Author - Damon

Picasa plugin for Lightroom 3

So I have been playing around with Picasa more now that Google+ is out (circle me at I really like the integration that Lightroom has with Flickr so I was bummed when I found that you could not do the same thing with Picasa. A little Googleing however turned up this great little plugin for Lightroom ( Have a look very straight forward it works great. Check out my pictures on Picasa at

Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM

I have lusted after a short depth of field long enough. I was able to find a great deal on a Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM so I sprung for it and I must say I love this little guy. It is a lot smaller and lighter than my normal walk around (Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM). The build on this guy is pretty good for the price nice metal lens mount. It has a decent focus speed and is relatively quiet. It’s main two sell point is the attractive price and that ability to stop down to 1.4. Just learning to zoom with my feet :) Check out the bokeh


50mm f1.4 1/125sec

Importing GIS Data into Google Earth Pro

I was looking for some free GIS Data to import into Google Earth Pro for a classroom demo. I found this very cool, somewhat free site for GIS Data at

For this demo I downloaded the “Current County and Equivalent Shapefile” at, of course you could download The County Shapefile for any state.

1.    First download and extract the GIS Data you want to use.
2.    Next in Google Earth Pro go to the file menu and choose import

Google Earth Pro Screen Shot of Import

Google Earth Pro Screen Shot of Import

3. Choose GIS .shp file

Pointing to GIS Data File

Pointing to GIS Data File

4. Click “yes” to apply a style template

Importing GIS Data

Importing GIS Data

5. Choose “Create new template” and select ok

Creating GIS Style Template

Creating GIS Style Template

6.Click on the “Color” tab and select “Use Random Color” (Note: You can link field to a range of colors by selecting “Set color from field” also under the “Height” tab you can link a field to affect the height of your areas creating a 3d model)

Creating GIS Style Template

Creating GIS Style Template

7. Hit “ok” save your template hit the check box for the new place under “Temporary Places” to turn on the visibility for your new data (Note: you can drag the view from your  “Temporary Places” if you want to keep it available the next time you run Google Earth)

Georgia County Map in Google Earth Pro

Georgia County Map in Google Earth Pro

Final Image:

Georgia County Map from Google Earth Pro

Georgia County Map from Google Earth Pro

Author Page in WordPress

I was working on a site and wanted to create author pages for all registered wordpress user on the site. After looking at the documatation at I came up with this code. It will show the author info as well as last 5 post and last 5 comments. You can see the code in action at my author page.

Using Google SketchUp models in After Effects CS4

A really cool new feature in After Effects CS4 is the ability to now take advantage of Photoshop CS4‘s new 3d capabilities. Another new feature of Photoshop CS4 is the ability to open .kmz or .3ds files. If we take a look at the extensive free models we have on Google’s 3d warehouse we find a ton of models to choose from. If you can find the model you want on the 3d warehouse as a kmz you are in luck. Open the kmz in Photoshop CS4 and save it as a psd. Import that psd into After Effects CS4 as a composition (making sure to check the box that says “Live Photoshop 3D”). Now you have a new composition in After Effects with a 3D model as well as a null to control it and a camera to pan around it. If you can only find a skp of the model you want on the 3d warehouse, you will need Google Sketchup Pro to export that model out as a 3ds or kmz. Open the 3ds or kmz in photoshop save it as a psd, import that psd in After Effects and you are set.

NextGEN Gallery

I am working on porting over my photos from my coldfusion site this morning. After looking around for a good wordpress plugin to do what I wanted I settled on NextGEN Gallery. Great plugin out the box. I did a little tinkering with the album-compact.php to make my own template. I did not like the linking structure it creates out the box. I really wanted to replicate the links I had on my old coldfusion site (/photos/album name) I created a new album-damon.php and inserted the following code:

<!– List of galleries –>
<?php foreach ($galleries as $gallery) : ?>

<div class=”ngg-album-compact”>
<div class=”ngg-album-compactbox”>
<div class=”ngg-album-link”>
<a class=”Link” href=”/photos/<?php echo str_replace(” “, “”,strtolower($gallery->title)) ?>”>
<img class=”Thumb” alt=”<?php echo $gallery->title ?>” src=”<?php echo $gallery->previewurl ?>”/>
<h4><a class=”ngg-album-desc” title=”<?php echo $gallery->title ?>” href=”/photos/<?php echo str_replace(” “, “”,strtolower($gallery->title)) ?>”><?php echo $gallery->title ?></a></h4>
<p><strong><?php echo $gallery->counter ?></strong> <?php _e(‘Photos’, ‘nggallery’) ?></p>

<?php endforeach; ?>

Now I call this template on my Album page using:

[ album id=x template=damon] (no space before of course)

After Effects Lens Flare with Transparent Background

Question from a student I had in my After Effects training class in Hartford, Connecticut:
“Hey Damon,
You showed me how to get a lens flare with nothing else (no backgrounds/alpha keyed) on the screen using a luma matte…I think! Do you remember the actions necessary to produce such an effect? I keep ending up with a black lens flare! Help!
Thanks again,

Duplicating the solid with the lens flare and using the top one as a track matte can accomplish this. Here are the steps; you can download an example of this as well.

Step one: Create a solid and add the lens Flare filter to it, get the lens flare just how you would like it and duplicate the solid.
Step two: on the top solid added the Hue/Saturation filter and take the master saturation down to -100, Also add the Levels filter and slide the white point slider till it just touches the beginning of the levels histogram.
Step three: Set the bottom solid to use the top solid as a track matte (Luma Matte)

That’s it transparent lens flare.

CSS link color question

From time to time I get questions from former students or people that just so happen to stumble upon my website. I decided to start logging these questions on my blog in a new category called questions.

Earlier today Dan worte:
I’m in the process of creating a new web site, my template contains different colors in different areas on the page. Some of my links are located on a blue background and some are on a white background. I set the page properties links to FFFFFF (link color and visited links to FFFFFF); the problem I’m having is that the links on the white background are not showing. Is there any way to change specific link color?
Thanks for your help.

Check out the code is below. Instead of color: blue you can use hexadecimal colors like #FFFFFF

When you create the link make sure you add a class=”linkset2″ in the < a href > tag of course you can change the “linkset2″ name, if you would like but be sure you also change it in the a.linkset2:link and so on. Using this trick will allow you to have as many link colors as you would like ie a.linkset3:link, a.linkset4:link … If you really want to use best practices you should attach an external css file so all the pages in your site can use your linkset. The way I did it below is page specific.

<meta http-equiv=“content-type” content=“text/html;charset=iso-8859-1″>
<title>CSS two color link page</title>
<style type=“text/css” media=“screen”>
a:link { color: blue }
a:visited { color: blue }
a:hover { color: purple }
a:active { color: red }
a.linkset2:link { color: purple }
a.linkset2:visited { color: purple }
a.linkset2:hover { color: olive }
a.linkset2:active { color: red }

<body bgcolor=“#ffffff”>
<p><a href=“#”>Link 1</a></p>
<p><a href=“#” class=“Linkset2″>Link 2</a></p>


Filemaker ODBC/JDBC to Coldfusion

I have successfully got coldfusion talking to a Filemaker 9 database. It turned out to be pretty simple really.

I enabled ODBC/JDBC in Filemaker server. Installed the latest SequeLink on the coldfusion server. Setup a System DSN and pointed to it in the coldfusion admin. The only odd thing I ran into is in Filemaker field names can have spaces so when I do an insert into a field I have to put double quotes on the field name.

Presidential Mnemonic

My mom for some reason decided to clean out her junk drawer today. She found this Mnemonic to remember all the presidents. It is from her high school days so the last presidents are not included. It needs a new sentence for Jimmy Carter, Ronald Regan, 1st George Bush, Bill Clinton, and 2nd George Bush. Any ideas add a comment.

Washington and Jefferson made many a joke. Van Buren has told Polk that fine people break laws. Johnson got his gain and called himself clever. McKinley rode the white horse. Coolidge helped Roosevelt to enjoy knitting jerseys neatly forever.

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