Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Macro Photography

Macro photography is a style of photography which focuses on the microcosm of our world.  Close up pictures of insects, flowers, fabric, and plants can reveal a completely unknown world.  I recently dived into this world when I bought a Canon T4i and a couple accessories.  It is easy to spend lots of money getting into macro photography, but there are a few ways to cut corners technologically.

The most expensive single item that a macro photographer will want to buy is a macro lens.  These can range anywhere from $200 to $1000, and you also need to consider purchasing a specialized macro ring light that fits over the end of the lens which can cost you another $1000.  I opted for the budget approach and did a lot of research to find ways around this.  The first trick is to buy extension tubes.

Extension tubes are simply metal cylinders that push the primary lens away from the camera body.  This increases magnification by quite a bit, but cuts down on the field of focus.  You can also use diopters.  Diopters are lenses that screw on the end of other lenses, and they operate sort of like a magnifying glass.  I have noticed that the optical quality of the diopters I purchased were not that good, so I don't use them much.  The last item I bought was a Fotodiox reverse ring.

Reverse rings are a simple piece of metal with male threads on both sides.  If you buy the right one you can fit two of your lenses back to back creating a virtual microscope!  I was doubtful about this at first, but after using it I was blown away at how close you can get to a subject and how much detail you can obtain.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Natural Health Magazine

A neighbor of mine who was working for a fundraiser asked me to subscribe to a few magazines for her.  One of the subscriptions I chose was to a magazine called Natural Health Magazine. I am glad that I did.  Many of the articles and advertisements are centered around women, but even men like me can learn something from them.  It has been many years since I had an actual magazine subscription, since I read websites mainly and prefer downloadable versions of publications that I read on my kindle.

As soon as I started flipping through the magazine I noticed little sections with diet related tips, and obscure trivia concerning the health benefits of herbs and food.  Some of these little sections really stuck in my mind, and I wanted to write them down.  When I was looking for a pen I noticed my scissors were laying on the table from when I cut my dog's hair the day before.  I picked them up and started clipping out these sections of the magazine.  Before long I had a few laying in my lap.  Below are the clippings I made.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Indian dish

I was a vegetarian for many years, and even a vegan for a short period of time, however I have drifted away from that lifestyle.  I didn't like how my body reacted, mostly due to my mistakes in not eating enough protein when I was a vegetarian, and also not using the right supplements.  One day soon I hope to return to that lifestyle again.

There is a wonderful Indian grocery market walking distance from where I live, and it is managed by a couple who used to live in India.  They are very nice, and informative, helping me with my lack of knowledge of Indian cuisine.  Most Indian food is vegetarian, especially the frozen dishes you can buy at the store.  I have found it is relatively simple to be a vegetarian if you include Indian recipes in your diet.

Over the past couple months I have bought many frozen meals from this local store, and have migrated from using Ralphs and Vons for my food source, to almost entirely using the local Indian grocery market.  The price per meal is almost half of what you would pay at most grocery stores, and the quality is the same.

This past week the owner of the Indian market gave me a sample of his home cooking.  The food resembled a fried wonton, and he gave me a green sauce to dip it in.  I took it home since I was in a rush.  When I took a bite I was blown away at the flavor, and had to learn how to make it.  The next day I stopped by and asked him for the recipe.  He walked around the store picking up items like potatoes, peas, chutney, and samosa pattis.  Samosa is a very thin flour that is pressed into sheets and stacked, then frozen.  You wrap up the other ingredients with it before cooking.  The owner of the store also suggested I try experimenting with other ingredients.

After leaving the store I decided to go across the parking lot into a meat deli and buy some chicken.  I know,  I know, chicken is meat, what are you doing.  At this moment in time I am not going full vegetarian, and still eat some meats.

The method to create this dish is to bake potatoes at 350F degrees for an hour.  Before cooking you should stab them with forks several times to allow venting of internal steam pressure.  I also like spraying oil onto the surface of the potato, and then rolling them in salt.  Cook them directly on the middle rack of the oven.  I prefer to steam the peas about 45 minutes into the baking of the potatoes, and use a convection oven to cook the chicken.  Once the chicken and peas are done cooking everything needs to be combined in a mixing bowl.  Mashing the potatoes first is ideal, and then fold in the peas and chicken and add seasoning such as pepper and salt.  Once you have a good mix place the mixture on the samosa patti skins one by one and fold the skin over so it encloses the ingredients.  You then can fry them in a pan, deep fry them, or bake them for 15 minutes at 350F degrees.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


2013 is here, and it seems the older I get the faster the years fly by.  New Years resolutions are the same as last year for the most part, except I have made some progress to achieving my goals unlike previous years.  I am back to using a Franklin Covey planning system, since it worked so well for me many years ago.  I expect this next year to be very productive and transformative.