Nate’s Notes: Our Fort

I’m only saying this here, for you guys only.  Basically Momma says I’m not allowed to talk about “fair” and “not fair” in my world.   So, I’m just telling you people that it’s not fair.  What you ask?  The Drawing Game…yea, that one…the one without the color crayons.   Here’s the story, and I’ll let you decide if it’s fair.  But for now, it’s in the color crayon draft of my memoirs about how my parents dashed my dreams.  

So Momma made this biiiig deal about me drawing the first place we would go to for the field adventure in photography.   What she neglected to tell me is that if she didn’t agree with what choice I pulled, we wouldn’t go!!   Well, imagine my joy and excitement when I drew a picture of a train with some gobbly-gook next to it.   I can only assume the destination was to a train.  I’ll never know. Here’s why…as I looked to Daddy and Momma with anticipation and wonder, Momma snatched the paper from my hand and said, “Oh no…it’s broken!  Pick again Nate.”   Total gut punch.  What did she mean, “broken”?   Was the train “broken”?  Was the paper “broken”?   Shouldn’t we go so Daddy can help fix it with his super hero skills?   The only things broken were my dreams…and my heart.  

Still in shock, I obliged and pulled another paper from the tin.   I didn’t care where we went now…nothing mattered.   With no excitement, I pulled the next destination:   Fort Point & The Golden Gate Bridge.  Wahoo…not really.  Fort Schmort.  Unless we were going by train, I wasn’t interested.  

I’m only saying this here, for you guys only.  Fort Point:  Big Bumpers and Holy Bananas!!   So. Cool. It’s AMAZING!!! It’s TRAINTASTIC!!!  The fort thingy is right by the water and full of tunnels!  You can run and run!   When you laugh and scream it comes back and hugs you!   And there are three levels of stairs!  Stairs are fun.  Up. And. Down. Up. And. Down.   When Momma said , “fort” I thought it was going to be like the forts we make with blankets, sheets and chairs.    I’ll never look at our forts the same.  Time to find some bricks!  

Fort Point

Fort Point

Sheet Forts

Sheet Forts


Daddy tried to tell me what this fort was, why it was there.   He said it was to protect people.  He said that it was to keep people safe. He said that he and Momma were our fort, me and Lyla. He said that he and Momma would keep us safe, protect us.  Hmmm. Okay.  I think I get it.  


We ran around and took pictures for hours, until the sun started to get ready for bed.   When we left, I watched the fort disappear, thinking that even though The Drawing Game wasn’t fair, this wasn’t such a bad adventure.   Of course, I’ll never tell THEM that.  Bye –bye Fort Point.   It was time to go home…home to our very own fort.   

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RSWL: Day Trips & Adventures

One of the major changes in my life in the last year has been not only how I work or what I work on, but where I work.  Yes, I work from home, in my home, etc.   More specifically, though, I am referring to the field adventures I take for photographs.   I absolutely LOVE these.  Sometimes these are quick outings by myself into town or for a particular set of shots.  More often than not, they involve one baby on my back (or front), and sometimes they include my husband, Chad, and another baby on his back.  These field adventures range from a couple hours to a full day depending on how far away the destination.   These day- long trips, or day trips, are my favorite, seeming like a mini vacation, taking us on fantastic adventures.   

I keep an inventory of the places or subject matters we need photos of (ummm…like, EVERY THING and EVERY PLACE), and we go down the list.  Recently, we made it more of a random pick by writing all the current choices on scrap papers which we will take turns drawing from a tin in order to determine our destination.  

Our day trips might take us to the zoo, to a nearby city or town, a lumber mill, cemetery,  to the ocean, to historic forts, to nearby state parks, even national parks, to bridges, farmland, wineries, museums and more.  We are a curious and adventurous family, hungry to learn and see new things.   Our explorations teach us new things, even if it’s to a place we’ve visited 5 times before.  Each time, we see it with different eyes.  Sometimes, if we’re returning to a place, we’ll take a different route there, exploring new things along the way.  There is a surprise around each corner, if you pay attention.  

The adventures also get us involved in active learning.   Often it is worth it to do some research ahead of time when we plan our destination.   Just a half hour on Google before leaving enhances our outing and encourages us to look things from different angles and with a greater appreciation.  Day trips let us be adventurous, support our sense of exploration, and give us enough of a break from daily life to keep things interesting. 

From our location in Northern California, I think my favorite day trip destination is San Francisco and the surrounding areas because of the vast number of places to see.   We could make the 75 mile trip each weekend for half the year and not run out of adventures.   We recently went to the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field and Fort Point.   If you’re ever in the area, these are a must see for you structure enthusiasts.   Nate will undoubtedly write about it soon!  

Fort Point, San Francisco

Fort Point, San Francisco

Fort Point, San Francisco

Fort Point, San Francisco

Fort Point, San Francisco

Fort Point, San Francisco










Our whole team at The Transmogrifier is passionate about our day trips and long weekend adventures.  We also love suggestions…so anytime you have one for a location that inspires great photos, or a learning opportunity, please let us know.  

I’m off to plan our next day trip!  What was the last day adventure you had and where did it take you?

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Nate’s Notes: The Drawing Game

I know, I thought we were going to be using color crayons too.  What do you expect (wink wink- even though both my eyes still close when I try to wink) when you hear “draw”?  Well, Momma and Daddy said they were going to need my help with a game.   They called it “The Drawing Game”.   Naturally, I went to find my color crayons and tried to sneak in some highlighters and markers.  Momma quickly took the highlighters and markers away.  Not cool.  After being ignored when I threw myself on the floor thrashing in an attempt to get the markers back, I picked myself up, forgot about the markers, and decided to see what they meant.   I joined them at the table where they were writing on small pieces of paper.

I made a mad swipe at all the papers and ran, eager to see what they were about.  Daddy grabbed my overalls and hauled me back to the table.  Man.  Did I mention they are soooo serious sometimes??!!!  After resigning myself to standing there, marker-less and confused, they told me what they were doing.   Momma decided our list of field adventures for pictures was long and taking up too much room on the whiteboard in our kitchen.  She also said she wanted to add some fun to the family decision-making process and asked me what I thought about that.  I blinked at her (not winked) and thought to myself, “she DOES realize I am not even two right?  Family decision-making process?  What does that even MEAN????” .    She clearly took my blinking as a cooperative gesture because she responded, “Good!  I’m glad you like it Nate, because you get to draw the first adventure.”   Well, who doesn’t like a good game of Pictionary???!!!  THIS boy does!   So I ran to get my color crayons.  Daddy grabbed my overalls and hauled me back to the table once again.  They are SO confusing.  Do they want my help or not??

Momma said we could crumple the pieces of paper and put them in the old coffee tin.  She told me what some of them said as we crumpled.  Golden Gate Bridge;  Rodeo;  SF Zoo; Armstrong Woods; Point Reyes Lighthouse;  SF Japanese Tea Gardens;  Pier 39;  Giants Ballpark; Healdsburg Playground; Monterey; Mendocino;  Fort Ross;  Downtown Napa;  Santa Rosa Air Museum; Angel Island; Alcatraz; China Camp State Park; Yosemite;  Camping; Fort Point; Aquarium; Howarth Park; and Spring Lake.   Then she explained that “draw” is a complicated verb with many meanings.  Yes, I can draw with my color crayons.   I could even draw with highlighters and markers if she’d put on her fun-Momma cap and let me.  Well, this time, draw meant to pull out one of the pieces of paper from the tin.   Whatever- your language is so bizarre sometimes.  I’m just trying to learn it.

So, here goes…my turn to draw the first field adventure!   Got it!  And we’re going to…

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Random Stuff We Like: Google Plus

Social media,  love it or hate it, it does not appear to be going anywhere.  I (reluctantly) added a Facebook page only a few months back, and that was only so that I could keep in contact with students of mine.  Facebook can be a fun way to see what your friends and family are doing and to let them know what you are up to without the annoying details of actually having to interact with them (that was sarcasm…).

Seriously, while I do see some advantages to being able to see what friends and family are up to and communicate with them even on some level, I still look at Facebook with a sort of reluctant acceptance.  Why does it keep suggesting thing that I should like?  Why are there all those ads…?

So, when a friend of mine was suggesting that we use Google Plus for a social media avenue to help market our company (, I was a bit skeptical about how much I would even want to use it.  If it meant getting our name out there, fine, then I guess I would partake.

Well, I can say that after using Google Plus for the last six months, I really like it.  For one thing there are no annoying ads that pop up.  For another – the  whole social structure is built around communities, which are, well… communities of people who share a similar interest such as basket weaving, Akitas, Russian nesting dolls, liposuction, textures, and… well, you get the idea.  A community can be about anything you want it to be about.  If you don’t see a community devoted to what you are interested in, it only takes minutes to set one up.

Since the basis of the interaction is centered on these communities, the people you interact with generally tend to be professionals or at the very least – people who share your passion for a particular subject.

So take my word for it and if you have not already – go set up a profile on Google Plus and then start looking around at all of the communities and join a few.  Check back here later and I am sure we will have some suggestions for a few you could join…


TMG Philosophy: Great Expectations

Hi people.  Nate here.  I know, usually I only work on Nate’s Notes, which is hard enough at my age with my attention span.   However, Momma is sick so I am filling in for her. Good thing I am such a helper.  She had started something about expectations so I’ll just roll with that.   Momma talks enough about expectations that I think I get it.

I’m pretty sure expectations have something to do with what is going to happen.  Sometimes when whatever she is talking about doesn’t happen, she seems sad, or even angry.  I guess I’m expected to eat all my food.  I’m expected to listen when Momma or Daddy or anyone tells me not to touch something.  Trust me on this one.  I’m expected to wait my turn when Momma or Daddy are helping Lyla.  I’m expected to play by myself sometimes.  I hear all this a lot.  Pretty much it seems like a lot is expected from me.

Then there are expectations that aren’t said…like I’m expected to help with Lyla. Someone has to make her laugh.   When we are out on field adventures, I expect to have to help point things out for pictures or distract people from Momma’s embarrassing behavior, or both.  I expect both.  Momma expects me to take a nap.  I expect her to get upset when I don’t.  She knows how I feel about napping, so why does she always seem surprised and bring up disappointment???!!!  And the list goes on.

When our expectations don’t happen, there are tantrums and tears (again, Momma’s not mine-pfff).   Okay, maybe I cry too when I expect to play with my cars and trains all day long and I have to put them away.  Momma says that she sets high expectations for me because she knows I can “rise to the occasion”.  Whatever that means.    She also says she expects the next few years to be tough because my head gets harder every day, and Little Lyla seems to be much the same way.  Whatever that means.  My head feels the same as it did yesterday; still hurts when I bonk it.

Sometimes I feel like big people get too upset about things and stuff.   I try to help them out a little on this.   When they expect to be somewhere at a certain time, I try not to let them get too attached to that idea…and Lyla helps.  We throw in a surprise tantrum, a missing shoe, hidden car keys and a full diaper. Then Momma and Daddy have to practice their patience and learn to roll with it.   They are way too serious sometimes.   Once I helped Momma paint the kitchen cupboards and floor.   I thought it was beautiful and would make her smile, but she frowned and gave me a speech about expecting me to leave her paints alone and what is and is NOT a toy.  Sheesh.  It was only paint, washable paint!    We were both disappointed.

It’s weird because I don’t expect much from Momma and Daddy, or anyone.  I just do what brings me joy and play in the moment.  I do not worry about what is going to happen.   I know I’ll always be taken care of, always be fed, always have toys, always be kept safe, always dressed and, most importantly…always loved.  If I have all that, why do I need to expect anything more?

I have my textures….Now what?

So you heard that TMGtextures now has free textures… But now that you have them you need a program to apply them to your model.

Boy you are in luck! Allegorithmic just released Substance Designer 3.5. With an awesome price for the hobbyist at $99 for non-commercial use. This is the same high-end software used by today’s hottest indie game developers. Check out some of these features, 3D View, Automatic Tiling

I can’t wait to sit down and give this software a spin!!!


Nate’s Notes: I Know What I’m Getting Gram for Christmas!

I’m an explorer!!  The other day I went on a walk with Gram.  We went looking for dirt, rocks, leaves, lizards, pine cones, bugs and anything else I could get away with shoving in my pockets to bring back inside.   I have an explorer’s treasure box that we fill with stuff from outside.  I collect all these things, and then I get to take the box out and look at the amazing things I find.   Momma says it’s a good adventure to look for textures, and she always brings her camera for pictures.  We find wet things like water and mud.  We find soft things like moss and sand.  We find prickly things like pine cones, pine needles, berry bushes, even tree bark.  We find hard things like rocks and the sidewalk.  We find rough things like bricks. We find smooth things like chicken eggs…don’t throw them, don’t throw them, don’t throw them…they don’t bounce, they don’t bounce, they don’t bounce.   We find a lot. 

For some reason I don’t get to bring it ALL inside.  I try.  Once I brought an egg inside, but it smooshed in my pocket.  Then it was wet, sticky and gooey. Talk about texture!  I thought it was cool, but Daddy and Momma weren’t as impressed.  Nope, they were all Mr. and Mrs. Serious.  Tough crowd. 

Anyway, the other day I found a lot of pretty flowers still blooming and big lizards.  I saw big buzz bees and cool rocks.  I saw onions and cucumbers growing.  AND there were really pretty clouds in the sky.   It was soooo cool!  They were perfect pictures.   So I told Gram that we should take pictures for Momma to help…but Gram didn’t have a camera.  Yea, I know.  I thought she was joking at first too, so I laughed.  Then I realized she was serious.  I was speechless.  I thought everyone and their mother had a camera.  Not Gram.  Not this time.  Astounding.  Simply astounding.   It’s either all or nothing with this family and the cameras!!

No pictures people!

No pictures people!

Ummm...yea, no pictures!

Ummm…yea, no pictures!

Didn't you read the part about no pictures being taken?

Didn’t you read the part about no pictures being taken?

So I’ve designated my money buttons in my piggy bank.  I’m going to get Gram a camera for Christmas.  It’s not that I want more cameras around or anything.  I just can’t let that happen again.  Well, I’m off to count my money buttons!


RSWL: Camera Phones (Yea, Seriously)

As someone who enjoys/owns/uses/protects with my life a Canon 20D and Canon 40D, this is a strange entry to write!  

When I got my first camera phone, I scoffed at the notion. Pshaw.  Sooooo not a camera.   Technically, I understood that it was a camera, but I wasn’t willing to accept these images were contributing to the world of photography.  That was for “real” cameras.   Years went by.  I got my first smartphone, and began using the camera function a little bit more than previously.   I, like so many others, became part of the shift in the world of photography.

Today, it seems everyone and their mother, even grandmother and dogs, has a camera phone that enables relatively good quality pictures to be shared across social networks instantly.  Because these phones are constantly carried, almost any moment can be captured at any time by someone.  That makes millions and millions of people photographers who weren’t before.

Some, or even many, would say this increasing number of ‘photographers’ is a bad thing, a movement that is threatening mainstream digital photography and the earnings of occupational photographers.   Let’s choose to focus on the positive though.

Yes, there have never been more people taking pictures.  According to, the Apple iPhone is currently the most popular ‘camera’ on   Breaking news, life-changing moments, and crimes in action are being captured and shared worldwide.   A baby’s birth, heartfelt tears, joyful reunions, a blooming flower, winter’s first snowflakes, a sky painted at sunset, and leaves dancing in the rain are all captured and shared instantly on social media.  We constantly get to see beauty shared by camera phones.  No, I’m not talking about selfies! With an increasing number of apps, camera phone images can be edited and enhanced with a few clicks, making both the photos and the devices even more appealing and cheaper than traditional cameras. 

We can resist all we want, but camera phones are changing the world of photography.  Everyone can be an instant photographer, capturing life’s happy, life-altering moments, tragedy and mayhem, and all the beauty in between.   Instead of labeling these prolific devices and their images as threatening or polluting, let’s just think of them as bringing us a new form of photography!  Now, where’s my phone?

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Nate’s Notes: Babies are Exhausting AND They Ruin Your Brain

Oh my.  Babies are exhausting.   They don’t do much, AND they sleep a lot during the day…but they sure are tiring.  

It’s possible I was mistaken.  I’ve decided naps are pretty amazing, if nothing else to just rest and escape from any baby crying and fussing. Sometimes a guy just needs a little alone time after being around a baby that much.  It might help if she started doing things around the house.  She doesn’t pick up her own toys; she makes messes and doesn’t have to clean them up. She doesn’t do chores like feed the animals, help with laundry, clean the floors with Momma or put groceries away.   I have to do it all!!  And if that wasn’t exhausting enough, I have to help feed her, burp her, bring diapers to Momma, put her dirty clothes in the washer, and bring her toys to Momma.  It doesn’t end there.  Apparently I’m a pretty entertaining kid because she smiles and laughs a lot when she sees me.  So I have to entertain her too!   Man, I’m exhausted just telling you about it.  I don’t know what Momma and Daddy would do without me.  Seriously. 



What was a saying?  Sorry, I dosed a little there.  Oh yea, because of baby Lyla, Momma and Daddy need my help, like always. That brings me to field adventures.   *Yawn*.  Not only do I now have to distract and charm people from Momma’s embarrassing picture-taking behavior, now I have to help point things out.   Both Momma and Daddy are clearly distracted by Lyla, otherwise they wouldn’t ask me to help.   For example, when we were out the other day, I saw tractors and diggers so I made sure Momma would notice and take pictures.  She would have walked right by these amazing machines had I not exclaimed, “Oh my! Momma Momma- twactah! Twactah!!  Digga!! Momma.”    To my horror, she asked, “Is that a tractor Nater?  Do you see a tractor?  Where’s the tractor?”  farm-equipment_0093Ummm…did I not JUST POINT IT OUT!!!???  She didn’t even know it was a tractor.  Pshaw.  That baby girl is ruining her brain or something, because she should really know what a tractor is.   Back to farm puzzles for her!!   Like I said, I don’t know what they would do without me.  *Yawn*.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go take a nap. 

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