Monday, February 28, 2005


Bit of a gray day, driving back from Napa, we passed through a bit of Sonoma County. Can't remember the name of this winery, but thought it a decent composition.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Dock at Parkway Lake

Dock, originally uploaded by futurballa.

Reposting of a shot taken a couple of months ago at Parkway Lake, in South San Jose.

Get a Life


Thursday, February 24, 2005


The New York Times has a roundup of 8 megapixel prosumer cameras. These lie somewhere between Digital SLRs and Point and Shoots, offering large LCD screens, decent optics and powerful zooms. Konica Minolta, Nikon, Olympus and Canon all have compelling offerings.

Apple may be poised to buy Tivo. Or at least that is how the headline at reads. Further reading seems to cast doubt on the likelihood of the acquisition. I'm a big Tivo fan, but it is pretty obvious that subscription services like this have a hard row to hoe.

Speaking of Apple. The Cupertino computer manufacturer just introduced 30 and 60 gb iPod Photos, which allow for storage of image files as well as music. In terms of size these are becoming interesting storage devices, along with there traditional use as a music player. Now when they can display Raw images on the thing, I may just add it to my wish list.

While we're in elsewhere mode, pal George had some interesting photography links recently. All photographers should print out the Rights of Photographers document. I myself have been questioned on several occasions by overzealous security guards.

Arts and Letters Daily has a good roundup of links to tributes and essays on the late Hunter S. Thompson.

And finally, just so you won't be disappointed, and remembering our motto here, "A day without a photograph, is like a day without orange juice."

Rolling Hills in Napa Valley

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Farewell Doctor

I've been away on business for a couple of days, so was not able to comment on the passing of Hunter Thompson. Others have eulogized Thompson better than I could ever hope to. I was shocked and bummed by his death, but not surprised that he would choose his own time in the way he did. I'll miss his keen eye. No one could cut to the dark underbelly of American culture like Thompson.

A couple of my own Vegas pics from a less savage journey. R.I.P.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Napa Valley

_MG_0693, originally uploaded by futurballa.

Taken from a vista point above Calistoga, California.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Cabin in the Vines

Taken in Napa County, California.

Celebrity Wines

I was away yesterday attending to family business, so this link is already a day old. Imagine my surprise when I began my morning news and blog rounds only to find that the subject of my most recent post, Niebaum Coppola, has merited the attention of Slate's wine critic, Mike Steinberger.

Mike takes a look at a number of celebrity vintners and shows a fondness for Coppola's 2002 Cabernet Franc, but is less pleased with the pricey 2001 Rubicon. And stay away from any wine with Elvis in the name... but I think you knew that.

He gives a fair bit of credit to Coppola for starting the celebrity wine trend,
Without question, the dean of celebrity winemakers is Francis Ford Coppola, though "celebrity winemaker" is the last label he'd ever want and the last one that should ever be applied to him. A wine buff from his childhood days on Long Island, Coppola jumped into the wine business in 1975, using his earnings from the first Godfather to purchase most of Napa Valley's legendary Inglenook estate. He has been one of the seminal figures in the valley's rise to international acclaim, and though the Niebaum-Coppola wines have been overshadowed in recent years by all the hoopla surrounding the so-called "cult cabernets," they still command a dedicated following.
He fails to mention one of the celebrity wineries that also has entertained a good reputation came along only 2 years later in 1977, is the Smothers winery, now called Remick Ridge in Sonoma.

Read the whole thing here.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Niebaum Coppola

In 1975, film director Francis Ford Coppola purchased the Niebaum estate, former home to the Inglenook Winery, with the idea of making a bit of wine in the basement, like his grandfather had. Today it is a fairly major wine producer.

One of the joys of visiting the estate, besides for the scenic beauty and a decent tasting room, is that Francis has created a small museum featuring some wonderful memorabilia from his movie career.

The Niebaum Estate

The desk from the Godfather.

A Tucker, from the film Tucker: The Man and His Dream.


Terry Teachout manages to delight me and enrage me in a single day. First he posts a rather scathing piece on the late Arthur Miller, of whom I must confess a certain fondness that goes back to college scene studies. But then Terry posts my favorite exchange from Waiting for Godot.

Critic, indeed!


Monday, February 14, 2005

Children's Discovery Museum

This past weekend was a full one that included celebrating the 8th birthday of my grand -nephew, a trip to the Napa wine country for an early St. Valentine's day, and learning of the death of my Wife's Grandmother.

Here are a couple of snapshots from the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose, California. A great place for little kids, where they can run free to play inside of real fire trucks and ambulances, make giant soap bubbles, and generally explore. If Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, this is the noisiest. I swear I've been to Dead concerts that had a lower decibel reading. But the kids had a great time.

Children's Discovery Museum

Chinese Dancers performed

Later this week I'll be sharing some pictures from the Napa Valley. We visited the towns of St. Helena and Calistoga, stopped by Niebaum Coppola (where I purchased a Carneros Valley Pinot which will accompany me to LA in March), and had a wonderful lunch at Tra Vigne. The weather was overcast, so the photographic opportunities were limited, but I feel it is worth sharing just to give an idea of the beauty of California's wine country.

And a final personal note. My wife's grandmother was 95 and a kick in the pants until her last few days. She passed away peacefully on Sunday morning. We'll miss you Mary.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Death of a Playwright

Author of "Death of a Salesman", "The Crucible" and "All My Sons", Arthur Miller, died today at the age of 89.

You can read more about Miller's life here.

Another View

Creek with Falls, originally uploaded by futurballa.

Uvas Canyon, a different look at that same waterfall.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

Why a Duck?

Bridges and Falls, originally uploaded by futurballa.

Another one from Uvas Canyon.

Ok, it's not really a viaduct, but you get the point. And if there is anyone who is not familar with the classic Marx Brothers routine, a fair bit of Googling finally turned up a transcript.

Why a duck?

Hammer [Groucho Marx]: ... Now here is a little peninsula, and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.

Chico [Chico Marx]: Why a duck?

Hammer: I'm all right. How are you? I say here is a little peninsula, and here's a viaduct leading over to the mainland.

Chico: All right. Why a duck?

Hammer: I'm not playing Ask-Me-Another. I say, that's a viaduct.

Chico: All right. Why a duck? Why a-- why a duck? Why-a-no-chicken?

Hammer: Well, I don't know why-a-no-chicken. I'm a stranger here myself. All I know is that it's a viaduct. You try to cross over there on a chicken, and you'll find out why a duck.

Chico: I no go someplace, I just--

Hammer: It's deep water, that's why a duck. It's deep water.

Chico: That's-why-a-duck.

Hammer: Look, rube. Suppose you were out horseback riding and you came to that stream and wanted to ford over there, you couldn't make it. It's too deep.

Chico: But what do you want with a Ford when you got a horse?

Hammer: Well, I'm sorry the matter ever came up. All I know is that it's a viaduct.

Chico: Now look ... all righta ... I catcha on to why a horse, why a chicken, why a this, why a that. I no catch on to why a duck.

Hammer: Well, I was only fooling. I was only fooling. They're going to build a tunnel in the morning. Now, is that clear to you?

Chico: Yes, everything excepta why a duck.

--The Cocoanuts

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Granuja Falls

Uva Falls, originally uploaded by futurballa.

Taken at Uvas Canyon near Morgan Hill, California. A hidden treasure just 10 or 15 miles south of San Jose. There is a great loop trail that takes you along a series of small waterfalls.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Fence, originally uploaded by futurballa.

Taken at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum.


Get Thee to DPReview

If you have any interest in Digital Photography or purchasing a camera in the near future, this is a great time to stop by and see what's new. PMA (Photo Marketer's Association tradeshow) starts on February 20th, so lots of new cameras are being announced between now and then.


Monday, February 07, 2005


Shack and Tree, originally uploaded by futurballa.

This last weekend brought some beautiful walks at Uvas Canyon above Morgan Hill, California, south of San Jose. And a family outing to the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz. This picture was taken at the Arboretum.


The Gigapixel Camera

Now this puts my measly 8 megapixels to shame.

A small exerpt from the article to give you some idea of what we are talking about here when we say 4 gigapixel...
Armed with a self-designed camera he crafted from parts of spy planes and nuclear reactors, Flint is crisscrossing America, taking thousands of pictures of cities, monuments and national parks.

Weighing more than 100 pounds, Flint's camera captures images at 4 gigapixels -- a resolution high enough to photograph four football fields and capture every single blade of grass. When printed at maximum resolution, the images are as big as billboards, but render the finest detail.

A photograph of a San Diego beach shows a paraglider swooping over bluffs. Zoom in on some tiny dots on the cliff, and a group of people with binoculars and telephoto lenses can be seen. Follow their gaze, and you'll see naked sunbathers on the beach.

"We might have to add fig leaves in Photoshop, it's that good," said Flint.
Read more about the Gigapixel Project.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Reflections in a Lake

Reflections in a Lake, originally uploaded by futurballa.

Taken at Parkway Lake, San Jose, California.

Message to George; this is the one I was talking about.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


Halfdome, originally uploaded by futurballa.

I'm fond of this photo because of the fairly subtle repetition of form between the branch and the mountain.

I had only just gotten my 20D when I took this and was still learning the camera. I think I'll have to make another trip to Yosemite now that I'm more at home with the beast.