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It Hurt So Good

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Sunrise taken about an hour ago outside my Calgary office (F4, 1/25, 24mm, ISO 1000)

I’ve been thinking. Do you wonder if we (I’m using the term we as a global community reference in the context that American influence permeates all of our cultures and each individual’s life) needed to go through 8 years of George Bush and endure these increasingly tough economic times, in order for Obama to become President? I’ve come to the conclusion that we did. I have to say, I was ready to move countries and get far away from the Harper+Bush combo. But now, in some kind of sick, deluded way,  I’m perhaps satisfied that Bush was President. No, I’m not thrilled with where we’re at now, economically speaking, and I disagreed with pretty much all of his policies, ideologies and him in principle, but I’m otherwise very satisfied with how things have played out and the galvanizing force Obama has brought to the USA.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we needed things to go so wrong and to get so ugly in order to force millions of voters to give their heads a shake and to entice millions of apathetic Americans to muster the energy to get out and vote. Change is so rarely a platform that wins that I think under any other circumstances (with a more moderate Republican government, for example), Americans wouldn’t have even given Obama a Deomcratic nomination. Such is the message which I believe is important in all of this: the divide between common sense and Bush’s Republican rule grew so deep that America became compelled to swing the pendulum much farther than tradition would typically dictate.

The cost, however, is that we must now endure tougher times, which could have been avoided. Though I still think it’s worthwhile. I bet most African Americans and minorities throughout the US and Canada would take a recession and risk losing their job to see someone like Obama, a member of their minority community, break through and become President.

Oh, FYI – apparently Obama’s transition team included a crack website team and before he said “My Fellow Citizens” yesterday, a new WhiteHouse.gov website was launched. This new site, it is said (I haven’t had a chance to scour it yet myself) keeps the tradition of Obama’s very current, useful and modern web-based methodology, in that it provides opportunities for people to learn, become part of a community and to communicate with the government just like his previous Change.gov and BarackObama.com sites did. Why not? Fact of the matter is, if you want to communicate to as many people as often as possible, on their terms and for as long as they want, when they want, then web is the penultimate media tool. Obama’s new government website is in stark contrast to Bush’s previous WhiteHouse.gov site which was apparently reflective of a 60 year-old Texan’s “website-because-we-have-to” philosophy.

This blog, by the way, will not turn into a PrObama website; nor will it become any sort of BarackAttack or Obamania web service. Fear not. I’m merely caught up in a defining moment of history, and, more than others it seems, really think this guy is capable of some pretty great stuff.

On to more day-to-day matters…

I’m enjoying the new camera a lot. The picture you see above is one of 15 I shot this morning in the parking lot of my office. My wife had a 7:30am breakfast meeting, which required I get her to work (we have one car) for 7:15. I didn’t mind a bit, because I love getting to work early! I really like getting a head start on the day and a step ahead of everyone in my office. There’s something cleansing about it, to me at least. Anyway, I know we tend to have nice sunrises outside our office, which is located in the industrial area of southeast Calgary, and that 7:30 would provide just about the perfect time to capture it. And it did. (Addendum: I’m not thrilled how WordPress compresses jpegs – there’s a lot of great detail and color left out of this photo. Pfft.)

So far I’ve taken just over 1200 pictures in the three weeks I’ve had the new camera. I have an awful lot to learn still. Lately I’ve been discovering that my lens, a Canon 24-105 F4 L IS USM (LOL TTYL AFK ROFLMAO OKBYE! sheesh…) has a known flaw in that it suffers from vignette when shot wide open (F4) and particularly at it’s shortest focal length (24mm). I had two field trips provide me vignette over the majority of my shots, because most were taken at F4. What I’m learning is that while F4 is great for letting light in (which allows for faster shutter speeds and lower ISOs), you lose a lot of depth of field (great for fun shots, not practical for landscapes) and in my case, you get pretty serious vignette. So this morning I was cognizant of these problems, and slowed my aperture (still not sure why aperture is referred to in terms of speed) to F5.6 and even F8, and the vignette went away. But only in PP did I notice that my auto ISO had cranked itself all the way up to 1000 and 3200 respectively! Now, the Canon 5D mark II handles high ISO values very well – extremely well in fact, but in today’s circumstances, what with solid blues, whites and lots of dark detail and contrast, noise was definitely apparent. In short, dammit!! So this shot is one of my F4 shots, cropped to bejeezus from landscape to portrait orientation, which cut out the vignette.

The devignette feature on Aperture 2 eliminates vignette well, but again with the dark, solid colors this correction resulted in noisy corners. On the other hand, noise reduction did a nice job of solving my high ISO shots, but… Well, you get the idea. On the plus side, all of my shots this morning (including this one) were handheld with shutter speeds of between 1/20 and 1/60. Image Stabilization on the lens is a Godsend, and all in all I am very pleased with this morning’s shots. Just gotta keep learning and become more aware of all of my settings whilst shooting, including ISO.

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