Photograph of a mature bighorn ram.
Mature bighorn ram for Sheep Sunday

I skipped out on photographing bighorn this past rutting season. I just felt like I had enough photographs for now, as I’m still editing images from previous years. This brings me to today’s post, resolutions for the new year.

I don’t normally make these silly resolutions, but I’m growing older and the road ahead of me is much shorter than the road behind me and I figure I want to make the best of the time I have left on this earth (no, I’m not dying or anything, no more so than anyone else.)

One of my new year resolutions is to quit taking the same photographs over and over. The bighorn come to mind. I’ve been trekking out to look for these animals every year in the autumn, and for the most part the images are all relatively the same. I’ve had to ask myself the question, “do I really need more bighorn photos right now?” The answer was no.

How about those moose? Well, it’s sort of an annual ritual for me to photograph the moose and I have close to a hundred thousand moose photos. But, I do love them so. No, not gonna back off the moose. And besides, I have a lot of social interaction with other photographers and friend with the moose. It’s a different world. I’ll keep working those photos until I can’t get out there any longer.

Same with autumn photography. I can never stop exploring the mountains in search of autumn color. Regardless of the fact that the last two seasons have been pretty much the same and underwhelming too, I’ll keep putting that subject on the schedule.

A photographic resolution for this year. Concentrate on not repeating the same subjects. I need to expand the portfolio. I need new adventures. I need to find something different.

On the personal front, I suppose all of us at one point or another resolve to be more healthy. For me, it’s a no-brainer. My health has been in decline for the past 15 years. I noticed that my body was in full tilt boogie protest a year or two before I retired from The Wall Street Journal. Years of long hours, no sleep, poor eating habits and living in a high stress environment have played havoc with my body. I’ve addressed the stress. Life today is far less stressful than it was 20 years ago. Retirement has been beneficial to me in that regard. Still, I’ve neglected my physical condition. As a younger man, I was always fairly skinny. The day I got out of the Navy I weighed 175 lbs. Today, I’m close to 220 lbs and at my age, that’s too much. My spine is shot, my arm is shot, my body is falling apart. If I want to live to the average age, I better straighten up and fly right. My doctors are turning me into a lab rat and I have so many potentially health and life threatening conditions I best be making myself more healthy.

I have to modify my diet. Blood sugar and weight being the main concern here. I ordered a fitness watch to keep track of my physical activity. I know I spend too much time sitting at the computer and that doesn’t burn very many calories. Diet has to change too. I now find myself looking at the amount of carbohydrates in everything I eat. Quit eating the carbs, get more exercise, that’s the ticket. I do better when I get feedback, it’s sorta like having test equipment to use and stay in calibration. My mind works very well that way. The problem is avoiding the comfort food I’ve been gobbling down like a hog over the past 30 years. Seafood, more seafood. I’m removing red meat from my diet and substituting sea food in its place. Doughnuts are now forbidden. Snickers candy bars are now off the menu. I eat almonds and cashews when I need a quick snack.

It’s been working. My blood pressure is totally under control. My sugar levels are down. I’ve lost about 10 lbs in the last two or three months. I’m exercising more, but probably not enough.

My resolution is to get my weight down to around 200 lbs. That’s where I was when I retired from my regular job some 13 years ago.

I can’t do much about the crows feet and bags under my eyes and my hair thinning out and turning grey (what’s left of it.)

As for stress. Not really an issue these days. I’ve found ways to get stress out of my life and for the most part it’s gone. If someone in my life is constantly delivering stress to my front door, I keep them out of my life. It works. I won’t let stressful people control my emotional well being. That’s not going to change. It’s been the hardest lesson I’ve learned over my life and I’ve paid the price. I don’t like paying for the same real estate twice. Don’t let other people rent space in your brain.

But I can grow old gracefully. I’ve lost the delusion that I’m a 30 year old, good looking young man in his prime, no matter what my mind wants me to believe. One has to accept the fact that one is growing old and the time left is more important than the time that’s passed.

Did you make your new years resolution?

With the Christmas shopping complete, the house decorated, the outdoor lights up, I’m hunkered in to finish out the year on cruise control.

I finished up converting my wife’s old VHS home movies to digital, some 40 or so tapes. I nibbled at that for a week or so and it went fairly well all things considered.

I spent the day yesterday going through my Adobe Lightroom catalogs and noticed that I had quite a few catalogs with file names that were inconsistent between the catalogs. I decided to rename all of my image files using a common convention/methodology, to something that would make it virtually impossible for any two files to have the same name. If one relies solely on the names that come out of camera, one will end up with duplicate names. I settled on using a foolproof method of naming each file by “year-Julian day-hour-minute-second” in one continuous string.  The end result is a long name, but no two files will have the same name under any circumstances with the only exception being files photographed in bursts the same exact second, which will have a -2, -3, -4 ect tagged on to the end, which is fine, as that identifies the burst sequence. Plus, I can look at any image file and know instantly when it was taken without having to examine the exif info.

Today’s photo is image 2009183110920.cr2.  That tells me it’s a photo taken on July 2nd, 2009 at 11:09:20. I used a Sigma 105mm macro. The camera was a Canon EOS 50D.

Why such an old file?  Well, for starters, I just purchased a Sigma 105 EX DG macro lens on eBay for the Nikon mount. Ten years ago, I owned the same Sigma lens for the Canon mount and simply loved it. It was my go-to macro lens for many years until I sold it to a friend of mine when I switched from Canon to Nikon. I’ve been watching eBay for one of these lenses to come up for a year now. It’s a fantastic macro lens and they are far and few between when they do come up and usually command a high price. I got the alert this morning of a excellent condition Nikon version for under $200, so I jumped on it.

So, I’ve been having fun sitting in the office, working on old images and catalogs and scanning eBay for deals.

All in a day’s work.

Tiny mysteries and small conundrums abound.

When I decided to gear up for creating video tutorials, I assumed that I had a microphone for making audio voice-overs. Well, I scoured the office and bins and closets and boxes of cables and miscellaneous computer parts.

No joy. I could not find the darn microphone that I knew I had, because I’ve moved it from spot to spot in the office a hundred times over the past 10 years, always telling myself, “don’t throw this out, you’ll need it sooner or later.” I must have tossed it. My office is a collection of old computer parts, camera equipment, books and other things. About every 5 years I toss things to keep the clutter down to the size of a small landfill.

Disappointed in my lapse of judgment, I purchased a new microphone. One of those cheap, omnidirectional, poor frequency response things with a USB connection. I don’t need anything fancy. I’m not a recording studio. All I need is to capture and edit voice-overs. I can tweak the recording in my audio software to give me that smooth, morning dj sound.

A few days later, the new microphone arrived, complete with a small tripod. I placed it on the desk in front of the computer. I hooked it up and tested it. “Testing, 1,2,3”  It worked fine.

Right on schedule, about 30 minutes after I tested the newly purchased mic, I found the old microphone. Exactly where I had put it, in the equipment cabinet with all the other small electronic gizmos that I’ve been hording for years. It was obscured in a pile of electronic junk, just as I had assumed all along.

I quickly whipped it out of the cabinet and hooked it up to the computer to see if it worked. It didn’t. It’s one of those cheap cardioid directionals that are filled with carbon granules that over time get so packed you have to tap them on something to loosen the carbon inside the mic. Tapping away, I couldn’t get it to work well enough to be usable.

No worries, as my new microphone works fine and I don’t really need the old thing, so I tossed it.

Like I should have done in the first place.

Expanding upon yesterday’s blog entry, I combined two different 4k video clips into one clip for comparison. This tests the 4k fps rate, first half being 60 fps and the second half being 30 fps.  Kinda boring stuff, but the idea was to see if creating 4k video using budget video editing software was viable.

Short answer, yes it is.

What I’ve noticed is that when using Corel Video Studio 2019, the preview video in the editor runs a little herky-jerky. The software is barely able to keep up when editing. Editing the same video clips in OpenShot video editor, there is a bit of improvement in the viewing panel, noticeably less choppiness, but still a little. This leads me to wonder if a full blown high end editing solution is going to improve the editing experience. Something like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier Elements, Filmora, or something like that. Hard to say at this point, as I don’t have the software and I’m not going to drop hundreds of dollars on it to find out.

Another consideration of course is the actual PC hardware. I’m not really state of the art here at the moment. Running a 4th generation Intel based i7 on a 5 year old motherboard with a budget graphics card could quite well be a limiting factor for the smoothness of the editing experience. But, that’s why I’m testing it. Does 4k video require the latest-greatest hardware and software to be a usable proposition for an average Joe out there trying to achieve a 4k video creating solution.

Everything starts with the camera though. If one wishes to delve into 4k, one must have a camera capable of 4k recording.  Which leads to the thought about current DSLR’s vs Camcorders vs Action Cameras.

Another consideration is the frame rate of the 4k video capture.

With most cameras on the market being capable of capturing HD video, shooting high definition with 60 fps capability seems to be commonplace. The most common frame rates are 24, 30 and 60 fps. 24 fps being the cinema video standard, 30 fps being standard consumer grade HD video and 60 fps being more suitable for those wanting to capture moving objects and creating smoother slow motion. High Def 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps is about where the state of the art is for consumer level electronics, but as you can tell from all the marketing hype, 4k is now becoming more common.

Resolution is doubled with 4k, at a base of 3840 x 2160 pixels.  The associated files sizes are growing as well, with a 60 fps clip being twice the size of a 30 fps clip. As with all things in the technical specs of consumer electronics, you can be certain that within the next few years, 4k video is creeping in as that new standard and for it to be a solid standard, we’ll have to see 60 fps as a minimum capability. If you’re buying a camera or camcorder that doesn’t support 4k at 60 fps, you’re buying into an already obsolete standard and to move up, you’ll have to replace it.

I found an article on “Camera Jabber” that lists the top consumer grade cameras for shooting 4k at 60 fps, so if you’re looking to get this deep into the 4k craze, this is pretty much where you should be starting. Anything less and you’ll be buying into obsolescence.

Here’s the link to that article.