Friday, May 30, 2008

Absolute Michigan

The Absolute Michigan site used one of my photos from the Kalamazoo Air Zoo to illustrate a story. The first somewhat commercial use of my photos, though I didn't get paid for it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Lest We Forget

Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day in the US. A day for remembering and celebrating the men and women who gave their lives in defense of the country. It is celebrated on the last Monday of May and most people, including me at times, think of it only as a long weekend with a day off work.

For some reason, I'm being a bit retrospective this year. Winter and me did not get along this year. May finally getting here with the trees blooming and the flowers coming up finally marked to me the end of it. I also celebrate a lot of anniversaries in May. From my wedding anniversary, to my birthday and even the marking of my 1st year in a new job.

Today also made me think of my father, who was a veteran in WWII. He never talked at all about his experiences in the war. With all the talk about living memories of the few remaining veterans from those wars, I wish I would have had a serious talk with him about the war and his life in general. I'm not sure he would have opened up to me about it, but I wish I would have tried.

No photography, just ramblings. Sorry.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


It was our anniversary May 18th. We try, but don't always succeed to get out of town for a weekend. Just the two of us, no work, no cats, just us. While Dorothy likes to go someplace and relax, I tend to like to go places and explore. It makes an interesting discussion about what we do on vacations. We weren't able to get reservations in our usual places in Chicago, so we thought we would try Milwaukee.

We both took Friday off for a long weekend and we hit the road mid-morning. I really wanted to get through Chicago before the rush hour. Well, we did that, but of course we ran into road construction on the way out of downtown Chicago. Stuck in stop and go traffic for 45 minutes or more is no fun. I really don't know how people can put up with it day after day.

After some more fun in traffic, we got to Milwaukee. It's a bigger town then Grand Rapids, and I noticed a lot of good architecture on the way into town. We checked into the hotel and decided to take a walk. Unlike Chicago, there really were not a whole lot of shopping places to go to. My first impression was that there was a drinking place on every corner. We came across a anti-war rally, somewhat small, but very vocal. We had a good dinner at a micro brewery and retired back to the room.

Saturday morning, we went to the art museum. I had kept hearing good things about it and of course I wanted to see the building itself. It didn't disappoint me. The building is gorgeous and the exhibits were grand also. The only thing I wished for was a bigger selection of photography.

In the afternoon, we went on the Miller Brewery tour. It was fun, and enlightening. At the end we got free samples. I was reminded how much I hate generic American beer. Out of the 3 samples they gave us, I only liked the one they imported. In fact Dorothy ended up drinking most of my samples.

Dinner was at Beni Hanas. This is "our" restaurant and we were really disappointed when they closed their downtown Chicago store. We walked around a bit in the evening and I was struck about how dark the downtown is. Looking closer I realized it is all the closed shops. I was really surprised about how empty the downtown area is. We would see a string of 4 or 5 closed shops and then one open store. Repeat again and again. Considering the revival of downtown GR and other cities, it seems strange.

Sunday I decided we would take the ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegon. A 3 hour boat trip across the lake and a short 45 minute drive home. The ferry was a bit pricey, but considering I didn't have to put up with Chicago traffic, I thought it was worth it.

All in all, a delightful weekend. The only problem was it was too short.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Week of Photographers

This past week was a time for me to attending photographic lectures. I didn't really plan it that way, but it's the way things turned out....

It started with Darrell Gulin Saturday. For the gory details, see my earlier post.

Wednesday was David Hume Kennerly at the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum. The museum has an exhibit of his work going on and he was in town to open the exhibit and promote his new book of the Ford administration. He was Fords photographer and was given complete access to the President and the family. This was one way Ford tried to open up the White House after the excesses of the Nixon administration. He talked about the family and threw barbs at most political figures he mentioned. I toured the exhibit after the talk and enjoyed every one of his photographs. Of course I had to buy his book and get it autographed.

Thursday was National Geographics Sam Abell. A local camera store brought him in for promotion. His talk was the one I liked best. Not only did he show his work, but he explained his thought process behind the photos. He would show a series on how a photograph develops in the field, when he first finds a subject to the last photo where he gets the shot he wants. He also went over some personal history about how he got where he is now, and went into quite a few personal details.

The best point I got out of the talk was a point he made about conversations. He of course had to plug the camera store that brought him into town and talked about how one can have a conversation with a camera store that you may not have with other ways of buying equipment. Later on he continued this theme with a comment about the photographer having a conversation with the viewer. For some reason, this resonated with me. I'm continuing to mull this over and I need to see how this fits into my own photography.

While he wasn't promoting a new book, I did buy an older book of his and had it autographed.

Definitely a busy week, but worth it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Darrell Gulin - Canon Explorer of Light

I organized a seminar for our camera club. We started, and I mean we, back in July of 2007. There were 5 of us trying to get this going and a sixth joined us later. We put up 100 posters around town, distributed flyers and sent out 900 flyers to camera club people in Michigan. We put notices on flickr for the local groups and emailed camera clubs. We got far less folks attending than I expected. It's disappointing. While we did pull people in from over an hour away and one couple drove up from Ft. Wayne Indiana, we just held it too late in the year. We were competing with too much other summer stuff.

I'm unsure what we could have done different for advertising. We definitely need to get more exposure from the local newspaper. Once everyone has time to think, I'm going to get everyone together one last time and go over lessons learned.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Disposable Digital Cameras?????

The latest thing going around, at least in this area, seems to be taking photos with disposable cameras. It divorces you from the fancy electronics, lens and high pixel count sensors. Plus it can be fun.

Some local flickr folks decided to have one yesterday and I attended. While I was out buying a camera at CVS, I came across the disposable digital camera. While I had heard about these, this was the first time I really thought about them. You pay $19.99 for one. Processing is not included and you do not get the camera back to reuse. Essentially, you are paying the twenty bucks to rent it for a while. This really doesn't make sense to me and I'm wondering who buys these. I know there is a way you can hack them to make them reusable, and that is probably driving the price up.

It would seem to me a better business model would be to return the camera and make your money on processing. It would seem to be better for the environment also.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I'm sure there is a song title there somewhere....

Anyway, I had submitted 3 prints to the local arts festival competition. I got notified yesterday that 2 of them had been accepted for the show. This is a big deal for me. It's the first art show I've been accepted at. I've had my work picked to hang at the local community college when I was taking classes and I've also had my photos on the walls of a couple local businesses. However this is different. The photography judge is someone whose work I like, David Lubbers. He doesn't know me from Adam and yet he picked two of my prints. Now admittedly there were a lot of other photographers selected, but there were also a lot who were not. I'm still somewhat shocked.

The web page for the 2008 Festival of the Arts.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Camera Club Exhibit

I organized an exhibit of work by members of the Grand Rapids Camera Club that we hung Saturday morning. The actual organizing isn't bad, just send out emails and keep track of who wants to do what. I also rounded up some photos from folks who couldn't make it Saturday. The day of hanging the show is more work. We got a lot of wall space in a local coffee shop, and while its a big place, we filled it up. There were 8 of us working on the display or just standing around drinking coffee. It was somewhat hectic and we took up a lot of space.

We got a couple good comments from customers while we were there which was nice.

We are going to have an opening reception, such as it is Tuesday. It will be fun and it is nice to see your work hanging on the wall in a public place.