Showing posts from April, 2011

Megan Graduates, meets Admiral Mullen

Number two daughter graduated from Florida State University today Magna Cum Laude with honors from the College of Visual Arts, Theatre, and Dance. Her major was art, and her minor was art history.

Yes, I'm a very proud papa. And she's got a very proud mom too. And a lot of proud family members and close friends.

Our shared graduation adventure started with our typical trip from Orlando up to Tallahassee. Except we didn't stay in Tallahassee this trip.

We've been staying north of Tallahassee in Thomasville, Ga, since Friday. We wound up in Thomasville because Megs, my little sweetheart, decided at the last minute to attend graduation ceremonies.

We didn't push her one way or the other. We figured she'd been working hard enough to graduate on time, and with all her other activities and responsibilities at school she just wanted to earn her degree and then head on. But for whatever reason, she decided that she would attend.

And so, with barely a month before gradu…

Now and Then in Orlando

Destructive creation. The replacement of the old with the new. In some quarters, such as technology, that's a Good Thing. Especially in personal computing and smartphones. In real estate and the economy, not so much.

It seems that the worst loans are made in the best of economic times. Companies, and the economy in general, will reach an economic fevered high point that seems to extend forever into the future. Based on rosy forecasts and the-then economic successes, banks forget basic banking rules and make riskier and risker loans until the bottom falls out of the general economy. Then the banks over-react in the opposite direction so fast that all those formerly rosy can't-fail businesses that are heavily leveraged do fail.

And so it was with Donatos Pizza. Donatos had expanded into Orlando with seven stores. Donatos closed them all 23 June 2008. The stores were opened in 2001 while Donatos was part of McDonalds. In late 2003 McDonalds sold the chain back to Donato's fou…

Don't Fear the ISO

Spend enough times in the forums listening to the crowds and you come away with two conflicting Photographic Truths;
Only Base ISO should be used. Using high ISO is a sin; andAny camera brand other than Olympus handles high ISO.There is some truth to both of those statements. First, base ISO gives you the greatest detail, the lowest noise levels, and the greatest dynamic range for recording light. Base ISO for the E-1 and E-3 is 100, and at base ISO I do get the best performance possible out of the two, especially with the E-1.

Second, high ISO, which is usually close to the maximum ISO of the bodies, increases noise dramatically and decreases dynamic range. All digital cameras work this way. Selecting ISO values higher than base increases the light amplification factor of the sensor and internal image processor. You select higher ISOs because the scene is dimly lit, and you want to use a reasonable lens aperture and shutter speed, especially for hand-held photography. Greater amplific…

Mundane Modalities on a Wednesday

It's another hump-day. Another one of my endless, mindless trips up and down the 408. I will have wasted a considerable amount of my limited life commuting by the time I'm finally shoveled into the cold earth. Might as well photograph what I see moving as when I'm not.

The light coming down through the clouds reminds me a little of the really bad science fiction movie "Skyline". Except this isn't Los Angeles.

My exit from the 408 takes me past the latest construction in Research Park. A new building is going up, just down the street from a number of big old empty buildings in the same park. So the new and shiny goes up because it's just not cool to take over the old and busted and fix it up.

I forget to bring my lunch in with me, so I walk across the street to Jersey Mike's for a sub. The World of Bear is in the same complex. I crank up the ISO to 3200 in the E-1, press the lens against the glass to block all the sunlight and glare, and press the shut…


Matthew Robertson has created another site showcasing his excellent creativity. He's named it 5kphoto, and it's a very interesting spot on the web indeed. According to Matthew
This is my daily photography project. The rules are:

• Take at least one photo a day with my compact digital camera.
• Upload as many as possible to a dedicated gallery.
• Post one of each days' photos to this blog.
• The project ends when the gallery reaches 5000 photos.

Some of the fine print:

– There will be a built-in delay between taking and publishing each photo.
– If the camera dies, that will also end the project.

My goal is to have this project train me to always have and use a little digital point-and-shoot.
My hope is that the project will form a record of a significant period of time, and give me a reason to be adventurous again.

I've picked the Panasonic TS3, in orange, as a reliable camera that's not too big and gives decent quality. I'm not aiming for art, but hopefully some…

Why so Serious?

That was the Joker's line. When he said it, it sent chills up your spine. When the Labs say it, they mean it with all their heart, soul, ears, tails, pads... Everything they have.

They are love incarnate.

Max and Ruby are just the latest Labs to live with us. We've had labs continuously since my wife and I were dating, starting back in 1982. And my wife had her first Lab, Rhett (for Rhett Butler), starting in 1979. Rhett, of course, became best Lab at our wedding.

Max was a rescue that came to us when he was five months old. He was living two houses down from us at the time. He'd been bought for the kids when he was eight weeks old. Labs are so cute at eight weeks. But they grow up quickly and are full of a wild energy that needs to be handled with exercise and discipline, both of which Max's family didn't know how to provide. Max kept breaking out of their yard and 'escaping' to the neighbor between the two of us. They were almost ready to take Max to the …

Watching Orlando Slip-Slide

I've been looking at some of the pageview statistics on the blog, looking for what seems to be catching reader's attention. One page that keeps coming up repeatedly is the "Watching Orlando Unravel" series I posted from January to November 2009. One of the building complexes I photographed in the series was the Windermere Business Center, which is nowhere near Windermere, but that didn't stop them from naming what they did.

I first photographed this complex on my side of Orlando in January 2009, and wrote a bit about it as well, noting that it had very, very few tenants.

Over two years later, little has changed. Yes, there are a few more tenants, most notably Tiger Martial Arts, but not enough to allow the original owner of the complex to keep the building. Now Caldwell Banker Commercial owns the paper, and the complex.

Looking closer at the complex, cracks have appeared on the outer surface (and patched over) a mere two years after completion of construction. I …

A Tale of Two Cameras

The Easter bunny didn't leave me any camera gear the way Santa does, but he did leave me a little basket full of interesting camera reviews. Two of them come from Kirk Tuck and Matthew Robertson. In their respective reviews they both noted a key feature seldom considered by reviewers or buyers until the camera is purchased, and that's how the camera handles. More cameras (and gadgets in general) wind up as dust collecting shelfware because of poor handling than for any other reason.

Kirk Tuck posted a very short review of the Olympus XZ-1. While I make it a practice not to spoil another man's (or woman's) review before you've had a chance to read it, I'm going to break with practice. The key reason Kirk doesn't like the XZ-1 is it's "too little camera to hold on to." Plain old fashioned ergonomics. Or in XZ-1's case, the lack thereof.

Two weeks before Kirk's post, Matthew Robertson posted his review of the Panasonic TS3, a point-and-sh…

Film Processing: The Thrill is Gone

My last post, "Digital vs. Film: The Process of Taking Pictures", inspired a comment from octo. I'm going to quote several good points he made and then my response. Octo lead off by offering a solution to the film development issue in the second process flow:
One way to deal with the processing delay issue is to just shoot B&W and process it yourself.Let me begin to answer this by relating a little personal history.

From 1973 to 1979 I was a darkroom rat. During that period I learned how to process and print in black and white, color print, and color transparency. I learned those skills by supporting darkrooms at two colleges I attended as well as several labs I worked at.

My black and white darkroom skills came from using Kodak and Ilford chemicals, films and papers. I learned quite a bit, most of which I've conveniently forgotten over the years. I was so into black and white during that period I would buy Tri-X in bulk and print paper by the gross. I'd run r…

Digital vs. Film: The Process of Taking Pictures

Yesterday's musings about moving on from Olympus, and whether to buy Nikon digital or film, prompted me to sit down and think about something more fundamental than brand, and that's the medium to use for photography, especially in this day and age. So I sat down and drew up some simple process charts, little things with bubbles and arrows, that broke down the process of photography into discrete steps that are still high enough to convey the overall idea.

Why would I do this? To better understand what I want to do, and to get a rough idea of whether film is still an affordable proposition, both in money and in time.

The first flow is for full-on digital photography. I've broken down the steps into two broad categories, those steps that will essentially occur just once (purchase of camera equipment and post processing software) and everything else.

These processes are drawn with some assumptions. They are:
For digital, we're talking any camera sophisticated enough to pro…

A Change of Direction

I don't own a D700 - yet. But I'm budgeting for one that I hope to purchase by December of this year. Why the shift away from Olympus, and why specifically towards Nikon?

The shift away from Olympus isn't because the Olympus gear I own has suddenly stopped working. Far from it. My Olympus gear, especially my regular FourThirds gear (E-1, E-3, and all the native lenses) continues to work just fine, thank you very much. If anything, I intend to keep them and use them along with the D700. The problem isn't with FourThirds.

The problem is with µFourThirds. Combined with Olympus' so-called road maps for both regular and µFourThirds.

I know I've written glowingly of the E-P2, the µFourThirds body I purchased December 2009. I still think highly of the E-P2 body. But the lenses that Olympus sells specifically for this camera are not living up to the same standards that the FourThirds lenses have set for years. If anything, I feel let down by what I now see are quality…

Groovy Tuesday

No, this isn't an ad for Waste Management. On L.B. McLeod just south of John Young Parkway is a fenced-in piece of property where hundreds of fiberglass outhouses stand shoulder-to-shoulder, ready for service. I stopped to take this because it caught my nose before it caught my eye.

The smell is not what you'd think, so get your mind out of the gutter. The smell coming from the area is cloyingly sweet from the treatment they're all given in order to mask the regular odor such structures would emit. A smell that's especially strong on a hot day with the temperatures reaching into the upper 80s and beyond.

The reason you see this top view is because the fencing around the property is cloaked with a mesh covering to make it a little less obvious to passers by. Except when the wind is blowing the right way on a hot day.

Almost right next door to Outhouse Acres sits what's left of a small business. I don't know if it was a store or a small restaurant, but somebody…

I'm just a cut price person in a low budget land

Especially on American Tax Day. I never seem to pay enough to satisfy Uncle Sam. And so I look out for budgets like a used E-1 for $200. Fortunately I got the lenses that I use with it when they were on sale years past. I've noticed that everything Olympus sells is now back up to full price (and sometimes higher) since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

My wife and I were out back when she spotted this little fellow in some leaves she'd raked up earlier in the day. Popped the 50mm on the E-1 and went out to bother the little guy. He (she?) tried to scoot deeper into the leaves, but I pulled a few away and then started to take some photos. He stayed put the entire time.

The hardest part in post was trying to pick out enough detail in the eye (the iris) so that it shows when blown up to 8x10 size, and then you stand in front of it to enjoy the details. I'm not talking pixel peeping, just enjoying some of the details.

It was a typical Monday, except more so due to taxes. Fo…

Cats and Moons - The Day Before Tax Day

Playing around with the E-1 and Lulu. Needed the break. Lulu seems to be on a constant break. What's funny is that my wife saw this opportunity before I did. I just walked up with the camera and pressed the shutter a few times. My wife has a strong art background, and would have become an artist if her father hadn't passed away when she was 19. But life changed and she turned to English and teaching. Because my wife is my biggest photography fan, I "pay her back" as it were by listening to her suggestions about what to take. She's usually right.

This is probably the last moon image I'll make with this lens. I'm breaking down and ordering an EC-14 for my 50-200mm. I'll use the OM300mm for a while longer, then maybe give it to my youngest daughter.


From one extreme to another; after that bad exposure to the Beach Boys last night, my wife and I went to today's performance of Carmen at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center in downtown Orlando.

The performance was excellent.

We haven't seen any decent ballet in years; the last performance we attended in Orlando was over 24 years ago on Christmas of 1987, when Ballet Orlando (BO) attempted to perform "The Nutcracker." There wasn't anything good about that performance. The strongest memory I have of that performance was seeing the rope that was underneath the bed, pulling the bed from behind one of the stage curtains onto the stage. And it wasn't a smooth transition; you could see every pull on the rope as the bed slowly jerked its way onto the stage.

That performance left such a bad taste in our mouths that we never went back.

Which is probably our loss. We saw Carmen because my wife picked up two tickets through Groupon at half their regular price. In other…

Your Future Has Been Adjusted

It was adjusted decades ago by foreign policies that gave us today's world. Those past adjustments influence today's adjustments, robbing future generations of their choices as well. Choices such as living in an environment that doesn't require owning an automobile. Choices that don't center around oil. Choices that don't center around consumerism in order to have enjoy life, that don't center around affordable and reasonable health care.

Yes, I'm in a sour mood.

I just got back from Universal Studios where the Beach Boys played. It was not enjoyable. The place was overly packed such that I couldn't get my wife into the handicap section. We had to sit outside the main area. At least the music was loud enough (lord, was it loud).

I went to Universal this evening packing an E-1 with the Sigma 30mm and an E-3 with the Zuiko 50-200mm. I knew from prior experience out at Universal I was going to be well back from the stage, but I didn't think we'd b…