Saturday, January 29, 2011

1998 Trip to Missoula and More

Today's Photo - Tepee Fountain at Thermopolis, WY (1998)

I just finished the 28 web pages that document our 1998 trip to Missoula, Yellowstone, The Grand Tetons, and more.  If interested, they are at 1998 Trip.

I received the WiFi Ranger router & am testing it, at least as a WiFi repeater.  Right now I am linked to the WiFi Ranger with my laptop. The Ranger is linked to my home WiFi router.  Not the most efficient way to get to the internet, but at a campground, it will give me the choice of using the campground's WiFi or my air card.  So far it was not too difficult to set up & is working.  I'll play around with it & let you know how it works with my iPhone, etc.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today's Photo - Goose Island, Saint Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, MT (1998)

I'm still alive!  Been spending the last couple of days trying to put together a set of web pages of our first trip to Missoula, Montana in the summer of 1998.  I have even fewer notes from this trip compared to others I've attempted to recreate, and many, many unidentified slides. I sure do like modern digital cameras with GPS locations added to the EXIF data.

Although not inexpensive, the GPS I have attached to my Nikon D200 or D700 not only gives me the location of the image, but also gives me the direction the camera was pointed!  At least some of the photos were taken by my wife Carol with a camera that puts the dates on the negatives.  I have a back for the Nikon F3 that I used to take most of the slides during the trip that puts the date & time in the slide, but it is printed in the space between frames, which is covered up by the slide mount. So, to find the date I'd have to pry apart the mount...

Anyhow, that is what has been keeping me busy.  I'm about a third of the way through the trip - I'll post a link when it is done for those interested.

Till next time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cell Phones

Today's Photo - Ice on the Shores of Lake Ontario

Well, the Verizon iPhone has been announced, and I have made my decision.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have an 8GB iPhone 3G that is well out of contract, so changing wouldn't cost me anything more than upgrading to the latest AT&T iPhone.  But, I have the unlimited data plan, and switching to Verizon would kill that.  I have been using a Sleek antenna with my iPhone & it has extended the range quite a bit.  I also have a Sony RDP-XF100iP dock that has a built in FM radio & can run for a number of hours on its rechargeable battery.  It works well with the 3G phone, but not so well with newer versions. And, I really like using Pandora on the iPhone through the dock, so the unlimited data is a real selling point. And, if I'm out of AT&T cell range, the iPhone can connect to my local WiFi network. So, I've to stick with the 3G phone until version 5 arrives, then consider updating.

As to data, I have a WiFi Ranger router on order.  The advantage of this over many standard routers is it is designed for RVers.  It can connect to a campground WiFi network, a cell USB card, or even a hard wired ethernet and provide any of these inputs as a local WiFi network.  It is fairly new, so I'm sure there will be some birthing pains, but it offers a useful solution. I will be using Millenicom's Advanced Plan (20GB per month on Verizon's network - although they don't admit that is the network they use) for $59.99 per month  for my data services.  Since I'm now averaging over 10 GB per month, they seem to be the best deal.  If it turns out that I use less once I'm off the faster RoadRunner I have at home, I can drop them & switch to a less expensive plan.  Still, their stopping & starting capabilities fit RVing well.

I also plan to add an external antenna, combined with an amplifier & an internal repeating antenna to the trailer.  The brand is still in question.  I like the specifications of the Maximum Signal In Vehicle system, however it isn't available yet & I have to send the antenna to the Escape company fairly soon to have it installed. If it isn't available soon, I'll probably go with a solution by Wilson.

So, that is the communications plan.  Time to throw another log on the fire - it is 4°F outside! More next time...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More Snow III

Today's Photo - The Backyard 1/21/11

I don't want to keep complaining since I did choose to live in Oswego which is situated in the lee of Lake Ontario, but we have been a bit complacent - well below average show for the last two years.  

We have been getting at least a foot every day for the last couple of days - it has reached the point where even if I wanted to shovel, I can't throw it high enough to clear the piles on either side of the driveway!  Time to dig out the snow blower, even for just a couple of inches.  

This morning I shoveled the driveway, went for a walk, and half an hour later when I got back there were another 2" covering what I had shoveled.

As you can guess by this post, I'm getting tired of winter. 

Enough complaining.  It's time to head to the Oswego Library - I'm teaching a beginning class - Introduction to Digital Photography.  Mostly aimed at those that want to learn more about the settings & controls on their Point & Shoot cameras.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Scanning Old Photos

The Vermilye Family, 1977

A word of warning.  Be very careful of starting a project to scan a couple of old family photos!  A couple has so far turned into over 500 prints, negatives & slides, and there is no end in sight. 

I have an old Epson 3170 Photo flatbed scanner which has a built in light source for slides & negatives, so the mechanics are OK, however it takes forever to clean up each photo. So far I've only run a hundred or so through Photoshop  - I'm trying to do a bunch each evening. For those that have never used it, the Content-Aware Healing Brush is a lifesaver.  Good for getting rid of scratches, dust, various blobs of strange colors, etc.  I'm not sure it is accurate enough to use on presentation images, but it works well for family photos.

For anyone interested in viewing the project, it starts here:  Old Family Photos.

Till next time!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2000 Trip to Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, MT

Just a short post tonight - I finished the 21 pages that cover our 5930 mile trip to Missoula & Glacier National Park for our Daughter's wedding.  It all starts at Our 2000 Trip to Montana For Karin's Wedding.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Working on Web Pages

Today's Photo - Camping at the Green Valley Campground in Sturgis, Michigan

As I have indicated in the header of this site, I also maintain a photo, travel & RV website at Lakeshoreimages. Among the many pages on the site are journals of our previous travels.  

Once I had a laptop I started keeping the journals as we went.  Prior to that they were loosely documented in photographs (on that stuff called film!) and in a desk calendar I used to keep track of locations & mileage. I am slowly putting together web pages of these previous trips. As I mentioned on the first page of the journal, doing it as it happens is a much better idea!

This trip was put together because our daughter got married in Glacier National Park on the shores of Lake McDonald. Some photos of the wedding. Although I was pretty good about getting the wedding photos posted, the rest of the trip has never seen the light of day. So, I started putting together the pages of the rest of the trip today, 11 years later. So far I'm up to day 5. 

Anyway, for those interested in red road travel between Oswego, NY & Missoula, MT (and a bit beyond) I'll post a link in a couple of days when I get done. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sterling Nature Center

Today's Photo - Dawn at the Heron Rookery - Sterling Nature Center, Sterling, NY

Another non - trailer or travel day.  Well, maybe a little travel - the Sterling Nature Center is about 5 miles form home. If you are traveling the Seaway Trail, it is well worth a stop.

The Nature Center has an interesting history.  The farm land was originally purchased to build a nuclear power plant.  There were a number of proposals to use the land for things such as a toxic waste dump, etc, but eventually the center was formed.

Sterling Nature Center offers a variety of  trails that include the lakeshore of Lake Ontario, bluffs, woodlands, and, my favorite, the Heron Rookery.  The rookery was formed when beavers created a pond that flooded an ash forest.  While most of the trees died, they left a perfect nest building site.  At one time there were over 60 nesting pairs of herons on the pond.  Although winters have torn down many of the trees, the site is still a wonderful place to view herons, osprey & eagles in their natural habitat.  Some photos from the last couple of years:

Great Blue Heron


Mom & Pop


Mom & the Kids

The Pond

If you are interested in visiting to see the herons, late spring or early summer is best.  The birds fledge (leave the nest) by mid summer.  

On the other hand, the fall can be beautiful:
Fall at Sterling Nature Center

Sterling Nature Center is located in Sterling, NY

View Sterling Nature Center in a larger map

I have more photos and information on a few of my web pages: Sterling Nature Center and Sterling Nature Center 2006, & Sterling Nature Center 2010.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shooting the Moon

Today's Photo - The Moon

Since there isn't much happening with the planning for my trailer or trip, I decided to do a page on photography.

Many of us has seen beautiful moons in our travels, but have been disappointed in the results when trying to photograph it.
Overexposed Moon
This is what you will often end up with if your camera is set to program or automatic exposure.  The problem is the moon is very bright while the background is very dark, The camera "averages" them together & the result is an over exposed moon.  

The solution is to use manual exposure.  Almost all cameras can have their aperture & shutter speed set to manual.  The next time you want to take a photograph of the moon, try this:
  1. Set your ISO to the lowest value possible.  Typically, this will be 100.
  2. Set your aperture to f: 16.
  3. Use the "Sunny 16" rule to determine your shutter speed.  The Sunny 16 rule is used to estimate exposure for bright sunlight.  According to the rule, when the aperture is f: 16, the correct shutter speed will be the ISO of the camera.  Although you are shooting your photograph in the dark, the light coming from the moon is reflected sunlight - it is quite bright. So, if your ISO is 100, choose the shutter speed as close to 100th of a second as possible.
  4. Although a tripod will help, if your shutter speed is over 100th of a second & you are reasonably steady, and don't have a real long focal length lens (over 200mm or say 15X) you can probably get away with a hand held shot.
  5. Even with a tripod, if your exposure ends up longer than a couple of seconds, the moon will move far enough during that time to blur the image.  To make long exposures you will need a astronomical mount that is capable of tracking. 
  6. You don't need to wait for a full moon - you will often have more interesting images when you can view the terminator of the moon because it accents the mountains & valleys.
Moon, Showing Terminator
So, the next time you have a clear night, get out your camera & "Shoot the Moon!"

Please let me know if you are interested in more hints & helps for photography - I won't always have something to blog about dealing with my trip!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Syracuse RV Show

Today's Photo  - Fall Reflections on a Pond, Sterling Nature Center, NY

The 14th Annual Campers World RV Supershow started today at the New York State Fairgrounds. Not sure why I went since I have made up my mind, but it's always nice to see what's out there.  Of course, for this show there is only one dealer, (Campers World) so the choices are a bit limited...
Since the entire show is indoors (we had a foot of snow Tuesday night and 6" last night) things are crammed together. There was a pretty good mix of 5th wheels, travel trailers & motorhomes, both new & used.

Since I wasn't one of the individuals that won the $380 million Mega Millions jackpot, I won't be buying this Itasca Meridian Diesel Pusher, but I have to admit it is a nice Class A RV.  Much too big for what I want to do, but well designed.  It uses a side isle to get to the bedroom, which has always made sense to me.

Anyhow, if I was going to purchase a class A RV, this Winnebago Via 25Q would probably be more like what I'd want.  at 25', it is a reasonable size, diesel powered (although I have heard of problems getting service on the Mercedes chassis).  At over $100K, this is still a bit much.

Other than pop ups, this was the smallest trailer at the show.  A close inspection inside reassures me that the Escape fiberglass trailer is well worth the extra cost.  I was not impressed with the construction.

Most of the Class B's were used.  You can tell that concerns about fuel prices are still prevalent - most of the class B's were selling at a premium.

Well, that's it for the show.  Take care...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Places to See

Today's Photo - Half Dome From the Glacier Point Road, Yosemite National Park, CA

Yosemite National Park is definitely one of the National Parks I'd like to visit again.  Our last visit was on Memorial Day, 2004, and the park was quite crowded.  I realize that crowding is a problem all but the winter months, but if I have more time in the area I'm sure I can make early visits to some of the more photographic locations before the crowd gets there.

Some other California locations I'd like to see or see again - 

Burney Falls, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial Park, CA
Burney Falls is a very pretty waterfall located in the North Central part of the state on CA 299. Not only a pretty waterfall, but there is camping in the park as well.  

Not to much further south of Burney Falls is Lassen Volcanic National Park.  The last time we were in the area CA 89 was closed so we couldn't get to the park.  I hope it will be open this time when I go by! 

Mono Lake, CA
Another California area I'd like to go back to is Mono Lake on US 395 about 13 miles from Yosemite.  Again, this is a place I've already been to, but my wife Carol was not feeling well that day & we only stopped for a limited time. It is a beautiful, strange place that deserves more time to properly photograph. I was there at midday, a killer for most images. 

There are many more places I would like to see - My last time in Death Valley was in 1950 - I don't remember much other than my father renting a window mounted "Swamp Cooler" air conditioner for the drive across it. Red Rock Canyon is another place I've heard is a great stop - I've never seen it.  I'm sure there hundreds or even thousands more...

Well, that's thoughts about places to see in two states, 48 to go!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

It's Cold Again!

Today's Photo - An Image From a Production of Dracula.

Every once in a while I'll throw in a photograph from my pre retirement days - well, actually this image is from a year ago - I still shoot the production images for the theatre department I retired from in 2001.  Theatre photography is an interesting, tough field.  Low light, high contrast, many one-time-only images, usually shot hand held.  I love landscape photography, but I do believe I developed far more skills shooting theatre.

Well, it had to happen - Last night at this time (7:00PM) it was 53° out.  Tonight it is 28° and dropping.  It was nice while it lasted, and it did melt all the snow.  I don't think we have seen grass in January for quite a number of years!  It won't last long - the weather report calls for 4" - 6" of snow tonight.

Not much new on the RV side of things.  I'm still reading everything I can find on how people manage to live in a 17' trailer.  Since I spent many years traveling with a 12' X 10' tent, I should already know how to carry the minimum, but somehow the trailer feels different; more like a home and more like you need more stuff! 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year! & Babcock State Park, West Virginia

Today's Photo - The Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, West Virginia.

Continuing with some of the places I've traveled to take photographs, I have photographed the Glade Creek Grist Mill on two occasions, spring & fall of 2010.  This is a popular mill for photographers - While there I met individuals from all over the East that either stopped in the park as part of their journey, or made it their only destination.   
The Mill & Pond, Fall, 2010

The Park's Website notes that this mill was built in 1976 from parts of 3 area mills. Although I have yet to see it operating, they do mill cornmeal & buckwheat flour that is available for purchase. 

The Mll in Spring, 2010

The park has both cabins & a 52 unit campground that are open from mid April to the end of October. Although there are no hookups, there is a bathhouse with hot showers & flush toilets, dump stations & potable water fill up stations. 
While I feel visiting & photographing the grist mill is central to the park, there are many other activities include horse back riding, fishing  & boating on the lake, as well as fishing in Glade Creek, swimming in the park's pool, 20 miles of hiking trails, and many summer nature programs. A 336KB PDF map of the park is available from their site. A Goggle map that shows the location of the park:

View Larger Map 

The park is located in a beautiful part of West Virginia - well worth the trip!