Thursday, August 30, 2012

Isaac: Thursday

Mixing Pancakes

The rain has stopped (for a while anyway) and we begin the return to a normal life – for us anyway.  We are blessed and fortunate to have had little damage from Hurricane Isaac.  Except for a brief outage, we’ve had power throughout the storm although my daughter’s house, along with many others, is still without power . 

Roads are mostly open but many businesses remain closed because of access, no power or no expectation of customers.  Schools are closed.

This shot of my granddaughter was taken with an iPhone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Isaac: Wednesday

Isaac WednesdayMy tree is still standing.  The intensity of wind and rain is increasing and will increase further as the day goes on.  Based on the weather reports, Hurricane Isaac is moving very slowly so this will be a long day.

Standing under the porch to avoid the rain, as I snapped this shot of my tree I once again pondered “How best to get a picture of the rain?”.  In fact, what I actually did was to set the G1X on Av mode, ISO 400, f8, grab the shot and go back inside to wipe off the raindrops.  Per my usual practice, the G1X was set for RAW + JPEG.  As I began to edit the RAW file, I realized that the JPEG version actually was more illustrative of the scene.  In fact, using ACR, I could make a “better” image but choose to use the JPEG instead.

We still have power but my daughter’s house lost power this morning.  She will soon be at my house – that will significantly increase the energy level around here so get prepared to see storm related pictures of my granddaughter.


Tree is still standing in spite of wind and rain. I discovered two small leaks in my roof that will need some attention afterward. 

Shortly after my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came to our house, we lost power.  Fortunately, power returned after about a half hour and has been on ever since.  I took heed and turned down the air conditioner and refrigerator in anticipation of another power failure.

My granddaughter probably has the most difficult job:  entertaining five adults.  She seems up to the challenge. 

My son-in-law has made this over-the-top video of storm related problems at their new house: 

I promised to give him a big boost by promoting it.  Once you realize that they are actually OK his video is hilarious.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Isaac: Tuesday

Isaac - tree bracedTropical Storm Isaac was just upgraded to Hurricane Isaac but, fortunately, no effects noted in Baton Rouge – yet.  There is a nice breeze and sky is cloudy but no rainfall – yet.  Many businesses are closed today as people prepare for Isaac’s arrival.

As part of my own preparation, I braced a small oak tree that we planted eight years ago.  In the first four years, that tree was blown down four times.  I came to call it the “pitiful oak” and expected it to die every time we straightened it.  For some strange reason though, Hurricane Gustav apparently fixed my pitiful oak and now it is flourishing.  Even so, I tied it off in five places.  If it blows over in Isaac, I don’t think we could straighten it.

Otherwise, we’ve done the usual preparations:  gasoline for the cars and generator (lines already forming), batteries, water, extra food, etc.  Of course, part of my preparation is to recharge all camera and flash batteries.

Evening Update

Really nothing to report.  A light rain began in the late afternoon and the wind has picked up a bit.  Here’s hoping that this is a boring storm.

Monday, August 27, 2012


1-079 Camille furniture in front of houses (web)

Here I am in Baton Rouge, Louisiana preparing for another hurricane.  Baton Rouge is somewhat inland from the Gulf and that distance attenuates – but does not eliminate -- the ferocity of hurricanes.  When Hurricane Gustav struck in 2008, I did a bit of reporting and plan to do the same for Isaac.

The photo above is from 1969 and shows, first hand, the effects of Hurricane Camille on my family and neighbors.   The houses on our street were filled with water to a level of four to five feet.  As we returned to our flooded and muddied houses, the short term “fix” was to take everything out of the house and into the yard.  This scene was repeated over and over along our street and many others.  We took buckets of water from the ditch, added disinfectant, and washed out the house.  Everything with wet padding was thrown away.  Most books, electronics, etc. were thrown away.  Actually, much furniture (plywood and veneers) was eventually thrown away as well.  We couldn’t bear to throw away pictures and I’m glad because some of them were restored.  We were lucky because many people lost everything. 

When I tell my Camille story, someone always asks if we gutted the interiors, removed the insulation, rewired, restored the wallboards, etc. before moving back in.  Those simple frame houses did not have insulation.  We just washed them out.

The picture (after all, this is a photo blog) was taken with a Kodak Instamatic.  Not just your basic Instamatic but the latest thing – an X-35.  I preferred slide film because the total cost of slides was cheaper than prints.  Yet another reminder to use whatever photo equipment you have to record the moment.

Here’s hoping that my Hurricane Isaac reporting will be brief and boring.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kodak to Sell Film Business

Wow, looks like “Kodak” will soon be out of the film business!  When you think of “Kodak” do you think of cameras and film or ink jet printers?

My first job as a degreed engineer was with Kodak although, in full disclosure, I really was an engineer in the Eastman Chemicals division.  Even so, this was my starting point in photography.

Who’d a thunk it?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Live Writer 2012

The Light Description blog began as an experiment and educational process in learning to blog.  For several years, I used the Blogger editor.  In retrospect, it’s a wonder I didn’t give up because of frustration with that editor. 

In February 2011, I switched to Windows Live Writer as my editor for this blog and it has been great. 

With this post, I’m updating to Live Writer 2012 which is part of the Windows Essentials bundle of free software from Microsoft.  Although I installed the complete bundle, Live Writer 2012 is the only program used so far.

My first impression of Live Writer 2012 is … no change!  As far as I’m concerned, this is great because I don’t have to re-learn how to use it.  Live Writer 2012 probably has some additional features and flexibility that I’ve not discovered (and may never discover because I use it in a very basic way).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beach Walk with the 7D

OS Beach

Perhaps because its firmware had just be upgraded, I naturally picked up the 7D this morning for a walk around the beach.  Although some are saying that focusing is quicker with firmware 2.0.0, if so, I didn’t notice it.  This is not to say that focusing is slow with the 7D, I just did not notice a change.  In fact, this morning, I did not notice any changes at all from the firmware upgrade.

Perhaps I was really just walking although I did grab a few shots using the 70-200 mm zoom – my usual choice for walking the beach. 

OS Beach

For this shot, I was wishing for the 100-400mm zoom at max zoom; instead, this image is cropped to about 1/4 of the frame.  This just goes to show what you can get away with so long as the display is on screen over the ‘net.

OS Beach

While walking, I suddenly realized that a dolphin was surfacing and grabbed a few shots – again wishing for a longer lens but with considerable cropping turned out OK.

None of these are particularly outstanding shots but, with the walk, made for a pleasant morning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Canon 7D Firmware 2.0.0

I’ve successfully downloaded and installed Canon’s latest firmware, Version 2.0.0, for the 7D. Fortunately, downloading and installation went exactly according to plans and instructions. For first timers or those a bit hesitant to upgrade, the detailed instructions are included in the download file (a .zip format which must be extracted). This is quite an upgrade with many additional features and one of my first thoughts was “How do I use it?”.

The instructions for Firmware 2.0.0 are included in an updated 7D instruction manual which can also be downloaded from the Canon site. The download includes a one page summary of the new features with references to the updated instruction manual. Canon has also prepared an online video about the new features.

Among the more interesting new features to me are:

  • · Increased burst speed during continuous shooting
  • · Setting maximum ISO auto
  • · Manual adjustment during sound recording
  • · Resizing JPEG in-camera.

But there are many more.

So far, so good. I’m looking forwarded to my “new” 7D.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Vacation Contemplations


I’ve nearly recovered from an extended vacation and all the forced changes in my daily routine: different beds, diet, scenery and people – not to mention limited Internet access. It was a great time and adventure that will get even better in reminiscing.

As expected, the Canon mirrorless camera was announced during my vacation. I was able to read about it online but not able (well, chose not) to write about it. The more I read, the more ho-hum the EOS M appears to become. It is certainly not what I expected. I would have guessed that Canon would first release an enthusiast’s camera and later a lower cost consumer camera. I’m not very good at predicting marketing strategy.

Traveling to vacation, my car was filled with cameras and accessories. In fact, far too much equipment but a significant part of my vacation was to be play time and play toys are necessary. Of course, I didn’t use half of what was packed. What was used?

My G12 was brought along as a backup and unused except for a time lapse sequence. No problems.

My G1X was used during some beach walks and grab shots in condos, restaurants and events. No problems but no spectacular shots either. The G12 would have been fine (as it was last year). I did use the G1X video quite a bit. The fully automatic (few options) mode comes in very handy for vacation videos.


Actually, I used my 7D more than expected and usually with the 15-85mm zoom; often with flash. The 7D in manual exposure mode with ETTL flash is a good setup for indoor shots or adding a bit of fill flash outdoors. I also used the 70-200mm zoom for beach walks. The 100-400mm zoom seemed a bit much.

Anticipating our traditional extended family group photo, I packed a couple of portable light stands and extra flashes. A handful of flash modifiers and wireless triggers were tossed in the trunk in hopes of a few location studio shots. The light stands and remotes were needed but the only flash modifier used was the simple Sto-Fen diffuser. (I know the Sto-Fen catches a lot of grief but it sure seems to work well in small rooms.)

Speaking of flash, my YN565EX has died the death and could not be used. Fortunately, the older YN430- II worked fine. I’ve contacted ThePhotoGadget for a warranty repair or replacement. They tell me that I have an older version and that the latest version of the YN565EX is more reliable. My YN565EX will be returned (to China!) for repair or replacement and I’ll report on the process.

Destin G1X

Yes, I over packed and have resolved to cut back severely next year. This annual vacation includes extended family and friends. What photo gear did the others bring?


Basically, an iPhone. That is, almost everyone brought an iPhone and few were packing a camera. This was definitely a change from previous years – even from last year. In fact, it may be a little bit of a problem because I usually collect the best pictures and assemble a family vacation slideshow and video that is distributed to everyone. I’m concerned that the iPhone images might not be to the usual quality and versatility of a real camera. On the other hand, everyone had a great time snapping iPhone pics of each other and sharing them. It was interesting to see that the long shutter delay, weak flash and often poor white balance of the iPhone has come to be accepted by users in exchange for the convenience of recording the moment.

I took a few iPhone shots myself and made a little video using the Splice app on the iPhone.


So next year, I plan to pack less gear except, of course, for any new toys obtained during the year long wait. At this point, I doubt that the EOS M will be one of those new toys but I’m very curious about the supposed enthusiast’s version that might be coming along next year.

Now to sort through all those pictures and assemble that family vacation video…

Thursday, August 2, 2012

G12: Time Lapse

While vacationing last week, I made another time lapse video of the sunrise on Destin, Florida beach.  As last year, the G12 was used in the process.  Shot from the same balcony at roughly the same time, this year’s video eerily resembles last year’s video.  So much for creativity!

Why use the G12 instead of the G1X?  Well, as noted previously, the G1X yields only about 1500 shots in a two hour period before running out of battery.  The G12 yields about 2500 shots over a longer period of time.  If I’d planned a little more carefully, the G1X would have been more than adequate.  Instead, I fired up the G12 and took a walk with the G1X.

Canon’s EOS M was officially announced during my vacation.  I’ve been reading about its specs as well as its pros and cons – not to mention opinions from enthusiasts.  I’ll have more to say about the EOS M in another post.