Thursday, May 25, 2017

Doyle Dykes at Cream City Music - Brookfield Wisconsin

Spent yesterday with my friend Jerry at a Doyle Dykes concert in Brookfield, Wisconsin! Doyle is an internationally renown guitarist currently sponsored by Godin Guitars. He could not go out with us for dinner yesterday like we usually do after his concerts, but we’ve been spending this morning texting back and forth and sharing photos with each other.

Anyway, here's a photo of him taken with my Nikon D4 and Nikon 24-70 f2.8 lens. Guitarists always close their eyes when they play!

Doyle hired me to photograph his daughter Holli's wedding many years ago. Flew me out to Chatenooga Tennessee to shoot it! The most intimate wedding I have ever shot with only 18 people (including me) at it. Family only!! I was honored to do it and finally got to meet his whole family. We are all Facebook friends today!  Click here to see some photos of the wedding!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Field Trip to The Chicago Botanic

Today's field trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden was great!  The temperature was around 62 degrees and we had nice blue skies with some nice clouds.  Students got to practice HDR, shallow depth of field shooting, setting up custom white balance and taking photos of a waterfall.  Couldn't ask for a better day!

Images taken with a Lumix DMC-LX5 camera.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Ribs on the barbecue, getting ready for a bunch of relatives to stop by for dinner tonight!  I'll be frying up egg rolls on the wok and also frying up tofu!  The rest of the food is up to everyone else.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Three Racks of Barbecue Ribs!

Using the secret recipe of my fishing buddy, I barbecued three racks of ribs for tonight's dinner! Photos are the ribs before starting the barbecue process (marinated overnight)... and the finished product! Perhaps the best ribs I've barbecued to date! 3 hours and 15 minutes grill time!

Images taken with an Apple iPhone 6s+

Dinosaurs - Milwaukee Public Museum

It's tough to be a dinosaur!  From this year's Milwaukee Public Museum field trip.  Image taken with a Lumix DMC-LX5 four thirds image sensor camera.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Backyard Umbrella Installed!

Installed an umbrella in the back yard! The black bag in front of the grill is covering a portable propane wok burner. Four 30 lb concrete slabs hold down the base of the umbrella. Two 70 lb tube sand bags reinforce the concrete slabs. That umbrella is not going anywhere!  
Now it won't be so hot when grilling or using the outdoor wok!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

First Catch of the New Fishing Season - Kenosha Wisconsin

My fishing partner and I went to Kenosha Harbor today to try our luck at fishing again.  Last time we went, it hailed on us!  So today, we decided to arrive later in the day at 8 AM instead of our usual 5:30 AM!

Jim caught a 3 lb Brown Trout just moments after we got there.  Nice!  But I didn't get anything at all until the very last moment.

I had just said, "Hey Jim... time to go home now..." and then I followed up immediately with, "right after I catch this fish!"  Lo and behold, I had a 28" pike on my line!  Both Jim and another fisherman there were laughing that at the very moment of announcing we should leave, the fish hooked up on my line!

I released the pike because I thought the fish was not big enough.  But after checking the Wisconsin Fishing Regulations, a keeper size would be 26 inches.  Mine was 28 inches so it was legal to keep.  Oh well.  Jim kept the Brown Trout since there's no size limit on those fish.  Great day!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Blue Crabs

First time cooking Blue Crabs!

I've eaten blue crabs all my life, but I've never prepared them and cooked them myself!  I did it the Chinese way... ginger, scallions, soy sauce, water, black pepper and salt.  After cleaning the crabs, I stir-fried them in my outdoor wok.  It was a lot of fun!  Gotta do it again.

Plenty of smoke and flame generated from the wok helped give the crabs a nice "Wok Hei" flavoring.  Wok Hei means the "Breath of the Wok."  It's what gives Chinese food that restaurant quality flavor that you can't seem to get when cooking on your own stove.  Constant moving of the wok to get the flame onto the food is what creates that smoky Wok Hei flavor.

In the past few years, my interest in cooking seems to have taken off.  But I only like cooking in my cast iron skillets, dutch oven, or in this wok!  I'm a "gadgets" kind of guy in that I need gadgets to fiddle with.  These cooking tools make cooking fun for me.  If I had to just cook with regular teflon pans on a gas stove, I don't think I'd be as interested.

I like the concept of doing something that's a bit difficult for others to do.  Cooking with cast iron is relatively easy and non-stick, but unless you know how to do it properly, many people end up with food that just sticks to it.  With wok cooking, there's a technique to it as well.  If you want that Wok Hei flavor, you have to know how to do it.  I'm not 100% there yet, but I'm getting closer every time I try cooking something on the wok.  Playing with the right temperature, tossing the food with the right amount of oil and water as well as timing seems to be a key to success in wok cooking.  I'll get there eventually.

This website has a good explanation on how Wok Hei is achieved.  Click here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rapunzel - Cast Iron

Cast Iron is good for more than one thing... just ask Rapunzel.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Milwaukee Public Museum - Balanced Exposure Field Trip

I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum today with a few students. My daughter joined us as well! It was a Father / Daughter day! After the museum, we went to AJ Bombers just a couple of blocks away from the museum for lunch. You get to eat peanuts in the shell and dump all the shells on the floor! Haven't done that since high school! OK, I've done that at Cubs games as well. Drugstore photo: Nikon D4 / Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens. AJ Bombers photo: iPhone 6s +

Friday, April 21, 2017

Career Day at Aptakisic Junior High School

I was invited to speak at the Aptakisic Junior High's Career Day today. I went there to talk to the 7th and 8th graders. Some kids came to see me because they were interested in Forensics. Others came to see me because they were interested in Photography. But they all seemed to like trying their hand at developing fingerprints using magnetic print powder!

The school gave all the speakers candy as a gift!

Thanks to Joe Brennan for inviting me and for the photo of me with the kids!  (photo of the magnetic brush and magnetic print powder courtesy of the Internet)

Monday, April 10, 2017

First Day Out Fishing For the 2017 Season - No Fish

I went fishing today at Racine Harbor (Wisconsin). First day out for the season.  My fishing partner and I got there around 5 AM, set up our lines and then saw lightning. We decided it was best to go back to the car and wait out the storm. Not one minute after we closed the car door it started to hail on my car! Good thing we got in the car! It was large marble sized hail! We waited until 6:30 AM to finally try fishing. Very windy and choppy waves out there. Not good.

With the wind and waves hindering all efforts of fishing, we decided to go to Kenosha where their channel was bound to be less choppy. Sure enough, it was a lot calmer and the water was clearer. Still, no fish for us today; however, I had a decent "bump" from a fish but it didn't hook up. It was definitely a fish and not just a hook up on weeds because it was pulling back on the line... twice! I think my hooks were not sharp enough so I lost it! Moments later, another guy ended up catching a fish. My buddy and I are thinking he ended up with my fish! I need to replace those old hooks! Even though we might think it is sharp, it may not be sharp enough to penetrate and hook up on the fish.  Lesson learned.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Spam Musubi

My brother-in-law made Spam Musubi for me when I was in San Francisco last week. I had not eaten Spam since I got married and perhaps even up to 5 or more years before that... so roughly 36 or 37 years ago!
Spam Musubi is actually a popular thing in Hawaii. Seasoned with Furikake, sushi rice (rice with vinegar) is wrapped together with Spam and a sheet of Nori (seaweed) to make Spam Musubi.  My brother-in-law took the easy route and didn't shape the rice like this, but rather just gave me a bowl of rice with the Spam and the toppings. Still tasted pretty good no matter how it's shaped!
I purchased my first can of Spam in 37 years... ok... it's my first purchase ever since I never bought Spam, my dad did and fed it to us!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chinese Cheong Fun

I've been on this kick of making Chinese Cheong Fun with Char Siu filling lately.

This is a favorite at Dim Sum restaurants and my mom taught me how to make it many years ago.  Traditionally, the wrapper is made with rice flour and water and then steamed.  Char Siu, which is Chinese barbecued pork is baked in advance.  While this is the traditional method, I don't make my cheong fun this way.

My mom taught me that if you substitute rice flour with "Swans Down" cake mix, it actually turns out pretty good!  1 cup of water is mixed with 3/4 cup of Swans Down.  Pour a very thin mixture of this into a slightly oiled aluminum pie pan and then add the char siu.  Steam for 8 minutes and you'll be done!  It could not be easier!

As a dipping sauce, mix light soy sauce with sugar and add a dash of sesame oil.  Thin out with a little bit of water if the soy sauce is too powerful tasting.

So far, I still seem to make the cheong fun a bit too thick though.  I need to learn to pour in less liquid before steaming.  I also have a problem rolling the final product without tearing the skin.  And, I don't seem to be able to slice the char siu thin enough.  They tend to be too thick.  Still, the final product tastes great regardless of how poorly I make it look.  Try the recipe and be sure to give my mom credit for the substitution of the rice flour with Swans Down cake flour!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Never Rent a Modem From Your Cable Provider

Rant: Never believe what your cable provider tells you when they say a modem rental is only $5 or so per month! Mine was $14.95 per month! Figure in that I've had it for at least 44 months, that's about $658 of rental! If it was only $5 per month, it would have been around $220 for those 44 months. Still expensive, but ok... it's insurance in case something were to go wrong. 
You may ask, "Why didn't you see it on the bill?" Well, I really only looked at the total bill and the dollar amount always came out to what I was told I would pay. So I figured it was correct. I never look at the second page unless the total amount is wrong.
Business owners pay more for everything it seems, but I rented it in case something were to go wrong, the cable company would come out and fix it without charge. Home owners only rent it for $10 per month, I found out later from one of the reps at the cable store. Well, nothing has ever really gone wrong with it, so that's a lot of money for "insurance". 
When I found out I had been paying a lot more on the rental than I was told when I first got service in the office space, I immediately went and ordered a Motorola MB7420 for $89.95 from Amazon. Got it the next day, and now it's installed. So when the cable company tells you it's only $5 per month.... never believe them!
That is all.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Apple Mac Pro

Out with the Mac Mini and in with the Mac Pro!
Thanks to Balanced Exposure student Andrew J who was selling his used Mac Pro, I'm going to return the Mac Mini to the Apple Store and purchase his top of the line Apple Mac Pro instead!
The specs of the machine are: Intel Xeon E5 six-core, 3.5 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, Dual AMD FirePro D500 graphics cards with 3 GB dedicated RAM, 256 GB PCIe SSD drive.
I've also purchased a new Google OnHub router for our WiFi at the school as well. I've been using an OnHub at home for the past year and it's extremely fast for WiFi! Read about it by clicking here.
This is going to be good!
Edit Note: I set up the entire computer and programs in about two hours. It's fast!

Apple Mac Mini - 2.6GHz Dual Core Intel i5 / 8 GB RAM

An update on my Apple Mac adventures...

I ordered an Apple Mac Mini 2.6 GHz Dual Core Intel i5 version with 8 GB RAM and a 256GB SSD drive.  (SSD stands for "Solid State Drive")  This will speed the machine up quite a bit over the standard version which only has a 5400 RPM hard drive. 

Once the new machine comes in, its speed should be near the equivalent speed of my MacBook Pro 13" computer that has a 2.7GHz Intel i5 processor and an SSD drive.

I got tired of the various issues I have been dealing with over the past six years with three PC's for the school each having various problems.  Those in my classes recently will know that I've had problems getting online and other issues with the PC.

While the Mac Mini is often looked down upon due to it's inability to be upgraded, it's actually a good choice for someone who already has a monitor.  You still need to buy a keyboard and a mouse too.  In all, with the machine, Apple Magic Keyboard and a standard Microsoft mouse, my total cost with tax was about $1100.  I already have a 25" 1080p monitor from HP, so while it's not a 5K 27" monitor like the iMac, it's good enough for me.

I am seriously considering offering a class for those thinking of moving from a PC to a Mac.  In the past two years, I've learned a lot about the Apple computers and what it really takes to make the transition.  You can't just buy a Mac and expect it to work like a PC.  There are definitely some things to do differently.  The class would concentrate on your purchase options, making the choice, and reviewing all the things I have found that are different on a Mac than on a PC.  I've been using the PC since it was invented and I'm a Microsoft Certified Professional as well (bet you didn't know that, eh?)

Edit Update: I'm switching to a Mac Pro!  Read about it by clicking here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Museum of Science and Industry

Spent some time with my students at the Museum of Science and Industry today.  We practiced how to use exposure compensation during Aperture Priority mode to get the right exposures.  It made a huge difference in our shots!

Images taken with a Nikon D500 camera and a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens.  Raw images processed in Adobe Lightroom.

The blue image is a maze made up of mirrors.  Going through it was a bit of a challenge.  Due to my bad knees, I rode a mobility scooter so I sent the students up ahead of me.  Had I tried to go first, I would have likely plowed into the mirrors!  It reminded me of "Enter The Dragon" with Bruce Lee where he had to figure out where the bad guy Mr. Han was actually at since he could see him in all the mirrors!

Monday, February 27, 2017

HDR at the Field Museum

Lighting can be difficult at museums.  These images were shot at the Field Museum in Chicago.

The bottom image is the 0 EV shot.  The top image is an HDR image made up of a combination of 5 exposures at -2 EV, -1 EV, 0 EV, +1 EV, +2 EV.  Can you tell a difference?

Image taken with a Nikon D500 camera and Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens.  Image processed in Adobe Lightroom.

More Field Museum images below.