X-Mas in NYC….

Just got back from a little weekend trip to New York City.  Managed to run around the city for a weekend, stopped into Rockerfeller Center and caught the tree all light up.  Granted I took this with my tiny Motorola Droid 2 phone, but I think it came out ok….considering the conditions.

Ok, more to come in the new year!  Thanks for reading!

Roberta Mancino…..all over the place….

Roberta seems to be knocking the media dead.  Lucky for me I have a bunch of video of her skydiving over the past few years.  This time around she will be on Conan on TBS as a guest and they will be showing my video from the 108-Way World Record that we set just over a year ago.

Show Details: Conan – Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 on TBS: Rainn Wilson, International model and world record-holding skydiver Roberta Mancino and musical guest Christina Perri.

Voip Geeked out….

Those that really know me, know that I’m really a geek.  In case you had any doubt, I’ll tell you about my latest geek activity.  If you have no interest in my geekness, stop reading and just go ahead and skip this post.

I’ve had Vonage for quite some time and grew tired of having to pay the $25 a month for simple Voip (voice over internet protocol) phone service.  There HAD to be an easier way.  I did a little googling and I found many answers, here is the one I chose.

These guys offer a simple or complex solution for the issue that I had.  For starters, I wanted to KEEP my Vonage # and stop paying $25 a month for something I hardly use.  Here is how it all went down.

Signed up for VOIP.MS and I paid $25 to port my number over from Vonage (or any phone service you currently have) to Voip.ms.  This took a few weeks but went off without a hitch.  Once it was complete and Vonage canceled my account I was free to hack away at my Vonage router.  (DO NOT hack the Vonage router prior to them canceling the service or run the risk of paying a breech of contract penalty.)

The big catch here is that when Vonage or another Voip service gives you or sells you a router, it’s got their version of the Firmware installed.  In order to use another Voip service you have to “unlock” the router and trick it into thinking it’s getting a standard upgrade while in reality flashing the firmware to the basic retail version for that manufacturer, in my case Linksys.

I won’t go into all of the details, but I had to download the earliest version of Firmware I could find FROM Vonage, setup a TFTP server and use a Ping hack to re-image my router and essentially Down Grade my router.  Once it was in that state I ran a custom program that then “Unlocks” the password for the router which allows me to then “upgrade” my router to a retail Linksys Version of the firmware without the Vonage locks in place.   In order to do that I had to hack the Linksys Firmware with a Hex Editor to make the router think it was a Vonage version.  Once I did that I just performed a simple upgrade of the Firmware and bam, I had a standard, off the shelf Linksys Router with Voip capability.

Now all I had to do was configure the router to point to my new Voip.ms service and wha-la, it was done.

My monthly charge is now $1.49 a month plus around $0.01 per minute calls…..to most countries.  WAY better!  The tutorial I used to somewhat guide me through is found here.  If you are searching for a tutorial on YOUR router, search for “Unlock voip” and your routers make and model #. 

Hey, I warned you that I was a geek.  If you want guidance or clarification on the above, just shoot me a note and I see if I can help!

Backup your data!

What is your disaster recovery plan?

I remember asking a good friend a few years ago who shoots weddings and other events, how he backs up his data.  He explained how he has multiple external backup drives in the event that his computer’s hard drive crashes.  That’s a good start, but what happens if you’re hit by a fire or all of your drives and computers are stolen in the night.  That client that wants to finally put her wedding album together isn’t going to be very understanding when you say you don’t have any pictures.

Currently when I import images from my camera onto my computer, they are stored on 2 drives that are configured in a RAID 1 configuration, i.e. a mirror image of each other.  Then, I push them over the internet to a shared NAS drive at a friends house on the other side of the country.  If I lose a hard drive locally I’m ok.  If my house burns down I have backups I can reach remotely.

I also NEVER change any of the original files.  The original RAW file or JPG is never altered in any way shape or form.  Using Adobe’s Lightroom I manage all of the changes within that application and also back up the Lightroom Database to ensure that I have those changes in the future.

Chase Jarvis explains his process.  It makes my process look like preschool, but at the end of the day I’m covered from multiple angles.  If photography or video is how you pay your rent, you might want to step it up a notch.  The great thing is that you can do it all fairly inexpensively.

Sebastian’s Halloween Extravaganza!

I just got back from this year’s Second Annual Halloween Freefly Extravaganza held at Skydive Sebastian.  With 4 freefly organizers and a Hybrid organizer how could you go wrong?  The turn out was great and the jumps were going off without a hitch from SDC’s N10EA.  I even had a nice surprise when I got there, a brandy new Katana 120 with a custom logo.  Now that’s how I like to start a boogie!

Saturday night the party was underway starting with the Costume contest which had loads of prizes only to be followed up by a ‘Fear Factor’ style eating contest.  7 people entered and only one would win.  Who could eat all of the courses and claim the prize at the end?  Everything from raw eggs to cat food with a dollop of Crisco to live worms and the finale of a live Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.  Now there is a contest I don’t want to win!!!!

To end the event I climbed aboard a Bell 407 with some guys from Venezuela for a fun ride and then a great jump!  If you’d like to see all of the pictures from this event, please visit my events gallery here.

2 times the cover shot……

It’s been a great week for my photos.  First I got my new issue of Parachutist in the mail.  It’s got a shot of SoCal Converge on the cover that I took just after their last round at the 2010 USPA Nationals.  This was their celebratory dive saying they had just won their third National Title.  About time they got some appropriate coverage, and what better place than on the cover!  Click here for more details of the issue.

The second cover shot I got was on Performance Designs 2011 Calendar.  I took this shot over Skydive Sebastian a little while back as I dove towards the ground and captured the ocean and the huge PD Wings logo racing towards Earth.  If you’d like to pick up a copy, please visit the PD store and order yours today!

Hike up Mt. BierStadt

A few of us took a little hike up a 14er to check out the top of Mt. Bierstadt an hour or so from Denver.  The dogs came along for the fun and we all managed to make it to the top in one piece!  We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day in early October.  In a few weeks this will all probably be covered in snow.

Atif, Stephen and Jim decided to try their balance on the top of the mountain.  Sorry Atif and Jim, I think Stephen won. Of course you can’t hike up a 14er without a group shot at the top!

And last but not lease was my favorite picture of the hike on our way down.  I believe this is Olive holding a pose against the golden, grassy hillside with the deep blue sky in the background that just makes it all pop and come together.  If you would like to see more shots of the hike please check out my gallery here.   Thanks guys and can’t wait to get some shots on the slopes this winter!

My second wedding….

The first wedding I shot was for a friend on the beaches of Tulum, Mexico.  Saying I was really nervous before it all started is an understatement.  Yet once the camera was on and the action started, those nerves fell away and I was back in my element. I love taking pictures and when you’re in that zone it’s the most amazing feeling of satisfaction.

A few weeks ago I went up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to shoot my second wedding.  Jesse and Stine were getting hitched and I was asked to capture the event.  Jesse is my sister-in-law’s brother.  They couldn’t have picked a better location.

Being from Norway, Stine’s dress was handmade by her grandmother when Stine was only 16 years old.  It’s tradition to wear it during all of life’s major events including getting married.  It was great to see the detail work up close and attempt to capture it on ‘film’.

The campfire was light and the party continued on into the night.  Thanks so much for having me up there and I really enjoyed capturing these moments for you all.  However I will say that I don’t think I’m cut out to be a wedding photographer.  I can do the job, but I don’t feel that the passion is there.  For now I think I’m going to stick to the sky and continue to explore the studio.  So why don’t you hang around for a while and see what I come up with next!

Jumping in Lodi…..

***Post Edited per organizers request***

In early October I was at Lodi for another cutting edge event. However, during and immediately after the event I decided that this will be my last visit to Lodi unless several things drastically change.Please read on for more.

If you are looking for the post for the Ladies Lodi Sequentials please click this link!

I’ll pick up on my original post now:


As great as these jumps were, I do have to say that I think this will be my last trip to Lodi.  It’s a huge double edge sword for me, some of the best freefliers in the country are pushing their limits on a regular basis there and the jump tickets are cheap.  But on the other edge of the sword, in general, I just don’t feel safe there.  I like to think that survival in this sport is furthered along by educating yourself, never becoming complacent and at the end of the day, taking only calculated risks.  After all, we are hurling ourselves out of an aircraft and that is an obvious risk.  By following some of the Basic Safety Requirements those risks have now been lessened.  Why jump with just one audible device when you can jump with two, batteries after all do have a life span.  To be honest, I just don’t feel that it’s worth going to this dropzone any longer simply because of the safety issues that I personally have seen.  Those issues were recently compounded by the action taken by the FAA against the owner of the Parachute Center.  This is what the FAA knows about, what else don’t they know about?  Bill has not exactly had a stellar streak with safety in the past.  Between this action and other things I have seen, I would strongly suggest to my Lodi based friends to re-evaluate their DZ choice.  Look at the dropzone’s policies and see if they reinvest profits into maintaining their aircraft.  I’d rather not grieve over another plane load of friends crashing in.  It was hard enough the first time, I can’t image how hard it would be with an otter load of skydivers, especially if it was preventable.

I would invite you to comment about this and start a discussion on the subject.  Negligent Maintenance is Inexcusable.  Neglecting basic safety issues are inexcusable.  Am I wrong?  (Granted, at this stage these charges are merely just that, charges.  Is Bill the victim of a witch hunt? Please chime in and tell me how it really is.)  Once a verdict has been reached and negligence has been proven, how can anyone continue to support such a place and such a DZO?  Is it really worth saving $7 on a jump?  How can a DZO ground a jumper for doing a 180 degree turn and yet at the same time not connect the static discharge reel to the aircraft in order to ground it as the pilot is hot fueling the plane yelling at the jumpers to board the running, pilot-less aircraft?  It might be your home, but is someone else’s negligence worth risking your life?  If you jump there, am I out of line saying these things?  How do you feel about the situation?  Please help and enlighten me.