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Space: 1999 "Breakaway" Recap

I have to thank my buddy Pat for letting me know about The Agony Booth. Hilarious stuff. It took me a couple of days to get through this recap, but it was well worth it. I remember watching Space 1999 as a child, but somehow the details escape me. This brings it all back in way more detail that I am sure I would have picked up on at the time.

Check out this recap of the pilot episode!

Space: 1999 "Breakaway" Recap Not a Review @ the agony booth : hilariously detailed recaps of movies, TV, and more!

Steamed Mac

I was actually going to blog today complaining about my love and hate relationship with Microsoft and their products (namely SharePoint 2010 and Visual Studio .NET). I have had a frustrating week dealing with those particular topics. But I may as well wait until I have some resolution there.

Instead, the day took a turn for the better when I found that Steam has released Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Half-Life 2: Episode Two for the Mac today. Yes!

My friends and I had a blast playing the original Half-Life. We would gather around as one of us would control the action and the others would spectate. Playing or watching, it was a great time.

Half-Life 2 was almost as good experience-wise and better technology-wise. I never did do anything with the follow-up episodes, so now is my opportunity.

So if you're a fellow Cult of Mac member, you should give it a try. And if you're running Windows, give it a try as well. Because at some point I'm hoping Left 4 Dead becomes available and I'm looking forward to some multi-player, multi-platform, zombie-fraggin' action!

Get your Half-Life 2 here!

Lynx Deconstructed

I have had several people ask me about my Lynx photograph.  Unfortunately the answers to those questions reveal how much I really suck at photography.  But for you guys I'm willing to make myself look bad.  So here is what the shot looked like originally:

Yeah.  I know!  Just in case you don't see the problems (unlikely as I think that is), I've annotated the picture.

What you can't see is that it's very slightly out of focus as well.

I had pretty much written this picture off and I was very disappointed about that.  I wish I had taken more shots so that I might have something better to work with, but for some reason I just went on to the next exhibit.  At any rate, Photoshop to the rescue!

Some problems are easier to deal with than others.  Cropping helps with the uninteresting areas and exposure can be fixed with curve adjustments.  The rest is slightly more complicated.

First thing I did was to add a levels adjustment layer and mask out the bars in the foreground.  Then by adjusting the levels, I made them darker to match the unobstructed areas.

Next, I used the patch tool to remove the distracting areas.

One of the things that is throwing people off is the depth of field in the final.  That is purely artificial lens blur courtesy of Photoshop.  There are two reasons I did this.  First, with enough of a blur, the chain link fence disappears.  Second, if the cat is the thing most in focus, attention is drawn there.

For my lens blur I created a depth map (a channel mask that defines how far each pixel in the image is from the viewer) and then did quite a bit of cleanup work afterwards by tweaking the layer mask so that the parts of the image that I wanted in focus were not being covered by the blurred layer.  (This is a pain when you consider that every hair you see in focus has lens blurred areas between them.)

Since blurring things tends to smooth them out and since the original image had noise in it that I did not want to get rid of (cleaning up noise has a tendency to get rid of detail), I had to add noise back into the background so make the result more seamless and natural.

A little sharpening in areas, a dropping of the saturation in the background and bumping up of the saturation in the foreground and voila!  A slightly less sucky picture than what I started out with.

If anyone wants details on a particular step, I'll be glad to go into greater depth or point you to resources already available online. The key is to just have fun with it and go with the flow. As Bert Monroy always says, "Just keep playing."


Lynx, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

Another shot from my trip to the Memphis Zoo. This one took quite a bit of work to salvage. There were bars in the foreground and a chain link fence in the background to deal with. Plus I also removed some other distracting elements and made a few other adjustments.

White Tiger

White Tiger, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

Spent a few hours at the Memphis Zoo recently and came back with many pictures of lots of cool animals.

Here On The Island - by Lewis Napper - A Scholarly Critique of the Style, Symbolism and Sociopolitical Relevance of Gilligan's Island

I have always joked that Gilligan's Island symbolized the answers to most of Life's issues. My friends and I have even discussed what I expect is largely unintended symbolism. It was fun and killed some time.

The following is a spin on that topic that I never considered.

Here On The Island - by Lewis Napper - A Scholarly Critique of the Style, Symbolism and Sociopolitical Relevance of Gilligan's Island

Terry Pratchett on Doctor Who

My absolute favorite author's views on Doctor Who. I am a latecomer to the series, I'll admit. And I can't seem to make it through a full episode of the much earlier incarnations of the Doctor. And while I do enjoy the newer additions, I find myself more drawn to the Torchwood spinoff.

At any rate, it is probably not surprising that my views generally mirror Sir Terry's. So for whatever it's worth....

Terry Pratchett on Doctor Who