“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

  • Ansel Adams

This is a Pinhole image. I purchased a pinhole lens in the “Holga” style and started to play around with it. I have tried a few varied suggestions and it is not really giving me what I want. I imagined these long long exposures and dreamy images. I tried it outdoors, I tried it indoors, and just to warn you all, I tried it for a few days. That means there will be another one of these like real soon.

I understand the concept but the execution is not what I am expecting. It just looks like an out of focus soft grainy image. I have read of vivid colors and a dreamy like image but this is nothing I cannot do in post processing for the most part. Hell I hate most of those filters and think of nothing more silly than an overuse of filters. I even have one called, wait for it, “Holga”. That means I can with a single click take my beautiful sharp image and convert it to something else. And nothing says amateur to me more than an overuse of filters. They are used so much anymore that I wonder if we know what is real or not.

It is almost like photographic printing labs, you can print your photos at any number of those big box retailers and get a cheap print. Or you can print it at a professional level lab and pay more and get an amazing print. I suppose what I am saying is two sided, a cheap effect or an understanding of how the process works. I guess I need to keep working on that pinhole thing because so far it is kind of a cheap effect. Enjoy

Practicing with a "holga" style pinhole lens for my camera.

Practicing with a “holga” style pinhole lens for my camera.

Talking fire…

“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.”

  • Robert Frost

There is something so wonderful and relaxing about watching a fire burn, warmth, light and enchantment. The fire department was participating in a controlled burn of Prairie Grass and when we completed the burn of the grass, we found a few brush piles and figured we would help out the property owner. So me being the fire lighting dude, I aimed the weed torch and slowly got this massive pile under way. It was amazing to watch it slowly roar to life, getting bigger and almost taking on a life of its own.

I wished I had a cigar, and glass of bourbon for this, of course I was working for the fire department so the bourbon was out. But a chair, a cigar and watching the fire burn is so peaceful and relaxing. Throw in some friends and it just would be perfect. Stop though and reflect on this, when man created fire it brought him out of the dark. It made him safe, hell it even allowed him to cook his food. Of course I do enjoy a rare steak. Let me wander off topic, the last steak I ate out was so rare it was cold in the middle. It was a top cut of meat, seasoned, charred and cut like butter. Some of the people at the table were in awe of just how raw it really was. However for those wanting more than raw, nothing cooks better than open fire.

The heat, light and crackle of a fire is something tied to our very being. Something that we are all drawn to, I mean light a fire and people will gather and enjoy. Of course a fire is a part of camping, something I do not take part in. So friends take note, if I cannot take a shower and sleep on a warm bed away from creepy crawlies then I do not want to take part. You know what is cool though, on any given weekend night in small town America where I live, you could find at least half a dozen bonfire or recreational type fires and most of them do not require an invite. How could you live anywhere else.

So I do challenge you to look at this image, and tell me what you see. I know what I see. The fire dances and talks to you and puts on a display of animation. There are a few things I see. Enjoy!



Bi-polar Weather…

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

  • Charles Dudley Warner

This past winter held on and on, it would not release the icy cold grip it has on this Great Lake region. It was a long cold snowy winter, a winter I did not enjoy. I longed for the winter of my childhood, and sledding from window down the snowdrift and into the yard. A winter of no school so often it becomes the normal that you love as a kid. A winter of money made from shoveling out every old person in the neighborhood. A winter that perfected your triple lindy on the sled. But wait that is not the winter I had.

I had a winter of a truck that would not keep traction because the roads were frozen solid and ice covered. A winter of chest palpitations from shoveling. A winter of so many layers that my layers had layers just to keep warm. A winter of high electric rates. A winter of Natural Gas bills so high, I thank God that my buddy and I put in that new furnace. A winter of giving up on trying to keep the sidewalks clear. A winter of no kids wanting to shovel because it was so cold. A winter of me owing someone or multiple someones beer for keeping my driveway plowed. A winter of wishing we had a wood burner in the basement still. A winter of complete appreciation for my waterbed turned all the way up. And I could go on and on.

This photo was taken on April 14th, I mean tax day is literally upon us and it was snowing so hard you can hardly make out the trees behind the auger. There is like a forest of trees back there, honest. No Photoshop work, just quite a bit of snow. Now I will say this, it barely stuck, I mean it was wet and packable and I refused to shovel and it was mostly gone the next day. But it was still snowing so hard you could not see very far. It still made travel slippery and treacherous and hard to navigate. And yes I said no to shoveling, I have a new rule, after November 1st I will shovel, and after March 1st I will not shovel. A total of eight months of shovel free bliss, because in those eight months if God puts it there, God can take it away. Enjoy or Not depending on your love of winter weather!

A bit of snow on a mid April day.

A bit of snow on a mid April day.

Spring sprung…

“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.”

  • Rabindranath Tagore

Spring has finally sprung, we had a long cold hard winter. It still seems to want to hang on as the days get longer, we have bursts of warmth followed by old man winter with a last desperate attempt to hang on with a chilly cloudy gray day. This is the kind of winter that reminds me of why I do not like Illinois. The joke of waiting 24 hours if you did not like the current weather as it will change to something else. There was a few days this spring that had almost all four seasons at the same time. The previous year I was mowing grass in March, this year it was almost May when it first needed mowing. I am beginning to think we know less about the weather than we think we do.

This is an actual raindrop on a leaf, not enhanced by a spray bottle or some other trickery. I photographed one and it would fall off from wind and I had to find and photograph another one, and repeat until I got just the right one. Patience and time, something this photograph a day project takes quite a bit of. The lilac bushes are my inspiration of the day for this. They are finicky bushes if you ask me, only blooming on old growth and ending up overgrowing and almost dying out on their own. They require a thirds approach to proper pruning and maintenance and will fill in nicely and look very well. I of course did not know this and allowed them to become way to tall and not very good looking or blooming very well. The last three years of blooming were not good because of the overgrowth and then the massive pruning.

I like them even though my allergies do not like them very much. I enjoy all of my yard projects, pruning, trimming, shaping and have even started to make sure the grass looks the best that it possibly can. When I was younger I wanted nothing to do with it, now I take more and more pride in the way the yard looks. Of course there are only so many projects and so much that can be done in the course of a year. It truly amazes me that the older we get the faster time seems to go. Enjoy the first buds of spring!

The final drops of an early spring rain as it slips slowly off.

The final drops of an early spring rain as it slips slowly off.

Love is…

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

  • Aristotle

From time to time I do get invited to a wedding, it is not all about being hired and having to work the event. My trainer who has a complete hatred of my diet because I “lost” his and cannot get him to understand that I do not like to eat 3 times a day let alone 5 or 7 or oh hell I lost count. I have been training once a week with John for quite a few months, and he insisted that I get to enjoy his wedding and not have to work it. I told him that I would bring my camera and that I would still enjoy his wedding, it was all a matter of perception. I enjoy taking photographs and that I would have a camera and take a few snaps.

It almost always amazes me in the 750 or so weddings that I have photographed and been a part of in some way or another that there is always someone you know there. So this post of the day contains two photos, I think it is important to show not only new young love, and a love that is nearly unfathomable. I ran into Mr. and Mrs. Slevin at this wedding and they are just as wonderful and loving and caring and full of life as I first met them quite a long long time ago. They asked me about family and about me and life and as they spoke and the conversation about them and their life and family and I was reminded that Love does exist.

Shortly after I captured this photo of Mr. and Mrs. Slevin, I captured this kissing photograph of the the newlywed Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell. I thought how cute, eyes closed and noses smashed and I saw the same kind of love I had just been reminded of. I thought of conversations John and I have had during our training sessions and conversations I had with Lanny over the years and noted the subtle similarities of faith and family and caring. So that is why you have two photographs today. Because even while I have my own issues on the whole love thing. There is proof that the book love or the movie love accounts of the greatest love story ever told can and do exist. It just requires quite a bit of faith. Enjoy the schmoopy!

One of the greatest of all family people in the whole Illinois Valley.

One of the greatest of all family people in the whole Illinois Valley.

The newlyweds whose nose smashing eyes closed kiss, talks to the new love they share.

The newlyweds whose nose smashing eyes closed kiss, talks to the new love they share.

Moonlit Flag…

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”

  • Thomas Merton

Full moon and a back lit American flag.  There are flags everywhere, big ones, small ones, stickers, clothing, you name it we have flags. We have flags for everything, cities, counties, states, agencies, groups and on and on. Are we over flagged? Have we lost the intentions or is it about pride. I put up quite a few flags for Memorial Day, and 4th of July and make sure they are in good condition, and make sure that they are lit up at night and that they are always displayed with respect and make sure the guidelines for handling and displaying are always followed. Because I appreciate what it stands for.

When I walked out of work and looked up and saw the flag just kind of hanging out in the position of the photo and the halo around the moon, I knew what I wanted to capture. Do you know the rules for properly displaying the flag? Do you know how to display it on your home, what side of the door? How to show mourning depending on how you are displaying it? How to dispose of a tattered and torn flag? I would hope we do not have to have a discussion about country of manufacture for your AMERICAN FLAG!

Google is your friend on this, go out and learn something today, use the internet for good and be just as surprised at me about all of the days you should be displaying a flag and how it should be displayed on those days. Be proud to be a American and put up a flag to show it! Enjoy!


A moonlit flag with a slight breeze.

A moonlit flag with a slight breeze.

Morning Auger…

“Creativity takes courage.”

  • Henri Matisse

When I was a young guy, much younger than I am now, my neighbor John would always say Red Sky in morning sailors take warning, Red Sky at night, sailors take flight. He also had a Hansel and Gretel and witch house, that would tell you if the weather was good or bad. It was a clock and at the top Hansel and Gretel came out one door indicating the weather was good, and if the witch was coming out then the weather was going to be bad. We would sit on his little back porch and talk for hours. That porch started off screened in, then he had storm windows put in, he did that because when he smoked cigars, the cheapest he could get, he could do it there on that porch but not “in” the house.

He sat out there quite a bit, I think it was his place of peace, I know I woke him up from a few naps over the years I would go visit him on that porch. He would tell all kinds of stories on that porch, and I always thought that Red sky thing was just a story, but it is actually based on some truth. Something about particles in the air at the time of day and at the right latitude indicating potential stormy day or a nice night. Amazing how they watched and learned patterns like that. Of course it is something I think we are losing now due to the short attention span we seem to be nurturing.

So this photo, boy did I get off track, was taken on a day it was actually supposed to storm and actually did rain. Red sky in the morning, and I saw these augers across the way and had to capture their silhouette against the red morning sky. And of course when I saw the sky and raced to capture it before it changed, I recalled instantly that old saying that John used to repeat all the time. Enjoy!

A pair of augers silhouetted against the red early morning sky.

A pair of augers silhouetted against the red early morning sky.

Cost of things…

“A pessimist is a person who has had to listen to too many optimists.

  • Don Marquis

So I needed a blower and a new rake. Simple enough right go to the local home improvement store and seek out and purchase said items. I have a plethora of extension cords, way to many for one person. Most of which goes back to my Christmas Vacation style decorations at Christmas, and yes one year I actually put up 20,000 lights. That was a lot of extension cords and it led to adding in two different 30 amp circuits, and then of course never decorating that way again because damn it takes quite a bit of time. Anyhow I am off track, so I need a blower to plug into my extension cords to blow the leaves away from bushes and whatnot, and I needed a new metal tine rake to pile them up to be picked up and put in the leaf bags.

I roll down the aisle that has the blowers and find this particular one on the left on sale, $34 down to $18, and I think score what a deal. So then I stay focused something very difficult for me to do as I am easily distracted. I mean come on this is a home improvement store, there is always something to find. So I focus, head to garden center and look for a metal tine rake. I find the bin, I am this close but then NO all of the sudden I am denied my speedy purchases. The $9.99 bin of metal rakes is empty. All that is left is this top of the line fiberglass handle stainless steel top of the line, not on sale $19.97 rake. Yes this rake cost more than the blower. Granted the blower was on sale, but the point of this photo is two items, neither of which were made in America and priced just way out of whack.

I really did not want to spend that much on a rake, but it was all they had and I figured it better last as long as its guarantee, which is lifetime by the way. The blower, has a 1 year warranty and at this price, is pretty much throw away and get a new one next time they are on sale if it breaks. I really worry about future of our country when we cannot even make our own rakes and blowers. Think about that as you have your coffee! Enjoy!

A cost comparison of the rake and blower, both of which cost me about the same.

A cost comparison of the rake and blower, both of which cost me about the same.

A pessimist is a person who has had to listen to too many optimists.

Rainbow Rain…

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

  • Guillaume Apollinaire

Another day left work a bit early to enjoy well enjoy part of the day of course. I was out and about and searching for cool places to capture clouds and the Illinois Prairie. The cool thing as I was driving about was the fact that you could see it raining from some of the clouds that passed. Rain that most likely was not hitting the ground as sometimes it does not do. I was photographing a cloud formation to the west and as I was going to get back into my truck, I saw this thin rainbow on the horizon and this cloud formation and  the near perfect lighting and I snapped away.

I once believed, because I was jokingly told, very early on in my photographic career, we are talking high school age, that you could not photograph a rainbow. That the rainbow cannot be captured, much like the Leprechaun and the pot of gold. I know how silly that sounds now but it was a valuable lesson. Because I of course had seen rainbows in photographs, and wondered what was up. The lesson was light, if you can see it, you can photograph it. Photography is not about picking up a camera, pointing and shooting. It is about so many things that it truly has to be a life long passion, a quest for learning and knowledge, a willingness to find and do new things with photography. It is also about practice, because you have to know what happens to your exposure when you change the “film” speed in relationship to changing the aperture, in relation to the shutter speed.

You also have to know how color works, and I will say I benefited quite a whole bunch from taking all of those Noritsu trainings on how to use their photographic lab machines. Lots of wasted photo paper back then, as you looked at the negative, made a guess, made a print, and then adjusted based on what you saw when the print came out. That did advance to a system where you saw a positive on a screen and made adjustments which saved a bit of paper. Of course Photoshop saves quite a bit of paper, providing you have high quality calibrated equipment and an understanding of how color and light works. Photoshop also allowed me to combine and create a 9 shot panoramic of a Rainbow that Hangs in my favorite restaurant, Rays’ Place in Hennepin. Just remember this is my story inspired and your story will be different for sure. Enjoy!

A distant spring cloudburst throwing a rainbow in the late afternoon sun.

A distant spring cloudburst throwing a rainbow in the late afternoon sun.

Marble art…

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

  • Henry David Thoreau

My mom went to India several years ago as part of a cultural group with Rotary International. She was there for an entire month, touring cultural sights and bringing western culture and ideas to Rotary groups and people in India. She and the group she was with stayed in homes of Rotary members and really immersed in the culture. My mom loved it and still talks about it to this day. For months she would make true Indian dishes, and I would eat them and my stomach did not take to them very well. I loved the flavor and the taste  is quite different from the Northern Italian Americanized food I am used to, it just would wreak havoc.

This photograph is of a sample of marble from a quarry owned by one of the Rotarian’s, my Mom loved the color and thought it would be something I would like, and when she travels we tend to get unique mementos of her travels. This muted green, grey, tan and black marble traveled back with her from India, via Rome, London and Chicago, and was in my Photography studio office and eventually made its way into my bedroom sitting near the marble Chess set. I used to hope for a t-shirt or a touristy trinket of some kind, and she would always come back with something more interesting.

I still have all of these gifts, a few of which are t-shirts but I never wear them much. I used this as a coaster for a while in my office, oiled it with lemon oil to bring out more depth, dusted it, packed it, moved it and unpacked it and put it in my room. I look at this all the time and I am reminded that life is a journey and we must enjoy it all and be willing to take a risk or two.

A marble sample that reminds me of my mothers trip to India many years ago.

A marble sample that reminds me of my mothers trip to India many years ago.