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Serving Life

I watched this documentary, and I thought it would be interesting, but what was just a peek into the rabbit hole ended up being a roller coaster of emotions. The basic premise is these inmates, some doing various crimes, regardless of the circumstances, are all serving life or very long sentences. The warden started a program where volunteers who qualify can help care for other inmates serving life in the prison hospice. So in serving them, they find redemption, and change, in themselves, and it was very touching. It made everyone realize that family, and those bonds are very important, and if they had the care that they had and the love that they had in their last days on Earth, as they did growing up, maybe half of the people in prison wouldn’t have committed their crimes.

The volunteers do not know what the people they are taken care of are in for. It isn’t for people to judge. When you meet your maker, or make you lonely journey into the void, you make it alone. Doesn’t matter who you are or what you did, we all have to go sometime. The most touching I think was the two brothers. The younger brother following the older one always, and they each got into trouble, both doing time. The younger one, who know’s he is dying implores his older one to make a change. Just open up his heart and make a change, and it’s tough to see these large grown men break down and cry. But I watched these people take care of each other, and I was reminded of when we were taking care of my dad. The water swabs to keep the mouth dry, the potential bed sores. It all brought back a lot of memories, and I think three years after his passing, I thought I could handle it. Turns out, I was partially right. It did make me want to volunteer more though and give back. I remember the mantra growing up in high school during our volunteer days. “Make a Difference”. I think back then we did it to earn credit and get recognition to pad our resumes to get into college. It is not until later that you really want to do it for altruistic reasons. And as it turns out, regardless of who you are or what you’ve done, it’s never to late to help others, and make a change.

It is a good documentary, and if you are up for some good old fashioned depressing, yet hopeful exploration of the human spirit, then it would be something I recommend.


Volunteering Again National MS Society

I’ve done something this morning that I’m ashamed to say haven’t done since High School (Well, aside from the one year I volunteered at a food bank for Thanksgiving). But I’ve essentially done nothing for the past 12 years.


There are many underlying reasons why one would take up the mantle to help out in a cause that’s greater than yourself. Some volunteer for a cause because they’ve lost loved ones. Some do it to pad their resumes or an gasp…some do it for truly altruistic purposes (However I think those people are more rare). My reason is entirely a selfish one. The recent discovery brain cancer in my dad was the catalyst. I make a good living, am healthy, have been blessed with great family and friends. I should at least make an effort to help out where I can to build good karma. There were many nice people who helped my father during his stay an the hospital. The theory is to try to do good, and in doing so, hopefully good will come back to me (in the form of good health for my dad). I don’t consider it as paying a debt, it’s more akin to paying it forward (Yes just like that movie with Haley Joel Osment).

Initially, I really wanted to volunteer for cancer or aids events, but they were all booked up in terms of volunteers. Luckily, the The National Multiple Sclerosis Society. still needed volunteers! I must admit, it was miserable to wake up at 5:30am, but once I got there, it was all good. I didn’t volunteer in a booth or to direct traffic. I’m not particularly good at manual labor (As my wife can attest), so naturally I opted to do what I do best. Which is taking pictures! Hopefully they’ll be able to use them in their marketing campaign to generate more funds and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis, which affects 2.1 million people.



I didn’t realize until after the fact, that this guy was wearing an SC shirt and giving me the ‘fight on’ symbol. I have a pretty myopic view from behind a 200mm lens, and things were going at a fairly fast paced, so haha I swear I didn’t single this guy out because he came from my alma mater!

This gentleman pretty much single-handedly raised almost 40 thousand dollars for the cause.




I took this opportunity to practice my panning technique. Essentially you slow the lens down, and pan with the subject to simulate movement. By panning, you keep up with the subject, and they will in theory be in ‘more’ focus than the background. So These were roughly at 1/15th of a second at F22. It takes a lot of practice to master, and I haven’t really had opportunities to try this technique until today!







Shamless plugs. Yeah it was interesting, they had a shot wish list, and sponsors were on top of the list. Which is understandable, they want the sponsors to be recognized so they would continue their sponsorships for future events. I tried shooting them in a way where it wasn’t blatantly obvious that I’m doing a shameless plug. It was an amusing challenge.




Ok this one is shameless. haha!

Over all I had a fantastic time. I wouldn’t mind having other volunteer opportunities. I think it would be interesting to go to retirement homes to take pictures of elderly people. Everyone wants to be loved or get some form attention. There’s nothing like a camera being aimed at you to make you feel somewhat important or recognized. Fleeting as it may appear, who knows, a single smile can do wonders.

There were other photogs at this event. It was interesting to see how other people worked. They were all clumped towards the starting line, or asked groups to say hi and cheer. The latter was never really my style so i chose to roam around. I think I clumped with a a few of them in front of the starting line, before I realized it was foolish. Why take the same shot as the guy next to you? To be unique, or get a different perspective. Be where other people aren’t! So lol, I walked down the street and got free reign of the street shots.

Now on to the boring details that boys care about!

I Used 2 cameras and (shockingly only brought two lenses). 1DMKIII and 1DMKII, with a 70-200IS, and a sigma 14mm. I didn’t even bother with a backpack! Just a satchel for snackies, and memory cards.
I’ve confirmed that I do indeed like wide angles, and they do have their purpose but the flare on this sigma makes it rather annoying, and I think I’m going to replace the lens as soon as I get enough funds for a Canon 14mm MKII. Since it began uber early, I gambled that I would have enough light to shoot. Clearly I would of lost, if it wasn’t for the ISO 2000 and above capabilities of the MKIII. But it was chilly, but these two bodies are built like tanks. I shot int he pouring rain once with them, so It was good to have peace of mind that the moisture in the air wouldn’t hurt the gear.

All the action shots were done in AI Focus. In hindsight, I should of brought my 200mm prime. The 70-200 is a fine lens, but for bikes that move quickly, focusing is essential, and since the zoom lens is a ad large, it is a bit slow to focus. Don’t get me wrong, it’s faster than the average bear, but nowhere near as fast as I need it to be. I’ve missed a few crucial shots because it couldn’t keep up.
The full Sets are on my Flickr account under the Natioal MS society Bike_Ride Collection.