Sunday, February 10, 2019

Cabin Fever Classroom

While recuperating from the pedestrian accident last month, decided being homebound was a good time to sharpen some photo editing skills, maybe even learn a new technique or two.

After downloading images from the camera to the computer, the editing process begins with questions:  First, is there a good composition within the raw photo that can be brought out?
Is the subject matter interesting or attractive?
If not an interesting subject, can it be a good abstract design?
What do I want the viewer to see or look at?
Does the image suggest a certain mood, feeling or attitude?
Any distractions need eliminating?
Any details that need to be brought out?
Any technical flaws needs correcting?

This first photo is one of eight taken all within a minute or two, pre-dawn of an Alaskan fishing boat. With the sun not up yet, lighting is dim, not much color to work with, a foggy mist, the boat was constantly moving, changing direction and position. Background details are muted and mushy.

I always try to compose a photo before snapping the shutter button so the amount of cropping required is reduced. No cropping was required on this one, but editing can improve it.


After removing all color except red, added a copper tint overlay then remove some of the mist from the background, the tree are now sharp without completely removing the morning fog. The far left shore is brought into play in the scene and the remaining red on the boat creates a focal point for the eyes. The feeling of pre-dawn light and ocean mist is preserved while bring out details in the image.



Next photo is of a new overpass in Houston, not far from home. Though the composition is good and the golden hour light warms the scene,  the colors in the yellow and red signs detracted. They are not where I want the viewer to look.  


By converting to a black and white image, the image is now an abstract design of light and dark shapes and lines, playing off of each other, making the eye dance around looking for an anchor point until it pulls back and focuses on the image as a whole. While it first appears busy and jumbled, once you pull back and see it as a whole, it is quite simple, pleasing and clean. No cropping needed.



Liked this photo from the time I first saw it in the camera. But when downloaded to the computer, the eye wants to focus on the guys face.  Which is normal but not where I want the viewer to look. Plus there are several other distractions in the photo. By cropping out the electrical box, part of the menu sign and the colorful red poster, the image is now less busy. Too many items in a photo only confuses the viewer, they don't know where you want them to look.


With the image cropped, could now work on improving the details and focal point. In the original, the stucco wall lacked detail yet the strong color pulls attention to it. The red in the poster attracted too much attention. 

Converted the image to black and white, pulled up the wall details and enhance the contrast so the eye's focus moves from the man's face to the oversized dark shadow lighting a cigarette on a highly textured surface. The wall's texture is an important image element as it dominates the scene's backdrop adding a tactile sensation.
The Spanish menu sign, the rough stucco wall, smoking in public, exaggerated shadow figure all give a feeling of another country, another culture. far, far away. The image is reduced the three elements.



In this next image I could see in my minds eye where I wanted it to go, but now how to get there. It took more thought and trying different approaches to finally bring out a story. 


First, being taken in a large open courtyard, the man is much too small to see details so cropping is needed.  The gap or distance between the man and the wheelchair needed to be emphasized more by removing a lot of excess building. Cropping will do that.

So the viewer can write their own story of what they see here, they need to be able to see the man's posture and the separation from the chair. Color was removed as the desired mood conveyed is not one of joy. The building details did not add to the story but took away attention, so color was removed.  As is, the background is secondary to the story. Many times in a color photo the details in the background will overshadow the image or the focal point the photographer wants to emphasize. By removing color as an element, the background has less importance,  the background details are less dominating.

With the scene now set, the viewer's focus is on the only three variables in the image:  the man, the wheelchair and the distance between them. The viewer will create a story in their mind as to what is going on.


As you can see here, there were not major or radical changes made to the BEFORE images, making them totally unrecognizable from the original. No, editing many times is a simple tweaking, adjusting or shifting of focus to bring out the best in a photo.

Every photo demands a different approach to bring out their best, to serve a purpose. Some are for telling stories, others to add details to the written narrative in the blog, still others are pure artistic expressions to appeal to the eye and mind.

I have heard some comment that photos should be shown exactly as they are taken. In response to that, I'll defer to the Dean of American landscape photography, Ansel Adams. 

Quote, "Good photos are taken, great photos are made."

The editing process starts with many questions and the finished image will either answer questions for the viewer or create new questions in the viewer's mind. It's all in the intent of the photographer/artist. 

Photography can be a great vocation or a great avocation, that will challenge one's mind and creativity. So many different skills to learn, so many different stories to tell. While I enjoy learning new photo editing techniques, polishing old skills, pushing the photo images in new directions, they still only reflect what happens in life out on the road. 

Am getting cabin fever not being able to ride. So to appease the wandering mind, have been making riding plans for this summer. 

What repairs or servicing needs to be done to which rig? 
Where to go? 
Which route to take? 
How long will it take?

Ride safe, ride far, hope to see you on down the road.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Florida Motorcycle Shipping

So what does it really cost to airfreight a motorcycle from Miami to Bogotá, Colombia? 

After the airlines charge, the next largest expense is crating the bike even if it is air freight. Is it necessary? Not really... BUT the US Customs requires it. 
So if you want to ship from the US, crate it.

MERFLEX International, our shipping agent in both Miami and Bogotá, broke down the cost for shipping my nephew's Colombian registered motorcycle. 

Prices in US$, does not include any costs on the Colombian end: as of 01-14-2019

Airway Bill                                                      $30.00
Airfreight by volume:                                   $1096.25
(What the airline charges)
Export Declaration Handling Custom         $125.00
Ibs delivery to airport                                  $58.02
Handling and services by weight                $43.85
Completing Dangerous Goods Form           $95.00
DG Airline Fee (UN3166)                             $125.00
Crating Service                                              $500.00
Complete Declaration of Export                  $30.00
                                    Total US$                  2,103.12

Note:  This is for a Vstrom650 fully loaded, stacked high with spare tires and gear.  The air freight cost by volume would have been less if the front tire, windshield, mirrors were removed and the excess gear was stored along side the bike.  Not knowing if we would be allowed to reassemble the bikes at the airport in Bogotá, we opted for leaving them ready to ride off the pallet and go.  The fuel tanks were almost empty as required. They did not ask that we disconnect the batteries. 

While a complete crate was required for leaving the US, if shipping from Colombia north, a pallet and shrink wrap would have been sufficient.

Does anyone actually look at the cargo leaving the US?  

The Customs did!  After his inspection, the officer applied bright green tape to the bike, 
clearing it for shipping.

Of course the crate for my KLR sidecar rig was even larger. 
Cost for Crating Service: $750.00.

Luckily I was able to stop the shipping process right after the accident, prior to the crate being handled over to the airlines and Customs for inspection. 

The KLR was removed from the crate so my son could haul it back to Texas. MERFLEX said they would stored my $750 crate knocked down, until I was ready to go again. 

So how did we get the KLR back to Texas?

My son Alan drove my truck without dragging a big trailer to Florida to retrieve me. Once there we looked at several options for getting the KLR home:

1). Uship, est. $1000+ plus waiting for a shipper to come get it 

2). UHaul, rent an auto transport for $650+ taxes and fees. They did not offer any other size trailer for a one way use to Texas. 

3).  Craigslist, maybe find a suitable trailer close by that's available now. Found two on the other side of the state near Tampa, a days drive there and back plus both were over $2000 each.

Every day we are in Miami is costing $300 for motel and food. After several dead ends and missed buys, on Sunday we see a new ad pop up. A 12' by 77" wide open cargo trailer 45 miles north of where we are. Quickly arranging a meet with the seller, we take off north. After inspecting the 3 year old trailer, we bought it $850 (cash from my SA travel stash).  However it has no spare tire.

Next morning we locate a nearby a boat trailer shop who sells parts and spares. The owner looks at the trailer, then drags out a used spare tire/wheel he says will fit. 
Next pick up the KLR, load it and get out of Miami.

The story should end with us safely arriving back in Houston with the KLR in tow, but... 
it was not to be.

Seventy miles east of Houston in heavily traffic on I-10, a trailer tire on the driver's side blows!  6:10 p.m.

Alan safely steers the truck and trailer off the highway, stopping behind a flashing traffic warning light with big orange barrels around it. A safe place to stop. 

Using the truck's jack and lying on the pavement as traffic whizzes by within a few feet, Alan jacks up the trailer, removes the blown tire. Struggling to mount the spare, it won't go. We finally determine the Florida trailer guy sold us the wrong size spare wheel... *_^#$*#)*!@#$%^&* 

Okay, let try the truck's spare tire. Doh..wrong size too. We finally call AAA for a tow.
As we wait, Alan suggests having the AAA driver take one of us to the nearest WalMart with the trailer wheel. There get a new tire mounted and come back. It is now 6:40 p.m. The nearest Walmart is only ten minutes away. Calling them to see if they have the size tire we need, they inform Alan the auto department closes at 7 p.m.

At 7:40 p.m. the AAA driver finally arrives. Disconnecting the trailer from my truck, he loads it and the KLR on his flatbed wrecker.  He agrees to haul it to my home in Houston, 68 miles away. Alan and I take my truck sans trailer home.

Next day we place the Florida trailer up for sale for what we paid for it. Sold.
Broke even, except for the spare tire fiasco. 

This is the second time I had to buy a trailer to haul a sidecar across the country, then sell the trailer for what it cost me. Cheaper than renting...


Back home in Texas, several people sent me articles about how unsafe it is 
for pedestrians in Miami.

Wish I had seen this BEFORE I went to Miami..... might have been a little more cautious.


Now home for three weeks, am slowing recuperating. Follow up doctors appointment next week.  Can even drive a little but haven't tried riding a sidecar yet. Swinging the right leg up and over a seat is a challenge.

Thanks for all the well wishes. 

Ride safe ya'll, but please be careful when walking in Florida...