Archive for December, 2007

No School Like the Old School


I believe in looking back only as much as it teaches about the present and the future. What’s done is done, money spent is gone, what investment can I make in the future?

So hence you’ll rarely, read probably never, see images older than these, unless you are at my house rifling through boxes, which either means I’m sleeping with you or I’m dead. So, excluding those two, these are about as old as you’ll ever see. (And the only reason you’re seeing these is because I had to do some copy work as a favor for a friend, so since it was set-up I figured I’d shot these at the same time.)

These two images are part of a series of six or seven images, the others I need to find, they’re in a tube somewhere, of self-portraits. I seem to be a lot of self-portraits lately, so this is a kind of compare and contrast. These images are from when I was 20, in college at U Iowa (Go Hawkeyes!) and very depressed.

I was done, I was cooked, it was time to leave the oven. Believe it or not, I didn’t party enough, I was working too hard and just spiraled down and down. Sucked at the time, looking back at the images now, worth it though. These have been some of my favorite images of mine for years.

I look forward to making better images than these, as challenging at it will be to accomplish.


On a completely different note, Seagrove tea, Wow. Just wonderful, a tint of orange I think, but whatever, it’s delicious. My whole body just relaxes drinking this stuff. And the smell while you’re brewing it, yummy. I love yummy.

I feel good.

I Am My Own Student, Or How I Schooled Myself


So many a moon ago (I’m going to start measuring my life in moon cycles, just for giggles) I taught a digital photo 101 course at a local community college. Working with the students was a really good time, as most everyone who has worked with students will attest too.

I would get my students going, a few weeks worth of shooting, then I would force them into a month of black & white only imagery. I did this in part because I grew up on good ole’ black & white Tri-X, and later many other black & white emulsions.

I thought it was educational to learn in black & white. It simplifies an image to a more graphic construction. My students always hated it for the first 2 weeks or so, then a few, not all, but some, would fall in love with it. They also became noticeably better shooters during this time. In part because they were starting to hit the steep part of the learning curve, but also because many used color as crutch. The color in an image was used to create the image without as much composition. When they went to black & white it really forced them to compose, to think more about it. (It took me a few semesters to figure this out, and why this was happening.)

I have been digital for about 6 or 7 years now. Rarely have I shot film since the switch. I have a few times, but probably not even 30 rolls. (30 rolls = 1 weekend) I have also had to start thinking about everything as possibly making page 1, or another color page, so I have to think in color for that. On top of that, I don’t adjust my own images for print (a decision I see as increasingly bad and hope to get changed this year) so I don’t see what my images look like in black & white, at any point.

Then, a few weeks back, I got an infra-red camera. This is essentially a black & white only camera. So now when I shoot with that camera I look at the LCD and see not color, but black & white. I forgot how much I like, no, love, black and white. I forgot how it affects my thinking.

So guess what I figured out in this process? I’ve started using color as a crutch, just like my students did at the start of their semester. Isn’t it always about going back to the basics? Luckily, happily, and in way that is providing me with great joy, I found a way to deal with this, or at least have a little fun. (Remember when having fun used to be getting drunk? Now it’s in creating a little different. And I’m happier this way too.)

I can set my cameras to capture images, from the get go, in black & white. This means when I review images, I see, black & white, shades of gray, when I’m trying to decide how to change an image. This seems to be helping me simplify, and work more directly, compose better, my images. (Yeah, these images aren’t anywhere near my normal subject matter. On the other hand, life is slow right now, and when I want to relax I go take scenics photos, because really, what did you expect me to do? Not take photos, and call that relaxing? Hah!)

“But what about your need for color imagery,” you may ask? For the shooters amongst you, I do only raw captures, all the time. For everybody else, the files my camera make contain all the color info, it’s just the preview image and default, but changeable, conversions settings that are black & white.

So I can think black & white, and my designers can have whatever they need, and we can all change our minds later. Everybody wins, which is the best thing around, with “Josh Wins!” being a very close second.

An Ode to Failure


Okay, “Ode” is a little overblown, and failure is only in my mind probably. With those stipulations….

(This all revolves around the image at left of the dancer “flying”.)

I can’t find the quote unfortunately, even after much looking, but some well known photographer once made a comment about how it was better to have an interesting failure for an image, or when making an image, than a predictable success. Basically, screw-up, but take something cool away from your screw-up.

So, in this case, I ended up in theater much larger than I had been expecting to photograph Aloft Aerial Dance. (I’d love to desribe what they do, but I don’t know how. It’s all up high. It’s very cool to see. Very pretty, but that statement fails in terms of depth. Anyhow, see some aerial dance if you get a chance. Good stuff.) Back to photography…Actually not a theater but a church, no pews, (whew) but comfy seating, with 2 balconies, for 8000 (at least that’s what I think he said, at least 4000 otherwise.)

Fine, my life is about the unexpected, I like that. I worked with what I had, shot what I could, how I could, tried to make it work. Now, the other problem here, is that with a stage for a room that size, I really don’t have the glass I’d want for it. Again, make it work.

The bigger problem is I didn’t know the performance, I had never seen it before. I didn’t know where to be when, what was coming. See, I don’t care what has just happened unless it illuminates what is going to happen. The past is gone. I can’t make a photo of it. I need to know what is next so I can make a photo of that. With a stage that large, that means having to move, maybe 50 yards or more to get into position. This means planning, which I couldn’t do. Nature of the beast in this case. C’est la vie. I’m better prepared for next year.

So, take some chances and find a way to make it work. This is what I get paid for after all (though this was actually another of my happily pro-bono jobs. They are so much better.) I’m not a 100% on the “flying” photo, not even close. Given the choice, I want face, I always want face, this has been drilled into me for years, to my detriment. No face, I just don’t normally plan for someone to fly 30, maybe 40 feet over the audience. My bad. So, shoot from behind, the focus is a little off (ankles are in focus, the rear foot is just a hair out, we’re talking maybe a few hundredths of a second to traverse that distance, but I still want the rear foot in focus.)

The exposure is okay, background generally works. As a failure, I like it. It has some interesting ideas. I want to re-crop it to give a little more on the bottom now that I’ve had a day with it. I can play with the idea again in the future, better.

Maybe that’s what I like about failures though, “better in the future”. Success closes off the future to some degree. Been there, done that, next. I like that I can re-examine, learn and improve. Yeah, anyone can do that all the time, but I like having a new idea to play with to improve. It’s like having a new toy.

Hence, an interesting failure it is, better than the safe “successes”.

Random Little Thought II


These are from Wednesday evening, a charming, and odd (odd is such a good word to me) little group, Aloft Aerial Dance.

The blue image is more technically accurate to the scene, but I just like the red one. She is more a more natural color, and I like the red. The red wasn’t really there, it was actually a normal/whitish colored light, but when you adjust the blue lights to look white, the other light goes red, way red. I like the red, but I’m not completely comfortable with it.

It also changes the mood, a lot. She’s an angel here, in the red image, she looks like an angel, kind of, but descending from the red light district. (no offense intended)

In the red one the grid is less strong, prominent, also, and I just don’t like the grid, I want the grid gone, gone, gone. Ah well.

I’m also quite happy she didn’t fall. It would have hurt like all hell for her, I’m sure, I’m also quite sure she knows how not to fall, but it also would’ve killed me as she probably would’ve landed on me. As ways to go, not the worst, but I still got a couple more years of stalling in hear. Just one of those things you think about after something is hanging a few stories above you by a cloth.

Anyhow, back to photo choices…which way to go….


Also, I’ve decided, for about the third time, to add a new recurring theme…What I think about while “driving” on the Ike. (Yeah, this is going to be just over the top ridiculous, and I know it.)

Half of my job description is “sit in traffic” so I use this as contemplation time, usually about my life, it’s direction, things that need to change, etc.

Currently I’m wondering about the breadth of experience vs. the depth of experience. I think I have a great breadth of experience, but is that depriving me of, or is something depriving me of, a depth of experience, or am I just spending too much time sitting in traffic and contemplating bs. And what would define a “depth of experience”?

Tis the Season


Sorry, I’m not a big seasonal person. Sure, I like the holidays, but it’s not a big deal to me, as much as I enjoy them, they annoy me. Whatever.

And it tis the season of giving. Call me Grinch, it’s accurate enough, I really don’t like “season for giving”. I’m all for giving, I just don’t believe giving should be a season or seasonal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad people give, but giving is a year-round gift. Not for the receiver, for the giver.

I’m also not a fan (did I mention the Grinch yet?) of flat out giving. I’m a strong believer in the old “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a life” philosophy.

Maybe I’m not the person to providing advice on giving, I rarely give any money. Sorry folks, artist, not exactly rich here (though to be fair I’ve got food on my table, a roof over my head, so I’m pretty blessed).

So for those like me, stingy and grumpy (I’m so old!) may I send you to Kiva. Don’t give, help micro-loan. It’s not the perfect solution, by any means, but it helps out. You can give money once, and it can keep helping different people over and over again. Anything that can help a person start a small business, help a person get educated, take care of themselves, their families, I’m all for.

Add $25 here and there, let it rotate around, help many people out. Not to mention it’s nice to export a little American goodwill. I’m perfectly happy knowing that someone, somewhere, knows they are being helped out by some American who thinks the world can be a little better for us all. (I’m currently helping a well digger in Cambodia improve his business, and a retailer in Tajikistan increase the diversity of what she stocks.)

I may be a pretty cold-hearted person in my belief that conflict, strife, and suffering are natural states, and even ultimately good, but I do believe that all boats can be lifted together sometimes.

So in my grumpy seasonal giving plea, help someone out, don’t do it for this week, do it for the rest of this life. Look at, and take a moment to remember, we don’t have it all, but we are lucky to have what we do have, and help someone else get so lucky.

What You Wish For


I have a lovely little apartment. Well, I have a little apartment that I have lived in for about a decade now and has to deal with the destruction that is my life.

Anyhow…the floor of my apartment isn’t well insulated from the basement. So my floor is often a little cold, not a lot, but just a little, just enough that I’m a little cold much of the time. My wool socks get plenty of use. Hmmm…I see a trip to when I’m done with this post. So for the last few weeks, I keep thinking, “I just want to be warm, I just want to be warm.”

I should have termed that better. “I just want to be warm in my living room.” I was not planning on being in a 110-140 degree heat (amazing how much the temperature can change in a few feet) with a 100% or so humidity and 5-10 naked men. Ahh…bathhouses, such fun.

So a couple of problems here. It’s cold outside, it’s hot inside. I’m mostly outside, and dressed for such. This means I’m uncomfortable inside, at least when inside is 110 and up. I could wear a towel for the shoot, but I have equipment that must be kept on me, flashes, lens cleaning clothes, etc, so that means I keep the pants. Heavy pants and no shirt just looks silly, plus, I don’t really have time to change for the shoot as, is always the case it seems, this is very last minute and I haven’t had the time to devote to this shoot that it needs.

That raises another problem. When shooting swimming one of the recurring problems is that when you go into an 80 degree room from the cold, water condenses on everything, especially the glass. This means you can’t see, or shoot, squat for 10 minutes in some cases. In this case, it means the glass fogs up after 3 seconds, for the first 30 minutes. Wipe with lens cloth, shoot really quick, wipe, repeat ad infinitum.

Add to this, everything has to be shot from low, you know, like I’m looking up towels, because at a normal sitting height, it’s about a 100-110 degrees. At the same height as standing on a chair, it’s about 40 degrees warmer. Hmmm…things I forgot about bathhouses. (yeah, numbers change due to guessing and the fish being thissss big.)

Oh yeah, it was dark too, not the Leslie like black hole dark, but definitely dark. For the photographers amongst us, f2.8, iso 3200, 1/4 of a second. Fun.

It is an environment with a lot of potential, if I can create the time to spend there, and do it right. And if nothing else, the guys were plenty nice, understanding and accommodating of what I needed to do.

Suffice it to say, I was warm, plenty warm. Wasn’t quite the plan otherwise. It’s sort of like I have my own personal Genie, with that classic Genie sense of humor, and not in that “I Dream of Jeannie” kind of way. Bummer on that last part.

I don’t know


I’ve given up on the big things, the big changes, the major milestones of life, changing the world. It’s been one of those frustrating weeks. But I really love those little things, those little steps, and maybe calling them little is insulting, inaccurate, and it’s not what I mean, but I think I’ll get to the idea. But those are the worthwhile things in life.

Photographed Giuliani, why are elections on, again? Wasn’t it just last week when the last one ended? Fine, show up to the pen. I hate press pens. Talk about a sure fire way to get the same shot as everyone else. Basically they round up all the photographers and let them shoot from one of two, three, maybe four positions. I think it’s the press pens that make sure photographers all have the same difficult, independent, and at least slightly uncooperative streak. The advance team’s job is to get the image that they want to portray, portrayed. Fine. That’s not my job. I’m not their PR department. They want me to be?, I’ll quote them the rate.

I at least got one shoot that AP, Reuters and whoever else the other 7 photographers were working for don’t have, except maybe the Time guy. That makes me happy, or at least un-surly. Always be nice to the people on the ground level, the people who greet at the door, the maintenance person, they know what’s happening and where to go most of the time and get you around. Also, and sometimes I do this, and sometimes I hate it, it’s rude; don’t ask, just do, and take the slap on the wrist. I was where I wasn’t supposed to be, and that got me a different shot. “Please go back to one of designated shooting areas sir.” Right. He was doing his job, and was actually quite nice later. I just don’t do well with rules. The photo probably won’t get used, but whatever, made me happy. Now, do I go with the smile or the tense look?

I happily left that event, if you’ve never listened to a politician speak to a crowd, do, it will make all those times your spouse asks you pick up after yourself sound so wonderful and interesting.

The rest of my evening was spent shooting Chicago Tap Theatre. (Howdy ladies and gents. FYI – to everyone else, show this weekend, at UIC, kid friendly. Go.) You know what, helping them out, ain’t going to change much of anything in this world. But damn, it’s nice to be appreciated. (Take notes bosses everywhere.) If nothing more than a “Thank You” in the lobby. I ain’t going to change public opinion on who to vote for, or make a voter more informed, probably ever, for anyone. But you know what, I made one person a little happier. This is, for better or worse, the goal of each day of my life currently. I want to make someone a little happier, or at least a little better feeling.

Sure I want to inform and educate, create interest about the world and the people in it in the people who read our papers. Tell you what, as far as I can tell, next to no one cares about the photos in our papers. God knows, nobody I works with cares an iota. Endlessly frustrating. Unfortunately I care about what I do, and at least want to do it well. If they screw it all to hell on the back end, not my problem.

On Sunday I got to spend some time photographing CTT, just for me. Just playing. Every once and a while, we all need to just let go, and play, for ourselves. What CTT needed was probably covered. I wanted to spend some time making me happy. Playing for me. If my playing helps them, great, if not, sorry about the intrusion. I just hadn’t been happy for the last few productions with the images I had been getting. Some of that was technical issues beyond anyone’s control, if the lights don’t work and I can’t get any of Jesse’s sweet love with light, what can be done? (He really needs to get a website, or something I can link too. I really want to see if I can get him in the top results for “sweet love”. I love Google bombing. Also, if you think “Sweet Love” is the wrong term, look at the lighting for a minute in what I’ve posted of CTT recently. Every step has to be accounted for to get those images. Yeah, I have to do my job well, but even more so the dancers, the lighting designer Jesse Klug, choreographers, everyone. I can only capture what is already there.) Anyhow, I was tired of problems, and needed to loosen back up, which usually means experiment, experiment, and experiment. Some loses, some ties, I’ll take that. I feel better about where I’m at with photographing dance, even if it’s not the norm stuff that came out of that shoot.

Today though, today was quite good, if still frustrating. (I think I’m just personally frustrated at the moment, hence I’m frustrated by everything. No decent reason, just life. I even met a few nice people this weekend. Just too much in my head about things it has no right to dig into. As with all feelings, it shall pass.) Took photos for some magazine cover. The photos are fine. There is at least one nice usable image, probably more. In a year or so when they pull the images up for use though, the ad department is going to cry and scream. Not for reasons of execution, but for reasons of concept. Oh well, not my problem, not my concept. They don’t ask me, I don’t care. For me, Olivia, she was happy. Olivia is a young girl playing Clare in a local Nutcracker production. She liked the photos of her, she had fun. The office can be happy, they can be sad, they can be mad, they can be glad, me? I won’t rhyme or mind anymore. Olivia was happy. The photo is cheesy, sure, but whatever. Olivia is happy.

And even better, I got an email from Donna, the head of the science fair I judged last week. (Was that last week? I’m turning into one of those old men who doesn’t see the days/weeks/months go by anymore. I’m also becoming a curmudgeon, but I’m proud of that one.) Romario, the first place winner, according to Donna, “almost had a heartache with joy” when he saw a copy of the article in the paper. (Hmm…didn’t think it got published, maybe I should look at the papers sometimes. Bad Josh.) He got copies for his family and they’re going to read the article in class tomorrow. (Umm…Donna? Didn’t you notice I write horribly? Come on Tim, tell me you edited the story well. I feel like the pressure is on now. People are actually going to read what I write? Strangers? I’m going to have nightmares tonight. Well, at least the kids will know that anybody can be a journalist.)

It’s making Romario happy, hopefully proud, that makes me happy. It’s making Olivia happy that makes me smile. Maybe it’s not asking enough of myself. Maybe it’s realizing my limits. Maybe it’s a failure to see a larger picture. I don’t know. I made two kids happy today. That’s all I want anymore, or at least today.

Random Little Thought


I’m not sure what to do with this image. It’s close, but I don’t know if it’s a hit. I like the blur, the color, the person in the background I’d rather be gone, but I can live with them, and I’ll bring them down a bit given some more time in post. But it just doesn’t come totally together, not yet, but it’s close, it’s got the pieces. Just bugs me. I’m not sure what to do, or if anything can be done. It’s one of those hits to right field that’s going to die in the corner and be a triple, but lands just foul, not even by inches. Damn.

Creative Renaissance


I had the good fortune Friday evening of photographing my favorite tap theatre company. (They shall remain unnamed for this post, but I’m going to use their images, because it’s all I got. Sorry for the abuse ladies and gents. They have to remain unnamed because, see, they’re stalking me. Okay, they’re not really stalking me. It just makes me sound so much cooler if I say they are stalking me. “Hi, I’ve got like 9 hot chics stalking me and 2 good looking guys. Not “make me want to bat for the other team” good looking guys, but certainly very top tier looker men.” (FYI ladies – they’re happily accounted for. Sorry) Actually they use a Google device to alert them to when the company name appears on websites. Well, this post has little to nothing to do with them, so I’m not going to use their name. I still think it sounds cooler though if we say they’re stalking me, it’s so much better than what life actually is. Anyhow…)

I was on the way to the theatre when I realized I was passing the house of an old friend who I hadn’t seen in many a year. I called her, gave her 15 minutes of notice and we went to the show. She was a sport. I may be neither here nor there about Christmas, she actively dislikes the season, especially this season. Let’s say she’s finishing up a rough relationship spot. (I was watching the tap performance and there was one love-ish scene which was just way to accurate in some ways to her life. I felt like such an ass. And it’s hard to make me feel like an ass.)

So we got to see a show, then had drinks.

She had, during the show, and before given me some of the low down on her life. But it was when she got to fill in the details, it just made me feel good. Joyous. She’s in a tough spot, or getting through a tough spot. I feel for her.

But I envy her. She is entering, I think, I feel it, it just screams out, a creative renaissance. She is an awesome, stunning poet. I was worried, as happens so often in so many arts, that she had largely stopped writing. For some reason she had popped into my mind a few times of late, and I’ve thought, “I’m going to kick your ass if you’re not writing”. This was a correct thought on my part, but totally unnecessary. I love it. She’s writing a lot. She’s trying to leave her job, go back to grad school to “study creative writing”. She’s looking for a break, a break to write, to focus on creating. I admire it. I love it. She’s giving herself over to her creativity. She’s always been creative, but it just feels so total.

Here she is, leaving a tough relationship, entering, not in, but entering a good place, mentally, emotionally. I don’t know this, I feel this though. My instincts are good, as long my personal emotions aren’t involved. I trust my instincts here. So I can feel that she is entering a good place. She’s writing, from what she described, a lot. I love it. She’s exploring some new forms, loving her old forms. She’s using her hardship to create beauty. I so want to read what she has written. I’m going to kick her ass if she doesn’t let me. She’s creating, writing her way, through her challenges. She’s sharing. Maybe that’s just it, she’s sharing, she’s braving the waters of sharing those most personal of pains, and letting us feel them.

She’s only told me a little, recited for me a bit poetry, here and there. I love it when people create, share. We talked about an old piece, 15 years old, maybe more, about the same man that is now the source of the challenge. How a piece so old, can be so wise, it’s amazing. Tis her style though.

I’ve been truly blessed in this life, blessed to be friends, to have met, such an awesome range of people, and such creative people, such giving people.

I look forward to reading her writing. I’ll be a lucky man the day I get to read those poems.

She is entering a place, a world where she will create, totally, purposefully, she is creating her own Creative Renaissance. I so want to watch it, read it. It brings joy to my heart, a soothed smile to my face. This, these, are the reasons, I love this world.

He’s Mr. Vain, Part Deux


So I got my hair done again by Lexi, The Great and Everlasting Goddess of Hair. I now have a dark red streak. It’s a bit…strange, but I think I’m going to have fun with it. So far reviews have gone reasonably well (also known as, several women and gay men have said good things about my hair.)

Lexi recommended I head straight out to the bar after getting my hair done, to go pick-up ladies. Alas, meeting people in bars is just about my definition of Hell on Earth, right next to parties where I know at best a few people. I’d rather be shot, and I’m not sure if that’s hyperbole or not either.

So what’s the best thing I can do with new hair? Make some self-portraits of course.

It’s funny, about a year back I had been considering doing a fairly large self-portrait project. It was going to be my break-up project. All my major break-ups have a project, and they tend to be some of my best projects. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but it is. It was going to involve each image having a large number of images combined to make one image of my face. Each of the smaller pieces of the larger was going to be slightly different and help create a somewhat torn and fractured portrait. It’s an idea that had some legs to it, I still think it does. It never happened. I found, or more accurately it found me, another project, a project that was so much better and expressed my break-up in a way I never anticipated, and helped me see it more clearly, see me more clearly, and helped me grow. The new project was about excitement, joy and freedom and the self-portrait project was about pain. The joyous project won. Great.

But I’m still me, and sometimes, as with all visual artists, I think, I like to do self-portraits. What’s interesting is what the self-portrait reveals. I spend a lot of time analyzing myself, and the world in general (read, sitting in traffic). What I find in the self-portrait tells me some great things about myself that I don’t find by just thinking.

When I do these I set-up the camera and the lights, do some testing and go. And when I say “Go” I mean “Go”. Have the camera take a new photo every two seconds for 50 continuous frames, maybe more. It’s not enough time to think, just act, just release. And that’s the key, sometimes items must be thought out, thought through, but sometimes, just letting go, and flying, feeling, says everything that needs to be said. Thought gets in the way of feeling some days.

So apparently, I’m not in all that serious of place, though part of me wonders if I’m also partially in a place where I can’t face myself. Only time will tell which of those is true, but currently I prefer the not being in a serious place theory. It feels…good.

This kind of self-examination is also why I love (and for other reasons loathe) the growth of the cell-phone camera. Sure I may do self-portraits, and I may set-up a bunch of stuff to do it, hell, I can, so why not? But people everywhere are taking self-portraits all the time now, so much more than at probably any point in history. And well I may use them partially to self-analyze because I’ve been taught to, I’m hoping others use them to do the same, even if not so pointedly or seriously as I do.

Nothing wrong with a little more self-reflection in this world. And for me, I’ll just enjoy being ridiculous human being.

I So Belong in Journalism


I suggested that I write a story about the Mitchell Elementary School Science Fair. This was also so I could lock the time into my schedule and be a judge, because on my list of “Dreams I’ve had since I was twelve” being a science fair judge was still not checked off.

So yesterday I went and did the judging. I grinned the whole way home. A grin the size of Jersey.

All I had to do was write the story.

Now, I started this blog, and continue this blog to help me develop a better writing style, something more, “Me”. And I think it’s helping in that goal. I think I also need to write more story style bits now.

Around 9pm or so I get started. I stall, I procasitnate, I watch a Star Trek Voyager, I watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine, I decide not to watch a movie, because that would be gratitious, I wander around the house looking at the photos on my walls instead having imagenary conversations, check Facebook about 30 times. About 3am I decide I need to sleep. I’ve transcribed some quotes from my tape recorder by this point, and written two sentences. The piece needs to be out around 8 or 9am. Set my alarm clock for 5:30am. In my world 2 hours of sleep is perfectly acceptable, and depressingly normal.

Get up at 6am. Check Facebook, you know, for all the stuff my 10 friends might have done between 3 and 6am. Read the newspaper, online of course. Check Facebook again, for all the things my 10 friends might have done between 6 and 7am. I’ve worked on writing the article at this point, a little here, a little there, but I can’t find the flow, the groove. Somewhere around 7:30, maybe 7:45am, I find the groove, write the whole thing in about 30 minutes. Edit the photos, and done. It’s not great, but not horrible, and hopefully my editor will bring it up to good.

Come on Tim, I’m counting on you.

Massive procrastination is really required to work in journalism. It always gets done, just barely.

New Toys, part 1


So I’ve recently had “need” to add some new “tools” to the toolbox.

The first of my new toys, and today’s subject, is an infra-red camera. It’s a camera, Canon Rebel XT, that’s been altered only to see in the near IR portion of the spectrum. It doesn’t record body heat or any other such trickery, it just sees a scene different than what humans are used to.

For example trees and grass are white, skies are darker to occasionally black, skins are smoother and more glowing, hair colors sometimes change, dramatically. Oh, and when I say color, I’m taking some liberty here, as the camera only records in B&W.

The only B&W item is, in my world, not a negative but a positive feature. B&W forces photographers to be more mindful of their composition, and moments. It provides a feel that color loses. With color images, the color can become a crutch, it can become a central theme and element that takes away from the photo. B&W forces photographers to create a stronger image from the get go, to think more about the final image. I like this, I miss it.

So what is the “point” of this camera? What will it be used for? I don’t know. I’m really just not sure…yet. And that “I don’t know” is why I like it. “I don’t know” is my favorite answer to many questions in the world. It’s often the most honest, usually we, humanity, don’t know. And that’s okay, in fact, wonderful. It’s in answering the question that the interesting ideas will be revealed. I hope. So far, and so far it’s been largely “testing”, it’s been fun.

I know I probably won’t mostly use the camera for what most people use IR cameras for, pretty outdoor scenes. So far I’ve done some of that, not much, but a smattering to try it. I have tried the camera in a dimly lit (think near to a black hole) wine bar. The lovely, and intoxicating voice of Leslie Beukelman was kind enough to agree to be my victim. She also happens to always be in the darkest location in Chicago which means that I can really put the camera through it’s paces. Come to think of it, maybe Leslie carries a black hole in her purse?

Anyhow, back to reality, in infra-red. These photos aren’t totally successful, as I would expect when dealing with a new camera, but they’re a start. Hopefully, you’ll see some strange, yet alluring, photos in the upcoming months. I don’t know what strange photos, but it’s going to be a joyous ride finding out.