Baby It’s Cold Outside

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One of the benefits of sorting, reorganizing and deleting images from years past (as I am slowly working at) is rediscovering some nice photos I’d forgotten.  Like this shot I took in March, 2012 of ice piles on Lake Huron along the east end of the Straits of Mackinac.  Much like the weather lately, it makes me cold just looking at it.

So I’m spending the rest of the afternoon sorting photos taken in any year -as long as it’s July or August.  At least until I warm up…

Dan

The Third Thing is a Charm

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I believe New Year’s Eve day is good for only two things:  marking time until the New Year’s Eve party begins and working as hard as you can to complete old-year resolutions.  That is what I have been doing.  Passing time and trying to wrap up my big 2013 resolution, which was to organize the sixty thousand or so images on my computer hard drive.

For a number of unspecified reasons too long to list here, I got a late start on the project.  However, over the past week have reviewed, kept and prioritized; or rejected and purged ten thousand or so digital images I shot in 2009, 2010 and 2003.  (I have to skip around to break up the monotony.)

For the past hour I’ve been plodding through 2008 images.  When I got to this freighter image, taken in late January that year, and noticed a few problems.  Don’t take too much time searching the image for flaws.  There are several.  But there is one issue I want to hone in on.  The spots you see floating around the freighter are not migrating birds or UFOs ready to land on the ship’s deck.  They are dust spot on my sensor.

Since October I’ve noticed sensor spots on some images.  (Especially images of snow or sky shot with a small f-stop.) For a long time I shot most of my pictures with a large aperture.  Dust and other crud just doesn’t show much on an image shot with a big aperture.  But I’ve been stopping the aperture down into the teens lately and sensor spot began showing up as big as a cold sore on prom night.

Well today I decided to see what I could do to clean my camera sensor.  I dug around in a book or two and read how some pros do and don’t clean their sensors.  Then I watched a You Tube video by photographer Karl Taylor titled, “How to Clean Your DSLR Sensor” [www.youtube.com/watch?v=pesZUj78S6s ] and realized I had everything I needed here in the house.

Most of what I knew about cleaning a digital sensor was “Don’t try it!”  But, I took my time, followed how Taylor cleaned his camera sensor and it turned out okay.  I took some snow test shots at f.18 and the spots that have annoyed me are gone.  I can still see a dim spot or two but nothing that looks like a special effect from a Steven Spielberg movie.  Not bad for my first try.

So, I did get a little something done this last day of 2013.  Now I can get ready for the party with a clean conscience… and camera sensor.

I hope you have a fun-filled and safe New Year’s Eve.

Dan

Big Snow

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While part of our family and many friends are without electricity in the greater Lansing area after a big ice storm, we have been digging out of a good-sized snowstorm.  As luck and home design would have it, when we get a nor’easter, like this one, the wind and snow wraps around our house and fills the back steps and covers the sidewalk with snow.  It drifted about three feet deep.  In the side yard we got a peculiar drift about five feet high but, fortunately, only about four feet around.  It looked like a mini Matterhorn.

I learned the snow blower works on the sidewalk too. (But watch out for the steps…)  A couple of times yesterday, I wished I’d spent the extra bucks and bought a 10-horse snow blower instead of the 8.5-horse.  But I took my time and it got the job done.

Of course the travail of snow blowing a sidewalk and a couple of driveways is nothing like have electricity to your home knocked out for several days, including Christmas.  We hope everyone, especially those without power, have a warm Christmas.  Most of all, we hope the workers in Lansing get their jobs done and the power back on as fast as they can.

We’ll see many of you just after the new year.

Dan

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Keep on Truckin’…

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I’ve had trouble finding northern light to shoot recently, but this almost-double rainbow, from a few days ago, showed up and stayed just long enough that I was able to get a couple shots.  Maybe with the rain, sleet, hail and snow we’ve gotten here since then, it was last kiss -or maybe kiss off- of autumn…  Either way, it was nice to see and brightened up an otherwise gray afternoon.

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Under Re-Construction

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Sorry there hasn’t been any activity on the blog for a while.  The pleasant distractions of summer, visits from friends and family, some travel and several other obligations have left me wondering where the time -and my blog posts- have gone…

SmugMug also totally revamped their service and improved the way website function and look.  I have been trying to get to that project since August.  So far all I have achieved is to remove many image in preparation for a re-construction.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABear with me if you can.  By November I plan to work on the SmugMug site and get more post up on the blog.

 

There’s an old saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.  I don’t think I’m headed to hell yet.

 

At least not because I haven’t kept the blog active…

 

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Morning Light and Flight

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June 5, 2013, 7:20am… Another cool and less than hospitable morning.  It was just me on the beach and one gull flying by.

 

“The gulls sees the farthest that flies highest.”

Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Smart Phones Just Get Smarter… and More Fun Too

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Remember when mobile phone screens were the size of airmail stamps and the images on the screen so pixelated you could hardly pick yourself out of a group of four?  Unless you’ve been locked into a very long phone service plan and still use one of those dinosaurs, you know the camera phone of today is not the camera phone of just a few years ago.

Even when image quality was poor and sensor size was less than two megapixels the world somehow knew things would get better, because people started snapping images at record-breaking speed.  In 1990, according to the website BuzzFeed (BuzzFeed.com), fifty-seven billion photos were taken worldwide.  The first mobile phones with cameras were marketed in 1997 and today there are a whopping three hundred eighty billion images taken per year.  And since 2003, more images have been made with camera phones than all the single-lens reflex and point and shoot digital cameras combined.  Quora (quora.com), the collaborative, question and answer website states 1.4 billion images are taken per day on smart phones.  Wow…

There are still purists who cringe at the thought of a camera phone being called a digital camera, much less used as one.  You may know one or two people like that.  Well if you do, tell them to hold onto their hats, because smart phones are here.  Apple’s latest add tells us the iPhone is the phone you need for photos.  (See the commercial at:  http://www.apple.com/iphone/videos/#tv-ads-photos-every-day )  My wife, Joanne, and I owned the iPhones 3S for four years.  They were good phones.Welihan 20130513 Dinner-183858

But when we decided to upgrade we honed in on the Samsung Galaxy 4S.  Joanne liked the phone, I thought the camera was great.  With a 13-megapixel camera, a five-inch high-resolution screen and all those image tweaking apps available, I was all in.  We got the phones in April and we are not disappointed.

Here are two examples of images I recently shot.  We were with friends in a restaurant when I took a shot of the table setting using the “cartoon” mode.  One of several modes built into the basic Galaxy S4 camera.  I like the camera speed and barely notice shutter lag.  Image sharpness is terrific and there are many ways to manipulate or play with the images to suit most any mood.

At the top is an image I took on a recent bike ride when the two-track I was on dead-ended into a pond that spilled over the trail after several days of rain.  Rather than wade across I took pictures.  Like most any smart phone or camera that relies on a screen to preview the image, it was difficult to see the screen in the sun as I framed the shot.  The shot needed a little horizon straightening, but the color, focus and clarity is right out of the camera.

I have no doubt iPhone and all the other mobile phone makers will soon have the capabilities of the Galaxy S4, and Samsung will push their camera functions even farther over the years to come.  Who is that better for?  Us of course.  So don’t be concerned when you pull your cell phone out to get a shot.  Just look around, you’re not alone.

Chase Jarvis is a Steamboat Springs, Colorado photographer and credited with the quote, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”  And he’s right.  I have a large DSLR with several lenses and a bulky camera bag.  It’s great gear, but too much to lug around every day.  I also have a Canon G11 for travel, but driving to the store is not considered travel and so doesn’t always make the trip.  I now have this new lightweight camera that is with me almost all the time.  And what’s really nice is, the camera answers my occasional phone calls and takes messages while I’m shooting pictures.

Dan

For more information on Chase Jarvis, read his blog or buy his book titled: The Best Camera Is the One That’s With You, go to www.chasejarvis.com .

The Power of Positive Publishing

When I started this blog, I wrote that I just might veer off course from time-to-time and write about things other than photography.  This is one of those times.  I’d like to tell you about two websites that I think are unique and worthy of a look: TED.com and celebratewhatsright.com.  “Celebrate What’s Right” will take just a few minutes a week to view and read.  (Unless you read and enjoy the previous posts.)  “TED” on the other hand, may pull you in for hours at a time…

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TED.com has been around for since 2005.  TED (Which stands for technology, entertainment and design.) began in 1984 as a conference in Monterey California.  Speakers for the first TED conference came from the worlds of (You guessed it.) technology, entertainment and design.  It was six years before the second TED conference was held and the list of presenters expanded to scientists, philanthropists, philosophers, religious leaders, musicians and more.

In 2005 the TED website was launched and hundreds of “TED Talks” as they are called that had been previously heard only by guests invited to the conference were available at the website for free.

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The premise is simple.  A TED Talk can be no longer than eighteen minutes and cover one subject.  It would honestly take too many pages to write a list of the interesting and thought provoking speakers and subjects that can be seen and heard at TED.com.  If you have ever thought there is nothing good happening in the world, you are wrong.  Search TED and see for yourself.  You will be amazed by the ideas and diversity of the presentations.  For those who live away from a computer there are TED podcast for your iPod or smartphone, many public radio stations carry weekly TED programs and Netflix streams TED Talks online.

Celebrate What’s Right in the World is the brainchild of award winning former National Geographic photographer, writer and Academy Award nominated filmmaker Dewitt Jones.  For many years Jones has used his photography and stories of his travels as the basis for his motivational speaking career.  Recently he created Celebrate.  There are daily facebook postings, weekly emails, a blog and the website with videos he has created.  You may enjoy a quick look at the work he has posted or you may want to subscribe to all of it.  What you will find are positive words that celebrate good in the world and terrific photography to inspire the photographer within you.Jones-Dewitt-Large

As I am writing this blog a new Celebrate post reached my computer.  It is titled, The Power of Words and written by contributor Lynne Sheppard.  It began like this:  “An embarrassment of riches, a flood of responses, a deluge of requests, a whirlwind of activity. I wonder sometimes if it is more than the news that afflicts us in a negative way. How we use language might affect us adversely as well, acting as a barrier to celebration.” 

I’m signing off now and am going to read the new blog post.  I hope you will to.

Dan

PS. I hope TED Talks and Jones forgive me for pirating the images from the Internet…

Cheboygan Area Photography Club Starts May 23…

At the encouragement of several of my photography students, with the offer to help from friends and because I’ve kicked the idea around for a while myself, I’m starting a photography club.  An organizational meeting for the club will be held at the Cheboygan Area Public Library on Thursday May 23, 2013.  The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. and is open to anyone interested in photography. 

I know there are many avid photographers in the Cheboygan area.  They have attended my classes and I’ve seen the photos of many good photographers around Cheboygan.  I hope a photography club attracts a wide range of folks from beginners to professional photographers.  If in the process we learn a thing or two from each other, take some good pictures and have some fun along the way, then it will be a success.   

Sharing photo ideas and information, taking some photography day trips and the promotion of photography in the community seems to me like a good place to start.  As the club grows and evolves I am sure there will be other objectives and goals added.

To help at the first meeting, I asked my friend and neighbor, Neil Rankin, to talk about his life as a commercial photographer at Western Michigan University.  Over the years Neil has photographed two U.S. presidents, dozens of sports figures and covered hundreds of other events for Western.  Neil will show some of his work and tell us what it’s like to be a photographer on a college campus.

If you would like to join, but cannot attend this meeting, feel free to contact me or just wait until June.  We have meetings scheduled for the fourth Thursday of the month at the Library through August.

 

Whether you like to take photos of peaceful lakes or more inclined to search for wild animals, this club is for you…

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