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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Teaching an old dog new tricks

"...played it til my fingers bled..."

01-26-2011

My fingers hurt like hell.

I signed up for Beginning Guitar at Sac City College this semester. I’ve never played a guitar before…never really tried my hand at any musical instrument in a serious way. None, that is, unless you count the time I plunked around on an old accordion when I was 7.

“I’m not musically inclined.” I’m not sure where that notion came from. I’m guessing I got embarrassed when I was a little kid when I tried to sing and someone laughed. Maybe it was the cute girl in class, maybe be it was my fourth grade teacher, “Sister Mary Eff Withyourmind”, hammering home the point with the edge of a ruler. So I grew up without an interest in making music, often a little envious of my peers who could play, and some played quite well. Garage bands in the neighborhood. Jazz bands in college. Me? I am just a music fan.

No interest, until now. Part of my interest in learning to play a guitar comes from the portability of the instrument. A guitar needs no accompaniment, no electricity. Just whip it out and play with it. It is also fun to learn something completely new to me. It’s good for this brain to make it do something unfamiliar. I do not know how to read music, I barely have rhythm. So it’s a challenge on many fronts. The instructor is very good. He’s obviously talented and doesn’t mind working with the students who, like me, have no clue what they’ve gotten themselves into.

First, I’m just learning to place my fingers on the strings in the right places and hoping for a clean strum – that’s all I want. The metal strings don’t have any give to them, so my fingertips are taking all the heat. It is almost like a mini-torture, the pain pushes against the determination, usually ending in a deadlock.

And until the callouses form, my fingers will hurt like hell.

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p.s. Today would have been my dad’s 87th birthday. If he were alive today, I wonder what new tricks he would be learning right now.

Lucky Day

img_8648

09-30-2009

I was driving home from a photoshoot and noticed that my odometer was rolling over a bunch of 13’s. It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious (I’ve heard that it’s bad luck to be superstitious) or I might have been worried that something bad was about to happen. I was more interested in stopping in a safe spot and taking this photo. Lucky for me I was able to stop at just the right moment. I parked in a nice little quiet spot, positioned ¬†just under a ladder, in front of a black-cat-crossing, and I think my tires were resting on a crack in the street.

I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

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Independence Day – 2009

towerbridgefireworks

July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

After the Sacramento Rivercats game ended on Friday night, they had a pretty nice fireworks display at Raley Field. This was taken from across the Sacramento River along the promenade. I included one of the towers of the Tower Bridge because I wanted a stationary and recognizable object in the image in order to provide some scale to the fireworks.

Fireworks photos are pretty easy, if you can control the shutter speed of your camera. For a time exposure, a sturdy tripod is essential to keep the camera from moving during the exposure. I used a 10 second time exposure for this shot – I also set the lens at f/22 (ISO 200). This gave me a good base exposure for the bridge. I just locked the shutter open while a few fireworks bursts went off. It’s hit or miss, sometimes you’ll get a lot of bursts (and sometimes more is not better), other times, there won’t be very many bursts.

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Getting There on Two Wheels

10-12-2008

It’s getting easier to get around town on a bike. With more cyclists hitting the road to beat the gas prices, auto drivers are getting used to bicycles maneuvering through traffic. This photo is meant to give the viewer the sense of relative movement between cars and bikes. Even in a bike lane, it’s a little un-nerving when a car whizzes past my shoulder with a speed difference of 25-30 MPH.

This photo was taken with a remote setup. My Canon Digital Rebel XT was mounted on a bracket attached to the rear axle of the bike. The camera was remotely triggered with a radio trigger in my right hand. The bracket was made from a shelf bracket I picked up at Home Depot. I drilled out the holes so I could attach one end of the bracket to the bike axle and the other end holds a ball-head for adjusting the camera. (You can click on the photos to see a larger image.)

I set the camera to manual exposure with a slow shutter speed (1/30 sec.) in order to gain some motion blur from the moving car and roadway.

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