with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Newsletter: Digital Debate

Due to many recent changes in the Internet and our lives, we’ve discontinued our monthly newsletter.

Thanks to everyone who subscribed to our monthly newsletter. With the advent of feeds and feed readers, emailed newsletters are slowly becoming obsolete and redundant. To help readers keep up with the information on our site, we have dozens of feeds for readers to choose from, covering the whole site, site comments, and a variety of categories to narrow down your reading interests.

Thank you again to everyone who enjoys our site and our information and welcome to the future of the Internet: feeds!


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VANFOSSEN PRODUCTIONS NEWSLETTER
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Issue Date: September 15, 2003

Issue Number: 03

VanFossen Productions http://www.cameraontheroad.com

Editor/Publisher: Lorelle VanFossen lorelle@cameraontheroad.com

Online Version

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Welcome to the third issue of the VanFossen Productions Newsletter. This monthly newsletter is dedicated to providing information on nature photography and editorial writing. It is ideal for the nature photographer, nature writer, or someone with a foot in both camps. We cover environmental and nature issues, motivate and inspire your photography and writing, offer tips and advice, highlight others who are doing great things, and help you keep focused and motivated to do your best work.

This issue is dedicated to the digital camera and the risk-taking involved for many photographers to embrace new technology. We’ve included a huge listing of resources to help you, whether you are already a digital camera obsessed photographer or just getting started out. For those considering investing in digital, our featured article will help you understand just what you might be getting into. And keep an eye out for our next issue as it will be packed with a ton of information related to travel, part one of two issues on the subject. We’re making up for a lot of lost time!

NOTE: Our apologies and much appreciation goes to everyone who has waited so patiently for this third issue. We started out great only to have to flee Israel before Bush’s attack on Iraq. Living as “refugees” for over five months, we are finally back in Israel and getting restarted on all of our projects. We learned a lot living on the road again, living by our wits, and we’ll have plenty to share with you over the next few months. For more information on our adventures, or misadventures, check out our web site at www.cameraontheroad.com. Thanks again for all your patience!

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WHAT’S INSIDE

@PERSONAL NOTE – Living By Your Wits

@FEATURE ARTICLE – The Digital Wave – Lust or Must?

@LINKS AND RESOURCES – Digital Tips and Information, JPEG Virus Alert

@BE INSPIRED – Losing Bio-diversity, The Secret of Seeing

@WHAT ARE THEY DOING? – Hot Updates to Our web site

@NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS – Missing Inventory, Sleeve It, Digital Storage

@WRITING ADVICE – Copy and Backup, Digital Prose, More Than One Magazine, Languages

@XTRA XSPECIAL TIPS – Terrorist Alerts and Reports for the US

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@PERSONAL NOTE – Living By Your Wits

It amazes me how accustomed we can become to situations. Upon our arrival in Israel, we found it in relative peace and prosperity. The West Bank and Gaza Strip were open and accessible, with more than 80% of their citizens working good jobs within Israel, and Israel finally poised on the world stage as a “mature” viable economy and marketplace. Then the current Intifada (uprising) began in September of 2000, and our year of peace, security, and freedom in Israel was pretty much over. Brent and I, unaccustomed to life in a war zone, continued our work here, slowly adapting to the daily violence, riots, protests, attacks, and threats. While our family and friends freaked out about us being in a war zone, we learned to live using our common sense and keeping our wits about us.

In the fall of 2002, President Bush began his campaign against Saddam Hussein. Every other week came claims of the start of the impending war, with Israel as the retaliation zone. “If the US attacks Iraq, Iraq will attack Israel in retaliation.” Strange way of thinking, but this is what everyone here thought. After all, it happened before. Our fear level once again shot skyward and preparations began for evacuation and/or heading for the nearest bomb shelter. For five months we lived our lives ready to flee at any moment. We started by educating ourselves, taking classes on security and emergency preparation, learned how to use our gas masks and treat ourselves for chemical weapons, and how to proceed in case the city was evacuated. Even with all this information, we still prepared ourselves to evacuate from the country. Over time, while we didn’t exactly get used to the constant threat of war, we did adapt to the tension. In February, Bush’s threat was imminent, so we left for Spain, intending to vacation for only three weeks (Bush claimed it would be a fast strike). Traveling about Spain in a small rented motor home, we had the time of our lives, and once again learned to live by our wits, constantly monitoring the situation in the Middle East, waiting for the war to start, debating where to go and what to do based on finances and how fast we could get back to Israel when the war was over, and worrying about our friends left behind, all while trying to enjoy ourselves, too. After all, this was our first real vacation in years. When the war finally did start, it went on and on.

After six weeks in Spain, we flew to the USA, low on money and patience for this ongoing “quick” war. After all, it took only six days for the little weakling Israel to wipe out the entire joint forces of the Arab world in 1967, shouldn’t it take even less for the huge forces of the greatest powers in the world to get in and get it done today?

In the States, while our fear level for ourselves shifted and dropped, our fear for our friends in Israel remained the same. Now, it was a matter of when was it going to be over and when could we return to our “regularly scheduled programming”. Slowly, as the weeks wore on, again we adapted to the American lifestyle, a way of life we had left behind over four years ago. Our wits weren’t being tested as much wrapped in the security of “family”, but we still faced a lot of challenges, like getting back to Israel and our jobs.

Eventually, we did return, and life goes on. The stress level finally lowered to a moderate roar and “normal” has returned.

Yet something else happened. While living for months on the road by the “seat of our pants”, “on the edge”, and refugees from war, we felt a new sense of energy and passion for our lives and work. I wrote several articles on my laptop as we wandered around the north of Spain, and when the laptop fizzled, I bought a notebook and relearned how to use a pen again, writing over 15 articles in a couple weeks. Brent and I created a huge list of article ideas and concepts for future projects. We felt like inventors, our minds exploring concepts long familiar but seen in a new and refreshing light. The creative energy was amazing. We woke up every morning thrilled with our lives and ready for the day. We talked to each other constantly, sharing these new insights, pushing ourselves to do more each day. It was so exciting.

I share this with you not just to tell you the story of why this newsletter was delayed and to share our exciting lifestyle, but to get you to think about your own lives and work. At each point along the way, we struggled with our fears and expectations of the situation, learning to live on our wits. Over time, we slowly adapted and learned to live within the changes and restrictions the situation created, and our perspective on “normal” shifted. Since taking our lives on the road in 1996, we have left all sense of a narrow comfort zone behind, pushing ourselves beyond our capability for physical and mental self-imposed limitations. It seems like every week something happens to put us off-balance, shifting our perceptions, forcing us to adapt.

When we settle into a routine, the creative spirit seems to fade and grow dim. When we ran from possible war as “refugees”, we left our “comfortable”, stretched-out comfort zone in Israel, inviting new energy and enthusiasm into our lives. Living a life on adrenaline is no way to live, but a little bit once in a while cycles up the power engine inside.

When was the last time you lived by your wits, even for a very short time? Have you become complacent, accustomed to your way of thinking and doing? Is it working for you, or slowing you down? When was the last time you had a new sense of inspiration and felt motivated to dust off the camera and point it in a new direction or to sit down and pour out your knowledge with a passion into an article? Don’t let a war or becoming a refugee get you moving. How can you bring some new energy into your life and work? Think about it. And if you come up with some great ideas for finding new energy and enthusiasm, let us know and we’ll share them here and on our web site. Contact us at editor@cameraontheroad.com.

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TALK IT UP

Have you found something of value in this newsletter? Would you like to share it with others. Go on, forward it to a friend or two and encourage them to sign up. Just send their email address to us at newsletter@cameraontheroad.com and we’ll add them to the list. Word of mouth is a great thing. In fact, I bet there is something in this issue that will make for an interesting topic at the dinner table or around the office at work. That will start people talking!

Thanks for your support,

Lorelle and Brent

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@FEATURE ARTICLE – Lust or Must? The Digital Wave

Equipment lust drives many photographers to spend, spend, spend – more obsessed with the gadgetry than with understanding how the cameras and lenses see and capture the world around them. Is the attraction of digital cameras fueling the “lust for stuff” or a real need to stay competitive within the marketplace?

Digital cameras are here to stay, without a doubt. They are fairly easy to use, from a photographer’s perspective, lightweight and portable (in general), and have a lot more bells and whistles on them than most traditional cameras. There is something amazing about seeing your images before you leave the scene instead of waiting for the film processors to do their thing, giving you a chance to make changes and improvements on the spot. But is it time to totally switch to digital? Is film really dead? Before you start exploring the megapixel obsession of digital cameras, let’s consider some basic questions. Start with deciding if you are buying out of lust for the latest-greatest-bestest, or if this will be a serious change in your photographic format.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?

Before you take out your wallet, consider the end result of your images. How you use your final images impacts your equipment choices. If you are selling your work to web sites and newspapers, then low resolution and moderate pixel quality will be acceptable, and a digital camera could be the ticket. If you will be making wall prints or murals of your images, you will want sharp, clear photographs, so consider staying with conventional films as they will enlarge best and still maintain their quality. In general, for good quality printed images, you need about 200 pixels for every inch of print size (200 pixels per 2.5 cm). For example, a 5×7 inch (12×17 cm) photo would need to be 1000 x 1400 pixels (1.4 megapixels), and 8×10 inch (20×25 cm) should be 1600 x 2000 pixels (3.2 megapixels). Going larger requires even better pixel quality. Image editing software usually helps optimize the image for the final print size, but for the best result, start with an excellent quality original. How you use your images, for sale or display, must be considered along with the level of image quality you desire.

WHO IS BUYING?

Photography, like any business, is about competition and meeting the needs of your marketplace. Honestly, is your market buying digital images? Answer this question carefully. Don’t assume. Just because they “should”, doesn’t mean that they do. Ask your photo buyers if they are accepting digital images. How are they accepting them, via disk, CD, DVD, or email? In what format? What resolution? What size? This information will help you determine if you need a digital camera, and what kind of a system will meet their needs.

Most magazine covers today are still produced using transparencies. Covers must be their brightest and sharpest to draw the attention of the buyer. Inside, smaller photographs may be digital, but larger spreads are still done with film. This also depends upon the quality of the publication. While National Geographic has started using digital images, their best photo spreads are still made with conventional equipment. Newspapers and weekly magazines (USA Today, Newsweek, Time) are falling in love with digital. Photographers can snap pictures and send them through satellite or cell phone hookups straight from the camera to the news studio, where the staff cleans up the pictures and puts them into the publication within minutes of the event. No more costly film, or messy and smelly chemicals associated with processing it. Just rows of computers clicking and beeping.

Check with your buyers to see what they want to buy, then meet or exceed their needs to keep ahead of the marketplace game. If they aren’t seriously buying digital, then you might consider waiting, saving your money as the technology improves.

WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO JUMP INTO THE WATER?

Remember the big debate over Fuji and Kodak films? In the magazine industry, especially nature, Fuji won with their excellent renditions of natural colors on their slide film, and photographers switched, eager for the increase in sales. The ability of digital cameras to register and record color tonality and shifts is quickly improving, as is their ability for sharp definition and clarity. The human eye sees approximately 120 million pixels, and one frame of slide film records the equivalent of about 15 million pixels. Digital cameras currently record up to 6-megapixels (6 million pixels). Just as photographers benefitted from the competition between film companies, so will photographers benefit from the fast developing technology, allowing us to capture sharper, brighter and more vivid images.

Foveon, Inc., announced one such improvement at the end of 2002, a new image sensor which will help revolutionize the ability of digital cameras to record color. Currently, colors are broken up into separate “channels”, such as RGB and CMYK. Reproduction is limited to one color per pixel on the sensor’s surface, leaving the computer’s processing chip to “guess” at the missing colors and fill them in, creating “color shading”. The new X3 sensor will capture all three basic colors (red, blue, and green) on each pixel, varying pixel sizes to allow the user to capture both high-resolution still images (smallest pixels) and high-quality video (largest pixels for greater light sensitivity). Although the chip results in 3.54-megapixel camera, Foveon is reporting color photo detectors registering 10.3 million colors, far exceeding current color recognition. Sigma is the first manufacturer to sign up for the new technology. According to reports, this extremely high resolution should rival 35mm film with enlargements possible up to 30 inches (76 cm). For more information on the Foveon X3, see Foveon’s web site. Due to be released in the next six months, Sigma’s information on the SD9 camera states an estimated price of USD$3000. Improvements in this technology will result in increased megapixels and even better color recognition.

Foveon is not the only player on the block. Sinar, specializing in high-end digital and analog camera systems, has a 22 million pixel large format camera which uses full-frame CCD image sensors developed by Kodak. The KAF-22000CE offers new color pigmentation for improved color stability and a wider dynamic range. The improvements are coming faster and furious. Investing in quality digital system means money and timing. At what point are you willing to jump into the water and splash about?

HOW MUCH MONEY ARE YOU WILLING TO INVEST IN THIS?

Going digital isn’t just about the cost of the camera. There are a few accessories you will have to buy to take full advantage of your new digital camera. Like a new computer! Sure, a top of the line digital camera, like the Sigma SD9, may currently sell for about USD$3,000, but can the computer you are currently reading this newsletter on accommodate the system requirements of this camera?

The Sigma SD9 requires a USB or Firewire connection to the computer. Does yours have one? There are two types of USB connections currently available, a low speed and a “high” speed connection (USB 2.0). While the newer digital camera may work with the slower USB connection, you will get the best speed and benefit by having the faster model. Which do you have? Some cameras will connect to either USB or Firewire, but some will only connect to one type. You need to be ready for whichever connection the camera requires.

Adobe Photoshop ( http://www.adobe.com ), the most popular of the image-editing software on the market, recommends a minimum of an Intel® Pentium® III or IV processor, 192 MB RAM, 280 MB of free hard drive space to start, an 800×600 or better color monitor with 16-bit color or greater video card. I recommend you double, or better yet triple, these “recommendations” to meet and beat their minimum needs, giving yourself a computer that will last and not need replacing or massive upgrades for at least three years. While the camera may come with software, it is often a “lite” version and you will want the full version, so check the prices of Photoshop and other image-editing software.

Want to produce professional slide shows and presentations? There are several software packages to consider, ranging from fairly reasonable and easy-to-use to extraordinarily expensive and complicated, that allow you to put on a movie industry visual performance. Most people start off with PowerPoint, usually bundled in with Microsoft’s Office Professional Suite, an expensive software package, though it can be purchased separately for slightly less money. Macromedia Director is one of the better and more complicated programs (also expensive), but it does produce a program closest to what two or three slide projectors can manually produce in a fade/dissolve production. If you are serious about creating professional slide shows, don’t skimp on software. Spend the big money to get the quality software for the best quality program you can present. And don’t forget the equipment required to present your show. You will need good quality speakers and/or sound system, and to either buy or rent (or borrow) some form of projector and screen to display your program away from the monitor and a television screen.

Want to print those lovely pictures? Add a good quality color printer to your accessory list. You’ll need a lot of storage room for your photographs so make sure you have more than enough hard drive space. You’ll need to get the pictures off the computer, so make sure you have a DVD or CD-ROM burner or zip drive. Don’t forget to back up your pictures, so add to the price not only the burner, but an additional hard drive (for huge backups) and other backup resources like the new digital backup drives.

If you don’t have all this now, consider adding two to four thousand dollars to your camera purchase. All of this is going to cost you, so make sure you total up the entire package, including the biggest accessory: the computer.

HOW COMPUTER SAVVY DO YOU WANT TO BECOME?

Going digital doesn’t just mean learning how a new camera and lens works. It means learning how to adjust the image within the camera; transport the image from the camera to the computer; manipulate, adjust, change, switch, compress, decompress, zip, zig, and dink with your image inside the computer; and then send, print, or display your image to the rest of the world.

Remember how hard it was for you to learn “the bigger the number, the smaller the hole”? How about understanding reciprocity? Entering the digital age means learning about pixels, resolution, jpegs, interpolation, upsizing, MEG, GIG, RAM, RGB, CD-ROM, CD, CCD, CMOS, CYMK, DVD, and even more abbreviations and jargon. You have to learn how the camera works, how the software that transfers the image to the computer works, how the software inside the computer allows you to mess with the image to make it become what you want, and then fully understand what it takes to send the image to a publisher in a form that they can use. This could involve sending the image by email, as it is or in a compressed or zipped state (making it smaller), or burning a CD or DVD.

Within the image-editing software, you will have to learn how to do some familiar things from Darkroom 101, like dodging and burning, as well as new things like how to tweak, sharpen, shift colors, gamma shifts, clone, smudge, darken red-eye, cut and paste, and crop. To get the image out of your image software for transporting, you will have to learn about file types and converting from one file type to another.

If you’re already using a personal computer, you have a good head start. But is this what you signed up for when you entered the business of photography? To spend more time in front of the computer than out in the field? Think about it. Entering the digital world is exciting, but it has a high learning curve and it is time consuming.

HOW MUCH LONGER IS REALLY LEFT IN YOUR CAREER?

This is a valid but rarely asked question. Digital equipment is new, barely hatched. It still has to go through a lot of growing pains to tackle conventional films and equipment. And you may have your own growing pains, too. Honestly, expect several months of frustration and one to two years to become really proficient creating professional quality images.

Do you have this much time and money to invest at this point in your life? Should you be spending that time and money marketing and selling what you already have in your files? Should you be showing the world how awesome it is with your conventional equipment, or learning to speak another language and play a new instrument called digital?

Only you can answer this question. Sure, you are never too old to learn, but consider where you are putting your energies, and ask yourself if it is worth it. There is a cost for everything, and sometimes that cost is financial, and sometimes the cost is psychological. You decide. The market is still open to photographs made with conventional techniques.

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Fads and fashions are strange, yet predictable. They tend to repeat themselves. Recently, disco and 40s style music made a comeback (doesn’t that make you feel old?) Along with clothing styles from the 1940s and 50s. Even “hippie” is popular again. As many professionals are turning towards high-tech, many artists are turning back the pages of time to pin-hole camera techniques and grainy black and white prints. The more technological the mainstream becomes, the more retro the artists. I recently reviewed a photographer’s landscape work. He used the computer to make his images resemble the work of the Impressionist artists like Monet and Van Gogh, creating more paintings than photographs. There is room for all kinds of photographic techniques and styles today. If you have a particular style or skill, concentrate on that, and leave the digital to the digitally obsessed. There is room for everyone.

Speaking of “old”, the space probe, Galileo, was burned up in the atmosphere of Jupiter this month. In a discussion with NPR’s Talk of the Nation (Science Friday) commentator, Ira Flatow, Volcanologist Dr. Rosaly Lopes of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained that your cell phone is more sophisticated than the Galileo. The biggest problem NASA had was how to keep up with the old technology. As older people left the project, the new staff had to undergo special training programs to teach them the “ancient” assembly and programming languages not used today. The signal transmitter on board sent data at rates slower than the slowest computer modem. Even though the Galileo was behind the times, it sent back tons of data during its life’s span that is still being studied, revealing much about our galaxy that we just can’t learn while sitting on earth. There is still a lot to be learned from the “ancient ways”, and there are still people who want to, and need to, learn the old ways.

All of this doesn’t mean you have to stay with the old. It’s up to you which way to go, but consider the whole picture of your business. Besides, you can still fulfill your lust for equipment by purchasing your digital camera as a “second” camera, using it when times and situations call for a smaller, more portable camera, or when you need the images for fast publishing to a web site or to send via email. Or to have so you can get a jump start on learning how it all works so you are better prepared when the big jump to digital comes. Either way, the choices are yours.

Check out our Links and Resources section below for some great digital camera links!

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LORELLE AND BRENT?

The temptation of digital photography has long called to the equipment lusty hearts of the VanFossens. As one of the first nature photographers with a column in a webzine (now called “e-zines”), Lorelle VanFossen has long been affiliated with all things digital as a popular writer, speaker and presenter online and in the real world. Along with her husband, Brent, the two shed their urban skin to live on the road, cris-crossing North America for several years living in a trailer and now living in Israel and Europe. Their work has been regularly featured in many magazines and online sites such as Outdoor and Nature Photography, Shutterbug, Mountaineer, PSA, Compuserve, and more. For more information on their amazing life and work, visit their web site.

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@LINKS AND RESOURCES

DIGITAL CAMERA TIPS AND TECHNIQUES

DIGITAL NEWS/ZINES

!!!ALERT: JPEGS ARE NOW TARGETS FOR VIRUSES

Sending images over the Internet is very popular. One of the most popular graphic file types is JPEG, a compressed image file format that is efficiently transmitted and enlarged when opened by the recipient. A first in computer virus history, the Perrun virus infects data files, such as JPEGs, once thought impervious. Open an image with the extension “jpg” and you could get a virus. Soon arrived Sadhound which creates a combination “picture/executable” file with the extension “jpg.exe.jpg”, carrying a Trojan virus. Currently, these “concept viruses” don’t do much harm, and are more nuisances, but they are the first of worse to come. Researchers worry that the virus could easily be modified for MP3 files, affecting millions of music lovers worldwide. Make sure your anti-virus software is current and updated at least weekly. Avoid sending and accepting attachments from anyone unless you know in advance that it is coming. Some of these viruses are coming out so fast, anti-virus programs are having a tough time catching up.

If you are obsessive about viruses, you can keep up with virus warnings and solutions at the (US) National Infrastructure Protection Center at http://www.nipc.gov/ and click on CyberNotes, and also check out our list of recommended virus warning and hoaxes.

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“””””””””””””””””””@BE INSPIRED””””””””””””””””””

“Not since an asteroid smacked Earth 65 million years ago have animal and plant species died out so fast. We have no idea what we’re losing.”

Saving Bio-diversity – Earth Day 2000

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The secret of seeing is, then, the pearl of great price. If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all. But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought. The literature of illumination reveals this above all: although it comes to those who wait for it, it is always, even to the more practiced and adept, a gift and a total surprise.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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People Who Inspire Us

The world is a little dimmer as some stars in the photographic sky were lost to us this past year. Herb Ritts brought the world a unique and powerful visual experience through his portraits. In an interview, he said, “Feel your surroundings. Try and develop a style. Don’t get caught up in the technical side of things. Feel what is right in terms of light, subject and composition. Dare to experiment, catch a moment.”

Two other bright stars were dimmed. Galen and Barbara Rowell died this past fall in an airplane crash. Both were incredible nature photographers, pushing the limits all the time in what could be photographed as well as where and how. They showed us the real beauty of the world, for its protection and preservation.

You can honor these photographic greats and inspire yourself with their legacy at the Rowell’s web site http://www.mountainlight.com and Herb Ritts at Boston.com, Photography.net, and OCAIW’s Gallery of Herb Ritts.

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>>>>COMING NEXT MONTH

Hold onto your luggage, you are about to be swept away to a two month worldwide vacation – well, sorta. The next two issues are totally dedicated to travel, jam-packed with more information and resources than you can imagine. Sign up your friends and get ready to save these next two issues! They will help you make your travel plans better prepared, no matter where you are going.

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@WHAT ARE THEY DOING?

New on Our Web Page 2002-2003

During our six weeks wandering around Spain in a small rented motor home, and during our furlough in the United States, we have been busy with new updates and additions to our vast web page. Here are a few highlights!

  • SMOKE FREE TRAVELING: It is time for travelers to stand up and demand their right to breathe freely the exotic air in which they are exploring. Here are tips and information to help the traveling non-smoker.
  • TRAVEL TIPS and HELPERS: The “Taking it With You on the Road” series of articles at http://www.cameraontheroad.com/going.html has been revamped with new information and techniques to help you get your act together on the road. Check out our updated article on how to pack for the road. We’ve totally updated our page of helpful calculators and conversions covering physical measurements like pounds to kilos and miles to kilometers, distances between locations around the world, computing gas mileage, world time, sunrise and sunset, and much more. We’ve even added a calculation to give your velocity as a percentage of the speed of light. WOW!
  • TELLING TALES: We’ve also posted some new entries in our Telling Zone, the section where we share our tales of life on the road. Some will help you learn a little about life and the people we meet, and others will make you laugh and cry.
  • BASIC NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP BOOK: We’ve decided to offer the entire text of our “How To? What For? Basic Nature Photography Workshop” class book online. The book features 11 chapters covering all aspects of nature photography including the basics of composition and lighting elements, camera and equipment descriptions and functions, exposure and metering, and digital camera tips and tricks, with exercises in each section. It is jammed with everything you need to get started understanding the basics of nature photography. We do hope you will attend our program in person some day soon, but in the interim, enjoy. An Acrobat Reader (PDF) version is now available for download and the online web page version on our web site.

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@NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

WHAT ARE YOU MISSING?

When was the last time you did a serious inspection of your photographic image inventory? Set aside a few hours and go through your files of photographs. Update your inventory list, reorganize some of the files, maybe breaking them up into narrower categories. Pay attention to what you are missing. Are there some gaps in your inventory?

We have a huge inventory of bird images. During a recent reorganization of our bird files, we were surprised to find that we had only a few sea gull images. I’ve lived my whole life in the US Pacific Northwest, and sea gulls are part of our daily life. Yet we only had a few images. We had less than one sheet of decent images and an entire file slot set up for them. Matching assumptions with reality, we put sea gulls on our want list, moved the half page of images to our Shorebirds category, and got motivated.

What assumptions are you making about your inventory? Do you have lots of images of trees but none of tree bark or leaves? Do you have lots of wetland scenics but few images of the plant life found within? You might be surprised and inspired. Get to work!

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SLEEVE IT

While a lot of the world is going digital, don’t forget to take care of your original slide images when you send them off for publishing. Protect your images by enclosing them in individual plastic sleeves. These crystal clear, archival plastic sleeves slide over your transparencies and protect them from fingerprints, scratches and dirt. Even with the sleeves on the slides, they insert easily into slide pages, giving double protection. We recommend sliding the sleeves on from side to side and inserting the slide into the slide page top to bottom. This gives a tighter seal and better protection and allows for easy removal of the slides from the pages, grasping the top of the sleeve and pulling the slide out with the sleeve. Editors and photo buyers can view the slide without any problems, removing the sleeve only when they prepare the slide for scanning.

Our favorites come from The Kimac Company, (203) 453-4690, or email: info@kimacphotosupplies.com. You can also buy TransView Slide Sleeves from Light Impressions. Costing about a nickel each, take this inexpensive extra step to protect your precious images.

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STORE THEM PICTURES ON THE GO

Hooking up your digital camera to your computer to transfer a load of pictures all the time can be a pain, as can the cost of lots of storage cards. Card readers are now available which allow you to remove the CompactFlash, SmartMedia or PC Card from the camera and insert it into the reader to transfer the files, dragging and dropping the picture files to your preferred folders. When you are ready, or when the reader is full, you can transfer the files to your computer. Lexar Media makes card readers for both USB and Firewire ports. The Firewire reader transfers up to a fast 400 megabits of data per second. If you take a lot of digital pictures, the Firewire can save you time. ScanDisk offers USB readers which handle CompactFlash, SmartMedia cards, Memory Sticks, and MultiMediaCard/SD cards. PQI has developed a 7-in-1 USB 2.0 Card Reader which can read seven different types of flash storage media through a standard USB connection. It can hold up to one gig of data and accepts the new “xd picture card”. Most of these card readers sell for under USD$100. Other card readers are coming out all the time, with larger storage capacities. To keep up with the new technology, check out PC Magazine Online at http://www.pcmag.com, PC World Magazine at http://www.pcworld.com, and PCPhoto at http://www.pcphotomag.com.

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ALERT!! CD-ROMS ARE OUT – DVDs ARE IN

It’s been decided. Many of us store our images on read/writable (RW) and permanent “read only” CD-ROM, but the manufacturers and predictors of the computer industry are holding funerals for the CD as storage medium. It is being replaced by the DVD-R and DVD-RW. It makes sense. A CD holds about 700 megabytes of data and a DVD can hold 4.7 gigabytes. That’s a huge difference. Instead of 58 12-meg photographs being stored on each CD, you can store 391 photographs on one DVD. Be warned though, there are currently two types of DVDs available: Plus and Minus. It isn’t easy to tell which is which. They are labeled DVD-RW and DVD+RW. Easy to mistake for one other. Some of the top of the line DVD burners will read and write to both, but most will only work one version. Check your area office and computer suppliers to find out which are the most available in your area before investing in a DVD burner. The prices are dropping quickly, so now is the time to upgrade your machine and start saving space.

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@WRITING ADVICE

COPY COPY COPY BACKUP COPY
When it comes to your written or photographic work, make copies and backups. Sure, paper is costly and space-consuming, but when it is critical, print out at least one copy and put it where it will be safe and easily found.

To save paper, make digital copies. Don’t waste time saving your files to another folder on your hard drive. If the hard drive goes, it takes everything with it. Put your backups on a separate hard drive, or on removable media if you have it. Backup and copy files to CD-ROM, DVD, removable hard drive storage, digital disks, online storage, or to a separate computer or hard drive. Be smart about it. Do it regularly, and thoroughly. If you don’t have a good backup system or hardware, take time now to invest in one. Research your various options thoroughly, as technology is changing quickly. Save all your files weekly or monthly, depending upon the volume of files you create and the age of your computer system. The older, the more frequent, because a meltdown is as much a matter of time as luck. The more critical the file, the more often it should be backed up.

>>>>NOTE: In a future issue we will be thoroughly discussing backup options to preserve your precious data. Stay tuned…and alert your friends!

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DIGITAL PROSE

The editorial writer used to be limited to newspapers, magazines, and books, but now the world of the Web has opened up to all things written. As one of the first nature photographers with an online column, I’ve seen the technology and arena for online writing expand and bloat. The bloat comes from the fact that ANYONE can now be “published”, and it seems that EVERYONE wants to be published, whether or not their information is worthy. So much writing is published online, it feels impossible to compete with all the “noise”. But there is still a lot of room on the Internet for wonderful writing, and for selling your writing. Set aside an hour or so of each week this month to search the Internet for sales opportunities for environmental and nature writing and images. There are “tons” of zines and online sites eager for your written wisdom, it just takes some looking.

To help you get started, check out the following:

>>>COMING SOON: We are working on an entire issue dedicated to writers, stuffed with lots of resources to help you with your writing, from improving your style to selling your work. Spread the word to all your writer friends to sign up and stay tuned for some great tips and information!

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ONLY ONE?
Here is a trade secret. Most magazine publishers don’t just publish one magazine. Prowling around on the web site of the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA http://www.magazine.org/ ), I found that the United States hosts about 240 publishing firms with some 1,400 titles. Do the math. On average, most publishing firms have 5-6 publications. What does this mean for you? When you sell to one editor, find out if the company produces other publications. If your article idea doesn’t work for one, it might work for one of the others.

But the secret doesn’t end there. Your editor might be freelance and NOT on the staff of that publication. Ah ha! The plot thickens. Therefore, he or she might also represent other magazines. Find out about who you are working with and become “very nice” to them. You might find yourself with more doors opening than closing. In this industry, it really is who you know, not just what.

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LANGUAGES SHMANGUAGES
Dealing with foreign language issues living here in Israel and traveling abroad, we have a great deal of fun with the different interpretations of English we find. One weekend found us in Antalya, Turkey, staying on the seventh “kat” of our hotel. “Kat” is their word for “floor” but we had fun with it anyway. You can find more of our funny stories about English and living abroad.

English, we’ve learned, is actually a very complex language with many rules and forms dependent upon the culture and area of the world you happen to be in. There is American (US) English, British English, South African English, Zimbabwean English, Canadian English, and…well, Microsoft Word offers 18 different variations of English to choose from. WordPerfect has four by default, but others are available by download. For both programs, click Tools, then Language to change the language default settings. For more specific instructions, check HELP and type “writing tools” or “language”. For Canadian English, when you write “center”, it will recommend “centre”, and in British English, it will change “color” to “colour”. Be sure and use the right “English” for your publisher’s audience to help the publisher edit your work accordingly.

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@XTRA XSPECIAL TIPS
Every once in a while we find a little tidbit worth sharing, just for you.

TERRORIST ALERTS AND REPORTS
The word “terrorism” finds itself scattered across our newspapers every day. It affects where you go and what you do, adding a new worry to an already stressed out world. Get rid of the stress of the unknown and find out what is going on. The US government has set up an Emergency Email Network which sends out free email alerts to your computer, cell phone, or pager from local and national government sources. These will alert you to terror alerts, severe weather, local health emergencies, evacuations, and much more within the United States. You can get more information on terrorist alerts and warnings from the National Department of Homeland Security and the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) at http://www.nipc.gov. CNN also offers emailed “Breaking News” to keep you informed of potential trouble at http://www.cnn.com. I’m researching some international emergency email systems for our upcoming issue on travel. Stay tuned….

>>>>>TWO EXCITING TRAVEL ISSUES START NEXT MONTH < < < < < You're going to save this next issue, so get ready for a ton of travel links, resources, tips, and advice!!

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HERE IS ALL THAT LEGAL STUFF

*|* Copyright 2002, VanFossen Productions and Lorelle and Brent VanFossen. All rights reserved. You have permission to share this e-mail publication via manual forwarding by e-mail to others providing that 1) the e-mail is transmitted in its entirety (that means the WHOLE thing) and that 2) no fee is charged. Information in this document is provided “as is”, without warranty or endorsement of any kind, either expressed or implied, without limits. Broadcast, publication or storage, in any form, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Lorelle and Brent VanFossen. The user assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and the use of this document. We will not be liable for any damages of any kind arising from the use of this information, including, but not limited to direct, indirect, incidental, punitive, and consequential damages, and just plain old meanness. We like playing fair, how about you?

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With over 250 articles on nature, nature photography, writing, the business or nature photography, travel, and a whole lot more, take some time to visit one of the largest personal web sites on the Internet. Visit us at http://www.cameraontheroad.com and find out what everyone is talking about.

Interested in back issues? We’ve posted all our issues on our web site and this is issue 3 in 2003.

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