Editing Photos

The tweaking you can do to a digital image is almost endless.

GIMP, a free photo editing program, that does the work of Adobe CS. (Source: monsoonhub.org)

You have many choices when it comes to photo editing software but finding the right one for you is not always easy.

Not every photo editing program is right for everybody. Editing images is a skill. It takes time to learn.

Some programs provide a lot of help. These are great for beginners. But they tend to be light on features and tools.

Using more full-featured programs is like diving into the deep end. These are meant for serious enthusiasts.

I also use Picasa to edit my photos. Try it before putting out money for more complicated photo editing software.

Other photo editing software programs to consider follow:

Paint.net is a FREE image and photo editing program for computers that run Windows. This software performs many basic image editing tasks, works quickly, and mimics the tools and functions that are found in other image editors.

Paint.NET is free image editing and photo manipulation software designed to be used on computers that run Windows. It supports layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. (Source: avaxhome.ws)

It started development as an undergraduate college senior design project mentored by Microsoft, and is currently being maintained by some of the alumni that originally worked on it.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a FREE editing program that is very complex and powerful; and is similar to the full version of Photoshop. But be forewarned—it’s not for beginners.

Photobie is a FREE program that has tools for nearly any editing function you can think of. Photobie is image editing software that combines features amateurs can use with advanced tools professionals will appreciate.

Photobie is free for personal use with no Pro upgrade to pay for—all features are free. You can work with layers for more precision. And it can handle tons of file formats. Also, it has many preset filters. You can tweak images with just a few clicks. And the results look really good.

Purchase your own software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4, Adobe Photoshop CS6, or Apple Aperture.

Now, a comment on Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is considered the gold standard in photo-editing software. It is so well known that Photoshop is often used as a verb.

Photoshop is high-end software aimed at professionals and other advanced photo enthusiasts.

You may be tempted to splurge on it. But, Photoshop is overkill for the average user. In fact, I would discourage most from buying the software.

The learning curve is steep. It is packed with all kinds of fancy features. You can use it to transform a photograph completely. Even some professionals struggle to master it.

That said, Photoshop may be the right program for you. It offers plenty of filters and correction tools. You can also work with layers. Layers let you stack different photos or multiple copies of the same photo. You can apply effects and settings on a layer-by-layer basis.

There are no other programs in the same class as Photoshop. However, GIMP comes close. And, GIMP is free!

The first thing to consider is ease of use.

The new Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 software will not work with Microsoft Windows XP or older 32-bit versions of the Apple OS X operating system. The new software requires a very modern operating system.

Before you pay money for a program, download a trial version. You’ll see exactly what you’re getting before you spend a dime. You can also test ease of use.

Try editing some of your photos. As with any program, there will be a learning curve.

If a program is difficult to use, the features don’t matter much. You’ll become frustrated with the program and won’t use it. Pass on any programs you find too difficult.

If a program seems easy to use, experiment with the features. Color balancing and light correction are essential. These will help you correct problems that are typical to digital photos.

Please Note: This is the thirty-fourth in a series of stories on Digital Photography and RVing

Worth Pondering…

Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.

—Imogen Cunningham

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Organizing Photos: Transfer Images to Computer

Are you in control of your metadata?

Do you know what you have, and can you find it?

Standardize your Workflow

No matter how you determine your file-naming convention (by date, by location, by subject, by keyword, etc.) the system must work for you. (Source: pcmag.com)

Have a plan for how images move from the camera to the computer. Establish an approach and then stick with it.

You can change it at a later date to upgrade to a better or more refined approach, but you’ve got to start somewhere and remain consistent for a while in order to develop a stable platform. It’s the foundation of your organizational system.

Download your photos from your digital camera memory card to your computer’s hard drive.

I connect my digital camera to my computer and hit the download button.

Some prefer to import using a high speed USB card reader. Be aware that all card readers are not the same.

After my images are transferred to my hard drive, I reformat the memory card.

When you open Picasa, you’ll notice that your photos are arranged by folder. You can drag and drop to rearrange your albums and create new albums.

There are as many filing systems as there are photographers. No matter how you determine your file-naming convention (by date, by location, by subject, by keyword, etc.) the system must work for you.

I create my folders by location. My procedure goes as follows:

  • Download my 4GB memory card to my computer using Picasa.
  • Select my folder and name for these images, e.g. BC, Okanagan Valley­_2012_08
  • After an initial run-through of my files, I delete the obvious throwaways and keep the rest.

Tag Photos

You can also tag your photos. Tagging is a concept found in photo management software where you attach descriptive text called tags (e.g. Birds, Hiking, Christmas, RV Parks,) to each photo in your collection.

Worth Pondering…

If I have any ‘message’ worth giving to a beginner it is that there are no short cuts in photography.

—Edward Weston

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Sunbelt RV Parks Report Record Number of Snowbirds

Resurgence of the Polar vortex and snow in 49 of the 50 states is good news for the Sunbelt.

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds in southern California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona are seeing a boom in occupancy for December–March with travelers seeking a respite from this winter’s ravaging snow and plummeting temperatures.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) reports that more than 1 million RVers will use their RV this winter to head to warmer climates, spending on average 12 weeks at campgrounds throughout the Sunbelt.

“RVing has always been popular in the winter months but this year has been exceptionally successful for campgrounds. Every segment of traveler is discovering that RVing is affordable, easy and most importantly, flexible,” says Richard Coon, RVIA president.

“RVers can stay at a campground for as long as they would like or travel throughout the season without worrying about any long-term commitments, an option not afforded traditional seasonal rentals.  If you want a new view, just pick up and go.”

The most popular Sunbelt state for snowbirds is Florida with RV parks seeing an ever-expanding demographic of travelers who will spend the winter months working while escaping the cold weather.

Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Newmar Dutch Star Diesel Pusher and toad at Cajun Palms RV Resort which consists of over 300 Deluxe RV Spots,12 Chalets,and 25 Cabins. RV spots have full hookups, 30- and 50-amp, 70+ channels of digital cable, and on-site water and sewer. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We are at 100 percent occupancy for February and March and up 20 percent for April over last year. This winter has been great for us,” Tim Deputy, GM of Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Florida.

“We’re seeing the retirees that you would expect to be snowbirds, but also a growing number of younger folks who are telecommuting. With technology, you can really work anywhere, so why not spend the winter on the beach if you can?”

However, campgrounds are doing more than just relying on good weather and warm beaches to attract the competitive snowbird market. They’re adding amenities that rival traditional hotel resorts.

Two years ago, Sun N Fun RV Resort opened an 18,000-square-foot spa and wellness center with an indoor swimming pool, infrared sauna, and steam room. They also offer an onsite masseuse and sports therapist. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this campground is the Neurogym, equipped with computer programs and equipment that helps people learn how to reduce their stress and improve their mental wellbeing.

Snowbirds and full-time RVs in their winter home at Bella Terra RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Snowbirds and full-time RVs in their winter home at Bella Terra RV Resort, Gulf Shores, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Services and amenities are increasingly more important for a campground to compete with other snowbird accommodations. The Golden Village Palms RV Resort in Hemet, California, has garnered a reputation for outstanding entertainment seven days a week with tribute bands, jazz performances, and dinner shows. They also cater to the pet-friendly traveler with a dog park and weekly Bark & Wine parties.

Arizona-based Carefree RV Resorts, which offers more than 10,000 RV and park model sites throughout the Sunbelt, expects to see a 6 percent increase in revenue over last winter.

“The snowbird business is stronger than ever. The convergence of a steadily recovering economy, the demographic bulge of Baby Boomers who embrace travel and leisure, the ease of connectivity for travelers, and the growing appeal of RVing as a vibrant lifestyle will likely fuel growth for decades,” says Colleen Edwards, president of Carefree RV Resorts.

“What’s particularly encouraging is that the snowbird season is extending every year with many of our guests, who have traditionally checked out in March, staying through April.”

Texas has seen a particularly robust season this year as well, with parks from the central part of the state, known as the Texas Hill Country, to the southern border of the Rio Grande Valley reporting a year-to-year increase ranging from 5 percent to 37 percent, that is credited to the severe winter weather in the north. But it’s not just the campgrounds that are benefiting from this winter’s frigid temperatures and record-breaking snow.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“According to a University of Texas Pan Am study of snowbirds, they spend nearly $100 a day when visiting Texas; so the economic impact to the whole community is significant,” says Brian Schaeffer, executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO).

Helping fuel this boom is the strong performance of the RV industry that is surging back from the great recession. Shipments in 2013 hit a four-year high of 321,127 units—up 12.4 percent over 2012 totals and nearly double the amount of RVs shipped in 2009 at the depth of the recession for the industry.

Worth Pondering…
It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snow-bird life

behind the wheel.

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Detroit 3 Finally Adopt Common Tow Ratings Standard…Or Do They?

Have you ever wondered if 10,000 pounds of towing capacity means the same for trucks manufactured by GM, Ford, and Dodge?

http://vogeltalksrving.com/2011/08/tow-ratings-standardization-comparing-apples-to-apples (Source: tfltruck.com)
http://vogeltalksrving.com/2011/08/tow-ratings-standardization-comparing-apples-to-apples (Source: tfltruck.com)

You will soon know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

But, will you?

After a two-year delay, the Detroit 3 say they will use a common standard to rate the towing capacities of their light-duty pickups.

The standard will allow shoppers to compare accurately the towing capability of pickups. It also should reduce confusing claims from automakers, reports autonews.com.

The marketing confusion won’t end, though, because the standard applies only to light-duty pickups. For heavy-duty pickups, automakers will still rate their vehicles with their own standards.

Spokesmen for Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group confirmed last week that they will join Toyota in using a towing standard adopted by the industry in 2009 to rate 2015-model full-sized light-duty pickups. A spokesman for General Motors said it, too, will adopt the standard if its competitors do.

The standard establishes various tests for towing.

To tow safely, do what the pros do: Visit a certified scales to find out what your truck weighs loaded, what your trailer weighs with everything in it, and the two together weigh. With that, you can compare to the manufacturer’s published capacities and plan accordingly. (Credit: rvmagonline.com)

Under the automakers’ 2009 agreement, the standard—which is likely to reduce rated towing capacities by several hundred pounds—was to be in place for the 2013 model year. But Ford decided not to publish lower tow ratings for its 2013 F-150, spurring other automakers to follow suit.

Toyota was the only pickup maker to adopt the standard, called SAE J2807, and it did so two years early for the 2011 model year when it dropped the tow ratings for its full-sized Tundra pickup by 400 pounds.

For an earlier story that details the SAE J2807 standard, SEE Tow Ratings Standardization: Comparing Apples to Apples.

Nissan says it adopts the standard on vehicles when they are redesigned, as it did for the 2013 Pathfinder. A redesigned Titan is due in 2015.

Ford surprised competitors in 2012 when it decided not to adopt the towing standard for the 2013 model year and said it would wait for the 2015 F-150 redesign. This caused GM— which was preparing to roll out its redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duties— to pull back marketing materials and even reprint owners’ manuals.

Mike Levine, a spokesman for Ford, told autonews.com that the 2015 F-150 will get a new towing rating to go with its new aluminum body.

“As a founding member of the SAE trailer towing committee, we will meet SAE trailer towing standards,” he stated.

Tom Wilkinson, a GM spokesman, said that “when the other two major manufacturers move, we will move at that time.”

Wilkinson said GM already knows how the standard will change the Silverado and Sierra’s stated towing capacities.

The maximum vehicle towing capacity is… (Source: eviews.ebay.ca)

“We already validate the trucks to [the J2807 standard]. It’s just a matter of adjusting the numbers,” Wilkinson said.

A spokesman for Ram also said that it would list towing capabilities for its 2015-model pickups to comply with the standard.

In a written statement, a Toyota spokesman said the company is glad to have company in complying with the standard.

“This will be most beneficial for customers, as previous methodologies created by individual manufacturers made it difficult for customers to compare tow ratings on an apples-to-apples basis,” the statement said.

“Toyota was always a firm believer in an industry-wide standard, as evidenced by our adopting SAE J2807 back in 2011 and being the only manufacturer to adopt it until now.”

What is the bottom line for RVers in the market for a tow vehicle?

Since the adoption of a common standard to rate towing capacities only applies to light-duty (one-half ton) pickups, benefits will be limited. The majority of RVers towing a fifth-wheel trailer require a three-quarter ton or ton truck since the GVCR of a light-duty pickup is not adequate. However, it is a step in the right direction.

Worth Pondering…
The important thing is not to stop questioning.

—Albert Einstein

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Organizing Photos

The Digital Photography and RVing series will now focus on the second of the three steps of digital photography: Organizing and editing photos.

You’ve taken photos with your new digital camera. Now what?

Digital Workflow

Organizing photos using Picasa (Source: systeminsight.co.uk)

You can download your photos to a computer, organize them using a photo management program, and edit them using a photo-editing program.

Photographers refer to this process as digital workflow.

In simple terms “digital photography work-flow” is a systematic process of downloading, organizing, editing, backing-up, and sharing digital photos.

Walking along the path of a beginning digital photographer, I learned much the hard way.

Nikon Transfer is a basic program that allows you to import and manage files from the D90. (Source: steves-digicams.com)

I slowly came to realize that it was necessary to have a systematic work-flow for my digital photo processing.

Slowly, by numerous trials and errors, I’ve found a simplified way that works for me to develop, sort, organize, and archive my digital photo collection.

Select a Photo Management Program

If you shoot just 40 photos a week, you’ll end the year with more than a two thousand digital files—that’s a lot of photos to keep track of without some help!

For one thing, it’s going to be tough to find a specific photo. If you want to view the photo of a roseate spoonbill you took two years ago on South Padre Island in Texas, for example, you’ll have a difficult time finding it.

How can you put those photos into some semblance of order?

The first step in organizing your photos is to select a photo management program.

There are a number of excellent programs that organize, categorize, and keyword your photos so that you can store and locate all your digital files without losing track of them.

One of the most important factors in selecting a photo organization program is ease-of-use.

Which photo management system is right for you?

You have many choices. They include:


Picasa is free photo management software from Google that helps you find, organize, edit, and share your photos. Picasa is one of the better photo managers available. Its ever growing popularity can be attributed to its simplicity and ease of use. And did I mention that it’s FREE. Picasa is available as a download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

You can find out more about Picasa by watching this You-tube video.

Digital photo workflow using Adobe Photoshop (Source: brothersoft.com)

When you install Picasa, it automatically scans your hard drive for images.

Picasa does not store the photos on your computer. When you open Picasa, it simply looks at the folders on your computer and displays the photos it finds. It displays the file types that you tell it to find, in the folders that you tell it to search.

Your original photos are always preserved. When using editing tools in Picasa, your original files are never touched. The photo edits you make are only viewable in Picasa until you decide to save your changes. Even then, Picasa creates a new version of the photo with your edits applied, leaving the original file totally preserved.

Picasa 3.9 is available for download.

Worth Pondering…

Every picture I take is like a diary entry.

—Gilles Peress

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Concluding Photo Tips/Suggestion

Specks of Dust

First of all, let’s clear up one point: Dust on your lens will rarely show up in the photo because you’ll always be focusing much farther than the front element of your lens—the location of the dust.

Ever take a picture and have it look like this? I hope not. This is an extreme case of sensor dust — probably as bad as you’ll ever see. (Source: bergencountycamera.com)

For dust on your lens to be visible as specks in your photo, you’d have to be focusing your lens to an extremely close distance—even closer than what most macro lenses can do. So, any specks of dust you see in your final image most likely were caused by dust on the camera sensor.

Use your camera’s sensor cleaning function. Most D-SLRs have a built-in function that uses ultrasonic vibrations to vibrate dust off the sensor. Sometimes this function is automatic when you turn your camera on and off, but check your camera’s manual to see if it has more options.

Change your lenses carefully. You just can’t escape dust: it’s everywhere outside and yet we still need to change lenses, so it’s important to be very careful and minimize the amount of time your camera is without a mounted lens.

My method for switching camera lenses:

  • Put your camera on a flat surface, so that the lens is pointing straight up
  • Unlock the lens on your camera body, and turn the lens just a little bit so you can let go of the lens and it remains unlocked but is still resting on the camera body
  • Remove the cap on the bottom of the new lens you want on your camera
  • Hold the new lens in your right hand, and twist off the lens on your camera with your left hand
  • Quickly mount the new lens with your right hand and lock it onto the camera
  • Put the cap on the bottom of the old lens

When possible, avoid switching lenses in windy or dusty areas and take advantage of protected areas when you can: Switch your lenses in your RV or toad/tow vehicle.

If you must switch your camera lenses while on the trail, try to do it inside your camera bag, or at least use part of your camera bag to shield your camera and lens from the wind. Also, if it’s especially windy out, then try moving to a less windy spot to switch your lenses.

The basic strategy is to avoid changing your lens in windy conditions, where the most dust is flying around.

How do you switch your lenses?

Have you found another way to switch your lenses that minimizes exposure to dust?

Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB)

Automatic Exposure bracketing is the process of automatically bracketing the exposure values by using a setting on the camera and taking several bracketed shots (in contrast to the photographer altering the settings by hand between each shot). (Source: enchantingkerala.org)

Bracketing is the intentional over or under exposure of your image.

When in doubt about the correct exposure, take several “bracketed” shots.

When you select AEB the camera takes one regular shot, then a second shot under exposed/slightly darker (-1 stop) and a third shot over exposed/slightly lighter (+1 stop).

You end up with the three images in a series with exactly the same composition but at different exposures for you to select the most pleasing one after you download them to your computer.

If you have the camera in burst mode (continuous shooting) the three shots will be taken if you hold down the shutter for a burst of three shots.

Check out your manual to see how AEB works on your digital camera. Most will allow you to change the variation between shots by different stops.

Always Have Your Camera Ready

And let’s not forget the most basic rule for shooting great photos: Take your camera with you everywhere you go…and take lots of photos.

You can’t “capture the moment” if you don’t have your camera.

Oh, and Don’t Forget to Take Lots of Photos

Take your camera everywhere you go. (Source: Allen Murabayashi/photoshelter.com)

Once you’ve purchased your camera, digital photography is free. You can shoot as many photos as you want, and you’ll never pay a nickel for film or developing.

Never put off taking a photo because you think you’ll have better light another time. There may not be another time.

Get out there, get moving, and get busy!

The more you shoot, the more you will learn. Try out new ideas and challenge your old ones. Nobody has to see the photos that do not turn out so great. In their book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorize that the only real difference between being great at something and being only average at it is practice. Talent often is nothing more than practice and tenacity.

If you ask any professional the secret to great photographic results, one of the first things you’ll hear is, “Shoot a lot.”

The renowned photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”

Yes, it’s true—you’ll wind up deleting most of them. But shooting a lot increases the odds that, somewhere in that massive pile of photos, there are some true gems.

Above all, shoot, shoot, shoot—lots and lots of photos!

You never know when you’ll catch that once in a lifetime shot!

There’s another life lesson that we’ve heard many times: Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Please Note: This is the thirty-first in a series of stories on Digital Photography and RVing

Worth Pondering…

Taking pictures is like panning for gold. You do it again and again, and sometimes you find a nugget.

—Raghubir Singh

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More Photo Tips/Suggestion: Memory Cards & Histograms

In today’s post I discuss the use of memory cards and histograms.

Memory Cards

32GB CompactFlash Memory Card from Lexar Media, a leading global provider of memory products for digital media. (Source: dpreview.com)

Ensure that you always have sufficient memory capacity for your digital camera.

But how do you know how much is enough?

As a quick rule of thumb JPEG files are generally half the size of the sensor capacity. With my 18-MP Canon EOS Rebel T3i camera each JPEG will be about 9 MB. This means a 1GB card will hold about 113 photos.

Since memory cards are now relatively inexpensive, buy more memory capacity than you anticipate needing and ALWAYS carry a spare.

Just like any kind of technology, memory cards can fail. If you just use one giant card, and that card fails, you just lost all your photos! I use a 4MB card and ALWAYS carry a 4MB spare.

Tips for avoiding memory card problems:

  • Format a new memory card as soon as you get it. Even if your memory card came “preformatted,” it’s still a good idea to format the card again with your own camera.
  • Use multiple small cards, instead of one big one. With the huge memory cards available today, it’s tempting to buy one with a large capacity. But, what if your 128GB card fails? Then you just lost thousands of photos!
  • Format your memory card after each download. Formatting your memory cards is sort of like resetting them, and making them fresh again. It will help correct any disk errors that may have occurred during your last shoot.
  • Store your cards in a safe place. It’s important to protect the contacts on your memory cards, because the smallest piece of dust can cause reading/writing problems and ultimately loss of photos. Always store them in their plastic case.

Histogram Display

A Hist-o-what?

A histogram is a graphical representation of the light values of the image. Yeah, I know, that really helps. A histogram display is actually one of the most useful features you can have on a digital camera.

The histogram is a tool that provides instant feedback about an image. Having your camera set to show histograms during the view process will tell you how your image is exposed. The histogram shows, in graph form, the distribution of the tones in an image. You can see at a glance whether portions are blown out or underexposed.

Represented as a graph, a histogram looks like a mountain range. The left side depicts the darkest parts of the photo and the right side depicts the lightest. Anything beyond the left edge is pure black and anything beyond the right edge is pure white—both are outside the range of the image sensor.

Every histogram will be different and there is no right or wrong shape.

Depending on which is more prevalent in your photograph—shadows or highlights—the histogram visually may favor one side or the other. By checking the histogram, I’m able to analyze the amount of dark tones (on the left), bright tones (on the right), and all the mid-tones in between. I like my histograms to stretch 80% to 90% of the way to the right end, but not all the way, to avoid blown-out highlights.

(Source: 500th.net)

The above illustration and following explanation is courtesy 500th.net, website of photographer Martin Joergensen.

Each histogram has been overlaid with a line that indicate its general shape. The middle one shown is a so-called perfect histogram. All tones fall within the edges and we have a fairly even distribution of tones.

Above that is a contrasty image. This has a saddle-shaped curve, and the danger here lies in loss of both dark details and highlights.

Below you will find a dull image with little contrast. That has a narrow curve with few tones.

Histograms shifted too much to the left means dark images and danger of underexposure and loss of dark detail and curves shifted too much to the right is a warning of a light picture with possibly burnt-out highlights.

You have a tool that helps you nail those exposures—use it!

Please Note: This is the thirtieth in a series of stories on Digital Photography and RVing

Worth Pondering…

Photography is like making cheese. It takes a hell of a lot of milk to make a small amount of cheese just like it takes a hell of a lot of photos to get a good one.

—Robert Gillis

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North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

About seven months ago I reported that a group of Minnesota partners were planning an indoor RV park to house North Dakota oilfield workers five miles south of Watford City, North Dakota.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

When initially proposed, the idea prompted mixed reactions.

“So many people thought we were crazy,” Louis Bonneville of Carlton, Minnesota, one of the park’s owners, told the Forum News Service.

But for workers like John Coffer, who spent North Dakota winter months in his RV and once got stuck inside when the door froze, the option to move his camper indoors was a pleasant change.

“It’s nice to step out of your RV and not step into a pile of snow,” said Coffer, a natural gas plant operator.

The North Dakota Indoor RV Park recently expanded and the owners have turned down offers to replicate the concept elsewhere, said Bonneville, the park’s managing partner.

The park consists of 10 insulated and climate-controlled buildings which house 24 RVs in each building. Each building consists of eight bays, with three RV pads per bay, three overhead doors, and two service entry doors. All doors are locked for the security of the tenants.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

Each tenant has two parking spaces with electrical hookups in front of their overhead door.
The buildings are sectioned into eight bays for fire protection, carbon monoxide and smoke detection, climate control, air exchanger ventilation, safety, and security. The interior walls and ceiling of the buildings are insulated for the year around comfort of the tenants.

Each bay is heated with a hanging electric heater. The insulated buildings remain cool in the summer, and the ventilation allows tenants to operate their RV air conditioner. The bays are lit with halogen lighting.

Standard water, sewer, electric, and gas hookups are available for each pad. An exhaust pipe is connected to the RV sewer vent. Utilities are all inclusive in the monthly rent. Phone and cable TV are available to each pad at tenant’s expense.

There is a commons building with outdoor patio and grilling area. Within the commons building there is a drop off/pick up laundry service, common gathering room with couches, recliners, flat screen TVs, vending machines, restrooms, management office, and on-site manager’s apartments.

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold

The ND Indoor RV Park concept is the only indoor RV Park in North Dakota and is approved by the ND Department of Health.

Eight of the buildings have been full for the past three months and two that were recently built to accommodate 41-foot RVs “are pretty much spoken for,” Bonneville told the Forum News Service.

The park did see some tenants leave during the summer, but some who tried to return as cold temperatures set in discovered that the park was full and they couldn’t get back in, Bonneville said.

Owners anticipate that next summer the facility will stay full so tenants don’t lose their spots. In addition, the park recently added 70 outdoor spots that will serve as a “holding area” while tenants are on a waiting list, Bonneville said.

The indoor park will save people the expense of insulating their campers and it will extend the life of their RV by protecting it from the elements, Bonneville said.

The park also does background checks on tenants and the buildings provide extra security.

Only fifth wheel and travel trailers are allowed in the RV Park. No motorhomes or campers are allowed per ND State code.

The RV Park can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length, and 12 feet 6 inches in height.

The ND Indoor RV Park is secluded from the traffic of Highway 85. We encourage everyone to stop by and see our site for themselves! You won’t be disappointed!

North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold
North Dakota Indoor RV Park Keeps Oilfield Workers Out of the Cold


North Dakota Indoor RV Park

Lease Rates: May-October, $1,000-$1,200/month; November-April, $1,250-$1,450/month; outdoor sites, $900/month

Location: 5 miles south of Watford City; ½ mile east of Highway 85, with easy access via County Road 37.

Address: 2052 125th Ave NW, Watford City, ND 58854

Phone: (701) 260-3668

Website: ndindoorrvpark.com

Worth Pondering…

Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.

—Rudolph Flesch

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Are You Prepared for a Medical Emergency While RVing?

Medical emergencies can happen while RVing just as easily as they can at home.

goodsam-ta-logoBe prepared for an illness or injury away from home with the following checklist from Good Sam:

  • Bring copies of your passport, driver’s license or ID card, insurance card, and your itinerary; give copies to a friend or family member at home
  • Bring your primary care physician’s contact information and information on medical conditions, medications, and allergies
  • Know how to locate medical facilities and/or pharmacies around your travel destination
  • If you will be traveling to areas where infectious diseases are a concern, make sure you are fully vaccinated
  • Check in with family or friends regularly
  • Pack a first aid kit
  • Make sure your Good Sam TravelAssist card is in your wallet

With Good Sam TravelAssist you can rest assured that you’ll receive comprehensive emergency medical and travel assistance if you get ill or injured while traveling.

Membership allows you to travel confidently knowing that you have a team available to assist 24/7/365 – no matter where you are in the world.

Good Sam Emergency iStock_000007336062LargeAnd now, the brand NEW Good Sam TravelAssist Premier takes your coverage even farther. In addition to emergency medical evacuations, RV/vehicle return, transportation home for dependent children, prescription replacement assistance, return of deceased remains, and lost items assistance, Good Sam TravelAssist Premier provides the ultimate peace of mind with exclusive benefits that include:

Coverage for your entire family: In addition to coverage for you, your spouse, and dependent children, Good Sam TravelAssist Premier will cover your adult children and their spouses, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents when traveling with you.

Transportation home to join a hospitalized family member: Good Sam TravelAssist Premier will provide two tickets home if a family member not traveling with you will be hospitalized for three or more days or passes away while you are away from home.

Transportation home if your home is damaged due to a natural disaster: If a natural disaster damages you or your traveling companion’s home, Good Sam TravelAssist Premier will pay for two economy-class tickets so you can get back home immediately.

24/7 nurse helpline: If you have questions about symptoms or need advice about whether to see a doctor or not, call our toll-free, 24/7 Nurse Helpline – from home or on the road.

Emergency pet housing and pet return: If you are traveling with your dog or cat and need to be hospitalized for 3 or more days, Good Sam TravelAssist Premier will arrange and pay for your pet to be boarded. And if necessary, we will return your dog or cat to your primary residence.

Emergency RV/vehicle return in US, Canada, Mexico.
Emergency RV/vehicle return in US, Canada, Mexico.

Emergency medical evacuation from home hospital: If you are at home and you sustain an injury or become ill and adequate medical treatment is unavailable at your current facility, we will arrange and pay for a medical evacuation to a facility capable of providing appropriate medical treatment.

Upgraded seating with a nurse or non-medical expert: If medically necessary when being transported home after hospitalization, Good Sam TravelAssist Premier will pay for a nurse escort or a non-medical escort to accompany you. You will also receive upgraded seating.

When a medical emergency strikes, getting to a hospital isn’t the end of your troubles. Often times, medical and travel insurance simply don’t go far enough. Protect your loved ones and your budget with Good Sam TravelAssist.

Learn more or join today at www.goodsamtravelassist.com

Worth Pondering…

If you look like your passport photo, you’re too ill to travel.

—Will Kommen

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More Photo Tips/Suggestion: Filters

A filter is a seemingly simple piece of glass that screws onto your lens in a rotating mount, and has an effect on your image. Filters come in various sizes according to the needs of your specific lens.

Polarizing Filter

Note how the above polarizing filter enhances the color of the sky in contrast with white clouds. (Source: richkoppphotography.com)

There are few more important things a nature photographer can do to improve his or her photography than using a circular polarizing filter.

This is one filter you must have for your landscape photos especially in Red Rock Country. The polarizer is the only filter that I use.

To understand how it works would require a seminar in the physics of light. But using a polarizer is easy; simply screw it on the front of your lens, look through your viewfinder, and rotate it until you see the effect you want, and then shoot.

The way a polarizer works is simple but the results produced can be extraordinary. A polarizing filter removes glare—the distracting light waves that radiate from smooth surfaces like shiny leaves or reflections on water. With the glare eliminated, you capture the true color and texture of the subject.

Polarizing filters also deepen blue skies without altering the color of the clouds. Color saturation is also significantly enhanced. Brilliant red and orange foliage really pops when framed against a deep blue sky.

With the help of a polarizing filter, pale blue skies can become saturated almost to an inky black. (Source: dslrlensauctions.com)

A polarizer doesn’t give the same effect everywhere in the sky. Optimum polarization is when the light source is 90 degrees from the direction you are pointing your camera, i.e. side lit. But when the sun is directly in front or in back of the direction your camera is pointed, it renders virtually no effect at all.

There are two types of polarizing filters—linear and circular.

If you’re shooting with autofocus lenses, you need a circular polarizing filter. Linear polarizers are designed for manual focus lenses only.

In summary, polarizing filters:

  • Darkens a blue sky and brightens white clouds
  • Reduces haze and glare in the atmosphere
  • Reduces reflections from glass, water, rocks, and metal
  • Enhances color saturation
  • Eliminates stray light and glare from reflective surfaces
  • Increases contrast
  • Helps reduce incoming light, when you need longer shutter speeds

Take care to use sky-darkening in moderation; too much saturation can actually make skies look almost black.

However, there is one downside to polarizing filters: you lose approximately two stops of light.

Beware when shooting with a wide-angle lens. Because of the 90-degree rule, a wide angle lens often will show wide variations in the sky.

Since polarizing filters are frequently quite thick, beware of vignetting, the darkening of the corners relative to the centre of the image. Choosing a thin polarizer helps, but the thinner models tend to cost more. The degree of vignetting varies from camera to camera and lens to lens.

I never leave home without my polarizer; actually I leave it on my camera all the time. By never removing the polarizing filter from the lens, I’m always prepared when that great photo opportunity arises. And since I use my standard lens almost exclusively for landscape shots I really don’t have a good reason to remove it.

Filter Manufacturers

When purchasing a polarizing filter you have the choice of a number of quality manufacturers.

The Cokin Creative Filter System has been around for 30 years. Filters fit in a special holder that attaches to the lens via an interchangeable metal ring.

B+W filters are widely recognized for outstanding quality as well as technological innovation.

Tiffen produces professional-quality filters. It takes a lot of know-how to win two Technical Achievement Awards and a Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as an Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. That proficiency is apparent in every Tiffen product.

Polarizing filters are the single most important piece of equipment a photographer needs in his arsenal. This is one filter whose effects cannot be duplicated in any stage or level of post processing. (Source: enchantingkerala.org)

Hoya is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of optical glass, including glass used for camera lenses, eyeglasses, and photographic filters. Their production process involves the introduction of raw elements and chemicals to molten optical glass to produce a filter of uniform coloration.

Singh-Ray calls its polarizers “lighter, brighter,” meaning that they transmit more light than average.

Heliopan filters are made from glass supplied by Schott (wholly owned by Carl Zeiss) and set in black anodized brass rings that screw in with precision. They’re available in every conceivable size and configuration, including 13 different types of polarizers and special-effects filters.

Please Note: This is the twenty-ninth in a series of stories on Digital Photography and RVing

Worth Pondering…

A polarizing filter is the most productive accessory that a photographer can have in his kit, second only to a decent tripod and head. Don’t leave home without one.

—Michael Reichmann

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