Category Archives: Photography

Nothing to see here people… for the moment.

Yeah, I’m failing a bit as a productive blogger on this site. I’ve had a lot to think, write and reflect on lately, but I just haven’t done much with it.

However, I am getting more regular (insert your fiber joke) on my photo blog which you can see here. So that’s something, write right?

I do have another sweet little niece on the way, courtesy of my sister-in-law Leslie, so I’m already looking forward to welcoming her via blog, like I did in 2007 and 2010.

But until then, if you’re looking for a regular and rewarding read, direct your attention to writings of this exceptional young woman. You’re welcome.



New (ish) photo blog.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

The best piece of 9/11 writing I’ve ever read

The Falling Man

"The Falling Man" by Richard Drew// Image via Wikipedia

Just wanted to share a quick link since the 9/11 anniversary is tomorrow.

Esquire Magazine selected Tom Junod’s “The Falling Man” as one of the seven greatest stories in the magazine’s history, along with the likes of Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer.

In the essay, Junod talks about the circumstances surrounding this tragic but iconic photo from the WTC atttacks, and also addresses why the image speaks to us, and why it and other images of “the jumpers” were kept hidden from public view in the days following the attacks.

But most interestingly, Junod goes on a search to discover the identity of the Falling Man, while even questioning the decency of the search itself:

Of course, the only way to find out the identity of the Falling Man is to call the families of anyone who might be the Falling Man and ask what they know about their son’s or husband’s or father’s last day on earth. Ask if he went to work wearing an orange shirt.

But should those calls be made? Should those questions be asked? Would they only heap pain upon the already anguished? Would they be regarded as an insult to the memory of the dead, the way the Hernandez family regarded the imputation that Norberto Hernandez was the Falling Man? Or would they be regarded as steps to some act of redemptive witness?

Junod ends his story without a definitive answer. One lead seems stronger than the others, but the author closes by focusing on what is “certain.”

At fifteen seconds after 9:41 a.m., on September 11, 2001, a photographer named Richard Drew took a picture of a man falling through the sky — falling through time as well as through space. The picture went all around the world, and then disappeared, as if we willed it away. One of the most famous photographs in human history became an unmarked grave, and the man buried inside its frame — the Falling Man — became the Unknown Soldier in a war whose end we have not yet seen. Richard Drew’s photograph is all we know of him, and yet all we know of him becomes a measure of what we know of ourselves. The picture is his cenotaph, and like the monuments dedicated to the memory of unknown soldiers everywhere, it asks that we look at it, and make one simple acknowledgment.

That we have known who the Falling Man is all along.

If you’d like to see more by Tom Junod, I recommend checking out his classic profile of Mr. Rogers.

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Natural State of mind

Ava Grace and her Daddy after an evening cry

Ava Grace and her Daddy after an evening cry

I’m on the tail end of my annual summer break escape from Texas to Arkansas trip, and it’s been a blast.

I got here late Saturday night and I’ll head home in a few hours. I always enjoy visiting, but it is nice to climb back into your bed for the first time in a week. Hello sheets and pillows, hello comforter (how apt your name is now), hello lumpy mattress – ah, the devil that I know. (if you really don’t care about the details of the rest of my trip… stop reading now)

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Second glance

Just a tiny splash of color

Just a tiny splash of color

Here’s another look. I decided to bring back the color in her eyes. It’s kind of a clichéd technique, but I think it looks good here.

I’d also like to note that you are never quite so overrated as when your family overrates you, but it’s nice to hear just as well.

Angel eyes

A beautiful girl I know

A beautiful girl I know

So I was messing around with Photoshop while at work tonight, trying to find a way to get a better black and white image. I can’t tell if this image is too dark or not or if it’s my monitor. Let me know…

“Let’s have a hand for that young cowboy…”

… And wish him better luck next time
And hope we see him up in Fargo
Or somewhere farther down the line
This time he sure drew a bad one
One that nobody could ride
But by the way he pulled his hat on
You knew he’d be there for the fight

And it’s the classic contradiction
The unavoidable affliction
Well it don’t take much to predict son
The way it always goes
One day she’ll say she loves you
And the next she’ll be tired of you
And push’ll always come to shove you
On that midnight rodeo.”

Farther Down The Line, Lyle Lovett

Hold on - Bareback bronc rider at Cooper, Texas rodeo.

Hold on - Bareback bronc rider at Cooper, Texas rodeo.

Wrapped up the last night of the ATPI workshop tonight by joining several instructors and fellow participants for the first night of the 60th Annual Cooper Rodeo in Cooper, Texas (pop. 2150). We got there about 7:30 and had about 45 minutes to an hour of beautiful light. At 8:12 p.m., I snapped this one on my “loaner” Olympus E-510. I was using a beauty of a 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 zoom lens (equivalent 100-400mm on film). It isn’t the easiest lens to hand-hold but the E-510’s built-in image stabilizer has worked like a charm.

Technical details for anybody who cares are f3.5 and 1/640 on aperture priority at ISO 1600.

And by the way, this was a “good” ride for the full eight seconds, the first of the night.

Had a blast at this workshop. Will wrap it up tomorrow morning. Hopefully I’ll win one of these cameras I’ve been using this weekend. Cross your fingers. I’ll try to post more photos when I get home.

Greetings from Commerce


This is my pal Rocky. I’m working in a class here at the ATPI Instructors Workshop in Commerce. This year’s class is Visual Communication and it features some great instruction, including two Pulitzer Prize winners.

Today I did some interviewing and shot a bunch at the Texas A&M-Commerce equine facility. This guy kept nudging me in the shoulder while I was trying to shoot, so I turned around and gave him some coverage.

More to come…

Deep. Blue. See.

World's Largest Fishtank - Okinawa

Click the photo to see a few more shots and more information about the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan. I found this via Yahoo!’s main page. Apparently it’s the world’s largest tank and holds four whale sharks (like the big fella front and center), the largest of all fish species.

I love shots like this. I love aquariums and the chance to see ocean life like this. I loved the story of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea as a kid. Jules Verne’s plot itself didn’t grab me so much as the world he created in the depths of the sea.

I remember many nights going to sleep and dreaming I was aboard the Nautilus, surrounded by nothing but blue. On a good night, I still have that dream.

How’s your life-bokeh?

Bokeh and the Babe

Bokeh (from the Japanese verb bokeru – “to blur”) is a photographic term for the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus area of an image, specifically for images with shallow depth of field, like portraits or still life.

Though its quality is highly subjective and its significance hotly debated, the basic idea is certain lenses have good bokeh. They create smooth, less-defined shapes in the out-of-focus areas which more smoothly blend in the background and, proponents say, create a more pleasing composition.

Some lenses have bad bokeh. Mirror lenses create a doughnut-shaped bokeh which is considered by some to be distracting and unpleasant. More on bokeh here.

I don’t claim to an expert on bokeh and I’m not even sure on which side I would fall in the great bokeh debate. But, in the hopes that I’m not trying too hard to force a metaphor here, I’ve really seen my life-bokeh coming together in the past few weeks.

“Life-bokeh?” you ask. Let me explain.

The out-of-focus areas of a photo are less important than the in-focus areas. This is the difference between subject and background.

We put the subject in focus because he or she or it is the purpose for making the photo and we want a clear, defined purpose for our audience to see.

But the background is not without importance. It can provide context or contrast or meaning or environment.

A well chosen background enhances the subject, the purpose, makes it stronger, more meaningful, more pleasing to the eye. A poorly-chosen background can weaken and hurt the subject. The insignificant bolsters the significant.

In the same way, I think the aesthetics in the smaller, less significant background areas of my life enhance and sweeten and brighten and boost my in-focus purpose areas.

I’m still working through the kinks in this metaphor, but I’ll give you an example. My new apartment has almost 50 percent more space than the old place. It’s given me room to breathe, to stretch out, to store my stuff where I can actually use it and enjoy it. It’s also given me a chance to clear out so much junk piling up at the old place. It’s a small, refreshing thing which has sweetened my life over the past few weeks.

It’s not the purpose, mind you. Alone, it would not suffice nor satisfy. But it helps facillitate the purposes – my connection with God, work, community, health, other pursuits. It’s a bit like feng shui for my soul. And this is just one small bokeh, I think.

And maybe, like photographic bokeh, life-bokeh has a lot to do with the lens through which you see things.

But right now, I’d say my life-bokeh is pretty good. How about yours?

Leave me a comment to let me know how you’re doing or what you think, or if this is just a little too vague and ambiguous (which it probably is). Thanks for reading.