Nothing quite like hurricane season in Texas. This will be a fun work week.
A week or two ago it was time for the annual Tristar Collectors Show in Houston. I never really go with a ton of cash, so I don’t make any huge purchases, but I do enjoy just thumbing through dime boxes for a couple hours. Truth be told, this year I think I ended up buying more supplies (about $40 worth of mag-holders) than I did cards. I think all together I spent about $35-40, including two completely overpriced cards I’ll mention in a minute.
I also ran into the now “Beckett famous” Tanner from “6,000,000 cards and counting” as I was walking in. I complemented him on his epic mustache and told him how I had enjoyed seeing the custom cards he had been creating over the time I had been reading his blog. He said thanks and I apologized for being some sort of random creepy “guy from the internet” and left him alone.
Anyway, you’re not here to see $40 in plastic holders, so I suppose I should get on with it…
We all scan cards, right? I’m always quick to the scanner with stuff like Gyspy Queen, Ginter, and anything without gloss. I hate the way Chrome cards scan. I either scan them and spend 20 minutes in Photoshop trying to get them to look normal again, or I don’t scan them at all.
I’m sick and tired of “it looks way better in person” and “this card didn’t really scan well”. It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m a photographer, I can do better than this. Why am I scanning cards I know won’t scan well?
I’m still working out the details, but after putting together a quick, 10-minute, proof-of-concept, I’m already convinced that a light tent is a better way to go. They’ve been available forever in the photography world, and I’ve had several over the years. They’re not super durable, and they don’t last long, but they’re handy for quick table-top photoshoots. I’ve shot jewelry, I’ve shot glass, I’ve shot nick-knacks and antiques. Quite honestly, I’m embarrassed I hadn’t thought of doing it with baseball cards.
But, doesn’t that take longer? Good question. It really depends on the setup. I made a quick light-tent out of a cardboard box and a couple 8×10 sheets of thin paper. It’s small enough to leave on my desk, ready to go. I have a long (30ft) usb cable and I’m shooting directly into Adobe Lightroom. I created a quick import/hot-folder action to automatically rotate the photos and apply color correction. If I can standardized my cropping (and automate that as well), then I’ll have finished images as fast as I can shoot them.
I can do more at one time on the scanner, 20+ cards per scan. I can do entire team sets. I also have to pull the files into Photoshop and color correct, resize, and crop anyway. So, it’s actually about the same.
It’s the “right tool for the job” type of thing. For sets of cards, or cards with matte finishes, the scanner works best. For single, ultra-glossy refractors, a photo is definitely the way to go.
I’m going to invest again in a more professional set up, but these images are my tests. These are made with a small cardboard box, some white paper, and two old Canon flashes, nothing more. I did not use my “good macro lens”, or my “good lights”. Just imagine if I had. Look at the way the sparkles/highlights/colors pop on these.
I need to make a “stand” to prop them up so that it eliminates the shadow, but I think we can all agree these look better than muddy scanned versions we all normally get. This will be a fun little experiment. I wonder how small I can make a light box? If I can make something “card sized” I can pretty much leave it on my work desk indefinitely. Back to the drawing board for a final version, but I’m liking the direction it’s going.
Today is a rather somber day. Today we received word that our department might be on the chopping block at work. Normally I wouldn’t even mention work, but layoffs are a pretty big deal, and it pretty much destroyed my good mood today.
You see, today is also the anniversary of this blog. On April 29th, 2001 I started blogging on this domain. A previous blog existed on another, but this anniversary is specifically for this blog, and not my blogging in general. Fourteen years! That’s both remarkable, and kind of crazy at the same time.
I had planned on telling the tale of early blogging, my thoughts in blogging in general, and how fortunate I was for both the ability to write what I please, and for the people who actually bothered to listen.
Instead, I’m actually rather depressed at the moment. I’m being asked to, essentially, justify my existence, again. We’re a small group, just 3 guys. We had 5 at one point but one got let go and another left for greener pastures. You’d figure that removing 2/5 of the salaries in the group over the past few year would be enough in these cost cutting times, but apparently we’d both be wrong about that. We’ve been more efficient. We’ve gotten the job done with 3 rather than 5. Apparently they want to find out if it can be done with 1, or even none.
Nothing is certain. We all may be fine. But when they ask an entire department to submit “detailed reports” about every item you work on, and what you do every day, they’re looking to make cuts. They want to see who has “real” work and who is just barely keeping busy.
I don’t care about much of anything outside of the current situation. I’m sure you might be more interested in what cards I got, or what BBQ place I tried the other day but I can’t bring myself to write more than a sentence about that stuff at the moment.
Thankfully, I’ve written about my blogging in the past. So, just for today, on my blog’s anniversary, I’ll refer you to a post from a couple years ago…
Happy Blog-Birthday Everyone…
I am alive. Well, technically I’m alive. Being out and about in the land of the living again, well, that I can’t quite claim. Last week I came down with some unknown viral infection which caused fever and chills. Surprisingly it wasn’t the flu (had multiple tests runs) and was pretty much unidentified. It was just a pain in the ass. High temps, chills, tired, but not much else. After a couple days of that thrilling combination, I started to get some chest congestion. It built and built and by last Thursday my lungs were fairly full of fluid (the definition of Pneumonia). My fever hit 104 and I was having trouble breathing. My wife decided to take my sorry butt to an Emergency clinic, where they were able to run a couple tests, give me some breathing treatments, do a set of chest X-Rays and figure out just what was going on. Whatever virus had caused it was long gone but the fluid remained. I was also severely dehydrated and needed some IV fluids. A couple hours later I was sent home with an entire pile of prescriptions. Two steroids, two antibiotics, a breathing treatment, an inhaler for the hours in between breathing treatments, all sorts of crap. So, I was pretty well medicated all weekend, slept a lot, at all sorts of weird hours. The steroids make you jumpy and a bit of an insomniac, so that’s been less than fun, but it’s better than having fevers and chills. They also make you a little bit unfocused, so I’m sure this entire mess I’m writing makes hardly any sense. My apologizes. Just wanted people to know I was in fact alive.
I fully realized I hadn’t posted in about 3 weeks, and I really wasn’t that concerned. Late fall and early winter are kind of down seasons for me, at least historically. I’ve trimmed back my video game binging to merely a game or two, baseball cards have ended most production runs for the year, the holidays happen whether we want them to or not, and work generally grinds to a halt. That would be the perfect time for reflection and insight into the year thus far, but the lack of motivation usually takes it’s toll.
I’m also unsatisfied with my own web projects in general (don’t worry, it happens every year). About now I start noticing how dated my designs looks, I contemplate redesigning it, and it’s pretty much a 50/50 that I actually get around to it. This year in particular my general design is bothering me. It’s bland. It’s lacking any visual interest, probably because it was intended to emphasize text and fontography, which I then ignored. It’s also minimalistic, which of course was the trend at the time I rolled it out. That’s the problem with trends, they die. Currently, “massive fonts” and “full screen images” are in. Don’t worry, not going in that direction.
Oh, and I also smoked a turkey for Thanksgiving. How’s that for a random segueway?
I think I had mentioned my love for the barbeque arts in passing on previous posts. It’s gotten slightly out of hand. I’m smoking whole briskets and pork shoulders now. My pulled pork is actually quite good. I’m catering a small party next weekend. Go figure.
The turkey was actually pretty easy. Quick Simon & Garfunkel rub (Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, get it?) inside and out, and some butter injected into the breasts. Smoked at 325° for 2 ½ hours with apple wood. Easy as pie. Nice and golden and crispy on the skin, smoked and juicy on the inside. Completely blew our previous fried turkeys out of the water.
While the turkey was awesome, the highlight of the day was my kiddo finding snails in the backyard. She’s completely fearless, and just all around awesome. Not that a snail would hurt anyone, but most girls would run away screaming. I’m a proud daddy.
After dinner I settled in for some traditional Call of Duty. I’m actually pleased with this years offering. It’s clear what the extra year of production time did for it’s development. I don’t think you’d get anyone is disagree that Advantaced Warfare is far more polished that the previous few years. It’s good to get that fix of “twitch” shooter back. I had been missing it for quite a while. It’s like wearing that old comfortable hoodie, the one you just dug out of the closet because the weather is finally cold enough to wear it. Turkey, apple pie, and headshots, what could be better?
There have been some baseball cards purchased over the past few weeks. Most of them are going towards a rainbow that I’m nearly finished with. I’ll tease it with the best of the bunch, and you can clearly see why. Puns!
Yeah, that’s pretty sweet.
There’s not really that much else going on. I’d post more cards if I actually cared about any of the sets released in the last couple weeks. What I should do is round everything up and make some end of the year checklists for things I’m missing. There we go, I just gave myself a to-do list. That might actually get done. The website redesign, meh, 50/50.