Gosh, This Is an Awesome Country

Let me begin with an obligatory quote stolen from Wikipedia:

Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament (BP) propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America

---Thomas Jefferson, November 29, 1775

So anyway, yesterday, I was at the gym. And I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but I was running along on the treadmill, blasting tunes into my head, while the news is rolling by on one of the televisions that these stupid gyms always have running, even if the screens block a really wonderful view out one of the windows. And some dreadful news about BP continuing to blast oil into the Gulf was rolling past. It made me so angry. So I indulged in a fantasy in which I and some buddies hijack that enormous BP oil skimmer, sail it to BP's corporate headquarters at 1 St. James's Square, London (which is about a half mile in from The Thames), and spray the place down with thick, gooey crude. (Shopping list: very long hoses.) Silly, hateful, vengeful fantasy, but it got my heart rate up quite nicely.

Which reminds me of what a great country this is. Read more » 

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Quite a Yesterday, Quite a Today

It's always interesting visiting the Upper Peninsula. The people are friendly (provided you're not a deer or a fish). The river is beautiful. And there isn't a modern, properly configured computer in sight.

To give you a sense of what it's like, I present to you my offspring, rendered just as they appear in The UP, in sepiatone and everything. Yes, it actually is 1937 there. Albeit, subject to some radical climate shifting. (The St. Marys River, in background, was once many feet higher.) And more vibrant swimwear.

Max & Sam c.1937

Which might explain why my emergence from The UP felt a bit like Future Shock. The sequence of events went something like this: Read more » 

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How to Celebrate Freedom and Love

Well, Deke is safely ensconsed in a broadband-challenged area of "off-the-hand" Michigan, so I can write whatever I like today without him editorally looking over my shoulder. (I think he enjoys turning the tables on me.) So I thought about running my seasonably inappropriate and infamous "How to Draw a Snowflake using InDesign" tutorial, but, instead, I'll celebrate my personal independence the way all red, white, and blue-blooded American's do this time of year here in the states, by rounding up the best advice on how to photograph fireworks.

  • Over at the The Digital Story, Derrick's got a great set of basic advice for shooting your pyrotechnic celebrations. His first item? Turn off the flash: "Yes, you're going to be shooting in a dark environment, and if your camera is set to auto flash, it's going to fire. This is the last thing you want, so turn it off." This presumes you know how to turn off the flash. In fact, that's probably an even better tip: know how to control the flash on your camera before you're in the dark trying to figure it out on-the-fly. (For more sage advice on shooting in special circumstances, from airplanes to underwater to infrared, check out Derrick's book, The Digital Photography Companion.)

Have a small light handy for checking and altering settings on the camera and tripod without having to fumble in the dark. A small red LED key chain flashlight is perfect for this task. Red light is less disruptive to your night vision than white light.   Read more » 

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