Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome to the 2011 Formula 1 and IndyCar seasons!

Welcome to the 2011 Formula 1 and IndyCar seasons!

It's a sure sign of warmer months coming when the Formula 1 and IndyCar seasons begin.  Formula 1 started this weekend with the season opener in Australia, as did IndyCar with its opener in St. Petersburg, FL.

Seeing the races this weekend reminded me of when I took our family to see the IndyCar race at Watkins Glen International Speedway in 2009 and 2010.  I decided to post this photo to celebrate the season!

This is a shot that I grabbed at 1/2500 of a second of Helio Castroneves leading the pack at the IndyCar race at Watkins Glen in 2009.

There's nothing like the sound of 20 or so of these Indy cars when they all go screaming by together at 170 MPH at the start of the race.  650 HP each.  It takes your breath away...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Photo Argus

I ran across this nice site yesterday called The Photo Argus.  Here's a link for you to check it out.  Nice collection of articles, photo galleries, tips, etc.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Photo Carousel #11: "Player in the Park"

Player in the Park

Here's my next Photo Carousel entry, "Player in the Park".  Click the photo above to see it larger and read more about it beyond what I wrote below.  To see it even larger you can click on this link.

From a creative perspective, this photo was an exercise in compromises to get what I wanted from a candid situation.  So the point of this photo is to "work your subject" until you get the image that you want.

For this picture I wanted to hide most of the player's face while still getting most of the saxophone and the open music case in the photo.  Not easy to do.  Every way that I tried to reposition myself to improve the composition ended up putting another bad background element in the photo.

Ultimately, I comprised to get this composition and left to go back to our hotel.

The issue with the color version of this photo is......the color!  There's too much of it!  The grass behind him on the hill of the park came out very green.  And the red bricks on the ground in front of him were also pretty bright.  Yet I knew I wanted to do something with this photo...

Finally I hit on the idea of desaturating the whole image and leaving just him in color.  This achieved the effect I was looking for, which is to draw the viewer's eye to him and not the other elements that I couldn't get rid of.

In the end, it came out nice as an 8x10 print....but not before some coaxing to get its center of attention clearly defined.  It was a fun exercise playing around with this shot.  I wouldn't use this black and color technique often because it's kind of cliche in a way, but for this shot it worked.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


This is a link to one of the most incredible photo galleries I've ever seen on CNN.  The aerial photos show the mind-numbing extent of the damage from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The extent of the damage is really incomprehensible to me.  I can't even begin to imagine how this will all be cleaned up.  The suffering seems immeasurable.  Not to mention that this is all going on in the midst of one of the world's worst nuclear accidents.....

Throughout watching the coverage from Japan on CNN and MSNBC, I repeatedly saw one thread weaving its way through all of the TV coverage that I think is a true shining moment for Japan.  I keep seeing stories of how the Japanese people are banding together to help one another and their nation in this difficult time.  These are values that are taught to Japanese people at a very young age.  They have an incredibly deep culture rooted in these values and it shows in times like these.

There's no violence or looting on TV like other countries occasionally see in these circumstances.  Just people working together under impossible circumstances..... 

Perhaps we can all learn a lesson from the Japanese people and their culture.  They are a shining example of putting the common good and their nation before themselves.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stay away from the Apple iOS 4.3 update for iPhone and iPad!

As readers of this blog know, I like Apple products.  My wife's iPhone is a pleasure to own and use.  Extremely useful device.

Throughout the time that she's had her iPhone, I've always updated it with the latest release of its operating system, Apple's "iOS", to get better performance and new features.  I've never had a problem with the updates or the update process.

Until now....

I'm posting today to let readers know that the latest update to iOS, which is version 4.3, is a complete piece of crap.  The update process (for me) was as easy as always, but from what I read on the Apple user forums that has not been the case for many others.  But the trouble doesn't stop there...

Beyond the update process is the real meat of the situation, which is the 4.3 update itself and what it does to the phone. 

To that end, I can say that the 4.3 update "broke" our iPhone 3GS.  Since updating to 4.3 this weekend, the key internal iPhone apps (Email, Contacts, Settings, etc) have slowed to a crawl.  There are giant pauses between scrolls on the screen.....and I mean pauses of 5-10 seconds or more before the 3GS will respond to a swipe of your fingers.   This obviously makes the phone quite unusable.  It's faster to just do work on the computer.

If you want to see the trouble that you're probably in for if you do this upgrade, check this link on the Apple web site.  The forum at that link is filled with people having problems with their iPhone 3GS and 4, and the iPad, after moving to iOS 4.3.  Broken connections, crashed phones, lost data, horrible performance, etc.

For now, I would recommend to anyone who happens to read this that you stay with iOS 4.2 until these problems with iOS 4.3 are resolved.

Come on Apple.  This update sucks and you've crippled your customers' devices.  Get it fixed!

UPDATE on 3/15:  Here's a link to a thread on the Apple forum dealing with the problems on the 3GS.  There's a rumor going around that Apple has provided some people with info that a 4.3.1 release is already being worked on, but that's just a rumor as far as I know...

UPDATE on 3/18:  We've noticed that the battery life on the phone has plunged and it will drain a full charge in a few hours, even when just sitting there untouched.  The phone also gets quite warm when in a pocket or purse, something that never used to happen before.

UPDATE on 3/20:  Well, as quickly as the problems appeared after the iOS upgrade to 4.3 on my iPhone 3GS, the problems disappeared.  Yes.  All problems are gone.  If I didn't know better, I would say that Apple pushed out a secret fix to iOS 4.3 that suddenly fixed my phone but that's highly unlikely (if not impossible).  Instead, a member on the Apple forum posted a seed of an idea that might have caused the problem.  Since the battery was acting so strange, he suggested that perhaps the batter management subsystem somehow got corrupted during the update process on my phone (which has not been unheard of in the past with iOS upgrades).  This could probably explain some of the strange behaviors that we were seeing, but in any event, there's something wrong with the 4.3 upgrade if it could even cause this problem in the first place.  Knock on wood, my phone is now working fine with iOS 4.3 in place, however a lot of people on the Apple forums are still having problems so I would still recommend staying away from this until a cleaned up iOS 4.3.1 is released.....

UPDATE on 4/14/11:  I recently purchased a new iPhone 4 that has iOS 4.3 on it already, and the phone is running fine.  It has none of the problems mentioned above.  I have not updated to 4.3.1 because I don't have a reason to on either one of our iPhones, and I don't want to risk it.  So, for now, we have two functioning iPhones on 4.3.  Seeing as how I just bought a new iPhone 4 with iOS 4.3 on it and it's running fine, and the problems with my wife's 3GS seem to have completely cleared up, it's really making me wonder what's going on.  My sneaking suspicion is that the 4.3 and 4.3.1 updates themselves might actually be OK, but instead it might be the update process itself that's causing a lot of strange problems.  Many people are complaining that things are going wrong during the process, and those errors and problems might be corrupting the phone somehow.  Just my guess...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Under-the-radar tick diseases spreading across the U.S.

I wanted to post the article at this link from MSNBC called "Under-the-radar tick diseases spreading across the U.S." because there's a lot of valuable information in it that people should be aware of as we move into the warmer months of the year when ticks are most active.

At one time or another during the summer months of recent years, we've found ticks on all four of us in my house.  We found dog ticks on me, my wife, and my son.  Several times we found deer ticks on my daughter, and one of those times involved seven or eight at the same time that somehow got in her hair and on her eye.  Those little deer ticks are a pain in the ass.  They're almost impossible to see.

None of us got Lyme disease until my daughter unfortunately got it last year.  She never felt a tick bite, we never saw a tick on her skin over the days that it might have been there, and she had zero symptoms.....except the infamous "bulls-eye rash" that eventually showed up that's a sure symptom of Lyme.

The picture here shows the rash that we found on the back of her leg.  We immediately called the doctor when we found it, he said it was a classic Lyme rash, and he put her on antibiotics without waiting any further.  After three weeks, the rash was gone and she never had any other symptoms.

The article that I linked to above tells of some much more serious diseases that can come from tick bites.  Everyone should be aware of them because some of them (and their symptoms) sound pretty miserable.

We've always been cautious about checking and brushing the kids off when they come in from outside, they don't play in the woods near our house during the summer months, and we always check them for any bulls-eye rashes at night during the warm months.  Even with that, Nicole got Lyme, so we need to step it up a notch.

While I'm not a big fan of spraying chemicals like DEET all over the kids every time they go outside in the summer, I'm going to do some research into what other things might be used to repel ticks from our bodies.  I'll post anything that I find back into this article in the future.

In the mean time, stay cautious as it gets warm.  Check yourselves and your kids when you/they come in from outside, and check in the mirror each night for the Lyme rash.  If you miss seeing the initial rash, it will go away and the next Lyme symptoms that you get could be much worse (i.e., neurological problems, heart issues, etc).

More to come on this topic if/when I find the information that I'm looking for...In the mean time, here's the link to the Center for Disease Control web site on Lyme.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"What doesn't add detracts from an image" - Robert Rodriguez Jr.

Here's a link to a short post over on Robert Rodriguez's blog about simplifying your photos to make them more effective.  Definitely a principle that I've worked on in my photography over the years, and it helps to always keep it in mind.