Photography Thoughts on writing Uncategorized

Nothing Gets Done in December!

My Mom used to say that nothing got done in December. Everyone is waiting for January 3d, Tuesday, for normal work routines to begin anew. In the meantime I am making good progress on learning about photography. Besides the video course I am taking on how to operate my  own camera, I am also taking a course on photography in general.

These lessons are called “The Beginner Photographer’s Crash Course” and they are taught by Khara Plicanic. She’s a little goofy but in a good way. Her enthusiasm is demonstrable and enthusiasm when teaching is absolutely essential. It’s another course from (external link).

Photographers stress getting off the presets of your camera and learning to adjust the controls manually. Without getting into the details of shutter speed and ISO’s, one trick I’ve learned is to take two pictures of the same subject. Take one on “Auto” and one by yourself. Which do you like better? The one you adjusted all the settings on or the one the camera took on its own? How do you decide what to change if you liked the “Auto” better?

I never knew this before but every digital image file has what’s called “Metadata” (external link). This file information is part and parcel of an image’s file and contains everything known about the photograph when it was created. Even its location if your camera is GPS equipped. The aperture, the lens type, the film speed — all of this is part of an image when it was first taken. By looking at what the camera saw and what you saw, you can learn to adjust. Take a look at any photography magazine. All of them give exposure information about their images which you can learn by.

Whew! I am rambling about photography and this is a writing blog. I am struggling to decide how I should write about picture taking while still maintaining news and opinions on writing. Perhaps I should consider this Christmas week as a planning week and think the matter over. Besides, I have no writing projects going on until January. After all, nothing gets done in December.

Here’s a look at a photograph I took, along with some of its Metadata. Click on the image to see it full size:




Merry Christmas and a Happy and Holy Hanukkah

To everyone who reads these posts, I wish you the best in the coming year. May it be filled with fruitful writing and may all of us come together in peace.


2017: The Year of the Photograph

While I still want to be busy writing, the year 2017 promises to be the year of the photograph. Although my photos have been publishable, I do want to get better. That applies especially to macro photographs, something I know little about but which is essential to filming tiny rocks and gems.

To learn about my new camera I have enrolled in a video course at (external link). I am learning by doing about exposure and f-stops and shutter speeds and all that stuff that puzzled me in the past. Although my course is specifically about my camera, they do offer basic photography to teach people principles applicable to any camera.

I also splurged on a signature logo from (external link).They give you several versions you can Photoshop into your creations. I’m not worried about people poaching my photographs, I simply want to be identified with the images I take. Look at a low res version below:





And this is how it could look in practice. I’d make it smaller if published. Click on the image below to see how it works in a bigger photograph:


f p

Google Tips Research tips Uncategorized

Google Search Trick

I discovered yesterday that Google was returning results from all years by default. I changed that so Google will return results no more than a year old. Use this trick with caution if you are doing deep research.

1. Search as you normally would. This screenshot shows the Chrome browser:


2. See the “Tools” option at the far right? Click on that.


3. Then select whatever time period you would like:


4. Google now sorts the results accordingly.


Requiem for a Camera

A camera of my youth died today and I am sad. One of my Dad’s cameras, the little Olympus Pen F was something I borrowed from time to time to capture moments of my late teens and early 20’s. I still have many slides of that time which I need to convert to digital files or prints.

The Olympus has become collectable  so I dug it out of a drawer and put a roll of film in it. Would it still take pictures? I wasn’t sure if it had been used in 20 years. Suffering a recalcitrant light meter, besides a balky closure latch, the camera took about eight shots before freezing up. The camera will not rewind any longer. And the photo counter wasn’t working just before it died.

Purely mechanical, the Pen F took no batteries and was small enough to carry anywhere. It was a half frame camera which meant it took two pictures for every image on a roll of film. If you had a roll of 36 exposure film you got 72 shots. It was a great way to learn because you had plenty of film to experiment with.

The first picture is a stock photo of a Pen in its prime, exactly like mine except with all the scratches I put on it. Note the Gothic “F”. The second photo is a self portrait I took at a mirror when I was 19. The original selfie. Look at all that hair! Joe Rebel. The third image is an ad for the Pen, projecting what a cool camera it was. That it was.

selfportrait olympuspenf


Magazine article Thoughts on writing Uncategorized

Another Article Submitted

Just completed another article for Rock&Gem Magazine (internal link). With luck they will accept it, like they have my three other articles. This was a difficult piece because my rough draft ran over 4,500 words and the magazine’s limit was 3,000. Much agonizing over facts and quotations I couldn’t use due to length.

I wrote the article in conjunction with a trip I took along Highway 49. That’s the Golden Chain Highway, which runs north and south through California’s historic and rustic Mother Lode. I stopped along the way to rockhound and take pictures.

Upon return I found out I’ll have to learn more about macro photography. Most of my photos came out fine but I’m having a terrible time with closeups of rocks and gems. People who photograph coins, stamps, and flowers all have the same problem. And it’s an expensive problem as I’m finding out. I’ll report on this more later on.

The picture below is of St James Episcopal Church in Sonora. The city bills itself as the Queen of the Southern Mines.



Not So Guilty Pleasure

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was on TV tonight. Beautiful and brooding. I’d like to write a screenplay someday but I am unsure how to proceed. I’m daunted by an unknown, highly structured format.

I’m told software exists to make the process easier. It all begins with a story, however, and I haven’t written yet what I’d like to make into a script. Guess I’ll go back to the movie.

Notice the difference between the script and what the characters say in the movie clip. Lost in translation? Or was the director adding to the script during filming?

What kind of Iron Arm are you?

You have amazing technique! I am Flying Machete. Are you related to Southern Crane?

Southern Duck? I don’t eat anything with two feet. Who could remember such long-winded names?

Li Mu Bai is your defeated foe, and you don’t know his master, Southern Crane?

Who are you?

I’m Shining Phoenix Mountain Gou.

Gou? I hate that name. It makes me puke! Too bad you’re named Gou. You’ll be the first to feel my sword today.

Jen leaps up and dives into battle. The men all use different kinds of weapons, but they all succumb to the powerful Green Destiny.

Hold it! Don’t you know Monk Jing?

A monk, in a place like this? You need a lesson!

Who are you?

She smiles, and leaps again into action after unsheathing the Green Destiny.

Who am I? I am… I am the Invincible Sword Goddess. Armed with the Incredible… Green Destiny. Be you Li or Southern Crane… lower your head… and ask for mercy. I am the desert dragon. I leave no trace. Today I fly over Eu-Mei. Tomorrow… I’ll kick over Wudan Mountain!

Uncategorized Writing tips

Using Longer File Names

As I continue to add files to Dropbox (internal link), I realize their total may be in the thousands. While I should neatly organize all my documents into appropriate folders, I know that’s not going to happen. Instead, I increasingly rely on the Dropbox search mechanism.  Longer file names help.

Instead of naming a file: Background_on_Humboldt, I now try to be more specific and add key words that will help me later. My new file name may be:


Perhaps unique to Dropbox and the Mac is that words don’t need to be separated by underline marks. If I write HumboldtCounty as one word, Dropbox will seize on just the Humboldt part if I search for that name.

How long can a file name be? There’s disagreement here. But it’s probably over 200. (external link) And Windows and Mac operating systems may differ. For Windows machines, path length is important. If you have folders within folders then the path to a file gets longer and longer. That takes away from file name length.

In the case of a file named Jensen, see how the path name increases in character as folder names increase?


It’s no longer a six character file name but 34. This path consideration may not be a problem with Dropbox hosted files. You would, however, run into a problem if a particular program could not handle that file name length.

I’m also starting to date files whenever I can. This will help me organize automatically. So this file should actually be (instead of what I wrote above):






Buying and Flying a Drone Part II

I flew the drone (internal link) yesterday on its first real photography flight. Some observations.

Flying the drone for me as a beginner is rather terrifying. I was first afraid this whirling dervish would fly off and leave or crash on the ground, spinning itself to death as the four propellers chopped the machine apart. I’m getting over this feeling as I fly more. Make sure to calibrate the unit before each flight.

  1. Still air is mandatory when first flying. Combatting wind is not want you want as a first experience.
  2. You need to be in a calm, isolated space when you first fly. I was able to fly yesterday at a remote horse ranch, free from other people and distractions. That helped.
  3. It’s really difficult reading the iPhone screen while at the same time keeping an eye on the drone overhead. Ideally I’d want to fly just looking at my smartphone’s screen, however, I’m not that good yet. There’s too much going on. How’s that?
  4. There’s a wireless link between controller, smart phone, and the drone itself. To keep that going, the drone app has many, many settings on the screen. It takes about ten minutes of fiddling with all these settings before you launch. Get familiar with the app before you fly if you can.
  5. Had terrible problems with photographs being overexposed. Resetting the camera to its defaults solved that problem. The automatic exposure setting should be good for most conditions.
  6. Results were good. Still photos come in at five megs, which will be fine for publishing. I’ll get the aerial shots I want for my next writing projects.
  7. Getting the video off my iPhone is confusing. Still working on the best way. Diji has an app in which you can add music. Going through that step creates a movie which you can then download. But I haven’t figured out how to simply download the raw movie file.
  8. Glare on the iPhone’s screen is a big problem. I’m looking for a shade. Spending extra on a drone that uses an iPad as a screen might have been a better choice.
  9. Much to figure out.