Friday, December 2, 2011


Since I haven't done a lot of photography lately, you get links.

29 Ways to Stay Creative - A short YouTube video. Watch it.

Do you think it's easy being a photographer for National Geographic?

Craft and Vision has a free ebook of photographic articles.

PDN Magazine has a list of bestselling photo books. There are also links to what they consider notable books of the year.

I have been busy, just not a whole lot of progress to report. It seems I'm always developing film. I've also getting back into printing Cyanotypes, and plan on doing some Platinum prints early next year. Hopefully I will get to participate in a show in March. If so, I'll be sure to publish details here.

If you're in the US, I hope your Thanksgiving went well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

South Dakota

It's been over two months since I posted here. It doesn't feel like it's been that long, time has just been flying by.

I was able to get out on a photo vacation back in October for a week. I spent a lot of time driving around, my plans changed and I ended up in South Dakota at the Badlands. It was great! I was tempted to keep driving west, since there was always something just a little bit down the road I wanted to see, but I had a business trip the next week. It was tough stopping though.

My initial plan was to drive the Great River Road, which runs along the Mississippi north from Clinton, Iowa. I was hoping to end up in Duluth and maybe some places along the north shore of Lake Superior before heading home. This was not to be.

I started in Clinton, and ended up in DeBuque Iowa on Monday morning. Sitting at a stop light, I got rear ended by another out of state driver. Great start to a vacation.

The Dubuque Museum of Art had advertised an exhibit of Edward Curtis's photography of Plains Indians. When I got there the museum was closed. Turns out it wasn't open on Monday's. The only thing I got to see was the statue on the lawn. Not really seeing much that I wanted to photograph on the road between Clinton and Dubuque, and deciding Iowa didn't like me, I decided to head elsewhere.

I had been wanting to go to the Badlands and spend some time, so I pointed the car west. Early Tuesday morning I was at the National Park. Of course I had planned on fall weather in Michigan and the weather was warm in South Dakota. That afternoon it hit 95 and I'm running around in blue jeans and long sleeve shirts.

I first drove the scenic drive. After stopping at park headquarters, I ended up coming across a Praire Dog colony. I parked the car, got out with my camera and sat in the shade. I ended up with what I thought was a pretty good photo.

Of course I had missed the signs on the way in the park about not getting too close to these critters. They carry a form of the plague that is transferrable to humans and is carried by fleas. Kind of glad I didn't bring my dog on the trip....

The first night, I spent some time in a turn off doing long exposures of the park. After thinking about this, if I go back, there are some changes I would make to make the moon not quite as bright.

It was refreshing standing out in the dark, effectively alone, having the praire wind wash by me. Every once in a while, a car would stop, a person or two would get out, take a quick look and then hop back in and drive away. There was another photographer who essentially did the same thing, but he stayed a whole five minutes. I'm really not sure how you can even start to get a feel for a place with such brief looks.

I spent some time driving off road in the park, there are approved areas for it. I did get a map marking such areas, but it was hard trying to figure out what was private land and what wasn't. During one such off road trip, I came upon this tree and spent some time trying to get a good photograph of it.

Of course, seeing something I want to photograph sometimes puts the blinders on me. It turns out, that I was on a railroad grade while I was chasing the tree. The bridge ahead of me was out, and I ended up backing up for a quarter mile before I could turn around.

There are abandoned cars and buildings in the area, as well as quaint and not so quaint small towns. One town I photographed in proudly had a sign on the town line proclaiming a population of 67. There is a great change in the geology of the area, the Badlands just seem to pop up out of mile after mile of grassland. Notice how flat the area is around the car, but it is only 5 miles or so from the photo above.

I had a great time and I would like to spend more time there. I did see more wildlife, Pronghorn Antelope, Mule Deer and a single Bison. I was hoping for a huge heard of Bison, but it was not to be. I also never made it to the southern area of the Badlands which is jointly managed by a local Indian tribe and the Parks service.

Fall was a perfect time to go, while it was warm, it was dry and the wind just constantly blew, a lot of times hard enough to push the car around. Another spot to put on the list to go back to.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Sunday I woke up to a landscape full of fog. For once I had nothing better to do, so the faithful photographers assistant and I grabbed the camera and hit the road.

The first spot we hit, the Indian Mounds area along the Grand River wasn't very promising. Some fog along the river, not much in the trees. We walked around a bit, but didn't see anything.

We then drove over to Jenison to photograph at a natural area there. Every time I'm over there I pass by the drive to the golf course above. Not this time, it was perfect. I am planning on going back for some fall color later in the month.

I'm afraid I'm a sucker for what another photographer calls "sticks in the water". Well a stick in the fog in the water is even better.

Dewey spider webs are great also, though I do need to go back with a macro lens....

We then drove over to the Lake Michigan coast line. Holland was bright and sunny, which in this instance was disappointing. Headed up to Grand Haven, since there was a couple of places I wanted to go, and went to the north pier. Bright and sunny also, until we walked down by the water. Once you got off the beach, it was like walking into a wall of fog. From sun to gloom in a hundred feet. You could barely see the south pier, I had to work the above photo a bit to bring it out. I wasn't even able to get a photo of the lighthouse at the end of the pier, it was that foggy.

The faithful photographers assistant, Annie. Sitting on the north pier near the parking lot. She's turned a year old this past week, but she's still just a puppy. Plus she still can wear me out. But she's fun, and very good natured. It's amazing how much a dog can get other people to talk to you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blues on the Mall

While it seems I wasn't around town for most of the summer, I managed to make it to a few of WLAV's Blues on the Mall concerts. I was hoping for more but it just wasn't meant to be. Hopefully they will continue next year. Since this year was the 20th anniversary of the event, there is a pretty good chance.

Now that things seem to be slowing down a bit, I plan on getting out a bit more. I've been really itching to shoot more film than what I have been doing and also get back into some of the alternative processes, like cyanotype and platinum printing again.

First thing I need to do is clean out a spot in the basement. Which is my plan for this long weekend. Wish me luck, I'll probably need it....

I hope you've had a good summer, and as we get into the fall season you have a great one.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Still Here

Just a quick note to say I'm still here.

My real job has picked up again over the summer. I'm in the middle of my second trip to San Jose in as many months. Because of that my photography has dropped off immensely.

As usual, I had big plans for the summer and I've had to put them aside. Hopefully, I'll post a little more this month than last month.

I hope your summer is going great, and if you're in the middle of the heat wave, you're staying cool.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Acadia National Park, Maine

I realize it's been quite a while since I posted, but I hadn't realized how long it's been until I signed on. The usual excuse. Busy.

We took a trip to Maine this past month. We rented a cottage on Mount Desert Isle, about 3 miles from Bar Harbor, Maine. A little bit off a main road, the cottage was part of a cluster of 4 buildings surrounded by trees. There were 3 rental cottages, plus a house for the owner. They were advertised as dog friendly, so of course we took the dog. Bar Harbor is a very dog friendly town, and she made a lot of new friends while we were walking around.

But I digress. Since it was a little bit over 1100 mile drive, we took two days to do it. Pretty much all through either rain or drizzle. Dark clouds as far as the eye could see.

It didn't let up once we got there. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were all rotten days. I took a few photos, and we wandered through town a lot. Mainly we just rested.

On Wednesday it started to get nicer. We ended up spending all afternoon out on the ocean, on a whale watching cruise. We saw two small finbacks, but they don't really put on a show. All they do is break the water when diving, so all you get to see is there backs. We did get to see a large number of White Sided Dolphins. The naturalist on board estimated there were 50 or so swimming around the boat. I was lucky enough to be in front and was able to look down into the water and watch them surf the bow wave. It was pretty cool. The other thing we saw was birds. Primarily seagulls, but we did stop at an island where the Puffins were nesting. All in all, a good afternoon.

The rest of the week, the weather cooperated. We drove around the park, hiked a bit, saw a waterfall and generally had a good time. It ended all too soon.

We had to be out of the cottage early Saturday, so we were on the road early. We ended up driving pretty much straight back, stopping at two am for a short nap. It's hard to nap, when the dog is pacing back and forth in the back seat. 26 hours after we left, we pulled into the driveway.

I didn't photograph near as much as I would have liked. I did take some photos and burned some film in the 4x5. It was a great time though and a much needed vacation.

I will have to go back though.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Festival 2011

If it's spring, it must be time for the annual Festival of the Arts in downtown Grand Rapids. The 42nd year, with is pretty darn good for an all volunteer event. I believe it could be the biggest all volunteer event in the country.

I entered 3 pieces this year in the juried art competition and was lucky enough to get two in.

The first one, pictured above (in the middle) is a photo I took in January when my fearless photo assistant, our puppy Annie and I wandered around Holland Michigan for a bit and managed to get this landscape photo about an hour after sunset.

The second photo was one of the nudes I shot earlier this year. I would have had a photo of it, but I got sidetracked by some friends first, and then ended up talking to the juror and getting my photo taken next to my pieces. Hopefully I can post it later.

The opening reception was this past Thursday at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, where the show is being held. We got there late, so we missed out on the food, but it was fun seeing all the work that got accepted this year, and talking to people I knew.

I was also extremely geeked about having my work hang in the museum. I'm not sure why, but it feels more like my works been accepted than when they hang the show in an empty building. Mentally I know it's the same show, for the same reasons, but emotionally it feels different.

Since we missed the food, Dorothy and I ended up at Hopcat downtown. A local bar that serves great food, and specializes in all sorts of beer, it was a great place to end the evening. She liked it, and we are adding it to our places to go list.

The show is up for 3 weeks, and there is free admission to the museum the first week of June, during Festival itself.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gary 2011

In what's becoming an annual thing for me, I visited Gary Indiana this past Sunday. 6 photographers, 3 models and 1 husband/sherpa spent the whole day either driving or photographing.

We left town around 9 am after waiting a bit for a some folks. After a quick stop in Holland to pick up another photog, we spent a little over two hours on the road. Arriving at our first destination, the old Lutheran Cathedral, who do I spot, but another GR photographer. He had driven down that morning to show a couple of other photographers around. While we were in the church it seemed like a constant stream of photographers and locals came through. During the 2-3 hours we spent there, it seemed like at least 6-8 other groups of photographers showed up. Unfortunately, people have been taking metal out of the church to sell, and it's getting even more decrepit than it was. While we still had plenty of opportunities to continue photographing in the church, we had other places to go, so somewhat reluctantly we left.

Next stop was the old Screw and Bolt factory. One of the photogs thought he saw someone in the building when we first got there, but we never saw them again. Of course we were making enough noise to scare anyone off. We spent some time here before heading to the last stop of the day, the old post office.

I wasn't really impressed at the post office as I had thought. Very little of the fixtures are left, though I did find the old cabinetry behind a sales window. Other than that it was pretty uninspiring. We really did not spend more than an hour here total before we decided it was time to head home.

On the ride home, we stopped for dinner at a pizza place in Chesterton whose name I didn't get. Great service and great pizza. I'm going back the next time I'm in the area.

We got home around 12 hours after we had left. I was tired and sore. A quick shower to wash the dust off, and I was ready for bed. I started copying the cards on the computer and then hit the sack.

I was somewhat surprised at myself for spending so much of my time photographing the models. I had planned to focus on architectural details, especially at the factory. But that didn't happen. I do want to spend some more time there in the future.

All in all, it was a great day. A good group of folks to hang out with, and the models were great to work with. The locals we ran into were friendly, we even got asked if we were making a movie. I want to go back and hang out in the area some more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Flash Bus - Grand Rapids

The Flash Bus hit Grand Rapids this week. Two people known for using small flashes for portraits and other work, have been touring the country. I was kind of surprised that they came to GR and not Detroit, but I planned to go. I was glad I did.

David Hobby, editor of the Strobist blog.

A slide from Davids presentation. He didn't do any photography on stage, but went through the steps on how he sets up his shoots. I probably learned more from this part of the session then the second half. Though both were good.

Joe McNally, National Geographic photographer and writer of several books on using and setting up small flashes.

Joe used one of his helpers for the first several setups, and then started using people from the audience. He commented that there were some other things he could do to make this photo better. I would have been happy with it, but I guess that's why I was attending.

The last setup Joe did, he used flashes from the audience for an effect. There were several tries before he got what he wanted. I was lucky enough to be able to capture the flashes going off on the last shot.

They both answered questions from the audience while the crew packed up. I'm pretty sure they stayed until most if not all of the audience questions were answered. And they weren't just questions about the seminar, they also answered questions about their careers and past work.

An excellent seminar. The presenters kept the audience engaged and entertained while teaching the basics and fundamentals of using small flashes. There was a comment about maybe coming back next year. I hope they do.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gary 2010 Trip

As usual, I'm behind on getting the film I shoot, developed. I started trying to catch up yesterday, it was a dreary day with promise of rain or snow. While it ended up only sprinkling a little bit, it was still good to stay in and get started on this.

I have about 10 rolls of medium format film and a bunch of 4x5 film to do. My first roll of medium format film was from a trip a bunch of us took to Gary almost a year ago. I hadn't realized I was so far behind. All were taken with a handheld Mamiya 645 using Kodak Tri-X 320. A lot of blurry images on the roll, but some good stuff as well.

I did a batch of 4x5 as well. At least these are from this year. A set of images from the Midwest Large Format group trip to Milwaukee. I'm waiting to see what else comes out before I start posting some of those.

I'm still amazed by the images I get out of black and white film. They just have a quality I've been unable to get out of digital stuff. Not better, but different enough I want to keep using more film.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Holland Lighthouse

Out to Holland with Mike this past Sunday. The day was on the warm side for early March, but the temperature fell once night arrived. Kind of wish I had dressed warmer. I did get this photo which I like, so I guess it was worth it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dawoud Bey - Class Portraits

The local art museum is running an exhibit of portraits of High School kids by the artist Dawoud Bey. While I had heard of the artist and this particular set of work before, I had not paid much attention to him. While I was at the museum earlier this month, I grabbed the chance to take in the exhibit.

I really didn't expect much from the exhibit. I tend not to like portraits of younger people, there is usually not a lot of personality there yet, at least in western society. Usually, the worse things they worry about is the latest celebrity craze, or who is dating who, not really paying much attention to the world as a whole. At least that's my perception of teenagers.

I was pleasantly surprised. The photographs were not the typical upbeat mass produced portraits you usually see, but serious work. Doing a little reading about the work, I found out he spent 45 minutes with each student, enough time to get to know the person and engage them. I'm not sure how many portraits he took in total, but the ones shown are masterfully done. In addition, each work has a short missive written by the student before the portraits were taken. It turns out that, at least some of the teenagers, were not as shallow as I thought. There is an accompanying book as well, which I may pick up.

I plan to go back again before the exhibit closes to see it one more time. I tend to like seeing an exhibit twice, the second time after I've thought about it. I was also a mite rushed the first time and I would like to spend some more time with it.

Currently showing at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and ending March 20th.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Links for February 28th.

Chase Jarvis always has interesting things to say. He recently did a 3 part video blog about scouting locations. It's interesting to me since we're starting the planning on our summer vacation.

The Luminous Landscape also ran an article on planning your trip.

A good explanation of Shutter/Flash Synchronization.

Lifehacker ran a series of articles on Learning Photoshop Basics.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is April 24th. Build a camera and take part.

For your Monday amusement, the LOL Cats edition of Charlie Sheens rants.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Architecture at the Grand Rapids Art Museum

The Grand Rapids Art Museum historically has not allowed cameras inside. That's always annoyed me, since it is such a nice building with plenty of opportunities for great photographs of the architecture. It seems they've finally changed their minds.

The museum has sponsored talks on Friday nights for quite a while. Usually they have something to do with an exhibit of work that's currently being shown. February has been photography, in conjunction with an exhibit of portraits by Dawoud Bey. Hopefully more on the exhibit in a later post.

This past Friday the sponsored talk was about the architecture of the museum and how to photograph it. I jumped at the chance and attended. My friend Sam also attended, though he was smart enough to bring a tripod. The turnout surprised the speaker, there were easily 75 people there. People were trying to photograph using anything from a point and shoot camera to a DSLR. The speaker, whose name I can't remember at the moment, gave a short talk about camera settings and handed out a sheet with some info and a scavenger hunt. We then walked through the parts of the museum we had access. The third floor was off limits since they were tearing down the just closed Princess Diana exhibit and we could not photograph certain pieces of art.

The speaker really didn't do much with the scavenger hunt, she suggested a couple of photographic types to satisfy the first couple of entries, but that was it. Other than that it was fun to photograph the architecture without getting hassled by the security guards.

The evening went fast. Between the talk and looking at the exhibits, the museum closing time came fast. That was the bad part. I'll just have to go back. The good part was I learned the museum has relented on it's photography policy and now lets cameras into the museum. I'll have to go back with the camera and make sure that's true.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WYCE Jammies

A take off on the Grammy's, a local radio station host an annual award show called the Jammie's. WYCE, a local station that plays mostly local music, hosted its twelfth annual awards show at the Intersection Tuesday night.

Admission was free, and twenty bands played on 2 stages. All different types of music, blues, jazz, rock and folk. I decided to go for the first time and took a camera. Not knowing what to expect, I went light, just a camera with a 85 mm lens on it. I figured out later that I could have brought a lot more equipment in if I wanted, but actually what I took was enough. I didn't stay for the whole show, only a little over two hours. I got to hear a lot of good music though, and ran into a bunch of people I know.

I'm already planning on going next year, it's a good break from the winter blahs.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finding Vivian Maier

After hearing about the discovery of Vivian Maier, a 1950's street photographer, Mike, Sam and I decided to head to Chicago to see her work. The Chicago Cultural Center has an exhibition of her work that ends on March 24th.

We met early on Sunday, Superbowl Sunday. None of us are that interested in football, so we had the whole day. It tooks us a bit to get to Chicago, we kept running into lake effect snow on the way down. But a lot of good discussion, photography, art, friends, and even politics.

We decided to go the the Art Institute to see a couple of photography exhibitions. We spent more time than planned, since I had to look at how the Japanese Prints exhibit had changed since the last time I was there, and we wandered through the Impressionist wing for a while. There were other side trips in the museum as well. It's great that such a resource is so close to Grand Rapids. While I like the local art museum, it doesn't compare.

After the museum, it was lunch time. Sam managed to persuade us to grab a cab and hit a Mediterranean place called Reza's. A lunch buffet with selections that changed, and more good conversation.

After another short cab ride, we finally ended up at the Cultural Center. I had heard about the exhibit, some thoughts good, a couple bad. Most of the bad comments were about the printing. The artist used film, and some people think that the prints should be made using traditional materials, rather than modern digital methods. I don't really care much for that argument. I wanted to see the images rather than quibble about the material the image is put on.

I wasn't disappointed. The artist, in my opinion, had a great eye. The images were excellent, nicely composed and capturing slices of daily life where Maier lived. I was especially enamoured with some of the portraits displayed. Overall, an excellent set of images, and my only complaint was that there was not enough of them.

We spent some time photographing in Millenium Park, before heading back home. A fun day overall, and I'm going to keep an eye out for more of Maier's images.