January Reflections

All in all, a good day
I have certainly hit the ground running this year, at least in terms of photography. I decided to attempt the 2009 Photo Challenge so I’ve been taking a lot of photos. I’ve only missed one day so far, which means I’ve posted 34 photos for the challenge alone. I’ve also posted about 40+ other photos to Zooomr and Flickr. That has to be one my best months ever with about 75 photos in the month.

I’ve also been very pleased with the quality of the shots I’ve been posting, and several have received a lot of faves and views. While I’d like to think I’m growing as a photographer, I’m certain the 2009 Challenge has helped me improve. In fact, a friend is buying prints of three shots taken specifically for the 2009 Challenge. That will be my first photography sale. I’m also contributing a photo to a fund raising auction for my kids’ school later this month.

One of the high points of January was my first photowalk with Jeremy Brooks and Andrew Lighten. I was on a jury in San Francisco and Jeremy and I decided to meet up one evening. It just happened that Andrew flew into SF that day. Hanging out even for a short time with other photographers is very rewarding. Thanks guys. I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to get to other Bay Area photowalks this year.  This is one of the shots I took on that walk:
Night on the Bay

January was a good start to the year for me. I know the economy sucks and California is heading into a severe drought, but I’m looking forward to this year. And looking back, this is my favorite shot of the month:
Day 28 - Water

One final thing, I want to give a little promotion to the PhotoNetCast podcast. I’ve only recently started listening to this and have really enjoyed it. It’s entertaining and informative. I know everyone listens to TWIP, but you should also listen to PhotoNetCast. Really.



For as long as I’ve lived in Petaluma, the main bus stop for the West Side has been at the corner of 3rd and C streets. It’s very convenient for people who commute to the San Francisco, but the large buses don’t really fit on the narrow streets through downtown. They have a hard time making turns.

In November a new $2.7 million transit mall opened that will hopefully reduce the number of buses running through downtown and adjacent residential streets. I’m all for
having some buses make stops in downtown so that it’s easy and convenient for people, but the commuter lines don’t need to go through downtown. The new transit mall has plenty of room for passengers to wait and plenty of room for buses. It’s only a couple of blocks from downtown and probably a 5-10 minute walk from the old stop at 3rd and C.

Although the cost seems a bit high considering the transit mall isn’t much, I’m glad the city made the effort. It will make it safer to walk and bike downtown, reduce traffic on already congested streets, and encourage people to use public transit.

A recent article with more information can be found at the Argus Courier web site.

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at photochallenge.org. You can see where the shot was taken by viewing the Geotag on Zooomr.

As side note, I’m trying to catch up on shots for the 2008 Challenge. I have several shots planned, but not enough to make the 52 needed for one a week in 2008. I guess I’ll have to get creative.

Boulevard Cinemas

Boulevard Cinemas
In 2001 the only movie theater in Petaluma closed its doors largely because the company that owned it had recently opened a huge 16 screen theater 11 miles away in Rohnert Park. That left residents two options – drive to the new Rohnert Park theater or drive to Novato (both are about the same distance). Imagine, a town of 55,000+ with no movie theater. Bear in mind that scenes from many movies have been shot in Petaluma, most notably American Graffiti. Residents were not happy, especially those with teens.

Seven young teenage girls decided to do something. To make a long story short, in 2005 they got our town a new theater. (You can read about opening night and the history at SF Gate.) Our town owes a huge debt of gratitude to Noëlle Bisson, Elizabeth Comstock, Ditmer, Liza Hall, Sarah Marcia, Taylor Norman and Madison Webb.

It’s not just that we again have a place to watch movies locally, it’s what the theater has added to the community, especially downtown. The old theater was at the North end of town in a commercial/business area. You had to drive to get there. The new theater anchored a huge redevelopment effort on edge of the historic downtown shopping district.
Boulevard Cinemas
and the accompanying Theatre Square retail/office/urban housing center are only a couple of blocks from the true heart of downtown where local shops and restaurants dominate the retail landscape. Also, the entire downtown area is within easy walking distance for many residents.

Many feared the new development would bring more chain stores and ruin the small town feel, but so far the theater and accompanying retail stores have been a huge boon for our town. The new theater, restaurants, and shops have added greatly to what was already a wonderful downtown.

In the past couple of years the movie theater has sparked a revival of night life in downtown Petaluma. On Friday nights teens and tweens swarm to the theater in droves. When new releases come out, long lines are not uncommon. Because the new theater is downtown, it’s easy to go out to dinner and movie because you can walk from one of the many local restaurants to the theater. Every month I go with a group friends to have a beer then see a movie. We would not have done that without a downtown theater.

The theater is thriving, and that is driving people to downtown pretty much every night of the week. Every time I go to the movies or walk around the theater district, I see friends. It’s become a great place to hang out and relax, and enjoy the community.

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Photo Challenge at www.photochallenge.org.

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon
The moon coming up last night was just amazing. Our family was out on a walk when it came up, so I missed the best part of the moon rise, but I hurried home (dragging the poor dog behind me) to grab my camera. I got a few shots before the moon got too high. Good thing I did, the fog came in tonight completely hiding the moon.

I used my new Manfrotto 190XPORB tripod with a 804RC2 head. The tripod is great. I had tried a couple of cheap tripods and finally decided to spend the money on a good one. I have not regretted it in the least. This is a great tripod and head

Shot Details

Shooting Date/: 9/26/2007 19:28:17
Shutter Speed: 1/500Sec.
Aperture Value:7.1
ISO Speed: 400
Lens: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
Focal Length: 300.0 mm

Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse

Yesterday I ran around and got a tripod and remote trigger so I could take pictures of the lunar eclipse early this morning. For my first real attempt at astrophotography, I’m pretty pleased. It was a challenge getting out of bed and setting up in the dark, but it was worth it. The eclipse was incredible. Even if I hadn’t taken pictures, it was worth it.

To be perfectly honest, I’m too tired to write much. I still have some shots of Point Bonita and GGNRA to post, but they’ll have to wait. The one thing I do want to mention is the remote trigger I got. I bought a third-party wireless remote trigger instead of the Canon remote. It worked beautifully. It’s a SecuLine Twin1 Wire & Wireless remote shutter controller. I got it at my local camera shop because they have a 15 day return policy, but I’ll be keeping it. The manual is in English, but clearly was translated by someone who is not a native speaker. Nevertheless, I was able to understand most of it and after some trial and error, got it working. It also comes with a handy mini-tool with Phillips and flat-head screw drivers; really small ones. I’m now itching to go out a night and shoot. The remote and tripod have opened a new world for me.

Shot Details:

Moon in almost total eclipse August 28, 2007 3:02am GMT-8
Exposure time: 4 seconds
Focal Length: 300mm

If you want to see other amazing shots of the eclipse, go to Zooomr and search for “lunar eclipse”. Here’s links to two of my favorites:

folks over at the Shutters Inc. podcast also have great some eclipse photos.

Boulevard Cinemas at Night

Cinema at Sunset

I got my new Canon 30D yesterday and went out to shoot. Unfortunately, it was a little late and I don’t have a tripod, so the lighting wasn’t great. I did take a few shots, including this one of the local movie theater. I brought two of the kids and the new puppy with me, so the shooting conditions really weren’t optimal, but I had to shoot something. I’m pleased with the few shots I’ve taken, and will be taking more today.

Even though I’ve barely used the camera, I can tell I’m really going to enjoy it. For starters the layout of the controls is much better than the Rebel XT. I really like the LCD on the top of the camera that shows the current settings. Also, the LCD for viewing shots is bigger, which is always a plus. The camera does weigh more than the XT, but not much.

One other thing I like is that you can shoot RAW + JPG, which all Canon DSLRs support, but with the 30D you can select various sizes for the JPG. With the XT I could only shoot RAW + large JPG. Now I can shoot RAW + small JPG and save space on the card. I like having the EXIF data in the JPG, but don’t really use the actual JPG image. I’ll probably always shoot RAW + small JPG unless someone can give me a reason to use large JPG.

Take a look at this shot on Zooomr, and a couple of other shots: