4th Annual World Wide Photowalk Announced October 1-2

If you are looking for a reason to use your camera for something else other than taking pictures of your family, dust off your camera lens and put your creative juices to work. Head over to http://worldwidephotowalk.com and sign up for  the world’s largest photo event taking place in your area taking place on October 1st or 2nd. Spend the day with other photography enthusiasts and professionals gathering new tips, tricks and perspectives.

Sanford 2010 WWPW Crew
Last year, we met up for a walk organized in Downtown Sanford, Florida.

A photo walk is a social event where you will meet up with a group about 50 or less photography enthusiasts and professionals to talk new tips, tricks and perspectives by walking around the location taking pictures. At the conclusion of the photo walk session the group gathers up as a restaurant to compare the results. If this is your first time doing this with a large group, you will be amazed at how many different types of pictures that will come out of this event of the same location.

This event is free and you will be submitting your best picture to a contest to win Scott Kelby’s “Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It” to each leader and winner from each walk location. That winning photo will be submitted to the World Wide Photowalk contest to win a grand prize or 10 runner up prizes. http://worldwidephotowalk.com/prizes/

Photography for Kids

Spend some quality time with the kids get them out of the house and out into exploring the world through photography. If you already have the gadgets, taking your kids out on a photo walk is also very cost effective along with many other benefits. You may also be very surprised with the results.

I am really surprised a lot of parents feel they need to spend a lot of money on their kids to keep them happy or to spend time with them. They really feel that it is necessary to go to the movies or blow a bunch of money shopping for more junk that they do not already need. Kids are very easy to make happy and really all they want is time doing whatever it is that you are doing. Taking a kid to the park is a fantastic way to do that, even if they just play on the playground or go on a mini hike.

The only requirement to taking pictures is simply to have a digital camera. Kids are not a fan of waiting to see results, so being able to see the picture on the LCD screen then organized on the computer when you get home is necessary. You may already have a digital camera, they are pretty inexpensive these days. It really doesn’t matter how fancy the camera is, even a pro photographer can take fantastic pictures with a low end point and shoot. Megapixel ratings are just out there to sell cameras. Something in the 2.1 megapixel range is more than enough to start off with for anybody that wants to capture and save memories.

Last weekend, my daughter went with me on an afternoon photo shoot out at Crane’s Roost. This is something she wanted to do with me and she already had her agenda set on what she was looking for before she went out there. Which surprised me because when I go out on these walks I draw inspiration as I see it. We ended up going out there for about an hour and half, walked a great amount of distance picking up some shots and she came through like a champ. She went out with my son’s HP point and shoot and did not realize until after transferring to the computer that he had it set for the lowest resolution. The camera was set to hold 4500 images on a 1 gigabyte card! I was able to give her some tips on light and when to use the zoom, but she took the ball and ran with it.

Once we got home we performed our post processing on the images. For her first time out I was truly excited to see what she came up with. She just turned 8 this past weekend, so I had no set expectations other than hoping she had a great time. I provided her with enough instruction to use the camera and let her creative spirit take care of the rest. The images came back straight and pretty well framed for what the camera was capable of. She picked out the ones she liked the most, and we printed them out for her. We managed to pick up a box of ten various sized frames for $0.99 on clearance so we filled them with the images for her to start a collection on her wall with.

Now my daughter has something to look back on for her memories and efforts her first time out with creative photography. For this frugal family, it pretty much only set us back on the cost of gas, toner and a box of $.99 frames. All the while, we managed to get in some great exercise, explore a new place, hone our photography skills and enjoy the world the around us.

About the photos:

All of the pictures in this post that have a time stamp are the pictures my daughter took that afternoon.

Positive Attitude Equals Positive Results

With a UMP45 in my hand and a M9 by my side, I charge forward into combat head strong along side a virtual team of Marines by my side. When the count down ends, we push forward like a blast of fire licking the far reaches of the playing field shooting wildly into the air at the opposing front which greets us with equal might. Kill after kill we trade exchange barking machine gun fire until the virtual simulation comes to an end. We play this game over the internet every night fulfilling our inner manly desires for camaraderie and accomplishment.

Every so often, we will come to a point in a game where are down 5 points and there is a minute left on the clock. In that time, one of the team member’s communicates, “oh man we lost”. Immediately, it seems that now there is one true fate for the team, and that there is no use in pushing on to finish out strong within the game. Why continue to grip the controller ever so tightly to get in those last few sweet moments of mowing down the other team to score the final points of the game. This member of your team, “Negative Nancy” has sealed the fate for the rest of the team.

I must confess, there was a long period of my life where I was a Negative Nancy. I always though that I was seeing the world for what it really was, and that I was being a realist. In my mind, people who were positive were clueless and hopeless. I used to think that these people were out of touch and wanted to stuff their head in a hole and solely live through bliss by ignorance. However, that realm of thought was just immature on my part.

When I began looking at life through the lens of positive and uplifting thought. A whole new world of opportunities began to unfold. Whatever direction you want to head to, no matter how impossible the odds by going into it with a positive attitude totally changes outcome. I’m not saying that a positive attitude alone will always equal success, but it will get you much further than self defeating negative thoughts.

The most common time this happens, is when you break from the norm of popular thoughts. For example,if you want to leave your high paying job to seek out self employment, you are immediately met with negativity. “How stupid can you be for leaving that nice job to go paint pictures?!”.  Another example, someone writes a story from the heart but is met with ridicule from spelling and grammar mistakes instead of focusing on the story itself. Further yet, when your accomplishments are met with negativity because they just were not good enough. In all cases, you must hold a positive attitude and emancipate yourself from other people’s concerns. People that are still in this state are simply no healthy and not good for nurturing your spirit to push forward in life.

Simply put, most people do not want to see you succeed. It is evident in society, that doing the right thing and being successful makes you evil. If you are financially successful, you are in the cross-hairs of other people that want what you have. Which is odd, instead of approaching you to see how you became successful so they can learn, they would rather ostracize you and dismiss you with a random generalization.

The solution, is to surround yourself with other healthy people that are interested in lifting you up just as you are there to lift them up. Every one of us has different dreams or goals that we may not necessarily agree with, but we should be right behind each other providing a support system. We need to be cheerleaders for each other, especially when your chips are down so you can pull out strong and maybe even end up winning the the game when there was 5 points down and less than a minute left on the clock.

There was a time when writing this blog would have been impossible for me. I would have been defeated off the bat with negative thoughts. I tend to be very critical and hard on myself. As a testament to my faith in positive attitude, I have been publishing my photography and my thoughts here even though I am admittedly very intimated by what some people might think. At the end of the day, I am pushing to do something where the Negative Nancy’s will comfortably stay on the side lines in a prison, paralyzed by their own negative thoughts.

In the great words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over”, stay positive and keep focused on what you are doing until the game is complete. Seek out the positive light in others, lead by example to spread a positive attitude with others.

About the photo:

I took this picture before the sun even began to peek over the horizon in Mount Dora. The myriad of cloud patterns behind the iconic Florida palm just hit me. I experimented with some different shutter speeds to get different effects with the clouds, however this was my favorite.

Nikon D90, nikkor 18 200 vr

Mount Dora, Florida

Normally, when you live somewhere you take for granted the surrounding cities or attractions around you. Driving through the orange groves in the middle of the night to catch sunrise, I drive into the city of Mount Dora. This morning we had planned to go out to an entirely new place to capture inspiration for some new photos and this city delivered.

At the elevation of 148 feet, this city is one of the highest places above sea level which is evident with the amount of hilly terrain that it is set on. The architecture of the buildings adds a certain village charm which has served as a winter retreat since 1887. There was even a lodge which looked like a big doll house set across from a park setup for lawn bowling.

If you are looking for a place to get out to take the spouse or family for the day to take in bite to eat, art or entertainment, this is a great destination!

About the photo:

These are still some of my favorite photos.

I absolutely love this section of stores and the lighting wound around the railing of the second floor cafe. I sat down on the sidewalk across the street and shot this with a tripod.

The yellow and silver topped dollhouse was home to the lodge 248 Free Masons. I am finding these masonic lodges littered all around Florida.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18 200 vr

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: http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/index.htm?job=service_home&id=amateur

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

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