Category Archives: Observations

For Memorial Day – Margraten American Cemetery

I’m skipping a bit ahead of the photos from our trip to The Netherlands and Belgium in honor of Memorial Day. On April 18 we made a stop for a tour of Margraten American Cemetery. It was there that we learned how important the cemetery is to the local Dutch populace. Each grave it taken care of by a local resident, and usually that responsibility has been passed down through the generations. On the anniversary of each death, flowers are placed at the grave, like the ones below.

Flowers Placed an Anniversary of Death

The gentleman who led our tour is also a member of a group called Faces of Margraten, which endeavors to locate as many photos of the over 10,000 people buried in the cemetery, and then every May they hold an event where they display the 4,000 they’ve collected so far. The level of respect they have for the American soldiers who died fighting to free the Netherlands from Nazi rule, even after 70 years have passed, was both encouraging, and depressing to know that too many Americans don’t have that same level of respect for those who gave their lives fighting. Maybe because the war occurred there, instead of on our own soil, we lack the same level of understanding, or maybe we just suck at teaching people history. Either way, if you’ve never been to an American cemetery on foreign soil, I highly recommend it.

Margraten Cemetery

Margraten B/W

Margraten Cemetery Memorial

“Each for his own memorial earned praise that will never die and with it the grandest of all sepulchres not that in which his mortal bones are laid but a home in the minds of men.”

Inside the Chapel

With Flickr For Sale It Might Be a Good Time to Backup

IMG_0257I’m not saying Flickr is going away, but assuming Flickr’s parent company, Yahoo!, gets sold, the future owner of Flickr is also in question. As this article on PetaPixel says

In the hands of a good owner, Flickr could thrive and live on as a dominant photo sharing option. In the hands of a bad one, it could go the way of MySpace and other once-powerful Internet services that have withered away from neglect and lack of innovation.

So, as a Flickr user myself, I’m not immediately worried that everything I have stored and linked from this blog on Flickr is in danger, but I’m going to make sure I have a copy of everything that’s on Flickr just in case. (As you always should!)

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas

A sun-filled hotel lobby in Sydney. Holiday decorations and Summer weather were a new experience for me, but it also made me wonder how some different holiday traditions could be fueled by the seasons on the other side of the world.

I mean, New Year’s Eve on the beach? I could get behind that!

Flickr Starts Auto-Tagging Photos, Creates a Mess

I have to admit, I wasn’t even aware that Flickr was going to start auto-tagging photos hosted on it’s service until I saw an article complaining about it.

I didn’t like what I saw in the article. I liked the idea even less when I went over to my Flickr account to see what these new tags looked like on my own photos.

It isn’t pretty. Take this set of tags for a photo of a flower.

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Now, at least Flickr was kind enough to show my tags in gray and the auto tags in white, so people who understand what is happening don’t think I’m just a pain. On the other hand, these tags don’t offer much benefit. For example, the “outdoor” tag has been applied to over 2,000 of my photos, making it basically useless for organizing photos, and something that requires more time than I have to fix.

In order to see how effective Flickr’s tagging is, I’d have to use a less frequent tag, so I clicked on the “plant” tag.

That tag was applied 205 times. Including for this shot of St. Andrews.

Landscape

I mean, yeah, maybe if you want to consider the grass of a golf course a “plant”, I could maybe see that, but that’s hardly a tag anyone would use to categorize this photo.

Let’s continue down the rabbit hole shall we?

The photo of St. Andrews was also auto-tagged “field”. Again, a not very useful description, but let’s follow that tag and see where it leads.

52 photos were tagged field, but I’m still looking for the field in some of them.

Setting Sun in the Port

A field of water maybe? Also, this photo was tagged “sand” as well. Yeah, ok….

Anyway, the point is not to ridicule Flickr’s erroneous tagging, the point is that tagging of photos in any social network should be done by the person uploading the photos. Tagging is a part of the content of a photo that I decided to use as a way to link various photos together, whether it be by subject, location etc. By auto-tagging, Flickr has, essentially, usurped my ability to tag things in a way that makes sense to me and a way to help people looking at my photos to find similar photos. The service has disrupted a tool that was being used by many, many users as part of a strategy.

It’s as if Twitter started automatically adding hashtags to tweets without your consent, or Facebook started automatically tagging people and pages without giving you a way to disable it, and both went back into your history and added those things to thousands and thousands of posts, making it nearly impossible to clean up. That’s what Flickr did, and I can understand why people are unhappy about it!

So, if you see a white tag on a Flickr photo, understand that it wasn’t tagged by the photographer. Also, if you want to see tags the way the photographer meant them to be used, only follow the gray ones. For now, it seems as if Flickr is at least not co-mingling items tagged automatically with those results, but who knows how long that will last.

British Museum

Outside the Museum
On a recent trip to London for work, I found myself with an opportunity to explore some of the sights of London. Because of the nature of this trip, and the work commitments I had, there wasn’t a ton of opportunity to arrange anything ahead of time, I had to simply take advantage of whatever gaps of time I could grab up.

As it turns out, I was staying very near the British Museum, and was keen to explore some of it. Since it is free, and near by, as I found myself with a few hours, I could just pop over, and I did.

Inside the British Museum

Now, regardless of how you feel about how the museum went about collecting history from all over the globe, (or stealing it if you prefer), there is no doubt that this is a great place to immerse yourself in an absolutely orgy of historical artifacts. In fact, even after two trips and hour spent there, I haven’t seen everything!

One of the nice things about this museum, however, is that with a few exceptions, photography is encouraged. So I managed to get quite a few shots of cool historical artifacts from all over the world.
Corbridge Hoard and Jug of gold coins
Ancient Crucifix
I will, over the next series of posts, be sharing some of those shots with you, as well as some of the background. I hope you enjoy them!

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Snake

I had been thinking about a situation like this when we were down in the Okefenokee Swamp recently.

They got out of the car to get a better view of the alligator, but the man unknowingly had stepped on a water moccasin that was on the side of the road.

In Okefenokee, they were quick to point out that for every gator you see, there are 10 you don’t see. I started thinking about how, if you remain completely focused on the one you see, trying to get the best photo of it, those 10 you don’t see might present a bit of a problem, let alone the snakes. The snake in the photo above was actually just underfoot as we walked along a trail. I heard it rustling in the debris before I ever saw it, and I suspect it was actually in the path, scurrying to get away from us when I heard it.

Today, when I saw this story, that was what came to mind. Capturing a photo of wildlife can be pretty exciting, but when you’re out there in their habitat, you probably want to pay attention to what’s going on around you too. You never know what else you might not see.

Then again, this advice goes double when traveling as well. Tourists with cameras who are trying to get the perfect photo are easy targets for criminals as well, because they aren’t paying attention to the other people around them. I’ve seen lots of people at tourist sites being careless with their stuff while getting a photo.

Be careful out there!

Some Things Can’t be Avoided

The weekend before Christmas, the wife and I headed out to spend the weekend in Helen, Georgia. Helen is fairly well known for it’s Alpine Christmas decorations, which seemed like a fun thing to see, and is very close to Unicoi State Park and the Chattahoochee National Park.

Santa!

Sounds like a great place to get out the camera gear and see what we can capture, right? Continue reading Some Things Can’t be Avoided

Nikon D3000 At Night

Ceasar's Palace Tower

While I was in Vegas recently for the ILTA conference, I decided that would be a good chance to take the new camera for a spin. Of course, with the conference going on all day, my only opportunity to get out of the hotel was in the evening. I will say, that I was very impressed with the clarity of the images captured in lower light (Let’s face it, the Vegas Strip is never exactly a “low light” situation) even without a tripod. I definitely see a difference from the D50 in that regard, not sure if it’s better stabilization or the increase in megapixels in the newer model, but I feel like these images came out pretty well given the situation. Shooting at night, even in a place as bright as Vegas, without a tripod is always a bit of a gamble, but I’m happy with what I was able to get during a short walk.

Waiting for the fountains at The Bellagio