Monday, December 28, 2009

Becka Aims

Becka aims, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

Beka Bradford of the US Speed Skating Team takes aim at the finish line just over 40 meters a head as she rounds out the last turn of the 500 meter race. In the stands her fans wearing purple beanies cheered her on.

This past weekend and tomorrow with the following day the US Speed Skating Team are competing against each other at the Olympic Oval in Kearns UT ( The team has a few more competitions before the Olympics. There schedule and team info is at USSpeedSkating(dot)org If you're around come on out to the Oval and cheer them all on.

Every time I see the races I watch these fine athletes push themselves beyond their best. Many times I witness new personal best times on the ice.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Clone My Self

ICLoneMySelf_PnS_3082, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

I went back to Temple Square with a personal assignment. After the previous evening's goals being more to socialize and to have fun I knew I couldn't let the warm evenings pass me by without a challenge.

I tend to shoot a little different when I challenge myself with the gear. Having unlimited gear is great but, it's like being hungry in the grocery store, so many choices and no focus. I've actually walked out of the grocery store hungrier then when I went in for a cheap bite to eat. So by limiting my gear I force myself into making decisions. For instance putting on the 50mm lens makes one make critical decisions about composition to get certain elements into the frame. Other times it could be limiting to one aperture stop say f/8 or f/1.8. These two apertures present different focusing challenges with the depth of field aspects.

This challenge, I joked with other photographers is about the point and shoots. Yeah, today's point and shoots even my PS A-590 is far more advanced then my PS S-20. So what? I want to generalize that so many times we who shoot with Digital SLRs forget about thinking about our images. Our dSLRs are so advance they can almost see in the dark. I wouldn't be surprised if one image shows up in the Photo Walking Group with stars behind the Temple and everything in close enough to perfect exposure. The dSLRs are getting close to being that sensitive and advanced.

So the challenge I took upon myself forced me to think differently. The point and shoots, even as advanced as they are getting, do have limitations. The sensors are about finger nail in size. The optics tend to be about the size of a small marble. The max aperture is about the size of a pencil. This all translates to limited light gathering capabilities. Light for photographers is graphite to a pencil artist. light or the lack of it is everything.

I took my Canon Power Shot A-590 out with a bean bag. Next time I'll use the mini-tripod I picked up for backpacking. The bean bag proved to be just a bit tricky to get settled in for a steady shot. The tripod once set all it needs to be for those slick surfaces, like icy bin tops, is held at the base.

This shot is from one of those icy bin top shots. I'd like to know how this young lady managed to be in my frame in nearly the same position during this long exposure. May be it's luck of the draw, either way it works for me.

I posted 17 images from Dec 18. Some are creative blurs, some are static images. If you shoot point and shoots don't think you are limited just remember you are alternatively creative. My previous night turned up a few more then say, 6 that work.

A bit o my history, I maxed out my S-20, then it died. I got into digital SLRs shortly after because of how useful and ultimately more powerful the dSLRs are. Through a variety of circumstances, aka I didn't want to tote the D beast everywhere, I returned to the cheap point and shoots. With the PnS I am not afraid of it being bounced around, broken or even stolen. Because I am more likely to have it with me I find myself using it more. More shooting should mean more improvements, so far my answer is yes.


Friday, December 18, 2009

PhotoWalking Temple Square

PhotoWalk_TmpSqr09p2378, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

Photo Walking Utah meet at the downtown library for a brief mini clinic on night exposures at 6:30. Our host, Rich Legg of, took a few minutes to explain how to capture night pictures and cover some of the common problems associated with night time photography.

As the clinic adjourned we descended upon the 7:45 TRAX train to Temple Square. The Temple Square secret service were forewarned about the army of photographers that make a photographic assault on their facilities.

Harley, one of the organizers, while at the library lost count after 130 in the meeting room, max capacity of 85. At the Square I met up with a few who did not get to the library thus adding to our numbers. About 10pm I caught up with Harley. I asked how many were still around. His guess about half or more. In years past he recalled the weather was so cold they lasted about 15 minutes the hardiest about half an hour. I was thankful for the warm night.

What makes Photo Walking so inspiring is a gaggle of photographers can be at the same spot, aiming at the same subject, and capture totally different images. Check out the photostream of the photowalkingutah group ( to see what I mean.

I will say for me I went down not to learn, not to capture 'the image,' not to get creative or tout expertise, I went in mind to socialize, to check out what others were looking at, and to have a laugh.

Laughing is good. The observation of people is a unique study to itself. At an event or venue like this people are well, funny. For instance place, a tripod, a camera, someone standing behind it then watch. People will walk around, duck, cover their faces, goof, be aloof, tense up, or relax. They'll do this whether they know the image is in process or not. Some people may even stop to ask if you're a pro even if the camera is a point and shoot.

Two tips if you're just there.
If you don't want to be in the picture at a venue like this, keep moving. Chances are the photog' is taking a long exposure and if you stop for more then 5 or so seconds then you might be in the picture, anything longer you might be semi recognizable as having been there. If you are trying to be in the picture, bring a flash light and light paint yourself.

I may not have had the inspiration to shoot 'the image.' I may not have been there to take a high quality image as many are now surfacing from last night. I did though have fun with the light. Long exposures do lead to some unique light trails and motion blurs.

I do encourage everyone of every skill level to get involved with your local Photo Walking Group ( or google photo walking). They're great for networking, learning, and in general just having fun.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chaos of photos and back ups

sunrise_tweaked, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

When one is new to a new stuff one pays no attention to how the stuff set. Eventually one takes a look back at how this stuff was set and ponders how'd this activity become such a mess.

Since the dawn of time when humans began to collect stuff
these stuffs were just set around stacks upon stacks be it a stack of rocks to a stack of wood. Archeologist find rubbish bins full of stuff but what if that was the 'good stuff'?

Anyone can pick up any kind of 'zine or read a web page of any kind and recognize some form of chaos control article. One can also see that through the medium that there is a form to keep things in order. This website for example has places for pictures, another for friends/watchers, and one for writings like this or feature news. Order to keep chaos under control. The typical chaos control article lays out that one is a mess and by compartmentalizing the stuff one becomes sorted. Sorted stuff who came up with the concept? My wife? Certainly not! I'm not married.

When I began taking pictures the order was prints and negatives in an envelope with a date and possibly a location if the location wasn't obvious like, camping in the mountains. Well now I've lived and visited close to 75 different mountain ranges I forgot which campsite is at which mountain. So I must rely on the hopes I took a picture of someone, deduct their age from the photo using face recognition/style recall and hope I get the age correct and place it in an approximate year time frame, give or take a month or region or so.

One of my most perplexing images which sees a lot of light is found on; page down a little on the left, one sees an image of rope, a life boat, and a sunrise or sun set. Scanned so long ago that it made the files of Mercy Ships tagged location Caribbean Mercy, port unknown, photographer unknown. Well the location would be known if I could locate that stack of prints. I really want to find the original negative for I see that image needs the TLC of a much better scan. It's one of those images that speaks volumes about foreground framing, timing, and depth of field. It also highlights one of the most common objects of life on board the m/v Caribbean Mercy - lifeboat drills and outreach locations. Even in the chaos of my files I found this image floating around on my hard drive.

On many an article on artistry sites from deviantArt to ArtistBistro pick on work flow. Work Flow? Yes, that which one participates in while participating in the process of creativity. Basically work flow is the process of staying organized while in the midst of creative chaos production. The sooner one works up a work flow that works well for them the less chaos will follow. Getting into the habit of organization could be an act of god as defined by the insurance companies.

An example of this chaos are my back ups. Spread out over 10 years of computing originally with Windows 2.x. Yes, before "7" long ago even before WinDos 3.14 was actually Win 1 but, I used Win 2.x on a xx86 laptop, there were such devices back then that had less power then microwave oven's memory. I've up dated my back ups from 5 1/4 floppies to 3 1/2's and eventually to CD's. If one ponders why CD's/DVD's are just under 5 inches look no further then the fact we already had cases for things of that size. Now CD's are in danger of becoming obsolete so I'm transferring everything to DVD's. Which with high hopes will not become legacy ware within the next year or 3. In the process of gathering I've transferred to external hard drives. Hard drive back ups are also called live back ups because one can pull a file, modify it, and put it back. All these mediums have their faults and the biggest comes from the in putter, me.

Chaos was my toy box growing up, next it moved to the garage, and finally took up residency on every electronic device I own or came into contact with. Today, with the ages of years passing it's time to tame the back up beast and get organizing.

One key element in wanting to get organized is so that when I come across a corrupt file I can deduct whether it is something of great value and in need of rescue or of little value and I can let it pass. The other reason I want to tame the beast is so that I don't have so many multiple copies of an image I can't decide which is better. For a good example of that see my flickr stream. My flickr up loader 2 years ago kept cutting out on me & didn't let me see what was uploaded, so I kept uploading the same batch of images. Image recovery is also a bit easier when one is looking for just one image and not a dozen of the same. All though having a dozen of the same and a good set of photoshop skills one can recreate an image if enough of the pieces are recovered.

So the process will be thus, 5 gigs at a time over the next month. This should get me back about 3 years then the files get smaller and easier to sort. I'll have to rename in batches, add tags, and summaries. I may even have to label some unknown for researching later.

If one's read this far so far a quick tip. Set up a standard of organizing even before starting down the creative process. May your standard include how to rename the files in such away duplicates don't happen very often and that the name is key to the date and style of event.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

my picture of her picture

my picture of her picture, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

I love doing stuff like this. It pays to be shootin' with two eyes open, one eye to roam, one eye in the view finder.

One of my most fav'd pictures is of Obama on his campaign tour stop in Kimbal Junction (PC) UT. The image is of him in a cell phone camera. I also caught him in my frame. This image I couldn't quite do the same as the lens I had on the Nikon was a 70-300mm.

I hit the Essent ISU World Cup Speed Skating event at the Kearn's Oly Oval. Many personal best times were set and a few world records were broken over the last 3 days. This event is one of the last events these fine athletes have before the Vancouver Olympics. The results help them define where they need to improve and what they need to strengthen in the final weeks.

My focus at this event was more on the fans, hence why I chose this image to blog. I looked for the interesting sudo portraits to the characters. I also took a look at the training the athletes were in process of.

When it came to creative shots I pondered the zoom pop. I'll blog one of those images in the next few days.

With the intention of supporting the locally owned and operated coffee shop I darted through the house to grab the laptop and left the camera bag at home with the 10 gigs of full SD cards from today. I'll work on those images later.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Presentation Card

I just finished processing the hardest images I've ever under taken. I wrote a blog in October concerning Patrick Dwire. The final set of images are now en route to his family.
If you knew Patrick, I plead with you to write down a story, a clip, something about what you and Patrick did or how you want to remember him. Then give what you write to his family.
Having lost my sister over 8 years ago I am still touched by stories that are shared with me when I meet one of her old friends.
Please share your story. It greatly helps the family know the lost be loved.

Monday, December 07, 2009

In my mind of Cube

I'm taking a fast detour to write an article about the Rubix Cube. The cube is something I flip around while I'm reading or looking at different topics.

Rubix Cube Info

This article is for me to consolidate what I know about the Rubik Cube, in particular towards solution theories along with a few tangents. I've found there are two major theories in solving cubes (without disassemble), the layer and the block. In reality, as I look for other ways to improve my timing, I continue to look for other routes of speed. Currently my time averages 110 second with 2 errors in the solution. This may not sound like much but, my time without errors is about 90 seconds, almost without thought. When my time comes to speed cubing, I'm slow. So why do I want to be faster? It's not so much about being faster but, about learning. I am one who seeks to learn new things about things I already know. The cube is one of those things I had as a kid and solved by disassembly. A while ago work slowed down enough for conversations so one of my coworkers began showing another how to solve it. This slow period began my current interest in the cube. I challenged myself not only to learn it but to teach others as well. Initially, I began solving per included instructions which is a simplified layer method. I've gone on to learn the 4x Revenge and 5x Professor. I am struggling with the 2x Pocket Cube. Once the basics are learned with the 3x, finding solutions to the big cubes will not be much of a problem.

If you're here because you want cube info please head to the Rubix Wiki. I am not an expert, just a coffee shop solver. No worries, I don't drive n solve.

Of the major methods is the Patrus Method, often referred to as the Block Method, is toted as the fastest solution method according to Wiki. The easiest way to learn this method is to sit in front of the computer with a cube. I have yet to find printable or mobile pages. I do understand that with this method once the basics are learned and one sees a head that this is the quickest method. I have studied it but, have yet to figure it out enough to use effectively for timed solving. Lars Patrus developed his method which uses a combination of Group Theory and Edge Theory. The benefit to using his system is one can eliminate a lot of moves as the solution progresses.

The Layer Method is the easiest to learn, personally, with the memorization of a few patterns and repetitions. The layer also has the most number of patterns to memorize. I carried cheat sheets based on Jasmine Lee's Layer Method for a while. The Layer Method is often touted by the various manufactures and websites as thee method to learn. The downside to this method is that it involves messing up and resolving the other layers to get a piece in place. Another draw back is as the solution progresses more moves are required for completion, which can lead to errors. If one is in a distracting environment or where one cannot dedicate time to completing the layer this may not be the method to learn first. If the cube is put down while the algorithm is in process the place or pace may be lost.

The other systems that I am finding I'll classify as Pattern to Solution based. These are based on getting the pieces into a recognized pattern then solving. Adam Cheyer claims that he solved regularly in 26 seconds at his most practiced timings with the corner's first system. He uses an arrow symbol system that is easy to follow.

The slowest system that I've come across is by far the slowest is corner/edge. I've since lost the web page where the author reveals only two algorithms for the solution. Philip Marshall gives a good over view of a variation of this method. Personally, it is also one of the most puzzling because one needs to look a head just enough to recognize it may take 2 or more repetitions to get a piece into place. This repetition of the same pattern over and over may confuse the impatient.

If one wants to practice solving the cube without having a physical cube in front of them head to one of the many cube simulators. Ryan Heise's simulator gives the opportunity not only for open practice but, also to see how various cube solution systems work. Those without continuous web access but, who do have administrative access to their computers can download a simple program from VanGestel.

When it all is said and learned, the ultimate solution is the one that works the best per individual. I find that in the process of learning I need multiple inputs. I have found when one learns just one system without getting other view points they limit themselves and those around them. I could make major detours here but, let's just say there are many paths along the way from issue messed up to issue resolved.

Once solutions were thoroughly in place and practiced beyond dreaming about them, my next phase of learning took me to the patterns. Many are the pages for patterns. Walter Randelshofer has probably the most complete compilation of patterns in one place. Patterns are great to learn, not only to impress friends but, also to improve on speed. I've gone many a session without accurately memorizing a pattern leading thus to starting over. If it takes me an average of a minute and a half these sessions can get pretty long hence for the need for speed.

If you are interested in how I solve the big cubes, I use a similar method to the layer method incorporating many of the 3x algorithms. When I get stuck, I clean up the cube before proceeding. Consolidating the centers and edges tend to help me visually solve the rest. The theories involved in solving the big cubes do include center's first, layers (a branch of 3x), pairs/lines, and block. Matthew Monroe and Dan Harris give some easy to follow instructions on how to solve the cubes and the many variations of them.

I hope you find the information a little useful. Now instead of reading, grab a cube, and go show someone how to solve it, even if that person is yourself.


Current of Dec 6, 2009

These are currently in order of appearance.

  • Rubix's Wiki:
  • Wiki Book:
  • Speed Cubing:
  • Lars Petrus:
  • Jessica Fridich:
  • Jasmine Lee:
  • Adam Cheyer:
  • Cube Simulator:
  • Philip Marshall:
  • Matthew Monroe:
  • Ryan's Cube Simulator:
  • Fam VanGestel, download simulator:


  • Walter Randelshofer:

Printable Algorithms

  • Dan Harris, current:
  • Dan Harris, old:
Dan's printable algorithm pages may be tricky to find. Refer to his old page and they do surface. These are two of the most useful printable pages.

Directory of Links


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Luge Practice

LugePractice_5004_20091204, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

I've not yet shot luge until Dec 4, 09. So I found out when something was going on and went up to the Winter Sports Park. I struck up one a conversation with one of the spectators, a Luge' Mom (I should say she struck up with me). I found out this is a local sports team and that many of the participants have MYSPACE pages. So I shot the lot of 'em. If you are one of the characters but, you don't see you picture email me and tell me what color your suit is, I'll get back to you shortly. If you want to post the image on your website please give credit and link back to this page or to For prints email me. This set is not of print quality.

As a side note as I am getting more hits on my sport's sets; Coaches, Moms, and participants I am available to come out to your event (practices and games) with in the greater Salt Lake Region. I am based in West Jordan. My region may include Kamas, Ogden, and Spanish Fork. This is a hobby of mine & I want to practice while letting you participate in the results.