All posts by hochspeyer

At the Intersection of Autism and OCD

I really found this interesting. It’s worth a few imuntes.

Musings of an Aspie

This morning I got my triathlon race number: 336. My first thought was, “yes, okay, good” because 336 is a pleasing number. If I’d gotten 337, I would have had the opposite reaction. 337 is not a pleasing number at all. I don’t even like typing it.

What’s good about 336?

3 + 3 = 6

6 / 2 = 3

3 + 3 + 6 = 12 which is divisible by 3 and 6, also; the digits in 12 added together = 3

337, on the other hand, is a prime number. Some people love prime numbers, I know. I’m not one of them. I find primes frustrating rather than interesting because I can’t do anything with them.

The strength of my reaction to seeing 336 printed beside my name surprised me a bit. I’m still getting used to this latest eruption of OCD traits and how relieving or…

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EOM 05.31.14

May has come and gone. It’s time to sit down and make some sense of the past month’s numbers- and possibly to think about next month. I’m referring, of course, to blogging.

Having sold things in the past, I’m painfully aware of how the numbers game works. Someone, generally a team lead or a manager, sits you down in their office or corners you in your cubicle, and the “numbers” discussion commences. Generalities at first- how the company or division or team did the previous month, and what the goals are. Then, how you did, and what are your goals, and finally what your manager’s manager has been told your goals for the coming month should be.

In the past week I’ve had the opportunity to read several blogs that had “blogging” as their central theme, and I think its necessary and beneficial here for me to step back from my regular theme of photography and talk a bit about blogging and goal setting.

I was never horribly good at sales; I understood it and was moderately competent, but never superstar material. So, I drifted away… but not completely. The concept of “beating last month’s numbers” has stayed with me in unrelated, yet positive ways. As far as this relates to blogging, of course I want to write posts that are on topic, interesting and with decent frequency. For me, this means my photography blog (what you’re reading right now) is generally about photography (pretty easy) and my data blog tries to at least mention data (somewhat more of a Herculean task). Interesting? Well, my posts are generally fairly good-natured in tone, with humor applied where possible. I’ve seen blogs that were rants, crusades or even manifestos, Whatever! I don’t have the time or energy to read a 10,000 word essay, much less write one.  Frequency for me used to be 6-8 new posts per month, but with two blogs, I’m not sure if that’s going to be practical.

I hinted at this, but one additional problem I have with lengthy  posts: my natural writing style is compact. My favorite illustration of that is a history research paper I wrote as a college freshman.  The assignment was to pick an Enlightenment Leader, do a brief biography, and explain how this person fit into that school of thought. Well, the French Revolution was pretty much the end of the Enlightenment in France, so it was logical (only) to me that Napoleon fit the bill. Like any good history student of the day, I went to the library, pillaged the stacks and bloody nearly got a hernia carrying the books to the checkout desk.

An indeterminate period of time went by. I was sitting in the Newspaper Office one fine afternoon when my girlfriend mentioned something that made her boyfriend’s blood curdle, “Don’t you have a paper due pretty soon?” I’ve gotta say, she was truly a lifesaver- as it turned out, the paper was due the next day! So, I grabbed a handy notepad and proceeded to start writing.  As soon as I finished a page, I tore it off and handed it to her, and she typed it up.  The paper was supposed to be 10-20 pages- I had eight.  It was supposed to be about an Enlightenment leader; I wrote about a dictator of the Romantic period. My instructor was also one of the toughest graders in the History Department… what could go wrong?

My confirmation name is Paul, but it should have been Peter, because for one bright, shining moment, I walked on water: the paper received an -A.

So, that’s why I write blogs the way I do, I suppose.

Until next time, I am hochspeyer, one f-stop short of a six pack.

 

 

Gear 05.28.14

DSC_0031I thought I’d take a little time to write a bit about what I see as the nuts and bolts of photography- in the world of photography, the actual physical equipment that is used to create images. By physical equipment, I mean everything prior to the darkroom, usb cable or software.

Previously,  https://hochspeyer.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/rain/ , I had alluded to how Cokin filters had altered the face of photography when they first were introduced. I think I purchased my Cokin filters sometime in the very early Eighties, and recall angry letters to the editor to the likes of Popular Photography predicting the end of photography as we knew it and how Ansel Adams was turning in his grave (these are not verbatim memories, but the anti-Cokin crowd of the day was full of vitriol ).

Amazingly, the only gear that I have from that period that is viable  today is my tabletop tripod (which I have yet to locate, because it is in my…), camera bag, and my collection of Cokin filters (including the holder, adapter and lens shade.)  My much larger investment in 35mm camera bodies and lenses is pretty much worthless.

Be that as it may, I want to talk a bit about DSLR gear, and getting started in DSLR photography.

This blog originally started out a few days ago, but Meerkat’s coming of mileage grabbed the spotlight at that time, so now I’m getting back  to the topic of photographic hardware- specifically, DSLR (DSLR= digital single lens reflex) photography.

Our daughter and son-in-law  visited briefly this weekend (Amanda and Mike).  We had a fun (albeit brief) visit, and I got to show Amanda my camera. She immediately grabbed it, and after an abbreviated crash course (instruction), she was off snapping photos. After all of the excitement of taking pictures, we settled down to actually talking about equipment and technique. I showed her the Cokin filters, and I think she looked through each one (I have eleven).  She was puzzled by a few of the gradient filters, and I explained how they could perk up a pale sky or uninspired waterscape.  She also expressed some frustration at, after composing a shot, being unable to snap it-the camera was set to full auto- sort of like having a photo nanny!

“Don’t shoot that, sonny,” the photo nanny says, “your depth of field is way too shallow, you’re about one f-stop short of prefect lighting, and zoom lenses are for cowards! Besides, you’re not using a Hasselblad. Sheesh, you don’t even have Zeiss glass”

I don’t like photo nanny… and I just created her!

I told Amanda about the viewfinder, and how it had changed from 35mm days. She was curious, so I pulled out my Minolta X 700, and first showed her the 35-70 w/macro lens. She looked at the back of the body, and gave the back (where the end flap of the box of film goes) a poke. Then, she looked through the viewfinder, and was amused that she had to actually not only zoom manually, but focus as well!  Then, I pulled out f5.6 250mm catadioptric lens. I showed her how the mirrors worked, and explained why it was so slow. The highpoint of that discussion was unscrewing the +0 neutral density filter and putting in the grey filter, which stepped it down to f11. That was enough excitent for one day, so I put everything away.  Actually, I think it was getting close to dinner, so I put everything away, and the rest of the evening was consumed by dinner and a movie.

All in all, a pretty nice weekend.

Until next time, I am hochspeyer, one f-stop short of a six pack.

 

 

Meerkat turns 1,000!

I’ve been waiting for this day since early April, when we first brought our Meerkat home. Meerkat, of course, is our Subaru Outback. I think every Subaru in the United States is born in Indiana, and our Meerkat is no exception.  Vehicles traditionally are thought of as female, so I suppose “she” is the appropriate pronoun.  Our adoption agent was Sandy Jackson, and the adoption agency was Grand Subaru.  Sandy actually had to get the car from another dealer in Indiana, so when we took Meerkat home, she already had ~250 miles (400km) on the odometer.

I can’t speak for other manufacturers, but Subaru specifies a break-in period… and that’s why I’m celebrating today. The break-in for our car is 1,000 miles (1,600km), and coming home from work I hit it today!

DSC_0014As I approached my milestone of mileage, I decided that a song would be in order. One of the really cool features of our Outback is the versatile sound system. The head unit has two AM settings, three FM settings, and three SiriusXM settings, with each of these having six presets, for a total of forty-eight presets. It also plays CDs, has a 3.5mm (headphone jack) input, a USB port and Bluetooth. The USB port has a 64Mb flashdrive right now, containing ~45GB of music.

I finally settled on Boston’s “More Than A Feeling”.

It was 0810 (GMT -6). It was a beautiful Spring morning, with just the right amount of sunshine. The car turned over 1,000 just about the time I was passing a county mounty who was taking pictures. Remember the counry song “Convoy” recorded by C.W.McCall? The citizen’s band (C.B.) craze of the 70’s was pretty much single-handedly created by that song- in C.B. lingo, a “county mounty” is a county sheriff’s police car, and “taking pictures” means they’re using radar to catch speeders.

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So, Meerkat hit 1,000 miles today (better hurry up and grab a slice, that virtual cake won’t last forever!) In practical terms, we can now take Meerkat out on the open road!

That’s all of the news that’s fit to print for now- I need a nap. I wanted to share this little bit of everyday joy before the details faded.

Before I forget- a quick note about today’s photos. The first one is of Meerkat (of course) patiently waiting for me to snap a few frames. The second is me in the de rigeur photographer’s pose, shot against the driver’s side rear door window.

When you’re done here, if you like you’ve read and seen, take a look at some blogs that I follow: Ed Mooney’s very cool blog https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/22587945/ and Mary Widdicks’ hilarious blog-  http://outmannedmommy.com/about/

 

Fly low, keep your powder dry, and always remember to keep Ridin’ the Storm out!

 

 

Late Sunday on an abandoned spur 05.18.14

 

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Blog title note for readers outside the United States: although I make every effort to include metric equivalents in my writing, my dates are always expressed as MM.DD.YY.

Lots of sunshine this past Sunday. Jennifer and I had just returned from the gym, and dinner was at least an hour away. It had been a sunny day, and its setting phase was bright and deep. I said I was going to go over to some railroad tracks near the house and take some pictures. Jennifer suggested I take Mr. T along for company… and that some fresh air would be good for him. He said yes, so I grabbed my Nikon and we piled into Meerkat, our Subaru Outback, and were off for an adventure.

Mr. T is our youngest son, and he is also my neighbor in the Secret Underground Lair. And even though he really does have a name, his blog pseudonym will forever be Mr. T, as that is how he was first introduced.

In five minutes, we were at the site of our shoot.

As we walked across the street, and as I looked around, I was struck with the realization that we had lived in this area since ~1993, and I did not know this line was abandoned. I pointed out that there was not a hint of shine on these rails to indicate and recent usage; the ties (sleepers) were mostly rotting and in some areas the tracks were barely visible under gravel. In a nutshell, a fantastic place to shoot.

We walked probably a quarter of a mile (~500m); so much of the track had been pulled up and actually stacked on the side of the right of way. I was composing a shot of some track that had been stacked four high, and suddenly realized that the piece at the top was actually a set of parallel tracks that had been cut (possibly by a saw, as I saw none of the characteristic markings of a blow torch). They were all stacked neatly, as if  some giant child had stacked them up, intending on completing his railroad layout tomorrow. Unfortunately for our hypothetical giant child, it seems tomorrow never came. There were three or four neatly stacked groups of rail, all with their ties still attached. In Another place was a large stack of ties- probably close to fifty, if not more… I can imagine a gardener reading about these massive hunks of wood, free for the taking… if only the location were known!

As with my previous photographic outing, https://hochspeyer.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/happy-happy-joy-joy/ I simply had an experience that was beyond words. I shot eighty frames that Sunday, and would have shot more were it not for the untimely demise of my battery.

Mr. T and I returned to Meerkat, and we gloriously drove off into the sun… er, can’t say that. We drove off in a generally northeasterly direction.

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- one f-stop short of a six pack.

*Don’t forget to visit my data analysis blog…it’s more fun than it sounds like… hochspeyer.blogspot.com

Happy happy, joy joy

Remember the Nicktoons cartoon “The Ren & Stimpy Show”? I do. I was not a fan of the show in any way, but the episode with the “Happy Happy, Joy Joy” song somehow has stuck with me. I’ve only seen this episode a few times, but I consider it the high water mark of the series. So, what does this have to do with a photography blog? Ren and Stimpy ran from 1991-1996. As I mentioned, I was not a fan of the show; I did not even like the style of the cartoon. To summarize, from my viewpoint: Ren was an idiot, and Stimpy was just plain stupid (to quote Ren, “Stimpy, you IDIOT!!!) There are a number of cartoons that have been produced with a pair of characters that take on the world. The earliest I can site is the interesting pair of pairs found in “The Flintstones”- Fred and Barney, and Betty and Wilma. Later, there was the antagonistic pairs of Rocky and Bullwinkle versus Boris and Natasha. There was Pinky and The Brain. My favorite cartoon pairs were Pinky and the Brain, and the Angry Beavers”  Daggett and Norbert.


One day, Ren was feeling down. Stimpy built a “happy” machine, and Stimpy “made” Ren happy… they spent much of the episode (as I recall) singing, “Happy, happy, joy, joy”. Happy is easy; joy- not so much. Happy is a good thing, and can be quite uplifting. But I think happy is often more knee-jerk than anything,


Joy, on the other hand, is tougher to define, and seems to be harder to latch on to these days. It is dichotomous; one does not have to be be happy to be joyous, but chances are, if one is filled with joy, the happy may follow. A few days ago (Tuesday or Wednesday… I’m really not sure) I told Jenifer that I planned to take my camera to work on Friday. Her approval consisted of, “Watch out for trains.” When I registered my camera on the Nikon website, I checked the “Other” box in the interests area, and wrote in “Railroad/Industrial”. I got off work around 0730 and was home before 0900. In that time I shot nearly eighty frames… I love digital! In honesty, I’m wondering if we would even know Ansel Adams name if he had digital available to him.

The point of this particular blog entry is this: the morning was beautiful, and so was my mood. The weather service on my phone said the local conditions were mostly cloudy, but my observation was that it was partly cloudy at worst. As I warmed Meerkat up (Meerkat is our Subaru Outback), I planned out my stops; I had one or two locations in mind. Of the two, only one was visited, but three others ended up being added.

I was out for barely an hour, and in that time shot almost seventy frames. That hour was pure joy, and I am thankful for it.

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Christmas… in May

20130809_084556[1] Schwarz is unconcerned.

Today is Friday the 26th of May, 2014. This past Sunday, I had cut the grass and it was in the 80’s (Fahrenheit, high 20’s Celsius); it snowed this morning. Jennifer and I had planned on visiting the library, and in a dusty corner of my mind a scheme had been fermenting. Well, to be honest, it was more of an opportunity to make a little sidetrip. As Jennifer put the final touches on gathering up library materials and double-checking her shopping list, I headed down to the Secret Underground Lair to grab my old Cokin filter holder. It’s the standard, garden variety “A” style that I purchased when I was shooting 35mm.

I mentioned my desire to hit the camera store across the street from the library, and Jennifer agreed. I asked if she’d like to come with, and she said yes, “so you don’t spend any money'” to which I replied, “you mean so I don’t spend too much money”. I had no intention of spending much money at all, and we ended up spending $5.42.

The lady in the store was very nice- she asked if she could help me find anything. I said yes, but I’d like to take a look around first.  She, of course, was fine with that; she went back to her Eric Clapton concert, and we browsed the narrow aisle. This was a classic, Main Street small business: if you don’t see it, they don’t have it. It’s also the sort of business in which the proprietor knows every piece of their stock, and where it might be found.

I only browsed for a few minutes, casting an appreciative eye on both the shiny and the dusty, and then it was back to the lady. “Do you carry Cokin,” I asked.

She said that she did, so I pulled out my filter holder and told her I needed a 52mm adapter ring. She went to a brown cardboard box which had its flaps amputated quite obviously by a boxcutter with only a small thought towards neatness. After only a few moments, she produced a ring and handed it to me. I inspected it. The black paint on the threads was hardly worn, and the paint where the ring mad contact with the holder was unscathed and shiny- in a photographic equipment type of black shiny. Best of all, the front of the ring bore the markings “52mm Ø France”. Genuine Cokin. I was happy. I asked how much.

“Let me check.” I’m guessing she had the item on consignment- she said. “How about $4.95?” I said that sounded fair, and Jennifer paid her.

Poker face. Poker face. Poker face. I learned this some time ago… I haven’t seen these anywhere for less than ten dollars, and I told Jennifer that on the way to the library.

The best part of the deal, though, is this: both of my Nikon lenses are threaded for 52mm filters, so I suddenly have a small stable of around a dozen filters that I can use with both of my lenses.

As cats are alleged to say, “I haz teh happyz.”