Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter Wonderland, Pt. 4

I've taken a fair number of images along the interstates of America.  Here's 2 more winter images, both taken at a southbound rest area along I-55, just south of Pontiac, IL.  Coordinates for the first image: 40.837181,-88.683499.  This is a great rest-stop, with the ctream runnning right behind the building. It's about 1.5 hours south of Chicago, a great place to settle the mind after fighting out of the city on a drive home.

On this day, there had been some freezing rain, which is why the one tree is bending over the stream.  You can see on larger versions that the lower branches are coated with ice from dangling in the water. it was all quite still and quiet.....  or at least as quiet as it ever gets alongside a major interstate...
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This is about 225 yards northeast of the other photo....  For some reason I really liked the juxtaposition of the "wlidflowers" sign and the barren land behind...  I intended to go back in the spring, and take a companion piece with the flowers in bloom.  But, after several years, I haven't been passing by at the right time, with enough time.....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Wonderland, Pt. 3

Continuing the series this week:

A real oldie, from back in the film days.  February 12, 1983.  Taken in Silver Spring, Maryland after a rather dramatic snowstorm.  IIRC, we measured 22".  That's my room-mate walking east on Dexter Avenue, I'm standing in front of the house we rented at the time.  We did a LOT of digging that day.  Geek alert:  latitude / longitude:  39.022005,-77.053172

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter Wonderland, Pt. 2

Next in the series, see yesterday's post for explanation...

Next up, a couple of images from my front yard.  Taken a couple of years ago, late in the evening, after a snowstrorm had wound down.    Actually, on reflection I'm not positive these images were taken at the same time.

I rather like both of these...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winter Wonderland, Pt. 1

I've been looking through the archives, and pulled together a series of winter themed photos taken over the years.  I'll be posting them here over the next week or so, hope you enjoy:

I'll start with a couple of similar images, taken about 1,600 miles apart, and almost 2,500 ft of altitude.

This was taken at Lake Barkley State Resort Park, near Canton, KY.  For the geeks out there, the approximate latatude / longitude is 36.849449,-87.930772.    Looking through bare trees down to a finger of Lake Barkley
 - - -

And this was taken on the north side of Kamiak Butte, between Pullman and Palouse,Washington.  Again for the geeks:  approximately 36.849449,-87.930772.  While the previous image looks down to a frozen lake, this one backs up to a steep hill.

Both images fall a bit short of my vision, I usually like the top one better.

Friday, December 24, 2010

White Christmas!

I was out this morning doing some last minute shopping this morning, and it started snowing.  Not unexpected, but a bit earlier than predcited.  Very nice, we'll have a white Christmas.  My son is particularly excited.  This is one of the pine trees in the back yard....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sans Singers

During a recent commute, the wonderful song “Soulful Strut” came up on my iPod. Soulful Strut is, of course, the instrumental hit (#3) from 1968, for Young Holt Unlimited. A really great song. Which got me thinking about instrumentals. My perception was that instrumentals were a significant part of the pop-music landscape in my youth, certainly from the mid 60’s through the last 70’s. And I don’t perceive that they’re very common these days (as hits, at least).

SO… an opportunity to do some research!! YAY!! My favorite resource for such stuff is, which is not free, but is cheap. Looking at their data:

Instrumentals were indeed a notable part of the music scene in my youth. From 1960 through 1976, there were 88 instrumental songs to make the Top 10. That’s 4.5% of the Top 10 songs with no words. The percentage is about the same if you look at songs that made the Top 20. At least 1 song in the Top 20 every year from 1960 through 1976. (1970 was worst with only 1. Five years had over 10).

Compare with the last 12 years (1998 through 2009): Number of Instrumental songs in the Top 10?? That would be zero. As in none… nada, not-a-one. Number of instrumental songs in the Top 20? One.

Well, I guess 1 is better than none, which was what I expected.

I think I need to make a playlist, Top 40 instrumentals through the years…

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This Is The Way My Mind Works

OK… First big decision of the day: What to put on the iPod for my morning commute? Today’s answer: continue with Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners, which I had started last night. Good stuff. I discovered Monk when I took a Jazz Appreciation class in college (hey, they can’t all be engineering classes!). And I’ve been a fan ever since. Whether it’s his use of “dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists” or his "quirky yet rigorously logical, playful but always purposeful choice of skewed melodies and interrupted rhythm patterns."  Or maybe it's just the genius = mental illness angle?

Regardless, while cruising with Monk down I-255 (to work), I got to thinking about rock songs that reference Monk. I could only think of 2: Jeff Beck’s Thelonious from Blow By Blow, and Steely Dan’s Midnight Cruiser from Can’t Buy A Thrill (which starts “Thelonious my old friend, Step on in and let me shake your hand. So glad that you're here again. For one more time, let your madness run with mine.)…

Of course, either song could be referencing a different Thelonious. But it seems unlikely.

Meanwhile, while the Steely Dan lyrics jumped right into my head, I was struggling to remember the song name, or even which album it’s on…  So, while I’m thinking about all this (and negotiating the construction zone along the highway), my train of thought randomly switches, and it’s off to Weird Al Yankovick’s “White And Nerdy”. A true mastermiece, which was then dialed up on the iPod. Or, as they used to say on Monty Python’s Flying Circus: And now for something completely different.

Which reminds me. Anybody remember that song from 1979 or so: “Stairway To Gilligan’s Isle”?  Not nearly in the same class as Weird Al, but fun...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Most Popular Images

My most popular images for sale at

On Kamiak Butte

Yet another of the photos I've recently gotten printed, 8x10 with this one.  This is one of those that didn't quite match my vision.  But I don't hate it.  I was trying for an Ansel Adams-esqe, f64 feel, with strong foreground elelments layering back throught the trees and then falling off to a distant background.  It is available at one microstock site, but has never been downloaded.  Blah, blah, blah, huh?

Meanwhile, this was taken on Kamiak Butte, which was one of my favorite places when I was sojourning in southeastern Washington.  Drop this in to google maps for approximate location: 46.8669, -117.1555

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hocking Hills

Third is a series of photos of which I recently ordered big prints (see here & here).  This one is from Hocking Hills State Park

The prints arrived today.  And naturally, I'm disappointed.  I'm seldom happy with my images, though, and the bigger the print, the more I obsess over the shortfalls.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Still Waters

A couterpoint of sorts to yesterday's Raging Waters.  This image is from 2005, taken in Hocking Hills State Park, in south central Ohio.  Another one that I'm getting a large print of, also 11x14.

I really like this image, although it is critically flawed, with the dramatic overexposure of the rocks on the right side.  Oh well, huh?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Raging Waters

I've been working through some of my older shots, just ordered some big prints.  This one will be 11x14, hope it pops.....

This image is at the top of Elk Creek Falls Recreation Area, in Northern Idaho.  Just off the right side is a breathtaking drop.  One of the really cool places I discovered during my sojourn in Pullman, Washington.

This image is actually on a couple of microstock sites, but in a full frame (3000x2000 pixels) and in color.  For this project I cropped to 11x14 format, converted to B&W and did some minor tweaks.  I'm getting prints from Mpix; been a while since I've used them, but have always been happy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Computer Age

Like many folks thses days, my computer is an integral part of my work day.  Perhaps more-so, as an engineer.  So I was particularly hamstrung recently when my computer died.  For the second time in a month (and the 3rd time in 2010).
I didn't even make it to the blue-screen-of-death.  After many hours of conversation with our "PC Help" department, the bad news:  Send it back to the main office to be rebuilt.  That's 1800 miles and 2 time zones.  Even with onvernight shipping it's a 3 day glitch.  GRRRR!

Fortunately, we have a spare laptop in the office, so I wasn't completely dead in the water.  The good news is that I now have a new computer approved for the 2011 budget, and the old one (with a new hard disk) will become a "new" backup. 

Or as Neil young put it:

Sit Yourself Down

As a follow-up to Monday's post, I decided to add a few more images of empty chairs...  These are all from the archives.  There's more, but I think this is enough.

First off, one of my all-time favs, even 30+ years after the fact.  Taken with my trusty Canon TX, during the summer of '79.  Taken at the Duke Homestead in Durham, NC.  I had been sent there to cover a tobacco-spitting contest for the Duke Chronicle.  Which is the kind of assignment that kept me from considering a career as a photojournalist.  But I actually managed a few nice images after the "action"....  Sadly, the original negative is long gone, and all I have is a 5x7 print. 
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Deserted beach at Indiana Dunes State Park . Taken 4-5 years ago while on a business trip to Burns Harbor, IN.  I swung by this park before hitting the road to drive home after completing my business.  It had rained all the previous night, and up until shortly before I arrived.  I think the "river" is simply run-noff.

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Nothin' fancy, just some benches at Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.  But I kinda like it.

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Title is from the Stephen Stills song, whiched reached #37 in 1971.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Resistance Is Useless!

I've been reading some of the news reports on enhanced TSA screening proceedures and the propoer image finally popped into my head.  Yep, the Vogon guards from Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.
If you're familiar with the book(s) (or the radio show, the TV show, the infocom game or the movie) you'll know what I mean.  If not, look here.

"Try and understand his problem," insisted Ford. "Here he is poor lad, his entire life's work is stamping around, throwing people off spaceships ..."   "And shouting," added the guard.   "And shouting, sure," said Ford patting the blubbery arm clamped round his neck in friendly condescension, "... and he doesn't even know why he's doing it!"

Now, I'm all for keeping us safe, and preventing terrorist attacks and all, but does anybody really think what they're doing at airports these days accomplishes the stated goal?  Last time I flew (~5 weeks ago), I got to experience the naked body scan and a remarkably thorough groping of my ankles.  Only my ankles, though.  But a really, really careful groping.  Apparently I hadn't pulled my socks up sufficiently.....  The whole experience was disconcerting...  Not quite as maddening as the time a few years ago when a TSA guy tried to steal my laptop*.  But disconcerting.  my circle of drive vs fly continues to expand.

OK, that's enough rant, back to the pleasant fluff I normally post...

* Full disclosure:  I cannot prove that the TSA agent was actually trying to steal my laptop.  But he did remove it from the gray bin, and conceal it until challenged.  And there is no acceptable explanation for his actions.


We had a rather dramatic flock of starlings outside our office window today.  We were all distracted for a bit as they settled in, then scrambled, then settled in... etc.  I finally grabbed the office camera and snapped a few images. A few minutes later and they're all gone......  without (much of) a trace.
shrunk to fit on screen
- - -
100% croped to fit

Make's ya think of that Hitchcock movie....

Or the Beatles song:

Monday, November 22, 2010

We Can’t Even Think Of A Word That Rhymes!

One of my favorite lyrics, from Alice Cooper’s School’s Out. It works in the song, and doesn’t rhyme. I thought of this today, as I was listening to a song with a painfully forced rhyme. Neil Diamond’s #4 hit from 1971: “I Am… I Said”.

I am, I said, To no one there
And no one heard at all, Not even the chair

Huh? The Chair? Really? Um, the chair didn’t hear? Ah, I’m struggling a bit with this one. Yeah it rhymes, but it also is (at best) stupid. Geeze, it’s not like anybody’s going to confuse Neil Diamond with Bob Dylan, but he did manage to pen a few songs in his career. .

I'm sure there's lots of others, and probably worse.  Any nominees?  Meanwhile, how about a chair photo??

Saturday, November 13, 2010


So, we've had a pretty blah autumn, as far as fall-colors go.  But today, the maple in the back yard was blazing yellow.  I had to snap some shots.  Most of the rest of the yard (and neighborbood) is brown and/or bare. But this tree makes up for it! 

Scouting For Food

Spent a chunk of the morning putting out door tags for the scouts' food drive.  We've done this as long as Matt's been in scouts. (5 years).  This year was a little different, instead on putting out plastic bags, we put out door tags.  I suppose it is more efficient, and eco-friendly...  It was cool and blustery today, but not too bad. Add a layer and all is good!

That's Matt on the left, his friend Dane on the right.
Next weekend we'll retrace our steps and collect the donated food.  Then deliver to the local food pantry.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Taxed Enough Already?

So, I was looking at my phone bill today.  Not the cell phones, the old-fashioned land line.  And I was noticing at just how many adders there are.  Taxes??  Yep, Federal, state and municipal, a whopping 16.4% addition. 

But that's just the start.  How about "Surcharges and Other Fees"?  For example:
  • IL Universal Service Fee - ... to provide support to rural telecommunications carriers operating in high cost areas of the state in order to maintain affordable rates to end users.
  • Federal Universal Service Fee - ...assures the availability of universal service at rates that are just, reasonable and affordable, and to provide for reasonably comparable service and rates between rural and urban areas...  This charge is not a tax.
So we have "...programs funded by manditory contributions", but these fees aren't taxes...  Even though "carriers can and often do pass these costs to their customers".  Not to mention why the state and the federal government are both levying taxes fees for the same "benefit"....
Ah, but it goes on an on:  9 individual taxes, surcharges or fees.  If you add up all of the various fees, surcharges and taxes, it comes up to over 25% addition to the actual services.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Bucks & Does

So, yesterday, during my son's guitar lesson, I decided to pop over to Watershed Nature Center.  I haven't been to WNC is quite a while, but mainly it was because I can olny drool over Mojos' selection of bass gitars so many Saturdays....   I figured I could grab a few quick shots and get back.  Stuff like this:

Or like this:

Wait... there's a deer!!!!

Pretty cool, huh!  Below is another photo, zoomed in....  and cropped closer.  I stood as still as possible for a couple of minutes, waitng to see if it would move, but I lost that staring contest....

So I decided to continue along the path, try and circle to a better angle.  This involved going past a dense thicket.  When I got to the other side, I found the buck:

WAY cool!  I was probably only 30-35 yards away, could've easily hit him between the eyes w/ a football toss.  Not that I'd throw a football at a deer, but that is what popped into my mind.  That buck isn't skinny, or small.  I think it was 8 points?

Anyway, it was pretty cool, even though neither would strink a great pose in the short time I had....

Monday, November 01, 2010

Microstock - Shutterstock

Well, it's been forever since I submitted anything to the microstock sites, but I still get sales all along.  In fact I'm just a few pennies from another payout at ShutterStock.  Folks from the Glen Carbon-Edwardsville area can probably recognize this one.... 
I should start submitting again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Palouse Barn, Wide

Last Wednesday, I posted an old barn photo, taken during my recent business trip to the Palouse region of SE Washington state...  Well, I've been thinking about that image, and realizing that it really didn't capture what I was thinking / meaning when I snapped it.  I had fallen into the trap of online posting.  Trying to keep things viewable in a 450x300 type format....  So I digital zoomed in on the old barn.  And the more I looked at it, the less I liked it. 

So I spent a bit of time today, and reworked from the original to match my vision.  And while that makes the barn a bit smaller with the blog size, I like it a LOT better.  And the digital file will allow me to make a much larger print: I'm looking at 12" x 4.5".

What do the rest of you think?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I was listening to Uncle Tupelo today, and it got me thinking about musical Uncles. And I’ve got quite a few songs about Uncles on my iPod:

• Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey - Paul McCartney
• Uncle Charlie – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
• Uncle Fred – Blue Highway
• Uncle John’s Band – Grateful Dead
• Uncle Josh – Mike Cross
• Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm – The Shrunken Headbangers
• Uncle Pen – Hank Williams Jr.
• Uncle Remus – Frank Zappa
• Uncle Salty – Aerosmith
• Uncle Son - Kinks
• Uncle Walter – Ben Folds Five

And songs about Aunts? Only 2, and both by the Monkees: Your Auntie Grizelda and Auntie’s Municipal Court.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Old Barn #1242

Last of the Palouse barns....  at least for now.

I went for a desaturated look...  Not B&W but... well, faded.  This barn is just over the border into Idaho, near Moscow.  I've taken another shot of this one, which is quite different.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Old Barn #1223c

Last of 3 shots of the same barn.  Slightly different angle from yesterday, and not B&W!  Better?  Worse?  Whatever??

Friday, October 22, 2010

Old Barn #1223b

Another view of the barn I posted yesterday.  A completey different angle, without the distractions.  Whicg image is better?

I've been really digging the B&W / sepia / film grain treatment lately...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Old Barn #1223

Another from the palouse last week.  This is along Rt 271, just a bit SE of Rosalia, Wa.

I'd really like some feedback on this one, iof you're willing.  I was pretty excited about it when I snapped the shutter...  The lines of the red barn directing the eye to the other barn, which is framed by the tree.....  blah blah blah.   

Anyway, looking at the final product, it seems that it's all a bit muddled. My eye seems to bounce randomly around in a sort of counter clockwise circle.   The red barn is too big compared to the brown one.  The tree overpowers the brown barn...  It's just all TOO busy. 

Or am I crazy?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Old Barn #1218

Over the years I've taken countless photos of old buildings, especially barns.  I even have a lightbox on one of the microstock sites.  I took a few more last week in SE Washington.  Here's one, near Spangle, WA.

Changed to B&W, sepia toned, added film-grain.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Steptoe Butte

Yesterday's post was the rolling hills of the Palouse, from the base of Kamiak Butte.  Today is a shot of the Butte itself:

I've never been all the way to the top of the Butte.  We I was out there in 2008, there was still snow on the upper part of the road well into may.  It's a narrow road. a real drag to try and turn around for a sudden snowbank...  I would've been clear last week, but I was feeling late by then, and pushged on to Pullman.

Monday, October 18, 2010

On The Palouse, Pt. 2

A sister photo to the one I posted earlier, looking more or less east from the base of Kamiak Butte, in the  the Palouse region of southeast Washington.

On The Palouse

I spent last week in southeast Washington State, on a business trip.  I flew into Spokane Monday, and drove south to Pullman.  it was a beautiful day, so I meandered just a bit...  This image was taken from the base of Steptoe Butte, about 1/2 way south.   This is pretty much what the whole drive looks like.  Just like the Window's "bliss" Wallpaper.    Of course, my image doesn't have the super-saturate colors, etc.....

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I found this old letter-box during the scout campout lats weekend.  It doesn't look like it has gotten much use over the last decade or two.

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A close up of the info card.  I presume they still check it?

Friday, October 15, 2010


Over the years, I've done a lot of images of fall color cloes ups.  I suppose I'll never get tired of them....
Like this, and this, and this and this and this...

Wow, those photos make me miss BetterPhoto, where I used to hang out.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fence & Foliage

Once upon a time, there was a plug-in filter for photo effectt call Buzz Simplifier.  The company went out of business in 2008 or so, and I've changed computers and PSE versions since then.  So (for me) the filter is long gone.  But I was playing around in Elements and come up with a reaasonable approximation:

I'm niot a huge fan of "painterly" filters, but they can be fun every once in a while.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That Area

Another from Scout Camp...  In direct contrast to yesterday's post (That Place) is That Area....  The two spots are not too far apart. Actually, this is very close to where Sunday's photo was taken...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That Place

I had a little time to wander around during scout camp last weekend, while my son was learing about knots and fire safety and such. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lake Warren Levis

Last weekend was another campout with the scouts:  Family Camp 2010.  This is a view of the lake, from the main lodge.