Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Only about 5 more months till playground time

At least that's what I tell my kids. I know we are only about 1 month into winter, but its never too early to start thinking about spring.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Not much else to say.  This is one of those photos that kind of speaks for itself.  Doesn't seem like he/she minds being different.  But, you can tell he/she is keeping an eye on the surroundings. Being a Packer fan, I kind of sometimes feel  that same way living in Chicagoland.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best present

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  I sure did.  I am mentally preparing right now for a late Christmas present-  having a tooth pulled.  So I have to keep my mind on other things.  While waiting, I'm going through some of the pics from the weekend.  It was, of course, a big "family" holiday.  Christmas eve with extended family.  Christmas day with my inlaws.  And the day after Christmas with my immediate family- wife, daughter, son, dog, and cat (and football).  One of the highlights of this weekend was that my family and I all, yes, all, got in the car and went to church Sunday morning.  Going to church on a Sunday? Not a big deal.  All four of us going to church?  It's a big deal.  Part of the motivation was my daughter wearing her Christmas dress.  She's at an age where dresses aren't what they used to be so it didn't get worn on Christmas eve nor Christmas day. 
So the deal was made (some would say it was a deal with the devil) that if she wore her Christmas dress we all would go to church together instead of it being just me and her, which is how it usually is. It worked.  Nobody fought about going, nobody burst into flames when they walked through the church doors, nobody got kicked out and banned from coming back for not sitting still, etc.  It was a nice service. The sermon was about obeying your parents and how the wife should serve her husband-what a perfect day for my wife and kids to join me.  Of course, there was a deeper meaning to the sermon, but that's what I got out of it.  Here's a shot of my beautiful daughter in her special Christmas dress.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Winter Wonderland

I might have used that title before, but this is what I think of when seeing the scene below.  Just a quick post here of a shot from the other day while waiting for my wife to get home and get me and my kids into "get some work done around here" mode i.e wrapping gifts, doing laundry, cleaning, etc.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Matter of opinion

To some they are the scourge of the world. I'm talking about the gardeners, the people who drive alot, etc.  To others, me included, they are a pretty cool animal.  Quite photogenic.  Which works out for me.  I've probably shot a couple hundred with my camera.  With my gun (yes, I have hunted them), not so many.  But, even though I see them alot, I still slam on the brakes to try and get a pic.  Not sure why.  It might be from when I was a kid living in Northern Wisconsin.  There wasn't nearly as many deer then as there are now.  Back then, if you saw one, you parked the car and stared at them as long as they would let you.  Nowadays, my kids see so many, they get a little peeved if I even point them out.  I'll still keep stopping.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want For Christmas.....

Another great day for pics.  Just as yesterday was great due to the fog and warmth, today was another good day for shooting since the sun came out just as it was going down.  This usually creates a great atmosphere for the wildlife to come out of hiding and look for food.  And they did.  Especially the deer.  But, tonight's post is to help those of you who are on the edge of what to get me for Christmas this year.  I want to make it simple for you.  See the pic below and if you need more info, call me and I'll give you the address so you can start the process. It doesn't need to be wrapped, and if the deal isn't completed by Christmas Day, I'll understand.  Since it is my fault in a way for not letting you know further ahead of time.  It will give me time to start packing up all my stuff, anyway.  Man, I'm getting excited.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of those days

Today was one of those days.  A perfect day for shooting, but, alas, I had to work. The nice thing, though, is that I keep my camera next to me while driving and  I keep my eyes open for an opportunity.  The conditions were perfect today.  FOGGY and decently warm (32 degrees).  Days like this, at this time of year, usually mean you get more opportunities to catch a shot of some wildlife.  Wildlife usually means deer and horses.  Unbelievably, I saw no deer today.  I stopped at lunch time at a spot along the Fox River to grab some bites of my lunch, a nice Thermos of soup and a turkey sandwich.  Yum Yum.  Of course, what should come flying along following the terrain of the river is 2, not 1, but 2 of my herons. I wasn't expecting to see herons at this time of the year  They were cruising in their normal position looking like stealth jets just above the surface of some open water.  I was able to get my thermos down (without spilling thank you very much) and got some shots  off.  I caught one of them sitting on the river bank, but from quite a ways away.  Just not the same as 2, not 1, but 2 of them in flight.  Later, I made a stop at one of my customers and I was getting some things out of my vehicle.  It is a more rural property and I often see deer in the field behind my customer.  I did the once over on the field and saw nothing today.  Of course, once I shut my car door I heard the "whoosh" of wings overhead and when I glanced up above me I saw 2, not 1, but 2 big hawks taking off from a light pole.  I sometimes see hawks sitting on the power lines and they are usually pretty far off.  These 2 were within 25 feet of me and would have, I'm sure, made a great shot.  Would have.  I did catch 1 of them when he landed on a bush about 75 yards away, but, once again, not the same as 2, not 1, but 2 of them sitting 25 feet away.  In the end, I did find a nice scene of 2, not 1, but 2 horses eating their dinner at the end of a warm, foggy day. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Da snow is comin'

Just a quick shot here of the "presnow" we were getting before it really started coming down.  Just got in from a couple of hours of blowing snow. I'm not in much of a mood to talk/write about it. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Little Charlie brown

Thursday night was a nice night to goof around outside. Temps were above O degrees, light snow coming down, etc. So I decided to crank up the Christmas excitement by dragging the kids outside, wrapping them in Christmas lights, and have them be live animated creatures for my annual Christmas light display. Not really, but not far from it.  There was a period when they were wrapped in Christmas lights.  That's all I'll say for now.  Of course, my son had to mimic part of the Charlie Brown scene with them singing around their Charlie Brown tree which we were watching before going out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Clinging to life

We got lucky here and missed the ton of snow that fell over the midwest the last few days.  But, we haven't escaped the bitter cold.  Here's a shot  that I think epitomizes the cold air we're presently feeling.  The leaves seems to be clinging on to the tree for their life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The best thing to do

So, what's the best thing to do after a night of rain, sleet, and snow?  What should one do when the wind is blowing above mentioned snow around at about 30 mph?  Why, of course, you should go driving the rural side roads looking for a shot.  Shouldn't you?  Well, I did anyway.  In my limited range and environment, I look for changes in weather to give a new look to old places.  Places I drive by regularly look different when the snow is falling, the wind is blowing, the sky is moving, etc.  Here's one of the shots I got on my drive this morning.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Big night

Some of you know I joined a photography club this fall. There are about 75 members.  All the members of the club welcomed me with open arms since I brought the average age of the club down to 75.  We meet the first Tuesday night of every month.  There are sometimes photo trips planned during the month of which I find it difficult to attend since most are held on weekdays, during the day.  Remember, most of the club is retired.  And sometimes there is a classroom type of thing to learn some photo software stuff.  It's really all good and I'm amazed at the time and effort put into the organization.  And it doesn't cost a thing.
The format of the monthly meetings is one month a guest speaker/teacher is brought in to do just that, speak or teach.  The next month is a photo competition.  There are 4 categories:  Large Monochrome(B and W), Small Monochrome, Large Color, and Small Color.
Tonight was a photo competition.  All together there were about 125 entries between the 4 categories.  There are 3 guest judges brought in from other clubs in the Chicagoland area.  You are allowed to enter as many times as you like.  Each entry must be mounted on a mat board, whichever color you like(black is the usual), and the photos are set in a light box.  The three judges then give a point total and the highest point total is the winner of that category.  Depending on how many entries in a category there could be a 1st place, 2nd, and a 3rd place as well as a couple of honorable mentions.  It could be as low as a 1st place and one honorable mention, once again, depending on how many entries that month.
Tonight was the first competition I entered.  I submitted 1 large Monochrome, 1 large Color, and 2 small Color.  Well, low and behold, I got an honorable mention for my large Monochrome.  I felt good entering that picture from the response it got from people seeing it on my blog.  And evidently, the judges liked it, too. I was told by several people after the competition it is very seldom anyone wins anything in their first competition.  I tell ya, the competition was fierce.  Some of these "elder" photographers know their stuff.  It doesn't hurt that they travel alot and submit shots of Alaska mountainsides or wild lions on safari in Africa.  Me?  Alot of horses and herons and trees.  But, the good thing is its not about the subject matter as much as it is about strong photographic principles and I think the judges really tried to judge that way.
What happens now?  My picture goes to the regional chapter, CACCA(Chicago Area Camera Club Assoc.), to be judged in their competition.  Not all honorable mentions go to this judging.  They take all the honorable mentions and have a "runoff" to see which should go.  Once again, it depends on how many entries.  Tonight 2 honorable mentions were selected to go to the regional.  What happens then?  To tell you the truth, I don't really know.  I was just surprised and happy I was chosen.
I'm doing something I've never done before, but its necessary to show the winning shot.  A repost of an earlier pic.  Here it is.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


We woke up to a winter wonderland Saturday.  I've been waiting for this even though it wasn't a long wait this year.
Some of you might recognize this shot.  Its a place I've shot before.  One of the nice things about having 4 seasons is you can revisit a location and pretty much shoot the same scene, but have a different picture each season.  That is what I did here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gangs of.......Crystal Lake Pt 2

Another bad sign of life in the 'burbs.  If you remember, back in September I saw signs of gang activity.  The dreaded Moooooolan Range crew.  Now, it looks like another group has moved in.  The Lamb "Choppers".
I stumbled upon them on a drive and before I could skidaddle outta there, they came a runnin'. They cornered me and were working up a plan of what to do. It was a like a prison yard what with all their inmate numbers pinned to their ears.  Not that I know how a prison yard is really like, but I've seen it on TV.  Meanwhile, I was able to sneak a bag of pretzels out of my car with the hopes I could get a couple of them to help me.  It worked.  Who knew?  Like I said, I've seen a few prison dramas on TV.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wisconsin sunset

Two things I enjoy snapping shots of: sunsets and old barns. Both are quite abundant in Wisconsin. I got out for some late afternoon shooting last week while there and found some nice peaceful farmland scenes. Here's one.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting in the mood

With December 1st right around the corner, it's time to get the Christmas spirit rolling. I'm doing something different tonight and posting one of my alltime favorite videos. It's a classic and I'll probably play it, oh, about 100 times between now and Christmas. Enjoy.

Oh yeah, if you go to YouTube, you'll find a dozen or so videos of other people doing their versions.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here's a taste

I know since we all just experienced Thanksgiving, we all might be full.  But, hopefully you have room for a taste of the Northwoods of Wisconsin.  I just spent several days up Nort' celebrating with family and was able to get out and do some shooting.  Their winter has already started with several inches of snow and wind chills below zero on Thanksgiving day. Man, it was cold.  The cold temps and light snow did create some beautiful scenes, though.  Here's a shot I got Thanksgiving morning.  I'll have a few more over the coming days.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fair Play

All parents out there. You know the deal.  You show one kid, you gotta show the other.  Another from the vault tonight.  Once again, getting mentally prepared for winter.  It's coming sooner than we care to think about.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Midnight Sun

Alright, it's not really a shot at midnight(way past my bedtime).  But it is a night photography shot.  Night photography really intrigues me due to you can get really interesting colors and looks in your pics.  One of the cool things about todays cameras is you usually have the ability to keep your shutter open for long periods of time which allows you to get any available light in the camera without using a flash.  Tonight, I needed to bring my daughter to a friends house. On my way home it was dark and I noticed a big ole moon up in the sky.  I decided to take a detour and stop in a forest preserve.  Luckily, no one had closed it up for the night yet so I decided to do some night photography.  Tonights post was with the shutter kept open for over a minute to let the camera absorb as much light as it could.  I could have kept it open as long as I wanted, but, you know, I get impatient.  Waiting for a minute out in the woods, 30 degrees, dark, seems like an hour. The long shutter time also gave a nice "star" effect to the moon.  The shot would have been better if I was in a place with a more dramatic foreground, but for a last second stop, I'll take it.  I'll be doing more night photography in the future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Head Start

I dug into the vault tonight to get a "head" start on winter shots.  They're talking snow sometime next week so I'm trying to mentally prepare myself.  Here's one of my favorites of my daughter from a couple winter's ago.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There's still some color out there II

Once again, found some more color.  I think the secret is catching an area when the sun hits it just right.  After all, photography is all about catching the light.  Without a bright light, the sun, colors often seem muted and less vibrant.  Once that sun hits it, though, the colors come to life. This shot is similar to one I took last year at the same place.  I haven't been able to get there as often as I would like this year, but I hit just right this time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

There's still some color out there

Believe it or not, there still is some good color in the area.  Yeah, the maple leaves are on the ground, but the willow trees are a spectacular yellow and much of the ground cover has orange and red hues in it.  But, alas, I think we got about a week more and we'll see more white than any other color.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chasing Rainbows

I don't often post just regular snapshots.  Most of my shots are pretty well planned and setup.  Most have at least a little work done to them as far as brightness or contrast.  Here's a couple of shots that break out of the norm.  I left the house early last week due to an early breakfast meeting.  Perfect day to head out early, I learned.  There was rain coming in from the west, yet in the east was one of the most spectacular sunrises I had ever seen.  In the early morning rush hour, it's not really possible to just pull over and setup and start shooting.  So I drove a little and was able to pull into a parking area behind a building and due to having to be a meeting I just pulled out the camera and fired off some shots.  O.k. I thought.  I at least was able to shoot and we'll check 'em out later and hopefully I got something somewhat like what I saw.  Then, as I pulled out from behind the building where I was shooting, I caught a look at an incredible rainbow.  No rain had come yet, but, I guess, due to the sunrise and impending rain (maybe a mist in the air), so I was surprised to see it.  Once again, I pulled out the camera and fired off some quick ones.  You don't know how tempting it was to blow off my meeting and go chasing rainbows.  But, I was good employee and headed off to work.  Once again, wasn't real sure of what would show up (rainbows can be difficult to capture), but I hoped I would get something.  Here's two of the shots I got with really no touchups, just some cropping.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What am I?

What was this place, oh, say, 75 years ago?  A mill?  An inn?  A general store?  I couldn't tell by shooting this shot, and nobody was there to ask. Today, from the backside of the property it kind of looks like a residence.  But even that was disputable. If it could talk, I'm sure it could tell a story or two.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Scarier than Halloween

I know Halloween is past, but I still have this recurring dream/nightmare.  I see it so vividly in my sleep. (Cue scary music).  I wake up hearing noise downstairs in the living room.  I slowly make my way out of the bedroom to the hallway.  I can make out several people moving around making their way to the couch.  I hear a haunting voice calling out, "Daddy......Daddy.....Daddy."  I'm thinking "Oh my gosh, one of my children needs me."  I run down the stairs and I see, of course, in  that spooky glowing darkness you see in the movies, my daughter Ashley.  Actually, I see not one, but 4 Ashley's. All 4 have a rather serious look on their faces.  What is going on here, I think.  Then..........., she speaks.  The tone of her voice changes from a soft angelic voice to a deep disturbing voice.  Out of all 4 Ashley's in sync come the words, " I NEED MY ALLOWANCE QUADRUPLED."  Oh, the symbolism.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Puppy Love?

I was going to take a break today from posting, but I just went through a mess of shots from a kids Halloween party we hosted this weekend and one of them has to be seen by the world.  24 screaming 6 and 10 year olds running around on candy sugar highs.  WOW!  All went well, though.  It looks like one of the princesses has an eye for my son.  And he doesn't seem to be trying to run away either.  Here's the aforementioned shot and a group shot as well.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oh, Give me a Home.......

Luckily for you this a written blog instead of a vocal blog.  I'm a dancer, not a singer.  Anyway, the title gives you an idea where I'm going tonight.  Going to post a pic of buffalo.  No, I didn't take a drive to Montana or Wyoming this weekend.  They actually live and are raised in the area.  Makes me hungry for a burger.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Come on in

In my drives, I often come across old buildings, abandoned houses, decrepit barns, etc.  I always think,"Wow, I bet I could get some great shots if got up close or went inside." But, this is the problem.  How far do you venture into unknown/private territory to get the shot.  Usually, there is a chain or barrier across the driveway and I get the hint pretty fast that whoever owns it wants no one on that property.  But, sometimes you find one with somewhat easy access and no barriers.  Here's one I found like that.  I can't for the life of me figure out what it was every used for, but it was a neat looking structure.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back in Time

I'm digging into the vault tonight.  To a time when life was simpler.  Only one "monster" running around instead of two.  No fancy shmancy camera.  Just a regular Sony point and shoot.  And just a nice fall afternoon watching my then 2 year old daughter playing in the leaves.  As tonight's post shows, no fancy shmancy equipment is necessary.  Just a good subject.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is it Autumn or Winter

One of the "more funner" things for me in photography is, as some people call it, "messing" with my photos.  Sorry, but it is sometimes the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.  Sometimes, it is just getting a shot to look how you felt you saw it.  And sometimes, it is just letting your creative juices flow.  I just finished reading a book about Ansel Adams and it was noted that on most of his photos, he spent 40% of his time getting the composition of the shot right.  The other 60% was spent in the darkroom getting the photo to look like he saw it.  Of course, he did not have the tools available now, but, he still spent alot of time "messing" with his pics.  Tonight's post is 2 shots.  The first is a nice fall scene that I came across this weekend.  The second is me just messing around letting the creative juices flow.  Both the same scene.  Just different views.

Monday, October 25, 2010

You can't beat this

A beautiful crisp, yet sunny, October morning.  We don't see conditions like this too often at this time of year.  Saturday morning was a nice day to head for a drive so I headed to Rock Cut State Park outside of Rockford.  It was the time of the day and year when I had to slow down for the deer on the roads as well as the flocks of turkeys.  Unfortunately, they don't sit still for a shot like a fisherman does.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scouting out where not to go

I was out for a drive today for various reasons.  Of course, Halloween, one week from tomorrow.  Of course, you gotta pick a trick or treating route that looks the most promising for the most treats.  Here is one place we won't be stopping at.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Grand Finale

Finally, it is done.  It amazes me how there are thousands and thousands of 10-16 year olds posting videos on line all day of everything from milk coming out of their nose to...............I won't go there. Yet, it takes me days to post one video.  I know, I'm kind of comparing apples to oranges, but, you get the point.  Even in this day and age, it ain't easy.  I'm glad I chose for a hobby photography instead of cinematography.  So here goes my final postings on my fall trip.  I've embedded the video in my blog but here is the URL if you want to go to YouTube to watch it.  I don't know if one way is better than the other, but for some computers it might make a difference.  Unfortunately, the video isn't as clear as when I created it.  I'm not sure why, but I think when its uploaded it gets goofy due to limitations set up the internet sites. But its still pretty good.  I hope you like it.
Oh yeah, props to George Winston's version of "The Great Pumpkin Waltz" from the Peanuts/Charlie Brown series as an accompaniment to the slideshow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Last one before the Grand Finale

No posting the last few days due to just sitting down and trying to go through the 1200 + shots taken on my trip.  I believe I am done going through and discarding the garbage and I have only saved the best(I can feel the jokes coming already).  Anyway, tonight's post will include 2 of my favorite shots from the trip.  Hopefully, by Thursday or at the latest Friday I'll have a slideshow put together that I can post to show the world the rest of my shots. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Did you ever notice.....?

...that waterfalls are always going downhill?  Not that there was ever any doubt in my mind.  But if there was, I definitely learned that water goes downhill after seeing numerous waterfalls in Upper Michigan.  The Western side of the state has more waterfalls than the Eastern, I think, but the Eastern side has bigger falls.  Much more dramatic ones last year, for sure.  There wasn't the drama of seeing big huge falls vistas this year, but the opportunity was in focusing on smaller aspects of the falls that were in front of me.  Oh yeah, also, the falls I checked out last year usually were not too deep in the forests nor did you have to walk up hill much.  Different story this year.  I mainly checked out the most popular ones and even those were usually a mile or more in. Uphill most of the way.  From what I read, there are actually hundreds of falls scattered throughout the Western side, but much deeper in.  All I can do is hope I didn't miss something spectacular.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Leaf me alone

Tonight shot will be more simplistic than the big rolling vistas of previous nights.  Sometimes its nice to check out the detail.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sky Dive

I don't know what else to name this 1st shot of Lake in the Clouds.  From the peaks of the Porcupine Mountains, you just want to float down with a parachute into the lake.  The name of the lake is appropriate.  These shots are pretty representative of my time up north:  totally blue skies, some good color in the trees, crystal blue lakes everywhere(which must be identified with unbelievably cold water), and alot of rocky bluffs.  One week earlier and I think my eyes would have exploded.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Save your pity

After talking to several people today, I guess some had the perception that my trip didn't deliver as I had hoped.  On the contrary.  I think I made the mistake of making some assumptions before I left that it would be the same great experience I had last year.  It was still a great trip and experience, just not the same.  And as for color, even though I got lucky last year and hit the peak color of the season, this year was by no means shabby. Tonight's post is an example of just some of the color that was around.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back home and happy

I made it back from another wonderful trip to the upper peninsula of the state of Michigan.  I loved every minute I spent up there but, I am very happy to be back home.  No matter what anyone tells you, it is much nicer taking a hot shower, eating at a dinner table, and sleeping in my own bed instead of eating beef stew out of a can and a bag of chips, cleaning up in Lake Superior(water a bit chilly), and sleeping on deck chair cushions in my van.  Really, I'm not kidding.  Its better at home.
This year's trip took me to the Western side of the U.P. Once again, looking for fall color as well as any backwoods experiences I could find.  I found the color to be on the downside at this time.  According to the locals, they had full color about a week and a half ago, but it only lasted a few days and the leaves came down in a hurry.  I was amazed at how most all of the color was of the "yellow" variety.  I learned, again, from the locals, that their part of the state has alot of poplar and birch which accounts for the numerous yellow hues.  It was nice, but I like alot of red mixed in to my fall color.  I found the Western side had lots and lots of lakes, but less "backroads" to travel.  Oh, there's still plenty of them, but not as many to get me extremely lost.  More state highways, too, instead of county roads which you take into really interesting areas. The nice thing about all the lakes is most all have public access so during the day as I would explore I would find one that I felt comfortable with and make my way back there that night.  Park the van. Build a little fire. Relax for a bit. And then close my eyes for 6-7 hours in the back of my van.  And then back on the exploration the next morning.
The Western side has numerous waterfalls which is one of the highlights of my trips to Michigan.  I will admit, by the end of my trip, I was "waterfalled" out.  I had an itinerary of falls to check out and as I got to my last one on Sunday morning, I said to myself,"Self, do you really need to see another one?"  The answer was "No!" Most of the falls were decent hikes into the woods and what seemed to be uphill both ways.  Add in carrying 15# of camera gear and a tripod, I felt justified in saying "I'm done."  My pedometer read 21 miles after my last hike even though I think it read a little high.  I think, after adding up the documented number of miles for each hike it came to about 16 miles.
The Porcupine mountains were one of the stops on my itinerary and they were wonderful.  If you're a hiker, go there.  Me, not so much. But it is setup to see the main areas without full day hikes.  You'll still do a lot of hiking, though.  Once again, uphill both ways.
I've got over 1000 pics to go through and, of course, I will be posting as I go through them.  Tonights post is a simple shot to get you in the mood.  One of the most wonderful parts of the trip for me each year is when I reach Lake Superior.  I just love the way its cold Canadian wind coming off it lets you know where you are and waves hitting the shore just seem mean and angry.  I don't know what that says about me, but..........hey, make of it what you will.  This shot is just of some rocks and leaves and driftwood that I saw when I hit the shore of Lake Superior.  More shots to come.