Thursday, September 29, 2011

Submitted some photos for a contest

Lensbaby is having a contest where you submit your best senior portraits that you have taken using their lens system. Being that I've only photographed senior portraits once in my life (they were taken earlier this year), I had only a few to choose from. I took the majority of the pictures using a standard lens and threw on the Lensbaby just for some experimentation. The Lensbaby Composer that I have is similar to a tilt shift lens. It allows you to tilt and adjust where you want the sharp part of the image to be. Here is one of the three pictures that I sent in.

What the heck, might as well try! I submitted a total of three pics (the max). Only 238 other photos were submitted so far and the contest closes this Friday. Fifty prizes to be given away and I'm talking nice prizes like a $3500 Canon 5D camera body!!! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday Night Ride 9/26/11

It was another nice night for a ride. The leaves are turning and the nights are getting chilly. Ride faster while there is still light. And that we did! We had two kids join us, Marty and Christian. And a grown up new rider named Derek. Welcome to all! It was a good ride. Kind of weird seeing Tranquility actually dry and dusty. Thanks to all who rode. Thanks to Dale for providing the beer, Dave P for the chips and beef jerky, and to Paul for hosting. Sorry if I forgot anyone. Dave P also showed us the new THOR aprons that he picked up. Looking good. Price is still yet TBD. Hit him up if you want one.

Dave P on the Ridgeline 

Greg riding the Ridgeline

 This cracks me up. You really can track your pizza on the Dominos website. Trevor put my pizza in at whatever time. Jena and I were pretty excited about the technology. You can even leave words of encouragement for the team that is making your pizza. 

Lasts week's "Taco Ride"

I use the words Taco Ride loosely anymore because last week's ride was anything but ordinary. For one, at Austin's on The Trail I had a ribeye sandwich while the rest of the crew ate wings. So we'll call it the ribeye sandwich/chicken wing thing ride. We lost Dave and Paul after they decided to go to Mineola as originally planned. I didn't find out until I had arrived in Silver City and people were asking me if I saw Dave and Paul. We tried calling, but reception is so poor that you would need a satellite phone in that town. You think I'm kidding but I'm not. Yev had to ask for the wifi password in order to use his phone! The weather was still cooperating, but it's time to start bringing jackets. Come to find out that Paul and Dave waited so long for a server at Mineola that they ended up leaving and went to Taco Bell instead. Nothing wrong with that!

Jerry rigging at its best! Use a stick and tape to properly fit that light!

 Ribeye sandwich. I was hoping for a shaved beef type of sandwich. Nope. 7 ounce ribeye on the bread!

Monday, September 26, 2011

More test riding

When was the last time that you hopped on a bike, rode around the neighborhood, and tried to find things to roll over. Kind of like when you were a kid, exploring the neighborhood trying to find curbs to jump and ants to fry on the sidewalk. Yeah, we've all done it. Puts a huge smile on your face remembering those times, right!? That's exactly the feeling I felt riding this bike. Huge smile on my face on this sunny day while riding. And the people who I passed that stopped mid step to point and to whisper, "Look at those tires!" did the exact same thing! Huge smiles!

Thanks to Xtreme Wheels in Council Bluffs, I finally had the chance to test ride a Salsa Mukluk in a size that fits me. Medium! I've been following these bikes for over a year and I finally found one to ride! They built it up for me and called me that same day! What service! How was it you ask? With those monster truck tires, it's actually pretty easy to ride! It takes off pretty quick, rolls over anything and everything, and is pretty nimble. Blaine, Bill and his crew let me take out the blue 2012 Mukluk 3 on this beautiful Sunday. Just bring it back before we close! No problem! I actually went out for two rides on it because I was having so much fun. I cruised around Council Bluffs and had a blast! Found some sand to check out the traction. Also came across a neighborhood with hills and all brick roads. No suspension needed! These tires are the suspension! Easy to climb those hills and descended like a champ. I was actually disappointed that I had to stop at each intersection at the four way stops. I just wanted to keep pedaling and rolling along! Rolls super easy through grass and on dirt paths. I'm sold!

The blue color is sparkling and I really like it! ONLY problem is that I'm planning to get the upgraded version, the Mukluk 2. It's not out yet, but stores have been taking orders. The differences include drilled out rims to save weight, E13 crank, Avid bb7s, X9, 120tpi tires, and a black anodized paint job. It is projected that the differences among others will save the bike about 4 pounds. Yeah yeah...take a huge dump before you go riding. But four lbs is quite a bit! While the Mukluk3 that I rode today would do me just fine, why not go big since I plan to ride this bike year round? The Ti framed Mukluk is one that I cannot afford. But the Mukluk 2 is something that is within my wallets reach.

Many people ask why would I need a bike like that? It can't be fast. Well its actually not too bad. At the same time...I admit it. I'm not a fast rider anyway. I have no problem being the caboose during bike rides with friends. I'll stop and take pictures of nature. Tinker around and change the position of my Go Pro camera on the bike. Sometimes you bike too fast and you'll miss the nature and the scenic views that the trails have to offer. Kind of like life. Stop and smell the roses, otherwise life might just pass you buy. Might as well smell the roses with a huge smile on my face! Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Airplane hotel

Check out this place that you can stay at in Costa Rica. You sleep inside a 727 turned luxury suite! Pretty crazy! Saw it on Travel Channel, show called Ultimate Travel : Last Resorts

Thursday, September 22, 2011

MNR - 9/19/11

Our days are numbered...for warm Monday Night Rides that is! The days are getting shorter and the temps are slowly dropping at night. Get out there and enjoy the MNRs while you can. Welcome to Nate and Maria, two new people to join us on the MNR this week. Thanks to Paul, for not only hosting but also providing us with the brews. Also thanks to Dave N for the Lucky's and Dave P for the never ending box of chips! Sorry if I forgot somebody!

Taking pictures of moving water

I'm including some photos from Branson at Silver Dollar City. Since we don't have cool waterfalls or streams here around Omaha, I try to take these whenever I see the chance. These were handheld, ISO 100, f8 or smaller and pushing 1 sec in exposure. The longer exposure time gives the water the white foamy appearance. Same applies to pictures shot at the ocean. Use the aperture or shutter priority on your camera settings to help you get this effect. Those of you with point and shoot cameras, sometimes you can choose a similar program. Try the night time exposure or sunset setting. Some point and shoots also allow you to do some manual settings. Just remember that it probably won't work if your camera fires off the flash, so find a mode where the flash won't fire.

Aperture Priority is my favorite mode to use. You basically set your f-stop, and the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed for you. 

Shutter priority, you set the shutter speed. And the camera will adjust the f-stop for you. I will explain f-stops and shutter speeds at another time.

Realistically, my professor at CU taught us that it is impossible to handhold a camera steady at 1/60 sec or slower (this was before the times of image stabilized lenses, which mine is not anyway). What was my fix to get the water foamy and rushing in appearance without a tripod? There was a handrail that I put the camera on. Also make sure that nobody is around to bump the handrail. I had a small tripod and remote release with me, but my parents were waiting for me and it was borderline raining. So I did what I could.

Normally I would recommend a tripod or monopod if you plan to do waterfall/streaming water shots. Makes it a ton easier. Out of the 30 or so that I took, these three are the only non blurry ones. So take lots! Even if it looks clear on the camera, after you upload them to your computer you may be disappointed! Other ways to improvise? In Ireland, I put my camera bag on the ground and balanced my camera on top of it. Set my 2 sec timer to on, stepped back, and let the camera take the picture. If you don't have a remote release, using the timer helps by preventing the camera shake produced by pushing down on the shutter button.

Another tip is to hold your breath for the longer exposures. Believe me, it helps. If any of you have ever shot a rifle or handgun, then you would know that they teach you to hold your breath as you pull the trigger. Same rule applies. Just the simple act of breathing is enough to cause the camera to move ever so slightly. This is very apparent when using a longer zoom lens.

Photography Tips

I am going to start posting up photography tips here on the blog. I will also label them under "photography tips" in the sidebar so that they can be easily found. The reason? I find myself sending pictures and tips to alot of my friends who have DSLRs, but don't really know too much about the advanced features of them. I might as well just start posting up the tips here in case if any of the readers also do photography that I don't know about. Or just in case you appreciate a great picture and always wondered how to do that! I've actually been asked by many people to start teaching classes on photography tips and or technique. I guess this is just one step closer to that reality.

Digital vs. Film
Sure you can really change and doctor a photo using Photoshop or almost any other program out there. There is a great debate out there about whether or not you are really doing photography. There is an unwanted person or car in the picture? Just click the healing brush in Photoshop and watch your picture become near perfect. Is that real photography? That is for you to decide.

As for me...I prefer to try to get the photo at it's best possible state while I'm behind the camera. Sure I might tweak the contrasts, hues, sharpness or color tones once at the computer. But that is about it. I rarely take items out of the pictures using post processing. The exception is if the photograph will be printed or for some formal event and the subjects are requesting the pictures. Photography takes alot of trial and error. Also lots of patience. I will take a half dozen of the same picture, just to get that timing right and not have the person or car in the frame!

I will admit, I'm pretty poor at using Photoshop. I learned my photography in the darkroom using 35mm film. In some ways that adds a sense of skill that is lost with today's digital photography and processing. I spent countless hours in class dissecting a photograph. The framing isn't right. The colors aren't good. The composition or subject isn't apparent. We were always taught to use every bit of the frame, so choose your frame composition carefully before you click that shutter button. That's probably why I can go on a week long trip and take 1000 plus pictures. While that may sound like alot (and it is), I often take multiple shots of the same picture. The reason being that sometimes there might be some camera shake, a bug might have flown in front of the subject, the lighting wasn't right, the wind was blowing causing the flower to move, etc. You get the picture? Ha, no pun intended.

And that was my hardest thing to overcome when I first started using my DSLR. I was spending too much time getting the picture and framing just right. When in actuality, you could go home, upload the photos, hit the crop or trim button and take out any unwanted part of the frame! Yeah, it was that easy. Back when using film, we would often use expensive Portra films. So every shot counted! And you could only carry so many rolls of film at once. We actually use to buy our film in bulk, then we rolled our own film into the canisters in a completely dark room. Boxes and boxes of negatives and contact sheets no more! Thank goodness for digital!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tacoride anyone???

Thursday, September 22 and the weather forecast is still nice. We plan to hit the tacoride, depart from the school parking lot at 6:30pm. Bring a jacket if you are wuss and get cold easily!

At the DMV

After getting my new plates at the DMV, I get back to my car. I strategically parked with open spots all around me. After getting back to my car, I see a nice Lexus parked next to me. Dad is in the passenger's seat and daughter is in the driver's. She was practicing driving without the car turned on. I'm guessing she had just gotten her learner's permit. I was like oh crap! Last thing I need is to get sideswiped by a 15yr old while she is pulling out of a parking spot at the DMV. So I hurriedly backed up and left. I saw that she was practicing by pushing down on the brake pedal. Then she finally turned on the car. Watch out!

The worst part about it? She was Asian!!! I welcome her to a world of Asian bad driver jokes!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tubing instead of at work!

Some people come to Branson for the shows...we came for the boating and tubing!!! We rented our boat from Cricket Creek Marina, located in Omaha, Arkansas. Weird when I saw that because everybody knows of the "Omaha".

Friday, September 9, 2011

The lights...they're back!!!

There's no doubt that summer is ending and the daylight is getting shorter. What does that mean for us bikers who can't just sit at home? Night rides! Dust off those Stellas, MiniNewts, and MagicShines, it's time to ride! Where the city lights are in the distance, bugs fly in your mouth, and the bats just might swoop down and go for you.

After tonight's fun/walk run hosted by THOR, a few of us had our bikes ready and the lights charged up (except Brian who just grabbed his light and crossed his fingers). Dave P, Paul, Steve, Brian, Dale, and myself spun a quick lap just to get out and enjoy the night. The weather was cool, possums were stopping us cold, and the trees were not only grabbing handlebars (at least once for me in the trees), but they were also jumping out in front of riders. Paul had a close call with one tree, I seriously didn't think he was going to stop in time! Good times. Thanks for the drinks and for the bike ride fellas!

Remnants of tonight's THOR sponsored activity 

I don't like to run...

But lots of other people do! The goal of tonight's fun run/walk at Tranquility hosted by THOR was to get the word out that we help shape and maintain trails that are for multi-use. Whether it is walking, running, biking, snowshoeing, xc skiing, walking your dog, etc. THOR trails are out there and available for use by anyone! There was a 1/3/6 mile course and by the looks of it, people really had a good time out there! Thanks THOR for the event, thank you to those who brought the food, and hopefully there will be more, bigger events in the future!

Alicia was kicking butt out there...even pop's!

My friend Natalie made it out, her first time running at Tranquility

Even Dale was running! 

Dave P serving up the food

 Roxy and Alicia were raffling off some prizes

Paul was saving up his energy for the night was I! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Don't forget, THOR trail run tonight at Tranquility!

THOR to host a fun run/walk Sept. 8

Hosted by Trails Have Our Respect
We want to meet you! Come out and meet the folks who maintain local dirt trails.
122 & Fort Street
6pm – 8pm
1, 3 and 6 mile options. Or if you're a rockstar, you can run the whole ten. (You might have a guide on a bike for that one).
Run leaders will guide the 1, 3, 6 mile groups through the trails.
Afterwards, return to the trail head for some grub and libations and chat it up with THOR folks.
Questions or concerns contact Roxzanne Feagan, THOR head cheese, 402-210-9529 or (at) gmail (dot) com

The 2011 Iowa State Fair

Yeah, so I'm late on this posting. Trying to play mad catch up before my vacation next week. Anyway, for you photographers out there, the state fairs are a great way to practice taking pictures. You have a wealth of subjects from animals and people and all types of events. Get there around noon, take pictures and see the sights all day. Then in the back of your mind scope out a great place to take some evening/night shots. The 15 minutes or so right around dusk are the photographer's dream come true. Especially if the sky is flavored with clouds and colors from the sun.

Well here is the story that I promised to tell. So I had just come out of the midway where I was taking random pics of rides using my Lensbaby lens. Trying to get some blur on the rides as they moved. I walked back onto the main street looking for the fried butter booth. Why? Well not because I wanted to try it, but I at least wanted to see it.

"So what kind of pictures are you taking?" That was the question that I was asked by two state troopers as they tapped me on the shoulder. Umm...I've been taking pictures all day officers. Whatever I can find around the state fair. "Were you taking pictures of kids?" Hell if I know. I was just taking pictures of people on the rides. No one in particular. "Can I see your i.d.? Yeah sure, have fun. Not a single speeding ticket or anything on it. CLEAN. Let's step over to the shade. As the one guy called in my license on his walkie talkie, the other guy asked me about my photography and camera. I told him how I try to do alot of mt biking photography, done a wedding and some senior portraits. Cool, you mountain bike. Me too. What kind of a bike do you have? Where do you bike at in NE. While one guy was real cool and talking to me about biking, the other was trying to be more serious.

Finally I asked, "Officers, is there a problem?" Serious officer said, "Yeah, there was a concerned couple who called us because there was a man taking pictures of kids. You understand how parents can be and you know that can be a problem." I told them I agree and I was about to offer them a look at my camera. But the one officer kept talking to me about biking. Ever go to the NE state fair? What brings you all the way out to Des Moines? Seriously, have you never seen the NE state fair? Nothing compared to the Iowa one. Finally after wasting 15 minutes of my time, a couple walked over. "Nope, that's not him." He had a white shirt and gray hair. I was wearing my gray Yeti cycles shirt and I can't say that I have THAT many gray hairs yet. Great description of the wrong guy. You officers just saw me with a camera and assumed it was me. Thanks for wasting my time.

Serious officer hands me back my license and starts to walk without saying have a good day or sorry. Friendly officer and I just keep chatting about biking. Cracked me up. Oh well, they were just doing their job and I have no problem with it.

The rest of the state fair day was great! I managed to avoid their food all together and only had a diet mt dew (come on, I had a trip to Chicago the next weekend!) If you've never been to the Iowa state fair, try to make an attempt to go. Butter cow, Budweiser clydesdales, fried food, the Iowa state fair has it all!

The misc photos:
Baby ostriches 
Butter, butter, and more butter! 
 100 year anniversary of the butter cow

 Sand sculptures

Deep Fried Butter! 

He was showing off 

Deep fried mac n cheese