29 April 2010


"A muscle is like a car. If you want it to run well early in the morning, you have to warm it up."

-- Florence Griffith Joyner 

-One element of my last End of Semester Project-

Sound advice. I don't know how many of you have experienced muscular tears, but those of you who have can sympathize with me. I'm not sure which location is the worst, but a high hamstring tear has GOT to be close to the top. I've got to drop some poundage to take pressure off my knee. I blew that out some years back in the military, but in addition, lumbar and cervical issues have plagued me much more over the last few years. All this has kept me less mobile than what I'm accustomed to and it shows. All around the gut! Well, I realize this is sort of a catch-22, because the heavier I get, the more pressure on the knee, the less mobile I become....the heavier I get again. Determined to break that cycle, I've been doing a few things to burn some calories. The stupid part was when I tried running without warming up. Within seconds, I felt muscle fibers give way and rebound down my leg. And the worst part of it is that its a high tear, like right below the cheeks.

So now sitting down is problematic, especially when you're wrapped up with an ice or heating pack. It is soooo not nice. Ever try going to the toilet on one butt-cheek. Try it. Stick a couple of tacks along the rim on one side. Then you shall share my pain. But I know, why would you want to...right? Over the last two days, I've totally forgotten about being a grand dad. Some business follow-ups never came to memory. This high-thigh hammy pull has all the attention of a colic-y baby that's been sitting in the same diaper all day. This is day three for me and  the first two days were lessons of constant reminders of what I CAN'T do for the time being. Its easy to get comfortable and forget the lack of mobility. Suddenly you become distinctively aware of your lapse in judgement akin to the way an infamous Catholic school nun might bring your attention back to reality from a fantastic daydream. At present, I have been fully trained on these sensitivities and I do not make those mistakes even when I sleep. So now its all about recovery. I am quite certain this is only a grade-2 tear. Its more than a simple strain resulting in sore muscles that I can rub out in a few days, but its also not quite a complete tear across the muscle or detachment from the bone. I give my self 2 weeks. So until then, this kid is grounded. I appreciate the help from those who have gone out of their way to assist me, as well as the well-wishers who wish me a speedy recovery.

On another note, I just found out that my old college professor is teaching his last class period today. I learned well and much from Michael Johnson whom I took instruction from as a photo student. I took 4 semesters of undergraduate photography under his tutelage while at the same time pursuing graduate studies in two fields. This is how important photography was to me. In two years time, I acquired two graduate degrees. I received a MBA first, and then a MS in Telecom next. Every semester I was in school, I took a Michael Johnson photography class. I can tell you very accurately that about 75% of all my scholastic time was spent in his darkroom, much to the dismay of some of my graduate study peers. I was still able to produce GPAs of 3.5 and 3.8 in both studies, but at one point I even risked not attaining the second masters in order to get one final lesson from Michael. As it were, I simply finished the degree a semester late, but that's how important it was for me to get better in the medium of film.

I was not attempting to get an art degree. So there wasn't the same pressures on me compared to those who were. I could fail one of his classes and not be affected. However, I did impose those same pressures on myself to succeed in his courses and sometimes even moreso. I didn't always get along with all my peers in Michael's classes. The opposite was true in my grad studies. I'm not even sure where I stood with Michael at times, but he still gave me permission to come back every semester to take the next higher level of photography. It was Michael who first suggested I try my hand at the art nude. He noted that I liked to challenge myself and suggested there was no more difficult genre of photo than shooting the nude, or at least something along those lines. I mulled over the idea for a second and decided against it, fearing the inability to attain models. On a whim I, by chance, asked a girl to pose for me and she happily agreed. The rest is history.

Michael's course work consisted of lecture and then an assigned project of 4 mounted prints, maybe 6 per semester which were critiqued by the entire class and then he gave his view. He have us pretty much one roll of film to get 4 shots out of 36. Critiques were ofttimes harsh, especially among cliquish groups that never had anything good to say about anyone else's work but their own. At times I took issue and wished Michael would step in. More than once, a girl's efforts were condemned by some in the group and tears were shed. I didn't care when my own work was blasted and I could also take it when a friend did the blasting. To me, it was constructive and there's nothing any of them could say to me that would have been worse than my military days. At times, it took all I had to not call upon my days of old and verbally berate the clique groups who were mean to their peers. Then again, I had to remember that 90% of the class were the same age as my kids. These projects then culminated into a final project of I believe 16-18 images which were not peer-critiqued. These were Michael's alone. I still have the notes on my first final project where I got blasted to bits by Micheal at the end of the first semester, yet I came back for more. I never got another scathing review like that. I learned.

-This is one of the shots I got blasted for during 
my first final project review. It was by model 
request, but I didn't use it. It was only on the contact sheet. Michael hated it and 
sat me down with my contact sheets afterwards.-

-First Polaroid Transfer-

-First Nude Series-

One of my influences from Micheal was a love for film. The ONLY reason I switched over to digital was due to a lack of  darkroom access here in Vegas. Many of us also took on some of his personal tastes and disdains such as a lack of love for some of the Kodak processes and film. Much like a son may chose some of the same affiliations as a father, I loathe Kodak's C-41 processed Black and White film, preferring pro-grade true B and W instead. My usage of borders also stems from his stipulations. His "cup of light" explanations on exposure made learning photography very simple compared to many whom I know who cannot understand the relationship of shutter and aperture. Photo under Michael was laid back but you had better have your ducks in a row. The flannel shirt and jeans might have a tendency to fool the wary into believing art classes are about personal tastes and that you would couldn't help but get an "A" in a class so subjective. In four semesters from 2005 to 2007, I watched many take Michael for their first semester in Art, never to return, opting for painting or drawing instead. I don't recall how many years exactly he's been a professor at Murray State University but I'm sure its been more than 30 years. So on your last day, Michael... I salute you.

27 April 2010

...And This I Shall Do

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he had imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
--- Henry David Thoreau 1817

The biggest news for me right now is that, as of last week, I became a grand dad. I've been asked if I began fathering children at the age of 13, but such is not the case. I was 19 when my son was born and my daughter came into existence a few years later. My daughter became a mom at an age older than I became a dad, so no, she wasn't just out of puberty either. I was young but I was not that young and neither are my kids. I'll get my own pics soon enough, but it bothers me to no end that I was not there for my grand-daughter's birth. My son-in-law's mother is getting plenty enough shots of the baby, who was born a very healthy and big red-head baby. I envy her greatly for her presence there but I am thankful as well. I'll be there soon enough, but I was present for both my kid's premiers and I'd have liked for it to have been no different for my grand-kid's world debut. Its just not easy scheduling a flight on a due date and rightly so, since she was a week late. So yes, I am a grand dad to a beautiful 8lb, 2oz, 20in baby girl. She shall call me Big Daddy T. Gramps just didn't seem fitting for me.

I got to sit out on my patio this evening and stare at a full moon while sippin' on a cup of Joe. Actually my coffee is always pretty sweet so maybe I should say sippin' on a cup of Joanna. This gave me a moment away from my computer to contemplate things in my life, from the challenges, the surprises, the dramas, and the also the blessings. Right now it seems like the blessings are on short supply, but I tend to weather most storms fairly well. One thing that has the heart aching a bit is a surprise from a friend I thought to be lost to me only to hear the return has some agony with it. My elation was quickly deflated when I learned that this friend is at extreme odds with another person also dear to me. Between the two, all is lost where a once admirable and flourishing relationship existed. Its almost analogous to a marriage. You are equally friends with both husband and wife and they suddenly divorce. And then it gets ugly. Its hard to talk about his and remain vague at the same time, but I don't wish to convey details when I have no real understanding of behind the scenes. I do know that steps were taken that has made the relationship irreconcilable and more harm and negative consequences may ensue. I know what love is and right now, I'm not seeing it. And it sux.I grieve for them all.

So I shall concentrate on what I can that's a bit more positive. I'll console where I can and give a shoulder as necessary. Mine are quite knobby and may be uncomfortable, but they are nonetheless supportive and sure. In the meanwhile, my focus lies with my grand daughter, my photo business, and my own emotional and physical well being. I've mentioned before about an inability to focus. Well, I'm still trying to get better at that. I have relationships right here in Las Vegas that need attending to. I need to be a better friend. I need to be better at practicing my own faith and living as according to my own values and beliefs. I need to get healthier, if for no other reason than because I'm not yet ready to let my son beat me at anything. He'll have his day, but not yet. May is going to be an interesting month. I've got to be prepared for it and engage it with the kind of enthusiasm that is more befitting my natural self; and this I shall do.

I hadn't worked with model, Melissa in a while. These are older shots that I've either re-edited or visited for the first time. Where have you been girl?

16 April 2010

Best Practices on Photo Storage? I'm Asking...Not Giving

"I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best"
- Frida Kahlo

Back-ups! Storage is definitely getting cheaper, which is a good thing, but the tech for my money needs to be more efficient. Okay, I'm a little frustrated over my computer storage. When I had this thing built about 7 months ago, I figured a TB and a half would do me for a while. I'm already halfway through that and I know its mainly the RAW files I shoot. I only shoot RAW and I really never get rid of them even after I do my conversions and edits to Jpeg. But remembering to back-up on a regular basis is a pain in the ass. I use external drives to back-up, but I can see that I'm going to have to look at some other options, like either a home server or online back-up systems. I prefer the online option. I'd rather have off-site storage. Right now, its cheap. But it ain't cheap for photographers. If you need to back up a few gigs...cool. When you have to do that with 500GB of images... not so cool. Especially when you like having a minimum of 3 copies of everything. That's redundancy for ya. So I gotta get better at workflow management. I'm reminded of the folks that don't understand why photogs charge what they do for a project. Other than crack, I can't think of a more expensive hobby or career choice. Oh, that reminds me...I still have a donations button on the right over there. You may have to scroll down a bit -->.

Something I saw recently that I thought was pretty cool is the iPhone app for photography contracts. My friend, John showed it to me while we were in Zion last week. The thing is cool. you can generate contracts for anything right on the spot. Some are preloaded sample and general contracts, whereas others you can customize for your own needs and requirements. You basically plug in the pertinent info like names, dates, etc. and the ap plugs all that into a full into the contract. And the best thing is that you can SIGN IT right on your phone with your finger! When John told me that, I didn't believe him. At most, I figured you'd have to have a special stylus or something but when he demonstrated it, I went bonkers. Whoa...did I just say "bonkers"?

What's the best movie you've seen so far this year? I gotta tell ya...for me, its "How to Train Your Dragon". I know, that may be quirky for a guy in his 40's but I don't need to have young kids to go see movies like this. I can walk right up to the box office counter and ask for one ticket, with no shame whatsoever. Anyway, I liked this film on a bunch of different levels. First, it was funny. Second the story-line was superb. It took you where you just didn't think you'd go. How many stories, movies, TV shows end up with the dragon NOT being the enemy or getting killed? Sure, it starts off like that, but wait til the ending. Third, I like the relationship that develops between a father and son. I think I also have a propensity to favor story lines and thems where the least significant can change the world. Think about Hobbits. And then there's the Bible which is full of that. You also have in this movie the voice of Gerard Butler who sounds even tougher and more bad-ass than he did in the movie, 300. Contrast his character with Jay Baruchel, who you also just saw in "She's out of My League". You can't even think of two more different personas in the world alive today. Craig Ferguson's character was also funny which makes this a not-to-be-missed kind of show.

These are shots of some new friends, Damon, Maaike, and Angeli, that I shot last month. Talk about some remarkable people! They are all some of the most interesting people I've ever met. It was definitely a good day, well...evening. Hoping to see them again tonight. Other projects: More nudes. I haven't been shooting many naked chicks lately. I guess I accomplished my goal of shooting less nudes. Now I'm in withdrawal. I think I'm going to revisit my self-nude project as well at some point. I abandoned self-portraits, not intentionally, but rather just out of it slipping off my list of priorities. That stemmed from Unbearable Lightness' challenge to me a year ago, so I want to revisit that project again. Shooting your yourself is not an easy thing. I've tried being my own model and its exceedingly difficult,which is why I want to get back to it. I've seen amateurs do it so well. They make it seem easy. I've got a few shots that I've done (some of which are posted on this blog somewhere, but I'm too lazy to search and post a link) but weren't satisfied with the outcome. I think its cuz I may not have the patience. Behind the camera, I can see the shot, zoom, compose, and focus as I wish, and take the shot. That's much more difficult when you are alone and in front of the camera. Well, at least for me.

14 April 2010

Getting Some Time Away...Thanks To Some Good Friends

"A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water." 
- Carl Reiner

Okay, so anything look a little different? Come on, guess! Yep, I've modernized my blog design a bit, but I'm not done yet. This is just one modification to kick things off, but its not my end design.

Last week was full of doctor visits getting poked and prodded every single day except for last Monday. I didn't get much of anything done from being in pain for one thing or another, but mainly this trick knee. As my last post detailed, I had some focusing issues. Well, maybe God saw fit to help me out a bit, cause a few friends from my church got me to go out to the Las Vegas 51's baseball home opener last Thursday. I did NOT want to go, but wasn't doing a darn thing when a friend basically told me she was coming to pick me up. So I went. Met some interesting new people, got antagonized and harassed by some kids who seemed to take to me fairly well, and watched the 51's beat a Utah team, 7-3. After the game, there was a tremendous firework display that seemed to last a half hour.

The next morning I went to Zion on a whim with my friend John who was also looking to get away. He pretty much negated every excuse I could muster. It was a good trip. We started out early and got back late. The Narrows was closed due to high water volumes, which was expected because of all the new snow melt. The water was very muddy and I wouldn't have wanted to be in it anyway, not to mention COLD. Being a Saturday, it was crowded as expected. People still walked the mile from the drop-off point just to watch the water. I was amazed at how many people had never seen a squirrel or a deer before. For a brief moment we thought about doing Angel's landing. I'm in need of updating some of my landscape work, but that notion was quickly put to rest when I started feeling the knee. I've got to get some new hiking shoes as well. My toes were rubbing in my boots which are just a bit too large. All in all, it was a good day. We stopped off at my favorite joint, the Cracker Barrel on the way back and for the first time, I had something other than either the pancakes or the Sourdough French toast. They had a grilled fish and shrimp dinner that was pretty darn good.

What's next? I don't know yet. Taking it day by day right now.

03 April 2010


"Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along." 
Og Mandino

Model, Joan

Its been easy to lose track of time as of late. I didn't even realize it had been so long since my last post. So what's been going on in the land of Photo Anthems, you ask? Well, I've recently closed down my deviantART account. Well, I guess I should say, I've taken down my images. I've more than 300 images up and I've put them all in the sites "storage" feature. For the most part, there's just an ongoing ill feeling I've been having of late. Its been cool getting to know people on dA, but there's more and more non-artistic nudes in the ARTISTIC nudes section. Mixed in with the great work of masters of the trade are more and more pollution nudes that just contaminate the good stuff simply by association. I can't peruse the art nudes without being inundated with tasteless porn, specifically more and more male close-ups that have no merit or warrant to being categorized as art. Yeah, I know...then you get into defining what art is. I'm not splitting those hairs, but those who post what they post know their intent and I am certain I could safely wager, artistic expression is far from their purposes. I got rid of my MySpace a while back too but that was more for lack of use.

Model, Dana

And that goes with many things on my agenda and regular rituals. Especially in these times, I've found it necessary to trim back things that don't contribute to my goals as well as eliminate those things that hinder them. I have to admit to focusing issues as of late. Sometimes, its hard to get mind mind trained on any one thing or task and then do it well. Like I said, I didn't even realize how much time had elapsed since my last post. So my goals right now are to begin the week more productively and get done what I need to get done despite how I feel. If I have to slap myself in the face, then so be it. I've got to gather my thoughts and execute my plans. I am better than this. Og Mandino once advised people to repeat to themselves, "Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better." I used to have my kids say that in the mornings. I need to take my own advice.

"I will act now.
I will not avoid the tasks of today and charge them to tomorrow for I know that tomorrow never comes. Let me act now even though my actions may not bring happiness or success for it is better to act and fail than not to act and flounder. Happiness, in truth, may not be the fruit plucked by my action yet without action all fruit will die on the vine." - Excerpt from "The Greatest Salesman in the World - (The Scroll Marked IX), Og Mandino