Flipped and Whopper-Jawed

I have so many tips for you today!  First, let’s talk about when your computer display suddenly turns upside down. I remember the trauma of getting my first Windows PC plopped on my desk at work and having my UNIX-based Sun Workstation carted away like it was yesterday.  That was nearly 18 years ago now.

In all those years, in spite of having just about every problem imaginable, including a few that people didn’t believe unless they saw it themselves, I never had my display suddenly appear upside down.  Not until yesterday, that is.

As it turns out, on a Windows PC, if, for reasons I haven’t come up with yet, you want your display upside down, you can hit the CTRL-ALT-Down Arrow keys simultaneously and your display will flip.  Use CTRL-ALT-Up Arrow to flip it right side up again.  This only works for monitors, not built-in laptop screens.

Yes, my computer is displaying upside down

Yes, my computer is displaying upside down

I was quite surprised to learn this trick when I was attempting another 3-key command (CTRL-SHIFT-Down Arrow) in Excel, which will select everything in the column you’re cursor is in in a spreadsheet.  Imagine my surprise when, not even knowing what actual combination of keys I’d just hit, my screen went black and then turned back on upside down!  I was so amused, I took a picture and texted it to my Bestie in the middle of the work day!

The rest of my tips for today are iPhone photography related.  All are using the panoramic feature, which I am enjoying immensely.

  1. The image you see as you’re shooting is significantly taller than what will be in the actual image.  In this panoramic taken from the top of the sledding hill, I thought I had Tisen positioned nicely as I twirled around the hill with the camera pointed down the slopes.  As it turned out, I nearly cut Tisen out of the photo all together.

    Learning the hard way that the image isn't as tall as it looks when you're shooting

    Learning the hard way that the image isn’t as tall as it looks when you’re shooting

  2. It’s hard to hold the phone vertically, keep it level, and keep your fingers out of the image, especially while holding a dog leash.  Stand on the leash, hold the phone on the outside edges, and try not to shoot when the sun is directly overhead, making it almost impossible to see the screen and recognize when your fingers are in the photo.

    Scene plus finger plus some whopper-jawedness looking away from the riverfront

    Scene plus finger plus some whopper-jawedness looking away from the riverfront

  3. If you get whopper-jawed as you pan, stop moving and get yourself level again before continuing around the scene.  The iPhone camera will wait for you to get situated.  In this photo, I stopped 2x and I can’t find where.  In the first of the panoramic images above, can you see where I got whopper-jawed and kept on going as I straightened out the camera?

    Scene along the riverfront from the sledding hill

    Scene along the riverfront from the sledding hill

  4. Panoramic images work best when the scene is further away.  Close up objects are less interesting for some reason.  Well, at least the ones I chose.
  5. Some subjects look best in “normal” images.

    My handsome boy is easier to frame well in a "normal" shot

    My handsome boy is easier to frame well in a “normal” shot

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Random Musings

Pat and Tisen take a turn posing for me amongst a crowd on the way to the point

Pat and Tisen take a turn posing for me amongst a crowd on the way to the point

 

I don’t have much more to say about Point Park, but I don’t have any other photos, so this is a disconnected blog post–the text has nothing to do with the photos.

A colleague of mine lost his father on Tuesday.  His father was relatively young and presumably healthy–he died quite unexpectedly of an aneurism.  It’s funny how such a tragedy in someone else’s family can feel like my own tragedy.  I guess I can make anything about me.

Up close, I managed to get Tisen looking my way

Up close, I managed to get Tisen looking my way

But this is how my mind works:  person dies.  Did person who died have a fulfilling life?  Were they ready to die?  Did they feel like they had done the things they wanted to do in their lifetime?  My gosh.  I’m going to die.  I am not immortal.  I have so many things I want to do before my life ends.  This person died without warning or symptoms of anything.  What if I just dropped dead tomorrow?  My bucket list would be left behind, ridiculous in its length.

These moments always serve as a reminder that I’m rapidly approaching the age at which my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  On one hand, I am confident I do not have cancer and that I will not have cancer.  On the other hand, I find myself puzzled by the notion of finding a balance point between experiencing everything life has to offer and having things like health insurance.  In the event I am wrong that I will not have cancer, it would be really helpful to have insurance.  And income.  Two very helpful things if faced with a potentially life-threatening disease.

I couldn't choose between the previous shot and this one--Tisen is looking so cute

I couldn’t choose between the previous shot and this one–Tisen is looking so cute

But if you spend all your time and energy worrying about having things like health insurance and income to cover you and your family in the event you have a life-threatening illness, isn’t it just possible that you create that illness?  I mean, the stress and worry and long work hours.  Do they not increase the probability of what you most want to avoid coming to fruition?

The back wall of the Ochs Museum at the point looks a little prison-like

The back wall of the Ochs Museum at the point looks a little prison-like

On the other hand, if you throw caution to the wind, pursue your dreams and live hand to mouth with no health insurance, what happens then?  And it’s not just me I worry about.  What if my husband gets sick or my dog?  There would be nothing worse than having to watch my dog suffer without being able to do anything for him.  Or having to put him down solely because I couldn’t afford to treat what ailed him.

These are the kinds of choices I dread.  So, instead, I go to work each morning and I enjoy the other freedoms that comes from having an income and health insurance.  But, some days I wonder if a) I am kidding myself about the level of security I really have–it could all go away in an instant, and b) if I were on my death bed, would I regret not having health insurance or not having traveled the continent more?

I was a little too busy framing the foreground rocks to get Moccasin Bend framed properly

I was a little too busy framing the foreground rocks to get Moccasin Bend framed properly

Power Point

Pausing just long enough for a quick pose is enough to make Tisen yawn

Pausing just long enough for a quick pose is enough to make Tisen yawn

Here’s a tip about Point Park on Lookout Mountain:  there’s a parking lot with free parking behind the shrubs across the street from the park entrance.  It took us two trips up there before we figured out that really was free parking.  Even on Memorial Day weekend, there was still an empty space.  Most people are so busy figuring out where they can park at the meters on the same side of the street as the park that they fail to notice the entrance to the free parking on the left (us included).  We’ve been up there at times when the pay parking spaces were completely full while there was only one car in the free parking lot.

A second tip is that if you are local and go there often, a park pass is only $20 and it allows you take up to 5 guests with you each time you go.  I trip with 6 adults is $18, so it doesn’t take long to pay for itself.

Perhaps the view is best enjoyed without a yawning holstein?

Perhaps the view is best enjoyed without a yawning holstein?

A third tip is that if you’d rather not pay to get into Point Park, you could hike there from Cravens House and come in the back way.  You might have to go back the same way, but the round trip can be as short as 2 miles depending on which trail you take.

I needed a tripod to get this straight, but I managed to get a shot with the sun behind me at least

I needed a tripod to get this straight, but I managed to get a shot with the sun behind me at least

The final tip is that if you like to take photos, go early.  This is a tip I have yet to take.  We scheduled a trip up to Point Park to get there shortly before sunset our first time out to the point.  When we arrived, more and more park rangers kept arriving and running past us.  Then, an ambulance arrived and they took a stretcher down the main path out to the point.  They returned with a man on the gurney who had apparently been climbing on some rocks along the trail until he slipped, fell, and broke at least 1 rib, they thought.

In honor of Memorial Day, we stopped to read the stories of the battles on the memorial

In honor of Memorial Day, we stopped to read the stories of the battles on the memorial

I don’t know if it was because the rangers were on high alert that evening or if they’re always so insistent on emptying the park right at sunset, but they came down to the overlook we were at where I was shooting away as the sun sunk towards the horizon and told us to go home before the sunset was below the horizon.  Since some of the best sunset shots come after the sun has set, this was a bit disappointing.  I was counting on being able to shoot until dusk.  But the park closes “at sunset,” which I guess can be left to a ranger’s discretion.

Tisen is rather irreverent when it comes to appreciating battlefields

Tisen is rather irreverent when it comes to appreciating battlefields

However, the park opens at 6AM.  So, there’s plenty of time to get there and get setup for sunrise shots, although I guess the sun will be rising before 6:30AM soon.

While I work on mustering the courage to get up that early, I try to ignore the harsh shadows in my mid-day shots, wishing I had better timing.

Tisen and Pat seem to be having a sidebar--I think they were plotting against me

Tisen and Pat seem to be having a sidebar–I think they were plotting against me

iPhonoramic

Mocassin Bend from the Point at Point Park, Lookout Mountain

Mocassin Bend from the Point at Point Park, Lookout Mountain

Back home in Chattanooga after a week away at a work conference resulted in two things.  First, a lot of napping and second, a disappointingly dull Memorial Day weekend.

Feeling obligated to do something both celebratory and respectful of those who have served, we managed to muster enough energy to go up to the military park on Lookout Mountain, Point Park, and take Tisen on a walk around the point.

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’ve undoubtedly seen photos from Point Park many times–it’s one of my favorite places to take visitors because of the spectacular views from the point.

And, in fact, I took enough photos for at least two more posts (sorry), but for today’s post, I thought I would share my iPhone panoramic experience.

Another go at Moccasin Bend - almost level

Another go at Moccasin Bend – almost level

First, I confess, I was not an early adopter of this capability.  I updated my iPad to iOS 6 (the update required) months ago when it first became available.  However, updating erased all the data on my iPad, which I restored from backup.  Since I wasn’t sure I had a backup of my iPhone, I waited to upgrade until I had a chance to do a full backup.  It took the moment when I was in the Grand Ole Opry wishing I could take a panoramic shot on Wednesday night before I had sufficient motivation to do the backup and upgrade process.

At long last, I made time for the upgrade (iOS 6 has been out so long, it’s moved on to 6.1 now) on Friday night.  Ironically, I immediately forgot I’d upgraded and now had the ability to do panoramic images.  In fact, it wasn’t until I got to the point in Point Park and saw a guy pull out his iPhone and start taking a panoramic shot that I remembered I too now had this amazing “new” technology!

Another way to get Panoramic--using Stitch to piece together multiple photos in software

Another way to get Panoramic–using Stitch to piece together multiple photos in software

Truthfully, the ability to produce panoramic images has been around for many years.  I believe the first Canon digital camera I ever bought back in the late 90’s came with software called “Stitch” that would allow you to put together multiple photos into a single panoramic view.  If it wasn’t with my first digital camera, it was certainly with my second in 2003.  I have silly looking panoramic shots where the photos create a rather embarrassing curved shape.  If they weren’t on a different computer, I would post one for you now.

A really old-fashioned way to get a panoramic image--crop to panoramic dimensions

A really old-fashioned way to get a panoramic image–crop to panoramic dimensions

By comparison, the iPhone panoramic feature is easy to use.  Rather than taking a bunch of photos individually and either using a tripod or hope to line them up horizontally so you can “stitch” them together in software later, the iPhone uses a video-like mode and guides you through capturing 240 degrees of image while it automatically puts the images together into one.  The result?  Well, you go home with a panoramic already done.  On the down side, the exposure is set from where you start, so choose your starting place carefully.

Starting the image capture in the shadows results in an overexposed bright area

Starting the image capture in the shadows results in an overexposed bright area

Blast from the Past(s)

The unidentified warm-up act had audience members up on stage singing

The unidentified warm-up act had audience members up on stage singing. The foreground beer does not reflect any endorsement of the consumption of alcoholic beverages on my part.

One of the interesting aspects of conferences is the really cool and exciting event planned for one night of the conference to make our customers feel like they got to experience something special.

While I could worry about how many people could be employed for the same amount spent on such special events, in a time when there are no holiday parties, no fancy dinners, limits on spending that make it difficult to get a new pencil, and no excesses in spending in any part of the budget, it’s kind of nice to get to be there to experience something really grand.

The Grand Ole Opry filled slowly with much of the audience hanging around outside until the big acts began

The Grand Ole Opry filled slowly with much of the audience hanging around outside until the big acts began

And grand it was.  In fact, it was in the Grand Ole Opry–that makes it grand by definition, even if the Grand Ole Opry isn’t so old anymore having been moved to the Opryland resort outside of Nashville in 1974.  Well, maybe that is old?

If you look carefully of the photos that include the stage, you can see a light circle in the wood in the stage.  That circle was cut from the stage in the previous home of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, in downtown Nashville.  I got to see Ryman Auditorium from the outside when I diligently followed the directions my GPS provided, taking me to the former Grand Ole Opry location in spite of the fact that the Grand Ole Opry hadn’t been located there since long before the invention (or at least the availability of) GPS.

Gin Blossoms had the place hoppin' with lots of audience participation

Gin Blossoms had the place hoppin’ with lots of audience participation

What was amazing, was to be at a conference of about 3500 people and to have the entire Grand Ole Opry to ourselves.  Although its maximum capacity is limited to a surprising 4400, we still had plenty of space up in the balcony at stage left to sprawl in our seats.

If having this historic place to ourselves wasn’t impressive enough, the line up of bands to entertain this small audience was over the top.  The Gin Blossoms opened (which was impressive to those of us who went through their musical formative years in the 90’s) followed by Uncle Kracker (which was impressive for those who were into country), followed by Foreigner (which was impressive to everyone even if only one of the original band members was still part of the act).

Uncle Kracker was probably also exciting, but this is about when I went out to get a beer

Uncle Kracker was probably also exciting, but this is about when I went out to get a beer

What was most impressive was the all-out attitude of all three performances.  I can imagine for any of those bands, who enjoyed huge popularity at one time in their history, playing to a corporate conference audience could have been a bit of a let down.  If they were disappointed, they kept it well hidden.  They had us all rocking right up to the last chord.  I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun at a work conference.

iPhone Photographers note:  While the iPhone made for the best camera because it was the only one I would have carried with me during a work conference, adding a telephoto attachment might have made for some better images from the stage.

Foreigner brought down the house--I've never seen so many people over 40 moving so well

Foreigner brought down the house–I’ve never seen so many people over 40 moving so well

Dead Animals

This little guy might have been less startling had his back half not been missing

This little guy might have been less startling had his back half not been missing

After a long lack of business trips, I spent most the week in Nashville at a conference.  It’s rather ironic that the conference was in Nashville–only a 2 hour drive from home.  Because I was there to present at a “pre-conference” session, I had to arrive on Sunday.  Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one.

A group of us congregated in the center of the Opryland Resort, trying to decide where to have dinner.  Since the probability of leaving the resort decreased with each day we were in Nashville, we decided to go off-prem for dinner since it was likely to be our only chance.

This guy gives the place a little kick

This guy gives the place a little kick

However, we ended up taking the hotel shuttle across the street to a place called Caney Fork.  Personally, I would have gladly driven downtown just to get a chance to get away from the resort that night, but I guess across the street was far enough for the rest of the group.

Caney Fork was a bit of an enigma.  It’s tag line is “Southern Style Camp Cuisine Served with a Killer Smile.”  There’s just something creepy about the word “killer” in that sentence.  That’s not the only thing creepy about the place.

A white-tail deer stares down diners

A white-tail deer stares down diners

I’m not fond of being reminded of the life I’m participating in taking when I eat a piece of meat.  I know this is hypocritical of me.  I have a great respect for responsible and talented hunters who take care to kill as quickly and painlessly as possible and who eat what they kill.  I just don’t want to be the one holding the gun.

The bar has a nautical theme

The bar has a nautical theme

I was a vegetarian for 10 years, but I guess that doesn’t give me a free pass from facing that the meat I eat comes from a living creature.  None-the-less, despite the hypocrisy, I do not want to face my dinner staring down at me from the wall while I eat.  I had a hard time swallowing the Elk burger I ordered as the glass eyes in the elk head on the wall glared at me.

A view of the dining room--including the front of a truck stuck into the wall

A view of the dining room–including the front of a truck stuck into the wall

The other thing I found a bit odd was how many of the animals displayed in the restaurant cannot be found in the wild in Tennessee.  Elk were recently reintroduced in Great Smoky National Park, but other than that herd, there hasn’t been an Elk in this part of the country since 1700.  That didn’t keep them from appearing in the Caney Fork restaurant next to wolves, moose, and a variety of other critters I’m pretty sure can only be found with any predictability out West.

A moose head decorates the entry area

A moose head decorates the entry area

I’m always suspicious of a restaurant whose interests seem to cross over into taxidermy.    But, the burger was pretty good, as were the fries.  No one seemed disappointed with their meal and I came home with some pretty interesting iPhone images.  While it would have been nice to make it downtown, Caney Fork was an adventure all its own.

Waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel

Waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel

Train Tracks

My boys and Twiggy hanging out on the tracks Hipstomatic style

My boys and Twiggy hanging out on the tracks Hipstomatic style

Chattanooga became a household name in 1941 when the Chattanooga Choo Choo song topped the record charts.  The first train to be called the Chattanooga Choo Choo went from Cincinnati to Chattanooga in 1880.  It strikes me as vaguely appropriate that both the Choo Choo and I came from Ohio, although I started my journey 2 hours further North.

What surprises me, however, is that the train that made Chattanooga so famous is no longer in operation.  I guess it’s not too much of a surprise–after all, most passenger trains have gone by the wayside in the US.  In fact, I looked into what were the options for taking a train to Portland, Oregon from Chattanooga.  The closest train starts in Atlanta, goes up the East coast, across the Northern US through Chicago, up to Glacier National Park in Montana, and over to the West coast, going through Spokane, Washington and heading down to Portland via Seattle.

Looking down the tracks using HDR Pro, the brilliance of the azaleas just barely show up in the distance

Looking down the tracks using HDR Pro, the brilliance of the azaleas just barely show up in the distance

Pat and I took the train from Portland to Glacier a couple years ago.  It took about 14 hours.  To get all the way from Atlanta to Portland takes about 8 days.  As fun as traveling across the country by train sounds, 8 days of travel pretty much eats up an entire vacation.

It’s a bummer that we don’t have better public transportation here–the trains are one of the things that makes traveling around Europe so easy.  But, our penchant for driving seems to have made a passenger railway unsustainable.

The azaleas up close are so bright I had to pull down the saturation to keep it from hurting my eyes (HDR Pro app)

The azaleas up close are so bright I had to pull down the saturation to keep it from hurting my eyes (HDR Pro app)

As for the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the last train left the terminal in 1970.  The Chattanooga Choo Choo ran for 90 years from 1880 to 1970.  61 years after its first run, it was made famous by a WWII era song that was so famous, even I know the song in spite of the fact that I was born 26 years after the song hit the charts.  Even today, 72 years after the song made the train famous, I meet people from halfway around the world who are 20 years younger than me who have also heard the song.  The song was apparently easier to sustain than the train.

In spite of the demise of the Chattanooga Choo Choo, the former train station remains an attraction for visitors to the area.  I’ve stopped in there once, but some day I’ll get over there with my DSLR and do a blog post on the resort and museum that’s been erected there.

Twiggy and Tisen just spotted a cat up on the walkway by the building

Twiggy and Tisen just spotted a cat up on the walkway by the building

In the meantime, the best I have to offer are some iPhone shots of some of the vestigial tracks in the neighborhood.  There are still many active tracks in the area–the trains still serve industry–but in the downtown area, the tracks are left only as reminders of the past.

Tisen and Twiggy enjoyed their walk around the tracks–especially when they discovered a cat hiding out under the shrubs.  The building is an office building now–I don’t know the history of it, but I appreciated the azaleas.

One last look down the tracks in Hipstomatic's tintype effect

One last look down the tracks in Hipstomatic’s tintype effect