25 December 2008

merry christmas to all...

and (because the sun is glaring at me through the middle of the window at 9am) to all a good night!

I just thought I'd wish anyone stumbling upon this little blog of mine a festive holiday season and share a few of my favorite holiday tunes, hopefully unique ones that you would otherwise have a hard time finding in the vastness of the world-wide web, except that I will steer you in the right direction (links are not mine, give them a listen before they are pulled).

Stop the Cavalry
Cory Band

Christmas in the Trenches
John McCucheon

The First Noel
David Benoit

The Holidays are Here (... and We're Still at War)
Brett Dennen

Merry Christmas and peace to all,


22 December 2008

winter storm warning...

They are saying that this storm is the biggest since 1996. Of course that means you have to count all the snow we've gotten in the past two weeks combined, but still. The odd thing is this storm is really a series of storms connected by consistently low temperatures. Typically Puget Sound area winter storms are seperated by periods of warming and rainfall. This month has been unique because the temperature never rose above freezing.

This was Saturday night looking at downtown from our courtyard. It was a very dry powdery snow, hard to make snowballs, except with your bare hands. The courtyard has that festive holiday feel right now thanks to the one family that decorated their window for the season.

This is a strange view toward the dome area from late Sunday night. The snow fell slowly on and off all day, getting so thick you could barely make out the large tree in the center and then clearing up briefly so you could see all the way to Stanley & Seaforts Restaurant up on the opposite hill.

I am getting cabin fever. Oddly I only get cabin fever when I know I can't go anywhere, more so than when I am free to leave whenever I want, but don't. The plan is to wait a few hours, don thick socks, hiking boots (I am still breaking in), snow pants, gloves, and a stocking hat and head down to the park on foot to take some pictures. Then the tour will swing northeast to the bookstore I hope will be open so I can get the third book in the twilight series (it's been two whole days since I finished new moon after all) and then swing southeast to Paddy's to warm up with some grub from the pub.

Hopefully the pictures all turn out well. My camera has been acting up and I'm not sure if it is due to the firmware update or some other calamity. Somehow it doesn't always want to release the shutter, even if I'm in full manual mode. Go figure! I'll figure something out.

Stay home, drink cocoa and put a yule log on the fire folks!



01 December 2008

new toy for a grownup boy...

Realizing it has been a long time since I've posted here, I'll skip the apologies and move straight on to why I shattered my silence. I have had my eye on upgrading lenses ever since I upgraded from the D50 to D80 about this time two years ago. I realized right away the extra technical capabilities were over matched for the stock lens and the 55-200mm lens I originally purchased with the D50. Still, I knew I was looking at anywhere from 400-1000 or more for each type of lens and that would take a while to save up for!

I'll admit that lately I've been less than excited about taking pictures, partly because I don't go anywhere new very often but mostly because the camera just doesn't get enough light in a variety of situations where I would prefer to NOT have to use a flash (the sales lady is trying to change my mind on that by the way, but I'll cave in on an external flash some other day). So I finally made it down to Robi's in Lakewood and after staying a couple hours past my bedtime, I made up my mind between an ultra-wide angle and a telephoto (or both... hey, I considered it!) and picked up a Tamron AF 28-300mm f1.3-6.3 with vibration control. Neither of my old lenses were VR, so this will take some getting used to, but I already think I like it since I rarely use a tripod (the cheap one I bought a few years ago wobbles too much, hey maybe the VC will fix that too).

What sealed the deal? Well, I originally thought the ultra-wide angle lens would be the best addition to my camera bag without making either of my others feel neglected, but this lens covers such a large range that it seemed best suited to solve one of my other dilemmas--switching lenses every time I cross the magical 55mm threshold. Also, these shots taken with my 55-200 and the 28-300 made the increased capabilities of the Tamron glaringly obvious. Bear in mind this is inside the store, but it isn't exactly poorly lit either. The 300 is almost at maximum zoom, still so much more light gets through.

So I'll have to wait a little longer before I get that ultra-wide angle lens. Of course, I know exactly which one that will be. The Tamron SP AF 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 Di II is a pretty stellar compliment to the one I just purchased. Of course it leaves a gap from 24-28 but the stock lens will be quite happy to still have a reason to stay out of retirement!

I'm pretty excited about winter low-light situations--indoors and out--and I'm hoping this might finally motivate me to go take a class so I can pretend to know what I'm doing with this gizmo. Oh boy.