The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
by zbrain on November 27, 2012 in quotes
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Cappelli e Sciarpe

Walking down one of the streets of Rome, Italy, I noticed this cart that sold, among other things, a collection of hats and colorful scarves.

Seeing a photo op, I positioned myself to compose this shot, when the vendor walked and wondered why I thought his cart and wares were photo worthy.

I didn’t have to explain it, because after all a picture is worth a thousand words, right? When I showed him what I saw, with a wide, all knowing grin, he said “Aaaah… Molto buona!


Remember that the most difficult tasks are consummated, not by a single explosive burst of energy or effort, but by the constant daily application of the best you have within you.
~ Og Mandino
by zbrain on November 25, 2012 in quotes

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The year is 2006. Roger Federer has just made it to his fourth straight Wimbledon final. Unlike in the past four years where he’d faced opponents who had a losing record against him, the man he would face this time was his nemesis-in-chief, Rafael Nadal. Roger had lost six of the last seven matches they’d played.

The last match on Paris’ red clay evoked questions about almost every one of his body parts – his head, his heart, his guts, …and even his testicles…

Federer, today, unfortunately came out with no balls… you don’t find too many champions in any sport in the world without heart or balls. He might have them, but against Nadal they shrink to a very small size and it’s not once, it’s every time ~ Wilander

Former greats, analysts, haters and fans… almost nobody gave Roger Federer even a remote shot at beating Rafa in the final. Why would anyone? Rafa’s lefty game had exposed a chink in Roger’s armor that nobody else had been able to, and he was going to exploit. If Roger was Superman, it was plainly obvious that Rafa was his kryptonite.

Everyone that analyzed this as a foregone conclusion in favor of Rafa, was missing a couple of things. The fact that they had never before met on the Wimbledon grass, a place that Roger calls home, a surface that more than suits his multi-faceted game. Last but not the least, all that data and analysis failed to reveal the grit, the heart, the will and, the never-say-die attitude of a great champion.
Read more…

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lukas rosol

The passage way between the umpire’s chair and the net is barely wide enough to let one person through. Rafael Nadal usually lets his opponent go first at the changeover. This time however, he appeared to bump into his opponent, Lukas Rosol, who stood there for a couple of seconds, walked over to his chair and sat down with a wry smile directed towards his box. That’s the moment he knew that “Nadal is only human.”

The 100th ranked Lukas Rosol had managed to do something that very few players on the ATP tour have rarely ever done. Rafa – a 11 time Grand Slam champion, a former champion here and recently crowned for the seventh time at Roland Garros – looked lost, slow, confused, rattled, frustrated and annoyed all at the same time.

It wasn’t just Rosol’s big game – a huge serve, groundstrokes that looked like they exploded out of a bazooka – that was getting to Rafa, but his attitude on the court, his belief, and most of all the complete disdain for everything Rafa had accomplished on the tennis court.
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Looking to buy that new Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display? Why not? It is after all “a whole new vision for the notebook”

You might want to consider this before you decide to buy one though…

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Macbook Pro with Retina is one of the most difficult-to-repair computers ever made. An independent California Apple repair shop, iFixit, gave it a score of one on a one-to-10 scale for repairability. The RAM and that solid-state drive can’t be upgraded; the expensive Retina display can’t be replaced if broken; the battery is glued rather than screwed in. Even the exterior screws are a non-standard Apple design

A one on a scale of one to ten? Ouch! Although, I can’t say that I am really surprised by it, given the direction that Apple has taken over the last few years.

Apple’s strategy is clear. Buy the best device, with all the bells and whistles that money can buy now. After you do however, don’t by yourself, or with the help of independent repair shops, service these. They’d rather you shell out $349 for three years of the AppleCare Protection Plan.

As a technologist myself, I’d have liked to be able to replace or upgrade parts like the RAM, the hard drive or at the very least, the battery. By making this process difficult for the consumer, Apple is in effect establishing a shelf-life for the device. In other words, come back and get a better device every two years or so.

As evidenced by the popularity of the MacBook Air, despite the shelf-life and the huge price-tag, people don’t mind spending money on high-end hardware that isn’t easy to repair or upgrade. If they had to, they probably wouldn’t mind spending that $349. After all, you’re not going to bring in that high-end Rolls Royce to Bob’s Auto Repair down the street, are you? I didn’t think so!

Tell me… does this rather unsurprising move by Apple really turn you away from buying your dream machine?

{sources: The Atlantic, iFixit}

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A Million Suns

by zbrain on March 15, 2012 in photography,places

Skies of blue, clouds of white, fields of green, flowers of yellow. Oh, what a wonderful world!

Driving our little Fiat through the Tuscan countryside, this stunningly beautiful view – a gorgeous white cloud cover in a blue sky set over yellow sunflower fields – showed as we came up over a hill. I did three things at once… dropped my jaw, made a sharp turn, hit the brakes so hard that my pregnant screaming wife thought I was having a heart attack :)

The location and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because, right after I was done taking my pictures, the cloud cover was gone. As good as the sunflower field looked by itself against the deep blue sky, the white puffy cloud cover and its shadow is what completes this picture. I was in the right place, at just the right time. Wouldn’t you agree?

Interesting observation… focus your eyes on the middle part of the picture and your eyes will trick you into thinking the shadows are moving to the back of the field. Did you feel it?

Like it enough to buy a print or two?


Color Me Badd

by zbrain on February 23, 2012 in photography,still life

Color Me Badd

Given the time and freedom, my mind can get into a creative groove, imagining photographs of objects in and around the house. Well, most times that is. Other times however, I’d have to look for inspiration elsewhere, like I did for this Valentine’s Day prop.

One of my best sources of inspiration however, is my eight year old son who is a budding artist. All I have to do is ask… “Got any photo ideas for me today, buddy?” and I can expect him to come up with a few good ones that I can choose from. It never ceases to amaze me how kids, when not bridled, can be very imaginative with their thinking, an ability that grown-ups tend to leak when not challenged.

On this occasion it was color pencils that were the subject of attention. I let him imagine in his mind, exactly how he wanted the shot composed, and this is what he came up with!



by zbrain on February 22, 2012 in experimentals,photography,places


There are reports of spaceships appearing over New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles…. and… the Great Smokey Mountains? Yep. If this looks like a scene out of Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, you wouldn’t be alone.

This is one of my first attempts at HDR photography… three bracketed exposures combined using Photomatix Pro. A liberal application of a few Lightroom presets yielded the surreal effect that makes it seem like a spaceship is about to show from behind the fiery clouds!


Happy Valentine's Day!

Between my day job as a technologist, and the cold, short days, there isn’t much of outdoor photography that I get to do during the winter months, in the New York area. Well, at least that is my excuse and I’m sticking to it. However, opportunities abound in and around the house, where almost anything and anyone is fair game for me and my Canon camera.

Besides being a lot of fun, it allows me to hone my camera skills and I get to know all of the equipment I own, a lot better. One of my ongoing themes is abstracts, where I’m only limited by my imagination. On the occasion that my imagination does limit me – happens quite a lot ;) – I look for inspiration from fellow togs, books or the expansive internet.

So it was perfect timing, what with Valentine’s day on the horizon, when I stumbled across Anna The Red’s post on how to make a heart shaped egg. A few boiled eggs later, I had two hearts on a red silicone pan, beating as one ;)

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