Journal

@SchuminWeb

Archives

Categories

A proper visit to Charleston…

28 minute read

May 9, 2024, 10:14 AM

From April 17-19, Elyse and I made a weekend trip down to Charleston, South Carolina.  It’s funny how this worked out.  After our visit to Charleston last October, we both were left wanting more.  We saw lots of potential in Charleston, and wanted to go back, but we weren’t sure whether we wanted to drive back again, vs. flying.  Charleston is eight hours away, which is quite a long haul, and it’s almost entirely through rural areas once you get out of the DC region.  In other words, not very exciting.  But then when we looked at airfare, we realized that it was really expensive, and that with all of the goings-on at the airport plus multiple flights, we wouldn’t save any time compared to driving, plus we would be limited as to what we could bring with us, and would probably need to rent a car down there.  All of that said, that pushed me into driving territory, because then we could bring whatever we wanted, go on our own schedule, and have fun on the way down and back.  Plus then we would have the HR-V in Charleston.

On the southbound leg, I tried to keep the trip as close to all-business as I could.  I only planned on making four stops: one in the Richmond area, one in Skippers, Virginia (the last Virginia exit on I-95), one somewhere in North Carolina, and then one at the Buc-ee’s in Florence, South Carolina.  That would get us to Charleston at a somewhat reasonable hour as long as we kept to it.

Richmond was intended primarily as a food stop.  My original idea was to stop at the Sheetz at the Atlee exit, and do Sheetz, and I pitched that to Elyse a few days prior to our trip.  It’s funny – when I pitched the idea, Elyse’s response was something to the effect of, “When were you going to tell me about this?” and my response was simply, “What does this look like?”  Elyse said that she didn’t want to do Sheetz, because we always do Sheetz, and then suggested we find a barbecue place.  I was like, “You had me at barbecue.”  Looking it up, I found two places that weren’t too far off of I-95.  One was a place called Q Barbeque up in Glen Allen, and then the other one was Oak & Apple right in downtown.  I chose Oak & Apple, because it was right in downtown Richmond, and closer to the freeway.  More or less get off of the exit, go like two blocks, and boom, there it is.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

A trip across South Jersey…

16 minute read

April 27, 2024, 9:41 AM

On April 4-5, I went on a solo trip up to New Jersey.  It was a trip that I had been looking for a time to do and one that Elyse had no interest in.  April 4-5 was where it fit in my schedule, so I planned it out and went.  That said, I was certainly crossing my fingers and anything else that I could cross that the weather would hold out.  The forecast for my travel dates would be mostly cloudy and rainy, with a possibility for some breaks in the cloud cover and precipitation.  I wanted a very productive overnight trip where I came back with a nice, big photo take, and not a trip that got rained out and ended up being a scouting-future-locations kind of trip.  That’s the thing about overnight trips and such: they’re planned and booked in advance, so the weather can be a bit of a roll of the dice.  Sometimes you win, and sometimes you don’t.

The plan was to go up to New Jersey via I-95 (i.e. my usual route) and then go across South Jersey on the first day, ending up in Egg Harbor Township for the night.  Then I was going to go down to Cape May and take the ferry across to Delaware on the second day, returning home via US 50.  Elyse and I tend to call this sort of trip profile a “loop trip”, since we are more or less constantly covering new ground, and doing almost no backtracking.  These sorts of trips are fun when they work out, since it eliminates the return-trip blahs, where it’s clear that the fun is largely over, and we’re just retracing our steps back home.  On a loop trip, almost no road is traveled on twice.

This one was a little unusual in that I had a doctor’s appointment at the hospital in Olney first thing, so I attended to that and then left straight from the hospital.  However, the ride up didn’t exactly inspire confidence in my ability to have the productive trip that I wanted, since it was raining more or less the entire way up to New Jersey.  My first planned photo stop was the Church Landing Fishing Spot in Pennsville Township, where I planned to try some different angles of the Delaware Memorial Bridge with the drone, but due to bad weather, I skipped it.  I’m not worried about it, though, because we visited this area once before in 2022, and I don’t expect that it’s going anywhere any time soon, i.e. I can do that on a future visit.  Fortunately, the rain stopped not long after I got into New Jersey, though the cloud cover would persist for most of the day.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

No, I do not have to get anyone’s permission for that…

11 minute read

March 30, 2024, 1:35 PM

It has always amused me about how often people play the permission-of-the-subject card with me.  Usually, it comes from someone who is a bit salty about coverage of their activities that may portray them in a negative light.  However, recently, someone played this card on a post that I made on Schumin Web‘s Facebook page in regards to a wildfire in Virginia that I recently photographed with my drone.  The post was about a photo that depicted a house burning to the ground that I am planning to run as part of a Journal entry about a weekend trip that Elyse and I had recently made:

1429 Coal Mine Road burns to the ground during a wildfire near Strasburg, Virginia.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Fire at the quarry…

4 minute read

March 14, 2024, 8:38 PM

Sometimes, you just have to be at the right place at the right time.  I had a doctor’s appointment today near Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, but before I left, Elyse gave me a heads-up that there was a fire at the Aggregate Industries quarry off of Piney Meetinghouse Road.  Funny thing about this: I discovered that quarry about a month ago on Maps, and added it to my photo list, which I jokingly refer to as “the place where photo ideas go to die” because of how infrequently I cross things off of it.  So this worked out nicely, because I already knew exactly where the location was, and I would already be nearby.  So I threw the drone in the back of the car and made plans to check out the quarry after my appointment.  As I approached Interstate 270, the smoke became quite evident, with a large plume of smoke visible in the distance.  After the appointment, I headed over, and found a safe place to fly that was out of the way, but where I could still see everything that I needed to see in order to fly safely.

Being a working fire situation, I kept my distance.  I did not want to interfere with the firefighting efforts in any way, and truth be told, I didn’t want to be noticed at all.  I just wanted to get in, get my shots, and then get out.  I knew the kind of stuff that I would capture and how I would fly if I was flying under normal conditions, but this was not that, and so I adjusted accordingly.

According to news sources, the fire involved two liquid asphalt tanks, one tank containing used motor oil, and various other miscellaneous equipment owned by the F.O. Day Bituminous Company, which has facilities on the site.  Due to its being an oil fire, they couldn’t use water on the flames, so they had to get a foam unit to come out from Dulles Airport to help extinguish the fire.  The fire was completely out by the evening.  Fortunately, everyone on site was safely evacuated, and no one was hurt.  There was also no danger to the public or the surrounding area, and a fire department spokesman likened the smoke to a bad air quality day.  So at the end of the day, it was only property damage, i.e. nothing that money can’t fix.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Some spherical images of a dead mall…

6 minute read

February 12, 2024, 11:10 AM

Do you remember when Elyse and I visited Owings Mills Mall back in 2015?  I wrote about it in the second part of the “Everything Else” photo set, but what I didn’t show you, mainly because I lacked the capability to display it properly at the time, was that I also shot some spherical photos of the place.  I was glad that I did, too, because the management would close the interior of the mall less than two weeks after our visit, and the mall was demolished about a year later in preparation for redevelopment.  The property now contains an outdoor shopping center called Mill Station, and from everything that I can tell, the center is now thriving.  I suppose that tells you that the mall itself was the problem, and that the area is, in fact, a good location for retail – just not that retail, apparently.  It’s also spurred additional development beyond the old mall property, so clearly, things are going well there.

So as far as the spherical panorama images go, when we were exploring the mall, I used the Google camera app, which could shoot spherical panoramas, and took eight photo spheres of the place.  You start in one spot, and then it tells you how to move the camera in order to image the entire thing.  The result is essentially a single Google Street View image of wherever you are standing.  I first learned how to do this in August 2014, and I did it on and off for about a year.  I eventually lost interest in the photo spheres, after Google discontinued the Panoramio service and rolled it all into Google Maps.  As is typical when Google rolls an existing service into another, much functionality was lost, and Panoramio’s going into Maps was no exception.  The way that they wanted you to shoot photo spheres after that was with a separate Street View app, and it would more or less upload directly to Google Street View, and wouldn’t save as an image file of mine.  So that was a bit of a deal-breaker for me.  As far as this website goes, I couldn’t get the images to display properly on here natively, and really didn’t want to have any additional plugins for the site just to power a single Journal entry.  Then I recently discovered that Flickr will embed these things on third party websites, such as this one, and we were in business.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

When your photo of Giant becomes popular, and you don’t quite understand why…

3 minute read

February 6, 2024, 9:54 AM

Recently, when skimming around the Internet, I found a large number of YouTube videos using this image:

Giant Food in Burtonsville, Maryland

Continue reading...Continue reading…

A day in Filthadelphia…

10 minute read

January 3, 2024, 12:46 PM

On Friday, December 29, I went up to Philadelphia for the day with my friend Aaron Stone.  We each had our goals up there, and for the most part, we accomplished them.  I wanted to see the “Four Seasons”, and Aaron wanted to see the SS United States.  And then we both wanted to go to King of Prussia Mall.  Elyse, meanwhile, was unavailable, as she was on a work trip to Roanoke for bus museum business.

I feel like, for this trip, we scheduled it more or less perfectly.  We had exactly the right amount of time for what we had intended to do.  We left in the HR-V from my house, and made two quick food stops in Ellicott City and Catonsville.  Then it was straight through to Delaware House.  That was a bit more involved than I had anticipated, though, as there was a large backup just north of I-695, which slowed us down a bit.  I was regretting not looking at Google ahead of time before deciding not to bounce at White Marsh and taking Route 1 for a ways, like I did last April on the New York trip.  Route 1 is a viable alternative to I-95, and this would have been a good time to use it.

Then after Delaware House, we continued straight through into Pennsylania, taking I-95 through Wilmington.  Every time I go through Wilmington, I always say that I want to explore it, but then I never plan a trip to actually go to Wilmington.  It always gets bypassed, either by skirting it to the southeast on trips that go into New Jersey, or by never getting off of the highway while going through on the way up to Philadelphia.  I went to Christiana Mall last year, but still haven’t done Wilmington itself.  Aaron and I discussed possibly doing a quick side trip through parts of Wilmington on the way back down, time permitting, so maybe we’d do a little bit in Wilmington, but that can was kicked down the road for now.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Yes, we are back in the air again…

6 minute read

December 2, 2023, 11:27 PM

You may recall that when I wrote in this space about my recent trip to Chicago, I described how my DJI Air 2S drone went to a watery grave in Lake Michigan following a forced landing due to battery depletion while I was flying in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, taking my entire day’s worth of photos down with it.  The good news is that I am now whole once again.  I got a new DJI Air 3 drone, which, among other features, sports twice as much fly time per battery than the Air 2S, and then I also activated the flyaway coverage that I had with the Air 2S and got a new one of those, too.  So all in all, I’m in good shape.  I have new equipment that is faster and more powerful than my previous equipment, plus I also have some pretty solid equipment as a backup drone.

That also means that the Mini probably won’t see much action anymore.  The thing about the DJI Mavic Mini is that it’s not a bad drone, but it’s not a great drone, either.  It lacks collision sensors, so it’s not going to stop you from plowing headlong into an object.  It’s also fairly slow-moving and gets kicked around in the wind a bit.  It also uses wi-fi as a transmission protocol, and as such, it’s prone to interference.  And now being the third one on the totem pole, it’s probably not going to see much use.  I will use the Air 3 as my primary drone, and the Air 2S will be the drone that Elyse will use as well as my backup.  So it’s like this exchange in the third episode of Roseanne:

Darlene: Mom, if Becky has a heart attack, I’m in charge, right?
Roseanne: Right!
DJ: Mom, if Darlene has a heart attack, I’m in charge.
Roseanne: Right, DJ!  If both your sisters are dead, you’re in charge.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

If you want me to take you seriously, do your research, and don’t play the victim card…

12 minute read

November 17, 2023, 2:10 PM

Recently, while I was checking for copyright violations, I turned up a tweet by Twitter user @alx.  The tweet, from this past September, showed my photo from 2004 of a Simplex fire alarm at Taylor Hall with the caption, “Any idea what this does?”  I assumed, based on the date, that it was supposed to be commentary on the recent incident where Democratic representative Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building.  Yes, Bowman is an idiot for doing that, but that’s beside the point.  Looking the tweet over, I did not see the attribution that is required per the terms of the Creative Commons license under which that particular image is offered, so, per my usual practice, I submitted a DMCA takedown request to have that unauthorized usage removed.  Then the folks who process these things at Twitter removed the image about twelve hours later.  That speed is typical for Twitter, since they’re usually really good about processing DMCA notices, even following Elon Musk‘s acquisition of the platform.  In other words, for as much of a cesspool as the Twitter has become these days, if there’s one thing that they still do right, it’s copyright enforcement.  So as far as I was concerned, our transaction was complete.  The image was removed, and we all went on with things.

Then the next day, I got an email from the folks at Twitter, telling me that Alexander Joseph Lorusso of Worcester, Massachusetts had submitted a DMCA counter-notice against the tweet that I had reported earlier, and that, as per the usual process, they would restore the content in ten business days unless they receive notice that I’ve filed an action seeking a court order on it.  Here is what Lorusso said in his counter-notice when prompted for a reason:

This picture is a picture of a fire alarm and is on WikiCommons stating it is free “to share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work”

https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Simplex_pull_station.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

This person is weaponizing DMCA against me

Continue reading...Continue reading…

A trip to the Midwest…

11 minute read

November 11, 2023, 10:17 AM

From November 2-9, Elyse, our friend Kyle, and I took a road trip out to the Midwest.  We went to Austintown, Windsor, Detroit, Dearborn, Chicago, Sheboygan, Gary, Elkhart, Cleveland, and lots of places in between over the span of eight days.  The genesis of this trip was a desire to visit Chicago to see my sister and do stuff there, and then it expanded a bit into a much larger adventure.  This was always intended to be a road trip, and we put quite a few miles on the HR-V over the course of the trip.  It also means that the new HR-V has traveled further in its first year than any of my other vehicles ever did over their entire careers.  The new HR-V has gone as far north as Ottawa, as far south as Charleston, as far east as Brooklyn, and as far west as Chicago.  The only vehicle of mine that has gone further in any of those directions is the Sable, which traveled as far east as Quincy, Massachusetts in 2010.  The highlights were a visit to The Henry Ford, where we not only saw the exhibits, but I also viewed a photo of mine that the museum licensed from me a long time ago, doing my own version of a walk through a Chicago neighborhood that SpinnWebe did as a spoof of a photo set of mine, a visit to the Kohler factory up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, a siren test in Niles, some drone flights around Gary, Indiana, a visit to Garfield Heights, Ohio to see the former City View Center shopping facility that was later successfully repositioned as an industrial park, a visit to the Kent State University May 4 Visitor Center, a small museum about the Kent State shootings, to see a photo of mine that was used there, and finally, a ride on Cleveland’s RTA system.  Unfortunately, my DJI Air 2S drone did not survive the week, as a stronger-than-anticipated wind caused it to run out of battery power on the way back from a flight in Sheboygan, which caused it to force-land into Lake Michigan, taking all of my drone shots from that day with it.  However, I had my original drone, the DJI Mavic Mini, on hand in case Elyse had wanted to fly, so it was quickly pressed into service to complete the trip.

I’m going to do a full photo set about this trip for Life and Times, so right now, I’m just going to share a few photos of the highlights.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

A weekend in New York…

32 minute read

April 26, 2023, 8:33 PM

From April 12-14, Elyse and I took a little weekend trip to New York City.  This was the new HR-V’s first road trip, and what better place to go to than New York, I suppose.  It was definitely a different experience than the Soul’s first road trip, which was the trip home from Staunton the day after I bought it, as well as the original HR-V’s first road trip, which was a day trip to Philadelphia.

With this trip, I was looking forward to seeing how the new HR-V did on a long trip with the various smart features that it has built into it, such as the adaptive cruise control and the lane watch system.  I had tested these things on my commutes to and from work on various occasions on a somewhat limited basis, but I hadn’t done a long drive with them yet.  The good news was that these systems worked quite well together on our trip, which we took largely via I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike.  I think that this was probably the least stressful drive on I-95 that I’ve ever had, as the cruise control maintained a safe distance from the cars ahead of me, and it maintained my lane quite well, following the various curves in the road.  That put me, as the driver, in something of a more “strategic” role, as I was responsible for navigating and making lane changes and such, as well as watching out for any hazards, but the car largely drove itself.  I wouldn’t use these systems on city streets, but for a road trip on freeways, it was great.  The thing to remember, though, is that these are driver assist features.  This is not self-driving, and should not be confused with that.  This does not absolve the driver from the responsibility of driving at the proper speed for conditions, and it also does not mean that you can kick back and play on your phone behind the wheel.  Not at all – you’re still very much in charge, even if this does automate certain parts of it.

The trip up was fairly uneventful.  We had to detour onto Route 1 from White Marsh to Joppa in order to avoid a backup, and there was a construction project on the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which had a direct connection to the Turnpike that crossed us over to the southbound span.  Additionally, Maryland House, one of the two full-service travel plazas on I-95 in Maryland, was closed for emergency plumbing repairs.  And then, of course, when driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, the speed limit signs are merely suggestions.  Just keep up with traffic, and you will be fine.  And if traffic is going 20 over the speed limit in a work zone, you’re going 20 over in a work zone, too.  Otherwise, you become a hazard to traffic.  Then upon arrival in the New York area, we got on I-278, where we followed roughly the same route that we did in our impromptu 2017 trip to New York, but in reverse.  We parked on the street in front of our hotel, the Aloft, got checked in and brought all of our stuff up, and then I took the HR-V to its own hotel, which was on the next block over.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Making a weekend trip out of a delivery…

15 minute read

April 7, 2023, 10:00 AM

Recently, I was finally able to complete the last little bits of business related to the car accident from last October, and put it all behind me.  On Thursday, March 30, I made the 175-mile journey to Stuarts Draft in the Scion – a trip that would leave it back home with my parents, where it belongs.  And while I was at it, I made a weekend trip out of it, coupling it with a day in Richmond, where I did some photography.  As such, I would traverse what I like to call Virginia’s “Interstate square”.  If you look at a map of Virginia, the various Interstate highways in the state form something like a lopsided square, consisting of I-66 to the north, I-81 to the west, I-64 to the south, and I-95 to the east, and Strasburg, the DC area, Richmond, and Staunton at the corners:

Virginia's Interstate square, with Strasburg, DC, Richmond, and Staunton at the corners.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Educating people about copyright…

12 minute read

February 27, 2023, 1:24 PM

Sometimes it’s interesting what happens when you discuss copyright infringement amongst your friends.  I recently made a post on Facebook about a company that routinely uses my photos in their work, that I have not had any success in pursuing.  It led to very positive discussion, and I think that I helped a few folks learn something new about intellectual property that they may not have known before.

Unlike most occasions when I will go online and grouse about unauthorized usages of my photography, this one turned up some new discussion besides the standard responses like, “You should sue them,” and the like.  For the record, while taking someone to court over copyright infringement is definitely a possible remedy, it is by no means the only remedy, nor is it something that one takes lightly.  This is not a case of, “When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.”  A lawsuit is really only a viable option in a small subset of usage cases, and while there have been lawsuits filed on my behalf regarding unauthorized usages, they are exceedingly rare.  Also, note “filed on my behalf” in that last sentence.  I do not file lawsuits myself.  People that I have designated as my agents who know more about these things than I do are the ones who file the suits.  I know my own limits.  Also, people forget that the instances of copyright infringement that I grouse about online are just the ones that really irk me, and also are ones that got away.  Most of my copyright infringement cases are resolved amicably, and you never hear about those.

A few points came up in this discussion that are worth mentioning here.  First was a suggestion that I watermark my images.  This is a perennial suggestion, and, truth be told, it’s something that I’ve tested and implemented in the past, and later had to undo.  Back in the early 2000s, I started some early forays into photo licensing, under a brand called “StratoSearch”.  When I was getting ready to implement that, I started putting watermarks on my photos on Schumin Web in order to prevent clean copies of the larger photos from going out willy-nilly, i.e. reserve the clean versions for paying clients.  With that, I put Schumin Web’s logo in the corner of the full-size images, i.e. the ones that you click through to see.  That was a bit of extra work on my part, but I did it, using a template to apply the logo.  I eventually dropped the licensing effort there after a rebranding and redesign in 2003 failed to drum up any business.  I now understand that my work back then was not to the level of quality that I thought it was, and that my marketing efforts were terrible.  But nonetheless, the watermarks remained.  If you want to see what the watermark looked like in practice, go look on College Life, where the watermark has been retained, and where there are no plans to remove it for historical reasons.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Remembering that your phone’s camera is still ultimately a phone camera…

6 minute read

February 20, 2023, 12:21 PM

Recently, I was reminded that my phone camera will only get me so far.  Don’t get me wrong: it’s a great camera, with all sorts of functionality built in that creates some downright stunning shots.  But it is still ultimately just a phone camera.  When I really need to go the distance, my real camera, a Nikon D5300 DSLR, will do that.  I got this reminder during two visits to the Old Town section of Alexandria, Virginia, when I photographed the Wilkes Street Tunnel on November 23, 2022, and on a return visit on February 15, 2023.

The first visit, which was part of a much larger adventure with Elyse, as well as our friends Aaron and Evan Stone, was one that I was somewhat unprepared for.  I had known about the tunnel for a while, and it had a place on my “photo shoot ideas” list (which I jokingly refer to as “the place where photo ideas go to die” considering how many things I add to it, but how little I cross things off of it), but visiting it was not part of the plan.  I didn’t necessarily plan for the day to be a big photography day, but I had made allowances for it nonetheless.  I brought my DSLR along, but I didn’t really intend to do much with it, and certainly didn’t bring the tripod along.  When we ended up at the Wilkes Street Tunnel, more or less by chance, I was kicking myself for not having brought the tripod along.  So I just used my phone, and shot it with handheld phone shots.  The results were okay, but not great.  Specifically, I didn’t like the way that the lighting along the ceiling looked in my shots, with lens flares around the lights.  Other than that, the shots were fine.  Besides the lights, my biggest annoyance was that it was early evening, and people were frequently moving through the tunnel and getting in the way of my shots.  My rule is that you don’t disturb people using a facility as it is intended while you’re photographing.  You wait for them to pass and then continue, and if they stop for you, you wave them through.  The idea is that you can’t get too upset about them, because they’re using the tunnel for what it was intended for, so you just have to work around them.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Alexandria, Cameras

You made your bed, and now you have to lie in it…

14 minute read

December 9, 2022, 12:56 PM

Lately, a lot of the DMCA takedown notices that I’ve filed have been for “nostalgia” pages on Facebook.  In other words, those pages where people find photos around the Internet of stuff from a given period and then repost them with no permission, no attribution, or anything else.  I don’t typically frequent these types of pages myself, but others who are familiar with my work will usually let me know when they spot one of my photos being used in an unauthorized manner.  When I’m notified, I will go in and locate it, and then I’ll get all of my ducks in a row before I complete the DMCA form and submit it.  And then, unsurprisingly, the people who get nailed get a little salty about it, while never considering for a moment that they may have had a lapse in judgment somewhere.

Two recent instances of this stand out in my mind.  The first was for a nostalgia group that focused on the 2000s.  In that case, I found a number of photos from my Journal entry about the 2005 remodel of the Walmart in Lexington, Virginia.  For that, I had to submit multiple takedown notices in order to cover the various photos that were included, but I got it done.  Two days later, I received confirmation from Facebook that the photos were removed.  A few hours later, I heard back from the infringer, a woman named Darla Griffin, who was clearly unhappy about the situation that they now found themselves in.  Like many infringers, they wrote me to complain, while attempting to verbally lick their own wounds after they got caught.

Continue reading...Continue reading…