Category Archives: Photography

Rausch Gap S24O

It looks like His Boniusness beat me to the punch and actually wrote up a ride report in a timely fashion. You can read it here. Anyway, mine’s mostly a photo dump with a few comments.

Bone and I decided to meet at the Stony Valley Railroad Grade parking area at 3pm on the 6th of October in the 2012th year of our Lord^H^H^H^H His Noodly Appendage.  I didn’t tell him, but I had planned all along to ride there from home.  Bwahahaha!

For the gear heads, from left to right.  The saddle bag is perched on a Bagman support and holds my tent stakes and a Big Agnes Lost Ranger.  There’s a Eureka! Spitfire strapped to the top.  Three bottle cages with full bottles.  The white one underneath is a Kleen Kanteen vac flask.  It works great for road coffee.  The Ostrich bag holds most of the food, along with camera, phone, wallet, keys, mon-ay, tools, jacket, extra shirt, some gloves, basically anything I might want to access during the ride.  The Lone Peak panniers hold a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core, a pillow, my kitchen, some warmer clothing, toiletries, and maybe some food.  I can’t recall exactlywhat.  That yellow thing is a tent stake mallet, stolen from the car camping 8-man Tent Mahal.

The skies had been threatening rain for a while, but held off until just after I left the house. So I stopped and put on my rain shell within a half mile.  Of course, it stopped raining a few minutes later and wouldn’t rain again until the next morning.  It was windy and cool, though, so I kept the jacket on until I left the river front.  Here we are crossing the Susquehanna headed toward Harrisburg, home of the Mayor for Life – Linda Thompson.

And then making a left to follow the Green Belt north along the river.

There’s lots to see along the river front part of the Green Belt. Like Tom Corbett‘s house.

He’s a pretty easy going guy, so I thought I might ring the bell and ask if he wanted to come along, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to the front door. Does the mailman just chuck packages over the fence?

Here are some pretty flowers.  Let’s hope the city council doesn’t find out about them.

Pretty sure this is the PA Vulcan compound.

End of the line. Time to turn east and head through the burbs.

Northern Harrisburg has some really nice neighborhoods with big houses, wide streets and mature trees. I’ll bet the folks who live here vote in the mayoral election next time around.

Leaving the city and heading north just a bit farther takes us to Ft. Hunter. If you’re ever in the area you should take the time to check it out.

It’s also a good place to stop for the essentials.

Bridge to nowhere. Been there?

The old tavern house. Unfortunately, they don’t serve anymore. What’s up with that?

Heading north out of Ft. Hunter along PA Bike Route J is interesting. The only road on this side of the river that goes through the water gap is US 22/322. It’s a limited access highway, 55mph, and normally not open to bicycles. They make a grudging exception here. Bring your steel nerves. Train tracks cross over the highway in the gap and the shoulder under the bridge is only about 4 feet wide. The alternative adds 22 miles and goes over a big damn mountain.

But I made it to Dauphin, underwear intact.  That’s Stony Creek in the background.  I’ll follow it all the way to Rausch Gap.

This way!

There was a bar behind be.

I purchased a refreshing beverage.

This was the best part of the ride. The 12 miles from Dauphin to the trail head melted away all too quickly.

Good times!

For those of you thinking an S24O isn’t complete without dirt, I agree. Let there be dirt!

This gravel road follows the old railroad grade. I’m pretty sure I was speeding.

I got to the trail head before Bone…

…and decided it was time for this.

From October 2012 S24O

But he wasn’t far behind me. Let’s go!

8 10 13 miles of this.

This is the Appalachian Trail. About 1/8 of a mile up the hill is a shelter, along with a composting toilet and lots of tent space.

Our light was fading fast and our eagerness to set up camp took a bit of a precedent over our picture taking activities. But the camera came back out Sunday morning. I took a few horrible low-light, shaky photos. First up, breakfast.

Everything tastes better cooked outside, and few things taste better than bacon and eggs. So this was absolutely perfect.

Here’s the camp site.

Bone can move faster than light.

The trail back was pretty much the same as the night before, only colder and wetter.

My original plans included riding all the way home, about 30 miles from A to B, but conversation along the way evolved from bacon to bacon cheeseburgers. And then to Five Guys. It was decided, with 10 miles of rail trail remaining, that my bike should take a ride on Bone’s car and we two should get bacon cheeseburgers and fries and sugary soda-type drinks for lunch.

And that is how we defeated the evil zombie king of St. Anthony’s wilderness went on our annual fall S24O.

2010 Goals

Resolutions suck.  I never follow through.  So this year I’m setting some goals for myself instead.  These will all be closer to reasonable than impossible, and are guidelines for living better and doing more of the things I like.  I don’t expect to stick with all of this all the time.

Bike stuff first.

  1. 2400 miles.  That’s 200 miles per month, or 46 and change per week.  I’ve done this before and it shouldn’t be a problem to do it again.  Seriously, I ride 9 miles per week just getting the Molly to pre-school and back.  That leaves 37 per week to go.  Throw in a couple trips to the grocery store and a bike club D ride or two and it’s done.  This is a reasonable goal.
  2. Bike 180.  This started as a Flickr group last year whose members had a goal to ride 180 days during the year.  While I don’t really care about the Flickr group, the concept is kinda cool and goes well with the mileage goal.  In fact, they’re probably mutually inclusive.
  3. The 2 Mile Challenge.  I did this, more or less, during 2008 but really slacked off last year.  You can click the linky-link and read all about it.  The short version goes like this.  Get a map.  Draw a circle with a 2 mile radius around your house.  Don’t drive your car to any of these places.  Ride your bike or walk.  Andy over at Carbon Trace emphasizes the 1-Mile Solution.  It’s the same basic concept, but the circle is smaller and it only replaces one car trip per week.  Either of these is good and, IMHO, deciding where you need to get to on a regular basis and how much of it you’re willing to get to without a car is a step in the right direction.  If it’s within a couple miles there’s not a significant increase in time, it costs less than driving the car and it causes exercise to happen.  Those tree hugging hippies also tend to think that it saves the planet or some such.  These are all good things and, most of all, this is a reasonable goal.  I’m not going to lie to myself or you and claim that I’ll never drive the car to anything within 2 miles of my house, because I will.  As of right now I have no way to transport an extra large Hawaiian pizza from Villa Roma on my bike.
  4. Go bike camping more.  I went twice last year and once the year before.  There’s no reason I can’t throw in 2 or 3 S24O trips during the non-Winter months.
  5. Organize a themed ride.  I’ve been wanting to do this since I first read about the Lake Pepin 3-Speed Tour and l’Eroica.  Perhaps a Roadster Ride or a Steel Rim Ride.  With tweed and a brew up.  Bring your pipe and smoke it.

Weight loss.  I’m fat.  I like to eat.  I like to feel full.  I have no will power.  (Yeah, sure.  I quit smoking “cold turkey”, but I can’t quit eating.  Eating is not an all-or-nothing undertaking and I’m simply not going to subsist on protein shakes.)  My initial thoughts a couple years ago were to continue eating as I always have but burn more calories.  This, in theory, is not a bad plan.  Unfortunately, when I burn more calories I desire more fuel.  Fuck.  One year ago I weighed 247 pounds.  That’s a lot and it’s the most I’ve ever weighed, before or since.  I managed to shave off 20 pounds and then put half of that back on.  237 is better than 247, but it’s still too damn much.  20 pounds is a reasonable goal, and if I stick to the bike stuff up above it’s shouldn’t be hard to do at all.

Surroundings.  I have a bunch of stuff.  Much of it is in boxes in the basement.  It might not be a bad idea to get rid of something every time I bring something new into the house.  More or less.  The trash guys are going to hate me.  I also need to build some shelves and declutter the rest of the house.  This is my least favorite goal but it needs doing.


  1. Shoot more.  I barely shot anything at all last year.  The MX is begging for just a couple more rolls.
  2. Build a portfolio.  Or maybe assemble a gallery show, even if I don’t have anywhere to show it.  Something like that.
  3. Print! Print! Print!

I have a few more goals that involve family and friends and spending less time on Facebook, but they’re not something I can quantify, so I’m not going to write about them here.

Happy new year!   Where’s the pie?

Sunday morning ramblings

Rolled out at 6:45 or so on the Collegiate and ambled over to the island for the Sunday morning bike club ride.  The pot hole parade explored a bit of Harrisburg and I got to trade bikes with Bill for a little while and try out his very snazzy Traveler’s Check.  14 miles plus the 10 I did last night.  Slow and easy.  I don’t like being out of breath.

The Spotmatic got a workout this morning.  I exposed a few frames on the island before the ride started.  It figures that the kitchen needs to be cleaned before any film gets developed.  The light meter is acting kinda wonky, so it may take a trip to Tennessee for a CLA while I use the K1000 for my little project.

I’ll be 34 next month.  I guess I’m officially into my mid-30s.  Whoever decided to notate time needs an ass whoopin.

Flickr has quite a few groups dedicated to manual cameras and film photography. This one has the best group name.

Name your axe

A few years back a fellow by the name of Mike Johnston used to write a weekly/monthly/occasional column called “The Sunday Morning Photographer”, and sometimes he wrote about some really interesting stuff.  Like how the Pentax Limited lenses are the best autofocus lenses on the market right now and how the photo industry hasn’t figured out that some of us want a digital camera that doesn’t try to do things a camera shouldn’t do.  He would also write columns about improving our photography, like this one.  I did something very similar after reading that article with a K1000 and an M28/3.5.  By the time I finished that little exercise I felt like my photos weren’t half bad.

The last couple years I haven’t liked my pictures very much.  Perhaps I’m taking them too seriously or not seriously enough.  Or maybe I’m just a bad photographer.  Really, though, I just need to focus and pay attention to what I’m doing, which means I’m going to limit the distractions, photographically speaking.

It sure looks like Mike is up to his old tricks.  He went and wrote a few more articles about using a Leica and one lens for a year.  Here and here and here.  Read them in that order.  In my opinion, the Leica isn’t necessary.  Mike wrote that from his point of view because he did it with a Leica and that’s what he knows (at least, that’s what I got from his articles).  You could say basically the same things about spending a year with Hasselblad or a Spotmatic or whatever.  Each of those cameras is going to impart a different way of seeing, of working, of taking pictures.  Also, there is the Leica tax, which is the thousand dollars you’re going to have to spend, minimum, to get a functional double-stroke M3 and a 50/2.8 Elmar.  Lots of folks say the tax doesn’t really exist, because once you spend your year with the camera you can sell it for at least what you paid for it.  I think that’s true, but I don’t have a thousand dollars right now to dump into a camera and I want to get started, which means the Leica is out.  Not that I need it, but Mike was generous enough in that third article to give us permission to use whatever we have on hand, so long as it’s MMM (metal, manual, mechanical).

Name your axe.

I picked the Pentax SP500 with an SMC 55/1.8.  I’ll be shooting Arista Premium, which, by most accounts, is rebranded Tri-X for half the price.  Since I don’t have any at the moment I ran over to the drug store and overpaid for a couple rolls of 24 exposure 400TX. There’s a new pouch of Xtol around here somewhere and I’ll soup it in that.  Negatives will be scanned and prints made using Nicholas Hartman’s methods for “single black ink”.  Christie says I should get off my ass and build the damn darkroom already, or something like that.

And that’s that.  One year with a Spotmatic and Tri-X.  A few rolls a week and more printing than I’ve done in my whole life.  This is gonna be fun.

More core dump

Clearing the cobwebs.  Bear with me (unless you want to bare with me).

Put some new tires on the MTB.  Bontrager Select Inverts.  Good for the streets.  Not so much for wet fire trails.  Unless you like white knuckles, that is.

Climbed my fat butt up to the Fairview Township Park yesterday.  It’s only about 4 miles from home, but it took me half an hour to get there.  Coming back down was fun.  I didn’t realize just how fast I was going until the cars stopped passing me and I started to gain on the ones ahead.  Only 10 minutes to get home.  Wheee!  In all, about 15 miles yesterday.

I found myself at Negley Park Monday night.  That was a heck of a climb, too.  Coming down wasn’t nearly as fun as yesterday’s ride.  I think about 9 miles Monday.

5 miles so far today.  Pulling a trailer with children inside.  Hills tonight.

Last Friday morning the legs felt heavy, so I skipped the Critical Mass ride.  Kinda bummed about that, but I really didn’t feel like saddling up.  If’n yer interested, there are write-ups here and here.

I’m thinking about selling the Pentax 645 kit.  Not that I really want to, but it’s just not getting the workout it deserves.  And I could use the cashola.  FWIW, the A35 is one helluva good lens.

Up next:  The Tiger in the Pantry.


The Modern Approach to Photography

Mega-pixels, pixel peepers, RIP engines, dpi, inkjet, front focus that, back focus this, side focus, up focus, down focus, fps, fix it in Photoshop, Lightroom vs. Aperture, aperture simulator, white point, white balance, hdr, DA*, upgrade, upgrade, upgrade, we’ll fix that firmware bug in the next release, CCD or CMOS, noise or grain, purple fringing, dual channel buffers, calibrate your monitor because it looks good here, OK, I’m done, LOOK AT MY CAT!

I have a photoblog!

It’s here.  Navigation still needs some work, as does the “about” page.  But take a look.  I’ll try to add to it soon.

Is that a camera in your pocket?

Well, tonight at the Chinese restaurant it wasn’t.  It wasn’t two weeks ago at the laundromat, either.  The camera used to ride with me everywhere.  I was naked without it.  Lately it’s sat at home more often than not.  And two weeks ago, while loading that gigantic quilt into the dryer at the laundromat, when I saw the “Designed for Windows 95” case badge stuck to the machine’s lower left corner, I wished then I hadn’t left it at home.  That should have been my lesson learned.

The cute little number who works the counter at China Cafe wants to be photographed.  She just doesn’t know it yet.  But she’s not the reason I’m beating myself up tonight.  As I strolled through the door, content with the Singapore noodles I was about to inhale, I made it about 3 paces and stopped.  It couldn’t be him.  He’s been gone for so long.  But it was.  At least in profile.  There sat St. Ansel himself, munching on beef with broccoli, glasses perched upon his bald head, and trying to keep the gravy off his beard.  He never noticed me, but the people at the next table did.  And they were staring at me like I was Doogie Howser incarnate.

This happens a lot.  I see people, situations, things that beg for the glass and the shutter.  I just never see them when I have the camera in my pocket.