Saturday, July 28, 2007

NPR - How it relates

I got to thinking about two recent incidents with people, both of whom got angry with something I wrote after a conversation with them. I have a thinking out loud mind and often people in normal conversation will give me one or more tangents of ideas, and I'll sit down and write about what I think. But then the people get mad at me thinking I misundestood their words or ideas, when I simply wandered away from it in a different direction.

I always try to explain that my ideas may have started with an idea from them, they didn't actually give me the specific idea, but only got me thinking around their ideas. I owe them a thanks, but sometimes they don't see it that way. So it got me to thinking again about the word "relate", and how everything relates, and often where misunderstandings arise.

First, there are things which relate to each other in external ways. For example, how couples relate to each other from their own and each other's friends.

Second, there are things which relate from each other in the sense of one follows the other. For example how couples relate to their respective and other's families from their own relationship.

Third, there are things which relate with each other in internal ways within each other. For example how couples to each other from their own experience with each other.

Fourth, there are things which relate within each other as one is part of the other. For example how couples relate to each other as a couple.

Fifth, there are things which relate between themselves or other things. For example how couples relate to each other in day to day living.

I'm sure there are more ways things relate to each other or other things, and I'm sure my definition of each isn't necessarily complete. And you're free to add yours to the list.

When I was in graduate school another graduate student taught me the use of preposition. He was a tremendous writer as well as a good editor. He wouldn't edit your work as explain it back to you from your writing, asking you, "Is this what you mean?" And over the course of two years we edited each others work he managed to teach me about language and writing. And while I don't always practice it, I try to watch the preposition to ensure I'm using them to say what I mean.

And why the tangent thought? Well, the word relate means just that, and the following phrase describes the relationship between two or more things and why the preposition is important to describe the relationship. It partly has to do with the independence or dependence of the things to the other things. In many cases the relationship can be loose or ambiguous, and the chose of a prepostion arbitary.

But the key is to ensure if you want a clear statement to make sure you relate the things correctly to each other, and it's the preposition that does this. So, it's about getting to Carnegie Hall with your writing, or better phrased, getting published in the Atlantic Monthly. Good luck.

Friday, July 27, 2007

STL - Bristle Cone Pine

This is a Bristle Cone Pine I bought in August 1991, about a week after my brother passed away from a heart attack. His life and death is another story, along with my 1991 VW Vanagon Syncro I bought the day he died and it's first trip was to the airport to fly to Kansas City for his funeral. When I got back I bought this plant.

I have a 44 foot deck that overlooks the Narrows Strait northwest of Tacoma, just north of the twin Tacoma Narrows bridges. Until then (moved into the place in January 1987) the deck was basically empty except for a chair and stand to sit and enjoy the view and watch the world go by. I can watch Seattle/Tacoma to/from Portland trains on the other side, the ships on the Strait, the tide moving through, and the whole southeastern horizon with Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Well, after my brother's death, I wanted some life to see. I have a number of indoor plants - with three rooms with big glass doors and/or windows it's hard not to have plants. But I had no outdoor plants so I went to a local nursery and saw this Bristle Cone Pine. I bought a planter for it, which has been used elsewhere for other plants, and replanted it into the box planter about 1996. It's in the same place it's been when I brought it home, and see it every day outside the window.

If you don't know these trees live in the southern high Sierra Mountains in California. They are the oldest and longest living plant on this planet, upwards of 2-3,000 years. They're often seen in landscape photographs. It will easily outlast me and many after me, if it's planted somewhere we let it grow. I keep in the planter with the instructions to make it my grave marker, to give life back to nature and into something this planet needs.

As long as it's watered occasionally, this plant will take on its own life after me, transforming to the weather and environment, to be what nature has given it to start and survive. Until then I hope I continue to help it.

JMO - Dancing on the edge of a sword

This post is more a vent about the US presence in the Middle East, namely Iraq. It's not about the civil war we started with our invasion and occupation. I vent, rant and praise on that and other topics of the day I hear on the radio news and information shows and read in the newspaper (several 3-5 days per week) on my MySpace Web page. I post about 2-3 times per week, and I hope people enjoy the ramblings.

Anyway, this post is about our presence there. I really wonder if the people who decided we should invade and occupy Iraq, going back to the early 1990's conservative (aka, republican) group formed after the first Iraq war, really bothered to read let alone understand the history of the Middle East. If they didn't, they were simply stupid, and if they did, then they're both dumb and stupid. And worse, totally reckless with this nation's resources and reputation.

Any decent college student or an adult with any modicum of knowledge of history should have thought through the events they were proposing, especially not listening to the zealot Iraqis who hadn't been back in decades escaping Saddham Hussein's terror but to the real experts who have lived there over the years to understand Iraq isn't a real nation, but a country sewn together post-WW II by the British for monopolizing the region oil resources.

We should have read the country is a composite of three nationalities with ties to other nations in the Middle East, some our ally and some less so. We would have seen that the post-invasion plan is far more important than the war plan. But more importantly, we simply should haven't gone in there as we did when we did. We simply could have waited Saddham out from the forces within Iraq and enlisted the other countries to establish a peaceful transistion.

But as it is now, we're dancing on the edge of a sword, and we're not holding the sword. The Iraqis are holding it, balancing their own internal civil strive and war, and we're simply trying to find the least painful way out while keeping a tie to the oil resources, the real reason we invaded. Simply put, corporate greed. The President can jabber all he wants about terrorism, it didn't exist there when he agreed to the plan to invade.

I won't say the President was suckered by Cheney, Wolfowitz, etal, because he wanted to be a war President and go down in history in the name of his god (I'll use lower case here because no real god would sanction this war). It was all political for a number of reasons, but mostly to have control of Iraq's vast oil resources, enough for decades to come. "If only...", they told the President, and he was hooked and became its disciple.

And now we dancing as best we can while the all the politicians put the best spin on it, except it's costing lives. American soldiers, contractors, and civilians. But mostly Iragi lives, 10 times more dead, hundred times injured, and thousands times displaced or emigrated. We have destroyed a country, initiated a civil war, and we have no peace plan. We're cutting our feet every day with our dance, and we can't seem to see we're dying ourselves.

I don't have answers to Iraq. I listen and read from the diverse sources of experts with experience in and with the Middle East, and I simply can't find an answer that wins for everyone. And that's the saddness, we're now down to the lessor of evils for choices, which will take decades if not generations to resolve. We forget these people were there when the country was created and have lived through their own history. Something we failed to grasp.

And we haven't asked the question, "Would we be any different?", if we where them? We failed to walk in their shoes, shared their experience and witnessed their history. If we had, we wouldn't be there today.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

STL - Small Things in Life

While making breakfast one morning, which I'll explain, I was struck with the idea about the small things in our life we so often overlook and take for granted. I was cooking eggs when something struck my eyes while washing the dishes after cleaning the frying pan. I really don't clean it as you might expect but really just wipe it off and put more butter into the pan to let it melt. Then after stirring the butter around to cover the bottom I set the pan aside for the next time I need it.

You see it's a cast iron skillet, somewhere between 30 and 40 years old. You don't clean a cast iron skillet unless it's gotten burnt or very dirty from what you cook. Since I only use mine for fried eggs, it doesn't get either. So after cooking the eggs, all I do is wipe the inside bottom with a dry paper towel, add a pat of butter, stir it to cover the bottom again and set the pan aside on a cool burner. I occasionally "clean" the pan with a wet paper towel, and use a little extra butter to coat the inside.

Well, after this one breakfast, I put the pan aside and went about eating breakfast. When I washed the dishes I noticed a pattern from the butter (below). I didn't create this image but it was what happened when the butter hardened after melting and stirring. The butter makes some interesting patterns, and occasionally the pan thinks it's an artist. And whom am I to judge? I just photograph things.

But it got me to thinking about this skillet. It sits on one burner on the stove, a circa 1960's one at that, waiting for the next breakfast to make fried eggs with toast. Nothing else in life. Just one of those small things we have in our life that works when we want or need it, and waits in between those moments in our life. And so I decided to start a new series on these small things in my life. Nothing great or special, but just there.

And the art the pan left?

If you're wondering, the small pot/pan holder on the stove is called a trivet.

Years ago I got tired on living with former marriage cookware, so I gave it all away, except the cast iron skillet of course, and bought Calaphalon One Infused anodized cookware. And even if you're a simple cook like me, I can honestly tell you (near) professional cookware is worth the money. There really is a world of difference using it. And that's the one quart teapot in the photo along with the salt and pepper shakers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why photography is a struggle

I wrote in the last post about Josh Waitzkin's book I was reading, and as I read into it I began to see why photography, despite being a personal passion for nearly 40 years, was a struggle to understand and do well. While I can be a good photographer for short periods, it's a struggle to be consistent and become a better photographer despite serious efforts to learn and work. I still can't fully describe it, but I'll work around the edges and hopefully find a way into the center of the argument and problem.

And so why? We all know there are endeavors we love but just can't quite seem to grasp. When I was young I played Little League baseball for 2+ years before advancing to Babe Ruth League. In Little League I was good enough to make alternate on the all-star team to represent Germany in the European Little League series my last year when our city league won the championship for all-Germany. But I failed badly in Babe Ruth league because I was too small and in over my head.

Anyway, I liked baseball, but despite the odds it wasn't meant to be no matter how hard I tried. And life went on. When I was 19 in the Air Force I bought a camera and two lenses - I stll have the camera and normal lens, a Minolta SRT-101 with a 58mm f1.2 lens. I discovered I took good photos, as some said, I had the beginnings of a "good eye." This means you have some innate sense of composition, a natural sense to see a good photo, similar to artists who see the painting or sculpture from a blank canvas or block of material.

I did pursue it to learn photography then when I took some courses and worked part-time in a photo lab on the Air Force base where I was stationed in California. And life went on. After the Air Force I used the GI Bill to get a BA and MS degree and joined the USGS. I retired in December 2005 to return to my original passion. And while my Minolta system has expanded greatly beyond that one camera, and I've added both a digital and 4x5 camera system, photography is still a struggle.

So why after almost 40 years it's still struggle? And after a year and a half in retirement focusing on photography I have answers? Sorta' as the saying goes. For one, I've spent the last five or so years reading about photography and the last year-plus with my computer learning the tools to produce images and prints. And through it I learned what I like and don't like about photography. And where the holes and flaws are hidden.

I can write about my shortcomings on the technical side of photography, some of which is true - like being color blind - but mostly the whole things come down to what I like to do in and with my photography. I like to keep things simple, minimize the work to get a decent image and print. I prefer to focus on the field side of the work, while I'm standing behind the camera. Sitting in front of a computer all day simply wears the brains cells into being numb.

Mostly I realized while I have an eye for composition, it's my eye and my composition. It's not others' eye or composition, but it boils down to what's comfortable. I don't wander much outside it and it's the biggest hole and flaw in my work. The simple fear of trying, being new and failure. But then I realize photography is 99% failure no matter what you do, and the best is to produce good images with the occasional really good one.

So it finally gets down to intention. For intention is what keeps motivation going, and passion is the fuel. It's what Josh Waitzkin is talking about, pure and simple.

Monday, July 23, 2007


I'm reading Josh Waitzkin's book, "The Art of Learning." In the book he writes about having presence in chess, and your work and life. It is, if anything, the most important part of playing chess. It's the idea of being, as they say, "in the moment", fully mindful and conscious yourself and what you are doing. And while his book, is focused on chess and his later pursuits in life, he is also focusing it on life.

And in the same vein, it is critical in photography. You must have presence of mind and consciousness to be a good photographer. And that's before you even upack the camera. This is especially true with large format photography. Why, and why not other forms?

Well, it is true in other forms, such as fashion, studio, portrait and other forms where you control the whole environment from the setting and lighting to the final product. It's not always true in other forms, such as photojournalism, nature, landscape, sports, etc. where you are working in a dynamic environment where everything isn't in your control. You still need to be present in both and exercise presence of mind and consciousness, but less in some forms as you can only capture what's presented to you.

And why large format photography? Well, for one, unless you have a few tens of thousands of dollars to spend on digital back or a highend Sinar digital camera, everything you do is mental. If you don't plug your brain in, all you get is crap, a lot of exposed film producing nothing significant. And you get it back from the lab or your own darkroom with a big "WTF?", moment, besides the $4-8 per sheet (less for 4x5 and a lot more for 8x10 sheets) you just blew.

Ok, so you think we're always are mindfull and conscious? Not if you have some experience and memory of those days when you just can't seem to think straight. As the song goes, "A bowl of oatmeal stared me down and won." Try that when you carry your 30+ lbs of large format gear somewhere with something in mind, and it just doesn't come together - meaning you just can't see what you thought you wanted or what is there, or you just can't seem to think the image through.

Or worse you can't seem to get the process down and you don't expose the film or pre-expose it. Back to WTF thoughts, because in large format photography, it's 15-60 minutes of work for a minute or so (mostly but some exposures are longer in minutes) or a few steps and your done. And the reality is that you may not have seen something the film captured, which means, yes, it's a WTF moment again.

Why so long for the last minute? It's because you control the camera's position, lenses, setup, focusing, front and back movements, filters, and so on to get the image on the ground glass. You then determine the exposure from your light meter or other camera, and what bracketing you want to do. This is what takes the time. Then you insert the film holder, cock the shutter, remove the film cover, release the shutter, and insert the film cover. This sequence takes about a minute after all the time getting to that point in the proces.

And all of this doesn't account for the errors you can make with the composition, camera, and exposure readings. Add that to the mix, and presence of mind and consciousness is what makes it all happen, and hopefully, right. Or not. And your box of exposed sheets are treasures or lessons.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Updated Events gallery

I updated my photo gallery of events and places, with new galleries for the Out in Tacoma festival and the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge Dedication Ceremony on successive weekend days. In short, a lot of walking, waiting and photographs. I'm not a real professional where I take a lot of images (~600 for these two events), I mostly focus on the small and incidental scenes that are often overlooked by photojournalist and professionals.

The photo above was taken at the Out in Tacoma event walking around before everything started and for an hour or so after the stage presentations and shows started. The people are really cool, especially the young people. My hats off to them for being people, something us older folks forget. It's about being human and a human being. It's that simple, not just tolerance, but acceptance and understanding of the diversity of people.

The photo below is of the first automobile at the dedication of the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The first one, Galloping Gertie, fell into the Narrows Strait shortly after its completion. They used the same towers and cables, but they had to rebuild the deck to tolerate wind storms which caused the demise of the first deck. The new (third) bridge is an engineering marvel, but, although accepted by the commuters, isn't really loved for a number of reasons (see Web page). But it's a reality and part of our daily travels, albeit at $1.75 a pop for us with transponders and $3.00 for others.

They had the first car at the first bridge's dedication too, but I missed a photo of that one with all the people in the way. And people wondered how these cars were saved over 60 years later. Well, it seems someone back then working for the Department of Transportation bought both of them and put them in storage for this time, when they were refurbished and brought out for the dedication. And we think a few years into the future?

JMO - Torture is still torture

After reading the news about President Bush's new Executive Order on torture, I still don't get what he wants to do and what he is thinking. I've included the text below (it's public domain), but I have some thoughts and questions. What doesn't he and his cohorts understand about torture? Torture is tortue, it's not a relative thing where you draw a line about treatment of another person where hurting them less is ok, but a little more isn't ok.

He's also confusing the Al-Qaeda of 9/11 with the Al-Qeada that we, meaning the US government, of Iraq. While now they may be beginning to talk and work together, they are not the same. One conducted one of the worst terrorist attack in history - remember hundreds of these attacks occur every year and 9/11 is just one of many, not the one or the one aimed just at the US, because while it was at the World Trade Center, hundreds died from nearly 200 nations - and one is an on-going insurgency in a civil war in Iraq we created with our invastion and occupation.

The irony is that the Department of Defense exempts itself from this order because it has it's own rules for interrogation in its field manual. The CIA is exempt because it says it is exempt and operates a series of remote prisons in other nations under the extraordinary rendtion program. And the prisoners at Gitmo have their own rules which is in debate between the President and the courts and Congress. So who does it really apply to? Or is it really a sham, a coverup to look humane but really not, meaning business as usual.

I noticed he still uses the term "unlawful" enemy combatants. The Courts have declared unlawful to be an inappropriate term which doesn't apply because of the laws governing those captured in war zones and anyone we deem associated with terrorism. He still overlooks the fact the many of those at Gitmo were not captured in war or on the battlefield, but arrested elsewhere in non-combat situations. And it doesn't exclude US citizens. You and I are part of the war on terror, and the decision is in their hands, not ours.

In the end, the whole thing reminds me of the recent Chickweed comic strip (July 21, 2007), Bush's Holy war on terrorism.

And the words themselves.

For Immediate Release July 20, 2007


- - - - - - -


By the authority vested in me as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107¿40), the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (Public Law 109¿366), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as


Section 1. General Determinations. (a) The United States is engaged in an armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces.

Members of al Qaeda were responsible for the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, and for many other terrorist attacks, including against the United States, its personnel, and its allies throughout the world. These forces continue to fight the United States and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, and they continue to plan additional acts of terror throughout the world. On February 7, 2002, I determined for the United States that members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces are unlawful enemy combatants who are not entitled to the protections that the Third Geneva Convention provides to prisoners of war. I hereby reaffirm that determination.

(b) The Military Commissions Act defines certain prohibitions of Common Article 3 for United States law, and it reaffirms and reinforces the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions.

Sec. 2. Definitions. As used in this order:

(a) "Common Article 3" means Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

(b) "Geneva Conventions" means:

(i) the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded

and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, done at Geneva August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3114);

(ii) the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, done at Geneva August 12,

1949 (6 UST 3217);

(iii) the Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, done at Geneva August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3316); and

(iv) the Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, done at Geneva August 12, 1949 (6 UST 3516).

(c) "Cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Sec. 3. Compliance of a Central Intelligence Agency Detention and Interrogation Program with Common Article 3. (a) Pursuant to the authority of the President under the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including the Military Commissions Act of 2006, this order interprets the meaning and application of the text of Common Article 3 with respect to certain detentions and interrogations, and shall be treated as authoritative for all purposes as a matter of United States law, including satisfaction of the international obligations of the United States. I hereby determine that Common Article 3 shall apply to a program of detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency as set forth in this section. The requirements set forth in this section shall be applied with respect to detainees in such program without adverse distinction as to their race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth, or wealth.

(b) I hereby determine that a program of detention and interrogation approved by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency fully complies with the obligations of the United States under Common Article 3, provided


(i) the conditions of confinement and interrogation practices of the

program do not include:

(A) torture, as defined in section 2340 of title 18, United States Code;

(B) any of the acts prohibited by section 2441(d) of title 18, United States Code, including murder, torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault or abuse, taking of hostages, or performing of biological experiments;

(C) other acts of violence serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation, and cruel or inhuman treatment, as defined in section 2441(d) of title 18, United States Code;

(D) any other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment prohibited by the Military Commissions Act (subsection 6(c) of Public Law

109¿366) and the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (section 1003 of Public Law

109¿148 and section 1403 of Public Law 109¿163);

(E) willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency, such as sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken for the purpose of humiliation, forcing the individual to

perform sexual acts or to pose sexually, threatening the individual with sexual mutilation, or using the individual as a human shield; or

(F) acts intended to denigrate the religion, religious practices, or religious objects of the individual;

(ii) the conditions of confinement and interrogation practices are to be used with an alien detainee who is determined by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency:

(A) to be a member or part of or supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated organizations; and

(B) likely to be in possession of information that:

(1) could assist in detecting, mitigating, or preventing terrorist attacks, such as attacks within the United States or against its Armed Forces or other personnel, citizens, or facilities, or against allies or other countries cooperating in the war on terror with the United States, or their armed forces or other personnel, citizens, or facilities; or

(2) could assist in locating the senior leadership of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces;

(iii) the interrogation practices are determined by the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, based upon professional advice, to be safe for use with each detainee with whom they are used; and

(iv) detainees in the program receive the basic necessities of life, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing, protection from extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.

(c) The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency shall issue written policies to govern the program, including guidelines for Central Intelligence Agency personnel that implement paragraphs (i)(C), (E), and

(F) of subsection 3(b) of this order, and including requirements to ensure:

(i) safe and professional operation of the program;

(ii) the development of an approved plan of interrogation tailored for each detainee in the program to be interrogated, consistent with subsection

3(b)(iv) of this order;

(iii) appropriate training for interrogators and all personnel operating the program;

(iv) effective monitoring of the program, including with respect to medical matters, to ensure the safety of those in the program; and

(v) compliance with applicable law and this order.

Sec. 4. Assignment of Function. With respect to the program addressed in this order, the function of the President under section 6(c)(3) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is assigned to the Director of National Intelligence.

Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) Subject to subsection (b) of this section, this order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity, against the United States, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to prevent or limit reliance upon this order in a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding, or otherwise, by the Central Intelligence Agency or by any individual acting on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency in connection with the program addressed in this order.



Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NPR - A family

I wrote about the recent pair of swallows who built a nest on one of the support beams for the roof the carport where I park. Well, they have a family, 4 young swallows who sleep almost constantly now while the parents get food for them. I discovered it's hard to get photos of them as each parent doesn't stay on the nest if I stay even 20 feet away near a tree. It seems they know their surroundings and when something is new.

I even tried to get up close, first with a ladder and then with my van to park next to it and sit on the roof to look straight into the nest, and cound the small white beaks. On the ladder they enlisted other swallows to attack me as if I'm a predator trying to take the chicks. Using the van, they must have realized they can't fight something that size, so they flew away to watch from a distant until I moved the van back into it's spot.

What's interesting is that I can drive the van in and out of the spot without disturbing them, but the minute I get out of the van, they fly away. It's the same with other residents in the adjacent spots. Cars seem fine but people disturb them. The only time I get to see the parents at the nest is to take the long way around to the tree and peek around it. Once I raise my camera, they see me and fly away.

One thing I did learn, however, is the answer to the question, how do young birds who don't even have their eyes open yet know one of their parents is there to fed them. And? Well, I lightly tapped on the front edge of the top of the nest and all four of them raised the heads with the mouths wide open. If they're totally asleep they sense the presence by the vibrations on the nest. It must be an instinctive trait as an automatic response to the presence of another bird. Kinda' cool, and when they went back to sleep when nothing happened after that, so they use other clues to keep the mouth open.

Anyway, it will be fun watching the chicks develop and see if the parents become more comfortable with people stopping by to say hello and wishing them the best in raising their family. And hopefully they'll become more comfortable with people and I can get better photos.

Friday, July 13, 2007

NPR - Never argue with

I know it's not fair to the gentlemen in the photo, but it represents a point I want to make. And that is?

Never argue with someone who starts their argument about the facts with the statement, "I believe..." This means they don't really know, but they think they know, and they'll argue their opinion and view of things as facts than actually wanting to listen to reason or even recognize their view isn't factual or even reality. They simply want to make it clear they think they know and the rest of the arugment is moot.

And why such an opinion on my side? Well, I, like most of us, subscribe or belong to numerous forums on a variety of subjects, such as Yahoo groups and other on-line forums. Mine range through the interests in my life, from photography to life. Well, on one I got into an argument (using the debate definition of open discussion) with someone who kept citing her view and saying it was hers as she knew things.

Well, she didn't, she was only expressing her view of things, but you couldn't get the idea across to her that her "facts" weren't facts, simply an opinion. She kept saying, "I believe...(this or that)...", and it was obvious it was just that, a belief. After numerous rounds of asking questions and presenting divergent views, occasionally with studies and facts, she kept going back to her statement. And that was that.

Well, I hate people who do that. I like open, honest, challenging (especially my view ) and often funny discussions. It's the lifeblood of friendship in one way. But it requires your mind to be open. I hate closed minds, even my own at times - but I recognize it as that, just mine and I won't press it on others. I hate people who say they like discussion then don't discuss, but simply state their view of things. That's not worth anything but to finish the beer and go home.

And so, I keep having to remind myself to stop beating myself trying to open closed minds. I really hate it when it's a real discussion about something when the obvious is sitting on the table and people just look over it to their own agenda and view of life and the world. To me it's a, "Now what don't you understand about the facts and truth sitting on the table?"

So, don't waste your time trying to argue with these people. Trust me, I believe I'm right. Yeah, right.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

NPR - Feeling old and guilty

I've written a few times about this, and so it's an ever-present feeling in the back of my mind, buried deep in my psyche to sneak into the forefront of the day now and then. And this is part of the Dysthymia I've had throughout my life. It kinda' hangs out in the corners and recess of my spirit and soul. So, why today?

Well, for one I spent the early hours going to Starbucks for newspapers and coffee, and onward to the other small errands of the day. We've all seen these older people on our days off when we worked who have the day to themselves and we've all wished there will be a day we can become one of them. To be free of work and have time to ourselves. I discovered that in January 2006 after retiring from the USGS December 31, 2005. It was a decision made over a year before and I waited, as the saying goes, for that moment to arrive, and in my case, what my supervisor had planned for the next 1-3 years.

I had originally planned to retire December 2008 when I thought I could afford it, but in the fall of 2004 I attended a retirement workshop - recommended and often mandatory for those within five years of retirement - and discovered I had miscalculated my annuity. I then went through the calculation three different ways including have our HR office and OPM calcuate it. And all three came within $20 of my calculation. So the date was upped to 2005 if I choose, and made after an August 2005 meeting with my boss.

And I did. And it's been thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile. I highly recommend it, to start a new career. And my guilt? Well, it's for all those people I see working. And while I'm working on a second career, the difference is mine now is personal, and I'm my own boss. And that's the guilt, that I can have this opportunity while seeing many others not have the same shot in life. But then I realize people do make their own choices in life, at least within the framework presented them.

And part of my guilt is reading the news about all these retirees losing their pensions, health insurance and so on. I made a choice to work for the federal government. I took the hit in salary for the longterm goal and plan of the retirement benefits. And while my annuity won't make me rich, I can manage it to have a decent life. And my health insurance is guarranteed as it's part of the employee plan for all active and retired federal employees.

I doubt I'll ever resolve the guilt issue, and many times I just set it aside and go about my life. As for being old, that's the reality of being. My attempts at an exercise program has been periods of good and bad. The body just isn't young and adaptive anymore. Like this is a revelization? No, but it's new to me growing old and having the bits and pieces have problems, some from my genes I've known all my life, and some new.

I know to some people this is a big, "Huh?", like they haven't had their share, some more, of physical problems in the life. And for you I apologize. Despite being active at work and life, I've been lucky with injuries, all small and short-lived. Now, however, even the small ones are small or short-lived anymore. And the genetic problems are catching up to me as I push myself to become fitter and healthier. And yes, it's obvious and normal, but only to me when I retired and it's sometimes the reality of my being.

"What?", you ask, or not. In January I banged my elbow and pulled a ligament in my left elbow attached to a bone. It's taken 6 months to get it back to near normal, and just when it was fine for most things I banged my right elbow and did the same thing with that elbow. So now, it's another 6 months of mild pain in the forearm holding and grabbing things. Small things like that where age hampers the recovery. Just one of the many small things that happen.

Anyway, it's just passing thoughts in a life in a new life and second career. And I get to listen to all the music and NPR whenever I want, and best of all, take naps.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

JMO - NY Times Editorial

While we can argue about the war in Iraq till the soldiers come home, I think the New York Times Sunday (July 8, 2007) editorial about this issue was succint. I can only add my thoughts.

First, the war is costing this country $12 Billion per month, over 3,000 lives and 10,000's of permanently injured soldiers, and now one-third of the annual budget of the US Government is now dedicated to the Defense Deparment and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is this what we were told in early 2003 and what we've been promised so far by President Bush? Has any of the promises for success there been fulfilled?

What is Bush's exit strategy? Or is it simply to delay any real thought to January 2009 when he leaves office and leaves the worst mess in American history to his successor and he will claim he would have won the war if the American public had believed in him and his policy? And his successor will be faced with a totally worn out military to continue the war, spiraling debt paying for it, and an American public just worn out of the whole thing?

I hope we will remember who sold and started this war and who deserves our wrath and blame. And I pity his succesor when we're faced with a complete disaster in the middle East with no answer except more blood on all sides. Thank you New York Times.

The Road Home
The New York Times | Editorial

It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.

Like many Americans, we have put off that conclusion, waiting for a sign that President Bush was seriously trying to dig the United States out of the disaster he created by invading Iraq without sufficient cause, in the face of global opposition, and without a plan to stabilize the country afterward.

At first, we believed that after destroying Iraq's government, army, police and economic structures, the United States was obliged to try to accomplish some of the goals Mr. Bush claimed to be pursuing, chiefly building a stable, unified Iraq. When it became clear that the president had neither the vision nor the means to do that, we argued against setting a withdrawal date while there was still some chance to mitigate the chaos that would most likely follow.

While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs - after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush's plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.

The political leaders Washington has backed are incapable of putting national interests ahead of sectarian score settling. The security forces Washington has trained behave more like partisan militias. Additional military forces poured into the Baghdad region have failed to change anything.

Continuing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of American soldiers is wrong. The war is sapping the strength of the nation's alliances and its military forces. It is a dangerous diversion from the life-and-death struggle against terrorists. It is an increasing burden on American taxpayers, and it is a betrayal of a world that needs the wise application of American power and principles.

A majority of Americans reached these conclusions months ago. Even in politically polarized Washington, positions on the war no longer divide entirely on party lines. When Congress returns this week, extricating American troops from the war should be at the top of its agenda.

That conversation must be candid and focused. Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps most important, the invasion has created a new stronghold from which terrorist activity could proliferate.

The administration, the Democratic-controlled Congress, the United Nations and America's allies must try to mitigate those outcomes - and they may fail. But Americans must be equally honest about the fact that keeping troops in Iraq will only make things worse. The nation needs a serious discussion, now, about how to accomplish a withdrawal and meet some of the big challenges that will arise.

The Mechanics of Withdrawal

The United States has about 160,000 troops and millions of tons of military gear inside Iraq. Getting that force out safely will be a formidable challenge. The main road south to Kuwait is notoriously vulnerable to roadside bomb attacks. Soldiers, weapons and vehicles will need to be deployed to secure bases while airlift and sealift operations are organized. Withdrawal routes will have to be guarded. The exit must be everything the invasion was not: based on reality and backed by adequate resources.

The United States should explore using Kurdish territory in the north of Iraq as a secure staging area. Being able to use bases and ports in Turkey would also make withdrawal faster and safer. Turkey has been an inconsistent ally in this war, but like other nations, it should realize that shouldering part of the burden of the aftermath is in its own interest.

Accomplishing all of this in less than six months is probably unrealistic. The political decision should be made, and the target date set, now.

The Fight Against Terrorists

Despite President Bush's repeated claims, Al Qaeda had no significant foothold in Iraq before the invasion, which gave it new base camps, new recruits and new prestige.

This war diverted Pentagon resources from Afghanistan, where the military had a real chance to hunt down Al Qaeda's leaders. It alienated essential allies in the war against terrorism. It drained the strength and readiness of American troops.

And it created a new front where the United States will have to continue to battle terrorist forces and enlist local allies who reject the idea of an Iraq hijacked by international terrorists. The military will need resources and bases to stanch this self- inflicted wound for the foreseeable future.

The Question of Bases

The United States could strike an agreement with the Kurds to create those bases in northeastern Iraq. Or, the Pentagon could use its bases in countries like Kuwait and Qatar, and its large naval presence in the Persian Gulf, as staging points.

There are arguments for, and against, both options. Leaving troops in Iraq might make it too easy - and too tempting - to get drawn back into the civil war and confirm suspicions that Washington's real goal was to secure permanent bases in Iraq. Mounting attacks from other countries could endanger those nations' governments.

The White House should make this choice after consultation with Congress and the other countries in the region, whose opinions the Bush administration has essentially ignored. The bottom line: the Pentagon needs enough force to stage effective raids and airstrikes against terrorist forces in Iraq, but not enough to resume large-scale combat.

The Civil War

One of Mr. Bush's arguments against withdrawal is that it would lead to civil war. That war is raging, right now, and it may take years to burn out. Iraq may fragment into separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite republics, and American troops are not going to stop that from happening.

It is possible, we suppose, that announcing a firm withdrawal date might finally focus Iraq's political leaders and neighboring governments on reality. Ideally, it could spur Iraqi politicians to take the steps toward national reconciliation that they have endlessly discussed but refused to act on.

But it is foolish to count on that, as some Democratic proponents of withdrawal have done. The administration should use whatever leverage it gains from withdrawing to press its allies and Iraq's neighbors to help achieve a negotiated solution.

Iraq's leaders - knowing that they can no longer rely on the Americans to guarantee their survival - might be more open to compromise, perhaps to a Bosnian-style partition, with economic resources fairly shared but with millions of Iraqis forced to relocate. That would be better than the slow-motion ethnic and religious cleansing that has contributed to driving one in seven Iraqis from their homes.

The United States military cannot solve the problem. Congress and the White House must lead an international attempt at a negotiated outcome. To start, Washington must turn to the United Nations, which Mr. Bush spurned and ridiculed as a preface to war.

The Human Crisis

There are already nearly two million Iraqi refugees, mostly in Syria and Jordan, and nearly two million more Iraqis who have been displaced within their country. Without the active cooperation of all six countries bordering Iraq - Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria - and the help of other nations, this disaster could get worse. Beyond the suffering, massive flows of refugees - some with ethnic and political resentments - could spread Iraq's conflict far beyond Iraq's borders.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia must share the burden of hosting refugees. Jordan and Syria, now nearly overwhelmed with refugees, need more international help. That, of course, means money. The nations of Europe and Asia have a stake and should contribute. The United States will have to pay a large share of the costs, but should also lead international efforts, perhaps a donors' conference, to raise money for the refugee crisis.

Washington also has to mend fences with allies. There are new governments in Britain, France and Germany that did not participate in the fight over starting this war and are eager to get beyond it. But that will still require a measure of humility and a commitment to multilateral action that this administration has never shown. And, however angry they were with President Bush for creating this mess, those nations should see that they cannot walk away from the consequences. To put it baldly, terrorism and oil make it impossible to ignore.

The United States has the greatest responsibilities, including the admission of many more refugees for permanent resettlement. The most compelling obligation is to the tens of thousands of Iraqis of courage and good will - translators, embassy employees, reconstruction workers - whose lives will be in danger because they believed the promises and cooperated with the Americans.

The Neighbors

One of the trickiest tasks will be avoiding excessive meddling in Iraq by its neighbors - America's friends as well as its adversaries.

Just as Iran should come under international pressure to allow Shiites in southern Iraq to develop their own independent future, Washington must help persuade Sunni powers like Syria not to intervene on behalf of Sunni Iraqis. Turkey must be kept from sending troops into Kurdish territories.

For this effort to have any remote chance, Mr. Bush must drop his resistance to talking with both Iran and Syria. Britain, France, Russia, China and other nations with influence have a responsibility to help. Civil war in Iraq is a threat to everyone, especially if it spills across Iraq's borders.

President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have used demagoguery and fear to quell Americans' demands for an end to this war. They say withdrawing will create bloodshed and chaos and encourage terrorists. Actually, all of that has already happened - the result of this unnecessary invasion and the incompetent management of this war.

This country faces a choice. We can go on allowing Mr. Bush to drag out this war without end or purpose. Or we can insist that American troops are withdrawn as quickly and safely as we can manage - with as much effort as possible to stop the chaos from spreading.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

NPR - Walking Contradictions

We're all walking contradictions. From the time we're born to the moment we die, we are full of contradictions. Many from the circumstances and experiences during our life, and many from our body and mind - the doing and being we all do as we go through life. And while this sounds like a statement of the obvious, it's amazing how easily we forget it, because we assume everything is ok and any contradiction is the problem of other people.

I'm wandering a bit here, but I can't understand the signs on a residential street in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle. The sign above says you can park for 2 hours at a time and those with the permit can park indefinitly. Seattle uses permit for areas residents can park on the street anytime for any length of time. Only visitors are confined to 2 hours from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, around which you can park for any length of time - assuming their friends and visitors.

But the sign below seems a contradiction. It says you can't park from noon to 5:00 pm or be towed. Since there is no double parking in Seattle, it's not about that, so the sign just doesn't make sense to me. Anyway, why the subject? Well, I love Formula One racing. If you're not familar with this form, it is the more technological form of auto racing in the world. The two US series, Champ Car and Indy Racing Cars are no match for these cars in terms of cost and technology.

One of these cars cost of $1 Million to build and teams spend $30-50 Million per year for just 17 races around the world. The drivers are some of the best fit and most paid athletes in the world. So why my interest? Well, I went to my first Formula One race in 1963. The German Grand Prix at Nurburing, when they used the 14 mile circuit that wound through the forest. I saw some of the world's best drivers up close in the pits and driving the course.

For a 14 year old kid it was delightful. We later went to the 1964 Grand Prix as well as the race at Hockenheim and LeMans. I followed Formula one over the years as best I could through the events shown on television. And while they're still exciting to watch they don't compare to see the races then as a kid. How many people can say they have personally seen Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Phil Hill and others in person at speed? And the contradiction?

Well, it's obvious that this form of auto racing is very expensive and exploitive of the environment and our resources. To think of all the resources behind the teams, races, and people, it's mind-blowing to be an environmentalist that I love this one sport over all the others. I also watch NASCAR races but not as much as I find oval racing fairly boring after a while. And I wrote about when my Dad was a racer, so I caught the bug from him.

I could go on and on about our contradictions, but I just wanted to say we should be aware of them and acknowledge them as being human. And smile when you're faced with them, what else is there when faced with the obvious?

Friday, July 6, 2007

JMO - Why war and Iraq is wrong

Remember it's just my opinon, so take it accordingly. "And?", you ask is my opinion about war and Iraq?

Well, did you know there are more private contractors in Iraq than US forces? Yup, upwards of 130-140,000 supporting US troops with logistics, rebuilding the infrastructure and providing private security to various entities in Iraq. This isn't my point but it shows why we have overstretched our military with the occupation there. If we had done this war as the military normally does, there would be 200,000 or more troops in Iraq, something they can't support and we wouldn't accept. And while some argue it's cheaper for taxpayers, it's not because many are earning 3-5 times the salary and benefits as soldiers and the overseeing the contracts costs money.

Anyway, my point is about war. I was at the University bookstore yesterday to find a book, Brian Turner's Here, Bullet. It's a book of poetry about his service in the former Yugoslavia and the first Gulf war. It's about life in a war and and war zone, and war is about life and death where choice isn't an issue but a reality.

If you can read this book and not hate war, you're stronger than I am about it. I was against the Iraq war from the President's January speech in 2003. I'm a skeptic and knew he was lying about the facts, and history has shown he has lied continually about the facts for the war. He's danced too much and too far, and we're seeing the reality of his stupidity. And many young lives have died or permanently injured and many more Iraqi citizens have died or emmigrated too. We have destroyed a country for what?

We don't need this anymore, and it's time to have an exit stategy that works for both sides, but leaves Iraq to the Iraqis in whatever form they decide is right for them, and unfortunate as it may be with a civil war, the best we can do is prevent it from unraveling. The simple reality and truth is that while we can win the peace, we can't hold it throughout the country without staying there for years on end with no end in sight, and the Iraqis have their own agendas at our expense and checkbook, So it's time to step aside.

And I'm against the whole rationale about the war on terrorism. I read a review of Schwartz and Huq's book Unchecked and Unbalanced, and plan to read it. But it's clear it establishes our democracy has been hijacked by a small group of zealots, and in my mind, terrorists, to steal our civil liberties at our expense. They talk about fear, and they'll secure us from terroists, but it's a sham, plain and simple.

This small group has long wanted to established an isolated, independent Presidency at the sake of the people, Congress, courts, and the Constituion. It's time to reverse this and take back our democracy. I hope the Democrats and activists do their work to undo many of the illegal work of these zealots and restore our democracy. I've longed believed we didn't need the Patriot Act. All the failures in the agencies to stop the 9/11 terrorists was due to communications and people, not laws.

It's time for a change, not small, but a complete reversal of our direction. It's time for the return to civil rights and liberties, and stand up to the terrorist saying we won't give anyone our freedom to live in this country. It's time for our government to do its job and serve us than we give them unlimited power over us in the name of some lie.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

NPR - SS United States

I read an article in USA Today about the 1950-60's passenger liner, SS United States. I've been watching the process of the potential rebirith of this great ocean liner, long before the day of the cruise ships of today. Why write about this ship?

Well, I was a passenger twice in this ship's history. We lived in England from 1952 to 1955. Since my Dad was an officer he had the choice in 1955 of flying him and his family back to the US or taking a ship. He chose the ship, and so in 1955 we had a 5 days trip on the SS United States from England to New York City, where we unloaded Dad's Austin Healy 100/4 and picked up our new Ford Victoria sedan, and set off cross country to Idaho.

We spent four years in Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, a place in the middle of the desert I wouldn't wish anyone live. After that Dad had the option for another term with "career potential" there or take an overseas assignment and retire at the end of it. He chose the latter and we spent 4 years in Germany. He got his last promotion in a transfer and agreed to retire in October 1963.

The trip in 1959 to Germany was interesting. We flew the whole trip from Idaho to Germany in a USAF troop transport (prop) plane converted for flying families. We stopped several times including Nova Scotia and Scotland to refuel before reaching Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. We spent one year in local (off base) housing in a small town where we were the only Americans, and the last three years in military housing in Wiesbaden. When Dad retired, he was offered the choice of flying home or taking a ship. And again, he chose the latter.

So in October 1963 we took the trip to LeHarve, France. We had to change trains in Paris, cross Paris in a taxi past the Eiffel Tower to another train station to catch the specific one to the LeHarve port for ship passengers. This time we had an upper deck suite. And it's one trip I remember, spending 5 days at sea, sometimes boring but in the end a lifetime experience I wouldn't have changed. Few people these days have the experience of a transAtlantic trip, especially on the SS United States, the world's fastest ocean liner.

I'm saddened it's not going to be refurbished and put to sea again, but there's always hope. And I have my memories.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Chasing Swallows

This is a post about life and photography. And after ya'll ask, "Huh?", I'll explain. This spring after the new carport had been finished and I now have the luxury of covered parking, a pair of young barn swallows decided to take up residence in one corner of my spot, above. We have lots of tree swallows in our area, some nesting under eaves of the building (in openings for the ventilation), but barn swallows are usually found in the more rural areas.

Anyway, it was odd they built a nest there with all the people walking around and cars going in and out of their parking spots, but they did. And so I decided to photograph them. Ok, not totally thinking. Have you ever tried to chase swallows and then photograph them? They don't exactly sit still and they don't stay home if they see someone around the nest. I don't know yet if they have any eggs, but there aren't any bobbing heads and chirping noises yet.

But being retired afforded me the time this morning to just sit beside a tree and watch them, and hope I won't startle them if they come back to the nest. No, such luck for awhile as every time they landed they spotted me and flew away for a few minutes. And so I knelt, and knelt. But then luck would prevail for an instant.

And the other one in the partnership?

I wish them well and I hope to get more photographs. And spending the time just watching them and waiting for them to land reminded me why I like retirement. It beats the hell out of working from someone else. While I won't say anything about their decor, but for their first attempt built from scratch, it works, protected from the wind and rain with late afternoon sun, so they did ok. And the rent is free. I'll gladly share my parking space with them.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


I thought I would add a small exercise on thought and composition. Ok, it's been discussed and lectured to death, and there are untold numbers of examples on the Web, in books, and displayed in presentations and classes. So, why is mine any different? It's not but simply a mental exercise I went through while working on some images I took with Agfa's Scala black and white transparency (slide) film. I love this film and still have over 40 rolls left to shoot and have to ration it out since it's out of production.

Anyway, while on a walkabout in Seattle before a medical appointment I spent some time in the city park in Capitol Hill near Seattle Community College campus. It's the old water supply system land they turned into a park. While walking and photographing I saw this woman sitting there and took a photo of her. I hate bothering people while photographing, I'm not one of those in your face or get close street photographers. I prefer to use a longer lens or just stay far enough away to be unobtrusive to the subject.

Also, she looked to be concentrating on something, and the last thing someone wants is a photographer taking their picture. Anyway, while working on the image, I cropped it down to just her to see how it turned out and how it changed the image. Now compare that with the original below, and you can see how it changes the whole view and image. So, which do you prefer? Or, what do you see with each of them? Something different about the look and expression?

And sadly, I wish I had asked her name and what she was thinking. Such is a moment in life and a life.

Update on digital photography

Ok, I haven't updated my Canon 5D blog lately. It's the old adage, life keeps sneaking in around the times I go out with the camera. Ok, that's a handy excuse or reason, and a little true, but still I haven't done enough in the last 2-plus months. So what have I done and learned?

Well, there are a few more photo galleries for recent trips and events, such as the Daffidol Festival and parade, rides on Washington State Ferry (WSF) ferries, Seattle walkabouts, and the recent Seattle Pride parade (film images to follow). Mostly, however, I've been focusing on the computer side of the work, namely scanning some of my Dad's old photos from 1946-49, scanning in my 4x5 sheet film, learning black and white printing, and working on my Mt. Rainier NP Web pages.

I'm still working on trying to understand why I have problems keeping things level. I don't have an answer yet, but I keep reminding myself to check the horizontal lines to know if they're not later, ask myself what happened. And yes, I know ole Photoshop can fix anything, I'm still a stickler for doing the best work in the field while you're standing there, it's minimizes the work later. I also rediscovered an old problem shooting the two parade events, which is a matter of geting old, as they say.

I can't photograph for more than two hours at a time, and must give my eyes 15-30 minutes rest. My eyes have problems focusing through the viewfinder and my non-focusing eye, usually shut when looking through the viewfinder, won't focus on distant objects at all. It started ten to twelve years ago from working on the computer for 8-plus hours a day, and has slowly gotten worse if I force it into one activity for any length of time.

Ok, I can rely on autofocus (AF). Yes, however, I often want off-center subjects in focus, so I did change the settings on the camera so I can set the AF and still work - moving the AF off the shutter to the star button. But I notice the AF hunts with some lenses, and I often tend to turn it off. So it's a conundrum, but I noticed the last bunch better at having and/or holding the subject in focus.

And the last thing I learned? I shoot mostly large jpeg. I shoot raw when I want the images where I can use Photoshop the most, but for the most part I like jpeg. They're easy to process, format and print. The problem is if you get the white/color balance setting wrong. If it's wrong, the images most likely aren't fixable beyond getting close but not quite right. For the most part though, I'm taking my chances. After all, shooting a parade and converting all the raw files, give me a break.

Anyway, that's the story to date, and if you're still interested, as Rusty Wallace said, "Stay tuned, Hotrod, we're just getting started."

Update on LF photography

I noticed it's been awhile since I updated my Large Format blog. That's for a variety of reasons and excuses, but mostly because I had to wait to buy a scanner for the 4x5 film. That's done and I've scanned the images using the film holders provided with the scanner. In addition I've been learning to print larger size (8x10) black and white with my printer. I have several printed along with some color prints of the 4x5 slide sheets.

Well it's hard to show prints on-line, so I converted my first 4x5 image to a viewable jpeg, above. I wrote about this experience. To state the obvious, it's a long learning curve to learn 4x5 photography, from the camera and film to the scanning, processing and printing, so I was happy with the results of the first two dozen sheets of film. There were the obvious errors in exposure, a few overexposed, and setup, too much front tilt, but overall I wasn't too bad.

But then I have some years with film and photography, so it's expected I should do better than a beginner. Some aspects aren't necessarily predictable as expected from experience, but it helps. For example? Exposure for one, but it's a matter of sorting out the confusion. "And?", you ask. Well, when you get the exposure readings, providing you have a good light meter, you can get a host of readings, the incident light and the reflected light for the scene's dynamic range along with any camera readings you have (spot, averaging, evalutative, etc.).

I learned to trust the incident light reading the most, as I noticed from my notes. These readings often split the dyanmic range near the middle and was the final setting for most the the shots, only going up or down one half to one f-stop capturing more of one side of the range or the filter effect. I did miss accounting for the polarizing filter effect with one image, so I've learned something from the mistakes too.

I also learned that I need to work with tilt a little more and better. Some of the images could have used some front tilt to get the whole scene in focus, the Scheimlpflug rule. And one image had too much tilt so the building tilted away from the film plane and makes it look odd to say the least. Such are the small things you have to not only learn but keep in mind. LF photography requires a plugged in brain and active participation, otherwise you blow $4-5 per sheet on your own stupidity.