Downtown Orlando North

Orlando ArenaNot quite as interesting as pointing towards the more busy side of downtown, but another view of downtown which includes the Bank of America building. The bright vein that runs through the middle of the city scape is interstate 4. It represents the busiest and ever expanding artery in the Central Florida area. On the other side of it is the out dated Orlando Arena or also known as the TD Waterhouse Arena, which is where the Orlando Magic play.

Eventually I imagine as long as the Orlando area continues to keep growing, this area will also be filled with large multibillion dollar buildings such as the one I’m standing on for this picture.

This was taken on top of the Dynetech Building downtown on the 29th floor. Used a f/10 with a tripod.

Ham Radio

Just about everywhere you look on the horizon in any major city, you a tower with an array of antennas installed on them. Perhaps, most people do not even notice them, or had no idea they were there, but we all use them! These are the towers are primarily known for hosting the services that breath life into our cell phones. The closer you to one, the more bars you have. There are some towers that are cleverly repainted to look like fake trees in some of the more affluent neighborhoods.

People have gone so far as to terminate their land line in favor of just paying for a wireless cell device. They put their whole world and trust in this, even in the even of an emergency. Imagine if as a result of a disaster we lost these precious towers and we were to rely on another form of communication?

A lot of people believe radio or the radio hobby is dying or dead. Amateur radio hobby is still shared by over two million people around the world. Unbeknown by most but still willing to license anyone of any age that can pass the standard technical exam. It’s a hobby and service where amateur radio owners can communicate through various radio to other amateur radio owners for recreation and public emergency coordination.

What separates a licensed amateur radio operate from someone who can just pick up a walkie-talkie or CB is that amateur radio has more freedom to work with frequencies and output power to communicate over longer distances. In one night, one man can communicate with 100 different places over seas to other amateur radio hobbyists or communicate with a friend on the other side of the city.

I primarily communicate on a 2 meter band with a local repeater to talk with other amateur radio owners around the city. Normally, when you communicate with someone on a frequency, they also have to be tuned into that frequency to listen. Each frequency acts as a chat room for all parties involved, depending on the frequency you may only be able to go a certain distance or be blocked by hills or mountains as some of the lower bands are more line of sight oriented. In order to accommodate a larger chat room, antennas that are usually mounted centrally in the city are mounted high enough to increase the availability to other operators to talk to others through longer distances. Repeaters receive the transmission and retransmit it out to everyone else who is tuned in. The most popular repeater here in orlando is 147.120 operating on the 2 meter band.

To communicate over seas or at greater distances that require bouncing your signal off of the atmosphere (or ionosphere to be more precise), to follow the curvature of the earth. This would require separate equipment than what you would use to talk locally with.

I officially appeared in the ULS database as a new General HAM on 2/23/10 and go by call sign “KJ4SLR“.

For more information, check out the FCC Amateur Radio home page:

About the photo:

This particular antenna was directly across from the Orlando Amtrak train station. I have a fascination with antennas, and for the most part they do not photograph well for exciting pictures. However, this one had a lot of equipment on it and the sky painted a nice backdrop.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18 200 mm vr

Lake Side

Along side of Lake Ivanhoe in the Gaston Edwards Park I was taking some shots of the Orlando skyline and the buildings reflecting off of the lake. I was continuing to walk around to frame up a better shot to look down and see this at the lake edge. While I do my best to try to think ahead of the shots I want to take, sometimes I find shots that are totally unexpected. When taking photo walks, this tends to happen a lot. This picture does not really tell a story, but has been pretty well received.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18 200 mm vr

Downtown Orlando

Downtown Orlando NightlifeOverlooking downtown,  is a great view from the 29th floor of the Dynetech Centre. This marvelous building is a mix of business and home to 164 luxury apartments.

After some experimentation, what worked for me best was a f10 stop with a few seconds of exposure time.

I also learned first hand, that cheap $35 tripods are not adequate enough for the weight of a DSLR. The Nikon D90 is 1.5 lbs, and the Nikkor 18-200mm lens is 1.2 lbs so the camera ends up being roughly 3 lbs. A cheap tripod you pick up at your local mega retail store is fine for maybe a pocket size point & shoot or perhaps even for your kids to use around the house for setting a repel tower for their GI Joes.

My style is to shoot low, so I’ve never extend the tripod to clear a guard rail before. Atop a 29 story building, the wind adds a new ingredient to the challenge of getting a concise clear shot that a small aperture and longer shutter speed. These tripods simply are not made to handle the weight of the camera, it nearly felt like it was going to fall over with the extended weight of the lens and was excessively wobbly. The only successful shots were from collapsing the tripod and mounting it on a portion of the roof that had a deep low wall top.

Taking it all into consideration, it does not make sense to use a cheap $35 tripod with a $2500 camera. It is no different than buying a fantastic $1500 lens and defeating how awesome it is by using a cheap $20 filter. Lesson learned.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-200mm VR2

RHEL4 up2date error: rpmts_HdrFromFdno

Ran into an issue when using Red Hat Enterprise Linux up2date that it would fail to fetch a package. This was because mid way downloading the package, I aborted the operation using CTRL-C. When I was ready to resume the update, it returns a bad MD5 checksum error.

For this example, firefox was the affected package.

This error is triggered from a package that is broken, and is not uncommon to happen.

To correct this, go into /var/spool/up2date and remove the broken package.

Run up2date again, success!

Orlando Amtrak Station

Orlando AmTrackApproximately one mile south of Church Street station in downtown is the Orlando Amtrak station. This station was built in 1926 for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad then later by the Seaboard Coast Line rail road. It is still an active rail road station, and will be upgraded with the implementation of the Sunrail system planned for 2013. Due to it’s location adjacent to a cluster of Orlando hospitals, it will become known as “Orlando Health/Amtrak Station“. Over the years, this sector of hospitals has grown considerably and expected to employ over 19,000 people in the next 25 years.

About the photo

I was actually in this area to visit an organic brewery on the other side of the tracks. We were hoping to get a tour of the facility, however they were not hosting tours that day. In driving around to find that place, I spotted this Spanish-mission style building that looked rather appealing.

After some experimentation with the monochrome setting on the Nikon D90, I realized that it still captures pictures in color. There is a flag in the file that sends a request to the Nikon computer software to present it in black and white. When RAW images are brought up in Google’s Picasa, they come out in color anyways. Which is fine, this allows you to work with the colors and tones a bit before converting it over to black and white.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18 200mm VR2

Board of Directors

Group of VulturesI have been working for the same company for nearly 10 years. I came in this morning to find that someone who has put over 18 years at this company is leaving to follow his passion to become a professor and to get out of this city. Keep in mind that this company pretty much hires people for life. In my 10 years here, I’ve seen people work here for 30 years and die before they even hit retirement. One of my co-workers calls this place the “Hotel California”, you check in but you do not check out. So undoubtedly, this individual who is making the move to leave after such a long tenure was brave.

With the state of the economy, the constant trend for companies is to lay off people to cut costs until recently the tide has turned much to the surprise of companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of voluntary resignations has surpassed the number of layoffs in February of 2010 for the first time since October 2008.  One such cause is that with the cost cutting that companies do, they are no filling in where people have left or cut thereby stressing those that are staying in the job. Companies have been taking advantage at increasing the load on their workforce because people were too afraid to let go of what they already have. Personally, I have a great paying job, with great benefits. The greatness of the job has degraded since one of the people on our 4 person team left, and they did not refill the position. They did not promote me into his position and I am left to do all the work he was paid to do.

Another big reason why people are leaving their jobs is also attributed to career advancement. With the job shortage, people were too gun shy to leave their jobs and it has created a backlog of workers looking to aggressively promote themselves into new positions in other companies. The days of devoting yourself to one company and rising through the ranks through hard work is in the rear view mirror. The companies that you can actually do that at are far and few between. Even the company I am employed with has a trend to hire outside this office.

We have been staring that these same cube walls for years. We spend most of our days watching our kids grow up through pictures on our cube walls at the expense of making someone else rich. Through that time, we have been a slave to our debtors, buying things we cannot afford and now chained to a desk working off our illusions of fancy lifestyles and conspicuous consumption to live the American dream. This is a voluntary life release program, you can go home every day to live your life, but you better be back.

About the photo

I took this photo in Mount Dora on a photo walk one morning. Those vultures were all hanging out on the chimney, and my buddy said “Look it’s the board of directors”. Vultures are a sign of death and bad luck. Working for someone else, you are sacrificing your life so they can squeeze all the good qualities out of you for their gain.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-200mm VR2

Bank Owned

Anyone who is going through turmoil as a result of an unstable economy or even a financial situation should feel like what this picture exemplifies. Most Americans rely on banks to provide things that we would normally not be able to afford on our own. Through that, they rely on a great source of income. Those who have lost that source of income, are now faced with the heavy burden of handling the finances for investments that at one time were a “sure bet”. The bank, alone is a master standing tall over you, thirsting for your pittance in return for your freedom to continue on until the next time it is demanded from you.

Some people, never wake up from being slaves to this financial institution. Most people are so blinded by consumerism and keeping up with their neighbors, they gladly give up their financial freedom to give off the illusion of status.

The bible states Proverbs 22:7, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” There is no doubt that debt can take over the choices you have in life. The more you have the more it limits those choices.

About the photo

I managed to make my way to downtown Orlando to work on night photography. I love going downtown because it is busy with life, lights and architecture. With this shot, we managed to scale an open parking garage at the base of the BB&T building. Unfortunately, due to the high wall surrounding this particular parking garage, we became limited with our options. Framing up shots with the wall in the way without having a low building perspective was not easy. However, I figured I would take advantage of that perspective and shoot this building from the bottom up. Other than some slight contrast updates this picture is right out of the camera.

I took this picture with my Nikon D90 mounted on a tripod with a remote release.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-200mm VR2

Sleepy Marina

As the sun fell into the far off distance of the St. John’s river out in Sanford, I turned just the opposite direction and really liked the blue tone setting on the Marina. The amount of light left after the sun had disappeared was still enough to provide a reflection of the the boats on the water. The streaks of illumination in surrounded by lights added a nice touch to the picture, bringing in a bit of color to the overpowering blue tone.

I had my camera mounted on a tripod and used a remote release.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18 200mm vr2

Busy Bee

On my first photo walk at Henry P Leu gardens, I was lucky enough to come across a bee tending to a flower. When photographing flowers around the gardens, I did not switch to my macro lens but used the full length of my 200mm zoom lens. I was aiming for the same results that is implemented with portraits while diminishing sharp longitudinal features and building a nice bokeh in the back ground. However, a macro lens would have been ideal for this shot as it would have sharped up the subject while retaining the nice bokeh.

Bokeh is derived from the Japanese word boke or verb bokase, which literally means blurred. Parts of the images are blurred intentionally to create depth. Using the right amount of bokeh in the right places can truly make your subject “pop”. Bokeh should represent soft and rounded edges to the objects, which is commonly described as “smooth and creamy”.

Nikon D90, 18-200mm vr.