Saturday, August 8, 2015

Donald Trump

Here it is August 2015, roughly 15 months away from the 2016 presidential election, and Donald Trump is leading the GOP pack. Why, with such a strong and deep bench, is Trump in the lead? Most analysts that I read point to voter unrest with politicians who they believe are destroying America (Clinton, Pelosi, Obama) and politicians who promised to stop this destruction, but once elected have done nothing (pretty much the whole GOP congress).

Compared to these politically correct minded politicians, Trump comes across as a breath of fresh air. He sounds authentic, and he passionately speaks about issues in a way that resonates with many GOP voters. Never mind that over the years Trump has pretty much changed his views on just about everything. If you stand still long enough in your own view about something, Trump will eventually come around and say something that will resonate with you.

But when it comes to Trump and whether he should be the person to lead the GOP and be their candidate, choosing Trump is not just a matter of what amounts to a protest vote. In choosing Trump we get something else:  another Obama. When it comes to arrogance, pettiness, divisiveness, name calling, and narcissism, Obama is the king of all American presidents. No one comes close, and our country is worse off for it. Maybe more than anything we need our next president to possess virtues completely opposite of those possessed by Obama. Trump is definitely not that person. Arrogant, petty, divisive, a name caller, and totally full of himself. Do we really want four more years of that?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Amazon Cloud Storage Review

Backing up computer files and digital photos is an absolute must. Don't even try to argue against that point. Too many people lose their valuable data when their one and only hard drive fails. With the low costs for portable external drives and for cloud storage, there is no good excuse for not backing up your files.

I have used Dropbox pretty much since its inception, and I really like it. Dropbox just works. And once set up it works behind the scenes with no need to manually do anything. Dropbox offers 2 gb of free space, with ways for adding additional free space; and of course they offer additional space at a cost. If you only have a few gb of data, Dropbox might be your best bet. If you have terabytes of data though you might take a look at Amazon.

For the past few months I have been using the unlimited all data Amazon cloud storage. As of July 2015 I have close to 6 tb of data stored in my cloud storage. Most of this data is with photos, but I also have a large amount of documents, videos, large application specific files (i.e., iMovie libraries), and audio files. The unlimited cloud storage runs $60 a year. Amazon also offers unlimited storage for just photos at $12 a year (free if an Amazon Prime member).

By far what impresses me most about the Amazon Cloud is the browser organization. It is clean looking and extremely easy to move and rename files and folders once they have been uploaded. The Amazon Cloud Drive desktop app is also quite minimalist. Simply drag your files/folders into the app window and they instantly start uploading to your cloud storage. One improvement I would love to see is a dropbox style of sync with the Amazon Cloud Drive that would automatically keep folders in the cloud in sync with the folders on my hard drive.

The biggest fail with the Amazon Cloud is their iOS app. It seems to be geared just for their photo storage, and it is a mess. For the life of me I cannot figure out what the app does. Photos show up, but there is no rhyme or reason that I can decipher for their organization.

If you are not using online cloud storage, whether it is Apple's iCloud, dropbox, Amazon, or the dozens of other options out there . . I strongly recommend that you start using one of these right away. External drives are great for backup that you can keep on hand. I have dozens of these drives that I rely on daily, and there have been a number of times when my main hard drive failed and I was able to get back up and running with little relative ease. But when it comes to backup I tend to be pretty anal about it. I don't want to lose someone's wedding photos a day after taking them, so I back up the original files in multiple ways. Part of that backup process now involves immediately uploading the raw files to my Amazon cloud storage. If my house burns down or someone breaks in and steals my gear, I at least know that those files are safely stored off site, along with all of my other data.

Peace of mind. $60 a year seems like a small fee for that.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Better Lightroom Workflow

I recently stumbled across a better and quicker workflow in Adobe Lightroom, at least for me. First a little background and some context. I typically shoot events and weddings with two cameras. One camera (Nikon d700) will usually have a 24-70 lens. The other camera (Nikon d800) will trade off with a 70-200 and a 14-24 lens. After an event I will transfer all the images to an event specific folder on my primary hard drive. I will then use a batch renaming program that will give filenames specific to that event, plus put the images in the order that they were taken (important to have both camera's clocks calibrated). I would then import the images into Lightroom.

Let me stop here and acknowledge that there are ways to import directly into Lightroom and do the file renaming while in Lightroom, but I prefer to do it the way I described above. I am not sure there is any real difference in the time it takes to do it either way, so I have stuck with the process that makes most sense to me.

At this point I go through and do "quick" edits on all the images in Lightroom. In the past I would work on each image in the order that they were taken. I found though that what was slowing me down was bouncing around between images taken with different cameras and lenses. So I started to experiment with filtering the images in Library mode to separate the images based on what lens (and camera) was used. This grouped just the photos taken with let's say the 14-24 lens. When it came to  applying the previous edits to the next photo, I was in a flow with just those images taken with the 14-24, providing more consistently between photos and less time editing.

With my previous workflow, bouncing back and forth between the 24-70 and the 70-200 images disrupted that consistency. In the same scene of a photo shoot, edits I made on an image using the 24-70 were different than ones using the 70-200, especially if I used a radial or graduated filter. I found myself searching backwards for a previous image taken with that lens that I could apply to the image currently before me. By filtering the library of images to just work on those taken with a specific lens, I was able to noticeably reduce my workflow time, and with less headaches.

Of course this workflow only applies if you are using more than one lens when photographing an event.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Another Take On Climate Change

I just got back from a few days at Bethany Beach, De. It was great, particularly the weather. One evening I stood at the crest of one of the dune walkways, providing a nice panoramic view of the beach and the boardwalk. There was a pleasant gentle breeze, no humidity, a slight coldness to the air. It was perfect. In that moment I thought to myself that of all the things I could be worried or concerned about, the very last on my list is global warming, or climate change, or whatever they want to call it now.

Here I was in what is arguably the epicenter of climate change hysteria: a small coastal town. Al Gore would want to shout out to the oblivious "hey, don't you know that in 100 years this town will be under 10 feet of water if we don't do something now!" Actually just 10 years ago the surf did come up to the boardwalk at certain times of the year. So the town took action by building a large dune and then building up the beach with replenished sand. Today, as you can see by the attached photo, the beach is as wide and protected as it has ever been. Man adapted, and man will continue to adapt. Sure, money was spent and the beach will need additional replenishing over the years; but all of this pales in comparison to the billions of dollars some in government want us to spend on programs, studies, actions, etc that carry no guarantee of doing anything beneficial.

Indian River Inlet Bridge: A Few Takes On One Photo

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Wedding "First Look"

Some people know that I am a big fan of what is commonly called the "first look" at a wedding. It is that moment when a couple sees each other before the wedding ceremony, as opposed to waiting to first see each other during the ceremony. I have written about this fairly extensively here and here. Sometimes though it takes reading about it from another perspective that convinces couples that having a "first look" might be the right choice for them. To that end I would encourage interested people to read here. A first look is certainly not a deal breaker for me. Couples have to plan their wedding day according to what best suits their desires and expectations. My two cents though is that a "first look" is a winner.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Redskins

A lot of talk about the Redskins changing their name. I would prefer for the Redskins to retain their name, but if that does not happen, I have three suggestions:

1. Keep the name Redskins, but change the mascot to the redskin potato;

2. Change the name to "Pigskins". This should only be an insult to Rosie O'Donnell;

3. Just change the name to "Skins".

Monday, October 28, 2013

High ISO Low Light Photography

One of the biggest advancements in digital photography over the past 3-4 years has been the ability to shoot without flash in low light conditions. If you are new to photography and are mostly playing around with your aperture and shutter settings, that is great, but don't forget about the ISO settings. ISO refers to light sensitivity. The higher the number you set you ISO, effectively the more light the sensor can pick up. 8-10 years ago the best you could get away with was a setting of 1600 ISO. At that point and beyond, if available, images would start to break down with noise. Even 800 ISO was pushing it back then. Today those numbers are at 6400, and even 12,800; and on some cameras the number goes up beyond 100,000. In layman terms, this means that it can be dusk outside, or low light inside, and you can still get a decent hand held shot. But despite the great improvements with ISO and sensors, you still need to be careful with how you take high ISO images. Noise is still an issue, especially if you do not expose correctly. So below I offer some advice on high ISO images.

1. Regardless of your situation, just because you have high ISO capability on your camera, you should always lean toward the lowest ISO possible to still get the image. Lower ISO gives you better color and less noise, higher ISO gives you less color and more noise. So don't crank up your ISO just because your camera has it. Always default first to maximizing your aperture and shutter speeds to get the most light, then use the ISO to give you more latitude if you need it.

2. Proper exposure is imperative. If anything, you should compensate a bit toward over exposing your image. If you underexpose your image and then try to correct it in your favorite image editing software, you will end up with quite a lot of noise. Over exposing of course risks blowing out highlights, so you have to be careful there too, but I would rather error on that side than with underexposing the image.

3. Take multiple images at different exposures so you have choices afterwards.

4. Shoot raw, if your camera has it. Raw files give you a lot more latitude in correcting your images.

5. Use noise reduction software. Even though noise is not as bad as it used to be at lower ISO, it is still a problem as you reach your camera's ISO limitations. Noise reduction software can do a pretty good job of reducing that noise. You have to be careful with this software though because it can soften an image.

The image here was taken at 6400 in a very low lit church. I added some noise reduction to it. This shot would have been much harder to obtain 10 years ago, and even harder back in the film days when ISO film pretty much only went up to 1600. Click to enlarge.

Does Barack Obama Know Anything?

I find it absolutely amazing how little Barack Obama knows, especially considering that he sells himself as a person who knows everything. Some examples:

1. He did not know, after attending Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years, that his pastor delivered radical anti-American sermons,
2. he did not know about the Fast and Furious program,
3. he did not know about the security shortcomings of our Benghazi consulate,
4. he did not know that the 9-11-12 assault on Benghazi was a terrorist attack (he did seem to know that the attack was the result of a two bit video, which was never the truth),
5. he did not know about the NSA spying on foreign leaders,
6. he did not know about the pending failure of the ACA website . .

and the list can go on and on. Stunning. Either this is a president who is so protected that he has been left oblivious to reality, or on his own accord he has detached himself from any responsibility, or he just does not care about such details, or in reality he knew about all of these things and is just lying about it. Which option makes him look good? Pretty obvious:  none of the above.

This is a president who is unable to accept responsibility for anything, unless it makes him look good. He stands back, waits for a crisis of his own doing (or lack of doing) to stir up, then he stirs it up more by lambasting Republicans for their alleged part in creating the crisis, all the while positioning himself above it all, and then he accepts credit when the crisis is averted, even though he had nothing to do with the solution and everything to do with creating the crisis in the first place. Syria is a good example. Health care is another.

When a person does not accept responsibility for their own mistakes, that is a person you should not trust. Period.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Football, Parity, Wealth & Equality

A number of years ago the National Football League (NFL) imposed several reforms in order to create parity throughout the league. They wanted to prevent dynasties and give smaller markets/franchises the ability to compete with the larger ones. So through the draft system and salary caps, teams were essentially given an equal chance to do well. Today, some franchises remain perennial winners, largely because of good management and coaching, and great personnel choices. Other franchises continually struggle. So despite that best of plans to create equality and fairness, some succeed and others fail. That is because in football there are all kinds of intangibles:  key players get injured, team chemistry falls apart, key players have awful years, there are bad calls by refs or one turnover that ends up changing the outcome of a game; or the exact opposite happens and a team has a once every other decade kind of season. That is football.

I like that a team such as the Kansas City Chiefs, who was 2-14 last year, can bring in a new quarterback and a new coach, and start this season 7-0. I like that a team has the chance to go undefeated for the season. I like that there are teams that end the season 15-1, or 13-3. This demonstrates greatness, even if it is for just one season. What I don't want to see is an entire league where all teams go 8-8 . . a sign of mediocrity (in my mind). Sure, everyone is seemingly equal and has a chance to advance to the playoffs, but where is the greatness in that? Do we look back twenty years ago to an 8-8 team and speak of how great a team that was?

I think this speaks to our society and how people view wealth. You know how it is, people without wealth envy those who do have wealth. A number of social scientists/politicians believe it is wrong that some people have and some don't have, and that the best way to fix that is to take from those who have and give it to those who do not have. Equality, after all, requires that. But a person's stage in life, and their wealth, changes constantly. How many stories have you heard of someone who had a dream, started a company or created a product that a lot of people wanted, and that person seemingly overnight became wealthy. Likewise, how many people have you heard of who had a lot, but then the market changed, and the product they created was no longer desirable, and that person ended up losing much of the wealth they had created. It would not surprise me if the Chiefs finish this season 14-2, and then next year go back to a 7-9 season. The fortune of teams, and people, can go up, and then it can go down, and then it can go up again.

I like that a person such as Bill Gates or Henry Ford can make billions of dollars. We all gain when that happens. The fact that Gates or Ford or Winfrey or some musician can make millions/billions does not mean that I have to make less because they are taking up all the money that is out there. They did not become wealthy at my expense. In fact, their wealth has made a lot of other people wealthy. Just ask the employees at Microsoft. I benefit by using Apple products, so if the people at Apple are making billions, good for them. I hope they keep it up so I can continue to enjoy their products.

Some people though want a society where everyone is 8-8. In their minds, that is equality, and that is when everyone will experience happiness in their lives. Happiness comes from mediocrity, at least that is what they seem to believe. I believe in the importance of government, but I do not believe in the greatness of government. Government is good at producing mediocrity. Outside of our military, what exactly does our federal government excel at? Education? Health care? Financial competence? At best, our federal government is only capable of producing an 8-8 season. . year after year. It is a perennial loser. So why does half the country continue to put so much trust and so much confidence in government? What do they see, or what is it that they want that I do not see and that I do not want? Are they after an 8-8 country? Is that the attraction of socialized medicine or excessively taxing the wealthy? I would hope for more. I like it when people experience greatness on their own accord. That is the greatness of America. Let's pray that does not become something of the past.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

High School Reunions

So I just wrapped up my high school reunion this past weekend. It was great to see people and to be seen. I walked away exhausted, but satisfied. I know there are some people who shutter at the thought of going to a reunion. They look back at their high school years believing those were awful years in their life . . lots of drama, hurt feelings, awkwardness. Sounds like life to me. I hear it fairly often when I ask someone if they are going to their reunion: "there isn't anyone I want to see". There is a word for this:  selfishness. Have you considered that there will be people there who actually want to see you? I know, hard to believe.

I think back on this past weekend and how often someone would ask me: "So whatever happened to . ."? It is their way of saying "I wish so-and-so was here", but so-and-so is not here, instead he is sitting at home, miserable, watching re-runs on tv because there isn't anyone he wants to see at a reunion. I know there are legitimate reasons for not attending a reunion, like a schedule conflict or travel costs; but to not go because there is no one you want to see? That just does not make sense to me. Not after this past weekend.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Main Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives

There are many points where liberals and conservatives part ways. Abortion . . immigration . . gun control . . taxes . . the list goes on. I am always amazed how even on the most obscure issues or events, liberals and conservatives like clockwork line up directly opposed to each other. It is almost as if people are wired to think and see issues differently. which when you consider how people are raised and educated, may be the case. Liberals start with a different set of premises than conservatives, and how they perceive an issue is largely influenced by those premises. This is true when you look at politics, social issues, and even a person's spiritual life.

I have come to the conclusion that there is one principal premise that drives the liberal mind: the belief in a utopia on earth. They envision a world where no one gets hurt (including animals), no one is offended, everyone is magically given the same resources, money is not an issue when governing, everyone gets along, everyone is of one accord (the liberal accord), the good of the utopian society holds precedent over the individual, and everyone is obliged to support and defend the pursuit of this utopian society. To this end, they need government. More specifically, a centralized, all knowing, omnipresent government. And so through regulations, laws, decrees and policies we have an endless array of intrusions on liberty, all in the name of building a more perfect society, a society with no crime, no pollution, no hate, no inequality of any kind, and where people live in blissful likeness. This is why I am not a liberal. This is not utopia . . it is tyranny. It is government attempting to control the behavior and the thoughts of it's citizens. It is as if they are saying "we don't want fat people in our utopia, or people who use certain words, or people who value God more than the state". Individual responsibility . . a thing of the past.

I think it is fair to say that most people desire to see the world become a better world. We want to see not only our own lifestyles and living conditions improve, but our neighbors as well. Every day people are driven to learn more and take more risks in order to achieve a better life. There are ways to do this though that don't involve the heavy hand of tyranny. The free market and capitalism have been the best tools ever invented for reducing poverty. Take one look at the poverty in countries that have been ruled by dictators. One disaster after another. Socialism and communism were both designed to create a form of utopia. Both have failed.

Conservatives do not believe in a utopian on earth. In heaven, yes; but not here on earth. Conservatives tend to see people as sinners with selfish hearts. There will always be people who are mean, evil, and hateful. There will always be the poor (even Jesus said this in Matt 26:11) and there will always be the wealthy. There are people who are lazy and unmotivated, and there are people who are driven toward success. With 350 million people in America alone, the very idea that social engineering will conform all those people into slender, fit, equally educated, equally motivated and pleasant people is crazy. Liberals have been governing in every inner city in America for most of the past 100 years, a fantastic opportunity to put their utopia dreams into action; and what have they produced? Hardly a utopia. In fact, quite the contrary. Why? Because what some political and educational elites dream up in some university seminar never takes into account the basic sinfulness of man. No amount of regulations or social engineering will ever atone for that.

It is not that conservatives are anti government. Government is good for establishing rules to play by in society. But the rules need to be simple to understand, appropriate and relevant to the game, and applied fairly to all. It doesn't have to be that hard. Politicians are driven by the misguided belief that they know better than their constituents in all things. "If only we can get people to behave this way, our society will be a better place". And so laws are passed and taxes are raised to get people to act "this way". But people don't and won't act "this way". People act the way they want to act, which is kind of what America is all about. Freedom. The right to be an individual pursuing my own dreams. The land of opportunity. The role of government is largely to protect those rights. Some may argue that this is the only role for government. We have gotten so far away from this, all in the name of experiencing utopia on earth. More like hell on earth.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Being A Photographer . . Being A Doctor

If you have ever watched a medical show on TV . . ER, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs . . inevitably there will be an episode when the doctors are stumped. They have a patient with some mysterious ailment. Tests are run, questions are asked, consultations with other doctors are made, but to no avail. Whatever the patient has, the doctors cannot figure it out, and they feel helpless. Usually in these shows there is that "aha" moment when the doctors stumble on a clue and discover what is causing the problem, and all ends well. Sometimes they stumble on the answer, and realize there is nothing they can do to fix the problem. This is usually the moment when a doctor realizes that despite his or her great skills and knowledge, they are after all human, and there are some things that even they cannot fix. Sometimes, as a photographer, I feel the same way.

I have photographed a bunch of events and activities and people over the years. Most of the time I get to photograph people under fairly controllable and pleasant conditions. There are usually options. If it is raining, I can usually find a covered area. If it is too sunny, I can find some open shade. Rarely am I in a position where I am stumped, when there are no options except for the worse one. This past Saturday was on one of those. At times I felt helpless, like the doctor with an ailing patient, and the only answer I could give that patient was there is nothing I can do. It was hot . . very hot, and it was sunny . . very sunny; and I was in a location where there was literally no place to go that was not hot or sunny. Some of the photos . . not all . . would be difficult to obtain under these conditions.

All of my experience and skills seemed to mean nothing at that moment. Well that is not entirely true, my experience did help me work through most of what I needed to do to make things work; but I knew at the time that the pictures would have been so much better under different conditions. I walked away humbled by the experience, much like I imagine a doctor walks away from a dying patient knowing he could not save that person. I am human after all. Fortunately the people I was working with that day were very understanding and patient with me (I hope). I do not like to make excuses. I was hired to do a job, and for their sake as well as mine, I wanted to do the best job possible. But even the best of doctors confront situations when they can do nothing more for their patient. It is not a failure, but it is humbling.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Breaux Vineyard Wedding (Loudoun County Virginia)

Breaux Vineyard in Loudoun County Virginia is one of the premier wineries in the Washington DC area. They recently added a very nice event building to their property, setting them apart from many other wineries in the area. Breaux did a great job hosting Saturday's wedding of Marty and Cheryl. Here are a few images from Saturday. Click on image to enlarge.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ashland High School Oregon 1981 - 1984 Slide Shows

While on staff with Rogue Valley Campus Life in southern Oregon during the early 80's, I had the pleasure of working with high school students at Ashland High School. It was during this time that I started to learn photography and played around with multi media slide shows. Being the early 80's, we were of course dealing with film and slides and cassette tapes. This was before cd's and dvd's, and really before the advent of VHS, so I have no visual archives of the slide shows I produced back then. I do have the audio tapes though. The sound quality is basically just okay, but not too bad after sitting in the basement all these years. Some are better than others.

Below are links to those audio files, with some notes along the way. Some of these files are large, so be patient for them to load. Also below is a link to my website for some of the Ashland photos from these shows.

Ashland High School Photos

Ashland Fall 1981 Slide Show Audio

Ashland Spring 1982 Slide Show Audio

Ashland Fall 1982 Slide Show Audio

Ashland Fall 1982 Interviews (for the slide show, unedited)

Ashland Winter 1982 Slide Show (for the original show, there was a break in the audio track about 3:30 into the show for a film clip from Chariots Of Fire. I shortened the break for this file.)

Ashland Spring 1983 Slide Show (added to this is a section that was shown at the Baccalaureate Service)

Ashland Fall 1983 Slide Show

Ashland Spring 1984 Slide Show (added to this is a section that was shown at the Baccalaureate Service)

Ashland Spring 1984 Interviews (for the slide show, unedited)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

You Should Reject These Voices

Hopefully you caught at least part of Obama's speech last weekend to the Ohio State graduates. I say hopefully because there are many aspects of his speech that should scare the sensibility of freedom loving Americans. I was struck by the same passage that many others found offensive:

"Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They'll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can't be trusted."

The truth is, government cannot be trusted (can you say Benghazi?). If you believe that big business cannot be trusted, that you cannot trust the media, that you cannot trust the used car salesman, you have to acknowledge that government too cannot be trusted, at least not fully. Government, left to its own devices, will almost always drift toward seeking more power and more centralization. James Madison put it this way: "The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse". This is where the media can play such an important role in our country . . as watchdogs for such abuse of power. That is if the media is willing to do their job.

Governments are fallible. People in power will do whatever they can to protect their jobs and their status. If they can assign failure to someone else rather than to themselves, they will (can you say Benghazi?). If they can make promises and dole out money to their constituents, they will; at no cost to the politician. Do I want to trust my government? Sure. Do I? No. So when Obama says "you should reject these voices", what he is saying to me is this: "Hey, I may just be a politician who once was a community organizer, but you can trust me because I am always right and my motives are always pure". No thank you.

I wrote several years ago that I believed Obama would be comfortable in the role of dictator. I am not saying that is what he is leading us to or that he sees himself as a dictator, I am just saying that if Obama was in another country that had a history of dictatorships, and he somehow inherited that position, I have doubts that Obama would lead that country into democracy. He does not impress me as someone who is a champion of freedom. As president, what has he done to preserve or expand freedom within our own country? Perhaps no other president has consolidated power into the centralized federal government more than Obama. Health care is the most obvious example. Everything about Obamacare points to Washington. Before long every health care decision we have to make will ultimately be run through the federal bureaucracy for compliance and payment. No possibility for abuse there. Right.

What American president would encourage American citizens not to be on guard for government abuse of power? What president would tell young people to disregard the voices of those who are issuing warnings of such abuse? I can understand Putin saying something like this to the Russian people. I can understand a dictator saying something like this to his people. It blows my mind to hear these words coming from an American president. Tyranny typically does not happen over night. It is a drip, drip, drip forfeiting of freedom. With his own words, Obama himself gave all of us good reason to listen to those voices trying to stop the leak.

I'm Still Here

I cannot believe it has been 3 months since I last posted something on this blog, so more than anything I just want people to know that I am still around. I am still photographing weddings (I have 5 weddings over the next 15 days), still traveling, still alive. Things have just been somewhat busy, and I have not had anything burning inside of me to write about. Well actually that is not entirely true. There is always something I am thinking about and working through in my mind . . so maybe I have just been a bit lazy when it comes to updating this blog, which really bugs me. It has always been a pet peeve of mine to visit blogs that are outdated. So much so that I hesitated even starting this blog out of fear that I would at some point become absent, which is what happened over the past 3 months. I am not promising that I will do better over the next 3 months, but I will certainly try.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Re-Purposing: Film X-Ray Protector Now A Coin Pouch

One of my pet peeve's and minor source of aggravation is searching for coins in my car. Yes, there is a coin compartment, but in my car that area is below the dash in an area that I cannot see, only feel. So when I reach for loose coins in that compartment, I never know what coins I am grabbing, and in most cases there are at least a half dozen coins that end up on the floor. And inevitably the coins I end up with in my hand are not the ones I need for the drive thru or the parking meter.

So the other day I was looking through a drawer of old camera gear and I came across a couple film containers. These containers were designed for unprocessed 35 mm film. Theoretically these containers protect film when going through x-ray machines in airports. I bought these years ago and don't ever remember using them. Anyhow, as soon as I picked one up I thought of my coins.

One of these containers fits perfectly in my car's coin compartment. The beauty of this container is that it has doors on each end, so one side of the container is filled with pennies, nickels, and dimes. The other end is filled with just quarters. I can now grab the container from the compartment, open the end for coins that I need, and be done with it. No more coins on the floor. No more aggravation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The First Look on Wedding Day

If you read my past blog posts, or if you know me, you know that I am a big fan of the bride and groom seeing each other prior to the ceremony, primarily for the sake of photos. It just makes the whole day go a lot smoother, and my experience is that couples who choose to do it this way are really, really glad they did. But I realize that many people cannot break with the idea of first seeing each other while walking down the aisle (my experience is that most brides are looking either at guests or at me and not at their groom while walking down the aisle). I realize that this is their wedding and I can only offer advice, otherwise I have to go with what is given. But that does not mean I cannot at least plead my case, and here I do it once again.

This link is to some photos taken of grooms (not my photos) when they saw their bride for the first time on their wedding day. The photos were compiled for this article because of the emotion expressed by the grooms. If you study the photos closely, you will see that of the 24 grooms/brides represented, only 4-5 were taken during the actual ceremony and walking down the aisle. All the others were taken during what is commonly called "the first look", when the bride and groom have their moment of seeing each other privately before the wedding. This goes to one of the arguments that I have previously made: that I see more emotion coming from grooms during the "first look" then I do during the walking down the aisle moment; and this goes to another argument I have made: the "first look" actually ends up being a much more special time for a couple than walking down the aisle.

Again, I realize that this is not the case for everyone, and in the case of this article, there certainly was emotion in the 4-5 "walking down the aisle" weddings represented by the photos. I would just encourage couples to think it through, perhaps throw out your original conventional thinking and consider this: how would you plan this day if this was the very first wedding ever?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Binders Full of Women

Dems are doing their best to find something . . anything . . that they can pin on Romney in order to turn around Obama's slide in the polls. Big Bird didn't seem to help. Blaming the death of our U.S. ambassador in Libya on a YouTube video that no one ever saw didn't work. Boasting about an artificial drop in unemployment didn't help. Pretty much everything the dems have tried has not helped, and that now includes "binders full of women". That does not mean they are not trying though.

Here are a couple thoughts I have regarding "binders full of women":

1. During the debate, Romney said:

“And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks?’ And they brought us whole binders full of women.”

Please note where the "binders full of women" came from:  women's groups. That's right, women put women into binders, not Romney. If these women's groups had instead put women into . . well, what else would they put these resumes into? So if women (and men) are having problems with "binders full of women", they should aim their fake anger at the women groups that put them there.

2. I can pretty much guarantee that before Romney asked for a list of women's resumes that ended up being given to him in binders, there were whole binders full of men given to Romney. That's right, binders full of men. Where is the outrage? This is obviously a sign of disrespect toward men. Think of it: binders full of men. Come on men, can't we come up with at least a little bit of of our own fake outrage over this?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Obama And "Acts of Terror"

The day after the September 11 Benghazi killing of our U.S. Libyan Ambassador along with 3 other Americans, President Obama responded with a short speech in the Rose Garden. In the context of the attack Obama said "since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others." It is clear at this point that the president is blaming the Benghazi attack on the YouTube video that criticizes Islam. Later in the speech the president refers to September 11, 2001 and then says that "no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." So did the president call the Benghazi killings a terrorist attack? Maybe, but probably not; after all, he did earlier say it was the result of the video. But for the sake of argument, and since the president (and Candy Crowley) seem to believe that he did call it a terrorist attack the day after, let's assume he did. To me that raises much larger and more disturbing questions, like why did the White House send out our U.N. Ambassador to five Sunday talk shows on Sept. 16 and have her emphatically say that the Benghazi attack was a mob reaction to the YouTube video and was not a terrorist attack? Why did the president appear before the U.N. on Sept. 25 and speak solely about the YouTube video, with no mention of Benghazi being a terrorist attack. It sure seems like the administration was going out of its way not to call it a terrorist attack.

If Obama called it a terrorist act the day after, it would be disturbing also for this reason: he immediately took off for Las Vegas for a fundraising event.

Mr. President, at last night's debate you defended your administration against accusations that you are using (and covering up) the Benghazi attack for political purposes. That is exactly what you are doing. You know that if this is a terrorist attack, it happened on your watch. That would be bad for your campaign, and for the story you keep telling of how Al Qaeda has been defeated now that you killed bin Laden. This is a major cover up and there is no question that if it was George Bush trying to sell this story the press would be all over it. Funny how they don't seem to care when it involves Obama. People died, Obama lied.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Politics: Things I Don't Understand

1. Here is all you need to know about Mitt Romney and how much tax he pays: If I offered to give you an amount equal to how much Mitt Romney pays in taxes (roughly $2 million) or how much Barack Obama pays in taxes (roughly $162,000), which would you take? I'll give your 15 seconds to decide. What, you don't need 15 seconds? You'll take Romney's 2 million? Why? Yeah, it is substantially more than Obama's $162,000, but won't you feel guilty because Romney paid at a lower percentage rate? That doesn't matter to you, you just want the 2 million? Yeah, I don't understand either why people are making such a big deal about the percentage rate and not looking at the total amount of money being paid in taxes.

2. Why can't people honor the truth rather than spin a lie? When I watch a game and they show a controversial play in slow motion, and it is clear what the correct call should be, I'm okay with getting the call correct, regardless whether it benefits the team I favor or not. Sure, some calls are not clear cut, even on replay, which is why in most cases they rule with the call that was made in real time on the field. But I am more interested in preserving the integrity of the game and honoring the truth than I am with elevating my team. The same should also apply to politics. I can understand supporters wanting to spin bad results into something good, but people are too smart to fall for that. A bad debate isn't because of the altitude of Denver or because Obama is so concerned about protecting the office of the presidency not to fight back or because Romney lied. Obama just debated in the same manner that he has performed as president: detached, uninterested, lazy, arrogant.

3. The left seems to always be really concerned about the little guy . . the guy who doesn't make much money. The left dislikes big business and big money. Not all on the left, mostly those who do not have any money hate those who do have money. As a general rule though, the impression that is put out there is that liberals only like big money when it is something they can take and redistribute to those who do not have money. So why don't these people hate political campaigns with the same vigor. The Obama campaign for example pulled in $181 million just in the month of September. That is a lot of money raised and spent just to elect one person. Seems like a waste to me. Just think of how many teachers could be hired with that kind of money. I can understand conservatives embracing big money . . I don't understand why this kind of fund raising does not repulse a liberal.

4. There were fewer jobs created in September than in August, and there were fewer in August than there was in July. In January 2012 275,000 new jobs were added, followed by 259,000 in February, yet the unemployment rate stayed the same 8.3 between January and February. This was follow by months of very small job creation, ranging from 45,000 to 181,000, not enough to change the unemployment rate more than .2 percentage points. For context, 181,000 jobs were added in July 2012, and the unemployment rate went up .1 percentage point. I don't understand how we can add 114,000 new jobs in September and the rate goes down .3 percentage points. Actually I do understand: fewer people are looking for jobs and the government has dropped these people off these rolls. Basically the country is losing jobs, so you don't need as many people to fill those lost jobs. We're just choosing not to count millions of Americans, which artificially makes the unemployment rate go down. This kind of math is apparently something Obama is happy to embrace, which I don't understand (see point 2).

Monday, October 1, 2012

Eric & Carrie Wedding - Sept. 29, 2012

A few early picks from this past weekend's wedding with Eric and Carrie. It was a great wedding and a perfect day. Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shooting In The Dark

This photo is by no means a great photo. It has its problems. I'm posting it here though because when you consider the conditions that it was taken, it is pretty impressive. It was dark. How dark? I was standing maybe 120 feet away, and while I could see the outline of the boat, I could not see the couple or anyone else on the boat. Those two big lights in the back were not all that bright. Between the darkness, distance and engine noise, the couple could not hear me or see me. To me it is pretty amazing that in near pitch darkness an image like this could be captured. Exposure details:  iso of 6400, f-stop of 2.8, 1/15 shutter speed hand held.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Climate Change and the Hockey Stick

I am a man made climate change skeptic. Climate changes, that is for certain; but I have deep doubts that man is the cause of anything that we are currently experiencing, just like I doubt that man had anything to do with the Ice Age or with the warming that took place some 1000 years ago. If you watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, you would know that much of it revolved around Michael Mann's hockey stick theory. That theory has since been debunked, which should make "green" people at least wonder if this "green" quest is nothing more than a financial boondoggle. For those with an open mind, here is a short videoclip to get you thinking.