24 January, 2010

Behind the Scenes: A Post in Progress

Screenshot of Geeqie panview
Some nights I take a lot of photos. Click the image above to see the full-resolution screenshot.

I'm in the process of putting together an actual blog post, and figured I'd do a short segment on how "event happens; Omari takes photos" turns into an actual blog post.

First, I sift. I might start with many hundreds of photos, but eventually I usually try to whittle it down to between 5 and 10 that help anchor and illustrate the story I'm trying to convey. Depending on how much I've shot and whether I know what I'm looking for, this can take as little as an hour or as long as a few weeks, off and on.

Once I have the photos picked out, I drop them into my empty blog post template and then start writing. Sometimes the story develops in a direction I didn't predict, and I end up swapping out certain photos for more appropriate ones. Other times, I learn neat tidbits in the research I invariable do as I write; I'll usually drop a link in when there's something interesting or useful at the other end.

All along the way, I edit fastidiously. And when all's said and done, I'll typically have spent somewhere from 4 to 6 hours on writing for each post.

After I hit the orange "Publish Post" button, I send post notifications and then I often go to sleep :o). Ways that you can follow The Doppler Effect include: Well, that's all for now. I'm looking forward to getting this next post done and out the door, and here's hoping for a productive 2010. Cheers :o)

15 January, 2010

Musicians in Tuxes

While at MIT, I regularly covered concerts by the MIT Symphony Orchestra. During my time on that beat, from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2007, MITSO went through a lot of transition. Long-time conductor Dante Anzolini departed at the end of the '04/'05 season, Paul Biss stepped in as interim conductor for the '06/'07 season, and Adam K. Boyles became the new Orchestra conductor in Fall of 2007.

I originally shot just for The Tech, but eventually I ended up shooting some concerts for the MIT Concerts Office as well. For instance, a couple of the photos on the MIT Music Program's website are ones I shot.

Over the past couple weeks, I've been working toward building a portfolio from my photos of the MIT Symphony Orchestra, an effort which I recently finished. Each photo has a caption, although I would suggest looking through the images first, and then going back to read the captions. But without further ado, this is "Musicians in Tuxes"

Sheet Music for Johannes Brahms' "Symphony No.2 in D Major, Op. 73" graces the music stands during the intermission of the MIT Symphony Orchestra's March, 2005 performance.

Tomina Parvanova tunes her harp during intermission at the MIT Symphony Orchestra performance in October, 2007. Directed by MITSO's new conductor, Adam K. Boyles, the concert featured pieces from Kevin Puts, Johann Sebastian Bach, Edward Elgar, and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Paul M. Biss, interim conductor for the MIT Symphony Orchestra, salutes the audience just prior to conducting MITSO's December, 2006 concert.

Mehmet Aydin (left) and Noel S. Lee (right) play the viola during the MIT Symphony Orchestra's performance of Mahler's "Symphony No. 6." MITSO performed this concert in May of 2005 as part of a series of events to celebrate the inauguration of MIT President Susan Hockfield.

Former MIT Symphony Orchestra conductor Dante Anzolini flashes a look during MITSO's March, 2005 concert.

Andrew P. McPherson plays the viola during an MIT Symphony Orchestra performance in May, 2005. The concert was one of many festivities to celebrate the inauguration of MIT President Susan Hockfield.

Double basses lie in a line during the intermission of the MIT Symphony Orchestra's December, 2006 concert. The concert featured works by Russian composers Modest Mussorgsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

A bow lies atop a cello during the intermission of the MIT Symphony Orchestra's October, 2007 performance.

Noel S. Lee appears startled for a moment as the MIT Symphony Orchestra reaches the final moments of its December, 2006 performance. The concert featured works by Russian composers Modest Mussorgsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

A student plays the double bass during an MIT Symphony Orchestra concert in December of 2006. The concert featured works by Russian composers Modest Mussorgsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Cai P. GoGwilt, at the head of a row of cellos, contemplatively closes his eyes just before the start of Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 5." This December, 2006 concert by the MIT Symphony Orchestra featured works by Russian composers Modest Mussorgsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Former MIT Symphony Orchestra conductor Dante Anzolini jumps during the thunderous conclusion of Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 6." MITSO performed this concert in May of 2005 as part of a series of events to celebrate the inauguration of MIT President Susan Hockfield.

MIT Symphony Orchestra conductor Adam K. Boyles quietly salutes the orchestra after their December, 2007 performance.

“Life without music is unthinkable. Music without life is academic.
That is why my contact with music is a total embrace.”
— Leonard Bernstein

05 January, 2010

Welp, so much for that camera

Shortly after I got my second body back in October, I noticed that once in awhile, it behaved very oddly. For some unknown reason, it would sometimes take an abnormally long exposure in bright daylight after having just shot properly. In one instance, it jumped from 1/800sec to 1/2sec, and then right back up to 1/800sec.

Well, while shooting a concert this past Saturday, it broke for good, and I finally found out what was going on. Thankfully, the body is still under warranty, so this is now Nikon's problem.

What you see is a shutter blade (part of the shutter mechanism) that has become detached from the arms that move it up and down. The greenish rectangle in the back is the camera's sensor. Here you can find a nice, 2000fps video of what a shutter actuation is supposed to look like, and for the curious, here is a simple yet detailed diagram of the important parts of a DSLR. Cheers!

02 January, 2010

Blue Moon

This past Thursday, New Year's Eve, there was a blue moon — the second full moon of the (solar) month. The last time a blue moon fell on New Year's Eve was 19 years ago, in 1990, and the next is predicted to occur in another 19 years in 2028. This 19-year cycle is related to the relative periods of the synodic (lunar) month and the solar year; if you're interested, the Wikipedia page on the Metonic cycle has a lot of info (including enough to derive all of this on your own).

That said, I sacrificed some sleep to head out and take some photos. My first goal was to catch the moon at sunrise. A confluence of issues (namely heavy cloud cover, early moonset, an hour of sleep, and the Snooze button) defeated me, but I was still able to find some neat photos, such as the one above.

At sunset, I had another chance. After an epic battle of wills, I vanquished the weather when…

Well, maybe not so much. What actually happened is that the clouds cleared up a bit, as I was fervently hoping that they would. They did not clear up quite as early as I fervently hoped they would, however. My original goal was to reproduce and/or improve upon this photo, which is one of my favorites from the past couple months.

Personally, I don't think it happened. I really like the colors in this photo, and especially the separation between the bluish heavens and the reddish earth, but I really miss the simplicity and the clean composition of the other image.

If the moonrise had happened an hour earlier, or the sunset an hour later, then I probably would have had more to work with. As it was, though, the composition felt forced, I ended up with a lot of extraneous stuff in the frame (like the tips of the trees), and it just doesn't seem to come together "like it was meant to be" in the same way that the first one does. When I look at this photo, I say "neat;" when I look at its predecessor, I say "woah, awesome..."

So I trashed that plan and started experimenting. Given the brightness of the moon compared to anything else, one obvious thing to try was a silhouette of some sort. I dropped the exposure a bit and then futzed around with compositions and ended up getting this frame, which I really like. I'm not sure if it's a 22° halo or some other atmospheric phenomenon, but the bluish appearance of the moon in this shot goes well with the "Blue Moon" theme.

After finishing up, I jumped on Caltrain to head up to the city for fireworks. A couple minutes after I sat down, a loud group of folks who were clearly already enjoying their night came and camped out in the vicinity. It was clear that one of the folks (on the right, in the photo) was farther gone than his friends, and at one point near the end of the ride they got fed up and took him to task in what turned into a short pushing match.

After the doors opened, the group disappeared into the night. I next found these two having a smoke and talking outside the station. The police were out in force throughout the station, so I presume things calmed down pretty quickly once the group got down to the platform.

1/6s f/4.2 200ISO 66mm
At midnight, the wave of the new year swept past and continued on its way around the globe, leaving large swaths of fireworks in its wake.

After the fireworks finished, it was time to head back home. I was surprised at the number of folks who were walking slowly, requiring visible concentration to keep from stumbling…

…or who couldn't really walk at all. As this group of revelers passed, I heard the man in red comfort his piggyback rider, "not much farther, it's just one more block."

So that was my New Year's evening. Hope y'all had a fun and safe celebration.

<Miraculous> does anyone know anything about routers?
<Rukus+> the most important advice i can give you
<Rukus+> do NOT rip it out of the wall when drunk and say you have defeated the matrix