New Section

Over time I have accumulated quite an assortment of Photo Hardware and Software. Since a lot of people turned to me, asking for my opinion on certain Cameras, Lenses and other items, I decided to start a review section. In this section I will review Photo Hardware (Cameras, Lenses, Filters, Flash Cards, Image Tanks), Photo Software (RAW Converters, Editors, Filters) Computers and other items. I have started the section with the review of an Image Tank that I use in the field. During the next weeks I will start adding more Articles.

Upcoming reviews will include:

New Yosemite Galleries, Winter Photos, Black and White and more.

Golden Light on El Captitan

I put some of the pictures I shot last weekend in Yosemite online. My Yosemite Gallery has become so large, that I had to split it into 3 sub-galleries. At first I planned to sort by area, but I have far more pictures of the Valley, so I decided for these 3 Galleries:

  1. Yosemite in Winter
    Yosemite in Winter is incredible. I find this is the time of the year when the park is most beautiful. It often requires to wait for good light though.
  2. Yosemite in Summer
    In Spring Yosemite Valley is very beautiful with all waterfalls carrying full water. Glacier Pass road is open and gives some amazing views. In Summer Tioga Pass is open for a visit to the high country.
  3. Yosemite in Black and White
    Yosemite in Black and White is my first attempt at Black and White photography.

I hope you enjoy the new photographs as much as I did taking them.

Yosemite Firefall (Horsetail Fall) - new Photos 2006

Yosemite Firefall - Golden and Red comparison

Yesterday I got lucky (once more) after a couple of days without the Firefall effect showing up. Yesterday I even managed to see the blood red version of the Fall (about at the exact time the sun sets). About 30-15 minutes before Sunset, one will see the Golden Fall, where the Sunlight is reflected. At Sunset, the moment when the sun will have to shine almost horizontally through a lot of atmosphere, the blood red fall will show up. The red Firefall will only show up for a minute or so, until the Sun finally sets. I only wish I would have had more water coming down. I guess I have to go again ;-)

Update: I wrote a tutorial on How to photograph the Firefall. Check it out if you wish to photograph this for yourself.

Brrreeeport: Next Weekend in Yosemite

Yosemite Firefall  Next weekend (Presidents Day weekend), I will be travelling to Yosemite National Park again. Hopefully, I will be able to catch an even better shot of the Firefall, a Phenomenon that only occurs at the end of February.
It looks as if it is going to snow a lot, which means I won't be able to shoot this fall. On the upside, this means nice snow pictures.

California North Coast Gallery online

East Brother Light Station

I uploaded another gallery. California's North Coast Gallery features Lighthouses, Redwoods, Victorian Houses and Covered Bridges. The pictures were taken during several trips in 2005 and show some of Californias lesser known treasures.
Photo shot with Canon 20D and Canon 24-85mm Lens

Bodie and Mammoth Lakes Gallery online

Bodie Cars

I just uploaded my Bodie and Mammoth Lakes Gallery. Bodie is a real Ghost town in the Eastern Sierra of California. It is left in a state of arrested decay. Everything is left as it was 80 years ago, when most people simply deserted Bodie. Mammoth Lakes is a Ski Area in the Eastern Sierra that has much to offer even in the summer.
Photo shot with Canon 20D and Canon 24-85mm Lens

Changes under the Hood


The cache is working like a charm now. Unfortunately the problem on the MySQL servers is getting worse. This is what happens if you are with a shared hosting provider.  Now all urls are automatically cached, except those that have a query string (?pid=223, ?from=9 or similar). With some advanced mod_rewrite this could be tackled too, but the MySQL problem has to be resolved or a new host has to be found. Every page that has comments enabled will now be cached every 20 minutes, thus allowing the comments to show up, while every other page is only generated if I make updates to the websites. I will keep a close eye on the cache to see if some unexpected things show up (for instance the poll did not work right initially).

I made a lot of changes under the hood of this site.
I have had troubles with MySQL performance recently, so I decided to implement a file cache. Now most of this site is served by cache.
Some pages are still not cached. Due to the nature of the cache (it generates html files from the MySQL database) not everything can be cached 100%.
For example, when you browse Gallery Thumbnails and klick on the "2", the url will change to something like  ....html?from=9. Since this would otherwise access the same html file and nothing would happen, this page will be generated dynamic.
For now I have only the cache fetching running. I created the cache manually once.
Once the cache generator program is complete, it will cache every page that does not have the comment feature enabled, once a week and every page that has the comment feature enabled once per hour (or more often). For this to be effective, I will change the comment system to only allow comments on galleries, not individual pictures.

In the past, I have been hit numerous times daily by a Spam-Bot. Those are programs that automatically generate comments on websites with links to shady websites. This will illude Google to think these sites get linked a lot and thus rank them higher. Even after disabling links in my comments, the bots proofed to be quite stupid and continued posting. So from now on, all comments will require my approval. On the bright side, this allows me to enable full html support (so you can post your url if you like).

Once the cache has been implemented correctly, I will take care of the comments. Sorry for all the inconvenience, but at least now my site runs lightning fast again.
As I said not everything is and can be cached. You can actually find out by looking at the source of the page you are on. There will be some html comment indicating that it is static on the bottom of the code.

There are more advantages to the cache. While I can maintain all the comfort of a content management system, my site will stay functional, even when the MySQL server goes down or when I am being hit hard by a bot.
Some sloppy programmed crawlers also had trouble with the Base HREF setting of my CMS. I know I should lock them out by blocking their IP, but at least now I won't see the failed request with infinite URL's anymore.

Peru Galleries now online

Phew. It was a lot of work, but I have finally put 8 new Galleries of Peru online (almost 200 pictures). I will remove the preview galleries after a few couple of days. Enjoy the pictures.
Here is a 222 Megapixel Picture of Machu Picchu Peru. In the Tutorials section I explained how to do these kind of pictures. The picture is displayed with a flash plugin that lets you zoom around and browse the picture.