Last night I spent an hour with a can of paint, a cold beer, and a cut-up washing machine box to make eight high-visibility signs for the neighborhood, which will go up this evening on our way home from work. The path to our front door has slowly been consumed by items for the yard sale tomorrow, labeled and waiting for their day in the sun. Let’s hope the clouds clear out today and we get good weather for the weekend.

Date posted: May 30, 2014 | Filed under house, photo | Leave a Comment »

I’ve been shooting with Nikon gear since 2007 or so, when I bought my first DSLR used from a guy off Craigslist. Before that, I had a Canon G3, which was (at the time) a very powerful prosumer fixed-lens camera, and I loved it. Why I jumped to Nikon I don’t remember, but I’ve been loyal to the brand ever since. In that time I’ve used several prosumer DSLRs with a variety of lenses, and as time has gone on the quality has gotten better. When I bought a used 18-70mm/f3.5-4.5 to work with my D7000, I was in heaven. The shots I was getting started to align with what was in my head.


Meanwhile, at work, I’ve got two professional Canon bodies and a host of lenses to work with–fast full-frame glass that I’ve only ever dreamed about. I’ve started bringing different camera/lens combinations home to practice with so that I can get a feel for everything, and I have to say I’m very impressed with the Canon gear.


This weekend I had a 7D with a 35mm/1.4 EF lens to shoot the car show, a backyard party, and various events around the house. What I got were about 300 shots in varying light and subject conditions, with mixed results mainly due to the equipment being smarter than I was. The 7D is a wonderful camera with a confounding control setup (the on/off switch needs to go on the right side, guys) and a noisy shutter, but god, it takes beautiful pictures. I’ve been using it mainly because the 5D MKII has such a lousy focus system–I got burned last Halloween–but even in optimal conditions I found I was behind the lens and scrambling to keep up. It’s laser-sharp at f1.4 but you have to be on the ball with focus; I was doing a lot of run-and-gun and I found that it struggled to find the right focus point at that speed. Once I opened it up to 2.5 or so things evened out nicely and it settled down.


When I had the time to compose and concentrate on focus, the lens sang for me. Still, A lot of the stuff I got was like the shot above; I’m getting better at getting on the focus lock button, but if I’d been a half-second faster I would have had her eyes in focus and nice falloff in her hair and on her shirt. With kids it’s hard to get them to stand still for more than two seconds, especially when you’ve been shooting them nonstop all weekend, but I’m going to keep working on my skills both with live subjects and with the technology to improve.

As for Nikon vs. Canon? I’m considering an eventual switch to a full-frame Canon body to take advantage of the quality glass I can borrow. It’s just that good.

Date posted: May 26, 2014 | Filed under photo, photography | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: May 25, 2014 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

Here on the East Coast, classic cars are hard to find. So when there’s an opportunity to see a bunch of them in one place at one time, I jump on it. I took Peer Pressure up to a Cars & Coffee meet on Saturday in Hunt Valley, where we were undoubtedly one of the ugliest vehicles in attendance. I parked next to a Volvo Amazon, a perfect teal blue Mustang, and a few spaces away from a Cobra replica. There were Ferarris, a McLaren, a Pantera, and several more Cobras. There were also two Shelbys, a gaggle of stanced BMWs, and a group of Corvettes. Mixed in among the group, there were oddballs: an early ’50’s Chevrolet, a Buick woody wagon once owned by Roy Rogers, several British sportscars, and a gorgeous stock Chevy pickup. I met up with a couple of Scout friends and we had a total of three in attendance, but I was the only one with the stones to park amongst the other cars.

Scouting Saturday

Turbine ass


Column shift

States 2

Endless Summer


Power Glide


Young fan


Love that dash


I stopped over to look at a pair of gorgeous early 60’s Thunderbirds and immediately noticed an 8-track player in one. Leaning closer, I laughed and mentioned my appreciation for the owner’s selection. He was pleasantly surprised and pulled out another Sergio Mendes cartridge, as well as Mancini’s greatest hits and some Tijuana Brass from the console.

It's all in the details

Always nice to see a Scout in the rearview

Scouts represent

Date posted: May 24, 2014 | Filed under cars, photo | Leave a Comment »

Ten years ago on this day, during a blistering heatwave, amid the drone of millions of cicadas, I married my best friend. We’ve been through the richer and poorer, the better and worse, and the sickness and health parts. She keeps me honest, keeps me in check, questions my rash decisions and makes me laugh on a daily basis. We’ve made a beautiful life together, and she gave me a beautiful daughter who amazes me every day. I can’t imagine my life without her.

Happy anniversary, Jen. I love you.

Date posted: May 22, 2014 | Filed under general, photo | Leave a Comment »

I found this post on another aggregator, but I’ve followed and read and contributed to Metafilter for years. I’m sorry to hear things have gotten bad for them, and I hope they can find a way to stay profitable and functioning.

Date posted: May 20, 2014 | Filed under shortlinks | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: May 19, 2014 | Filed under finn, photo | Leave a Comment »

Lining up in the queue to ride the escalator down to the ground floor of Penn Station this morning, I heard someone singing “What a Friend in Jesus” in a quiet, lovely voice amongst the murmur of the crowd. As I got to the bottom, I realized it was an elderly man with a cane, carefully leading another elderly man with blacked-out glasses and a walking stick. They moved slowly, dragging luggage behind them, up to the Metro turnstiles, until I lost sight of them. I thought that was a lovely way to help a blind person find their way, and the sound of his song has stuck with me for the rest of the day.

Date posted: May 19, 2014 | Filed under life | Leave a Comment »

Taking advantage of the warmer weather, I hoisted the traveltop off the Scout this Saturday. After some experimentation with my first soft top (a snap-top Kayline) I bolted the hardware for the black top back on and got it back on. Then I thought I might take advantage of some spare time to replace my steering wheel. I called up an old post to find the relevant information and got to work.

Pulling the plastic covers off went very easily, and I made it down to the locking bolt with no problems.


Then I found I had the wrong bolts to go in my column, so Finn and I ran out to the store to get the proper size and thread. Lowe’s didn’t have much in their 1/4″ fine thread selection; the best I could do was 2 1/2″ in stainless steel. When I got it home they went in the column easily, but the center punch screw immediately went off course as I started threading it. I put a wide extension on the end of the punch but that didn’t help, so then I threaded the locknut back on about a quarter turn, hoping it would hold the punch in place. That just made the whole assembly bend at an alarming angle, and the last thing I want to do is snap a bolt off in the column, so I backed it all out and put it back together.

It’s clear I need a more precise kit to get the proper amount of pressure on the column; I’ll have to see if I can rent one from somewhere–but first I’m going to buy a turn signal cam and a new lock barrel and do the whole column at one time.

Update: two things–firstly, I need to flip the crossbar of the puller so the flat side is out. Duh. Secondly, I may have a Jeep wheel here, in which case the dinged-up center section is replaceable on eBay if I search for Jeep OEM steering wheel CJ7 1980.

→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: May 18, 2014 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Pulling the Wheel, Part 1

I’ve seen some inexplicable graphics in my short time at WRI, but at least I don’t work for the government. Here’s a short review of Amazing Military Infographics.

Date posted: May 15, 2014 | Filed under art/design, humor, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »