Thursday, October 19, 2017

Odds, Ends, and Opportunities

A couple of odds and ends for today. For starters, I found out I was nominated for a 2017 Black and White Spider Award. You can see the gallery of entries here: http://www.thespiderawards.com/12gala/index.php. I really love the Spider awards because the work is usually top quality. This really is the best of black and white photography so I would encourage you to have a look and even spend some quality time with this site. It's wonderful.

Next up, a couple of opportunities for you:
I think that should be a good enough hint as to where I'm at over the next couple of weeks. Safe travels and good light!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the 5DS and the 100mm macro lens. The place I'm going is actually pictured on that 20 Yuan bank note. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - October 13th

Happy Friday the 13th! Are you ready for some superstitious opportunities? Here goes:
 While it's not 13 entries it should be enough to get you started on this wonderful Friday the 13th. Good luck!

Until next time...

Friday, October 06, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - October 6th

A girl peeks out a window frame in the J Lorraine Ghost Town of Manor, Texas
Let's take a peek at some opportunities for you this weekend, shall we? Here are some things you might want to check out:
Best of luck getting your work out there and getting after it.

Until next time...

PS This one taken at the Austin area ghost town, Canon 5DS with the walkabout lens. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - September 30th

A corner shop with pastel colored trim has purple and green chairs out front, including a holiday wreath, in Salado, Texas
Yes, yes, I know I'm late. I was supposed to do Opportunity Weekend yesterday but I'm here with you in spirit today so that you can still maybe get after it this weekend (well, maybe a little bit.) I've been stuck in bed with the flu you see so I'm a bit slower catching up with everything this weekend. Apologies for this as I hope to be getting back to my regular old self as soon as possible. I feel quite like those folks who never take down their holiday decor or who just go through life a bit more slowly than the rest of us. Man, have I been dragging. But, it's all good, all good. I guess the old bones needed a bit of a rest. So, while I'm getting after getting back into good health, I offer up some opportunities for you to get after it:
 Several all media shows for the painters in the bunch this week. Best of luck with your entries.

Until next time...

PS This image from Salado, Texas taken over the holiday season, Canon 5DS and walkabout lens.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Mountain of Flash Memory, Oh How It Grows

Interior view of an historic schoolhouse in Stonewall, Texas as part of the Gillespie County Historic School house tour.
So, the mountain of flash memory is starting to pile up. This time around, I was having a bit of a dilemma in calculating just how much flash memory I am going to need. I know it's quite a lot. Heck, *you* know it's quite a lot but how exactly to calculate just how much is a lot, right? I mean, is it bigger than a breadbox or are we talking an entire Volkswagen here? What to do, what to do? I hatched a plan, actually, I've been using this technique for a while and I thought I would share. Please forgive if this is obvious but it might not be to some folks so I thought I would share just in case.

For starters, I calculate how much my camera can fit on a flash memory card. Each camera will be different so, if you are following along in an attempt to do this for yourself, you will need to figure out how many frames your particular camera can fit onto, say, a 32GB card. For me, the specs are as follows: I can get approximately 439 frames on a 32GB card and approximately 870 frames on a 64 GB card (the reason it is not exactly doubled has to do with the space reserved for the index that gets written to the card. You don't need to know that, just dig up the number of frames you particular camera can fit onto a few popular sized cards and you will be all set. It's an approximation anyway, right, as you really can't tell how much you are going to shot until, well, until you actually shoot. If you can't find this information on the Internet, you can always put one card in and see how many images your camera tells you that you have left. Whatever works, right?)

The next estimation is a bit trickier. You have to figure the number of days you will be shooting (in my case, that's 15) and the number of hours you will be shooting per day. Now, I shoot a lot of night work and I prefer to over compensate for flash memory so I generally estimate I will be shooting 12 hours a day, this time for 15 days of shooting in total. Once you have this number, this is the really tricky calculation. You have to guess how many frames an hour you would be shooting. Usually, I go with 100 because that's kind of a brisk pace, although your results may vary. Generally speaking though, you can guesstimate how many frames an hour you shoot more easily than you can how many frames a day so I like to break it down this way. For my particular shooting, I have come up with the following estimates: 15 days of shooting (this is 1 higher than actual shooting, by the way) 12 hours a day, 100 frames an hour.

Next comes the fun part. Multiple theses numbers together to come up with your total frame count. In my case, it would be 15x12x100 which works out to be 18,000. So, based on my back of napkin calculations, I'll be shooting roughly 18,000 frames and I should plan for that. Often, quite often in fact, I estimate this number on the high side and on the low side. So, let's say I might estimate 15 days of shooting, 18 hours a day, 100 frames an hour. That works out to be about 27,000. Likewise, I estimate a low estimate and, for this time, I've come up with about 10,000 frames. Then, I round off profusely. For this time, I've estimated my total frames to be between 10,000 and 30,000. (Yes, I know that's a lot of shooting. We'll see if I actually shoot that much but I have to plan on the high side, always on the high side, so I don't run out of flash memory.)

Given that I can fit 439 frames on a 32 GB card and 870 frames on a 64GB card, that leaves me needing roughly 18,000 frames at 439 images per 32 GB card or 18,000/439 which works out to be about 41 memory cards. My estimates work out to anywhere between 22 and 68 and so I'll probably aim for that nice 41 card middle ground, maybe a little bit over that for my target.

A couple of other points:
  • I know, I just know some Dobie Do Right is going to come along and take this apart by saying, "you know you can reuse flash memory, right?" Yes, Dobie, I do know that. The problem is, when you are traveling, you often don't have time to upload. If I'm shooting literally morning, noon, and night, when might I actually have time to upload anything I'm shooting? I have to plan to not be able to reuse these cards since I can't plan on having time to upload. I'm not going to risk running out. I have to shoot, shoot, shoot and upload later.
  • Part two of the Dobie Do Right conversation is now going to be, "You know you can buy larger cards right? So you don't have to take as many and it'll hold more?" Yes, Dobie, I know cards come in varying sizes. The problem is, if you have a card go bad, you risk losing all of the images on it. I don't want to risk losing that many images if I can help it so I like to break down my shooting across multiple cards. This also helps in the rare occasion that I get a break from shooting and might be able to upload something. I don't want to spend 400 hours uploading one card. Smaller/multiple cards is a better solution. It also allows me to leave cards back at hotel room for example, and just take the days shooting in case say my bag falls into a waterfall. Lots of reasons to not just stuff everything onto one giant card, but they all fall into your basic "one egg/one basket" philosophy here.
  • For those who think this is way too much flash memory, it probably is. I'm not sure I can keep up this kind of shooting pace but, like I said, I want to have more, way more, and be able to have leftover cards vs running out of cards and having to scramble to get more. I can use the flash memory when I get home but it's hard to come by on the road so I opt to travel with more and bring home any unused. Works out better this way. 
  • For those who think this is expensive, you don't want to spend a lot of money on a trip and be afraid to shoot for fear of running out of memory cards. I like to shoot. This is what I do, and shoot I will. Flash memory is still cheap in a lot of ways. It's a lot lighter than film and less fragile not to mention the development process is a lot easier. I love the fact that I can shoot more and not have to worry about running out. It's only memory cards after all, shoot away!
  • For those who ask, "don't you delete images you don't like to make room for more/new ones?" No, I never delete from my cards. Often, I don't post process images but I always opt to leave images on the cards, upload them, and evaluate them on my computer before tossing them. It's my workflow, just how I work. Sometimes, I can't make up my mind about an image until after a long time has passed. I like to go back and revisit images from time to time as well. The image you see here was actually shot last summer and only processed now. That's how I work. Had I deleted this, why, I would not have it now. I make a rule to almost never delete on card, to just keep shooting, and see what the camera gives me.
  • For those who ask why I would want to do this, well it's beats staying at home, doesn't it? Once again, this what I do, this is who I am. I shoot a lot, I love to shoot, I'm a photographer. Did you expect me to knit a blanket instead? If I did that, would you expect me to only buy one ball of yarn? Nope. Not going to happen. Mountain of flash memory for me it is.
Apologies if I am being snarky or if any of my math is wrong. I'm a bit under the weather today and not had much to eat so I might be a bit off on some things. Must double check all of this tomorrow. For right now anyway, the memory cards have started to show up. I've ordered a bunch. I think I'm up to the 19 card mark with more on the way. Forty one cards is not a heck of a lot when it comes down to it. Forty one cards, a raincoat, a giant passport stamp and a tasty dumpling. And you think I'm crazy for not wanting to pass that up? Man, I wish I could be out the door tomorrow.

Until next time...

PS This one from the historic Gillespie County Schoolhouse tour. Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens on a hot summer day.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - September 22nd

A cowboy gazes into the distance in front of a window frame and some string lights at the L Jorraine Ghost Town outside of Austin, Texas.
If I could tattoo some opportunity on your arms I would, but, unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Here are some opportunities for you this week:
 I wish you the best of luck getting after it this weekend.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. Love that golden light.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Kicking the Door Down

Two girls dressed in western clothing kick down a saloon style door at the Austin, Texas Ghost Town, JLorraine in Manor
This past week, there was a brouhaha over an announcement from Nikon. The announcement itself seemed harmless enough-Nikon announced a new D850 DSLR camera, which is, well frankly, what one might expect Nikon to announce. The problem with the announcement stems from the fact that Nikon picked 32 photographers from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to promote this wonderful new camera. Nikon picked 32 photographers to share their stores and talk about their wonderful new product, which was all well and good, except for the fact that not one single photographer selected was a woman. Since the announcement, the Internet has sort of blown up about this, with the New York Times technology section doing an article about the lack of women in the promotion. Nikon itself tried to issue some kind of apology like statement but this didn't really fly as it wasn't quite an apology or at least not the kind of apology the Internet was looking for at the time and this really just further confused the issue. I believe things have settled down a bit although the question still lingers over the notion that 32 photographers could be selected and not one female represented in the bunch. I'm mean, technically speaking this is possible although statistically unlikely, right?

If you look at other statistics, they don't quite mirror what Nikon has done but they come relatively close. For the 2017 Canon Explorers of Light, there were 8 women and 32 men. The Nikon Ambassadors fared a bit better with 7 women and 17 men. The idea that female photographers are underrepresented is certainly there and, it would appear, there is some data to back this up, at least upon initial glance. What the statistics don't tell us, however, is how many women applied for these programs. Most of these type of programs are application based, in fact, if you follow this site you might have seen me post a call for entries back in June as part of my ongoing series "Opportunity Weekend" where I shared the news that Hasselblad was looking for applicants for their Master's Program. I think a better statistic might be how many women applied for this program and were accepted/rejected vs how many men did the same, but this is one of those things we may never get the chance to figure out as the application processes for these type of things are usually shrouded in secrecy or in the very least not made public.

Part of me really wants to call out Nikon for being unfair, but then I think about the application process and it really is difficult to tell just how many women applied or approached Nikon to be included in such an announcement. I feel strongly that women should be represented in the arts and in the photographic community in particular but then again I've seen what can happen with women who don't represent themselves. I know many women, far too many women, who don't send their work out enough, who don't have the drive, who don't have the stamina (I'm not talking physical stamina here either) to keep going, keep sending work out, keep pushing themselves to advance their careers. Perhaps, I am feeling the pangs of guilt over this for myself. I mean, do I really send my own work out enough? If you don't send your own work out, you can't rightfully expect the universe to just sort of randomly "discover" you, especially not in a field as competitive as photography-one in which there are many participants struggling and pushing themselves every chance they get. No, if you are even the least bit lazy or hesitant, quite frankly, you don't deserve success in this field, regardless of gender.

Part of me also likes to think along the lines of what I like to call "living well is the best revenge." By that, I mean if you can do the work, get the shows, get on the gallery walls, get into the magazines, you can prove any of the stereotypes wrong just by doing it. It's all too easy to make excuses, right? But spending the time and actually doing it, actually getting it done, proves that women can do it too. I've always been this way in the technology field. I've never stopped, not applied, not pushed, not done something because, well, somebody told me, "you're a girl." Why should my photography be any different? Yeah, I get it. I'm female. So what? Girls can take photos too. In many ways, the best way to rub somebody's nose in their prejudice is to just do the job and leave them scratching their head. I like to think I live my life that way, Nikon announcement or not. More akin to Nike than to Nikon perhaps but the "just do it!" is strong with me.

I also recognize that the art world is full of under representation in many ways. A lot of times women are out there making kick ass art and it gets written off as mere "doily art" while men are seen as "artistic visionaries." Things can be unfair like this, unfortunately, it's just a factor of who we are as people and the price of doing business. It takes time for society to change, to catch up with the accomplishments of women and so it follows that it might take some time for women to move out of the "doily art" and into the overpriced auction houses. Things are changing in a lot of ways. I mean, look at somebody like Cindy Sherman, she's kicking it at auction and is frequently one of the highest bid artists going, photographer or not. Photography itself is often under represented in the art world. Let's face it, photographers are treated like hobos running after the caboose of fine art in the gallery world. For a long time too, color photography was not accepted as "fine art" and nowadays it's often "digital art" that gets the snub from the high falutin noses in the gallery. Bottom line? If they want to snub you, if they really want to snub you, why it's all too easy to find something they don't like about you and milk it for a "I'm sooo sorry but you're just not good enough" raspberry. Yes, sometimes the best answer to that is to break down the door and work all that much harder to get past the inevitable snubs. It's just what we have to do because we are female, photographers, working in digital or for some other reason they see fit to banish us from the table of all things acceptable. Anybody can claim to be under represented if they try hard enough, frankly, I'd rather be known as somebody who worked hard and kicked that door clear off its ugly hinges (but maybe that's just me?)

So, was Nikon right in selecting an all male round-up of starts for their D850? Probably not. Will anything come of it? Probably not. I mean, they might have to suffer a few barbs from the Internet pirates but, let's face it, the bottom line for them is selling cameras and they are probably doing to do just a lot of that with their new D850. On the whole, I'd have to say the needle really didn't move all that much although they did get people talking a bit. The announcement got me thinking anyway. We certainly live in interesting times. (Wasn't that some kind of ancient Chinese curse? Oh the horror of it all.)

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. In the ghost town outside of Austin. Kicking doors down indeed, ladies.