Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Best Subject You Could Ever Want

Early this week on a particularly misty morning, I sat on a Maine beach content to be doing pretty much nothing but watch my kids enjoy the sand and the water.  But, it wasn't long before my camera came out  with a 70-200mm lens attached and I began to poach photographs.  After making many frames, I was reminded of something I already knew.  No subject that I photograph will ever be as compelling to me or as interesting as my kids.  I believe this is definitely one part parental pride, but I also think something more universal is also at play. There's a fascination with kids being kids.  Maybe it's something we miss, maybe it's just heart warming to see kids play.  I'm not sure, but I sure do enjoy making these photographs and thank you for letting me share them.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Enjoying the Last Days of Summer Vacation

I'm on vacation having a blast with my kids and squeezing the life out of summer.  How about you?  This is another image I made last Sunday morning at Loon Lake in Freedom, NH.  To me, it says September's coming!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Misty Morning Motivation

This morning, like most mornings,  I sat down with a cup of coffee at about 5:45 a.m. and watched the morning news streaming on my iPad.  Somewhere about halfway through that cup of coffee and after the weather report, I realized that this morning out little neighborhood on the Ossipee River and half a mile from Loon Lake was in the mist.  The last two nights have been cool and in a sure sign that summer is waning, the water is giving up it's heat and turning to mist.  Free of any other commitments, there were photographs to be made this morning!

I headed straight for Loon Lake with camera bag and tripod in hand.  On the way, I pre-visualized the shot of the little beach that I frequent with my kids.  The reeds and pickeral weed in the foreground.  Swim floats in the mid and the trees that line the shore of the cove beyond... and, of course, the mist.

It felt good to sit down with another cup of coffee to download images after my 20 minute photo adventure.  I edited the photographs while finishing that second cup.  Here's my favorite.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Look here!

I'm not one of those people hung up on age, so I don't have a problem telling you that I'm 47.  Getting older really doesn't bother me although there is one thing that is driving me a little crazy.  My eyes just aren't what they used to be.

I've worn glasses since the second grade, so I'm plenty accustomed to not having perfect vision.  But this feels like it happened overnight and now I don't seem to see things up close very well.  If there isn't adequate light, it's gets even tougher.  So, I try to remember to schlep reading glasses around, but more often than not, I forget.  My iPhone has proven it's worth once again as it makes a dandy way to shine some light on a menu in a dark restaurant so I can read the damn thing.

Now why am I boring you all with this on this blog post?  Well, I'm here to tell you that this is no fun for a photographer.  It's made verifying focus, checking for blown out highlights and reading camera settings pretty darn hard.  There are even times when verifying a good facial expression is difficult.  The good news is I'm also here to tell you about an awesome product delivering me from the blur of middle age eyesight.  I give you the Hoodman Loupe!

This isn't a new product, but in my view it had always seemed a bit of a luxury.  One of those must haves for the overly indulgent gear head or the thing to get the photographer who had everything.  But with my 40-something eye challenges, I can also tell you it is making me want to look at my camera LCD again.  I can see!

The loupe features a diopter like you find on a binocular so that you can dial in a sharp view of the LCD.  It has the added benefit of blocking glare to make viewing the LCD a better experience than it's ever been... even when I had the eyes of a 30 year old.  I can easily verify sharp focus, validate a great composition and check for blown out areas and poor exposure.  I have to say that the Hoodman Loupe is allowing me to once again walk away with confidence knowing that I got the shot.  While not technically true, it makes the back of my camera look like high def.  It even has a nifty lanyard to hang it around your neck so you don't lose it.  Which is great because you know what goes after your eyes?  That's right... your memory!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Carbonite is your Kryptonite... Stay away from it!

I like to try to keep this blog on a positive note, but sometimes a story must be told.  This is something you have to know or you'll blow $60 too.

In the spring, I decided I was way overdue implementing a good offsite backup solution for my photo archive.  After reading some positive things, decided to get a subscription to Carbonite.  Ironically, I signed up just about April 1st of 2013.  I had some fits and starts in getting the back-up running, but that was mostly my error.  For example, I didn't realize something that makes total sense... I needed to leave my computer on for the backup to work on the initial upload.  Therefore, at the start, my backup made very meager progress and I started leaving my computer on 24 hours a day.

Once I got that straightened out, I locked into what Carbonite considers normal upload speed... about 20 gigs per day.  I have a note on my desk that at 7:41am on May 11th, I had backed up 88.08 gb of data.  Another note shows 5/12/2013 at 1:43pm... 110.61 gigs.

I resigned myself to let it percolate and checked again on 6/6/2013... 229.83 gb of data had been backed up.  I once again forgot about the slow grind being done on my back up, but this week decided to check again.  On August 11, 2013, 295 gb of data has reached the safety of the beloved cloud hosted by our friends and protectors of data at Carbonite.  Huh?  It's getting slower.

When I emailed Carbonite support asking if this was normal, they politely told me that backups over 200 gb are adjusted to be slower than back ups under that threshold.  Now again, user error on my part.  Or buyer beware.  I didn't read the fine print and I didn't do enough math to calculate just how horrible this service is.  While I maybe unique in having over 500 gigs of photo files, I think most people I know now have music and photo archives in excess of 200gb.  At this rate, it will take a full year and I'll be up for renewal before my data is secure and backed up on their servers.

The reply from the folks at Carbonite basically said that's OK with them.  I don't know how that can be.  This is all just bad business.  If someone purchased a stove only to learn that it turned the heat down just as the burner hit the temperature and duration to boil a pot of water, we'd all agree that was a real problem.  Regardless of any fine print from the stove manufacturer, it's betraying the essence of what a stove is and what a stove should do.  It's not delivering on what any reasonable person would consider the purpose of the product.  This is analogous to Carbonite's service.  It's backs up stuff, but not in a way that is a solution for what most people need it to do.

Then they did something I really don't like... and I'm guessing you don't either... they referred me to their terms of service for justification of their performance and the fine print on throttled down back up speeds... as if to say "tough, sucker".  There are hundreds of ways to make people happy in the face of losing a customer.  A coupon code for next year's renewal probably would have made me feel like these people had any concern for me as a customer.  Seeing as my data will probably be backed up by then, it might even have saved me.  Out of curiosity, I followed the link they provided for their terms of service and the screen shot below is what I found.  Good stuff.

In the final email that they sent, they conceded to me with "You are absolutely right, we are not truly designed for use by customers with large video or photo data (archives).... please accept our deepest apologies for any misunderstanding regarding our product".  Take a look at and see if there is any attempt to portray their product as having that limitation.  And like I said... who doesn't have a large photo, video and/or music archive these days?

Now I realize this is just $60 and maybe this is all a little over the top.  But, I'm on a roll and I'll admit it's sort of fun to rant.  It's also months of time and months of leaving a computer on 24x7 and it's just plain deceptive.  I think it's what is so often wrong with businesses today... an approach to the customer filtered through policy and defying conventional wisdom.  They have little understanding or concern for how customers really use their product.

I'll keep the backup running on my machine through out this subscription year and commit to keeping my computer on 24x7 so it can continue the process.  Just for fun, I'll let you know what kind of progress it's making from time to time.  But to be crystal clear, I really don't recommend this service to anyone for anything.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Fun Day with a Nice Surprise!

Great day at the Mt. Washington Valley Arts Association Art in the Park! I was so excited to unexpectedly come home with the judge's First Place Award for Photography... Woohoo! Thanks to Corey Engfer of Corey Engfer Photography for snapping this shot.

Another nice surprise was right next to me... the amazing Big Love Mexican Diner!  I was proud of myself for holding out until after noon because all morning the smell was fantastic.  If you haven't had Rachel's food yet, go become a fan on Facebook and find where they'll be next!  Locally sourced and awesome... there isn't anything that tastes like this east of the Mississippi.

Get Down to Art in the Park!

Stop by and say hello to me today from 10a-4p at Art in the Park from in No. Conway Village! I'll have a bunch of photos for sale including these beauties. And, we'll be making special artist palette portraits of your kiddos for only a $5 donation to the Mt. Washington Valley Arts Association. That's a deal and it's for a great cause!  So support your local art association and support your local artists... you don't need to buy mass produced art!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Workshops are Fun!

I had a great time today with collaborating with Rick Davidson to deliver a photography workshop today at the Freedom Historical Society as part of Freedom Old Home Week. I didn't have time to make too many images but here's a couple.  I live in a really great place and our Historical Society is really cool. My 8 year old joined in and took a big boy camera for a spin!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mountain Runner Portrait Project #16

Ryan Welts, Jack Puppy & Kristina Folcik 

apres the 2013 US National Mountain Running Championship Cranmore Hill Climb

The Mountain Runner Portrait Project is alive and kicking and today I give you MRPP #16 featuring Ryan Welts and Kristina Folcik!  And I shouldn't forget Jack Puppy.... he's a mountain runner too.  New ground is being broken once again with this project.  This is our first family portrait and it's also the first appearance of a dog in the series (or any pet for that matter).  Exciting stuff!  

I've photographed Ryan and Kristina many, many times.  But, they are always racing and cruising right on by me... be that running or snowshoeing.  It was fun to get them to sit down and make a portrait.  

Like all the people featured in the MRPP, they are inspiring and very nice folks.  Ryan and Kristina are also hardcore.  From following their Facebook feed, I can tell you that this weekend was like most... a race or a backcountry ramble with high mileage or both.  Here's a snippet from Kristina's page today, "Less than 4 hours of sleep, got out of the woods from our super fun 32 mile white mountain adventure at 11pm, got home after 1am and now we are off to run a 5k portion of the marshmallow man triathlon."  

If you follow my work, I'm sure you've seen more than one image of Kristina with her trademark smile.  No matter what sort of suffering the race is inflicting on her, she will show you a smile.    Kristina was the 2013 Granite State Women's Snowshoe Champ, winning a race that Ryan Race Directed.  Ryan had a great result earlier in the Summer when he placed second in the Manitou's Revenge 56 mile ultramarathon in upstate NY.  Both are actively involved in the Acidotic Racing Team and they co-Race Directed the Bear Brook Trail Marathon a couple of weeks ago.  Kristina runs for LaSportiva and Ryan recently began wearing the colors of team Pearl Izumi.   

One last thing... and this is another MRPP first... in just one week, these two will be getting married. So, join me in a wishing them best of luck together and a truly happy wedding day!  They'll be running in races on their honeymoon.  

You can read more about this couple's feats on the trails and in the mountains on their blogs... Ramblings of a Rockhopper and Dangergirl... An ordinary girl living a not so ordinary life

You can see all the Mountain Runner Portraits on my website at in the projects gallery or on Joe Blog by searching for the label Mountain Runner Portrait Project.

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