Photography Class

January 28, 2010 11:41 pm

Jess and I found the local camera club and signed up to be in their photography class offered through Park & Rec. The first class was last week and was a bit of overview and instruction on all the features the cameras have, what they mean, and how to adjust them.

Tonight's class was about lighting and how it will affect the quality and mood of your photos. It's pretty fun. They ask students to bring pictures each week so they can show them on the projector and provide a light critique to help us improve. Jess and I both received very favorable reviews on our pictures.

I wanted to take a composed shot from a figurine lit with candles. However, options are kind of limited in terms of what you can do when you don't own a tripod or any other fancy/handy equipment. I was able to get a really nice picture though. I used a stack of books as my tripod, and my background is the carpet and a beige throw hung over a music stand:
IMGP0155Jess took these two pictures of some flowers I gave her in celebration of HollyDay:
IMGP0284c IMGP0275b

HollyDay 2010

11:36 pm

We've decided to call January 26 a "HollyDay" (Jess' middle name is Holly), as it marks the anniversary of the day Jess was released from the hospital with a vote of confidence that she was officially no longer dying.

We celebrated by having dinner at an Italian restaurant in Pleasanton, and then swinging by the Cheesecake Factory to bring home dessert.

I think it's safe to say that things are rather different now than they were a year ago—and rather for the better.

I don't know about the rest of you but I'm glad Jess survived.

Seriously, folks?

January 23, 2010 7:38 pm

Yeah, I'm gonna gripe for a bit here. I just got a letter from the State of Utah. And yeah, I'm in trouble. The legalese is all a bit muddy, but the best I can figure out, their third party (Insure-Rite, if you can believe it (the most ridiculous name they could probably have dreamt up)) can't find any proof that my car is insured. Which makes perfect sense, since my insurance policy in UT was canceled. What doesn't make sense is why they're paying any attention to my car at all—it's not registered in Utah anymore! I went to a great deal of ridiculous effort to make that happen, and California didn't even TELL Utah? What the heck!

So I've now received a "1st Notice" and am required to contact them about all this. I so love this sort of Super Fun Phone Call. I'm so irritated about this...

Oh, and apparently I was supposed to notify the Utah DMV of my change of address. I can't believe I didn't think of that! makes NO SENSE! Maybe that's why it never occurred to me. I mean, if I'd stayed in the state, sure. It's not like I didn't address the issue of my car's registration. I just thought this was all taken care of months ago. The government is so interested in so many things about my car, but the states don't communicate when it moves its registration? This is bizarre.

Photography is not Terrorism

3:01 pm

I've seen a handful of news articles recently concerning law enforcement agencies branding photography as a terrorism related activity.

A new campaign by the Chicago Transit Authority suggests that civilians report photographers the same way they should report unattended packages and suspicious persons (coverage by NBC Chicago: Losing Focus: CTA Warns Against Excessive Photography).

There was also a recent article about photographers in the United Kingdom protesting the police's ability (under anti-terrorism laws) to stop and search anyone for any or no reason; which, apparently, has been used as the excuse to harass photographers (CNN is carrying this story: Photographers protest over UK terror law). Luckily for them the European Court of Human Rights ruled that this legal power is a violation human rights.

But, on to the main point (there are hundreds of similar articles about photographers being harassed under the guise of anti-terrorism). At first glance we would probably think that it likely for terrorists (or would-be terrorists) to take photographs of the locations they're planning to attack. It's what happens in all the movies, right? Well, it is, in fact, entirely wrong.

I'd highly recommend reading through Bruce Schneier's essay on the matter from June 2008: The War on Photography. He covers the topic far better than I could.

Go read the whole thing (it's only about a page), but here's the most relevant excerpts:

Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.
Except that it's nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn't photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren't being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn't known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about -- the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 -- no photography.

So why the focus on photography?

Because it's a movie-plot threat.
A movie-plot threat is a specific threat, vivid in our minds like the plot of a movie. You remember them from the months after the 9/11 attacks: anthrax spread from crop dusters, a contaminated milk supply, terrorist scuba divers armed with almanacs. Our imaginations run wild with detailed and specific threats, from the news, and from actual movies and television shows. These movie plots resonate in our minds and in the minds of others we talk to. And many of us get scared.

Now go read the whole article to see why movie-plot threats are the stupidest thing to guard against.

And don't harass photographers for taking pictures.

Yay me!

January 21, 2010 2:49 pm

The wizard I finished cross stitching so long ago is finally hanging up! Instead of framing it, I decided to stretch it over a canvas, which I think turned out pretty well. It involved a lot of time and several techniques I'd never used before, so it's nice to have it actually done and on the wall. Yippee!