Time-Lapse Photography - Sunrise in Galveston

Here's a short time-lapse video I've made of a drop-dead gorgeous sunrise in Galveston, Texas.

The video is comprised of about 285 separate pictures, each taken just a few seconds apart.

To capture the sunrise I mounted my camera (Nikon D300 with a 12-24mm lens) on a tripod and attached a Nikon MC-36 Multi-Function Remote. I set the remote to shoot a picture every 4 seconds and then just stood back to watch the camera fire away. I then used Apple's iMovie to stitch the photos together.

Enjoy!

video

Hi From Bermuda

A Nice Run


Gibbs Hill Lighthouse view
Originally uploaded by BDA Rebel

I really enjoy running when traveling as it's a great way to experience new places. I've had the chance to run twice here in Bermuda. Yesterday's run went through some of the bays - Horseshoe, Chaplin, and Stonehold - along the southwest side of the island. Today's run - which was with my friend and colleague Amanda - covered South Road, Tribe Road Number 3, and the Railway Trail. Along the railway trail we encountered a somewhat hidden turnoff to the Gibbs Hill lighthouse. After a long, slow trip up the hill, we were rewarded with view like the one above (courtesy of BDA Rebel on flickr).

Bermuda is a beautiful place. I haven't had the chance to take many pictures but will try to do so before I leave this afternoon.

The training seems to be working....

Just back from a successful long run in Central Park. 13.25 miles. One hour, fifty-eight minutes, eighteen seconds.

That's a longer distance in last time than my last official half-marathon (Bronx), where I ran 1:58:25.

Cool.

If you have a few minutes.....

I've taken advantage of Adobe's new Photoshop Express to make a slideshow of some of my bird photos from Galveston. So far I've identified over 30 different birds, which is pretty incredible over just four days of photography. All of the pictures were taken with a Nikon D300 and mostly with an 80-400mm telephoto lens.

Since I wanted to get the slideshow up before I start a busy travel period for work, I've not labeled all of the photographs with bird identifications. I'd be happy to offer a cool prize to the person who identifies the most birds; post your answers in the comments. You don't have to identify every picture as some kinds of birds are included more than once.

Some of the pictures aren't great but have been included to show the full range of what we saw.



Please let me know if you have any technical difficulties and I'll try to help you out.

This is a test

I know that the readers of this blog receive the posts lots of different ways - on the web, via email subscription, and via feed readers. I really enjoy when people post comments, so in the spirit of making it easier to do so, I've changed (I think) the blog's feed to include a link to post a comment. Having the link will eliminate the need to go to the post on the web to make a comment - if all goes as planned. This post is a test to see if the new functionality works. Please let me know - via the comments, of course!

I'm happy to share the details with anyone who wants to know how to do this - and I know you are out there.....

Photoshop Express now online



Adobe has launched a new version of Photoshop called Photoshop Express; it's totally web-based, and while it's not full-featured relative to Lightroom or Photoshop, it's fast, easy and lightweight. I've not spent a lot of time with it yet but it seems there's good integration with some of the online photo services such as Photobucket and Picasa.

I created the picture above on Photoshop Express with the 'sketch' feature.

Scott Kelby has more to say on Photoshop Insider and also offers a free online training video.

My only criticisms so far are that there don't seem to be any dedicated blogging tools (though getting the link to share the photo above was quite easy) and that there's no technology included which would have allowed me to change the McCain hat ;-).

Update on Blue Heron Farm

I hope you all had a chance to read my posts last week (A Day at the Goat Farm, Part One and A Day at the Goat Farm, Part Two) about visiting the goat farm my brother-in-law and his wife have started.

There's some good news to share: the Dairymaids have posted A Visit To Blue Heron on their blog, writing about their experience visiting Christian and Lisa. It's great PR for Blue Heron Farm.

Breakfast, San Luis Pass



I've got tons of editing to do on the pictures I took in Texas, but in the meantime I wanted to share with you one of my favorites. Last Thursday, Katherine and I went to San Luis Pass at the west end of Galveston Island. We were there around low tide, which is the ideal time for seeing a wide variety of birds. I captured this shot of a tern (a Common Tern, I believe) fishing for breakfast. A friend of mine here in New York - Steve Wilner - was kind enough to lend me his 80-400mm lens for my trip; that's what I used for this picture.

Dragging The Shutter



One of the great things about my recent vacation was that I had the chance to take a ton of pictures (over 5,500 for the week) and experiment with some new photography techniques.

One of the techniques I tried is called 'dragging the shutter'. I first learned about this approach in Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book, Volume 2. For those of you who aren't familiar with this book or the first edition (The Digital Photography Book, Volume 1), I can't recommend them highly enough if you are interested in bite-sized, non-technical tips and tricks for getting the most out of your photos. Kelby is a very active writer, photographer, and blogger whose website Photoshop Insider is one of my favorites.

Dragging the shutter involves taking a meter reading of your scene and shooting at those settings....but with a flash. Where flash photos are typically taken at 1/60th of a second, when you drag the shutter you slow it down - which allows in more natural light before the flash fires. The end result is better looking flash pictures. I've included a couple of pictures of my father in law who graciously agreed to model while I practiced this technique. I think you'll agree the second photo - where I dragged the shutter - looks much better.

In case you were wondering how I managed to take more than 5,500 pictures....1,600 of them were taken as part of three time-lapse series I shot - two sunrises and one sunset; many of the rest were a result of shooting RAW + JPEG together, which yields two files for every shot. I'll have more to say about each of those thing in a future post!

A great end to a great trip



Yesterday was our last full day on vacation in Galveston; today is packup and travel day. My parents came down from Houston yesterday and we went out to watch the sun set at San Luis Pass. It was a great way to end what has been a terrific vacation. I'll have a lot more pictures to share in the coming days.

Heaven.....

...is the ice cream truck during vacation. Elizabeth and Sarah are joined by their J cousins - Jacob, Joshua, and Jonah.

video

Shot with my Flip Video Camera

Good morning from Galveston, TX

Nice morning - full moon setting to the west, beautiful sunrise to the east. Off for some bird photography at San Luis Pass.



David Pogue - Flip Video Camera Review

David Pogue of the New York Times reviews the Flip Video Camera I use and have recommended.

You can find his review at Camcorder Brings Zen To The Shoot.

UPDATE: Here are links to my earlier posts with Flip video:



Great Blue Heron - San Luis Pass


Great Blue Heron - San Luis Pass
Originally uploaded by aweber9

Light posting this week as I'm now down in Galveston with limited web access. I've had the chance to do some bird photography down here. I took this picture of a Great Blue Heron earlier today.

Hi from Goode Co. Taqueria

Here's a picture of Sarah after lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Houston. We're headed down to Galveston now.

Tough run today, but I managed to eke out 6 miles at a decent pace. I feel pretty good about that coming two days after the 15 mile run.



A Day at the Goat Farm, Part Two

As promised, I've posted some pictures of our day at flickr.

As we were leaving the farm yesterday, Christian and Lisa were meeting with the Houston Dairymaids - two women who 'travel the state of Texas to find the best cheeses available'. The Dairymaids were tasting Blue Heron's cheese to see if they will represent it at local farmer's markets. I don't know yet how the visit turned out but certainly hope it was a big success.

This will be Christian and Lisa's second year on the farm, but the first year with all of the aspects of their business in place (the goats, the dairy barn, licenses, etc.). With the great interest these days in local, artisanal, and natural products, it seems like an excellent time to be starting this business; as an example, check out Dairies Are Half-Pint, but the Flavor Isn't by Marian Burros in the New York Times.

In the same vein, I've got some friends at work who are starting a farm in Maryland. They are not as far along at this point as Christian and Lisa are with Blue Heron, but they are making progress; check out the link to learn more about GreenAkeys Farm.

If you are want to read more about the increased interest in local food, I highly recommend The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, both by Michael Pollan.

Enough food and farming talk for now....I'm off for a run before the weather goes south!

A Day at the Goat Farm, Part One

Katherine's brother Christian and his wife Lisa have started a goat cheese business in Field Store Community, Texas. Katherine and I and the girls, along with my sister Amy's daughter Anna, spent this morning at the farm getting an update on what's happening on the farm. You can find out a lot more about the business at the web site for Blue Heron Farm.

To give you a sense of what things are like out at Blue Heron, I figured I'd start with some video. I'll follow up in my next post with some pictures from the day.

Here's one of the two pigs who live on the farm (the audio is particularly fun):

video

It's baby goat season, and though most of the baby goats won't stick around Blue Heron for long, there were two babies on the farm today (one of which is just 4 days old). Here's some video of the goats:

video

Finally, there is a cool group of cows who live (or maybe they just graze) across the street. Here's a video of my encounter with one of the bigger ones.....:

video

As I've mentioned before, these pictures are taken with a Flip Video Camera - I recommend it highly!

A new personal record


Me & Jordi After a Long Run
Originally uploaded by aweber9

After struggling with the temperature and lack of sleep yesterday, I set out for today's run with some questions about how it would work out. It's cooler today and I started about 2 hours earlier than yesterday, so the conditions were much more favorable.

My goal for the run was to do 15 miles, and I actually managed to do it. My friend Jordi - in the picture with me above, after the run - ran the last five miles with me. Having Jordi along was a HUGE help as I was dragging toward the end.

Fifteen miles is a new personal record by about a mile and a half, and the good news is that I feel great - a bit tired, but no major aches or pains. The other bit of good news is that I ran the 15 at a pace of 9:15 per mile - faster than I'd expected.

Jordi is another friend who has been an inspiration for me to take on this year's running challenges. We've been friends for a very, very long time - something like 30 years. We grew up across the street from one another and have managed to stay in pretty close touch over the years. Each and every time we come to Houston we look forward to spending time with Jordi and his lovely wife Carmen and their 4 kids. Jordi has done the Houston half-marathon twice, and it was the chance to run with Jordi and his training partners in December that really pushed me to go for the half-marathon.


Finally - a small bonus for today. I've got my Nike+ sensor pretty well calibrated now, so I think the data on my runs is pretty good. Here's a link to what today's run looks like. Not ideal in the sense that my pace deteriorated pretty significantly in the final miles....but that's something to worry about another day.

Phew, it's hot!

We arrived in Houston quite late last night, so I had to adjust my plan for today's scheduled long run. It's just as well, because there's a pretty extreme difference in temperatures between New York City and Houston these days. My last run in New York was in what I consider near perfect running conditions - 30 degrees, no wind, and dry; at the time of my run today in Houston it was 66 degrees. I'm not sure I've ever experienced such a big difference over a two day period. I'll have to plan the long run - which I'll now do tomorrow - very carefully.

Fun to be in Houston, though. It's a beautiful time of year here and I've already seen some spectacular flowers. Pictures to come!

Absolutely GREAT run today

What was supposed to be an easy recovery run the day after a speedwork workout turned into what I think will be an all-time classic workout.

I set out around 6:15; courtesy of the recent switch to daylight savings time it was still totally dark. Though it was cold (just below 30) it was very comfortable given that there was no wind. The park was quiet as usual for the hour - not much going on other than people running or biking. Given the perfect conditions and the fact that I felt great, I ran hard for the entire loop of the park.

Net result: 7+ miles at a pace of 8:15 per mile.

Nice bonuses along the way: terrific sunrise plus lots of bird sightings - including a hawk up in the north woods.

Tomorrow is a weight training day followed by another looooong run on Saturday. Big change of venue as we'll be in Houston......



Priceless




Elizabeth lost another tooth yesterday. The note is priceless.

Progress!

Here are some numbers:

9:04

8:48

8:42

8:24

What do the numbers mean?

The numbers are my average pace per mile (in minutes/mile) for the four speedwork sessions I've done since starting the training program for the Brooklyn half-marathon. Most of the runs involve a slow warmup and a slow cooldown sandwiched around faster paced running. Today's speedwork session was a total of 6 miles, with 4 fast miles at a pace of under 7.7 minutes per mile - the longest distance and fastest pace yet.

I'd say that's progress.

Spring!

While walking to school today we saw our first flowers of the year!



I'm ready for a break!

The bad weather here in New York City broke long enogh for me to get in my long run for the week. I did two loops of Central Park, and with the half-mile or so from our apartment to the park, completed almost 13.3 miles - longer than a half-marathon and my longest run ever.

Though my pace was pretty decent - around 9:15 a mile - the run was a real grind. I think working out with my trainer yesterday and the 30 miles I'd done going back to last Saturday (which included a 5K race) finally caught up with me.

I'm looking forward to an off day tomorrow and am thinking about making next week a recovery week where I'd cut back the mileage 25% or so.

The best news of the day so far - the daffodils are about 6 inches out of the ground in the park and look set to bloom soon!

The risks of training too much....

As I ramp up the weekly mileage in training for the Brooklyn half-marathon (which takes place exactly 7 weeks from tomorrow), I've been concerned about whether I'd end up with sore knees or some other malady. There was a great article in the New York Times Play Magazine last week (link here) about the phenomenon of overtraining. As my training has been going really well and I've gotten into a good groove, I do feel a bit of a tendency to want to do more - whether that's running longer or running faster. I'm happy to have read the article now as I think it's a great reminder that there's such a thing as overtraining.

Registration opened this week for the NYRR/Nike Half-Marathon and I've entered the lottery. I won't know until late May or early June whether I've got a spot. I'm not completely sure I want to run the race - it would make 6 half-marathons this year and the race is in July (hot hot hot!). On the other hand, it would be fun to use as a long training run, and I'm very interested in running the course; the race starts in Central Park and goes all the way down Manhattan to Battery Park City. The chance to see parts of the city I wouldn't otherwise see is one of the big attractions of doing the half-marathon Grand Prix, so this race certainly fits with that goal.

Lots of rain is expected this weekend. I'm scheduled to do a long run of 11 or 12 miles and hope the weather doesn't get in the way. My new Nike+ sensor is now calibrated so I hope to have more news on that later in the weekend.

Gorgeous Morning


IMG_4695, originally uploaded by aweber9.

I will never get tired of watching the sun rise over the reservoir in Central Park. Here's a picture from this morning's run.

As I've settled into a regular training schedule, I've come to (slightly) dread Wednesday & Thursday, as Wednesday is speedwork day and Thursday is recovery day. Doing a run the day after speedwork is often a grind, but today was actually pretty good - largely because I was able to do the run outside on a clear, cold, beautiful morning.



Here's a link to a few more pictures from this morning: flickr

My Nemesis


IMG_4723
Originally uploaded by aweber9

When running counterclockwise on the main road in Central Park, there are two difficult hills. One hill is at the north end of the park and the other is just behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the East 80's. A colleague from work, Kirk Bleemer, pointed out to me that the hill behind the museum is known as Cat Hill in honor of the cat statue (pictured above) perched on a boulder. The cat serenely watches people struggle up a long hill. When I ran the Manhattan Half-Marathon in Central Park, my toughest and slowest miles were going up cat hill.

Running, Brands, and Marketing

As I've written about before, I'm very interested in the changes under way in media businesses. We are in a period of massive, technology-driven change that's fun to be in as a consumer and extremely challenging to deal with as a businessperson. While I think other media businesses - particularly those driven by advertising - are being disrupted more rapidly, I firmly believe change is coming to book publishing as well.

As a runner, I was particularly intrigued to come across this post on the new economics of building brands (link here). The author - Umair Haque - discusses the differences between talking at consumers in the way traditional advertising does as opposed to investing in them by providing something that's more immediately valuable. The example of the Nike+ ecosystem, which combines add-on components for ipods plus a vibrant online community (discussed at much greater length here (link) really speaks to me, particularly as it reflects how things that would not have been possible (or economical) in the past are doable now as a result of technological changes and how people spend their time today. As an example: one tool at Nike's disposal for brand building is to sponsor local events such as races or clinics. While that can be an effective contributor to building a brand, the reach is fundamentally pretty limited. In the Nike+ world, however, a bit of spending to build the technology infrastructure where a community of runners can gather, share information, connect for training runs, etc. can have a much, much greater impact.

Since reading the articles linked above, I've purchased the Nike+ sensor/ipod add-on (which according to the article is priced below Nike's cost) and look forward to exploring the running community that Nike has enabled.

Off for an early morning run in Central Park!

3 great posts

No running news today; after Saturday's 10+ miles and yesterday's race, today was an off day. Back in the saddle tomorrow on a treadmill at the PIkesville Hilton near Baltimore, where I'm down for two days of meetings at our Operations Center in Westminster.

In the meantime, I wanted to point out some terrific blog entries I came across today.

On Buzz Machine, Jeff Jarvis has two great posts on media - one on the media's coverage of the Obama campaign (link here) and one on how to recreate the New York Times so it has a chance of surviving the massive transformation of the newspaper business (link here).

Marc Andreessen (technology entrepreneur) shares his perspective on Obama based on meeting him one-on-one early last year (link here).

I read Jarvis and Andreessen regularly for their perspectives on changes in the media business.

The End of the February Birthdays

Last Friday marked the end of the annual February birthday-palooza (three family birthdays in the space of just eight days). To bring things to closure, and in the spirit of more blog bling, here are videos of the girls blowing out the candles at their birthday parties.

video


video

Both of these videos were shot with a nifty new video camera I received as a gift. While it doesn't rival the quality of a full digital camcorder, given the price and the simplicity it's a great gadget; you can literally use it right out of the box without reading the instructions. Here's a link to check out more details at amazon.

Finally, a shout-out to Katherine (the only family member who doesn't have a February birthday) for organizing a great two weeks of celebrations.

Lots of Running News


Rob, Amy & Andrew Before The 5K
Originally uploaded by aweber9

It's been a big running weekend.

Yesterday's run was a long training run. I went out to Central Park and did 10.4 miles in 91.3 minutes, which works out to just under 8.8 minutes per mile. While it was cloudy and raining when I started, it turned into a beautiful sunny day by the time I finished.

This morning brought the Coogan's Salsa, Blues, & Shamrocks 5K (3.1 miles) up near 168th Street and Broadway. It was a beautiful day though fairly cold (30 degrees) and quite windy (gusts to 21 mph). I went up to the race with Rob Usdan and Amy Yenkin, two good friends of ours; that's Rob and Amy in the picture above. Amy has been one of my inspirations to go for the marathon and has been super-generous with advice and tips.

The results were recently posted and I am quite pleased with how I did, particularly since I was coming off a long run yesterday. My official time was 24:27, which equates to a 7:53 mile. Even more significant is the fact that I finished in the top 25% of all finishers, by far the best I've done in any of my races so far. Rob and Amy and I all finished within a minute of each other.

Today's race was the fourth of nine which are required for guaranteed entry into the 2009 New York City Marathon; there's also a new requirement this year that you have to volunteer to help out with one NYRR race in addition to finishing nine races. Finishing the half-marathon Grand Prix will give me seven total, so I still need to find two more races to run.

The best news of all is that my legs and knees feel great even as I'm ramping up my training program and improving my results. Thanks very much to everyone who has been interested and supportive.

If you are interested in more pictures from Coogan's, check them out at this link on flickr.