Dear US Bank, my Son is 2...

Peter got his 3rd letter today from the local US Bank mentioning he could get an amazing offer on a home equity line of credit.  I'm not entirely sure what mailing list they bought which would have his name on it, but this is the letter going back to them.  I'm going to have him draw on it in crayon before I send it.

"My name is Peter, and I’m 2 years old.  I got a letter from you about your amazing offer for your home equity line of credit.   I wait in a line at school when I have to go inside from playing on the slide.  Is a line of credit like that? I already live in a house owned by my Mommy and Daddy. I keep my Thomas trains in it, my Lightning Mcqueen cars, and my other toys.  Mommy says that you buy mailing lists from different companies and that maybe you should check a birthdate before sending out mail.  Is a birthdate like a birthday? I’ll be 3 on my next birthday and I want a party at the zoo. Mommy says to have you remove my name from your mailing list."

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One Republic, Spongebob, and Others

I see I've been lax the last few days posting my photo a day here, so while I had a few minutes, I thought I'd catch up.

First and foremost though, my photo for today is of One Republic. I'm planning on doing a dedicated post on that event once I've had a chance to go through all of the photos I took, but I was lucky enough to not only see them at Denver Big Air, but also be right in the front so I could get some good pics.  Shooting concert photography is really really hard, and I'd like to thank Alan Hess for giving me a few pointers beforehand so I at least at a chance of getting some good shots!

Like I said, I'm going to do a dedicated post about it, and I haven't gone through all my photos, but this one caught my eye. Even though the lighting is kind of weird on his face, I really like the action I captured with this one.  

Blasting it on keyboard during Apologize

Yesterday I chose Spongebob as my photo.  The Random Acts of Photography meetup I'm a member of does a monthly photo assignment. This month, the theme was music, but it had the added bonus of no post-processing allowed - everything had to be straight out of the camera.  Hard for me, but I did it. Shot on a white background, metered the light, and set a custom white balance.

Spongebob Bangs it Out

Tuesday was Peter and his Hot Wheels track. Randy got it for him for Christmas, and I had my doubts about it, since it said "7+" on the package.  We unpacked it, set it up, showed Peter a couple of times how to put the car on the track, and the fact that you had to push it a little bit to get it going, and that was it!  Now he always wants to play cars, and always plays cars with the track.  He loves to line up all the cars first, and take the next one in line if one falls off the track.

Loving his Hot Wheels track

Lastly, Monday was Arby's day, and the absolute best thing Arby's has on their menu, are the Chocolate Turnovers.  That's all that needs to be said about that.

Best Dessert

Toddler Program at the Zoo

The Denver Zoo has become one of our favorite places. Honestly, I'd never been there before we had Peter, but once you have a kid, you look for cool things to do with them. He loved the zoo immediately, so we go at least once a month or so, and the older he gets, the more excited he gets about seeing the animals.

They have various kid's programs as well, one of which is called Tot Trekkers.  They have different themes every few weeks, and the class is for kids 2-3 (and their parents, no other kids or infants allowed), and last an hour. We'd never done one of these before, so figured now was a good time. The theme was "Creatures in Blue", and highlighted birds, peacocks, a lizard, and a few other animals.  At first, Peter didn't really like it since it was a lot of talking, but he got to play with Play-doh, see a toucan, touch a lizard, and do an art project, so all in all, I think it was successful for him.  All of the other kids were closer to 3, but he was the most talky. :)  He, of course, wanted to see the lion when the class was over.  Note to all: wintertime is a great time for the zoo because not only is it not crowded, but all the animals were outside. Even the hippo was walking around!

I didn't bring my camera since I didn't want to deal with it, so I took a quick iPhone snap of Leif helping Peter with his pine cone art project.

Daddy Helping Peter with Art Project

Ouch, That Must Have Hurt

I got a call on Friday afternoon from Ted and Carol, mentioning they had an extra ticket to the stock show rodeo that evening, and would Leif and I like to go. Leif really didn't want to, and offered to babysit so I could go.  Even though we had been to the stock show already, we hadn't been to the rodeo (the times didn't work well with Peter's schedule), so I figured I'd go, bring my camera, and see if I could get any photos.

Now I've been to a few rodeos in the past - a few as a kid, and I've been to the Granby Rodeo a bunch, but nothing really prepared me for a real, professional rodeo. Everybody was really good at what they were doing, and it was very exciting to watch.

The seats we had turned out to be the best you could get for a photographer.  Nobody in front of us, high enough up to see, almost in the center.

The lighting in the arena was pretty bad. I had to play with settings a lot to get a decent shutter speed to freeze the action, so I ended up having to shoot at either 2500 or 3200 ISO, just to get a 250 or 500 shutter speed (depending on what was going on).

All in all I took just over 600 photos, and while I haven't had a chance to go through all of them, this is by far one of my favorites. Getting a shot like this is really difficult, and when I saw it on the LCD on the back of the camera, I was hoping it was in focus. (it was), and I was hoping that I could reduce some of the noise (I did, using Lightroom).  

The poor rodeo clown didn't quite make it to the barrel.  He was ok, but I can't believe I managed to get a shot like this.

Rodeo Clown Doesn't Quite Make It

Photo of Me Photographing the Snowstorm

Every once in awhile as a photographer, you have to remember to actually be in some of the photos.

While I was taking snow storm photos of my neighbor's trees, she got home from work, and remarked that somebody should get a photo of me in the snow.  I immediately went inside, and made Leif come out to take it.  He was grumbly, but did it. :)

Photographing in the Snow Storm

Winter Snowstorm

I'm just going to keep saying it - the weather in Colorado is just really weird.  I'm not just talking about temperature differences between where you live, and if you drive 30 minutes someplace else, I'm talking about the temperature suddenly changing drastically in the location you're currently at.  

Wednesday afternoon was like that.  It was a pretty nice afternoon - sunny, chilly, but not too bad (nice enough to have the windows open to get some fresh air).  Within an hour of that time period, the temperature dropped 20 degrees, it clouded up outside, and by 4pm, it started snowing heavily.

Although I hate driving in the snow, I love watching it snow, and love seeing everything get all white.  I did take the opportunity to grab my camera and run outside to get some snow photos. Note to self - remember to bring gloves outside, since I didn't last too long because my hands were cold.

This is a shot from down the street.  It's really hard to get good exposure shots in heavy snow, when everything is gray, so I thought the black and white conversion (with a hint of a vignette) looked nice on this one.

Snowing Hard in the Neighborhood

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Books to iPad, Looking at the Future

I love books. I mean, I really love books. When I was a kid and had my own library card, my mom would drop me off at the library for a couple of hours. I knew all the librarians in the children's section who always had books to recommend to me.  I would watch movies on the filmstrip machine, and sit quietly and read. (sidetrack: nowadays, people would get up in arms about the child possibly molested without a parent there or something, but that's a "I'm rolling my eyes at you" conversation for another time).  When it came time for me to go home, I'd either call my mom (on a pay phone no less!) to get me, or we'd have a prearranged time.  I would literally check out 10 books at a time, and yes, I could read 10 books in a 2 week period.  I loved the library.

If we'd go on trips, I'd always have 2-3 paperbacks with me (I'd try to grab paperbacks) in case I finished 1 and needed another.

I still love books, and love reading, but I don't get to do it nearly as much anymore. I do try to read for at least 45 minutes before bed though, because to be honest, it's so easy to just play on the computer, but like I said, I still love reading.

Moving towards e-readers is pretty much inevitable. Oh, I suspect there will always be a market for books, but e-readers are so convenient.  Instead of carrying a bunch of books in your luggage, you just put a bunch on your iPad, Kindle, or Nook.  I did get a Kindle 2 when it came out, and was so excited on my first dive trip when I could just toss the Kindle in my luggage instead of carrying around paperbacks.

This photo was for the NAPP Photo Rally category of books, and it demonstrates the move towards the future. A stack of books, replaced by my iPad.  

But I still love books (in fact, I'm reading a paperback now, since I didn't want to buy it again on my iPad).

Books

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The Scary Tree By the Bank

This month, the NAPP Photo Rally had "Trees" as one of their categories. There's so many things you can do with that category, it's not even funny. My initial thought was to take a shot of a lone tree in a field, and have the tree composed on the left side, showing all the empty space on the right, and convert it to black and white.  I even had seen the tree I wanted to take last week, and was headed off to shoot it, but decided to stop at the bank first.  On my way out of the bank, I noticed a fence separating the bank from a trail/pond/office building area, and noticed a few freaky looking trees.  I think most trees like this look pretty freaky int he winter without any leaves, but I figured it was a good shot to take.  

In case you think I went onto private property (ie. crossed the fence) to take the shot, I'll note that I could only cross the fence, if they actually...well...finished the fence.  There was a fence next to the bank, but if you took 2 steps away from the bank, they neglected to actually put another side of the fence up.  Way down by the pond I did see a "private property" sign, so I just stood where the fence would've been had the rest of it been there, so technically I was still on bank property.

The picture looked pretty normal once I took it, but then I decided to convert it to black and white, and then I noticed the tree looked kind of scary once I did that.  Either that, or I've been watching too many movies lately.  I'm not a huge fan of black and white normally, but in this case, I think it works.

Tree by the bank

Also this serves to note that you never know what photo opportunities you can find close to your house, until you look for them.

Sick Little Boy and Toy Story

On Sunday, Peter wasn't feeling well, which is pretty rare for him.  He took a really long nap, and when he woke up all he wanted to do was sit and watch TV (which was fine with me since he wasn't feeling well).  None of his usual plethora of Thomas, Spongebob, Elmo, or Dora seemed to satisfy him, so I decided to see if he wanted to try something new. I pulled out the Toy Story (the original) DVD, showed him the cover, and asked him if he wanted to watch it. He said "yeah", so I popped it in. Instead of him sitting on his little Elmo couch, he climbed up on the big couch and wanted to snuggle with me under the blanket.  We watched about 45 minutes before he was done (and the Advil kicked in so he wanted to play again), but he actually enjoyed it. It was fun to teach him the names of the characters, and see him go "uh-oh" when Woody was knocked off the bed.

In any case, he's feeling better now, but Leif grabbed a photo of that first Toy Story moment.

Watching Toy Story for the First Time

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Cabins in the Mountains - Pseudo-HDR

While out sledding in Granby the other day, I decided to take a quick click of some of the cabins since I liked how they were sitting all in a row.  At that moment, I wished I had my tripod out so I could do a proper HDR photo, but after downloading the photos and looking at what I had, I decided to try the pseudo-HDR ability in Photomatix by using only the one image.  Honestly, it turned out decently in Photomatix, but turned out even more decently once I pulled it into PhotoTools and did some more adjustments. Granted, this isn't the true definition of HDR (hence why it's called pseudo-HDR), but sometimes it actually comes out nicely.

Mountain cabins

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