We are now proud owners of a new vehicle a 2008 Jeep Liberty – a model of Jeep Cherokee – which we purchased last Friday thanks to the help of our friend Denise Kacavas help companies cut of us and her brother-in-law Jim who runs a dealership – Allen Mello Dodge Jeep – in Nashua, New Hampshire Jim sent a driver down to pick us up in Boston and Marvin – a sales guy at the dealership helped us figure out what vehicle we wanted as we wanted to also get get four-wheel drive and lots of legroom in the back seats for our tall teens.

After we found the vehicle we wanted Jim even bought us lunch. Thank you Denise, Jim and Marvin and everyone else who offered help and advice with our car purchase.

A number of you had offered to help us move from Boston to Chester once we knew the appropriate dates, well, we now have those dates our plan is to now disassemble all of our IKEA furniture on Friday, April 13th, and move all of our stuff out between 1 and 5 PM on Saturday, April 14th we already have the freight elevator in our apartment building reserved for the move-out and are hoping to convince Linda’s father to drive a U-Haul truck to and from Chester (we plan on having a convoy up to Chester (with boxes in all the extra vehicles and furniture parts in the U-Haul truck) For those of you who have already volunteered to assist us please drop us a note if you can join us on either of these dates. Thanks!

Doug & Erin – We will glad accept those empty boxes you offered us yesterday.

In other updates – I am not experiencing any treatment side effects from the ipilimumab (and if they appear it won’t be for another 10 days, but I am still feeling extreme fatigue, a poor appetite and itchy skin from my radiation treatments and very itchy skin from the same. One other life change I am pursuing is the resumption of my course work for my MFA in Photography with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco – I have committed to taking two courses this semester – classes started today.

 

During one of my classes, the comment came up about needing a tripod to shoot images in low-light. I provided some tips on how to potentially avoid the use of the tripod that I thought I would share with a broader audience.

I should mention that I shoot a lot of low light imagery, and you’d be surprised what you can accomplish without a tripod.

Example of low-light photography without a tripod. 1/13th @ f/3.5, ISO800 with Sigma 18-250mm at 18mm on my Nikon D300s

Example of low-light photography without a tripod. 1/13th of a second @ f/3.5 and ISO800, with a Sigma 18-250mm lens at 18mm on my Nikon D300s. (Photo of the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon, Hong Kong, on July 14, 2010).

My tips:

  1. Make your body the tripod. What I do to stabilize my images (I am right handed) is put the weight of the camera on my hand and then brace my let elbow against my torso. I also tuck my right elbow against my side. If you try and take a photo without your arms braced and stabilized, you’re asking for camera shake for longer exposures.
  2. In addition to minimizing your arm extensions, find something to lean against to provide you with even more stability. Your camera doesn’t have to rest on the wall, pole, ledge, etc. (although if you can get the picture you want by doing that, even better), as long as your body is kept more stable by the physical object. You’ll find after practicing this for a while that you’ll always be on the lookout for such assists.
  3. Control your breathing. Long, slow breaths are good. I find I will typically hold my breath a moment before I depress the shutter release.
  4. Be aware of your camera’s noise reduction features and how to set them properly as well as your camera’s and lens’ stability improvement capabilities. A Nikon VR lens, for example, can get you an extra stop because of its built in image stabilization (but it doesn’t always help). Noise reduction helps get rid of the speckling you see in your images if you zoom them up. Each camera model also has a different maximum sensitivity (expressed as ISO) before noise becomes noticeable in your shoots. For example, the older Nikon D200 I used to use for most of my image started getting noisy at ISO800. But I can shoot my D300s at ISO800 with no appreciable noise, and even at ISO1000 or slightly higher, but by ISO1600, noise is definitely visible if I look for it. Note that if you want a gritty feel to your image, you may want to pump the ISO way up to get that grainy look, of course.
  5. Try to get the brightest lens you can for the shoot you’re planning. That means a low “f” number on the lens. f/1.8 or f/2 is probably the lowest you’re going to see, and they are pricey. But every stop counts in low light photography, whether with a tripod or not.
  6. Make sure your camera is not in a multi-shot mode, so that when you take the image you can leave your finger pressing the shutter release until the image has been captured. The quick pressing and release of the shutter release is a major cause of low light image blur because it jostles the camera – minutely, but enough to cause problems.
  7. Avoid using a zoom on low-light shoots – the more zoomed in you are, the greater the potential shake during image taking. My father once told me that the magic rule for being able to always take shake free images was to use an exposure speed that was 1 over the focal length, and if possible to make it 1 over 2x the focal length you’re shooting at. So, if you’re using a 300mm effective lens, you’d want your exposure to be 1/300th – 1/600th of a second or faster. But for a 24mm effective, you’re down to 1/24th – 1/48th (or realistically 1/30th – 1/50th). Big difference. For low light you can’t always manage that of course, but it’s a goal.
  8. Play and practice, a lot. And use your camera’s playback function with zoom to look at how you did with your shake after you take a picture.

The above tips allow me to get focused shots down to as low as about 1/10th to 1/8th of a second with a 50mm focal length at f/4.5. And if I can brace the camera itself against a wall, telephone pole, headstone, mailbox, car, whatever, I can get stable multi-second exposures. All without having to carry a tripod around with me.

 

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A couple of days ago, lightning struck a large tank filled with naphtha, a highly flammable petroleum product, at the oil transshipment facility on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, where I live. The BOPEC (Bonaire Petroleum Corporation) facility and local firefighters were unable to extinguish the flames and apparently the island actually ran out of fire extinguishing materials, so the plan was to let the fire burn itself out. And burn it did.

I captured the images below last night – the second night after the lightning strike. Word is that the flames have gotten smaller overnight, and there’s hope that additional materials and support arriving on island today will allow the fire to be completely extinguished later in the day.

Larger versions of these images are available on my Flickr pages.

 

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I just entered the National Geographic Traveler World in Focus photo competition. Today is the last day for entries, and I’d like to encourage all friends, family, and fans to please vote for my images in the People’s Choice part of the competition!

Alone, Together

Alone, Together

Six photos were entered (click on link to go to the page where you vote):

  1. Lone Penguin
  2. Yawn
  3. Nighttime at the World War II Memorial
  4. Alone, Together (shown above)
  5. Alone
  6. Hello?

You can vote once per image per e-mail address that you have registered with the contest.

Thank you in advance for your support!