Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Digital Camera/Photography Basics Part 2

Here it is...Part 2 of the Digital Camera/Photography Basics!!

This will be a continuation of Part 1, which introduced some very basic skills, techniques and composition skills that can be used to take better photos.

I will attempt to speak in general terms that will apply to most digital cameras that have been sold since 2005 or so. Some cameras will have buttons in different places, and differing menus etc., but the terms and the basic setup instructions I provide should translate to most digital cameras. I will however, use the menus and physical layout of the Lumix DMC FS5 as an example, but again, most of this should translate to menu(s) or button(s) available on most digital cameras.

Additionally, I will not be covering the multitude of specific ""Picture Modes" that are found on todays digital cameras. There are 27 specific "Picture Modes" included on the Lumix alone! These specific modes range from "Fireworks" to "Night Scene" to "Portrait" and "Pets" modes. I encourage you to explore all of these available "Picture Modes" as they are meant to allow a photographer to choose the correct mode for the type of photo they are composing/taking, and not have to worry about specific settings as the camera will "pre-adjust" the settings appropriate for each "mode". Each of these "Picture Modes" allow for similar adjustments to the settings and options explained below, so when you have finished reading this you will have a working knowledge that will apply to all the "Picture Modes" as well as the "iA" and "Normal Picture" modes discussed below.

Get your camera, make sure the battery is fully charged, grab your favorite beverage and set aside about an hour if you want to get the most out of this info.  It is best used by walking through with your digital camera in hand as you read.  If you have a DSLR, this tutorial will be of significant help to you as well!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Christmas in March?

OK, I promised a new piano (or Clavinova) tune some time ago, but the two songs I am working on are taking me a while to arrange/practice.  So in the meantime, I thought I would post a Christmas song that I recorded last year.  Yeah I know its spring already, but who doesnt like Christmas!

It is a Vince Guaraldi arrangement of "O Tannenbaum".  Most of you know Guaraldi as the pianist behind the "Peanuts" Holiday Cartoon Specials.  It is his Jazzy arrangements that you hear throughout the "Charlie Brown Christmas", which is where this arrangement has its roots.  I really like his choice of chords in this tune and the way it sounds as a piano solo.  I liked how the arrangement sounded when played slowly, with a bit of "feeling".  So, thats how I recorded this one.  Nothing fancy here, just a simple, classic tune.

Click the link below to listen to or download the song.  Enjoy!

O Tannenbaum

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Digital Camera/Photography Basics Part 1

This will be Part 1 of the first "How To" I will attempt to write, in an effort to help others get the most out of their digital cameras/photography. Digital cameras are truly amazing things! Most of us have more camera than we will ever use, unless....we begin to explore and understand the incredible features most of these cameras possess.

I was asked in a comment posted on the The Photo Page, (Tiffany) if her camera could produce high quality images. She also asked if she learned a few basic skills and learned to set the camera up manually, (instead of always setting the camera to "AUTO") if she could expect better photos. Finally she asked, "or do I just need a new camera?"

These are perhaps the most common series of questions asked, when it comes to owners of digital cameras. Even the folks that buy the expensive DSLR Cameras often shake their heads, wondering why their photos are dissapointing. Most think its the camera, and they keep buying the next best camera hoping for better photos....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Looking Up!

2008 Lunar Eclipse (Taken thru a Meade ETX 70 Telescope)

Get outside at night and look up!!

Try to remember the wonder of all those stars, or that big bright moon, when you were a child. It's still there, waiting for you to take notice!

I will try to keep up on any upcoming and significant/interesting Astronomical events. I will also post my impressions of any equipment I use that might be of interest to others, as well as provide insight into starter telescopes that will not get left in a closet a month after Christmas!

Look for some photographs of the planets in the near future, as I will be trying to get outside and observe and photograph some of our closest planetary neighbors! My observations and impressions will find their way onto this blog as well.

In case you did not get to see it, the photo above is a sequence of "phases" that our moon went thru during the 2008 Lunar Eclipse.  The different phases were captured thru an ETX 70 Telescope, as the eclipse progressed.

Note* The above photo is "clickable" (to see full size) and you may download and/or print it for your personal enjoyment!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Piano Musings

Everyone loves music of one genre or another and we all have a favorite song(s). Who among us is not instantly transported back to a specific time/place upon hearing an old song?

I have spent a few years learning to play piano (in a simple sort of style) and have a great time playing songs on either our piano or Clavinova. I intend on posting a few tunes on occassion just for kicks! Feel free to take a listen/download any you find to your liking! (If you have a song you would like to hear me play/arrange on the Clavinova...or piano let me will keep me on my toes!)

For those of you unfamiliar with the Clavinova, it is basically a Digital Piano. It is quite amazing, and it allows me to play virtually any instrument I like by using the piano keys. Flugel Horn, Clarinet, Guitar, Pipe Organ...even a Harpsichord! (See Below) The Clavinova also allows me to edit my music and make accompaniments and record up to 16 tracks simultaneously or separately. It is an amazing instrument!

Back to 1973!

Here's a little arrangement I came up with while playing some Andrew Lloyd Webber on the Clavinova. I used the "Harpsichord" because I seem to remember it being somewhat popular in the 70's, though not necessarily with this song...but after adding some "strings" etc., I thought it was an interesting mix. Click on the link below to download and/or listen to the arrangement.

I Dont Know How To Love Him (Jesus Christ Superstar)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On Politics and Pop Culture

Do I have an opinion on Politics and Pop Culture!? You bet I do.

This is where the word "Insight" fits best in my blog, as I believe many people have little to no insight when it comes to these topics. I think most go along with trends, "popular" opinion and generally ride bandwagons, instead of thinking for themselves!
I apologize in advance to those ignorant people that might be offended by my razor sharp insights into these topics! For you folks, the line starts over there for the "blue pill", I took the red!

Our elderly, our Veterans and our Working Class (No...working on getting more Unemployment Benefits and Government handouts does not qualify as "Working Class") is what has made and makes this Country great, and it is those persons that get my respect and best efforts as I make my way thru life. Oh, and yes it IS a GREAT COUNTRY for those of you that like to bash the USA. The USA has repeatedly come to the rescue of modern civilization, and assisted those less fortunate since its founding! 

My next Pop Culture post will talk to the issue of our failing educational institutions...keep an eye out for it!

Stand up for the National Anthem, fly the AMERICAN Flag, enter our country legally and speak English.
Any questions on where I stand politically?

Oh, and please, have a nice day:)

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Palm Trees while laying on Waikiki Beach

Waimea Bay

Sunset Waikiki Beach

Our Hotel!

Sunrise on Waikiki Beach

Well, got back on the 4th of March after a brief vacation in Hawaii. We stayed in Waikiki at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and made the usual trips to Pearl Harbor, the International Market and Waimea Bay. (North Shore)

We also "enjoyed" a full blown Tsunami Warning and evacuation on our second day there. It was handled VERY seriously by the Hotel Staff and Emergency Personnel. It was certainly a surprise to us all! It ended up being a "non-event" that put us a day behind in our vacation and planning. We were thankful though, that the worst had not been realized. Oh, and HECK YEAH I GOT THE "I SURVIVED THE TSUNAMI" T-SHIRT TO PROVE IT!

A few of my favorite moments were the Malasadas from Leonards Bakery, the warm sand under my feet each day, the Mai-Tai's Sandi and I enjoyed each night, and seeing my daughter laugh and play as she and her friend battled the 4-6 ft waves on the beach in Waimea.

I have posted a few photos on my Photography page, though I seemed to enjoy seeing the sights more this time vs taking pictures of them.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Crater lake, Oregon

Who doesn't like taking photos?

I have been an active Shutter Bug for over 25 years. I have gone from 110 film to 35mm to 120 roll film to "how many megapixels is that camera"?!...from dark room developing and printing to "how do I resize that picture in Photoshop"!?.....from Kodachrome slides to "power point slide presentations"!  I have, like many of you, ended up in the digital age!

Feel free to ask questions about techniques, discuss new cameras, or inquire about or post anything to do with your interest in Photography. Chances are if I don't have an opinion (and I will) someone else will certainly be able to weigh in.

Visit The Photo Page to view some of the photos I have taken, or post a question about photography!

The photos are "clickable" to allow full size viewing.  You may download, print, or save them (ie wallpaper) for your own personal use!  Remember to click on the photo to make it full size before you save or print it, otherwise you will be saving/printing the thumbnail!