Blurb Books Disappoints

It’s been a while since I last posted a blog. The last ones were about problems I was having with my MS back in January and February. Since that time, my health has improved and I’m getting around better than I was back then. I’m back working on my photo projects again and that is what led to this posting.

I attended the Palm Springs Photo Festival in April and had some very positive and informative portfolio reviews. A couple of weeks ago I was thinking about the reviews and how I could make even more of an impression up the reviewers and anyone else I’m showing my work to. I started thinking about producing a small inexpensive book to show or give to interested parties. It would be a small soft covered book with nothing fancy, only my photos displayed in a quality format.

Lightroom now has book tab that provides the capability to produce a books using the provider, Blurb. Having seen reviews that gushed about the quality of these books, I decided it would be easy to give it a try since I already have collections of my work in Lightroom and it would then send it to Blurb. I opened Lightroom and went to my Giants Collection and chose the 24 photos for the book. For the size of the book, I chose the “Small Square” size, which is 7 in. square. This seemed like a very good size for a small handout book. To keeps costs down I choose the “Softcover” option as apposed to the Hardcover option. I feel that the softcover is more appropriate for the use I wanted in the book.

Lightroom quickly laid out the book with the photos from my Giants collection. I choose to display one photo per page and chose the full-page option since I have both verticals and horizontals. I then arranged the photos in the order I wanted, set the covers and added a couple of text pages at the end. I checked the pages and all looked fine in the Lightroom display. I then exported the book as a PDF and inspected the book and it looked great. I then sent it off to Blurb and ordered a couple of copies. These were only going to be test books, as I would be adding more photos and text to the final version. I just wanted to check the quality of the book before I sent a larger version.

This weekend, the books arrived. When I quickly looked at them when I first opened the package, the looked OK, at least the covers did. But when I opened the books, I started to see problems. With the vertical photos, there was a small white border at the top but bleed of the page at the bottom. Same problem with the horizontals on the sides. Not only was there was a discrepancy with the borders, but you could see that the photo were slightly crocked one the page since the border was crocked. I’m posting a scan of one of the pages from the printed book and also a page from the PDF file that I exported so that you can see the differences.

The final problem is that when I measured the book. It was supposed to 7 in. (18cm) square. When I measured it, it was 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm) square. Either Blurb is advertising a size they don’t offer or their cutters are way off. It will be interesting to see what Blurb has to say about this. I’ll keep you informed.

Giants-Pg1 Eagle

Giants-Pg1.PDF

A bad start to the year – Part 3.

From my last post, after having a good Monday following my steroid infusions, I thought everything was going to be fine. Waking up Tuesday morning and seeing that I now had the mumps, I knew that my feeling good was over after one day. I now knew that I would now have more than another week of feeling poorly.

For the next week I was extremely tired. I was sleeping 9-10 hours a night and taking 1 hour plus naps in the morning and afternoon. It seemed as if time was moving at half speed. During the first few days of the mumps, I took a steady diet of Tylenol to keep the swelling of my glands down and get rid of muscle aches.  After about 6-7 days I finally began to feel human again. It’s now been over 2 weeks since I started coming down with the flu and have my exacerbation of my MS.

Finally I’m feeling pretty good, though I still have a little cough from the flu left. My walking is better than it has been in 6 months, though it is still not very good. I can only cover short distances before the legs give out which is why I have a scooter. I’m now able to walk around the house without having to hold on to things to steady myself. I’m hopeful that things will not deteriorate to fast in the future.

Having the exacerbation with my MS was probably one of the scariest events in my life. All I could see was that I was going to lose even more of my life. The prospect of loosing my mobility was something I don’t think I had ever really considered before, even though I knew it was a possibility. Here I was going to lose both my ability to drive and the ability to walk on my own. It is now something that I’m definitely taking as a future possibility.

So I’m now back to being able to resume my life and get back to the things that I want to do. I’m hoping to get back to working on my photography project. I think I’ve got a few more giants to photograph. Now that I’ve used all my bad luck for the year, the rest is going to be great.

A bad start to the year – Part 2.

In my last post. I left you where I had contacted my neurologist to get an appointment to see him. While he was not in the office, his nurse arranged for me to see one of his colleagues at 2 pm that afternoon. I now had some time to reflect on what had happened in the last 24 hours. The night before when my legs quit functioning was one of the scariest moments of my life. As I pulled myself across the floor with my arms, all I could see was a bleak future.

In the thirty years since I saw the first symptoms of MS. I had never really had an attack. As my MS worsened at the start of the 90’s, it had just been a steady decline in my legs. The first things I noticed was that my legs would get out of sync with each other after sprinting about 80 yards. During the next year or so, that distance shrank, 60, then 40, then 10 yards. Then I couldn’t sprint but I could jog and then not run at all. By the turn of the century I couldn’t run at all and even had difficulty walking at times. Never did I have an attack where something just quit working.

That night all I could see was that I would be losing the life I’ve had. I wouldn’t be able to drive anymore. In California, not being able to drive is almost like a death sentence. How do you get anywhere? I didn’t want to be dependent on my wife, while she is loving and would do what ever I need, I don’t want to have to burden her with having to be a my beck and call. Would I need a wheel chair to get around? I use a scooter when I have a distance to cover, but I can get off the scooter and walk when I needed. I was panicked with these thoughts and not sure where my future would be headed.

My wife and I headed to the neurologist that afternoon not sure what would be our options. The neurologist was excellent. He spent 45-60 minutes listening to me, examining me and finally explaining the options I have. He agreed that the temperature from my bout with the flu is probably what led to the attack. He thought the best plan of attack was to get an infusion of steroids to reduce the swelling at the location of the attack on the brain. He felt that I might be able to return to where I was before the attack. While that wasn’t guaranteed, the chance was better than where I was now.

The nursing staff set up and appoint for that evening, Wed., Jan 15, with the infusion center. I would receive an infusion for 5 days of Solu-medrol. I went the first appointment that evening. I used the scooter to get from the car to the infusion center. Once I was at the station that was assigned to me, I parked the scooter about 4 feet from the chair I would sit in. With great difficulty, I shuffled from the scooter to the chair, unable to pick up my feet.

The nurse started the 1000 mg Solu-Medrol infusion. This would be the first of 5. About 2/3of the way through the infusion I could actually pick my legs up off the footrest of the chair. I could bring my legs back towards my chest. Wow, this was a magical potion. When I finished the infusion I could walk over to where my scooter had been moved. While it wasn’t normal walking it was probably better than I had walked in 6 months.

The next for nights had had the rest of the infusions. The last night I even walked into and out of the infusion center. While it wasn’t a fast walk, I was walking more than I had in 6 months. Now would this improvement stay, or would if fade as the steroid wore off? On the way home that Sunday night my wife and I stopped for a piece of pie and discussed the last few days. Would the improvements stay or would I go back to where I was a couple of days earlier? I still had the flu and was dealing with that.

I had a great Monday, was able to walk around the house with little problem. I fixed dinner that evening and went to bed thinking that maybe everything was going to be ok. I slept fairly well the first part of the night but during the early morning it seemed to be uncomfortable to lay my head on the pillow. When I got up in the morning I immediately knew why, looking onto the mirror in the bathroom, I could see I had the mumps. My glands where swollen, I sort of looked like Gov. Chris Christy of New Jersey. I never had the mumps as a child and now it seems they found me.

This is all I need, I still had the flu, ad an exacerbation of my MS, and now I had the mumps.

I will continue the story in the next post.

 

A bad start to the year.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to my blog and I’m sorry about that. While I like sharing my work and thoughts with everyone, I often get busy and just forget about it. With then end of last year now behind us, I meant to get back to the blog, but I ran into one of the worst starts to a year I’ve ever had. While the first 2 weeks were great, the next 2 became a complete disaster medically with my Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

My wife, Margaret, and I attended a Gallery opening at Calumet Camera in Los Angeles of an excellent show of the work of Kathy Curtis Cahill entitled “Night Echoes” on Thursday evening, Jan 9. It was a great show and I enjoyed the evening even though my MS was definitely limiting my mobility. After the opening we headed out to Palm Spring to attend the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The film festival was great we saw some excellent films, though we did catch a few that didn’t quite make it. We did get a chance to see a great film, “Finding Vivian Maier”, on the discovery of the excellent work of a nanny that had never shown her work but was discovered by a person that buys storage locker contents. After her death, a locker where her Negatives, Slides and undeveloped rolls of film were stored was auctioned off. If you get a chance, definitely see the film.

I had to use my scooter to get around Palm Springs and also get into and out of the theaters with the films. The previous year I could get around on my own, even though it may have been a little slow. This year I could definitely se a worsening of my MS. Even though I had to use the scooter, we had a great time at the festival and also enjoying Palm Spring. We returned home late Sunday Evening after 3 enjoyable days.

Monday morning I had a doctors appointment to gat a Shingles shot as I had had Chicken Pox as a child. The nurse informed me that I might have a small reaction to the shot. It would probably be in the form soreness in the area of the shot and a minor fever. The arm was definitely sore by that afternoon and I also started having a dry scratchiness in my throat. After dinner I realized it wasn’t a reaction to the shot, I was coming down with the flu, even though I had a flu shot a few months earlier.

I woke up about 3 am with a terrible fever, my Pj’s were soaking wet as I was sweating so hard with the fever. I just slept off and on the rest of the night before arising about 6 am. I definitely had the flu. I struggled through the day, I was definitely very weak and my legs didn’t work very well. It was difficult to even walk about the house. This was not unusual when I get the flu, a couple of days a weakness and being very tired before things started to return to normal.

I didn’t do much during the day and just sat in the living room that evening watching TV. About 9 pm decided I needed to go the bathroom and started to get out of my chair. As I got part way up my legs collapsed under me. I couldn’t move my legs at all. I couldn’t draw them up under me to get up. I drug myself forward with my arms but couldn’t do anything with my legs. Lying on my side, I could bring my legs up toward my chest, they just wouldn’t move. It took me over 20 minutes before I could get myself up off the floor. All I could think about was will I ever be able to use my legs again. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before with my MS.

Now that I was up, I was able to slide my legs on the floor without actually picking them up. I was able to make it to bed and was hopeful that may be the legs would be better in the morning. In the morning the legs were no better than the night before. I contacted my neurologist and discovered he was out of the office with an injury. His nurse arranged an appointment with a colleague for a consultation early that afternoon, Tuesday, Jan 14.

I will continue the story in the next couple of posts.

Death Valley & Badwater Ultramarathon – 1

This is the first of a few blogs, at least hopefully a few, from the Badwater Ultramarathon that starts in Death Valley tomorrow morning, Monday. It will depend on access to the internet and the amount of time I have during the race. It is pretty remote out here. I have internet access at the Furnace Creek Ranch where I’m spending the night tonight. The is also cell service here but little other service during the 1st 100 miles of the race.

The trip here this morning was routine and took about 5 hours including stopping for gas and a quick meal in Baker, CA. The weather is about like you would expect in DV this time of year. It’s clear with a few clouds that stand out against the blue sky. The temperature was a warm 122˚ F. Not nearly as bad as the 127˚ F. it was a few years past. Here is a photo of the temperature display at the visitor center.photo

Why heat doesn’t seem to bother me with my MS I don’t know. Of course to me, I wonder why it bothers other MS’ers. I’ve quizzed my neurologists, but none can answer the question. I’ve asked them if maybe what I have isn’t MS, but they say I do have MS. But, I wonder how I can be so unaffected by heat while most others MS’ers melt at just the prospect of heat. I guess I shouldn’t complain.

I hope to be able to add a couple of other posts during the race, but we’ll have to see if it works out. Even tonight the access is slow as race staff and 97 competitors and there crews all try to access the internet.

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.

Super Full Moon drives me crazy

Last night, Sunday was the largest full moon of the year.

Supermoon’s occur because the moon’s path around Earth is  elliptical. Distances between the two bodies vary from 225,622 miles at the closest  approach — known as perigee — to 252,088 miles at the most distant point, called apogee. When the full moon happens at perigee, the moon is about 15% larger and 30% brighter than at apogee. Being closer and full, the moon will lead to the highest tides of the year. It is also a ‘solstitial moon’, which means it will be at the southern most in it’s orbit.

While some predict disastrous tides, earthquakes and even humans experiencing lunacy, it will just be a very bright summer evening. Though, right now I’m beginning to lose my mind. I’m taking my camera and heading outside to photograph the moon.SuperFullMoon-(20130622)-006

Nikon D800 w/ 500mm f/4 Nikkor w/2x Converter

Chasing the Big Idaho Potato

As you know my latest project has me photographing the Giants that exist in our society. Most don’t notice the large versions of ordinary people or objects. You can see some of these images by visiting the Giants Gallery on my web site: http://www.djnphoto.com. I’ve photographed many different giants around Southern California for my project. The one thing all these giants have in common is that they are stationary. That is they are anchored in place, I don’t have to chase them to photograph them.

When I received a tip that there was a large potato on a semi that was traveling around the country, I became excited about having to stalk my prey. I investigated and discovered that this was the Famous Idaho Potato Tour, http://www.bigidahopotato.com. I visited the web site and found a contact, Laura Martin, and sent her an e-mail asking about the truck and when it would be in the Southwestern States. I received a very pleasant call from Laura and she let me know that they would be heading this way shorty and that she would keep me appraised.

Continuing working on my project, I arranged a trip to the California, Arizona border near Parker, AZ to photograph a large chicken on the roof of an old restaurant. See the two previous posts to see the trip. A couple of days before I left for Parker, I received a call from Laura informing me the Truck would be arriving in my area, the problems was it would be arriving the day I was leaving. The good new is that it would still be here when I returned. Laura was great and even offered to bring it by my studio. My studio is in my home and we live in a quite neighborhood with small streets that don’t allow large trucks. Laura informed me that the truck crew would be staying at a hotel just a couple of miles from me.BigIdahoPotato-(20130615)-043

When I returned from my chicken run, I contacted the crew and they informed me that they would be leaving the next morning at 8 am to head to Las Vegas. I set it up to meet them at their hotel and would follow them out to Baker, CA as I wanted photos of the Potato on the road. The truck and potato are definitely big. The truck is 72 ft. in length, with the Potato is 12 ft. wide and 13 ft. tall, and weighs 44,320 lbs. What a subject more my first mobile giant!BigIdahoPotato-(20130615)-058

I met the crew that morning, Paul Humbracht, the driver and the Tater Crew, Kristie Wolfe and Tyler Pagel. They were great and wanted to assist me in getting the photos I wanted. Other than I would have like to be out on the desert at a more photographic time, they have their schedule, the only thing I needed was for them to make a stop in Baker, CA to pose the Potato in front of the giant thermometer. They let me know that it would be no problem.BigIdahoPotato-(20130615)-089

It was fun following them out of the LA area out on to the desert. Once we were on Interstate 15, traffic would often back up behind the truck. As cars came up to the truck, the passengers in the truck would see what it was ad would slowly pass so that they could get out there cell phone cameras and snap a few pictures. My wife and I would leap frog the truck so that we could get shots from the side of the road with the desert in the background.

BigIdahoPotato-(20130615)-094-Small Baking the Big Idaho Potato in Baker, CA

In Baker, Paul positioned the truck in front of the thermometer and I got my shot. We had a great time with the crew and the truck. I’m definitely hoping that it will make another trip to the Southwestern States and that I can meet up with them again. Will I got some good shots, I have so many ideas for shots with the truck, it would be great to have one myself so I could not only get it to certain locations, but also get it there at times with great light.

Did we find large Chickens?

My previous post gave a little of our journey to Vidal Junction to photograph a couple of large chickens. I had been told by an acquaintance that there were 2 large chickens atop an old restaurant at the intersection of US Highway 95 and California Highway 62. I searched the Internet and found a couple of photos and sure enough, there were 2 large chickens. There was a chicken at each of the front corners of the restaurant. In the photos, it looked like the business was no longer. Well, the world isn’t perfect.

After being on the road for 4 & ½  hours, see previous post for some of the details of the trip, we arrived at Vidal Jct. Over the top of mini market/gas station, I could see a large chicken. With growing excitement, I made a left at the stop sign and headed to the restaurant. It was then I could see that there was now only one chicken on the roof. Where the other chicken was located, there is now a light on a pole, probably for security reasons. Having spent the previous few days planning my angle to get both chickens in my photo, I now had only one. The best laid plans…LavidaJctCA-(20130612)-003

Back home after the trip, I see a post on Matt Kloskowski’s Blog, http://www.mattk.com, a blog titled, “Photographing Something Different Than What You Showed Up For.” How appropriate since that is what I just encountered. Sometimes in life you’re handed lemons, that’s when you make lemonade. The restaurant was out of business but it wasn’t in derelict state as often happens. I had something to with which work. I now would have to look for some good light.LavidaJctCA-(20130612)-039

That afternoon we decided to drive up to Lake Havasu City to look around. As we came around a bend in the road, we found the other chicken. It turns out the owner of the mini market/gas station in Vidal Jct. has another market/gas station and had removed the chicken and placed it upon his other store.GiantChickenOnGasStation-ParkerStripAZ-(20130612)-003

Here’s my wife Margaret taking a picture of the chicken the next morning at sunrise. That morning was bright and clear, not a cloud in the sky. But luckily the evening before there were some great clouds that were light nicely at sunset.LavidaJctCA-(20130613)-073

Note: all photos are not yet processed.

Coming home Thursday morning, we headed north on Highway 95 to Needles. It was a very beautiful drive with some great scenery. Definitely I’ll have to come back to this area in the future. Before getting on the interstate to head west, we stopped in Needles to get a couple of pieces of fruit for snacks along the way home. As we drove west on Broadway St. in Needles just scouting for interesting photo opportunities my wife suddenly site a giant, a metal sculpture of a giant snake. I couldn’t pass that up.GiantSnake-MetalSculpture-NeedlesCA-(20130613)-010

Overall, this was a great trip for us. I got a couple of giants and we had a great time. The weather was nice, temperature in Parker, AZ. was about 110˚. After lunch in Parker on Wednesday, I spotted a mini-van with bicycles on top of it. Having been the bicycling photographer for 30 years, I easily spot bicycles. It looked like a support crew for cyclists. I was the photographer for the Race Across America (RAAM) from 1984 until 1999 and this definitely looked like a support vehicle. We stopped at the restaurant where the vehicle was and went inside and found the occupants. It RAAM and they were a support crew. The race had started the day before in Oceanside, CA. Sometimes it seems as if your past is always following you. But, it was a pleasant surprise.

Trip to find large Chickens

Driving today from the LA area out to Vidal Jct., a few miles west from Parker, AZ. It’s a nice warm day in the deserts of Southern California. It was 98˚ about 9:30 in the morning. By the time we got to Parker, it was about 110˚.

When we arrived in Parker, we notice a van with bicycles on top and lettering on the side. On further inspection it was the support crew for an entrant in the Race Across AMerica bike race. We stopped and talked to the crew for a few minutes and found the race started yesterday. I was the race’s photographer from 1984 until 1999. I’ve been busy the last 2 months and hadn’t even given the race a thought. It was a pleasant suprise to catch it.

Here a couple of photo from the trip out.

An interesting directional post.

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We next found a shoe fence where passerby’s deposit their shoes and a lot more.

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We also found the remains of an old gas station along the road.

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These images are raw from the camera with no work done other than to shrink the size. These are some are some very interesting items that I’m adding to my log of things I want to return to in the future to capture them in better light.

We’re leaving to get some dinner before we head out to out chicken for some photographic work. I’ll be adding another post later with the chicken.

Dave