Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why is China still a 'developing country'?

So why is China still referred to as a "currently developing country"? (1/4 way down ) when they manufacture most of the goods that are purchased in the US? I mean, really, if a country has the infrastructure to produce that much, and the people enough to produce that much, and the infrastructure to keep all those people alive, they're no longer developing.

You can't argue that "the country is so vast that populations/parts don't have running water and electricity. Well, technically you can argue whatever you'd like. But the US has parts where there is no running water, and no electricity.

You can't use Government as a factor. They have one. It's stable. There are many countries that wish they had this.

If it's because parts of their population are uneducated (the same can be said about the US, honestly) - that's by choice of their government. Their government's making fistfulls of money yet they chose to only spend $19/student on textbooks. Does that make them a developing country?

So why is this? Will someone from the lazyweb please explain this to me? >>Keep Reading: Full Post and Comments

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You've got friends!

Recall, from the sys-admin days of ol' (yes, we know you did your due and did the peon job years ago) the AOL sound "You've got mail!" that you'd hear buzzing from people's machines?

I saw the following picture in my email inbox. It made me think of that damned annoying "You've got mail" sound, but instead "You've got Friends". It seems in Ohio, once the weather gets a bit warmer everyone gets their camera out.

I guess on one hand it's "nice to have friends". The funny thing is, look at the dates. That second weekend in may there were a lot of shutters 'a clickin' :)
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lessons learned from a Nature Photography Newbie

This past winter marks the second season which I have ventured out into the wilderness to photograph turkeys. This year, I made the trip out to the woods a number of times yet I had success on only three of those trips. Here are a few things I've learned which I think are the most important when attempting something like this.


Based upon my analysis, Multiple Toms some of the trips were too soon - they weren't close enough to their mating season crazyness. In Ohio, March seems to be the month. January and February are too soon. You might see some then. But you won't see 50 birds at a time. April's no good too, the spring turkey hunting season starts. Depending on your location, these times will vary.


I also found evidence that someone's poaching on our land. We found black shotgun shells on our land near the house where the turkeys come up to. These shells are not our "color" nor our "brand" that we typically use. If I hit the lottery I would love to invest in some cameras to catch this person or these people!

Then there's the coyotes and the cats. Yes, I mean bobcats. Yes, they're in Ohio. Get over it. (so are small bears, for that matter). Apparently they enjoy a good turkey dinner as well. We've found a number of carcasses leftover in the woods nearby. Not much was ever left except feathers and claws. Nearly all were hens, for the curious.


IMG_0625 - Version 2

So after sitting through sun, sleet, rain and snow, here are the top few things I learned while trying to photograph wildlife this year:

  1. Always use a tripod. Don't leave home without it. If you do, drive back and get it. Just because your eyes think there's enough light outside that morning doesn't mean your lenses, filters and magnifiers will. Add in possible low-light and motion from the animals and you've got one thing - blur if you don't have a tripod.

  2. Bundle up! It's far colder sitting in a metal chair outside in a blind then it is standing outside the house. The longer you are out there before the sun comes up (you are out there before the sun comes up, yes?) the colder it becomes, quickly! Like everyone says, wear layers. I found bringing different hats helps; as it becomes warmer I can ditch the thicker ones for thinner ones.

  3. Valley's Our hill in the springtime are cold! If you start at the top of a hill when you get to the bottom and setup your blind and equipment it's going to be colder down there!

  4. Condensation kills! Be careful about condensation from your heat, your breath, the sunshine coming in and your camera. Especially if there's a frost and/or dew. If the tip of your lens is outside the blind, or near the opening and it's temperature is different from the rest of the camera you can end up with water where you don't want water.

  5. Cold Squirrel kills batteries! If you hadn't heard this before, then you've not been doing photography long or you live where it's not cold. Either way, the cold will suck the energy from your batteries like you cannot believe. Bring extra's. During the long lulls where you aren't seeing much action of your blind, don't hesitate to pull the camera from the tripod mount and stuff the body in your jacket.

  6. Cold messes with LCD's. The LCD in the viewfinder on mine started acting up. Instead of f4.5 it looked more like f4.L. I've not figured out yet whether this is a flaw, or it was from the cold, or both. Nor have I decided whether or not to send the body to Canon for a fix. When the camera body's temperature was raised, the problem went away - that's why I suggested putting the camera body in your jacket (someplace warmer) when not being used. (If I knew of a way to get a picture of the LCD in the viewfinder, I'd be able to show this to you).

  7. Diet. Don't eat that huge steak and potato meal the night before. And stay away from a lot of beer. Oh, and beans too. The next day in a small blind isn't pleasant. It can be extreme in a two person blind with two people! The point I'm getting at is you may have to adjust the size of your urin bottle and other necessary equipment to handle the fallout of the previous night's festivities. Use your best judgement here.

  8. Stretch before you go out to the woods. You will be cramped in a blind for at-least half a day, maybe an entire day. If your body is nice and stretched out you won't cramp up being stuck in a chair in a small blind in a tiny space for hours on end. During the day try to stretch your limbs too. If you google on "office stretches" that people do in their office chairs, the premise for your situation in your blind is the same. Stretch as much as possible. You will be thankful you did it once you finally stand up and have to walk your gear back out of the woods.

  9. Bring a watch, pen and paper. When you start seeing eyes and heads popping out of the brush, note the date and the times. Animals tend to be cyclical, especially if you are routinely spreading food out for them to eat. They'll come back and make your location part of their routine. Over time, adjust your estimated times based on sunrise and sunset. Some magazines, like Field & Stream will publish sun tables Solunar Tables that you can analyze and possibly use. (see Field & Stream Interactive Weather and Wildlife Best Times to Hunt & Fish as well as Sunshine Applet)

  10. Lens cleaning equipment. You're bound to drag your nose across your lcd screen. You're bound to breath towards the camera thereby fogging up the lcd screen and viewfinder (note that this is the exact time the animals will pop out of the woods on you, when you can't see squat). If you'll be changing lenses you're bound to drop one on the ground it'll roll through the grass, weeds and snow. So bring a towel. Bring the normal lens cloth and other misc gear to clean them. Nothing kills the spirit worse then going back to camp, looking at your pictures and finding out there was dirt somewhere that's in every single frame you snapped.

  11. Know when to leave. If you've walked in with all your gear, don't wait until you are bone tired to packup and leave. Leave sooner. There's no reason to be that tired when you've still got to packup and haul all your gear out of the woods. My gear isn't light, I can't afford those sweet lightweight tripods in the B&H catalog, mine's from eBay. So don't wait. Leave while you are ahead, especially if the walk is long and up hill.

The main thing is have fun. If you are lucky enough to have picked a good spot, you'll capture what you came for. If not, well then there's always everything else out in the wild.

Turkeys on a hillside

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