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Hal Winters

Hal Winters

   This is me with Hal Winters.  Hal stands some 7 feet tall and isn\'t nearly as scary as last year\'s snowman.  Every year I try to make at least one snow man.  Since I\'ve started much more serious with photography, I can share my snow people with the rest of the world.
We\'ve had some pretty good snowfall this December.  The third being last night gave us an other 1 and a half, and while building Hal, it started snowing.  Due to the new snow, I couldn\'t roll snowballs like I would normally use in snow-person construction.  The new snow would make an un-sticky layer over the wet snow below, and the balls would fall apart as you rolled them.
   To work around this set back, I used a large (probably 30 gallon) plastic bucket.  I filled this with snow, packet it down with my feet and make the snowman in blocks.  This created a tinner snowman, though just as tall.
   After the body of the snow person stands, you have to transform the pillar into a person.  And this is the part I like the most.  First, I start by adding shoulders and arms.  Since the body is so thin, I can\'t carve these out.  After the arms are built up, it\'s time for sculpting.  If you look closely, you can see my sculptor\'s tool... a large plastic salad spoon.  The spoon is great for cutting down surfaces, and you can very quickly add shape.  Then, you can use your gloves as sanders and smooth the carver surfaces.
   I\'m not much of an artist, so Hal isn\'t proportional or intricate.  Still, I build up the face with a noise and eyebrows.  Then carve a mouth and eye sockets.  To finish, a little spray paint makes Hal stand out, and not quite so creepy.
   I\'m pretty satisfied with Hal.  His shoulders don\'t line up and his hips are twisted a bit.  Still, I like him.  The pictures were taken shortly after completion.  You can see some snow buildup on his shoes and head, since it snowed the entire time I was constructing him.
   So I\'ve started down the path of Linux From Scratch in hopes of assembling a small, more controlled build for an embedded Linux.  Part of this required having a system running the 2.6 kernel, which by default, Debian doesn\'t install.  I used the White Dragon as the test computer.  My only complaint is that Debian modified /boot/grub/menu.lst and removed my custom video mode.
   This picture was taken at The Market in Watertown, Wisconsin last Friday.  It\'s one of two metal figures on the outside of one of the shops and I kind of like him.
   So there has been quite the talk in our group lately of a virus going around AOL instant messenger.  It IMes you with a message from someone on your buddy list that says \"I took new pictures: http://www.aol.com/users/Image_18\".  The virus accomplishes this by IMing everyone on the infected computer\'s buddy list with a link to the virus.  So, it looks like someone you know is sending you a link.  The link is/was to a .COM file, which I have identified as IRC/BackDoor.SdBot with AVG Anti-Virus.  It was pretty obvious, once you see that the file linked was a .COM file, that this was a virus.
   I downloaded and saved the virus just to have a look at it.  What surprised me was McAfee said nothing about it, even with the up-to-date definitions file.  I gave it a known virus, and McAfee said it was fine.  Doesn\'t inspire confidence.  Anyway, keeping a computer virus is a little like keeping a biological virus... you have to take caution in handling it.  In this case, the virus I\'m toying with is akin to the common cold and no great threat.  Still, try finding a virus for download to keep as a pet.  It\'s not easy to do.  IRC/BackDoor.SdBot might be a wimp, but it is a real virus, posing a real threat.  Since anti-virus software (well, those that work) would kill my wana-be tyrant, the file has to be encrypted.  It\'s like having a sealed test tube so I can pretend to be a computer virologist :)
   An other picture from Allyn Mansion taken two days ago.
   Lisa\'s facial profile, with a fireplace in the background.  Taken at the Allyn Mansion yesterday.
   All the shots I did at the Allyn Mansion are a prelude to a project I\'ve been considering for over a year.  I\'ve found each of the locations needed for this project at the mansion, and can now work out the details of each shot.  I\'m actually rather excited about the project as it reminds me of when I first shot St. Andrew\'s Cemetery in Delevin and then returned to shoot the epilogue on October 25, 2004.  
   A room on the third floor of the Allyn Mansion.  One things I have been doing in the cleanup of the mansion images is trying to flatten the contrast of the light globes.  Since I typically take two tripod shots at each location at different F-stops, I usually have an image that is under-exposed.  You get more detail in the light globes on the under-exposed image, where it typically saturates in the normal exposure.  Since the shots are taken from a tripod and are position identically, it\'s easy to place on over the other.  I place the correct exposure over the under-exposed image, and erase the globes of the light.  This allows the under-exposed version of the light show through, and the additional detail to be shown.  Simple, but effective.
The Mary E. room

The Mary E. room

   Today, Lisa and I went on a roadtrip to verious places in southren Wisconsin, including the Lincoln-Tallman House in Janesville, The Market in Watertown, Funkys in Fort Atkinson.  At the end of the day, we retired to the Allyn Mansion in   Delavan.  It was the perfact crown to a good day.
    I took a total of 248 shots through out the day, with 74 proofs resulting.  That\'s quite high for a day of shooting.  My shots at the Lincoln-Tallman House I had concern about.  I had to refrain from using the flash (which I prefer to shoot without anyway) and the house was quite dim with all the shutters pulled.  I used ISO 800, and was still getting shutter times of around 1/30 to 1/4 of a second.  Usually such low shutter speeds is death for hand-held photography, but most of my shots were good enough to work with.  There was blur, but in places without sharp lines, you didn\'t really notice.  I used a sharpen mask on those that were noticable and they cleaned up fairly well.
   The Allyn Mansion was my favorite part of the day.  I had plenty of time to set shots up, and the use of a tripod.  The house was already perfect.  Attention had been given to every corner of the rooms and hallways, so everywhere I look, there was a shot.  The lighting in the evening was quite low, giving the place a very relaxing and warm feeling.  I wanted to capture the images just as I saw them.
   Since the lighting was so low, shutter times at ISO 100 were around one second and upward of 5 seconds.  I was concerned with the white balance in such low light.  The incandescent light setting didn\'t seem to be matching the color correctly when sampling from the back of the camera.  So I tried a custom white balance using a white sheet of paper.  Unfortunately, it was too much correction and turned the orange fireplace flames white.  So I made a guess at the color temperature and set it at 2,300 K.  That seemed to be what I was looking for.  In the end, however, I think that was too much correction.  With the color temperature so low, the yellow-orange glow from the lights was being turned white, and I would have preferred to keep the warmer color.  
   Despite my white balance not being perfect, the pictures from Allyn Mansion were wonderful.  All are dark, but so was the place, so I think I captured things as I saw them.
   The picture today is of the room we stayed in, the Mary E room.  I light the back wall with a red flood light, which produced too much light (I was initially worried about the reverse).  If I shoot such a scene again, I am bringing a dimmer.