Snow, peacemaker

Snow doesn’t discriminate. Everything it touches turn peaceful, including this trail near Ramot Alon (Hebrew: רמות אלון‎), a neighborhood in northern part of East Jerusalem. We all could learn from snow.
snowtrail

snowycreek

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License plate theft in Israel

We got our front license plate stolen this morning, either by some young punk or pros who steal cars for living. It didn’t really matter. I felt violated. I supposed it was a lot better than getting the whole car stolen.
After a little research, I found out that I needed to file a police report and get new plates made.
Filing a police report at a police station was relatively painless since the officer spoke pretty good English. I then had to ask five difference people on how to get to the license plate printing shop. That’s the thing about Israel. When asking for directions, plan on at least half of them giving you wrong/bad direction. Anyway, I found a place after zig zagging a few blocks. To my surprise, the whole process of printing took less than three minutes. Unbelievable. It’s the fastest thing I have ever seen when it comes to government related activities. I was pretty happy to walk out of there so quickly, even having had to drain my pocket of 100 NIS, given the circumstances. It sure beats waiting for my number to be called at California DMV!

A Hawk with built-in skydiving goggles! (nictitating membrane)

I thought I knew a lot about animals, especially the ones I grew up with. Nope, not even close! Did you know that some hawks, if not all, have built-in goggles? I had no idea! I know that sharks do, to protect their eyes when they pounce on huge chunks of meat and bones. Since raptors, especially hawks and falcons, dive at such high speed, they probably need a little help to protect their eyes, much like skydivers wearing goggles. I have forgotten my goggles a few times during my skydiving days. Yups, it’s not pretty.
Anyway, this video turned out crisp as usual using 20mm pancake f1.7. It’s an amazing lens for a closeup.

Dead Sea

I don’t carry a good camera with me all the time. A single picture from an iPhone is a hit and miss, but it sure comes in handy when taking panorama pictures, as shown in this shot overlooking at the Dead Sea. It pretty much shows grand bareness what we felt. For reference, this was a free public beach called Ein Gedi. The parking, however, costs 20 NIS.

The kids had fun, of course.

“That’s a RAP” Episode 1: Three-camera edit about graffiti

This shoot of the pilot show “That’s a RAP” was interesting since we mixed three completely different beasts; Panasonic GH2, Canon T3i and Sony HVR-Z5. Plural Eyes came in handy for matching up all the videos and a Zoom external sound recorder on the timeline.
I did a rough job on color correction in the beginning, matching up the cameras close as possible, thinking that I could fine-tune it after the edit. However, I learned too late that it is much more time-consuming to do it after chopping up all the clips and creating multiple nested sequences, so I left it. Note to myself – color correct first when the edit is complex, especially with multiple cameras and several nested sequences.
In overall, however, I am pleased with the way it turned out. Of course, it could be better, but the most important thing was getting it done in time. I am especially delighted with how GH2 performed for low-light indoor graffiti slide shots. Some of them were shot in ISO 1600 at f1.7 with Lumix 20mm Pancake, and they turned out crisp and clean. $7000 Sony HVR-Z5 is still giving us excess video noise problems. It needs to be replaced with either FS100; better yet, FS700!

Daniel diet

We temporarily stayed at the Living Bread Church guest house for two weeks in January, while looking for a place of our own nearby. It had a Kosher/Daniel Diet kitchen, which meant no meat, spices, packaged food, coffee or tea in the house. Our staple foods consisted of soup, vegetables and pita bread. The habit stayed with us when we moved to our new place at Isayiwa. We now buy/consume veggies by the case and eat very little meat. As a result, I lost tons of weight, both Sonnie and I look healthier/younger, and the kids eat warm pita bread as snacks instead artificial chemical laced crap.

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Isawiya, israel

Isawiya is an Arab village a bit north east of Jerusalem. It’s a stone throw away from the Hebrew University. Some roads are so steep that half the cars can not make it up the hill unless the they get a good start at the bottom and the drivers punch the pedals to the metal!  Goats roam free throughout the valley, eating everything.  Planting a garden is out of question!

isawiya

Deukjeuk Island & Incheon Fish Market

We were supposed to take off for Palestine/Israel a few days ago but ran into a visa glitch. We are “stuck” in Korea for another month or so until it gets straightened away. In a meanwhile, we visited Mr. and Mrs. Suh whom I have not seen for over 35 years. They live at Duekjuek Island, about an hour from Incheon via a fast ferry boat. They retired years ago, after 1600 kids got adopted through them, including my sister Jan and me.
We also visited Sorae Pogu Fish Market in Incheon, which is the biggest of its kind in the region. Fresh sushi is always on the menu. Everything we ate was alive just minutes before. Heck, the baby octopus was still wiggling when we put the tentacles in our mouths! I didn’t really care for it sucking on my lips/tongue/inner cheeks. 🙂

Technical note — I use “Smooth” Profile (-2, -2, 0, -2) for almost all GH2 shots. I believe it gives the widest possible dynamic range for intended color grading. However, it tends to cast yellowish tint, which I compensate by boosting the red in the midrange while darkening the shadow a bit by boosting green/blue slightly. Highlights are adjusted accordingly to peak at 100%.

Colorista II is used for most of grading. Below if the before/after split screen shots of how a simple color grading was performed to get the results above.

Tying a fishing knot in one second

A typical still fishing setup for trouts requires tying 3 knots. I dread tying them because it’s tedious and time consuming, especially with thin lines. I did a little research and found that Davy knot is fast and easy, perfect for an impatient person like me. The problem is that most of the videos on Youtube suck in quality, both in video and sound, so I decide to make my own! I really wanted to test the 88Mbit hack in ISO 160 anyway. As expected, the video turned out great and the sound from Rode was boomy and crisp. I enhanced the bass a bit and color graded slightly with Magic Bullet Looks and Colorista.