Learned that Canon cameras had a double exposure feature last week and decided to go out and try it today on a nature hike. For a canon I believe it is the fourth from the left menu item about halfway down. Super easy, take a shot, then take the second and in a few seconds it is blended together!
Story behind the photo series: “Willow Bay.”
In a busy kitchen he wipes the sweat from his brow as he moves a large pot from back to front, burner to burner. Watching and tending 4 pots, making sure each is properly tended. A stir here, a spice added, he moves quickly and with poetry of motion. He wipes his hands and returns the towel to his shoulder. Nothing gets burnt, nothing boils over. He watches each delicate mixture, with a skill and deft that only a seasoned professional can accomplish. There is only one problem, that busy cook is you, and that stove is your life. Bear with me.
Your life is a 4 burner stove in a busy restaurant kitchen. Hot and with high emotion each gas burner is an area, or domain of your life, you must balance. Your burners are as follows: Your self, your family, your job, and your friends. Spend too much time tending one and you lose track of the other pots and pans. We try so hard in our adult life to tend each fire, spend time with our loved ones, maintain our relationships with our spouse, give our all at work. But at what cost? What are you leaving out? In life there simply, always is, a trade off.
My guess is you achieve balance by giving up the burner, that is you. In the back, there is a small low saucepan, that is yourself. It is a simple pan, and with a few ingredients, it can really shine. That’s your secret. You neglect to take care of your self, to take time out of your busy day to work on you. When you do finally get in some me time, you feel guilty. You work, you love, you do, but you forget to- "not" do. You must stop to survey the entire stove from time to time to see the bigger picture of how the meal is progressing.
You must take time to make your life healthy, happy, and worth living. Leave time for yourself. Pick up a hobby, or an activity, that is entirely satisfying, to only you. Sit at work and do nothing if that makes you tick. Make a slow cup of coffee, sit and enjoy it. Feel ok about not always being busy. Know that somewhere, sometime, a pot will not get stirred, a dish might fail, and your stove might get messy. Be ok without the balance everyone tells you, you must achieve.
The picture above is me trying to re-balance my life, to stir the pot inside myself. My hobby in photography has allowed me to disconnect with the other areas of my life and re-connect with my sense of self. I took this photo on a warm fall afternoon, school had started to become more difficult and I needed quiet escape. I grabbed my camera, went down to the park, just to walk and not be seen, to think, and maybe shoot a picture or two. I thought about my life and how dammed busy I had become, and I wondered what I had lost. I cleared my head, and hung out over the water looking for fall leaves.
“Everyone Wants to Feel Important."
In 1936, a man by the name of Dale Carnegie published a book titled How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book would go on to change the world and influence not only its readers, but anyone met by its minions. Today, it is still a popular book read by millions wishing to makes sales, climb the corporate ladder, or simply understand people. The ideas contained in the text are incredibly powerful and should only be used for good. Many also believe the book single-handedly crushed the value of introverts and told the world that extroverts were clearly the better hire in a culture that values money above everything else.
The book- for me, at least- explained a small, curious corner of my life that was un-explainable. I had always had trouble understanding why people did what they did, and how they made the large and small decisions that defined their lives. It was always puzzling to me how people operated. The book resonated with me and helped me understand a very valuable point that I had always been missing about people: "Everybody wants to feel important.” Over and over in the book, Mr. Carnegie gives examples and antidotes about people wanting to feel special, feel loved, and just be important.
The drive to feel important and belong is one of the strongest desires we, as humans, have. Often throughout my day I repeat the phrase- "everyone wants to feel important." It explains why a student comes in and just goes right into talking about himself and what he did, and holds your attention for as long as he can. I smile and listen because I know he needs that moment. The saying perfectly explains adults on Facebook, how we want to explain who we are, get love, and have people know us. Facebook shows who we want others to see. I believe Facebook is 99% fake; I blame myself as well. We post what we “want and need" people to see. We try so hard to pound the square peg into the round hole; we desire only to fit. We are simply trying to feel important.
Here is a shot of a farmer from Weedsport who was selling potatoes at the Farmers' Market in Syracuse. I took Brad out on a shoot to focus our attention on people and the art of street photography. I noticed him because the box truck behind him created the perfect frame, his blue green eyes and soft gentle features made him stand out. We asked about him and his farm. He seemed to have no ego about himself. However, it must have made him feel good to know that someone cared about the hard work he does, day in and day out, not just how cheap his potatoes are. Maybe he wanted to feel important that day, or maybe he was just being nice- either way, he let me have my picture.
Story behind the photo: "Light at the End of the Tunnel”Great pictures never happen when you expect it, rarely when you need them, and never, ever, when you are desperate for success. Brad and I had parked and walked into Beaver Lake on a brisk fall Saturday. I got out of the truck, packed in my gear, and grabbed my tripod. The lesson that day- at least what I had planned- was using tripods, fall foliage, and using macro lenses. At least that is what I wanted to teach him. I, of course, would learn a different lesson altogether. Photography, like a lot of other disciplines, can’t be pushed from within you. You simply can’t force out good work. There has to be a flow to it. That flow starts in your mind in a way that is hard to summarize in writing because it comes from the part of the brain that is non-verbal. My secret weapon that day was not tripods, filters, or specialized gear. It could not be packed in my bag. It was in my mind and in my heart. I have found through tons of photo outings that if my mind is in the wrong place, I miss the great pictures or they simply don’t appear to me. I am almost positive it is because, when I’m not in the right mindset, I can’t see what is beautiful. That day, early before our meeting, I got up just like I always do, went downstairs and walked over to the microwave and set the timer for 20 minutes. I walked over in the darkness and sat in my favorite chair, red pillow tucked behind my head as it is countless times. I leaned my head back, got comfortable, and tried to clear my mind. I focused on my breath, the area just below my nose and just above my lip. Deep and clear I pulled in air, holding it in and slowing my breath. Clearing my mind is tough for me; I am constantly strategizing, constantly worrying, always thinking about what’s next. This fog is the kiss of death for something creative like photography. At first I struggled to think of nothing, to let my mind sit empty. After a few minutes it cleared. I reached a point between my thoughts, where true calm exists. I sat for twenty minutes until the timer broke the silence. I came out of my self induced trance and my body felt numb, but very relaxed. I was happy, confident, and aware. On the days I clear my mind, I always have great success making photos. We walked to our first spot and my open mind gave me this shot, the trees, the colors, the lines. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, maybe because it was supposed to be, or maybe because I could see it clearly- either way, I was glad I got that lesson.
Our first urbex stop was a bust so we stopped at this abandoned car dealership today.
Click the images to enlarge them.
"The winter of my discontent" is how I should frame this story, because that’s the capital “T" truth. I was living in Oswego in a small, barely heated, basement apartment. I thought I was going to freeze to death, and used every burner on the electric range as my fireplace. My friends had all moved home, or gotten lives and there I was- alone- in a sterile, unfinished apartment that used to be a computer store. After teaching, I would return home to the same plain white walls as my classroom, cold from the bluish tint of florescent lights. I was commuting everyday in brutal snowstorms, to Liverpool, and some-what teaching. I say some-what teaching because it was survival, plain and simple. The teacher part was killing me. I was imprisoned in a small room with four desks, thirty kids, no books, no tools, no supplies. Basically, all the things a Technology Education teacher needs to survive.. I had none. The best part was that I student taught the exact same group of kids a few months earlier, but now I did not have the soft, warm protection of the master teacher. I was fresh meat and they smelled the blood. The kids hated me, and I was starting to think they were right and I was wrong. I screamed, I pleaded, I guilted, but mostly I was ashamed. Forty minutes later the cycle would repeat. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, but teaching was the first thing in my life that didn’t work by thinking it through and working hard. Every other problem in my life I steamrolled by either ingenuity or sheer volume of hard work. Neither worked. I learned my first hard lesson: you can’t manipulate the human condition.
The day this picture was taken was the bottom of a series of events that reached the depths of all I had. I had thanked God for the snow day, as hours earlier I had decided that if something didn’t happen soon I was going to have to make a change. The scariest moment in your life is real clarity without options, and I got all I needed that morning. We had received a huge amount of snowfall overnight and there was so much snow the piles were above the roof of my truck. The family next door woke me with their snowblower, and I grabbed a shovel and a camera to capture the ridiculous amount of snow we had. As I stood there admiring my shoveling job the neighbors dog walked over and stared up at me, peering into my soul. He lingered, staring up at me, and I snapped this picture. If you look close enough you can see a reflection of me in 2004, in his eyes.
I’m not sure what he saw, or what he understood from looking at me. But minutes later the sun came out, and my life slowly started to change. Shortly after, I moved to Liverpool, got a personal trainer, and connected with some friends. I always think back to that day, to that dog, and wonder why he needed to see me hit the bottom, why he needed to see it in my eyes to be sure. I’m not sure I received any guidance that day, but I definitely knew someone was watching out for me.
LeMoyne Manor was one of those explores that is right under your nose as you're searching the internet for abandoned buildings. I had driven by it every single day, dropping my daughter off at daycare. So glad Jordan and I got to tour the building a few times before it came down.
The property was steeped in history. Built as a mansion by the famous architect Ward Wellington Ward in 1916 it was a beautiful property overlooking the lake. Later it became a banquet hall and motel where many people in CNY had their wedding. In the 1990's the property also served as a halfway house for recovering drug and alcohol addicts. Plans for the space include retail and luxury apartments starting in 2019.
Scroll down for more images.
I tend to go on a lot of tangents, and lately, maybe it's my age but I have been listening to and reading a lot of philosophy. Whether it be Alan Watts, Wayne Dyer, or Bucky Fuller I am fully engrossed into it now in my life. Why at this point in my life am I falling down this rabbit hole is a whole other story.
The kicker is, and maybe this is just my own glasses I am viewing the work through, but they all seem to have the same message. I keep getting the same lesson.
The big idea said many ways is:
1. The universe is rigged in your favor.
2. The universe is conspiring to fulfill your wishes.
3. Stop trying so hard and just let it happen.
So this brings me to this set of photographs. I went down to the city to continue my Syracuse street project and I decided that instead of hunting for street photos I would fish for them. This involves finding a cool scene or location and waiting for interesting people to walk through it. This is definitely different than the way I typically do street photography, where I typically hunt for images by walking many blocks looking for interesting things to photograph.
I found a cool scene with a set of stairs and sun peeking down the alley just to the south of the courthouse. I set up on a small bench and just waited with my camera. The problem was everybody who was coming through the scene was taking a ramp down instead of the stairs I wanted them too.
As I sat longer, I started to give up. I checked my watch. But in my mind this idea that the universe was rigged in my favor kept coming back to me. So I gave it more time.
About the time I said, "OK I will give it five more minutes and I will move on," a national grid truck pulled up onto the sidewalk blocking the other ramp, even going to so far as to put cones up. It was magic! Now people were forced down my set of stairs and I sat there shooting pictures every few moments in glorious succession.
So here are the photos from that outing and a few more to explain the space. I threw a few others in from the day at the end of this series.
I crossed out the 2018 as soon as I did the math for the new dishwasher. The small crayon drawing of our future camper had been hanging on our fridge for 3-4 years and we looked weekly at Craigslist but at this point, it was over.
Our pocketbooks were exhausted because we were deep into a bathroom remodel, it was the end of summer, and our dishwasher finally threw in the towel.
All we were looking for was a used Rockwood Roo, 19' or less, with a dinette and couch, in incredible condition.
No big deal, nothing specific!
The problem was after searching season after season, people either held on to the Roo's or they were destroyed. We had looked at a few with holes in the floor, soft spots or complete water damage. I just didn't want another headache.
On Tuesday night at 11 pm I spotted Mike's Roo, and it could not be in better condition. It was almost too perfect. I emailed and set up a time to see it the next day. Unbeknowst to Jen, I also booked a one night stay camping trip, because I just knew we were going to buy it.
That Saturday afternoon we pulled into Fillmore Glen State Park, for our first camper experience. It was more of a, "OK we need to figure this being a camper person thing out, kinda trip." I kept referencing the huge pile of user guides and manuals for each system. We packed simple- hotdogs and smores and those tiny little boxed camping cereals- and headed off. Everything went amazingly well and we had figured out each system, and on Sunday we headed home, but unfortunately our education was not over.
Just after I said, "Wow, look at how bad the roads are as soon as you get to Syracuse," I heard a loud boom, and the trailer swerved. We hit a huge pothole and it blew the tire and rim apart. I limped to an offramp but could not get off the highway so I had to change it while the cars on 81 blew by us. Everybody was ok, but that tire and rim have seen better days.
I guess we got a thorough education. Here are the images from that trip.
Another free style shooting day that ended checking almost every box.
I was able to do some landscape photography, and also find an abandoned building and get some outside shots of it. I filled up with gas station coffee and I focused my efforts on the area around Montezuma Wildlife Area, Mentz, and Port Byron.
"The first hour is the rudder of the day."
-Henry Ward Beecher
I walked past him and instantly noticed the pipe. I paused knowing I had to ask for a portrait, and cataloged for a connection.
3, 2, 1, Go.
"I don't see too many people smoking pipes around here anymore."
My old roommate was Irish and smoked a pipe every Sunday and the smell was the same so I lead with that. He agreed to a photo and said he too was an Irishman and loved his pipe.
Nice guy. Took it this morning on our Sunday walk.
We were driving around Crawford Texas with the GPS off just enjoying the gravel roads and the beautiful scenery. Our Jeeps AC unit was struggling to try to compete with the 102 degree heat outside. The earth was dry and parched except for small masses of low trees like mesquite and live oak. Each homestead was landmarked by fencing and some type of large metal gate.
Every once and awhile a truck would pass us and the white stone gravel would create a cloud that carried off long in the distance. More vehicles than not were large pickups with lifted tires and cattle catchers on the front. I looked deeply into each cab hoping to see a cowboy, but they were just regular looking people, going about their day.
I had my small fuji x100t with me, and Jen was driving letting me jump out to get pictures whenever I spotted something. Just about the moment she said something I was wishing for- a truly Texas picture. I was thinking of what would really sum up our time driving and the ideas of gravel roads, long fence lines, or big iron gates moved through my mind. A second later I was thinking about symbols of Texas and, of course, my first thought was of a longhorn. Sadly all we had been seeing were horses or traditional dairy cows and they were mostly way out in the fields or hiding under the low trees.
A second later she said, "Um, there is a cow back there with big horns."
"Really?" I said. "Let's go back and see it, I was just thinking how cool it would be to see one."
She turned around and we saw this big guy and I shot maybe 10 photos of him as he posed. What I loved was how perfectly framed he was, with dark foliage in the back and a small delicate tree above him that was perfectly lit by the sun. The tree was almost glowing and he stood perfectly still as I shot a few images. I need to keep processing these images but I got a few I am happy with.
My wife and I started a tradition 6 years ago where instead of gifts for our anniversary we would alternate planning a secret trip for the other person. We alternate every year and this year was Jen's year to plan. This year she picked Austin, Texas and the surrounding areas as I have talked about going to Texas since we started watching the Fixer Upper show on HGTV. I wasn't really enamored by the show, as much as those cut away shots of the wide open countryside. Here are the images we took in Austin, Waco, Crawford, McGregor, and Taylor, Texas. Each section has a small description above it.
First a few big ideas:
1. Austin is hot in the summer. Like, really hot, above 100 everyday, sometimes 110. Our Uber drivers said stay inside between 1-6 pm and bring water everywhere. We napped.
2. Austin is about food trucks, and live music, and you can find them almost anywhere, at almost any time.
3. Austin is also known for bats. They have the largest population of urban brown bats in the country and seeing them leave at dusk from under a bridge is spectacular. PRO TIP: Go to the Four Seasons hotel and sit outside under the live oaks and drink till dusk, then walk down to one of the floating docks to watch them fly out. It's awesome.
4. Austin has a lot of HefeWeizen beer. It's light and fruit forward, so a few local people said it was very popular for the hot summer days. I really liked one called Live Oak.
Our Hotel - A small boutique hotel called the Heywood in East Austin - great location, amazing attention to detail. Minimalist modern.
Our day in Waco at Magnolia. Notes:
1. Waco is huge and so are the lines at Magnolia unless you go in the off season, like we did. We got up at 5:30 am to drive in and had a plan. A cop working crowd control I talked to said the worst time to go is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We tried to get into the Magnolia breakfast spot in Waco but the line was 2-4 hours long at 10:00am.
2. Magnolia is smaller than we thought and isn't in the actual silos. Most of it is a shopping experience, with some food trucks and outdoor activities. The bakery was good, but again that line.
3. The cheapest thing at the Silos is a coffee cup at 18 dollars, so be prepared to pay for your experience.
4. The Dr. Pepper museum and some antique shops are right around the corner so that is nice.
5. Parking is available in the gravel lot behind the silos, but get there early if you want a spot.
6. Joanna's vision for the space was and is incredible, while there wasn't much for me to do besides shop, I did marvel at her designing an old industrial space into the destination that it has become. Impressive.
My favorite part of the whole trip was turning off the GPS in the rental Jeep and heading out to Crawford, McGregor, and Taylor, Texas. Small towns with gravel roads after gravel roads. Such a nice afternoon. Jen and I took turns driving as I hopped out taking pictures. We got lunch in McGregor and it was straight out of a movie set. I had fried chicken and lemon icebox pie, of course. Here are some shots from that day:
On our last day- and our anniversary- I got up early to shoot some street images of the Mexican neighborhood where our hotel was, then we drank French press on the porch. After it got too hot we headed to Barton Springs where a natural spring creates a reservoir for the locals to cool off in the constant 68 degree waters. The water is a cold contrast to the heat, as everyday we were there it was between 100-104 degrees.
Here is another batch of look up/architectural/street photos from our last walk in the city. It was early Sunday so not many people were out to actually photograph.
As many of you know, Jordan and I have been going down to the city to do street photography for almost a year or so to stretch our photographic skills. It hasn't been without its challenges and I can remember sitting in coffee shops drying off or hiding from snow/wind. Photographically, it has become one of my favorite genres, because I get to spend time with Jordan, and create photos, while feeling more connected to something bigger. This type of work is hard to do as introverts, but I feel both of us growing.
Last month, Jordan found out about a program called Art in the Windows and asked if I would be interested in applying for a grant. I said I was, but I was so busy with landscaping and drawing that he would basically have to do all of the leg work. He did and we were awarded a 750 dollar grant and now have our artwork on display on Salina Street in downtown Syracuse until September.
To celebrate, we would like to have a small get together at the Evergreen on Water Street around 6 pm on August 3rd. Our thoughts are to gather there, then take a gallery walk to view the images, which should not take long as there are only 6. Then, go back to the Evergreen to share a few drinks. We would love for you to join us!
Street photography is such a hard genre to pin down.
Is good work photos of people in spaces, and what is a good ratio of humanity to space? What if you capture a lonely street scene with only one person, vs a street filled with onlookers? What percentage is the right percentage?
Anyway here are few images from our last outing where, incidentally, very few people passed by early on a Sunday. So this is "street-ish."
In the time it took for us to take a few steps toward William, I thought about how truly lucky I am for all of the things I have been given and how generous life has been with me.
He looked up from his seat and asked, "Can you spare some change?", as I dug clumsily for my wallet.
I handed him some money as I asked what his name was.
"William Wallace," he said in a deep, muffled tone.
I asked if I could take his picture and I tried to get him to smile a few times as I knelt down and took three frames, but each time he kept his hand at his pocket, and gave me the same stare.
As I am leading up to the evening where Jordan and I are having a small gathering to show off our street work used for the Art in the Windows grant I wanted to reflect on something that has become so apparent lately.
"This is a world of action."
Getting the ideas for anything is the easy part, and you can say anything that someone will let you, but the real work of this world is still a physical one. Hitting the streets every single week, camera in hand in good time and in bad is what the essence of photography or dare I say life is.
I almost want to tell people who have such positive comments about my photography that it simply isn't the eye or the training or the gear, it is just going out to do the work. I want to be honest, I come away with far more terrible pictures than usable ones and I am no different than anyone reading this story.
"I made a commitment, that's it, that's the dam secret."
To be as honest and transparent as possible I will post some images from the more recent outing on Sunday. These are not instagram bangers, but are so important to the constant march of practice.