Shaker Village Photos: A Short Stroll

Click on the grazing sheep to see more photos from Shaker Village.

As we walked out of our building at Shaker Village one morning we were met by grazing sheep. That is, sheep grazing on the lawn right outside our window, a sight akin to the common areas of many old towns. It reminded me that Shaker Village is living history, a place of real buildings and real events. As we headed over to the Center Building to shoot inside there were other reminders of Shaker history, all just there for the capturing. It is a special place to visit.

I added a few photos today of buildings seen and light captured. They were all taken within a short period of time, walking a short distance to an arranged tour of one of the center buildings. It was a short stroll, but one that offered some images that give a decent impression of what it is like to spend time in this delightful place. I hope you enjoy them even a small bit as much as all of us did in seeing them in person.

Click on the grazing sheep to see the other photos. Or just use this link. And … Happy Labor Day!

Read More

Shaker Architecture …. Lines And Curves

Click on the Shaker staircase to see a few more images.

I have been able to rather randomly process a few more images from Shaker Village. The ones that drew my eye yesterday were the lines and curves of Shaker architecture, simple but graphic. There many times is a feeling of calmness and peace that comes from the form and style of the buildings and furnishings. It is a wonderful place to visit and in which to spend some time.

I will continue to process photos as time and energy permits. Themes sort of present themselves as I review what I shot. Much of it is designed to show you where we were and what Shaker Village looks like. And then there are a few more images, tucked in here and there, that are different – more stylish perhaps. And some are photos of our Faithful Friends themselves. Those I am working on; those are the ones I will look back on in the future with the most fondness. After all, our reunion is about those friendships.

Click on the staircase at the top of the post to see a few more photos from yesterday. Or you always can just click here. And enjoy the weekend, a holiday weekend at that. Camera in hand.

Read More

Bill Fortney … A Photographer’s Eye At 55 MPH

Bill sign
Click on Bill to see the shot he saw at 55 mph!

During our recent Faithful Friends gathering at beautiful Shaker Village down in Kentucky our host (mentor, guide, and best friend) Bill Fortney suggested we visit Penn’s Store over in Gravel Switch (no, I am not making up any names). Penn’s is described as the country’s oldest general store continuously run by the same family (click here for a link to their website). Their site gives you GPS coordinates to find the store, instead of an address, if that tells you anything about how far out in the country Gravel Switch is. We headed out, enjoying the fellowship of travelling together and looking forward to at least a few shots of the store. But that is not the focus of today’s post.

We were following Bill along a highway at a bit more than 55 mph (we do try to follow the speed limits). At some point out in the middle of nowhere Bill slowed and pulled over to the side of the road. He told the rest of us that he just had to go back and shoot that sign. Now, I had been on the lookout for things to shoot ever since we left Shaker Village. I managed to spot a few old barns along the way, big old buildings covered in vines and in some disrepair (the kind of things I really like to shoot). But barns are pretty big and usually pretty easy to spot. I sure hadn’t seen any signs of any kind. But we backtracked a bit and pulled into a little dirt lane off the highway. And lo and behold! There was an Americana sign built by someone as part of the fence surrounding a large field. It was faded and not all that big; none of us knew how in the world Bill had spotted it from the highway (let alone at 55 miles per hour)! Let’s just say he has a photographer’s eye.

Bill never fails to amaze. Many of us have been out with him, whether driving or on foot, and asked him how he ever spotted some great shot that he stopped to get. We didn’t see it, and most of the time we were really trying hard to find anything. But Bill could be walking along teaching or telling a story, seemingly absorbed in our conversation, when he suddenly stops and up comes the camera. It really is just short of amazing.

The point of telling about our trip to Gravel Switch is to emphasize again the need to develop that artist’s eye that all photographers would be well-served by. Even standing still and surveying an area it is easy to miss the killer shot without honing a sense of what you are looking for. Bill sees the world in graphic terms: line, form, color and texture. It’s not just the scene in front of him; it’s the graphic lines that make up the scene. It’s the way color and texture stand out as elements in and of themselves. My friend Raymond Jabola has the same skill set; he sees the composition of a shot by the graphics presented, instead of just the subject matter. By contrast, I struggle to see past the subject. I end up with my mind thinking ‘barn’, and I miss the highlights and color that aren’t really the barn but still make up the shot viewers will be drawn to. It’s a real art, part experience, part skill, part natural ability.

Now, if you are like me, don’t despair. We can all practice and shoot, practice and shoot. We can look at the work of others, continuously. We can analyze what drew us to that image, what elements make the photo a killer shot. With enough effort and practice we all can get better and better at seeing. No, we may never be a Bill Fortney (few photographers are). But we can improve at seeing what is possible, what is there to spend time getting just right. And looking at photos isn’t some boring exercise that we have to force ourselves to do; it’s fun!

Bill saw the flag when the rest of us had no idea it was there. He showed us the shot-within-the-shot when we tried to capture it. And he taught us a great lesson in looking beyond the subject (fields and roadsides) to spot color, form, line and texture. It is possible to train your mind and your eye to see in those kinds of graphic terms. It just takes a bit of extra practice, and it doesn’t hurt to spend workshop time with Bill Fortney and His Light.

You can click on the image of Bill at the top of this post to see the photo at a larger size, along with the shot of the flag that I decided on. Or you always can just click here. And if you like the shot of the sign? Thank my good friend Bill.

Read More

Faithful Friends 2014: A Photo

Shaker bottles
Click on the vintage bottles to see a much larger photo.

You go shooting with friends in an area that offers all kinds of possibilities for great images. You take lots of shots because there was plenty to catch the eye and excite the imagination. Then you hurry home to download those photos and get right to work processing your favorites from that Faithful Friends gathering that was so memorable. Well, that is mostly the case, I guess. The first two parts certainly were true – it was a fun and memorable trip spent with great friends in a wonderful area in which to shoot. But the hurry home and start processing part? Not so much.

Yesterday was my day to see what I came home with. I wanted to spend as much time with friends as possible, so I didn’t even take a laptop to download or process when we were in Kentucky. But it turned out that what I came home with was lots of laundry to do and lots of lawn to mow. There always seem to be chores that pile up while we are away for even a short time; this trip was no exception. All I managed to get done last night was download my cards and process one photo before bedtime rolled around. Welcome home ….

The image I processed was one I saw taken by my good friend (and expert photographer) Jim Begley. His most artistic eye saw these vintage bottles set against the old glass in the window, all outlined by the late afternoon sun. The still life just reminded me of Shaker Village … and Shaker Village now reminds me of all our wonderful friends. So that was the first one I took aim at. Click on the image at the top of this post to see the photo in a much larger size. Or you always can just click here.

Keep visiting to see more photos from our Faithful Friends gathering as I find more time to share some of what we saw. And give thought to joining all of us at a His Light workshop in the near future. We would be glad to welcome you to the family.

Read More

A Visit With Raymond

Raymond J
Our dear friend, Raymond Jabola.

Whew! We are home from a Faithful Friends gathering in Kentucky’s Shaker Village, a His Light event hosted there by Bill Fortney and Jim Begley. It was four days of catching up with old friends, sharing our love of the Lord and of photography. We traveled a bit to do some shooting, shared some wonderful meals, and just enjoyed time spent in fellowship with one another. Bill and Jim were gracious and warm hosts to a growing family who share a real love of each other. It was a busy, wonderful time. Thank you, Bill and Jim!

And Sue and I had an all-too-rare treat in having our dear friend Raymond Jabola fly out from California to spend two extra days with us in Bloomington while attending our gathering. Raymond is a friend that comes along far too seldom … one that you don’t see for a long time but pick up your conversation as if you had been together just the day before. We traveled together and shot together and spent just about the entire last week together. And when it was time to drop him off at the airport yesterday it was difficult to say good bye. He is a true, true friend. I hope each of you has a number of friends like Raymond in your own life.

Raymond reminded us of a point about photography that I want to pass on and re-emphasize today. Raymond is an incredibly talented photographer, one with a natural artist’s eye. His work is outstanding, a personal vision that expands to touch an emotional chord in the rest of us. I wish he had a website I could direct you to so you could admire his work, but he hasn’t put one together yet (I am working on him really hard to do so). His images take the usual and make it special somehow (I can’t really describe it; if I could do it myself I would give up my day job and just shoot full-time). Just trust me … Raymond is a special photographer with a special knack for getting the shots most of us don’t see. And he makes it look rather effortless.

Raymond shared with us what he feels is the essence of capturing the photo that draws you into his work. He said he used to go out and shoot … and shoot … and shoot. And he would come home with uninspired images that never saw the light of day. Then he became more selective, shooting what inspired him, what moved him emotionally in some way. He described someone, a stranger, who once saw his work in a show and commented that the passion Raymond felt was evident in his images. And it struck Raymond that this stranger was correct – Raymond’s good stuff, the photos that touched him and that were popular with viewers, were the images that got him excited. Those were the photos that touched a chord in him. He wasn’t shooting just because he went somewhere with a camera in hand; he wasn’t shooting to please someone else; he wasn’t forcing himself to take photos just to take photos. If he isn’t inspired by what he is seeing, Raymond now passes up what is there and continues looking for the subject that does spark an interest. And everything else that is great about that photo flows from that inspiration … the best way to compose it, the right look in processing, the feel of that image. It all comes from being in love with what you see (for lack of a better description on my part). And Sue and I began to see that Raymond certainly was correct in his philosophy as far as our own best photos went.

I remember Matt Kloskowski writing a couple of years ago that he got better and better as a shooter when he finally decided what it was he wanted to shoot. Before that he was shooting everything and anything, trying to get good at all of it. Then he realized that he really loved to shoot landscapes, and he made a concentrated effort to improve on that genre of photography, pushing most of the other stuff to the back burner. And his landscape shots today are really, really good. That sort of dovetails with what Raymond was passing on: if all you are doing is dutifully showing up some where and capturing everything in front of you no matter whether you are excited about doing so or not, you probably are coming home with a lot of stuff you don’t like so much. And if you don’t like it so much, I guarantee you (from lots of personal experience) that your viewers aren’t going to get excited about those photos, either.

So, thank you, Raymond, for a wonderful visit. Thank you for your friendship. And thank you for advice that is going to improve my shooting – no matter where I am or what I am shooting with. If I can’t be the artist, I can at least make darn well sure that I love what I am capturing. That will always come through to any viewers. And to me.

Read More

Brown County Photos: An Update

Camp flowers

Click on the summer flowers to see the other photos.

Today was one of those days. It was spent preparing to welcome a house guest, an event we have been looking forward to for some time now. But it meant getting some chores done that took up most of our available time. I had a few more images from our Saturday trip to Brown County, but I only got to a very few. I added them to yesterday’s gallery. And then got back to those chores.

Read More

Camp Palawopec Photos: Old Brown County

Click on the camp sign to see more Brown County photos.

Saturday Sue and I visited Brown County once again, scouting some new places to shoot for our October His Light workshop with Bill Fortney. We found the late summer weather almost ideal, the locations rewarding, and the friendship of those we met to be warm and gracious. It was a good day.

We checked out Cox Creek Mill, an old mill that has plenty of targets for any photographer (inside and out). We didn’t get to meet the owners, but there were plenty of signs on the lane leading to the mill indicating that we were most welcome. It sprinkled on us while we were there, so we couldn’t spend a whole lot of time exploring. But we saw enough to make sure we include it for our workshop. There are shots to be had there.

Then we were blessed to make the acquaintance of Mike Nickles, owner and operator of Camp Palawopec. He was warm and gracious, inviting us to shoot at our leisure (and inviting us back for the October workshop). We roamed the property, inspecting the several cabins and outbuildings on the grounds. And these were real-deal cabins … old and beautiful. They are not newly-built and made to look like the old cabins of rural Brown County. They have been lovingly maintained, livable and lived-in. Wide angles, close-ups, details … there is something for any photographer to enjoy and to shoot. It was a very good day, and we already are looking forward to a return trip.

And finally, we passed a quintessential Indiana farm scene on our way home. Red barn, white horse, beautiful field of flowers filling the yard. There was no way we were going to not at least try to capture that memory of an Indiana summer. It was a good day.

Click on the image of the camp sign to see more photos from Brown County. Or just use this link. And make a note to yourself – if you ever make it to beautiful Brown County, be sure to visit Mike Nickles at Camp Palawopec. Camera in hand.

Read More

Get Matt Kloskowski’s Favorite Filter … For Free

Readers, this is a real and valuable free offer.

Matt Kloskowski is a very, very fine instructor. If you ever have the opportunity to sit in on a Lightroom or Photoshop class with him, take it. He is a very fine photographer. If you ever have the chance to go shooting with him, grab it. And he is a most generous Photoshop Guy, often offering his presets, secrets and tips to the rest of us. One of Matt’s most favorite filters, especially for landscape photos, is found within onONe Software’s Perfect Effects 8. Matt has gone so far recently as to say that he applies that particular filter (Dynamic Contrast) to every one of his landscapes. That is high praise indeed.

Now, you could buy onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 8.5 and use the Perfect Effects module within that suite. You also could buy the Perfect Effects 8 module as a standalone of its own. But today I am offering you the exact same Perfect Effects 8 for FREE! Well, actually onOne is the group offering the module; I am only able to let you in on this great deal. But I am very pleased to be able to do so. I bought this software some time ago; I use it regularly (especially on landscapes, but also on a lot of other types of images). Matt absolutely loves the Dynamic Contrast filter contained in Perfect Effects. I use that one a lot (as in: on almost all my landscape images). It works. Images get the pep and pizzazz they otherwise sometimes lack. And you can have what I shelled out precious resources to obtain … for FREE!

Click here to visit the onONe Software website and get in on this limited-time offer. Sign up for onOne’s Fotocommunity newsletter (one that I enjoy checking out, and one you always can unsubscribe from) and become eligible for this free offer. I tell ya, you just can’t lose!

What could be better than starting off Friday and the following weekend with a valuable free offer? Don’t delay; take advantage of this one. Thank you, onOne!

Read More

Artist Spotlight: Rick Coleman

Covered bridge falls

A photo from Rick’s original neck of the woods … Indiana.

I have had this discussion with many of my friends for some time now: some of you are born with an artist’s eye. You have the ability to see a photo in your mind when you first survey a scene. Then you press the shutter and come away with an image we all would like to have for ourselves. No worrying about f/ stops and rules-of-thirds and meters and all that; you see a photo in a scene and you capture it. That is an inborn sense, an ability that the rest of us don’t have (at least to the same degree). Now, the rest of us can learn and practice and grow in our ability – no doubt about that. And we can end up with some pretty good images along the way. But take someone with that artist’s ability and match them up with a slow learner such as myself when everything else is equal? I’m going to be left wondering why I didn’t get that shot each and every time.

I have a friend that I want to mention who has that artist’s eye. I knew it when we were out in North Carolina and saw his images for the first time. Now, all of Rick Coleman’s photos aren’t perfect (and I defy you find someone who’s are). But you can tell he has the composition, the look down pat. Sometimes you find yourself shooting in less-than-ideal conditions, a time of day that you didn’t get to choose, for example. None of us will produce our best work then. But you can tell by looking at Rick’s work that he saw the picture that was there, that he captured all that was there to be captured. And what firmly convinced me of that fact was a look at his latest gallery yesterday.

I discovered recently that Rick also spent time doing woodworking projects (I saw images of a cedar chest he had produced). And what struck me, aside from the beauty of the wooden chest, was the ‘look’ of that project. It had the artist’s touch to it, the sort of finished look that I could have pored over drawings and rulers and rules forever and not managed to come up with. Then yesterday he posted a gallery of other projects he had done. That’s when I realized how much I really disliked him. I mean, how much I admired his touch with wood … the same artist’s touch he shows in his photos. It struck me that I was right again with my belief that artists have this ability that the rest of us don’t. And that I can admire them for that and appreciate their finished works without being jealous. I can work toward doing the same, realizing that I probably am not going to achieve that level, that look that I admire so much. At least I can sit back and tell myself that I was right in my theory (lol).

Click here for a link to Rick’s website. Pay attention not just to the photos of his landscapes, but also to the woodworking projects. If you appreciate beauty of all kinds, you will appreciate his work. And while you are there be sure to read his ‘About’ story. I have a special place in my heart for Indiana and for farm stories … Rick’s is a good one.

Enjoy Rick’s photos and his website. And enjoy today. It’s a pretty special world that we live in.

Read More

FriendSpeak: Answering The Call


FriendSpeak … spreading The Good News in Bloomington

I wanted to share an uplifting and rewarding experience with you. Yesterday was the beginning of my church’s FriendSpeak campaign. We read from The Book of Luke with international students who are attending Indiana University this year, offering the opportunity to practice English with native speakers (us). We work on grammar and pronunciation and phrasing and comprehension. More importantly, we make friends, partnerships that have lasted at times for years. We fellowship and plant seeds. We spread The Good News, sometimes to those with a hunger to learn that never have had the opportunity to do so. Our campaign runs a shuttle to pick up and drop off students at various points around town and campus each day, and we run reading/conversation sessions throughout the day. We began Sunday night with a get-acquainted watermelon fest; we end with a back-to-school afternoon picnic. This year we are reading with about 35 students from a variety of countries.

FriendSpeak began out of an effort to spread The Good News throughout the world by various missionary efforts. Then, “People came back from mission trips, saw that their next-door neighbors were from other countries, and said, ‘Why can’t we do the same thing right here, right now?’” said Ben Woodward, Director of FriendSpeak. Our minister got my attention about three weeks ago during a lesson when he reminded us that the apostles were sent out into the world to spread the Good News to all nations. Then he pointed out that with the presence of Indiana University in Bloomington that the nations were in fact coming to us. Well, that was an invitation that couldn’t be ignored … or refused. And, I gotta tell you from our personal experience here, this effort touches hearts and changes lives.

I have a link over to the FriendSpeak website (click here for that one). There is more information about the program if you or your faith group might be interested. There are students and foreign visitors living in almost all our communities, I would guess. Perhaps in yours?

Here in Bloomington at the North Central Church of Christ we have made friends with those who need a friend for years now. We have furthered the goals and aims of many students, people who are going back to their own countries with an informed, appreciative (and sometimes changed) view of our country. They become ambassadors for us throughout the world. And more than a few have gone home to become ambassadors for Christ and His message. Is there an opportunity for your group, for your church to so the same?

We don’t take credit for any changes that come about, whether in our guests or in our church family. That we owe to Him and in letting go to allow Him to work in our individual lives. Which He most surely does.

I just wanted to keep you up to date with something that is going on here in Bloomington. It’s not photography, but it is so good that I thought you would like to know.

Read More

Convicted! And Uplifted.

Today’s post just reminded me of Ricky Skaggs and my good friend Bill Fortney.

I sort of groused around Friday with my post for that day, questioning why I was keeping a website going and wondering if anyone was paying attention. I wondered if the entire enterprise was an exercise in false pride, thinking a lot more of myself than ever is warranted. And, boy, am I ever glad that I did!

I heard from a lot of you good friends, friends who gave me great insight into how special you are and how fortunate that makes me. Thank you. And thank you for all the insights into what you think of these types of websites and how they may serve us. I’ve attempted to summarize much of what you wrote below (but many of you wrote it all much better than I put it. You should be the ones with a website).

About the thought that so many of our websites may become places in which only we old guys who like gadgets will gather to hang out? Hey, why not? We really do like those gadgets. And we enjoy spending time with each other talking about them and how we use them. And we appreciate the very fact that we are a bit older these days … and, hopefully, a bit wiser. And what’s even better is that we enjoy each other. Sharing thoughts and ideas and experiences with each other is what we enjoy. Think of it … Facebook is a place where millions upon millions of other people share thoughts and activities and photos and personal information constantly (sometimes waaaay too much personal information, as a matter of fact). A website gives us the same opportunity, only in an expanded format. Think of it as a hangout for old guys, guys who like gadgets and each other. We all enjoy getting together in person, whether in our local communities or at larger gatherings like workshops, and sharing … sharing about what we have been doing, what we are interested in, what we think about life in general. A website can connect us with friends outside that local community, friends that we are just as interested in staying close to as our friends in the local camera club. And that is a good thing.

When we listen for God’s voice in our lives we simply are led by Him. A website doesn’t need big numbers of readers to accomplish what he may have as a plan for bringing His people together or bringing others to Him. If Bill Fortney’s site motivates readers to come to a His Light workshop and be exposed to how we love Him and are obedient to Him, does it matter if the number of readers is equal to Scott Kelby’s (really big numbers)? No, of course not. If a site of any kind motivates any of us to share and fellowship with those who love Him, numbers don’t matter. As Bill put it, “I love to come and see what you are sharing, I’m only one, but I’m one my Savior died for, so I guess I matter, and look at what I read!” And when do we know exactly what results He desires or how He is going to accomplish that? We live our lives trying to share what we feel we are supposed to be doing. Numbers such as readership don’t matter. I was reminded by many comments you made of what we used to describe as a majority when I still was on the police department: a majority is the law plus one. He is that One in our lives.

We all like photos. We like taking photos and processing photos. We like looking at the photos of others. We learn so much when find images we are drawn to and wonder: what is it that we like about that photo? How do we feel emotionally? What technically makes it a great image? Conversely, is there something that doesn’t work in that photo? What might we change or do differently? Websites with photos, whether Kirk Tuck’s “arty” images or not, can make us better photographers. And, personally, I enjoy seeing where my friends have been, what the other parts of this wonderful country of ours look like. Sites such as 500px and 1x post some absolutely stunning images on a regular basis. But, as good friend Rick Coleman pointed out, those sites can seem a bit impersonal. Websites run by our friends are the opposite; they are quite personal and meant to be exactly that. And that is a very good reason to keep doing them, I guess. It’s about the friendship.

And, finally another thank you, this one to Bill Fortney’s wonderful wife, Sherelene. Bill wrote me that one day he was feeling unappreciated, wondering if anyone was reading his posts and if he was doing any good in the world. He said her answer to him was, “Wow, Bill. That’s awful, and it’s all about you too!” He wrote that it brought him up short, with no real comeback at the time. Then he realized (again) that this world is not all about him. He was worrying about matters that didn’t matter. I fell into that self-absorption last week, also. It’s not all about me; it’s not even a little about me. Thank you to everyone who called or wrote. I was reminded of what our friendship is and how important it is. And that the website can fit into that. And that fact is good enough for me.

Life is so very good when we remember what it is all about. Him, not me. Our friendships and fellowship, not me. Thanks to all you who continue to check in regularly. There is bound to be a new gadget or two announced somewhere this week. Together, we just may find them.

Read More

Is My Website Dying? What About Yours?

Pondering photography this morning. Thanks to my good friend Kent Ervin for the photo.

Thank you to my faithful readers, those of you who check in regularly and give me feedback on various activities and projects. Readership has translated into several offers from companies and individuals who invite me to pitch their products, offering a small percentage of sales in return. I always have declined, not wanting to ever be seen as pushing a product to benefit myself. That is not to say there aren’t sites and products and individuals I don’t’ recommend; there are some great things and photographers out there, and I am happy to draw attention to those that work. But readership is not stratospheric (as you could tell from the valuation of my site: $1,532). So, I am pondering the question this rainy morning: is my site slowly dying? Are other sites akin to mine suffering the same fate? Is that logical and to-be-expected?

What brought this to mind was sitting down last night to do a post. And coming up with nothing worthwhile to report (if you are/were a Seinfeld fan -”I got nothin’, Jerry!”). Then this morning I read a short article by Kirk Tuck over on the Visual Science Lab. He evidently was thinking in the same direction yesterday when he made some Photokina predictions. One of the things he wrote was:

“Finally, Photokina has always been a wonderful boost for blogs and sites dedicated to camera reviews and endless arguments about cameras and camera reviews. I think that’s quickly coming to an end. The mania for photography as an ever growing and never capped recreational market is quickly dying and page views across all sites are diving. These sites are now pretty much the purview of older men who love gadgets. Myself included. These sites will slowly die off as they become an endless collection of echo chambers, all telling the same stories about the same limited and largely identical products. Oh, yes we could put up pretty photos and talk about our “art” but it’s just like grand children and children: everyone likes to talk about theirs but no one really likes to listen to people talk about theirs. The death of gear oriented photoblogs is at hand. I guess we’ll go down swinging.” (click here for the entire article over on his site).

We are seeing camera sales slow down and/or drop across the board for almost every manufacturer. There is only so much you can sell before all of us photographers realize that we have virtually everything we need to take the photos we want (not necessarily perfect, but close enough to perfect for us). And, sure, we all love to get together to talk photo stuff (especially equipment), but just to read the same stuff over and over on a whole bunch of similar sites each day? Or to read opinions from people you don’t know anything about? Or to follow rumors that are just that … rumors? Wow! Brought me up short to see Kirk write what I have been thinking and coming up against for a bit now. Am I just an old guy who likes gadgets, as Kirk writes? Does that describe you, a faithful reader? Darn, hadn’t thought of it in quite so sobering terms.

And then he hit the nail on the head with something Sue and I discuss regularly … does anyone else really care about the photos I take of where we have been and what we are doing (even if I like some of them a lot)? Kirk’s comment on the “looking at photos of someone else’s grandkids” got me. I started the site years ago to put up photos of events I would occasionally photograph. People there inevitably would ask for a copy of an image (always of themselves or something related to them). At first I did so, making prints and mailing them off. Most times I didn’t even receive a thank you in return. I realized they did want to see the photos from the event, but they really didn’t want to have prints (certainly not to buy a lot of them). So I started the site to post images that people could go see themselves on, and that was fun for them and fun for me (most of the time). It still is, frankly. But then you start feeling a bit of pressure to do a little more, to provide some information. Or some really outstanding photos. Or some new insight on the whole question of photography. And before you know it, you are trying to answer all the deep questions of life.

Some outstanding men and women out there do that. My dear friend Bill Fortney is one, for example. There are some photographers who are so connected to the industry that they can provide new information that the rest of us don’t know about or they have the resources to continually create new and interesting content on a grand scale (think Scott Kelby). But the majority of the rest of us, certainly me included? Are we just repeating what someone else is saying or doing? Are we just typing away to humor ourselves? That’s a very humbling question to consider. Is it enough to post some thoughts and some images to keep in contact with friends and family? Is that truly a good reason, or is it a form of false pride (so dangerous in this world of ours)?

I’m not sure what the exact answer is for what many of us must be thinking and feeling. But I need to consider it further. If you have any thoughts, give me a shout. I would be most interested. And appreciative. Meanwhile, I am going shooting this weekend. That’s for sure. Whether the photos ever see the light of day? That’s a different question entirely.

Read More

The Nikon D810: Very Quick First Impressions

Fair pig

Photo bombing at the Indiana State Fair yesterday.

Sue and I spent most of the day yesterday at the Indiana State Fair (hence the photo at the top of the post. If you go this year, be sure to stop by the photo booth at the Soybean Building. I know, all of you on the coasts are thinking right now … “Soybean Building????”). It was a fun day, one spent connecting with our Indiana roots, past and present. It was on the way home that we stopped by Roberts Camera downtown to visit with those always-friendly folks (well, and maybe get a look at the new Nikon D810).

It was a quiet time while we were at the store, and the staff was kind enough to give me a D810 to play with for an extended period of time. Now, they weren’t crazy enough to send me outside the store … but they let me wander around inside taking photos for a good while. I can only give some quick first impressions, but I do shoot with a D800 and can therefore do some comparisons. And, overall, those first impressions are very favorable.

The D810 has a quieter shutter release, just like all the early reviews say. As a practical matter you would wonder, “Who really cares?” But, strangely enough for someone who really didn’t care, it was a very pleasant sound, more pleasing to this shooter’s ear than that of the D800. The difference was quite noticeable. And I liked it. So, if you simply compare things-liked versus what-really-doesn’t-matter, this made for a more enjoyable shooting experience. Very nice, Nikon.

I was in jpeg mode with a medium fast card in the D810. I could hold down the shutter release and just hear it click away. It never did stop (fill up). I didn’t even hear it slow down. In raw mode it also kept on going, but it slowed a bit after what seemed to be a fairly large number of clicks. It’s better in this regard than the D800. Very nice, Nikon.

It felt a bit lighter than the D800. Not super noticeable, but noticeable. The camera felt just right.

It made beautiful images as viewed on the LCD screen (at high magnification). The detail is fantastic. Of course, it also is fantastic on the D800. I didn’t have an earthshaking experience looking at the new images, but they really were nice. I would have to do a side-by-side with the D800 to say the new camera’s images were a lot better. But, trust me, they really did look nice. No one is ever going to complain about image quality with this camera.

The salesperson said the D810 was selling well. People in Indy like it. And they are not coming back with any complaints. At all. He said that hadn’t been the case with the D800 (we all know of the left-side focus problems at least the early D800′s had). This one looks good right out of the box.

The grip is a bit different. I have medium sized hands (a size 9 glove). With my D800 I can reach up and easily turn the on/off switch with my index finger while holding the camera to my eye. On the D810 I had to consciously stretch that finger out to do the same (it didn’t fall naturally into place). I wondered at first if that would be uncomfortable when pressing the shutter release button. It wasn’t. I never once was aware of stretching or missing the mark or any different feeling while shooting around the store. It was a natural experience, just different when first turning the camera on and off.

Okay, like I said, these were very quick first impressions. All the other good stuff that Nikon built into the camera will come in other exhaustive reviews (there are some decent ones on the web already if you do a search). My checking out the new kid on the block was to see if the differences I should have seen or felt were good ones or not. This is an upgrade that felt right yesterday. I can’t justify trading up to a D810. But, boy, is it ever tempting! Very nice, Nikon.

Read More

In Search Of The Perfect Tenderloin: Photos From Worthington, IN

Click on the Worthington square for more images.

After extolling the virtues of the tenderloin sandwich Holt’s Café served up last week at the Monroe County Fair, I received a challenge from a friend. That challenge? Try the tenderloin at Route 67 Cafe over in Worthington (in nearby Green County). My friend was sure Route 67 couldn’t be surpassed, and the trip would be worth my while just to sample the cafe’s fried peppers. I was assured that if I liked friend pickles (I do), I would love the fried banana peppers. Sue and I didn’t wait – we drove over to Worthington this past Saturday.

We had never visited this small Green County town before (about an hour from Bloomington). If you haven’t? Visit soon. It is worth your time. Worthington is a charming (quite) small town, filled with exceptionally friendly people. There are some very fine (and reasonably priced) antique shops on the downtown square (actually, sort of a downtown circle). Some of the older buildings make for fine photos, and we were welcomed to take photos in the antique stores by owner Sherry Vandeventer and her gracious staff. Now, Worthington is not a large town. Don’t be fooled, however, by it’s size; we had a very enjoyable, very fun three hours visiting and shopping. It was a very fine afternoon.

First of all, Route 67 Café is the real deal. Those banana peppers are deep fried in a very light batter, tempura-like. They were extremely flavorful, seasoned just right. They were worth the trip in and of themselves. If you live in the area, make the trip. Order the fried peppers. The café also is an ice cream shoppe. Have a milk shake with those peppers; they will cool off the hotness. And make sure you order up a tenderloin. It is moist, full-flavored and most excellent. Indiana, at least Southern Indiana, considers a tenderloin to be our State Sandwich. You can find them most everywhere – but not each one deserves that state title. Route 67 is a contender. It was a delicious sandwich, worth the trip. But … but, the Worthington tenderloin takes a small backseat to the one at Holt’s. That one may not be perfect, but it is the closest thing to it I have found yet. Folks, we have us a winner.

After eating at Route 67 we toured some of the downtown antique stores. We ended up down the highway just a little bit at The Cupboard, also owned by Sherry Vandeventer. Sue definitely is going back soon with friends for some additional serious shopping. And there is a table at The Cupboard that I have my eye on. We shot color and form and texture where it presented itself, and it was a most fine afternoon. The images I took are to show you some of Worthington’s small town appeal, its charm. As all of us photographers complain of so often, the light was not ideal Saturday afternoon. But the charm of the scenery helped overcome that, and I am booking a return trip in better light for the near future.

I hope you enjoy the short tour. It is designed to give you a bit of a feel for Indiana in the summer. Click here for the photos I liked best. Or just click on the image at the top of this post. And consider your own trip to Worthington. You’ll be glad you did.

Read More

Moose’s NIK Recipe, Matt’s Cloud Replacement Method, And A Kendall Reeves Show.


Make some time tonight to visit Kendall’s downtown gallery for a great new show.

Okay, most of you who know me already realize I am not Moose Peterson’s biggest fan. But I am not adverse to giving credit where credit is due, and he does make some nice images. One of the absolute necessities in the photo world is the ability to get the look you want from your photos … to more-than-just-a-bit post process. And most of us also believe we don’t have to re-invent the wheel to do so; using filters and presets and plugins to save time and get that certain style is appreciated (and encouraged). To that end, most of you have a copy of NIK’s suite of plugins (they are quite affordable if you do not. And there are trial versions available to show you what you are missing). NIK is one of my go-to programs, and it has been for a long time. The same goes for The Moose.

Moose has a NIK formula that he is willing to share. It is for his landscapes, and he does make some nice landscape prints. And every preset is a jumping off point for whatever you consider to be your style and your exact look. Having an arsenal of weapons, one that includes various presets, is a requirement when you are sitting down to process. We should thank Moose for his willingness to share. Click here for a link to one of Moose’s posts where he has his NIK recipe available for download. You have nothing to lose by trying it, and it may be just what you need to process that one special image. Thank you, Moose.

Then on to Mattie K. (for Kloskowski), one of my favorites. He always has been generous with his expert advice and his presets. Today is no exception, as he is generously passing on a short (seven minute) video on replacing skies for that ultimate special look. It’s not earth-shaking advice, but there is one tip tucked away inside that I found to be incredibly valuable. I won’t give it away, but it is a technique that I find I need on a regular basis. And until now didn’t really have a sure-fire way of utilizing. Some of you may have seen this over on Matt’s site already. If you didn’t, or if you haven’t taken the time to watch the video yet, be sure you do. Click here for that post and follow his simple directions. This is a keeper technique. And thank you again, Matt!

And for all of you in my neck of the woods. My good friend and expert photographer Kendall Reeves has a new show at his downtown gallery this week. I got a sneak preview today, and it is an exhibit guaranteed to catch your eye and hold your interest. It is part of Downtown Bloomington’s Gallery Walk (the first Friday of every other month). The show opens at 5PM and runs until 8. Please, this is one to see and enjoy. Make some time to visit with Kendall. And tell him ‘hello’ for me.

And it is Friday! (applause fills the air). Make sure to take some time to get out and enjoy one of the last months of summer. Camera in hand

Read More