Oct
17

Access

The usual reaction I get when I tell people I work for the National Park Service is "wow, you must get great access to parks". The assumption is that I get special access to parks when I’m out shooting photos, but this is not the case.  In actuality, I have no better access than any other photographer looking to capture Bay scenes.

In fact, like others, I’m left to negotiate the disappointingly limited public access found around the Chesapeake Bay. More specifically, public access on the western shore of the Chesapeake (where I live) is very limited for those who don’t own either a boat (in my case I own a kayak) or own waterfront property. In my neighborhood, where I literally live less than a mile in every direction from water, almost every single access point has a no tresspassing sign or even locked gates "protecting" access points in some cases. Anne Arundel County, home to Annapolis and parts of Balitmore, has an incredible 534 miles of shoreline - but only two public boat ramps to serve the public. These limitations don’t only impact photographers like myself, but anyone else wishing to experience the Chesapeake.

Fortunately, increasing public access is an issue that is a core part of the Bay restoration movement - and one that some of my work colleagues are focusing on. While I don’t personally advocate for government intruding on land owner rights, I do hope that some waterfront property owners will feel compelled to donate (or sell) their property so that more public access points can be created. And that solutions can be found to build new access areas closer to people’s homes, rather than having to jump into a car and drive to a park.

All is not lost however. There are some fantastic opportunities found throughout the Bay region to access and experience the splendor of the Chesapeake - places like Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. Last time I visited Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (near Rock Hall, Md) I saw over 25 bald eagles, while paddling around the island.

Get out and explore!

17-October-2011 | Chesapeake Bay | 0

Oct
12

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” - Steve Jobs

A lot has been written about the death of the iconic CEO of Apple and his legacy of incredible products and software. I think this quote most aptly exemplifies perhaps his most important contribution, beyond the technological wizardry of iPhones and iPads - a steadfast focus on ensuring that design was a centerpiece of the products he produced and not just the window dressing that many consider design to be. This is evident from the hardware all the way to the joy of simply unboxing Apple products. His laser-like focus on every detail of the design of each of his products, ensuring that every pixel and every component not only met his lofty expectations, but exceeded them - is something that I’ll continue to strive to apply to my work, both web design and photography.

I’ve been an Apple customer for several years now - from my iMac to my iPhone to my Macbook Pro to my iPad. I can safely say that without the design elegance that is a cornerstone of Apple products, my interest in technology would surely be diminished at this point. Instead, it’s an absolute joy to sit and work on my iMac for the hours and hours required to process and catalog the photos you see on this site. I hope that Jobs’ legacy will continue to influence the world for a long time to come. Thanks Steve…

12-October-2011 | Gear & Technology | 0

Jul
10

Losing…My Mind

At some point while shooting digital, you’re gonna face the hard reality of images disappearing from storage media - whether it be CompactFlash, SD or some other storage device. Trust me, it will happen usually at the least opportune moment, while shooting for a client or capturing a special event.

Fortunately, in most cases the files still exist on the card, even though they aren’t showing in your software. They just need a little coercing to make their way over to your hard drive for processing. Thankfully software exists specifically to help us out of this bind.

I just recently encountered this situation while shooting a benefit concert in the north country of New York. I inserted my 16 GB CompactFlash card into the reader with a little over 1000 images on it, eagerly anticipating how the photos turned out. When the import page came up in Lightroom, only about 70 image thumbnails showed up. Uh oh. Panic started to set in. After sticking the card back in the camera, I knew the images were on the card, just not showing.

Next step was to find a piece of recovery software. In my case, because I was using a SanDisk card, I ended up downloading RescuePro for $40 and installing. Sure enough, it was able to find the files and download them to my laptop harddrive. The process took a good hour or so to complete, but was worth every penny and every second.

So, a couple of quick tips to consider:

     
  1. Use reputable brands - Sandisk, Lexar, etc.  It’s tempting to buy that $40 16 GB card. Don’t. (No, I’m not getting paid by any of these companies.)
  2.  
  3. Re-format your card in camera EVERY time you clear it. This prevents a bunch of different errors that can arise by simply erasing all images. Others say to do this every now and then. My practice is every single time.
  4.  
  5. Treat your cards nicely. It’s all too easy to toss them around, shove them into a pants pocket or leave them on a car seat. Treat them better than you do your car keys.
  6.  
  7. Don’t pack your cards full of photos - leave a little space on them.
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  9. Avoid deleting images from your card while in-camera in the attempt to pack in more shots. This can cause data corruption issues. Think ahead and buy a few additional cards. Software like Lightroom and Aperture make the process of deleting images very easy in post.
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  11. Avoid using the newest, ultra humongous cards for a bit. Let someone else test-drive them and prove that they’re worthy. Carry a couple of smaller cards instead.
  12.  
  13. Switch out older cards for newer ones over time. Like anything else, they do suffer from wear and tear.
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  15. And lastly, if you do encounter a data loss situation, have a copy of an image recovery utility available.

Hopefully, these tips will help a little. In the end, these types of situations may well happen even after you’ve taken all precautions.

10-July-2011 | Techniques & Tips | 0

Jul
09

Photoshopped

If there’s one question I get the most when showing my photography, it’s “did you Photoshop that image”? Of course, I now have my spiel that I toss out there about the digital darkroom and how every photographer who shoots digital has a workflow that includes some level of tinkering in a graphics package such as Photoshop.

However, when it comes to shooting portraits, there is typically little shame about ‘enhancements’ shall we say.  Well, those days are now over.  New on the market is an innovative cream that allows people to become beautiful instantly.

As you can see, this cream has done wonders for the likes of Madonna. And that sound you hear is the collective sigh of thousands of portrait photographers who have carpal tunnel from erasing age spots and wrinkles….

09-July-2010 | Techniques & Tips