Thursday, March 30, 2006

$50,000 Dream Kitchen Make Over

My Sister-in-Law is a finalist for a $50,000 kitchen make over. They could really use your vote on Friday, March 31, 2006 after 6:30pm. Please vote in the dream kitchen contest.

Like many young families Megan and Dan Liske are strugglng to make ends meet. Dan, a self-employed massage therapist, works days so Megan can stay home with the kids. On his return Megan then heads out to teach fitness classes in the evening. To say they lead busy lives is an understatement. When they bought their home they had hoped to do some renovations with the help of Dan's father who is a carpenter. However, their fortunes turned when his father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Following an operation, chemo, and radiation treatments he was obviously unfit to continue the renovations. Their bright pink kicthen is in need of a facelift and they hope to be the recipients of the Dream Kitchen Makeover.

vote for #3 The Liske Family.

-Gary Milner

Doing Data Entry All Day Long


So I've been thinking that sales people are idiots. They leave stuff off forms that get entered into the computer. They can't understand that if they don't put a contact number on the contract, they won't be able to call the customer in a year when the contract expires.

Wouldn't it be much easier to rubber stamp contract renewals than to spend your day finding new customers?

Then they leave digits out of phone numbers and for that matter who needs postal codes or area codes? Don't you know what state this guy lives in there are less than ten of them.

What the real problem is, I guess, is that one data entry clerk can do all the data entry for 50 sales people. They can't sell enough cellphones or long distance plans to warrent more data entry clerks.

As a data entry clerk I value good clean data. It should be complete and easy to read. It is important to me that it gets entered correctly. I pride myself in working efficiently and accurately.

What kills me is that while each individual sale person may not make an error on any given day, several of the 50 do make mistakes. Dumb mistakes, and I see every single one of them because I am the only data entry clerk. I just want to grab them, and shake them back and forth untill they get whiplash and say, "someone has to read this and enter it into the comptuer and your handwriting is at a grade three level. A dumb grade three." I want to warn them that the office hires temps and not all of them are from Australia. Some of them are from Canada, and while we Canadians find names like Crowchild Trail easy to figure out especially in context of Calgary, we don't find names like Wagga Wagga or Kwinanna easy to decipher with in the propper context or not.

There is a reason all government forms say please print clearly.

-Gary Milner

Monday, March 27, 2006

Vote for Megan

Megan and Dann
Originally uploaded by Tracie Milner.
My sister and her husband are finalists in a home kitchen makeover contest valued at $50,000 CAD. She has instructed me in no uncertain terms to make sure I vote for her and to rally votes on her behalf.

From what I know about the contest, it was open to all residents of Medicine Hat. Megan sent in photos of their kitchen along with a letter saying why they feel they deserve to win the contest. Her and Dann are in the final three, and they could really use the prize. They have an old house and two young kids and $50,000 renovations would be huge.

Voting begins at 6:30 pm Mountain Standard Time (Alberta time), just after the 6 o'clock news announces the three finalists. Apparently you can only vote once from each computer and voting is only open for 12 hours. Here's the address: #3 The Liske Family From there, follow the contest link.

It will either be under their names (Megan and Dann Liske) or else it's the old pink kitchen in the photos.

Good luck Megan and Dann. I hope you win !!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Surfers in Margaret river

They are having a pro-surfing contest in Margaret River, about four hours South of Perth.

200+ pro-surfers will be coming to compete. While I am interested in going to see the contest. I'm not intrested enough to rent a car for a couple of hundred bucks to go down there.

I'm sure some of the tricks would be pretty amazing, especially considering the size of some of the waves, but it just isn't worth it.

When we went down there a couple of weeks ago, I bodyboarded on some of the waves like the one in this photo and let me tell you that a six to eight foot wave is a lot faster and more powerful than you might imagine.

It takes a real effort just to get out to the wave and then you have to be really careful when you are riding to not catch an edge and get tumbled really hard.

Even dropping the nose just enough to cause water to spray into your face is pretty bad when you are moving that fast. It seems to spray right into your nose just about every time. Almost always a second before you get crushed by the wave and so you don't even have time to prepare for it.

-Gary Milner

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Perth Transit

Here in Perth, some of the bus drivers drive busses that are fitted with a cage around the driver's seat. Other busses don't have the cage fitted around the driver's seat.

Although I have only gone on 50-60 rides and am no expert on the matter, I have noticed that the bus drivers who don't have to drive around in over sized pet carriers are signifcantly nicer than the drivers that do.

I can't help but wonder if the jerky drivers are being punished for being jerks, or if they need to be protected from the people they are jerks to.

It isn't as if some routes are more dangerous than others, because both types are available on all the routes I have ridden.

House Prices In Calgary

I haven't checked house prices in Calgary for a long time. Today I look at as well as

I regret it. A lot.

The cheapest house for sale in our old neighbourhood is $280,000 on MLS.CA and $260,000 on WELIST.COM. Presumably the extra $20,000 goes to the realtor. Although sold houses are taken down from right away, tells you how long it took to sell the house. Most of the listings said between one and five days.

I'm not saying that I regret selling the house and coming to Australia, but had we waited one more year, we could have paid off our student loans and come to Australia and we probably wouldn't have had to work while we were here.

-Gary Milner

B.C. Ferry Sinks

I've just been watching the news and they're telling about a huge B.C ferry that sunk last night. The ferry hit a rock in the middle of the night in a place called Hartley Bay. Many people were in bed and had to get up and get dressed. Some of the passengers said that in they're wildest dreams they never thought the ship would sink. They said they thought that it was just grounded and it would later be pulled free. But it immediately started to list to one side and they had to go to the other side and get in life boats. And within an hour it just slipped endwise into the deep. The townspeople of Hartley Bay rallied hartily and took care of all the survivors.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

My First Sale

I made my first stock photo sale two days ago. It was a photo just like this one.

In the other photo, the can is closer to the camera and I had to get rid of the Jim Beam logo and writing. It looked like a plain white can on the beach.

Needless to say, I am pretty excited about this. I have been searching the forumns at and they say that if you have 200-250 non-people photos you will get regular sales every day. They say that with mostly people photos, you only need 100-150 photos to have sales everyday.

I just need to think of a reasonable way to get people to sign a model release after I take their photo. With out paying them, of course.

-Gary Milner

The origin of the Universe

Google news has carried a story for about three days saying that scientists now claim that they can prove for certain what happened in the first one- one trillion, trillionth of a second after the big bang. They're saying that the universe went from being infinately smaller than an atom to the full size of the universe in that length of time. That the universe was once smaller than an atom is by itself baloney but thats a whole problem by itself. We know that light, which is much faster than an explosion travels at 186,000 feet per second. At that rate, how far would light travel in one- one trillion trillionth of a second. I'm not going to do the math but lets put it this way. If you were there watching, you would probably wish you had brought your lunch because as fast as light is, it wouldn't even have time to start moving in that length of time let alone worlds without end.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Good Way to Edit for Contrast

There are two secrets to getting good contrast in a black and white photographs. This tutorial will explain both of them. The first is to hold the Alt key while adjusting the levels. This images shows how to get to the levels adjustment window. Click any of the images to make them bigger.


Holding the alt key and adjust the white slider, the preview screen will turn black when you are holding alt and have clicked on the white slider. When you move the selector far enough to the left, some of the pixels in the preview will change to white. This happens near the point where the histogram starts to rise. This is where I have the white slider set in the photo below. While adjusting the black slider, the preview window will turn white and eventually some of the pixels change black when you have made enough adjustment.


Often, black and white photos don't have pixels that are absolutely white or absolutely black. They are mostly muddy shades of grey. You can see in the histogram above that most of the pixels tend to be near the middle-to-left of the graph. This means that the brightest part of the photo is grey or black and there is almost no white. Using this tip stretches the histogram so that the right side of the graph goes all the way to being pure white and the left side makes it to absolute black. The idea is to have a range of black to white. See how the second histogram is different, how it isn't all clumped in the middle and reaches the edges.


The second tip is to help when there are parts of the photo that get washed out before you reach the desired contrast in other parts of the photo. For example, if a person is wearing a white shirt, it may become washed out before you get enough contrast in the face, but it looks much better if you have a range of white to black in the face as well as in the rest of the photo.
Edit different portions of the photo in more than one step and avoid changing the contrast or levels of the entire photo at the same time. This is a copy of the unedited photo.


By editing the photo in more than one portion you will get a more even contrast throughout the entire photo. In a portrait, it is generally a good idea divide the photo into at least two sections, the face and the rest of the picture. One thing to remember is that you don't want to add too much contrast and you do want to avoid washing out the highlights of the photo while making your edits. Often over editing makes things worse rather than improving the photo.

Here is the edited photo. If I had edited the levels or contrast of the entire photo, the detail in Tracie's shirt would have been lost because it is white. It would have become completely washed out before I was satisfied with the contrast of her face. This is very common problem. When I was working at the newspaper, I made this edit on *every single* black and white photo that we printed.


I'm happy with how this photo turned out, but another thing that could have been done would be to edit the hair separately. They way it is now, it looks much darker than it is in real life. Editing it separately would bring the high and lowlights to the forefront of the photo. It all depends what you want the finished product to convey.

-Gary Milner

Cool Grapes and Cold Feet

I'm getting cold feet about working in the shop. It seems like our trip to Australia has been all messed up. We have four months left, and we only spent one month in Melbourne (we had planned three), I only spent a weekend in Sydney (The plan was three months) and it looks like we won't make it to Brisbane for the three months we had planned to be there.

Ayer's Rock is pretty much out at this point. It looks like we won't have the money to go there now. I guess we could charge it, but spending money we don't have rubs us the wrong way a little anyway.

We had planned to be sending a little money home by this point, but we are now living cheque to cheque. It looks like we will need our tax returns to make our student loan payments.

To tell you the truth, I've been having way less fun since we left Perth in November than I was having in the first five months of the trip. I'm including the fun I'm having right now and fun I perceive myself having for the next four months.

I'm a pretty happy guy 99% of the time, so I'm self diagnosing mild self pity.

This is going to be all over the place, but I think the reason I'm getting cold feet about doing the shop is because I don't really know or understand my motivations for wanting to do it in the first place.

I can't be certain if I want to do it because I actually want to do it or if I'm ok with doing it and I think Tracie wants to stay here in Australia. I'm worried that Tracie is actually only willing to stay in Australia and doing mainly so that I can work in the shop. She says she wants to stay in Australia, but that more importantly than that she doesn't really want to go back to Canada (or only go to visit ocasionally).

It could turn out that I am just homesick.

I feel lost.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

My Brother

It was my Brother Jeff's birthday yesterday. With the time difference between here and Canada, I suspect that it is still his birthday.

He is currently on a trip to Mexico, which makes it very difficult to call him, so I can only hope that he stops by an internet cafe before he goes to bed.

Happy Birthday Jeff


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Jumping High

Here is a link to my jumping photo set.

It has been a long time since I have done any jumping photos. I think it's because my wide angle lens crapped out in December. Now it will only focus manually.

I've pretty much been using only my telephoto lens now. You just have to go so far back that it isn't really worth it to do these sorts of photos.

I guess that I will just have to save up my money or wait until I'm back in Canada to buy a new one. Oh well.

The thing is that I also want to buy some kite boarding gear while I'm here to go kite boarding in the ocean. I posted some photos of people doing it back when I was in Melbourne.

The lens is only a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the kiteboarding gear. In the long run, I would probably use the lens more than the kite boarding gear, but in the short run the kite surfing gear would be a lot funner.

-Gary Milner

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bait Stealer

It was a long weekend this week, and so yesterday, Tracie and I decided to go to the beach.

We go to the beach even when it isn't a long weekend, but I think mentioning that we just had a long weekend with 102 °F weather is an important fact. Especially since most of you back in Canada are freezing your aces off. With no long weekend.

The only draw back to the whole excursion was that there were no waves at all in the ocean. It was like a giant salty Echo Dale lake or Lake Sikome for those of you from Calgary.

Since we couldn't surf the waves, we went fishing. We purchased some bait and went right to it. I caught a delicous rock cod, but that was the only luck we had. We were having a heck of a time getting the bait to stay on the hooks once it thawed. We could see it flying off the hook even as we were casting. Eventually we got sick of feeding the fish so we just gave the rest of the bait to the crabs. I got a couple of really good shots like this one. I'm going to try to upload them to the stock agency. They don't seem to have many live crab photos.

We went swiming after fishing, but I only brought my wetsuit to wear because we were going bodyboarding and it helps be stick to my board, but not my swimsuit. I had to swim in my basketball shorts,like a big white trash loser.

The water nicely offset the scorching heat and we had a really good time.

-Gary Milner

Monday, March 06, 2006

How to Display a Head

Tracie and I had a photo day yesterday (a photo hour really). It was great. We had a good chance to practice different poses and lighting techniques.

It was the first time in a long time that we had the chance to go out and take pictures of each other, and the first time in an even longer time that I actually filled my entire memory card.

We got some great shots, that we will be uploading later this evening (probably). Check back to my flickr account in the morning.

-Gary Milner

Ps. My fruit salad photo got rejected for being underexposed today. Too bad you have to wait a little over a week to find out if your photos have been accepted or not.