A Page of Resources and LinksAugust 21st will be the big day for this year’s Solar Eclipse—and Jackson Hole is directly in the totality path! The Park Service is preparing for the event with extra staff, one way roads, camping and parking restrictions and so forth. Expect bumper to bumper traffic and all kinds of “issues”. Even with a few potential logistical hassles, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us. Luckily, I live in the path so I don’t have much invested in the eclipse. I don’t have to gamble at all! Others will have paid premium prices to be in Jackson Hole for the event—with no guarantee of clear skies. Heavy clouds, and even smoke from area fires, are always a possibility. Barring clouds or smoke, onlookers can expect some of the least polluted skies in the country. Plenty of areas of the country will be in the path of the Solar Eclipse but Jackson Hole will be a hot ticket! Remember—it will be August. Traditionally it is a very hot month in most parts of the US. Jackson Hole’s cool weather and clear skies make it a premier location. NOAA: Ready, Set, Eclipse: As the map indicates, JH is predicted to have a good chance of clear skies for the Eclipse in August (Historical Averages). Viewers originally planning on being in Oregon might rethink their choices. The “clear skies” gamble is much higher there. Continue reading "Jackson Hole’s Great Solar Eclipse!"
I have commented previously about the time spent at a computer in our world of high-resolution digital photography. When I am not out shooting, I am often in the office in Jackson, Wyoming at the computer importing, tweaking, categorizing, editing, and backing up large numbers of digital images. One of the first things I learned was don't try to do this on your average laptop.
Today's high-end digital cameras produce raw file images that easily exceed 25 - 40 megabytes per image. Large multi-layer edits and specialized combined images, like panoramas, can easily kick the file size up to 100 or 200 megabytes or even a gigabyte in size. Handling these huge files takes some serious computing power.
My recommendation for an office / studio computer for high volume editing is a traditional tower computer - usually a high speed model designed for gaming. These gaming PCs have high power processors, lots of memory, a dedicated video processor with additional memory, and high speed peripheral ports to external devices. My office system is based around such a gaming PC and is shown on the cover photo of this post.
Let's take a look at some of the specs needed to handle today's large files and editing software. I have a CyperPower PC available from many gaming PC distributors. The heart of this monster is a 4.33 MHz dual-core processor accessing 16 GB of RAM and driving a high speed video card with an additional 2 GB of memory. This is a good kick-start but the real accelerator in the system is a solid-state drive (SSD) that houses all of the operating system and all software. The SSD is between 4 and 10 times faster than the best mechanical hard drive and the speed is evident when you are opening large files. There is a Blu-Ray DVD / CD drive for loading software and burning preview disks for clients. The traditional 2 TB internal hard drive and 3 cooling fans completes the guts of the tower.
I have chosen USB-3 peripherals. You can use fire-wire and other proprietary connections but I like the ease of use and wide compatibility of the USB connectors. The tower has 2 USB-3s in front and 4 in back along with a few USB-2s for I/O devices like keyboards and tablets. I chose Logitech wireless wave keyboard and wireless 4-button / wheel mouse for general input and control of the machine. Another port is used for a high speed card reader for my CF and HSSD camera cards.
Also using the USB-3 connectors are a series of external hard drives for back-up and additional archiving of images. I use a pair of 4 TB primary back-up drives, a 2 TB travel drive, and a 1T drive with the SSD image just in case this highly reliable device should fail or be corrupted. Another option is a RAID drive with automatic dual-drive back-up. It is on my wish list but the high cost and lack of higher capacity make me stick with the twin 4 TB externals. When a 16 GB RAID device is available at a reasonable cost, that will be the way to go.
The main editing interfaces are a pair of 27" ViewSonic high resolution monitors linked by HDMI to the PC. Two large monitors are almost essential to efficient editing. When I am working in Adobe LightRoom, I use the keyboard/mouse with the interface on the right-hand monitor and a full-screen image on the left-hand monitor. This saves constant switching back and forth to full-screen views after each edit. When I need to open PhotoShop for more advanced pixel-level editing, it comes up on the right-hand monitor above the Wacom Intuos-5 digital tablet. I simply angle my chair a little to the left and pick up the stylus and I am ready to go. When I save the edited image, it drops back into LightRoom on the right-hand monitor and I am ready to move on.
In a nutshell, the keys for efficient digital editing are a high speed processor with lots of RAM and plenty of external disk space for back-ups. Meticulous cataloging and key wording of images and daily back-up of your work should allow you to stay in the field shooting and minimize your time at the computer.
2013 was, by every regard, a banner year for Natural Photography. It was the first full operational year, it was a time for acquiring new, and needed, equipment, gear, and editing software, and it was a year of learning about the region, fellow photographers, and important techniques that will serve me in the future. It was a year of networking with the Teton Photography Group and helping the group mature as an organization. It was a year of monumental wildlife observation and photographic opportunities.
Many people like to look back at the previous year to help plan for the next year. I have observed other photographers posting their "year in review" and decided to look back at 2013 and share a single photograph from each month that had personal meaning to me. These are not necessarily the 'best' shots, or the most successful shots in terms of sales, but rather are those that touched me because of where or how they were made. I hope you enjoy them.
A crisp, sub-zero January afternoon shot looking across Grand Teton National Park taken on the way back home from a day of shooting.
A rather angry Trumpeter Swan scooting across Flat Creek on the north side of Jackson.
I was walking through the woods along the Gros Ventre River in Grand Teton National Park waiting for a herd of elk to cross the river on their migration north when I was surprised by this touching scene of mom and two calf moose.
My first view of the famous grizzly bear #610 only a couple of days after she came out of hibernation with her 3 two year-old cubs and headed for the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.
Our second trip of the season to Yellowstone National Park and we were treated to a private showing of the spectacular 309 foot, Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.
Spring arrives in the back country of Grand Teton National Park and the yellow-belly marmots are out to celebrate the warm sunshine and make me laugh at their antics.
On a summer trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota, we took a side trip to Wyoming's Devil's Tower National Monument and shot the monolith at night with the help of some "light painting" provided by a group of other photographers about 1/2 mile away.
Shopping at the Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Jackson, we came upon a rare Eurasian owl being shown by a representative of the Teton Raptor Center. I paused for a "selfie" in the reflection in the great bird's pupil.
A chance of a lifetime came up in the fall when we were asked to help in the Yellowstone Association Bookstore at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center. We spent almost 7 weeks in the park and found a new viewpoint to enjoy the famous Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin.
On one of our many visits to Yellowstone this year we found a pack of gray wolves near Soda Butte and while watching for nearly an hour, this young black wandered practically up to our Jeep, laid down, and gave his blood-curdling howl to the rest of the pack.
Wonders of nature never cease in Jackson, Wyoming. I was in my office editing photos when this poor little Northern Pygmy Owl, chased by a couple of Magpies, crashed into my door. The poor thing was knocked out and on its back and I went out to try to warm it from the cold. It stood up, pupils unequal, and shook its head. Fortunately after about 15 minutes it regained its equilibrium and flew into an Aspen where after about an hour, seemed to recover and flew away.
The mountain goats of Alpine, Wyoming came down early this year due to heavy October snow and frigid temperatures. More than 30 play along the road and on the cliffs of the Snake River Canyon south of Jackson.
More than 25,000 shots taken and almost 20,000 added to my archives in 2013, more than 1,000 new images available on this site and now on Flickr, and these were the 12 with special meaning to me. Please join us on Facebook for more frequent updates. I hope you enjoyed viewing these images as much as I did making them. Happy 2014.