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:


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.


Why the Weakness of Joseph Smith Matters

The public discussion of the polygamy essays recently published by the LDS Church got me thinking about our expectations of Joseph Smith. It is true that the traditional accounts published by the Church as part of its narrative - within manuals, talks, etc. - all too often attempted to paint Joseph in the most positive light possible. While sometimes due to ignorance, those attempts could mostly be ascribed to well-meaning attempts to hide Joseph’s flaws from us in order to preserve faith - an innocent, child-like faith that for many is being disrupted now.


Monte Cristo Aspen Carpet

I recently purchased the Fujifilm 14mm f/2.8 R lens. The lens gets great reviews and is widely recognized for its optical quality. My morning trip to the Monte Cristo mountains was my first opportunity to use the lens. I was very excited to use it.

The photograph below was taken using the 14mm lens and it performed very well. I am very impressed with the lens and happy I bought it. I’m not going to do a review of the lens - there are plenty of them online - but will just use it to take pictures. Nevertheless, the lens delivers on the hype.

As I was exploring some of the aspen groves around Monte Cristo, I came across this hillside where the ground underneath the aspen trees was mostly clear of debris and undergrowth, and many of the aspen leaves had fallen, creating a carpet of yellow under the trees.

The place seemed to echo the quiet, cool experience that I love about autumn. It was peaceful, with a cool breeze, and I decided to try and make a photograph that captured that feeling.