Heading for Death Valley in July? Crazy!!!!

It’s summer time again, which means it’s time to head to Death Valley again. While I wouldn’t go there for vacation at this time of year, I will go there to photograph athletes that come there to test their toughness against it. It’s time for the Badwater Ultramarathon, http://www.badwater.com, a 135 mile race from Badwater, Death Valley, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (-280 Ft) to Mt. Whitney Portals (8300 Ft). The race covers 13,000 ft. of climbing with 4,700 ft. of descent.

Many wonder how I can survive in the heat with my Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It is predicted to be 120˚ F for the start on Monday, a little warmer than the last couple of years but cooler then the 127˚ in the past. Heat is one of the most complained about problems associated with MS. Most people with MS don’t like temperatures over the mid 70’s. While I don’t enjoy the heat, it doesn’t bother me anymore than it does normal people. So, will it will be extremely hot, I won’t suffer anymore than the rest out there.

DSCN0332I thought I’d share a photo of the photographic equipment I’ll be taking along.

  • 3 Nikon Bodies: D2X, D3 & D800E
  • Lenses from 17mm to 500mm
  • Flash Equipment: Flash Units, remote triggers, Light Stand, Unbrella, reflectors & Other modifiers
  • Tripods
  • Light Meter
  • GPS Units
  • Many memory cards
  • White Balance Units
  • Computers for backup and communications
  • Lots of tape, you never know
  • Batteries and battery chargers and spare AA batteries
  • Radios for personal communications
  • Bag with all the cable you need
  • Knife, flash lights
  • Hats, sunglasses, knee pads and tone of Sun screen.

This is most of what I have already assembled though there will be a few more things added as I get ready.

Hope to post a few blogs during the race, though most of the time we aren’t near normal cell service.

I was mentioned in the Chatterbox Newsletter

Today I received the latest newsletter from Chatterbox Enterprises in my e-mail. Louisa Curtis of Chatterbox was one of the reviewers of my portfolio when I attended the Palm Springs Photo Festival at the end of April. In the newsletter, Louisa had a link to activities at the festival on her blog. I went to the blog and read her description of the festival. About 2/3 of the way through her blog post I was surprised to see myself mentioned in her post. I had a great time at the festival and came away with excellent input on how I should proceed. Seeing my name mentioned positively in a blog from one of the reviewers only adds icing on the cake.

Here is the lick to the blog. The mention of me is about 2/3 of the way down, under the picture of the statue of Marilyn Monroe.

Here is my “Land of the Giants” photo of Marilyn.


David Nelson
Blog: http://photoms.djnphoto.com

Photography with a scooter in Italy.

It’s been almost a month since I posted the blog about y experience of taking a scooter to Europe for our vacation. The post was about the general use of the scooter on our trip as it was my first real use of a scooter. At the end of the post I stated I would be posting again shortly about how the scooter affected my photography. Well, shortly has turned into a longer time as daily life got in the way. Life has finally slowed down a little, so I hope to be posting more and getting caught up. As part of that, here is the post on the scooter and my photography.

Before leaving for Europe, I didn’t get a chance to do photography while using the scooter. The second day in Rome, a group of us were going to go to St. Peter’s square to see what it was like during holy week. This would be my first real use of the scooter and doing some photography at the same time. I immediately noticed what could be a problem. If you look at many photos taken by the general public, you’ll quickly see that they generally take at a particular angle of view. The photo is most often taken from standing height, about 5 ft. to 6 ft. 6 in. for the general public. Once you get serious about photography, you realize that one of the items that make a photo interesting is showing a different Point Of View, POV. In other words, vary the height you take your photos from.


My wife, Margaret, son, Shawn, his wife, Cara, our 2 granddaughter, Annika & Giuliana, and their 2 nephews, Giuseppe and Luca, in St. Peter’s Square.

Being in the scooter, you tend to shoot you photos from the seat you’re seated in. At first you see this as a new POV as you’re not used to shooting from this height. But I realized after a time, that I wasn’t varying my POV. I would need to get off the scooter to vary my point of view, Standing for a higher POV, kneeling for a lower. Having to do this, adds another layer of inertia. Inertia, what does inertia have to do with photography? Maybe I should provide a definition of Inertia.

Inertia, a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

As photographers, we’ve all experienced Inertia. Who hasn’t been traveling down a highway and seen a scene waiting to be photographed. But, instead of stopping the car and returning to that spot, we just continued on our journey. We then justify our not stopping by thinking it’ll be there tomorrow, the light could be better or we need to get where we are going or any of a dozen other good reasons. This was inertia, we were moving and it was just too much work stopping. It also works the other way, it’s going to be a great sunset, but there are any number of reasons to stay home rather than go out. We’ve all experienced “some form of this at least once.”

When you’re on foot, it’s easy to stop or turn around to take a photo. It’s also fairly easy to kneel down or sit down to change your POV. When you are on a scooter, you’re usually there because your legs aren’t fully functional, there is quite a bit of inertia to over come. It’s easy to just sit rather than get off the scooter to explore a better POV. I found that it was just to easy to just sit and take the photo. It’s something that I have to make sure I don’t fall into in the future.

While there are definitely drawbacks to the scooter, it is also a big positive. I can now cover much more distances than I could without it. When we were in San Quirico d’Orcia in Tuscany, it was great having the scooter to be able to get up and down the streets. I noticed that all the doors into the residences were different, but there were also similarities. I could drive up and down the street photographing the doors, though it was easy to just stay on the scooter. I’ll insert a few of the doorway photos for you to see.

I can definitely say that using the scooter provided me with an easy of mobility that I haven’t enjoyed for sometime. In fact, it was probably easier and faster for me to get around than a normal walker. I just have to overcome my own inertia and get of the scooter so that I have more of a choice of the POV I want. What I wouldn’t give to be able to walk, but having the scooter gives me back some of the mobility I’ve been missing.

Here are a few photos of the door in San Quirico d’Orcia. I photographed a couple of streets with doors and have about 40-50 different doors.

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Traveling to Europe with a Scooter for the first Time

At the end of March my wife, Margaret, and I spent two and a half weeks in Europe. We decided that we would attend a family members 10-year anniversary of their marriage in Amalfi, Italy. We were there when they married 10 years earlier and decided it would be fun to return. Ten years ago my MS hadn’t advanced to where it is today. I remember touring the Coliseum and all the ruins surrounding it, touring St. Peter’s Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel and even being able to walk back to our hotel room afterwards.

But now, ten years later, that wouldn’t be possible. While I can still go to a store, walk in, and do some shopping, my legs are pretty well spent afterwards. I was now going to be embarking on a major journey to Europe. What was I going to do? I was confident I could walk through LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) which is relatively small in it’s footprint, how would I be able to handle the much more sprawling European Airports, particularly when we had connecting flights with short transfer times.

Since we would be traveling with family and friends, how could I keep up with them? I didn’t want to slow them down and I didn’t want to miss out on the fun and stay in my hotel room. Margaret and I decided that we would get a small portable scooter to take with us. Margaret contacted all the airlines we would be flying on and arranged for the scooter. Knowing ahead of time that we wouldn’t have any major hassles provided for peace of mind.

When we arrived in Paris on the way to Italy, Air France had everything arranged so that I was provided transportation through the airport to my connecting flight. We were taken through special customs processing and security screenings. It was this way at all the airports we went through. The only little glitch we had was with our flight from Rome to Amsterdam. We were going to spend a week in the Netherlands visiting Margaret’s family. We checked in with Alitalia Airline, we obviously ran into a gate agent that wasn’t having a good day. She personally felt that scooters and wheelchairs shouldn’t be allowed on planes. We remained cool, after all, we’re on vacation. I wish I didn’t have to have a scooter, but it’s better than staying home. As a whole, everyone was extremely helpful. Sometimes almost to helpful. After 10 hours on a plane, all I wanted was to stand an walk a little to stretch and they didn’t want to et me out of the wheelchair.

We had a great time on the trip and the scooter allowed me to get around fairly normally. While I can say that I would rather be walking, it allowed me to do things and go many places I would not have been able to do without it. In Amalfi I could go into the town and have an a nice lunch at a little café, to go out on a pier and take some beautiful shots of the town in early morning light. I’ll be posting another segment on using the scooter to assist in photography. I got a smaller portable scooter and the one worry I had as to its range and how it would handle small hills. In Amalfi I had no problems at all.

After Amalfi, we went with my son and his family and spent 5 days on a farm in the Tuscany Region. I can verify that Tuscany is a beautiful as they say it is. It was a very enjoyable time, going from one beautiful hilltop town to another, though the most enjoyable part was watching the two granddaughters. They quickly accepted that I needed to use a scooter and that it allowed me to be with them. The towns have beautiful streets, but many of them are either going up or down. A few were just to steep for the scooter which couldn’t handle the load. Probably a larger more powerful scooter could handle this problem fine. The constant up and down did drain the batteries faster and I had to keep an eye on the remaining power.

The weather was on the cold side during the whole trip. In Italy the temps were in the Mid 40’s to Mid 50’s and in the Netherlands they were from the Mid 30’s to Mid 40’s. The cool weather never seemed to affect the performance of the scooter. We did have a couple of days with rain in Italy and on those days we didn’t use the scooter as it was not designed to get wet. It was used a couple of time when we were caught in a small shower and it showed no harm.

Deciding to go to Europe was the right choice for me and getting a scooter was definitely one of the major factors that made it the right choice. I’m looking forward to further travels now that we know we can do it.

I’ll be posting shortly discussing who the scooter worked with my photography while we were in Europe. Also, please pass along this blog to anyone you think would interested in Photography and/or Multiple Sclerosis.

Here is picture of me, the scooter and my youngest granddaughter, Giuliana.

Giuliana, me and the scooter

Giuliana, me and the scooter