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Earth Day 2017

22nd April 2017

Earth Day 2017

…how much do we care for Mother Earth?

 


April 22, 2017

 

“Today we celebrate the 47th anniversary of Earth Day.

Here I recount some thoughts since this movement was in its infancy.”

Earth Day

Earth Day was founded by the late Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. His intent was crystal clear – to focus attention on the environment, to assess the effect that our population is placing on our limited natural resources, and to implement the urgent actions to keep the earth sustainable for generations to come.

In these intervening 47 years, a generation or two has passed. Yet the Nelson’s urgency has not translated into the wide and responsive action that many of his disciples would have hoped.

Could it be that Nelson’s intent is now gaining traction? Exactly one year ago under the auspices of the United Nations, the Paris Agreement was signed. It’s long name is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for limiting greenhouse gases emissions. This agreement became effective in November 2016. So it seems that little by little we are inching our way towards a gentler and kinder treatment of Mother Earth.


To borrow a phrase from Vonnegut, follow me for a few minutes as my mind becomes unstuck in time.

My favorite author was the late Kurt Vonnegut. When he died in 2007, I recalled meeting him in the late 1960’s. Vonnegut was invited to be “writer in residence” while I was studying at the University of Michigan (UofM) in Ann Arbor. As a wildly popular author of this time, he was sure to have a large, welcoming audience at UofM.

He sometimes visited “The Brown Jug” for coffee and to smoke cigarettes. As an aside, he claimed that smoking was the slowest form of suicide. My wife Kris, also a student, waitressed here and on occasion would serve him. Due to her hearing difficulty she admitted that she wasn’t a very good waitress and frustrated Vonnegut with her (lack of) service. More to the point, his stay on campus as writer in residence ended prematurely when he abruptly left saying something like: “I’m leaving Ann Arbor since I have nothing more to teach you about writing.” So it goes.




The late 60’s was a very vibrant and exciting, yet conflicted era. From my high school yearbook a Charles Dickens quote 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, Bob Dylan, 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.

After Vonnegut’s departure, the folk song artist Gordon Lightfoot visited Ann Arbor. Gord had been drawing large audiences around the US, Canada and Europe. Here he performed his Canadian Railroad Trilogy (click for lyrics) for more than 12,000 screaming students. It is 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 – an apt way to point to the environmental conflict in musical terms.

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.

I was planning a career to 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 forestry, resource management and cost-benefit analysis.

My great enthusiasm for all things environmental waned not long 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 talking politics so I won’t comment on how well or how poorly us earthlings have done to improve the environment these past 47 years. However, like others, I’ve seen 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.

Of course there have been numerous events that have flashed attention on Earth Day. How about a song with a conservation theme: Conviction of the Heart (click for lyrics) was performed by writer/singer Kenny Loggins at Earth Day 1995 in Washington, DC.

A few years back we took 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.

We later 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 canister 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 permanent. 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 permanence, 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 “gotcha’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.

A while back, 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. Below you can see some of the ways that I commune with nature.













These photos were taken in many of our National Parks, Monuments and parklands. As you read this, I’m off to other outdoor places to experience more of our earth.


 

 

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

Again I say 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

************************************************************************

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

 

 

Conviction Of The Heart

By Kenny Loggins

Where are the dreams that we once had?

This is the time to bring them back.

What were the promises caught on the tips of our tongues?

Do we forget or forgive?

There’s a whole other life waiting to live when

One day we’re brave enough

To talk with Conviction of the Heart.

And down your streets I’ve walked alone,

As if my feet were not my own

Such is the path I chose, doors I have opened and closed

I’m tired of living this life,

Fooling myself, believing we’re right

I’ve never given love

With any Conviction of the Heart

One with the earth, with the sky

One with everything in life

I believe we’ll survive

If we only try

How long must we all wait to change

This world bound in chains that we live in

To know what it is to forgive

And be forgiven?

Too many years of taking now.

Isn’t it time to stop somehow?

Air that’s too angry to breathe, water our children can’t drink

You’ve heard it hundreds of times

You say you’re aware, believe and you care,

But do you care enough

To talk with Conviction of the Heart?

The Consumer Electronics Show – Accessories for Photographers

 

I’ve been attending the Consumer Electronics Show for more than 30 years. This huge expo is the premier showcase for new and innovative products that are slated for homes and businesses this year.

 

While walking the several miles of aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center, a couple of areas especially caught my attention: 3D printers and drones. You can read my show reports here: 3D Printing Technology and Drones.

 

But as someone who also has a keen interest in photography, here are a few of the photo accessories that stood out at the show.


Hisy and Halo Remotes

 

Here’s are two tiny little accessories for those of you who are fans of “selfies”.

 

Basically the Hisy and Halo are bluetooth shutter release for you smartphone. The Hisy is for iOS devices and the Halo is for Android devices.

To the right is the “selfie” of Jackie and myself that we took with her Android smartphone.

They also have the Wing – a selfie stick.

The suggested price of the Hisy and Halo is $24.99. The suggested price of the Wing is $29.95.

For more information, please visit HisyPix.

 



Nanuk Camera Cases

If you’re rough on your camera equipment, you may want to look at Nanuk’s cases. PlastiCase makes some very durable protective cases.

Below is one of their smaller cases. It’s made of a impact resistant plastic, has sure-lock latches, soft-grip handle and is waterproof. This 903 model easily accommodates one of my mirrorless cameras with an 18-200mm lens attached. I’ve removed the foam padding to show the spacing.

The Model 903 has a very affordable suggested price of $25.

 

PlastiCase makes about two dozen different cases in various sizes. For more info, please visit PlastiCase.

 



EnerPlex Solar

EnerPlex is a manufacturer of a variety of solar chargers.

If you’re shooting out in the field for any length of time and run out of juice, these solar chargers may prove invaluable. They are compact, foldable and ruggedized.

On the right, you can see solar chargers built into backpacks. EnerPlex has two backpack models: Packr Executive $130 and Packr Commuter $100.


Kickr IV+ on left produces 6 watts nx Kickr II in center produces 33 watts

Commander-XII produces 19 watts for laptops and tablets

For more info, please visit EnerPlex.

 



Thule Camera Bags

Thule is probably best known as the maker of the well-built and ergonomic car top carriers.

This Swedish company also has a stylish line of camera bags and backpacks.


I found their line of bags to be both attractive and practical.

Their new Legend GoPro Backpack was introduced at the show.

Designed and built for rugged outdoor use, you can mount two GoPro cameras directly to the backpack – one forward-facing the other backward-facing. The outermost compartment has die-cut foam insert for GoPro accessories. It’s lightweight and crushproof (EVA shell) and has several other padded compartments for safe transport of camera accessories, hydration reservoir and smartphone.

Thule tells me that the Legend GoPro Backpack will be available in May. Suggested price is $199.

For more info, please visit Thule.

 



Meikon Diving Equipment

For divers and shooters needing protection against water, Meikon had a large array of waterproof housings and accessories for many popular camera models.

On display were housings for Sony mirrorless, Nikon D7000, Canon 5D, Canon M, Canon T2i, T3i, T4i, T5i, Panasonic GF2, GF3, GF5 and GF6.

Meikon also has a nice selection lighting equipment and brackets.

For more info, please visit Meikon.

 



 
 

This concludes my reports from CES.

As usual, I’m excited when I return home from CES. Maybe a few of my finds will get added to my wish list for this year.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
Updated 02/20/2015
 
 


 

Earth Day 2014

20th April 2014

Earth Day 2014

…crawling forward at a snail’s pace

 


“April 22 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.

This year I’m dumbfounded as 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

************************************************************************

 
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

NOTE: This is a reprint and was originally written in 2005.

I remember very clearly when Dad would pull out his large twin lens reflex camera, usually around a holiday, birthday or family event. He would lower his head and look into the lens hood while his hand would reach down to grasp the knurled knob on the camera’s side. I would see the bellows move back and forth as he zeroed in on his focus. Then he’d snap and the shot would be done. We’d wait weeks, sometimes months, to see the results. After all, a full roll of film had room for 12 negatives!

When the film was finally developed, we were thrilled to see the results. Here are two photos, one from the 40’s and another from the 50s, but they both share the same “feel” – the subjects are dressed up for a special occasion, some of them are posed comfortably and others more stiffly, but always in full black and white.


Aunt Emma, Aunt Millie and Mom circa 1940

I took this family picture as a youth circa 1957
In the 50’s, color photos were reserved only for special occasions – owing to the higher expense. While Dad sometimes shot color, the cost of the film and print processing was too extravagant for normal use. But for those special times when he did use color, he would send the exposed film to one of the discount processing services to save money. The downside: developing by mail took an additional week to complete.
I cut my teeth on Dad’s older twin lens reflex (TLR) and a Polaroid Swinger. Using the twin lens reflex was an exercise in patience. With only twelve exposures to a roll of 120 film, you made sure that you had a good shot before you released the shutter. With the Swinger, it was a blast to see instant photography. With today’s digital we’ve come full circle; we have another form of instant photography again.
As a youngster with sparse earnings, I made do with Dad’s second TLR and the Swinger that served as my equipment. I came into luck when Uncle Tom, who was in the Air Force at the time, agreed to buy a camera for me at a huge discount on the Air Force Base PX. This became a lesson in patience: I’d wait a whole year until he returned from service overseas to get my hands on a state of the art Canonflex RM SLR camera.
In the mean time, I learned to develop film and make my own prints. A small corner in the basement became my darkroom. I covered the windows to keep out the light, fashioned a processing area from discarded planks of wood and used Mom’s washroom sink to provide water for the chemicals. I spent many nights mixing developer, stop bath and fixer; processing film and making black and white prints. I started with a basic Testrite enlarger and later graduated to a fancy Durst 606 enlarger with a built-in color filter drawer. I was so immersed into this hobby that soon I learned to make my own color prints. It would take take three hours of preparation to make the first color “test” print and perhaps six hours to get an acceptable “final” color print. I can hardly believe that I had so much patience back then.
To further my interest, something wonderful happened. Mom arranged for me to get a part time job with John Margotta, her past schoolmate who was now a professional photographer. For three years, after school I would head to John’s studio to learn the photography business. In the studio I was his assistant. I would hold lights and set up equipment for weddings, bar mitzvahs, anniversaries, birthdays, modeling shoots, funerals (yes, funerals) and more. I learned about lighting techniques, portrait techniques, posing techniques, action techniques, view camera technqiues and wedding cake cutting techniques too. And of course John taught me many darkroom techniques. I used most of my earnings to purchase more equipment.
My photographic education continued. During high school I proudly served on the yearbook staff as one of the three student photographers with access to sporting and entertainment events. In the following examples, you’ll see that we continued taking black and white photos since the cost of color was prohibitive at the time.

The friendly cheerleading squad of
New Rochelle High School circa 1967

Motown’s Four Tops performing
at New Rochelle High School circa 1966
During my college years, I completed my formal photo training by working at two different high end processing labs servicing the Madison Ave advertising agencies. In the 60’s, a process called “dye transfer” was used to make photographic reproductions for the high quality magazines like Vogue and Harper. Here is where I learned processing from the ground up: making color separations from original transparencies for printing using cyan, magenta and yellow dyes. Despite commuting between my home in New Rochelle and the photo labs in New York City and the long working hours, I thoroughly enjoyed the job as I continued to learn different aspects of photography.
At college I taught at the photography club and introduced my girlfriend to darkroom techniques. By the way, Kris is now my wife and hates the darkroom. I was a staff photographer for several university organizations and earned extra cash by photographing fraternity and sorority events.
Following college, Kris and I were married and shortly thereafter, photography took a backseat to raising a family, putting bread on the table and becoming involved in the software industry. Although I took and accumulated thousands of photos during this period, the bulk of these were of family faces and of the scenic vacation variety.
Skip forward 30 years to the mid-1990s. My company Abacus, was involved with flight simulation software and I’m taking more and more aviation related photos. I now find myself dabbling in the new world of digital photography. The stars are finally aligned and I’m ready to marry two of my long time interests: photography and aviation. With digital, the equipment and processing techniques are radically different from conventional film photography.
Several years ago, I received a surprise email from John Margotta, my photography mentor from the 1960s. I was happy to hear that at an age of 80+, he’s still immersed in photography. He’s produced some artistic renditions of still life using his “Photoshop-equipped darkroom”. His approach to photography is a lesson that hi-tech isn’t reserved only for the young.
Lucikly, I’m finding that most of the basics that I started learning 50+ years ago are still relevant. After all of these years, I remain very excited and passionate about my love of photography.

Earth Day 2012

21st April 2012

Earth Day 2012

… 42 years and counting

Tomorrow marks the 42nd anniversary of the first Earth Day. (Note: I’ve redated this article so that it corresponds to an April 22 date.)

This is a personal recollection of some of the memories that have followed me since this global movement was in its infancy. I also take a short look at both conventional film and digital photography to describe their effect on the environment.

Usually my daily thoughts are centered around publishing, software, grandkids or one of many other diverse topics. But as April arrives each year, a newspaper article here or a radio broadcast there reminds me of Earth Day.

Stick with me for a few paragraphs as my mind drifts back a bit.

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 the city of Ann Arbor. Vonnegut was asked to be “Writer in Residence” at the University. As one of the most widely read authors of the 1960’s generation, he was sure to have a large, welcoming audience among would-be writers studying at the U of M.

He sometimes frequented a small, local campus restaurant called “The Brown Jug” where he’d have breakfast and smoke lots of cigarettes. Back then, it was popular lore that Vonnegut declared smoking to be the slowest form of suicide.
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It’s time for CES again

04th January 2012

What’s in store for 2012?

The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off again in less than a week.

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the CES, it’s a huge technology trade show at which the electronic and associated manufacturers showcase their new products. In recent years, CES has attracted more than 120,000 attendees to the Las Vegas Convention Center and surrounding venues.

 
There are literally miles of aisles lined with home theaters, thundering auto audio systems, pulsating illuminated LED signs, massive large-screen televisions, deafening stereo systems and wacky computer game displays. It’s a crowded, noisy affair.

Despite the negatives, CES has been a “must” show for me. In fact, I find it an exciting place to be. So much so that I’ve been to attending this annual event (for a while it was held twice a year) for more than 30 years to learn and write about the new products that are applicable to our businesses. For the first time, the Photographic Marketing Association trade show is being folded into this year’s CES. I suppose this tells us that photographic equipment is now considered part of the consumer electronics realm. Merging of these trade shows into one makes it even more convenient for me to learn about new photo equipment as well.

On the photography side, I expect these will be the trend this year:

  • There will be more offerings of high end interchangeable lens cameras (ILC). This relatively new breed are imirrorless and use real-time electronic viewfinders and are significantly smaller than DSLRs. The Nikon V1 and Sony NEX5 are current examples that have compelling and innovative features
  • It looks like we’ll see big improvements in the video capability of both DLSRs and ILCs. The norm will be 1080p HD video, full-time autofocus amd complete manual control of exposure. These devices are reinventing the way in which video is recorded.
  • Watch for even better images from cellphones. Some models already have large 8MP sensors with builtin flash. There is a striking difference in quality from last year’s models.
  • Slowing sales of compact cameras hasn’t deterred manufacturers from improving image quality. In particular, the trend is towards better low-light performance by using more responsive image sensors and wider aperture lenses. This will most likely continue but at a higher price.
  • Again with compacts the major brands are also competing aggressively on a feature basis. For example the Samsung SH100 has builtin wireless transfer and several company’s have cameras with builtin GPS. I expect that features such as these will become very popular.
  • Last fall in China, I met with several manufacturers who were pushing easy to use, all-weather still and video cameras. This may become a popular category as the younger generation continues the YouTube tradition of recording and producing movies of their varied outdoor activities.

On the technology side I will be looking at these items:

  • I just read that Microsoft will be showing their upcoming Microsoft Flight at the show This is of special interest to me as one of our other businesses sell software for their older Flight Simulator.
  • There are likely to be a slew of new and improved tablet from a variety of manufacturers. Since the launch of the iPad, these devices have made a dramatic shift in mobile computing behavior. With the recent addition of reading devices such as Amazon’s Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, the market is heating up quickly.
  • Cellphones have made the most impact on consumer behavior in the last few years and I’ll be interested in seeing the new features that are upcoming.
  • For several years, robotic devices have been randomly appearing at CES. For the most part, this promising technology has been confined to a few areas such as floor cleaning devices and children’s toys. I’m hoping to see new and innovative consumer-level robots at the show.

I’ll report back to you about the show soon.

Yes, I’m looking forward to another CES. By the way, I’m also looking forward to a few days away from the cold and snowy weather here in Michigan.

 

 
Written by Arnie Lee


Unusual Stocking Stuffers

28th November 2011

Are you still thinking about those last moment stocking stuffers as the final days of the frantic holiday season quickly approach? It’s not always easy to think of a gift for a photographer especially one who already has lenses, bags, tripods and countless other accessories. Therefore, we’ve put together a list of different ideas for you to consider – whether it’s you or someone else – this holiday season.



You can help Santa with these unusual stocking stuffer ideas for that photographer on your list.”

Lens Bracelet

The Lens Bracelet™ from Photojojo (www.photojojo.com) is, as Photojojo says: the way to wear your camera love on your sleeve. This soft silicone bracelet looks like an actual focusing ring; it even shows the embossed “50mm” and AF/MF switch to the lens grip ridges. You probably won’t need to worry about sizes because one size fits all. The two types Photojojo has available are 50mm prime or 24-70mm zoom.



The Lens Bracelet from Photojojo (www.photojojo.com) is about $10.00

Mode Dial Cuff Links

Here is something different to wear for a more formal New year’s eve party. As you can see these Camera Mode Dial Cufflinks links resemble the mode dial found on most cameras. Mode Dial Cuff Links from www.cufflinks.com for about $49.95. These are available from www.cufflinks.com for about $49.95 as well as amazon.com and other online stores.



Mode Dial Cuff Links from www.cufflinks.com.

F-stop Watch

The way you tell time may not quite be the same anymore thanks to the F-Stop Watch. It displays time with F-Stop or the relative aperture of a camera lens. It measures the hours by aperture so, for example, it’s almost time for that meeting at F11, so you better get your papers together.



“The F-stop Watch from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild (www.philosophersguild.com) is about $34 online at Amazon.com and other locations.

Lens Thermo Coffee Cups
What better way to keep your coffee or other drink hot on an outdoor shoot this winter than to use The Travel Coffee Mug/lens Cup/thermos from Perfect Fit. It’s a typical thermos cup except it’s shaped as a camera lens. Therefore, don’t try to attach it to your camera or don’t pour your hot coffee on your real lens. You’ll find it at several online stores; price is around $15 but depends on the type and style you want.



The Lens Thermo Coffee Cup from Perfect Fit.

Vintage Camera Bookends
Electronic books obviously won’t need bookends but you may still have plenty of printed books and magazines scattered throughout your house or office. A vintage camera bookend might just be the practical solution. You’ll find these (not to mention the original old fashion vintage cameras) on eBay and other online store locations for about $45.



“The Vintage Camera Bookends from Home Decorators (www.homedecorators.com)

Photographer’s Camera Vitamin Box for Pills
This might not be a bad idea for those photographers needing to use a pillbox. You can even have Kyle Design custom make this film vitamin box for you for about $19.95.
Kyle Designs (http://www.kyledesigns.com) also has several other unusual photography related ideas you can check out.



The Photographer’s Camera Vitamin Pillbox from Kyle Designs

Petzl TacTikka Plus 4-LED Headlamp

The small and lightweight Petzl TacTikka Plus 4-LED Headlamp is for the nature photographer on your list. It uses four LED bulbs that will shine up to 150 hours. It even includes a pull-down red filter to help preserve night vision. The Petzl TacTikka Plus 4-LED Headlamp also has a flashing mode in case the photographic adventures takes you farther that you planned. The TacTikka Plus 4-LED Headlamp is about $45 and available at several online stores.



Petzl TacTikka Plus 4-LED Headlamp from Petzl (www.petzl.com).

drop it MODERN Snap iPhone Case

One more item in the retro category is this retro camera case designed to protect an iPhone 4. It’s designed to fit on your device yet gives you complete access to all ports, controls and sensors. You can select from three designs (Black, white and woody). Important note: These cases fit iPhone 4 & iPhone 4S phones purchased through Apple or AT&T carriers only.
The Modern Snap iPhone Case is about $32.95 and available at several online stores.



The drop it MODERN Snap iPhone Case (www.dropitmodern.com).

I hope this has given you different gift ideas that you can add to your list or the list from another photographer friend or family member.


 

 
Written by: Scott Slaughter

Note: this article was adapted from an earlier one published in March 2010.

So many new and amazing digital cameras, lenses and accessories seem to appear daily that I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with difficult choices about where to invest my hard earned cash in the name of better photography. When I see an announcement for a new camera with its tantalizing machine gun-like frames-per-second or super-fast auto-focusing ability my hands start to get itchy at the thought of feeling a new, sleek camera body; handling a bright, shiny lens or setting up a slick tripod head.

The problem is that I start feeling guilty when the itching starts. Why am I adding to the inventory of photo equipment when I already have an ample supply? I know a few other “collectors of photo equipment” and like them, the compelling draw of the latest and greatest is not unlike the effect that drugs have on an addict.

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