Sunrise and Moonrise plus Dunstan

I was up early this morning and ended up shooting both the sun and moon rise. I’d be curious to know how often the sun and moon rise in the same quadrant of the sky. It’s a bit hard to see in this first picture, but the moon is rising in the upper right corner (moonrise was at 4:21 a.m.1, sunrise wasn’t until 6:46 a.m.). I don’t often say this, but I’d recommend you click on the pictures to see the bigger version (click on the picture, then click on All Sizes, then click on the size you want to see).

With the two sunrise images, I also tried using a new filter technique. I was looking to mimic a graduated ND filter so I could get a nice range of color in the sky. Fortunately, Lightroom has such a graduated filter. I applied the filter, dropped the expose a bit, and all was good.

In case you’re wondering, the crop ratio for the sunrise photos is 2.39:1. I’ve always had an issue with cropping. How much is too much? How much is too little? How does cropping in post affect how I take pictures? I decided to take an engineering approach and setup several predefined crop ratios that I would work with. I typically just stick with the native aspect ratio of my camera, 3:2; I also sometimes use a 1:1 ratio. After working with videography in high school, I really liked using the widescreen ratios, so I also use 16:9 (typical HDTV ratio) and 2.39:1 (typical anamorphic ratio…aka Panavision). There are a couple of other ratios I use, but the aforementioned ratios are the ones I use most of the time.

With Dunstan, I was testing out some new photographic gear I got for my birthday, mainly my new umbrella and Cactus Wireless Flash trigger. I decided to try it out on the only subject I had available at the time, Dunstan, my cat.

Nikkor @ 18mm || 1/15 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || tripod

Nikkor @ 18mm || 1/100 || f/13.0 || ISO200 || tripod

Dunstan Melting Your Heart
Nikkor @ 70mm || 1/200 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || shoot through umbrella off-camera @ 1/8


Adding a Flickr Badge to

My friend Kelly has a question about adding a Flickr Badge to his hosted blog:

You are the only wordpress guru I know and I have a question.

How do I add a sample of pictures from Flickr on the sidebar of my blog? You do it and a few other people have done it both based off of like I am and independently hosted like you. Yours is the coolest, but I understand if I can’t do that with

What do you know guru?


You can’t use the same badge that I do because you need JavaScript and doesn’t allow JavaScript (it’s a security issue). However, there is a solution. Log into your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance > Widgets. Toward the bottom under “Available Widgets”, there should be a Flickr widget. Add it.

Scroll back up the page and under “Current Widgets” You should the Flickr widget. Click “Edit” and follow the instructions. Then click “Done” and “Save Changes.”

My Life as a Beach Ball

Sometimes, I feel as though my life is like a beach ball. I’m walking along the beach, between the crashing waves and the rocks, carrying my beach ball. Most of the time, I hold on the beach ball because I’m afraid of loosing it in the water.

Every once in a while, though, I’ll toss up my beach ball. The reasons vary. Sometimes out of frustration, sometimes to see what happens, sometimes because I want to. Whatever the reason, I really think I need to let go of my beach ball more often and trust that God (the prevailing Wind) keeps it out of the water. For the times that I do trust God, I’m usually pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

And for the times I’m not, fail with grace.

Countdown Timer v2.3.5

Hot off the press, Countdown Timer 2.3.5 is now available for consumption.

This is a small update that resolves a few issues, including:

  • Updated calculation routine to ensure that dates are accurately when “Months” are not displayed.
  • Updated readme.txt file to make some things more clear
  • Fixed small display issue in the administration menu

Also included are six new languages:
Latvian, Romanian, Russian, Danish, Lithuanian, and Serbian.

Read more or download version 2.3.5!

The Free Range Method

After talking with many great people, I think I finally have a plan.

There are really two parts to this story, however I’m going to tell them in reverse order.

On Monday, I was feeling quite anxious. I’ve been feeling rather anxious all semester and I wasn’t entirely sure why. I went to More on Mondays, which is a targeted “seminar” that The Annex arranges. This past Monday was specifically for graduating seniors and they brought Cindy Smith, a woman who specializes in transition. Cindy usually deals with missionaries, expatriates, and repatriation. But being a senior is not entirely different. She provided us with a slide that shows the major steps of transition and then walked us through them:
Click image to embiggen

This was really helpful. Just realizing that transition, especially on this scale, can be stressful and chaotic. This also helped me realize another thing: transitioning from college/Colorado to mission trip to work/Seattle would be way to much for me to handle. So I pretty much have nixed the idea of doing a mission trip over the summer, and I think it’s a good call.

Second, I talked with Jessica a couple weeks ago. She spent last fall traveling for about two months in Europe, which is great because that’s basically what I want to do – although I may go farther East than she did. I also filled in some important details of my trip. For me, it will probably cost about $4k-$5k, which is a lot, but I don’t think unreasonably so. I saved at least $1000 by using airline miles to fly from the US to Europe (assuming there isn’t some insane “fee” for booking said flight). Keeping cash on hand seems the way to go, which is what I remembered from my trip to Europe a couple years ago (I paid cash for everything…still have some left over, too).

In terms of getting around, Jessica said that using RyanAir (which I’d heard of) and easyJet (which I had not heard of) were probably better than getting a Eurail pass, although I don’t have to make that call just yet. In terms of sleeping accommodations, is the site to visit. I poked around it a bit and it seems really easy to use and should fit the bill just perfectly. The Lonely Planet series of books is what Jessica used, I currently have one on reserve at the library to see if I like the format and what they cover. If not, I may just end up using Rick Steves’. Or just wing it.

The plan, thus far, looks something like this: fly into and out of Europe via Paris or Frankfurt using airline miles. Spend several days in each city until I’m ready to move on to another city. Use HostelWorld to find places to sleep and meet new people. Theoretically find some other people travel with at a hostel and join them for a little while. Rinse and repeat. I’m calling this the free range method.

I would like to list out some places that I would like to visit, although I don’t want to attach a particular time or order in which to visit them. I think this will help move my journey along.

One of the other major things that I need to resolve is what I’m bringing. I would like to bring some photography equipment, but I’m not sure what and how much. There’s also the problem about what to do with all my photographs after I take them. Since I shoot in RAW, I need some special equipment and software to do any sort of editing, I can’t just upload them to Flickr. Do I want to just bring a stack of memory cards? I’m thinking about purchasing a netbook1 to bring with me. Costco is currently selling an Acer Aspire One Netbook with 8.9″ display, Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz, 1GB DDR2 RAM, 160GB HDD, no optical drive, and integrated webcam for $299.99. I could load it up with the most basic of RAW viewing tools so I could delete any photos I think are absolute crap and would never keep (e.g. blurry photos) and then upload the rest to a secure storage space online. This way I wouldn’t be completely SOL if the netbook was stolen, lost, broken (not that I’m planning on any of that happening).

Also, how much stuff do I really want to be taking? I want to be nimble.

If you’ve ever traveled abroad in this sort of fashion, what did you bring?

  1. A netbook is a small and cheap computer used primarily to access the Internet 

Update on Rain :: Volume II

Some updates on the photography book I’m working on:

Obviously January 31st has come and gone with no book, this means that the release date will be May 8th. I’ve also got an ISBN number for my birthday from my Uncle, so I’ll be joining the Big Boys™! I was actually thinking about this the other day, my desire to play with the big boys. I remember in 2nd grade when we had to write “books”, I tried really hard to make my books look like the real thing. I’d have the blank pages, and the about the author page, and one time I think I even had some sort of coupon you could send in. Some things never change.

Anyway, May 8th will be the date. I’m glad I’m waiting because I think I will be able to put some amazing pictures in that I take this semester. I’m also thinking about preordering some books and selling them at my graduation party.

There’s also a chance that the book may be more than 40 pages. Unfortunately, this will add $5 to the cost. The good news is that I get up to 40 more pages with that $5, so the book could theoretically end up being 80 pages (yikes).

I’ll leave you with this picture of Dan Fluharty that I took a couple weeks ago at The Feed. The Feed is this awesome event we do every other week where we eat dinner and then go roast s’mores outside. If you’ve ever tried to take pictures around a campfire, you probably noticed how they end up appearing white and the glow of the fire is completely lost. Well, I had this idea to use a CTO (Color Temperature Orange) gel on my flash. It’s really just an orange sheet of translucent plastic that makes the light look like a tungsten lamp (which is 3200K…daylight is 5600K-ish). As it turns out, CTO is pretty close to the color of a campfire. The net effect is that I can now use my flash to supplement the light of the campfire. Don’t forget that the goal isn’t to blast the subject, just provide some fill light. I thought the pictures turned out pretty well for this experiment:

Nikkor 50mm || 1/60 || f/1.8 || ISO1600

As always, check out the rest of the photos on Flickr: The Feed

Happy Unix Day

In many computer system, time is kept track as number of seconds since midnight on January 1, 1970 (also know as epoch). This time format originated with the Unix system, which is why it’s often referred to as Unix time. At this very instant, the number of seconds since epoch is exactly 1,234,567,890. Happy Unix Day.

I think the next time we’ll probably celebrate is Monday, January 18th, 2038 at 20:14:07 hours. This is when we run into the real millennium bug. Why? Unix time is a 32-bit signed integer (it’s probably a signed integer so that dates before 1 Jan 1970 can be expressed). So, a signed 32-bit number has the range of -231 to +231-1…which is -2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647 for everyone who doesn’t want to break out their calculators.

2,147,483,647 turns out to be Monday, January 18th, 2038 at 20:14:07 hours (mountain time). What happens after this? The computer will think it’s Friday, December 13th, 1901 at 12:45:52 hours. Why does it think this? Because computers still count in binary. The important thing to know about a signed binary number is that the sign bit (i.e. how the computer knows if a number is negative or positive, 0 = positive and 1 = negative) is the most significant bit (i.e. the left-most bit). So, if we have a 32-bit signed number, that really means 31-bits worth of numbers, plus a bit for the plus or negative. Thus, the largest positive number we can have is:
0111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111

…which is 2,147,483,647 in decimal (bonus points if you figure out the hex value of that by converting in your head).

If you add “1” to that binary number, it rolls over to:
1000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000

…which you might think is negative zero. Of course, you would then ask yourself what’s the difference between negative zero and positive zero. And the answer is: there is none (at least none that most computer programmers care about). So instead of having two versions of zero, some genius decided to have only one version of zero (he kept the positive version), and to make extend the negative range of numbers by one. Thus, two’s compliment was invented and every signed-integer format uses two’s compliment.

To figure out the actual value of a negative number (1000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000, in our case), you just subtract one and then flip all the bits (all the 1’s become 0’s and all the 0’s become 1’s) and read the resulting value as an unsigned value

Start with: 1000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000
Subtract 1 to get: 0111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111 1111
Flip all the bits to get: 1000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000
Which is: 2,147,483,648 in decimal
But remember we started out with a negative number, so we have to add the negative sign back in to get: -2,147,483,648

And -2,147,483,648 is Friday, December 13th, 1901 at 12:45:52 hours in Unix time.

For what it’s worth, I was really only planning on saying “Happy Unix Day” but I got carried away. Sorry about that.



I finished watching the last of the Star Trek: Voyager episodes last week, which makes me 87% complete. Only 98 episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise and then the new movie and I’ll be done. The last episode of Voyager, Endgame, was decent. I still like “All Good Things…” (from TNG) better. However, I think that Endgame is a pretty good metaphor for my life.

I’ve been out here in Colorado for the last five years on a journey of my own, lost in the Delta quadrant you might say. The end is now clearly in sight, and I’m wondering if maybe it’s the journey that matters:

“I think it’s safe to say no one on this crew has been more… obsessed with getting home than I have. But when I think about everything we’ve been through together, maybe it’s not the destination that matters. Maybe it’s the journey, and if that journey takes a little longer, so we can do something we all believe in. I can’t think of any place I’d rather be, or any people I’d rather be with.”
– Harry Kim, to the Voyager senior staff

Campus Benefactors: Simon Guggenheim

My latest article for The Oredigger is up. It’s been several years since I wrote a bona fide article for The Oredigger.

My article this week is about Simon Guggenheim, a campus benefactor. One of the oldest buildings on campus is named after him: Guggenheim Hall.


After becoming a multimillionaire, Guggenheim moved north to Denver in 1892 and married Olga Hirsh on November 24, 1898, at the iconic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. To celebrate their marriage, the Guggenheims provided a Thanksgiving dinner to 5,000 poor Manhattan children.

I was also able to get some pretty good photos too, which is the real reason I took the article. I tried a couple of new techniques with balancing the light. First, I adjusted the exposure to just barely clip the highlights (pure white pixels). Then I adjusted the blacks to just barely clip the shadows (pure black pixels). This, in theory, maximizes the contrast ratio of the photo; which is important because photos already have quite a bit less contrast than the human eye does, so we best make use of all of it. Next, I tweaked the fill light to bring out the body of the photo. Some of the photos almost ended up looking sort of HDR-ish I think.

Simon Guggenheim - Color
Nikkor @ 18mm || 1/60 || f/11 || ISO200

Simon Guggenheim
Nikkor @ 18mm || 1/500 || f/3.5 || ISO200

Simon Guggenheim - Color
Nikkor @ 38mm || 1/80 || f/4.2 || ISO200

As always, there are some more pictures over on Flickr: Guggenheim Hall set

Also don’t forget to read the article: Campus Benefactors: Simon Guggenheim