Thursday, October 30, 2014

Let's Talk Cameras -- Oct 31, 2014

We all know that once Halloween has come and gone, thoughts of  "the holidays" immediately occupy our already frazzled heads!  Cleaning, cooking, shopping....never enough time...then it's all over in a flash.  But, as hectic as it is, many of us enjoy preserving all those memories (and memories throughout the year) with photos.  Many travel during the holidays...some visit relatives and friends and others actually go on a real vacation!  Photo opportunities at every turn.  Lots of cameras are given as holiday gifts....but with so many out there, how do we choose?  Whether we're giving a camera to a relative or a friend...or to ourselves?

If you are already in the realm of "professional" photography or even above average amateur, you will probably not find much value in this post.  But, if you are like most of us who want to take more than just bland snapshots with a cell phone or an old point and shoot, this might be of interest to you and give you the push you need to make a camera purchasing decision.

I am often flattered when folks say, "Wow...great must have an arsenal of [expensive] fancy equipment!"  Well, I've had my share of cameras over the years....starting when I won a Kodak Brownie in 2nd grade (1961) for a mural I painted of an underwater scene.  That certainly wasn't a fancy camera! But it was pretty darned fancy for a second grader! 

I took little snapshots with that camera for several years.  But, at some point, it fell by the wayside, I "grew up" and I "moved up" a notch to a Minolta SRT101.  A pretty decent 35mm camera, but again, not particularly expensive or fancy.

Onward up the photography ladder I went to a Mamiya-Sekor 1000DTL 35mm.  "Mamiya"....another great name in photographic equipment.  A cut above the Minolta, but not a huge step up...and not out of my [small] budget range at the time.   I took hundreds of photos with this camera on a trip to Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt in the early 80's....I still have the photographs and the negatives! 

I wasn't SO into photography that I felt I need to purchase a bunch of add-on lenses....that is, until I moved on to the 35mm Minolta Maxxum 7000 (1987).  I finally delved into different lenses, filters, a flash, etc.  But, looking back, none of it was THAT expensive...but the Maxxum was a work horse and I used it until about year ago when the shutter finally wore out...26 years! It was worth whatever I had invested!

At some point, tho', digital cameras started hitting the market place.  My first digital...probably about 1999, was the Ricoh RDC7.  Pretty snazzy!  And a pivotal screen! And a whopping 3 megapixels!  Seems like it took me forever to figure it out after being so used to film cameras, but I did use it.  I have to admit, tho', it didn't really get me away from my Maxxum. 

After the Ricoh (which I sold on Ebay just a few years ago for a pretty decent price - "vintage" in the world of digital!), I was still shooting film, but enhanced my digital world with a Canon Power Shot A620 -- 7.1 megapixels!  And another handy pivotal screen!  This was probably about 2006.  I still  have this camera for some reason and it probably still works, but I haven't used it for probably 4-5 years...still has a 256mb card in it.  VERY small capacity card vs. what's available today.  Nice pocket camera that took good photos...and probably still does!

All along while I was merging into the digital age, I was still primarily using my Maxxum 35mm...just didn't want to "let go".  There's just something about "film" that I will always love.  But I finally took the plunge and bought an Olympus  E-410 - 10 megapixels DSLR (meaning you can change lenses).,,,probably about 6-7 years ago.  Another work horse!  But not 'fancy' and relatively inexpensive...about $500, I think.  I bought the "kit" to save money and have never purchased any additional lenses...just use the two standards that came with it.  40-150mm and a 200mm zoom.  So, we're into 'changing lenses' (like my old Maxxum) depending on the subject matter.  I like this camera because it is fairly light weight, even with the zoom lens. I have banged this camera around so much and can never find the lens' caps. The battery 'door' is missing, so the battery stays in place with, what else??  Duct tape!  I have taken thousands and thousands of photographs with this has never failed me.  BUT, now I think the download outlet is finally giving out.  Not good, but I've simply worn it out!  I have really enjoyed this camera!

I do have a backup that I purchased a few years ago...not so much as "backup", but for times when changing out lenses is just simply a hassle!  Although, right now, I'm really looking at it as a "backup".  It's a Panasonic LUMIX FZ40 - 14 megapixels (keep moving up!).  It's a "bridge camera"....somewhere between your basic point and shoot and a DSLR.  It has a Leica lens which is pretty impressive considering the cost of this camera.  I know the current model is only about $350 on Amazon.  Mine has a 24x zoom which really comes in handy.  The new model has a 60x zoom!  Again, I've taken thousands of great photos with this camera and it has held up beautifully! 

OK -- why did we take this 50+ year tour of my cameras???  To say, simply, that you DO NOT NEED expensive, fancy equipment to take great photos!  A lot of folks are intimidated by the "big name" cameras they see out there....AND the big price tags!  $$$$'s.  Yes, if you are a "professional" or planning on pursuing photography as a real career, you will want to look into those cameras.  But, if you just want to take good photographs and be able to have some of them enlarged for display, you don't have to spend thousands.

First, decide if you want a small, pocket point and shoot, a bridge camera, or a DSLR.  That's the first step.  Second, decide on your budget amount.  Then DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Don't get too caught up in all the technical features, but read the reviews. is a good place to read "real people" reviews.  The number of megapixels is important.  The more megapixels, the more you can enlarge or crop a photo and still maintain a very clear (high resolution) photograph.  But, remember, most of us are not going to be making billboards out of our photographs.  We might enlarge to 8x10 or so.  You can do that with a 10mp camera, but really, higher is always better in the long run.  Buy what you can afford and what suits your photography needs. 

Hopefully, if you have followed my posts and have enjoyed the photos, they will have proven my point.  All the photos you have seen have been taken with the Olympus or the LUMIX.  Together, they were under $1000.  Two comparable cameras, today, would be about the same amount.

Buying a camera (or actually using the one you currently have) is the first step to great photos.  But, you MUST have your camera with you!  How many times have you said, "Oh darn.  I sure wish I had my camera!"  I've said it a million times myself!  You never know when you are going to see something of interest.  Always have your camera with you!  Next do I take a photo that doesn't just look like a 'snapshot'?

In upcoming posts, I will lead you through the steps I take to get a good result.   I promise...these will NOT be super technical steps!  I don't care for "technical"!  Kind of like I hate reading instructions!  LOL! 

I'll leave you with a few random photos that I hope will inspire you to get out there and take some photographs.  Landscapes, babies, sports, sunsets, children, flowers, travel, street photography....anything!  Keep and share your memories with photographs!

A picture is truly worth a thousand words!



Interesting photos are EVERYWHERE! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Down Memory Lane -- June 23-Oct 23, 2014

On the heels of having over 7,100 viewers to this blog AND my birthday, Happy Fourth [Month] Anniversary to me!  I've been full time RVing now for four months... sometimes it seems like four years, other times, like four days!  Time loses some perspective in this lifestyle!

I thought I would share some photos from the past four months.  Readers since the beginning will recognize some of them, but there are new readers every day who may not have gone back into the archives.  I won't post photos from every single stop...but enough so you can follow the route.  I will spare you all the cemetery photos and stops at places like WalMart for overnights!

So, sit back, relax, and flip through the photo album of my RV travels from Oxford, OH to my winter spot near Yuma, AZ over the past four months.  (Remember, click on photos to enlarge.)  Let's get rollin' down Memory Lane...

06.23.14 ~ Night 1 ~ Lane Farm  CG ~ Wayne Nat'l Forest ~ Marietta, OH

06.24-25.14 ~ Lake Buffalo ~ Monongahela National Forest ~ Bartow, WV

06.27.14 ~ Scottsville, VA

06. 27-29.14 ~ Featherfin Wildlife Management Area ~ Farmville, VA

06.29-07.03.14 ~ Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area ~ Boydton, VA

 07.04-14.14 ~ Harkers Island, NC
(Thanks Laine & MaryAnn!)

07.09.14 ~ Beaufort, NC

07.15-16.14 ~ Santee Coast Reserve Wildlife Management Area
(scene of the infamous "Stranger in a Strange Land" hike - see archives!)

07.17-30.14 ~ Charleston, SC  (aka RV Roof Catastrophe City)
(Thanks for the repair, ProTech!)

07.30-08.02.14 ~ Savannah, GA

08.02-05.14 ~ Brunswick/Jekyll Island, GA
(Thanks, Jess, John, Zack & Stella!)

08.09.14 ~ Through St. Louis

08.10.14 ~ Across the Mississippi into Missouri

08.12-13.14 ~ Vermillion, SD

08.14-18.14 ~ Lake Byre ~ Kennebec, SD

08.19-20.14 ~ The Badlands ~ South Dakota

 08.20.14 ~ Bear Butte ~ Sturgis, SD

08.21.14 ~ Deadwood, SD

08.22.14 ~ Big Horn, WY

08.24.14 ~ Ayers Natural Bridge, Casper, WY

08.27-09.01-14 ~ Parowan, UT ~ Dixie National Forest

09.01.14 ~ Somewhere on I-15 in Nevada (fuel pump blow-up area)
(Thanks, Coach-Net!)

 09.06-15.14 ~ Dome Rock ~ Quartzsite, AZ

09.15-28.14 ~ LaPosa BLM Areas - Quartzsite, AZ

09.29.14 - Present ~ Yuma BLM ~ Near Yuma, AZ

Well, that's a brief glimpse at all the sights I've seen from OH to AZ.  If you would like more details on a specific stop, please go to the archives.  You will find the details and lots more photographs!  If  you have specific questions about any of these areas or others that are in the archives, please comment below.  I will be happy to tell you whatever I know!  Especially for those of you RVers and/or campers who like to boondock, I've spent virtually nothing over the past 120 days on spots to stay overnight....and I haven't stayed at WalMart very often!

Thanks for going back down the road with's been a great adventure so far!  Stay with me for more!

And.....thanks to all who have ordered with through my link!

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, October 20, 2014

7,000 and Counting! Oct 20, 2014

Just a quick post....

I have surpassed 7,000 views to my blog!  7002, to be exact at this very moment.  Here's the country breakdown:

United States

Pretty cool! .....and interesting!

That's it for now....just want to thank everyone who has tuned in!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Little Sight Seeing Oct 18, 2014

First, many thanks to those who have accessed Amazon via my blog and purchased goodies!

We've had some nice sunsets this week.  I learned that humidity plays a role in how sunsets atmospherically develop...low humidity here is playing it's part well!

Yes, I have a "chandelier" in my RV!  

Yesterday morning the sky didn't know whether to host a sunrise or rain, so we got a combo-weather-package.  The rain wasn't hard at all and, unfortunately, only lasted about half an hour. 

No hikes this week, but I have taken a couple of drives around the [very near] area.  Here's what I found...

Just a short distance from here, there's a "development" or "resort area", that also includes an RV park.  It's called Hidden Shores Village.  If you aren't staying in the RV park area ($54/night...almost double what most charge) you purchase a stationary home, which are look-alike mobile homes with covered porches...all in long rows...just a few feet separating them...looking similar to barracks. There are 625 of them. They look nice enough, just not my style.  But great for those who enjoy a close proximity to others.  But, aside from that, the kicker is, after you purchase your home ($75-90k), there is still a yearly rental fee of $5-7000...for the land parcel you are sitting on I suppose. Seems pretty steep.

There is water (Colorado River), but those houses/park aren't really looking at it (??????).  There's a very small 9 hole golfing area (looks like all par 3 holes), a rec room/club house, a little convenience store (high prices for the convenience!) and a restaurant.  I guess the steep rental fee is also paying for those amenities.  But, frankly it was all rather non-descript.  The restaurant wasn't open yet, but from the looks of it outside, I don't think I'm all that interested in checking it out.  The gal in the convenience store told me that "up on the ridge" 121 new homes are going in...the first few (and probably all the rest) are in the $600,000 range.  For my money, I'll continue to enjoy my view and pay $30/month!

From Hidden Shores, I drove out past the Army grounds to Hwy 95 and saw some troops in parachute training.  I tried to photograph them as they were floating down, but I wasn't fast enough.
But I took a snap, anyway, just a minute after landing.

I drove north a little way on Hwy 95 (back towards Quartzsite) and turned off to the west to Martinez Lake.  Along the access road was a little cemetery...primarily all unidentified children.  Sad, but what a great thing for the Yuma Women's Reel & Rifle Club to do....back in 1977.

Martinez Lake is another resort community where you purchase your dwelling.  I didn't see an RV park, but there may be one.  Quite different than Hidden Shores.  There are little, alley-like streets packed together that wind around and the houses are every configuration of housing you can imagine, and inches -  not feet - apart.  No zoning there, apparently!  Most of the homes in this initial section were, well....not really anything to write home about.  Honestly, kind of a jumbled mess.  But, there were a couple "on the water" that I could see from where I pulled in that were standouts vs. the others.

However, the views from this side of their homes were terrible...just pavement and junky stuff around some yucky buildings, etc.  The water was just a stone's throw wide at this point.  (????????)  That just seconds the good feelings about my site and the fact that it's practically free!  This community also had a little store, a post office as big as a telephone booth, and a rustic grill/bar restaurant.  I saw "homes for sale" flyers posted in the store highlighting the more notable homes around the lake (which I never could see)...they were all in the $800,000 and higher range.  Again, I'm very much happier with my living arrangement than I would be living there even if I had that kind of money!

Yesterday morning I needed to fill water vessels, dump tanks and trash, and get propane.  The propane fill took me down to the Army base (about 5-6 miles).  Surprisingly, there is a really  nice restaurant/bar-lounge there...the Cactus Cafe.  I will definitely try it out sometime...indoor and outdoor seating.  The manager said they often see "wildlife" from the big horned sheep.  I'll be taking my camera!  The lunch and dinner menus looked good.  Maybe I'll take myself there from my birthday next week.  That's a good reason to go there!  The bowling lanes building has a nice little breakfast/sandwich/pizza restaurant, also with outdoor seating, good prices and wifi.

On the way back to my site, I drove by another part of the Senator Wash Reservoir and took some photos...of course, it's [another] beautiful day!

I can pack a snack and bike to these areas!  

So, that was this week's tour-abouts!

I have heard from a few readers that they are interested in some photography "hints".  I'm not a professional, but I have learned some things along the way that may help enhance your photos.  No need for a fancy camera...whatever I post will be for everyone, any skill level, with any kind of camera.  If this sounds interesting to you, please post a note below.

Speaking of posting a may have noticed I rarely respond to comments.  Why??  Well, I only have so much data time with my Verizon plan, and it's not inexpensive.  It takes quite a bit of time/data to just get the blog posted.  But, I DO read all of your comments and appreciate your enthusiasm for my travels and photos!  Thank you!

Bye for now from the desert.  Enjoy your autumn weekend!

Oh --- we have the cutest little Airstream, honor-system, library is jam packed with paperbacks...all organized and categorized.  Fun!