Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lind Days

Like many towns, Lind, WA holds a festival every year.  Lind Days is pure Americana.  A small farming community (75 miles west of Colfax for you Palouse fans), their summer festival features a parade, craft exhibits, a community picnic and races at the fairgrounds.  The food at the picnic is home made. A boy was selling slices of his mom's apple pie for $3.00...and it was good.

The fairground activities are truck races, followed by a Combine Demolition Derby.  The trucks are the types found on a working farm and their races feature a lot of "interaction" between them.  In the last race a young woman was in the pole position and her husband was driving the truck to her right.  At the start she hesitated a beat giving him half a length and at the first turn she steered right rather than left driving him right off the track.  He managed to get back into the race and she took him out again but this time he wound up on the cement divider and was done.

Combines are large grain harvesting devices.  The Palouse WA is a major wheat producing area so combines are prevalent. Six combines enter together and proceed to demolish one another 'till 2 are left.    The disabled are towed back to the pits where their crews somehow put them back together and in an hour or so they do battle yet again. I followed one combine back to the pits, met the "boss" and watched his crew work.  Quite remarkable really.  One person cuts damaged steel out of the assembly while another judges what a replacement part needs to look like and cuts a brace to match.  Three arc welders install the replacement steel.  Meanwhile engine mechanics make repairs, adjustments and improvements to the engine & drive train.  In my opinion the NASCAR crews have nothing on these guys.

These images are from an iPhone and also from a Sigma DP3M.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"I think I'm in trouble!"

Wednesday, December 26, Monument Valley UT at O Dark:thirty and I'm on my usual pre-dawn walkabout.  Explore a bit, have some breakfast, greet the dawn, make some decisions about the day.  Our usual routine is that I bring a cup of hot coffee back to the room and attempt to entice the lovely Miss Paulette into getting up and joining me on a day's adventures.  She usually tells me to go away and leave her alone for a few more hours.

Today she's already up and dressed, "I think I'm in trouble" she said and my heart froze.  A handful of days earlier she had some dental work done on 2 upper teeth.  One was extensive and evidently resulted in an infection.  She had been rubbing the side of her face the day before and said it felt a "little funny."  The side of her face is swollen and there's a really frightening dark line running from her jaw to a large dark lump just under her eye.  It appears to be growing as I watch it.

The Big-Rez has it's beauties and charms but immediate emergency medical care is not one of them.  No air service available...I decided to drive to Flagstaff.  It's a bit farther than either Moab, UT or Page, AZ but it's a much larger town.  The Audi engineers have built the S-4 to be a much better car than I am a driver and at a MPH or 2 under recklessness we made the trip in 2 hours.

They triaged her immediately and took her directly to the back.  2 doctors, an RN and an EMP, massive infusions of antibiotics, steroids and other fluids, tests, scans, procedures, more tests...on and on it was a very long day.  We weren't ever left alone, someone was always there asking questions, medical and personal, sharing bits about their lives with us...it was comforting for Paulette and for me.  I was terrified.  A good night and an emergency dentist the following morning and they declared us "OK to continue your trip."

I am so...Incredibly  grateful.

I have an "online-friend" who lives in Australia.  He quite recently had the overwhelming tragedy of losing his beloved wife quite suddenly while she was visiting relatives in Finland.  Somehow he managed to do the things he needed to do, and still copes on a day to day basis.  I thought about him often this day.  Whether you care for this or not, Chris, your strength helped me.  Thank you for not giving up.

I also need to say I am convinced that our health care system is by far the best in the world.  When people are in trouble, the very best health care is here.  I can see that changes are inevitable.  I also believe that these changes are for misguided political reasons alone and can only hope the changes don't ruin everything.

Below are several images before and during.  The last 2 are when they told us we could leave and when we did.  I especially like the next to last image.  Most of the swelling has gone and Paulette was just tickled she was "better."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Let's get serious!

It's crunch time in the political arena.  The President's slogan this time appears to be "Forward."  I hear him daily admonishing us that we can't go backward.  Nice words but I wonder what they mean.  I understand that the bottom line here is "Please vote for me."  I get that, that's a normal thing.

The economic plan brought to us by Mr. Obama seems rooted in income redistribution and an abstract subjective concept he calls "Fairness."  While some form of income redistribution is arguably a good way to share a nation's economic good fortune with all citizens, it has never been a national economy builder.  A nation grows economically through the creation of wealth.  Redistribution by it's very name is a zero sum game.  It builds no wealth but spreads what wealth is available.  If there's not enough frosting to cover the cake you need more frosting not more passes by the knife.  Further some of what's available gets stuck to the knife and is wasted.  Up to 40% of the "frosting" is wasted by governmental overhead and serves no purpose other than to cement political power.

Fairness.  Who defines this?  Washington?  A benign dictatorship?  Point to one successful benign dictator nation.  Rather than "Fair" we need to consider "Just."  We have a Constitution and a series of courts to help us understand the latter concept.

In the primary debates Ms. Clinton said if elected she would work to reduce Capital Gains Tax.  The Big O couldn't wait to distance himself from that idea and said he would raise them.  The ABC debate moderator pointed out that every time capital gains taxes are reduced more money flows to the government and every time they are raised less money flows to government.  As this money is generated by taxes on increased business activity it's also good for the economy as a whole.  Less money to government means less to spend on various projects, less to spend helping those in need of help.  He then asked if Obama might wish to reconsider his answer.  Obama looked to me like this was a surprise to him and doubled down that even so, he would raise these taxes because it would be "more fair."  Huh?  Fair to whom?

Now.  Can't go backward.  The new plan doesn't work, if it has never ever worked anywhere at any time.  The old plan has allowed us to build a nation unique in history.

Not only can we go back, we must.  Run.  Don't walk.  Take a fast motorcycle, a jet plane, a man sized slingshot...

Let's get serious.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

RAW files

Most of my imagery is iPhone captured.  If I do use one of my DSLRs I will usually do much, or at least some image  processing on the iPad.  It's funny then that I still wonder about RAW files.  I suspect it's one of the mental exercises used to occupy the time spent alone in freezing early morning fog or  some such, waiting to see how the lighting changes.  We all know that place.

The accepted "truth" has been that RAW is the only good way to shoot.  After all, keep as much control as possible.  In-camera processing uses someone else's opinions about what's important.  JPEG shooting relinquishes creative decision making.

Experiences with RAW capable cameras over the last year or so have caused me to dispute that "Truth" however.  I'm thinking that in-camera processing is the way to go.  Providing of course that some attention is paid to White Balance.

I know from experience that technology producers have their own proprietary systems.  Some of this is for competitive reasons but some is because they really do understand their equipment best.  This is very much true of chip manufacturers and camera manufacturers.

Software attempts to "crack the code" and does so quite well, ACR, Aperture, and others.  It's interesting though that different types of software will interpret the same RAW file differently.  This makes me wonder just how much of the "goodness" is a 3rd party software vendor capable of delivering.  90% ?  More/less?

Over the last few iterations camera manufacturers have quietly and significantly improved their internal software "engines."  They are more than likely getting more of the "goodness" from their proprietary files than other's are getting...and they are doing it very very quickly and for free.  (I believe that new camera decisions are made for many reasons but that a new engine isn't on the list.)  Oh.  The file sizes are smaller also making management easier and less expensive.

There's always the argument that future advances in software will allow re works of RAW files.  While true I do wonder about the practicality.  How many of the (tens?) of thousands of images you took last year, or the year before, or in 1995 will you rework with the newest iteration of Photoshop?  Assuming that new software still reads the old files, and of course that your DAM system allows you to find the file.  I'm guessing the number will rhyme with Nero.

"Sometimes we Differ"

Mike Johnston writes TOP The Online Photographer an excellent blog I'm certain many of us are familiar with.  (yes I know but "with which many of us are familiar" sounds pretentious now doesn't it.)

Discussing the subject of photography as art, or different from art,  he touches on an area I know I've wrestled with, do words enhance photographs?  If a picture is worth a thousand words then how many more could it need?  Yet, how many of us appreciate a caption?  I know personally I like having a bit of the photographer's personal voice added to an image...I always look for a caption.  Or is the mystery worth something more?

It would be interesting to hear other's opinions.

Speaking of opinions, I have followed TOP for years and enjoy it very much.  I do recognize that some of my "life" opinions are rather different from Mike's.  Comments in the past have started a stream of personal e-mails between us voicing that disagreement.  Regardless I value his opinions and expect that if we ever did meet I would like him very much.

Monday, January 16, 2012

...but do you love it?

A friend and fellow blogger posted about his recent experience with a smartphone here.  Now many things are interesting in this post as evidenced by the responses he continues to receive, but I think the bottom line is: " ...but do you love it?".

For me, with the majority of my working life spend designing and selling very large voice / data systems to very large customers the advent of the cell phone was a way to help break the tether.  I could be almost anywhere and still be in communication.  Whooo Hooo!!  My first cell phone (and every subsequent one) was Nokia.  Their command of the electro-mechanical made them perfect for me.  I would burn through one in about 14 months.

At the same time I had a great camera which I loved.  A Nikon F purchased new in late 1970 and used 'till my grand daughter was born 9 years ago.  In the last 9 years I have owned a series of very good digital cameras which were proficient way beyond my abilities.  I used them but never loved them...disliked most of them.

My daughter talked me into trying an iPhone (giant 2 MP camera) which I expected to discard as quickly as possible without hurting her feelings.  Turns out I disliked the phone even more than I expected to (c'mon folks,,,it's a pain in the ass voice communication tool).  However I absolutely love the camera / App combination it offers.  Along with what I came to think of as a camera it also gave me quite sophisticated access to the internet and a whole bunch of "social" networks.  As telephone voice communication has become a minuscule part of my life, and textual / visual communication fills the void the iPhone becomes even more indispensable.

I now have dozens of cameras, mostly film, ranging in formats from 35mm to 4x5.  I also have 2 very good digital imagers with similar sized sensors, Sigma DP1 and Panasonic G2.  With any of these cameras I make images I like...some are even quite good I think but I work hard to do it.  They're a chore.  With the iPhone I do the same but love it.

I often find myself switching the iPhone into Airplane Mode which disables all but the camera.  It's been suggested that I buy another cheap cell phone for voice but why?  For the few voice calls I make this iCamera works well enough.

I'm thinking the reduction in voice calling is societal.  If that's true then although we may continue to call them cell phones the phone part of the device will become of minor importance...it certainly has for me.

Bottom line...if you have the choice, use what you love, your results (and you) will be better for it.

ps  I use the term smartphone as I understand there are other devices beside the iPhone...and for those of you using them I think you couldn't be cuter if you were in lederhosen and a bow tie. ;-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Image Backup

As the iPhone represents an ever increasing part of my photography I am interested in alternative ways to backup images while on the road.  Carrying a laptop for image backup is cumbersome. I have a connector which allows wired (fast) backup to the iPad and I use it but I'm always a bit nervous and as I manipulate some of the images on the iPad keeping them straight becomes a chore.

I was initially excited about the Photo Stream feature of Apple's new iCloud service.  Built into iOS 5 (and the 4S iPhone) this service automatically uploads images to "The Cloud."  This works as a behind the scenes automatic image backup, which is giant.  The "Devil in the Details" is that it works perfectly for 1,000 images in each 30 day period, after that it's full 'till the 30 day timer expires and then we get another 1,000 image capability.  It's really quite easy to fill this buffer on any decent shoot.  So now I'm once again looking for a practical backup workflow for images when I'm on the road.  If Apple allows us access to our image section of iCloud this will be true best solution I think.

It appears that there are presently some solutions.  I've found 4 -    2 are hardware based and 2 are cloud based.  Each have advantages and disadvantages.


Although there are a handful of hard drives presently available which are iOS compliant most of these are designed to download TO the iPhone or iPad but not upload FROM the iDevice. The advertising is catchy and exciting but reading carefully shows that they spend a lot of ink mentioning all of the types of information that can be transferred to the iPhone (movies, music, games), but are silent on uploads from the iDevice. I have e-mailed or called each manufacturer I found and all but 2 confirm that their product will not meet my needs.

Hitachi G-Connect hard drive.  500 GB, $200, needs to be plugged in for power.  I have been assured 3 times by a Hitachi rep that this product is a good solution but I find myself waiting 'till a company with an iron clad no questions asked return policy decides to sell it (like Amazon or Costco).  The connection is wireless and it can serve up to 5 devices.  It's a smallish box with a power cord.  This evidently also works as a wireless router or hot spot for up to 5 devices.

HyperDrive-iFlash Drive.  This is a solid state device (flash drive) with a USB plug on one end and the iPhone plug on the other, quite small.  I am assured by the manufacturer that the iPhone will read from this device and write to it.  It appears to be an excellent solution but in my opinion is still quite expensive.  3 sizes, 8, 16 and 32 GB.  Prices are from $100 to $200. ($10 off sale now for "cyber" whatever day it is).
The disadvantage here for me is that I can be assured I will lose it.  For the past year or so I have lost just about everything small that I own.  I am completely unable to find these items no matter how hard I look right up to the day I replace it and then it's right on my desk or some such place.  So for me the price doubles.


There are App based cloud solutions in addition to iCloud's Photo Stream.  DROPBOX is one many of us are familiar with and with a WARNING perhaps the best solution so far.  The warning is that although the upload is easy to set up, if WiFi is lost it will continue the transfer over the Cellular network.  This could lead to a very nasty surprise when the Cell Bill arrives.
The images uploaded to dropbox are right on my desktop Dropbox Folder waiting for me when I get home and Aperture reads from this folder quite easily.  It renames files with the date and time of transfer.  I haven't yet checked to see I can change that or if it strips image information during transfer but as a backup it works.
I had initially rejected Dropbox because it dramatically reduces file size for transfers to iDevices and the developers have no particular desire to change this.  BUT...transfers from the iPhone to the cloud are full resolution...cool.

There is another free cloud based service, www.Box.com.  Box offers a range of services and it appears they also give 50GB storage for free.  I am testing this service now but so far I am unable to upload multiple images at once.  If this is a one at a time transfer it's unworkable.  Their reps also tell me that this will search for a cellular connection if WiFi is interrupted so the same warning applies.

There are some other cloud based offerings, such as iDrive Photo Backup but I have had problems using them so I think they're not quite ready...yet.