Category Archives: Opinion

Opinion—I’m going with Monsanto on this one, for the moment

Opinion

Many decades ago I wanted to be a researcher for a forestry company like Weyerhauser. I wanted to find new ways to use what trees provided, to make new products that might help us save some of those beautiful forests. Kind of a conflict of interest, I guess, to work for a forestry company that specialized in clearcutting whole forests but looking for ways to cut (pun intended) the amount of clearcutting….

Texas A&M UniversityWhile working towards a degree in forest management at Texas A&M University, a degree which I never have used (it looks pretty hanging on the wall, though!), I did gain an appreciation for how research is done, and I’m a big proponent of peer-reviewed research published in respectable (i.e., well-established) journals.

Conflict of interest…. Peer-reviewed research….

That brings me to Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (GMO).

According to Wikipedia (and yes, I do like Wikipedia both because I am a volunteer editor there myself and because Wikipedia requires valid sources and citations rather than opinions):

A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food. The term GMO is very close to the technical legal term, ‘living modified organism,’ defined in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which regulates international trade in living GMOs (specifically, ‘any living organism that possesses a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology’).”

When I was working towards my Bachelor of Science, in 1975 the world population was a little over four billion. To put that into a time perspective:

AD 1 – 200 million
1000 – 265 million
1955 (when I was born) – 2.756 billion
1975 – 4.068 billion
2000 – 6.070 billion
2015 – 7.324 billion

Friday Flower Fiesta with Topaz GlowMy interest in biotechnology increased significantly in 1984 when Dr. Norman Borlaug (1914-2009), “Father of the Green Revolution,” agreed to teach and do his research at my alma mater, Texas A&M University. Dr. Borlaug had used biotechnology techniques to increase worldwide food production, particularly in Mexico, Pakistan, and India. For his contributions to increasing the world’s food supply, Dr. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. He continued teaching and doing research at Texas A&M right up until his death in 2009 at the age of 95.

Friday Flower Fiesta 12-19-14 Russel Ray PhotosBorlaug’s work to increase crop yields was, in his view, a means to curb deforestation, a view with led to the “Borlaug Hypothesis,” that increasing the productivity of agriculture on the best farmland can help control deforestation by reducing the demand for new farmland.

From Wikipedia:

“Assuming that global food demand is on the rise, restricting crop usage to traditional low-yield methods would also require at least one of the following: the world population to decrease, either voluntarily or as a result of mass starvations; or the conversion of forest land into crop land. It is thus argued that high-yield techniques are ultimately saving ecosystems from destruction.”  (Angelsen, A., and D. Kaimowitz. 2001. “The Role of Agricultural Technologies in Tropical Deforestation.” Agricultural Technologies and Tropical Deforestation at the Wayback Machine (archived September 29, 2005). CABI Publishing, New York.

That’s all well and good, but Borlaug’s work has resulted in a big-time industry in genetically modified organisms, ultimately dumping much of the GMO criticism directly on Dr. Borlaug.

According to Wikipedia:

“Throughout his years of research, Borlaug’s programs often faced opposition by people who consider genetic crossbreeding to be unnatural or to have negative effects. Borlaug’s work has been criticized for bringing large-scale monoculture, input-intensive farming techniques to countries that had previously relied on subsistence farming. These farming techniques reap large profits for U.S. agribusiness and agrochemical corporations such as Monsanto Company and have been criticized for widening social inequality in the countries owing to uneven food distribution while forcing a capitalist agenda of U.S. corporations onto countries that had undergone land reform.

“Other concerns of his critics and critics of biotechnology in general include: that the construction of roads in populated third-world areas could lead to the destruction of wilderness; the crossing of genetic barriers; the inability of crops to fulfill all nutritional requirements; the decreased biodiversity from planting a small number of varieties; the environmental and economic effects of inorganic fertilizer and pesticides; the amount of herbicide sprayed on fields of herbicide-resistant crops.

“Borlaug dismissed most claims of critics, but did take certain concerns seriously. He stated that his work has been “a change in the right direction, but it has not transformed the world into a Utopia”. Of environmental lobbyists he stated, “Some of the environmental lobbyists of the Western nations are the salt of the earth, but many of them are elitists. They’ve never experienced the physical sensation of hunger. They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels. If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for fifty years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists back home were trying to deny them these things”.

IMG_8360 faa stampSo we are back to Monsanto. I’m not naïve enough to think that Monsanto doesn’t want money, and they think they have found a way to make significant amounts of it. I’m also not naïve enough to think that companies (and extraordinarily rich people) are going to do the right thing just because. Life doesn’t work that way, which is why governments need to step in to control things.

Unfortunately, governments throughout history have been shown to be corrupt. In the United States today, courtesy of the United States Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision, corporations are people and are free to buy as many politicians and governments as they can afford.

Framed flower orbI’m all for Monsanto making money off of its GMOs, and I’m all for those GMOs being used to solve world food, health, and housing problems. In order for me to have confidence in their work and their research, though, I need to continue to see that work and research published in peer-reviewed publications.

The main reason is that many corporations sponsor academic research, so the academic researcher might have a desire to make the research conform to the needs or wants of the corporation. That’s where the peer review comes in. Well-respected, peer-reviewed publications send research out to other people for review, and the researcher doesn’t have a choice as to which people the publication sends the research to. Sure, the researcher can advocate for specific people, but the publication editors may or may not choose those people.

Photographic Art by Russel Ray PhotosWhen I worked at Texas A&M University from 1983-1987, I worked for the Department of Chemistry, the College of Science, the University Press, and the TAMU NMR Newsletter, all under the tutelage of Dr. Bernard Shapiro, a foremost researcher in the field of nuclear magnetic resonance. Dr. Shapiro often got requests from various publications throughout the world (Science, Magnetic Resonance in Chemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Chemistry, Journal of Magnetic Resonance, et al.) to review research, and I had the pleasure of compiling his comments and sending them off to the publications.

In conclusion,

  • as long as human population growth increases out of control,
  • as long as men are not willing to put a condom on it,
  • as long as women are not willing to take a pill the day after,
  • as long as Republican politicians continue to try to control a woman’s right to choose,
  • as long as we have selfish people like the Duggars, and
  • as long as we have peer-reviewed research,

I’m going to go with Monsanto on this one so that at least no one has to starve to death.

I will continue to watch the situation, though, and continue to read peer-reviewed research in established publications rather than listen to sound bites or reading sound bite Internet memes.

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Keep calm and focus on doohickeys

Opinion

As many people know, I’m trying to re-invent myself at the age of 59. They (and I don’t know who “they” are) say that it’s never too late…. you’re never too old….

It might never be too late, and you might never be too old, but I sure can say that it’s not easy….

I have been considering anything and everything but I pretty sure about two things:

  1. I want to do something constructive.
  2. Online marketing, network marketing, and MLM marketing (which is redundant; that should tell you something right there!) are not constructive.

For those who might not know, MLM is short for “multi-level marketing” which is why MLM marketing is redundant.

MLM was popular when I graduated from college back in 1977. I recognized it for the Ponzi scheme it was, and eventually it was declared illegal. However, MLM was only out of action for a year or so before they found a way around the law: offer something.

With the Internet, especially Facebook, MLM is back, but mostly it goes by the names “online marketing” and “network marketing,” and they offer doohickeys.

doohickeyIn other words, if you want to join my “network marketing team,” it will only cost you $4.99, and for that you get a doohickey. Once you’re a part of a network marketing team, you simply go find people to join YOUR network marketing team for just $4.99 so you can give them a doohickey, too!

So far I have not found a single physical doohickey–no keychains, rings, wristbands, tie clips, shoelaces…. Instead, the doohickey that everyone offers is a PDF file telling you how to develop your network marketing team and how great network marketing is.

Most network marketing teams want anywhere from $1.75—the lowest I found—to $200—which wasn’t the highest. One real estate network marketing team wanted over $14,000 to join their team. For that $14,000, instead of reading a PDF, it looked like you got to participate in an online class and listen to a couple of people tell you how to develop your real estate network marketing team.

The funniest part of all this online marketing, though, is when I run across a guy advertising himself as making over a million dollars a year, yet he’s wearing a torn college t-shirt from 30 years ago, sitting at a broken desk in a small room with makeshift shelves that are collapsing under the weight of a lot of binders.

I did find one guy, though, who participates in network marketing but tells it like it is. Basically:

You only make money on people you bring in
and the people they bring in, referred to as your down line.

In other words, if you don’t continue finding people to pay into the system, and if other people don’t do the same, the system will collapse because it can’t afford to pay out, to pay YOU!

In my view, if anyone wants me to pay them for the opportunity to work, I’m outta there. Even the companies that want me to pay $25 or $50 for credit checks and background checks. Nope. If you or your company can’t afford to spend $25-$50 on a prospective employee, you’re not the person or company I want to work for.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Fight organized crime

Opinion

Several decades ago I had a Professor Phil Gramm as my Economics 301 professor at Texas A&M University. Many might recognize the name. He quit a tenured (guaranteed for life) position at Texas A&M in order to enter politics. He served as a United States Congressman from 1979 to 1985 (Democrat from 1979 to 1983 and Republican from 1983 to 1985), and a United States Senator (Republican) from 1985 to 2002.

When Gramm retired from the Senate in 2002, papers throughout the nation noted that he was retiring with $64 million in his campaign war chest, some of it from me. Did he send me my money back? Nope. He just got to keep $64 million, all for himself.

That explained to me why wealthy people (think DuPont, Kennedy, Issa, etc.) enter politics. They don’t do it to serve the public. Far from it. Rather, they enter it for the power and money. Face it. One hundred Senators and 435 Congresspersons out of 319 million people are special, i.e., powerful.

A tenured position at Texas A&M back then was paying about $125,000, so if we presumed that Gramm never got a raise and worked 30 years at Texas A&M, he would have made a mere $3,750,000. That doesn’t begin to compare to $64 million (which DOES NOT include his annual salary as a Congressman and Senator!). Then you add in all the perks, like the greatest health insurance in the world, an annual lifetime salary of $100,000 or so after retiring, meals, overseas trips paid for by donors, etc.

Ever since 2002, I have been pretty pessimistic about politicians. I firmly believe that every politician lies. It’s in their job descriptions. In order to be successful (i.e., elected and re-elected), you must lie. What voters have to determine is who is telling the best (i.e., most truthful) lies, or at the least, the lies we like the best. At the moment, I’m pretty much a fan of the lies that the Democrats tell. They make more sense to me, seem to be more compassionate and fair.

I also am a fan of term limits, believing that if term limits are good enough for the President of the United States (two terms; that’s it!), they ought to be good enough for everyone else. So here’s what I would suggest everyone do when voting in next month’s elections:

Fight organized crime

Of course, few will listen to me. I predict that at least 85% of the incumbents will be re-elected……….. :(

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Should we not release our dogs and cats back into the wild?

Opinion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I freely admit that I support zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, and even SeaWorld to the max, 100%.

I even support circuses when it is done right, and I’ll define “done right” as using positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement.

To me, it’s pretty obvious when animals in our care have been trained with positive reinforcement.

It’s no different from you teaching a dog to roll over, sit, play dead, shake.

It’s done with treats, not whippings.

Perhaps that’s why I don’t like horse racing. I have been to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Races twice with a Photographer All Access pass. A total of twenty hours on two different occasions two years apart. I have yet to see anyone give a horse a treat. Rather, they prod them, poke them, whip them…….. Why are people not protesting that instead of SeaWorld? I don’t understand.

Do animals in our loving care remember those who care for them? I submit that they do:

Here’s another one:

Did zoos, aquariums, SeaWorld, and circuses abuse animals in the past? I believe they did. I believe taking animals out of the wild can, in many circumstances, be considered abuse.

However, I would rather have some of these animals in Zoos to save them than in the wild where they get slaughtered by poachers:

100,000 elephants killed by poachers in 3 years

I would also submit that in today’s world, if you were able to ask these animals if they would prefer to be in the wild struggling to find food each day, fighting for their lives each day…. or in a zoo or aquarium where they get love, attention, food, and medical care…. I believe I know the answer.

Without the leadership of the San Diego Zoo in getting other zoos and sanctuaries to sign on to its California Condor Conservation program, the California Condor would now be extinct. It actually was extinct in the wild as recently as 1987. Through the successful breeding programs of the San Diego and Los Angeles zoos, the California Condor was re-introduced to the wild beginning in 1991 in southern Utah, northern Arizona, central and southern California, and northern Baja California, Mexico. Here are a few of the California Condors at the San Diego Zoo:

Andean condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

California Condor at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has a northern white rhino as a resident. Northern white rhinos are functionally extinct, which means that the seven rhinos that exist in zoos throughout the world are beyond breeding age and that none exist in the wild. When these seven remaining rhinos die, there will be no more unless we can figure out cloning.

Northern white rhinoceros at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

Many times each year the Zoo and Safari Park announce the arrival of big babies: orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. If not for the Zoo, I would never have had the opportunity to see orangutans, elephants, giraffes, gazelles, monkeys, and gorillas. And my annual membership supports the Zoo’s conservation and breeding programs, to ensure that the California Condor continues to exist in the wild.

The Zoo also re-introduces wildlife to other parts of the world when possible. Unfortunately, people in other countries don’t have the economy that we have in the United States, so they don’t mind slaughtering animals for food and other products.

I try to go once a week to SeaWorld, the Zoo, and Safari Park because one never knows what’s going on each week and which animals will be photogenic for me.

Without Zoos, many millions of people, including me, would never have had the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures:

Mom and baby gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sumatran tiger at Tiger Trail at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Himalayan Monal at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Burmese Python at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Black mangabey at the San Diego Zoo

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Camel at the San Diego Zoo

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Giraffe at the San Diego Zoo

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Elephant at the San Diego Zoo

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Giant Panda at the San Diego Zoo May 2013

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Male lion at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Mama koala and her joey at the San Diego Zoo

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Forest buffalo at the San Diego Zoo

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Caracal at the San Diego Zoo

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Desert bighorn sheep at the San Diego Zoo

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Johnston's crocodiles at the San Diego Zoo

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Fishing cat at the San Diego Zoo

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Zebra at the San Diego Zoo

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Secretary Bird at the San Diego Zoo

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Cheetah at the San Diego Zoo

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Polar Bear at the San Diego Zoo

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Knobbed Hornbill at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Meerkat at the San Diego Zoo

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Red kangaroo at the San Diego Zoo

(Got the kangaroo in there for you, Laurie!)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flamingos at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Although I can cite no research to support me, I firmly believe that people who have visited a zoo, sanctuary, or aquarium are more likely to contribute to conservation efforts to save these beautiful creatures from extinction in the wild.

For those who want to release all of these creatures back into the wild, that cannot be done with many of them because they are injured and would not be able to survive. The two bald eagles at Safari Park come to mind, both injured in the wild and rescued, and both unable to fly.

Bald eagles

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If we take this to its logical conclusion, then all dogs and cats should be released back into the wild. After all, both species adapt quite quickly to life in the wild, so why are we keeping them penned up in our homes and teaching them tricks? For our entertainment, pleasure, and companionship….

Spoiled dog

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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What is sportsmanship?

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

2014 National High School Chess Championship in San Diego, CaliforniaLast weekend the 2014 National High School Chess Championships were held right here in San Diego. High school is a misnomer because this included anyone in grades kindergarten to twelfth grade. And I saw a couple of pretty good kindergarteners!

What is sportsmanship?

I went on Sunday to see Round 7, the final round, figuring that in Round 7 I’d be able to watch several of the top players go at each other.

Indeed, the pairings for the final round had #1 Seed, Darwin Yang, playing Cameron Wheeler. Darwin had six wins in six games. Cameron had five wins in six games.

Darwin is a Grandmaster-elect. That means he’s really, really good because Grandmaster is the highest international rating, and Darwin’s only in the eleventh grade.

Is sportsmanship letting the other person win?

2014 National High School Chess Championship in San Diego, CaliforniaIn chess, a win is worth one point, a loss doesn’t earn a point, and a draw (a tie) earns each player half a point.

I don’t know what Cameron was seeded, but at the beginning of the final round, Cameron was tied with eight other players for second place, behind Darwin, lonely in first.

I took position by Board 1 to watch the game. Total disappointment. After three moves each, Darwin and Cameron agreed to a draw! Huh? Really?

Is sportsmanship not playing if you’re already assured of winning the whole enchilada?

They both got half a point, so the final standings show Darwin in first place with 6½ points out of a possible 7 points. Four players tied for second place, all four with wins in the final round. So if Darwin had lost to Cameron, there could have been a five-way tie for first place.

2014 National High School Chess Championship in San Diego, CaliforniaThat makes one wonder, Who offered the draw after only three moves? And why would the other player accept it.

If Cameron offered the draw, he was assured of being the only player to put a dent in Darwin’s otherwise-perfect record. Why would Darwin accept the offer of a draw? It would assure him of being in first place all by himself…. but

Is that sportsmanship?

2014 National High School Chess Championship in San Diego, CaliforniaWith the draw, Cameron wound up in a 15-way tie for third place. If he had lost to Darwin, he would have been in a 28-way tie for fourth place.

By my analysis, it looks like both players benefitted. So by agreeing to a draw after only three moves, both players apparently got to take a rest. I doubt they would have left early to go back home because the awards ceremony was at 7:00 p.m. I think I also saw Cameron doing a little shopping at Fashion Valley Mall, which was just feet away across the parking lot.

If sportsmanship is letting the other person (or team) win simply because you have already won the whole enchilada (or made the playoffs), imagine what would happen during the last half of the football, baseball, or basketball seasons when those teams already out of contention, or those so far ahead that a loss wouldn’t matter, decided not to give it their all. Hmmmmm. I’m not liking this kind of sportsmanship.

Here is my picture of Darwin (left) and Cameron at Board 1 just minutes before the final round started:

Darwin Yang and Cameron Wheeler

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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WordPress problems resolved!

Did you know?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 is fast, fast, fast, fast, fast.

As many of you know, I have been having WordPress problems since January 2, 2014. Many things:

  1. LIKE buttons were not loading on any blog whose URL ended with wordpress.com. Other blogs were fine. Just those ending with wordpress.com were problematic.
  2. Most of the time, not always though, I could not comment on blogs either. This problem affected all blogs, not just those whose URL ended with wordpress.com.
  3. My blog would not load correctly the first time. I would have to refresh or reload it in order to get it to work.
  4. My site stats would not load at all. Never.
  5. The gold star notification at the upper right would not work unless I clicked on the star twice.

SkyTower at SeaWorld San DiegoToday I had some extra time while preparing to go Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld. I could not access the WordPress Help Forums from anywhere on my blog like I could prior to January 2, 2014, so I went to Google, typed in wordpress help forums, and got to them that way.

I spent several hours reading through several hundred threads in the Help Forums before I finally found a clue about what might be happening. The clue was in a very long thread and was about the hundredth comment from someone outside of WordPress, someone like me who was having problems.

The clue was that the commenter was of the firm belief that WordPress was not compatible with Internet Explorer 10. I knew that I had upgraded from IE9 to IE10 but I didn’t know when. I pulled up my computer records and what do you know? I upgraded from IE9 to IE10 the night of January 1, 2014. Ah-ha!

I tried to downgrade from IE10 to IE9 but that apparently isn’t possible. All of the computers that I use daily are running IE10. I pulled out an old laptop computer that I don’t use anymore but which I knew had IE9 on it. Sure enough, I had no WordPress problems on the old computer using IE9.

I saw that IE11 was available, so since I couldn’t downgrade to IE9, I considered upgrading to IE11. I created a restore point on my Windows 7 computer so that if IE11 really caused problems, I could easily go back to IE10. Well, not only did IE11 load easily and quickly, but I have no more WordPress problems. LIKE buttons are loading, my stats page is showing up again, etc.

So there you have it! The problem wasn’t with my computer per sé but with a computer program that I needed in order to even get to my WordPress blog. The interesting thing is that apparently when Internet Explorer is your main browser, Firefox, Chrome, etc., don’t override everything in Internet Explorer. That explains why I was having the same problems in Firefox and Chrome.

I’m so happy! I can go blog camping again now, something that I really missed doing these past three months.

Lastly, not only is my Internet browsing so much faster than it was with IE10, but my whole computer seems to be much faster. Can’t explain it, but it is what it is.

And following a close-up of Shamu from this evening’s Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego. Jim and I were sitting about three feet from four Shamus, separated only by a piece of glass four feet tall.

Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego on March 29, 2014

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Fine Art America

Opinion

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Many people have asked for my impression of Fine Art America (FAA), which I just joined a few weeks ago. So here are my thoughts about Fine Art America and selling your pictures.

Ray At Night in North Park, San Diego, CaliforniaI had considered doing the many art shows, flea markets, etc., that we have here in the San Diego area each year. With all the costs involved, e.g., gas, wear & tear, inventory, etc., I decided there had to be a better way. So I looked at all of the print-on-demand online stores and settled on Fine Art America. Zazzle will be my next print-on-demand online store.

After doing that, all I had to do was market myself to my target audience, which is Realtors and home owners. Realtors is a pretty good market, but home owners even more so. For anyone and everyone!

HillcrestHere’s a secret to marketing to home owners once you have a print-on-demand store set up: Drive your neighborhood and look around. Drive rich neighborhoods and look around. Not saying that your neighborhood might not be a rich neighborhood, too!

While you’re looking around, note what people like.

Back to the '50s car cruise in La Mesa, CaliforniaDo you specialize in car photos? If you see a cool car sitting in the driveway, write down the address and send the occupant a postcard with a cool picture of a cool car printed on it and a link to all of your wonderful pictures of cars in your Cars Gallery at Fine Art America.

Yellow roseDo you specialize in flora? If you see a house with a ton of roses, or nandinas, or agapanthus, or, or, or…… write down the address and send the occupant a postcard with a cool picture of a rose printed on it and a link to all of your wonderful pictures of roses in your Rose Gallery at Fine Art America.

Zoey the Cool Cat soccer ballDo you specialize in dogs and cats? If you see a house with evidence of a dog or cat, write down the address and send the occupant a postcard with a cool picture of a dog or cat printed on it and a link to all of your wonderful pictures of dogs and cats in your Dog and Cat Galleries at Fine Art America.

Do you specialize in events? When you go to an event, canvass the neighborhoods surrounding the event, writing down addresses, and send a postcard to all the homes with a cool picture of the event and a link to all of your wonderful pictures of events in your Events Gallery at Fine Art America.

Del Mar CastleEven though we think our homes are private, they can tell us a lot about the people who live there, especially the extraordinarily wealthy because they love their homes, and there’s no other reason to have a 9,300-sf home other than love of material things.

I specialize in Southern California, mostly San Diego. I like to go wandering looking for unique areas, events, and real estate. Several months ago I got lost at the beach in La Jolla and found the La Jolla Beach Mansion, selling most recently in November 2009 for $18.15 million. I took 27 pictures of it. I went home and had Photoshop’s Photomerge function create a panorama of the house. Then I turned it into Photographic Art, which is my specialty. Photographic Art allows me to modify pictures, sometimes substantially, like removing cars, utility wires, other houses, people, the bottom of ugly palm trees which look like telephone poles, etc. Then I use filters, actions, and plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom, PaintShop Pro, PhotoPaint, Photomatix, onOne, Nik, and a few others to make the picture look like it’s not a picture but a painting or something else unique.

Beach mansion at 1900 Spindrift Drive in La Jolla Shores, San Diego, CaliforniaRecently I uploaded it to Fine Art America. Then I sent a 5½x8½ postcard to the home. Four days later, someone stocked up on pictures of the house. They bought a 48×38 framed print for $334, the same size canvas print for $306, the same size acrylic print for $235, and the same size metal print for $195. They also bought 50 greeting cards for $78.95. Total: $1,149. My profit: $490. My investment: About $10 for gas, about $1 for printing and postage, and time to take the pictures and play around in the various digital editing programs I have.

Fine Art America does not charge you per item, nor do they take a percentage of your sale (technically). What they have is a base price that covers their costs. Then YOU decide what kind of profit you want on any specific item. Your markup is added to the base price to determine the final cost. You can easily set default prices for everything, and you can easily override default prices for any specific item.

White's Tree FrogCurrently I’m in the process of getting as much stuff uploaded to Fine Art America as possible. Once I do that, then I can do some really serious marketing of events, homes, planes, trains, automobiles, landscapes, zoo animals, dogs and cats, flowers, trees, bushes, etc., etc., etc.

For Realtors, I will be advertising my work as close-of-escrow gifts (I do custom work for specific homes), anniversary gifts, birthdays, births, marriages, etc. The possibilities are endless, and by letting Fine Art America handle the inventory and sales problems, I can focus on what I do best: Photography and Photographic Art.

Fine Art America also sets you up with a web site that is directly linked to them. Mine is at http://1-russel-ray.artistwebsites.com/

Total cost for all the great benefits at Fine Art America? $30 annually. Not a typo. $30 annually. Photo Galleries, web site, sales, inventory, technical help (which is really responsive!), social networking links. On and on and on. $30 annually. Less than $3 a month.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photograhic art taking pictures making art

Visit Russel Ray Photos.

Visit Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray