Well, another birthday has come and gone: another year older, another year (hopefully) wiser, and definitely another year achier.

All in all, it’s been a VERY busy weekend-plus. I helped Van with some ZPC stuff, FINALLY went birding again, went to lunch with my dad (and helped the parents get their Xmas decorations out of the attic), scanned the last of the old family photos, went to the movies to see “Cadillac Records”, and celebrated my birthday Monday by NOT checking work email our really working at all. And then last night I finally finished the ABC book that I have been creating for my nephew, Caleb.

Nikon D300

My wife is awesome and bought me the gift that I really wanted but didn’t think we should buy – a new Nikon D300. Lately, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my shooting as the lens that is my ‘go to’ lens (the Nikon VR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6) really struggles at anything less than optimum light – a bit of noise and sometimes missing the shot entirely. The D300 is supposed to have superior low-light capabilities and so I was really looking forward to having the opportunity to get those shots in the early morning or twilight. The first tests I had, at Forsythe, seem to be promising although I tended to avoid upping the ISO as much as I should be able to – a lagging apprehension from my old camera. So, we’ll have to see how it goes once I really take it through the paces.

But I have to say, my wife is awesome for ignoring my protests.

Cadillac Records

It was actually a pretty good movie – good music, decent performances, good story. In fact, it’s funny because I found myself thinking that the critical reviews that I read were exactly wrong. The reviews all talked about how Beyonce Knowles was the saving grace among lackluster performances. I felt the opposite – I thought she was the weakest link in the acting chain. Her vocal performances were okay, but she is no Etta James. However, I thought that the other actors were much better and had stronger performances. And it did a good job at showing the history of the Chess Records brand – Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry, etc. I ordered the “Best of Chess Records” CD for my father since he loves the blues, too.

ABC Book

One of my big Christmas projects was an ABC book for my nephew, Caleb. It started back when we visited him and my sister and brother-in-law back in April. I took lots of pictures of Caleb and we shared a bunch of really good times looking at nature, and I figured that I would try to blend those with an alphabet book.

I started by writing the poems – or rather, simple rhymes – which is harder than it seems. First of all, I had to pick a subject for each letter and THEN figure out a rhyme for each letter pair that didn’t sound completely lame (him being 3 gave me some leeway there). Then, once I had the bad rhyming done, it came to finding pictures that matched the topic – bird pictures for “T” (towhee), “G” (gnatcatcher) and “E” (emu); family pictures for “M” (‘uncle’ Marty), “P” (Pop Pop); random other shots for things I didn’t have a picture of. Then I added some artistic touches to those where it made sense – my ‘felt’ period, as it were. I used a felt texture and created shapes that looked like they had been cut out of pieces of felt.

Then came saving them all as .jpgs (when Photoshop and my computer didn’t crash, that is) and then using to create the 30-page full-bleed 7″x7″ book. I had to finish by midnight PST last night, so as of about 1:20 a.m. locally I was putting on the finishing touches and ordering the book. You can see some of the sample pages below, or visit the Flickr set I created.

Caleb's ABC Book Caleb's ABCs :: C Caleb's ABCs :: D Caleb's ABCs :: E Caleb's ABCs :: F


One Response to “Birthday

Leave a Reply