Fifteen Years Later

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Not willing to forgive, not going to forget. Somethings are worth fighting for, and the freedom of my family and myself to worship God in the manner of our choosing is one of them.

Rot in hell, bin Ladin. Rot in hell.

Product Review: Prosounds M2 Ear Protection.

m2_prosounds

Advantages: Low cost, full features
Disadvantages: Top out at 25db noise reduction
Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

Earlier this year I backed a Kickstarter project for a set of ProSounds M2 electronic earmuff hearing protectors. They came in last month, and to be honest, I forgot I had them, because I’ve taken a shine to these other ProSounds hearing protectors instead.

However, the M2 earmuffs are quite good. Slightly larger than the Howard Leights they replace, they offer 25db noise reduction versus the 22db reduction of the Howard Leights. They also cover my ears more, which is probably one of the reasons for the better noise reduction rating.

The volume controls are easy to reach and easy to use without looking at them (a must-have for this sort of hearing protection, and they were comfortable to wear all morning long at a recent USPSA match.

If you’re looking for something that’s a little step up from the Impact Sports that are so popular these days, give the Prosounds M2 a look.

Upon Further Reflection…

  1. Cars break down.
  2. Cars have a tendency to break down at night.
  3. In really weird places.
  4. Where there’s no shoulder.
  5. So why don’t you have road flares (or reflective triangles) and a reflective vest in your trunk?

You DO know how to change a tire, don’t you?

And while I don’t recommend you go out looking for a fight, if you do find yourself in some place when carrying around an AR-15 in the open makes a lot of sense, I’m thinking that a reflective vest sends a clear signal to the other good guys out there that you’re on their side.

Call it a “Don’t Shoot Me First Vest”, if you will.

Equipment Upgades.

Nope, not gun stuff, photo stuff.

I’m looking at doing some more photo work for money (the best kind of photo work there is) in the near future, and I wanted to upgrade my lighting a bit.

I’ve been using light-painting quite a lot for my product photography work (with some pretty good results), but light-painting doesn’t work too well when you want to freeze a moving subject, so strobe power is what I needed.

I learned strobes by playing around with Vivitar 285s and sync cords, so the relatively cheap, powerful strobes and radio slaves of today just blow me away. Even the cheap stuff is really, really good and easily available.

From left to right:

image

 

Neewer TT260 Strobe: This is not a whiz-bang TTL strobe with all the bells and whistles, but what it does, it does well. With a Guide Number of 180, it’s got a good amount of throw for a shoe-mounted flash (the 283s I learned on had a Guide Number of 120 at best), and for $40, I can use it and abuse it and not break the bank.

Neewer Radio Slaves: When I was shooting (snapsnap) for living, radio slaves cost a LOT of money, and some still do. These give me all the functionality of the radio slaves of the past at a fraction of the cost.
I love living in the future.

Neewer Remote Trigger: A wireless remote trigger for just over $5? Yes, please!

All this stuff (plus a light stand and a hot shoe stand adapter) will get your light off the top of the camera and out in the wild where it can do some really, really cool things, For example, here’s a shot I did for a former employer.

lady_downrange

That photo was taken with my ancient Nikon D70, and white/gold reflector and this photo setup, but just about any off-camera flash and a few light modifiers would get similar results. This was far from the most sophisticated lighting equipment and setup I’ve ever worked on, but it worked. Here’s the lighting setup:

lighting

I positioned the main light to her left because I knew she’d be standing with her right shoulder forward and I wanted the light to wrap around her face. Also,  a light from that direction would minimize the reflections on her glasses (Angle of Incidence = Angle of Reflection: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!). The hair light to the left and behind was to pop her out from the dark background, and the gold reflector was for warmth and also help separate her out from the background. I wasn’t too concerned about defining the shape of her head any more than that because a) there was shiny, shiny glass behind her that would reflect any light to her right and b) the light on the subjects int the would help separate her out. The light on the guys in back was dead-simple but I have to goose it up a bit because the light was further away from them than the main subject and it had to travel through glass. I had a small (2’x2′) soft box on the closer lights for a smoother, more controllable light and the back light had barn doors because I had to cover a lot of ground with it.

All this was setup and shot in under an hour and it went fast because I saw the shot I wanted in my mind first and I had enough practice at this sort of thing to make it happen.

There’s about 52 different ways what I just said could be applied to self-defense and shooting (bangbang), but I will leave that to all you to work out.

Open Carry That Worked Really, Really Well.

The breathless pearl-clutching in this NPR article is somewhat funny to read, now that the Republican National Convention is over and pretty much nothing happened outside the venues.

With the country reeling after shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., the issue of open carry in Cleveland has become a flashpoint. The head of Cleveland’s largest police union called on Gov. John Kasich to suspend open carry for the duration of convention.

“I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point,” Stephen Loomis, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told CNN.

In a news conference today, Mayor Frank Jackson said the idea had been taken up and down the chain of command and Kasich said he did not have the authority to change state law.

That means that people have been walking around downtown Cleveland with their firearms.

Allen said he decided to bring his handgun after the police shootings in Dallas. He said someone intent on carrying out something similar would be dissuaded by the show of force.

Kudos to everyone who was legally carrying a gun in Cleveland last week (open carry or not).

Anyone want to bet that the Democrat convention in Philadelphia (not exactly the most gun-friendly city in the U.S.) won’t have the same calmness surrounding it that the Republicans (and their guns) had?

What Makes A Civilian Defender When Everyone Has Guns?

Golindrianas ladyConsistency and the ability to make the shot on-demand, that’s what. Consider this quote from an article which asks the question, “What makes a photographer when everyone is taking pictures?”.

“If you were there when the Hindenburg caught on fire, and you took a picture of it, that’s a great photograph. But you’re not a great photographer, because you can’t repeat that in everyday things,” he continues. “What a great photographer does is, they are consistently able to make something in a style that’s personal to themselves.”

Been there, done that, have the contact sheets to prove it. For the best (photo) shot I’ve taken, I had time to snap exactly one frame (that’s the image to the right). It was on a medical mission trip to a small town in the coastal jungles of Ecuador, and I was along to document the trip. The lady in the picture was waiting for her turn to see the doctor, and I had to be very circumspect with my photos. I rounded a corner, saw her, saw the light, ducked back around the corner, set my camera for the exposure I wanted and pre-set the focus for the estimated distance from me to her, turned back around the corner, framed the shot, fine-tuned the focus and snapped the shot. If I had taken more than one shot or filled with my camera in front of her, I wouldn’t have gotten the same expression, and it’s wouldn’t have been as strong of a photo.

The whole thing took far, far less time to do than for me to write about it up there. Think there’s a corollary here with personal defense? I do.

I knew my camera (a Nikon FG with an 105mm f2.5 lens), I knew my film (Fujichrome 100), I knew lighting, I knew the rules of composition and, most importantly, I didn’t have to stop and consider what options would be best at the moment the shot presented itself. I knew there was enough light coming in from the left side window to expose her face, I knew there was enough light coming in from the right to separate her out from the background, and I knew there’d be enough light from the window that the picture would be sharp at 1/125 at f.28. Keep in mind this was pre-digital: If you’re not ± one stop exposure on chromes, you’re toast, and so my ISO was 100, period. No cheating by cranking up to ISO12800 with the turn of a wheel, and no chimping, either.

That’s what a civilian defender does. They may have the same gear as a dilletante, they may talk about the same things as a dilettante, but when push comes to shove and they see the shot, they take it, and they take it in confidence.