Facebook Rights Grab

I am an avid photographer and love nothing more than to share my images with my friends and family. I am also, however, a photographer that sells fine art prints. As such, I do not want the images that I am expected to help fund my hobby to be used or sold without receiving compensation for their usage. (to the point where I have retained a copyright lawyer to file for un-licensed usage in several different cases).

So you can imagine my disappointment that Facebook is on another rights grab from digital media. According to the American Society for Media Photographers (ASMP), a recent change to the Facebook terms of service allows the social network to “exploit your name, likeness, content, images, private information and personal brand by using it in advertising and in commercial and sponsored content – without any compensation”.  Popular Photography explains it better here.

This is too far reaching for me to ignore and until Facebook retracts from this precipice, I will no longer be posting my photos on Facebook and will instead use them on my long forgotten blog.  (ie. Here)

So, with that in mind, here is todays photo.  I took this the other evening at the dog park while watching Chance play with other dogs. I looked up just in time to catch this with a single click.  I have titled this “Into the Fire” and it reminded me very much of the movie Independence Day.



The Difference a Second Makes

Readers of this blog will know that I rather adore photography. I absolutely love it when a plan comes together and you get the shot you want. There are other times, however, where the frustration of the hobby can absolutely drive you insane!

Last evening was just one of those times. While walking through Briscoe Park last evening with my camera along, I spotted a Great Blue Heron (now that is a bit of a fib, he spotted me first and exploded out of the water brush he was hiding in. WOW did that startle me!).  As I have always wanted to capture a shot of the heron taking off, I started to walk towards where the bird had landed.

Waiting out a heron can be a long exercise in patience. But since I had no where to go, I was able to wait him out. One of the great things about wanting this particular photograph is that you wind up studying the bird on the internet and you learn that just prior to taking off, the bird will dip his head towards the water. This can also be a false alarm as they also do the same thing when they are ready to strike a fish! (which would be another cool photograph!)

So there I am standing, camera in hand, when I see the tell-tale signs.  Camera up and……

Heron Takeoff Blurred

Timestamp 19:30:43.34

Bang, I start to rip off a few shots. Excited that I had captured what I was hoping for, I could not wait to get home and see what I got. What’s wrong with the above shot? It is exactly what I was looking for, the explosion out of the water and into the evening sun…. What more could I want?  How about it being in focus?  You see, I  purchased a new lens (a sigma 50-150 os) that I am trying to get used to and the optical stabilization takes a few micro seconds to get in gear. What happened here is that I did not give it the time, as you will see in this next photo..

Heron Takeoff

Timestamp 19:30:43.57

23 milliseconds! Can you believe it?  Now there is nothing wrong with the above photo, but it is not near as compelling as the one above it… But 23 milliseconds!!! Come on, less than the blink of an eye and I miss the photo.

However, all is not lost, the very next image kind of makes up for it..

Heron Takeoff 3

Timestamp 19:30:43.71

14 millisecond later and we get a great photo fo the bird skimming the water with the sun under lighting the wings. Over all, less than 1/2 of a second and we get three very different images.

This is what makes photography so compelling to me. One click of the shutter freezes an instant of time forever.

Now, this heron and I will have a future date where I will start up the stabilization a little earlier in the cycle.  I am looking forward to it!

When excitement over-rides the brain

Dark Camelia

I have been into photography for as long as I can remember. I remember taking a trip to Washington DC during my high school years and spending all of my extra cash on film. (I shot over 30 rolls on that trip and didn’t get most of them developed because I couldn’t afford it!)

For a graduation gift, my mom and dad bought me an upscale  Polaroid camera that had removable filters! But the photography bug really hit me when I got my first SLR almost 15 years ago. Ruth and I were on a trip celebrating our anniversary and we forgot to bring a camera along. A quick run to Wal-Mart was necessary and the only camera they had in stock was a Canon Rebel film camera. (remember those? Andre Agassi used to do the advertising for them.)

This is where I had my first real experience with the excitement of the moment over-riding thinking. Ruth and I were hiking through the woods when we spotter a red-headed woodpecker just off the path. As I had this new SLR I really wanted a picture. So off I go chasing this stupid bird trying to get close enough to get a photo. It must have been a comical sight for my wife as I would sneak up to the bird and just as I would raise the camera the bird would scoot off. This went on for nearly 30 minutes before I finally got the image I thought I wanted (as it turns out, the bird wound up a very very small part of the frame).

Fast forward a couple of years and a couple of camera bodies later. Ruth and I were hiking to Hemlock Falls in North Georgia. These falls are fairly small, dropping only about 50 feet, but because they come through a stand of hemlock pines you don’t see the water upstream.  And here comes the excitement again…. If I can just stand in the stream, I can shoot the falls from the water and get their reflection in the pool.  Traipsing out into the water, I fail to notice that the bottom is covered with a  fine green moss that might as well been ice.  Bringing the camera to my eye I perform a pedial-cranial inversion (i.e. my feel and head decided to trade places RIGHT NOW!) Fortunately I wasn’t hurt and Ruth tells me that I wrapped around the camera as I was falling. I hadn’t thought at all!  If I had gotten hurt, there was no way Ruth would be able to carry me out..

And I wish I could say these are the only examples of this. I have many other stories that would take days to tell. However, these do relate to the photo posted, but in a different way.

Yesterday morning as I was getting ready for work, I noticed a wonderful morning light on our camellia bushes. Grabbing the camera and a brand new lens I went outside in the frigid air to capture the light on the flowers.  Trying to work quickly because of the changing light and the freezing hands, I set the camera up and started snapping away.  And again, excitement bites me as I forgot to reset the camera settings from the night before and I underexposed every image!  While I kind of like the moodiness of this image, it is not what I had in mind!

So a lesson to all of you out there, when excitement strikes… Take a deep breath and THINK about what your going to do.  It might save you broken bones or bad images!

When does overnight not mean overnight?

Apologies (again)

Well dear readers, it has been a few months since my last blog entry. I promise I am going to try and get better at it.  I have, however, let life get too much in the way.  I am going to try and post at least one entry a week and to hold me to that, I am going to post at least one photo a week along with what I learned from it.  This will kind of be a way for me to remember everything that I am learning from a photography point of view.

Tilting at windmills

For this story to make the least little sense, I have to provide a bit of background information. Last Christmas season, I had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the dance troupe Praise in Motion during their dress rehearsal for their program “The Gift”.  While I had a wonderful time, the images I was able to capture were not quite up to my standards. This was partly caused by the lens I was using not being quite long enough or quite fast enough (who would of thought that a 24-105 F4L was not going to cover the need?). 

The images I shot were good enough however for me to be invited back for their spring performance “One Way” and this got me to thinking what lens would I really like to own to do this? Fortunately, I was able to find a Sigma 50-150 F2.8 on Amazon for a screaming deal and decided to place the order.

Here is where the tilting at windmills comes into play. I decided early Wednesday morning to place the order and while checking out I noticed that for an additional $3.99 Amazon said I could have it the next day.  Figuring that this was worth it, I added the item to my cart and went about my day.

Thursday morning comes and I sign onto Amazon to see where the lens is in their shipping process. Imagine my surprise when it was still listed as “Shipping Soon”.  “Hmm”, I think, “this is not the overnight I paid for, there must be a mistake here somewhere.” So I reach out to their customer service line to ask what happened. And the wonderfully helpful response I got was But as you have already chooses the fastest shipping method so there is no way to change its shipping speed. As the item is in limited quantity so it is taking so much time”.

So, an item that is listed as in stock and that is promised can be delivered the next day for an extra fee isn’t going to make it. And to make matters even more interesting, there is no real interest in doing anything to fix the problem by telling me it is MY FAULT!  Wow, what a great customer service experience.

So, pushing harder, I ask if this item can be placed on urgent shipping to get it here by 10am on Friday only to get this response It has entered the shipping process and so we cannot do any modification it has been loaded on truck”.  Now I know he is playing with me because it still says shipping soon on the order status (and by verification, UPS did not get the package until after 6pm on Thursday evening. And all of this conversation happened prior to 8am!)

Continuing to push, I finally got him to refund the $3.99 reluctantly with this comment At this point I can do one and only one favor that when item will be shipped we will refund you the shipping cost by making one time exception”

So, they can screw up and then do me a FAVOR with a on-time refund of the $3.99 I paid for something that they were not able to deliver.

Man, you gotta love customer service like this!

UPDATE: after emailing this to the customer service manager, they have offered a limited $20 credit on my next purchase. This is at least something, but not near enough to make me feel better about the entire transaction.

Photo of the week.

If you’ve stuck with me thus far, you deserve to see what the lens is capable of. I present “the Dog!”

The Dog

This is my buddy Dale that I shot Friday evening with the new lens. It is quite sharp and the background dropped out nicely shooting at F2.8.  I am a little bit off on the focus as it should have been focused on his left eye, but I seem to have caught just short of that.  Now I have to decide if it is my technique or if the lens is front-focusing a bit.  More tests to come, but I love this lens!

And so it begins (Again)

How time flies when you’re not paying attention. It has been almost a year since my last entry on this blog. that is way, way too long.  A couple of things are going change with my starting to re-blog.

1) the posts are going to be primarily about my photography and what I learn or what I’ve done.

2) they are not going to be whiny. (Unless I’ve done something really stupid that I want to share with the world…)

3) I don’t intend to blog everyday…. I expect once a week or so is going to be about it.  Some old dogs take a little longer to figure things out enough to post about it.

So, with that in mind, I expect that my first real blog will be on Saturday when I post about my adventure in Praise in Motion land on Friday night!

Veterans Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blowflanders fields
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae


During a conversation with a young friend of mine today he remarked that it was amazing that in his lifetime he cannot remember Americans wearing poppies like they do throughout the British empire. I was rather amazed at this because I remember every year my grandfather ensuring that the family had a poppy flower on their clothing. And then later, when it was found that the poppy was the primary source of hashish, an artificial flower. I still look for them every year to make sure I wear one in remembrance of those who had gone before and given their all.

You see, in 1919, after the end of the “Great War” President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th as a federal holiday to commemorate the armistice that was signed on 11 November 1918 and the peace that followed. The poem above comes from that war as a Canadian surgeon, upon seeing a friend dies from the fighting, penned the words.

Later, as more an more conflicts arose, the meaning of armistice day (or remembrance day) became less understood, the 11th of November became veterans day (which we still celebrate today).However, I cannot get over the words that were penned for Flanders Fields and choose to remember all of the fallen in conflicts around the world and hope that the blood red flower represents the last of the fallen instead of the future.

So, if you see me (or anyone) wearing a poppy on Friday, you will know that we remember!

The Sound of “OH, &$%^&"!

As you may recall from this blog, I love to take photographs. I have thousands of them on various digital media around my study. I have hard drives sitting everywhere with images piling up on them waiting to be archived. So, I guess I should not be as surprised by this as I was. About two weeks ago I heard a great crash in my study. Looking over the corner of my desk, I realized that my portable 1TB hard drive had just dropped to the floor. Dang it, that is the one that has all of my recent images on it, including one of my all time favorite sunset photos.

Trying to reconnect the drive, I heard the worst thing imaginable, nothing. The drive wont spin up and it is not recognized by the machine at all. Dang, darn and other epitaphs…

Recalling a deal from the NAPP, I contacted a firm specializing in data recovery from crashed drives. Imagine my astonishment when I was quoted $800-$3000 to recover the data.

Despondent, I decided not to recover the drive and just lose the images to fate.

Fast forward 1 week…. I receive a message from an online retailer that I use to do prints reminding me that if I do not place an order from them, my images in my online album will be deleted. Quivering with excitement, I click on the link and BEHOLD!!!! The image I do not want to lose has been uploaded to their site!  With great rejoicing I click on the button to order a backup DVD!!!  YES, JOY, WOOHOO!  The image has been resurrected from cyberspace….

So, I present it below for you to jealously peek at!

18_Desert Skies 1 as Smart Object-1

Hunting the Wild Sunset

sunset 0918

Sunset 0918-1As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a big fan of taking photographs of sunrises and sunsets around the area where I live. There is just something about the expectation of waiting to see what the sky is going to do. Sometimes you can wait for days or weeks and not get any sort of drama in the sky.

Last night was just such a case. I carried my camera along as I was playing disc golf to have a chance to shoot the skies at the end of the round. The sky was promising with the wispiness of some clouds and the puffiness of others promising a sky on fire at the end of the day. Unfortunately, there was a low haze on the horizon that kept the color from exploding across the heavens.

While others might have been disappointed, I was not. You see, I think of taking this photographs as almost a spiritual thing. The joy is not in the clicking of the shutter, the joy is in the expectation of what might be. I also take the time while waiting to just ponder all that is around me and to have a chance just to sit back, be quiet, listen and enjoy.

I wonder if I approached my Christianity the same way if I would be changed? The joyous expectation of his return is not tempered by the disappointment of not today. For there is a certainty that the waiting will be fulfilled and that someday the sky will be filled with the exploding colors of His return!

Calling Out Your Name

“And the single hawk bursts into flight

And in the east the whole horizon is in flames

I feel thunder in the sky

I see the sky about to rain

And I hear the prairies calling out Your name “

Rich Mullins – Calling out Your Name


A good morning 1

Do you ever have a moment in time when a song jumps in your heart and wont let go? That happened to me this morning. As I stepped out of my front door this morning to make a run for my morning fix I noticed the sky in the east.  The glorious oranges and the golden light that was covering all of the ground just made me stop and take notice.  The second thing it did is make me do an immediate u-turn to go and grab my camera..

On the drive I kept singing the above song. Rich Mullins was an inspired performer and I still miss him and wonder what he would have produced if he had not been taken so soon.

The unsinkable house at Brookhill Way

It was a dark night and the full moon shone brightly on the residents of the ill-fated house. Far below them a cauldron boiled and the red Georgia clay turned to mush. Gallon upon gallons of water were gathering together to unleash it’s fury without warning. Yet the residents slept peacefully on.

As morning gathered in the east, the sleepy occupants arose in their abode. Stretching taught muscles, showers were taken. Clothes were placed in the washing machine and then suddenly a scream was heard in the quiet….. “WHERE IS ALL OF THIS WATER COMING FROM???”

It seems as if the peace was broken as the residents realized they were no longer in a house, but in a leaky house boat!

Ok, enough of the story telling. What happened is that our cold water line feeding the downstairs broke. Normally this is not a big deal. However in our case the line was below the concrete slab that the house sits upon. Yes, we had evidence that we had a leak somewhere through our water bills that were significantly higher than the same time last year.  I thought that this was caused by the new shower heads I had installed. It wasn’t until we had water bubble up from around the downstairs commode that we realized the problem was much larger.

Fortunately, Mr. Plumber came to the rescue and dug up the area of the leak and fixed it. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that how the detected where the leak was was fun to watch. (Imagine an older guy with headphones on and a long tube that he stuck onto the slab.)

Fortunately, all is well that ends well (even if it is $2,000 later to have it fixed)


Leak 1Leak 2