Photographing dogs can be both challenging and rewarding. On the other hand, puppies, they can almost be impossible but the rewards can be great. Today I had a session set up with my Son but due to the weather conditions, we had to scrub the day. That’s okay, there will be other days with better light and not so wet conditions. But I was still had a need to make the day productive, I still had a need to photograph something. After finishing up the changes on my website I broke out the camera equipment and setup a background and got ready for a long session.


Stella is our new puppy the one we wanted after Star died. Star was our first real big dog. She was our frisbee dog, a half australian shepherd half beagle who came into our lives unexpectedly. She was a little puppy that fit in my wife’s coat pocket but then grew into a medium size energetic dog. As she got bigger she went through a destructive faze where she tore apart a recliner. Lucky the chair was free so we didn’t lose any money over it but still, what a mess to clean up. We came to the conclusion that if we gave her a job she wouldn’t be bord and the furniture would be safe. So we had her chase the geese where I worked and she was good at what she did. Once she even caught one. Did not know what to do with it but was happy as hell she caught it.


Star was a great dog and when she died it left a big hole in our lives. We knew in time we wanted to find another dog, an Aussie like Star but the price was way out of our budget. Resigned to that fact we quit looking until one of our friends got an Aussie mix. Cute as they come. So we contacted our friends who put us in contact with the breeder. They had the mixes but all male however they had a new batch of full blood Aussies and two were female. They were born on the 4th of July and would not be ready for a few weeks. So my wife and I got a deposit together and placed it on one of the females and for the next 4 or so weeks we worked on picking a name.


The day came when I got a call from the breeder that she was ready to pick up. I was excited and worried at the sametime. Excited to finally pick her up after so many weeks of anticipation but, at the time, my wife was in the hospital and I had to come up with a way to watch a dog and see my wife. Lucky I had some backup with my Son and my wife’s friends who really wanted to spend a lunch hour watching Stella. Eventually my wife came home which gave me another set of eyes on this ball of energy.


So today I took the time and set up a background and lights and with my camera I started to create images. I set up the black background to try to get that dramatic image but soon found that to be a bad idea. I traded the black for a white background but still did not have any luck. So I took up the background and opted for the wood floors and that is when Lily got involved and played with Stella. I just gave in and just took photos which yielded the group of images you see below.  Like I said before, you may shoot a lot of images but in the end, if you get at least 5 good or great images, for a puppy, its a good day. Stella has now been in our lives for over a week now and she is fitting in, well just don’t ask the cats because they have a not so favorable opinion of her.

"The Crow" Session

"The Crow" Session

Over the past few weeks my son and I have been planning out a portrait session that I have dubbed “The Crow.” With my help, Colin wanted to create a set of portraits that were a tribute to the comic as well as the movie “The Crow.” A session I knew that would challenge my creative as well as my technological side of my photography in order to achieve the look and feel that both of use were striving for.

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Water Lily

This is the first year that the pond in our backyard is in such a state, that my wife and I had decided that dismantling and rebuilding the pond was in our best interest. The growth of weeds and volunteer trees was more than the torch could clean out not to mention the odd rock that has fallen in and become cumbersome to pull out. So this year is one of the first years I am without a water lily subject to photograph through out the summer season. Until next year I have a handful of images I would like to pull out of the digital storage device and talk about.


This image was one of the first that I had converted from color to black and white, opening up a whole new way of seeing these flowers. I don’t have to tell you that I am a bigger fan of black and white and the how it gives a fine art look it gives to the subject. For this subject, once I manipulated the reds and greens to greyscales I became excited for the possibilities that opened for the rest of my collection of waterlilies.



At the time I found the plant at the height of it health and production of it flowers as well as it’s pads. The pond too was in perfect balance with fish, toads and insects that for some became part of the images while other became food. As important is the health of the plants and pond, was also the surrounding area of the pond. My pond is located in the backyard shaded by the tall ornamental grasses and Black Walnut Tree. With that and the combination of the path of the sun in the summer, shadows and reflections played a vital role in the creation of all my waterlily images. So why does this image work for me?


I love how there are two subjects here; the first is the flowers themselves, right high of center and flowing down to the right corner. The secondary subject is the pads that are caught in muted light as well as the reflection at the bottom of the image. As I look at these subjects, my eye is directed in a triangular direct through the frame then slowly moving out to the upper left where the lilies pads reside in the shadows. I find the way I direct the viewer through my image with light still give them the ability to explore more easily so that all the details are consumed. Again I feel that what you don’t see, the trees and ornamental grasses, played a big part in shaping this image.  


As the work on the pond commenses, I will try to document portions of its progress, but until then I will try to post periodically post my water lily images and to spread the beauty of the summer captured in black and white. I am also considering in making the collection available as a box set of prints. Still working the detail of that and my store on the website so before it goes live I will announce it first to you.

Two Images That Relate

I set out yesterday to record the sounds of the park but like any good photographer I brought my camera with me just incase I came across an image that needed to be captured. The recordings that I am doing is for a slideshow of my work that I hope to produce later in the year. I thought it would be a great way of showcasing , what I plan to be, some of my best  images of the park. In order to capture the sounds I want I figured I would walk around to the different parts of the park and record as well as look for images to create or visit past images I have done. You know, multitasking.


One such area I revisited was an area where the top half of a tree had fallen and the undergrowth was in the process of covering it up. So there was saplings about 2 to 4 feet tall in the midst of turning color while the shorter growth was still green. All the while the tree branches were bare and a mix of light and dark grey. The flare of color seemed to spill out from the upper right corner of the image and pool near the middle giving a wonderful  contrast to the green of the small growth and grey of the tree.


Now that a full season has past I thought I would revisit the area and see if there was an image to be had in black and white. When I arrived I was disappointed that there wasn’t an image to be created at that moment. The scene had changed a bit and that could be because of the lack of growth or the wrong time and the light wasn’t right, either way there wasn’t much to be had. As I was recording I walked around the scene to see if there was any possible compositions to be made and that is when I found a hidden photo that need to be created.


As forest go, this area is small, well traveled and always in a state of death and regeneration when it comes to the trees. Most of the logs that are in a state of decay are large and rather long portions laying on the forest floor. Anything that has been laying down for any length of time has completely discrentagrated and scattered about, but what I came across was different. I found a length of log that is on the path of being consumed by the floor of the woods. The wood is splitting lengthwise along the grains adding to the texture and weathered look. The small plants slightly obscure it filling some of the spaces  in the curves of the log. Together the the light at that moment, the plants and the wood make a great study in the contrast in shapes and textures. I couldn’t help but observe and study it from all angles before setting up to capture the image.


Once I had it in Lightroom I worked the image so the weathering of the wood came out against the smooth surface of the leaves. Again, it needed to be black and white and for me, I’m drawn to the warmer toned black and whites and this image needed that treatment. I left it dark with the highlights in the mid greyscale with a lot of lower tones and blacks. Most of the warmth I left in the lower to black tones which for me gives it the that tone range a richness I am drawn to. I do believe there is something about a warm rich tone that pulls on the emotion on a viewer and give a calming effect.


I plan to visit that space again to see if there is an image to be had with different light and additional growth as well as see what happens to that log. This is what I like about this park, it’s not that it has great scenic overlooks but the surrounding areas have these great spots that, in the right light, pull you in and make great images. I definitely feel that these two images will be part of the bigger portfolio I am creating.

Great Portrait Session

What makes a great portrait session? The images, the planning, the experience or is it a combination of it all? If you think about anything you have done on personal level where you receive a product at the end, it is the product where you had planned well and had a great experience you value the most. Think about it; you go to the same salon because the experience and how you feel at the end. Same way with a car dealer or a favorite restaurant and even a healthcare provider. All of the places you go back to time and time again is because you have had a great experiences that had a plan to get you to a great product, in the case of a photographer, great images.


So how can you take the great experiences of the places you are familiar with and apply that to the photography studio? Well first you must find a photographer whose images grab you and that requires a little research. Most of it can be done on the web now a days which is great because it saves gas and time. And don’t look at just their specific types of groups you are after, look at all of their images because you are going to get a sense of their strengths and style of photography. When you have found one then keep moving through and look for at least two more that also spark your interest, this way you have options.


With the images you are looking at try to get in mind of what you would like to have done in your portrait session. Not many people do have a plan, in fact I hear a lot;” your the artist, I will leave it up to you.” That can be ok for some but again you are not adding to the overall experience of the portrait session. Think about it, portraits of any kind are very personal, they reflect you or your family and the goal in the end is to have them adorn the walls of your house, not some dark space of the closet. You don’t have to have an exact road plan but you should have an idea of the style you are looking for and the things you want to wear in the portraits.


The best way to get down to what you want ask yourself these questions. First; what style are we looking for? Is it Lifestyle where the portraits are more journalistic or is it more about posed formal portraits?  Do you want an outdoor session or more in the studio? These are sometimes hard questions to ask but necessary in order to get what you want. But because you have taken the time to, if you haven’t already, looked at photographers website, you can answer these questions easier by what images you are attracted to.


Once you have narrowed it down to the a few photographers that create images that attract you, then it is time to talk to them. That is correct I said a few photographers because not all of them you choose will work out. Some you may not mesh with and some maybe too busy to take you on. Set up an appointment with each photographer for a consultation session, most photographers should like to sit with you and talk about what you are looking for in your portrait session. Think of this like an interview, you are looking for a person that is not only creative but willing to get to know you so together you can get the portrait you love. In these interview you need to ask a lot of question and open up about what you are looking for in your portraits as well as the products you need. By being honest and open with the photographer you will be able to get the portraits you want.


In the few weeks of the appointment your photographer most likely given you things to do to prepare for the session, first and foremost is the hair appointments. You want to make sure that you get everyone hair is cut at least three weeks before the session. Everyone’s, or at least my hair, doesn't look it’s best until the second or third week after it has been cut. I think that is when it seems at its normal length to us and everyone else. This is also a good time to have the clothes picked out and purchased. New portraits sometimes means a new outfit for the occasion but sometimes it is hard to get similar outfits for everyone to wear.  By starting early you will be assured that not only you have outfits that look together but they can get a washing to loosen them up so they hang on the body more naturally.


The day before and day of you is key. You should try the best you can to get ready for the appointment under as little stress as possible. If you have little ones it is best to present the appointment as a fun adventure, keep the mood light as you get ready. This way everyone is happy and ready to have fun during the session. An hour before the session finish up getting ready and go over the list of things you could be bringing to include or change into during the portraits. And when you arrive to your session a few minutes before or at the agreed time make sure you are as excited and ready for the session. If your mood is up and laced with anticipation for a great time, then your session will go smoothly.


A final note on your photographer; back in the day when portraits were painted there was a lot of work done behind the scenes to insure they had a work of art that was worthy to hang on the wall. Communication of ideas, wants and needs are important and should flow between both you and your photographer. After all you are paying them for work that is not going to hang on their wall but yours and working out the details before the session will only insure best results.  Overall the advice that I am giving you is nothing out of the ordinary and you should hear the same thing from the photographer you have hired. Follow them and find a photographer that is not only skillful but ready to work with you to create images that you will love to hang on your walls.

Vacation is Coming

In a few weeks I will have 10 days off from work. 10 days to do what I want. Where to start? For the most part I have already decided the big concept of this time off, but the fine details are needing to be ironed out. That is always with me, I have the big ideas but I struggle with the small goals to lead up to the big finish. I shouldn’t worry because I have two and half weeks to plan, right, but I do and the more I worry the more I tend to freeze up and then when it comes to the big day, I have nothing. That is worst


So here is the big plan; to go two state parks and scout out some photographic opportunities. One park I am going back to is Kepler but I am not set on the second park. When I am not doing that I plan to rework the site to better represent what I do and what I am about as a photographer. Recently I have restarted my portrait end of my photography but I still really want to keep going on with my landscape work. The plan it to create a site that has both which some people would advise not to do. The thought is that is confuses potential customers and instead of booking you, they move on. I guess I will take that risk because as a photographer, I feel I need to present who I am as a photographer.


I am also reworking my blog and instagram pages to better reflect who I am as a photographer. I have not decided if I am going to delete photographs that doesn't reflect my work. I want the gallery page of my instagram feed to represent my style and subject matter I cover. As far as the day to day stuff I could post it on the Facebook page or post them on my blog with a story. As far a the blog, I want to journal more about the day to day stuff rather than specifically create stories to sell me, if that makes sense? If you look at a lot of blogs you may find well crafted stories that are designed to sell the services by telling stories about specific sessions. That is great but that is all you read in the blog. I want to not only right about the sessions that were fun but I will also write about my travels in the park, stories about the bike I am working towards, my pets, or the beer that I tried. I feel these are the stories that give you a better way of connecting with me.


I guess I will start with that and work on to bigger things,for now I will get my plans straighten out in the next few day. I need to make the most out of the time I have off.

What's New?

As I sit out on the porch listing to tunes and updating this blog I can't help be inspired by the nice weather we are finally having this spring day. It is spring, right? Although I haven't written or talked much about what I have done over the winter, I have been busy. Because I haven't a studio it is hard to do shoots unless I do them on site or brave the cold weather on a location shoot. But now that spring is in the air there are a few people who have approached me about creating family portraits. I am ready and have a lot of ideas for future shoots and can't wait until the green and warmer days start to appear!  

Although I had not created a lot of images this winter, I still was working on some photography none the less. First I was privileged to update the St Luke's Laboratory Staff Portraits that adorn the wall. Since I had been gone the task of creating and putting photos up of new staff has not gone to a photographer. Needless to say when I came back I could not let the contrast of the professional portraits against the mugshot go on much longer. I also created images of the happenings and stuff around the lab as well. It exercised my creative illustration/documentary skills so that we can show the patients that there is more than blood we deal with in the lab.

There were a lot of photographs that I really liked but one that stood out was the cutting up of breast tissue. That's right, the dissection of  a patient's breast tissue and I got to photograph it. Now I have no idea who's it was or the story behind it, because of the HIPAA Law, what I do know is it was interesting to personally witness the careful dissection and collection of tissue to further diagnose this person's condition. Even though I work at the lab, there are a lot of things I don't get to see on any given day. The Histology Department has been a one of those places in the lab I don't get to see what goes on. It's not because it's off limits, in fact nothing is off limits for me to witness there, it's because I don't always have the time to hang out there. Especially when you are on the clock and there are people who need their blood drawn.

I also hung out in the Micro Department where I got to photograph things growing on plates and people working with them. I was especially pleased with the portrait I got of Nick working on a plate. I thought it would look great on the wall of the reception area of the lab as well as my portfolio. Again I got to learn more about the micro lab than I had before shooting photographs. 

When I wasn't creating photographs of staff and the goo they work with, I was working on continuing education, specifically posing as well as lighting. I picked up a few classes on line on posing people both in groups and single subjects. I sometimes feel that I struggle with this and have always looked for ways to improve. These classes were taught by the leading photographers of the day. As of today I am still working through a class and once I am done I know the lessons I have learned there will show up in my sitting. I'm excited to get started.

On my last post back in February I talked about my health and how I was taking control over it. Since then I have completed my yearly physical and for the most part I passed with flying colors. Where I am still struggling with is the cholesterol issue, specifically it staying on the boarder line. My doctor was not too worried because I still  have some weight to loose and now that spring is here I should be able to drive the bicycle to work more often. 

With that I would say; if you are needing to update your families photographs this year let me know. Because I work every third weekend I don't have a lot of those dates open. You can call me or leave me an email to set up an appointment. I look forward to talk to you.    



Food and Health

Besides being a photographer one of my other hobbies is being an avid cyclist. Not the kind that races but one who loves to ride a bike to work or just for fun on the weekends. I have been doing this for many years now and will hopefully continue for many more to come. Cycling is one way for me to get the exercise that I need throughout the week and face it, it is way better for the environment overall. Now that I am older coupled with my other profession, my health has move up to be a top priority. For most of my adult life I have struggled with my glucose and more so, my cholesterol and cycling along with diet is the way I try to control it.

At its highest point a few years back, I had made some dietary changes and in a few months I had dropped it some 40 points. At that point I figured I was on the road to recovery but that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. A few weeks ago, I had to complete some fasting labs for a life insurance policy and there it was again, staring right at me in the results, my high cholesterol. I wasn’t expecting great numbers but some improvement but that did not happen. Instead I managed to keep the number at the same level as before. My glucose was way down as well as my weight, but the cholesterol stayed the same leaving me frustrated. See I do not want to go on any type of statin to reduce my levels because of the damage they can do to your liver, not to mention most people on the report feeling odd while on them. That can’t be good. So, my solution is to drop all dairy, egg and anything that has a hint of cholesterol to try to get my numbers down by the end of next months physical.    

What I think that is happening is that my body just can’t process cholesterol as the rest of you do. So instead of getting rid of what I don’t need, it gets painted on the walls of my arteries and veins leaving it there as art. If not taken care of will eventually cause high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes which isn’t all that fun. And I should know I have seen them play out in the emergency room time and time again.

 I thought I would write about this because I know I am not the only one who struggles with this particular plight, there are many others who are in the same boat. Some know it and others will know it with their first heart attack or stroke. I want to blog about it here and in my cycling blog because I wish to bring to light two things. First; there is life outside of our western diet that is killing all of us slowly in one way or another. Second; your health both mentally and physically shouldn’t be a forethought only coming to light after some major health incident or a death of someone close to you of very preventable disease. It takes work that will not only payoff for you but the people who count on you being there in their lives

Because I love photography I thought I would combined some of these blogs with photos of the activities and food I have. Tonight, we had Salmon with asparagus and red wine. The Salmon is one of the few things I can cook without poisoning my wife. Really, I am a bad cook and if it wasn’t for salad, raw vegetables, and fruits I would starve. I am not going to get into how I prepared it but instead I thought I would photograph it for you to admire it. If you want the recipe I can send you a link to it.


Health care shouldn’t be expensive, but it is and because we love the convenience of our processed foods. Millions of us are dying of preventable disease while the rest of us are ticking time bombs waiting to have our turn in the Emergency Room. While you read this ask yourself if you could be next, then if you haven’t had a physical, make an appointment and get checked out. Maybe you will be one of the lucky few that everything is ok for now, but I am betting you won’t. My guess there will be something that with a little change in diet and exercise could change your path from the ER to a very healthy life.

So, get up and get it done and once you have been checked out and even if everything is A-Okay, make some life changes anyway. Get away from processed foods and eat way more vegetables and fruits. Next, look into getting a Fitbit or something akin to it. I found it to be a great tool in keeping track of my activity, sleep and quality of food intake. Look into them they are simple to use. And finally think about cycling to work. I have a blog that I put out information about cycling and commuting to work that I think would help. Spring is coming, tune up the bike or buy one at a Local Bike Shop and get your exercise while working out some of your stress in life while commuting to work. What have you got to lose but a few pounds and some stress in your life. Remember if you don’t want to pay high prices of health care then you must start with yourself by taking care of yourself. If you don’t do it for yourself then do it for the ones you love.  




Take Charge of Your Health

I’m disturbed by the observation of the decline of places that are open to people who need help with their mental healthcare. Healthcare overall is suffering funding issues and has for years but the biggest loser of healthcare has been mental healthcare. With our tech heavy sedentary lives coupled with the growing substance abuse and depression has resulted in self-destruction and senseless violence that has increasingly touched more lives. So what do you do? Take steps in your life and not only be the proprietor of your physical health but mental health as well.


I am not a professional psychologist by any stretch, but I know what helps me cope and that is getting outside and away from stressful things in my life. Photography has been that vehicle in which I use to get out and create images of nature. Finding subjects to create images from, is just half of the therapy with the other half being away from the noise, the electronics, and being surrounded by nature. I know that if I don’t get out on a regular basis I tend to get restless, irritable, and not too fun to be around. Prolonged absents from my favorite activities tend to eat at my motivation and desire to create while increasing my want to just sit and do nothing.


You don’t have to take up photography or a heavy physical activity to enjoy nature, just get out. I find the best way to start is to grab a friend and go somewhere you haven’t been before or in a long time. For me, exploring a new place is great distraction from the problems of the day. And discovery of new things along with the walking more than five feet seems to release the endorphins I need to better my mood. Once you have found a place that you enjoy, make it a part of a daily or weekly routine to visit. By establishing a routine of getting outside into nature you are taking charge of both your physical and mental healthcare in once simple activity.


In conjunction with getting out into nature, you could also surround yourself with nature in art form. Photographs, paintings and drawings of nature in your house can help you in between the times you are out experiencing it. By googling “Nature Art and Healing” you will find countless articles written by doctors of medicine and physiology of the effects nature and images of nature has on the healing process. I have observed in the two hospitals I’ve visited the number of nature related images have grown over the years.


Mental along with physical health is important enough for us to make it a part of our daily route. I see too many people in the ER who could have avoided it had they taken the initiative with their health. There are situations that medical intervention must occur but doing things before that benefit your health both mentally and physically will mitigate the more severe problems later down the road. So start by simply getting off your couch and take a walk in your favorite park. Whether it is in your neighborhood or one of the many state parks we have, just start now. And if you are looking for a park, visit Kepler State Park, it is one of my favorite places to be.

 Kepler State Park, Fall of 2017

Kepler State Park, Fall of 2017