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.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The People Vs OJ Simpson

I finished watching "The People Vs OJ Simpson" on Netflix. After teaching the crime scene processing class, it sparked my interest to see how TV would portray OJ's case. I liked the show.

My only connection to this case was that the LA District Attorney's Office had called upon one of the San Diego DA's Office's deputy DA's to help make the jury understand what DNA evidence was all about. That was Woody Clark. I recall being asked by Woody to videotape a DNA evidence seminar that he put together for other attorneys and investigators during the time I was with the San Diego DA's Office. Woody was one of the best DNA attorneys at the time. Seems LA needed him to help with the DNA evidence for the prosecution's side.

I recall seeing him on TV and thinking, "Hey! It's Woody!"

I also remember being at a Best Buy at the time the OJ verdict was being read. People hovered over the TV Department to watch. I think we were all stunned when the verdict was read, "Not Guilty"! A huge silence from the crowd... and then a lot of shaking of heads in disbelief.

Watch the show on Netflix if you get a chance. It's pretty good.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Crime Scene Photography Class

Another successful crime scene processing class at Balanced Exposure!

Students learned to identify, preserve and collect physical evidence at a mock homicide.  They got to photograph the scene, process the evidence for latent prints and preserve the evidence.  It was a great night!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Alternative Girl Scout Cookies?

We all love Girl Scout Cookies, right? I went to Aldi and found these cookies which are near identical to the taste of Girl Scout cookies! Cost was $1.39 for the Fudge Mint Cookies (just like Thin Mints! - 42 cookies), $1.39 for the Peanut Butter Cookies (18 cookies) and $1.79 for the Caramel Coconut Fudge Cookies (18 cookies).

Benton's (the manufacturer) gives you a LOT more cookies too compared to the Girl Scouts who tend to fill in the packaging with plastic spacing. While this does help keep cookies from breaking, it takes up a lot of space too so you get less cookies.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing having alternative cookies to Girl Scout cookies? What do you think? You get a lot more and it costs a lot less... but is this hurting the girls? Sound off!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Pelican Cases

For many years, my favorite storage case for camera equipment has been Pelican cases. I use the Pelican 1510 with dividers in it to carry my camera equipment.

This case is sized to fit the requirements of the TSA, so you can carry it on a plane. I've done that in the past without any problems. It has a pull out handle and wheels at its base so you can roll the case around.

 A lighter weight version of the 1510 case is the new Pelican Air 1535. It is more expensive however.

Check out this YouTube video on how the cases are made

Recently, I purchased a Pelican 1170 case for two guns that we'll use as props in our upcoming crime scene class (see photos above). While it is very small, it's still built to the quality I see on any other Pelican product. 

Get a Pelican case if you really want hardshell protection! I highly recommend their products!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Smith & Wesson M&P 40

One of the weapons for our Crime Scene Processing class on Feb 20. 

Can you tell this is a BB gun? Looks like the real thing! Similar size and weight... blowback when fired means the slide moves when you shoot the weapon as well. You can field strip the weapon just like the real thing too. No wonder law enforcement has a hard time making split second decisions on whether a kid is pointing a real gun or a BB gun at an officer! Shown quickly, you would never know this is not a real firearm.

Birthday Present From My Daughter

I finally built the birthday present my daughter bought for me! This heavy duty cart will be used when I'm cooking outdoors this coming Spring through Fall! I put a bunch of cast iron on it for now. It can handle up to 500 lbs of weight. The bamboo top is really heavy and can be used as a carving table if you want.

This cart has enough space for me to put all my condiments, cooking tools and cooking items on it when working outdoors on my gas wok and gas barbecue grill.