Sunday, September 8, 2013

Second Infrared Pictures with the D800

Following up on my first infrared post back in March, First Infrared Pictures with the D800; I finally got around to taking some pictures with the Hoya R72 filter with the Nikon D800 and the Nikon 28-300mm lens again.  I did try taking some pictures with the Tamron 90mm lens but found it had a hot spot in it.

So my theory that the view finder cover needed to be closed was correct.  The 28-300mm lens did not have a hot spot.  Once I close the view finder cover, I got picture with a good light across the entire picture.

My process was pretty simple, I measured the scene with the camera light meter and found at f/11 the shutter speed was about 1/100 of second.  I calculated that with the Hoya R72nm filter that by decreasing the shutter speed about 9 stops or about 10 seconds plus or minus a few seconds.  I then processed with Lightroom 5 and converted to black and white. I have not tried the false color processing yet with Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CS6.

Here are two photos with the Tamron 90mm lens.  In the close up notice the bright spot in the very center and in the wide angle shot of the grass notice the bright spot though it is larger and not as bright.  At first I thought the hot spot was due to it being a macro photo and so I did a second shot at a much further distance of grass to see if there was a hot spot.  It was still there but much larger.

Close-up with the Tamron 90mm lens

Wide angle grass with Tamron 90mm lens

Two photos with the Nikon 28-300mm lens, I was able to get some good shots even with a breeze. I tried the first shot with a three bracketed HDR to see how it would work.  The leaves did not have a lot of detail in them as some other plants but it worked okay. It was pretty cool to capture the bug in the upper left hand corner of the photo in a 30-second exposure, which was the ghost image reduction photo.  Notice the grass photo below, again no hot spot in it as well.

Close-up with Nikon 28-300mm lens - HDR

Grass with Nikon 28-300mm lens

I still need to do some further testing but I think I have it down, which means I need to remember to close the view finder cover.  Next test will be to take some more pictures and do some false color processing.  I'll need to do some testing with other lens that I have as well to if others will work.  One other test I want to perform is to use the Hoya 72nm - 77mm wide filter on a 52mm wide lens with adapters to fit the smaller lens diameter.

Any other thoughts?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Photographing a Bicycle Race - What I Learned

Learned several things the other day while shooting the 2013 USA Pro Challenge - Stage 6 bicycle race going through Windsor, CO on August 24, 2013.  I thought the best place would be the top of the hill that is south of town on County Road 17 in Weld County.  See marker below



1. Check your camera settings and battery levels

At any point along the race route you will have between 4 seconds to 10 seconds to get a shot, so preparation is critical in getting the shot.

Since you will be on-site for shooting early, especially since the roads are closed for the race, go through your camera settings.  In my case, I forgot I had the camera set for bracketing and and the ISO set to 800.  So each of my images had different exposure settings and since the sun was very bright my shutter speeds were way to high.

I had my GoPro mounted on the camera flash shoe but had forgotten to double check the battery. I had a spare but by the time the race was coming by it was too late to change.


2. Be aware of your surroundings and where the racers and other vehicles are in relation to your position

Be watchful of the events going on around you, there will be lots of noise from the crowd, noise from the vehicles, and road is still dangerous even if the road is closed to traffic.

The racers are moving fast even coming up the hill.  There are also lots vehicles that lead the racers (police cars, race marshals, team cars, photographers on motorcycles etc.)  and they are moving fast as well.  The crowd will move into the road way since the riders are slower and everyone is yelling to help motivate and cheer on the racers.  As the peloton moves by, the riders go from a possible like to a wide bunch, they expect to have the right away.

So be prepared to move with the ebb and flow of the racers, the crowd and vehicles that proceed and follow the racers.  Also, ensure your straps and other loose gear are tight to your body so you don't snag a handle bar of a bike.

3. Depending on the race course you may have one, two or three chances for photos

Plan your day around the race.  Some races will complete large circuits on some days and on other days move from one point to another.  This means you might have one, two or more chances for getting shots.  If the course is point to point, than plan one place for getting the best shots and expect to get there very early and leave an hour or so after the racer's pass by.

If the race is a big circuit, plan two or three places to take photos.  Maybe the starting line, a point along the race route early in the race and finally/possibly the finish line.  Be aware traffic will be completely disrupted before and during the race so plan for delays.

4. Location, location, and location

Plan your shots, are the racers going around a corner, on a straight away, going uphill or downhill. Each of these locations have their advantages and disadvantages.

Going around a corner try to be in one of two places; if the rider are turning left, be on the right hand side of the road at the apex of the corner; or as the riders come out of the corner be on the left side a few yards down the street to getting panning shots.   Good places for head on shots and panning, if the riders are bunched up you may not be able to get a shot of the rider you want.

Straight away, plan high speeds here and less time to shoot.  Hopefully the racers are in a long thin line giving you multiple chances to get shots.  This is the perfect time to practice your panning shots.

Going uphill, good place for head-on shots, racers are moving relatively slower compared to other points along the course. The crowds will make it tougher to get a shot of the riders but may be the better shot here are those of the crowds.

Going downhill, well, unless you are the back of a motorcycle, this will be tough.  The racers will be hitting speeds between 50 and 60 mph and in most cases will be just a blur.


5. Have fun

Have fun and don't expect to get all the shots you want.  Enjoy the event.

                                                                                                              

I recommend watching a bicycle race on TV and get an idea of what a race is like at each of the different points along the route.  Plan your gear, double check everything and get out and practice.

If you get a chance for a bicycle race like the USA Pro Challenge in your area, go.  Either just watch and plan or to take pictures and have fun.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review Fitbit Flex as compared to the Fitbit One

Got the Fitbit Flex back in May and used it for a couple of months while using the Fitbit One.  The Flex worked pretty well.  The only issue I had was compared to the Fitbit One, it does not track stairs climbed.  This feature was pretty import to me, since I climb more stairs then I walk steps each day.

Either is a great motivator to help get you to exercise and both enable you to set goals for steps, activity minutes, and calories burned. The One enables you to set goals for stairs climbed.

The step and calorie comparisons between the Flex and One were pretty close.  Even moving my arms around, the Flex while on my wrist did not add steps when I thought it would.

Charging

I wore both devices for four weeks and had to charge each about once every ten days.  The charging connectors work well both the Flex and One.   It takes about one to two hours for a full charge. The charging connectors are not compatible which is something I did not expect.
 

The One's Wrist Strap/Clip vs The Flex Wrist Band

I like the wrist band much better for the Flex then using the belt/pocket clip for the One.  I like the way the band for the Fitbit Flex fit and it is pretty easy to use.  Even sleeping with it worked better then using the wrist strap of the Fitbit One. Once or twice in the last two months, I had come close to losing the One as it slipped off my belt or my pocket where it was clipped. The wrist band for the Flex takes a bit to get use to the first couple of times but once on, it works well in the shower, bath tub or in the rain.  I have not had time to see how the Flex wrist band handles in a pool with chlorine or salt water but I am concerned the chemicals won't react well with it.

Big issue I had with the Fitbit Flex was making sure I put the Flex back into the wrist band correctly.  I had put it in upside down a couple of times and if you don't change it often you don't remember the way it goes in.

The Fitbit One wrist strap for sleeping is easy to use but it is a pain to remember each night to swap it out and each morning to put it back in the clip and attach it to your belt or pocket.  A couple of times the One slipped out of the wrist strap pocket and I had to hunt for the One which was either on the floor or in the bed.

Sleeping

Both the Flex and One, track sleeping were very much the same in reporting.  You put them on your non-dominate arm to minimize the impact of the use of your dominate arm. The Fitbit dashboard does a good job of showing when you woke up and were just restless.  The ability to see how many times you woke up or when you were restless.  The dashboard calculates how long it took you to go to sleep and seems to be fairly accurate based on my experience.

Bluetooth Connectivity

The Bluetooth for both worked great on Windows 7. Also, the Flex and the One connect easily to the iPhone 4s Fitbit app.  The iPhone app has the ability to sync in the background so if you step away from the phone for a while it will sync when you get closer to the phone.  From experimenting, it does not seem to connect with second generation iPads.

You can only have one device sync with the Fitbit iPhone app at a time and the app only works with one account at the Fitbit website.  One feature would be nice would be to handle two accounts or more accounts and devices for a household, this applies to both the iPhone and PC application.

Windows 8 Issue

Major issue was using the Fitbit application on Windows 8.  It seemed to sync well for a couple of weeks syncing either the Flex or One depending how it was configured.  After a Windows update though, it stopped syncing with both the Flex and the One, regardless how it was configured. I worked with Fitbit for several weeks but still no luck.  The release of Fitbit Connect I has issues with is v1.0.0.2578 released Feb. 26, 2013.  Fitbit engineers are working on the issue now.  Fitbit was nice enough to offer me a free Premium account due to the issues but I have not taken advantage of the offer.

Fitbit Dashboard

Fitbit's basic dashboard for tracking your steps, calories, stairs climbed, and sleep is great.  You can log calorie intake, weight, sleep, activities, BP, glucose  and create a journal.  Nice features to have available.

Weight Watcher's ActiveLink

Weight Watcher's came out with out with ActiveLink recently.  The price for the device is not bad $39.95 and you have to pay and extra $5.00 per month to have it connect to their web site. The ActiveLink does not track sleep and seems to just convert everything to points, no steps, calories, or stairs climbed.  If you use points to motivate you its not bad but the tracking of steps, activity minutes, and stairs climbed is an excellent motivator.  Converting this to points is easy, just track your activity time and the WW website can convert that to points.

My Choice

My choice, the Fitbit One.  If the Fitbit Flex were to track altitude changes I would use it at the drop of a hat.  I have not used the premium site yet and not sure the if the value for price is worth it.  I'll see about trying it in the future.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

So you need a TURP done - 5 Months Later

So the final Post Op appointment today, almost 5 months to the day after.  Things are great.  Was it worth it?  Yes.  So 3 months ago, I went on a drug called Vesicare. This solved all my bladder spasm and the urgency to go problems. It created some problems, like my vision got blurry for about 4 weeks and it finally cleared up...I am getting ahead of myself a bit. The doctor and I planned that after 3 weeks I would go off the finasteride and then 3 weeks after that I would go off the Rapaflo. I followed the plan and so for the last several weeks was just on the Vesicare until about 2 weeks ago (my own plan.)  No pain, but still eye blurriness which is slowly going away.

So while on Rapaflo, I had the symptom of retrograde ejaculation and after going off it that symptom disappeared.  One of the common things that happen with the TURP is the possibility that a person would end up with the symptom.  The doctor said it is possible in about 85% of the cases.

I am hoping that in another 2 to 4 weeks the eye blurriness issues will go away and I can go to the eye doctor and validate my eye prescriptions and a new pair of glasses for work and reading.

All-in-all, if you have issues with going as I describe in So you need a TURP done go to your doctor and go through the process it could make your life better.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

So Consumer Beware!


 Early mid-week last week, I get a call about doing a survey out of Fort Collins, Colorado on energy efficiency.  Nice survey and took only 5 minutes like they said and had some good questions.  Well, if you give them your address, you are entered to win a gas card of anywhere from $25 to $100.  Guess what we won a $40 gas card.

Now hold on.  They deliver the gas card but ask that you give them an opinion on a piece of energy efficient equipment, and only an opinion nothing is being sold, and you then get your gas card after the person spends an hour getting your opinion.

Well, I say okay.  The guy shows up and first thing he says is out of these prizes which one would you take in addition to the gas card.  I say, "None."  They all looked cool but were all cheap, probably everything only about $50.

Next thing is he is trying to sell a air cleaner, a super special air filter and ultimately even a super cool vacuum cleaner.  Nothing about just asking our opinion, everything was for sell.  And supposedly the company only did surveys.    I did find out that if we did buy the special air filter we would have had to call a number to day we were getting it and they would send one of the prizes the guy mentioned at first.

Well we wasted one hour of time our time to get a $40 gas card and fortunately were smart enough not to buy anything.  We never asked the price of anything but we figured it would be expensive.  We did get the $40 gas card.

The gas card is ridiculous. You have to get your gas and receipt, send the receipt in with the card filled out and get back four $10 coupons that you can only use one a month over four months.  It takes at least 10 weeks to get the coupons back. I will see if we really get the coupons but I don't expect much for the effort.

From what I can tell the entire deal was a scam.  We were pretty careful not to buy anything and not to show the person around the house or leave anything expensive out.  Based on all this I think everyone they called won a gas card of some value.

So beware if you get a call for a survey and then an offer of a prize at the end of it and they tell you they will deliver it to you. Oh! And they just want an hour of your time for your opinion on a piece of equipment.  Run away, say NO! This is a total scam.    ----   Remember the old adage, if it is too good to be true it is probably a scam.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

So You Had a TURP done -- Week 3

So here it is week three already.  If you have read my other two posts So You Need a TURP Done and So You Need a TURP Done - Two Weeks Later you know I went through a procedure known as a BiPolar TURP in March.

If we step back to about 4 days prior to the surgery, I was headed out the door to go down to Golden, CO for three days of Nikon classes and my right foot started hurting.  I thought at first Achilles Tendinitis which I get every so often but this was in the foot.  By the end of Saturday, my foot hurt bad enough I was limping and not having a lot of fun.  I iced it Saturday night and Sunday and by Monday it was slightly better and I still was going through the surgery regardless. Well by Tuesday when I checked out of the hospital it only hurt a little bit about a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Well, we come to week three after the surgery.  Wednesday I met with a podiatrist (foot doctor) after having several x-rays done.  Well, come to find out I have a stress fracture of a metatarsal, the one next to the little toe.  The funny part was it was not really hurting me when I went in to see the doctor but the next day boy did it hurt. So since Tuesday my foot has hurt and I have been wearing a boot with a good arch support to take the stress off the bone.  So it is getting better but again no real exercise for about 6-weeks. The bone has to heal.

Back to the TURP surgery, I still have pain urinating and seeing blood and some small blood clots.  The addition of Vesicare has helped with part of the pain and as the days have gone by it has gotten better.  Most days, it is about a 4 to 6 and more often it is starting to be below a 4 which is good.

So the plan will be at the end of this week to go off the drugs and see what happens to the pain over two or three days.  If it stays in the 4 to 6 range, I'll stay off them and expect each day to get better. If the pain goes up, I'll go back on the drugs for another week.

Overall, it is getting better.  I still get a bit tired by the end of the day but getting more energy each day.  I expect when I write about this next week things will be even better.

The big question I have not answered yet for myself is, was this all worth it?  I think I'll wait until May or June to answer that question since once things have healed up, I'll really know if I am off the BPH medications which was one of the primary goals.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Camera Insurance, Do you have it?

If you don't have insurance for your camera gear, why not?  Yes, it costs money but your gear cost a lot more money and would cost even more to replace out of your own pocket.  If you are a professional photographer you probably have insurance and if you don't you need to consider it.  If you are an amateur, you should have insurance for your gear.

So after buying a Nikon D800 and several lenses along with a Nikon D90, I have several thousand dollars invested in this gear, to lose it, have it stolen or even broken would cost me even more.  I thought my home owners insurance would cover the gear and it did to a point, stolen or lost in a fire or tornado.  My home owners insurance did not cover the gear if it was in my car or if I dropped the gear in a lake.  Also, with my home owners insurance I have a $1,000 deductible and for some items the money would come out of my own pocket.

So I called my insurance company +USAA and talked to a person about insuring my gear. It was pretty simple, I provided an inventory of gear and what it cost me with tax included.  I had receipts and serial numbers already in a file so that made life very easy (Take a look at +Evernote, as I had note with everything in it.)  So for about $100 a year, I can insure about $10,000 of gear or for about $50 a year I can insure about $5,000 of gear.  Depending on the gear and coverage the amount will vary. Each quarter I evaluate what gear I have and pretty much anything over $100 gets insured.  If the gear is stolen, dropped, lost in a lake or the ocean, etc, I am covered.  Yes, I'll have the loss to deal with and the hassle of buying new gear and dealing with the insurance company but I'll get gear at least.

So are you insured?  If not consider it.  You may loss the gear you have and the pictures on that gear but the cost won't be as bad as it would have been without insurance.

Note: I have a love/hate relationship with insurance companies.  My house was hit with a tornado in 2008 and the insurance company was there and made life easy.  Last year my truck was t-boned by a semi and having to deal with auto insurance (two of them at that) was a pain I don't want to go through again.  So choose the company you deal with wisely.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Weight Watchers, It Works!

My wife and I started Weight Watchers on January 11, 2013. Obviously, the primary goal is to lose weight and it is working.  As of today, we each have lost about 20 pounds each, so about 2 pounds  a week, which is a healthy amount to lose each week.

Weight Watchers is not about watching calories but uses a points system to help with weight loss.  A male weighing about 255 pounds has a daily point target of 48 points, a set of weekly 49 points and finally when you exercise you get so many points to use later that week based on the amount of exercise you do. For instance, if you do 40 minutes of elliptical training you earned 4 points.  Your primary goal is to use your daily points and if need be dip into your weekly points.

With Weight Watchers, you track your points each day and your weight once-a-week.  In addition, you can track some body measurements since you may not just lose weight but you are probably losing inches as well.  In some cases, in a particular week you may not lose weight but you may gain weight and the only indicator that things are changing with your body are the different measurements.

For tracking, you use the Weight Watchers web site and if you have a smart phone you can use the Weight Watchers application.  There is even an application for doing bar code scans of products at the store to determine their point value.  Newer products are probably not in the scanner tool but you can enter the fat, carbohydrate, fiber and protein values to get a point value per serving.

The cool thing about the points plan, is that you look at serving size and later when on maintenance after losing the weight you want, it will help you remember what a is a reasonable serving size.

There are times when using all your points can be tough, since you want to lose weight and try to eat less then you should eat.  One thing that helps is if you have a partner and you are working together on the points.   My wife and I each have our own accounts and we do breakfast and lunch separately, but dinner we do together.  We usually end up with between 18 and 20 points for dinner and it can be tough to fill those at times.  We bounce ideas off each other and come up with a plan for dinner.

The one thing we have a tough time figuring out is pasta and other items that are based on dry uncooked servings and what you have to measure out is cooked.  Still working on this one but we work around it the best we can.

I started to workout on the elliptical trainer about three times a week and built up to 40 minutes until March when I had to have surgery.  Since the surgery I have not worked out but I am still losing weight and I find that I am not hungry and usually pretty full 95% of the time.  If I need something extra like chocolate or peeps on graham crackers, I can do it since there are weekly points.  You just have to watch that you don't over do it and stay within the points.

I was a little reluctant to try Weight Watchers but wanted to lose weight and support my wife in her weight loss goals.  It is working and easy to use.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Backups, Who Needs Them!

Do you do backups of your data, of your photographs?  Do you do on-site or off-site backups or both?

Consider this: You have 10 years worth of +Quicken data for your home or business.  In addition, you have 25 years worth of family photos that you paid hundreds of dollars to digitize.  Your house gets hit by a tornado, lightning or even a fire destroying everything and you have no backups.  How do you get your data back?  You don't if you are not doing backups.  This loss is going to potentially cost money and the emotional lose is there as well.

Tomorrow March 31, 2013, is World Backup Day, http://www.worldbackupday.com/.  It is a reminder to look at what you are doing or not doing for backups.  Backups should be a multi-tiered approach a combination of on-site backups and off-site backups.  The backup plan should include a plan for daily, to weekly and even monthly backups along with regular testing of a recovery.  Backups without the ability to recover your data is only half the solution.

On-site backups include using a Network Access Storage (NAS) something like +Drobo 5N 5-Bay NAS Storage Array filled with disk or even a Drobo 5D 5-Bay Storage Array, Thunderbolt/USB 3.0.  You may consider in the long-term to get two of these devices and use one for off-site storage and swap the devices out every couple of weeks.

Currently, my plan includes getting one of the Drobo NAS devices filled to the brim along with the 3 TB USB backup device and the 1 TB USB backup device I am currently using.  The plan includes backing up to each and then ultimately to the Drobo.

One solution for off-site backups include the cloud.  To me the cloud was a very scary place but the technology and bandwidth considerations have improved a great deal.  Using +Comcast.com, you would originally have a 205 GB limit per month, but last year Comcast took that limitation away.  The part was the technology issue.  How to get a full initial backup done in a reasonable amount of time.  The backups needed in my office took up 650 GB and grows about 2 GB to 20 GB after each photo shoot along with all the other data within the office.

Two solutions possible solutions, +Carbonite and +CrashPlan.  Carbonite minimizes the use of bandwidth, is secure and has several reasonable options for one, two or more computers. Carbonite does not offer a SEEDing service at the time I tested it.  My testing lasted about 9 months and in that time I could not get a full initial backup completed especially with the weekly growth I was experiencing.

CrashPlan has multiple options for the home or business, is secure, options for one, two or more computers plus the ability to backup a friends computer or backup to a friends computer. CrashPlan even offers a SEEDing solution for a cost. CrashPlan backs up the most current files first then goes through to the older files.  CrashPlan did not seem to care about bandwidth usage other then what the ISP might limit.

I ended up on February 15, 2013, moving from Carbonite to CrashPlan.  The solution I select was the CrashPlan+ Family Unlimited Plan.  I did get a significant discount for moving from Carbonite to CrashPlan for the first year but the yearly rate was even better than Carbonite's.  I was concerned about how long my initial full backup would take since I was not planning on using the SEEDing solution.  Based on information from the CrashPlan site and my available bandwidth via Comcast, I was pretty sure the backup would take about a month.  I am please to say it took a month to the day.

Each month, I select a directory and do a test recovery to validate I can get the data back to my machine.  CrashPlan has some great FAQs about switching machines if you get a new or if the worse case happens and you lose your entire machine how do you get all your data back.  I recommend before doing any kind of recovery you read the FAQs and if you are uncertain about how to proceed reach out to CrashPlan support.

Now, backups occur daily or right after a photo shoot to my local devices and an on-going backup everyday to CrashPlan.  I still need a new NAS solution to buy as my old NAS device has given up the ghost.

Your backup plan should consider both multiple on-site backup solutions and an off-site solution.  For off-site it is as simple as taking a backup device to the office or putting one in a safety deposit box or backing up to the cloud.  If you have no plan in place, create a plan, start small and grow your plan to fit your needs.

One concern I have with the cloud is what happens if the service I use goes out of business?  This is a concern for any cloud service.  Ensure you have built into your plan a solution in event this scenario happens.

If you do not have a backup plan or you are not doing backups, consider getting started today and worse case start tomorrow.  Realize everyday you put of doing any kind of backups off, you risk of losing data goes up.

If you have any comments or ideas, please comment.

Friday, March 29, 2013

5th Friday Poetry

Since it is the 5th Friday of the month, I thought I would share a bit of poetry.  Two poems for your reading pleasure.

After the dreams I had this last week, I remembered this poem.


Dreams
16-Oct-2004

Dreams may appear
when they are not wanted,
become shadows in the mind,
and over time disappear.

The dream came,
clouded my mind like a flurry
of static on TV.
Flashes of light,
a story,
in color, not black-and-white,
of people known and unknown.
Where did the faces come from?
Movement and flight,
my vision intensifies
as I fall.
Smack!

I awake
sun shines through the window
where there had been darkness.
The light guides my path.
Where it leads, I do not know.
I walk and walk.
Danger lurks in the periphery,
Something grabs me,
sinks a nail in my neck.

I awake in full
aware of the dream
within a dream,
I wonder if I am awake.

Dreams appear
when they are not wanted.



After learning to walk on the winter ice and snow in Alaska, this poem worked it's way out of my head.  For me it brings the view of the aurora and the feeling of the cold and snow.  Just a memory now but something I won't forget.


Winter's Night Walk
21-Oct-2004

On a dark moonless night
overcast with snow laden clouds
there is only the white crunch
of snow  as each foot falls.
Breathe out, a gray fog.
Breathe in, sinuses freeze.

Stop, at forty below,
do not breathe.
Listen, then listen some more.
Hear the clatter of snow flakes
as they strike the ground.

Breathe, inhale deeply.
Smell the whiteness
of new fallen snow.
Do not move as the warmth
of the falling snow calms
the mind. Look up,
the sky begins to clear
and above the clouds...

A green rivulet of light slithers
across the black, growing wider, deeper,
while the hiss of auroral static
catches in the ear,
the roar of the universe,
as the green vaporous light
shimmers in the cold.

Turn, walk home.
Feel God's presence
in the cold green light,
the star-filled sky,
and each falling snow flake.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Getting Fit and Losing Weight

On January 11th, 2013, my wife and I started on +Weight Watchers and have had some good success.  No we did not lose 100 pounds in 3 months but we have lost about 10% of our original body weight and that is great.  A 10% loss in 3 months is good from a health standpoint.  In addition, we are learning what a real portion size is and when we reach our goal weight, we should be able to maintain that weight.  I would recommend Weight Watchers for guys.

One thing I was missing was how I was doing fitness wise.  Last time I lost a lot of weight, I tracked steps each day and other exercise.  So I started looking for a pedometer that would track steps but more.  My ideal pedometer would track steps, heart rate, calories and help motivate me.

I looked at Jawbone Up band by +Jawbone and it looked cool, but I did not like the interface to download the data, it seemed a little clunky.  The one feature I liked was the silent alarm that buzzed you every hour you were sitting still and got you moving.  The ability to keep it on wrist was good but if I went swimming I would probably have to take it off.  The price was okay at about $129 but just a bit more then what I wanted to spend.

I looked at the  Nike+ Fuelband but between price and that it did not do as much as the Jawbone Up, I dismissed it. Also, Nike has a habit of interfaces that a clunky and just a pain to work with.  The Fuelband and its interface could be great but $149 is a bit overkill.

After some thought, I remember a friend who had a Fitbit One  by +Fitbit and was having success with it.  It was not a band but Fitbit was coming out with a band.  The Fitbit One tracks steps, stairs climbed, sleep, calories and gives you an activity score.  Priced at $99 from Amazon.com, though if you search on Amazon you can find one for around $95.  My thought was get the Fitbit One start tracking steps and I pre-ordered the Fitbit Flex and then compare the two. Based on the initial information provided by Fitbit, the Flex would provide all the same information as the Fitbit One but on my wrist so I would not have to worry about taking it off and losing it.  The one problem I have had with the Fitbit One was I forgot to put it on after a shower so I lost 4 hours worth of data.  Also, it would sync with the iPhone via Bluetooth and have the data on their website.

Still the feature missing is a heart monitor.  I did get a Polar H7 heart rate monitor that will sync with my iPhone and then I can transfer data to the Fitbit site manually.  It would be nice to have a heart rate monitor that works with the Fitbit and have all the data in one place without manual intervention.

Right now I think the best fitness tracking device is the Fitbit One and until I can try the Fitbit Flex, I'll stick with the Fitbit One.

One thing I would like to see happen would be if Fitbit and Weight Watchers partnered together and you could get all the food and exercise data in one place.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First Infrared Pictures with the D800

On March 02, I went up Pingree Park Road past the Jack's Gulch camp ground to take pictures with +Justin King.  I thought I would try some infrared photography with the D800 looking over the High Park Fire burn area.

The Gear

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 28-300mm F3.5-5.6
Filter: Hoya 77mm RM-72 Infrared Filter
Tripod
Remote shutter release

The Picture Details

Aperture: f8
Shutter Speed: 30 seconds
Lens: 28mm

The Shoot

I setup just off the road in a small valley with a creek running through it.  One of the things I wanted to happen with the picture was to get the wispy clouds that a long exposure would give as well as seeing what the burn area would look like in infrared as compared to trees not burned.  First goal was to get the focus right, so first I used the auto focus without the Hoya filter and then set the focus to manual and put the filter on.  In addition,  making sure the vibration reduction was turned off.

The picture below is the result and partially what I expected but also there is a oval of over exposure which was very disappointing. All of the pictures I took with the filter looked similar to this one.


After some research, a hypothesis was formed.  The D800 view finder has a switch to put a cover in place which I did not use.  It was an extremely bright day and the sun was off my right shoulder.  So I'll be doing some testing of this hypothesis over the next couple of weeks.  Closing the view finder will probably have an impact on my night time photography as well, so this will need to be tested out at night as well.

I was able to salvage the picture somewhat and experiment with Lightroom 4.3 and Photoshop CS6 setting to get the look of an actual infrared picture.


The cool part is I was able to validate that I got the clouds looking like I wanted and to try out the infrared filter under actual conditions in a setting where I was not rushed.

As I test out infrared in the future, I'll post more information about the post processing with Lightroom and Photoshop.

See update at Second Infrared Pictures with the D800.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So you need a TURP done - Two Weeks Later

Two weeks later, well let me back up to Tuesday a week ago.  See my previous post on TURP.

I went in to the the Physician Assistant (PA) to check on things after pulling the catheter out.  They asked for a urine sample, well they did not get one.  They did an ultrasound on my bladder and got a 91.  Not bad considering in the hospital I was having number between 200 and 400, with the average being in the 350 range, which means my bladder was not empty.

I did say that if anyone brought up re-inserting the catheter, doing any poking or prodding that I would run away.  For some reason I was in a lot of pain and also had eaten something that was giving me excessive gas which was not easy to get rid of, due to not wanting to put pressure on my system.

So I left and basically things were good, until Thursday.

Thursday, I go in to urinate and I see a bit of blood (some amount of blood is to be expected but it should not be copious amounts of blood) and I see popping out a blood clot the size of a Daddy Long Legs Spider and it felt very strange coming out. Thursday through Saturday I was seeing multiple large clots and again it was to be expected to see some but I did not expect them to be that large.  Now the clots are basically small and do not happen as frequently and I still see blood.

Monday I saw the doctor.  I went off the drug phenazopyridine that helps decrease urinary track pain and makes the urine a neon orange Sunday at noon and the pain was back.  Basically, on a scale of 0 to 10 (zero no pain), the pain I was having was at about an 9.  With the drugs the pain was down to a 3, which was fine.  The interesting part, I am having two sets of pain, one burning sensation on the initial start and then a significantly greater pain towards the end of going   After giving a urine sample and getting the ultrasound (which was zero, my bladder was empty), I described this to the doctor.  Basically, I am doing good and probably in pretty good shape.  The burning sensation is normal and basically under control.  The significant pain at the end though is not normal and sounds like bladder spasms.  There is the possibility that an infection is in place which could be causing the pain, as well, so my urine sample is being checked in the lab and I'll know Thursday if that is a factor.

So to control the bladder spasms I got another drug called Vesicare, which helps with the spasms.  I started that last night and last night it helped a lot, this morning not so much.  From what I have read, it builds up in the system and so over the next few days it should help during the day.  Also, in about 3 or 4 weeks I should be able to go off it.  I think my bladder has learned that it will always have something in it so does not know how to handle being empty.

I am on 6 more weeks of no exercise and no lifting over 10 pounds.  The issue being that where they removed parts of the prostate around the bladder and urethrae there are scabs forming and if I put to much pressure on my system they will break off, start bleeding and create large clots which could block the urethrae which is not good.  

I still expect at the end of 6 weeks to go off the other drugs I was taking and all should be good.  Another update on this topic in a week or so.

So you need a TURP done


If you are male, read this with a thought to your health.  Also, ensure you have handy your stuffed unicorn, soft fuzzy bunny or soft fuzzy kitten in case the detail is too much for you.

So two years ago I had an issue, I was “peeing in morse code.”  Also, my PSA had jumped up from the normal baseline for me of 2.5 to a 7.  This was very much a sign of BPH or what is an enlarged prostate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benign_prostatic_hyperplasia.)  Note, BPH in and of itself is not bad but if not dealt with can lead to prostate cancer. So we started a treating with drugs which worked well but after a year it was making me dizzy. So we changed from one drug to two drugs but they were only about 75% effective and inconsistent.

So early in February we needed to determine what was going on inside my body.  Was the prostate causing issues and if so what were they.  Well, I went through a procedure called a Cystoscopy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cystoscopy.)  The scope looked to be at least 2 inches in diameter and about 8 feet long;  well not really.  (Please realize this scope is going in through your urethra and looks way too big to fit.)  In actuality it was about ¼ inch in size and about 2 feet long.  They gave me a local anesthetic prior to insertion (no needle thank God) and then inserted the camera and started the video feed on the monitor next to me.  The doctor was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to view pictures but I said “Hell No!”   Via the procedure it was determined my prostate was constricting my urethra and a node of it was encroaching on my bladder both of which were not good.

There were some options; stay on the drugs, try a procedure called TUMT or TUNA which were in office or a TURP (actually a Bipolar TURP.)  (Video of procedure here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmDwPdP-0VA.) The drugs were not working the TUMT and TUNA were not an option for me due to the encroachment, so we went with the TURP.  The TURP involves an overnight stay in the hospital with a postoperative catheter which pushes fluid into your bladder and then lets it out via the catheter. The catheter is normally removed within a couple of days, though some get it removed the day after surgery.

So on Monday, March 11th, I went in for the TURP.  Later that morning I woke up with some minor pain and a 2 inch diameter catheter made of fairly inflexible silicon plastic (again this one was really about 3/8th to ½ inch in diameter.)  Remember it has a tube for pushing fluids in, a tube for fluid extraction and a tube that inflates a balloon in the bladder to hold it in place filled with 35 mls of fluid.  It important to note that catheter cannot be extracted with the balloon in place.  For even more information on catheters see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urinary_catheterization.

So Tuesday morning, I talk with the doctor.  He says that 20% of the patients go home with the catheter (leading me to believe 80% went home without one.)  So I told him lets play the odds since I did not want to go home with a catheter.  Well, so they remove the catheter (no pain killers;) first they deflate the balloon ensuring all 35 mils of fluid is out and then slowly start pulling.  Now I was told no pain (well on a scale of 0 to 10) it was actually about a 2 and felt very very strange or weird as one of the nurses told me later that day. Next I got to work on trying to urinate which works but now I must be able to empty my bladder three times and then they ultrasound (bladder scan) and the numbers must come back below 200.  Mine after two tries came back between 225 and 350.  The doctor determined I needed to go home with a catheter.  The nurse was told me I was lucky since I was to get a coude catheter which could be inserted much easier.  

Now this catheter was about 2 inches in diameter and 4 feet long.  It looked that way to me anyway.  It was really about ⅛ th inch in diameter and probably about 18 inches long. A nurse with 40 years of experience got the joy of inserting this new catheter into me.  A catheter going in is not as fun as one coming out; a bit of pain for about 30 seconds and yes that same strange/weird feeling except stranger and weirder since something was going into an out hole.  After about 20 minutes of training on how to change from a leg bag to a large bag for sleeping to keep them clean and me free of infection.  

Finally, it is time to go home to learn how to sleep on my back and sleep in my own bed.  I did not mention that I only got about 4 hours of sleep Monday night, with the noise the IV machine was making, along with the hiss of air from the oxygen line and finally I honestly think they design hospital hallways to funnel noise into the room.  I could hear conversations from way down the hall and when walking out Tuesday (since I don’t remember the trip to the room that well) I notice the closest room was at least 15 feet away if not more but I could hear everything.

So now I am home with a catheter, leash filled with urine.  Yeah, I could drink tons of beer and not worry about getting up but there is just a little more to life then tons of beer (Yeah, I know that is heresy to some.)  The big issue is the comfortableness of something hanging out of you and some slight pain.  I learned a bit of humility and gained respect for those that must wear a catheter everyday with no sight in end.  

Finally, Tuesday the following week, 7am, a beautiful morning and I get the experience of taking the catheter out myself.  Yes, I get to cut the balloon line in the catheter, ensure the balloon is empty and then it is suppose to just fall out.  Not!  I had to gently pull it out inch by inch, at least I did not have to put it in.  Yes, there was that strange/weird feeling  and it was just plain weird.  It was out.  The cutting of the balloon line took about 30 seconds, rubber does not cut well even with sharp scissors because you are being extra cautious with the scissors since these sharp items are very, very close to your family jewels.

I'll be posting an update for the Pre-Post-OP appointment and status. See my week 2 update.