Tuesday, May 31, 2011

4th Thursday & 4th Friday Double Header

This past Thursday and Friday were a great double header. Newbreak Church is currently serving at "God's Extended Hand" every 4th Thursday of the month, and at the San Diego Rescue Mission on the 4th Friday of the month.

God's Extended Hand provides the opportunity to serve a meal to the homeless community of downtown San Diego. Newbreak also provides the worship and talk for the night.

I will be delivering the message to the Friday night service at the San Diego Rescue Mission on the 4th Friday of the month, while a Newbreak worship team leads the worship.

This past Friday was awesome! It was especially good to be with the Rescue Mission guys who attend the Newbreak Scripps Mesa campus on the weekends. God is really transforming lives at the Rescue Mission! I can't wait for next month!

Who will join us?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finally...a new desktop...

Sorry for the lag in posting as my desktop has been having severe issues. It was time to upgrade after 5 years. If you are wondering what I got...well...it wasn't a Mac. 

I went with Dell again as they have served me well. All my photography programs work exactly the same on a PC or Mac. I chose PC again because the same Mac would have cost me 3.5 times more money! That means, I can upgrade to the latest processor and technology 3 times before I could with a Mac.

Macs are great computers, but turbo expensive compared to PC's. I know the Mac/PC debate continues to rage on. Bottom line for me is way more bang for the buck on a PC! I do have an iPhone and iPad. :) And...Apple has THE BEST customer service in the world!

Which one is better? Well...to me that's like asking which is better in a camera...Canon or Nikon? They are both good. The difference in the PC world is...$$$.

The cool thing about my upgrade is the speed is smokin' fast! I did a head to head race with my old machine and new one on an HDR photo. The new one is 6 to 8X faster!

So...one hour of editing just turned into 10 minutes! Worth saving up for!

I'll get my blog on this coming week!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Photo Tip #26...HDR

Many of you have been waiting for a photo tip on how to do HDR photography. We've talked about bracketing photos in a previous photo tip. You must also shoot in RAW format to process HDR photos the way I do it. Hopefully, you've downloaded your trial copy of Photomatix.

Now, you are ready to go. There are tons of variations of HDR effects in Photomatix. You can make shots look like science fiction, or pretty true to the original. You can saturate colors, or keep them in the normal range. You will have to experiment with your settings to get the results you like.

Rather than give away all my settings right away, I thought I'd point you to where I started. There is an awesome HDR blog you need to study. This guy is the master! I'll give you the link to his website and you can take it from there. I'll follow up in a week or two with some fine tuning steps I use to make my HDR shots pop!

http://www.stuckincustoms.com/ You can learn a ton from this guy!

Comment back if you are looking for something more simple to digest in HDR photography.

Good luck practicing!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homeless Outreach Tonight

Tonight was fun. All our Newbreak 101 groups went downtown to pass out waters, socks, hoodies, sandwiches, cookies, and T-Shirts. We met lots of really cool people. One of the guys, Allan, had only been homeless for 4 days. He was so upbeat and was on his way to turn in his paperwork for an electricians job down at the ship yard. Charles and I prayed with him. It was a great highlight to my day.

I love BEING the church to our city! I love being a part of a church that doesn't just talk about Jesus, but we show Jesus' love to others in tangible ways.

Thanks for a great time tonight Newbreak!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Photo Tip #25...Ready for HDR?

One of my favorite ways to capture a shot is with HDR. High Dynamic Range photography is rapidly becoming more popular around the world. The general idea is this. You take 3 shots at different exposures and blend them together to form one shot. By doing so, you can create some amazingly well exposed photos!

Many of you have asked me "How do you do that?" in my photos. "Your photos look like paintings" is a common comment. Most of the time people are looking at an HDR shot I've taken when they ask this.

You should familiarize yourself with the Auto Bracketing feature in your camera. Some point and shoots don't have this feature, but many do. Most DSLR cameras will have this feature.

Practice bracketing shots in RAW format at -2, 0, and +2 exposures.

There are many software packages you can use for HDR. My photo tips will center around a program called "Photomatix". You can download a free trial of this software here http://www.hdrsoft.com/download.html. I'll do my best to teach you a few things I know about HDR photography. I'll point you in the direction of a great HDR blog in a future photo tip. So...download your free trial and get ready for some fun.

Here is an HDR shot I took the other day. It was an overcast morning with light drizzle, but I was still able to capture this shot at the San Diego Harley Davidson "Bless the Bikes" event on top of Mt. Solidad.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Report: Give Clean Water follow up in Varavu Village

This past trip to Fiji was full of learning moments. We were affirmed in our belief that these filters are life changers, and that our pledge towards continued education and follow ups must remain steadfast. Follow ups that include the village head man, the Fiji Health Ministry, local community leaders, and the Give Clean Water team will ensure a lifetime of clean water for each family who receives a filter.

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Varavu Village on the Northwest side of the big island of Fiji. This village was full of people who were perfectly using their filters!

In this video, Mohamed, the head priest at the local Muslim mosque, talks about his filter and its benefits to the village. He also talks about the school across the street in which GCW installed filters. Pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Photo Tip #24...Patience

I just got back from a great Give Clean Water trip to Fiji. It's awesome seeing how these little bacteria removing water filters are changing lives!

After a long, wet week of installing filters, we always include a fun day for our groups. Last Saturday, we took the group to Plantation Island for a day trip. We had a nice 50 minute boat ride to the island and got a little taste of paradise. Even though we didn't get a perfect sunny day, there were still some moments in the morning when lighting was good for photography. The key to the day was patience!

Sometimes photography is ALL about patience! Since most of us are challenged by being patient, it could be easy to miss some good shots.

Saturday was all about being patient for the right lighting. It was also about waiting for people to get out of the shot! Sometimes I'll wait 15 minutes or more in one spot just so people will clear out. In most of my landscapes, I don't like people in them. That can be hard when you are photographing near any beach scene. If I do put people in the shot, sometimes I have to be patient with where they are...until they are in just the right place.

In this shot, there were some people in kayaks who kept circling right into my shot. Seriously, I thought they'd stay there all day, but it was really just a few minutes. When they finally paddled off, I snapped the photo. Most of the day was overcast and raining, so patience paid off on this one. A break in the weather became my friend.

So learn the fine art of patience in getting a shot. Don't be in a rush. Sit there and be OK with waiting. More times than not, patience will play in your favor.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Final day in Fiji

We are in the last 24 hours of our Give Clean Water trip to Fiji. We had a fantastic time and made lots of great connections. On the last day of our water filter installs, all our contacts came together in one place. The head man of Nasomo village, the Fiji Health Department, a local pastor, and our GCW team were all in one place at the same time! So cool!

We scheduled a follow meeting in this village for July 28th, when our GCW team returns the last week of July. This will be the first quarterly follow up in Nasomo village. All of our contacts will meet in Nasomo village to make sure the filters are working properly and make sure everyone in the village is using them every day. We'll also do some follow up training on maintaining the filter, and teach some basic hygiene methods.

These filters are changing lives for sure! Just tonight, we were all getting ready to eat dinner and a guy walked past me that I for sure had met before. Sure enough, we recognized each other and said hi. He lives in Varavu village where we installed water filters last July. He was gone the other day when we visited his village for a follow up. Just like all the others in his village, he expressed how great the water filters were working. He said they are making a BIG difference in his family's life! I love to see and hear that!

It's almost 9pm here in Fiji and I'll be going to sleep soon. It's been a great week! Tomorrow morning I'll attend a church service at the International Worship Center, then head back to the hotel to pack up. Our flight leaves at 10pm tomorrow night...Sunday here in Fiji. We'll cross the date line and arrive in Los Angeles at 1:30pm...Sunday. You know it's going to be a good week when you get to have Sunday twice!

I probably won't blog until I get home. I'll look forward to editing my newest photos and video from the trip. I'll crank out some more photo tips next week.

I'd like to thank the Fiji Water Foundation for their sponsorship of this trip! They are so great at giving back to their country! They will also be the sponsor of our July and October trips! Fiji Water is AWESOME! Be assured when you drink your next bottle, that you are supporting Give Clean Water, and all the other great projects of the Fiji Water Foundation!

So for now...Vinaka Vakalevu (a very warm thank you) for all your prayers for our team! I can't wait to see you all again this week!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fiji Day 3

Today was a good day installing water filters in Tavua, Fiji. We were in the village of Nasomo and installed clean drinking water filters for 75 families. Tomorrow we'll do another 90 families. We'll also install at a nurses station and the local health center.

Nasomo is very beautiful and lush green, but very poor. The nurse that went with us said they had recently captured a 10 foot worm that came out of one of the water taps. That's crazy! Now that they have the filter system, the villagers won't have to worry about those worms, cysts, or bacteria problems.

I love to see the tangible changes in people's lives!

I hope to post videos and pictures soon. Next week, I'll fire the photo tips back up so stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Learning in Fiji

It's been a great beginning to our Give Clean Water trip to Fiji. We are learning some great lessons about how to better educate the people on using their water filters. We've had some challenges and some great successes, but all in all, what we are learning will make us way better!

I'm so glad we are committed to doing follow ups in all the villages we install filters in. By doing so, we're reaffirming that this is a great strategy for success. There are so many organizations that are good on the front end, and poor with follow ups. Give Clean Water is committed to a thorough follow up program with water filter installs. All in all, the filters are preforming very well.

Today we visited a Muslim village we installed filters in last year. It was an amazing experience to see how well the filters are working for them! They were so welcoming to us! Relationships are being built and who knows what God will do through these filters!

Tomorrow morning we're headed to Tavua Village to install filters in 164 houses. These guys had a typhoid outbreak last year. After tomorrow, their waterborne sicknesses will be eliminated!

Stay tuned for more!