Month: January 2010

Photography and Arthritis

Photography & Arthritis

Photography & Arthritis:  There’s got to be a link.  No, no, not a medical link…Don’t think I’m that totally crazy to suggest that sort of thing, LOLOL! ;^} )
I’m talking about a link (the CHALLENGE of) between HAVING Arthritis, and, DOING Photography.

It’s quite difficult sometimes to even think about doing photography when I’m feeling pain from my arthritis.  Nevertheless, the overwhelming drive to be creative…and to be a CREATIVE in the face-of-pain, is what makes even the “Arthritic Photographer” sally forth in the quest to pursue and to capture a tremendous capture.

Click HERE, to see the rest of the blog entry.

Changes of Development and The Times

Changes of development are applied to control the total contrast range of the negative, but a side effect is that the ‘local contrast’ within low and middle values is affected.  Most surfaces include lighter and darker components that we perceive as texture, and while these textural variations may all lie within a range of one or two zones, they will be reinforced or weakened by modified development.”
~ Ansel Adams ~

That bit of advice would have been extremely significant to the film photographers, ‘back in the day.’  Nowadays, I reckon that most digital photographers wouldn’t have ‘clue-one’ about what Adams is talking about.  And why should digital photographers even care: With a touch of a button or two, the digital brains of the new technology takes instant-fantastic’o-well-exposed snap-shots.  Hardly any thinking required.

Oh well, it is fruitless to fight the future.  It is so much easier to go with the flow.

Yes, indeed.  There are a lot ( a ‘gajahbillion‘ ) of happy snap-shooters out there.  Are there a huge number of photographers taking technically great photographs that are unique and interesting:  probably not…I don’t see it.  Seems like the more digital cameras there are out there in the market the more sameness there is.

One thing that seems certain is that with all the photo-sharing sites out there, vainglory is at an all time high.  I wonder if anyone is worried about that, considering it was one of the eight original sins, but then it was all lumped into ‘pride’, so the eight became seven (at least that is what I learned from a show on the History Channel).  Everyone seems to love their photos to be oooo’ed and awww’ed over at these sites.

I’m just wondering…what is the point?  Ego?  Vainglory?  Pride?  Or, is it just a matter of self-advertisement, self-promotion.  Or, all of the above.

Do you hear it?  Listen…The hamster wheel of progress goes on, doesn’t it, but at what expense?  Is there an expense?

I think it is just one of those days…

Video File Conversion for SAMSUNG Phone

I just thought I would give a couple bits of information on video file conversion from .mp4 and .flv files, to the .3gp file format for use with SAMSUNG Phones.

First, I’ll recommend a conversion program called: Oxelon Media Converter. http://sourceforge.net/projects/oxelonmediaconv/

I would not be immediately set back by the reviews that some people have given at Sourceforge regarding this program. It has so many options, it takes some experimentation. However, once you discover the right mix of settings, it is very useful.

In my opinion, this program offers MANY Options converting between formats and quality settings.

And, this is the only one I’ve found (thus far) that successfully converts mp4 and flv video files to USEABLE 3gp format that can be used with my SAMSUNG Phone.

Second, you need to experiment with the settings a little to get a bitrate combo that works well on your phone, and this may be phone model specific.

Here are the settings I use to convert mp4 and flv files to 3gp format:

Open the Oxelon Media Converter (I’m using v.1.1).

Media Format = 3GP (.3gp)
Video Codec = H263
Audio Codec = AAC

VIDEO SETTINGS:
Video W x H = 176 x 144
Frames/sec = 15
Bitrate (Video) = 576

AUDIO SETTINGS:
Channels = Stereo
Sampling rate = 44100
Bitrate = 128

Hit the “Conversion” button and it starts the process.

These are not the only workable settings, but without fiddling too much and wasting time, these work pretty good for the conversion of mp4 and flv files to .3gp, which work so you can view video on your SAMSUNG Phone.

Good luck!

Predictors of response to anti-TNF therapy in ankylosing spondylitis

http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/kep422

Here is the results of a recent study done by researchers at the ARC Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester. This may be useful to some people with ankylosing spondylitis.

Wrinkled Sheets

I quickly wake up.

The room is dark.

The atmosphere is silent.

It’s happening again, getting breath becomes a convulsive effort at best.

Wrinkled Sheets…

I lie there in bed, suddenly realizing that I’m gasping for a decent amount of air to fill my lungs, but it won’t come.

Morning confusion and pain, the more I struggle, the harder it is to get a good breath.

The more awake I become, the more I struggle, but there is only so much I can do to expand a ribcage that does not want to expand.

The short night’s sleep was enough to undo the progress I made the day before to loosen up the bones that make up my chest.  All it takes is a few hours of stillness, if I can call tossing and turning most of the night, stillness.  A few hours of sleep is enough for my ribs to tighten up again.

The pressure of the early morning air seems to crush in on me, and I fight for a breath.  Muscle spasms quickly hit me and that adds to the confused and unnatural efforts it takes to capture unsteady, small amounts of air.

Even the unevenness of the wrinkled sheets pressing against my ribs cause excruciating pain for which I can find no relief.  I toss and turn slowly from side to side finding that the wrinkled sheets have created little…how to describe…like little speed bumps all over the bed, and those push up into my body triggering more muscle spasms and crushing my chest.

Just a breath, just want no pain.  “I just want to wake up and feel good in the morning,” my brain screams!

If lying down is horrible, then sitting up must be better,” I say to myself.

I begin the sitting up process:  I push myself into a sitting position, and then I swing my legs off the bed and I sit there in pain.  I feel the spasms hit me in regular fits as I attempt to breath normally again.

It feels like the ‘Devil Hand Grip’ squeezing my chest.  Perhaps, this is the ultimate wrestling hold of all time, I don’t know.  What I do know is that this crushing hold happens with all too often a frequency.

After several minutes of sitting at the edge of the bed, there is no relief, it is the same…standing must be better.  It is too bad that I can’t sleep while moving around, while walking.

Standing is better.

The ribs are still clamped down on my lungs, but they are easing slightly and loosening up the more I move, the more I breath.

The spasms subside as the minutes tick away:  An hour goes by and breathing is considerably easier.

Breathing.  A full and refreshing breath.  Something so natural, so necessary, so unnoticed most of the time.  However, when episodes like this happen, the lack of good breathing becomes very noticeable to the “Spondy” (a term for a person with Ankylosing Spondylitis), especially in the early hours of the morning.

What sets it off?  I don’t know:  It’s just the disease.  That’s what happens.  I should be used to it by now, after 26 years of mornings similar to this one today.  But why should anyone ever get used to pain?  I don’t have the answer to that one either, but I know that as a Spondy, it will come and that is all there is to it.  I’m not bitching about it:  I’m just sharing a few thoughts about what it is like for me with Ankylosing Spondylitis.  Maybe there are others with AS who can identify with these types of mornings.  If you can, then you are not alone.  I only wish I had some answers for you to help make the “experience” easier.

One thing I can tell you is that there are, what I call, trigger foods:  Trigger Foods are those that seem to cause inflammation in the body.  At least, the list of foods that follow are some of the ones that make me feel very horrible the next morning, because they seem to consistently cause more stiffness and pain for me:

  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • potatoes
  • yellow dhal (lentils)
  • cabbage
  • tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce (ketchup is OK, however – not sure why, but happy about this!).
  • …and there are more, but these are my worst.

The problem is:  I love eating all of these things!  Damn the Arthritis!  Anyway, these foods, or any type of food that has a lot of these products in them (i.e., pizza, and many of the South Indian foods that I like to eat), seem to cause me extra pain.  All I can say is:  “Eat at your own risk!”

I’ve had my share of good, bad and ugly mornings.  This one was particularly UGLY!  Maybe that is why this blog entry is finally surfacing.

Maybe it’s just the wrinkled sheets.

Happy 2010 – Getting out of Procrastination

Happy 2010!

Take this anti-procrastination message with you into the new year, and I will too:

“Do what you can do, given what the conditions are.” {Brooks Jensen}

Meaning: Don’t wait for the situations, conditions, or for the equipment to be perfect before attempting to do something. Yes of course, we can always complain that the photographic equipment we have is not right for us to do something. However, don’t allow any of these things to stop you from doing some photographic “thing“. Just try it anyway.  Or, find another way of doing some “thing“.

There will never…hardly…ever, be “perfect” situations, or conditions presented to us when we need to do something. Procrastination is sometimes just an excuse we use when trying to avoid any possible chance of failure, because failure is painful!

Nevertheless, deep down inside, we all know that failure is always necessary to grow and get better. Sometimes we win – YEAH! Sometimes we lose – Yuk! But this is necessary to improve the next time.

I guess there is no stopping failure from knocking us in the teeth, but with that bit of pain, we grow, we learn, HOPEFULLY we duck the next time failure swings at us.

Dennis Keeley said something like this referring to failure: Failure is necessary, it is like a stop on a train ride, but I don’t have to get off.

With that said: I hope we all grow more this year. And, that we procrastinate less, that we learn more from our failures, and we improve on whatever it is we do!

This is my New Years 2010 Message, and I hope to learn from it, more and more.

Have a great year!

ps: I’ve been working on a new website to host my Smoke Photography images. This is like…what…day 5 and many hours later. Maybe I’ll have the website up and running today. When it happens, I’ll post the new website link here.