2013 – Looking back over the last 12 months

Sunset
The sun sets on another year. (Lincoln countryside)

12-27-2013

This has been a great year, one filled with changes, growth and plenty of fun.

The year started with relocating to Lincoln, California. While Lincoln is not far from Sacramento, it has a very different feel. With a population of 44,000 people, Lincoln offers a quieter and slower-paced lifestyle. Local businesses are very friendly and comfortable. People regularly say “Hello” on the sidewalks and I’ve seen numerous examples of the community coming together to help a neighbor who may struggling with one of life’s challenges.

Downtown
Downtown Lincoln has a small-town feel.
Benches
The benches offer a place to sit and visit with neighbors.
Library
A local resident parks his classic car in front of the Carnegie Library building.

One of the hurdles of moving was establishing my photo business in our new location. After living in Sacramento for almost 50 years, I knew it would be important to make new connections in Lincoln. Joining the local Chamber of Commerce and Art League were the first steps; both of these organizations were very welcoming and open to new members. We immediately met some friendly and supportive people and began making connections to others.

Before we moved to Lincoln, I tried to research information about Lincoln and noticed a dearth of information about the town, its traditions and events. I realized there was likely an unmet need for local news, so I launched “LIFE in Lincoln,” a feature-news website. I figured this would be a great way to learn more about the town and gain some exposure to the locals at the same time. I asked around about interesting events and people, interviewed them and took their photos and posted stories. I was a bit surprised at the response. In 2013, LIFE in Lincoln had 3,575 unique visitors and 7,410 pageviews. I consider that a big accomplishment for the first year.

In addition to the exposure provided by the site, I had the greater pleasure of learning more about the people of Lincoln. Some examples:

Fortunately, the move to Lincoln did not disrupt my current photography business in Sacramento. I had the pleasure of working some new clients in 2013, including KB Homes, Range of Light, Motel 6 and Hill Physicians. I also enjoyed shooting again for many regular clients, some of whom have been working with me for several years.

July4_2013
The 4th of July parade in downtown Lincoln.
Fireworks
Fireworks fill the sky over the crowd at the local park.

After teaching photo classes at the Learning Exchange for four years, I decided it was time to pass it on to someone else. I’ve meet over 1,000 students in these classes and teaching has been very rewarding. The additional miles of driving began to wear on me, plus I’m really compelled to begin teaching photo classes in Lincoln.

Some personal projects also kept me busy this year. I helped a friend convert a few hundred 35mm color slides to digital files. These were photos he took as a young man in the service in the 60’s. It was fun to hear his reactions when he saw the images of old friends and family members. Some of these images looked better after digital enhancement than they did as the original slides. I also had the honor of hanging some of my photographic art in art shows and coffee shops. With all the digital viewing methods available, sometimes a framed print is still the most enjoyable to look at.

In the category of photo gear, this was also a year of changes. I downsized, both in the quantity of equipment and the footprint as well. I noticed a growing accumulation of camera gear and decided I needed to lighten my load. I sold off most of it and in doing so, I’ve also moved over to a new system of cameras. These cameras offer excellent image quality in a smaller and lighter design. I’m really enjoying the freedom and fun in shooting with less clutter, both in my hands and in my head.

2models
New camera (left) is smaller and lighter than the former gear (right).

I’m looking forward to 2014 – every year is better than the last. Happy New Year!

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Give me three feet or give me death

 

At 40 MPH, three feet is not a lot of room.

09-24-2013

Well, maybe there is no need for such drama.

I took this photo five years ago as a personal assignment. I wanted to illustrate how it feels to ride a bicycle on a busy city street.

The California Bicycle Coalition asked if they could use the photo as part of their campaign to pass a law requiring drivers to give bicyclists three feet of space on a roadway. Of course, I agreed.

This week Governor Jerry Brown just signed the “three-foot” legislation, Assembly Bill 1371. The bill is not heavy-handed; it has a base fine of $35. I’m also guessing that most drivers won’t change much of their behavior because of AB1371. After all, we’ve had laws on the books for decades about stopping at a stop sign, yielding right of way to pedestrians and, more recently, no texting while driving. If you look around, you’ll notice that these laws aren’t always followed by some drivers either.

At least there’s a law now.

If you’re interested in knowing how this photo was taken, it was pretty simple. I modified a shelf bracket to mount a small DSLR camera onto the rear axle of my bicycle. I used a 10-20mm lens for a very wide perspective, set the shutter speed to 1/30 second for some blur effects, and used a small radio remote to fire the camera while I navigated in traffic. After about 250 shots, I found at least one good one (above).

 

I mounted my DSLR camera to the bike frame with a modified shelf bracket and a ball head.

 

I used some safety cables to keep the camera from bouncing down the street. It never came loose.

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Falling back

 

The fall colors have arrived, with a mission.

11-25-2011

After sharing a terrific Thanksgiving meal yesterday, followed by a rousing evening of board games with the family, we took a walk today. It was a beautiful, brisk sunny day so it was a great time to get out and walk off some of the calories from the previous day.

The trees are at their height of beauty this week and it seems everywhere you turn, it hits you head-on.

 

Classic shot of someone’s front yard in the fall

I used to lament the onset of winter, partly because I enjoy doing things outdoors in warm weather. But lately, I’ve come to really appreciate each of the seasons with patience. The autumn season represents transition from the heat and energy of summer toward the cold, gray quiet of winter. Even though winter seems to be the earmark of dying, it is part of the cycle. From this dying, the spring can bring out new life and new abundance in different forms. One season feeds the next, and on and on.

 

These are a few stragglers.

 

Every winter I tell myself I will use the time to finish up some long overdue indoor projects. But it seems I instead find a new, more interesting project to attend to, leaving my best intentions behind like a pile of dry leaves.

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A Day at the City by the Bay

 

San Francisco’s skyline

06-02-2011

I got a last-minute chance to go the Bay Area last week. Laura was teaching a day-long class in Richmond and I decided to tag along, drop her off at her class and then take a ferry ride over to San Francisco for a few hours. This also gave me a chance to try out a recent used camera purchase. Combined with sunny weather, it was a great day.

The ferry leaves Larkspur and crosses San Francisco Bay to the San Francisco Ferry Building along the Embarcadero. I was lucky enough to catch the high-speed ferry (30 minute ride vs. 45 minutes on the slower one). It really flew along the water. I’m guessing we were moving about 50 mph land speed, based on how hard the wind hit me in the face.

 

These guys were playing “I’m King of the World” with the wind on the ferry.

This was my first time on a ferry on the Bay and it really gives a nice vantage point along the way. We passed San Quentin Prison, Angel Island, got a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, and the approach to the SF city from bayside was terrific.

 

San Quentin Prison – Home Sweet Home for some…
Somebody didn't plan for a rise in sea level.
Approaching the San Francisco Ferry Building

Once I landed in the City, I walked around the Embarcadero area. I ventured into the Hyatt Regency Hotel with its famous atrium interior. I took a photo from this vantage point around 1980, it may be on my website.

 

The atrium inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

 

 

Looking up through a sculpture.

 

Looking down at a lunchtime gathering.
Looking out at the bay.

I had lunch with my son, Ken, who works about a block away. It’s always fun to see my grown kids out in their own world – I realize Ken has lived more than 1/3 of his life in San Francisco. We had a great visit and it was, as always, way too short. I bopped around a little more, bought a baseball cap from the SF Giants Dugout Store (naturally), and headed back to the ferry landing for the return ride back across the bay.

 

This little guy (or gull) was drafting the ferry boat. (That's pretty quick and sharp manual focus.)
"And when the wind is right you can sail away, and find serenity" (name that tune)

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Every Month is Bike Month

 

My custom cargo trailer helps me use my bike for photo jobs.

05-15-2011

The month of May is officially designated as Bike Month. Several events throughout the city help raise awareness of bicycling for commuting, recreation and exercise. I am committed to find more ways to operate my photography business on two wheels. It’s not just the recent rise in gas prices that motivates me; it is much more than that. I’m interested in getting some good clean exercise. I’m interested in conducting my business in a way that attracts like-minded people…clients who appreciate the extra effort and commitment it takes to use a bike. And to expand my range, I can carry quite a bit of photo gear if I add two more wheels, as in using a bike cargo trailer.

I bought a used Burley bike trailer last summer at a yard sale for $20(!) and spent some time over the winter building my custom gear trailer. The wooden box is very light, and the design gives me flexibility for arranging the cargo space. A partial platform leaves space in the lower section for light stands, umbrellas and a tripod. The rest of my gear rides on the top of the platform and a latch on the lid keeps it all in place. The smaller format of the trailer makes a narrower track and the trailer is hardly a burden, even when loaded with equipment.

 

The lower section holds a tripod and several lightstands. The upper platform holds the camera and lighting gear.

 

This is the rear view of the trailer - the rear panel is an interchangeable placard.

For fun, I created an interchangeable placard that fits inside the back frame of the trailer. I can easily change the placard to display different messages, depending on my mood at the time.

When possible, I plan to use this rig to go to photo assignments. Naturally, distance, weather and personal safety will dictate the times I’ll use it. I have already used it a couple of times and I believe there are probably a lot more opportunities than would originally come to mind. There are some other errands that I can take care of on a bike as well, if I plan ahead well enough.

I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate carbon credits into this – perhaps someday I will be able to issue carbon credits to clients who hire me for photo jobs that work well with the bike/trailer rig. I don’t know what a “carbon credit” looks like, do you? Maybe I can just figure out how much gas I’m not using and print up a certificate documenting that and give it to the client for framing. You never know where this idea can lead.

So watch for me on the road. Honk gently and wave (with all your fingers) and I’ll wave back – and while we’re on the topic, please Share the Road.

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Locke, Calif

Main Street - Locke, CA

03-04-2011

I took a quiet drive along the Sacramento River toward the delta region last week. It’s mostly farmland in this area…pear orchards, new vineyards, grain fields.

Locke is a small historic riverfront town about 20 miles south of Sacramento. In fact, it is very small. The main street (above) runs about one block, and it looks like there are a couple of streets with small houses on them. Locke has an interesting history. It was formed in the early 1900’s by a group of Chinese residents who wanted to form their own community in the farming region.  It has the unique status as the only town in the United States built exclusively by the Chinese for the Chinese. A few small businesses still operate along the main street: a bar called Al the Wop’s, some gift shops and a small market. There is also a small Chinese memorial park monument.

Talk about committed...

I think this is called "knob and tube" wiring. Whatever, it looks like original installation.

Looking between buildings along the main street.
Window detail
A few patrons of the local bar, Al the Wop's.

Making good use of an old auto rim.

Reflecting on a memorial...

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