The biggest project in my life since fall of 2003 has been my home, named Windy Ridge by the folks who built it, Wayne & Twyla Engle. It is simply amazing, and in an awe-inspiring setting. It has won architectural awards and been in magazines, and the architect, Robert Gurney, gave a lecture about it at the National Building Museum in DC. I didn’t design it; I simply bought it as is, and have maintained it and made minor improvements over the years.
This home feeds my soul, and sets my heart a-flutter still. It's rather photogenic, too.
Time Lapse Photography
My time lapses are straightforward and unadventurous by design. Most represent simple visual meditations on the view from my bedroom window. Very few were made any other place. Their cinema verité simplicity is deliberate, too. I cleave to an Appalachian bailing-wire-and-duct-tape way of doing things, where less is more and economy is key. I'm working to develop a hardware setup and software workflow that I can pass on to my Appalachian students, that they might pursue it at home themselves. Currently I use rather expensive Nikons D5100 & D5200 and Photoshop, so that goal is not yet "in the can." But in a few more years, anyone will be able to do this at home. Already a $200 GoPro camera can capture time lapses in HD res. And students can get the complete Adobe software suite for ~$20/mo.
December 12, 2013
My house is situated with ideal orientation for sunrises, particularly during the winter. Hence I shoot mostly sunrises. But moonrises, moonlight, and racing, swirling, sloshing and billowing clouds are also good subjects. To paraphrase another man named Forrest, “Time lapses are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get.” I post them on vimeo.com.
I visit Dad fairly often at his lovely house on Lake Butler in Orlando. His house faces east, too, so I take time lapses from the dock on the lake. You’ll see me on the paddle board with LED running lights on my head in some of these sequences.
on Lake Conway in Orlando
September 1, 2013
It is well known that prosumer level DSLR cameras like my Nikons do not yield consistent exposures when shooting time lapses, leading to flickering in the resulting video. One can resort to “bulb ramping” but that involves additional hardware, expense and constraints. Instead, I wrote some low-pass temporal filter Python scripts. (Yes, I’m a programmer/math geek with an academic background in sampling and filtering, so it’s second nature for me.) Basically, they average frames together (using a Gaussian filter kernel) to spread the flickering and other strobing artifacts out over time (multiple frames) making them softer and less noticeable.
These filters work well for ameliorating flickering, and alright to not-so-well for strobing or temporal aliasing, as we sampling geeks call it.
The Python interpreter and software libraries are available free on the Internet, and I am happy to make my scripts available for free. Please just let me know if you'd like to give 'em a try.
I once had a landscape photography instructor, Steve Crouch, who had a maxim: "Never take snapshots. Take them in your mind; they'll always look better in your memory."
It is the yoke of that kind of perfectionism that I came to Appalachia to escape, in part. So now I take snapshots. I live in a place of such amazing light, color and beauty that I want to try to capture a little to share with friends & loved ones.
I wish I could call them simple photography verité, but I'm too much a digital imaging kinda guy not to Photoshop 'em. So I think of them as casual images re-presented for the luminous digital screen. Sort of a image dairy of my life with Nature, not serious photography.
The vast majority are shot from my home and on my land in West Virginia.
Aerial Drone Photography
All my life I've been into model airplanes. The current exciting trend, to me, is these camera-carrying drones.
At the time of this writing, I have two drones: one tiny indoor quadcopter with a small Mobius HD video camera that I haven't even tried out yet. The second is a DGI Phantom sporting a GoPro Hero 3 camera, for outdoor flying.
They are just toys for fun. And they point out that my rusty R/C piloting skills need a lot of work. :-)
I write a lot of prose, most of it for close friends and too personal to share here. I’m an accomplished technical writer (see my CV) and an occasional poet.
Here is a recent effort at such.
To Whom Then
If one came questing
An old and trusted friend
Warmth drawing one forth
The climbing footpath to her home
A bracing alpine meander
Sparkling in the winter sun
Tiny spectra all about
All the colors of the rainbow
Ensconced in blinding white
Beneath electric blue
The blazing glory of winter
Light brighter than brightest summer
Gentle mounds so softly textured
Boughs bowed gently
Everything softly covered
In pristine simplicity
No friend there
To be found
Trail gone cold as squeaky ice
To whom then
Does one say goodbye?
Wood Fired Boiler
One of my best friends in Marin advised that I exclude this project. My friend Carol thinks I hate trees. But I live in a clearing the middle of a sea of 120 wooded acres so yes, I heat my home with home-grown hardwood. Mostly black locust, which may be North America's best firewood.
I love this boiler-project because it keeps me going outdoors in all kinds of weather, and gives me a 24/7 relationship with fire. Which is really great for a born pyro like me. Also, it comes with a rigorous outdoor exercise program, which I also thrive on.
That's it glowing to the left, with its door open for the photo.
Rockets & Pyrotechnics
"Watch this space" (so to speak).
I am designing a TED-style talk on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and generating virtual worlds (planets) for cyberspace. The idea is to inspire young persons to lean into the STEM fields.
Having done much in this area, I can address the topic with authority.
Pandromeda / MojoWorld
I own and operate Pandromeda, Inc, a tiny high-tech startup software firm that developed MojoWorld, a peephole into a parallel universe of Earth-sized planets the size of Earth by default. They exist in the timeless, eternal truth of mathematical logic, and I’ll say no more about that here.
See the Pandromeda web site for details.