Tag Archives: Canon

Just Some Snapshots #15


Some recent snapshots; tinkered with HDR this time.  Don’t ask me to explain HDR ‘cuz I have no idea!  I also don’t believe HDR is particularly suited for macro work but it intrigued me.  There does appear to be a difference – at least to these old bespectacled eyes.

Macro of a clematis flower right out of the camera (i.e., no editing):

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Unedited. Taken with Canon 70D, 100 mm macro lens, ISO 200, 1/2 sec at f/11

The photo below taken from identical camera position but with “HDR” settings.  It was subjected to some post-processing:

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Edited primarily for pollen and vignetting. A little color correction.

Other HDR shots:

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The following were shot with normal settings:

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c-10-341If your camera is capable, perhaps you’ll give HDR a shot as well.

Homemade Meatballs and Spaghetti Sauce


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I wanted to take a better picture but this was all the spaghetti that was left after we ate.

You must all be wondering.

What is a third generation Japanese-American doing trying to make Italian meatballs?

It’s as if you saw John Wayne behind the sushi counter asking if you want yellow tail or halibut.

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Well, the schedule has my kids staying this week for Spring Break…and they are bored.  They are so bored, they again asked, “What are we having for dinner tonight?  The same stuff, Papa?”

Egads.

Made them my killer (but now boring) Fettucine Alfredo with prosciutto and green peas Monday night and beef stroganoff yesterday night (with Jack removing every last mushroom from his plate).

From scratch.  None of this sauce out of a bottle or Hamburger Helper stuff.

So….  My son Jack seems to like meatballs for some reason.  He gets it at Subway and at this Italian restaurant in Belmont Shores.  The last time he did, I told him I’d make it.

So I did.

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Just wanted to throw in a random photo… but that pot does have the basil I keep growing for cooking use. When it’s growing good, I use it as a backdrop for my macro pics. BTW, its a picture of a picture of a picture…of chalk. 🙂

I had heard many horror stories about making meatballs.

They were hard like golf balls.

They were just round hamburgers.

So I went to my trusted cooking bible: Cook’s Illustrated.

Their recipes are the Triple T’s: tasty, tried and true and only (old) male buffoons like me can mess them up.  I’ve proven that.

But it turns out their secret ingredient was… buttermilk.  Crazy.  But it worked out wonderfully.  And you used only the egg yolk; using the whole egg does something to the texture, Cook’s Illustrated said.

The ingredients for the meatballs were:

  • 3/4 pound ground chuck (85/15 ground beef can be substituted)
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Two slices white bread (with the crusts cut off) cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano (my preference)
  • One minced garlic clove
  • Two tbsp minced parsley (I used the broad leaf Italian parsley to make up for my being Japanese-American)
  • One egg yolk
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • Pepper to taste

The ingredients for the spaghetti sauce were:

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • One minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 tbsp minced basil
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My rolled meatballs. In hindsight, they should have been a bit bigger… and if you’re wondering what the cardboard egg carton is for, it’s a great (disposable) way to drain your fried foods.

For the meatballs:

  1. Soak the bread in the buttermilk for 10 minutes, crushing the bread occasionally to break it down.  Do not drain.
  2. Combine all the meatball ingredients in large bowl.  (I slice through the mixture using a fork to bring it all together rather than using my hand to mix it.  Keeps the mixture loose.)
  3. Form meatballs (without compressing) about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, rolling mixture in hands.  Set aside.  Complete for remaining mixture.
  4. Heat 1/4″ vegetable oil in 10″ skillet.  (I don’t recommend non-stick.)
  5. Carefully drop meatballs one by one into oil; they should sizzle.  If your skillet is big enough, you may be able to do them in one batch.
  6. Adjusting the flame, keep them sizzling while making sure ALL sides are browned.  Perhaps ten minutes. (I made the mistake of having the heat too high and the meatballs too small.)
  7. Drain.

For the spaghetti sauce:

  1. Drain the oil from the skillet.  Return to range.  Pat away most of the oil BUT leave all the yummy crusty stuff on the bottom.
  2. Heat then pour in about a couple tablespoons olive oil and garlic.  Scrape up all the crusties on the bottom as best you can. Do not burn garlic; no more than 30 seconds.
  3. Carefully pour in the crushed tomatoes.  Continue to scrape up remaining crusties then bring to boil.
  4. Turn down heat then simmer for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add basil and meatballs then simmer for five more minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning.

They suggested reserving a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  After draining the al dente spaghetti¹ and returning it to the pot, add back the pasta water and a couple of ladles of the sauce.

Coat then portion out your spaghetti from the still warm pot onto dishes.  Pour a bit more sauce onto pasta, top with three meatballs.  Your kiddies can add Parmesan Reggiano to their liking.

Bon Appetit!

(No, I am not Julia Child.  You are sadly mistaken.)

Note 1: Use ample water; I use more than a gallon for a pound of pasta.  Also add one tablespoon salt immediately before adding pasta.  Stir to make sure they don’t stick together then cover to bring back to boil as soon as you can.  Uncover then rigorously boil for recommended time for al dente.

Just Some Snapshots #10


There is such a thing as luck… but it never relates to winning the lottery, it seems.

But I did hit a jackpot – a photographic one.  Its been busy trying to supplement my photographic artwork these past few weeks; being an amateur, it’s not easy.

As there’s been some dew on the flowers outside, I took to shooting them at first light.  Fortunately, Lady Luck flashed a big smile as a number of them were selected for flickr.com’s “Explore” which showcases 500 photographs each day for “interestingness”:

Aster Shimmer - EXPLORED 10/24/2014

Aster in B&W - EXPLORED 10/22/2014

Lavender Aster - EXPLORED 10/25/2014

Razzle Dazzle - EXPLORED 10/23/2014

Dew at Sunrise - EXPLORED 10/22/2014

Blooming Aster - EXPLORED 10/19/2014

Sparkly - EXPLORED 10/23/2014

Here are a few others:

Naughty and Nice

Pitter Patter

Unbelievably, there’s been over 100,000 views in the past three days, now nearing 1,000,000 views in total.

It would be nice to have that many visitors to this blog!

Will Lady Luck flash her smile here too? 🙂

Just Some Snapshots #8.1


I hope you all are well and I pray for our young souls going into combat for our sakes.

In addition to investing time into reading WWII history books, my snapshot side of me still beckons.

“EXPLORE” is a featured group on the photo website flickr.com.  Out of the close to 2,000,000 photo uploads daily, about 500 are selected for “EXPLORE” by the website for “interestingness”.  Some of my photos have been fortunate enough to be “interesting”, 19 in total.

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The last four are below; hope they are “interesting” to you.  Clicking on the images will take you to the actual photograph.  🙂

This is called “painting with light”.  You leave the shutter open then use a flashlight to illuminate the subject.
Tried Painting with Light - EXPLORED 9/11/2014

A Lantana
Lantana - EXPLORED Sept. 7, 2014

A blue Balloon flower
Blue - EXPLORED Sept. 6, 2014

An Amarcrinum Lily X taken at Descanso Gardens
Amarcrinum Lily X - EXPLORED Aug. 25, 2014

A summary as of today of my photographs selected for “Explore” on flickr:

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Airmen, Marines, soldiers and sailors – be safe.

Ewww….


As my little 11 year old Cake Boss would say when I would light up a cigar, “Ewwww, Papa!  That’s gross!”

Well, you have no idea of “ewww” or “gross” until now.

Unfortunately, I used the last of the soap yesterday…  It was too late when I stepped into the shower that I had forgotten to buy soap.

I was confronted with not washing at all…or…

soap

…use my little Cake Boss’ soap…  Excuuuuse me.  Shower gel.

I now smell of Cranberry Twinkle.

No, I reek.

It stinks.

Ewww.

Gross.

And the smell won’t go away.

Gotta light up a stogie to mask this wretched girlie odor.

Wait a minute.

I can’t.  It’s 1:30 AM.

Damn.

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Not that anyone should notice but my attention had been diverted away from WordPress the past month or so.  I decided to try and build a small (potential) income stream by (possibly) selling my photographs on websites.  You know.  Like for prints, greeting cards, cell phone cases and the like.  Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would want to buy a photograph versus a painting but what the heck.

So my days outside of dealing with the ex-wife – who thrives on interfering during my supposed time with my kids – has been focused on setting up a (cheap) studio and shooting macros of flowers and the like.  Plus having been an amateur FILM photographer in my youth, all this “photo editing” stuff has been a huge challenge.  I’m up against young(er) pros who all they know is digital photography.  You know.  Fred Flintstone meets Captain Kirk.  Oh well.

I also don’t know why I focused on macro photography for a niche market since I never had attempted it before… and the only thing I know about flowers is how to kill them.  Certainly, other niche markets like patriotism, sports and pets would be broader but macros would be doable and without much expense.  Besides, nothing would have to die.

Anyways, here’s a few of my recent snapshots:

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And for a finale…  Isn’t this a face only a mother could love?  It is an actual flower called a Cuphea, or a “purpurea Firecracker”.  Aren’t you impressed with this old former mechanic?

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One of my websites is here: Fine Art America.

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Time to light up a stogie.

I know.  Ewww.

But it’s better than smelling reeking like Cranberry Twinkle.