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Archive for April, 2009

Home- Desert Photography of El Paso Texas

Everyone has a stomping ground when they were a kid. This was mine. The desert of El Paso out by Hueco Tanks. My friends and I would drive 32 miles to get here, pay $5.00 and climb rocks, explore caves and basically enjoy nature all day.

The desert isn’t for everyone. Some feel it to be sparse and dead. I personally find it beautiful. You can breath out here. There is space. The view of the sky (Cielo Vista) is amazing at times.

I took this shot when I went home for Christmas of 2008.

Home - The Desert of El Paso, Near Hueco Tanks

Home - The Desert of El Paso, Near Hueco Tanks

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Dog Day Afternoon – Puppy Photography

I spent a large part of today going back over old images I took in 2007 but never got around to processing. This is one of those shots. Jax, as a puppy getting some time on the bed to relax and marvel at my camera.

Dog Day Afternoon

Dog Day Afternoon

Aimed at Heaven – USAFA Chapel

The United States Air force Academy Chapel, located in Colorado Springs. This is an all-faith chapel.

Designed by Walter A. Netsch of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago (SOM)

This shot is only the top of the 150′ tall structure. Cropped slightly above the doors, I was looking to emphasize the spire at the entry and the steel architectural details. I was pretty happy with the way this turned out.

I took this shot in 2007

The Chapel at the Airforce Academy

The Chapel at the Air force Academy

Travel Photography – Securing your camera gear

Travel opens up so many opportunities for new images. The terrain, architecture and local culture changes and affords photographers the opportunity to find their “eye” again or get out of a rut by having new things to explore and shoot.

This was the case with me and my anniversary trip to Vegas was the cure. The only problem is that when I travel I tend to travel HEAVY and take everything. My camera bag weighs 42 lbs and when you are in Vegas you don’t necessarily want to talk around with $18,000 in camera equipment for your entire stay.

So, what do you do when you want to take everything but you don’t want to have it with you at all times? The safes in the hotel rooms are too small for 2 bodies, 7 lenses, filters etc and there was no way I was walking around with my shoulder bag or backpack for 4 days loaded with my camera gear.

The answer I found in an article in Popular Photography, its called PacSafe. The good people at PacSafe have a very unique product that’s very functional, priced well and worth EVERY PENNY.

The PacSafe is a Steel Mesh (called eXomesh) cover for backpacks and camera bags alike. This steel cable mesh covers your entire camera bag and allows you to lock it to something stationary with a padlock. It prevents anyone from taking items out of the bag, or accessing your gear. It installs in 2 min and folds up for storage just as fast. I can honestly say that it’s the best security add-on for traveling photographers I have ever come across. If I could remember who wrote the article that turned me on to the PacSafe I would send them a Thank You card because this device allowed me to take all of my gear, leave it in my room in plain sight while being totally secure. All I had to do was carry a key with me for the lock and remove the steel cover when I was ready to go out to the Valley of Fire National Park.

the PacSafe

the PacSafe

Everything is included in the PacSafe. It comes with the steel cable wrap, the cable to close the wrap and lock it as well as a carrying case and three keys. When ordering the PacSafe, take a moment to measure your bag. They offer several sizes and getting a PacSafe that is the right size is important. There is plenty of room in these so it doesn’t have to be exact. The idea here is that you want the safe to close and be secure. If there is too much slack then the bag is accessible. So be sure to look at the sizes listed on the web site and measure you bag for a good fit. I purchased a PacSafe 120 which completely covers my Tenba (Shootout Large) Backpack and or my LowePro  (Commercial AW).

There is a video on the PacSafe web site that shows you have to install or cover your bag properly and how to stow it away when done.

PROS:

  1. The device is simple. Its simple to install, use and put away.
  2. Its Sturdy. You really need a set of professional cable cutters to cut this thing. A knife or box cutter wont do it.
  3. Its relatively inexpensive. When you consider the cost of a professional bag or backpack to be around $300 US another $80 to protect that investment as well as the gear inside is a reasonable expense.
  4. Its built well. I looked for signs of frayed cable, bad joints or poor construction. I couldn’t find any. The device is well made, solid and sturdy.

CONS:

  1. The biggest limitation of the PacSafe isnt the PacSafe itself, but where you anchor the bag. You REALLY need to secure this to something solid. A sink drain pipe wont do it. It needs to be a solid piece of heavy furniture, to a mounting bracket in your car or too a pipe that is welded in place. The best security is only as good as the weakest link. Where you anchor your bag is critical.
  2. The lock could be more robust. While it is a very good lock, a thicker pad lock or Master Lock would be better. If you replace the lock, make sure the bolt size will fit through the cable end. Otherwise you cant lock the bag properly.
  3. The beads on the cable which keep it taught in the locking bracket are plastic attached to the cable. I haven’t disassembled one of these yet to validate they are plastic throughout, but if they are then a hammer could crush one allowing the cable to slip and open up a bit. I need to look into this to validate the beads construction.

On scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) I would honestly rate this product a solid 8.

The PacSafe worked great for me, protected my gear, while giving me the freedom and security to have a great trip and all my gear at the same time.

If you have comments or questions about the PacSafe, I am happy to answer them. While you are here, please take a second to look at some of my images.

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PS- Thanks to my friends at DPS and Popular Photography Forums for their comments and requests for additional information in the review.

Re-Do: a re-edit of “Desert Flower” Nevada

Here is a shot I put online a few month ago of a flower. This shot was taken in the Valley of Fire National Park.

Let me know what you think of this version. Comments are encouraged and appreciated.

Desert Flower (re-edit)

Desert Flower (re-edit)

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Signals – Photography for the RUSH fans out there

Sometimes when you are out with your camera life just throws you images that you cant pass up. This is one of those shots. I was leaving work in downtown Seattle, lugging my camera bag when I looked over the wall of the parking structure.  As I looked down I saw a freshly repainted fire hydrant directly below me. All I really needed was a Dalmation hiking sniffing this thing and it would have been perfect. The old RUSH fan in me had to take the shot. So, with a quick  lens change, I managed to snag this shot from six stories up looking down on this scene. I like the shot because it appears to be a monochrome with the color of the hydrant left in, but its not. This is the end of a bus tunnel, and when zoomed just right all you see is shades of grey and this bright red hydrant.

Signals - For the RUSH fans out there

Signals - For the RUSH fans out there

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Seattle Central Library –

This shot is taken on the 9th floor of the Seattel Central Library located in downtown Seattle on 4th street. The building opened on May 23, 2004. This shot is of the steel I-Beam exterior and its diamond shaped glass (there is enough glass in this building to cover 5 1/2 football fields or 127,767 square feet. Most of which is tripple pane glass with wire mesh between the outter layers.

Subdivisions

Subdivisions

UPDATE – This image was selected and published in the 2009 One Exposure book (www.1x.com), The book entitled, “210 Photographers 1×2” was released in October 2009.