Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Here's one from the vault.  This was taken at the beach last summer.  The kids and I were walking there when we saw inside one of the park district buildings there was a karate class in progress.  We stared through the windows for a bit when I decided to throw the camera up and grab a shot.  Here it is.  I call it "The Definition of Trust".

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is it still summer?

That's the question tonight.  Unseasonably cool today and tonight.  The heat is returning, though. Just a quick black and white shot of the dam.  Kids were looking for shells while I was looking for shots.

Monday, June 28, 2010

20000 - 5000 - 10 - 2 - 1

What do these numbers mean?  This post will explain what each number stands for.
Last week I was able to get a couple of tickets to the hottest show in town....or in Milwaukee....and hottest if you are female and between the ages of 9 and 16.  This is Summerfest week up in Milwaukee and a wonderful event it is each and every year.  Last night's headlining act was a couple of young pop stars, Sean Kingston and Justin Bieber.  A couple of 16 year olds who sing songs focused on the above demographic group.  Ashley and I made the trip up Sunday afternoon and spent a beautiful day walking the Summerfest grounds checking out the 10 or so bands playing throughout the park, sampling the foods, and witnessing the 1000's of young girls running around, painted up with the letters "J"(Justin) and "B"(Bieber) all over their clothing and faces.  Oh yeah, carrying around huge signs like "Will you marry me, Justin" and "I love you, Justin".  Then, at 7:00 PM, the world stopped. You could hear pins drop in the concert arena.  And when the first note of music came out of the speakers, I could have sworn it was Armeggedon.  Let's go to the numbers:
20,000-  Yes, I counted them.  There were 20,000 SCREAMING girls going bananas.  I didn't actually count them, but my ears knew my count is pretty close. I've been to some pretty loud concerts in my day.  They don't compare to this mass of high pitched screaming.  Yeah, there were at least 20,000 young girls screaming.  Did I mention that?
5000-  With that many young ladies there, you know there were many moms.  I guestimated it to be about 4 girls per mom.  Oh yeah, 1/2 of them were dressed up and painted up like their daughters.  Pretty funny.
10-  I looked over the crowd pretty good.  I think I saw, oh, maybe 10 dads. They usually had a beer in hand, had sunglasses on, and often times were laying on the grass catching a few zzzzzzzzzzzz's trying to make it through the night.  And......I was one of them.
2-   Pretty good young guys performing straight to the ladies.  A good, clean, wholesome show that matched what you see and hear on the radio and TV of them.  The show didn't deviate from what you would expect of them, but that's a good thing, because if it did, it would have been a bummer for all the parents introducing their kids to this atmosphere, often times for the first time.
1-  Super happy girl(and happy dad) that thanked me numerous times, was a perfect companion, and who turned another corner into growing up into a great kid.  A big part of my night was watching her and how she reacted and adapted to the people around her.  This is not always a good thing, but it was tonight.
So, those are the numbers. Now a few other observations I had of the night:
  • Any dads attending had to  wear sleeveless shirts and try not to show any emotion. Its like it was printed on their ticket.
  • Every time one of the singers said to the audience of young gals, "I love you", every girl in the place did a head and hair flip and looked at her friends like he was talking directly to her.
  • Beer lines were much shorter than at a normal show
  • The Milwaukee Summerfest has got to be the greatest summertime activity in the area. Clean, secure, afford-ably priced,  and beautifully set on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Great entertainment every day.
  • These young guys like to show video clips of them as babies or preteens like its the show "Biography" or something.
  • Young girls aren't really into "air guitar". (You gotta do some air guitar at a concert) They like to bounce up and down with their arm in the air.  (What's up with that?)
  • Cell phones have replaced the ol' Flick your Bic way of showing your enjoyment of the show.  The singers actually tell them to hold their cell phone in the air.  Cracked me up.
  • Not that its a bad thing, but the air quality at this concert was very clean.
  • When they showed crowd shots on the huge video monitors, every girl thought it was a shot of them.
Long post, but alot was absorbed in a short time.  Here's a few pics:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Practice makes perfect...well, not yet

Not perfect yet by any stretch of the imagination, but much better lightning shots this time.  If the weather of this summer continues like its been, I'll have plenty of opportunities to get better.  More storms rolled through here last night and after my experience Friday night I wasn't as gung ho to go out shooting.  Besides, it was 10 pm.  Then I had an idea (Oh no).  I grabbed the camera and headed over to the lake.  Due to having boat rights, I can access the lake 24 hours a day.  The boat landing would give me a perfect view of the incoming storm and if the rain came, I could actually sit in my car and still get great shots out an open window.  The rain never came thankfully and the lightning put on a great show.  The only thing missing was my tripod.  I left in haste and it got left behind.  You'll notice some blurriness of the shots.  This is due to the fact that night shooting requires super long exposure times.  In other words, I click the shutter and keep it open for times up to 90 seconds.  The good thing, keeping the shutter open that long allows you to click and wait for the lightning to strike since all the camera will record is the light when it happens.  The bad thing-  try holding a camera super steady for anything more than 1 second.  Very difficult.  Also, you'll notice the different colors of the sky.  This wasn't necessarily any artistic effects. On several shots, you see alot of white lights on the far shore of the lake.  Most of those are the lights of houses by in each shot you can see triple lightning bolts coming down.  Pretty cool. And if you doubleclick on them you can see the seperation of the lightning through the clouds as its coming down.  There was much experimentation in how long to keep the shutter open and the color of the sky is affected by how long that shutter was open.  All in all, a much better experience than Friday night.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The best

Happy belated Father's Day to all who qualify.  This was meant to be posted Sunday night, but my brain, eyes, fingers, etc. let me down after a long, fun weekend.  Sleep won out over posting. 
One of the great things about Holidays with a 10 year old and a 6 year old is that they are at they age now where they get it.  They are special days that are meant to be fun.  They are days to let loose, be creative, be goofy, and so on.  My 10 year old especially gets it and is good at getting the 6 year old into it and teaching him, from her perspective, how to react and behave on these special days. So, after a wonderful dinner of Mushroom/Swiss Burgers cooked over coals, and receiving the homemade Father's Day cards, their present to me was a walk to the park.  Yeah, their present to ME.  It was exactly what I wanted.  No returns necessary. Of course, as we leave the house we hear the ice cream truck.  So before we head to the park we had to get the "Ice Cream Truck Slush Fund" and grab some ice cream for the walk.  Here are some shots of the best presents I could ever receive.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I understand..............more than I used to

You know those news stories you hear all the time these days about rescues of adventure travelers?  The skiers who get lost in the mountains because they went in search of "better powder" to ski?  Or the rock climbers who get stuck on a ledge?  Or the snowmobilers who leave the trail to explore the backwoods?  Well, I used to think "What idiots".  And I guess I still think most of them are.  But, last night I got an idea of how things can change pretty darn fast and you find yourself in a rough spot.  About 7:30 last night I grabbed the camera and yelled back to the family that I going out shooting for a bit.  I headed west to catch some dramatic sunsets that occur after big storms like we had come through about 2 hours earlier. I could see totally dark skies to the southwest of me and knew another batch of storms were coming this way.  So, of course, I head towards the ominous clouds and lightning in the distance.  After about 25-30 minutes, I found a nice open patch of road(farmland), where I pulled over on the side of the road, setup my tripod, and starting shooting pics.  This was going to be, I thought, my chance to get what I call my "National Geographic cover shot" of a lightning strike.

Within 5 minutes of shooting, I was seeing a lot of lightning as the storm approached me.  Wow, what a trick to try and catch a lightning strike at the exact moment it happens.  No science to it. Just try to get lucky.  Within another 5 minutes I found myself right under the storm. After a strike pretty close to me and thunder that scared the he** out of me, I packed up the tripod and camera got in the car.  By then, the hardest rain I have ever seen started to come down.  I decided to sit a bit and see if it passes over fast and then I would resume shooting from the backside of the storm.  During this time I continued trying to get my lightning shot through the car window.  After 15 minutes more, realizing the storm wasn't passing by fast, I decided to make my way back home.  But, now, which way is home?  It is quite easy, I learned, to get lost when chasing something in the sky and just turning down any road that gets you there.  Add in pitch blackness from the storm clouds and a driving rain that makes windshield wipers got it.......send in the rescue team.  It did not get to that point, but if I would have at least had my cell phone(which I did not think to bring), which has GPS in it, I could have known what direction I was driving.  While making my way back, I saw a power transformer on the power lines about 100 yards in front of me get blown to pieces, a tree about 50 yards in front of me, fall and hit the road hard enough that it bounced a couple of times and there were the two side roads I turned down only to discover that they were impassable due to streams/creeks overflowing the road.  And you know what made it even worse?  It's around 10:00 at night by this time, and going through my head is the "drama",(yeah, I'm going to use the word "drama"), that I'm going to walk into when I do get home.  I did eventually get home around 10:30 with the eyes of my wife, son, and daughter all on me.  So, yes I understand, more, how "stuff" happens. Oh, and my National Geographic cover shot?  Not this time, but I did get a couple of lightning shots.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rare Treat

Most of you know my love of the egrets and herons around here.  I know most of their haunts pretty good.  The birds below are a different story.  This is only the second time I've seen Sandhill Cranes in the area.  I don't know much about them.  In fact, I only believe these are sandhill cranes from watching one in the field behind my parents house and these look similar to that one.  They seem to like the fields better than the ponds and swamps I see the herons in.  Anyway, it was a nice treat to see them while driving to my next stop for work.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's not fun unless someone leaves crying

Our Park District has a monthly ice cream eating contest at the beach once a month.  Being the first of the year, we didn't get registered in time to be involved.  But, we happened to be there during the event and it was alot of fun.  Each kid got a pint of ice cream to dive into, all different flavors.  I'm not sure if they were able to pick the flavor or if they were assigned one.(I felt bad for the kids that were eating rainbow flavored sherbert.  There were several).  The kid that ate the most ice cream in 2 1/2 minutes was the winner.  You saw all levels of dedication to going for the gold.  You also saw alot of pain on some kids faces as the dreaded "brain freeze" kicked in.  Here's some shots of two great competitors.  Neither won, but one of them experienced the above affliction and the other just had a happy tummy full of ice cream.  I'll let you guess which is which.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life Lessons

The greatest times I spend with my kids are usually at the beach.  There is enough going on there that you really can't get bored.  Sometimes Derek and Ashley are in the water swimming and playing together.  Sometimes separately.  Sometimes one is in the water while the other is on the beach playing in the sand or reading a book.  Sometimes we all are in the water together and having fun.  The three of us talk alot with each other since it is like a world separate from our everyday world and we think about different things and communicate differently in that atmosphere.  It can be a great bonding experience.  I snapped this shot of a dad and his son last night.  While watching them, I realized this was a strong relationship building moment.  Kind of like what you see at those corporate team building camps where you have to put your trust into your coworkers.  This time it was a father developing or strengthening  trust from his son.  I think it also was the young boy struggling with taking a chance and wanting to please his father.  Of course, when you're in the moment you aren't thinking of these things.  But, sitting back and watching it happen, makes it all clear what is really going on. It's a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No swimming

So far this June, the weather has allowed you to do almost anything you want as long as you can do it in the span of 15 minutes.  This is because it seems like that we get 15 minute periods of sunshine, then a quick thunderstorm, then 15 minutes of sun, then storms, etc.   This was the case Sunday.  We saw our window of opportunity and the whole family headed to the beach to hit the lake for a few hours.  Well, almost right when we got there, our 15 minutes ran out and a thundercracker came through.  But, it passed, and after waiting about 30 minutes to make sure it was all clear we were allowed to hit the water again.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I don't get out early most mornings just due to life.  And lately, when I do, the skies have been pretty "blah". Hopefully, this is the start of a streak of good sunrises.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Da Doo Run Run

Big day today!  My daughter Ashley is involved in a group called "Girls on the Run".Great organization, and instead of trying to explain it, I'll copy a bit of their description from their website:

Girls on the Run of McHenry County is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping girls climb out of the “girl box” using a 24-lesson curriculum designed to promote good choice for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy living. The curriculum, designed specifically to address “girl box” issues, uses warm-up, and workouts which encourage emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical well-being. Girls on the Run of McHenry County prepares girls for a 5K run/walk event and challenges and encourages girls, whatever their fitness level.

Today was the 5K run and this is her second year competing in the event.  Its a big event with 32 chapters involved in the run.  It is noncompetitive except for competition with yourself. The number one goal of each participant is to finish the race. Each girl  has a "running buddy" of their choosing.  She chose her grandmother to run along side her this year.  (Alright, in honesty, it was at first going to be me, but, my running shoes must have gotten lost in the mail.  Next year.) Ashley and her grandmother finished the race and we were there to watch them cross the finish line. Our pride and pleasure in them runneth over.  Awesome job Ashley and Grandma.

Today also is D-Day.  For two reasons.  Number one of course today is the anniversary of our invasion into Normandy during WWII.  Good time to salute all our veterans.  This is also D-Day for me on a personal side since 18 years ago today I married my beautiful wife.  Good time to salute my wife (After that last comment, it might be D-Day for other reasons).  No pics of the invasion of Normandy nor of my wife, but here are some from the big 5K run today.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

6 years ago

Is it possible for a person to age 20 years in a 6 year span?  I think so.  The reason is  6 years ago today our son, Derek Jordan Zelazoski, was born.  Some highlights of those 6 years:
  • Colic
  • Crawling into bed with us 2000 nights out of the 2190 nights of his life
  • Turning the whole bathroom into one big splash park everytime he takes a bath
  • Watching 2000 episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants.  (Or watching 50 episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants 40 times each)
  • Closing his bedroom window too many times to count during the winter because he likes to play with opening it
  • Scrubbing permanent marker off his body till the skin almost comes off with it
  • Bringing every stick in a 6 block area home with him everytime we go for a walk......and then leaving them in the lawn for me to hit with the lawn mower
  • See above but substitute rocks for sticks
  • Potato chip bags opened in a way that you would swear they were opened by a bear
  • Little plastic army guys, or worse yet, LEGO's, everywhere and they all seem to move under your feet when making your way to the bathroom at the dark
  • Saving the world day after day after day since they age of two on the Playstation(Ratchet and Clank)\
Yes, it is possible to age 20 years in 6.  But, that's o.k.  As the song goes, someday I'm gonna miss this.  Its been a  great 20/6 years .  Happy Birthday, Derek!!!!