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Category: Useful Stuff   |   View all recent posts

FOR SALE: Mac Pro & 30" Apple Cinema Display
WHAT: For Photographers, News, Useful Stuff   |   WHEN: April 21, 2014

Selling both the Mac Pro and 30" Apple Cinema Display for $1500 (OBO)
(individual prices and details below)
Direct message me if you're interested.

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Mac Pro - $1350 (OBO)
Mac Pro with 3.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor
Model Identifier: MacPro 3,1
OS: Mavericks OSX 10.9.2
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB
DVD R+W Drive
Camera: FW iSight Camera (included with purchase)

4 internal HDs:

Keyboard included. Don't have the mouse (not sure what happened to it as I use a stylus & tablet).

MacPro and keyboard comes with original packaging.

Condition: Like new/mint, no cosmetic or mechanical defects. All 4 internal drives have been reformatted and are clean and ready to go with a fresh instal of OSX 10.9.2 (Mavericks) on the Macintosh HD.

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30" Apple Cinema Display - $200 (OBO)
Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Display still has great color and sharpness. 
Comes with original packaging.


Honey-Do Project: Oversized Ruler Growth Chart
WHAT: Fun, Personal, Random, Useful Stuff   |   WHEN: April 6, 2012
My wife, like a multitude of others, is unofficially a Pinterestaholic.  And the only reason it's "unofficial" is because Dr. Phil hasn't yet come out and explicitly said there is such a thing.  It's only a matter of time, though.

Perhaps I should actually thank Pinterest.  It got my to do what nothing else has for a month and a half now... a blog post.  My blog thanks you, Pinterest.  And it thanks my wife, too.  She wanted a way to measure and document our kid(s) height(s) in a way that we can take with us whenever we leave this house. [For those reading between the lines and wondering what "kid(s)" means, number 2 is not on the way yet... just planning ahead.]

So, after a quick search of Pinterest, my wife found several examples of oversized rulers as growth charts.  And then came the honey-do look in her eyes, and that's where I enter the scene stage right.  After a quick assessment of skill-level required to do our own ruler, I was confident - even with my, ahem, underwhelming handy-man skills, - that this is something I could do.  And for extra credit, we wanted to Pottery Barn-ize our version by sprucing up the numbers a bit.  Easy peasy... instead of painting them on, we just went out and bought some decent looking brushed metal finish house numbers.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it came out. I did have a little issue when sanding the 2nd coat of polyurethane where it fogged over a bit.  Still not sure why, but it wasn't terrible and it was hard to notice unless you got it in just the right light.  It does kinda bug me that something like that happens at almost the very end after all the work I put in on it, but I'd rather just try to ignore my perferctionist tendencies than start over and have to tape off those God-forsaken tick marks again.

Anyway, here it is in it's final (for now) resting place in the kitchen.  And keep on reading below if you're interested in the process and wanna make your own.  

Trust me.... if I can do this, surely you or any other 4th grade shop student can.  The biggest thing you need is patience.  If you're like me, I love instant gratification on projects like this, and I have a tendency to wanna rush the waiting/curing times a bit and move on to the next step.  Patience, grasshopper.

Anyway, this is what I started with... a pre-cut 6' trim/molding board from Home Depot.  I had planned on having to find buy a larger piece of wood, cut it down, and sand it before I could do anything else, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this score.

The next step was to lightly sand the edges of the board to soften them up a bit since they were pretty sharp when I bought the piece of wood. 

After sanding, I wiped down the board to get rid of the dust from sanding and then applied a coat of stain.  I used the "Jacobean Bean" color because I wanted something darker and a little more sophisticated.

The next stage was the worst part of the whole process.  I tried to think of every shortcut I could think of to make quick work of the tick marks, but in the end I knew I wouldn't be happy if they didn't look good.  I'm sure there's probably an easier way to do them, and if you know of one, I'm not sure I even want you to tell me because I don't wanna be annoyed by how much time I might've been able to save.  I used a ruler and a pencil to mark off tick marks at every inch and then drew each tick mark on the board with pencil. Then I used painter's tape and masked off the edge of the board exposing only the areas I wanted to paint. I'm not gonna lie... total beat-down.  I wish the NCAA men's championship game woulda been a little more exciting to distract me from the monotony of taping.

Next up, painting!  I chose an oil-based glossy black paint to make sure I got a durable finish that would stand out enough against the dark stain color. I put on 2 coats, and let dry overnight.

After letting the paint dry, I removed the tape (tons more fun than putting it on), and brushed on the first thin coat of polyurethane for a protective sealant.  I let it dry for about 4 hours, and then lightly sanded the board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rouch texture of the polyurethane and then wiped the board with a damp cloth to remove the dust.  Everything looked great at that point.  I wanted to put one more light coat on for a little extra protection against anything the kiddos might try and do to it, and this is where things got a little hairy.  I used the same exact process to apply the 2nd coat of polyurethane as I did the first one, but this time when I sanded the second coat and wiped it down, I got some fogging over parts of the board. Boooooo.  

At this point I had 3 choices.  1) Dial down my anal perfectionist inner voice and let it ride as is.  2) Try to fix the fogging with some kind of ad-hoc, cross-my-fingers-and-hope-this-doesn't-ruin-everything rework process. 3) Start over.  Option 2 got eliminated pretty quickly after talking with a couple people about how I could and most-likely could not easily fix it.  Option 3?  Pffft... Not gonna happen.  I'd rather light my hair on fire and then throw gasoline on it before having to do all those tick marks again.  Sooo... option 1 it was.  And rather than call the slight fogging in a couple places defects, I'm calling them character.  Besides, they really are hardly noticeable once you get them the board outta the sunlight.

The last step was to attach the brushed nickel house numbers to the board and hang it.  The numbers were self adhesive, so... bonus!  I marked the board 3/4" from the opposite edge of the tick marks for my baseline for each of the numbers to make sure they lined up.

And voila!  Here's a closer shot of the final product after hanging it in the kitchen.

I think each year where going to put a small image of each kiddo on the board at the location designating their height for that year.  And I'm also marking my height on the board this year when I turn 40... so I can see if I've started shrinking yet.


Image Polishing - Before and After
It's been awhile since I posted a Before & After showing an example of how I add "polish" to images in Photochop.  This installment uses a recent image from Indiana, and these county road signs actually have some significance; these signs mark the intersection where the house that my father-in-law Garry once was.  While the house has not been standing on the lot for some years, the small workshop behind the house where Garry's father used to spend lots of time is still there, and these road signs probably bring back lots of memories for Garry and his brothers and sisters.  In fact, Garry's brother Mick still owns the farm land across the road and Mick's daughter Jennifer and her husband Steve recently built a house on that land where they can look out their front window and see the land where their heritage lived for years.  Kind of a cool story.

In any case, let's get started with a quick before & after, shall we?

Here's the original image straight out of the camera.  Not bad, but not very inspiring, eh?  Whaddya say we polish it up a bit?

Step 1:

Totally Rad Actions (TRA) "Oh Snap" at 50% opacity

Step 2: 

Kevin Kubota's "Tea Stain" at 40% opacity with the effect of this action masked in the sky area to maintain color & detail in sky.

Step 3:

-  TRA "Contrast" (80% opacity), sky masked to preserve color and detail
-  TRA "Clairify" (25% opacity), sky masked to preserve color and detail

Step 4:

-  Use clone and patch tools to remove ugly distracting plant to the left of the sign for cleaner overall image and better composition (looks like I missed a spot in the very lower left corner... oops.)

Step 5:

-  Added slight vignetting on edges
-  TRA "Warm It Up, Kris" (75% opacity) to add a tad more richness and, well, warmth to the feel of the image.

I could've stopped after step 5, but let's spiffy up this image just a little more.  Who's with me?

Step 6:

Added the following textures from the Firenze Italian Texture Collection I photographed in Italy:
-  "Sweet Sistine" (80% opacity, soft light blend mode)
-  "Scarred Leonardo" (15% opacity, hard light blend mode)
-  "Watermark" (50% opacity, overlay blend mode, masked grass background to lessen texture in this area)

Step 7:

-  TRA "Old Skool Fast" (40% opacity, soft light blend mode).
-  Sharpening around the signs, sign post, and vegitation at the bottom of the image.

That's all for now.  I'll post more before & afters ocassionally in future posts, so check back often.


Day 195 - A Memoire of the Mrs.
WHAT: For Clients, Project 365 (2009), Useful Stuff   |   WHEN: July 16, 2009
I've really enjoyed the new WHCC coffee table books.  Here's a few images of a 10x10 hinged custom image hard cover book I designed for Kylie's bridal images. I think they look great.  Then again, having Kylie in the book certainly dresses it up. 


Day 134 ~ Builders of Hope
WHAT: Personal, Useful Stuff   |   WHEN: May 11, 2009
Last Saturday we had an opportunity to serve and be a very small part of something I think is pretty amazing. One of the couples in our church foundation group invited us to be a part of this project for a few hours, and although I don't know all the details and I'm sure I'm gonna butcher this, the gist of the story goes like this: a while back the city of Dallas busted a drug trafficker and confiscated 42 of his crack houses in and around the west side of the city. Habitat for Humanity purchased about half of the houses from the city and Builders of Hope (whom we were serving with) purchased the other half. Builders of Hope is renovating or tearing down & rebuilding each of these houses to create new affordable homes for deserving community members in those areas. Here's where it gets even better. Along with volunteers, much of the effort to make this happen is being performed by people that have been incarcerated previously but are now trying to turn their lives around.

In fact, I heard of one guy who used to sell drugs in one of these houses making ~$40k/month years before who came to help tear down that same house as a symbol that he was putting his past to rest and moving on with his life. Can you imagine how cool that musta been?

Here's the house we were working on this past Saturday. This is one of the few they were going to renovate (vs. tear down and start from scratch), so a whole group of guys and girls spent the morning tearing down all the sheetrock and pulling dry wall nails out of the interior framing.

Here's David, Brad and Ray. David and Ray (and their wives) are in the Foundation Group Kylie and I are part of. [NOTE: for the parents of these 3 gents that probably aren't reading this, but just in case... these guys were not part of the group that was previously incarcerated, at least no that I know of. Just wanted to clear that up in case you were thinking your sons had been keeping something from you all these years.]

Another cool texture from this site. This one is available for download for the first 42 people that click
here and enter "skidmarks" for the password. BTW, the texture below along with the one that was on the blog as a temporary give away on Monday) were used to created the first image in this post.


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