Road Trip – Part 2

I’m on a cross country trip from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Reno, Nevada to deliver an older conversion van for my son and daughter-in-law to use as a “camper”.

Normally, this is a 2000-mile drive on Interstate 80, but I modified the route slightly to visit the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Here’s the path.

In Road Trip – Part 1 I described the itinerary from Grand Rapids to the Tetons.

Here I’ll fill you in on the remainder of the journey from the Tetons to Yellowstone National Park. During the next 30 hours, I took in a lot of scenics – so hang on for a fast ride!



As I was driving north of the Lake area, I spotted this elk grazing in a heavily wooded area.

West of Canyon, I found this coyote crossing a wide open field.


The next morning I awoke early enough to see the sunrise along the Madison River.

I arrived at the Hayden Valley to find the mist hanging above the Yellowstone River.


Still early, I watched this White American Pelican fishing for his morning meal.

From this overlook you can see the Yellowstone River winding its way through the Hayden Valley.


A glance upwards and I see this small flock of geese flying towards the river.

Heading north at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are the powerful Lower Falls.


Onward to the Lamar Valley in the north end of Yellowstone. Here is an osprey searching for prey on the tall hill below.

A short distance away I run into a sizeable herd of hungry bison casually grazing in the field adjacent to the road.


This bison was resting comfortably nearby.

Why did the bison cross the road?

My last stop on my whirlwind visit to Yellowstone is at the Norris Geyser Basin for a hike through the amazing moonlike terrain.


Steamboat Geyer. That evening, it errupted – the first time in 2 years. I just missed it.

Here’s a colorful mud pot sending steam and gurgling noise into the air.


Can you can see how the Emerald Pool gets its name?

This view shows the vast extent of Yellowstone’s thermal areas.


Vixen Geyser

Watch the Vixen Geyser in action

After my hike through the geyser basin I make my way over to the van, set my bearings to leave the park through West Yellowstone, MT and follow the Snake River in Idaho for a while until passing through the high plains of Nevada to Reno.

Making this stop off at these two national parks is undoubtedly a very enjoyable way to turn a long distance vehicle delivery road trip into a mini-vacation.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 
 


 
 

Road Trip – Part 1

I just returned from another road trip, or should I say half of one. I was delivering an older van that’s been sitting in the driveway for a few years to my son and daughter-in-law who live in Reno, Nevada. In a straight shot, it’s just over 2000 miles from our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But I saw the drive as a chance to stop off and enjoy a couple of our magnificent national parks. Anyway, this was only a half of a road trip since I flew home after delivering the van.

I’ve taken to the road cross country dozens of times before so I know the routine. Waking at 4am, I leave Grand Rapids, point the van towards the West and go. Indiana, Illinois and Iowa are a breeze. And while I don’t mean to disparage any part of the trip, Interstate 80 through Nebraska is one of the least interesting 450 miles unless you like seeing corn and wheat fields galore. Afterwards, the slowly rising mountains of Wyoming are a welcome sight. By about 9pm, I pull into Rawlins, Wyoming for a late dinner and some sleep.

I’m up early the next morning and leave the interstate for the northern trek towards Moran Junction – the Tetons and Yellowstone. What a lovely part of the world with vast cattle ranches, scenic buttes, craggy overhangs, deep cut gorges, abundant wildlife. Without having to leave the vehicle, I’m thrilled to view the scenery.

My first order of business is to visit the Tetons where the mountains just pop up from the earth without any intervening foothills. This range across the valley known as Jackson Hole is simply breathtaking.

After driving 1600 miles, I’m more than ready for a hike and head for the trailhead at Taggert Lake. It’s early September and there are many other outdoor lovers enjoying the same sights along the trail.

Next on my agenda is a hop over to South Jenny Lake. Having visited this area several times before with my family, I have an emotional attachment to the lake and its energizing surroundings.

Then on to Oxbow Bend where the Snake River winds through the tree-lined valley. You’ll recognize the view from this iconic location – there’s a myriad of Oxbow Bend photographs that adorn walls and calendars everywhere. From this spot, just point your camera at the mountains, click and you’ll capture an unforgettable view for yourself.

Over to the Jackson Lake Dam. Here the water from the various rivers in Yellowstone collect and feed the Snake River. After the water passes through the dam, it serves the farms and citizens of Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. And by the way, the white water rafting downstream is very exciting!

My last stop in the Tetons is at Coulter Bay. This is not only a popular camping area, but its large marina handles water craft for the crowd that enjoys the amazing Jackson Lake surroundings and vistas.

At this point, I head north along the John D Rockerfeller Jr Memorial Parkway which connects Grand Teton National Park with Yellowstone National Park.

If you’re still with me, you can continue with my visit to Yellowstone National Park in Part 2 of the road trip.

Sony A6000

I’ve been a proponent of Sony’s NEX mirrorless cameras since they first appeared three years ago. The reason is simple. The NEX series produce images comparable in quality to conventional DSLRs, accept interchangeable lenses yet are very compact. They are substantially smaller and lighter than DSLRs.

Sony’s newest model is the A6000. Although Sony has dropped the NEX moniker, the A6000 retains the same compact footprint as the earlier NEX6 and NEX7 models.

A few days before our recent extended vacation, an A6000 arrived in the mail. I used it heavily on our extended family vacation. Instead of writing a wordy review, I put together a “photo review” that demonstrates the versatility of the A6000. If you’re on the hunt for a feature packed, technically advanced and affordable camera, you should look at the A6000.

You’ll find this quick and dirty “review” on my blog over at Stay Focused. Please click here to go to my online magazine.

Written by: Arnie Lee

Not Afraid of the Water

There’s a few weeks still left on the summer calendar so jump on in – the water’s fine.

After seeing a demo of this camera last January, I took the plunge and ordered this Nikon 1 AW1.

What’s unique about this camera is that it uses interchangeable lenses and can be submersed – the specs say down to 50 feet. But I’m not a diver so I haven’t used the camera that deep. Instead, I wanted a camera for snapping the family on the beach or in the water.

A sandy beach isn’t a problem – just dip the camera into the water to clean it off. Underwater shots are easy – especially if you’re wearing a pair of goggles – the LCD screen is very visible beneath the surface.

This camera is also built to be rugged. Nikon says that it can withstand a fall from 6 feet, but I didn’t test out this “feature”. When winter arrives it can withstand freezing temperatures down to 14 degrees.

The camera with an 11-27.5mm interchangeable lens sells for about $750. I bought the orange silicone protective sleeve which makes it easier to hold underwater.

The AW1 is mirrorless with a 14.2MB sensor. It’s very compact. Two lenses are submersible: the 11-27.5mm zoom and a fixed 10mm. You can mount other Nikon 1 lenses but they are not submersible. The built-in flash works underwater too so you can add light should you find the subsurface water dark.

This is a lightweight, compact camera that takes good quality images and as you can see is really a blast to use. And a lot of splashing won’t hurt a bit.

Earth Day 2014

Earth Day 2014

…crawling forward at a snail’s pace

“Today marks the 44th anniversary of the first Earth Day.

This topic has been on my mind so much so that I’ve written and rewritten this article several times over the years. Here is my recollection of some of the thoughts that have followed me since this movement was in its infancy.”

Earth Day

As April arrives each year I’m reminded of Earth Day.

But right now I’m dumbfounded. Leading up to today I have yet to read, hear or see mentioned anything about Earth Day. I suppose the environment has taken a back seat to events like the confounding search for Malaysia Air Flight 370, the unraveling crisis in the Ukraine or the sorrowful sinking of a ferry off of South Korea.

While I consider myself quite concerned about the environment, I’m certainly not a tree hugger. Yet as the years pass by since Earth Day 1970, it’s apparent that the general public is stuck in low gear on this topic.

Regardless, maybe you’d like to follow along as my mind becomes unstuck in time.

From the time I first started reading his black humor, novelist Kurt Vonnegut has been one on my favorite authors. He died in April 2007 shortly before the original version of this article was published. The news coverage of his life and death took me back to the late 60’s when I was a student at the University of Michigan (U of M) in Ann Arbor. Vonnegut was invited to be “writer in residence” and as one of the most widely read authors of the day, he was sure to have a large, welcoming audience at U of M.

He sometimes frequented “The Brown Jug”, a small, local campus restaurant where he’d have breakfast and smoke lots of cigarettes. As an aside, Vonnegut claimed that smoking was the slowest form of suicide. My wife Kris, also a student, waitressed at The Brown Jug and on occasion would wait on him. But owing to a hearing difficulty she admitted that she wasn’t a very good waitress and frustrated the celebrated writer with her (lack of) service. More to the point, his purpose on campus as writer in residence ended prematurely when he suddenly left declaring: “I’m leaving Ann Arbor since I have nothing more to teach you about writing.” So it goes.

To put things in the proper perspective, 1970 was a very vibrant and exciting, yet conflicted era. I’m reminded of Charles Dicken’s quotation in my high school yearbook which aptly describes the period: “it was the best of times and it was the worst of times….we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way”. This was the period of Viet Nam and Kent State, living off the earth and making peace, hippies and long hair. We were contemporaries of heavy metal, Motown, The Beatles, James Taylor and Woodstock music. With this as a backdrop, we happen upon the Earth Day 1970 teach-in at the U of M.

Shortly after Vonnegut’s departure, the well-known folk song artist Gordon Lightfoot came to Ann Arbor to perform for more than 12,000 screaming students. Gord had been drawing large audiences around the US, Canada and Europe with his classic Canadian Railroad Trilogy (click for lyrics), a poetic ballad describing the building of the railroads across Canada and the difficult tradeoffs between developing the economy and keeping the land pristine for the future. His music was great back then and to this day, I remain a Lightfoot fan. I was so much the fan that a few years ago I traveled to Las Vegas (by myself since no family member wanted to accompany me) to hear him in concert. And I ended up staying for two of his performances. I even have a life size poster of Gord which was gifted to me by the advertising manager of the casino.

Lightfoot’s concert was part of the first Earth Day teach-in, a gathering of some 50,000 in Ann Arbor to discuss, educate and find solutions to environmental problems created by the earth’s inhabitants. From all of the excitement and the energy which went into the production of the first Earth Day teach-ins, many of us believed that we were on the verge of saving the environment.

As an economics student, I was counting on a future career that would revolve around conservation, ecology and recycling. I studied writings from the likes of educators and humanists Kenneth Boulding, Buckminster Fuller and E.F. Schumacher and took courses such as remote sensing of the environment and cost-benefit analysis.

My great enthusiasm for all things environmental waned some time after graduating with a degree in Natural Resource Economics. It was fully a year later that I was still trying to find a job in this nascent field. Instead, I ended up in the computer and publishing business. So it goes.

I tend to shy away from public discussions about politics so I won’t comment on how well or how poorly us earthlings have done to improve the environment over the past 44 years. However, like others, I have observed a very large and urgent movement in recent years to resurrect many of the same or similar ideas from these earlier decades that call for a change in our lifestyles.

A few years back we took two of our young grandkids to see The Lorax, a movie based on a Dr Seuss’ book. It describes a place where the trees have been clear cut so there are no trees left. Everyone depends on manufactured air to provide oxygen for their survival. Through battle with “industry”, the hero finally succeeds in planting a single tree. This act restarts the path to regenerating oxygen naturally. While the story is a little far fetched, it presents the oxygen depletion issue to a young generation.

Last year, we took them to see another movie – The Croods which depicts the struggle of a family of cave people to survive in a deteriorating world. They survive through human ingenuity with inventions such as fire, shoes and wheels. I hope this isn’t the only lesson for our next generation – that technology alone is going to save our environment. Yes, we are quite ingenious. But a lot of us have reservations that technology by itself will solve our planet’s woes.

Photography and the Environment

So what does all of this rambling have to do photography? Well, to continue in the same vein, I thought it might be interesting to look at photography then and now to compare their individual environmental impacts.

At first, I thought this was going to be a “no brainer” – that digital photography yields huge environmental savings compared to conventional photography. But as I began to dig deeper, I see that there are two sides to this argument.

Conventional Photography

Having worked in several commercial photo labs long before the advent of digital, I’m familiar with the processes that are used in conventional (film-based) photography.

Most conventional cameras use a cartridge or cannister filled with film for 12, 20 or 36 exposures. Each “roll” of film is individually packaged for sale in hundreds of thousands of retail locations. Besides the resources needed to manufacture the film, a considerable amount more are used to market and distribute the products.

Film derives its light sensitivity from a chemical mixture of silver halide that’s coated onto its surface. After being exposed to light by the camera, the film is first “developed” – the silver halide image is converted into a metallic silver and then “fixed” – the unused silver halide is dissolved. This makes the negative image permament. Color film requires additional chemicals to form the dyes used to reproduce the various colors. And still other chemicals are used to enhance the drying of the photographic materials. In addition to these chemicals, a large amount of water is used to rinse and clean the chemicals from the surface of the film.

Conventional photographic prints are processed similarly using a silver halide sensitive paper and chemicals to develop and fix and wash the positive images. Most commercial photo labs make prints from each exposure on a roll of film.

The environmental impact of conventional photography is significant. A large amount materials is consumed to make film and photographic paper. A large amount of nasty and toxic chemicals are used to process both the film and prints. And an awfully large amount of fresh water is used in the process as well.

Digital Photography

At first glance, the coming of age of digital photography appears to have a beneficial impact on the environmental.

With digital, no longer is there a need for roll after roll of film. Instead a single chip (SD-card or CF-card) can capture hundreds, maybe thousands of images.

Now, these digital images no longer require chemical development. Rather, the images are immediately available to review while still in the camera. For permanance, the images can be copied to your computer hard drive for safekeeping, further enhancement and presentation.

Unlike conventional processing where each exposure is mindlessly printed by the photo lab, you can be more selective. Instead you can choose to print only the best of the best images. And it’s your choice to print them using a conventional photo process at your favorite photo lab or print them at home on your color ink-jet printer.

Regardless of which camera you’ve purchased, digital photography seems like a winner from an environmental standpoint.

The Rest of the Story

As with many things in life, digital photography has a few “gottcha’s” that cloud its environmental friendly moniker.

The upside is that digital provides big savings in resources by eliminating film, packaging, paper and chemical processing. However, digital shifts the resource burden to the manufacturing and maintaining of the personal computer. Yes, there are some who make do without a personal computer. These picturetakers bring their digital film to a photo lab to make their selected prints. But most picturetakers collect, organize, retouch, process and present their photographs using a personal computer.

While it’s dated, a United Nation report tells us that “the average 24 kg desktop computer with monitor requires at least 10 times its weight in fossil fuels and chemicals to manufacture, much more materials intensive than an automobile or refrigerator, which only require 1-2 times their weight in fossil fuels. Researchers found that manufacturing one desktop computer and 17-inch CRT monitor uses at least 240 kg of fossil fuels, 22 kg of chemicals and 1,500 kg of water – a total of 1.8 tonnes of materials.”

Of course a personal computer is used for other tasks as well, so it’s not fair to put the full blame for digital photography’s negative impact on the environment.

And to power all of these cameras, computers and accessories the need for electricity either from the wall outlet or batteries is climbing. Does this contribute to our CO2 footprint?

Not surprisingly, manufacturers are working feverishly to add new and amazing whiz-bang features to their cameras. But now instead of buying a conventional camera every ten years or so, the buying cycle for digital cameras is a lot more frequent. Read: more resources consumed.

Wrapping it Up

We can credit the overwhelming adoption of digital cameras for saving the environment from millions of rolls of film and the required chemicals to develop the the film and prints. In addition to the great quality of digital technology, we benefit from a huge reduction of harmful photographic chemicals.

Unfortunately, from an environmental standpoint, digital photography is a mixed bag when considering the pervasive number of new cameras and extensive use of the personal computer.

In his novel Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut might comment on this no-win situation with the phrase so it goes.

Last year I wrote another article that might be of interest if you’re following the status of our environment.

After all of these years as an avid photographer I’m still a proponent of carefully using our precious natural resources. Aside from photographing family, my favorite pastime is nature and landscape photography. To see some of the ways that I commune with nature, please click here.

To the best of my ability I continue to practice “leave no trace photography” – disturb neither our wildlife nor its sourroundings. Photography, whether conventional or digital, is a gift that lets me enjoy the wonders of our amazing world visually. I think many others agree.

Happy Earth Day!

 

 


 

 
More Information
Here’s a few articles that touch on the conventional vs digital photography debate.

For those of you who are interested in the movement, here is a link to one of the main Earth Day sites.



History of Earth Day

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Written by Arnie Lee, former flower child and founder of Stay Focused.

Please leave your comments below or address your thoughts about this article, to Arnie via email

 

 

 

Canadian Railroad Trilogy

By Gordon Lightfoot


There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run

When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun

Long before the white man and long before the wheel

When the green dark forest was too silent to be real

But time has no beginnings and history has no bounds

As to this verdant country they came from all around

They sailed upon her waterways and they walked the forests tall

And they built the mines the mills and the factories for the good of us all

And when the young man’s fancy was turning to the spring

The railroad men grew restless for to hear the hammers ring

Their minds were overflowing with the visions of their day

And many a fortune lost and won and many a debt to pay

For they looked in the future and what did they see

They saw an iron road running from sea to the sea

Bringing the goods to a young growing land

All up through the seaports and into their hands

Look away said they across this mighty land

From the eastern shore to the western strand

Bring in the workers and bring up the rails

We gotta lay down the tracks and tear up the trails

Open your heart let the life blood flow

Gotta get on our way cause were moving too slow

Bring in the workers and bring up the rails

We’re gonna lay down the tracks and tear up the trails

Open your heart let the life blood flow

Gotta get on our way cause were moving too slow

Get on our way cause were moving too slow

Behind the blue Rockies the sun is declining

The stars, they come stealing at the close of the day

Across the wide prairie our loved ones lie sleeping

Beyond the dark oceans in a place far away

We are the navvies who work upon the railway

Swinging our hammers in the bright blazing sun

Living on stew and drinking bad whiskey

Bending our old backs til the long days are done

We are the navvies who work upon the railway

Swinging our hammers in the bright blazing sun

Laying down track and building the bridges

Bending our old backs til the railroad is done

So over the mountains and over the plains

Into the muskeg and into the rain

Up the St. Lawrence all the way to Gaspe

Swinging our hammers and drawing our pay

Driving them in and tying them down

Away to the bunkhouse and into the town

A dollar a day and a place for my head

A drink to the living and a toast to the dead

Oh the song of the future has been sung

All the battles have been won

Oer the mountain tops we stand

All the world at our command

We have opened up the soil

With our teardrops and our toil

For there was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run

When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun

Long before the white man and long before the wheel

When the green dark forest was too silent to be real

When the green dark forest was too silent to be real

And many are the dead men too silent to be real

Listen Closely

A Glance at the Nikon D4s

I got a peek at Nikon’s new D4s camera today and it’s a doozie.

Although it’s lighter than the D4, it has a remarkable 16MP sensor that’s superb at high ISO settings. It sacrifices a higher pixel count in exchange for superior noise reduction. In fact we saw an amazing demonstration at ISO 25600 with virtually no noise.

Its high speed, rapid fire capability is sure to attract the following of sports and action photographers. The D4s is rated at about 11 fps with continuous autofocus and autoexposure.

Here’s a short recording that I made at Nikon’s booth today. The shutter sounds like a miniature machine gun.

Press the play button

That’s an amazing speed.

Although it’s a better performer in several respects, the new D4s is lighter weight than the predecessors D4 and D3s.

That’s the teaser for today for Nikon fans.

Nikon’s rep Paul Van Allen tells me that today is the first day that the D4s is on sale. Price for the D4s body is $6,500.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 
 


 
 
 

Gung Hei Fat Choy

Chinese New Year – January 31

Chinese New Year typically falls during late January or early February.

The Chinese calendar is partially based on the phases of the moon and is also referred to as the Lunar New Year. It’s celebrated in countries where there is a large population of Chinese. Having been raised in a large, extended Chinese family, we’ve always known the celebration as Chinese New Year.

In China, the full celebration lasts a full 15 days. However growing up in New York we didn’t have the luxury of sitting it out for the full holiday.

Our’s was an acknowledgement of our Chinese heritage. We would drive from our home in the suburbs to Chinatown in the heart of New York City to experience the colorful dragon dance and ear-shattering fire crackers. We hosted a gathering with as many relatives that were able to travel to my Grandmother’s (Paw Paw) house. Paw Paw would prepare two or three special dishes unique to the holiday. We trekked in a small procession from the house to the cemetery carrying a boiled chicken, oolong tea and burning incense to honor our deceased ancestors. The chicken and the tea came back to the house and were served with a dozen other traditional home-cooked dishes at an elaborate family meal. Afterwards, the elders passed red envelopes containing dollar bills or silver dollars as gifts to all of the unmarried children. As children we were elated.

Delicious dishes like this one would grace our kitchen table as dozens of relatives surrounded us younger kids. These dishes were only for special occasions.
The adults gifted the children these little red envelopes filled with dollar bills and/or silver dollars.

This was a time to visit with uncles, aunts and cousins. This was a time for hugs and kisses. This was a time to leave the bad fortune behind. And this was especially a time to wish good fortune to everyone.

For us, January 31, 2014 is no different from other years. We continue to celebrate Chinese New Year as we have since I can remember. And while Paw Paw passed long ago, the food aromas from her kitchen of fifty or more years past remain familiar to me today.

It’s our sincere hope that good fortune will continue to bless our grateful family and all of our friends during this new year.

So to all of our relatives and friends in the year of the horse – “Gung Hei Fat Choy.”

The Big Freeze

Making My Way to CES

It’s early January – time for the Consumer Electronics Show.

I’m always excited to go to CES and see the new devices from hundreds of manufacturers – devices that are waiting to dazzle us. For the past 30+ years I’ve been attending this whiz-bang exhibition.

But this year it is very interesting getting to Las Vegas. Beginning on New Year’s Day the weather services warns us of heavy snow and frigid temperatures for the next week. Two days before my scheduled travel date, I receive a notice from United Airlines that my Monday flight is cancelled and that I should call to reschedule.

I spend six hours on hold to United’s reservations center and when I finally get through to an agent I make an alternative reservation for later in the day on Monday.

An hour later, I receive another United notice that this flight too is cancelled. Back on the phone, this time for more than four hours, and they reschedule my flight to Wednesday evening. This flight is not going to work since I would miss two full days of CES.

So I look for alternatives.

I know that Allegiant flies directly to Las Vegas so I check their schedule. To my surprise there is space available on Monday and so I immediately book the flight. Of course the weather will ultimately determine if the flight actually take place.

Driving to the airport is hazardous with the zero-degree temperature over snow and ice-covered roads.

As I view the airport gate assignments I see most of the other flights from Grand Rapids are cancelled. Most likely they fly to Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago – cities where the airports are shut down.

The incoming flight from Las Vegas is 30 minutes late. But despite the drastic weather my flight to Las Vegas departs an hour late. Here’s a vote for air service city-to-city rather than the hub and spoke service used by most airlines.

A short three and a half hours later, I’m in the desert without any snow and enjoying the 60 degree temperature. I am lucky to get out of the big freeze.

Today I hear that the temperature in Grand Rapids is -10.

I had to use my sunglasses in Las Vegas.

The Fix

I’m a frequent visitor to Chinese restaurants. You might say that I’m a big fan of Chinese food.

But something has been bothering me for the last several years. Let me explain and then you can judge for yourself whether it bothers you too.

When the server seats us, she brings the usual: a napkin, a tea cup, a plate and chopsticks. Of course the bamboo chopsticks are wrapped to keep them sanitary. By the way, I hate those plastic chopsticks because they’re slippery, but that’s not what bothers me. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that the chopstick wrapper usually has printed instructions explaining how to use the chopsticks, but that’s not what bothers me either.

Actually, the thing that bothers me has nothing to do with Chinese restaurants at all. What bothers me has everything to do with the non-Chinese restaurants.

What if someone went into a restaurant, say to have a meal of spaghetti and this person doesn’t know how to use a fork? How would he get those long strands of pasta into his mouth? Of course, this dilemma isn’t unique to Italian food – think German sauerbraten, French coq-au-vin, English roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and Spanish paella – the food has to make its way from the plate to the tongue.

To be fair, this isn’t much of a problem with pizza, tacos or hot dogs since you can always eat these foods by hand. But by and large, the culinary world doesn’t look kindly on hand-food.

So I’m proposing an easy fix for those guests who have not yet mastered the art of consuming food with a fork. For the benefit (and non-embarrassment) of these guests, the restaurant establishment should consider wrapping their forks with the following instructions:

So now it’s your turn. Did I hit the nail on the head?

Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 
 


It’s Personal

Camera Brands Are Like Religion

Not a week goes by without someone asking me what brand of camera they should buy, a Canon or a Nikon.

Most of the time they’re wanting to replace their good quality point-and shoot camera. They’re looking for more advanced equipment along the lines of a DSLR.

Having owned or used literally dozens of cameras, especially in the past five years, I have a definitive answer which I’ll share with you shortly. But what I find interesting is that so many photo enthusiasts also have very definite answers to this question.

Let me back up a bit and explain why I’m writing this.

A Facebook friend wrote that he was looking for a new DLSR. “Should I buy a Canon or a Nikon?”, he posted. I replied “or a Sony?”. The point I was trying to make was that there are more choices than only Canon and Nikon.

A few minutes later there were many more replies on his Facebook status: “Nikon”; “CanonCanonCanon”; “I shoot Nikon”; “I use a Nikon D90”; “Canon definitely”; “I have a Nikon 5000”; etc.

 

 

It’s not surprising that a camera brand is a very personal choice. It is as though each photographer is pleading with my friend to heed only his or her suggestion. Isn’t proselytizing their brand like forcing a person’s religion onto another?

Yet when I think about it I was doing the same. I was suggesting that a Sony NEX camera is similar to DSLR but without the weight and bulk. And since I am very fond of carrying lightweight equipment, I frequently use a Sony NEX camera.

Of course I could have chosen a different way to respond to his initial post by asking a few qualifying questions: will he be taking lots of sports or action; are movies part of his photography repertoire; how much money does he have to spend.

But frankly these qualifying questions don’t matter much.

Here’s my answer to his question: it doesn’t matter if you choose Canon or Nikon. Both have equally capable cameras in the various price ranges. And Sony also has equally capable cameras. One could argue that Pentax and Olympus also offer quality models too.

There’s too many slanted opinions for my friend to make his choice based on all of the Facebook replies. I hope my friend makes his choice based on how the equipment feels in his hands; getting the most features for the price; availability and affordability of additional lenses; past experience with previous purchases.

What do you think? Any comments?

Written by: Arnie Lee