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J. Daniel Ashton

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, —Ecclesiastes 9:10a NIV
The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands:
"See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God." —Micah 6:8, CEV
With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment.
Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. —Proverbs 3:5,6 CEV

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Name: Daniel Ashton
Location: Germantown, Maryland, United States

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bare Minimum HDR

In response to Tanner's second comment on my previous post, I should point out that it doesn't take much to try out HDR techniques. The programs I pointed to there can be downloaded in a free trial version.

Your camera needs to produce pictures in a commonly-recognizable format. JPEG works just fine, although you are encouraged to use a raw format if you can.

The only technical hurdle is that your camera must provide some kind of exposure control, and the vast majority of digital cameras have a +/- button for exactly this purpose. (In contrast, the camera in my Treo 700p has no such controls whatsoever.) Lacking explicit exposure control, you might be able to trick your camera into setting the exposures by using the "half-down" button press that most cameras use to pre-set the focus and exposure settings. In this case, first aim for a bright part of the picture to set the exposure, then compose and shoot, then set the exposure for a dark part of the picture, attempt to re-align to match the original, and shoot your second frame.

So, at a bare minimum, to try out HDR techniques, you need to take at least two pictures of the same subject, aligned as well as you can manage (a tripod helps with this), taken with different exposure (EV) settings. Ideally, one will be overexposed and another will be underexposed.

Everything else contributes to making the result even better.

So, go ahead, try it! And let me know how it goes for you.

When it comes time to buy a basic but capable camera, I recommend the two cameras that Vicki and I are using: the Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7. (The Lumix DMC-FZ8 is on the market now, and adds a raw format capability that the FZ7 is lacking without raising the price.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Providebam Dominum

I ran across the English version of this text in my reading yesterday morning:
providebam Dominum in conspectu meo semper quoniam a dextris est mihi ne commovear--Psalm 16:8 (actually numbered 15:8 in the Vulgate, it seems)

Peter quoted this verse in his sermon recorded in Acts 2:25.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Heading Home

We're on our way home from CMW '07. We spent a few late-night hours at a Comfort Inn near Kingsport, TN, and ate breakfast at the Perkins on the same property. We're just adding up how many things we didn't think to do before we hit the highway, like filling the gas tank or telling the cashier at the restaurant that we deserve a discount because we stayed at their hotel.

I'm on-line thanks to my Verizon Wireless Palm Treo 700p. (Is that enough product placement?) It has been a good phone, and there has been nothing on the market that I would strongly prefer. (Although Verizon Wireless' coverage is spotty here, north of Bristol, and I would appreciate a car cradle that would boost the signal strength. In fact, if your Internet connection is through Verizon Wireless, don't bother trying to be online if you're riding on I-81 through the hills of southern Virginia south of I-77: it's a waste of your time to even try.) However, that will change on June 29. As my dear friend and brother-in-law pointed out earlier in the weekend, the Apple iPhone is only days away. But I haven't figured out yet how to afford one. Oh well!

As we drive we're listening to the Foote piano quintet, one of my more recently-acquired favorites, and we have the Mendelssohn string quintets and Beethoven violin sonatas in queue. I also want to add the Dohnanyi piano quintet to my list of favorite chamber works. In general, I seem to find more joy in the works with a larger number of players--quintets and octets, for example--and if one of the parts is for piano, that's even better.

The kids are chugging through more math assignments, and I'm getting into some work for IBM, while Vicki drives. We've just passed Bristol and filled the gas tank. I need to be home by 5:30 this evening so I can collect my trumpet and music and hurry over to brass practice at 6:30. At this point it looks like we should make it comfortably, at least according to Google Maps.

The biggest challenge we face at the moment is exhaustion. We came into this week with no physical or emotional energy in reserve, and making music, especially leading ensembles, demands both kinds of energy. All of us are in more or less of an energy deficit, and the world appears, if not foggy, at least fuzzy. But God's tender watch-care is always with us, and so we set ourselves to do what the day calls for, namely driving home.

CMW this year was good in the average ways that CMW should be good for anyone. I was disappointed in my own contributions: lacking the energy reserves, and fighting queasiness, I felt and acted, I fear, very blah. There were only a few moments when I knew I was able to provide real leadership, energy and emotional support to my fellow musicians. I need to find renewal and make opportunities to have better musical experiences soon, perhaps through ACMP.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Quotation: Calmness and Dignity

Because I bear a distate for the types of "worship service" and "music" that involve waving of arms or clapping of hands (not for those specific actions, but using them to invoke in your mind the image to which I refer), it is easy for me to connect with and deeply appreciate the following quotation, found in our church bulletin last Sabbath:

We need to be thoughtful and still, and to contemplate the truths of revelation. Excitement is not favorable to growth and grace, to true purity and sanctification of the spirit. . . . Let us give no place to strange exercisings, which really take the mind away from the deep movings of the Holy Spirit. God's work is ever characterized by calmness and dignity. --Ellen White, Selected Messages vol. 2, p. 35, 42

Quotation: Non-Violence

This I found attached to today's A Word A Day:
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. -Martin Luther King, Jr., civil-rights leader (1929-1968)
Of course, God calls us to go farther than that, in these words of the Messiah:
"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.