Tag Archives: wtf

Slo-Fi

Christmas 2012

While visiting my family for Christmas my sister returned to my brother a digital camera she borrowed. Sometime in 1998. I don’t know where they fit all the 1.6 megapixels, it’s only the size of a loaf of bread. Okay, okay, a slice of bread. A large slice.

Christmas 2012

It’s a Fuji MX-700, a very early point & shoot digital camera. It has a dial that you can set to “take a picture two seconds after you press the button” and also “timer”. Aside from a display in a museum of 20th Century technological artifacts, what can you do with such a beast? I had some fun after setting it to B&W and clearing the huge 8MB Smart Media card — it holds about 10 photos at 1024×1280, and my 134-in-1 card reader actually has a slot for it. The camera does an okay job in its own right and squinting through the viewfinder is cute. I can actually see how this would have been a good investment for taking small photos of things for sale on ebay, after faxing a photocopy of your drivers license to confirm your account, tied to your free Juno email address. That was just me? Okay.

Christmas 2012

I thought I might keep it as my own overwrought version of Instagram for B&W still lifes and vintage clothes. Turns out it has some bad pixels plus that’s a stupid idea. It’s interesting to see how far we’ve come though. Fun fact: this camera was actually rebranded as the Leica Digilux. Almost enough reason to keep it. Almost.

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2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

It may not feel like winter in Albany lately, but it’s December, and that means another Santa Speedo Sprint. I’ve talked about this in 2010 and 2009, so I’ll keep this mainly photos. The latest word I have is that ASAP raised over $20,000 for the Albany Damien Center, which is fantastic.

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

This year the sprinters were especially amorous. Draw your own conclusions.

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint, Albany NY

That last one is from Lionheart Pub, where the awards and official unofficial afterparty were held. That gave its own opportunity for more photos.

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint, Albany NY

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint, Albany NY

2011 Santa Speedo Sprint, Albany NY

I split this one into two sets, here are the slideshows for the sprint itself and the aftermath. All Over Albany has their own photos (I love the third one down, killer lighting) and a good roundup; more photos from Sebastien, albany_tim, anobjectn, and MikeCNY. If you have some, drop a comment!

Occupy Albany

Occupy Albany, 10.22.2011

People are protesting!

Okay, I’m a little jaded, since I’ve seen many protests in Albany. But I am sympathetic with the Occupy movement, I think they have some worthwhile messages and are unfairly maligned with the “what is the point” trope. Occupy Albany, formed in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, performed their namesake. They occupied Lafayette and Academy parks, a fart away from the New York State capitol building and Albany city hall.

Occupy Albany, 10.21.2011

Occupation began on Friday, with 150-200 protesters gathering in Lafayette Park. Around 5:30pm a general assembly began, a yawn inducing spectacle for the noninvolved. The goings-on are procedural but allow everyone to be heard, which is working for the crowd sizes Occupy Albany is gathering. Assemblies last for an hour or two and decide on specific action plans; the rest of the occupation consists of… occupying.

Occupy Albany, 10.21.2011

There’s an interesting twist due to the occupation’s chosen location. Lafayette and Academy park share a contiguous parcel of public land, roughly divided by an old building which is now an Albany city school district office. Lafayette, the westernmost section, is owned by the state, while Academy, easternmost and near the intersection of State and eagle Streets, is owned by the city. An interesting jurisdictional issue for constabulary forces.

Occupy Albany, 10.21.2011

Uncertainly ensued. Being warned to vacate state property, Academy Park was solely occupied.There were reports that governor Cuomo’s office strongly encouraged the city to clear the park. This did not happen Friday night, nor Saturday. Tents went up and protesters chanted well into each night.

Occupy Albany, 10.21.2011

Day two saw fewer protesters but no less emotion. Those remaining were dedicated. I got there in time for another general assembly, and signs were piled on the ground while members were participating.

Occupy Albany, 10.22.2011

Saturday’s assembly drew 100 or so.

Occupy Albany, 10.22.2011

I’ve seen plenty of Albany protests and marches, but notable here is diversity. The media narrative seems to paint them as in or just out of college, but age ran the gamut.

Occupy Albany, 10.22.2011

Occupy Albany, 10.22.2011

The mix was ethnically diverse too, but that’s not a surprise for Albany. We’re a blender anyway.

Again the group was allowed to stay Saturday night with no interference, though there was one altercation. The entire weekend surprisingly lacked police presence. Troopers monitored Lafayette Park Friday night, but after that you’d have to squint to find an officer. Much drum beating and guitar playing ensued.

Occupy Albany, 10.22.2011

Sunday was gorgeous, warm for upstate late October, sun so welcome it had to be enjoyed lest it was the last we’d see for the year. The protest was still going strong, though numbers had diminished.

Occupy Albany, 2011.10.23

Someone was taping “1%” signs to the benches across the street, I’m not sure if this was one level of irony or multiple.

Occupy Albany, 2011.10.23

Even famed local developer Lewis A. Swyer got in the act. I’m not sure this is “other-wise interacting appropriately with the statue” but hey.

Occupy Albany, 2011.10.23

A shrine had popped up, this is the season to pray to the apple spirit after all.

Occupy Albany, 2011.10.23

But the protest ground on, it seems Occupy Albany has successfully occupied Academy Park, they were not kicked out on Sunday either.

Good luck to those camping overnight, it has been cold, I hope they are prepared. You can see a slidehow of my photos from all three days, in reverse chronological order because why not. There are also lots of other photos on flickr, try Sebastien, Kim D., albanytim, Tim Raab, dwlcx (not sure how to pronounce that), and the Occupy Albany group.

May you live in interesting times.

2011 Troy River Street Festival

Troy River Street Festival

Saturday, June 18, was the 7th annual River Street Festival in Troy, a free 8 hour event with food, music, and vendors. This year the weather cooperated beautifully — maybe a bit too beautifully if you ask my sunburn — fortunate because the highlight is the street chalk drawing competition hosted by the Arts Center of the Capital Region. Congrats to Brian Barker who won 1st place in the adult category, unfortunately I don’t have a photo of his work.

Troy River Street Festival

All Over Albany sponsored an entry, and you may recognize Casey’s beautiful chickadee print. Yep, she had donated a few prints to Art for ALS too. That’s her above, doing her thing, her theme was a bird sitting on Albany’s iconic Egg. The chalk art is more stunning each year, but the whimsical entries get a lot of attention, like one 12 year old’s Angry Birds interpretation.

Troy River Street Festival

The River Street Festival boasts three stages, a main stage, local stage, and one for the kids. Add great food carts to the restaurants already on River Street, a beer truck, local crafts vendors, and a gorgeously sunny afternoon and you end up with a lot of people. If you follow my friend Sebastien, you’ve read that he’s trying his hand at street photography with some new gear. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now also, in fact I’ve been a street dilettante ever since I grabbed a DSLR, but I’ve been a bit more focused for the last year or so. The reason I haven’t written much about it is that frankly my results just aren’t that good. But the crowd at the festival gave me a chance to practice.

Troy River Street Festival 2011

Street is one of the least gear-obsessed genres of photography; sure there’s a certain reverence for Leicas but there’s not the constant prattle about lenses, high-ISO performance, ballheads, frames per second, or polarizing filters you get in, say, nature or sports photography. Just pick up a camera and go. That said, allow me to indulge a bit. Sebastien bought the shiny Fuji X100 to have a smaller, more discreet package; I’ve gone in the entirely opposite direction and not only haul out the huge, loud, ugly 5D, but throw a flash unit on top. It says yes, I’m taking your picture, and you’ll even know exactly when I take it. No tricks, no shame, no hiding it. In fact, I think trying to be at all sneaky is an admission of guilt in itself, and there’s nothing wrong with taking photos of people in public.

Troy River Street Festival 2011

But that’s the beauty, almost any camera short of maybe a pinhole can work and there are as many different approaches as there are photographers. On the 5D I have the Canon 28-105mm USM lens, which is nothing special, in fact it’s a discontinued kit lens from Canon’s mid-range cameras. For street shooting, I set it at 35mm (I’d like to use a 35mm lens but the zoom is nice for quickly switching style), set the camera to shutter priority at 1/200th (max flash sync speed), dial down the flash exposure by 1 stop, set ISO to give me at least f/9, and put the lens into manual focus. Wait, what? Daytime flash, manual focus? The flash is just enough to fill in and take a bit of the harsh edge off midday shadows, and no matter how fast your camera and lens, autofocus will slow you down just enough that you may miss “the moment”. At f/9 and higher, I can preset the lens, a.k.a. zone focus, and get a depth of field from somewhere around 5 feet to infinity. From there, all I have to do is frame and shoot.

Troy River Street Festival 2011

Okay, sorry about all that. I had a good time shooting at the festival, and am happy with some of the results. The idea, for me, is to freeze some part of the human condition, maybe someone who looks interesting, or a scene that says something about either the people in it or the people viewing it (preferably both). On top of that, it should be aesthetically appealing, which is where the real difficulty lies. It’s hard for me to evaluate whether or not I actually did any of that, because I was there and have my own memory of what was happening at the time. I don’t think I’ve quite hit the mark yet but hopefully the photos are at least fun to look at. Some of them are much better when you click through and view large, consider these previews.

Troy River Street Festival 2011

So that’s the River Street Festival. As always I have a slideshow with more photos, and you can see Sebastien’s set too. We walked together mostly, which must have been a little extra bizarre to people watching us photograph them or others, since we chose some of the same subjects. The Exile in NY has a set and Flickr user pearl.higgins has some nice photos of the chalk art from an artists’ perspective too, and I’ll update as I see more photos — also when I find out who the other winners are. I hope you enjoy looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Troy River Street Festival Troy River Street Festival
Troy River Street Festival 2011 Troy River Street Festival 2011

Overlook Mountain

Overlook Mountain, Catskills NY

We’ve had rain all week but checking the forecast, Sunday was supposed to be nice and clear. A quick drive down to Woodstock for a hike up Overlook Mountain was the plan; unfortunately we didn’t actually check the forecast for Woodstock. Halfway there the skies clouded up and we hit some drizzle.

In Woodstock, turn onto Rock City Road, and about 1.5 miles of twisting, climbing asphalt later you’ll come to the trailhead parking lot. As soon as we started up the road, the rain turned into dense fog; apparently we had driven into a cloud. So much for taking photos, right? Maybe.

Overlook Mountain House, Catskills NY

Overlook is well known for two things: the fire tower at the top and the ruins of the old Overlook Mountain house. I’ve talked about fire towers before, and I wasn’t about to take any sweeping panoramas from the one on Overlook this time, so let’s skip to the Mountain House (sometimes simply called the Overlook Hotel, if you want to run into some confusion with The Shining). Following the lead of the famous Catskill Mountain House, it was planned in the early 19th century but not truly constructed until the 1870’s. It burned once in 1875, then again in 1923, after which reconstruction was never quite completed and was shuttered in 1940 — only to suffer from fire in 1941 and again in the 1960’s. Today just a few shells remain, trees growing heartily inside. Plenty has been written about this site, and since I don’t want to repeat it all you can read the Hudson Valley Ruins or Wikipaltz pages for more. Suffice to say it’s a landmark to check out if you’re nearby.

Overlook Mountain House, Catskills NY

What made for terrible landscape photography made for some nice dead hotel photography. Many have taken photos of the Overlook before since it’s easily accessible (the hiking path literally cuts through the grounds). Try a flickr search if you’re curious. It was nice to chance upon something a little different, so my advice: if you want to shoot the Overlook Mountain House, go when it’s 110% humidity.

Overlook Mountain House, Catskills NY

The fire tower too was shrouded in fog. Climbing up was one of the most disorienting experiences I’ve had; near the top, the ground and even the trees disappear and all around you is moist, grey nothingness. I know hell is supposed to be all fire and brimstone and a dude with horns and a pitchfork, but I would put money on it being more like this. But, the most horror-movie-like scene were the thick cables of a transfer station near the Mountain House, stretching taut into… nothing. Maybe they’re holding down a giant robot? Who knows.

Overlook Mountain, Catskills NY

Even though we couldn’t see too far, the wet air made for some nice scenery. Heavy dew covered everything green and red efts dotted the path, but there was one more surprise waiting for us. Nearing the trailhead on the way down, we heard what sounded like gunshots. What actually happened was this:

Overlook Mountain Tail Head, Catskills NY

I’ll let that speak for itself. Thankfully everyone was okay, including a little dog; the only thing the owner lost (besides the car) was a Fleet Foxes CD.

Overlook is a great, easy hike — there’s a steady climb but the path is more of a road than a trail. It’s about 2.5 miles each way, and there’s a fork you can take to Echo Lake if you want to extend it. Is the view worth it? I wouldn’t know. Woodstock is quickly becoming one of my favorite day trips, and it’s easy to make the hike part of some time there. I especially like checking out the Center for Photography; right now they’re showing Being Upstate and Photography Now 2011, both interesting though further evidence that I just don’t appreciate conceptual photography as much as other people do.

Check out the slideshow or the full set of photos.

Overlook Mountain, Catskills NY Overlook Mountain, Catskills NY
Overlook Mountain Fire Tower, Catskills NY Overlook Mountain House, Catskills NY

2010 Santa Speedo Sprint

Santa Speedo Sprint 2010

December 11, 2010 marked the 5th annual Santa Speedo Sprint, sponsored by the Albany Society for the Advancement of Philanthropy to benefit the Albany Damien Center. In 2009 ASAP helped raise over $15,000 to support individuals and families living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Santa Speedo Sprint 2010

This year’s Santa Speedo Sprint was no different than in the past, with the possible exception of community support and costume design. Those were yet awesomer than last year. I was unfortunately unable to capture everything, but rest assured that all was on full display, from scantily clad elves to Santa and his reindeer to chickens and more.

Santa Speedo Sprint 2010

This year’s event was clearly a success; when I checked during registration, ASAP had already confirmed more than $7,500 in pledges, and the final count is yet to be tallied. A big thank you also goes out to Albany’s finest who helped secure the street for the run and very patiently monitored the event. With their help, everything went off without a hitch. Last I heard this year’s total was over $20,000 already. Good work, folks!

A special apology goes out to the woman I totally walked into. I really thought I cracked her a good one on the head with my chin, but it turns out I’m no Bruce Campbell even if we share some initials. She took it in stride, and it’s to be expected when there are that many people and photographers in the street, I got my boots stepped on my fair share as well.

As usual, the slideshow has plenty more photos, and don’t forget to check out Seb’s shots (don’t miss his video), and Albany Tim has some too. Some good stuff from the folks at All Over Albany as well. Here is possibly the awesomest series of the day, one sprinter took photos of photographers during the race — that’s him down there right after shooting me. And another quality flickr set from MikeCNY. If you have photos from the event, let me know, I’d love to add more links.

Elsewhere:
DelSo
Kevin Marshall
Citizen One

Santa Speedo Sprint 2010 Santa Speedo Sprint 2010 Santa Speedo Sprint 2010
Santa Speedo Sprint 2010 Santa Speedo Sprint 2010

Related Posts:
2009 Santa Speedo Sprint and more from 2009
Northeast Warrior Dash

2010 Northeast Warrior Dash

2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY

3.23 miles. Thirteen obstacles. Infinite potential for funny costumes. This is Warrior Dash.

If you’re like me you remember TV shows from your youth with obstacle courses and crazy physical challenges that kept the network lawyers in business. Warrior Dash is the adult version, if you add beer, body paint, and a complete disregard for personal safety. There are fifteen Dashes held nationwide, but I think we here in the northeast do these things bigger and better. When you have five months of winter you squeeze everything you can out of the rest of the year, and here the result is hundreds of people going flat out, pushing their bodies to the limit, and smiling as wide as they can at the end.

The 2010 Northeast Warrior Dash was held on the ski slopes of Windham Mountain. Participants were sent out in large waves to conquer, in order:

– Knee High Hell: Like football training camp, in hell.
– Warrior Wall: Oo-rah!
– Tunnels of Terror: It’s the sewer, you’re the rat.
– Black Forest: Trees hurt, trust.
– Slithering Swamp: The first, but not last, encounter with mud.
– Walk the Plank: Your timbers should be shivering by now.
– Rip Van Winkle Bridge: Not the time for a nap.
– Rio Run: Just a quick rinse.
– Cargo Climb: You know how they catch fish? A lot like that.
– Flagstone Stack: There are rocks on a mountain, who knew?
– Catskill Skid: Think slip-n-slide. Now think bigger. No, bigger than that.
– Warrior Roast: A literal trial by fire.
– Muddy Mayhem: The best for last. Bellycrawl though what you hope is just mud.

If that’s not enough, this is all while running up and back down a mountain. The official FAQ sums it up pretty nicely, “Warrior Dash is not most races. Warrior Dash does what Warrior Dash wants to do.”

Unfortunately, as spectators we only had access to the start line and the last few obstacles. I would love to have seen people tangled in nets and scrambling over walls. What we could see said it all, anyone who runs this race is hardcore to the hilt in my book, witness that the leap through fire is not a joke:

2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY

And, Elvis is in the building.

There was plenty to see, and the energy at the start and finish was amazing, everyone was happy to have a beautiful day for the run and really excited about getting really dirty. Costumes were in abundance, there’s really no way to show how many people were dressed up to one degree or another, from wine box robots to more basic facepaint.

2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY

Centurions, characters from Avatar, ballerinas, Ninja Turtles, they were all there. The event is more than just an exucse to relive your youth on an adult-sized playground though, the sense of camaraderie was impressive, and in the parking lot a huge pile of shoes were being collected for GreenSneakers. A little bit of New York dirt spread around the world for a good cause.

2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY

I have to admit, I went to this event feeling less than enthused. I figured I would take a few photos for fun and get some sun on a gorgeous early fall day. Turns out the excitement is infectious, and after only a few minutes I was swept up and couldn’t help smiling too. I brought a solid roster of gear but left everything except for the standard 50mm lens in the car, forcing me to get up close and personal, and I ended up having many short but great conversations with Dashers before and after they ran. Sebastien went in a bit more determined and prepared, you can read his report too. Definitely check out all of his awesome photos of the Muddy Mayhem at the end.

2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY

Can’t really stress enough how fun this was and how great of an atmopshere surrounded the place. The ski lifts were also running and we were able to head away from the crowd and enjoy the view, before the snow starts to fall. The only unfortunate thing I have to report is that there were a few injuries, as should be expected; thankfully, emergency medical help was on the scene and quick to the rescue. I do have a slight complaint about the parking situation; with a $65 fee per participant and $10 per car for parking, you’d expect things to be more organized, but it was mostly a free for all. Still, it all worked out. As always, there’s a slideshow for more photos.

2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY 2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY
2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY 2010 Warrior Dash, Windham NY

Did you go to the Dash? Were you a participant? I’d love to hear your story, add a comment or get in touch! There are so many other blog posts, and so many first hand reports, check them all out:

Diana’s Daily Dish
Times Union Runners Blog
Bumbling KT Bee
Jen Is Green
Someday We’ll Put Down Roots (bonus injury footage)
We Tri Like Girlz
Knit Teach Ride
Mirandas Jeans
Very Merry Seamstress
Misadventures in Procrastination with video of the Catskill Skid
kcbruski
G.D.D.O.H.