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It was some time back in the 1980's when I first noticed a photo taken with a ringflash.  To be more specific, what I noticed was the mysterious ringed catchlights. I've wanted a ringflash ever since. Fast forward to Christmas 2009 where it's become tradition for my wife to give me photographic equipment. This year it was an Alien Bee ABR800 ringflash.

If you're going to do something, might as well do it big. I upgraded the package to include the 56" Moon Unit (octobox), and 50" ring aim through mask. I like big softboxes and haven't ever tried an octo' so it made perfect sense.

When everything showed up, a test shoot was conducted.



Flickr: 50" ringlight test


Photos were uploaded to flickr and something interesting happened.  People started commenting on the ringed catchlights.
  • "Good shot. Love the sparkle in the eyes."
  • "The ringlights create crazy catchlights..."
  • "Look at that catch light!"
  • "great shot! but I gotta say the catchlight rings make you look kinda nuts"
  • "nice portraits, but I don't like the reflections at all. creepy."
  • "Eery eyes, Nice!"
  • "the catch-light ... it is freaky"

Love'em or hate'em ringed catchlights pop.

My theory is that we're all highly tuned to recognize patterns and faces. Ringed catchlights are very un-natural and break the usual pattern throwing an alarm.

It stops there for those who don't like them. Conform or be cast out!  emoticon - wink

For others there is another instinct in play. Some have a powerful attraction to genetic diversity. The catchlights are not genetic but they do break the usual pattern and may be attractive to the kinds of folks who regularly fall for exotic and different looks.

If you're looking for a portrait that grabs attention, let's get together and make one.

Disclaimer: I made up my theories and have no authority at all in these matters.

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Current Music: The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist

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Video explains the world's most important 6-sec drum loop

This fascinating, brilliant 20-minute video narrates the history of the "Amen Break," a six-second drum sample from the b-side of a chart-topping single from 1969. This sample was used extensively in early hiphop and sample-based music, and became the basis for drum-and-bass and jungle music -- a six-second clip that spawned several entire subcultures. Nate Harrison's 2004 video is a meditation on the ownership of culture, the nature of art and creativity, and the history of a remarkable music clip.


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Current Music: The Winstons - Amen Brother

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Thomas O'Malley on Flickr
Our neighbors took him in and their cats started a war so they put the hard sell on us to adopt him.
Jamie has wanted an orange cat for years, how could I resist.
I asked twitter what we should name him and @timestocome suggested Thomas O'Malley.
Perfect!
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Current Mood: pleased pleased
Current Music: The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition Curtis Vodka Remix

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The Internet is in there too, so are polaroids.
If you know me you know that enjoy all these things tremendously.

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Current Mood: creative creative

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Current Mood: nostalgic nostalgic

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Moar...


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Current Mood: happy happy

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Golden Gate Bridge by you.

There are many photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is mine.
Just after sunset using a tiny tabletop tripod balanced on a trash can.

Makin' the most of business travel by finding time to get out and shoot. :-)

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Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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When I mention that commercial radio doesn't play any of the music I like folks always ask about it. If you're curious:
Any song is improved with the addition of an air-raid siren or astronauts talking to Roger.

Enjoy.

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Current Mood: drained drained
Current Music: Lemon Jelly - Spacewalk

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A manager at work asked his team to watch this video and keep it's message in mind when developing content for our company. I'm linking to it because you may find it's message useful when making posts for your blog.

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obscura
Instructions for my zip code are to shelter in place.

Found a gas station with gas on Sheldon Road and then went to HEB for food and batteries.

Pantry and fridge are stocked we're ready to hunker down and ride it out.
Hurricane Ike Survival Beer

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obscura

Independence Day Parade 2008, originally uploaded by Jon Winters.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Independence Day. Our neighborhood had a little parade and then we went out to dinner.

There were an abundance of outlaw fireworks here in the neighborhood. :-)

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Sunset Session, originally uploaded by Jon Winters.

It's gritty ISO400 but with this subject matter it works for me. I like the way the sunset is reflecting in the windows. I need to get backpackable tripod for when I travel.

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Spock 1996-2008, originally uploaded by Obscura Prime.

Spock was a Montrosian Long-Hair and he truly was a breed apart from anything else, before or since.

We didn't adopt him, he adopted us. We named him Spock because he was so smart he could trick you into doing things for him with his incredible cat logic.

We were living in the Montrose on Greeley street when he showed up one day and demanded to be let inside. Spock was crazy. He would go next door to Robin's Nest Bed and Breakfast and trick the guests into letting him in. Robin fed him as did four or five other neighbors as he made his nightly rounds.

One night he spent the night at Robins and slept in the bed with a couple from France. A true bohemian.

He loved shoes and if you took a shoe off in front of him he would bury his head inside and inhale a giant huff of "sneaker air." Then he would either drift off to sleep clutching his shoe or take off howling like a banshee chasing imaginary "ghosts" and trying to climb the walls.

If he wanted out and you didn't get up to let him out he would stand on his hind legs, grab the door knob with both paws, and try to turn it.

Spock was a bit of a Tom before we adopted him so there was a period of time after we had him neutered where he would spray. I guess he had a taste of the good life and craved it because for many years he "raped" our other cat Savannah. (who was also fixed)

Every night around sunset he would go to the middle of the great room and howl loudly at the moon.

There will never be another cat like Spock. It was an honor to share so many good times together.


Goodnight sweet prince. We miss you.

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Current Location: Houston TX
Current Mood: touched touched

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obscura
Unlike other book clubs the majority of the recommendations on my list are going to be books that I would like to read if I can find the spare time.

Let's kick things off with a new one from O'Reilly

Cover of Your brain: The Missing ManualYour Brain: The Missing Manual
By Matthew MacDonald
First Edition May 2008 (est.)
Pages: 274
Series: The Missing Manuals
ISBN 10: 0-596-51778-5 | ISBN 13: 9780596517786

Why should I read this? Well, I never thought about how to properly care for my hearing until I was thinking of becoming a pilot. During my flight physical, after the hearing test, the doctor was able to show me on a graph exactly where my hearing was being damaged by loud noise. Things like guns, concerts, and a massive subwoofer in my car stereo. Ever since then I've been a lot more careful. The loud car stereo is gone and I always wear ear plugs when shooting. It's amazing how much more relaxing the yard work is when you shut out all the noise. I've even gone so far as to buy some really good headphones so music sounds good at much lower volumes.

When I saw this book this morning I realized that I'm protecting my hearing but I haven't given much thought at all about how to keep my brain sharp. I should get this book and read it. It also looks like it's going to be a fun read.

Comment below if you've read this book or you have some book suggestions for the Obscura Book Club.

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Current Location: Houston, TX

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Nickbot's time-lapse camera from Obscura on Vimeo.
Hacking a point and shoot to turn it into a time-lapse camera would be a challenge for most folks. But we didn't stop there! We strapped it to a bike for some night motion time-lapse photography.

Mission: Test Nick's hacked time-lapse camera.
Recommendation: Conduct further tests using a higher ISO setting and less time between exposures.
The camera has exceeded all expectations and we expect to deploy it often on future rides.
This ride also featured a pre-flight dinner of blackened fish tacos and chips with peach salsa. It was nice to get an early start for a change. Thanks to all who attended.

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Current Location: Summerwood, TX
Current Music: Chris & Cosey - Synaesthesia

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Obscura Mobile Wing - 15 May 2008 from Obscura on Vimeo.
Mission: Test video using the Flip Video Camcorder on a night ride in Summerwood Texas.
Recommendation: Flip cams added to the list of standard equipment for all pilots.

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Current Location: 77044
Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Current Music: The Boggs - Arm in Arm (Shy Child Remix)

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obscura
The fine folks over at The Photo Binder Studio organized a mega Bluebonnet Photo Shoot in Brenham Texas at the height of bluebonnet season.

Brittney in a field of Bluebonnets
(more photos, please be careful not to trample the flowers)

With a beautiful location like this you can't help but have fun. Got some great shots and learned how an assistant with a reflector can do amazing things to even out harsh shadows.

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Current Location: Brenham Texas
Current Music: Boards Of Canada - Julie And Candy

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I've been working on some video stuff at work and decided to try to roll my own streaming server on patton.

This is a test of the embed feature.

If you want to experiment you'll need Flowplayer and a php script that handles the streaming.

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Current Music: Goldfrapp - Train

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obscura
THEY'RE MADE OUT OF MEAT by Terry Bisson has been one of my favorite short stories ever. Now it's been made into a short film.

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Current Music: Sunosis - Leap

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