Category Archives: Photography

The single best piece of gear I’ve purchased in years.


UPDATE 2: Someone from Palette responded and had obviously not read my original message and basically told me to try the things that I explained in my email that I had already tried. First Strike.

UPDATE:Yesterday, March 14, I was prompted to install an update and update the firmware on the Palette core module. After the process completed, the software will no longer see the Palette hardware and it is completely non-funtional aside from lighting up. I’ve contacted Palette Support but being the weekend, they are likely not available. And I have 2200 airshow images to cull, sort and edit. Sigh!

I’m a gear junkie. I see new stuff all the time that I think I absolutely must have. Most of the time, I find that things aren’t as useful as I thought they would be. Recently, I purchased a piece of gear that just really changed the game. Whether it is shooting sports, an airshow, an event, or even a wedding. I usually end up with a ton of shots that I then later have to cull through and then edit. In most cases, it’s hundreds of hours of tedious editing, tweaking and then re-tweaking. Then I’ll view images full-screen and tweak them more. Shooting an offroad race, I may have over 2500 shots to cull through and get the number to between 300-500 images. Palette Gear makes editing so much easier every step of the process. What is it?

Palette Gear Professional Kit

Palette is a series of modules consisting of buttons, dials and sliders that connect together using magnets so they can be arranged in whatever order and layout you want. Once you lay them out the way you like, then you can assign functions in whatever software you are using to the controls in your Palette Gear. So instead of clicking on a slider on the Lightroom interface to adjust Explosure, I’d instead assign one of my Palette modules to Exposure and instead just turn a dial or slide a slider to modify exposure. So you might ask how many control modules there are because Lightroom has a LOT of sliders. There are three levels of kits – Starter, Expert and Professional. The starter kit comes with 2 buttons, a slider and a dual function dial. The Expert has 2 buttons, 3 dials and 2 sliders. Lastly, the Pro has 4 Buttons, 4 slides and 6 dials. Each kit also has the core module which has an LCD display that gives you info about your controls. So even if you have the Pro kit, you can only use a total of 14 Lightroom controls, right? No, the Palette software allows you to have multiple configurations for a given application. So you can have a configuration for adjusting basic image controls such as Exposure, Highlights, Shadows, etc, then another color and then another for sharpness, detail and noise. So you can toggle between multiple Profiles/Configurations cover all of the controls. Even better you can assign one of your controls to toggle through the profiles for that app. This means that I can have one profile just for culling images. Button 1, Flags the imaga as good, Button 2 rejects it, Button 3 goes to the next image. So instead of clicking through images and then clicking the little flag to accept or reject. I can slap one button to Flag the photo as a keeper, then slap another button to move to the next image, all the while in full screen mode where I’m looking at the best possible copy for review. It cut my culling time to about 1/4 of what it was before and basically made it like playing an old arcade game.

The actual editing works much the same way. I start the actual editing in my Basic configuration which has controls for Exposure, Shadows, Clarity, Tint, Color Temp, Whites, Blacks, Hightlights, Saturation and Dehaze. I slap the Next Profile button and go to the Detail profile where I adjust sharpness and noise. Next is my Tone curve config and lastis Grain, Balance, Lens Vignetting, etc. I can do all of this while the Lightroom interface is hidden and I’m in Full size mode with the image taking up 100% of the screen. Turning a dial I see how it impacts the full sized image in real time. It sped up my imaging time immensely and even better, gave welcome relief to my hands and wrists not having to use a mouse for hours at a time. All of the controls feel to be very good quality and feel solid. The dials seem to be the most versatile by also having a push and turn mode that when you push the dial in and simultaneously turn the dial, doubles the amount the turn changes the effect. All controls also have an LED border around the module that you can assign to be one of 6 or so colors for easier identification.

The product is fairly pricey with the Professional kit being around $500, but if you calculate how much it cuts cost based on the amount of time it saves you, it quickly pays for itself. You can also purchase the starter kit and then buy additional modules for around $49 each and slowly piece together exactly the controls you want. If I had an award to give for product of the year, Palette would be it. For more information, check out PaletteGear.com

2016 Colorado Adventure Day 3 – First full day in Ridgway

Day three of our trip, I woke up having bad back pain. Just getting up and walking really hurt. So I should probably add that I injured my neck rather badly about 10 years ago in a mountain biking accident. My spinal cord was compromised and required eventual surgery to fuse my cervical vertebrae. Over the years it’s gotten worse and the day before left, my doctor called and advised against taking our trip to Colorado as it would take me out of emergency range of a major neurosurgery center. But, me being me, I decided I was fine enough to go.

Anyway, I decided to relax at the house while the others explored the area shops. I had some work to still do on the Jeep (putting the rear Bushwacker flares on) so decided to tackle that. The Bushwacker flares are a royal pain in the ass to install, especially with numb fingers. I think I spent more time dropping and finding screws than I did actually bolting the things on. I managed to get one on in the 2-3 hours everyone was gone. I realized soon after that, even despite my best efforts to shade myself, I had underestimated the power of the sun at 8,000 feet. When Rach got back she offered to help so i let her do the last flare on her own with me just giving guidance. She did it quicker than me and her’s looked better.  Showoff! In the end though, we were both rather sunburned by the end of the day. I didn’t realize how badly that was going to make the next few days suck…

Later, we hung out at the house and I decided to send up my Phantom 4 drone and explore the area. After my flight (check it out below – best viewed full screen in HD), I spent the rest of the day relaxing and we cooked at the house.

 

Recon Flight Ridgway from Bob Lionel on Vimeo.

Colorado Adventure 2016 – Travel Day 2 the Arrival

We couldn’t find a porter to carry our luggage to our truck so we decided instead to just use one of the rolling luggage carts from the hall. As we approached the elevator there was an older woman waiting for the elevator. She immediately appeared to be giving us the stink eye. Once inside the elevator she made a comment about the luggage cart, wanting to know where we got it. We said from the hall. She immediately made it known to us that she thought we had “hogged the cart” by stating they had been there a few days and hadn’t been able to find one of the carts the entire time.  I politely informed her that we just got in last night and the cart was in it’s place when we arrived last night. Walking away from the elevator, she said that people like us were assholes for not allowing anyone else to use the carts. I told her that we didn’t have the cart and she really needed to drop the bitch attitude. She gave me the “I can’t believe you said that look” and stormed to her car. I can’t believe a missing luggage cart could possibly spoil the fun and luxury of La Quinta…

Back on the road, we headed north towards Pagosa Springs, Durango and then up 550 to Ouray and finally Ridgway. Pagosa Springs was a beautiful little town, but was definitely alive with tourists like us. From there we headed on to Durango and made a stop at a grocery store there for some last minute supplies. Durango is the last decent sized city before you head into the San Juan Mountains. After our brief stop, we pulled onto Highway 550 – The Million Dollar Highway.

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Highway 550 is known as the San Juan Skyway Scenic Bypass and also famously as “The Million Dollar Highway”. It’s said to have gained that name from the last twelve miles into Ouray when a traveler said after arriving that he wouldn’t drive it again for a million dollars! It’s also said that its because when it was constructed in the late 1880s, it cost over one million dollars per mile. I have no idea what the truth is, but i can tell you that for a lot of people, its the latter.  The road goes from simply scenic to a two lane road that can be steep, twisty and narrow enough to make passing trucks or RV’s on curves quite nerve-wracking.  There are often several hundred foot drops and one other thing. There is in most places no shoulder so that it may be open space with a cliff less than 10″  from the outside white line of the road. Oh and there are no guard rails, a fact that the locals are very, very proud to point out.  I’ve driving the road several times, but it still gets to me. We took one of the pullouts about halfway through to let everyone steady their nerves.  Just before Ouray, we pulled over to take a gander at the falls that runs under the highway. A short drive through Ouray we continued on through to Ridgway about ten minutes farther North and our house for the next few days.

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The house was nice with a backyard that stretched all the way to the mountains. It didn’t take long to realize that we had neighbors behind us. The field was home to a prairie dog “town”. We unpacked, got settled in and then headed to the True Grit cafe for dinner.  The cafe gets its name from the academy award winning movie of the same name, which was filmed in the area. The food was great, cowboy style dinner.  I had chicken fried steak that was delicious. They even have food for those weirdo vegans.

We then headed back to the house for the night for some stargazing.

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Colorado Adventure 2016 – Travel Day 1 Dallas to Santa Fe

Day 1

This year we decided to go back to Colorado for our vacation. We had a great time last year and I guess we REALLY talked it up because this time some of the rest of the family decided to join us.  My wife’s parents, her sister and significant other convoyed along for the trip. The initial plan was to only take two vehicles, our 2014 Grand Cherokee ecodiesel, and one of their Acura MDX’s. I wasn’t sure how that would work as I remember last year how packed my JK was for just the two of us. Granted, I carry a lot of extra stuff like camera gear, drone, tools, etc so maybe it’s possible?

Saturday we took the dogs to be boarded while we were gone. For me this is the worst part of the whole experience.  Not only is it the most expensive part of our vacation, but it also means being in the house for the last day without any of our four dogs around which is just weird, and feels really lonely. Luckily, we had tons of packing to do which somewhat took our mind off our abandoned dogs. The plan was to get it all packed and loaded early enough to get a good nights sleep. Doesn’t that sound smart? Yeah, well about that plan…

So earlier in the week, I took the Grand Cherokee in to have the rock sliders put on it. It should have taken a few hours, but apparently these things are extremely difficult to install and it took the dealership the rest of the week and they still weren’t able to finish. We were basically left with the decision of delaying the trip so that they could be finished or taking the Jeep with them “mostly” installed and functional. So, the other part of the story is that I still needed to put the rear Bushwacker flares on and 6  skid plates. I had planned to have a couple of days after the rock rails were done,  but since the dealership kept the Jeep over those days, I had Saturday to do the rest of the work.  Oh boy.

Luckily my good friend Chris Russell was kind enough to give up a Saturday to help. He actually did most of the work as I was having issues with my spine that made it difficult for me to do a lot of this work. We spent all day on a job that I thought would take but a few minutes. That’s the way it always is (should bolt right up) turned into screams of “WTF???!!!??” It started raining about halfway through the day so some of the day was laying on a wet driveway in the rain working away, BUT we got the job done by about 9pm. So much for getting the Jeep loaded and a good nights sleep!

 

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We got to bed about 4:30am and rose at 8am to get on the road. We knew it was going to suck, but that tends to be the way we do thing at Casa Lionel. We got on the road and headed out, mostly on time.

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We stopped in Vernon, Tx for fuel. I checked our Jeep and we still had over 3/4 of a tank but I topped it off with diesel.  A couple of hours later we stopped for lunch in Amarillo at a truck stop at one of those “Trucker malls”.  We headed back out, past Cadillac Ranch, thinking briefly of stopping but remembering how hot it was outside. A bit later we took a slight exit to drive past the old ghost town of Glen Rio. It used to be a great place to stop and take some photos in the ruins of the old Post Office, Diner or Motel, but now although it eerily is still abandoned looking, it has residents. Visions of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre nudge us back on the road and on towards our stop for the day, Santa Fe.

We arrive at Santa Fe just before sunset. Our place of rest the lovely La Quinta Santa Fe West. We do not have the best of luck with hotels. We are beat though and the room is nice enough and were it not, I’d likely sleep the same. If you are tired enough, any place to crash will work right? You would think so but we later find that isn’t always the case.

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Dirt Riot Nationals – Bridgeport Sept. 26

 

Update: Photos are up at Dirt Riot Nationals photos

Well, it was a fun (and tiring weekend).  I’m culling images and working on post processing everything. The 3006 car of Rowdy Racing took a bit of a spill in qualifying. I was there with a long lens and put together a little animaged gif of the tumble. I should have the race images uploaded by tomorrow afternoon. I’ll update this post and Offcamber Photography Facebook page as well.

Offcamber Photography on Facebook

3006 Rowdy Racing catches a rut in qualifying and takes a bit of a tumble. - Copyright 2015 Bob Lione/Offcamber Photography
3006 Rowdy Racing catches a rut in qualifying and takes a bit of a tumble. – Copyright 2015 Bob Lione/Offcamber Photography
Drivers gather post-qualifying at Rock City Burger in Bridgeport

Beginning an Adventure

Photography has in the past been a part-time thing for me. A hobby that I tried to make self-sustaining.  As someone once told me though, it’s hard to take a shower with only one leg in the water.  Prior to this I worked in a cubicle, bathed with fluorescent light. A job that I once loved, slowly suffocated through a corporations greed and stupidity with no loyalty to anyone save it’s shareholders. The day I was laid off was the happiest day I have had in about seven years.  Since “The Day” about a month ago, I’ve been exploring my options and feeling things out. I am ready for adventure.

My adventure will start, oddly enough, on my birthday this year.  We will be packing up and heading West to Ouray, Colorado for the 2015 Ouray Jeep Jamboree.  It’s been almost 15 years since the last time I was here. Back then I was just starting digital photography and was using a Sony FD-91 digital camera. I believe it was a whopping 1.8MP and the FD stood for Floppy Disk. This was it:

Sony FD-91 floppy disk camera.

It was freaking amazing at the time and it got me back into photography. Looking at it now, I half imagine something from the Flinstones with a little bird carving into stone with it’s beak as you snap the shutter. It was a fun camera at the time, but it was not even capable of making images that were at all print-worthy.

We will have two days exploring the San Juan mountain passes on the Jeep Jamboree and then a few days to do some exploring with friends and ourselves.  This trip will be a little bit about Jeeping and a lot about photography. I just ordered the Rokinon 14F2.8 and also have a great new travel tripod, fresh from 3 Legged Thing – the EVO 3 Brian with a Punkz ballhead.  I’ve read a lot of great reviews about the Rokinon and for such an incredibly cheap lens, it is supposed to be superb.  We shall see. Look forward to more posts throughout our adventure. When I get back, the REAL adventure starts – my pro career!

Until then, here are some shots from my last trip with the old floppy disk Sony Camera.

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Dirt Riot – Hidden Falls Adventure Park – May 30, 2015

We headed out around 3AM Saturday morning. After a week of heavy storms and flooding here in Dallas, i was looking forward to getting away and inhaling some race dust. I woke to an alarm two hours after I had set it.  I gathered my gear and loaded the Jeep. A last minute check of the weather, showed that the route we’d chosen – down Highway 281, would take us right into an extremely long, squall line. We decided to take I-35 down in the hopes that it would keep us in front of the storms. Since I left before Al, I decided to stop and grab some food and drinks and give Al time to catch up. As I pulled out of the QuickTrip I saw a text from Al that he’d passed Spring Valley 2  minutes before. I was now behind him and pulled out onto 75 to catch up. I figured I’d catch him on I-35 and exited onto Woodall Rogers to merge onto 35. The recent flooding had other plans. I quickly found that all of the entrances to I35 South were closed. Every option I tried, resulted in me turning around at barricades. After a half hour, I decided to just go back onto Woodall Rogers and take 45 to 20 then to 35. That worked but left me over a half hour behind Al. All the way to Waco, I watched constant lightning creep closer on the western side. I caught up with Al outside of Waco at a fuel stop. As we got ready to leave, the sky looked like Armageddon.  Aside from some brief rain, we escaped the weather and made it to Hidden Falls Adventure park around 8:45am.

Stormy Skies outside Waco
Stormy Skies outside Waco

 

Nice Weather on the way home:

shot with my Sony A6000 while driving home tonight doing 70-75 u

I should have the shots up shortly. Here are a few:

Finished shots will be uploaded to:

http://offcamber.smugmug.com/Sports/Motor-Sports/Hidde-Falls-Adventure-Park-Dirt-