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Infrastructure pix with a borrowed camera…

April 10, 2014, 9:34 AM

I have had my current main camera, a Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, for approximately five years and two months as of this writing.  The camera still works quite well, but is starting to get up there in age.  For one thing, the fliparound screen on the back of it no longer works when the screen is flat against the camera while facing out.  The electronic viewfinder comes on and the screen goes black when it’s in that position.  Go figure.  I’m also often finding myself “hitting the wall” with the camera as far as its limits go.  Some of the ways I want to go with my photography, the camera can’t go there with me because it doesn’t go far enough.  Also, if it gives you any concept of how much time has passed, I wrecked Big Mavica in a rainstorm after I had owned it for five years and four months.

All that said, I am looking to replace my main camera.  In this case, however, there is no camera damage forcing my hand.  My current camera works fine, though it is starting to show some signs of age.  And even if the main camera was kaput, I have two other cameras plus a phone as backup.  So this puts me in a good position, as there is no pressing need to replace equipment.  I also do not feel that I am currently in a position to upgrade, so running on existing equipment works just fine for me.

However, this doesn’t mean that I’m not trying out other equipment when I can.  I recently got an opportunity to borrow a friend’s Nikon Coolpix P510 and take it out for a photo shoot.  The Nikon Coolpix P510 is a “prosumer” level camera similar to my Canon PowerShot SX10 IS, but is newer and takes photos in higher resolution (16 megapixel vs. 10).  I did this mainly to see where the prosumer cameras had gone in the past few years, since I’ve been toying with the idea of getting another prosumer or finally going to a digital SLR.

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Categories: Cameras, Photography

At last, my Washington Monument photo set is done…

February 20, 2014, 12:30 AM

At last, I have finished my Washington Monument photo set.  I started work on this photo set in September, finished up the photography for it in November, and now it’s February and with the scaffolding mostly gone (only a quarter or so of the height is now covered) at the time of this writing, the set finally goes out.  This was quite a project, too.

I spent most of the first day, September 5, out on the Mall, shooting photos of the monument under clear to partly cloudy skies.  I was out there from mid-to-late morning until around 5:00.  I got home around 7 PM, after having walked 6.35 miles around the Mall area.  I got off the train at Metro Center, headed to the Washington Monument, and looped around it once at fairly close range.  Then I did another loop around it from a distance, following the path around the Tidal Basin, going past the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the DC War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Constitution Gardens, and the World War II Memorial.  Then I headed back up to the Washington Monument, and did another loop up close before heading out.  I went over to the Old Post Office on my way out in order to get a few photos of the Washington Monument from up above, before returning to Metro Center to head home.  After I got home, I don’t think I made it to 7:30.  I was out like a light.  Walking all that distance while taking some 900 photos, I definitely earned my sleep that night, as I was both physically and mentally exhausted.

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No more Creative Commons license?

February 20, 2014, 12:00 AM

As of today, The Schumin Web is no longer offered under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.  The site will now be offered under the traditional “all rights reserved” model, i.e. explicit written permission is required for most downstream usages.  I am doing this for one purpose: to make money.  I went to the Creative Commons model back in November 2005 in order to give my work more exposure through downstream uses, and apparently it’s worked.  I now have a portfolio of over 250 downstream usages, both online and in print.  I now have plenty of exposure.  People know who I am, and know about my work, based on multiple usages from a few high-profile entities.  Therefore, I believe that I have reached the point where I can monetize my photography work and bring in a few extra bucks.  The idea is that if you work for some vague notion of “exposure”, that is all you are ever going to get, and it’s very easy to be taken advantage of that way.  As I field more and more licensing requests from companies, it is clear that there is monetary value in what I produce.

Because of this, there are a few changes in the way that things will operate as far as image licensing goes, as I attempt to reconcile the old Creative Commons license with the new all-rights-reserved model.  First of all, please note: as of today, no new downstream usages of any Schumin Web content are allowed under any form of Creative Commons license.  Please see the new Content Licensing page for information about new downstream usages of Schumin Web content.  All existing downstream content usages that were made using the old Creative Commons license are grandfathered.  Thus, for example, if you used a picture under the Creative Commons license last year, nothing affects that past usage.  However, if you want to use another image today, you need to receive explicit written permission to use that image, even if the image was originally published during the period when the Creative Commons license was in effect.

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Trashing a tripod…

October 16, 2013, 1:38 PM

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.  Some of you may know that I’m in the process of doing a photo set of the Washington Monument while it’s in scaffolding.  I shot all of the daytime material on September 5, where I walked 6.35 miles around the Washington Monument, and took 900 photos in the process (no wonder I was exhausted after that).  One of the photos became the photo feature on September 8.

The plan was to also do a nighttime component for this set, and I got together with my friends Suzie and Rocio to do half of the night photos (since the full round proved to be too much) on September 28.  Since I had gotten jittery photos when I did a similar photo shoot in March (the nighttime photos of the DC War Memorial and Jefferson Memorial are from that shoot), I did some equipment testing out on my balcony prior to this shoot to determine the cause of the jittering and get some quality photos.  Since the camera wasn’t going to change, the test was on the tripods.  I tested Big Mavica’s original tripod, which is a Kodak tripod that I got in December 2002, and my regular tripod, which is a Sunpak tripod that I got in December 2003 (which I used in the March shoot).  Turns out that the Sunpak tripod jittered and the Kodak one didn’t.  So it seemed a no-brainer: take the Kodak tripod out on the shoot.

Getting out on the Mall, with Suzie and Rocio along for the adventure, things quickly went south.  I can deal with most equipment issues fairly well.  But this time, an important piece decided to go: the head of the tripod.  Early on, things held together, but while I was working in front of the Jefferson Memorial, the head popped off, and it wouldn’t go back in and stay there.  Thus the best I could do was perch it in there and make do, but the problems got worse and worse as the night went on.

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Categories: Friends, Photography

If you can’t follow a license as easy as mine…

October 9, 2013, 3:21 PM

I am of the view that information deserves to be free, which is one of the reasons that I make my work available under a Creative Commons license.  For those not familiar, I provide my content under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.  In a nutshell, that means that you are welcome to use materials found here for any purpose, including commercially, as long as you provide proper attribution, and share it under the same or similar license as you found it (it’s only fair, after all).  I even wrote a guide on reuse of content found here.  When I converted the site to WordPress, one of the changes that I made was to make the images available for download at full resolution.  That was done specifically to help downstream users get what they need and get creating without assistance from me.  That same conversion, with the image restoraton and such that went along with it, also finally allowed me to provide clean images right out of the box.  Recall that at one point, I put my logo and URL in the corner of the large-size images for photo sets.  Then I stopped doing that in 2005 or so, right around when I introduced the Creative Commons license to the site.  The conversion and image restoration work removed all of the remaining tagged images, making every photo “clean” without any extraneous markings.

I like to think that I’m one of the more permissive and lenient content owners out there.  Unlike many other entities that do not allow downstream use without explicit permission, I do allow downstream use right out of the box, as long as two things are present: attribution (preferably as “Ben Schumin/The Schumin Web”), and a free license.  That’s not that hard to do, and by and large, most people who reuse content found here follow the license.  But it really frosts my cookies when people don’t follow that, and because my license is so easy to meet, I take a very dim view toward noncompliance.

It always amazes me how many people think that because something is on the public Internet, that it’s public domain and can be used with wild abandon.  It’s quite common.  I’ve even had to disabuse my own mother of this notion before.  Rather, just like any other medium, just because it exists does not mean that you have carte blanche to do whatever you want with it.  Most material on the Internet is not, in fact, public domain, and therefore potential downstream users have to play by the content owner’s rules (or you don’t play).  Those rules are up to the content owner.

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Can’t believe that I forgot this…

July 9, 2013, 10:46 PM

I can’t believe that I completely forgot to mention this in the last entry discussing the July 4 trip to Harpers Ferry and Winchester.  Pete and I spotted this scene along Route 7 in Clarke County on the way back to DC, and had to stop for photos:

Angry Birds at Wayside Farm

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And then we visited Winchester…

July 8, 2013, 11:50 PM

So in our last episode, I was discussing a trip that my friend Pete and I made to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and to Winchester, Virginia on July 4.  I got as far as the end of Harpers Ferry, when I realized that the Journal entry was running quite long, so I cut it off and promised to continue at a later time.  And now for part two.

Leaving Harpers Ferry, we soon came to Charles Town (not to be confused with Charleston, the state capital).  For those not familiar, Charles Town is the place where people in Harpers Ferry go to go grocery shopping.  For out of town folks, it’s also the home of the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.  I’ve never been gambling before, but it might be fun to do one time.  But in this case, Pete and only stopped for lunch, and then it was at a Martin’s grocery store, where we each got salad.  Funny how you can get pretty decent food on the go from grocery stores these days.  But we did just fine at Martin’s.  They had a decent-sized salad bar, and there was also an eating area.  All in all, not bad.

Then from there, we continued along to Winchester.  That took us on Route 340 to its intersection with Route 7, and then we took Route 7 the rest of the way into Winchester.  When I first made a close pass to Winchester some time in the 1990s, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the size of the town.  Understand that Winchester is listed as a control city for I-81 for quite some ways – more than 100 miles when traveling northbound.  In my experience up to that time, I had only seen bigger cities as control cities for highways, like Little Rock or Richmond.  Thus I figured that Winchester was a really big city.  Surprise: Winchester is, while by no means tiny, also not a big city by most measures.  It’s comparable in population to Staunton.

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Here’s a tip for you: don’t go hiking in flip-flops.

July 7, 2013, 11:58 PM

First of all, I hope everyone had a lovely July 4.  I know I did.  I got together with my friend Pete (whom you may remember from the Confirmation Demonstration and White House to Quantico photo sets), and we went on something of a road trip.  We both figured that with living in the Washington DC area, and considering how July 4 is in DC, that was a good day to get out of town.

So we decided to go on a trip to Harpers Ferry and Winchester.  Prior to this trip, I had only been to Harpers Ferry by train, and then only passing through.  As far as Winchester went, I had only been to Winchester once prior, and that consisted of driving around at night trying to find the downtown area, and a stop at the Apple Blossom Mall and the local Walmart.  So this was going to be fun.

I met up with Pete at Glenmont Metro, and then we were off.  To get from the Aspen Hill area where I live to Harpers Ferry, you drive up I-270 to Frederick, and then from there, you take I-70 for about a mile, and then take US 340 (yes, that 340) the rest of the way to Harpers Ferry.  The drive is beautiful.  The first bit of beauty is just outside Frederick, where there is a “Scenic View” wayside on 270.  We wouldn’t ordinarily have stopped there, except that was a good place to stop and put the phone into GPS mode for the remainder of the distance to Harpers Ferry, since we were both kind of fuzzy on the exact way to get there.  While we were stopped, I got a few photos of the area:

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Food photos…

May 5, 2013, 6:57 PM

As evidenced in a few places on this site, most notably the Fruit Stands set in Photography, I like photographing food.  I don’t quite know why, but I enjoy it.  I like capturing the details on food items.  I like seeing the food items up close.  It’s kind of fun like that.  Since, outside of the aforementioned Fruit Stands photo set, food photos are usually not planned shoots, I don’t have my real camera around.  Thus these are phone photos.  Still, I have fun with them.  I took some this week, so I thought I would share.  Enjoy…

Sandwich fixings at the cafe in the building where I work.
Sandwich fixings at the cafe in the building where I work.

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And then there was Baltimore…

April 20, 2013, 12:54 AM

The day after my trip out to Annapolis, I was back in the car again and headed out to Baltimore.  It’s kind of funny how things work out.  This vacation kind of reminded me of spring break in 2002 and 2003 back when I was in college.  I planned out the vacation week with five or so different destinations in the eight days that I had available.  In 2002, my destinations were (in this order) DC, Richmond, Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Roanoke, with a day in between all but Richmond and Norfolk (which involved a hotel stay).  Then in 2003, I did (in this order) DC, Richmond, Norfolk, Covington/Clifton Forge/Lake Moomaw (one outing, all three destinations), Roanoke, and Charlottesville/Blue Ridge Parkway.  I only took two “off” days in 2003, between DC and Richmond, and Norfolk and Covington.  Now, ten years later, I had the luxury of spreading it out over two weeks, and did Stuarts Draft (intended to do Roanoke, but it got snowed out), DC, Richmond, Cumberland, Annapolis, and Baltimore.  I also scouted out Glen Echo Park as a potential photography destination (spoiler: not high up on my list).  And with two weeks and a few destinations planned, I kept a close watch on the weather, and that affected my plans.  Richmond was moved up a day to take advantage of sunnier weather.  Cumberland was similarly scheduled to take advantage of optimal weather (that’s how Glen Echo Park got included – to fill a gap in the schedule from Cumberland’s placement).  And then Annapolis fit the schedule, though weather was less important there, since it was mostly to get a feel for the area and determine further location work (probably).

And then there was Baltimore.  I was out exploring Fells Point on this particular day.  I chose Fells Point based on an episode of Bar RescueOne episode featured J.A. Murphy’s, which was located in Fells Point.  That bar, renamed “Murphy’s Law” during the show’s makeover, had closed, but I knew that going in.  No worries, though.  I wanted to explore.  I parked on the street (in front of Dogwatch Tavern, also featured on the episode), and went to work.  In getting the lay of the land of this area, I ended up dividing it into three sections.  First area was south of Thames Street.  This was the harbor area.  Then the next area was Broadway from Thames Street to Broadway Market.  The street around Broadway Market was a bit of a choke point due to construction on either side of the building that took away the sidewalks.  Then the third area was the block of Broadway between Fleet Street and Eastern Avenue.  I could have gone further north, I suppose, but owing to time considerations, I cut it off there.

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Seeing Cumberland from the ground…

April 7, 2013, 12:28 AM

You may be familiar with Cumberland, Maryland.  Whenever Mom and I go to Chicago, we take the Capitol Limited, and that train travels a route that goes through Martinsburg, Cumberland, Pittsburgh, Toledo, and South Bend, among other locations.  When I take train trips, I like to look at the scenery.  Some of it intrigues me, and it leads me do more research on it later.  Take the Koppers facility in Green Spring, West Virginia.  I always found it interesting to see these piles of neatly stacked lumber along the tracks.  I researched it, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about what I had seen from the train.  Towns are a similar idea.  These little towns that the trains either pass through or stop in make me want to do more research.  Unfortunately, many of these little towns are beyond my reach without incurring a lot of travel expenses, but for the places that I can reach, if they interest me enough, I’ll pay them a visit.

Cumberland was one of those places.  The Capitol Limited spends a lot of time in Cumberland.  Going west, the first thing that they do is a crew change, where they exchange engineers.  Then they continue a little further west and do the passenger stop.  That stop takes about ten minutes, and is also a “smoke stop”, where passengers who smoke are permitted to get off of the train and have a cigarette.  While on the train waiting through the crew change and the longer passenger stop, I got to take an extended look at Cumberland.  And I liked what I saw.  I saw a town with some character to it, and I saw a few places that I would love to explore more deeply.  I saw houses, I saw churches, and I saw the WTBO sign on Wills Mountain.  And I was sure that there was much more that was interesting beyond what I could see from the train.

So this past Tuesday, I did exactly that.  I grabbed the camera bag, got in the car, and headed off to Cumberland.  This, by the way, is not exactly a short trip.  Amtrak gives three hours and nine minutes to take the train from Union Station in DC to Cumberland.  Google Maps gives two hours and 123 miles driving from my house in Aspen Hill to Cumberland Amtrak station by car.  That’s going via the Intercounty Connector and I-370 to Gaithersburg, I-270 to Frederick, I-70 to Hancock, and then I-68 to Cumberland.  I’ve done the drive on I-270 to Frederick a number of times in the past, and so I knew what to expect there.  Interstate 70 through to Hagerstown took me over a number of hills and past the Appalachian Trail.  I had taken I-70 west the rest of the way through Maryland when I went to Breezewood in 2006.  Then I-68 was really awesome.  The first thing you do is go through a highway cut through Sideling Hill, and then you go over a number of mountains before you arrive in Cumberland – directly in the middle of downtown.

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Richmond was fun…

April 1, 2013, 11:05 PM

So on Saturday, I headed down to Richmond to visit an area that I had not visited in about ten years: the Canal Walk.  You may recall that I first featured the Canal Walk in 2002 in a three-part set in Photography.  Then I visited the area again in 2003 for the Richmond portion of An Urban Comparison.  I photographed the Canal area again with Big Mavica since I was already in the area, but I never really did much with the photos.  There were three Photo Features from that day: one of the Reynolds Tobacco building, one of the skyline, and one of Riverfront Plaza.  Now, ten years later, it was time to get new photos.  I didn’t expect that the Canal area would change much, but I had changed quite a bit.  My Canon Powershot SX10 IS is a far superior camera to Big Mavica, and my technique has also improved.  I also have a polarizing filter that I got in January, and I wanted to give that another spin.  The Sandy Point photos that I took in February (photo set from this on its way before too long) came out wonderfully using it, and so I wanted to give it a spin again in a city environment.

I did the same thing that I did ten years ago, parking at the east end of the Canal and walking to the other end.  Like in 2003, I walked down the Canal and then headed over to the Belle Isle pedestrian bridge.  I also explored Belle Isle just a little, which I had never done before, as I had previously just gone to the end of the bridge and then turned around.

The biggest take from this trip was that the Canal area had grown up in ten years.  There were some new buildings, and there were new businesses in some of the older buildings.  The area had flooded in 2004 due to the effects of Hurricane Gaston.  I also noticed a lot more character in the area.  One semi-enclosed section of the Canal Walk now had all sorts of murals painted on it.  There was also a lot more life along the Canal itself, with recently constructed housing nearby, and shops and restaurants fronting the Canal.  Previously, the Canal was somewhat disconnected from the surrounding neighborhood, with not much to do on the Canal Walk except to walk.  Not anymore.

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Just standing there, tapping away…

March 29, 2013, 11:38 PM

Thought I’d share.  Here’s a photo that Isis got of me at Landmark Mall in Alexandria today that I found amusing:

Tapping away on my phone at Landmark Mall
Photo: Isis

Isis found it interesting because everyone in the photo was wearing a hat in front of the “CITY CAP” sign and the mall train (both the other gentleman and I are train enthusiasts).  I found it amusing because I’m standing in a common pose for me when I’m out and about.  Holding my phone and tapping away.  After all, those amusing Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts don’t just post themselves, right?

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Categories: Friends, Photography, Shopping

Take that hope for an unseasonably warm January day and toss it out the window…

January 24, 2013, 12:39 AM

So this Saturday is the big day: the 2013 “Keep Winter Cold” polar bear plunge at National Harbor.  And they’re calling for snow on Friday.  Which means it’s going to be plenty cold for Saturday morning’s polar bear plunge.  And I so hoped for a nice, warm day.  Yeah, that’s not going to happen.  That said, though, it still ought to be a lot of fun.  Katy is going again, and Ryan should be back this year, too.  Plus if all goes as expected, RaQeeba and Davette will be there again to take photos.

Now going into it this year, I have some experience.  I know what it feels like to walk into water that is very cold.  And no – a cold swimming pool has nothing on this.  I don’t care how cold you think that the competition pool at Germantown Indoor Swim Center is.  This is a lot colder.  And I have also promised a few people that I won’t be taking a movie of my experience this year.  That’s something that we only need to hear once.  I am, however, going to take Duckie in with me for still photos.

Also, you remember last year, where there was some discussion about what I should wear to the plunge?  This year, there’s no question about what I’m going to be wearing.  Like last year, I’m wearing a suit out of the suits that I wear to the pool for swimming.  That’s how I came up with last year’s selections for you all to vote on (and the jammer with the yellow stripes won).  I last went shopping for suits in mid-October.  I bought two polyester Tyr jammers: one with red stripes, and one with blue stripes.  But then what I didn’t mention at that time is that I also got a third suit on that trip: a black Tyr racing brief.  It’s part of the rotation just like the other two.  Day one is the red stripe jammer.  Day two is the blue stripe jammer.  Day three is the brief.  Then back around to red.  I do this since, as I understand it, giving your swimwear a “rest” period between uses extends their life.  And since I swim every day, that means multiple suits.  Plus the polyester suits are supposed to last way longer than lycra.  And get this: based on my swim schedule and the suit rotation, the brief comes up as the next suit for Saturday.  So even though I was going to wear it anyway, it actually does come up in the schedule on its own.

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Categories: Events, Photography

The Walters Art Gallery and Great Falls…

January 6, 2013, 9:42 PM

So as promised, this is the photos-from-Baltimore-and-Great-Falls post.  Right after Christmas, Mom came up to visit for three days.  We certainly had fun while we were out.  We went out to Montgomery Mall, we went to Baltimore, we went to Arundel Mills, we went to Great Falls, and we had dinner with friends.

Montgomery Mall was pretty much what you would expect.  After-Christmas sales and all that jazz.  Mom did, however, leave me a bit scandalized when she went into Abercrombie and Fitch just to pay the five-cent bag tax to get one of the bags with the picture of the guy with the six-pack abs on it.  I commented:

My mother went to the Abercrombie store just to get the bag with the picture of the guy with the six pack abs on it. I am scandalized.

This must somehow be payback for all the times that I may have embarrassed her in the past.  Especially when I brought the little green reusable bags that I take with me to go grocery shopping.

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