Figure Eight in Big Cottonwood Canyon

I’ve been intending to phtograph this spot for some time now but my schedule and the weather haven’t cooperated - either I’m busy on a clear night or, when I’ve been free, it’s been snowing. Well, last night the two converged so I headed up to the canyon.

I got to the canyon at about 4:00 because I didn’t know at what time it would get dark enough in the canyon for me to take this photograph, nor did I know where the best vantage point would be, so I arrived a bit early and hiked around until I found a spot with which I was happy. Once there, I framed the shot, setup the tripod, and waited, enjoying a hot cup of my wife’s carmel apple spice drink (an imitation of the same drink at Starbucks) and taking in the sunset on the surrounding mountains. I absolutely love the outdoors.

I had initially tried using my polarizing filter to increase my camera’s shutter speed but I didn’t like the overall look. Instead, I just waited for nature to do its work. It finally got dark enough to get good light trails at about 6:20 PM so I experimented with timing both directions of traffic below me. This exposure is approximately 40 seconds long and consisted of two lines of cars traveling both directions in the figure eight mostly simultaneously.

Figure eight in the road in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Bonneville Salt Flats Sunset

This is an image I took last winter on a quick trip out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. I hadn’t processed it until now because I wasn’t quite happy with how it turned out, but I’ve tweaked it a bit here and there and finally feel pretty good about it.

My two oldest children went with me on the trip and had a blast running around out on the salt flats. Following the sunset, which was probably most beautiful to the east (right of the image, which is looking north), we drove into Wendover to grab something to eat. While in Wendover, we went into a casino, which was a first for my children. They were scandalized that an old lady with an oxygen tank was sitting at a slot machine, cigarette and beer in hand. My kids exclaimed, “Grandmas don’t do that!”

Sunset at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah

Old Town Montreal, Canada

I recently went on a trip to Montreal, Canada and spent time in Old Town. I walked the entire Old Town and enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere. The area can be a bit of a tourist trap with the shops and stuff, but the vibe of the place, along with the historic buildings, was wonderful. Prior to going I had read some online reviews stating that the people there were unfriendly, but I didn’t experience that at all. In fact, people were very helpful to us, including being patient with my daughter’s broken French (she has been learning French in school).

Bustling Old Town Montreal

Bustling Old Town Montreal

Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Town Montreal

Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal

Photography Funk

It has been a while since I have posted to my site, and even longer since I have discussed or shared photography (other than the link I included earlier today). I have been in a bit of a funk, photographically speaking, for some time now. I have lacked much inspiration to take photographs, other than of family, and I’d like to mention why. I am finding my way out of the funk so there will be photographs to be shared, as well as more information shared on the site altogether, but for now I’m going to address my photography funk.

I’ve been doing photography as a serious hobby for many years now, beginning with film and moving into digital. I remember buying my first digital SLR, the original Canon Digital Rebel, and being so excited. I’ve seen how, as photography has been democratized, the Internet is now awash in photographs, many of which are stellar. Don’t get be wrong, I think the ubiquity of photography, especially with the advent of the very capable camera phone, is a great thing, however, spend some time reviewing the portfolios of the many, many talented photographers on Flickr or Instagram, and it can become daunting. It certainly became that way for me as I began to wonder, “Why even bother? The world is awash in spectacular images from people with far more time to spend on photography than I do, who are far more talented than I am. Why toss my drop in the ocean?” As a result, I began to spend less time on the hobby and to feel like I have nothing really unique to contribute.

Well, I think that has changed. My family spent some time in the eastern United States this summer and, while in Montreal, I took some time to focus on creative, non-family photography. I spent a couple of nights shooting in Montreal’s Old Town (I’ll share the photographs here in the next couple of days) and really was reinvigorated. It was great to be out planning, imagining the image, and then patiently waiting for the pieces to come together for an image I could enjoy. First problem solved. I had rekindled my inspiration, but how to keep it from being snuffed out again by the feelings of inadequacy as I try to share my images?

I thought about that for some time. Why did I enjoy taking the images and reviewing them myself? If I enjoyed the process, and was happy with my photos, why do I care about sharing them? Isn’t that satisfaction enough? You know what? It is. In fact, it definitely is. I steadily came to the conclusion that I really enjoy the process of photography, as well as the result of that process. I enjoy looking at my photographs, recalling the experience of being there - the smells, sounds, etc. - and decided that is enough for me.

So, should I share my photographs? Yes, I think so. The process of sharing and writing about my photography helps me take the hobby more seriously than I otherwise would. It helps me to improve, and that is a good thing, even if my drops are swallowed up in the waves of the Internet’s ocean of photographs.

Thanks for reading.

Luminous Landscapes - Good Enough

Luminous Landscapes has an excellent video discussion regarding modern photography equipment being “good enough”, the importance of prints to experiencing photography, and the need to enjoy the image itself. I enjoyed it very much.

Luminous Landscape: “Is Good, Good Enough?”

Jeff Jarmoc on Secure Password Schemes

Here is a link to a fantastic article by Jeff Jarmoc of Matasano updating the discusison regarding secure password schemes. I spoke about this just this week at Hack Ogden, recommending that developers utilize scrypt, bcrypt, or PBKDF2 with an adequately random function, however Jeff goes into more detail in a blog post. It really is fantastic stuff.

One hopes to never be victim of a breach that discloses their authentication database to an attacker, but it’s better to plan for the worst than to be caught in a bad situation should that occur. Think of it as an insurance plan, and plan for the worst case.

Enough With the Salts: Updates on Secure Password Schemes

Application Security Preso at Hack Ogden

Here are the slides of the presentation I gave at Hack Ogden today. It was a great crowd with great questions. It’s always great to chat about security with those who are outside the infosec echo chamber, and the folks at Hack Ogden were a wonderful bunch with whom to chat.

Nerding Out on Application Security

The Burden of Responsibility

In a rarity for this year we actually got some valley snow in northern Utah last week. While I was walking to the train station (there is a high-speed train along the Wasatch Front called FrontRunner), walking through a heavy snowfall, I noticed this view ahead of me. I felt it was a poignant moment as these people were braving the elements to go to work or school - to go and do something they’d probably rather not be doing given the conditions. I thought about responsibility, and that many of the people going to work in such conditions were being true to responsibilities they have accepted.

We don’t often celebrate the quiet efforts of so many who undertake to do things they’d rather not do in order to provide and care for loved ones - present or future. I thought this little photo would help to illustrate it just a bit so I stopped along the path, covered my phone with my umbrella, and took this shot.

The Burden of Responsibility

Mercy Desired Over Sacrifice

Jesus’ calling of Matthew as recorded in Matthew 9:9-13 contains an interesting exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus.

Matthew, a tax collector, which is a social class most despised by the Jews, is called by Jesus to discipleship. Then, starting in verse ten, it says:

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Halloween in Zion National Park

This Halloween my daughter and I went to Zion National Park to camp and hike. She had never hiked the Narrows before so that was the primary reason for the trip.

The first day, after setting up camp and grabbing dinner, we picked up our hiking gear for the next day. We rented the dry pants, river hiking boots, and neoprene socks for the Narrows hike. The Visitor’s Center in Zion claimed the water temperature of the Virgin River was about 55 degrees, so we would definitely want to remain dry.

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