  In the group shot above (taken by Chris Bowman, who did a fine job), notice how the guys in the back have really small heads compared to the girls in the front.  This is the distortion I mean.  To avoid this, outside, bring a long telephoto, arrange the group, then scoot back further to minimize the distortion.  Indoors, often the room constraints make it impossible to stand a reasonable distance away from the group and so the picture will have people that are very large near the front of the photo and very small if they are in the back of the photo.  Many non photographers will notice something is not quite perfect about the photo, but will not be able to pin down exactly what is bothering them unless it is pointed out.  Nevertheless, scoot back to shoot the photo whenever possible  In this photo, Chris moved out of the room and into the band director’s office as far as he could.

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A final word about Framing the image:

It’s important to know the layout of the final photo.  Is it going to be on a vertical page and does the editor want it to be a vertical or a horizontal.  Shoot both formats if you’re not sure.  If the primary purpose of the photo is to make 8x10s for family then care must be taken to frame the shot properly. In the photo above, it is difficult to crop the photo as an 8×10 due to the lack of empty space on the sides.  With the 8×10 format, an inch is cut off the sides of each photo when shooting with a traditional DSLR or SLR which has a native form factor of 8×12.  It’s difficult to find frames for 8×12 photos at discount centers, so it’s recommended that the photographer leave additional space along the long ends of the frame: to the sides when shooting in landscape mode (horizontally), and on the top and bottom, when shooting in portrait mode (vertically).  Sometimes the effects of a poorly framed shot can be mitigated by adding additional space at the top  and bottom of the frame, as seen below.  The neutral gray color was selected using the color picker on the carpet in photoshop.  If Chris had had more time, he would have used the clone tool to clone the carpet on the space below–the lights above would have been tougher to clone.

Choir

Wrestling.

One of the reasons I haven’t posted much lately is that I’ve been staying until 6 PM at school to work out with the wrestling team.  Having not wrestled in over 20 years, I’m a bit out of shape and am quite sore and tired most of the time.  Thankfully, I don’t have to go on a dehydration diet like I did back in the day, but regretably, I’m about 35 pounds heavier now (167 lbs in the mornings) than I was back in HS–and not all of it’s muscle. 

At first it was my neck that was taking a severe beating, but gradually my whole body got sore.  I think it’s good for me though.

GoDaddy dot com

I saw this video today from www.Godaddy.com, the company that I host my domain at, and really thought it was funny.  It requires a bit of bandwidth. To be honest, it’s a bit out on the edge, as far as parodies go.  It’s making fun of the 3rd circuit court’s decision to nix the fine CBS got for the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction a few years back.  Perhaps I should not leave it up.

Let me know if you think it’s funny, or just inappropriate.  If you want you can skip along to about half way through the video and save some time.

Here’s a link, incase the video does not imbed.

CLICK HERE!!

I thought it was pretty funny.

Here’s a touching and inspiring story…

This is not a story from me.  It’s out on the web, you can check it out: Team Hoyt.

A son asked his father, ‘Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?’ The father who, despite having a heart condition, says ‘Yes’. They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to join other marathons, the father always
saying ‘Yes’ to his son’s request of going through the race together.

One day, the son asked his father, ‘Dad, let’s join the Ironman together.’  To which, his father said ‘Yes’ too.

For those who didn’t know, Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island. Father and son went on to complete the race together.

View this and make sure your sound is on!

http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=8cf08faca5dd9ea45513 

Here’s another video that’s more of a news story.

TeeBall on Saturdays!

There’s only one week left of Teeball: there’s a Wednesday practice, then a double header on Saturday.

IMG_8251 (2)cToday we went to Teeball and had a great time.  Mark is really coming along, in terms of  enjoying the game, hitting the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball, and understanding the game.

When he batted, I had him stand back from the base in such a way that he’d hit the ball down the third base line.  You can see he’s a bit back towards the backstop.  As you can probably tell from the green fleece he’s wearing, it was a bit chilly and even a bit rainy this morning, plus we don’t have any grass on the field–but that keeps the bugs down too.

IMG_8303 (2)cToday, we only had four of the teammates show up for the game, so we had five people total on the Reds team.  Almost all of our experienced kids were not there. This was both good and bad, because everyone got to play in an interesting position on the field, and everyone also got to bat three times because we had three innings, and also because we didn’t really field that well, compared with when we have our experienced kids there.

Mark’s favorite thing about Teeball is running the bases at full speed. He knows where all the bases are, how he can get out, where to run, when to stop (when we tell him to) and that it’s not a terrible thing to get ‘out,’ it’s just something that happens to everyone from time to time. 

He does best if I stand right next to him and encourage him when he’s fielding and such.

IMG_8342c Behind the backstop, there’s a huge sand pile that the little siblings like to play on when the older ones are playing ball.  I need to take some pictures of that hill.  Another thing Luke likes to do is pick flowers.  I think that’s pretty cute for a three year old.

One thing you might notice from this picture is that Luke is a ‘lefty’  He’s been that way from the beginning: always preferring his left hand over his right.  He eats left handed, throws, catches, hits, and high fives with it. 

IMG_8278 (2) Mark wasn’t that way.  When Mark was really young, he never showed a preference for one hand over the other. Then when he got to be about four years old.  Some kids don’t differentiate their hands until, say 3rd grade–that can be a problem, especially when they are writing.  It’s good for the brain to settle in to dedicated rolls early so further development can take place.

Looking at these pictures today reminds me that I need to buy those pictures from Steve Vick that he took earlier in the season.  I really liked the one of Mark Daniel and I at home plate where I was pointing to show him where first base was.

Looking at this last picture of Mark, one thing you might not have noticed is the out-of-focus area in the photo.  To me it has a nice quality to it and in photography lingo, that’s called Bokeh.  Bokeh is a Japanese word which has to do with the quality of the image where the image is out of focus.  For this shot, I was at 400mm on my 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, ISO 400, f/8, 1/500.  These are great settings for stopping action and getting pretty sharp photos of a kids baseball game.  To really stop the threads on the ball and catch the dust in the air in a major league game on a double play with the runner sliding into second base, you’d need a higher shutter speed, say 1/1500 or so, I’d imagine.  but 1/500 is just fine for capturing a teeball game.