Minimum Handheld Shutter Speed

Hi Folks:

A friend recently asked me about the minimum handheld shutter speed for cropped sensor cameras; the old adage for 35mm cameras was known as ‘1/focal length’ and he was wondering if he should apply a 1.6 crop factor for a cropped sensor.  I saved my reply and thought I’d post it here… Continue Reading →

The Man Who Made a Forest

Hi Folks:

Sometimes you come across a story that leaves you (almost) speechless.  I am a writer, after all.  Although this story appeared in the April 1, 2012 edition of ‘The Indian Times‘, it’s no April Fool’s joke.  One man, two hands, two feet and thirty years created a 550 ha (~1360 acre) forest in rural India.  By himself.  Jadav ‘Molai’ Payeng began by planting bamboo when he was 16, then when that had grown he began planting, watering and pruning tree seedlings.  He brought in red ants from his village to help the soil.  Nature built the rest.  The full story is in the Indian Times article.

I salute him.

He’s not alone in his work, though. Wangari Maathai began the ‘Green Belt Movement‘ in Kenya, and it’s now become an international organization.  Although Ms. Maathai is no longer with us, the GBM continues its goal of planting one billion trees internationally.  In Indonesia, Willie Smits and the Masarang Foundation are helping local communities, wildlife and the rainforest, and the people of Vakan’Ala (‘Pearls of the Forest) are doing similar work in Madagascar.  Amazing.


P.S. You can read Jean Giono’s fictional story, ‘The Man Who Planted Trees‘ and a similar one, ‘Where the Sun Spilled Gold‘, by following the links.

Victorious Voices 2012

Hi Folks:

UPDATE: This post is about the 2012 event.  If you’re looking for our 2013 Victorious Voices post, you can find it here.

Although Marcia and I have both been writers for most of our lives, our introduction to ‘slam poetry’ is somewhat recent – only since Shane Koyczan performed at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.  Like all forms of poetry there are a few rules to follow, and since slam poetry is spoken, most of those rules relate to presentation.  Poetry slams are ‘competitive’, but competitive in the true sense of the word – from the Latin, meaning ‘to strive together’.  All work must be original.  Poetry may be spoken individually or in ‘teams’.  Each poet has up to 3 minutes to perform his/her piece, with a 10-second grace period following that.  Any longer and the poet begins losing points for going over time.  The time begins when the poet first engages the audience.  The poet may not use props or musical accompaniment, and may not wear a costume.  That’s the essentials of it.

Last night marked the 3rd annual ‘Victorious Voices‘ final – Victoria’s Secondary School Slam Championships.  The semi-finals were on Monday night, but unfortunately we missed that event.  Eight teams from local secondary schools made the semi-finals, and the final four teams performed last night.  The students were from Esquimalt High School, Pearson College, and Reynolds Secondary (Junior and Senior).  The event was held at the Victoria Event Centre, on Broad Street between Johnson and Pandora. Continue Reading →

Earth Hour 2012 in Victoria, BC

Hi Folks:

As you probably know, Saturday night from 8:30-9:30 local time was ‘Earth Hour‘.  Originally conceived by the World Wildlife Fund and the Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney, Australia in 2007, it has since become a world-wide event.  Marcia and I were wondering how much participation there would be in Victoria so we headed up to the top of Christmas Hill to find out.  Christmas Hill is part of the Swan Lake/Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary here in Victoria, and being a large rock outcrop in about the middle of the city, it affords a spectacular view of the city and beyond.  We were pleased by what we saw.  Although street lights and outside lights for some businesses needed to stay on for safety reasons, much of the city was otherwise dark.  I made a quick video with my cell phone camera, a 360° panorama, which you can see below.  NB: I’m a photographer not a videographer, and there places where it was so dark that the camera had to hunt for focus.  That however, is the point!

Earth Hour 2012, Victoria, BC
Click on the image to view the video

Our thanks to everyone in Victoria and around the world who participated in Earth Hour.  It’s a way of saying that you care about this little blue marble we call ‘home’.

Marcia and Mike.

Photo of the Month – Fun With Mirrors

Hi Folks:

This being April 1, I thought the image below would be appropriate for the photo of the month for March.  Back in the film days I used to do things like create photo montages by sandwiching two slides together into a single frame, but when I first got into graphics programs (CorelDraw 3) I started being more creative with a few of my images.  One technique is to take an image, cut it in half either horizontally or vertically, take one half and mirror it, then stick the two halves together again.  The results are always unknown and often unexpected.  I did a blog post a while back on ‘Making Mirror Images With Lightroom‘ that showed one way of making such images while making them look realistic at the same time but ‘realism’ isn’t always a necessary goal. Continue Reading →