Photography and Art

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops

Mono Lake Moonrise

I still haven't published my post on the Alain Briot workshop that I attended in October. I'm drafting it, but haven't got it done yet. I have posted some images from the workshop here and I've included one at the top of this post. It's a shot of Mono Lake around sunset when the full moon was rising.

I did enjoy my Briot workshop immensely and I believe it has improved several aspects of my photography. I'm more selective of what I shoot, I'm more patient when I'm shooting and I'm much, much pickier about the digital development and printing process.

I've been looking around for more workshops in case I can spring for the time off next year and can convince my wife to do without me for a week-end. I accidentally stumbled on a good source of workshops by following a link off The Online Photographer Blog to the Ansel Adams Gallery. Mike Johnson was blogging about a new set of prints that are for sale. These are digital prints of famous Adams photos and are available in a wide variety of sizes and come matted and, optionally, framed.

When I poked about the gallery site some more, I saw that they offered workshops in Yosemite National Park. Here's a link to the workshops for 2009. There are some very good photographers and teachers on offer including Charlie Cramer and Michael Frye. The workshops look to be three or four days long and cost around $1,000.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

RIP Kenny MacLean

Kenny MacLean, ex-bassist of Platinum Blonde and musician deluxe, died unexpectedly yesterday. He was only 52. He'd just launched his latest album and had celebrated the event with a party at the Mod Club. It looks like he was intending to spend the night at his downtown apartment/studio and collapsed when brushing his teeth. Full obituary is here.

I jammed with Kenny about a year ago. A good friend of mine who runs a small computer company decided to reward his customers by renting Kenny and his band for a night and inviting any musicians in the crowd to jam with the band. Having been a musician for a long time, I know how I'd feel if anyone from the audience could come up and hack away at my drums - not very happy! But, Kenny and his group of musicians took it all in good stride and a wonderful evening was had by all.

I was lucky enough to play three tunes with the band on the drums (including a loud rendition of Wild Thing by the Troggs). He let me come up to the front of the band and do my Ray Charles party piece, Hit the Road Jack, with Kenny playing the role of the Rayettes. It was a night to remember.

Fortunately, I had my little point and shoot with me and managed to get a snap or two in. Here is my favourite photo of Kenny, capturing his good humour as well as his Platinum Blonde hair:

Kenny will be joining the big jam in the sky.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Network Back-up with MozyHome

If you're like me, you worry a lot about backing up your photos, but don't really do enough about it. Every year over the Christmas holidays, I make DVD's of the year's photo files, both the RAW images and the final images that I used for printing. This is a time-consuming process and a bit hit-or-miss given a) the rather dodgy lifespan of DVD media and b) the rate of obsolescence of various physical media (do you still own a diskette drive?).

I also do daily back-ups of my files onto an external drive, but that drive is right next to my computer and would perish in a house fire.

My dream would be to have a utility that backed up my files daily to a big disk drive in the cloud. That dream is pretty close to reality, with a bit of a gotcha that I'm working on overcoming.

There is a web site called where for $4.95 a month per computer you can purchase UNLIMITED online back-up for your files. I've signed up, I've downloaded their little back-up utility and it all works as promised. The utility lets you pick the files and directories that you want to back-up and lets you choose the selected frequency. It is smart to only back up the delta each time it runs. In addition, the back-up files are presented as a network drive and you can restore individual files, folders or the complete file system.

HOWEVER, the challenge is to back up your initial file system to so you can have peace of mind and get into a nice space where you are just doing incremental back-ups. My issue (and I think this is true for most ISP's) is that my home cable connection is assymetrical. My download speeds are around 7 Mbps (thousand bits per second), but my upload speed seems throttled at around 500 bits per second. Not only that, but my account is capped at a total of 60 GB (million bytes) of data transfer per month before extra charges come into play.

If you work out the math, running the back up program for two weeks straight (24 hours per day) would copy about 60 GB of data to If you're like me, you have many GB of photos stored on your hard drive. In my case, if I prune dupes and things, I can probably get away with about 500 GB of archival data, with about 20 GB of incremental storage a month.

This means I can do 40 GB of archival back-up per month plus 20 GB of incremental storage. In other words, it will take me about a year to catch up with my archival storage while working away on the new stuff.

Given the importance of backing stuff up, I'm going to do this while I look around for a better way of connecting my computer to the network to see if I can overcome the uploading bottleneck.