Recently I spent some extended time down in Florida assisting my Dad. He does not have internet access at his home, and is not interested in having a service hooked up to his house. Needing and wanting 24x7 internet access meant I started research for a service which would solve my access issue. Enter DayPass Wireless, which provided an easy, cost effective solution.
At this point I should comment that I paid for my service through DayPass Wireless, and I have no relationship with anyone, or even know anyone with this company. I found them via a Google keyword search. DayPass Wireless has not paid me for this blog post. I just found their service useful and wanted to let other folks know via my blog.
There service could not have been easier. I entered the address of my Father's Florida home, and they determined what connection (i.e. what carrier) would be optimum for my location. Day Pass Wireless then shipped a mifi mobile hotspot to my Dad's home. It was waiting for me when I arrived down in Florida from Duluth, Minnesota and worked perfectly over the next 11 days. I was charged $7.79 per day plus $9.90 for shipping. The cost seemed reasonable. When I returned north last Friday, I just put the mifi in a prepaid shipping US Postal Service shipping envelope and popped it into my Dad's mailbox. Could not have been easier. My data allowance was 335 mb per day, which was fine for normal web browsing and activities. However, my wife and I instituted a "no video" rule to insure we would not go over our data limit. Missing YouTube videos of cat herding for eleven days was not a hardship
I hope to test DayPass Wireless later this Spring up in the northern Minnesota wilderness. If this service works for my remote cabin that would be sweet!
I watched two very skilled, and brave young men kayak down "The Deeps" waterfall this afternoon. The power of this waterfall during the winter snow melt runoff is amazing. If you would like to watch similar kayaking up in the northland, please keep an eye on the Lester River Kayak Facebook Page. Tentatively, subject to river flow and ice conditions, the race is scheduled for next Easter weekend.
If the two men who were in the kayaks send me an email, I will be happy to arrange free delivery of the high resolution copies of these pictures. I've also included a photo of The Deeps which I took yesterday. This photo will give you a better appreciation of the waterfall they kayaked down.
Back in January I started a 365 day / year long photography project (365 Days of Birds). The goal with this effort, as well as any learning opportunity is to obviously improve one's skills. The idea of taking a photograph every day for a year forces oneself to think long and hard about the end result, creating a photograph that people want to view.
Even before this project, I was working hard towards becoming a better photographer. Here are some tips I've learned from my recent efforts both with respect to bird photography, and often photography in general:
Tell a story with your photograph
With animals and birds, the "eyes" make all the difference. Your subject should appear to be looking directly out of the photograph at you, or if the view is directed elsewhere ... a story should be told with that point of view.
Even when you think birds and animals are motionless, they are moving albeit perhaps very slowly. When you are zooming in your subject, which is almost always in nature photography, the result of any motion is greatly magnified in your photo.
My rule of thumb for bird photography exposures is:
1/800 of a second maximum exposure for larger slow moving birds
1/1000 of a second maximum exposure for smaller fast moving birds
The golden hour is truly golden for bring out details in nature photography (the hour directly after sunrise, and directly before sunset). In addition, birds tend to feed right after sunrise. The same may not be true by sunset as birds will have fed enough already for the day.
Aperture priority is a waste of time ... use if for landscape photos w/o motion
If you find an interesting bird or animal ... wait! Patience is a virtue. While feeding it is amazing how territorial squabbles will arise with other animals and birds you don't even see are near by. Thus keep your eyes and ears open. Sudden conflict may appear which will create great photo opportunities.
Here are a few examples which demonstrate my methods. I hope you like these photos. If so, please link to my 365 Days of Birds Project or my Flickr Feed to seem more examples of my work. I license my work under Creative Commons w/o charge given appropriate attributions and link backs.
1: Crow in Sight! 2: Attack! (click either image to view at full size)
3: A New Cop in Town! 4: Where?
5: It's Cold Outside! 6: Leif Ericson, the Explorer
Photos 1 & 2: Heathrow Florida - A red-shouldered hawk spies and attacks a crow
Photo 3: A great gray owl shortly after sunset north of Duluth, Minnesota
Photo 4: A sandhill crane baby investigates the photographer
Photo 5: A cold early January morning at Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota.
Photo 6: Leif Ericson looks out over a frozen landscape in Duluth, Minnesota
Back in 2006 when I started this blog on Typepad, one of the top values delivered was using my analytics to better understand how and why new customers came to my web site. If those new customers / readers spent significant time on my site, it was always both intriguing and useful to learn what key words brought them onto NorthStarNerd.Org. However in the increased world of online data privacy Google now encrypts and makes private almost all search queries. Thus, upon browsing my blogs analytics, or a more extensive review via Google Analytics, the words "not provided" appears in my keyword search tables over 67% of the time. Thus, for more than 2/3 of my users I now have zero intelligence in terms of what attracted them to my blog.
Thankfully, there is also Google WebMaster Tools. What Google takes away with one hand is returned with the other. This service is provided at no charge, and can even be dynamically linked to your Google Analytics account. Please take a few moments to review these screenshots from both my Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools accounts. You'll see that although my analytics account provides little or no value as it relates to keyword results, my Google Webmaster Tools account provides a wealth of information.
NorthStarNerd.Org - Organic Search Results
Three screenshots (click upon to view at full size)
NorthStarNerd.Org - Google Webmaster Tools Results
Six screenshots (click upon to view at full size)
---------- Search Queries ---------- Links to Your Site ---------- Internal Links ---------- Index Status ---------- Content Keywords