25 June 2009

Sports photography

I had the opportunity to photograph my hockey team at a tournament this past April. I haven't had time to really look through my thousands of photos or edit them, but here are a few I liked. My teammates are in the white jerseys.

To me, this photo shows the rough and tumble nature of hockey. It's kind of funny that the girl in pink gloves looks so nonchalant.

This is a pretty classic action photo. My teammate is skating up the ice with the puck in a commanding stride.

A nice defensive shot. I'm happy I got the puck in the photo. The capture really shows how quick your reflexes neat to be, when playing hockey.

A decent photo, but probably not my best.

This is a great shot because you can see my teammate's face so clearly. Too bad I didn't get the puck in the photo.

I really like this shot because I didn't expect to get it. I was shooting with a 135 mm fixed focal length lens. The action was too close for me to take any photos involving the puck. So I fooled around and looked around the defensive zone. I caught my teammate having a "friendly chat" with an opponent.

Again, this photo is the result of having the long focal length lens. I was limited in terms of what I could shoot, which turned out to be a blessing. Since I couldn't really shoot whole players with the puck, I focused on faces.

I really love this photo. Some people might say that it's not perfect because the player's face is partially obscured by the referee's arm. However, I think it's okay because it isolates the eyes, which you can still see!

I so so wanted a photo of a player shooting the puck. This is my best shot. The blur on the bottom part of the stick is great because it conveys a sense of motion. Unfortunately, the puck is hard to see because it's black and the stick tape is also black. I can't really go to my teammates and tell them, "please tape all your sticks white for me, so I can see the puck on my shooting action photos."

24 June 2009

Dragon Quest vs Final Fantasy

I just finished playing Dragon Quest V on my Nintendo DS. It was my first Dragon Quest game. What a great plot and nice graphics. I like how the visuals are the throwback 2D style, with a bit of 3D flair.

This got me thinking about Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, the two most famous video game franchises in Japan (beside the Nintendo characters). I've played Final Fantasy I, IV, VI, and VII.

Both series are RPGs with a long history. Dragon Quest IX and Final Fantasy XIII will probably be released in the US next year. Dragon Quest sticks with a medieval setting for all its games (according to Wikipedia) whereas Final Fantasy has moved towards a more sci-fi/modern setting. I also get the feeling that Dragon Quest tries to be charming and funny whereas Final Fantasy attempts to be dramatic. The Dragon Quest mascot, the slime, is really cute and I find the slime knight hilarious. I loved the Monkey Island series, so funny works well with me.

Dragon Quest games have a reputation for being similar just like the Zelda games. I once asked my friend, a huge Zelda fan, "Don't you get bored of the same hero and villain in every game?" He said no. I appreciate the fact that the Final Fantasy designers try to make each game different.

Dragon Quest has been slow to adopt 3D graphics. In fact, Dragon Quest VIII (2004) was the first 3D game in the series whereas Final Fantasy VII already conquered that medium in 1997. People think Final Fantasy's cutting-edge graphics make it more marketable to the North American audience and explain why Dragon Quest is much less popular in American compared to Final Fantasy.

The Dragon Quest designers seem to realize that they can't compete with Final Fantasy, so they need to differentiate themselves. That appears to be the motivation behind moving the next Dragon Quest games to the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms -- which are graphically less powerful but more popular with the mainstream, non-gamer audience.

So far, I like both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. If only I had more time to go on these 50 hour virtual adventures!

23 June 2009

Link of the day: "On the value of hard focus"

I like the idea that concentration is a muscle you can develop and exercise. Cal Newport talks about it in his latest post "On the value of hard focus."

22 June 2009

Song of the day: "The mirror-blue night" by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater

From the musical Spring Awakening
Flip on a switch, and everything’s fine –
No more lips, no more tongue, no more ears, no more eyes
The naked blue angel, who peers through the blinds
Disappears in the gloom of the mirror-blue night

But there’s nowhere to hide from these bones, from my mind
It’s broken inside – I’m a man and a child
I’m at home with a ghost, who got left in the cold
Who knocks at my peace, with no keys to my soul

And the whispers of fear, the chill up the spine
Will steal away too, with a flick of the light
The minute you do it, with fingers so blind
You remove every bit of the blue from your mind

But there’s nowhere to hide from the ghost in my mind
It’s cold in these bones – of a man and a child
And there’s no one who knows, and there’s nowhere to go
There’s no one to see who can see to my soul

21 June 2009

Song of the day: "All that's known" by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater

Whereas Wendla's song "Mama who bore me" revealed the disappointment she harbored towards her mother for not teaching her what she wanted to know, Melchior prefers to rebel against authority in "All that's known."

From the musical Spring Awakening
All that's known
In History, in Science
At school, at home, by blind men

You doubt them
And soon they bark and hound you-
Till everything you say is just another bad about you

All they say
Is "Trust in What is Written"
Wars are made
And somehow that is wisdom

Thought is suspect
And money is their idol
And nothing is okay unless it's scripted in their Bible

But I know
There's so much more to find-
Just in looking through myself
And not at them

Still, I know
To trust my own true mind
And to say: there's a way through this

On I go
To wonder and to learning
Name the stars and know their dark returning

I'm calling
To know the world's true yearning-
The hunger that a child feels for everything they're shown

You watch me-
Just watch me-
I'm calling
And one day all will know

You watch me-
Just watch me-
I'm calling, I'm calling.
And one day all will know

20 June 2009

Link of the day: The ghost telecommuter

Everyone knows about telecommuting, but this guy takes the next step. He syncs his home desktop monitor with his cube monitor. He sets up a webcam and speakers in the cube as well. Co-workers can go into the cube, talk to him, and look at what he's doing on his monitor as if they were working with his ghost!

Song of the day: "Mama who bore me" by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater

My friend introduced me to Spring Awakening. I was skeptical of the premise -- 19th century German schoolchildren singing rock/alternative. After a few listens, I like it. The musical explores adolescent angst with wit, intelligence, and catchy music to boot.

"Mama who bore me" is the opening number.

From the musical Spring Awakening
Mama who bore me
Mama who gave me
No way to handle things
Who made me so sad

Mama, the weeping
Mama, the angels
No sleep in Heaven, or Bethlehem

Some pray that one day
Christ will come a'-callin'
They light a candle
And hope that it glows
And some just lie there
Crying for him to come and find them
But when he comes they don't know how to go

Mama who bore me
Mama who gave me
No way to handle things
Who made me so bad

Mama, the weeping
Mama, the angels
No sleep in Heaven, or Bethlehem

15 June 2009

Link of the day: High speed rail link planned in California

I've always loved traveling by train. If only the rest of America knew the joys of train travel. I was excited to read the following New York Times magazine article about a high speed rail link between San Francisco and Los Angeles.