NASA astronaut and photography enthusiast Donald Pettit spent 161 days on the International Space Station (ISS) from 2002 to '03. Part of his mission is featured in an article by Chris Jones in the July 2004 issue of Esquire magazine.
The entire article, titled "Home," is a great read from beginning to end. But I was particularly interested in a few paragraphs in the middle.
All photographers face the challenge of photos being blurred because of objects (or cameras) in motion. Image-making on the space station apparently is no exception. According to Jones' article, while on the ISS the resourceful Pettit learned to deal with the difficulties of photographing Earth while traveling at 17,500 m.p.h. (about 29,000 k.p.h.):
"At first, because the speed he's traveling is much faster than the snap of his camera's shutter, Pettit's pictures turn cities into streaks of white light, like the headlights in a time-lapse photo of a busy street. He takes clearer pictures when he learns to hold open the shutter and shift his shoulders in the opposite direction of his orbit, but even his best efforts turn out blurry; he knows he's looking at New York City, but he can't make out the black rectangle of lightless Central Park or the single bulb in the harbor that is the Statue of Liberty.
"Not good enough. Pettit being Pettit, he puts together a makeshift, rotating tripod out of an old IMAX camera mount, a spare bolt, and a cordless Makita drill. Pressing the drill's trigger lends his camera the perfect rotation to take pictures sharp enough to make the miles meaningless all over again."
Remember that for your next vacation or job in space.
Due to a server-side error this morning, half of this website was malfunctioning for about 12 hours today. I apologize for any inconvenience.
The good news is that NicholsonPrints.com now has its own server space, whereas before it was sharing space with my writing site. What does this mean for you, the visitor? Nothing. You won't see one difference.
My sister forwarded a link to me for an online game of 20 Questions. For those who might not know, 20 Questions is a two-person game wherein one player thinks of something, and the other player tries to guess what it is. The player guessing may ask 20 yes-or-no questions to help him or her narrow the choices.
In the online version of this game, the computer does the guessing. What makes it fascinating is that the program is a facsimile of artificial intelligence, meaning that the more people play with it, the more it will "learn" about the things that players try to make it guess.
For instance, suppose the program has never heard of a fine art print. If it asks you, "Is it flat?" and you say yes, it stores that information and remembers it for future use. If you lie, it will eventually (or immediately) figure that out, because your false information won't match what the program has learned from other people around the world.
Theoretically, the more people who play, the smarter the game will become. And already it's pretty smart.
As a colleague of mine astutely noted, you can't lose this game of 20 Questions. "If the computer doesn't guess right, you win," he says. "But if it does guess right, you're amazed and amused."
You can play the game and learn more about the technology at 20q.net. One tip: While you may play the game anonymously, as a registered user you have more options, are a more trusted source of knowledge, and can see a running list of what answers the program is contemplating. There is no charge to register.
A fellow tennis photographer and friend of mine, June Harrison, will have some of her photographs featured on American television tonight. June's photos will appear in an ESPN Classic program about tennis great Steffi Graf. The show is being aired at 8 p.m. EDT.
According to a Reuters report dated June 17, 2004, "The U.S. House of Representatives ... rejected an attempt to ban snowmobiles from Yellowstone National Park, which critics say cause pollution and disturb wildlife."
This ban has been batted back and forth for some time now. I'm quite torn on the issue, but I know which of my priorities is most important.
On the one hand, as a photographer, I hate to see winter access limited in one of the most beautiful and popular national parks in the United States. I've never photographed Yellowstone National Park in winter, but hearsay from other photographers indicates that it's an amazing experience. Banning snowmobiles would almost kill photographers' chances of being able to safely work in the park during winter; carrying 30 to 100 pounds of photo gear on foot into untamed wilderness that's covered with a meter of snow would be nearly impossible — and possibly downright foolish.
However, as a nature-loving photographer, I don't want to see the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem damaged by snowmobiles. This is, by far, the more important issue. If we kill the region, there will be nothing left to enjoy or photograph anyway.
Hopefully the inventive minds of our country and of the Yellowstone region will find a way to make snowmobiles more environmentally friendly. That will solve the problems of just about everyone involved in this issue.
I'm red/green color-blind, but using RGB values and a little knowledge of digital imaging, I can correct the hues of almost any image. Even if your color perception is perfect, using RGB (or CMYK) values is the best way to go for correcting digital photos.
And by the way, Happy 29th Birthday to my sister, Katie.
I read an interesting article on CNN.com the other day about photographer Clifford Ross. Ross has invented a camera so big that, with the proper technique, film and digital enhancement, he can produce 5-by-10-foot prints with resolution so fine that it nears reality. I'd love to see one of these prints.
These large, high-res photographs are so hard to produce that Ross can make only five to eight per year. Compare that to the 3,500 frames I shoot just during the two weeks of the tennis US Open, and you get an idea of the tediousness that Ross' project must involve.
I've uploaded the new design of NicholsonPrints.com. Finally.
I was working on this re-design for about two months when I got side-tracked in March by minor things like traveling to Puerto Rico and buying a condo. I still have a little more work to do, but all the pages and features are functional now. The remaining changes are details you'll hardly notice when I finally upload them.
My favorite new feature is that from any photo page, you can click the image to view a higher-res version. I hope this helps you to better view the details of my photographs.