Friday, November 09, 2007

Focus on Photography

For several years now I've considered photography a mild hobby. I took photography back in college, I enjoyed it, but I found developing film too time consuming and tedious. But I came away from that semester with some nice portfolio shots. After college I bought a Sony Cybershot DCS-50 and toted it everywhere I went. That little 2.1mp camera probably took somewhere around 15,000 pictures over the time I used it. I took it on vacations, took it to work, took it to hang out with friends. I was often called a "tourist" by my buddies because I snapped so many pictures. Digital camera's made photography fun again. I could immediately see the result and could easily share them online. This of course led to the creation of, my homepage. It was here I would post hundreds of photo's of my friends, family, hobbies and travel. Still, photography wasn't really an "art" to me. It was more a way of documenting my life and those in it. Which I supposed in a way is a form of art. Anyhow, after a few years of that I decided it was time to get a little more serious about my photo's. I wanted to learn about using a camera again and get caught up on the progress digital photography had made on true SLR camera's. I did my research and in 2004 purchased the Canon Digital Rebel (300D). This was a great into Digital SLR and fairly advanced for what it offered at the time. I quickly discovered how far digital photography had come. Techniques learned long ago in my college photo course began to come back to me as I learned how to make use of the camera's settings and abilities. A new door had been opened once again and this time I had a true "tool" to make use of.

I began to take ton's of photo's and create galleries online. The next year I entered a series of my work into a local photography contest and won 2nd place. This was encouraging and further deepened my photography interest. Then, in 2006, I hit a motivational wall. Just nothing in the part of the world I lived in motivated me in any way to take pictures. I put the camera down. I probably only took a few dozen pictures during the span of six months. Nothing felt worthy of taking pictures of or being creative over. I was just.... blah.

It wasn't until I went with Emily to her family reunion that I made myself take my Canon Rebel along and snap a few pics. I got a few good shots during that trip and began to feel the creative photo bug again. Except this time it was stronger! I re-visited my old Flickr account and started uploading. I purchased the no-upload-limit pro version and started building a sort of portfolio. Flickr is a great tool for photographers! You can view and study others work and is great for stirring creativity.

This sudden re-resurgence of interest in photography convinced me it was time to update my almost 4 year old Canon Rebel. I did my research again and this time settled on the Canon 30D. The 30D is pretty much Canon's entry camera into their professional line. It has most the technical features of the full professional cameras, only lacking the true full 35mm image sensor. Which was good enough for me right now. This camera retails for around $1100 but I was able to find a better deal and made the purchase! I also picked up a Canon 50mm f1.8 prime lens. After getting used to this new camera and lens and seeing it's potential, I wasted no time in booking a couple photo shoots. A couple posts on craigslist and I had shoots booked for that coming weekend! The first for a couple celebrating their 8th wedding anniversary and the second, that night, for a movie screening party in Dallas. Both shoots taught me something, I need better glass. So, back to the research lab.

I knew that Canon's best pro lenses are referred to as "L" lenses. The L standing for Luxury. And with luxury, comes the price. But, if I wanted to take my photography to the next level and possibly begin to pick up some side work I needed to consider an L lens. I finally settled on the Canon 24-105mm f4L lens. At around $1000, this is considered by many as a great 'walk around' lens that can also take very nice portraits or landscape shots. The best value for my money. A quick check of my financial resources and I made the purchase. This lens will really get a good workout this weekend as there are some events I'll be taking it to. Which leads this story up to where it's at now. Im now enjoying photography more than ever and I have the tools to really start to do something. If you'd like to visit my Collections, CLICK HERE to have a look!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Amazing Z!

If I hadn't posted a picture already, this is Zita... our puppy. She's a one and a half year old heeler mix and is a very good puppy. She loves to play, run, bark, get a good petting and play tug of war. We take her to the local dog park often and on frequent walks in the neighborhood. Here, she sits with one of her favorite backyard toys... her broom head. Odd, yes. Zita, or "Z" as we often call her has also been nicknamed "Dogdini", an off-shoot of the great escape artist Houdini. Every time she finds a way to get out, we block it and she starts working on another method. I keep expecting to find a tunnel that goes under the house and comes out in the street. Or, a catapult built from her toys in the backyard. She's a smart one! But she's a great dog to have around!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wasp Lady

I witnessed the oddest thing last Monday. After work I drove up to my parents to help them with some stuff around the house. I get there and my dad says he would like me to use the weed wacker and edge around his barn. No problem, I think. So I get the weed eater out of my car and hike back to the barn. As soon as I start dealing out death to the weeds, I am faced with my arch enemy. My nemesis! My kryptonite! The dreaded North American Wasp! These territorial, aggressive little critters seem to know how much I fear them. Dozens of them are pouring in and out of the door to the barn! Flying in two's and three's, it was like the freakin Death Star! Little tie-fighters cruising in and out of their base station. Well my mom comes out there to keep me company and feed and water her horse. She walks right through the "river" of airborne wasp! She sees my distress and says, "You want me to just close the door?". Sure!, I say. So she closes the door and that's when things got bad. It was then I realized just how many wasp were depending on that door being open to get into the "base station". Suddenly I'm surrounded by literally hundreds of wasp!! They're swarming the doorway looking for a way to get in. My heart pounded, I began sweating profusely and started backing far from the barn. I'd never seen so many wasp in one place! That's when my mom opens the door back up and says something TO THE WASP, I will never forget. She walks right through the airborne horde saying, "Its ok, come on in... come on in.. I know its your evening and your bedtime.. its ok.. its your schedule.. you just ignore him... " WHAT??!! They're wasp!! And they've somehow become her pets and she thinks she "understands" them. I think my next trip out there will be to close that barn door, get the animals out and use a pesticide bomb to kill everyone of those winged spawns of Satan! I shall have my vengeance... oh yes I shall.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Beckham, Blogging and Viva Las Vegas!

Ok, it's mid summer and Ive been one lazy blogger. I know, I said I'd get better. Well I didn't. Now that doesn't mean I'm done with my blog. Far from it! I just need to start remembering to blog about stuff that happens.

So the latest buzz in the soccer world is all about David Beckham coming to play in the MLS. He recently had to sit out of the game here in Dallas because of his ankle. This event truly exposed all the bandwagon fans. The game was a sell out event. But when it was announced he wouldn't be playing because of the injury, only about 75% turned up in the stands. Some fans were even holding up Anti-Beckham signs! Clearly these are people who have never played soccer, or sports for that matter. They have no clue of the pain that comes with playing at a high level while injured. They have no clue that playing on such an ankle injury will only make healing up slower and could possibly make the injury much worse! They'd rather see Becks limp around the Frisco field in pain, waving to the crowd than see him in full form in a month, scoring goals ith his well known free kicks. Well the only thing I can say is, "go home trendy north dallas wanna-be soccer fans. You aren't needed here. You don't even know what to cheer for." Ok, on with the show.

Soon I'll be on a plane headed back to the desert. Las Vegas Nevada! Im going there with a few guys for my friend Gregg's bachelor party. It really should be a fun time. I like to play a little blackjack, play the slot machines, catch a show and walk around the Vegas strip. Im only there or a couple days and that's really enough. But it will be a nice change of scenery. Im really looking forward to it, although I will miss Emily and Zita while im gone. I'll call home to check in. I wonder if a dog can and will talk on the phone?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Getting Back to Business

Since my knee injury scare around Christmas, I've been taking it easy and not playing much soccer. My "comeback" started 4 games ago. My first steps back onto the pitch were with my men's Tuesday night team. I knew I had to build some confidence back again in my knee and build my strength back in my lungs and legs. Being off from soccer for almost 4 months had turned me soft. I needed the time to heal up, but I could not keep in match condition.

I took the field that Tuesday night and played very cautious. Passed most the time, played more defense rather than striker. I don't think I even took one shot on goal. Which was fine with me. I just needed to get out there and see how things felt. And things were pretty good after that first game back. Very small amount of soreness the next morning. But I knew I was getting back from an injury. I was happy with my performance and to top it off, my team won that night.

The second test for my knee was the following Tuesday with my mens team again. This time I played with more confidence and played more aggressive. Still no goals this game, but I did get a few shots on goal which only by luck they did not go in for a score. I did discover though, my fakes, speed and first move on defenders was a step slower. I would perform a fake like I normally would and the defender would already be in the spot I was headed for to take away the ball. I could tell I wasn't quite ready to be a scorer again. Just a supporting roll. Which I was fine with that. My lungs felt stronger and my overall physical condition felt better. I knew my shot and moves would come back... in time. Although I played decent, we lost that one to a better team. But it was close.

It was time for a new and third test for comeback. My Friday night "A" division coed teams game. I played with more confidence and the knee felt the best yet to date. But I just couldn't find the back of the net. Lots of missed shots, I was always an inch or two off target. Frustrating! It didn't matter, we won BIG. I mean like 13-6. Which isn't abnormal for that team. We're very good. In the final 30 seconds of the match I did manage to put in a one-touch right foot shot from about 6 feet in front of the net, past a diving keeper. Nothing to celebrate over. I was just glad I didn't miss again. But, it was my first score since coming back. It was a start.

Tonights game was the fourth test so far. Men's league game against a Mexican team. I looked at their schedule and saw they had no wins yet this season. I don't put much into that. These teams usually play very well. They pass quickly and really work the ball around fast. They are also normally very aggressive on defense and can frustrate strikers by double and triple teaming players. From the start of the game though, I could tell we were the better team. We passed the ball very nicely, setting up combinations and many scoring chances. Finally one of our guys scored making it 1-0. They began attacking with more players now, desperate for a goal. Then, a few minutes later our same guys scores again! Two-zero! My knee so far was feeling great and I had created several scoring chance for my team and almost scored myself, once. The other team finally scored a goal making it 2-1 and they smelled a comeback. They were fired up and really attacking. I came onto the field and our midfielder played a high, long ball over my head to the end wall. I raced pass the defender and beat the on rushing goalie to it. I took a quick right footed shot from almost no angle and scored! It was a great feeling to score a meaningful goal, under pressure against a decent team. I was feeling fired up now and wanted to stay on the field a bit more. Five minutes later, I was glad I did. I had the ball at my feet with one defender in front of me. I did a quick left footed drag the ball inside and flick it to the outside and then a quick left foot low, hard shot and the ball beat the keeper on the near post for a very nice goal! This was a goal I'd be proud of even before my knee injury. I then subbed out and only got one more shift in before then end of the game. I took it easy and worked on some conditioning by running hard. We won the game 4-2 and I'm ready for Friday's coed game! I'm finally getting back to business!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Frontyard Sunset
Originally uploaded by Thorpeland.

More HDR Fun

I was out in the front yard watering a tree when I looked up the street into the setting sun. My first thought was, "grab the camera, this might look cool!" I was right. I think of it as another step in the HDR learning ladder. I have lots of ideas of things to try now. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Playing With HDR Photography

There's a fairly new technique emerging in the world of digital photography. Its known as HDR Photography. This stands for High Dynamic Range. Put simply HDR photography is a method of taking a series of shots, each at a different aperture setting, covering a large range of lighting values. Then, using special HDR software to combine the 3 to 8 shots of the scene to create a single photo which would be impossible for a digital camera to take in a single snap. It leaves you with a picture with no under exposed areas, no over exposed areas... perfect sharpness and lighting balance and a color depth rivaling the best single-photo shot's made.

Now that I've basically explained what HDR is, I did a basic demonstration using a software package called Photomatix. This is software specially designed to create HDR photo's. What you will find on the link below is a series of photo's. The first six small ones are each shot taken at aperture settings starting at -2 all the way up to +2. This creates extreme shadows to extreme brights. Then the final (7th) large image is the final HDR product. You'll see there is perfect lighting balance through the entire photo. Not something I could have done even if I spent time setting up a single shot to be perfectly lighted. The final photo has the software's watermark on it because it's still in trial mode. I have not yet purchased it. But so far I'm very impressed!

The HDR Frog Project Photo's

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Greatest. Game. Ever.

That game would be one known as Armed Assault. This first person shooter type game simulates being a soldier on a huge battlefield. You have the choice of many different types of aircraft and vehicles to explore and fight in. Half the fun of this game (sim) would be it's editor mode. This mode allows you to create any scenario you can imagine or come up with. I used the editor and some video capture software to create the video below. The game is already out in most of the world and is released in the U.S. on May 1st. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Armed Assault. A.K.A. - ArmA!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Quick Update

Ok, im in one of those lazy stages with my website and blog. Not that there is nothing happening in my life. There is. Just taking the time to sit down and write about it is the tough part. A quick run down of events since like ....... oh December.
Late December, early January:
My dad went in for a check up and they found a number of clogged up arteries and some problems with his heart. So he had to have triple heart bi-pass surgery then a couple smaller ones in the weeks after. He's still recovering, but getting stronger each week and getting his weight back. So that's good. Today, March 17th, is his Birthday. The whopping 72! That sounds old even to me! haha But he's in good spirits and just trying to get better and back on his feet full time.

Earlier this month my friends Roger and his sister Melisa came back from their contracting job in Kabul Afganistan. It was great to see them and hear all their stories. They are doing technical work over there, putting their lives in the States on hold to travel abroad and makes some serious money. Of course there are risks. Melisa tells me the building she lives in does not have a bathroom in it. So if they leave it to go to the restroom at night, they are not allowed to carry a flashlight. It attracts the attention of snipers in the surrounding hills. Oh how nice. Emily and I met up with Roger, Melisa and the rest of their family and friends over in Plano for a nice dinner. It was good times and I look forward to seeing them again.

Looking forward, I'm pretty excited. Emily and I booked and bought our next vacation. In November we're headed off to Italy! We'll spend a week traveling Rome, Venice, Pompeii, and Florence before returning home. Should be an awesome time and I'll return with a ton of great pictures.

More news on the family front. My sister Macey and her boyfriend Steve are getting married this summer. I believe its in June. I suppose it's in my best interest to find out.. eh?

On the home front, spring is quickly approaching so I've been busy getting the lawn back in shape. Exciting yes, I know. lol But hey, I dont want to be the only person on my street with a crappy lawn. We've also planted a new tree. He's in the backyard and taking to his new home nicely. Emily has named him after some spice, which I can't remember at the moment. lol

In the Thorpe World of Tech, the latest craze is a game called Armed Assault. This game is flat out the coolest military simulation I've ever played. The games world is massive and the graphics are great. Its good fun. Also, I picked up one of those new'ish Logitech G15 keyboards. Mainly targeted at gamers, this keyboard has lit-up key's, programmable macro keys, a flip up LCD screen that provides information about the current game and your system and has media control buttons built onto the face. So far, I love it.

My main website, was down for a while because my stupid registrar screwed up. It took me about 8 emails and 2 phone calls to straighten out. But I think everything is back on track. If you ever visit my main site and it does not come up, don't worry it still there, just down temporarily.

On the sports front, I've been having to take time off of playing soccer. Which is killing me! Back in December, I turned to chase a guy during a game and I felt a wierd "click" feeling in my right knee. I did't think anything of it and kept playing. I played several more games before one night it was really feeling sore and the next morning very stiff. I decided to see a specialist. They did some test's and the doc said I might have a partial tear to my ACL. Not good! So he wanted to get an MRI done to be sure. I got that done and the results came back negative, no damage to the ACL. So he said to just take time off from soccer and don't rush back too quickly. So that's what I'm doing. I've been out for almost 2 months now since the injury. Im hoping to get back to playing in about another 3 weeks. I don't want it to re injure

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Recent Humor

Yesterday it snowed. When I saw it snowing, I sent a text message to my friend Craig. His reply, gave me a laugh for the day.

Me: Its snowing!!

Craig: Quick -- gravel angels!
Craig: The shards of glass and jagged chunks of gravel embedded
in my bloody skin cannot dampen the joy I receive from such simple
childhood pleasures. However, my "gravel angels" do more resemble "the
hideous aftermath of a man flailing chaotically in pain," and have
scared off several children.

Me: Riiiiiight

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Yeah I know. Not a single post since November 14th of 2006. Sorry about that peeps. Its been a combination of being very busy and a little lazy. I have a TON to write about. I just need to put it all into order in my head so i can write about it and catch everyone up. I just dont know where to start. Stay tuned.....