Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lifetime Learning


One of the precepts of my success in business and photography has been my attitude of "lifetime learning". Those of you that know me have observed that my life in the technology world was characterized first by knowledge and certifications about each technology that I was associated with. Most of that learning was through non-traditional means such as books, seminars and short training sessions. I had achieved much success by the time I was in my 50's. By the late 1990's I had noticed that my lack of a college degree was hampering my further rise as a technology manager. I embarked on a rather frenzied mission to get my Bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix. I got my degree of Bachelor of Science in Information Technology in 2001. As a mediocre student in high school (back in the 1960's) I was quite surprised at how well I embraced the university environment and classes. I graduated with honors  as the top student in the IT division. I then went on and tackled my Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration in 2004 at Webster University, once again graduating with Honors and a 4.0 GPA. From that time until after I retired in 2011 I went back to learning from newly expanding internet based methodologies that would be considered more non-traditional. I continue on that path each and every day. My post-retirement career would be in the field of photography (my non-job passion for the previous 20 years). I did not choose to get a formal degree in photography (mainly because of the cost). I do think that I have carved out a good path to learn, explore, perfect and future proof my knowledge base. I continue to learn from several different Internet web technologies and am always exploring more ways to learn each week.


The first of those learning sites is Kelby One (kelbyone.com). Kelby One is an offshoot of Scott Kelby's Photoshop User magazine and a part of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. I signed up for Kelby Training (its earlier name) when it started and was able to maintain my discounted membership from those early days. At first there were very few courses and the production values were fairly low. As time progressed and Photoshop User enterprises continued to succeed they increased the course catalog, instructors and quality into what it is today.

Kelby One has over 10,000 courses ranging in length from 20 minutes to over 4 hours. Most courses are around an hour in length.   They cover categories of Photoshop, photography, video, Lightroom, design, business and inspiration. Every week more courses are published and the course content is expanded to cover the leading edge of technology in all those categories. Kelby One is tied closely to the Adobe product line, but not exclusively and have been expanding their course offerings. You can learn more about Kelby One at: http://kelbyone.com/

Current pricing information and benefits are included in the screen shot on the right.


My next major learning portal is Lynda.com.  They are similar to Kelby One, but cover more technology disciplines including Information Technology, business software, marketing, development and audio and music.  Lynda's courses tend to be longer with many in the 3-5 hour range.  Some of the instructors are the same as those on Kelby One.

 The pricing is fairly high, but nothing like having to pay for a 4 hour seminar and you get access to the entire course catalog.  The highest price option includes project files that are used in the instructions.  I don't pay for the project files (choosing the 2nd tier product) and it does not seem to matter a whole lot.

You can browse the site at: http://www.lynda.com/member.aspx

 The production value of the videos is very high and I have been able to learn many technologies on the site.








The two web sites above are the major players in the technology learning marketplace (but not necessarily the only ones).  I also subscribe to a couple of smaller but more specialized web sites.


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

DIY Art Cart from PVC Pipe

Have you ever had issues with transporting your art from one show to another.  After years of wrapping my art in blankets and bubble wrap or foam and then laying them in the back of my Chevy HHR to only find that they are getting chipped on the edges or arriving with broken glass frames.

I started looking for a cart to transport my art and I looked at laundry carts, Rubbermaid carts or even other types of carts, all of which did not fit into my car.  I finally decided to build my own custom sized art transport carts that would fit both my art and car space with the seats folded down. I decided on a size that was 18" by 42" to allow two units in the back and with a size that my largest art (30" by 24" could fit.  It would need casters to roll into the galleries.
 
This is what the cart looks like after cutting, gluing and assembly.



Looking at some of the detail of the assembly.
I had Home Depot cut the plywood to my size (18" by 42") which they do for free (up to two cuts free).

Below you can see the Three way connector at the top of the unit.


3 way connector

 You can remove the printing on the pipe by using Acetone (danger of vapors) or sanding (much elbow grease) or you can paint over them with white spray paint.  Or you can leave them, after all its your cart for your purposes.

4 way connector

 And finally, you can see the detail of the table caps attaching to the plywood and the casters on the bottom for mobility.  All in all it is a very easy build requiring cutting of the pipe to your sizes, gluing the pipes together and screwing in the table caps and the casters.  I also placed screws in all the end pipe connectors to strengthen the "handles" that would be supporting the entire weight of the cart and the art when moving it in and out of the car or truck.  The glue might have held but I wanted to make sure it did not deconstruct in the middle of an art show.
Table Cap from the top
Table Cap and Caster attaching to plywood

  I purchased all my parts from Home Depot but I could have gone to Lowes too.  Three of the parts had to be ordered online because Home Depot did not stock them in local stores.  I ordered online and had them deliver to the local store with free shipping.  I used 3/4" PVC pipe in order to keep the weight down.  It ended up weighing 15 lbs.

One small note on the parts list.  While I wanted to use 3/4" PVC pipe the "Formufit Table Screw Cap" only came in 1' as its smallest size.  So I had to purchase a 1" to 3/4" adapter (converter) to down size the table cap to fit the 3/4" PVC. 


Art Cart ready for art

Parts List and cost of parts

PVC Art Cart Costs




Quant  Each   Total  Note
18" x 42" 1/2" Plywood 1       14.93        14.93 Cut at Home Depot from 2' x 4' sheet
10' 3/4" PVC 3         2.56          7.68 Home Depot
Formufit 3/4 in. Furniture Grade PVC 4-Way Tee in White 4         2.30          9.20 Ordered online from Home Depot
Formufit 3/4 in. Furniture Grade PVC 3-Way Elbow in White 4         2.04          8.16 Ordered online from Home Depot
Formufit 1 in. Furniture Grade PVC Table Screw Cap in White 4         2.53        10.12 Ordered online from Home Depot
1" to 3/4" PVC Adapter 4         0.89          3.56 Home Depot
Christy's 8oz PVC Pipe Cement 1         5.97          5.97 Home Depot





Total Cost of each cart

 $    59.62















































































































Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Survey of Photography and Fine Art

You are invited to a unique 90 minute program about the intersection of photography and fine art by pro photographer Randy Jackson called “A Survey of Photography and Fine Art” will be held on October 8, 2014 from 6-7:30 PM at the West Valley Arts Council’s ARTS HQ in Surprise.  The survey of major topics of photography as fine art include: Getting the Shot, Equipment, Post Processing and Advanced Art Techniques.  Jackson will provide real world examples of his art; how it was created, how it was processed and the meaning and future of the field.  Please RSVP to (623) 935-6384 and drop me an email that you are coming to randyjacksonimages@cox.net.



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Monday, August 4, 2014

Shooting Clouds

It's that time of year where Arizona is in Monsoon Season. That means that the weather is changing each day with the increased dew points bringing in afternoon and evening thundershowers (or massive dust storms called "Haboobs"). Unlike the rest of the country these weather patterns are usually short lived and result in amazing cloud formations. Sometimes the clouds are dark and foreboding, but mostly they just generate beautiful billowing cumulus clouds with blue sky beyond. Now, why are clouds so important to a photographer? Many times in the Southwest photographers are faced with beautiful scenic panoramas that are surrounded with clear, blue sky that is, frankly boring.
Storm Clouds Backlit by the Sun

As a fine art photographer I like to have my images reflect the most pleasing of compositions and that means that a boring or overcast sky would need to to replaced to make the best looking large fine art image.  Many afternoons during Monsoon season I will drive five minutes down the road from my home to capture a library of cloud photos that can be used to impart a certain look in a photograph being created at other locations. 

Arizona Sunrise


Other times might require a sunrise or sunset mood over a scene.   I sometimes shoot real estate shots for local realtors and these often require sky replacement to enhance the image.

A side by side comparison of one of my photographs with sky replacement.  What a difference it makes.

Avalon Bay with Clouds
Avalon Bay Overcast


More examples of cloud pictues that I have taken this month.




I currently have about 700 cloud images in a folder that I can use in a variety of circumstances to enhance an image.  The beauty of Arizona is that many locations that I shoot come with their very own beautiful cloud formations in the shot as I originally capture it.



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Small LED, off camera, battery and AC, bright, cheap

The holy grail of off camera lighting is to have a small unit, bright, inexpensive and works with either battery or AC power. Until recently the major component of AC power was driving up the cost of LED lights. Quite recently I discovered several components available on Amazon that could make for a great off camera LED light. For several years I have used a battery powered light from Amazon, the Newer 160CN. I paid less than $40 for several of the units, but they only worked on batteries (6-AA) and they had to be changed about every 3 hours during a shoot.

Very recently I found that Amazon has started selling an add-on power supply for CN-160 light.  This power supply has an AC to DC Switching Power converter that attaches to a dummy battery component that converts regular AC power to 7.5 v 2 amp DC power to power the LED lights. The light is rated at 5600K, 660 Luminous flux (according to the manufacturer).  It is pretty bright and when aggregated together is good for just about any studio purpose. 
It is very light weight and does not require you to modify the light and you can still use the batteries if you are on location.  This part costs less than $16.

This makes a complete AC powered LED light for around $56.

I also picked up another part: a Triple Hot Shoe Adapter that will allow me to aggregate two or three of the LED light into one adapter to place in a soft box or umbrella setup to increase the overall light and soften it at the same time.  The triple adapter is less than $16 on Amazon. 

Triple Holder with 3 LED lights (lights not included)


The best I have seen for an AC powered LED light is around $600-$900 for some of the more well known brands.

This unit would be ideal for a small head shot production facility and provides continuous lighting with very good color rendition. 

UPDATE (September 19, 2014) I just bought a
NEEWER CN-216 216PCS LED Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel on Amazon and this power adapter also works on CN-216 (the CN-216 provides about a 1/3 brighter light than the CN-160.





Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe they will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” See my detailed disclosure at: My Disclosure