Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Story of Stuff...

Watched this tonight and thought I'd pass it on. It's a web-based film on where our stuff (ipods, computers, bikes, cars, etc.,) come from and where they go. Told in simple and entertaining plain speech, I found it pretty compelling. It's a little long at 20 minutes for a casual glance, but anything worthwhile takes some time.

I think the most interesting part for me was the Consumption module, when she spoke about planned and perceived obsolences. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

And yet another blog!

I also put a new post on about the continuing saga of my handlebars. They started out as drop bars, turned Dutch and now they're some strange touring-rando-probiscus. Read that gripping account here :)

Another Beer-Venture!

This week, Laura and I went to Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, a tiny restaurant with a big beer list. They boast 23 micros on tap that get changed out regularly. Awesome. Read the gripping account here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dumb phone and other thoughts....

I recently got a new phone. A dumb phone. In a time where a phone is part camera/gps/web browser/blender (aka smart phones), I walked into my local T-mobile and asked for the dumbest phone they had.

For the last few years I've had quite a few smart phones ( a few generations of the Sidekick, a Blackberry, etc.,) and part of me is tired of being that connected all the time. Part of me is also really tired of a phone not being able to do its most basic function (being a phone) very well.

So I walked in and looked for the dumbest phone they had and I found one. A Nokia. It's the slightly glitzier version of the old reliable Nokia that EVERYBODY had about 7 years ago. You know what I"m talking about. You probably had one. Small. Fits in one hand. Sleek but no frills. Just a good phone.

At first I wondered if I could get along with such a dumb phone, but now I find it quite liberating. It does what it does well and that's it. Simple. It's small and seems fairly robust. No moving, flipping, spinning, glowing parts to break. For a time, atleast, I feel freed from my electronic leash.

And speaking of leashes, I am getting that itch to hop on the train with my bike and go to parts unknown. The feeling comes and it goes but this time it is coming awfully strong. Maybe it's the new year. Maybe it's part of being 30 (geez, that still feels weird to say). Part of me is really aching for the simple life, where all I'm responsible for is moving the pedals and my person from one point to another.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Beer Adventure #1

Laura and I went on a beer tasting adventure on Sat. We were going to a few breweries in Torrance but the selection looked rather sad, so we decided to trek out to Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. We took the Blue Line (a sort of necessity for multi-modal transit, since buses only can carry 2 bikes and aren't guaranteed available) from Long Beach and transferred to the Green Line which dropped us off a few miles from the coast.

Riding to the Metro Station in downtown LB:

Blue Line to the Green Line route:

Green Line stop to Redondo Beach and back...

On this outing we were able to stop at two brewpubs, one at Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach. We rode a total of 24 miles and counting the Metro miles, we traveled a total of 75 miles, all for $5 a piece (cost of an all day Metro pass). It was a really beautiful clear day to do it which made it an even more pleasant ride.

We hit some car traffic, but it was manageable. We took Rosecranz to Manhattan beach. It had a few hills that came as a surprise (everything looks flat on the map). It was mostly a 3 lane road and Laura and I took up the whole right lane. On the way home, we took Manhattan Beach Blvd., which was even hillier and only had 2 lanes. Not ideal, but for the most part, the cars played nice and we only got honked at once when we were on Marine about a block away from the Green Line stop.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Going Dutch...

I've decided to turn my Trek touring bike into a Dutch-esque bike with swept back Albatross bars. I've been inspired by various RIvendell Atlantis builds I've seen on the web and my own personal experience using a swept back bar on my Xtracycle. The first of my bits came in the mail today. 56cm Albatross bar and a roll of hemp twine. Still waiting on some brake levers and other knick-knacks but I'm hoping to do the conversion by Saturday:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Favorite portraits from 2007...

I put together a short self-guided SoundSlide of some of my favorite portraits from the last year. Take a look and if you know if anyone needs a portrait (corporate, commercial or personal) send them my way!

Check out the Soundslide here. (oops...fixed the link. try it again)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bicycle Bully-vard.....complete text

Just checked the District Weekly website and they have the complete text of the article I wrote. It should run in the print issue as well. Here's an excerpt:

Russ Roca
Mon. January 14

Less traffic, noise and pollution is a good thing…isn’t it?

When I heard about a meeting at Bixby Park put on by the city to explore the possibility of creating a bike boulevard on First Street, I was ecstatic. First Street, between Junipero and Loma, is a beautiful, spacious street and a prime candidate to be converted to a bicycle boulevard given its low traffic and wide lanes.

Now, for the uninitiated, let me first tell you what a biycle boulevard is not. A bicycle boulevard is not like the recreational trail that we have on the beach. It is not a special separated lane that will traverse through the city like a 405 for bicycles. It isn’t even a bike lane.

What it is is traffic calming. Ahhh. It just sounds so nice to say, doesn’t it? Bicycle boulevards, which could just as easily be called walking/jogging/strollering/biking boulevards, are streets where certain features such as curb extensions, street trees and traffic circles have been added to slow and divert vehicle traffic, thus making it safe for everyone. Bicyclists benefit from it because traffic moves at a slower clip, but so do pedestrians, joggers and mothers with strollers. Residents get the added benefit of lower air and noise pollution.

Bike boulevards attract utilitarian cyclists because, unlike the beach path (which has few access points and is below the bluffs), you can actually use it to get somewhere you need to go and it is integrated into the infrastructure grid....

Read the rest, here.

Choosing colors....

I spent last night sketching up what I want the paint on my Bilenky to look like. The cargo bike will have an old-fashioned sheet metal sign in the triangle. I have the option to do a vinyl cut sign or a hand-painted one. I think I'm going to go with a hand-painted sign for a neat lo-tech, hand made look.

The graphics on the plate are rough. I basically want something that looks like a frame from a still movie where they use to show text in a frame with art-deco scrolls and shells in the corners, etc.,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Return of the Scorcher

Saw this posted on Clevercycles today. It's a documentary made on bicycling in 1992, by Ted White. Watching, in light of going to that meeting at Bixby Park, it really seems like not a whole has changed.

Some snaps from Seal Beach

Went out to Seal Beach this morning to take a few snaps for a client that has a business there. She wanted some shots of the general area to use on her site...

Wingspan Foundation

So far, a few of my New Year's resolutions are coming true. I'm getting more involved in the bike community. I've ordered my new cargo bike. And now, I've done some photography for another non-profit! (Now if only the Nikon D3 would appear in my hands :)

I photographed some images for a new non-profit called Wingspan this week. It's concept is to pair two different schools from differing backgrounds together in a mentorship type partnership, where both sets of students gain to learn something through the interaction.

I was odd to go back to a grade school. I have forgotten the utter madness of recess! The shoot went by fast. I only had about an hour at each location so there was no time for introductions. I more or less showed up and started shooting. My experience of shooting news events really came in handy. Something just turns on in my head and I go into photojournalism mode.

Another fun fact about this job was that it was way out in Santa Ana. Rideable by bike (I've done it before), but I had to get to the first location by 8:30am. I couldn't see myself getting up at 5am to ride through morning rush hour. Fortunately, there was a bus about six blocks away from me that left Long Beach and dropped me off within walking distance of the first location.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bicycle Bullyvard

Just a short blurb for now, but I went to a meeting the other night regarding Bicycle Boulevards on 1st Street. I was absolutely aghast at some of the behavior I saw there. First of all, some of the residents would barely let the guy doing the presentation speak. Secondly, some of the objections were so ludicrous that many of the cyclist in the room were just dumbfounded. Here's an excerpt from an article I'm working on....

To be fair, there were some reasonable residents. I'll post the rest after it runs.

I went into the meeting thinking it was a win-win situation. What better way to start off the new year than supporting something that could benefit myself, as a cyclist, and the community at large.

This was not to be the case.

I passed the sign-in clipboard to the woman standing next to me who, I deduced, was obviously a displeased 1st Street resident by the sneer she gave me after she saw my helmet.

The night was more or less a tennis match with 1st street residents saying they didn’t want their historic district soiled by “all those people coming to their street.” And all the cyclists wondering, who exactly did they mean? It kept on and on with the basic insinuation that those people, cyclists, would bring in a reign of two-wheeled terror and decreased property value.

Some of the objections to the Bike Boulevard seemed so absolutely ridiculous they verged on conspiratorial.

One 1st Street resident said that she was opposed to the bike boulevard because bikes were just too noisy!

Another resident said that the traffic in the city wasn’t bad enough that the city should do anything to encourage bicycling. In 10 years when it was worse, then they should do something about it.

Somewhere a baby glacier is crying…err…melting.

Another resident expressed his concern for the safety of joggers and women with stollers (think of the children!) who might be hit and injured by runaway cyclists.

Another woman was totally up in arms because she knew, she just knew, that the state was going to print a map of all the bike lanes in CA (as a cyclist I could only hope for such a map!) and people from around the country would single out the those twelve blocks of 1st Street to drive their trucks, loaded with bikes, take up the parking spaces and spend all day riding up and down 1st street like gyspies.


At one point I couldn’t take it any more and walked to the front of the room and introduced myself, “Hi. My name is Russ Roca and I’m a bike commuter. I have a college degree. I don’t have fangs and I’m not going to steal your children in the middle of the night.” To which I was told, “that’s not what we meant at all.”

What did they mean then?

District Cover! Yay!

Got the cover this week and a nice big photo inside as well! So if you're in the town, grab a copy! The images were shot at the site of a proposed park. I wanted it a bit dramatic so I lit it with some hard light (norman 200b as main and a Nikon as the rim). Had to balance it to slightly overpower the sun.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pelican Case Mod

This is my first post as a member and it's a short video about my Pelican case that I modded to work with bike racks.

The Bicycling Photographer of Panama!

Got a super cool email from a reader in Panama the other day, who happens to be a photographer and also travels by bike and transit!

Hello Russ,

I am a photographer from Panama. I found your blog some months ago looking for information on attaching pelican cases to a bike and I've been checking it ever since. I just read your final post for the last year and I wanted to congratulate you for all you photography and cycling accomplishments. I also use bicycles as my primary means of transportation and often bike to locations. I do resort to cabs for the farther locations though. I've always wondered how you deal with hills and rain on a fully loaded bike, Panama has a lot of both but fortunately it is a very small city. Anyway I just wanted to let you know that I think your approach to the photo business is awesome and I wish you the best in your enterprise. Also I wanted you to know that you've inspired me to cut down on cab use for work and in general. It's really cool to know that all the way in LA there's another person biking to their photo jobs.

Best Wishes,
Ricardo Lopez S. Fotografia

So if you're in Panama and need a photographer, drop him a line. You can follow his adventures on his blog here.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Some snaps this week....

Took some photos for an old client that needed some images of her studio in Seal Beach...


I got the wheels moving on getting a new cargo bike for this year. I spoke with Steve from Bilenky and put a deposit down on a cargo bike! I've been eyeing one for a long time and am ready to go for it. It will be orange (of course) with blue as the secondary color and it will have a handpainted sign in the middle that says "Eco-Friendly Bicycling". It won't be ready for a few months but I wanted to get the process started.

I can't wait! I'll do periodic posts as it is getting built.

Sweet...might not have to wait as long as I thought....ballpark delivery date is end of Feb!

Official BikeCommuter!

I joined the team this week! It fits perfectly into one of my 2008 goals, which is to get more involved in the cycling community. I'll be doing product reviews and musings for them. I'm working on my first piece which is a slideshow on how to DIY a hardcase for your bike.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Redesign for 2008

With all the traffic I've been getting from various sites, I decided to redesign my photography site. This year, I really want to push multimedia work so I'm highlighting the soundslides. However, I still have to do family/event work to fill in the gaps in between, so I'm keep those up, but making it a secondary item.

It's not yet complete...still have to build out the other pages, but I wanted something up with a quickness...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Whole Life Times

Got a little blurb in Whole Life Times. Check out the article here. Haven't seen the print edition yet, but I'm hoping they run a photo with it as well.

Why is everything so friggin expensive?

Well, I know why, but that doesn't stop me from lamenting. I'm making a wish list of gear I hope to acquire this year and looking at the numbers is making my eyes water.

Nikon D3 - $5000
17-35mm 2.8 Lens - $1500
24-70mm 2.8 lens - $1700
Apple 23 Inch Display - $900
Profoto AcuteB (location lighting) - $3000
Bilenky Cargo Bicycle - $2800

The tricky part is to prioritize what I should shoot for (no pun intended) first. I'm in need of a 2nd body, so the D3 will probably be my first priority. However, I've been wondering how I could more quickly improve my images and a good location light kit would do that, so the Profoto gear is also near the top. And it goes on and on....

When I look at it all at once it's really a bit defeating. However, I have to remind myself that last year I was faced with the same mountain and managed to chip a fair amount off. It just takes time, patience and savvy.