Sunday, April 17, 2011

Humboldt State Fencing Tournament

Today at approximately 12:30pm the Humboldt State University Fencing Club hosted a fencing event at the Lumberjack Stadium on campus. Although a rather small event, there were teams representing from as far as New York. The tournament lasted approximately two hours with demonstrations given at the beginning for those of us uneducated in the rules of fencing. I did get a chance to take a few photos, unfortunately viewers had to stay in their seats and flash photography was not allowed.

A participant getting foiled at the HSU Fencing tournament on Sunday.

Fencers at the HSU Tournament in the Lumberjack Arena on Sunday.

Fencers preparing to duel at the HSU Fencing tournament on Sunday.

Things get foiley at the HSU fencing tournament on Sunday.

Participants receiving medals at the HSU fencing tournament on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thousands Attend HSU Budget Rally

There was more than clouds brewing today around Arcata, particularly at Humboldt State University. Today at noon thousands gathered at the Humboldt State University library to protest the proposed state wide CSU budget cuts. Members of the California Faculty Association, the Associated Students, and hordes of concerned students attended to let known their concerns for the cuts.

I got a chance to interview one of those concerned students, James Bruce, who personally went into classrooms during the last couple weeks to let students know that their presence was important. Here is what James had to say about the protest.

The rally was put on by the California faculty association (teacher's union) (CFA), the Associated Students (AS) and several concerned students. There is already a $500 million dollar budget cut that will happen for the entire CSU system. There is an additional $500 million dollar budget cut that is purposed, totaling a billion dollar cut. To put this into perspective: the entire CSU annual operating budget is just over four billion, approximately 25% could be cut. Humboldt State University's annual budget: just over 100 million. This includes faculty, buildings, lights etc. The budget cut that has already passed is equivalent to five whole HSU campuses. The billion dollar cut will be the same as getting rid of 10 HSU campuses, and it even gets worse: the entire statewide system consists of 23 campuses (granted, each of the campuses have different budgets, but this is to put the cuts into perspective).

In 1960 the California master plan for education established the CSU system to tailor to the top 12.9% of high school students. The CSU system was to cater to 33% of the high school students who qualify. The rest of the California population was supposed to have a community college available to them. The California constitution specifically states that higher education is supposed to be free and accessible (see California constitution article IX section 5. or read the justification for Article 1 sec 7.a. or Article 1 sec 28.7.)

All the while tuition has increased 242% since 2002 for students while the CSU chancellor and the HSU president have been granted a 77% salary increase. Further, in many speeches made by chancellor Reed to 'business round tables' he has explicitly said on numerous occasions, "What can we, the CSU, do for you [corporations]?" (see either 'business roundtable' 1999, or 'South Bay Business Roundtable', 2001, or any of the other speeches from chancellor Reed at :
The message is clear: the CSU academic curriculum will be catered to business interests. Education is no longer essential to have a civic minded, critically thinking society, it is no longer essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people. It is to turn students into workers.

At every single CSU across California, students rallied, walked out of classes, some faculty canceled classes, teacher's unions gave speeches, songs were sung and state representative information was given out. People are pissed

I personally went to about twenty classes to ensure that students were aware of the massive budget cuts, how it will effect them and when the rally was. The one single question that i was asked at every single turn was 'what is one protest going to do?'
My response was to ask them if they understood that our system is not a democracy, it is a republic. In a republic, representatives are supposed to do what you tell them to do. When have you told your representative what to do? And a protest is simply the first step.

Below are a few photos from the rally. The whole gallery will be up shortly and can be seen here.

Union songs were sung to as protesters gathered around the HSU Library at noon today

Arcata Mayor Susan Ornelas even gave a speech during the rally.

Thousands of protects attended the rally today to express their concerns about the proposed budget cuts to the CSU.

Protesters representing many different organizations, but came with the same message.

After the rally speeches, a march began around the campus.

Protesters express their concerns of the CSU budget cuts during a march on HSU campus.

The full rally gallery can be seen here.
Rally Panorama 1 here.
Rally Panorama 2 here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Decorah Eagles

I've been completely distracted by the Decorah Eagles webcam lately. Apparently the cam is located near a fish hatchery on private property in Decorah, IA. There are two cams of which at least one is at any given time 24/7. One is equipped with an infrared light which shows the eagles at night. There are three "eaglets" rapidly growing, and the parents take turns at the roost while the other is out hunting.

Here both parents are at the nest doing a little cleanup. Pops is the one in the background finishing off some rodent flesh.

Here is a screenshot of both the mother and the father next to each other. You can sort of notice how much larger the mother (on the left) is then the father.

Looking cold out there today (4-19-2001).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Arcata Farmer's Market

Today the Arcata Farmer's Market started for the 2011 season, an indicator that the semester is rapidly coming to a close and hopefully the warm weather is on its way. The market was remarkably different for today's opening day than last year's. I recall a cold, windy, and very rainy event for 2010, with a very sparse turnout on both the farmers and the attendees. Today was a pleasant surprise, with a great turnout from both sides, and a sunny blue sky to boot. In fact, it was so pleasant out I decided today was the day to get some tomato starts into the green house. A couple rounds around the market, some beets for a quinoa salad, a six pack of tomatoes for $2.50, ready to roll.

I didn't take the usual farmer's market photographs today. Instead the HSU fencing club had a little practice area to help promote their tournament next weekend. Apparently folks from all over the country will be here to participate. So I decided to hang out for a spell and snap some shots.

It got me thinking about some studio strobist shots ideas for with the club. I've got some cool ideas that might make for some good promotional photos, with some ninja like fencing action. Now just if I had time to make it happen.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another Japan Earthquake

What a day to wake up. Shooting in Rio de Janeiro. Landslides. And another unfortunate earthquake in the same subduction zone in Japan.

I'm reading conflicting reports - some say 7.1 and some 7.4. Either way it's massive and not exactly what Japan needs right now. I'm unclear on the tsunami threat to the California coast, but according to the USGS there is no warning from this earthquake.

Looking at the GIS data it appears that the earthquake epicenter is around 40 miles from the March 11 8.4 earthquake, and much closer to the shore.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Golden Party

So as of late I've been pretty stoked on this whole strobist style movement of photography propelled by the great David Hobby. I've gotten myself a couple flashes, had some nice photo shoots, and had enough time in between to really contemplate light. As the great photographer Joe Mcnally says, "Light is the language of photography." I couldn't agree more. And when in the situation of mixing flash and ambient light, one must really understand light.

So on another note, I've been having fun shooting 'events' for friends. My friend Natalie asked me to photograph her golden birthday party last weekend. I set up a couple flashes on stands in a extra side room and let folks get as crazy as they wanted. It was nothing special as far as setups and results go, but provided decent lighting for dynamic situation. Natalie supplied a box of props in case people were feeling the urge.

I had a rather basice setup (which I should have photographed) of one sb-600 on a flash stand, with a 30" shoot through umbrella. The other flash was on the other side and bounced off the ceiling. Above is the birthday woman Natalie and some friends she "hooked up" at a previous party.

The lighting setup worked rather well for a couple people or small groups but because the room was pretty tight it didn't work well for larger groups - where the edges would be blown out and the folks in the middle were under exposed. Here was a fun shot of Kevin and Joel.

While the dance party was going on and folks weren't coming into the "photo room," I would head out and snap some shots on the dance floor. Although not truly 'stobist' style, I was playing with mixing my sb-28 with some fun ambient light in the room. In this case there was a disco ball over in the corner.

Some of the most fun shots were taken with the golden lights hanging in the other room. Since it was the "Golden Party" (Au Yeah) I thought what better than to mix a bunch of long exposed golden light trails with some dance moves. The full gallery can be viewed here.

The Suitcase Junket at Redwood Curtain and more...

Welcome back to the blogosphere, well thanks. Been away for awhile. Today I attended a very inspirational talk by Andrew Davis of tippingpoint labs where he shared ideas of how Humboldt County is failing in terms of promoting ourselves (yes I'm included in that), what the 'outside world' knows of us, and a little insight on what we need to do as a community whole to promote ourselves better.

Being a new business owner with very little business savvy, it was interesting to hear a perspective other than trying to get page hits and unique viewers to our websites. Really, isn't that how we win? I've dabbled quite a bit on this world wide internet and have come across so much information of people toting their page hit medals, but lack a real strategy. Wow, I'm probably boring the heck out of you right now. Really it's all interesting stuff that goes beyond your web presence but in your content. And for that, I've been a bit inspired to share a little about what happens around here behind the Redwood Curtain (a term in which I got to share with Andrew personally).

Andrew is from Boston on the east coast, and it turns out the next fella is also from 'round them parts. This all happened by accident really, as a friend an myself were headed down to Redwood Curtain Brewing for a nice refreshing IPA on happy day Tuesday. It turned out that a one man band by the name of The Suitcase Junket was in town and performing shortly after we arrived. Somehow I must've known that my camera would be needed and just happened to be slung around my shoulder along with my trust sb-600 flash and a little flash stand. I love when I'm prepared.

The Suitcase Junket has a rather interesting style that I really dug. Using three foot pedals, of which one slapped a traditional style bass hammer on a non-traditional style suitcase that he was sitting on, one for a top-hat symbol, and the other for a baby shoe against a metal gas can.

Unfortunately I didn't get any up close shots of his instrumentation, mostly because I was generally into just watching and listening (and enjoying the best IPA in Humboldt County of course). His songs were original and mixed with a sort of "flailing" guitar, that he often would turn into a more bluesy sound with the help of a glass slide.

Probably the most interesting for me was the Tuvan like throat singing that he busted out. I've always been a fan of Tuvan throat singing but never heard anything quite like his. The Junket had a much more high pitched beautiful whistle sound that I felt worked very well with his Tom Waits covers and his original folky jams.

If you want to learn more about The Suitcase Junket visit his website. Thanks to Redwood Curtain Brewing Company for bringing in a great, and surprising show. Hopefully more music like this will appear in the future.