Surprise! It’s Snow!

We got a surprise snow on Monday that caught most people off guard. I think it only snowed an inch or so in the Denver area, but we got at least eight inches up here in the foothills (which is at least 500 feet higher in elevation).

Plowing the Snow
Nikkor 50mm || 0.4 seconds || f/4.5 || ISO1600 || tripod

All That Snow
Nikkor 50mm || 0.8 seconds || f/4.5 || ISO1600 || tripod

I tried a couple of new editing techniques on these sets of photos. The first involves how I adjust the exposure and black settings to maximize the contrast ratio. Ideally, there is at least one black pixel and and least one white pixel. I also tried using a new workflow process where I export from Lightroom into Photoshop and then use Smart Sharpen in Photoshop to, uh, sharpen the image smartly.

See the rest: Surprise Snow

Also, don’t forget that Andrew Ferguson Photography will go live tomorrow. Check back here around noon (Mountain time) the post.

25 Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

  1. I’m an introvert.
  2. I want to go into space (and visit the Moon, specifically), but probably won’t get the chance.
  3. I plan on getting my EMT.
  4. I plan on getting my pilots license.
  5. I plan on getting a masters degree (although I don’t know in what).
  6. I plan on getting my professional engineers license.
  7. My blood type is O+
  8. I have a website: https://andrewferguson.net
  9. I’ve been consistently blogging since 2003 (2099 posts and counting).
  10. I listen to NPR podcasts when I go to bed (Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me; This American Life; Radio Lab; Car Talk).
  11. My goal is see every single Star Trek TV show and movie, in order, before I graduate college.
  12. So far, I’ve watched 661 Star Trek episodes and movies, I have 116 left.
  13. I enjoy programming, especially in PHP.
  14. I enjoy taking photographs and I want to expand.
  15. I’m thinking about going on a mission trip this summer.
  16. I’ll be working in Seattle for Boeing after I graduate.
  17. Out of all five of the years I’ve been in college, I serously think this year has been my favorite.
  18. I think it’s been my favorite because of the amazing community I found at MERGE and The Annex.
  19. I’m worried about going back to Seattle.
  20. I used to drink rediculous amounts of Dr Pepper. Now I try to limit myself.
  21. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety.
  22. I used to have lots of panic attacks in school, all the way into high school. I do pretty well now.
  23. I turn 23 on Saturday.
  24. I share the exact same birthday as my mom…only 30 years later.
  25. I think it’s harder to be a Christian and an American than it is to be a Christian and a scientist. I struggle every day.
  26. I can’t put my contacts in using two hands, I have to do it with one hand. I blame my dad for this.

Note: I’m posting this on my blog, which is then sucked into my Facebook Notes.

The Birth of a Site: Andrew Ferguson Photography

In a few short days, I’ll be releasing the next step in my photographic endeavor: my official photography website. I’ve spent about two weeks working on the site, which, for me, is quite a bit of time. But I wanted to get it right. Every one who I’ve showed it to thus far has said that it look very professional. I thought I would spend some time discussing how I went about developing the site, in the hopes that it might be interesting to someone.

For a while now, I’ve maintained a Portfolio Set on Flickr. Recently, I used some slick software from Airtight Interactive called SimpleViewer, combined with a PHP script called FlickrViewer (which makes API calls to Flickr and creates the necessary files SimpleViewer needs), to launch a cleaner version of my portfolio: https://andrewferguson.net/portfolio/.

After my Photographer for Hire post from a couple weeks ago, I wanted an even slicker site that was dedicated (in part) to the type of photography I was targeting (i.e. portraits). Originally, my first though was to use this awesome WordPress theme that I’d recently heard about: Monotone. In a nutshell, the color of the site is based on the first picture of the blog post. There were a couple of issues with this method, however. First, the theme was really only designed to handle one image per a blog post (seriously, all the other images were stripped out). Second, I didn’t want to divide my blogging between two sites. Third, I had to manually upload photos that I had already put on Flickr; I wanted to be able to just pull them in from Flickr. So after about a week of messing around, I decided to abandon the WordPress-based site and go home brew.

I already had SimpleViewer working with Flickr, and I knew that Airtight Interactive had another similar program called AutoViewer. So I decided to use that as my starting point. I took my current portfolio viewer…
inspiration
…and designed a main page around that. I got out a piece of paper and drew the following:

boxes

Three boxes. But what about content? I took a quick trip around some of my favorite photo sites and wrote down all the links they had, then dutifully narrowed them down to three categories: photos, about me, and cost. I decided that I’d divide photos into portraits and landscapes (although really it should be “pictures of people” and “pictures not of people”). From three boxes to four boxes: Portraits, Landscapes, Rates, Andrew.

Using Photoshop, I mocked up the following:
afdi

I really wish I had screenshots of all the interim steps. Instead, you’ll just have to trust me that this wasn’t a straight forward processes.

With a design in the bag, I started the process of converting image to code. First I coded the main page. It’s all done with DIV tags and CSS. It was really just a matter of specifying the size of each element box and then making the whole thing float in the middle with some margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; magic. I created a couple of PHP functions to distribute common code elements, primarily the XHTML above and below the BODY tag. And that was pretty much it.

From that, I coded the rates and about me page. The portraits and landscape page was pretty much already in the bag, I just had to tweak the FlickrViewer code (which took longer then anticipated and involved a pretty heavy rewrite of the existing code, but that’s another story). I showed it to some people and got some feedback, incessantly tweaking every little detail until I finally had something that I thought was good:
afdi-final
I think it’s rather remarkable how close the final design is to the mockup. I’ve tested it across several browsers and everything seems to be in order, including fully XHTML 1.0 Transitional and CSS compliant.

Google Analytics are in place to track my stats; and using Google Webmaster Tools I’ve made the powers that be aware of my site. I also took the opportunity to upload a sitemap, which I generated using an online sitemap generator.

There’s just a couple more things to wrap up before I officially launch, so check back on Saturday for the official launch of Andrew Ferguson Photography.

Questions?

The Quest Continues

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

I’m thinking that maybe I should start making weekly updates on my summer plans. To follow up on last weeks report, I’ve prayed and thought long and hard about Messenger and Engineering Ministries International and I don’t think those would be good matches for me.

Messenger is really a community-based missions trip and I think me not returning to Colorado next year is not inline with that goal. eMi seems to be more of planning organization rather then a doing organization. I’ve been planning for the last five years, I’m ready to do.

I’ve talked to a couple friends I have in Switzerland (Remo and Günther) and Germany (Philip). One thing that I’ve started to look into is using RyanAir and Eurail to travel. RyanAir would be nice and fast, but I think is ultimately unfeasible to use on a regular basis because they only fly into cities with airports. Once I get to a city, I’d need to find some mode of transportation if I wanted to explore anything more than walking distance.

Eurail could be the ticket, though. I could get the 21 country pass and travel to just about any city of a decent size. Sure, it would be slower, but the sheer number of cities available make it completely worthwhile. Besides, Europe is that big. $1039 buys me two months of travel. I’d also probably consider 15 days of travel in two months for $709. If I did get a Eurail pass, I would probably just visit a lot of cities, spending as many days I wanted in each city (sleeping at a hostel, presumably), and then catching the next train to where ever. To this end, I have a phone call with Jessica planned tonight to

But I haven’t given up on a mission trip yet! My search is progressing and I talked with Lance who suggested an organization called Serving in Ministry. It looks like SIM has some really interesting short term mission trips, including a photography/videographer position; I’ll definitely be checking them out some more.

Flatiron’s Community Church may also be planning on sending a college group to Afghanistan over the summer. I emailed Ron, the Director of Missions at FCC to see what the deal on that will be.

I did finally call the Department of State today to see if there were any special travel restrictions that I needed to observe. They didn’t seem to have a list, so I’ll probably just keep an eye on the Entry/Exit requirements for countries I intend to visit. (Side rant: Why doesn’t travel.state.gov work with Google Chrome?)

What To Do? Where To Go?

I’m still no closer to finding out where to travel or what to do for my summer travel.

Here’s the my thought progression so far:
Initially, I wanted to study abroad. I had narrowed it down to two universities in the UK before I decided that doing so would set me back another semester. If it was going to take an extra semester, I might as well just travel after I was done with college. So I decided that after I graduated, I would return to Western Europe (UK, Italy, France, Germany, etc) and spend a summer there.

I was bored one night and procrastinating homework. I started looking at my United award miles and where I could fly and how many miles it would take. Two important things popped out at me. First, roundtrip travel from the US to Europe is 55k miles; second, a round-the-world ticket is only 200k miles and provides a maximum of 5 stopovers and “is defined as one Pacific and one Atlantic crossing; you must use legal routings as defined in pricing rules and continue travel in the same direction.” (Source: http://www.united.com/page/article/0,8566,1141,00.html?navSource=RelatedLinks)

So now I have this idea to travel around the world in 90 days.

After talking with friends who have spent time visiting just one country, it seems pretty clear that traveling around the world in only two-to-three months is a bit ridiculous. But I still like the allure of a round-the-world ticket, so I compromise and decide that I’ll only visit countries in the northern hemisphere.

Well, after more thought and some talking, this still seems like too much. So now I’m back to just visiting a region. Currently thinking about Eastern Europe plus a couple of Western Europe countries that I missed last time I was across the pond (Germany and France, for starters).

Another idea that has also been floating around my head is to go on a mission trip. Practically everyone I’ve talked to says I must go on a mission trip, and I think there’s merit to their claim.

I spent some time looking at mission work, especially mission work that could utilize my skills as an engineer, such as through Engineering Ministries International. In talking with friends (and on my own), I’ve also been pointed in the direction of Adventures in Mission (including The World Race), Pioneers’ The Edge, and even Messenger.

There’s still some part of me that would just like to get a ticket into Frankfurt and see what happens.

I think I will need to have something to do while I’m traveling, some sort of goal or mission, which makes mission work appealing. At the same time, I could also see being someones assistant. Anyone looking for an assistant to travel the world with them?

Fitting

I think it’s somewhat fitting that the day after we celebrate a great black man with a dream, we celebrate the day that his dream takes another great step forward.

Source: http://www.africawithin.com/mlking/mlking.htm
Source: http://www.africawithin.com/mlking/mlking.htm
Source: http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2502
Source: http://www.getreligion.org/?p=2502

Photographer for Hire

Background: Another couple friends of mine got engaged this past weekend. I was talking with them at Old Chicago’s (which is where we go after Merge) and they were wondering if I’d shoot their Engagement photos. I said yes, explaining to them how I’ve been wanting to do more portrait photography this year. I was eventually planning on blogging about, but I guess I just do it now.

I feel that I’m pretty much at a place where I feel confident offering my photography skills for hire. I’m also looking for a new challenge in photography, mainly taking pictures of people.

I have not set rates yet, but I guarantee that they will be very competitive. I would be interested in shooting engagement photos and general portraits. I would not like to shoot birthday parties or other real-time events for the time being, this means that I probably would not shooting weddings, although feel free to ask.

I currently have Fridays and weekends available, so drop me a line if you’re even interested (my contact information is always on the front of my blog). I’m definitely up for negotiating prices, so you really have nothing to lose.

To give you an idea of what I’m thinking about offering:

  • Taking 100-200 photos over a couple hours on location(s)
  • Delivering 25-75 processed photos in JPEG (possibly DNG if requested)
  • Physical prints would be extra, but affordable with minimal markup
  • Option for producing a photobook
  • Online photo gallery (probably through Flickr, maybe through another source)

Thoughts?

Portfolio:

WordCamp Denver

I'm Attending WordCamp Denver 2009

I just submitted my registration and I’ll be attending WordCamp Denver, “a conference created for enthusiasts, users, developers, designers, and fans of WordPress1.”

Critical Details:
From denver.wordcamp.org:

When: Saturday, February 28, 2009
Where: Denver Art Museum, 100 W 14th Avenue Pkwy, Denver, CO 80204
How: (much) $20, click to register for WordCamp Denver 2009
Who: Local bloggers, web developers, publishers, designers, internet and marketing enthusiasts, companies interested in blogging and/or building on WordPress.

If you would like to attend, visit: http://denver.wordcamp.org/

Yes, I’m super nerdy. Deal with it.


  1. WordPress is what I use to power this blog 

What To Talk About?

On February 18th at 6pm, Ignite Boulder will be holding their third night of presentations. The idea is simple, I have 20 slides that automatically advance after 15 seconds and I can use them to talk about whatever I want.

Anything.

So, if you could hear me talk for just five short minutes, what would you like me to talk about? The topic can either be funny or serious. The current leading ideas, that other people are presenting on so I can’t do but am including them so you have an idea of what the types of topics could be, include:

I have currently made my stand with “Installing WordPress“, which will cover how to install WordPress 2.7, including setting up your mySQL database, how to download and install plugins and themes. I’m currently ranked 20th and only the top six vote getters will present. But, with your help, I think I can do better!

So, what what you like to hear me talk about?