Game Changing Cameras


As one might imagine, digital camera technology keeps getting better and better. Cameras are tinier than ever with even more features. Smartphones with editing apps are almost eliminating the need for point-and-shoot cameras. Even with all this, there are a couple of cameras to come on the market in the past couple of years that look like potential game changers – the Lytro camera and the GoPro Hero.

First, a note of disclaimer for my beloved wife – having just bought two fairly high-end cameras over the summer, I am NOT considering these for purchase. I just think they are worth mentioning here, and if someone I know does get one, all I ask is the opportunity to play with it for a few minutes.

Disclaimer out of the way, I’ll start with Lytro… Continue reading “Game Changing Cameras”

The End of My Rope

At the EdTech conference this year the theme was “A High Tech Adventure!” Some of the conference staff were wearing camo, and camping gear made up most of the floor displays. The vendors always give away some freebies – usually pens and pencils, with a T-shirt being the high end of the spectrum. This year … Continue reading The End of My Rope

A 25th Anniversary


It was 25 years ago this weekend that Laura and I met. Hard to believe how fast time flies. It was Furman Homecoming Friday night, and we were both there under unusual circumstances. Here’s the story…

The Friday night of Homecoming Weekend students begin constructing floats on the mall. Well, not really “floats” in the technical sense, but displays. The alumni come back to wander along the mall and party with the students. There was always music and free food, and at one time there were even fireworks.

At that time Laura lived just around the corner from Furman. She had just given a big chemistry test that week, and had just celebrated her birthday. She was tired from staying up and grading papers, but couldn’t rest because of the noise from campus. She decided she would head over and at least enjoy the music in person. Continue reading “A 25th Anniversary”

Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg

Haus Heidelberg Sign

Of all the ethnic holidays, I think I like Oktoberfest the best. It brings with it hints of cooler weather, fall colors, and one of my favorite cuisines – German food. However, fellow kayaker and chef Darren M. recently pointed out that authentic Oktoberfest has a very specific date range – two weeks running from late September through the first week of October. Any restaurants or festivals advertising Oktoberfest this late in the year (such as Walhalla this weekend, but I guess a fake Norse town can have a fake Bavarian celebration any time it wants) is doing so purely for advertising promotion. I guess it’s not that different from seeing Halloween ads all October, or promoting Christmas just as soon as the after school sales end. That being said, when my friend Keith Dover proposed heading up to Haus Heidelberg in Hendersonville to take advantage of their Oktoberfest specials, I jumped at the chance, cultural authenticity be damned.

I have long complained about the dearth of German restaurants in the area, especially with BMW and all the other German industry in town. But, I guess that number is increasing. Joining Haus Edelweiss and Schwaben Haus are Hans und Franz and The Bavarian Pretzel Factory. Even Strossner’s Bakery is now on the list of places offering German food. German restaurants seem to be more prevalent on up in the mountains, I guess hearkening back to the Alpine nature of Bavaria. Both The Black Forest in Ardin and Haus Heidelberg have been long-time staples of German food in our region. However, I don’t get up that way often enough to take advantage of them. This was the first time I’d been to Haus Heidelberg in ages.

The drive up early Wednesday evening was spectacular. The October sky was brilliantly lit with the setting sun, and the leaves are just shy of being at peak. Keith and I drove on up through Flat Rock, enjoying the ride. Continue reading “Oktoberfest at Haus Heidelberg”


Screen Shot 2012-10-16 at 10.42.22 PM

I love time-lapse photography. I’ve experimented with it a bit, with both iOS devices and various cameras. However, time-lapse really takes commitment. I’ve done this math on this blog before, but I’ll do it again. Let’s say that you’re shooting one shot every 30 seconds. If your video is a standard 30 frames per second (fps), then it would take 15 minutes for one second’s worth of video. One hour would give you four seconds. 24 hours would be 1.6 minutes worth. That’s not a lot.

However, for good time-lapse you need some persistence of vision. 30 fps is probably too fast. You could either reduce the frame rate, or you could decrease the time interval to something like once every 5 seconds. Either way it’s still a commitment in time.

Plus there are other factors to consider. If you’re shooting outdoors or on location you have to protect your gear from the weather and you need to keep it secure. There’s also the issue of power. Will your camera run that long on batteries, or does it need external power? It can be daunting. Continue reading “Hyper-Lapse”

Fall Passings

I’m beginning to develop a love-hate relationship with autumn. Last year about this time we lost my father and two friends. This year, stresses at work and various health issues have had us at bay. Then today I found out that another long-time friend had passed away last week. Robert Ridgeway was one seriously unique … Continue reading Fall Passings

Blog Round-Up

The Death of Blogging has been touted for years now. Even the term “micro-blogging” for services such as Twitter has fallen out of favor, being replaced by “social media” and the like. Therefore, it’s very encouraging when I come across new blogs that have lots of potential. Some of these have been around and I’ve … Continue reading Blog Round-Up

Alan on the Side

I had to laugh after writing about yesterday’s paddling trip on Saluda Lake. My lead photo was a shot of Alan Russell, out in front and slightly off to the right…

Alan at Lake Saluda

It occurred to me that I LOTS of shots of Alan like this. Here’s one from a trip up to Lake Jocassee…

Dramatic Jocassee

…and one from a trip to Lake Marion…

Alan at Low Falls

For paddling shots I like to establish context, and that means including shots of my fellow paddlers, and not just the scenery. Using the Rule of Thirds, the paddler is offset to one side. I paddle more with Alan than anyone else, so he is more likely to be in the shot. I guess since I’m right-handed, I tend to place him on that side. Here are a few more examples… Continue reading “Alan on the Side”

Saluda Lake on a Fall Saturday

Alan at Lake Saluda

It seems like it has been ages since I’ve been out on the water. When Alan suggested a quick paddling trip for today, I jumped at the chance. His daughter, Caitlin, and her boyfriend, Ben, were in town while Furman is on fall break, so we were looking for a quick trip somewhere close by. Saluda Lake fit that bill nicely.

There are two public access points for Saluda Lake. Saluda Landing is on the Greenville side, and is a privately owned boat ramp and marina. On the Pickens side there is a relatively new public park. The last time we were there, Saluda Landing charged us $3 per boat to launch, whereas the Pickens park charged $3 per car parking fee. So, the question was, is it worth $6 for the convenience to Furman and a launch closer to where we wanted to paddle? We decided it was, and agreed to meet at Saluda Landing. However…

Saluda Landing Fees
Continue reading “Saluda Lake on a Fall Saturday”

Bond at 50


Today is the 50th anniversary of the premier of the first James Bond movie, Dr. No. All this week NPR’s Morning Edition has been doing a series of specials on James Bond at 50. This week they are exploring the physics of Bond gadgets, music from the Bond movies, Bond’s favorite martini and the differences between shaken and stirred, and, finally, a survey to determine which actor was the quintessential Bond.

Some people memorize the names of all of the presidents of the US in order. Some memorize all the books of the Bible. I can recite all 22 James Bond films in order, with information such as the Bond actor, major villain, and plot. I sometimes do this as a cognitive exercise to relax, somewhat akin to counting sheep. (And, for the record, I can list all of the books of the Bible, but don’t know all the presidents.)

So, when NPR started this series I was delighted. Unfortunately, it came off as a bit shallow. I guess time constraints wouldn’t let them delve into the issues as much as I might have liked, but I was hoping they would get into whether or not a shaken martini tastes better than a stirred one, rather than simply which is colder. Oh, well. Continue reading “Bond at 50”