The back roads of Kennedy Space Center

As a photographer, I confess to a certain level of laziness. I’m not particularly motivated to drive six hours to get up at 3 AM to capture a Milky Way shot or anything like that. Nor, frankly, am I likely to abruptly shove a camera under someone’s nose to get that “real” street look. I’m not a confrontational photographer, that’s not what I’m after. And going places where I’m not welcome or am specifically barred from entering? Not me, baby.

Well, I work at Kennedy Space Center. I am continually bombarded with threats of job sanctions and even jail time for various transgressions that I might be considering committing – I can hardly imagine the fury that would be unleashed if a naked person’s image were to make its way to my computer screen, even accidentally. So, when it comes to taking unmarked and rarely-traveled dirt roads on the Center grounds… Yeah, probably not.

My friend and co-worker Dustin, on the other hand, has no such concerns. He has spent significant time placing instrumentation around the Center and knows those dirt roads and where they go. When Dustin wants to take a photo of a rocket launch here or at adjacent CCAFS, he knows where to go. This Halloween, Dustin was kind enough to take me along on one of those sorties. This is a vantage point for a rocket launch that the general public, lacking the security badge, is unlikely to ever attain. Note that no rules were broken; this particular vantage point was used by several different entities for camera operations including at least one remote TV truck, and our group has a semi-permanent installation there as well.


Nikon D7000, 70-210 Series E.

Something to contemplate

There’s a lot going on with this image, and not all of it is as obvious as the obvious parts. #1 The MOD54 in a Paterson 3-reel takes 1 liter of chemical, not 500 mL. #2 DOF is hell with a 200mm F2.9 at ~2 feet. #3 I’ve not yet gotten around to checking the speeds on my Speed Graphic focal plane shutter. #4 I admit, after seeing how flawed the technical execution was, I had no further desire to remove dust spots. #5 If you squint, you can see some parallels between the subject matter and the image quality challenges. Life is widely varied, deeply weird, and often has a tendency to interconnect in ways you might not expect. Looking at the negative, I would not have guessed that a scan would have come out as usable as it is, which clearly isn’t saying much.

It is, IMHO, a more successful photograph than what I was trying for. Life is like that sometimes.


Christmas Eve at the Olsen household

This year, the calendar works out so that I’m working through Christmas Eve. I didn’t work the whole day, though, so when I got home there was still light and so I decided to tackle one of our “sore tooth” projects, harvesting the remainder of our crop of avocados. We thought of that tree initially as “Most Likely To Succumb To Wind”, but earlier this year we realized that it was that most preferred of avocado trees, one which actually produces fruit. I’m not that tall, so once we’d gotten all of the low-hanging fruit, so to speak, it was time to work out something for the higher stuff.

Enter the broken pool net. It’s actually a net whose handle just happens to fit inside of a pool pole, but doesn’t fit tight and doesn’t lock in place. So Siddy taped it in place.


She couldn’t get any avocados with it. I tried, and I got one avocado with it. I knew what it was lacking, but had to hunt around for a while to find it. This was definitively going to need more painter’s tape – when duct tape is too high tech, try painter’s tape.

Yup, that did it. I needed a small garden rake to grab the avocados at the stem and pull them down, gently, where they would fall into the net. Worked like a champ.


That’s 28 avocados, which is about all I could reach with that broken pole. Had to re-tape the net to the pole once, and that’s the tape job you see in the pic. Used a big carabiner to clip a cloth bag to my belt, and that thing got heavy at the end. Then I thought, hey! Why not go check the citrus too?
We have four fruiting citrus here. There’s a large orangey thing that might be a tamarind, another that is probably an orange, a lemon, and a kumquat.





I had my hands full with harvesting fruit AND documenting the adventure.


Now, most of the citrus is definitely juice-grade; cosmetic flaws, etc. You won’t see these on display at the local Publix. But they do in fact make great juice. I’m thinking that we will get up Christmas morning and go outside, harvest some fresh oranges, and make hand-squeezed juice for breakfast. Wrap up! It’s supposed to be in the 50′s about then. Well, 59. Brrrr!

USS Alabama

I was in Mobile last August to celebrate a spate of birthdays, and took the opportunity to go run around and engage in photography unencumbered by a load of time-consuming children. I took my Nikon D7000 with the 18-200 VR, as well as my Mamiya 7 with the 80mm and 43mm lenses. I still don’t have the film processed from that shoot, mostly because I can’t decide whether to process it myself using a Unicolor powder kit at home or take it to a pro lab, which is what I usually do but my pro lab is now 2-1/2 hours away by car. I guess I should mail it.
Anyway, all of these pics were taken with the Nikon combo described above. That 18-200 was an awesome lens on my 6 MP D40. On the D7000, with a scratch or two on the front element – it’s not such a great performer. Sorry.




RCO_1459 (1)

Fresh pixels on demand

I was looking through my various collections of work, which is rather haphazardly organized, and just couldn’t find anything I thought was good. Nothing that seems worth spending $1 worth of paper and ink on, much less sharing with the world. Am I just too hard on myself? Yeah, maybe. It’s not as if I can expect my photos to achieve the awesomeness of a Galen Rowell, or a Lynda Touart or an Amy Bark, without at least spending the time honing my craft that they have. And oh yeah, talent. [shrug]. Well, they say the most critical skill for a photographer is knowing what not to show. I went through the stuff I found on my ipad, and found a few I don’t hate – so here they are.







Justifying the expenditure of energy and the inconveniencing of electrons

I’m having an existential crisis on behalf of my website. I don’t feel as if my life is all that interesting, at least to folks not actually living it. I mean, sure, I work an interesting job – but most of the interesting bits are stuff I really shouldn’t just post on a website, and it’s probably only interesting to me anyway. Home life is mostly just raising some kids; it’s hectic and often frustrating, but again not of widespread interest.

“Gosh, Rob, why have a blog if you’ve nothing interesting to say or show?”

That’s a question I don’t have a good answer for. Because all the cool kids are doing it? Maybe to make it easier to find a place I can drop photos and send other people to see ‘em? In the vain, faint hopes that someone out there will see through the immaturity of my work and discern the vision, the power and purpose behind my images?

I’m going to go with #1 above. Stop laughing. It’s funnier if you can keep a straight face.

So, here’s a pic of my girl Blue blowing out some candles. Enjoy!


Slow down, Rob!

Gosh, Rob! Give us some time to absorb everything you’ve just given us! More posting, scant days after the previous entry? How will we deal with the influx of information?

Well, that’s just how I roll, yo. So here’s some fresh pixels, taken in Gainesville. The subjects are code-named Blue and Four.

A young man should be able to play the piano.


A young man should be able to drive a stick shift.

A young man should be able to communicate his displeasure politely and eloquently. This young man, OTOH, is yawning.

Defiant post is defiant!

There are always haters, you see. But screw ‘em, I like my Lensbaby. It’s an effect and not appropriate everywhere. I get that. But sometimes I really like what it does. So here’s a couple of pics that I like that just happen to be taken with a Lensbaby. Take that, Internet!



OK, I admit it. The second image was one I took with the intent of it being utterly banal, posting it in a non-Lensbaby-friendly forum thread, and claiming that the Lensbaby lent it an aura of artistic authenticity. But I’m just not that kind of guy, so instead I ignored them.