Monday, July 26, 2010

Carnival Time!

I know this has been a bit quite lately, I have the usual excuses, not enough time and too much going on.

Mike had me up in Sparta a week ago for the local celebration. While I couldn't go to the events earlier in the day, I did make it up for the carnival on Saturday evening. A smaller carnival that I expected, it kind of snaked around town, between buildings and through parking lots. Not a whole lot of places to set up a tripod to get photos.

After thinking about it a bit, and trying a couple of things, I decided to just hand hold the camera with a wide angle lens instead. This changed the way I would normally photograph a carnival. Since the lens is so wide, you have to be really close to your subject, and the lens distortion will still give a sense of space that really isn't there. For example, the photo of the game where they are trying to win candy, I was almost leaning over the game board. It's kind of nice, since you can point the lens almost forty five degrees away from someone and still get a photo of them.

I like the way these turned out and I'm going to use this more often in the future.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


As a science geek who grew up with chemistry sets and microscopes, I've been watching the dumbing down of kids science toys with dismay. It follows the trend, especially since 9/11 of "protecting" us from ourselves. Anything with the perceived remote chance of hurting ourselves or others is way too dangerous for us to have.

This cartoon starts to sum it up.

Taken without permission (sorry), from todays Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a geeky cartoon that it in my rss feed so I don't miss it. Go follow it also.

Friday, July 16, 2010

GR Cycle Classic

This past Saturday was the GR Cycle Classic. A day long bike race in downtown Grand Rapids, the race course winds around the arena, with a mixture of brick and asphalt roads. I got down there early, meaning to wander around, but quickly ran into a friend of mine. We wandered, but not as fast as I had originally planned.

Once the race started, the two of us and a third photographer spent a couple of hours just walking the course and stopping to photograph whenever the whim struck. We spent a short while under a awning while a quick summer shower passed by. It made the race a little more exciting, the pavement got slicker until it dried and there were a few crashes.

Early afternoon, while the race was still going on, we decided it was time for lunch. We spent an hour or so at Hop Cats, with the starting section right outside the window. We were able to watch the race in the AC and have a bite of lunch.

We went our seperate ways afterwards. While the race was going on until 4:30 or so, we all had other things to take care of.

The race really did not have a lot of spectators, not nearly as many as have lined the course in past years. I feel part of the reason is the lack of advertising. I knew about it, because I was expecting the event and had double checked the date. The only real notice I saw about the race was a small blurb in the local paper the day of the race. It's too bad, the crowds have always been a lot bigger in years past.

Friday, July 9, 2010

SoFoBoMo 2010 Update

Well, its been over a month now since I announced my book project for this year, so I guess it's time for an update. The plan was to photograph the local fair grounds in a 5 county area, try to emphasize the unique differences of them, use film in a medium format camera and complete a book on the 31 day time frame. Didn't happen.

I started out great. You may remember, I jumped the gun by a couple days to take advantage of the Memorial Day weekend. The first fairground went great. I went to Allegan for the the monthly antique show, photographed that, wandered around a bit and found a horse show also going. I was somewhat pleased. 4 rolls of film down, about 50 photos. If I could continue to do that, it was going to be easy.

It went downhill from there.

I tried Kalamazoo the same weekend. It was packed. Some event was going on, I couldn't even get near the fairgrounds without paying an entrance fee. From what I could see from the road, and what I remembered, the grounds themselves were not very unique. I decided to come back if I got the chance, but I wasn't going to sweat it.

One thing I hadn't counted on when starting the project was how busy fair grounds are during the summer. Access to the local fair grounds was available, if I wanted to pay an entrance fee and if I wanted to fight crowds. While crowds are certainly part of a fair experience, I wanted to photograph the empty grounds, or almost empty. While some people photos were expected, I wanted a view of these venues the way most people don't see them, empty or almost empty.

Plus frankly, early June was really busy for me personally as well. So what next?

I going to start a new project to be done by the end of the month. I need to get permission first for access to the land, so no big announcement at the moment. If that doesn't work, I'll have to think of a plan C.

More later.

Monday, July 5, 2010


It's the Fourth of July, of course there has to be fireworks....

We had excellent weather for the show. It had cooled down a bit, with a breeze popping up now and then.

I went downtown as usual for the fireworks along the Grand River. I had wanted to get a different spot then usual, but that didn't work out.

I got downtown at 9 pm, an hour and a half before the fireworks started, and it was already packed. I quickly abandoned my plans to find a high spot to get the crowds along the river as well as the fireworks, and just vowed to find a spot on a bridge. I quickly found a spot in the middle of the Bridge St. bridge. There were a couple on each side of an empty spot, and no one had claimed it yet, so I set up there. It was a good spot pretty much on the center of the bridge. As it got closer to the start time, the bridge filled up. During the display, I had a couple of kids kick my tripod a few times, but all in all, I got way too many photos. It took a bit to clear out the bad ones, and I still have a few I'm mulling over.

As usual the after event traffic rush was on. Once I got back to my car, it only took me about 10 minutes to get on the freeway, but that was packed all the way home.

I'm going to have to prepare earlier for the next event in the fall and try to find a building overlooking the river I have access too.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Great Summer Day

The Midwest Professional Volleyball Association had a beach volleyball tournament Saturday morning. I sent some emails out to see if anyone wanted to go and Mike showed up.

It was fun watching, but I spent too much time talking to really pay much attention to the volleyball. I did get a couple ok photos though. He had to leave mid-morning, so I decided to drive over to the other side of the pier. We had seen some kite surfers earlier in the morning and I hoped they were still there.

The dog really is not going after the fisherman, but a bunch of seagulls sunning themselves on the pier. Unfortunately for him, his desire to go run around and chase them was thwarted.

Of course once I get over there, the kite surfers disappeared. I sat on the pier for a while and just watched the people. A steady stream of boats were coming out the channel, and there were quite a few walking the pier.

Just as I was leaving a couple of kite surfers came back. I watched them set up, but there were so many boats set up on the north side of the pier that they either had to go way out on the lake or way north. The boats just kept on coming and anchoring.

I'm sure these dogs wanted to jump in the water and play with some kids swimming in closer to shore.

A great day all around.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Busy Week

For some reason, my "real" job gets busy the end of June, first of July. It's happened that way the last couple of years, and it happened again this year. I've gotten out a couple of times to photograph, but I've missed some opportunities also. So all you get today is a Coneflower, taken today at Millenium Park. I always seem to realize these are in bloom too late in the year. Maybe next year.

Hope your Fourth of July weekend is going well.