Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hersey Orchesis - February 24-27

Once again, John Hersey High School's Orchesis Dance Team is doing their annual show from February 25-27 and I was asked to photograph the show.

These images are but a few of the hundreds that I shot for them. The girls put on a great show each year and they also dance at various school events as well. Go check out their show this weekend if you have time!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More Ice Fishing Pics

Here are a few more images of yesterday's ice fishing event.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Windy City Fishing Classic On Ice II - Ice Fishing!

Well I finally got to walk on water today! Hard water, that is... ICE!

I've never been out ice fishing until today. Well, I didn't actually do any fishing, but I watched while other members of the forum fished. And of course, I took photos with my Fuji S5 Pro camera and a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens. I haven't used the S5 in quite some time and it felt good to use it in the cold weather. Using custom white balance with the help of a PhotoVision Digital Calibration Target, the photos came out remarkably well. Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.

It was a great day to be out fishing at Deep Lake in Lake Villa, IL. The weather was around 34 degrees with slight snow flurries and very little wind. The ice was about 12 inches thick, so no fear of falling into the water. With my heavy down jacket and hood along with a ski mask, gloves and thick soled shoes, I didn't feel cold at all.

We had about 13 forum members out fishing today and while some of them caught some perch, they were too far away from the area I was at. Nobody in our area caught anything, but a couple of nibbles were felt by one of the members.

While there was very little action happening, I enjoyed talking to everyone about fishing and learning about ice fishing. Some of the guys had electronics with them which tells them where the fish are and also one of them had an underwater camera as well. Fishing has gone high tech, that's for sure!

After fishing, we all went to Jack & Lidia's Resort for a great lunch.

Thanks goes to WCF site administrator Jason Norris for putting the event together!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Photoshop Manipulation

I found this "before and after" image of Faith Hill on the internet. It clearly shows what can be done to an image with Photoshop.

While Ms. Hill doesn't look all that bad without manipulation, it is obvious how much nicer she looks after a little bit of work. Look at the slimming of her left arm, the slimming of her body and shoulder, the addition of a right arm, the removal of the bags under her eyes, the reshaping of her lips, the softening of her smile lines, the addition of some eye makeup, the color work on her hair, the removal of extra skin by her back near her dress, the slimming of her waistline, the softening of her collar bone, and the smoothing of her skintone. Be sure to click on the image for a closer look.

Often I will get someone jokingly ask whether I can make them look slimmer in a photo... or if I can make them look better than they are. Sure, I can... but it takes time and effort to do it.

To make someone slimmer within Photoshop isn't too difficult if you just want a simple size reduction of a few pounds, but taking someone extremely out of shape and making that person "skinny" is another story. Knowing how far to go to enhance but not overly distort an image is the key to success.

Other computer programs besides Photoshop also give me the power to improve things like complexion. Taking out acne and other blemishes from the face isn't all that difficult, but again, it does take time and effort.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Beatles Bobble Head Figurine Found

My sister found a Beatles bobble head figurine at a music store in the Little Italy section of San Francisco, took a cell phone photo of it and sent it to me. She immediately remembered my own bobble head figurine that I had gotten on my birthday cake when I was a young boy. I wrote about that figurine on this blog on November 6, 2006. To read that post, click here. Her newly discovered Beatle is the top image and mine is the bottom one.

I still have my Beatles figurine. I think it looks like George Harrison. This newly found one looks like John Lennon to me. What do you think?

It's great to see that there is another similar bobble head out there! Obviously these came from the same run of figurines... just look at the gold base! (By the way, I think that must be "Nipper" the RCA dog next to the Beatles figurine!)

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Years ago, I inherited an electric snow thrower that my dad used to own. He had given it to my aunt after he moved to Florida. But when I returned to the Chicago area, my aunt gave it to me. It has served me well for many years, but it was always a little difficult to work with since it had small wheels that always iced up making it hard to roll. Being a small snow thrower, its small width required more passes to finish the driveway. Also, its narrow snow chute always clogged up with snow. And let's not forget the hassle of dragging around a 100' extension cord!

This year, my sister-in-law gave me a two-stage gas snowblower. It has made life a lot easier. No more clogged wheels, but on occasion, it would have a clogged snow chute if the snow was especially wet.

This week we had a huge amount of snowfall and it was so easy to deal with by using the new blower. The only major problem I have is smelling like the oil and gas exhaust from the blower. Regardless of how hard I try to avoid the gas fumes, I still smell of gas when I'm done snowblowing.

We have a very long driveway and so the use of a snowblower is essential. I've just been lucky to have been given snowblowers instead of having to buy them for myself. The blower images pictured above were borrowed from the internet.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Images Borrowed From Aprilaire and Dampit Websites

Acoustic Guitar enthusiasts all know that you must maintain a relative humidity (RH) of approximately 47% RH to safeguard the guitar. Too dry and the wood can crack. Too damp and the wood can swell.

Taylor Guitars has a series of videos which address the issue of humidity far better than I can describe here. I encourage all guitarists to watch these. Click here. A tech sheet can be downloaded by clicking here.

To aid in giving more moisture to a guitar, I recommend using a Dampit. I actually use two with my Taylor GS guitar. It is a simple device made of a rubber tube which has holes in it to allow moisture to escape from a wet sponge inside the tube. I hang two moistened(not dripping) dampits between the 2nd and 3rd strings and the 4th and 5th strings. My guitar always goes back into the guitar case and is closed until I'm ready to play the guitar again. And, I make sure the dampits are moist by re-wetting them at least once per week. Sometimes more.

Recently, we had a whole-house humidifier installed on our new furnace. After 19 years of service, our furnace finally gave out and we needed to replace it. So as an add-on to the new furnace, we added an Aprilaire Series 600 automatic humidifier to the furnace. With this new humidifier, we will be able to maintain a relative humidity that should help both our wood furniture, my guitars and also our bodies. The effects of being too dry in a home can dry out woods as well as skin. How often do you wake up with a dry or bloody nose or dry cracking skin? Well that's from low humidity in your home.

I encourage everyone to consider their RH levels in their homes and adding a whole-house humidfier if you need it. If you are an acoustic guitarist, always humidify your guitars with a dampit or two during the winter months.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Acoustic Guitar Forum

I've been a member of the Acoustic Guitar Forum since September 2003. The forum has been online since around 2000. Back then the AGF was known as the Taylor Guitar Forum. But years ago, the TGF was asked to change its name and it became the Acoustic Guitar Forum, allowing more than just Taylor Guitars to be discussed.

The Acoustic Guitar Forum is the internet's largest online guitar forum for acoustic guitars. Several years ago, I was made a "moderator" of the forum too. I also produced the AGF's first guitar CD called Acoustic Guitar Forum 1. I am known as "Forensicguy" on the forum.

Over the years, the forum has grown tremendously. As of this post, we currently have 42,377 registered members. As a moderator of the forum (we are all volunteers) we review the various postings from other members and remove any posts that do not meet the forum's rules.

One of the highlights of the AGF is that we maintain a family-oriented forum. The main rule of the forum is "Be Nice." While most of our members do that, some do not and it is the moderator's job to do something about that when they are not "being nice." Nobody likes to be moderated by having their posts removed or having other disciplinary action taken, but it is necessary at times so that all other members can enjoy a better online experience.

Sometimes things get personal between members while discussing various topics and the moderators have to step in to put an end to it. Usually when that happens, the members who violate the rules object to our actions. While the moderators are fully aware that they may not be happy with some decisions that we make, we do what we do to keep the peace on the forum.

Being an AGF moderator does take time. Since none of the moderators are paid for their efforts, people often wonder why we do it. Well, we do it because we love guitars and like talking about them and we want others to enjoy it too. Personally, I enjoy a nice forum rather than one where people are not nice and post remarks that are derogatory. I think most people would agree with that. But at times, some members step over the line and that's when the moderators do their job to point that out.

If you are a guitar player, check out the forum. I think you will find it a fun place to be.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Energizer 6 LED Trailfinder Headlight

Images Borrowed From The Internet

I just bought one of these Energizer Trailfinder headlight at Walmart to use for fishing at night or pre-dawn hours.

I have seen these types of headlights for sale at various retailers but some were too expensive in my opinion for essentially what amounts to an LED flashlight. Would you pay $50 or more for something like this? Not me. But at under $15, I thought it was worth a try.

To my amazement, the 6 LED version light is actually a lot brighter than I thought it might be! The light has spot, flood, spot + flood and night vision (red LED) settings. It is powered by 3 AAA-sized batteries (included) and will run for 20 hours (with four LEDs on at once), 50 hours (with two LEDs on) or 75 hours (red LEDs.) And when worn on your head, it's actually quite comfortable. The elastic strap holds the lightweight light easily against your forehead.

While other brands and models may be built better and more waterproof, for under $15, this isn't too bad. With its adjustable headstrap and tilting feature, you can aim the light right where you need it. Go buy one if you need to have a light and keep your hands free. Great for emergency use in case of a blackout too! An excellent long-term use review can be found by clicking here.