Monthly Archives: March 2015

Book Review: “Forever Changed” by Linda Mornell

Forever changed coverForever Changed tells the story of psychiatric nurse Linda Mornell, who founded Summer Search. Summer Search is a national organization with a comprehensive program that gives “high school students what they need to develop the personal and practical skills to become college-educated leaders who give back to their families and communities.”

The subtitle of Forever Changed reads as follows: “How Summer Programs and Insight Mentoring Challenge Adolescents and Transform Lives.” While there’s certainly some information on this important subject in the book, neither the subtitle nor the Summer Search mission statement quoted above give an adequate idea of the rich content and compelling stories that await within.

The epigraph for the first chapter of Forever Changed quotes Salman Rusdie: “Those who do not have the power over the the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, to rethink it, deconstruct it…and change it as times change…cannot think new thoughts.” This begins to hint at what Mornell is really after in her book: how understanding the stories that make up our lives gives power to change.

The stories in Forever Changed are, in fact, juicy. Mornell uses her own story of starting Summer Search on a shoestring and growing it into a national organization—truly new territory for her—as the framework for telling the stories of participants in the Summer Search programs, often in their own fascinating words.

This is a book that gives hope. The lives of adolescents that Mornell worked with through Summer Search have in many cases been profoundly changed for the better. There’s also insight. What kind of person sticks with it and makes it despite incredible privations? How do you best interview adolescents from troubled backgrounds, and get them to open up and tell their stories? It turns out that even the intake interviews that Mornell and Summer Search conducted have been transformative, and Mornell explains why, her accounts leavened with a sense of humor about the process of growing up in less than privileged situations.

Read  Forever Changed for the stories of the triumph of hope and persistence over adversity and an increasingly sclerotic class system. Come away with insight on a number of fronts, most of all how we can make a difference.

Forever Changed is published by Triumph Books, ISBN 978-1-62937-022-4, illustrated, $24.95. Click here for the link to Forever Changed on Amazon.

Full disclosure: I am a friend and admirer of Linda Mornell and the work she has done at Summer Search, and had several discussions with Linda about her book while it was still in manuscript.

Posted in Book Reviews

Cotter Pin

The cotter pin, also sometimes called a split pin, is piece of metal separated into two tines. The tines are bent outwards in installation, and the cotter pin is used to hold two pieces of metal together where the design implies some movement—or even rotation between—the metal segments that are attached.

Cotter Pin © Harold Davis

Cotter Pin © Harold Davis

While the cotter pin is attributed as an invention of Dr Rudolph Cotter in the 1834, there is little doubt that informal variations of this kind of fastener have been in use ever since the very earliest days of the industrial revolution, when the need to flexibly but strongly attach two pieces of metal became important—probably the 1750s or 1760s.

As such, the cotter pin is a great symbol and proxy for the good side of industrial humanity, namely the inventiveness and improvisational ability with which as a species we can approach the mechanical universe. It’s a simple but supple solution, strong, and easy to implement with materials at hand.

The cotter pin shown is at one end of a counting device, probably used in a 19th century industrial assembly line.

I wanted to use my wonderfully sharp Zeiss Otus 85mm lens to photograph the small cotter pin up close and personal, but I needed to get a little closer. So I used an old Nikon PN-11 52.5mm extension tube (Nikon has long since discontinued this part). I retrofitted the extension tube with a tripod collar and tripod plate, which helped to balance the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4, which is a truly extraordinary lens with a weight to match the quality of the optics.

Exposure data: Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4, Nikon PN-11 52.5mm extension tube, 5 seconds at f/16 and ISO 64, tripod mounted.

Related story: Workbench.

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

LAB Color Adjustments

I’m often asked what I mean by LAB color adjustments, so I thought I’d show a simple set. These adjustments are based on a likely suspect, the succulent from my front porch I shot in September. The image is shown in its original version in the linked story (check out the color version) and at the bottom here. The LAB color adjustments I used are shown in the caption of each version. Incidentally, these adjustments are pretty thoroughly explained in The Photoshop Darkroom; you can also download the Photoshop action I wrote to generate this set of adjustments.

Succulent-LAB-All Channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-All Channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-L-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-L-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent - LAB A-channel equalization-inverted © Harold Davis

Succulent – LAB A-channel equalization-inverted © Harold Davis

Succulent - LAB A-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent – LAB A-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-B-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-B-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB A-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB A-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent, original version  © Harold Davis

Succulent, original version © Harold Davis

Posted in Photoshop Techniques

What do mountain men, trains, and old barns have in common?

What do mountain men, trains, and old barns have in common? Come find out in a unique photography tour of California’s Gold Rush Country April 9-12, 2015 conducted by my friends Harvey Abernathy and Gail Berreman. Both Harvey and Gail have often worked with me as facilitators for my workshops, and you may already know them.

Mountain Man © Harvey Abernathy

Mountain Man © Harvey Abernathy

Harvey writes, “During the mid-1800’s California saw an explosion of growth from the discovery of gold in the Sierra Mountains. Towns popped up overnight with tens of thousands of people of all cultures rushing in to claim a part of this new life, bringing with them the customs and styles of their life at the time. Come step back in time to experience and photograph the glory of the California Gold Rush from within the heart of the Gold Country in the Western Sierra Foothills. We designed this photographic tour to capture the feeling and flavor of life in the 1850’s during the height of the Gold Rush.”

Click here for detailed information and registration.

As part of the workshop, special access has been arranged to Railtown 1897 State Park in Jamestown, California. Harvey notes: “Here’s an image [shown below] that I captured on the interior of one of the rail cars that we accessed at the rail yard. A number of the cars and engines at this facility have been fully restored, with some utilized for movies.  Volunteer engineers and crafts people restore and maintain the equipment, which is used to provide public excursions along a line of the tracks in the foothills of this region.  Many of the parts are actually made within the facility, which still houses a working blacksmith and machine shop.  There are numerous types of passenger rail cars, steam engines and other rail equipment available to access for overview and close-up photography.”

Passenger Car © Harvey Abernathy

Passenger Car © Harvey Abernathy

This will be a small and intimate group of photographers with unparalleled access to a number of exciting and unique subjects. Whatever your area of photographic interests, you’ll find something to shoot on this tour. I know that Harvey and Gail will take good care of you. What are you waiting for?

Click here for detailed information and registration.

Posted in Workshops