Sunday, January 31, 2010


Today, after successfully flushing our sewer vent pipe that was apparently built directly off the garbage disposal drain which causes it to be ever plugged with all sorts of foul matter thus creating a periodic foul waft of air in our entranceway and makes us say, "Who farted?...the house did", I went for a relaxing drive.  

I drove, again south of Meadville, into unfamiliar farm land.  After taking a few random turns onto random roads I came upon this scene.  This beauty of a little hill with a group of trees atop.  
Standing in the freezing whipping wind whilst setting up the shots, changing lenses and arranging filters I finally realized that I must allergic to my own tears.  The sun was bright and the wind was in my face.  This combination even with my sunglasses causes a torrent like a chick watching The Notebook.  When tears actually break the cusp of my eyelid they instantly are converted to sulfuric acid which of course burns like a MO-FO.  Now, when your eyes burn, what do they do? They create more tears which creates more burning which creates more tears which...

I run back to the car not touching my eyes [I've learned that more skin contact causes more burning], head down, tears literally pooling in my sunglasses and luckily there are tissues there.  Frantically wiping my bloodshot eyes and my now dripping nose I finally regain control. 

I look to my left out the car window at a slowly passing car, the driver with a concerned/WTF look on her face. 

I smile and she continues on her way.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Spent my day at the DMV getting a new license then driving around the area south of Meadville.  I say "area" because I really have no idea where I was located at the time.  I brought the daughter along, she's fine with my long nowhere drives as long as she has a movie to watch.   My wonderful parents purchased Mama Mia for her because she loves it so much.

I am not a fan. 

However, it is extremely entertaining to listen to her sing all the songs in her cute little voice.  She had her headphones on to spare me the full on ABBA onslaught, so I just hear her singing.

"Mama we go again.  My my, how can I resist-a...(and repeat 967 times)"

Apparently Pierce Brosnan is still "very handsome" to 7 year olds.  
She recently informed my wife and I of her "Hot" List.
#1 & #2 are boys from school, one of whom is a bully [great]
#3 is Pierce Brosnan
#4 is Justin Bieber (we had to use google to figure that one out, she says Beaver)

I think I may be homeschooling that one soon.

After processing these shots, I'd say it was a very productive day.  I went with monochrome for these images because the contrasts just screamed black and white.  With most landscapes (and most other shots) I quickly check the image in black and white just to see it.  Most of the time I go with color.  The blue sky and wispy clouds against the white snow were nice but after converting to B/W it really popped.  Graduated neutral density filters are the bomb-diggity...word. [tru-dat]

I rarely impress myself, but I'm extremely satisfied with these images.

...and this was just really really cool

Friday, January 29, 2010


Well, it's Friday night and the kids are in bed.  There's a nice bottle of Chianti and the wife downstairs calling to me.  I won't be long.

I love antiques and went through a bibliophile phase a while back.  I acquired these large volumes from my Grandmother.

The title always made me chuckle.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


After getting the littel girl to bed I decided I would go for a photowalk.
It was very dark and about 15 degrees.  I was all excited to try out my new finger-mittens, the ones with the big flap over the exposed fingers that velcros back (these ones are awesom-er because there's also a thumb-flap!).
So, very unlike me, I ventured into the cold cold night to walk around town.  For those of you who don't live in my little town or know about this part of the word, nights like these are dangerous.  When it's snowy and dark people don't drive to the bar.
No, let me re-phrase, they don't drive automobiles to the bar, instead they drive snowmobiles and they drive them on the sidewalks.  Yeah, apparently it's safer to drive drunk on the sidewalk, at least they're wearing helmets.  Unfortunately it's not safer for me who has the audacity to walk on the sidewalk.

Our  little "Winter Wonderland" sounds like giant garbage disposals (that's what snowmobiles sound like in my head) and drunken WHOOP-ing.

I survived.

Tonight I thought I'd post all the shots I thought were good/interesting/unique/not total crap for your viewing pleasure.  These shots have only been converted from RAW with minimal processing, no Photoshop enhancements.

I love long exposures.


...and home again

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I was thinking still life tonight.
I began wandering the house aimlessly looking for unique items to shoot.

My antique cameras?  Nah
Fruit? been done
Onions? not now
Old oil cans?  Nah
Books? Eh
Legos? maybe
I have a lot of crap, ask my wife.

Glancing at my dresser top I see the light hitting this vase and "shattering" it.

I found my model.  I dump the coins out of the vase (it's my change bank) and clear my dresser.
I set up my shot with my trusty 4D Maglite aimed at about 60 degrees from the camera's line of vision level at mid vase.  Now to set the scene and help you visualize my plight you must know that Pearl the Pug is adamant that any light source such as a glare, laser, flashlight, etc is the Devil incarnate and must be destroyed.  Her arch-nemesis is the midday glare from the fridge on the wall. The wall is scarred from her death blows.
So she commences to destroy all of my shots by running in circles at my feet then leaping into the air after the Demon Light.  After restraining Pearl and getting the light set she calms down, only because it isn't moving.  And by calm I mean she is sitting on the bed just barely out of camera view staring at the light hitting the wall and trembling.  I fire away with the shutter.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Watched NOVA tonight. It was a bout the migration and life cycle of monarchs.  Amazing little buggers!

I was inspired and just happen to have a couple giant moth specimens stashed away for creative purposes.  Still loving the automatic macro tubes!   I attempted a focus stack with the antennae.  This is when you take multiple macro shots at different focal points or "planes" and stack them in Photoshop to get a more focused image.  Macro shots have an inherently narrow focal range which is why this is such a cool technique.  The result was sub-par not to mention the exp is off a bit but it was my first try at something new and I now know exactly what I did wrong.  Next time I need to make smaller focus adjustments with more exposures.  At any rate I'll post the failed experiment for visualization, you can plainly see the areas out of focus where I stacked the "focal planes".

However, I was very pleased with this super-macro image.  I utilized "liveview" to  zoom in and manually focus as sharp as possible on those little blue hairs.  I stopped down to f/9 to increase the sharpness and the very narrow focal range.  My 18-105mm lens (@ 50mm) with the extension tubes attached was so close it was nearly touching the moth's wing.  I had my trusty Maglite laying on the table hitting the wing nearly perpendicular to the lens creating those magical little flares.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Never thought I'd be glad to see snow.  It's been rainy and in the 40's, all the snow has congealed and hardened, everything is brown and grey.  

I'm just a ray of sunshine, aren't I?

So I got my new toy's and I totally love AF-macro extension tubes. It's a great substitute for pricey macro lenses.  On my last camera I used "manual" tubes, these would essentially render any lens manual.  These new tubes are wired for all the metering and AF contacts on the Nikon, it's fabulous.

Of course, I had to wake Schnebly up and do a portrait with the new equipment.
Here, I positioned my model on a rock and lured his gaze with a delicious brussel sprout.

You guys sick of the snail yet? neither

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Rainy winter days suck.  Being without an amphibious camera, I roamed my yard in a poncho with a large umbrella.  No too many photogenic things out there in the grey wetness but I'll see what I can work with.
The UPS guy will be bringing me presents tomorrow so I'm very excited.  I ordered a 70-300mm Tele-macro and some electronic extension tubes for super-macro work.  I'm so neurotic about waiting for mail.  I check the package tracking like an addict and right now I'm having a hard time resisting the urge to drive to Meaville and break into the UPS freight center.  At any rate with those additions to my camera bag, good things are on the horizon. 

I've been gobbling up the ebooks by David duChemin.  I find myself flipping through them when I feel frustrated and need a good reset.  Which I'm doing right now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Today was the wife's white coat ceremony.
Yup, she's officially still a medical student.

Took a bunch of pictures of her and her friends. I'm really feeling the pressure now that all of you have told me you're reading this. I'll need medication before too long.

As you have gathered, I'd categorize myself as an artistic photographer and I know it seems stupid but I abhor shooting candid photography.  It's an unexplainable aversion that has developed within me.  An aversion I'm trying to get over.  I believe it comes from my OCD tendency with my photos.  I love to set up a shot and take test shots, decide the best settings and then take the final shot.  Then recompose and try it again until I give up and take what I have into Photoshop or more infrequently actually nail the shot with the final snap...then I take a few more for good measure.  I'm usually going through this routine in front of an ever-so-patient inanimate object, such as a tree.  You can image how well this masterful technique goes over in a "simple snapshot" setting.  Luckily Nikon's Program Auto mode on the D90 works extremely well. 

I was planning on putting a bunch of shots for all of you to pilfer but it takes forever to upload the large format size and my wife's already asleep on the couch.  I'm sure she'll have them up on Facebook...goodnight. 

Friday, January 22, 2010


An evening at the mall with the wife and kids.
I dropped the little lady off at the Macy's door and took the monsters to Toys R Us to finish off their xmas money.  There I stared at dolls, motorized animals [that have human voices making animal sounds] and pinkness of all shapes and sizes.  The boy is finally old enough to quickly find his own playthings and his way back to me while I'm trapped in barbie hell. 
At one point the girl and I walked past a wall of babydolls and all their heads slowly followed us, reaching and calling to us.  Motion activated and, in such a mass quantity, creepy as hell.
We made it out alive and one motorized human voiced kitten richer.  Back to the mall to behold the glory of Erie Idol.  Wow.  How some people get the self-confidence to get up and sing in public is beyond me [they must hear something different echoing in their head].
Onward to The Limited to find some random dude giving my wife clothing advice. Just as I was about to lay his ass out [you know it] I notice the little headphone earpiece thinga-ma-bob and realize he's not a random dude but a super nice salesperson dude with 20% off coupons in his pocket.  Now the wife is looking fabulous and fancy.
Burritos at Moe's, my favorite meat there? TOFU [don't knock it 'til you try it].
and home again home again.

Here's an abstract for you, this is my living room ceiling. 
I think it's nifty, enjoy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


20 days!!!  And going strong. 
Not much to report today, sorry to dissapoint.  Can't be on everyday. 

However, I did have a photo idea before I got home and executed it like a champ. 
This is getting easier.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Schnebly the Schnail has been a household pet for almost a year now.  He's a relatively large Brown Garden Snail.  We are all facinated by him and have genuine affection and concern for his well being which, we all will admit, is a little odd.

It started last March when the kids and I were on a nature walk and I found him in a field, they were instanly smitten with the large brown mollusk and insisted that Schebly must meet Mom.  So they talked me into bringing him [they're actually asexual] home and he now lives in a ceramic castle our son made that sits in a potted plant. 

We've had 2 other "Schneblinas" but they both had very creepy personalities and didn't treat Schnebly with the respect he deserves...they went out the window. 

Apparently they were with us long enough to have created the 80 odd "Schneblettes" that began popping out of the soil late last summer...they also went out the window.

Schnebly is a loner and I think he prefers it that way, he gets all the brussel sprouts to himself.  [Santa even filled a tiny stocking with them]

He is the perfect subject for photography. This was our first photo shoot when he first came home [Deathwish & On the Edge].

 Soon I'll be getting some extension tubes for macro work and then you'll be seeing him in all his glory.  In the meantime, I'll see what I can come up with.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Ahh, the sound of children fighting and whining fills the's almost bedtime.  The evil hour is 7:30-8:30pm when the children are very tired but know that bedtime looms ever near like Death's sythe and are losing their minds in the fruitless combat against time.  Always fun times. 

My day went well but the wife spent much of the day in the ER after receiving a wicked pile-driver to the ribs delivered by the side of the bath tub [That's why I don't ever wash my feet].  Now we're a bit concered about her spleen unlike the moron PA she was "treated" by at the ER.  She's just terribly uncomfortable.

Well, I suppose I have to stop rambling and provide a picture since all of you are now stalking me, but once again I am at a loss for creativity.  That, again, is why I'm doing this, even if I must force myself into taking a picture.

So, we have a pet snail.  His name is Schnebly.  You'll be seeing him fairly regularly.
Our daughter also has 3 motorized rats better known as Zhu Zhu Pets.  Their names are Chunk, Mr. Squiggles, and Pip Squeak. 

This is "Schnebly vs the Zhu Zhu Gang" or "The Showdown"

Sunday, January 17, 2010


The wife and I were up very late last night.  Her looking at prom dresses [med school apparently needs a prom...who knew], and myself playing Wii fit [yeah...that's right]. 

So at 1am I realize "Holy crap it's 1am" and promptly announce "Bed-time!"

Now for those of you who know my wife well, you know she reacts poorly to swift changes and spontaneity.  She needs at least a 10 min warning before I go to bed.  I, however, am very malleable and can easily conform to most swift changes that have no real consequence.  For instance, surprise bed times or spontaneous yogurt snacks [don't ever spring yogurt on her...she must mentally prepare first].

While she's preparing for bed, I go upstairs and as I'm almost ready to hop in bed I look out the window and see the most magnificent fog shrouding everything.  We live next door to a prison and the light pollution emanating for that damn place is usually maddening.  I can never do very good star gazing and forget about star-trail photography.  BUT the the bright lights hitting the fog lit the very air all around my house and down the street. 

I had to get out there.  As soon as my wife was heading to bed I was heading out the door.  I was back in bed by 2am so she and the dog could finally get some sleep.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Spent some time with my best buddy since highschool this afternoon.  He's back in town for the first time since his amazing  recovery from necrotizing faciitis and advanced systemic septic shock.  It's amazing he's still with us.  The last time we saw them in September he was still in a rehab center and couldn't stand without extreme effort.  Now he's nearly back to normal. You can read his whole story here

It was great to see him, his wife and their great little boy.  He's sixteen months old and walks around contantly muttering "Da Da Da Dada Da...Dadda". 

This is what I love about photography.  The fleeting micro seconds that no one notices can be captured and preserved forever.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Everyday should be friday.  My fantastic wife undecorated the house [so it's no longer Christmas] there's fancy chipotle shredded beef tacos on the dinner menu, the kids aren't fighting, I'm not on-call this weekend and I'm drinking a beer.  Doesn't get much better.

Fifteen days into this and all day now I try to think about the photo I will eventually take.  It rarely hits me until I actually pick up the camera.  It's 5:15pm and I still don't know.  I glance at my wife who looks amazing as may be her tonight.  Still no idea.  I'll get back to staring at her now...

I hereby reserve the right to make all of you look at her whenever I am at a loss for unique ideas.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Spent the evening with my folks.  With my Photography in full swing fueled this here blog, I, of course, had my camera.  Unfortunately, my mother cringes when a camera merely turns in her direction.  I'll get a good shot of her yet!
Much to my surprise the gem of all the shots I took tonight was a portrait of my step-father.  I was just showing him the difference between a shot taken with my 18-105mm @ 85mm, f/3.5 compared to the same shot with my new 85mm prime @ f/1.8 and BAM there's the shot of the day.

I've run the gamut of emotion with this big scary face, but these days it's not so big and scary.
...grandchildren will have that effect.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Driving home from work today I was cussing at myself out loud for not having my camera.  The sun was setting in the clear sky and all the trees were ice covered.  It was spectacular! I ran inot the house like a maniac, grabbed my gear and got back into the car.  I drove nearly half way back to work but missed the "magic hour" already.  I had a ripper of a headache anyway and that just bummed me out.  I'll try to bring it tomorrow.

After watching/sleeping to The Karate Kid III with the kids I realized I still needed a picture.  I wandered the house and saw a burnt out lightbulb (there seems to always be one around here).  And yes I use incandescent bulbs and will gladly replace them with more efficient fluorescent when they figure out how to make the light they emit not complete shit.  Every one looks like a corpse in that light, it makes me ill. 
I got a bright idea!  (knee-slap)

So I proceeded to break a bulb and rig a new filament out of kleenex, set up my velvet mini studio (black velvet draped over a chair) and the experimentation began.  It took quite a few burns before I got something good enough to give my headache a rest. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


A new lens came in the mail today.  Totally free of charge (Thanks Auntie). 
Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.8D
She said it was broken but I cannot find a flaw.  I didn't really know what she was giving me.  I was expecting more material for my bracelets but it will live out the rest of it's days in my camera bag.

So I came home today and obviously wanted to try the new toy.  So I called my dog to the living room and put her in "sit".  She looks up at me so cute, I put my eye to the viewfinder and... she's gone. This repeats itself at least 5 times, she's a pug and unfortunately not perfectly trained.
So I finally have an epiphany, TREATS!  
Treat in hand, I call her back to the livingroom rug.  She's kinda freaked out at this point because I've said her name a billion times, my wife and son are having a math homework meltdown at the table across the room and my daughter is parroting my calls to the poor dog from the couch.  Meanwile I haven't given her a treat.  Poor Pearl [dog] thinks it must be nail clipping time or some other cruel torture. 

Now I having just met this pretty new lens, we needed some adjustment time.  The only flaw I'd say was the focus is just a tad sluggish but I wasn't in the best lighting either. 

So while I'm framing and focusing, dog looking away, calling the dog, framing and focusing, dog looking away, calling the dog, faming and focusing... I finally just mash the shutter on continuous shooting and finally it come's together.

While I'm flipping through to find the perfect shot hidden within the many blurred/out of focus shots on my camera, I forget the treat is still in my hand. 
I look up and she's sitting still, staring at me in the cutest  head tilted pug way, not moving an inch.  So I put my camera to my eye...and she's gone.  I give up.

The cat is much more cooperative, he's very low drama.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I think I'm trying to dazzle and fading fast.  It's day eleven and I'm running low on enthusiasm. 
I need to focus on simplicity and just let it happen. 

Every now and again, you need a pause...

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Totally unmotivated today...

I did take a short uneventful drive while my daughter watched The Karate Kid for the 5th time in the back seat. 

Here's one of two shots I took. 

pretty exciting huh.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


The Enigmatic Artichoke.  A large green fleshy flower with mystical flavor power.  This is my favorite vegetable.

I have been eating artichokes all my life, my father used to bring these strange things home and steam them unil the kitchen was engulfed in the unique aroma.  He would plop this whole monstrosity on a plate in front of me and with a bowl of melted butter.  Each petal falling off the flower with the slightest touch, we would forget our manners and slop them into the butter and scrape the soft meat from the petals.  Devouring them petal by petal until the thistley "choke" was uncovered.  The little hairy seeds would be scraped out with surgical precision leaving the piece de resistance, the heart.  The heart was dunked like a cookie into the now coagulated butter and eaten whole, I really can't think of a better taste.  I've introduced them to my children and they love them as I did.  They're so much fun to eat and taste like nothing in the world. 

If you've never eaten a steamed artichoke then got to the store now...I'll wait.

Now, just steam the hell out of them (about and hour) until the leaves just fall off, really it's very easy.

Ready to eat? 

That strange sweetness you are experiencing?  It's less a taste and more of a feeling and it's making a party in your mouth.  It's called Cynarin.  It's actually a bitter substance that hits the saliva and makes everything you eat taste vaguely sweet.  Enjoy.

If artichokes were heroin I'd be in rehab. 
Well be enjoying these monsters (these are the biggest I've ever seen) with fresh hollandaise sauce and poached eggs.

Now I'm drooling and need to get to the kitchen so I bid you adeiu until tomorrow.

Friday, January 8, 2010


It's Movie Night!  For those of you who don't actually know me, my wife is in medical school and the books close on friday nights.  We all crowd onto the couch and watch a movie.  Being the true 80's children my wife and I are, this usually means we force our children to watch movies like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Three Amigos, The Princess Bride, etc... 
Tonight it was The Karate Kid.  It was as friggin awesome as I remember it.  Our 11 year old son loved it as well although I don't remember as much bullshit's and goddamn's when I watched it (every weekend) in 1987.
This is his awe and amazement at the preview for The Karate Kid 2!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I've decided that watching my wife doing Wii yoga is pretty damn appealing. 
Of course, I'd watch her clip her toenails with rapt attention.

Inspired by Emil Schildt (Warning: nudes in link), this 30 second exposure was taken in total darkness light painted by a small incandescent flashlight.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


So it stopped snowing and started raining. 
Will someone please explain to me how it can be 26 degrees farenheit outside and raining!? 
I go outside this morning to battle the ice cube that contains my car.  After starting the car I neglect to notice that the wipers are still engaged, not moving but silently wanting and straining to move.  I exit the vehicle and commence scraping the ice with my brand new christmas ice scraper/snow brush.  Without warning, the passenger wiper arm breaks it's bonds, leaving the blade firmly attached to the glass.  The amputee metal hook then attempts to aid in the ice removal process in a harsh arc across my windshield nearly shattering the glass with it's initial landing. After restraining the arm and flimsily re-attaching the broken blade I continued to scrape, not two swipes later my scraper blade snaps and flies away...lovely.

I returned home after work having acquired a new wiperblade and a new ice scraper/snow brush. 
Now the power is sporatically dimming and the town emergency siren has sounded. 
We've already got our candles ready...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


So after a depression inducing day of narcoleptics, epileptics, and clinically brain dead neonates I drove through the expanded arctic circle to my home.  I shaved my head, trimmed the beard and decided it might be a good time for a self-portrait.
You've been warned...

Monday, January 4, 2010


Still snowing...38 inches and counting.  I do believe the next ice age is upon us. 
The kids first day back to school after vacation was cancelled, too bad the hospital doesn't have snow days. 
So it's day four and we've had this orange in the kitchen for a while.  Strangely long life for citrus, my wife nearly cleaned the garbage disposal with it. Anyway, it keeps catching my eye, it's somehow inappropriate and makes me giggle like in 9th grade health class.
I call this image...Crowning.


Sunday, January 3, 2010


So, it started snowing Friday and has yet to cease.  Wondering when FEMA will arrive.  My roof is concerning me, there's at least 3 feet on our garage. 
After shoveling the cars out I decided to make some soup, so I headed out to the store and took the scenic route outside town.  I came around a bend and soaring above the road in the blizzard was one of our local bald eagles.  They've made quite a resurgence locally, it was pretty exciting.  I took a few shots and continued down the road.  I did my shopping and returned home to shovel...again.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Wow I made it two days so far.   I'm not very disciplined so this is a big deal.   I started this project because I have been in a serious creative slump and need to force myself out of it.  The winter is in full swing and I have very little use for snow (nearly 2 feet fell just last night).  The weather alone is likely the cause for my decline in photography.
Anyway I found a tiny spider on our ficus tree.  This little guy is approx 1.5mm end to end and with my lack of a good macro lens I went into MacGyver mode.  While my daughter held a flashlight on the subject I  reversed my 18-105mm lens, held it flush against the camera body and used my free finger to manually open the iris then took the shot.  Not the prettiest macro nor the best quality but I'll deal with it...(another reason for doing this blog it to break my over-analytical nature).

Friday, January 1, 2010

After quite a bit of coaxing I succeeded in capturing a few good shots of my favorite littel girl.  Today is my daughter's 7th birthday and much to her chagrin her party had to be scheduled for tomorrow.  No tears yet but I'm sure I'll accidentally step on a motorized hampster at some point today.  They're multiplying rapidly...