Monday, May 24, 2010

On the move...

Since Blogger can't upload photos, and since I haven't found an iPhone/iPad app for Blogger, I'm moving this blog over to Wordpress.

New posts will be found at

If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Technology -- A Case for the Good and A Case for the... Challenging...

Creek #9
Originally uploaded by PositivePaul
It may appear that I've given up on my Project365, but that's not at all the case. I've actually been rather faithful in posting my images to Flickr, but just haven't kept up on blogging about each photo. Oh well, it was the photos themselves that comprise the Project365 not so much the blog posts...

Nevertheless, I'm going to take the time tonight before I head to bed and jot down some things...

I've now burned through 3 rolls of film on my Canon EOS-1 film camera. I'm still getting used to it, and figuring out its quirks. One thing I'm still fussin' with is the battery. Fortunately I found a rechargeable battery on eBay that seems to work well now.

I was very thankful my wife woke me up on Monday morning to tell me to go take photos. I'm not at all a morning person, which really makes it difficult to be a nature photographer. I suppose if my income depended on it, I'd be more willing to adjust my body clock. But for now, I'll remain a night owl. Still, yesterday was a good day for me to take advantage of the day off from work. We were wrapping up a 3-day weekend in the Gorge, and I wanted to head somewhere that I passed on the freeway so many times but hadn't yet explored. After grabbing my shower and a little bit of coffee (both necessities for getting me fully awake) I headed out the door.

One of the places I stopped was at a campground that was closed for the winter. It's off the I-84 exit to Viento State Park just before you reach Hood River, Oregon coming from the west. I was looking at a bluff/overlook that appeared to be an old section of the highway and was hoping to get up there to take some photos from a higher vantage point. Unfortunately that didn't work out, but I did find the creek in the photograph here to shoot.

As I set up my tripod to handle the slow shutter speed, it dawned on me that I didn't know how to use the self-timer. I also didn't have a cable release, so the self-timer was a must in order to keep the camera as steady as I could, eliminating as many sources of vibration as I could in the process...

I was all alone here -- there wasn't even another car in the parking lot. It wasn't THAT early - I'd made a stop at Cascade Locks and it wasn't like I rushed out the door. It was easily 11 a.m. by the time I got to this spot. But there still wasn't a soul around. It was quiet, peaceful, and the fast-rushing creek drowned out the noise from the highway (though I was far enough away that I couldn't really hear it).

Even though I felt like I was way out in the boonies, I still had cell phone service. Yeah yeah, the Verizon vs. AT&T ads are true - Verizon has muuuuuch better 3G coverage than AT&T - but it's not as if I didn't have signal at all. To be fair to AT&T, I had a quite decent Edge signal even if it is woooooefully slower than 3G. But I still didn't get an iPhone to switch to AT&T...

Being the resourceful type, I Googled "Canon EOS-1 Film Camera Self Timer" and of course got the HTML manual provided courtesy of the awesome Mir photography. I quickly found how to set the self-timer and went about my shooting -- hopefully getting sharper and clearer shots than when I just pushed the shutter button on the camera while it was on the tripod. It's one little thing that makes a difference, after all, in getting a sharp shot or a blurry shot...

I finished off the roll of slide film, messing up a few shots because I forgot to turn the self-timer off when I went back to hand-holding the camera. But still - I thought it was wild being able to use my iPhone technology in the middle of what felt like nowhere to learn about my camera (when normally I would've been SOL).

Speaking of technology...

I know not very many people read this blog but that's OK. I have a few followers who are photographers on Twitter and I'll post the same question there (pointing, of course, to this blog entry -- so if you came here from there, THANKS!)

My biggest question transitioning from a film photographer to a digital photographer (although I'm not really transitioning away from film) -- how do you decide what photos to post? With digital, shooting 500-1,000 photos in a half-day outing isn't anywhere close to impossible. Yes, I'm getting better about chimping and deleting the clearly obvious mis-fires. But even with getting 3-4 slightly different variations of the same photo - all of them good shots but with subtle variations in the compositions - how do I decide which one(s) to publish?

Likewise -- I'm just a part-time semi-pro that doesn't shoot nearly as often as I'd like. I'm probably up to 50,000 shots that I've made since 2006. Even if only 5% of those shots were really really good, that's still 2500 photos that I'd consider worth sharing. Now, I don't know about you but I can barely sit through 15-20 image slide shows without getting a little bored. Or at least not paying as much attention as I should. Maybe only 250 of those (0.5%) are really really REALLY good.

How do I present those 250 images? If on a web site, certainly categorizing them would be a big start. Shooting weddings/portraits, sports, and landscape/scenics is a good start -- and I've organized my web site into more manageable categories.

I know I want the best-of-the-best displayed in my online portfolio, and that every photographer's challenge is determining what he/she considers their prime quality images. Still - I go back & forth on several images that I want to include and omit in this portfolio. And this is, of course, compleeeeeetely ignoring the fact that I'm not happy with my web site gallery layout...

The question I honestly ask - knowing that you can really overwhelm people by throwing hundreds of photos at them, how do you decide what to cull and what to show -- especially in your best-of-the-best portfolio?

It's a question I'm really struggling with...

If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad -- First Thoughts from a Mobile Photographer...

I'm going to jot a few notes down from my thoughts on the iPad's massively anticipated introduction today. Especially in the context of having just bought a Windows 7 Netbook...

Full disclosure - I'm editing this post a bit since when I posted it, I didn't have all the information available at my disposal. Apparently I missed the memo that there's an accessory that may mitigate my biggest beef:

No built-in USB input and no Card Reader = BAAAAAD! While there are other awesome potential uses for the iPad for the mobile photographer (think portfolio sharing, specifically, and as Scott Bourne points out -- opportunities for e-Newspaper photographers to continue to be employed), it seems apparent that you can't get photos onto the iPad without synchronizing it to your computer (a la an iTouch)*. I can kinda see not adding a camera -- it would be a bit unwieldy to use it as a camera like I do my iPhone, and even video conferencing would require some sort of stand -- but the fact that you can't get photos to the iPad (w/o synchronizing, I'm assuming) for editing/uploading via USB/Firewire/Card Reader really really disappoints me.

*Note that I made this comment before I saw they will be offering the "Camera Connection Kit" accessory. I'm suuuuper curious if the kit will work with the iPhone (after all, the iPad's OS is similar to iPhone OS, if not the exact same thing).

With a netbook, I can either use the USB port with a card reader, or if I'm shooting w/an SD card, I can just plug the card directly into the computer. Then I can copy an image or two to the netbook and open up some photo editing program (I'm going to test this more when my wife returns from her trip with the netbook). It's not something that would tear me away from using my desktop primarily, of course, but as a part-time freelance photojournalist, a Netbook might still be my best option for editing a few photos before uploading.

I'm a HUGE fan of having one device to shoot, edit, and upload photos. The iPhone has changed the way I do photography. The one frustrating thing about it for me is that I can't use it to upload photos I take on my other cameras without synchronizing it with my computer. What I wouldn't give for an app that allows me -- even via WiFi or BlueTooth -- to take a photo from my camera and get it on my iPhone for editing and uploading somehow. There are apps that turn the iPhone into a WiFi storage device, but as far as I've seen, you can't open any photos you may put on the iPhone using these apps in any of the photo editing apps.

I dream of the day when I can open a photo from my dSLR on something like the iPad and edit it with PhotoForge, Photoshop Mobile, BestCam, etc., and then upload it to the web. I love working with my Wacom on my desktop in Photoshop -- dodging/burning, cloning, etc.

If the Camera Connection Kit accessory being released for the iPad also works with the iPhone, then I'll make that a good start. Maybe after getting tired of editing pix on a small screen, I'll move to the "Arnold Scharz-iTouch"

Edited here to add more thoughts...

The iPad, though, does have some limitations that would cause me to really pause and think about buying one.

1) Like the iPhone and iTouch, it doesn't (except for iTunes of course) multi-task. No Pandora while editing photos. While I do have a decent iTunes collection, I often open Pandora to listen to music while on the computer. They have to fix this "feature" quickly, really.

2) Apparently still no Flash support. Huge mistake. Apple and Adobe need to find some sort of ground here. This is ridiculous!

3) The iPad/Feminine Hygiene Products jokes were lame and old before the official release. Yeah, yeah, be more creative people! There's plenty to rank on about it. This is low-hanging fruit and, really, not funny.

4) Even WITH the Camera Connection Kit option, there's still no way to access/use external storage on the device (without, of course, having to sync it to a computer). Being able to pull movies off an SD card or a Micro-SD card would be sweet! I get that it would cut into their pricing structure, but still...

And, I pretty much agree with everything on this list.

I'm overwhelmingly disappointed on the one hand at a few things - I thought it might be a direct competitor to Netbooks (I'm not sure it really is, but it will certainly cut a spot in that market) -- and genuinely excited on the other.

Bottom Line: I'd LOVE to be able to take this with me for photo editing and uploading when I'm on the road or in the press box. Having to lug around a laptop in addition to 50+ pounds of camera gear has proven challenging. A device like this or my Netbook would make it easier for me to choose whether or not to take a computer with me for editing/uploading. Provided, of course, the Camera Connection Kit wasn't too unwieldy or expensive...

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If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Driving into the sunset (#26/365)

I'm getting late posting these, but at least I'm posting before I go to bed (even though i go to bed after midnight, generally)...

Saw the sunset on the way home from work tonight, and I had all kinds of ideas for photos. But time wasn't on my side, and I couldn't exactly pull over. So I just grabbed my iPhone and shot through the windshield. If you pull the image up in Flickr (click the image), and then find the "all sizes button" you'll notice the street lights on the side of the highway.

I know there's a secondary cell phone law, but I'm not sure if there's a secondary camera law. I'm sure, however, even though I wasn't talking on my cell phone, the officer (had I been pulled over for, say, speeding) probably could've written me up. But who knows...

I don't, of course, advocate shooting photos and driving at the same time. Especially at highway speeds...

If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Self-portrait in C Major (#25/365)

Many years ago when I was first getting into photography, I also happened to be into playing the piano. To kill some time one day back then, I did a series of shots with my film camera playing chords and doing different things on the keyboard. This time, it was hard to hold the camera steady (in this case, my iPhone) and I didn't have a flash to make things work like they did back then.

I tried taking a shot with my right hand playing some scales, but that didn't work for me. So I just stuck with a simple C chord. Then I put down the phone and played a tune.

I love playing the piano! I wish I had more time for it - I spend Thursday evenings and Sunday evenings at church playing keyboards for the Life Teen Mass. But it's never enough time -- and balancing my obligations and my hobbies has been a real challenge lately.

If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Highway Evangelist (#24/365)

Kind of a busy day for me today. Actually, not "kind of" -- it was DEFINITELY busy. I slept in a bit as I'm wont to do on a Sunday, but got up later than I'd hoped since I knew it was going to be busy.

Made some coffee, grabbed a donut that I'd bought yesterday at the store, and then did a bunch of little things. After making and eating lunch quickly, we headed off to church for our son's First Communion class session. On our way to church, I saw this car driving on the freeway. I couldn't resist snapping a photo of it.

The sign said something like what the typical hardcore "repent!" evangelists like to say -- "Repent of your sins, or face judgment and terror when the Last Judgment comes!"

I guess that's one approach for sharing the Gospel. Doesn't sound like "Good News" to me...

If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Lookin like a Foo w/you Pants on the...Wall? (#23/365)

We went shopping yesterday, and I found a sale on a pair of corduroys so I took a couple different sizes into the dressing room with me. They really have a nice dressing room at the Eddie Bauer store! When I glanced at these pants hanging on the wall waiting for me to try them on, I thought the background and lighting was sort of fun. So I snapped 'em with my iPhone. I bought the pants -- figured it was best to go with the ones that were a little too big on me in case they shrank.

My wife thinks they'd like this shot for their ads, but I think it's just an OK shot, nothing special. Processed on my iPhone as usual...

If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meters. (#22/365)

Meters. (#22/365)
Originally uploaded by PositivePaul
I walk around and over these pretty much every day as I pick my son up from school. Their number and arrangement fascinate me every time. I've wanted to make a high-contrast black & white shot of this, since it felt so "industrial" to me, and I associate the stark black & white contrast w/industrial type scenery. I used my typical recipe:

1) Open the image in Photoshop Mobile
2) Apply the black & white conversion
3) Apply the "Vibrant" filter
4) Apply the "Vibrant" filter again
5) Save the file
6) Open the file in BestCamera
7) Apply the Vignette filter
8) Apply the Frame filter

Then I threw on one more Contrast filter for added pop. Voila! There's my "secret" recipe...

The way I've composed this, I'm reminded of the baseball diamond. It's abstracted a bit, sure. Or maybe it's only clear to me because I'm such a baseball nut.

Maybe later in the Project365 I'll explore this again...

If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)

Thursday. (#21/365)

Thursday. (#21/365)
Originally uploaded by PositivePaul
Just a quick blog entry here to re-iterate what I put in the description field on the photo at Flickr.

This morning (Thursday morning, I mean - it's past midnight now, so technically it's Friday) was a griiind for me. Staying up late, being busy, has completely exhausted me. I've had commitments every night this week, and a pile of work to do on projects at home. Plus a few e-mails to catch up on and a whole bunch of other stuff.

So I'm tired. I'll be tired again in the morning, since I'll be up well past 1 a.m. yet again, and having to wake up when the alarm goes off in 5-6 hours.

I snapped this on my iPhone (typical) this morning just as I was arriving at work. I thought about putting my work building in the frame, but decided against it and tried to find a composition that worked. Actually this is probably the weaker of the two, but hey - once I select a Project365 shot, I'm not going to change it for better or worse.

It's all about light and texture here. I take a lot of these sorts of shots. Something intrigues me about bare tree branches in front of interesting skies.

And the sepia-tone reminds me of coffee. I'll certainly need my morning Starbucks tomorrow when I wake up. Likely another triple venti non-fat latte. Simple, yes, but when I stir in some cinnamon, it works. I don't really like syrups. So, tomorrow, at least I won't have to pretend I'm actually going to order something different. A V3N it will be.

In my personal cup...

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

No Parking, No Politics #2

So I missed posting the Project365 photo to the blog last night. It's nearly midnight again and that would make two in a row. Well - let me catch back up...

I knew I'd have some time to take a photo after work in the evening, but since I was heading out for a rare meeting at a local brewpub I figured I'd take a photo of something there. While I did shoot a photo of my beer, it was pretty boring (but the beer was fantastic!).

On the way home, I decided to hit my old stand by. Yeah, I take a lot of pictures here. Being a rare clear January winter night, the water when I first got there was mirror smooth. I snapped a few with my iPhone, but then realized that it'd be a good time to pull out more horsepower. So I pulled my G9 out of my belt bag.

I took several shots, not too much different from ones I've posted on Flickr before, with slight variation due to more clarity/mirror smoothness in the water. Then I tweaked the settings and figure out the self-timer well enough to be able to snag a few self portraits for my Facebook profile photo.

As I was walking back to the car, I saw something I'd never really seen before. I mean, photography, ultimately, is about seeing. The more and more hardcore professional photographers (especially the really creative, artistic ones) I read about and learn from the more clear that becomes to me. Yes, shooting snapshots is great for documenting moments. And it's easy at times to create a "pretty picture."

But it's really challenging to "see" art. To make a statement. To say something with a photograph that makes you remember it. Really, I've only got maybe a handful of these types of photos in my portfolio. I've got lots of "pretty pictures" but I'm still not sure I've fully accepted myself as an artist.

I could talk for months about the technical side of photography. I know a lot about cameras and lenses and archaic gear. That's fun for me to dig around with. However, it's really hard for me to call myself an artist. I think I'm getting there, but I'm not sure. Certainly as I re-explore the passion for photography that I set aside for ~15 years, I'm emerging more as an artist and growing in that side of things rather than the technology of it. Well, really, I'm pursuing both...

This photo is all about context. I'd bet that many people who didn't know already what the building in the background was, could still determine that it's a governmental building of some sort. And in case there was any doubt whatsoever, I hinted that context in the title.

But there's more context here, too. Without actually capturing some element of date in the image itself (yeah, you can look at the filespecs and see when the shot was taken and posted to Flickr) you wouldn't know what's happened recently. At a local level, it's "Leg" time (pronounced like "Ledge")! For us local Olympians that has a certain context to it.

On a national level, however, one of the most recent political stories is that thanks to Martha Coakley's loss to Republican Scott Brown, the seat formerly held by the recently deceased Senator Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts will now be occupied by a Republican.

I could go on and on and I had several directions that I was going to take this post. But I've plumb run out of time and will just say that I really don't get into politics that much. It's not my cup of tea by any means. I really should, considering where I live and what I do for a living, but it's something that I really actively try to avoid like the plague.

As I've posted on my Facebook profile, my political views are thus: "Too conservative for the liberals and too liberal for the conservatives." I equally hate the Democrats as much as I hate the Republicans. I don't ascribe to a party. While I get their purpose and don't think democracy can survive without political parties, I just can't STAND what the two major parties in the U.S. have become.

One thing that particularly bothers me as a Christian is that I'm expected to follow the "pro life" candidates, which typically come from the Republican party. Sort of peer pressure, if you will, from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm sorry, but I absolutely refuse to do this. I still exercise my right to vote, and I take it very seriously, but I refuse to vote on one issue. While I do tend to vote along certain party lines, sometimes, it's only because I feel like I'm forced between the lesser of two evils.

So, following this, I see a lot of my friends excited that a Republican has booted a Democrat. I, on the other hand, see this as a sign of democracy in action. Ted Kennedy was a senator for a very long time. There is good and bad that follows this. Isn't our government supposed to be FOR the people and BY the people? Well, someone who's parked in an incumbency may or may not be able to do that well. I'll leave it up to the people he served whether or not Ted specifically did that. I'm not well-enough informed to make that call (and he didn't represent me directly, so...).

Okay, I'm rambling again on a subject that I really don't like to talk about and this photo definitely isn't about that particular situation or Ted Kennedy or Massachusetts. I don't take too many political photos - or at least I don't try to. This one, however, is all about politics. I'll leave the full detailed interpretation up to the people who view this photo. It should serve, however, as a reminder to those people serving in public office that there's no job security.

There's No Parking in politics. I know senators and representatives and those other elected officials all know this very well. Or at least they think they do. But they definitely need a reminder every now and again.

Finally - I did post the iPhone version as my official Project365 shot on Flickr (and shared it on Twitter). But that was just a quick snapshot and a placeholder as I processed this photo taken with a camera I had more control over. It's not a technically-perfect photo, but that's not the point.

It makes a statement. I've explained it a little more here to provide some context.

While I didn't plan this photo, I did "see" it after stopping at a place I frequently cover with my cameras. And photography is about "seeing" and communicating. Even if you don't quite get all the context here that I had when I "saw" this shot, I think the message might well be communicated...

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If you'd like to use images in this blog post, please e-mail paul(at)