Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Red Sector A

I often use song titles to title my posts.  Of course, I try to make it something people know and then I make sure it fits the picture being posted.  I veered a little tonight.  The title of the post is from a song by Rush that was on one of their albums in the mid 80's.  I know some of my readers picked up on it and even more are saying to themselves, "Oh yeah, I remember that."  But many others are saying, "Never heard of it."  Oh well.  Now you have.  But this song title popped into my head as we drove into Sedona, Arizona with all the red rock and monuments in the area.  I was amazed at the landscape of the area.  Its one of those things whereas, the Grand Canyon? Yeah, you expect to see an unbelievable spectacle.  It was great, but expected.  Driving into Sedona?  I had no idea such a place existed.  This is a shot of one of the most majestic scenes as we drove through the town.

Friday, December 12, 2014

What's Black and White.......and red all over?

Riddle for the day- see the title of this post.  Aw come on.  This is the oldest riddle in the book.  I'm not sure what the real answer is either. But here it is a black crow sitting in a snowy field in front of a big red barn.  Talk about your contrasting colors. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Express

Being the lucky guy that I am, my son indulges me in my favorite pasttime........sometimes.  Coming back from our holiday up nort', I asked if he minded if we hit some backroads on the way back to Illinois to see if I could find any shots to take with my camera.  And he obliged.  We were about to finish and get back on the main road when I hear that whistle blowing and saw it rollin' round the bend.  A train.  And not a passenger train, but a freight train. Always fun to find a freight train en route.  Great sound.  Great visual.  And when on a backroad in northern Wisconsin, you can pretty much stand in the middle of the tracks until your own fear makes your feet move.  That's what I did, but as much as my own fear played a part, I felt I better move before I really freaked out the conductor.  Here is a shot that I got.  The only part that's disappointing is the conductor/engineer, who you can barely see in the cab in the right hand corner, was wearing a basic t-shirt instead of the classic idea of "conductor wear" of a billed train engineer cap and suspenders.  Oh well.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Off the beaten path

Traveling some of the backroads of Northern Wisconsin, it never ceases to amaze me some of the structures you find.  A turn down a gravel road and a few more zig zags brought me to this dwelling.  While obviously not lived in at the time, if ever, the area around it was nicely kept up with a little bridge going over a ditch and the remains of what was a little swingset.  The bridge was fairly new, nothing else was.  There wasn't another structure within 2 miles of the property.  Fixed up and the addition of a hot tub and a satellite dish would make it a nice little mancave for Sunday afternoons.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What did I do?

Out West, at almost any time of the day, I noticed, you could look around you, and in some direction or another you would find an incredible cloud bank. This would happen several times a day and it would kind of just creep up on you.  Here is a shot of just one of the many cloud banks we saw.  Even more impressive when you have a mountain or something in front of you and you come around a corner and see a mammoth spectacle like this one.  But, what bothered me here, is I always had the feeling someone, or something, was flipping me off.  I don't what I did, but I got over it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

We've Got A Jumper

Growing up in Northern Wisconsin, there was a local river spot where, as kids, we would hang out some in the summer.  One of the highlights was the crazy guys and gals who would jump from a set of rocks down into a small pool of water. It was a 40 foot leap of faith.  Trust me, it looked much higher standing at the top of those rocks.  I experienced it. And each year 99.6% of the people attempting the jump survived.   While out West, my buddy took me on  hike to a similar area.  Known about only by the locals.  About a mile trek along a river to a secluded area.  Perfect for the younguns' to hang and sip some "soda pops".  And they, of course, could not pass the opportunity to live on the edge.  Or jump from it.  I took a few moments, and shots, of a young gal as she was coaxed on and tested by her friends to make her first jump.  She passed the test with flying colors.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

May I have this dance?

Haven't been to a high school varsity football game in many years.  While on vacation in Arizona, I had a chance to go to one due to my buddy's hometown team was playing in the area we happened to be that night.  Sounded like a good way to soak up the local vibe.  And it was.  And we got to witness his teams running back score like 6 or maybe even 7 touchdowns while enroute to a 400 yard night of rushing.  Incredible.  I was able to practice some sport photography during the contest.  Unfortunatly, all that practice just proved I need to practice more, especially under the lights.  Not many keepers out of the bunch, but I did get one that shows the intimacy of the game.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Deer Arizona,

They aren't actually deer, but saying "Elk Arizona", doesn't work.  Some of the Arizona wildlife sneaking through the woods.  They were pretty skittish during my time there; it was hunting season for them.  Might have seen a nice bull with them, but I think we saw him in the back of someone's truck earlier in the day.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Morning has broken

And when it breaks over the ridges of the Grand Canyon, it really breaks.  In my limited travels, I don't know if I've ever seen a better place to witness the dawning of new day, as I'm sure the guy in the picture believes also.  He was probably thinking that same thing,..... or planning a jump to end it all.  I'll go with the first option.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sharp eye development

One of my memories as a kid growing up in Northern Wisconsin is my dad being able to pick out a deer moving through the woods while we are driving down the road at 50+ miles an hour.  I'm sure those abilities came with him being a deer hunter, boredom while driving the miles of countryside roads, and just a natural development of looking for wildlife.  Back in the day, you HAD to look for deer since they weren't as numerous as today and the roads were not as wide as today, therefore, it was a matter of avoiding an accident with the four legged creature.  I was always amazed when he would point them out standing in the edge of the thicket along the roads.  These days, especially since I started my photography journey, I have gotten quite good at it myself.  Sometimes deer, but often times Herons, Egrets, Hawks, and other small game.  Its always satisfying to spot these creatures when no one else around you does.  But, that is changing.  With all the times I've pointed said creatures out to my son, the tables are reversing.  While heading out to bring my son to school the other morning, he says, "Look dad" and points ahead.  I'm not seeing what he is seeing so he reemphasizes and points again.  Still not seeing what he does, he finally says "Look.  A hawk in that tree."  Sure enough, straight ahead just above eye level was a young hawk staring back. I pulled over and told him it was worth being late for school to get some shots of this guy.  He, of course, agreed. As I struggle to get my gear out, the hawk takes flight and swoops over my van, about 10" above the hood enroute to try and snag a young black squirrel(yeah, how about that, an actual black squirrel). He missed, but landed on a fence to wait for another chance.  That chance never came as he sat there for what seemed an eternity.  Even with me stepping closer and closer, snapping multiple shots with each step..  Eventually, again, a reversal of the norm, I got tired of shooting shots and decided to get my kid to the education system he needs while the hawk continues to sit there and check out his surroundings.  I got great shots, but the best part is knowing that the kid is always watching and learning from the old man even when you think he's not.  Wait a second.  That might not be a good thing come to think about it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rollin' In

A beautiful sunset over the Grand Canyon with the fog rollin' in to the canyon.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Not much to say here but while walking down one of the sides of the canyon, I looked up to see this lone Yucca.  With very little greenery around and sunset approaching, it stood out like a lake in the desert.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


We got our first look of the big hole in the ground near sunset.  Here was my first view and shot of the canyon.  So big.  So beautiful. So overwhelming.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fields of Gold

So, we were driving in the higher elevations of Arizona and as we come out of a forested area we noticed to our left a sight that as a "photographer" made me scream "STOP" to my friend and driver, Brian.  At first, I think, he thought we were about to hit something or run off the edge of a mountain, but he eventually realized why I was in a panic to stop the car.  You see, usually when I do my photographic journeys, I am always the driver and by myself.  And when I see the shot, I hit the brakes.  Sometimes hard.  Me screaming "STOP" was my way of applying the brakes. I first noticed the neverending field of yellow, like the color that shows up in overhead shots of fields of tulips.  I always wanted to come across a field like that and try to get a great shot like I've seen in some of my photo magazines. Didn't think I ever would.  Next, as I scanned the field, it was hard to miss the mountain rising up in the background. What a great contrasting background.  Then, my eyes caught the farmstead to the right. Nice little addition to the grandiosity of the field and mountain.  Throw in a barbwire fence in the foreground, you got one of my favorite shots of the trip. I fired off a bunch of shots from different angles and camera settings and we finally continued moving on.  Most of the time after  trying to capture a scene like this, you leave and are not really sure if you got what you were attempting to capture. Often times, pics don't come out like you saw it with your very own eyes.  As we were driving out of the area, we discussed whether we thought I get a keeper out of my shots of the field.  We both nodded in agreement that there were going to definitely be keepers in that bunch of shots. Here's two of them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Where's Hoss and Little Joe

You would think if you heard the terms "Ponderosa Pines" you would see Pa, or Little Joe, or Hoss hanging  around.  (Maybe I'm dating myself). But, I didn't see any of them.  The pines, though, were quite magnificent. Most of the mountains of Northern Arizona are covered with them.  I'm sure the ones I was seeing or had access to were not necessarily virgin pines.  Even so, they were very distinct looking and quite tall.  I can only imagine how big the originals were maybe 150 years ago.  Here's a black and white shot.  I have color shots, too, but the midday sun was playing havoc with colors and lens flares.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Well, I'm standing on a corner, in Winslow, Arizona....................

Not exactly Winslow.  More like just outside of Phoenix.  Finally, yes, finally, I am trying to go through my pics of my trip to Arizona last month.  Never have I went so long between taking shots and reviewing them, but, hey, life is busy right now.  I don't know how the pros get through it all when they have deadlines. 
Last month, I made the cross country trip to the Phoenix area to see my buddy, the best man at my wedding 22 years ago, who I hadn't spoke with or seen since my wedding 22 years ago.  Long story, but all is good.  We picked up right where we left off back when we were younger.  Just a little slower,.....less alcohol,.......less getting into troubling predicaments,............less interaction with the local police force, and, by golly, we even remembered where we parked the car the night before, unlike a few instances when we were younger. He was my travel guide during my trip and for 4 days we traveled around the northern part of Arizona and he showed me as much as possible without feeling rushed.  One of the best parts of traveling with a "local" is he knew alot of cool places that aren't necessarily tourist traps. 2nd best part.  My friend, Brian, is formerly from Green Bay, and we, of course, found a good watering hole to watch the Packer Game.  Other than that, yeah, they got a deep hole in the ground up in that Northern Area.  You might have heard of it, The Grand Canyon. Over the next few weeks, I'll try to showcase what I think are the best shots of the trip, without getting too cliche.  I mean, you want a really, really good shot of the Grand Canyon, check out National Geographic.  I'm pretty sure they might have a shot or two.  But, still, I am going to look for some shots of the canyon that aren't you're normal shots.Tonight, I'll start with the view from my buddys house, looking off his front porch.  Simply, breathtaking in person.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Soccer Stud

Today was the first game of the new soccer season for my son, Derek.  New season, new team, new coach, new teammates, and a new role on the team.  Last year, his first, he was mainly a defensive player, and that was mainly because there were two other kids that were scoring machines. He likes defense, but if they ain't kicking it towards you, it can get a little boring.  He worked really hard during this last year to improve his offensive skills and he benefited greatly from the fact that there are numerous other boys on the street his age who love soccer and love pickup games after school.  His focus was to become better on offense.  It was apparent during the first few weeks of practices with his new team, that he was focused and I think the coaches could see something to it also.  Well, it all came together today in the first game.  The whole team played quite well and put a hurt on the other team to a score of 4-2.  And, of those 4 goals scored by "The Strikers", you can see in one of the pics how many Derek scored. It was almost 3. Happy boy. Happy team. Happy and proud family.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The World is a Stage

One of my favorite things to photograph are concert events.  These days are great for this with the advent of festivals and bands continuing their music careers with touring smaller venues later in their careers. For awhile, the person carrying a camera was considered the enemy and often times was banished to the back of the crowd or their equipment confiscated while the show was on if not banned from the venue altogether.  These days, I think most security has just given up due to the influx of smartphones and smaller recording devices.  For the most part, unless you are causing problems or blocking walkways, you are left alone.  Even the entertainment seems to have given in by giving the photographer some great posed shots.  A few weeks ago my wife and I attended an event in the area that featured several southern rock bands that were big in the '80s- Artimus Pyle Band, Molly Hatchet, The Outlaws, and The Marshall Tucker Band. It was beautiful August night and a nice outdoor venue.  I was able to get great shots and enjoyed great music.  Most of the shots below are of the main band I wanted to see- The Outlaws, but these are some of the best shots of all the bands we saw that night.  Unfortunately, Google only allows me so much bandwith to post a video.  So, I have to upload it more compressed which affects the quality of the video. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

High Lake is more like Fire Lake

Spent a great week up north last week camping with my boy.  Didn't do alot of photography with my good camera, did more with my phone.  But, I did manage to grab a few shots.  Here is one of a secluded lake near where we were camping. The nice thing about High lake is you can get nice sunset pictures of it while the lake we were camping on is more of a sunrise lake.  This was nice sunset shot.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dance, Dance, Dance the Night Away

Another year of dance classes for my daughter, and another 3 hour dance recital.  Whew!!  That's alot of dancing.  I got tired just sitting and watching.  It was a great event, though.  And I must add, my daughter was flawless on stage. She had the moves and she also sported the biggest smile of all during her performance.  Below are some pics that show her in action, another that shows a not-so- talented group of performers, and one of the few family pics that we ever seem to get.  A fun night.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

This isn't Walton's Mountain

Last night was a special night in my daughter's world.  She attended her 8th grade dance.  I guess these days, a big gala like the one she attended is pretty commonplace.  Since I've been on vacation this last week, due to the beautiful climate I live in, I was able to spend much time on catching up on "The Waltons" reruns (It appears May is a great time to run Waltons marathons since two channels were doing so).  And, as I'm sure many others agree, if you start watching the Waltons, you just can't stop till all episodes are run.  One of the episodes was about JohnBoy attending a school dance.  It was held in a library, cost a quarter to attend, had chaperones where not one could have been less than 80 years old, and served lemonade.  All the girls were on one side and all the boys were on the other.  Once in a while, a young man would approach a young lady and ask her to dance, in which case, she would either accept or decline(usually accept), and the two would proceed to the dance floor where they were closely monitored to make sure the appropriate distance was kept between "body parts",In other words, only hands could touch. The girls were all dressed in what was probably the one dress they had, the one for church.  And the boys, well, they wore the one suit coat they had that they wore to church, over their blue jeans and suspenders. Ahhhhh, a much simpler time.
I remember the one dance I attended in grade school.  It was held in a classmates unfinished basement. There was no charge to attend, lemonade and/or soft drinks were served as well as, I'm sure, chips and the sort. The dress code, I believe, was casual: Jeans and T-shirt.  And, if I remember right, all the girls were on one side of the basement, while the boys found an old motorbike in the garage, and were all trying to figure out how to get it to run. Chaperones? I think the host parents got out when they could because I don't remember any on the premise. Good times, good times.
These days, it's a little different.  As being the parent of a 14 year old girl I have learned, there is much to do before the big night.  First, shop.  Yes, you must have that brand new dress, shoes, and other accoutrements.  Then, get the nails done.  What done is I'm not really sure, but they must be done.  Then, hair.  Cutting, styling, coloring, curling.  Whatever getting your hair done means, once again, I'm not sure.  But, it does entail the above. And, of course, you have the pre-dance get together at a girlfriends house.  While this was supposed to involve no parents, besides the host parents, after much discussion, I was given special dispensation to at least get a few pictures.  Yes, I felt special.
The theme of the dance was "Hollywood". A full fledged red carpet event complete with limo parked out front so the attendees could get a picture of themselves exiting the limo for the grand event.  Inside the dance venue(my daughters school), you felt like you were walking into an after party for the Oscars. Red carpet, taffeta up and down the walls with strings of white Christmas lights brightening the scene, classic scene of movies on the walls, DJ's ready to play the hippest new music(I think Foghat's Slow Ride was a favorite at my aforementioned dance), and, some things don't change, lemonade.  And, of course, there were boys.  I had mentioned to my wife earlier in the day, "I wonder if any boys will show up for this event?".  Low and behold, there was a stunning number of handsomely dressed guys there.  Now, when I say handsomely dressed, I don't mean how handsomely we used to dress, the jeans and T-shirt thing.  I mean, bright colors, throwback hats and suspenders, and some unusual combinations.  But, good effort was made, none-the-less. Plenty of chaperones, too. Mostly teachers who by now know who to keep their eyes on.
Finally,  parents were ushered out of the event, to leave the kids on their own.  After that, we, as parents, had to rely on the occasional "selfie" pic that my daughter would send. After the dance was the required sleepover where all the girls were picked up a set of parents and brought to their house to make sure everyone was safe and sound.
 I'm quite sure alot of dancing was done, and sometimes even with a boy.
Here are a few shots:

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Last Sunday was the occasion for our yearly Easter Egg Hunt for our kids and other kids on the block. We use to go like lemmings to the annual Park District hunt, but after a year or two of seeing the people heading to the ER due to fighting over eggs(and I'm talking about the adults), we said no more.  So, actually easier and safer in our yard.  The kids come and go, via moving out of the neighborhood, graduating into a teen, or, we just don't invite them back anymore cause we don't like 'em.  Either way, there are always new friends around, and, it seems like, more kids on the block than ever. Sometime in the morning, my wife spends an hour or so filling plastic eggs with sugar and scatters them around the yard.  She also places some trinkets, i.e. hula hoops, bubbles, etc.  After breakfast we round up the available kids on our street and we set them off.  The biggest problem this year was the pesky squirrels  trying to make off with some of the loot, and, the biggest surprise:  the weather was decent, the sun was shining, and the chocolate was melting inside the eggs while we gathered everyone.  But, the kids had 10 minutes of scrambling for their loot and were laughing and having fun while doing so.  We had expected, as usually happens, that after all the stuff was found, some kids would be big winners and some would not do as well.  Usually the older boys do quite well, while the younger little girls not so much. If that happens, we have them pour all their junk into a pile and we split it up.  This year, not necessary.  Everyone won.  And this is what makes us want to do it again next year.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How Brutal was this winter?

I'll "show" you how brutal this last winter was.  So brutal the guys are able to get some ice fishing in......in April.  Sheesh!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

In response to the warm day ahead....

After a brutal winter, we are poised to have our first 60+ degree day here in 5 months.  In honor of that I reached into the vault to grab a few shots from warmer days. Here's are some things to look forward to as spring/summer approaches: