38 gram Selfie Kit

Feel the need for more trail selfies? Instead of a heavy tripod, support your iPhone for 38g (1.3 ounces) or your small camera for 30g (1 ounce). This kit goes on top of regular bottles like the 1 liter sparkling water bottle that is always in my pack.

IMG 7175

There are two basic parts: a water bottle camera mount and a tripod adaptor for an iPhone (or other phone). If you have a lightweight camera, you can skip the phone mount and save 8 grams.

Continue reading

Couples Backpack to Mission Peak

There is a little-known campsite at Mission Peak, but it is one of my favorites. The views are wonderful and it is a perfect base camp for catching a sunset from the peak, or a sunrise, if that is your persuasion.

My wife and I restarted our backpacking with an overnight to this spot, accompanied by another couple. This was my first non-Scout backpacking in years, and it was lovely.

Mission Peak is a very popular hike—we were amazed at the number of people up there at sunset. The rest of them had to hike all the way out in the dark. We strolled back to our campsite. This photo is only a sample, we counted over fifty people. It was a party.


Continue reading

A Mile of Film

Merlin Mann posted about getting better at photography by shooting a lot, and that reminded me of an observation in a photography book I read in high school.

The author observed that the difference between an amateur photographer and a professional photographer was a mile of film. I’m pretty sure this was from The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook by Aaron Sussman. If it isn’t, there was a lot of other good advice in there and the book deserves a link anyway. If you don’t have a calculator handy, a 35mm negative is 36mm wide, roughly 1.5 inches, so that is over 42,000 exposures or nearly 1200 36 exposure rolls of film.

Hmm, 42,000 is awfully close to Herbert Simon’s estimate of the 50-100,000 chunks of information needed to become a chess grandmaster. Simon later generalized that to a “ten year rule”, where ten years of heavy labor are needed to master a subject (for a nice survey, see the Scientific American article, “The Expert Mind”.

Continue reading

Copying Minor White

Karen Schneider writes about her experiences imitating the style of four different writers.

This reminds me of my photography class at Rice. I took a photo of pile of dirty sand under a freeway, and when I printed it, it looked a lot like a Minor White. My prof, Peter Brown, saw the same thing in the print. He explained to the class that we should copy as much as we wanted while in school, because that didn’t work after you graduated.

My faux Minor White was an unconscious copy, but working in someone elses personal style sounds like a really valuable exercise. Maybe I should try Minor White’s style on purpose. He’s not my favorite, but I bet it isn’t as easy as it looks.

I won’t try to copy Peter Brown, because my style already leans in that direction. The closest I can find to a web page for Peter is the announcement that Peter Brown and Kent Haruf won the 2005 Lange-Taylor prize. Check out the photos there, then go get one of his books, maybe On the Plains.