Saturday, November 7, 2009

Women and children first

Commentary Lets start by setting the scene. It is Saturday morning and mom has been up since 7:00am - two hours earlier than normal because it is family picture day. The kids are dressed ... again ... and she is now in the process of getting her makeup on as dad chases the two year-old down the hall to retrieve her cherry scented lipstick before it is eaten or fed to the dog. The five year old tries to help dad but ends up running into the kitchen island, face first, instead. Dad finally nabs the two year old and both kids are now crying. One in pain and the other is just plain upset.

45 minutes later the family is at the studio and it's "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." time. So who goes first?

When it comes to family portrait sessions, and as the photographer, I have two general rules. One: work quickly and TWO: shoot the kids (youngest to oldest first) and then mom. The reasoning behind this is a simple one. Most children under the age of four, have a very short attention span, thus making the chance of getting viable images drastically decrease, every minute they are in front of the lens. At most, you will have about 8-10 minutes to get 'the' shot. After that, you will have better luck herding a pack of blind cats.

Once they are done, get mom in there. The longer she sits and waits or tries to keep the kids in check, the more likely her makeup and demeanor will start to fail - especially if her day started off like the above. Once her shots are done, shoot dad, put them all together, get that shot and then you're golden.

Since they are the most difficult, here are a few quick tips to remember when shooting those families with younger children.
  • Have the rest of the family stay out of eye site except one chosen parent. Wee ones have a hard time focusing on one thing, so remove all the distractions you can.

  • If you want them to look at the camera, have that parent stand behind you and talk to them over your shoulder. This works wonders.

  • Bring one of their favorite toys to the shoot. If you're having issues getting them to sit still and keep focused, tell them that you want to take a picture of the toy and that you need them to hold it on their lap for you. When they do, just can come in and shoot a head-shot or capture the entire scene if that toy does contribute to the shot.

  • Smile. It is contagious, as we all know and will make them fell more comfortable with you.
Hopefully, this information will help the shoot to go more smoothly as well as creating some great images that the family will cherish for years to come. Good luck and happy shooting!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Q&A with Mr J. HOW-TO: Post production workflow

TutorialCommentaryHere is episode 3 in my 'what can I do for you to make you a better photographer and suck less' series. I goes a little like this:

I'm a bit rusty on this, but I've noticed that:

Nobody is using their supplied software to PP their picts.
A lot of people are letting their hosting site resize their picts at upload.
They're PP'ing with their host sites software
If they are PP'ing, they're not fixing sharpness or contrast after resizing.

Any thoughts on this? Since I'm a "hobbyist only" on this, my PP flow may not be optimal. Plus it will help those that really do wish to improve.
- I'wanna B. Better

Well let me start off with this: Post production (pp/PP) work-flow is a lot like cooking. There are a lot of dishes that can be prepared from the same ingredients, it is knowing how to add them and in what quantities that make the food fab or fail.

  • Some folks can't cook or choose not to learn.
    • If the final result of your image is not that important, then maybe frozen dinners are the best option for you. Not very flavorful and all the great, but filling non the less. They get the job done.
  • Some folks cook ... and never should till they have/take a few lessons.
    • There is not much worse to a pp artist then to see an image that has been over worked and ruined by a misuse or to often, overuse, of a method. Mostly it is sharpening that gets overdone.
      • Think of it as salt. A little bit can go a long way. Too much, and the image is no longer palatable.
  • Cooking is an art form when done right.
    • This is self explanatory.
  • With some skill you can make a crap dish still appealing if you know what your doing.
    • This comes down to mostly one thing: practice, practice practice. Know your 'tools' an use the right one for the job at hand.
    • A skilled (well trained or self taught) pp artist can make a fail image fab with a bit of clever manipulation.
    • EXAMPLE: Before and the After.
  • Knowing when to add certain ingredients is paramount as well as how much.
    • Salt is to cooking as sharpening is to pp work. More on this later ...
  • Good prep work needs to be done before to make the process smoother.
    • Before diving in to the the deep pp processes (spot removal, dust and scratches, removing blemishes) make sue you have covered the basic pp areas first. More on this as well.
    • Start off with small amounts and add more if needed. It is far easier to add more spice then to try and remove it.
      Again a no brainer.

Okay, on to the meat of this post and to address the question/statements above.

Quote: Nobody is using their supplied software to PP their pics
First, we need to know if this is an if/then statement. Say:
IF Nobody is using their supplied software to PP their pics. Why not?

... or ...

Since nobody is using their supplied software to PP their pics then they most be using something else.
In this case, I think it is the first option. If I may interject my understanding of that statement, it would go as follows.
Just about every camera on the market comes with software that allows you to modify your images in some way. Why aren't the people using it to make their images look better? It doesn't make any sense.
I agree.

If you want your images to look as good as you can make them, with little to know deep pp knowledge, then one should be using, at lest, the SW that came with your camera. It is usually very user friendly and easy to understand. Pretty much all SW now comes with a help file that explains what it is that each of its functions does and how to best use said function.

The typical SW package will allow the user to do at least some basic editing of their images - the image modifications that a primarily used by the general user. Saturation, contrast, gamma, brightness, crop, rotate, sharpening, color conversion (B&W, sepia, etc.) and a couple others. The higher end cameras will often come with better SW, allowing for greater control of the creative/pp process.

Play with your SW. Even if it is just for an hour or two. If the program comes with a tutorial - go through it. Use an image that you really don't care about as your practice shot. Just remember, there is [almost] always the UNDO button.

Quote: A lot of people are letting their hosting site resize their picts at upload.
In my opinion, this is bad. Period. For one you have no control over the end result. Secondly, most services go for file size NOT image quality. The result is a small, over compressed, partially desaturated, un-sharp, artifact riddled image who's colors are not accurate to the original.

To get good results, you need to do your own resizing and when saving, set the JP(E)G compression settings yourself. From 1-100, I never go below 70 for my JPG quality. To me, any setting lower then that gives unexceptionable results.

Quote: They're PP'ing with their host sites software
Some sites do have this option. For example, Photobucket does. I can not say that I have used it, but I do see that it is there should I want to. I use p-bucket myself for most of my web-posing images. Why? They're free, they give you TONS of space, they're fast and (going to the previous question) they don't re-sample your images. What you put up there is what you get in return.

Remember this about JPG images and online editors: JPG's use a lossy image compression. (The smaller the file, the more of the images original 'data' is lost in the process) Now, if you upload a JPG to your hosting site, it has already been compressed - either by you in a SAVE AS: JPG action, or by your cameras default file type. If you then edit this image online, the resulting file will now have been compressed twice, resulting in a greater loss of data and quality.

Think of it this way: a JPG image is like a soda can that you smashed flat to make it smaller for storage. When you edit a JPG image you are, in essence, expanding that can again. This time, it has wrinkles, folds and bends in it that it did not start with. You do your thing and save it as a JPG again - adding more damage to it and further decreasing it's quality. Eventually, if you do this enough, your can is no longer viable and is ruined - the quality has been degraded to such a point that it is hard to see what the original can even looked like.

Re-sample once. Save once.

QUICK NOTE: there is a difference between resizing and resampling. You resize an image in a photocopier by blowing it up or making it smaller. Any bad spots are made more obvious in the process.
When you resamlple an image, it is more like you're redrawing it from scratch - just smaller or larger than the original.

Quote: If they are PP'ing, they're not fixing sharpness or contrast after resizing.
This is important and I will address it now along with what I use as my PP workflow. Here are the steps I take and the order I take them.

NOTE: I use Lightroom 2.5 & Photoshop CS3 - Lightroom first, then Photoshop. For the moment, I will write the below as if I used Photoshop only. In the steps below that are adjustments to the 'look' of the image and that do not actually edit the pixels, I use ADJUSTMENT LAYERS. Never tweak the original if at all possible.

1) Noise reduction. If it needs it, that is. I use two different reducers. Noise Ninja and Noiseware. NN works (ideally) with profiles that are for your specific camera. Noiseware does 'learned' profiling and had FAR more options for fine tuning the removal.

2) Color correct your images. It is best to start off correct rather then to try and fix. I use a gray card. They are cheap and easy to use. If you can afford them, a Gretag MacBeth Color Chart or the awesome Spyder Cube, are great too.

3) Adjust your brightness and contrast. A image that is too dark or too bright are just painful to look at. An image that has poor contrast can often look 'flat' and boring. I predominately use the LEVELS tool in photoshop. With it you can make the blacks black, the whites white and even fix color casts that are tinting the image.

4) Remove the dust, lint, hairs, scratches, blemishes, zits and whatnot from your images. In photoshop, this is best done with the HEAL tool - NOT the CLONE tool. The HEAL tool uses a source point. It extrapolates from it, and the destination area, to create a natural look that p-shop sees as the best combination of both. Works VERY well.

5) Selective adjustments. These are the ones that you do to only a portion of the image. Brighten the eyes. Whiten the teeth. Sharpen an area.

6) Resample to the size you want. For web postings, I usually go for a size between 500 & 800. They are large enough to see 'what is going on' and still provide decent detail, while staying within the confines of most forums image posting restrictions.

7) Sharpen for the web. Remember, like salt, a little bit goes a long way. On average I use SMART SHARPEN with a setting of around:
Amount: 200%
Radius: 0.2 pixels
Remove: Gaussian Blur
This adds detail to the small areas w/o being overdone.

8) Use the SAVE AS to save the file. NEVER overwrite your original file. You may need it later.

9) Upload the file to a service that neither resizes/resamples nor recompresses your files. Both are, again, bad!

I hope that this information is useful and will help you to produce good quality images that you are proud to display.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Q&A with Mr J. QUESTION: More of the image in focus

TutorialCommentaryI got the another PM from one of my fellow members over in the forum. Being the cool guy that I am, I once again decided to place the contents here for all of you to enjoy, praise, extol the virtues of ... you know ... Okay, fine. You caught me. I'll just be happy if you read the friggin' thing.

So the PM goes like this:

"I read your comment about chromatic aberration and I have another question about the same image. What adjustments would have to be made to have more of the image in focus? Would the f-stop needed to be adjusted? Longer lens further away from the subject? I have tried similar shots with similar results. If you can help me, that would be wonderful!"
- Narrow Focus

Well, you are right on both counts as to what may help. First, I want to state what chromatic aberration is for those who may not know.
CA is usually seen at very bright portions of an images next to darker ones and is due in part to the internal glass (elements) of your lens. Here is a great article that explains it very well in addition to one way to remove it in photoshop: CORRECTING CHROMATIC ABERRATIONS


NOTE: All the info below is based off of a D-SLR camera with interchangeable lenses, since it is what I have, but the idea will work with a P&S with macro capabilities as well.

The amount of the image that is in focus is commonly referred to as it's Depth of Field.

If your image has a shallow/short DoF, then there is only a small portion of that image that is sharp and clear.

If your image has a deep/long DoF, then there is good portion of that image that is sharp(er) and clear(er).

You can have it both ways, just not both at the same time.

Here is the thing about DoF - know what it is that you want going in to the shot so that you can make the best use of the DoF you have available to you.

As you have noticed, deep DoF images are more prevalent in commercial use where the entire subject needs to be in focus in order to show detail. Buildings, clothes, cars, landscapes, items, etc. Shallow DoF lends itself far more to the artistic side of photography and is used to emphasize a certain area with sharp detail, leaving the rest in a softer focus.

NOTE: there is a DIRECT relation between light amount, f-stop and shutter time. If you have a constant light source and maintain a set ISO (film speed), every time you change your f-stop, your shutter speed with change as well. Smaller apertures mean longer shutter times. Longer shutter times means more chance for blur to occur from camera shake. Bear this in mind when shooting at smaller f-stops. It is here that a trigger release and shutter lock-up starts to come in very handy.

Here is how the distance to your subject relates to your DoF:

As a general rule the further you are from an object, the larger DoF area you will have. The closer, the narrower it becomes. This is also true with the length of your lens. The shorter/wider the lens is in mm's, the larger the DoF. The longer the lens, the shorter the DoF. For example a 10mm lens has almost no DoF wide open (or it would be better measured in feet) while a 100mm lens like mine, can have a DoF as shallow as 0.25-0.5mm.

In the shot below taken with my 100mm Tokina macro at f/8 at its minimum focus distance of 11.8" (30cm), the sharp DoF was about 0.75mm - after that you can start to see the blur increase.

Note the two 45's.

On that watch, their distance in height from one another is about 1.25mm, yet the 45 on the bezel is already starting to blur ... at f/8. At f/2.8 it was completely blurry.

Here, I used my Canon 70-300 IS USM at f/5.6 at 300mm from about 50 feet. With this lens at its max zoom, you can see that the usable DoF is around 6-10 feet while the sharp DoF is about 1.5 feet - and - it was shot at f/5.6 not f/8 as above. That is because of the length of the lens and the distance to the subject.

The rider was brought 'closer' with the zoom, thus separating him from the background and shortening the DoF.

The interesting thing is: both of these images were shot completely different yet have shallow DoF. Isn't it great?

Ok. So here is how to use lens length in conjunction with your f-stop:

If you have say a 100mm macro lens, you are able to get fairly close to your subject - that means your usable DoF will be very small. Understanding that, if you want more of your watch to be in focus, say somewhere around 4-6mm, you will have to increase your f-stop to at least f/16 or higher.

What you need to do is experiment with your cameras aperture settings.

Start by setting your camera to it's version of Aperture Priority. This will let you control the size of the cameras aperture (measured in f-stops) and forcing the camera to take care of the rest of the settings based off of the aperture you choose.

The first thing to do is start off by looking for your lens's 'sweet spot' - the smallest aperture you can use while still retaining perfect clarity at the point where you focused. Any aperture above that sweet spot may bring more of the background in to focus but at the cost of sharpness of the focal area.

Once you have found it, this will be the f-stop that you do not want to pass unless loosing sharpness at your focus point becomes less of an issue. Say, when shooting landscapes at distance.

Now, all you need do is shoot your subject at all the aperture settings (up to that sweet spot). Start at the larges (smallest number) and go one step at a time.

For mine that would be: 2.8, 3.2, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.6, 6.3, 7.1 8.0, 9.0, 10, 11, 13, 14 & 16

When done, pick the one(s) you like best or that fit your need. After a while, you will learn what f-stop work best and not have to shoot at all of them, just a couple up and down. This often called AEB bracketing (auto exposure), and it is part of most DSLR's custom function options.

Ok. If you have a longer lens, say the awesome Canon 180mm macro. You will now be farther away from your subject, increasing your sharp DoF area some. You may go from 4-6mm at f/16 to 6-10mm at f/8.

A P&S camera falls in to the position somewhere between both of these examples.

Usually the macro function only works at close range, limiting your DoF to the short end. You might then choose to zoom in and increase your DoF some, but at the (usual) cost of image clarity and sharpness. Due in part to the actual distance, lens quality and possible camera shake.

I hope that has, is some way, answered your question and will aid you in taking better images of your watches in to the future ... and beyond!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Q&A with Mr J. QUESTION: can photoshop help improve my pictures?

TutorialCommentary I got the following PM from one of my fellow members over in the forum and I decided to post the answer here so that anyone who has the same general question, can hopefully glean some useful information.

"hey how you Beau i have a canon xsi i would like to get better at my picture taking can photoshop help improve my pictures can you point me in the right direction please thank you."
- Photoshopless in the WG Land

Well, let me start off with an anecdote that might help.
A writer and a photographer were both at a signing in a local mall; sitting next to each other.

The writer leans over to the photg and says

"Your images are truly outstanding and beautiful. You must have an awesome camera."

The photographer smiles and says

"Thank you very much. By the way, I read your book. It was very well written and hard to put down. You must have a fantastic pen."
With that said, you have to look at your tools for what they are. Tools. Your camera is a tool just as photoshop is a tool - neither of which will produce great images on their own. What makes great photography is the artist behind the tools - or in this case, the lens.

Your Canon XSi is a 12.2mp camera which is PLENTY large for great pics - so you have that covered. What is important, when it comes to the world of DSLRs, is that you have good GLASS.

You can throw a $100 lens on a $7,000 dollar 1DS Mk III and your pics will suck. In contrast, you can put a >$450 dollar lens on a $475 XSi and take FANTASTIC images.

In general you can not equate the cost of the camera body with the quality of the images. The bodies cost is attributed to it's feature set. More better features = more $$. In reality, the body is just a box to hold the sensor ... all the 'magic' happens through the lens.

A $2 hammer will pond nails just like a $20 one.
Photoshop is a fantastic tool, in the right hands. Just like a knife is to a surgeon, photoshop is to a good editor. A scalpel in the hands of a meat packer makes him a butcher - and trust me - photoshop used the wrong way will, indeed, butcher your images.

What photoshop has the power to do is: take a good image and make it outstanding. The catch is knowing how to make that happen. What steps are needed to polish the pixels till they gleam.

I can say this about my images: if they look good to anyone, it is partially due to the fact that I have spent 1000's, if not 10's of 1000's of hours in that photoshop. The other 90% is because they were not bad to start with.

This is the focus of this post.

You asked of photoshop can 'help improve my pictures' and the answer to that question is Yes ... if you have something to improve upon. Let's think woodworking and making a desk, for a moment.

You have to start with a good piece of wood, plans/blueprints, have the proper tools to cut and assemble the wood into the a fore mentioned desk and the ability/talent to do so. Once you have the desk ready, it needs to be 'finished'. Sanded, stained, re-sanded, wiped free of dust and coated in resin, varnish, lacquer, oil or whatever strikes your fancy. Polish to a shine and you now have complete desk. Done

Photoshop is what lets you finish your works of art. The thing to know is that it needs to be ready for finishing for the process for it to do any good. There is no point in polishing a log.
So, with all the analogies out of the way, here is the direction I can point you in. Actually, it's a few directions but you can get to them all from where you are.
  1. Know your subject
    • Be aware of the properties, habitat or habits of your photographic focus.

  2. Use the right tool for the job
    • You usually don't want to shoot elephants with a macro lens.

  3. Have a plan before you start firing away
    • Think about the end result you want after all the shooting and editing is done and what you need to get there.

  4. Think about your environment in relation to your subject
    • If you shoot people outside, at noon, in the summer, on a cloudless day, they will squint. How do you avoid that?
    • If the subject is shiny, you may need to remove sources of reflection, change the light source and position or a combination of everything.
    • If the subject is heavily back-lit, you may need some fill flash to keep from having silhouettes - unless that is what you planned in step 2.

  5. Remember the 'Rule of Thirds'
    • You have to see it to know what it is. Check out what Wiki , Digital Photography School and BetterPhoto have to say.
    • Know that there are exceptions to the rule - like shooting a full watch face, front on or most product photography.

  6. Be aware of the background
    • Remember, anything in the image that doesn't not directly add to the composition or the story, is a distraction. I do mean anything. Lights, shadows, reflections, dust (when shooting macro), hair, etc.

  7. Diffuse your light source whenever possible
    • It is a RARE occasion when you want harsh shadows and blaring light. Soften it up.

  8. Have a good sturdy tripod
    • Here is a blog post I did about this very subject: The Tripod: A Force for Good or Tool of the Devil

  9. Take your flash off of the camera
    • If you have an external flash, get it up, left, right, anywhere but attached to the hot shoe. I made this for mine: Creating your own HOT shoe 2 extension cable.
Those are some of the basic things you need to be aware of to take better images. Another thing you can do was suggested by a very well known and well paid friend of mine, Mr Scott Bourne. He says that ... and I will paraphrase:
If you want to take better pictures, go look at 10,000 images. Examine them. Determine what makes them good, or bad. Look at the lighting, composition, color, contrast and subject. The use of positive and negative space. By this sheer exposure and observation you will improve your photography 100% and proper composition will start to come second nature ... all without ever snapping a shot.
In addition to that. You are shooting digital, free of the cost equated with learning like I did with film.

Shoot till your cards melt, then buy new cards and melt them. Keep the good and delete the rest. Practice, practice, practice.

I hope that this helps and in some way, will facilitate in nudging you in the proper direction towards better photography.

Monday, August 24, 2009

36 Twitter Hash Tags That Never Were

FunnyFunnyFor those of you who do not know or who have never used Twitter (shame on you), a hash tag is the '#' symbol followed by a word or two, all mashed together. It is used in a post in order for other twitter users to track a particular trending topic. Some of the current topics as of today are: #itsnotcheating, #fact, #musicmonday, #shoutout and the ever popular #ff and #followfriday.

Here is the definition given by the folks at Hash Tags dot Org.
"Hashtags are a community-driven convention for adding additional context and metadata to your tweets. They're like tags on Flickr, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag."
Now, for these to work effectively and to track the actual use of a tag, one must register that tag over at someplace like the a fore mentioned, . Once done, when you look up that tag on their site, you can see how often it is used and to what extent. Got it? Good. If not, catch up, will ya?

So, an knee hoo ... after a fun evening exchanging tweets with a few of my followers, I noticed two in particular that use any hash tag that happens to pop in to their head. Both in complete disregard to their intended purpose because they will never use it again. Ever.

To these two, and others like them, the tags seem to be a sub-micro blog in a micro blog.

Now, twitter gives you 140 characters to post your ... whatever ... but for the hash tag assassins, that is entirely way to much room. The ones they create are usually 2-8 words long and are a short statement or question, done in a 'after the fact' or 'on a side note' style.

Now, after attempting to enlighten one of these fellow tweeters @Tejas74 (yes it's a lame moniker but it is better than twits) on the proper etiquette of hash tag inclusion in their posts, I decided to see just how serious of a hash tag infraction had been committed by this and one other nameless individual ... who shall remain nameless and with out name. @CrixLee

After only 10 minutes, I was able to pull from the bowels of the twitter vault the following 36 never to be used again by man hash tags. They are as follows:
  1. #whythefuckisithotagain
  2. #fuckmerunning
  3. #hashfuckingtag
  4. #fuckthat
  5. #dinnerinaboxcausewifedoesntcook
  6. #poopvaccum
  7. #areyoufuckingkiddingme
  8. #whoareyouhowdidigetheregetoffmylawn
  9. #redneckjackpot
  10. #mymomisepicwin
  11. #ballbuster
  12. #imacheapwhore
  13. #uselesstweetsarehilarious
  14. #igotyounowbitch
  15. #tweetdeckbitch
  16. #rrraaaiiiidddd
  17. #drgreenegsandalham
  18. #beerandmovieftw
  19. #imdeslexic
  20. #snuggiefail
  21. #comeheremousebitch
  22. #huffin
  23. #frozenwaltonastick
  24. #imabadasslikewhiskeywhiskey
  25. #okyoucaughtme
  26. #mamasaidshewouldntbefamousuhhh
  27. #mamasgotthemagicofclorox2
  28. #marthacomehome
  29. #waitforitwaitforit
  30. #undieshereicome
  31. #tveducationftw
  32. #fayetweetsjustfine
  33. #divorcephotographerfo
  34. #damnyourainyousob
  35. #igrewupinatrailer
  36. #idontknowshitaboutcomputers
Now remember, this was a 10 minute search on two tweeple (twitterisims FTW! Sorry, #FTW) and all the above were brought to the surface. Aye yaye yaye. Now I don't know about you but ... that is some funny crap right there. I don't care who you are.

With that said, I guess that I will let these two slide and not report them to the Misuse of Hash Tag Early Response Squad, MOTHERS for short, for their tweet crimes.

If you want to do your part and stop the hash tag assassins before they can commit another heinous, how be it funny, butchering of a defenseless hash tag, then become a Deputy in Reforming Twitter Yokels.

As a DIRTY agent, it will be your responsibility to help bring these criminals to justice, thus propelling you on your way to becoming a full-fledged DIRTY MOTHER in no time at all. Sign up. Do your part. Stop the insanity before another guffaw is produced by the death of an innocent hash tag.

Thank you and God bless.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Little Something to Think About

RantCommentaryHere is a little something that came to me via email. Now, normally I do not put much effort beyond RIGHT CLICK > JUNK E-MAIL > ADD TO BLOCK SENDERS LIST when I get these, but this time I read it over and decided to place the contents here. It's on a subject that we all love and cherrish: taxes (and by 'love and cherish' I mean despise and utterly loath).

Here we go ...

545 PEOPLE - By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank (a PRIVATE COMPANY) does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it.......... Is up to you.

This might be funny if it weren't so darned true.
Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table
At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for peanuts

Tax his cow,

Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,

Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won't be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He's good and sore.
Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he's laid.

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
Taxes drove me
to my doom...'

When he's gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.
Here are a few others that we must pay ...
  1. Accounts Receivable Tax
  2. Building Permit Tax
  3. CDL license Tax
  4. Cigarette Tax
  5. Corporate Income Tax
  6. Dog License Tax
  7. Excise Taxes
  8. Federal Income Tax
  9. Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
  10. Fishing License Tax
  11. Food License Tax
  12. Fuel Permit Tax
  13. Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
  14. Gross Receipts Tax
  15. Hunting License Tax
  16. Inheritance Tax
  17. Inventory Tax
  18. IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
  19. Liquor Tax
  20. Luxury Taxes
  21. Marriage License Tax
  22. Medicare Tax
  23. Personal Property Tax
  24. Property Tax
  25. Real Estate Tax
  26. Service Charge T ax
  27. Social Security Tax
  28. Road Usage Tax
  29. Sales Tax
  30. Recreational Vehicle Tax
  31. School Tax
  32. State Income Tax
  33. State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
  34. Telephone Federal Excise Tax
  35. Telephone Federal Universal Ser vice FeeTax
  36. Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
  37. Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge=2 0Tax
  38. Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
  39. Telephone State and Local Tax
  40. Telephone Usage Charge Tax
  41. Utility Taxes
  42. Vehicle License Registration Tax
  43. Vehicle Sales Tax
  44. Watercraft Registration Tax
  45. Well Permit Tax
  46. Workers Compensation Tax
STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY? Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the hell happened? Can you spell 'politicians?' And I still have to 'press 1' for English!?
As I have said in the past: any government that relies solely on the taxation of its citizens for income, is destined for failure. There will come a time when the government becomes so immense that the populace can no longer support it and it will collapse.

Why doesn't our government run and operate it's OWN companies to generate income? Make cars. Make computers. Hell, make cheese ... just make it and sell it and give us a break.

Currently in the US, you can insure against almost anything. Car wrecks, floods, earthquakes, fire, theft, hurricanes, health and the list goes on. I wonder if my agent can write me up a policy for 'Governmental Collapse' and add it to my bill?

I better check on that ASAP ...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Twitter Background Template for Photoshop

MediaTutorialFor those of us who are disinterested in 'running with the pack' and feel the need to assert your individuality, without all the trouble of covering your bodies in tattoos, piercings, wearing mohawks, getting surgically created Vulcan ears or legally changing your name to Krill 'The Ballrog Slayer & Defnender of Midgard' Kochanski, then I have a simple and less costly solution: design your own Twitter background. One that reflects your inner 'you-ness' and states loud and proud that you're an avid sponge collector and love the color puce.

Now to be honest, there are sites across the vast internets that allow you to create a custom background, on-line, from a base template ... but where is the fun in that? For those feeling the urge to release their inner Photoshop monster and embrace the fervent joy that comes with pushing pixels, I say:

'No sir, this simply will not do.

I am the master of my own domain ( and refuse to yield to the temptation that these sites offer.

For they deprive me of the gift of pure creation - something from the utter nothingness that is File - New ... (or File - Open ... in this case).

No! I want to live ... and my photoshop-fu ...

is ...


If this sounds like you, then God help you because you're a bit 'off' ... but that doesn't mean we still can't be friends. It also means that I have created the template that you seek and it is available for download here:

If you have questions about this template (that is not directly related to 'how to use Photoshop') you may direct message me in Twitter @MrJoatmon or place a comment in this Blog below. If you like, you may also post a link to your Twitter page with it's newly created BG for the rest of the Twittersverse to check out.

Now, go forth and create!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Pacific in HDR: B&W to Duotone

MediaSome of you are thinking "What are all those words up there in the title? B&W. Got it ... but HDR and Duotone?" Well, for you fine folks, I will let my old buddy Mr. Wiki tell you all about it!

HDR: In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of luminances between light and dark areas of a scene than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.
This is done by combining multiple images with different exposure levels in to a single image that contains all the exposure information of the selected shots. Photomatix and Photoshop are two applications that can render HDR images.
For even more info go HERE.

Duotone: Duotone is a halftone reproduction of an image using the superimposition of a contrasty black halftone over a one color halftone. This is most often used to bring out middle tones and highlights of an image. The most common colors used are blue, yellow, browns and reds.

Now that you have been enlightened, informed, educated, wised up, instructed, knowing what's what and here by knowledgeable: here is an image that incorporates HDR to B&W to Duotone. All three are strong images types in their own right but together, make some rather awesome imagery.

HDR is a fairly new style that gets a lot of press and is about 50/50 on the like/dislaike scale. Let me know if you like or dislike HDR images and why?

For more images in the HDR style, you can visit my Flickr area HDR: My Way for more examples to better base your opinion from.


This shot was taken aboard the M.S. Paradise Carnival cruise liner while out to see en route to Mexico with a Canon 5D and 28-135 IS USM lens, tripod mounted.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Wordle of the day is ...

FunnyJust some fun-ness on a Friday afternoon. What is that image below, you say? Well, it is called a Wordle and it is graphic representation of 'words on a common theme'. This one happens to be created from the top 200 words I use in Twitter. Who knew?!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

5.5 Minutes

CommentaryA quick entry to show the world that the reports of my death were greatly exaggerated. With that I give you 5.5 Minutes of lightning strikes.

This is 11 lightning images merged together to create one image that spans five and a half minutes. Taken in Mitchell, Oregon and was shot on July 4th 2006 - what better fireworks.

Something odd about shooting this storm: from the location of the camera it was dead quiet. All these strikes going on all around me yet, no thunder. Very eerie.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Tripod: A Force for Good or Tool of the Devil

CommentaryIn this article, Japanese Scientists Say Tripods Increase Camera Shake, posted by Ron Brinkman on Twitter, it states that:
"... putting the camera on a tripod can actually make things worse ... as the mirror flips up to let light onto the sensor of film, it shakes the camera and — according to the Nishi Lab — lowers resolution by up to 75%."
It also says that the tripod they tested weighed less then 3.3 pounds. Out of all the info in this article, I feel that this is the most important tidbit and also just goes to show that 'you get what you pay for' when purchasing your tripod.

I have a heavy Bogen/Manfrotto that I was looking to update to a carbon fiber model for weight considerations. Better on the back but maybe slightly worse on the image quality, if this information is to be believed. Tripod weight being the main factor in shutter vibration.

I feel that the majority of camera shake on tripods comes not from the fact that they may be light, but rather when they are at their max extension - especially the center shaft. If you can at all avoid going to the limits of your tripods legs and center column, you will have a better end product. Now, obviously, a heaver product will provide better movement cancellation with its greater mass but I still do not recommend pushing your tripods to its height limits - heavy or not.

Many companies manufacture products that are designed to help remove tripod shake but most are built on the same design. That of adding weight to the tripod via bags. Either ones filled with sand or water. Both will work well but are really only good if you are taking shots by your mode of transportation. After all, I do not want to lug sand or mass quantities of water on a photo-hike. My gear bag weighs enough.

A little trick I use to reduce shake when I do have to go to the tripods limits and am not going to be by my ride is to take two things. A medium length bungee cord and a screw in dog tie-out.
Dog Tie-out
With these two items, you can either bungee the bottom of your tripods center column to your camera bag (if you only need a little weight) or screw the tie-out into the ground and bungee to it.

On the latter, a note of warning. Of you have a tripod of a lesser build quality and you have the bungee putting a LOT of down-force on the center column, it could pull it down, even if it is tightened fully. The other thing is: the amount of down-force could possibly bend lesser tripods legs, especially if they are set to a wide stance. To avoid this you may want to carry a couple bungees of different lengths as a choice for different tensions.

I hope that this bit of info will help you to take better, sharper and cleaner images. Now, go out and shoot!

Was this info useful or do you have a alternate method to help in stabilization, let me know by commenting below.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

SPECIAL UPDATE: See the Previous Entry to See Why This is X-TRA Sweet

FunnyMediaWow. Just ... wow. Seriously, I'm gunna' pass out here. I'm all a Twitter inside. See what I did there? How I worked that little bit of self-promotion in on ya like that, thinly disguised as basic commentary? I'm clever that way. Believe it!

Okay, okay ... without further ado, here is why I'm all a-quiver:

Swoon ........

PS: Does this segment make me sound fat?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Photography on the DOT Net - Published Shots for Book III

MediaCommentaryFor all of you who do not know, and trust me, there are LOT of you out there who don't, I am a member over at Photography on the.Net - a great forum for Canon camera users.

Each year, they hold a contest for their members, where they compete against each other for entry in to that years book. Needless to say, when you are up against 100's if not 1000's of pro and semi-pro photographers, the competition can be very tough. With that in mind, I was so honored to receive an email from the moderators about my entries. Here is part of the release post:
"The Book Committee and the Book Team would like to thank everyone who submitted an image this year, over 1100 images in all. We wished it was feasible to publish all 1100. Final tally shows that there are 308 photos to be published in Volume 3."

- Permagrin
The images are chosen by the members of Photography on the Net; whom the vast majority are photographers themselves. No one knows who entered what image as they are 'unsigned'. So you can not vote for a person, only for the image based on it's own merits - not on the merit of the photographer or their reputation.

For my entries , I submitted to 13 of the 16 categories and had 7 of them chosen for positions in the book!

In each section there are two major positions. That of the Signature Shot (the shot that best represents the category and had the most votes) and the Max Shot. This is the second largest shot in a section and goes to the shot that had the second highest number of votes. I was lucky to have two of my shots as Max Shots and one as a Signature Shot.

Here are the images of mine to be contained in Book III and the categories they are to be in.

Weddings & Other Family Events

People | Signature Shot

Nature & Landscapes

Astronomy & Celestial | Max Shot


Urban Life & Travel

Still Life, B/W & Experimental | Max Shot

All in all, I'm pretty excited that a half-ass photographer, such as my self, was able to garner so many positions across such a wide spectrum of categories. Most of the time, my diversity (I am Mr. Joatmon, after all) is a hindrance to my professional endeavors (i.e: getting a real job) but in this case, it seemed to turn out 'Okay'.

So, which of these images do you like the best and why? Please by as through as possible in your comments. Around a 200-15,000 word explanation should be enough to placate me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Very 1st Poll! Weeeee

Hello! How are all you wonderful, fantastic, sexy, good looking, inspirational, intelligent, enlightened, funny, devoted, energetic, smart, laid back, sophisticated, city dwelling, country folks doing today?

Insert your answer here: _________________

Well, that is just awesome/terrible. I'm so happy/saddened to hear that and I hope everything stays great/gets better soon.

OK, now that I have gotten myself into everyone's good Graces by my obviously sincere yet completely contrived attempt to include everyone, in every type of situation, with the previous sentence, I want to ask you all a favor.

Since I am new to this whole blogging thing, I desire your opinions on whether or not I should a)continue trying to keep you entertained, informed and contemplative or should I b)let this thing to die off before it becomes gangrenous and beyond the healing capabilities of God and man?

In order to get this information, I need you to do two things. Firstly: you need to read my Blogg - all of it! Seriously, no cheating. Secondly: a need to to click HERE and answer the brief poll. That's it! It's really that easy!

Just think about it this way: this is your opportunity two either bolster my spirits and let me know that this is all worthwhile or crush them like so many dead leaves under your feet.

If you decide to do the latter, please leave me a comment as to why you think that: as a Blogger, Mr. Joatmon = epic fail. I will then do my best not to purchase a voodoo doll in your likeness, cram it full of poisoned needles, douse it with kerosene, set it ablaze, wait till it is a charred crisp, extinguish it with a rusty ax and bury it in the backyard under a steaming pile of dog poo.

I patiently await your responses.

PS: I don't really have a rusty ax.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet Goes the Twitters

FunnyCommentaryAs hard as it is to believe, being as funny as I am (pats self on back), I have relatively few followers on Twitter. I know, I know it is difficult to believe . I mean, after all, someone with my obvious powers of wit and charm should be able to elicit a grand following without much effort - but sadly, that is not the case.

In order to combat this fact, I've decided to create a Top 20 list describing all the means necessary to propel oneself into Twitter stardom - or as it is known, the twittersphere.

Once in the twittersphere, you will find yourself in the presence of, non-other then: Wil Wheaten, Brittany Spears, MC hammer, Scott Bourne, "Weird" Al, William Shatner, Greg Grunberg, LeVar Burton and Brent Spiner - all of which, have never replied to me. Not once. Man I suck.

So here's my Top 20 list, as recently posted on Twitter.

  1. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.1 Twitter at peak times. By "peak times" I mean "the time during the day when NOT @ your computer".

  2. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.2: Be famous. People will follow you in HOPES that at some point THEY will get the @ at THEM.

  3. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.3: Give stuff away. Done. I gave away FREE AIR to everyone in the Twittersphere. New followers = 0.

  4. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.4: Have something useful to say. Well, I say "Follow me". See there, that is useful to ME.

  5. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.5: Post links to stuff that either does not exist yet or that no one can afford, except the No.2s

  6. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.6: Eat lots of greens & fiber. It may not help you get followers, but a good BM is it's own reward.

  7. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.7: "RT" all the stuff you were too lame to come up with on your own. 2nd hand fame. For the WIN!

  8. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.8: Blog where U post about Twitter. Twitter about your blog where U post about Twitter. Repeat.

  9. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.9: eMail EVERYONE of your contacts. Say "All U did to me will be forgiven if U follow me. NOW!"

  10. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.10: Run around your 'hood, naked wearing a cape & flippers. Pics on the web gets U closer to No.2

  11. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.11: Tweet till your fingers bleed. Dismiss No.s 1-10. It's all about post quantity NOT quality.

  12. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.12: Hire the "Fail Whale" to eat Wil Wheaton @wilw. Gather his followers as they look 4 guidance.

  13. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.13: #everything! #your dog. #your momma. #your meat. Oh, your sick just for THINKING that. Weirdo!

  14. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.14: Go to Panda Express & threaten to pee in the lemonade unless all there follow U. Do it anyway.

  15. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.15: Post on Craigslist the following: "MWM seeking Twitter peeps. It will not violate your parole."

  16. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.16: Create a "Top ways to get followers on Twitter:" list ... and be funny, damn it. ©Mr. Joatmon.

  17. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.17: Tweet to yourself. ie: @MrJoatmon blah blah blah. It may not help but people will be like, WTF?

  18. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.18: Use Cash4Gold. Sell wife's ring. Take $ and buy 51% of Twitter stock. Your company, your rules.

  19. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.19: Pay nude skydivers to fall over the Vatican in @MrJoatmon formation. The Pope loves that stuff.

  20. Top ways to get followers on Twitter. No.20: After making a "Top 20" list, RT it in its entirety for all who missed it the 1st time. WIN!

So, does the top twenty list work? Well, during the time I posted the list, My followers increased by a staggering 400%, bringing me to an all time high of ten. Go me!

Special update: since writing this post, my followers have dropped 10%. 10%, in ten minutes! Man, these people are fickle! Do they do that to you too? How do you take it? Are you made of Kevlar? Steal? Titanium? Adamantium? Share, will ya!?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Internet Explorer 8, Cool Browser or Spawn from M$ Hell?

TechnologyUgg. Are we here already? I just got brave enough to install IE7 last month because I figured that after this much time, the bugs should be pretty much worked out. Now, [insert fanfare sound bite] we have IE8 to swoop in and save us from all the pesky stability. Yea!
  • Who needs a browser that does not hog all your resources?
  • One that, when it goes down (and you know it will), does not take your entire system with it?
  • A browser with whom you can trust to not drive you completely insane within mere days after installation/reinsatllation/re-reinstallation?
TechnologyNot me, I tell ya! Give me some of that good old M$ crash and burn action that I have come to love and expect with every new release. Mmm mmm good! Smells like frustration!

So, for all you braver-then-me souls out there that want to toss the dice and see if M$'s new browser has somehow managed to shake its moniker of 'Internet Exploder' and become the browser we all wish it were, you can download the latest incarnation by clicking THIS LINK ...

... but don't say I didn't warn you.

On a side note, I just noticed that is says it's not compatible with Windows '98. What's up with that?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

MediaWow! This looks cool and I'm sure my children will love it! Of course, they love most things ... they're not very picky about their viewing options being 11, 5 and 3. If the toob is on, they watch.

Seeing this title does take me back, though.

[start wobbly flashback]

I remember (vaguely, since it was so long ago) reading this book as a kid. I was sitting next to a decaying T-Rex that fell in the tar pit, and thinking that it was pretty spiffy and neat-o, all while trying to shoo away 3" saber-toothed crotch crickets with a knurly club. Good times. Good times ...

[end wobbly flashback]

Well, I guess I was not the only one who thought that since it is coming to a theater near you on October 16th of this very year. That is 2009 ... for those who were not paying attention.

Looking over the cast on IMDB, I am only able to recognize a couple names. Those being: Forest Whitaker, who voices the Wild Thing and Tom Noonan who voices Douglas - who ever that is. The rest of the voice talent are folks that I either do not know or are off my radar. Because, Unlike my children, I am picky about what I watch. Mostly.

For those of you who don't know, here is a bit of info on the original book from our old friend, Wikipedia:

Where the Wild Things Are was written by Maurice Sendak, and is a children's picture book originally published by Harper & Row in 1963. The book is about the imaginary adventures of a young boy named Max, who is punished for making mischief, by being sent to his room without supper. Max wears a distinctive wolf suit during his adventures and encounters various mythical creatures, the 'Wild Things'. Although just ten sentences long, the book is generally regarded as a classic of American illustrated children's literature.

One thing I can say is I'm glad that they waited this long to make it. Anytime before now would have presented a ton of problems in the CGI department - that's a lot of hair!

So is this animuppet (animated muppet) movie going to be a stellar hit? Or go down in the annals of video lore as a close rival to the 1980's Popeye?

You tell me! I'll wait here while you post.

[start wobbly flashback ... again]

Mixes, MashUps & Loops in the 21st Century

MusicTechnologyAs much as you might think that this post is going to be about cake mix, mashed potatoes and Fruit Loops (all of which are quite worthy of their own 'day in the blog sun') I must confess that it is not.

We will now have a brief moment of silence to mourn that fact.



Okay, now that that heartbreak is gone, I want to delve into the Wide World of Music.

One of the newer trends in house and dance music is to take all or part of one song and combine it with a different song. When this is done, you get a new song that is the composite of the originals and altogether different from both. Mixes and mashups.

In order to understand what it is that I am speaking of, let me set the basic definition of the terms that we will use in class today.
  • Mix / Mixes: the audio engineer takes the vocal portion of a song (the audio track(s)) and creates new music behind that established vocal audio. Same words with the same tune to new background music (background track(s)).

  • MashUp: the audio engineer takes the audio track of a song and overlays it on top of the background track of a different song. A mashup can contain any number of audio tracks as well as background tracks, thus increasing the mixing complexity of the mashup. In most cases, the resulting song will not contain 100% of any of the original material - vocals or background tracks. A mashup is a mix, but not necessarily the opposite.

  • Loops: a loop is a common part of most mixes and mashups, that when repeated, create a continuous audio line with no breaks. In general, a loop is a small portion of a song that is a certain number of bars/measures long that makes for clean repetition. In standard 4/4, time a loop will usually be 4, 8 or 16 measures long. These loops will be strung together in order to create longer passages of music.

    A loop can be represented visually, quite easily. Take the numerical sequence 1,2,3,2 and consider it a loop. When strung together in the audio software, the sequence creates a repeating pattern. Thusly:

    1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,1,2,3,2 . . .
With the propagation of digital instruments and their prolific infiltration in to most musical genres, extracting good loops (samples) from music has become extremely easy. Beyond that, being digital in nature and created with computer controlled tempo instruments, these songs are perfectly in time - making it easy to match one loop to another with computer software. One such software, and the one I use the most, is Sony's, Acid Music Studio.

When we consider the ample amount of music that we have available to us in the 21st century, and the power those computers and SW command, the number of mixes and mashups that can be assembled is truly unlimited. If you can dream up a combination, with enough time and effort you could even mix Van Beethoven with VanHalen.

With all that said, I have found that with my musical abilities and love for computing, I can create some pretty cool audio compositions without having to go the synthesizer and hammer it all out by hand - and I don't have to rack my brain trying to come up with completely new material in order to have an original song at the end of the process.

Like all good mixers and mashup artists, I have to have a cool handle to show my, well, coolness. So like The Kleptones, DJ Zebra and the like, I am now to be known (mix/mash musically) as Beau Austin Mix.

For your enjoyment I have given you an example of three different types of compositions showing mix, mashup and a song composed completely of loops, that are not part of any other song. Just loops for loops sake.

NOTE: These are HIGH QUALITY MP3 files and may take a while to load, so please be patient.

  • Mix: Micheal Jackson - Smooth Criminal vocal track with new background music.

    Beau Austin Mix - Techno Criminal

  • Mashup: A mashup of Run DMC- Walk This Way, Queen - Another One Bites The Dust and Janet Jackson - Nasty vocal track.

    Beau Austin Mix - Run Queen Janet

  • Loop Mix:

    Beau Austin Mix - High Desert Riders

Please let me know what you think by posting your comments below. And when you do, all posters will get a free gift from me - the gift of AIR - all you can breathe for the rest of your natural days! I'm really generous, that way.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Goodbye, Dear Friends

Commentary A quick note before this post: If you wish to listen to the music I was listening to when I wrote this entry, click play below to hear Bear McCreary's - Passacaglia. I feel that it does help in setting the mood.

- Mr. Joatmon

It never ceases to amaze me how deeply our emotions can get entangled into the lives, hopes, dreams, sorrows and joys, of not only people we have never met, but people that are not even real. You can harbor love, hate, detestation, pride and loathing for someone who, in all reality, is noting more then the brain-child of a gifted writer and completely devoid of any corporeal substance. Yet, this is completely normal.

You have spent hours in getting to know these folks just as you have your family and acquaintances. You have heard them tell you all about their triumphs and losses. You can recognize their voice in a crowd. You know their temperament and often their favorite foods and locations. Their past has been displayed before you to assimilate and digest, so you know where they are coming from. You have felt embarrassed for them when the situation has been uncomfortable and you have cried with them when they are hurting. Even though these people are no more real then the monster under the bed or the Easter bunny, you give them willingly of your time and feelings - something that, is in fact, quite real and tangible.

Some will ask how you can get involved to such a degree, as to become emotionally attached, to a figment of anothers imagination ... and that question is valid, if not somewhat callus. For those of us who opt to let themselves become bonded to these formless friends, the answer is straight forward - there is a connection between you. A transparent relationship that defies reality and physicality. You are connected at an emotional level, and why not? In this type relationship, that is all there is.

Why do we make these connections and forge these relationships with the imaginary? Because, in the simplest sense, we are supposed to - that was the authors intent from the start. To catch us by the ethereal threads of our minds and hearts and manipulate them to a certain 'end'. To guide us to a destination of not our choosing, via actual or implied images and through words, in print or audible.

Why do we let this happen? Because we hope that, by the end of the journey, we will be better for it. Better informed. Better enlightened. Raised up. Shown new realities. Been angered to action or moved to emotional release. Whatever the outcome, we chose to start this voyage with the intention of gleaning something from it ... and it is up to us as to what that something is. For everyone is different and each will 'see' the portion that best applies to them and act accordingly to it. Disbelief. Amazement. Satisfaction. Tears.

These friends we have made, are more then the words on the page or two dimensional images on the screen- flat and uninteresting. To us, they are as real as we choose to flesh them out in our minds and hearts. Yes, the people on a screen are often easier to connect with because they do have a face and a voice - as real as the actor that portrays the character but no less as engaging as those that well arranged words on a page will illicit within our minds-eye.

With the all the above stated and in it's clumsily arranged manor (as is my fashion), I want to say 'thank you' to all involved in the creation of some of my newest fantasy friends and comrades. Form creation to final execution, your work has been greatly appreciated by this observer of your gracious efforts.

To all my friends aboard the Battlestar Galactica, I bid you a saddened yet hopeful, Goodbye.

You are finally home ... rest ...

... and know ...

... you are already missed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Little Something To Check Out

CommentaryI was flipping over todays Twitter posts and came across a post from Levar Burton about him being the very FIRST guest (Samm Levine was the second) on the brand new Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, and I must say: man, was it rough. The show, was in fact funny, but the first 45 minutes of audio was rather intolerable. Now, as Kevin said throughout the show, "... this is live" and "... we're not ready" and that point was very obvious. By the end, the sound was MUCH better as was the camera work - overall quite watchable.

With that said, Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show is a live streaming video talk-show seen every Sunday, 5pm, PST, at - check it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My 4 Day 'mini-vacation' Was ...

CommentaryRant... about two weeks too short.

As per usual, when I (alone) get the rare chance to escape from my loving, yet all-to-often intolerable children, I head out to relax in God's country - Mitchell, Oregon.

Here are the stats for the town.

As you can see, there is not a lot of population to get in the way of ones relaxation. There is one store, one gas station, two restaurants (that are open at different times of the day), one coffee shop, a post office and the school. That is pretty much it. If the mood strikes, you can even sit on the bench in front of the 100+ year old store and watch the cars go by. That is, if they are going by at all. Sometimes cars/trucks will stop, driver to driver, in the middle of the street and chat. Why? Be case they can. When there is no traffic and you know everyone in town, what better place - especially if the weather is not the best for standing outside.

With that information in hand, it is easy to see why one could not want to leave such a relaxing locale, only to return to the day to day 'battle of wills' that defines life with people under the age of six.

A close and dear friend of mine, to which I have never met, once had THIS to say back in a 1983 performance. Now, at the time, I thought 'How funny! Make it stop before I pee myself!' ... since then, my opinion has been altered. Oh, sure, it IS still funny, but with the sympathetic twist that comes with knowing EXACTLY what he is talking about.

As his children were loaded with 'the brain damage', I have discovered (to my horror) that mine are also - and how! They alternate between brilliance and utter bewildering stupidity without changing gears - and I'M the transmission that has to accommodate that change in direction. I must go from ...

'Hey, awesome job! High-five!'

... to ...

'What in the name of all that is Holy and right in the universe, were you thinking!? Are you completely insane!?'

... all in the same breath. Seriously.

Try taking your car: go full speed forward, then jam it in reverse, all while the gas pedal is pressed to the floor. It's kinda like that, except YOU are the transmission that must deal with the radical change in emotional directions at maximum intensity. It's the 9G roller coaster that only stops after you have passed out ... but is back on as soon as you regain some semblance of consciousness.

[sarcasm] What fun! [/sarcasm]

My children are the architects of my destruction and are consuming my sanity and intelligence at an alarming rate. I can now see why they say 'Hire a teenager while they still 'know everything'.' It is because, through proximity and osmosis and over a number of years, they now have all YOUR brain power. You are left to wonder ...

'What the hell happened? I used to be an intelligent member of society. Now, it is all I can do to complete a coherent sentence without drooling on myself.'.


As you can see by the simple formula above, the parents IQ diminishes proportionately to the number of children they have and their cumulative ages, over a period of time. Following the math, it is easy to show that the end result is a negative parent IQ, after only a decade or so of child/parent interaction.

Unless you are a super-genius, within a maximum of 16 years, you will be on par with the intelligence of cat litter, as well as having taken on it's physical attributes. You will have been pissed on and pissed off, all while taking the crap the beautiful, loving spawn of your loins pile upon you. You will stink and have had so much of your 'being' scooped out and flushed down the toilet, that you are only a fraction of the once full vessel of pine-scented goodness you were in the beginning. The beginning, before you had them lovable kids ...

So, why did I post this rambling entry and subject you to fictitious higher-math?

'I don't knoooowwwww!

Well, that's just great ... here comes the cat ...