Tuesday, July 24, 2012

20% discount on my book of photos
of Indy's Old Northside Neighborhood

I received an email notice today from the self-publishing website Lulu.com indicating that it would offer a 20% discount -- at its expense (not my very slim profit margin) -- to anyone who purchases a copy of my book of photos taken in the Old Northside Neighborhood of Indianapolis last summer. For almost a full year it never even occurred to me, until I read Lulu.com's email, to do my own publicity and mention not only the availability of the book but also this short-term sale.

So, in light of the discount offer, here I am. This is my first book, and it's self-published. In fact ... and don't laugh now ... I've had the only copy of it for the past year. That's because when I put it together last August, I rushed through it. I did it, intending merely to have a physical, page-flipping memento of what was then -- and still is -- a very special investment of my photography energies in what I would learn to be a very special neighborhood in Indianapolis.

I created a gallery of my images from my shoot there over a two-month period, early June to early August. You can find all of the pictures that are in the book in that gallery; the book version has the added touch of the artist's design, with pictures in varying sizes, including many full-page photos.

My work photographing the neighborhood actually was part of a group project of the Indy Meetup Photo Club, of which I am a member. I uploaded a post at this blog about the Old Northside project at the time, an experience that culminated in two exhibits of club members' work -- one on Aug. 21, 2011, at the Propylaeum (first photo below), 1410 N. Delaware St., and two-and-a-half months later, in early November, for the First Friday Art Walk at the Indiana Landmarks Center, (second photo below), 1201 Central Ave. Both venues are in the Old Northside Neighborhood.

Before getting back to the discount offer ... in the spirit of being totally upfront ... it cost me quite a bit to make the copy of the book. And I say "quite a bit" relative to what you'd expect to pay for a mass-printing book by a Big House publisher like Simon & Schuster, Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, etc. My out-of-pocket-cost for the one and only copy was almost $90, including shipping. But as I've told a few people with whom I've shared knowledge about the book, the project was such a labor of love, it was worth it to me. I still pick it up from time to time and flip through it to remind me not only of the joy I felt back then, but the inspiration it gave me when in the throes of the project. So to me, as the commercial says, the cost was priceless.

Until recently, I'd kept the book off the public market. Partly, I didn't think there'd be much interest in its narrow-focused subject matter. And also, as mentioned above, because I rushed through it faster than I should have, it really wasn't in what I felt was optimum design. I've kicked around several ways I would like to revamp it, if I had the chance. Then two weekends ago, the book was part of the photo club's display at an Old Northside Neighborhood outing at Indiana Landmarks, where several neighborhood residents expressed interest in it when they picked it up and flipped through it. I wasn't surprised to learn that they shied away when they learned its cost. I get it; I'd react the same way. But at least I can honestly say that I had no real control of the listed price,

Well, for anyone who might still have an interest and feel that getting almost $20 off the listed price is worth another look, I've removed the 45-page book from its private status and made it available for purchase by the general public -- with a very minimal markup (13%). And through this Friday, July 27, you can get it for 20% off, none of which comes out of my pocket.

Just follow this link: The Old Northside Neighborhood of Indianapolis book to check out the book itself. Click on the "preview" link under the book image, and you can preview the first 10 pages. Unfortunately, the first two pages are the cover and title page, and the 10th page -- curiously -- is the empty back cover. Again, out of my control. Then, if you're interested, go to the Lulu.com homepage, where they will have the name of the savings coupon you can add to your cart to enjoy the 20% discount (if I recall correctly, the trick is simply to enter the word SILVER as your coupon code in checkout). And if the price with the discount still doesn't appeal to you, well ... I still will understand! Honest.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cancer Survivors Park to get new home

Talk about catching up!

Wednesday's edition of The Indianapolis Star carried a story about plans to move a Cancer Survivors Park several miles away from its current site on a triangle-shaped median where 10th Street, Indiana Avenue and University Boulevard converge near the expansive Wishard-IU-Riley Children's hospital complex.

Indy Parks officials say there are several reasons for the move to a site along Fall Creek Parkway between Delaware Street and Central Avenue, just east of the Julia Carson Government Center.

For one, the marriage of the park's concept -- to salute cancer survivors -- with the nearby medical facilities where cancer patients receive treatment was undermined by the fact that for years the park, ironically, has been used largely as a place where smokers hang out. Also, the park's focal point, a banner (bearing the park's name) supported by four tri-layer I-beams, is deteriorating and would cost more to repair than to simply move the park's remaining components -- plaques and statues -- to another site.

Still another reason for the move is access, something I can attest to, having visited the park three years ago on one of my many visits to Riley Hospital for Children, where my granddaughter spent more than a month after birth battling various medical issues (quick update: She made it through and is getting ready to celebrate her third birthday).

Being in the center of that intersection of three very busy streets, including two major thoroughfares, the park is accessible only by foot or bicycle, because no street parking is allowed. When I visited, I had been parked in one of the hospital garages, so I made a side visit to the park when I stepped out of the hospital to grab lunch a few blocks away.

The new site is in the Mapleton-Fall Creek Neighborhood, whose leaders feel the park will be used. They envision it being the start and end point of rallies and fundraising events, such as a 5K run/walk, on behalf of cancer awareness and cure.

When I visited in late August 2009, I don't remember seeing a lot of disrepair, although there was some rusting along the moulding at the top of the banner, which you can see in the picture leading off this post. There also were some minor weeds sprinkled within the cracks of the brick foundation. When I drove by it not too long ago, sadly, I noticed a lot of large weeds on the grounds. It's possible those have been removed by now, but it did tell me that something about the park was not quite right.

I never posted pictures of my visit to the park after I took them three years ago. So in light of this week's news about plans to move the park to a new site, I post them here today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

3rd annual Indy Crit presents
an opportunity to experiment

Posts to Photo Potpourri have been as invisible as rain has been in the drought-stricken Midwest the past month or so. Of course, the latter is of far more serious concern, today's 20-minute scattered shower in the part of Indianapolis where I live notwithstanding.

On Saturday, July 14, I photographed the third annual Indy Criterium cycling competition and festival, making it through all 11 competitions and a fun kids' race, a long, eight-plus-hour day on which I also set a personal record for volume of total pictures taken in one shoot -- almost 4,700. Such is the "luxury" of digital cameras -- there is no film cost overhead to worry about; you just have to be sure you pack enough memory cards.

Before ever leaving the house Saturday, I made a couple of choices with the memory of another very long day -- the White Lick 5K Mudathlon near Anderson on June 30 -- still firmly in mind. Two things distinguished my experience at the mudathlon -- I left my sunscreen in the car and I used my heavy Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens, most of the time without benefit of a monopod. I had the monopod that day, but it would not stand firm in the mud, plus ... the assignment I had made it impossible to get the shots I needed without moving a lot, and the monopod proved to be an impediment to that.

So on Saturday, for the Indy Crit, I elected to use my much lighter -- and, in terms of focal range, more versatile -- Tamrom 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II PZD VC lens. The versatility precluded me from needing to lug around a second body equipped with a lens with a shorter focal range, my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L. Another decision I made was to move my point of focus, in pack shots of riders, away from the lead rider to the center of the pack. And still another decision was, for the first time ever, to shoot in Small RAW format. I used to shoot in Large RAW, but for so many sports outings, the huge file sizes proved unnecessary. I've shot in Medium RAW for several months now, and those file sizes are more manageable and take up less space on the home computer. But I sensed I was going to shoot a lot Saturday, and I decided to go small to keep my memory-card changing and post-event tracking to a minimum. I'm glad I did it, but ... I won't do it on a regular basis; I'll continue to shoot in at least Medium RAW format unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

Oh, yeah: I applied the sunscreen before leaving the house!

Now that I've gone through all my pictures and posted them online at my SmugMug site, here's what I feel about my decisions on gear:

*** Physically, electing to to use the Tamron was a wise one. I got around much easier, and that was key because I moved around a lot, as I knew I would because I've done it before at loop-course cycling competitions. I must have circled the mile-long figure-eight route at least seven times during the day. Not having a second camera body and/or a first body with a heavy lens did my anatomical body a huge favor. I didn't have nearly the back and shoulder ache I recall having after a long day of using the Canon 70-200mm at the mudathlon. Plus, the Tamron could get my closeup and long-range shots, saving me time from switching from one camera to another.

*** I think the quality of images using the Tamron was not as good as I would have gotten with my Canon lenses, but I would not go so far to say that the drop-off was a large one.  The oft-changing natural lighting proved to be a bear to work around all day, but even the prolonged cloud cover periods never compromised my camera settings enough to make me seriously wish I had the faster Canon f/2.8 lenses, though it came close a couple times. The real question is whether I'd do it again for a similar outdoor shoot. The answer is: I'm not sure. If I knew I had a long day ahead of me like Saturday and/or that I'd be moving around a lot and taking lots of pictures, I'd have to give using the Tamron serious thought again. But if it were a relatively short shoot -- four hours max -- I would turn to the Canons to optimize image quality.

*** I got some interesting results using the center of the pack as a point of focus -- I was getting far more riders in the back of the pack in focus -- but it did bother me that the lead rider or two were not in focus. So I'm likely to not repeat that experiment and next time push my ISO to higher levels to secure a smaller aperture that will enable me to get more riders in focus behind the lead rider. Now ... if I only had not twice forgotten to return my shutter speed to 1/400 or 1/500 until halfway through both the second Men's 3/4 and the finale, the Men's 1/2/3 events (I'd reduced it to 1/250 to grab either podium or festival candid shots in the lulls before the races), I might not have had to throw out so many blurry shots. But, I don't think I'm the first who's been caught napping doing something irksome like that. But like I said, it was a long day.

I lead off today's post with a scene from a crash involving two cyclists about midway through the Men's Masters (age 40 and over) competition. The spill involved teammates on the McDonald's Racing team on Market Street between Illinois and Meridian streets, the southern-most point on the course on downtown streets. One of the riders, Michael Savory of Miamisburg, Ohio, got up in short order and resumed racing. Impressively, he finished 11th. The other, face bloodied, pulled off the course and conferred with race officials and spent time examining his damaged bike. According to the posted official results, there were no DNFs (did not finish), but I don't see his bib number (241) listed in the results, so I presume he did not return to the competition.

Above: Mayor Greg Ballard welcomes and addresses the crowd; with him is Indy Crit founder and director Jennifer Cvar, herself a top-flight cyclist.

Above: Zipp Factory Team's Bryan Boggs of Zionsville raises his arms in celebration of crossing the line first in the Men's Masters (age 40 and over) competition.

Above: Texas Roadhouse's Chad Burdzilauskas leads three other riders around the corner of New York and Illinois streets. Burdzilauskas would finish second in the Men's 1/2/3 race, equaling his finish in the 2011 Indy Crit.

Above: One thing I did a lot of Saturday was pan -- following action by tracking the riders with the camera. The shot of this Texas Roadhouse racer wasn't my best execution, but in tandem with the spot sun highlighting and rider-cycle shadow, I count it among my favorite of the day, even if the execution was only mediocre. 

Above: A group in the Women's 4 race that includes (second from left) Team Bicycle Exchange's Kristin Siebenlist, Indianapolis, an alumna of Marian University's heralded cycling program. 

Above and below: This rider (bib 241) on the McDonald's Racing Team hit the bricks on Market Street midway through the Men's Masters race and did not return to the competition.

Above: Eric Geier of Marion tries to make champagne-spraying an art form during the podium celebration of the first Men's 4/5 competition, which Geier won. Flanking him are runner-up Scott Baumer of Indianapolis (left) and Edward Wimmer, Erlanger, Ky., who fnished third.

Above: Former Indiana University cyclist Sarah Fredrickson of Bloomington, riding for Speedway Wheelman, is in the center of the pack turning the corner of New York Street to head north on Illinois Street during the Women's 1/2/3 competition. 

Above: Bri Clark of Carmel crosses the finish line first in the Women's 1/2/3 competition.

Above: Tri-column trains made this scene on Monument Circle an interesting spectacle during the Men's 1/2/3 competition.  

Above and next three below: The podium ceremony for the 1/2/3 race went off without a hitch, as Bri Clark (center above), winner of the women's race, raised arms with runner-up Katie Arnold (left) and third-place finisher Emilie Flanigan for the women's salute. They also enjoyed the traditional champagne bottle spray and drinks. Runnerup Chad Burdzilauskas of Indianapolis (first image below) got the Men's 1/2/3 ceremony off to a different start by marching bare-chested onto the stage then bending over -- a sort of pants-on side monty (second below) -- while stretching to get his arms back into the tight-fitting jersey at his podium step, much to the amusement of the crowd. When proper decorum was restored, attention returned to winner Mac Brennan of Team Bissell-ABG-Nuvo (third below). Also on the podium was photo-finish third-place finisher Nicolai Brochner.

Above: One of my best pan shots of the day, a capture of Men's 1/2/3 riders (from left) Paul Dental of Cincinnati, Mark Alford of Indianapolis, Harry Clark of Carmel and Thomas Walsh of Bloomington. Of the four, Clark finished the highest (24th). 

Above: The closest podium-place finish of the day determined third place in the Men's 1/2/3 competition. Nicolai Brochner (right) edged Weston Luzadder of Carmel, and race officials had to take time to consult video to decide who crossed the line first. Luzadder's team Bissell-ABG-Nuvo, led by race winner Mac Brennan, landed six riders in the Top 20 and won the team competition. 

Above and next three below: Children played an important role in the Indy Criterium & Festival, whether it be as spectators (above), participants in the kids' race (next two below) or having fun with water and a hose in the mist test in University Park. 

Above and remainder below: More scenes from the festival in University Park in downtown Indianapolis and elsewhere along the figure-eight course.