Joseph Hallenbeck

Anno Domini 2012

August 01, 2012

Life Studies #1 & #2

I’ve been attending a life-drawing studio in Sioux Falls over the last year, below are a handful of sketches that came from these studios.
The concept of feature creep is pretty well understood in the tech community. But I wonder what we would call the opposite? Feature decay? Feature half-life? Feature death? Since I started working full time in the tech industry, I have had precious little time to devout to revamping my personnal sites. This makes me sad, because I have learned so much and yet have no time to apply any of this newfound knowledge to these little side projects! So I set out with a plan. New templates for the portfolio and the webcomic. Also, I would spin my “Photo Journal”...
I came across a used macro lens for sale recently. I’ve had an eye out for a macro for some time, but they are one of those specialty kinds of lenses that don’t seem to be for sale used in the same bulk as consumer kit lenses or ultra-zooms. Here’s the results of my first real test of the lens: Settings Model: Nikon D80 /w AF Micro-Nikon 200mm f/4.0 IF-ED Shutter: 1.3 sec Exposure Program: Manual F-Stop: f/18 ISO: 400 Focal Length: 200mm Lighting: None And for those of you who would like to see it blown up to 100%...
May 02, 2012

Portal 2: A Rave Review

Filed under: Literary Criticism
Okay, Portal 2! What could be said about Portal 2 that wouldn’t already be known by anyone who stumbles upon this blog? Portal 2 is amazing? That’s a given since this is a product of Valve we are talking about here. Valve just does a very good job on it’s games and Portal 2 is no different. This is a product that has been polished until not one little error remained. Every line of dialog is a pleasant suprise, every puzzle an innovative joy and I am only sad that it is so short. For those who may have been...
I came upon the film Sunshine by way of the exemplar Moon. The latter being perhaps one of the best instances of hard science fiction that we have seen in theatres since 2001 A Space Odyssey. Sunshine, while a very good film, cannot live up to Moon simply because of some very basic plotting issues. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting science fiction flick. Sunshine works on the premise that in fifty-some years the sun’s light has begun to dim plunging the earth into an eternal winter. In order to revive the fires of the sun, Icarus was sent to...
April 18, 2012

Okamiden - Final Impressions

Filed under: Literary Criticism
Today I finished an adventure that I had started out on just a mere 24 hours or five months earlier: Okamiden. My initial apprehension towards Okamiden rapidly faded as I began to get into the game and realize that in it’s complexity it was far more than just a scaled down rehash of the seminal PS2 Okami. From combat, to brush strokes, to atmosphere and plotting the game has nearly everything that it’s big brother has.   Gameplay My initial impression dwelt heavily on Okami’s scaled down gameplay at it’s lack of features. I now have to eat these words....
Eureka! I’ve solved yet another odd puzzle of digital photography: easily making your RAW file look like what you see on your Nikon’s LCD screen. Perhaps you have just made the leap from shooting with JPEGs to shooting with RAW. You’ve already read up on the various deficiencies of JPEGS: compression, loss of color data, difficulty of editing and the many advantages of RAW: ability to easily manipulate midtones, white balance and apply color filters in post production. Happily, you start shooting in RAW but there is a problem. The unprocessed photos lack the pop and vividness of your old JPEGs. When...
It was my luck that The Secret World of Arrietty came to Sioux Falls. This is my first Ghibli film that I could see in its proper setting: the big screen and I must say that it was a spectacular treat for the eyes, replete with stunning backgrounds and gracefully animated characters who play out yet another fantastical story. While Arrietty will probably not be my most favorite Studio Ghibli film, it does possess the wit, charm and magic that I expect from the creators of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke. It’s only real lack is in it’s...
There was an article on Reddit this week encouraging folks to list this early photography blunders. A common one was the “cover every mm” mistakes – where you try to get zoom lens that cover the entire range of focal length possibilities. I know this mistake fairly well, I made it myself. I started SLR photography in 2008 when, anticipating a Europe trip, I decided to dump my point-and-shoot camera for a Nikon D80. As with any important purchase, I researched the topic to death and often came upon Ken Rockwell’s site. Here’s the thing. Ken Rockwell is a master...
When I started making websites in the 1990s we had a much smaller set of tools and a lot of websites were what we would today call “static.” A static site was nothing more than a folder of html files that contained both the content and layout of the site. If we wanted to change the layout of our site, we would either need to get new content or go through each individual file and update the layout.  Today we have CSS which introduced the paradigm of sperating content from layout. A site that applies this principle throughout its implementation...
February 10, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty

Filed under: Literary Criticism
I saw the trailer to The Secret World of Arrietty when I went out to watch The Muppets back in November. Now mind you, I was out on Thanksgiving break visiting my folks in the frigid north of Escanaba, Michigan. The Northern Midwest is not know for its taste in eclectic films – theaters up there typically run the top selling Hollywood flicks of the week and little more. So you can imagine my delight to see a Studio Ghibli film being advertised in such a mainstream venue! It seems that this is a new move for Disney, which according to The Ghibli Blog, will be...
On a lark, I went out to WestMall7 and choose to watch whatever film happened to be airing. Now, WestMall7 is Sioux Fall’s second-run theater. Its good for its cheap popcorn and cheaper tickets. Although, much of the popcorn seems to end up on the floor in this place and  The seat cushions, I believe, are from the 1980s – the springs long worn out. I have been avoiding WestMall7 for the last couple of months on account of there being no good films out. The Christmas flicks have yet to hit the screen and the flicks that aired between...
I spent two goods nights last month working through a series of photographs that I intended for Christmas gifts. Perhaps one of the most challenging post-production works was this photograph I took of a hive in Gallatin National Forest just south of Livingston, MT. This shot is actually a composite of two different shots. You see, I took nearly a dozen photographs of this hive free-hand during sunset. There was little light and in only a small handful of shots was the hive sharp. The composition for the piece was also a challenge. A number of shots have twigs in...
I recently attended a showing of The Iron Lady at the bequest of my girlfriend. I was initially reluctant to see such a production – not because of some distaste for a biopic of Margaret Thatcher, but because I feared that it would just be a simple film riding on the coattails of last year’s The King’s Speech. The King’s Speech won four Oscars last year and for a very good reason. It is an eloquently produced work illustrating the changing political climate of Britain as it transitioned from the Victorian into modern times. Yet, here we are one year...
My first sketch this week was an attempt at a train locomotive. This sketch did not turn out very well. I erased it, and started over with a more general sketch of a train yard that I found. A second sketch was done while my girlfriend worked on the computer. Sitting across from her, I sketched her hand over the mouse. Both of these sketches I did with a 0.5mm drafting pencil with standard softness lead (around HB). This is softer than I am typically used to working with, but I find that the lines are more expressive when sketching...
I wrote a short review about Watchmen back when the film came out in theaters and while I have read the book, I wish to address the film in particular. I will be revealing a lot of the plot devices in this one, so if you haven’t had the chance to read or watch the film, I say skip this and come back once you have. Watchmen is to Super Hero films what Neitzche is to Nihilism. It would seem at first that Watchmen is just a grittier version of the Super Hero genre. Filled with anti-heroes, sex, violence and the dynamics...
I recently procured a copy of Apollo’s Song which, like many of Tezuka’s works, is printed in a thick 500+ page single volume. The first English run was in 2007, and currently is out-of-print according to Amazon. Nevertheless, Vertical has a good reputation for keeping its library in print and has republished the text in a two-volume series. Apollo follows the lives of Shogo, a young boy whose admitted to a psychiatric hospital for his atrocious abuse of animals. Due to an abusive upbringing by a prostitute, Shogo is unable to love and finds the pairing of even animal mates repulsive. During his first treatment of shock...
January 07, 2012

Mushroom Hot Pot

Filed under: Cooking
The Japanese “hot pot” is a very healthy and romantic meal to share through the winter months. These dishes are heavy on the leafy greens, mushrooms, tubers, tofu, fish, and mussels and low on the creams and fats of western fair. However, their signature is the savory broth of dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sake. The recipe this time: The Broth 4 cups Water 1 tsp. Instant Dashi Stock 6” Dried Kombu 1/2 cup Mirin 1/2 cup Mushroom-flavored Soy Sauce 1 cup Sake   The Vegetables 1/2 lb. Firm Tofu 1/2 lb. Bok Choy Leaves 1/4 lb. White Mushrooms 1/4...
Last month I composed a short essay detailing what I consider the “Exploration” game or “Zen Garden” game. When  I composed that essay, I had a few titles in mind that I considered the seminal titles of this genre. 1. Ico Ico came out for the Playstation2 in 2001 and it, and along with Shadow of the Colssus has recently been re-released with a graphics upgrade for the Playstation3. Ico is ultimately an adventure-puzzle game with a light mixture of combat elements. The game is played from the perspective of Ico, a horned boy who is imprisoned in a gargantuan tower....