Vermont Life Magazine features Why We Stay Project

A few years ago I was honored to help assemble a group of photographers and spearhead a project to capture 250 portraits of a small Vermont town to celebrate its 250th anniversary.  It happened to be the birthplace of Vermont, the first capital of the state, and a town that has seen the same economic and social cycles of so many small cities and towns. The original project produced a gallery show, a digital flip book, and finally a large hardcover volume of the entire project.  It was a true community effort from fundraising to photography to publication.

Out of this original summer photography essay, we created the Why We Stay project. Why We Stay is a photo-folklore project which explores distinct populations either by geography or shared experience through the use of photography, audio interviews and the collection of stories and data. Why We Stay seeks to document a cross section of people in a distinct time and place with all photographs usually captured in a small window of time.

Individually, the projects provide a historical and emotional record, a true sense of place. But combined, Why We Stay begins to create a more multidimensional view of our world and how we relate to both the place we live and the people around us. 

The most recent edition of Vermont Life (Spring 2014) features a story on the project and the first two towns completed: Windsor, Vermont and Royalton, Vermont.  We are very excited for the second book to hit the shelves in just a few weeks   and look forward to where this project will take us 2014.  Learn more at

(UPDATE! --it is now here and in stock and looks amazing. Visit the online store to purchase!)

iPhone Remote For Your DSLR Camera

I can be hard on gear. If it could talk, it would tell you some horror stories.  I recently lost yet another remote control shutter release to some kind of electrical failure while shooting stars on a cold winter night.  It is probably my third unit in less than two years.  Before heading over to B&H Photo to buy another one, I decided to check out iPhone apps to see if I could find a better solution. I am very glad I did.

DSLR.bot is a feature rich iPhone app that allows for multiple remote control and timing features on most DSLR cameras.  Everything from simple shutter release options to long exposures, intervolmeter features, HDR bracketing, and much more.  While it is not perfect and there are some limitations, for $4.99 it does everything my last $99 unit could do and it is always with me via my phone.

If there is a catch at all, it is that your iPhone will need a small transmitter that you plug into the headphone jack. DSLR.bot works by sending an infrared transmission via the transmitter to your camera's built in infrared rteceiver. These light pulses are translated into binary codes that have corresponding commands. DSLRbot now sells transmitters for a little more than one Andrew Jackson, but there are also some great tutorials online to make your own. 

In the Arts & Crafts world, I am more art than craft.  But I tackled making my own transmitter and it was super easy and a lot of fun to put something together that adds so much functionality to my photography.  Here are the basic parts you need and some online tutorial links.

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Parts/Tools Needed:
2 x Infrared LED Lights
Headphone jack (or cut up an old pair)
Weatherproof tape or Heat Shrink
Soldering Iron

Tutorials:
Instructables Tutorial One

Instructables Tutorial Two

I used a nail file and some super glue to take the small ridge off the LED lights and file down a flat spot on each one so they set nicely together.  You will read all about that in one of the tutorials.  While I also tried it without soldering the connections, it is definitely more reliable to take the 10 seconds you need to solder everything.

  My incredible handiwork.  One of a kind, luckily.

My incredible handiwork.  One of a kind, luckily.

Bottom Line:
Cost: $4.99 plus transmitter parts if you make your own or $26.99 if you order your transmitter directly from DSLRbot ($4.99 app + $22 transmitter).

Pros: Cheap iPhone app, always in my pocket, upgradeable, easy to install, works.
Cons: Requires an “extra” piece, shutter speed is limitations, must be line of sight