25 September 2010

Bi-weekly Background - 2010.09.24

Today's background, for your enjoyment, is a leaf that I took on the autumnal equinox, also known around here as DC-henge, since the sun sets directly in the east and the lighting is great for photos in the DC area. General cloudiness blocked my DC-henge prospects, but since I already had my camera, I got some great pictures of normal stuff on the way home from work. I love this leaf, because you can see the leaf's veins so clearly, and it's halfway to fall -- just as the sun was. If I were more poetic, I could probably draw some sort of metaphor from the picture...

20 September 2010

Bi-weekly Background - 2010.09.20

My next background is a bit more abstract. This was taken in Crater Lake National Park, in Oregon, but the subject is hardly unique to that location. I love the clutter in this picture, particularly the contrasting color berry on the right side. Enjoy.

19 September 2010

Bi-weekly Background - 2010.09.17

Today's background was taken in Klamath Falls, Oregon, at a park. I love the reflections of the ducks and the color of the water. The way that the wake cleanly divides the image in two is also very nice. Enjoy.

14 September 2010

Bi-weekly Background - 2010.09.13

A bit late... Yesterday was too crazy. Today's background (which I call 'Lonely Flower') is a flower I found on the sidewalk when I was on a walk with my wife. I loved the framing of a little purple flower, all by itself, on the sidewalk... The photo was a bit overexposed (what do you expect for a white sidewalk background?), so I adjusted it a bit in GIMP. I usually don't do this, so my skills may be a bit, ah, lacking in the photo editing department. Anyways, for your enjoyment, Lonely Flower:

Also wanted to point out that my background index has been updated.

11 September 2010

Nikon Small World Contest

I recently heard about the Nikon Small World photography contest, which highlights microscopic photography. They have some absolutely incredible pictures in there. Just from browsing the 2009 winners, I found a ton of pictures that were absolutely phenomenal. I'm not to partial to the first place winner, but the following are amazing and worth checking out:
In vitro image of actin bundles
Fungal infection of a flowering plant root
Image of snail eggs (200x magnification!)

For each of these pictures, Nikon has links to learn more about the different techniques used to generate them. The snail eggs, for example, use a technique called Differential Interference Contrast microscopy. I'm sure that most of these techniques take forever to render a good image, and getting an image this good is a once in a lifetime sort of deal... I've seen people working on atomic force microscopes, and it takes days to get a good sample... Even then, it frequently takes more than a little creative interpretation to understand what you're looking at.

09 September 2010

Bi-weekly Background - 2010.09.10

My next picture is another bird, this taken at the National Zoo, just outside the bird exhibit (ironic, eh? natural bird in a zoo...). I love the color contrast in this picture, particularly the way the colors of the bird almost exactly match the color of the background. You would almost think it's a black and white picture, except for the hints of color from leaves in the background. No, I have no idea why it has a tracking bracelet.

06 September 2010

Bi-weekly Background - 2010.09.06

So today I decided to visit the National Gallery of Art to work on taking pictures on dark, non-natural lighting conditions. I'd also never been there, despite living in the capitol for a couple years now, which is somewhat pathetic. Anyways, after wandering through an entire wing of religious artwork, I discovered a statue by Antonio Canova (imaginatively titled "Dancer with Finger on Chin") hiding in a stairwell connecting the two floors of the gallery. After being subjected to dozens of sculptures and paintings of Madonnas, Jesus and other saints, this was like a breath of fresh air (seriously, did no one paint anything non-religious in the Renaissance?). Equally important, hardly anyone else in the gallery was even paying attention to this masterpiece.

The statue is fantastic, with sharp folds in the dancer's clothing, and an extremely intricate garland. But my favorite is the statue's face, with the curled hair and detailed fingers. The statue is convincingly human enough that Picasa wants me to name the person in the picture (I'm tempted). This is my picture for today -- enjoy. And if you ever visit the National Gallery of Art, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the Monets, da Vinci, and other big names, but the real treasures are hidden in the stairwells.

04 September 2010

Simple Interest Calculator for Android

So I just released my second application for Android, a simple interest calculator. This program can evaluate any of the parameters for a simple interest loan (e.g. future value, present value, APR, payment amount, or payment count) based on the other four parameters. Currently, it only supports monthly compounding, but other compounding schemes may be added in the future if there's a sufficient audience. The application is free, though, and would've saved me almost $1000 if I'd had it when I purchased my car... See the webpage for more details.

03 September 2010

Bi-weekly Background - 2010.09.03

Sticking with my butterfly theme, here's a picture of a Blue Copper butterfly. I took this in Lassen National Park last week. While my wife and I were wandering around the park, we turned a corner and found a huge field, full of butterflies. This is the only one who stopped long enough for me to get a picture, but I love the way it turned out. Enjoy.