Thursday, July 31, 2008

How I Did It

Cari spent the past eight months drying out five roses tied to a hanger. When they were nice a crispy we put them in a vase and I stole them from her to take some pictures.

I wanted to take some time and try a few different things with light to see what I could get.
Here's the setup I worked with.

I put black poster board on the table and one as a backdrop. I had my flash on a tripod off to the left. Finaly, the secret weapon to this shot, I added a toilet paper tube to the flash and taped off the rest of it. This would give me a spotlight effect across the table. Later, I took some pictures with this same setup and I taped a piece of tissue over the end of the tube. This gave the light a much softer look. I wish I had thought of that sooner.

I took close to 100 photos with this setup. I would adjust the angle I took the shot from, change the height and power of the flash, and rearrange the roses. I was just trying different things to see the results I would get. That's a great thing about digital. It didn't cost me anything but time to experement.

Here's a few results of this shoot.

I had started putting some things away when the new kitty ran into the room. I snatched him up and put him on the poster board. Everytime I would let go of him to take his picture, he would try to jump off the table. This was the best one I got him.

Next I loaded some of my favorites into Lightroom and Photoshop. Here's a few examples of what I came up with. There is also a few shots I put on Flickr last week.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Waterfall Odyssey

A group on Flickr decided to take a Saturday and visit as many waterfalls as possible. It is always interesting to be around other photographers because you are sure to learn something just by watching and listening. I was planning on going on Saturday with about 8 other people.

On the Wednesday prior, the guy organizing the event had to cancel due to a death in his family. The Friday prior came and nobody on Flickr was talking. I decided to make a map and gets some plans going. I emailed five people to see if they were going to make it.
My replies came back Friday afternoon. One forgot and made other plans, one said his wife was sick, two backed out for an unknown reason, and the last said he would meet me at 9am. The group went from eight to two but I was still excited.

My phone started ringing Saturday morning and my partner was backing out. Chance of rain.
If you have been reading around here for very long, you probably know that I do not handle changing plans very well.

I went to the computer and stared at Google maps. I didn't want to hike by myself but I was definitely going out. I started laying out a route and Cari said she would join me. We decided to make it a family trip into the mountains.

Here's a map of our route:

View Larger Map

Our first stop was the town of Newry, SC. The town was built around a textile mill and has never changed. There is a post office, the original mill store, the mill, and a block of mill homes.
Randy and I poked our head in the first floor of the mill but I decided not to head upstairs while the girls waited in the car. It was pretty spooky in there. Lots of equipment and furniture has remained since the huge mill closed. Maybe Rake will come up and explore the building with me some day. We left Newry and headed up to North Carolina. Whitewater falls only requires a half mile hike on a paved trail. The short trail meant I wouldn't have to listen to whiny kids. At the end of the trail there are approximately 300 steps down to the observation platform. There was a sign at the top begging you not to climb on the rocks. It said that 15 people have died there by falling. At the observation platform, Meredith looked through binoculars and said, "I can see a dead person!" I think it scared the old couple that was there. Not that she saw a dead body but that she said it with such pleasure. After recovering from the climb out, we got back in the car and headed East. We stopped at the only restaurant near lake Toxaway. It was a cute restaurant with outdoor seating. Too bad they made us wait over an hour for our chicken sandwiches.

On the way back home we stopped at one more waterfall. Twin Falls doesn't require a very long hike so the kids didn't complain very much. I let them climb up to the base of the falls and splash around for a while. Then Randy decided it was cool to slip and slide down the rock and crash into Meredith. We decided to go before a kid cracked their head open.

The five of us had a good day exploring and seeing a few waterfalls. I ended up with a couple of good shots as a bonus.

It didn't even rain.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mr. No Name

The poll ended in a tie. Odd numbered days = Carrot, even numbered days = Tommy Boy.
That's what I proposed this morning before church. The kids didn't like that idea and Cari wouldn't comment.

After church we let Randy have the tie break and he named the kitty Tommy Boy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Some Cats are bi-polar

I am starting to realize that cats are taking over around here. Ever since we have been working on our garden, we have had a vagrant move in. I have named him Garden Kitty.
He's a nice cat that lounges in the garden waiting to be petted. As he rubs up on your leg, you start to believe that he is a gentle and lonely kitty. I never saw aggressive behavior from him until the neighbors cat strolled over.

It turns out Garden Kitty is territorial. The neighbors white haired cat left behind enough fur to make a blanket.
As time went on, it seemed that Garden Kitty was getting cocky. He would lay in the driveway during the day and then refuse to move if you started backing the car out. He would look at the car as if to dare the metal beast. Sure enough, Randy had to jump out of the car and physically move the cat before we continued on our trip.

Two days ago I was in the front yard trimming some trees. Garden Kitty had gotten bored with me and laid down in the road. It wasn't long before a car came around the corner. The car moved slowly as they drove into my grass. When I looked up I realized they were driving around the cat laying in the center of the road.

Either Garden Cat has an attitude or a suicide wish.

That brings us to yesterday. We were all outside packing up the car to go out for a while. Four Blue Jays were at the end of the driveway squawking loudly and flying around. When I looked around I saw Garden Cat laying in the driveway below them. I really wish I had my camera to take pictures of the Blue Jays dive bombing my cat but my camera was packed away and I wouldn't be able to get it before the moment was over.

Garden Cat continued laying there as the birds screamed. The cat was just lying there and I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I went inside to use the bathroom and when I came out to get in the car Cari told me the cat got one.

She said the birds were diving at him and Garden Cat jumped up and grabbed one. He killed it and then dropped it in the bushes. The remaining Blue Jays were REALLY mad now and making a ton more noise. I saw another one bomb the cat. I was wondering how many birds were going to die before they caught on.

As I watered the garden tonight, Garden Kitty came up to get petted. He is such a sweet kitty.

Too bad he is bi-polar.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Best That Money Can't Buy

It's hard not to read about how horrible the American economy is daily. Many days it's hard to escape hearing about it. You have to continue to sift through the news to find the silver lining. Something to keep your spirits up. Yesterday my silver lining was that I can buy a loaf of bread for less than $100 BILLION.

Zimbabwe has an inflation rate at 2.2 million percent. CNN describes it as "economic meltdown". This has been going on for a while now over there. In January the central bank issued money with denominations of $1 million, $5 million, and $10 million. I don't think they did it because there is a bunch of rich people wanting to carry cash.

It wasn't until May when they started printing denominations up to $50 billion.
Then this past Saturday they issued the $100 billion notes for the super wealthy. It turns out that it still isn't enough to buy a loaf of bread. I wonder if that is for white or wheat? Anyway, I hope anyone doing work in Zimbabwe is renegotiating their pay on a daily basis.

It really is hard to imagine living in conditions like that. I've decided I'm not going to worry about our economy until bread gets to be more than a million dollars. Then we might have a problem on our hands. Oh, and that would be for wheat bread. White bread isn't healthy.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Three to Five

The ratio of 4 legged creatures to 2 legged just got smaller.

Cari announced recently that she had to have an orange striped kitty. It would would have been ok if she announced that to only me. I can ignore that request for YEARS. This announcement was made to a neighbor whose cat just had kittens.

I was at work when my, now favorite, neighbor brought over the kitty. Cari texted me and, when I didn't respond, she texted me again with a photo. I finaly called home to see what was going on. She asked if she could keep the kitten.

At this point, there was no reason for me to answer her question. Both kids were fawning over the thing and would cry for days if I took it away. On top of that, Cari already made up her mind that she was keeping it.

When I got home, Cari was cuddled on the couch with her baby. No. Not Brenna. The orange kitty.

The score is now:
1 dog - mostly a good dog. barks at people coming up the driveway.
1 cat - I don't like the cat. Not even a little.
1 orange kitty that is so cute we couldn't possibly give it away and it doesn't even have a name yet.

On the other side we have:
1 me - perfect
1 her - wonderful and perfectly in love with orange kitty
1 baby - beautiful but can't talk yet
1 girl - I love her even if she can't stop talking
1 boy - he's like me

You can see the human population in the house is still winning. . . for now.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Guitar Hero UPDATE

My mom emailed me this today. She says she can take on anyone in Guitar Hero.

Did You Say Guitar Hero?

Guitar Hero seems to be overly popular right now. Every day a new Guitar Hero game seems to be released. In the past month they made a Guitar Hero game for the Nintendo DS and then on Monday they announced a new version being worked on.

I've NEVER played Guitar Hero. EVER. I'm kinda curious what all the fuss is about. When I looked to possibly buy Guitar Hero I noticed it costs about $80. It must be REALLY good.

Anyway, this has become the joke around our house for the past week. Every time Cari is running to the store I'll say, "Did you say you were going to buy Guitar Hero?" We will be sitting around watching TV and Randy will head to the kitchen for some water. "Randy, did you say you wanted to play Guitar Hero?" During dinner the other night, Meredith asked me to pass the ketchup. "What did you say about Guitar Hero?"

Randy even got in on it. When I was at work yesterday, Cari told him to go clean his room. He replied, "You want me to play Guitar Hero?"

Last night at dinner it came up again and I said the joke is over. No more asking about Guitar Hero, it costs too much and we are not going to buy it.

Cari waited until I finished and said, "You really want me to buy Guitar Hero?"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stuff in a Park

Here's a few photos from the park in Augusta. I mentioned the cool fountain and the sea monster yesterday. Now you can have some details.

This fountain is awesome. I've heard it can even double as a homeless man's shower. That's ok until you think that as the water drains it is reused in the fountain. Now you have homeless man germs on your kid. Anyway, it is still a cool fountain. Cari told the kids to stay out of it because we were going to dinner next. I told the kids to go for it when Cari had her back turned and Meredith didn't waste any time. Cari looked up and was going to fuss at Meredith. When I told her what happened she turned her frustration toward me.
That's Meredith with her arms in the air. The other kid was taking a shower.

Randy decided he didn't want to get in, so I challenged him to touch the center of the fountain. It took him a few tries. He would watch the wind shift the water before making his move. He didn't get too wet trying it, so I made a run for it as well. I managed to keep pretty dry until Meredith came and gave me a hug. Then she tried to hug Rick, but he's pretty fast.
As we walked along the river back to the car, Rick told us he likes to come and jog the path a few times a week in the evenings. He said a few times that he saw some strange creature that only holds its head out of the water.

As he was describing it, we were all shouting out possibilities, "An alligator!", "Dolphin!", "Shark!", "turtle!", "An Eagle!", some of the shouted answers weren't great possibilities. Rick's wife, Brenda, pointed out that he only sees the creature when he is alone. Cari decided it was a sea monster and warned him to be careful. For the rest of our walk, everything in the water was a sea monster. After taking this picture I shouted, "Look at that alligator!". Before Cari declared it a sea monster, some other people on the path stopped to look at the alligator. I even saw one boy point at the stick and say, "look at the alligator."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Life in Augusta

We went to visit my best friend, Rick, in North Augusta (South Carolina) this weekend. We got there Saturday and visited for a while before they took us to downtown Augusta (Georgia).

Augusta is another place in the South over flowing with history. I'm not going to give you a long history lesson here because you are smart enough to Google it if desired. We took a walk along the Savannah river in the park downtown. Along our walk, the kids stopped to play on the playground, we stepped over a homeless person, observed a sea monster, and checked out one of the coolest fountains around.
On the walk back we walked along the top side of the park. I started to realize that we were on a large earthen wall. Along the riverbank in Augusta, they built a large levee to protect them from future floods. It still stands as a final back up in the event of another severe flood, but mostly it's just a pretty park.

Every line in the wall of the levee marks a major flood level from the past. It is inscribed with the year, the water flow and the depth.

An outdoor amphitheater over looking the river. I didn't climb the steps, I took the wheelchair ramps.

When we left the park, we drove over to Red Robin for dinner. If you have a Red Robin near you, and have never tried it, I highly recommend it. If there isn't one near you, then you are missing out. Bring your check book when you go. Better yet, bring your neighbors check book. It's a bit pricey. Red Robin is also very good.

Saturday night we camped out in Rick and Brenda's home. We had a great time sitting on the front porch enjoying each others company before getting to sleep. Sunday morning we got up and went to church. A man approached us after church and told me he recognized me from somewhere. I told him I was from out of town and he quizzed me a bit before letting it go. He never could figure out where he knew me from. After he walked off Cari said I should have asked him if he watches Everyone Loves Raymond.

When we got back to the house, we enjoyed an excellent meal cooked by our hosts before heading home.

Yep, it was a good weekend.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Redneck Wedding Cont...

Well, a few of you posted a story about a redneck wedding at a Waffle House. It reminded me of this story in the paper last week. The couple got married where they met. . . at the gas station.

Both Poptart and Farm Girl found the story about Waffle House. That wedding had better pictures and a bigger crowd. I guess it's because of the good food.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Believe

Here's an article on CNN about South Carolina issuing Christian license plates.
A group for the seperation of church and state wants to ban the plates like they did in Florida.
Funny thing to me is that we already have this plate that:
That one is very popular. BUT, I'm not here to argue the politics of it with you but the most important paragraph of this article is the last one.

A quote by Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer:

"If I were never to get elected or serve in another capacity because I
pronounce my faith as a Christian, I don't have a problem with that."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Following the Rules

It seems that if you have a blog and live in the United States that you have to post a photo of fire works from July 4th.

Here's mine:
I had to work on Friday but thankfully, I was able to get the early shift and get home in time for us to go out. We headed into Pickens, as we always do for the 4th, for their festival. We all wore matching shirts.

The festival is free and sponsered by a church. Main Street is closed and filled in with carnival rides and inflatable slides for the kids. There are several rides that I won't ride on, including this one:
Of course it wouldn't be a festival without funnel cake.

We had some great weather around here that it made it nice to sit on the road and listen to the band play. They did a great job with the fireworks too.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

It's Not the Same

We went bowling on Thursday and found out that holding a 13 lb ball is different than bowling with a Wii controller.

Cari had started talking trash about kicking my butt before we even got out of the car. I threw my first frame and scored 3. I got nervous about losing. Cari started laughing and reminded me she was going to kick my butt. Then she threw a gutter ball. Her second throw scored her five pins. It was going to be close.

The kids had the lane next to us with bumpers up. At one point both kids were scored higher than the adults.

At the end of the first game, Cari and I agreed to never speak of the results and pretend it didn't happen. That was just warm up and didn't count.

Our third game was not warm up and it did count. The result of our third game:

Ed: 167

Cari: 84

When she challenges a rematch, I think it will be on the Wii.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I was the second one up in the house this morning. It was about 7:20am. Of course, Randy was already up and checking out some television. No matter how early you get up, you will never be up before Randy. Some internal clock of his must be broken. He can't sleep past 6:30 no matter how late he stays up.

I decided to go out and take some photos while the sun was low and the town was quiet. I didn't really have a destination, only that I would stay in town. I took my camera bag, a tripod (which didn't get used), the GPS, and a cup of coffee.

I started out at the unused church building that sits at the entrance to town.

As I walked around the building, a dog followed me. When I turned to keep an eye on him, he would freeze. After a lap around the building he disappeared.
Next I took some back roads through the mill village. There wasn't much to photograph, but I did see one house that had their entire front porch filled with trash. I'm serious! There was a path up to the door, and that's it. Floor to ceiling trash.

Next I drove through the old cemetery and noticed three WW2 vets buried there that were brothers.

Before leaving the cemetary I also noticed this:
Why is there a basketball goal mixed in with these graves? Some sort of new ghost league?

As I continued to meander through town I started to have a need. A need to find a bathroom. . . QUICKLY. Maybe I should have taken this trip without the coffee. It's hard to slow down and take pictures when you have to pee SO bad. I didn't feel right about peeing in someones front yard. I looked at the empty water bottle on the passenger seat and thought for a moment. That wasn't a bad option, but I decided on an easier way. I drove two blocks away and ran into the grocery store.

I followed some roads up to a water tower and discovered a city ball park.
I walked around the grounds for a while before getting back to the car. By now the sun had started getting higher, which destroys that special light you can only find early in the morning or late in the evening.

When I got home, Cari asked if I found anything good. I told her I saw a squirrel running on some wires.
Cari thought the support for that window AC was more interesting than my squirrel.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Backward Baby

Brenna and I had a few hours alone the other day. She slept during the first half of our time together. I finaly got bored and decided to lay down for a short nap as well. Five minutes later she woke up.

I put her on her belly to get some crawling practice. She would lift herself up and push with her arms, shoving her body backward. I bribed her by placing toys and treats in front of her, just out of reach. She pushed backward again and went further from the toys. Then she turned sideways a few times and did a backward circle. She gave me a big smile when she backed into her toys and grabbed one.