Rotary Park Short Track

Tom Noble sponsored the Eastern Fat Tire/Maine Mountain Biking Association Rotary Park Short Track at Rotary Park in Biddeford, Maine. The race benefits the Biddeford Parks and Recreation department. I got some shots of all three races and some pre-race stuff, too.

Tom Noble sponsored the Eastern Fat Tire/Maine Mountain Biking Association Rotary Park Short Track at Rotary Park in Biddeford, Maine. The race benefits the Biddeford Parks and Recreation department. I got some shots of all three races and some pre-race stuff, too.

I posted most of the pics to MaineToday.com in the Seen section. You can go to the Rotary Park Short Track gallery.

I worked the area in the woods in an attempt to get interesting shots of the riders coming downhill. The downhill brought them to a tight, 90-degree turn where they lost all of their momentum.

Bradford Perley, Rotary Park Short Track by Eric Holsinger

That is Bradford Perley of Kennebunk. In that shot, I was shooting with my Sigma 28-70mm f/2.8 EX ASP lens, trying to get that “magazine cover” type shots with enough space around the rider for some type.

Here is another photo of Jeffrey Dixon of Windham. I was crouched in a pile of brush on a technical section of the track.

Jeffrey Dixon, Rotary Park Short Track by Eric Holsinger

I shot that with my Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6 EX DG AF. I had to shoot at ISO 800 to get the shot, but my shutter speed could be lower because the action wasn’t as fast here.

Freestyle Motocross at Oxford Plains Speedway

I shot photos at the Boost/Rockstar Freestyle Motocross competition at Oxford Plains Speedway, including Skydive New England and Vertical Outlaws.

Rock Solid, Freestyle Motocross at Oxford Plains Speedway

I went to Oxford Plains Speedway, in Oxford, Maine, to see the Boost/Rockstar Freestyle Motocross expo which was sponsored by Ken’s Yamaha. I took my camera and shot a lot of photos of people in the crowd for the MaineToday.com Seen blog. I spent a lot of time talking to people and taking their photos. It was a lot of fun and I got to talk to a lot of nice people.

The show was great. It started with Skydive New England making a pretty big entrance by skydiving into the stadium with the Metal Mulisha. The Mulisha opted to land on the grassy infield, while the Skydive NE folks landed right on the paved track. Wow.

Skydive New England at Oxford Plains Speedway Skydive New England at Oxford Plains Speedway The Crowd watches Skydive New England at Oxford Plains Speedway
The guys from Vertical Outlaws, a profesional streetbike freestyle team from Southern Maine, did a cool streetbike demo. From my vantage point, photos were difficult. I had to shoot through the fence around the track and opted to just watch the show.

Vertical Outlaws at Oxford Plains Speedway Vertical Outlaws at Oxford Plains Speedway Vertical Outaws at Oxford Plains Speedway
The Freestyle Motocross was great. The tricks were awesome: Hart Attacks, Lazy Boy’s, Cliff Hangers, Rock Solid, inverted nac nac’s. Just crazy stuff. The step-up competition was a downer. The landing was pretty harsh, so after a bunch of tries, the riders agreed to split the prize money. Not very exciting, but I wouldn’t want to see anyone ruin their career or get an unnecessary injury over $1k.

Jim McNeil Hart Attack, Freestyle Motocross at Oxford Plains Speedway step up competition at Oxford Plains Speedway

hosting upgrade was successful

I upgraded my hosting package at 1and1.com. I doubled my disk allowance, got a ton of databases, more free domains (I have several), more bandwidth, more, more, more. All for about $1 a month extra. It will be about $2-$3 more later, but the package was pretty good.

Before I upgraded, I backed everything up to a local disk and did a SQL dump of my database. The upgrade went as smoothly as it could, though. The 1and1.com website said the upgrade could take up to 6 hours but mine was done within 2 hours. Everything was good except my wordpress permalinks were not working on ericholsinger.com. I managed to fix that quickly, though. The netrailhead.com site was fine.

Paint Shop Pro: One Step Photo Fix…

Paint Shop Pro, formerly from JASC and more recently from Corel, has a nifty One Step Photo Fix command for automatically adjusting color balance, contrast, clarity, saturation, smooth edges, and sharpening an image. It command works pretty well as it is but I found that by tweaking the script behind it, I could more often get images that I liked better than the default output.

Paint Shop Pro 8 from JASC (more recent version is Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI) has a nifty One Step Photo Fix command for automatically adjusting color balance, contrast, clarity, saturation, smooth edges, and sharpening an image. The Paint Shop Pro One Step Photo Fix command works pretty well as it is but I found that by tweaking the script behind it, I could more often get images that I liked better than the default output. I will give some examples and show how I modified my script for Paint Shop Pro 8.

First, here is a photo of my beautiful and tolerant wife enjoying the presence of my Canon 10D in our campsite after backpacking a couple miles into Maine’s Cutler Coast. This photo is 20% of the original size, before any other editing.

Cutler Coast Campsite, Maine - original

The photo itself is not perfect by any measure; the focus is soft. But, this photo is pretty good for my photo album as-is. I might even be tempted to just have it printed with no adjustments.

When I run the Paint Shop Pro One Step Photo Fix command on the image above, this is the output:

Cutler Coast Campsite, Maine - After the Paint Shop Pro One Step Photo Fix command

After running the Paint Shop Pro One Step Photo Fix command, the colors are more accurate, and the image is clearer and sharper. But, I think the contrast is too high. More specifically, I think it makes things look too washed out; especially in the skin tone.

Unhappy with the One Step Photo Fix command, I went looking for the script that is run when you click the One Step Photo Fix button. I found it in C:\Program Files\Jasc Software Inc\Paint Shop Pro 8\Scripts-Restricted\OneStepPhotoFix.PspScript. (Note: C:\Program Files\Jasc Software Inc\Paint Shop Pro 8 is where I installed Paint Shop Pro 8. Your installation may be elsewhere.) The script is a Python script that Paint Shop Pro reads and executes when you click the button. It’s just a text file and you can read it with Notepad or Wordpad. Be careful to not modify the original file, though. We are going to copy it first to another directory.

You may not even know it, but when you install Paint Shop Pro, it creates directories in your My Documents directory. We want to place a copy of the OneStepPhotoFix.PspScript into the My Documents\My PSP8 Files\Scripts-Restricted directory.

Here is a picture showing where the Paint Shop Pro 8 Scripts-Restricted directory is:

PSP 8 user directory

If you did that, you now have two copies of the script, the default installation version and one you can edit for your own needs. The new copy will appear in the script drop down on the menu bar, as shown on the left in the image below (you may have to select it from the drop down list after restarting Paint Shop Pro 8):

Paint Shop Pro scipt menu bar

I opened OneStepPhotoFix.PspScript with Notepad and I changed the copy to skip the contrast enhancement step by adding #’s before the lines. This is called “commenting-out” in computer programmer jargon. Here is what the modified contrast section looks like:

# Enhance the contrast

#   App.Do( Environment, 'AutoContrastEnhancement', {
#           'Appearance': App.Constants.Appearance.Natural,
#           'Bias': App.Constants.ContrastBias.Neutral,
#           'Strength': App.Constants.ContrastStrength.Normal,
#           'GeneralSettings': {
#               'ExecutionMode': App.Constants.ExecutionMode.Silent,
#               'AutoActionMode': App.Constants.AutoActionMode.Match
#               }
#           })

That’s the only change I made. Now, when I run the script from the scripts menu, I get this output:

Cutler Coast Campsite, Maine - custom

That looks more appealing to me.

My new script gives me all of the automatic adjusting of color balance, clarity, saturation, smooth edges, and sharpening the image; without the overpowering contrast adjustment.

Saco Schoolies

Early season striped bass on the Saco river from Camp Ellis up to Saco, Maine.

I was fortunate enough to be able to go out with a large group for some early season striped bass on the Saco river from Camp Ellis up to Saco, Maine. I was in a boat with Frank Glasscock and Jeremy Ratliff from Superior Distibution of Eastern Tennessee. We were going out fishing out with Captain Cal Robinson of Saco Bay Guide Service. Capt. Cal knew Frank and I would like to do some fly casting, so while the other two boats headed up river to catch some bait for fishing below the dam, we noodled around in the estuaries fly fishing for some schoolie action.

The weather outlook wasn’t very good for the day. It was drizzling rain at 5 am but expected to get heavier as the day went on. Capt. Cal knew he could put us on fish right away and then move up to try to get a keeper below the dam.

Cal was right. We started getting into them right away with some spinning rods while Frank worked the fly rod from the casting deck. We got a dozen or so small stripers in the upper teens. They were hitting hard and close to the boat.

When Frank gave me a shot at the fly rod, I didn’t find the wind to be too much of a problem. The 8 wt. rod sent the Cortland 444sl racing out of the guides with little effort. It didn’t take a very long cast to get the fish.

When the wind picked up, we moved farther up the river stopping here and there until about the Biddeford boat launch. Then we headed for the dam to fish with chunk mackerel. I’d never fished circle hooks before, but I see what all the fuss is about these days. The hook, if set properly, lodges just inside or at the lip of the fish. It’s easier to get the fish off the hook so you can catch more fish.

Even though the day ended in nearly a downpour for the ride back to the Camp Ellis pier, we had a blast. Frank and Jeremy were great fun to be with on the boat. Capt. Cal is a very experienced guide. I just love fishing for those schoolies.

Moving Forwards

I got a grammar lesson from Todd “Now we’re cookin’ with biscuits” Sullivan. An unlikely source at best. I said something to the effect of “He drives in forwards.” When he mocked me, I didn’t even understand. And it wasn’t because I was talking about Han Solo flying the Millenium Falcon into an asteroid crater inhabited by a giant, space sock-puppet. He had to explain it plainly for me to understand that “forwards” was not even a word.

I got a grammar lesson from Todd “Now we’re cookin’ with biscuits” Sullivan. An unlikely source at best. I said something to the effect of “He drives in forwards.” When he mocked me, I didn’t even understand. And it wasn’t because I was talking about Han Solo flying the Millenium Falcon into an asteroid crater inhabited by a giant, space sock-puppet. He had to explain it plainly for me to understand that “forwards” was not even a word.

I’m an introspective sort. So, having been made aware of this I began to cogitate on my own vocabulary and grammar. My reflection was fueled somewhat by the embarrassment felt by one who, most times, is pointing out the grammatical gaffes of others. It was a kind of competition my sister and I used to play; we still do. It has spilled over and has affected my colleagues. No one is made happy by this.

My wife has brought a little phrase to my attention: leave it go. I usually say something like, “I’m going to leave it go for now.” What I really mean is “let it go”, “leave it alone”, “let it be” or even “fuggedaboutit.” It seems to be something I learned where I grew up in Pennsylvania. My wife works in the Midwest, including Western Pennsylvania. She hears it there, occassionally. I am actually from Eastern Pennsylvania, but Western PA is closer than New England. Meaning, I probably talk more like folks in Pittsburgh than folks in Boston or Chicago.

Cursed to forever be the outsider, my relatives in Pennsylvania think I talk like a Mainer and the people in Maine just don’t care where the hell I’m from or what I’m saying, let alone how I’m saying it. They just know I’m a “from away.”

So, I’m not sure where I picked up “forwards.” I’ll make a temporary note to blame the Mainers, but I have a suspicion that it may be a root problem.

I’m hoping this will be an online exorcism. I’m going to leave it go, move forward and not look backwards.

Moving to a Blog

The conversion of ericholsinger.com from a static website to a blog went very well. It was pretty time-consuming because I was doing it after having done almost no research at all.

I basically culled a few choices from a comparison of downloadable blog software. Then I made a “gut instinct” decision to try wordpress. It installed very nicely. Continue reading “Moving to a Blog”