September 14, 2011 10:02 PM - Open Thread
Tonight I went to the Take Back Our Streets Rally to mark the community’s outrage against the rash of attempted rapes in Greenwood Heights and Park Slope. We met at 8pm outside the Prospect Avenue ‘R’ Station. Hundreds of men, women, teenagers and children gathered wielding flashlights, glow sticks and signs. It was, in a word, amazing. I have never before felt such a strong community presence and unity over an issue. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 12 years, but I didn’t know these people. Still, these were not strangers. These were my neighbors. And we all got together to let each other and the City at large know that we will not be too afraid to help each other. We will not be too afraid to call 911 if we see something or someone suspicious. We will not tolerate this type of violence in our neighborhood.
Feeling powerful as an individual and as a part of a large crowd, I marched down the middle of the street with all my neighbors and shouted the slogans at the top of my lungs. I was sweating profusely, even panting at times, but I didn’t care. I was a strong voice among many strong voices, and it felt damn good.
“NO MORE SILENCE, NO MORE VIOLENCE!”
That was one of the many phrases we shouted. Several times while chanting this, I choked up, fighting off tears that threatened to overcome me. I was taken over by emotion of the unity and power of the crowd. I felt strong. I felt safe. As a former victim of sexual assault, the “NO MORE SILENCE” part of the chant really resonated with me. I stayed silent for many years about what happened to me, but I eventually found my voice. I can only pray that others find their voice as well - that they aren’t too afraid or ashamed to speak out and say ”NO MORE SILENCE, NO MORE VIOLENCE.”
Tonight, my neighbors and I said that we would not tolerate a culture of violence and fear. This is our neighborhood. This is our Brooklyn. We won't let this drive us out of here. Instead, Mr. Rapist(s), it is you who needs to get the fuck out.
September 14, 2011 6:24 AM - Open Thread
September 13, 2011 6:36 AM - Open Thread
Jazz in the Garden
Saturday, September 21 at 2 p.m.
Learn more about local jazz history, our cultural heritage!
The Greene Acres Community Garden is at the corner of Greene and Franklin Avenues. All are welcome!
G train to Classon Ave., C or Franklin Ave. Shuttle to Franklin Ave., or take the B52, B48, or B25 or 26 buses.
In earlier installments we covered the operation of our camera in ‘P’ (Program) and ‘A’ (Aperture Control) modes. Let’s finish up the other modes here, which are ‘T’ (Time Value), ‘M’ (Manual Mode) and ‘B’ (Bulb Mode).
As you recall, ‘A’ mode allows us to control the size of the lens aperture, while the camera then chooses a shutter speed. ‘T’ mode is the reverse: We choose the shutter speed (Time Value) while the camera then chooses the aperture. (The more common name for ‘T’ mode is Shutter Priority).
Why would we want to choose the shutter speed? Basically, the shutter speed controls how we want to have motion and/or moving objects displayed in our image. A fast shutter speed ensures that moving objects will display as sharp. A slow shutter speed ensures that moving objects are displayed as blurry, or moving.
You might ask, who wants blurry pictures? Well, consider the following pair of waterfall photos.
The subject (rapids downstream from a waterfall) is exactly the same in both images. In the first image, the rapidly moving water is ‘frozen’. In the second, the water is a blur. The first image was shot at 1/500th of a second. The second image was shot at 1/15th of a second (and yes at speeds that slow you should have the camera on a tripod).
Here’s another waterfall image showing how forcing a slow shutter speed results in some interesting creative effects.
(And I’ll use these images to point out one great thing about digital photography over film. If you can imagine it in black and white, you can convert it to black and white with one mouse click).
I can think of any number of situations where I would want to switch to Shutter Priority mode, besides waterfalls:
-Cat photos! Chasing that damned cat around the house, I’d want to use a fairly fast shutter speed to stop it in its tracks (assuming there is enough light).
-Baby photos at the playground! Ditto.
-Fireworks! A slow shutter speed allows light trails to appear just as we want them, as in this image:
The last two camera modes we can dispense with rather quickly, as they are of limited usefulness.
‘M’ (Manual Mode) means that we must set _both_ the aperture and the shutter speed. Therefore, it becomes incumbent on the photographer to make sure the overall exposure is correct. Almost the only time I use ‘M’ mode is with studio flash.
‘B’ Bulb Mode is found mostly on DSLRs. It’s ‘T’ mode, Shutter Priority on drugs. Depending on the camera, Bulb Mode can operate in either of two ways. With some cameras, when you depress the shutter release, the shutter opens up and stays open, until you depress the shutter release again, which closes it. Other cameras keep the shutter open as long as the release is depressed. So, you can get exposure times of many seconds, minutes, or hours. Obviously you will need to have the camera on a tripod. This mode is typically used by astronomers and photographers working in the deep night. Experiment!
This concludes the series on camera control modes.
September 12, 2011 6:37 AM - Open Thread
September 10, 2011 1:50 PM - Open Thread
It was the middle of August in 1996. I was young, impulsive and looking for a challenge. College was behind me and I was unsure of what lie ahead. I had previously applied to law schools in Washington, D.C. and New York and was accepted at both schools. But law? Really? I had put it all in the back of my mind. And it remained there until the middle of August 1996.
About ten days before classes began at the New York school, I decided I would in fact become a lawyer. Sitting at my parent’s kitchen table, I turned to Papa Snappy and asked him for a ride to New York City. He laughed, and gave me his favorite one word response. Shiiiiiiiiiiit! After convincing him that I was serious, we shoved all my necessities into his car and planned to hit the road at 10pm the following evening. That next night, I hugged and kissed my mother goodbye. Grammy Snaps, who had been in town for a visit, held me tight and gave me a warning. “Baby, those New York peoples are crazy. Watch who you talk to out there, you may mouth off to the wrong person and wake up dead!”
It was a short drive – having spent many years traveling to Louisiana and Mississippi by car with only one stop along the way, Pittsburgh to New York was quick. When we emerged from the Holland Tunnel, Papa Snappy and I were awestruck. It was 5am on a Saturday and the streets were packed. Having lived in Chicago and Pittsburgh, I was no country mouse, but this city was palpably different. Watching the people skitter around like ants, I could only remark “I guess it really never sleeps.”
Crossing Canal Street took forever and a day, but we didn’t complain. Papa Snappy and I were too busy taking it all in. The people, the lights, the traffic, the smells, the sounds – it was sensory overload. Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time proved to be even more awe-inspiring than the trip across Canal Street. For the first time, I began to wonder just what the hell I was doing. Was I really about to start a life here? In this rat race? A small part of me wanted to tell Papa Snappy to turn back. Take me back to Pittsburgh. Take me back home. But as we took the Cadman Plaza exit, I looked around at Brooklyn and realized I was home.
It took a while to unpack my stuff. I think both Papa Snappy and I went slowly because it was hard to believe that I’d be staying and he’d be leaving. Being a typical man who simply must ‘make good time,’ Papa Snappy handed me the last of my things, pressed $90 into my right hand, patted me on the back and told me to be careful. With that, he got back into his car and drove down Henry Street.
Just after Papa Snappy died last year, Mama Snappy told me that he had remarked, “I didn’t wanna leave her there. Leaving her there was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.“
I’ve done many things in my life that I regret. I guess we all have. But for me, coming to New York isn’t on that list. It may sound hokey, but New York changes a person and I’m no exception. There are good changes and not so good changes, but there are changes nonetheless. I don’t know if I’ll stay here forever, but for now, I’m comfy. I like Saturdays like this one when I get to relax and just take in my surroundings. More often than not, I listen to what I call pretty good music while I stroll around the streets of Brooklyn. One of those songs is New York’s Not My Home by Jim Croce. Every time I hear that song, I think of Papa Snappy and I sitting in the car as we glided across the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a nice memory for me, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it.
New York’s Not My Home, by Jim Croce
Things were spinnin' 'round me
And all my thoughts were cloudy
And I had begun to doubt all the things that were me
Been in so many places, you know I've run so many races
Looked into the empty faces of the people of the night
Somethin' is just not right
'Cause I know that I've gotta get outta here
I'm so alone
Don't you know that I gotta get outta here
'Cause New York's not my home
Though all the streets are crowded
There's somethin' strange about it
I lived there 'bout a year and I never once felt at home
I thought I'd make the big time
I learned a lot of lessons awful quick
And now I'm tellin' you that they were not the nice kind
It's been so long since I have felt fine
That's the reason that I gotta get outta here
I'm so alone
Don't you know that I gotta get outta here
'Cause New York's not my home
That's the reason that I gotta get outta here
I'm so alone
Don't you know that I gotta get outta here
'Cause New York's not my home.
September 9, 2011 7:01 AM - Open Thread
Welcome back to the second part of this legal series! The last time we spoke, Lucy sued Anna in Small Claims Court, alleging that Anna broke Lucy’s stereo. Lucy lost that lawsuit. (http://lifeinbkln.com/?q=node/67) In this installment, we’ll find out specifically why Lucy lost her lawsuit and discuss the standard of proof in civil cases in New York courts.
Recall that the judge in Lucy’s lawsuit determined that Lucy did not have enough evidence to prove that Anna broke her stereo. What proof did Lucy offer?
First, Lucy testified that she and Anna are roommates in a two-bedroom Brooklyn apartment. Lucy keeps her stereo in her bedroom atop her dresser. Naturally she and Anna have keys to the apartment, but neither girl has a lock on her bedroom door. Lucy has allowed Anna to use her stereo in the past. Lucy also testified that on the day in question, she left the apartment to go to dinner with her friend, Anita Haircutt. She was gone from approximately 7:30pm to 10:00pm. When she returned at 10pm, Anna was not at home. Lucy went to her room and found that the iPod dock was ripped off of her stereo unit. Because only she and Anna live there, she believes that Anna must have broken her stereo. To prove her damages, Lucy shows the judge the receipt for the stereo and the bank statement that shows her debit card was used to pay for it. Seems logical that Anna broke the stereo, right?
But wait! When it’s Anna’s turn to testify, Anna states that she was home when Lucy left to have dinner with Anita Haircutt. Anna also had dinner plans that night. Anna planned to leave the apartment at 8pm to meet her boyfriend, Colt Fortifive. Around 7:50pm, one of Lucy’s friends, Dee Tox, showed up at the apartment to see Lucy. Dee Tox had her own key to the apartment because Lucy previously made her a copy. Anna told Dee Tox that Lucy was out to dinner. Dee Tox insisted that she would stay at the apartment and wait for Lucy to return. Apparently Dee Tox got tired of waiting because she wasn’t there when Lucy got home. Anna spent the night with Colt Fortifive at his apartment. When she returned the next morning, Lucy was screaming at her, alleging that Anna broke the stereo. Anna also says that Dee Tox is known for drinking way too much and doing things she doesn’t remember later.
Lucy then admits that yes, she did give her friend Dee Tox a key to the apartment. She also admits that Dee Tox has a drinking problem. But, Lucy insists that Dee Tox would not break her stereo and not admit to it.
The judge decided that Lucy lacked sufficient proof to show by a preponderance of the evidence that Anna broke the stereo. What does that mean? Simply put, preponderance of the evidence means ‘more likely than not.’ To win her case, Lucy needed to show that it was more likely than not that Anna broke the stereo. With her direct testimony, it seemed more likely than not that Anna broke the stereo. But, when Anna testified that Dee Tox had an apartment key, was in the apartment alone the night the stereo was broken, and that Dee Tox is an alcoholic who suffers blackouts, it was no longer more likely than not that Anna broke the stereo. Lucy’s case was further damaged by Lucy’s admission that Dee Tox had a key and drinks too much. Under these circumstances, the judge simply could not find by a preponderance of the evidence that Anna broke the stereo. Poor Lucy. Seems like she needs more reliable friends and fewer copies of her keys!
In the next installment, we’ll deal with Lucy’s appeal and the standard of appeal for small claims cases. Until next time, stay legal!
*note that in criminal case, the standard of proof is much higher – evidence to convict must be beyond a reasonable doubt.
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE AND ON THIS WEBSITE IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY SUBJECT MATTER. NO RECIPIENTS OF CONTENT FROM THIS SITE SHOULD ACT OR REFRAIN FROM ACTING ON THE BASIS OF ANY CONTENT INCLUDED IN THE ARTICLE OR THE SITE WITHOUT SEEKING THE APPROPRIATE LEGAL OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE ON THE PARTICULAR FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES AT ISSUE FROM AN ATTORNEY LICENSED IN THE RECIPIENT'S STATE. THE CONTENT OF THIS ARTICLE AND WEEBSITE CONTAINS GENERAL INFORMATION AND MAY NOT REFLECT CURRENT LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS, VERDICTS OR SETTLEMENTS. THE AUTHOR AND THE WEBSITE OWNERS/OPERATORS EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ALL LIABILITY IN RESPECT TO ACTIONS TAKEN OR NOT TAKEN BASED ON ANY OR ALL THE CONTENTS OF THIS ARTICLE AND WEBSITE. THE ARTICLES DO NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OF THE OWNERS/OPERATORS OF THIS WEBSITE. ANY MATERIALS INCORPORATED FROM OTHER WEBSITES OR LINKS TO OTHER WEBSITES ARE NOT NECESSARILY SPONSORED, ENDORSED OR OTHERWISE APPROVED OF BY THE OWNERS/OPERATORS OF THIS WEBSITE OR THE ARTICLE’S AUTHOR. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED TO CREATE AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE A LAWYER-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WITH THE READER.
THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED ‘AS IS’ WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.
Last installment we covered the basic operation of our camera in ‘P’ aka ‘idiot mode’. Now we’re going to get really adventurous and move that mode dial from ‘P’ to ‘A’. ‘A’ stands for 'Aperture', or 'Aperture Value', or more commonly, ‘Aperture Control’. If you recall, the lens aperture is the size of the opening in the lens diaphragm, which in turn controls how much light strikes the sensor. I would argue that of all the non-P modes, this is by far the most important to understand.
Aperture Control means just that... when we turn the mode dial to ‘A’, the camera will be expecting us to tell it what aperture to use for the next photo. And why would we want to control, or choose the aperture? Because the aperture that the camera uses can have HUGE effects on the image, especially at the extremes (wide open, like f/2.8, f/4.0, or, stopped down, like f/11, f/22). If you control the aperture, the camera will select a shutter speed to match that will, given enough light, provide a proper overall exposure.
The size of the aperture controls what is called ‘depth of field’, or, in simpler terms, it controls what will be in focus in the image, and, conversely, what will be out of focus. Easier to understand by seeing some images.
Here is a portrait of my niece. This is an excellent example of an image shot in ‘A’ mode with the lens aperture wide open. You would call this ‘shallow depth of field’. What is in focus here? Basically, the eyes and everything that is in the same plane as the eyes. The tip of her nose is slightly out of focus, the ears are considerably out of focus, and of course the forest background has receded into a wonderful melange of shades of green. This image, in a nutshell, is why you want to be able to force that aperture as wide open as you can for portraits like this.
Since we all love cats, here’s a similar cat portrait. You can possibly make the argument that the nose should be in focus as well. However, in any portrait, human or animal, we must get the eyes in focus first and foremost. This image was taken at an aperture of f/2.0. Probably closing down another f stop, to 2.8, would have brought the nose into better focus.
You’ve all seen those great sports photos shot in ‘A’ mode. You can shoot ‘wide open’ to isolate a subject from a crowd. Here’s a NYC Marathon shot that shows this:
Or, to isolate a subject from a confusing background.
Obviously, ‘A’ mode works best at the extremes. We’ve seen now what happens when we use Aperture Control to force the lens aperture wide open. Would we ever want to force it to its ‘stopped down’ limit? Of course. If we want to make sure that everything in our image is sharp from front to back, we will choose an aperture like f/11 or f/16.
Here’s a classic example of an interesting old wooden fence. We want this fence to be in focus from top to botttom. So we’re going to pick a ‘small’ aperture, like f/11.
Here’s another, taken at a farm in the Schoharie Valley region of the Catskill Mountains, (that I hope still exists), of an array of pumpkins.
Note that these images are both acceptably sharp front to back.
Obviously, things are not quite this simple. Going back to the ‘honey’ example, if we are in a romantic candle-lit restaurant with our honey, we can probably do a nice portrait in ‘A’ mode with the lens wide open. Want to get the honey with the chef in the kitchen behind, both nice and sharp? Sure you can ‘stop down’ the lens in ‘A’ mode, but there might not be enough light to pull it off (to give you a fast enough shutter speed that will still result in a sharp photo without blurring from camera shake).
There are further interesting and scientific ways to use Aperture Control... use your favorite search engine to find ‘hyperfocal distance’ or use this link as a start.
September 8, 2011 6:50 AM - Open Thread