Monthly Archives: November 2010

30 Days of Posts (and iPod/iPhone Apps, too!)

I just wasn’t feeling “National” Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo) this year. Last November I think everything came together: I had just started setting free my thoughts about diabetes, and I was just getting back into the swing of writing here. This year it just felt like a bit of a chore.

It wasn’t an awful experience. It did help keep me posting photographs and whatnot, but it doesn’t seem that I set aside enough time to write some of the longer articles that I hoped to create. In fact, I often found myself remembering right at the end of the day that I needed to write something. Now that the month is over, I’ll keep going with the occasional posting — with more substantial content, I hope.

See you back here real soon.

. . . I guess there’s no time like the present to write a bit more and say that I got an iPod Touch for an early Christmas present. (Thanks, Mom and Miles!) I like it very much as a media device — navigating playlists and moving around the interface is just much more awesome than my old 6th generation “classic” iPod — and I’m starting to look around at some of the apps for it.

Let’s see here, there’s Twitter and Facebook and the New York Times reader and Netflix and Skype and the ESPN app which I’m sure will be useful once baseball season starts again. (It has rugby, but no Australian scores. Go Rabbitohs!) And I’ve just started looking for things that could help me out with diabetes and exercise.

Here’s where I need your advice.

What are your favorite iPhone / iPod Touch apps? What do you use to help you manage your diabetes? What should I download just for fun or because no properly decked out Apple gizmo is complete without it?

Posted in Computing, Data-betes, Diabetes, MetaBlogging, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010 | 2 Comments

The Word of the Day…

I will take on anyone at Scrabble, the greatest board game of all time. During Mom and Miles’s time here we played about a half-dozen games. My performance was okay, but in my heart I know that no game will probably ever match the most amazing (some might say “luckiest”) one I’ve ever played about a dozen years ago.

I played the word “QUIXOTIC.”

That’s 26 points by itself. Plus a double letter score for one of the high-value letters . . . and a triple word score . . . and the bonus for using all seven letters. It was sweet.

I still don’t know why Lisa won’t play Scrabble with me any more.

Editor’s note: Good thing this month of posting is almost over so that I don’t have to write more inane posts like this one.

Posted in General, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010 | Leave a comment

Decorating

Lisa has to go back to work tomorrow . . . sadness. Today, on her last day of freedom, we bought a Christmas tree, and Mom helped decorate it. Tomorrow is her and Miles’s last day here before leaving very early on Tuesday.

Posted in General, I am Rembrandt, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010 | 1 Comment

Make-up Day

Oops! I missed posting something new yesterday. I was too distracted by my new iPod Touch. (Sweetness!). So here’s a photograph of Lisa from today’s outing to make up for yesterday.


Lisa on Nantasket Beach – Hull, Mass.

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South Shore

Our guests wanted a little photography adventure, so we took a trip to the South Shore towns of Scituate, Cohasset, Hingham, and Hull. Here are a few photographs.


Scituate, Mass.


Scituate, Mass.


Hull, Mass.

Posted in 101 in 1001, Commonwealth Project, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010, Photography | Leave a comment

Mail Fail

Esteemed coworkers:

Even in this day of e-mail and text messaging it would behove you to learn how to address and stamp an envelope.

Mail Fail

Remember these three tips:

  1. Confine the receiver’s address to the right-hand 2/3 of the envelope.
  2. Put the stamp in the upper right-hand corner.
  3. Put your return address in the upper left-hand corner. It’s useful if you break one of the previous two rules.

Eight or nine years ago someone would have thought you were mailing anthrax.

Posted in Life Lessons, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010 | Leave a comment

Road Trip

Mom’s flight was canceled due to the blizzard messing up their Salt Lake City connection and getting planes there and whatnot. That left me with some extra time this evening to make a few more scans. (And I didn’t have to drive out from Logan at 5:00PM on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. A pitifully small consolation really.)

My loss is your gain. Here are four pictures from my project:

Sherborn, Mass. (2006)
Sherborn, Mass. (2006)

Beartown Mountain Road - Great Barrington, Mass. (2007)
Beartown Mountain Road – Great Barrington, Mass. (2007)

New Salem, Mass. (2007)
New Salem, Mass. (2007)

Great Barrington, Mass. (2007)
Great Barrington, Mass. (2007)

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New Discoveries

We have guests coming tomorrow — my mom and step-dad — which explains why posting has been a little light here recently and will likely continue that way for the next week. (I hope you like photographs, because you’re likely to see more.)

“But, Jeff, there’s nothing to do at work in the days leading up to American Thanksgiving. Entertain me!” Oh, okay. Here are some wonderful, fun sites I discovered recently:

Enjoy your pre-Thanksgiving TSA pat-down.

Posted in Book Notes, City of Light, MetaBlogging, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010, Worthy Feeds | Leave a comment

When I Look at the Commonwealth

While looking through the 200-or-so* slides that I might use in the first volume of my “Commonwealth” project book, I noticed a few things. Well, first off, I noticed that I’ve photographed in many more towns than I had thought — almost 70, or roughly 1/5 of the state. And I discovered that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. There is a lot more in there that I really like than I had remembered.

Some themes really stood out: construction, high-tension lines, signs, roads, redevelopment. Many of the photographs are formal landscapes that focus on the margins between developed and wild land. There’s a sense of transition, although not always the one you might expect from pastoral to suburban or from urban to blighted. These changes often involve a tension between open and (recently) undeveloped land and the way that it’s going to be used in the near future. Property lines are visible where the trees start or the street ends. The houses of a new subdivision hide behind the trees that remain after construction. Those tense boundaries are where I have been fixing my gaze.

There’s also a fair amount of things being not where they belong — or at least not where they’re expected: a pool table on the side of the road, decorative hearts hanging in a tree, big piles of dirt in suburban developments, roads through the countryside, houses right under high-tension power lines. But I am trying hard to avoid nostalgia or sentimentality or any kind of top-down narrative. After all, the whole reason that I started this project was to look at the way that we live today and not to traffic in clichés and the traditional way of looking at the Bay State.

But I was briefly worried that I was developing a rather conservative body of work. Some might interpret the photographs as saying that I disapprove of development — that is a typical reaction from many of the people who have seen what I’ve done over the last half-decade — but my feelings are much more ambiguous. (Who knows, maybe they’re obvious to everyone but me.) People do have to live somewhere, and I haven’t made up my mind about many things that go along with that statement. And far from judging the unusual or absurd slices of life that I come across on my extended, intramural road-trip, I hope that my sense of amusement and celebration shows through. (I’m the guy who wants a dinosaur sculpture in the front yard, you know.)

Obviously, you’ll make your own judgments when you look at the work (someday). And your interpretations will be more important than my intention. Whether I succeed or not, just know that I never set out to make a political point or to advocate for any particular lifestyle.

Now I just have to get another 180 slides scanned and photograph in about 280 more towns and cities. . . .


* — It had never occurred to me that I could use more than one photograph from some towns. Publishing multiple volumes opens that possibility.

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Leyden, Mass.

I think I might have talked myself out for a little while. Until I decide what I want to say, here are a couple more photographs. This pair hail from the little town of Leyden, way out in Western Mass.

Leyden, Mass. (2006)

Leyden, Mass. (2006)

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Another Photograph from the Commonwealth Project

Here’s a photograph that I made in a rather run-down part of Worcester in the summer of 2006.

American Flag and Broken Window - Worcester, Mass. (2006)

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Serenity Now!

ॐG! What a nutty day. Yet, there’s not much to report. It’s what you might call a slow news day.

I would post a picture or two, but I’ve been copying all of my photographs to a larger drive for the last seven hours — only 115 GB left to go — and I don’t want to open Adobe Lightroom in the meantime. (I’m very superstitious from time to time.)

Maybe this will satisfy you until tomorrow. As seen on Six Until Me, here is “Marcel the Diabetic Shell with Shoes On”:

Yeah, it’s funnier if you have diabetes. Trust me. We have all the fun.

Posted in Diabetes, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010 | Leave a comment

Thanks, Bike

I feel like a daytime television commercial, but . . . this was me in early June 2009, right after I got my bike:

Poofy Jeff

And here I am today:

Sleek Jeff

That is all.

Updated 23 November 2010: Here I am in (more or less) the same kit.

Sleek Jeff in cycling garb

Posted in I am Rembrandt, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010 | 5 Comments

Getting Back to It

Leslie wants to know when I’m going to start self-publishing my “Commonwealth Project” photographs.

Soon! I’ve set it aside for far too long. The book helped me decide that it’s time to get back to it. It’s possible that the act of publishing will actually help me figure out how I want to finish up the project.

Photograph looking through a plate glass window into an empty building in North Brookfield with my reflection
Self-portrait, North Brookfield, Mass. (2006)

Last night after looking at our Australia book and thinking about what I would put in a new book, I decided that I need to dust off my old slides that relate to the project. I had forgotten how much I love some of them. After a hard drive crash in 2006 that ate up most of my old scans, I need to rescan a bunch of photographs before I can publish them. The good news is that I now know a lot more about post-processing than I used to, and I’m determined to do a better job than I did the first time around.

Step One: Tonight I calibrated my PC monitor for the first time in years, fixed a few flaws in my scanning workflow, and created a new scanner profile. Early results indicate that it might be easier to get what I want this time around.

Monaco EZColor dialog with Q-60 target
Making the scanner profile

Stay tuned!

Posted in Book Notes, Commonwealth Project, I am Rembrandt, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010, Photography | 1 Comment

Blurb Book Review

The photo book we designed and printed using Blurb arrived today. We both really like it! After all, it’s a bound book of our photographs. What’s not to love?

What’s that? You want something more nuanced? You want to know how it compares to fine art books and prints? You want me to critically evaluate the Blurb book itself? Okay, but just remember that it was (a) my first book from Blurb, (b) something that we did in an afternoon, and (c) something I could probably do better on my second go. Oh yeah, and I’m a fastidious perfectionist.

First off, let’s just get this one thing out of the way: The book is not equal in quality to a fine art photography book printed by Aperture, Steidl, Phaidon, etc. Those books appear to have finer resolution, better color, and higher production requirements. Then again they’re printed in much larger runs with lots of proofing all along the way. Okay, now that the obvious is out of the way, what did I really like?

  • The cover looks beautiful. I think it’s slightly higher quality than the inside pages.
  • The colors are quite good, even for a non-color-managed workflow. I know better than to compare the colors of the print to my monitor, but the colors match my memory and the gamut is decent. (They explicitly say they aren’t using an ICC workflow but seem to expect sRGB input.)
  • The paper is nice. We used the slightly more expensive “premium lustre” paper.
  • The binding is quite good.

What’s on the other side of the ledger?

  • The halftone pattern is occasionally rather obvious, especially in continuous tone areas (such as the sky or clothing).
  • Some of the skies look a bit splotchy. (It’s subtle, but still . . .) I can’t tell if some noise is getting sharpened or if there are compression artifacts during upload. Perhaps it’s something else.

Next time around — and there will be a next time, I’m sure — I’m going to pay more attention to my output sharpening, image dimensions, and compression settings. (It’s testament to the quality of Blurb that you can get a good quality book on the first try without using any of the information in the support forum.)

It’s definitely a good value. And I love our book.

Posted in 101 in 1001, Australia, Book Notes, NaBloPoMo, NaBloPoMo 2010, Photography | 5 Comments