Wednesday, November 20, 2013

School project

A couple of years ago I had what I thought was this great idea for a photo project. I think it was when my son, Henry, was starting first grade. I thought it would be so cool if I could take a picture of him every day before he went to school. Just one picture. I envisioned this school year-long project where I could see how he grew and changed during the course of the year. And, years later, of course, it would be funny to look back and laugh at the way clothing styles and hair styles had changed over time. I asked him what he thought of the idea. He just said, "No way, dad."

I didn't force the issue. I figured I took enough pictures of him anyway. And, generally, he's a good subject, so I figured I shouldn't push my luck.

I mentioned this to him shortly before the start of the most recent school year. He seemed a little surprised that he'd said no as a first grader. He even seemed...interested. So we talked about how this might work. I said I'd set up a camera with a timer on a tripod with a light and a backdrop. Every day right before we leave for school he'd run downstairs and take a picture of himself. The bonus for me is that as a fourth grader, he could handle all of this himself once I get it set up. I also promised him a dollar a day if he'd play along.

After the first day or two, I quit going with him. He already knew how to turn the equipment on and off, so what was I needed for anyway. About a week after the start of school I downloaded the first set of photos. The project had already changed from a mere record of what the grade-schooler looked like and what he wore and how tall he was into something much more interesting. Here are the first six days of the school year...

I was hesitant to mention this project to anyone at first. I didn't know if Henry would get sick of it after a week and call it quits. We're about three months in, and he's still going strong, so I thought it was time to start sharing some of the early photos.

I'm still trying to decide what to do with all the pictures. I'm open to any suggestions anyone might have...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Falling for fall

I noticed this guy this morning walking with the boy to school. There was a pretty heavy frost last night, so leaves were falling like raindrops throughout the neighborhood. It was neat to see and neat to hear. I love the sound of leaves falling. I noticed this guy had landed just right, so I stopped to take a quick photo. Looking at it now after just a little bit of Photoshop, I wish I'd taken the time to get a real camera to shoot it. There are plenty of leaves yet to fall, so maybe I'll find something even better tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm naturally skeptical of new things. I know HDR has been popular for a while-and overdone for almost as long. I generally only like it if it's done subtly, but I went a little haywire with this one. The top photo is HDR. The bottom is one of the five frames used to create the top one. I like them both for different reasons. 

It's sorghum-making season in Iowa. I recently went out to my aunt and uncle's farm for the afternoon to take in the sights, sounds and smells like I try to do most years. Their mill is powered by a steam engine that is about 100 years old. It's powering all the wheels and belts and everything you see here. Described as a "junkyard come to life," my grandpa built this mill a long time ago. He started making sorghum in 1926. For the uninitiated, sorghum is a thick, sweet liquid that is made from boiling the juice from the sweet sorghum cane down until it gets to be just the right sweetness. It tastes especially good on cornbread and biscuits. Some people eat it on pancakes or ice cream. I think my grandpa ate it on everything. He lived to be 98, so it's no doubt very good for you. If you want to give it a try, it's available at Hy-Vee. Look for the red Maasdam Sorghum Mills label. Or, look them up online:

And tell me what you think of the pictures. I go back and forth as to whether I like HDR or hate it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I grabbed a camera, a tripod and a beer and walked out into the backyard hoping to find something worth shooting tonight while the rest of the family was out fishing. This is what I came up with. I noticed a few more rose buds that will be blooming soon, so hopefully I'll have a few more opportunities at getting a good rose picture in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I went kayaking today. I got a couple of pictures I'm pretty pleased with while I was out. Someday I'll have the courage to take a "real" camera with me. Not today. I don't have much experience in a kayak, and I know they can tip over. I was also on the water with my 9-year-old who was soloing in his kayak for the first time. I didn't want to have to worry about my camera and him at the same time, so I dug out my old iPhone to take as my only camera. I'd be unhappy if I had to take that phone for a swim, but it's a backup for a reason. The camera isn't as good as the newer ones, but, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. It did a fine job this afternoon. I put the top photo on facebook and commented that kayaking looked a little bit like flying today. The bottom photo is also a reflection but a little more abstract without the nose of the kayak for reference. I can't wait to get back out on the water, and one of these days, I'll bring a better camera.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

I'd never been to the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa before today, but I plan to go back. I was there in the middle of the day with a 9-year-old with no patience for photography. I managed to get the photos below despite those limitations. But after seeing the beautiful prairie, I can't wait to go back with some decent light and nobody nagging me to leave. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What it lacks in sharpness, it makes up for with convenience. I've been carrying an iphone for a little over two years, and I'm continually amazed at how good the pictures from it can be. I shot these last week while on a walk. Most of what I shoot with my phone is through the Hipstamatic app. I know it's an Instagram world. I still like making my choices before exposure rather than after, so I stick with Hipstamatic. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

South Dakota scenes

I've been back from vacation for a while, but my head is still out in the Hills. We stayed in a beautiful spot just outside of Spearfish Canyon. This creek ran right past the place we stayed.

And this was the view at night. 

I was pretty pleased with both of these photos, and I'm ready to go back. I miss the sound of the creek running by...

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mount Rushmore

It's been almost a year since I last put something here, so it's probably time for an update. I just got back from a family vacation to the Black Hills. Family vacation and good photography don't go real well together, but I got a couple images I like. I'll be putting them up here in the coming days. The first is a pano I did at Mt. Rushmore while Henry was filling out his Junior Ranger booklet. We were there early, but not really-great-light-early. This doesn't look like much in color, but I like the black and white version quite a bit. The bigger it is, the better it looks.