Ebooks by TCDavis


Double Exposure ebook cover
What might a Vietnam combat veteran discover about himself as he revisits the country he fought in forty two years ago? TCDavis, a pastor turned photographer, and former naval adviser to a South Vietnamese junk base, reveals his answer in Double Exposure: A Veteran Returns to Vietnam, an exciting and thought-provoking memoir of 22 photo-illustrated reflections.  See my video, Returning to Vietnam.
A reader wrote in her Amazon.com review:
“The book will be of interest to anyone who wishes to have a better understanding of the effects of war on the individual and the healing journey that comes after. I also found it interesting to read about the Vietnam that has emerged from all those years of war, a vibrant and prosperus place. I highly recommend this book.”

Kindle version here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008Y2FOS4.

Get other digital reader versions: for Nook, Sony, etc. at Smashwords.com.

How to Get Great Video Sound from a Moving Subject, Cheap!

lavalier interview micOn a limited budget, how can you get great video sound from a moving subject?  Find out in this CyberKen Blog post.

Film makers who know their stuff will tell you that for story telling, clear sound is more important than clear images.  Mess up the sound and there is no story.  Getting clear sound isn’t too hard indoors with a stationary subject, such as a speaker at a conference:  Just move your tripod close to the speaker, say, within fifteen feet, and use an external mic if you have one.  Test with earphones to make sure the sound is good. If you don’t have an earphones jack on your camera, at least run a test clip and play it back to make sure your mic is recording properly.

But what if your subject is moving around, and outside where there’s wind to contend with?  You could hire a sound man with a boom to hold a mic with a wind screen close to your subject; or you could put a wireless lavalier mic on your subject to transmit the signal to your camera.  Both of those options are costly.

There’s a relatively inexpensive alternative:  Use a lavalier mic made for taking interviews. It will have two mic buds running from the same jack.  Some models are self powered, and some run off the power of a digital recorder.  Wired lavalier mics are often made to plug into a small digital sound recorder with a 3.5 mm jack.  I found that by sewing a small pocket of fake fur around each mic I could prevent rustling sounds from the mics rubbing against clothing.

Another problem with lavalier mics on a mobile subject is keeping the lapel clips from dislodging.  These clips are very small, and often don’t hold well.  Instead, take some gaffers’ tape and tape one mic to the underside of the subject’s right collar, and one to the underside of the left collar.  The mics should be placed approximately at the level of the subject’s collar bone in order to be close enough to the subject’s mouth to pick up clear sound.  My dual lavalier mics are omnidirectional, so they pick up any sound, but the background sounds are quieter than the voice, so the narration is not obscured, and the background sounds give a good context for the scene.

Adjust the recording volume on your digital recorder, start recording a new file, and drop the recorder into your subject’s pocket.  When you are finished filming the scene remove the recorder from your subject’s pocket and press the stop-recording button.

clapper boardNow, how does one synchronize the sound file made with the digital recorder with the visual track of the video clip?  An inexpensive and historic way is to use a clapper board at the beginning of your  clip.  In fact, you don’t even need a clapper board.  You can just film yourself clapping your hands.  In post processing you go to the video frame where the clapping hands or the clapper board segments come together, and you line up the loud clapping mark in the sound track with that frame of the visual track.

An easier but more expensive option is to buy some synchronizing software like PluralEyes.  This software compares the sine waves of the video clips with those of the recorded sound files and after stripping away the sound tracks of the video clips, automatically substitutes the stronger and clearer recorded files, leaving you with video clips with excellent sound.

I found that taping my mics under a collar works really well to eliminate wind rumble.  I’ve tried using wind screens for my shotgun mic (both bought and home made ones), but none have worked as well as mics securely taped under a shirt collar.  Yesterday I ran an experiment.  It was a very windy day.  You can hear the wind, but it sounds like wind should, not as an overpowering rumble.  Click on the right facing arrow below to listen.



Using Amazon S3 for Streaming Large Files

Amazon-S3-logoIf you have tried streaming large files such as selections of music from the server that hosts your website files, you have probably noticed that this slows down your site’s performance.  Pages load slower.  Slow loading tends to reduce traffic to your site.  So you may want to check out Amazon’s S3 service.  S3 charges you not by the month, but only for the elapsed times of your data transfers.  Unless your site gets a huge number of visitors and a large demand for streamed files, your charges from Amazon S3 will be very minimal.  S3 is also a good place to back up your hard drives or your website files.  Many backup applications make it easy to back up to S3 automatically on a regular basis.

Starting to Use S3

Once you open an account at Amazon S3 you will want to create a "bucket."  A bucket is a large category for organizing your files there.  You can create folders within a bucket.  When you upload a file to S3 it will contain first the bucket name, then the address of S3, then a folder name (if you have stored the file in a folder), then the file name (with suffix.)  Let’s say the name of your bucket is mybucket, and a folder within that bucket is named music, and a music selection you have uploaded to that folder and want to stream is called livelymelody.mp3.  To make a live link to that .mp3 file so that it will play at your website use this address:  http://mybucket.s3.amazonaws.com/music/livemelody.mp3.

Making Your Website Even Snappier Using CloudFront

Since a major reason for using Amazon S3 is to speed up the transmission of website data, you may also want to use a sub-service of S3, called CloudFront.  CloudFront reduces the time it takes for a web file to be transmitted from where it is stored to where it is heard or viewed or otherwise employed by a user. It does this by pre-arranging shortcuts in data routing. When you configure a file using CloudFront, be aware that it will receive a new url, and this url will not be immediately available.  It takes a while for CloudFront to map the fastest routing.  Files optimized by CloudFront are very quick to resolve when users click on their links.  I highly recommend this additional way of speeding up your website’s performance.


Working with Expired Film

When the clouds come out I love to put a polarizing filter on my Nikon F3 and shoot with slide film.  Film looks less crisp than digital, a bit more like a painting, it seems to me.  Plus, I love to work with a well made classic metal camera.  It’s a slower, more meditative way of photographing.  Below are some recent Spring photos I took within a five minute walk from my back door.  I used Kodak Elite 200.  It has expired, but the former owner kept it in a refrigerator, and so have I, so it produces nicely saturated exposures.  The “Fire in Spring” photo is a double exposure of Crocus blossoms superimposed on the bark of a Tulip Poplar tree.