Tobias

A Flower for My Friend

by Tobias on December 9, 2011

A Flower for My Friend

A Flower for My Friend

This tree thinks it’s spring,
With bright purple flowers,
Knows not of this thing,
We tend to call hours.

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In Memory of J.D. Falk

by Tobias on December 6, 2011

20111206-122301.jpg
J.D., well known for his fight against spam & friends to many, left us recently. (MAAWG has through memorial page for him here. Friends and family have a dedicated page as well.)

At his memorial this past Saturday I took a moment to voice my thoughts. Here is what I had to say:

I wish…
I wish I had known JD better; we were always just acquaintances. I wish I had known he was sick; I would have done anything to help in anyway I could. I wish I could have experienced more of his glowing smiles that emanated from the depths within him and emanated throughout his entire self. I wish…

But alas, wishes are the seeds I throw into the soil with intense dreams of trees growing fruit, but I know full well that they are only dreams painted by a wistful mind. Instead, I think it is important to focus on the seeds that did grow trees & bore fruit.

My sporadic interactions with JD were always wonderfully sweet fruit of experiences plucked and enjoyed from his tree of Life. When I would sit down idly to perhaps say hello or catch up, we would pluck that fruit, I would peel back the skin, split it in half to share, and look at it in amazement; The fruit of experience with JD were always glowing. It radiated the light of happiness from the center all the way to the skin.

I will always remember those fruit from JD’s tree of life in celebration. We may not be able to hold any in our hands, feel it, or see that light with our eyes any longer, but the sweetness shall forever live on in our memories.

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Deep Fried Jalapeños

by Tobias on September 25, 2011

Deep fried (not breaded) sliced pickled jalapeños.

I wanted crunchy jalapeños a few nights ago for one of my Royally Awesome Sausage on a Bun™ which usually includes things like thyme aioli, sauerkraut, caramelized onions with garlic, hot Russian mustard, and other delicious garnishes.

The experiment turned out very well.

To make them I used your standard jarred jalapeños, patted them down very well with paper towels to get them as dry as possible, and pan fried them in hot canola oil. When I took them out I gave them just a small pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper to stick to them.

Next time I am going to try frying them more to actually make jalapeño chips.

I saved the now bright green oil presumably jalapeño flavored, but have yet to use it.

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My Aperture Session: Ferns

by Tobias on September 6, 2011

My Aperture Session: FernsA screenshot of my Aperture “fern” session. Full res. uploaded so you can see the details.

I have been using Aperture (currently version 3.x) for a while to organize and do post production for my photographs trying to minimize the time I spend in Photoshop. This post doesn’t go into some of the Aperture jargon, so please pardon me if you are not privy to Aperture slang.

I have 504 photographs that I took of the small ferns (less than a foot high) that started sprouting just outside my apartment in Seattle back in May. After many hours of sorting the images, this is what I’ve ended up with:

79 stacks of images with the best pulled to the front of each stack. Only the first two thumbnails are images I have actually done any post production on. (As noted in my previous post, one stack, for example, is a set of 127 photos.)

I have it sorted by rating, so my current picks are at the top decending down to pictures I might not even use.

My next steps are to actually give more accurate star ratings, choose which images are the créme (and which are shit), then edit those images to polish them for publishing.

All this for ferns. Then again, I can’t help myself; I just love the shapes, textures and colors that fresh ferns have.

 

If you are curious to learn more about how I am using Aperture, let me know and I might take the time to go into detail. Cheers!

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Unfurling Fern

by Tobias on September 6, 2011

Unfurling FernISO 400, ƒ/14, 1/40s

After 127 shots of this fern “branch”, I finally captured what I was looking for.

I was working with a breaze which made it exceptionally difficult to get a clear macro shot of this small fern. The reason is that I was working within a very close range with a 60mm macro lens. (I took the picture 4 months ago, but based on my memory the lens was probably ~4inches away from the subject.)

This means that the depth of field is so exceptionally shallow that you have to hop the ƒ stops up just to get the bend of the tiny leaves in focus. As you can tell in this photo, I had to go up to ƒ/14. In turn, this means that I had to make up for it in either shutter speed and/or ISO. Since I don’t want to have anything higher than 400 as my ISO, I kept taking shots at exposure rates that would make even the tiniest of gusts of wind blur the furn. Thus, I took 127 shots hoping that at one of those instants the wind didn’t gust the fern.

I think that this one optimized the depth of field, kept the noise to a minimum, and still allowed me to get a nice crisp focus.

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Delving into HDR

by Tobias on August 22, 2011

HDR: Eastlake Docks in Seattle

(The above is a composite of 8 images with exposure times in the 5min and above range.)

HDR is one of those buzz words in Photoland that usually invokes a set of viewer expectations and a bit of mystique. In a nutshell, the photographer is “merely” taking the same photo multiple times, and at various settings, such that they can get the over exposed and under-exposed elements properly exposed in a single image. The basic example is a bright sky; You want the bright sky to show the great cloud formations, but you don’t want to alienate, say, the trees in the foreground. (Poor trees!)

HDR: Sunrise in Suburbia V1

(This image is one I am using as a learning piece and is not meant to be a token of great composition.)

Here are the specifics for each photograph used in this composite: Composite of 4 images. All images captured at ISO 100, focal length 48mm, ƒ/5.6

Shutter speeds:
1/250
1/640
1/1600
1/4000

I have started using HDR because I take a lot of nighttime photographs. This means that if I am doing a very long exposure and there just so happens to be, for example, a street light in frame, then that street light is going to end up extremely bright compared to the rest of my image. This is where HDR comes to the rescue.

How do you magically make an HDR image?
[click to continue…]

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Kimba & T.bias

I rarely publish the lyrics to songs I write, but have decided to start looking back at a few. In this post I am going to let you in on the song “Lilacs” which I wrote for “Electric Ballroom“, the Specimen album released in 2007.

Get the song or the entire album on iTunes or…
Original Demo & Full Song Download After the Break.

Before you read the lyrics, make sure you have heard the song first. I vehemently insist that the words used behind a voice on a song is dependent on the combination of words and music. Sometimes the way a word, or set of words, lay upon the notes is poetry itself – regardless of what that word is. It can be the way lips and tongue lick your ears that can make the lyrics profound rather than their literal (or metaphorical, of course) meaning.

I used to pride myself in never writing the emotionally promiscuous and easily tapped Break Up Song™. As it happened, I went through a rather rough break-up just as I was beginning the process of writing songs for the album. There was almost no way of avoiding the topic that was consuming my brain at the time, so I gave in. “Lilacs” is completely, from head to toe, a Break Up Song™ and I am proud of it.

Continue on to the song download and lyrics…

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Local Seattle Feast

by Tobias on April 19, 2011

Truffle Gnocchi

I had some friends in from out of town which I find to be the perfect excuse to make a delicious dinner using all of the wondrous ingredients that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

I started with Kale stew I made last week; stews get so much better with a little rest. Full of red kale, red greens, black eye peas, celery root cubes, turnip cubes, tomato paste, mirepoix, veg stock, some mushrooms, and…well, probably other stuff I’m forgetting.

Then, insalata caprese. I used fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, both from my favourite produce stand in Pike Market (Sosio’s), fresh mozzarella (made that morning) and some good french olive oil mixed with a nip of lemon juice.

The main corse was a fresh morel mushroom (again, from Sosio’s) gnocchi in a white vermouth cream sauce with black truffles served with baked purple baby carrots with ramps (I have never cooked ramps, but now I’m hooked!).

For desert I made a glass cub of coconut sorbet with shaved mexican chocolate and ginger syrup on top of fresh blueberries and cream.

To finish, I served up the stinkiest cheese I could find. A wonderful, gooey, and creamy cheese with an orange tinted rind who’s stink was met with a spicy bite and lingered for near 15 minutes after a nibble. (I made sure to end with the cheese due to the linger on the palate.)

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Kryptos Clue Released

by Tobias on November 20, 2010

Today The New York Times published an interview with Jim Sanborn revealing a hint to help unlock the fourth and only onsolved portion of Kryptos on the 20th anniversary of the instalation.

Kryptos

Kryptos

Kryptos, for those not in The Know, is a wonderful art piece commitioned for the CIA headquarters. Jim is an artist, not a crytpographer, so he was advised on how codes are made. Even the person who mentored his cryptography has been unable to decode the full piece.

Although Jim is best known for this piece, his work spans an amazing gaumet. His current project, which my dear friends Jon Singer and Doug Humphrey of Joss, Inc. helped with, is a remake of the first man made nuclear reaction:

“His next exhibit Terrestrial Physics, is scheduled to be displayed in June 2010 as part of Denver, Colorado‘s Biennial of the Americas. It will include a sculpture that is able to generate a 1 million volt potential difference. Utilizing a recreated Van de Graaff generator, Sanborn will have created a fully functional particle accelerator capable of creating nuclear fission.” – Wikipedia

Jae Ko: Paper Artwork

Jae Ko: Paper Artwork

Aside from being a great artist, he is also a great guy with a loving wife of amazing talent. Jae Ko holds her own rite as an amazing paper artist. You can see some pictures of her amazing artwork on the Walker Contemporary website.

I will have my ear on the ground as this pans out. Sadly, this event has meant that I am not hanging out and gutting fish on their little island…

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White Truffle Cannoli with Saffron

by Tobias on September 5, 2010

White Truffle Cannoli with Saffron

While in the DC area a friend of mine provided me with a stunning gift: the oppertunity to have my way with a 3.85 oz Piedmontese white truffle.  I, of course, made white truffle linguini, true white truffle olive oil (most white truffle oils do not actually use real truffles as described in this wonderful NY Times article on the subject) , and other assorted goodies that you must do when you are presented with such an astonishing opportunity.

Truffle 3.85 ounces white Piedmontese

I was trying, as the Japanese Iron Chefs of yesteryear, to design a desert that would highlight the white truffle.  I only had what was on hand at my friends’ house, so I had to get creative. (No, I did not use the ice cream machine, but I was very tempted!)

The children at the house love to make their own cannoli.  My friends would buy the cheap kits at Costco that comes with the pastry tube and the filling allready in a bag so that the kids can quickly make their own cannoli.  I snuck out to the back fridge, stole the cannoli kit and got to work.

First, I used the truffle shaver to slice off a good stack of paper thin marbled white truffle.  I then julienned it, took the small strips and sliced them again to make the smallest little squares of white truffle I could.  I then emptied the pouch of pre-mixed filling, whipped in the white truffle, and then wrapped it up to let it stand in the fridge for a few hours.

The reason I decided to do this was because the essence of truffle is best exuded through oils.  What is the filling of cannoli? Mostly riccota cheese.  What is cheese?  Milk fat!

Once the mixture had time to settle, thus letting all of the beautiful aromas of truffle amazement flutter through the “canned” filling, I took a taste.  I was absolutely amazed.  This was a clear winner, and I only used the low end cannoli kit.  Just think what you can do if you started from scratch!

I pipped in the filling just before serving to the guests.  I then had another idea: Cannoli usually have cherry halves on each end.  We didn’t have any cherries, for one, and I wanted to change things up a bit.  I wanted something red to accent the visual taste of the dish, but I also wanted something subtle and savory to accent and heighten the truffle in the cannoli.  Saffron!

The end result was, dare I say, stunning.  It was clear and away the best dish of the night.  Who would have thought that white truffle cannoli would beat out another dish with slices of white truffle littering your plate?

NOTE: I took the picture at the top when Dawn Newton and I made the same dish from scratch.

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