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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

RAW & Well Done

You may ask yourself, "How can something be RAW and well done?"  In this case, we're talking about photography (although I guess we could be talking about food, too, especially smoothies, but that's a topic for another day).

Specifically, I'm talking about all those images posted to social media that would have looked great if they had been exposed properly (you know....well done!).  And even if not exposed properly, but were shot in your camera's RAW mode, they might be recoverable with editing software.  Of course, much better if exposed properly to start with.

How can you do that if you're shooting in the midday sun?  One way is to move to the shade of a building or tree or any other object that will block the sun.  If that is not possible, you can use a fill flash to fill in the harsh shadows, if you have it available and you are close enough for it to work.  If none of the above is an option, get a close-up light reading of the subjects, and shoot in manual mode with those settings.  What will also help if you don't have a manual mode is getting much closer to your subjects to eliminate as much background as possible.  If you are aiming your camera directly at the subject, then changing your metering mode to spot or center weighted will give you more accurate results.

Why are you getting all those dark faces to begin with?  Your camera's metering mode is set to average so everything in the photos is being averaged for the light.  For example, in the photos below, the first one was shot with the camera aimed at the clouds, and the people are too dark.

If I had aimed at the people the clouds would be too light.

In the bottom two photos, I briefly played around with the editing software (Lightroom) to balance the two.  The photo was originally shot in RAW mode.  

The same kinds of things happen with focus - if you're not aiming at the subject, the subject will be out of focus.  Unless you first focused on the subject and kept the shutter release button pressed halfway down.  Or you used a wide angle lens with a small f-stop (then almost everything will be in focus).

For the above photo, I exposed for the players and didn't worry about the sky, so it was pretty blown out.  I had the sun behind them to avoid harsh shadows on their faces and also so they wouldn't be squinting more than they are.  Even though the sky still affected the exposure a little, I shot in RAW and fixed that with editing software.

The moral of this post is that if you understand why your photos are coming out too dark or light or out of focus, you can make adjustments and get some nice photos.

NOTE:  There are a lot of things I didn't cover here, but hopefully enough to you can get better results.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Affordable Healthcare

Medical costs in 2016 hit $3.35 trillion (that's TRILLION) in the U.S., or over $10,000 for every single man, woman, and child.  Is it any wonder why, no matter whether it's Obamacare or Trumpcare or someone else's care, it's pretty much doomed and likely to not work?  Is it any wonder why insurance rates are sky high?  Just like medicine, "healthcare" hides the problem rather than fixing the cause.

The cost of drugs just for cancer - The average cancer drug price for approximately 1 year of therapy or a total treatment duration was less than $10,000 before 2000, and had increased to $30,000 to $50,000 by 2005. In 2012, 12 of the 13 new drugs approved for cancer indications were priced above $100,000 per year of therapy.  Today, it may be as high as $120,000+ for some of those drugs.  Keep in mind, this is only for the drugs, not the treatment or surgery (do you really believe they'll find a cure for cancer and lose all that income?).  And, of course, I'm sure most of you have heard about the Epi-Pen price increase.

A statistical analysis reveals that prescription drugs, which kill over 110,000/year in the U.S., are 16,400% more deadly than terrorists. Iatrogenic deaths — deaths caused by doctors, hospitals, and drugs — had already reached 783,000 per year over a decade ago (see link in next paragraph: “Death by Medicine” PDF), which is the equivalent of multiple jumbo jet airliners dropping out of the sky every single day, filled with hundreds of passengers each.

Not only are the drugs ineffective much of the time (not to mention habit forming and may end up killing you), but the drug companies do their best to block alternative treatments that cost next to nothing and many times actually work better, and have no side effects.  With many drugs, people have to take another drug to counteract the side effects of the first drug.  What are the results of all the medical interventions?  You can see them at this link:  Death by Medicine Statistics.  I saw people in the news tonight who are scared of dying if they lose their insurance.  After looking at these statistics, I wonder if they may have a better chance of dying because of their insurance.

What can be done to lower costs?  Pass laws regulating drug prices and medical services, outlaw drug company advertising in the media, and outlaw drug company lobbying in Congress.  Since none of these things will ever actually happen, what can YOU do?  The only thing you can, and that I did - change to a healthy lifestyle.  What can that do?  Take you out of the so-called health care system (which is really the sick care system) because you'll most likely be healthy and have no need for it...barring injuries and pre-existing conditions.

What it did for me:  I went from getting sick 4-5 times per year with every cold and flu going around, had bronchitis, had an ulcer in my 20s, was diagnosed with IBS at 30, got headaches, had dandruff,  severe allergies and hay fever, etc., all by the time I was 30.  Then I started learning about nutrition, changed my diet, eliminated sugar, chemicals in my food, trans-fats, etc.  A friend recommended the book, Health Secrets of the Hunza, and told me to follow that diet.  I did and started getting sick less often, down to about once a year, and all the other problems started fading out and going away.  Next, I started taking vitamins and herbs, along with doing internal body cleanses with herbs.  Results?  It took a while, but now I almost never get sick (been over 7 years since I was last sick) and have few other problems.  Oh - and I never get vaccinated (too many toxins in them).  Even though I have the VA healthcare system I seldom use it, except for injuries, perhaps every 5 years or so.

Unfortunately, I can't eliminate environmental toxins (pesticides, car fumes, glyphosate, other toxins) but do my best to avoid them when I am able to and eat a diet that helps detoxify my system.  I eat almost all organic foods, whole foods that actually grow in the ground, take vitamins and herbs, and get exercise and good sleep.  And do my best to avoid stress.  I have no need for prescription or OTC drugs.  You can do this, too.  With the way things are going, do you really have a choice?

"Affordable Health Care" is, in my opinion, a joke at best, a nightmare at worst.  It's not healthcare and it definitely isn't affordable.  My brother stepped on a nail - the cost:  $1,400 with the medical system.  Until people start taking responsibility for their own health, or the government regulates health costs (yeah, right), I doubt there will be any legislation that actually works or helps.

Well, that's my take on "Health Care" and my advice.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Portrait Photography, Beautification, and Post Production Editing

With the advent of digital photography and editing software, it is now easier to enhance your photos than it was back in the days of film.  Back then, if you had some temporary blemishes, it would take a lot of work for the photographer to fix those.  It might have been better to postpone the session.  Now, with photo editing software, it's relatively easy, although still takes some time.  However, a lot more can be done to make an average photo look like something from a fashion magazine, while still looking like yourself - well, yourself with a professional make-up job, proper lighting, and posing.

If you've fantasized about looking like a top model, now you can.  How much of that look you may want, if at all, is up to you.  Everyone is different, but whatever you want from your photo session, it's nice to know you can have it.  Keep in mind that makeup and lighting are used to highlight your best features or hide your worst ones.  It's not done to make you look like someone else, although it can.

As with everything in life, editing can be overdone to the point where you no longer look like you.  You could end up looking like a mannequin if the editing is not done right.  Just very slight changes to the original can improve photos, but too much can have the opposite effect.  See if you agree in the photos below and which you might prefer.

Original - saw these two lovely young women walking along at Venice Beach, asked them if I could take some photos, they said yes, and here they are.

Enhanced - very slightly






Enhanced Slightly

 Enhanced a little stronger


Enhanced with PortraitPro and fixed in Photoshop

Crop of the enhanced photo - lighting was window lighting just before sunset

And this one is the same one as the one above it, but was purposefully overdone to show what too much can look like.



What can be done in post processing?  Almost anything.  Makeup can be added, skin can be smoothed, lighting can be changed, eyes can be opened more, blemishes removed, etc.  The variations are close to infinite.  However, to get the best results for a professional portrait session, you need a professional photographer who understands lighting, posing, and who knows what you should wear.  You also need your makeup done right for the photo session and be well rested.  But for everyday photos, it's still good to know about proper lighting and how to edit to get the best results.  After all, you still want to look your best, no?

There are those who prefer not to wear makeup for a photo shoot, to not have any post processing done to their images, to look more natural.  However, the posing and lighting are still going to be manipulated to some degree, so why do that and then not follow through to look your best?  I believe how you look and how you present yourself in your portraits can make a world of difference.  It can make you feel more positive about yourself and empowered when you realize how beautiful you are.  A beautiful, well done portrait of someone can totally change how they feel about themselves.  There are two kinds of photography for people - the one where you look like a million bucks, and then the everyday family snapshots.  Both are important.  I wish this technology had been around 30 years ago.  Why?  Here are two images from the same negative of my mother - one is straight out of the camera (that's all that was available back then to me), and one is of the same image using today's editing technology.  I have no doubt my Mom would have loved the updated copy.  These were taken around 1970.

Straight out of camera (Nikon FTn with color film) - minimal makeup

Same photo edited for lighting and makeup

Note:  I took this post down briefly to add this last section to show why I believe photos should definitely help you look your best.  Hopefully, if that is what you want, that is what you would get from a photo session.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Freedom...Loss of Freedom and Censorship

Definition of freedom from Merriam-Webster:
1:  the quality or state of being free: such as
   a :  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
   b :  liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another:  independence

Censorship, according to Wikipedia (which looks like a perfect definition) is the suppression of free speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.

Vaccines, Censorship, and your loss of Freedom - If any of you have followed my past posts, listened to the news or have done your own independent research, you would be aware that your freedom is slowly being taken away.  You would know that there is censorship regarding vaccines.  In fact, over the past few weeks, vaccine posts have been disappearing (censored) on FB.  If you are not free to determine what can or cannot be injected into your body or that of your children, you are no longer free.  When those injections can cause permanent and serious injury or death, it then is a human rights violation and a crime against humanity.

You need to really think about that last sentence - how else can you categorize it?  You've been a law abiding citizen, you broke no laws, you complied with vaccine laws, and those laws killed you or your child(ren), or caused permanent injury for which you are then responsible.  Even if it didn't immediately do the above, no one knows the long-term health consequences.  Dementia, Cancer, Autoimmune Diseases such as Arthritis and Diabetes, severe Allergies, etc.  By the time it happens, you may not be able connect the dots, even if vaccines were the cause.  Even when it happens within hours, often they claim it wasn't the vaccine.

My father was in the army in WWII and would not have survived (and I wouldn't be here) if he hadn't been in the hospital when his unit shipped out - none of them were heard from again.  They fought and died for our Freedom.  I'm a Vietnam Veteran having served four years in the U.S. Air Force for our Freedom.  We have military troops now who are fighting to defend our Freedom - the Freedom we are in the process of losing (or have already lost in California and a few other states).

We've had Women's Rights marches, million man and woman marches, protests against this and that.  But who is marching for our (Medical) Freedom?  If you want to keep it or regain it, you must write your elected representatives in Congress and the president.  You need to get everyone you know to do the same, whether you are for, against, or somewhere in the middle about vaccines because this is not about vaccines - it is about Freedom and about the U.S. (and other countries) breaking the Nuremberg Code - you know, the one the U.S. signed.  The Nuremberg Code basically said never again to forced medical experimentation on people.  But here they are, doing exactly that - they don't inform you of the risks, they force it on your children, and so far only adults in certain occupations.

What are the results of all these vaccinations (granted, there are other things causing problems, no doubt, but the U.S. gives more vaccines than any other country)?  The U.S. has one of the sickest populations and highest infant mortality rates of all developed nations and spends the most.  Here's a life expectancy chart from the CIA.  And infant mortality from the CIA (you have to go down to #169 for the U.S).  For Maternal Mortality Rate from the CIA, we're at # 136.  Check this article and chart from Bloomberg - U.S. ranks 50th out of 55.

Some people have accused me of not knowing how to do research or say I'm not a doctor.  You don't need to be a doctor to find the facts, you just have to go to the right sources, such as VAERS, CDC, CIA, Cochran Collaboration, immunologists, virologists, university sites, and doctors sites.  And you need to use some common sense and logic.  Like if you are vaccinated and vaccines are effective, why do you care what I do - you're safe.  And if you are not safe, then vaccines are not effective, so why get them, especially with their known side effects up to and including death?  When I go to an individual's blog or to various organizations sites, I check out the references which lead to many of the above.  I also go to the drug company sites for side effects and the ingredients list.  I check out studies that have been done.  I check out government data and statistics.  And when there are hundreds or thousands of anecdotal reports, then I give those credence, too.  Those who attack others for not doing the research either haven't done their research from independent sources (if at all), are paid trolls, rely on the censored media, work for the vaccine makers, profit from vaccines, or who knows what other reasons they may have.  You can determine who these people are by the words and phrases they use:  "the science is settled," "pseudoscience," "quack," "you're not a doctor or scientist," "conspiracy theorist," or they may resort to other name calling.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

13 Benefits of Photography for Anyone

1.  Historical uses.  Many photos may have several of the benefits combined.  Historical photos will show changes in many areas - fashion, structures, transportation, and on and on.  The top photo is of my great great grand uncle, and the bottom photo is my great grandmother and is a tintype photo.

2.  When looking at your photos, you may see something you hadn't seen when you shot the actual photo.  I've been surprised many times by this.  For example, I did see and shoot this strange cloud formation, but  can also see the street sign so I know where I was, and also there is a readable for lease sign with a phone number, in case I or someone eslse might be interested in that.

3.  It may help you focus more (pun intended) on things that are important to you, such as family, friends, pets, the environment, etc.  The first one is my younger brother, and the other was my German Shepherd, Wolf (from many years ago).

4.  It will help you find more beauty in life, which in turn can help you become less stressed, leading to better health and enjoyment.  This photo is from along the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

5.  It makes memories more vivid.  Looking at past photos can bring you back to that time - hopefully, a good time in your life, perhaps lifting your mood.  The first photo is of my father, mother, older brother, and me.   The second one is of me, my father, and older brother at Jones Beach, NY.  Those take me back a long long time ago.

6.  If the photos are of people, you can see how fashions have changed over time.  If of specific locations, you can see the changes there, too.  From the '60s - miniskirts and bell bottoms.

7.  This is more of a benefit for others, but you can help them to experience things that they may have missed and that they find interesting.  For example, the recent ciclavia in LA or perhaps Halloween in West Hollywood, or performers at Venice Beach, CA.  Photos from Halloween Carnaval in West Hollywood.

8.  It may be good exercise by getting you to explore new places and also to move around to get the best angles.  The below photos were shot at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook - I went there for the first time to test a new lens.  It was definitely good exercise, even more so because I rode my bicycle to the location.  The bottom photo looks like the stairway to heaven!  I took the trail to the top - a little longer, but not quite so steep.

9.  You may get to meet new people and hopefully make new friends.

10. When you are shooting a particular subject, it can clear your mind of everything else when you are really concentrating on getting the best image.  Lena, in the photo below, always made it easy to get the best image.

11.  You may see details that you normally wouldn't have seen as you are looking for something to shoot.  Well, Halloween in West Hollywood there are always things to shoot, lots of details, too.  I definitely would not have normally seen a scene like this, LOL.

12.  To tell or illustrate a story or event.  This is especially true for weddings.

13.  Show humor - I think these two photos and the change of expression shot at Halloween in West Hollywood are pretty funny.

Pretty much wherever I go I carry a camera with me.  You never know what you may see when you are out and about, whether it's a strange cloud formation, a beautiful scene, a famous person, a beautiful young lady, or the odd and unusual.  Below is a current photo of my first camera, which I got as a present at age 7 (probably still works) and used until I was around 22, when I got my first semi-professional camera, and a couple of years later bought a Nikon while in the Air Force.

Hope you've enjoyed this post.  The photos go from probably the late 1800s to the present.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Vaccinations, Eczema, and New Eczema Drug - Oh, and Fake News, Too! (And More)

Before getting to the subject of this post, I was sitting and thinking about these posts and came to realization that at this point in time, although posting these subjects (vaccines, health) gave me hope that perhaps a few people might change their views or at least research the subjects further, I don't believe there is anything else I can add.  I know because of my research how I feel about these subjects, and that I will never get a vaccine unless they are safe and effective, and probably not then as I really have no need for them thanks to a healthy lifestyle (diet, supplements, exercise, sleep, etc.). I hope I've gotten at least a few people to at least do the research and get educated about their health.  If I continue with this blog, and not sure I will, it will be about only photography from now on...after this post.

It seems every few days I hear something on the news that ties things together.  Today, for example, I heard about a new eczema drug that will cost $37,000 a year.  What is a side effect of vaccines?  Eczema.  What can you do if you or your child gets eczema from a vaccine?  Since you can't sue the company that makes the vaccine, you'll have to pay $37,000 for a year of relief to get back to where you would have been without the vaccine.  Are you starting to see how this scheme works?

Why did I mention Fake News?  Because most, if not all, of the stories about vaccines in the news are fake.  Vaccines got rid of all those diseases - fake.  What about the charts they show and how those diseases went way down in them?  They conveniently pick a set of years where the disease was briefly on an increase before the vaccine came out, and then decreased, just like the chart would have shown without the vaccine.  If you look at charts from the late 1800s to the present and mark the spot where the vaccine entered the population, and you won't see much change at all.  And in fact, you can check the few diseases with no vaccines that also disappeared at the same rate as those with a vaccine.

There are many other areas of fake news.  Any time industry and the government can get together and make more money by claiming some "fact" that is not true, they will, and it will be in the news constantly.  Sometimes they use the same misleading methods as with vaccines.  Pick a range of years to show you one thing, but if you pick a different range of years, you'll see something completely opposite.  They do whatever they need to do to promote their objective.

What can you do?  Never believe the fake news (i.e. - most of the news and other media sources) - do your own independent research, and from independent sources.  And then verify the information you do find.  About the only good thing with all the political news these days is that people are finally becoming aware how much new may be fake.  It used to be you listened to the news and you believed it.  I hope that happens no more.

Now to tie together vaccinations, health costs, and mandatory insurance (Obamacare).  Prior to Obamacare, around 46 million were uninsured.  Those 46 million people - how were they going to afford to pay for the 70 vaccines before the age of 18 on the CDC schedule (plus all the new ones that will be coming along), and the rest of the adult vaccines that are recommended, and how were they going to pay for all the injuries caused by those vaccines?  After all, the drug companies aren't responsible.  They came up with the perfect plan - make everyone pay for the vaccines and the damage they cause and call it "affordable health care."  I guess "fleecing the public" wouldn't have sounded as good.  And the poor diets people eat which is responsible for most of the other health problems.

Speaking of health costs - I had thought it was around one trillion dollars per year, but just read it is three trillion dollars per year!  With the U.S. population just over 300 million, that comes out to about $10,000 per person per year.  No wonder insurance is so expensive and why they wanted it to be mandatory for all.  Unfortunately, instead of trying to promote health, they promote sickness through poor diets, vaccines, environmental toxins (in our food, water, and the air we breath), and drugs.  This is why you must absolutely educate yourself about these things and take responsibility for your own health - no one else will.  Or you can choose to enter their system and be sick and broke.

I wish everyone the best of health and happiness, or as Spock said, "Live long and prosper."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Venice Beach Photography Series Continued

If you've ever thought about taking candid street photographs, Venice Beach is the place.  You never know what you may see there.  This photograph said it perfectly (Venice Beach - Have a Strange Day):

There are three ways (or situations) I shoot photos of people at Venice Beach:  by asking them, not asking them and they are not aware of being photographed, and they are not aware I'm going to take their photo, but then they catch me doing it.  The problem with asking is once they know they are going to be photographed, assuming they agree, they are no longer candid.  Of course, on the other hand, if we relate well with each other, I may get some really great expressions.  So sometimes I'll do a combination - shoot a candid or two, then ask and if they agree, shoot some more.  I always offer to send them copies of the photos for free when I ask and they agree.  If I post a photo, say to FB, and the person in the photo doesn't want it there, I will delete it.  The following shots were all of people who I didn't ask, but who caught me shooting them - you can tell by their expressions.

One of my favorites of the surprise photos. 

Another favorite because she looks like she's having a great time. 

Saw this young lady just as she is here.  Back in the days of phone booths.   We got into a short conversation - short because she was on a long distance call back in the days when people had to pay extra for those.

Never found out who xxxTina was, but thought it was a cute photo.

A much more recent photo series from three years ago was shot at the paddle tennis courts.  Maria Sharipova was eliminated at Indian Wells and came down to Venice Beach to play some paddle tennis in 2014.  Shot very close to the fence for these.

Hope you enjoy these posts.  I think it might be more interesting to mix up my posts on different subjects related to photography (and some on health, too).  But if I can't think of anything else, I will have lot of photos to post of Venice Beach for the past 37 years or so, plus a few of Hermosa Beach, Santa Monica, and other beach areas.