Blurred Lines

Boy holds Cleveland Indians baseball with Chief Wahoo logo. Cactus League, Scottsdale Arizona. March 16, 2014
Cactus League, Scottsdale Arizona. March 16, 2014

I recently blogged about Color Splash, a mobile app that allows users to wipe out color in a digital photograph, then add it back to specific sections for visual impact.  I had a blast with it, and expect to use if often now that I have the hang of it.

This weekend I tested another app: Big Lens. With a few swipes of a fingertip, it blurs or refines focus in digital images, creating the illusion of shallow depth of field.

I take a good portion of my photographs at the ballpark, with a long lens, so my aperture setting is often low to begin with.  Still, I was able to dig out a few exceptions and apply the Big Lens treatment. I got interesting results that are a bit more subtle than from Color Splash.

Big Lens also offers the ability to add focus light points in shapes like hearts and stars (Bokeh effect) to blurred sections. I only tried it in one photo here. Can you spot it?  Hint, I chose star shapes, but considered using hearts…

The biggest challenge with both apps is my lack of finger dexterity and precision. It’s difficult to stay within the borders of sections I’m highlighting — especially anything thin, like the brim of a ball cap.

If you are a Big Lens user, have you found a solution?

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2014 Spring Training: Day One Was a Dust Up

It’s that time of year again: Major League Baseball Spring Training in Arizona. The new season brings a new camera lens for me, which is proving a little unwieldy so far. For starters, when it’s attached to my camera the entire ensemble weights more than six pounds. I got cramps in my arm, and a blister on my zooming thumb. Tomorrow I’ll rub some desert grit on it, and get back in the mix.

It was a beautiful Scottsdale day: hot of course, with breezes that kept us cool while kicking up a lot of dust. Unfortunately, it wasn’t pretty for the San Francisco Giants — or Matt Cain who gave up seven runs to the Oakland Athletics. The Giants lost 8-1.

Giants vs. Dodgers: A Clean Sweep

San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain on the mound, May 5, 2013.
Matt Cain

The San Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers three times last weekend. Swept the floor with them, you might say.

I caught Sunday afternoon’s game — the last of the series and a 4-3 victory for my guys.  My seat was near third base — a more favorable location this season, since the team has found its offense.  In years past, when only one or two Giants players even made it to third base, let alone scored, it could feel like the loneliest, saddest place on earth.

Matt Cain — who was winless in April — looked strong.  Hunter Pence was en fuego. (Sunday was Cinco de Mayo, after all.)  Andres Torres ran very fast.  And Pablo looked… like a fat panda.  His online bio puts his weight at 240 pounds, but these photos don’t lie.  The guy is a house.

Right now Sandoval is batting .323, but you have to wonder how long he can maintain that when he huffs and puffs around the bases… and can no longer see his toes while doing it.

On a lighter note, being back at the ballpark on a warm day — camera in hand — brought me all the usual joy.

And as my tagline says… I have the pictures to prove it.

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Weekend On The Rocks, Part I

George Kontos
George Kontos

It was a Big Weekend in San Francisco.  Some might say, it was the Bermuda Triangle of weekends, as more than one million visitors paid a visit to our fine city to take in sporting events (San Francisco Giants and 49ers, the America’s Cup), the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and Fleet Week.

For the first time I can recall, I’m actually thrilled that tomorrow is Monday.  All these people will have gone home by then, right?

The most vexing parts of my weekend were two packed and plodding Muni bus rides to AT&T Park, followed by two miserable performances by the Giants.  For now I will focus on Saturday’s game, because quite honestly… I am too depressed to process tonight’s loss, let alone write about it.

I had planned to watch game one of the NLDS from my couch, but an amazing seat near the visitor’s dugout popped up on StubHub. It was out of my price range, but I decided to stalk it for a while.  As game time approached, the price dropped precipitously.  Forty-five minutes before Matt Cain’s first pitch, I made my move.

When I got to the park in the bottom of the 2nd inning (thanks again, Muni), the previous owner of the ticket was sitting next to me.  He immediately pointed out what a great deal I’d gotten.  He paid more than twice what he got from me.  Awkward!

The guy was pretty nice, all things considered.  I nearly bought him a beer, since I figured he was feeling a little light in the wallet, but by the 3rd inning it seemed like he’d already had plenty.

I wish I had a slew of photos of great Giants at-bats and base running, but alas I’m a photographer not an abstract artist.  Or a magician.


And Then, There Were Three…

Pablo's three-run homer
Pablo’s three-run homer

Regular season baseball is winding down. If your team is out of contention, like the Cleveland Indians are, attendance is tapering off. My parents were at Progressive Field today, and the place was at least 2/3 empty. That makes me sad because Cleveland is such a great sports-loving town. Maybe next year will finally be the Tribe’s year.

Meanwhile on the west coast, the San Francisco Giants are three wins away from capturing the NL West. That is, three strikes and the Dodgers are OOUUUUT!

The magic number is particularly important to me. I have tickets to both Saturday’s and Sunday’s games against the San Diego Padres, and I want to be at AT&T Park to see the Giants clinch the division. The math has gotten ridiculously simple — the odds of at least attending a game where clinching is a possibility are clearly in my favor.

Pray for me?

I went to the game on Wednesday night. Matt Cain may not have been perfect, but he was awesome. In fact, thanks to my unwavering confidence in Matty and the Giants’ six-run lead, I headed home after the 7th inning stretch (my first early departure of 2012) to thaw out my extremities. It was the coldest game I’ve been to all season.


Just Another Day At the Office

Quite a day.  I teed off with Yang and Watney at 12:41, played 18, then came home to watch Matty Cain pitch a perfect game. I’m exhausted!  Mom told me there’d be days like this.

Wait, mom never said any such thing! Today was a GREAT, completely unusual day to be savored and remembered… even if I really didn’t play in the US Open.  I just walked around the beautiful golf course, taking photos of the players, until my camera was like an anvil and I couldn’t take one more step.

Then I handed things over to Matt Cain…

US Open Practice Day Schedule

Play Ball!

The San Francisco Giants 2012 home opener against the Pittsburg Pirates was everything I’d hoped for… starting with sunny and dry.  For several days prior, I had monitored the Weather Channel, while also chanting “ohpleaseohpleaseohplease”.  I guess it worked.

Bryan Stow’s son Tyler movingly threw out the first pitch.  It looked like a change-up.  Seriously, he’s 13 and I think he may have a future in baseball.

Matt Cain threw a gem – a one-hitter complete game.  Aubrey Huff homered, and Buster nearly did.

I splurged on my seat, under the auspices of trying out a new camera lens.   Really, I was just ready for some baseball and I wanted to be close to the action.  I can now say my investments in the lens – and the Opening Day ticket – were wise ones.

On a personal note, my apologies to the nephew of Bob in section 126, row 10.   According to the season ticketholders seated around me, Bob couldn’t attend yesterday’s game, and gave his nephew his ticket.  It eventually became MY ticket, through the magic of StubHub.   When I told my seatmates where I bought it, eyebrows shot up.   Uh oh.

Sorry if I outed you, crafty nephew of Bob.  If you didn’t split the ticket-sale proceeds with your uncle, your next conversation with him could be a little awkward!

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