Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas thoughts

It is Christmas morning and all the presents have been opened. The living room resembles a house ransacked with gifts and bright paper wrappings strewn about. The kids are gone to text or call their friends about their gifts. I am left alone in the midst of chaos. It is peaceful.

Each Christmas is different. Time changes everything. The kids are older now, Hannah is twenty two and Will is sixteen. The innocence of youth is long gone. The excitement of youth is replaced by a more mature approach to the mysteries of life. The peels of joy that once accompanied the unwrapping of each gift is now a studied and muted "thank you". And left alone with my thoughts, what I see now on a snowy Christmas morning is solitude. My children have grown. Their interests have moved on from family to friends. Still, love and happiness surround me. I keep this moment for myself.

Merry Christmas to one and all. I like Sara McLaughlin better, but Joni Mitchell is still classic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

chris brogan

I came across Chris Brogan's site today and wanted to make a mental note to myself to check it out. Who is Chris Brogan? The site is put together well and has some good advice. I will come back to it in time.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Okay, I get it. We are all tired of having to learn something new. Why can't we just stick with the tried and true? The good old days were good enough, why change a gosh darn thing? To this, I say, "Hog wash!"

In Shakespeare's King Lear, the king says, "Nothing can come of nothing" to his daughter Cordelia, meaning that as long as she says nothing to flatter him, she will receive nothing from him. Later, Lear nearly repeats the line, saying, "Nothing can be made out of nothing" (Act 1.1 and Act 1.4 respectively).

One can get a lot out of Shakespeare. King Lear is a play about a foolish old man, who having created a kingdom worth possessing, wants to give it all away and retire to the life of a thoughtful recluse. So, having three daughters, King Lear gives away his kingdom to his "worthy" daughters in the hopes that they will continue his wise rule. All he asks is the comfort of his children in his dotage. The third daughter, Cordelia, refuses to be drawn into the game of praising an old fool, gets nothing. But, there is now fool like an old fool. Lear does not understand that the fidelity of Cordelia is the true test of filial devotion. The empty promises of his other two daughters soon turn to scorn and Lear is left without a kingdom, without respect and without the love of his daughters, excepting Cordelia, who he has dispossessed.

Yesterday, I asked my daughter for help. She told me to do it myself. It is not bad advice. Still, I could not feel a little bit like King Lear, helpless and alone in the world. My sister keep telling me she doesn't want to learn anything new. My wife tells me I am never satisfied with anything. My son tells me that I am the old fool that King Lear became.

So be it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the carpenters

Forty years after siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter signed with A&M Records, Richard Carpenter releases a 40th-anniversary compilation CD, Carpenters: 40/40. Listen to Terri Gross and Richard Carpenter on the Fresh Air podcast - Richard's take on the duo's rise to fame. Hats off to Burt Bacharoff and Herb Alpert, but the Carpenters were their own gig. If you like music, and how it is made, this is a must listen to. Learn about dubbing, four part harmonies and melodies.

Can you hear the difference?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

old barn redux

This is the same old barn where the hue and saturation have been increased. The brightness was kept the same. The effect is again done with the filters tool in fireworks or photoshop.

There is a good tutorial on hue and saturation at

Here is a second photograph of a railroad track heading east toward Emporia. Again, I used the filter tool to adjust the brightness and contrast of the whole image. The washed out sky is then selected with the magic wand and again with the filter select hue, saturation, and brightness. I took the brightness all the way down to zero to create a black sky.

an old barn west of emporia

While waiting for my son while he played in a soccer tournament, I shot this photo of an old barn just west of Emporia, off highway 50. The day was cool and overcast.

This is the change that takes place by adding filters to an image. In Fireworks or Photoshop select filter and then choose brightness and contrast. First, I applied the brightness and contrast to the entire image. I lowered the brightness and raised the contrast. The grass became greener, the barn and trees darker. I used the magic wand to select the sky and applied the filter to the selected area.

The second photograph is without life.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

off the beaten path

So, what is this photograph all about?

Well, if you live in the Flint Hills of Kansas, you will recognize the image as the Chase County Courthouse, built in 1873, which is located in Cottonwood Falls, south of Emporia, north of Wichita, on Highway 77, almost dead center in the Flint Hills and near nothing else.

I took the photograph Saturday, late afternoon, while returning from Emporia to Wichita with my son Will. The courthouse is the oldest courthouse in Kansas in continuous use. It is a great example of a French Renaissance style building. Coincidentally, it looks like my grandmother's house in Graffigny-Chemin.

But, I digress. The photograph is altered, just look at the trees on the right of the courthouse. Use the magic wand to delete the sky. Then, use the magic wand again in the tree branches of the top layer to delete additional pixels to improve the image. I have added in a new sky with a new layer which is below the courthouse using fireworks. Not perfect, but good enough.

To do this, you need to create a new layer in fireworks. The process is easier in photoshop, but I am working in fireworks, so deal with it. There are two images. The top layer is the courthouse and the second image and second layer is the sky background. In the top layer, the courthouse, use the use the magic wand tool to highlight the grey sky. Delete or clear the selected pixels. Now, go to the second image and copy this image into a second layer. If you have the courthouse as the top layer you are done.

I still need to work on the trees.