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2009/08/29

Nostalgic?



Every once in a while I hear somebody ask, "Do you miss the newspaper?" This makes me pause. For the most part I have been far too busy with my new life to dwell on what I left behind. Between lesson planning for three different subjects (each one a brand new program), teaching six class periods a day (with somewhere around 160 students to try and learn their names and preferences and personalities), spending some time with my family, recuperating from my leg infection, and now taking more classes for my Master's degree there is not a lot of down time (of which that IS something I miss).

On Thursday a photographer from California sent me (my students) a Canon 10D and 50mm lens. I am very grateful for the generous gift. But, I shoot Nikon and the only lens we have for the Canon is the 50mm. While the 50mm will be great for volleyball, basketball and portraits, it is not so good for football or soccer, so I was browsing around at the KEH used cameras web site just to get an idea of what was even available.

I am not even sure what made me think of it, but I ended up visiting their Nikon film camera section. They have Nikon F4s bodies for under $200 and they have/had a N6006 for $17. Yep - for the cost of a pizza you can buy one of these cameras which was one of my main cameras when I first started at the newspaper..... Anyway, the F4s listings made me reminisce about the F4e (top - with the bigger battery grip) and F4s (bottom photo) bodies I had and what incredible pieces of equipment they were. I had a passing thought that maybe I should buy one - but then I came to my senses. What would I do with a film camera? It would take money every time I wanted to use it - film, processing and printing... nah. Not just for a sentimental toy. Still, they do LOOK COOL.

I know, I should have some kind of connection with my F5 - it was the ultimate in high tech film gear, but... for one thing, the shutter failed on it in the middle of my trip to Moab. The other, only a few weeks after getting it our publisher made the announcement that I was to convert our newspaper to digital and I never got to really use the camera to the point of it being a part of me on a daily basis.


2009/08/21

Desperately needing some kindness!


It is always interesting how in life things don't work out as nice and neat as planned. My courses, which were originally intended to be mostly newspaper writing, have changed into only one newspaper class and one yearbook class (34 students) and four more digital darkroom classes. That puts me at more than 150 students and only three little point and shoot digital cameras to let the students use. Now, the cameras (Nikon Coolpix 3200 models) are plenty in terms of resolution and will be sufficient for basic skills with shooting and then editing - but I need MORE. I simply cannot rotate three cameras to 150 students to do assignments with.

If you have ANY type of working digital camera - even something as small as one of these 3-megapixel units - and could see your way clear to donate them to the yearbook and journalism program at my high school I and my students would be immensely indebted to you.

Contact me through this blog - or you can send the camera(s) to the school at:
Miyamura High School
680 S. Boardman Avenue
Journalism department - Room B29
Gallup, NM 87301
Attn: Jeff Jones

Again, I cannot tell you how much you would be helping my program through your donation...




2009/08/09

My Review of Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DG Macro Auto Focus Wide Angle Telephoto Macro Zoom Lens for Nikon AF-D.

Adorama

Sigma 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DG Macro Auto Focus Wide Angle Telephoto Macro Zoom Lens for Nikon AF-D.


Lightweight and overall okay

jjpixels Gallup, NM 8/9/2009

 

4 5

Pros: Macro, Zoom Range, Easily Interchangeable, Lightweight

Cons: Lens Creep

Best Uses: Wildlife, Macro, General Use

Describe Yourself: Professional

I bought this lens for a throw in the bag and go alternative to my Nikkor f/2.8 lenses. It has a good range, acceptable focus and I love the macro focus of this. It is very compact and lightweight. The downside is that at 300mm the lens is f/6.3 - making it dark to see and the lightness of the lens make stability a bit of a problem at 300mm. I suggest a mono-pod when at the long focal lengths.

()

2009/08/08

Photoshop BANNED!

How is that for a sensationalistic headline? See, I can write, not just take purty pictures.

Interesting read about British Parliament supposedly wanting to ban all Photoshop use in ads for children under 16, and disclosures/disclaimers in ads for adults.

I am not a fan of this over-idealized world of perfect people and things we have shoved in our faces on a daily basis, but this is a slippery slope to walk on. First of all, who determines how much is too much? Photos straight out of the camera often need color correction, brightness and contrast tweaking and conversion from RGB to CMYK color space. Actually, even the photo coming out of the camera has already been "Photoshopped" - if you shoot RAW format then you use Adobe RAW or some other raw file conversion software to optimize the photo. If you shoot JPEG format then the camera is doing it before putting the info on the memory card.

New cameras have all types of atuo features built in. Things like mid-tone contrast (Nikon calls it D-lighting); facial recognition, smile detection and so amny other things that people would have to work hard to keep their cameras from doing something to the file.

Photos have always been staged/adjusted. The early portraits had the subjects sit with bolts in vises holding their heads still. Portraits were worked on by retouching artists - airbrushers and people with paint brushes and black inks that they used to paint onto the negatives before the prints were made... and the news photographer in a hurry was often known to rub the tip of his finger on the edge of his nose, then smear the oil from his skin onto a scratched negative to hide some of the defects. Old B&W sports photos were easily "improved" by the photographer placing a cotton ball on the paper where it would block the light for a while, then the photographer would give a light puff of breath and blow the cotton away - resulting in a whit blurry spot that resembled the blur of a ball.

Now cameras and computers and software are in the hands of almost everybody. Those with training and some incentive to be trustworthy - while others just want to be noticed. So people go after the tools that make it possible, rather than look at the problem of the people who are so unscrupulous as to alter reality and claim it as truth.

Look back over my images in this blog. Many are simply adequate. Getting adequate images day in and day out takes work and dedication. How easy my job would be if I had the personal moral ambiguities that allowed me to change the photos . . .

The answer is not to regulate Photoshop, but to teach people to learn to filter the information and know if the source is trusted or not.

"Citizen Journalists" are so often an unknown quantity - and yet more and more news organizations want to take their "reports" as facts because it was free, and the cost of having paid professionals was too great. You get what you pay for.

Stop the deliveries - or a Bumble Ball?


Being in the vast expanses of the New Mexico high desert I seldom think about the traffic and congestion that are a way of life for so many people. When I left Minneapolis so many years ago it was not so much for the traffic and the noise as it was for the weather.

Nevertheless, browsing on various sites and linking to other sites led me to some articles about getting rid of all the delivery vehicles on the streets in the cities. The idea is to re-purpose the existing sewer and other underground infrastructures for some cargo delivery system.

That led me to a link about a device called UnitX which has a prototype developed and it seems like a great idea. Small robots that carry cargo boxes through the tunnel systems to the assigned address, some can be set up for delivering hot or cold items (pizza delivery?). The system might be something special - and at the same time simple. The robots are the moving parts - the tunnels only provide the path and electricity. Now, I wonder how long it would take to get an order of Kung Pao Chicken from Albuquerque to me out here. . . ?

Is it just me, or does the first image on the site remind anybody else of the classic "Bumble ball" toy?



2009/08/04

Ironic irony


Welcome to the Hall of Freedom. In here you can see the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and other important documents that founded our country. We are the land of the free. Oh, and by the way, you are not allowed to . . .

Pretty much, that what is going on over at the National Archives. They are proposing a rule prohibiting any type of recording (filming/photographing) of the famous documents. The rule says that it is to reduce damage to the documents from people using flash (although video does not use flash....)

Now this post is NOT a rant that they shouldn't regulate the things that people do there. The documents are reportedly in BAD condition. They are parchment, not paper, so they are not holding the ink pigments as well. A photographer on Sportsshooter stated that at first look the Declaration of Independence loos like a blank sheet since it has faded so much. He also said that despite signs - and guards - telling people not to, the visitors are firing flashes non-stop.

Also, from my understanding there is a long line all the time just to get in for a quick glimpse, and people with video cameras and still cameras slow things down by taking time to focus, check lighting/exposure and so on.... so if it is truly a case of allowing more people access to the documents when they have made the trip to go to the archives then by all means. Rather than having the headache of checking every person that stands in the long lines and ensuring that they have the right type of camera and that they know how to make sure the flash will not fire, they are feeling the need to put a blanket statement about no cameras in place.

Instead, this post is merely finding the discord between calling someplace the Hall of Freedom and filling it with documents saying we can live free, then having to restrict what you can do. To me, that is irony.



To see the documents you can order exact duplicates to keep, or simply view them on-line.

2009/08/03

A different type of scam?

I checked my Email this morning and had a curious note from a former co-worker from my days at the newspaper. It reads as follows:

Hello,
How are you doing?hope all is well, I"m sorry that i didn't inform you about my traveling to England for a Seminar.I need a favour from you as soon as you receive this e-mail because i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel where my money is and other valuable things were kept, i will like you to assist me with a loan urgently. I will be needing the sum of $2,500 to sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.I will appreciate whatever you can afford to help me with, i'll pay you back as soon as i return. Kindly let me know if you can be of help? so that i can send you the details.

Your reply will be greatly appreciated

The note is not signed, but it does show that it came from his account. I sent out a couple of quick text messages to confirm and no, he is NOT out of the country, or even out of the city here. I am not sure how this scm plays out, but I can only imagine it ends up costing you some serious money if you follow through with it to the end.

Have a great Monday, okay?