Category Archives: Animals

Computer Mine Woods

The deer that live in the woods behind the computer mine have become braver in the last few days. Today I actually got a few pretty decent shots of one that was looking for food about 75 feet from the back door of the mine.


03-01-08


03-01-08

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03-01-08

The good news about this year’s crop of deer is that it does not appear that any of them have any injuries. They all seem to be able to use all 4 of their legs.

Test Camera

A few months ago Nader gave me a camera to test for his trip to London. I put in a roll of film and took some test shots. Then I put the camera away and forgot about it. I finally finished off the roll and got it developed. I thought I would share some of the images, not because of any of them are particularly interesting, but because maybe they are interesting as a whole. A study of intermittent shots taking over time from a forgotten camera.


02-28-08
Computer Mine Basketball Hoop


Flowers

02-28-08
Flowers

02-28-08
Self Portrait

02-28-08
Fat Jake

02-28-08
Jay Snuggly

02-28-08
Fat Jake

02-28-08
Willy: Keeper of Fat Jake

02-28-08
Fat Jake

02-28-08
Experiment

02-28-08
Vest

02-28-08
Frame


Party in Jesse’s Office


Cory

02-28-08
Deer


Deer through Windows of “The Quad”

02-28-08
Computer Mine Basketball Hoop

Feline Porcine

It seems to me that everybody I know that chooses to house two cats always seem to have the same two types of cats. One cat is amiable. The other cat is the spawn of Satan.

My friend Willy (see image below) is an excellent example of a person in just such a situation.


01-18-08
Willy

What makes Willy’s situation more interesting is that his nice cat is obscenely obese. Below are some pictures of Jake, one fat cat.


01-18-08

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I also photographed the less interesting demon cat Toby, just in case you were interested in looking upon the face of evil.


01-18-08

Clearing My Head

I’ve been sick lately. Without going into too much detail, about the color and size of things that have been extracted from my body lately I will just say that I’ve never been one to let me body dictate to me my social engagements. That is unless my body just completely shuts down and does not allow me to move. So rather than making an attempt to get healthy by resting and taking medicine and eating soup, I have been gallivanting around town. I really have only done two things to help myself get better. I’ve avoided the basement and I made some wassail. I don’t know if the wassail really aided my recovery process, but I did feel better after throwing down a warm cup of it now and then. However, this morning when I woke up, I actually felt akin to a human being for the first time in almost a week.

I even pursued tickets to the ISU-UNI game. A game that I was emotionally invested in because a certain Panther friend of mine sure likes to remind me that we keep losing to UNI. I might have even made bold proclamations on their MySpace page about a certain Cyclone victory.

Well the Cyclones did not cover the check that my mouth wrote. In fact, they were thoroughly humiliated. That check bounced about a mile high. UNI fans were allowed to chant: “U-N-I” in the hallowed arena that was once home to Hilton Magic. Cyclone “fans” (although they assuredly do not deserve the moniker “fan” which is derived from the term “fanatic” and since these people clearly are not fanatical so there must be another term that could describe them like “fanciers” or “People who have a passing interest in the Cyclones”) began funneling out of Hilton Coliseum shortly after the final television timeout.

I left the arena half expecting my phone to ring at any moment. There was a chance that a thorough thrashing like the Panthers had put on the Cyclones might trigger a gloating phone call. I know a thing or two about the gloating phone call. I make one to Jason Baier about every week that the Chiefs lose. Well I used to, but they lose so often now it hardly seems worth the effort to dial his phone number.

My phone did not ring. This meant that the gloating was going to come through the medium known as MySpace. I knew I needed to take my medicine, figuratively speaking of course. However, I knew that I could buy myself some time. I descended into the frigid depths of the basement and opened up Photoshop. I decided to wait a bit before knocking down my full piece of humble pie. I began editing some images I created last week to clear my head and make me forget about the horrible display of Naismith’s great game that I was witness to earlier this evening.

This pictures are similar to the other pictures I made earlier. I haven’t quite captured the image that I’m striving to make, but I am moving into that ballpark.


11-23-07


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11-23-07


The Third Crack

“Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!”

– Alex DeLarge (A Clockwork Orange)

I might have written that a few weeks back that a certain Tuesday was the greatest New Release Tuesday of the year. When I wrote that remark it was true. However, today’s New Release Tuesday has eclipsed that previous greatest day. What was released today to set a new high water mark? Today is the day that the Stanley Kubrick boxed set was released.

I do own all of the Kubrick movies on DVD already (except for Fear and Desire* which is unavailable in any format), but when his Warner Bros. movies were released a few years back the job that was done on the movies was sub-par at best. The transfers were not cleaned up in the slightest bit. The transfers were not anamorphic. The soundtracks were mono. There wasn’t an extra feature to be found on any disc. To cap off the indignity, since most of these discs were released by Warner Bros. the discs were housed in their terrible cardboard boxes.

I could deal with the lame boxes and the dearth of special features. I could handle the soundtracks being mono because Kubrick released his movies with mono soundtracks. (Not because he feared surround sound soundtracks, but because he did not trust the sound systems of most theaters to divide the tracks properly so he released his movies in mono because they would sound good even on the worst theater’s sound system.) The fact that the pictures were not anamorphic was tolerable because I did (and do not) have a television where such a thing would be painfully evident. However, the wretched state of the transfers was sickening. The scratches and the marks. The loss of color. It makes me nauseous thinking about it right now.

Warner Bros. has tried to atone for their past sins by releasing 5 of Kubrick’s last 6 movies. Curiously absent from this boxed set is Barry Lyndon. Perhaps not so curious since nobody loves that movie. The new boxed set is anamorphic, has 5.1 soundtracks, 4 out of 5 are are 2 disc special editions, and are in real cases. What about the transfers?

As I sit typing this entry out, I have cracked into the A CLOCKWORK ORANGE disc. It is easily the best transfer of this movie I’ve ever seen. The video is pristine and the colors are wonderful. I can’t wait to crack into 2001: A Space Odyssey, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, and The Shining. I’m also excited to watch the documentary about Kubrick included in the boxed set.

My hope is that some other studios (and Warner Bros. because they still own the rights to some of his other movies) release some very good DVDs of his other movies. As of right now there are really only passable DVDs of Spartacus and Dr. Strangelove. I would definitely like to see improved versions of one of my personal favorites Paths of Glory, Lolita, and even the much maligned Barry Lyndon. I can handle the current versions of The Killing and Killer’s Kiss, but I wouldn’t mind seeing better versions of those movies as well. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens.

To sum up my feelings about the new boxed set in terms that Alex DeLarge would understand, “It makes me feel real horrorshow!”

Enough about Kubrick, below are some pictures from Saturday.


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This was thought to be a lost film, and one researcher, Mark Carducci, had suggested that Kubrick destroyed the negative following the death of Joseph Burstyn, the film’s distributor. Bootleg copies abound, however, and there is one (legal) print in all of the Americas. It is located in the Kodak archives in Rochester, New York; the Kubrick estate allows viewing of the film with the provisos that it is screened by individuals (not groups), that the print never leaves the building in which it is housed, and that it cannot be duplicated in whole or in part.

New Toy

In the ancient history of the family Bennett there has been one family that has stood by its side as friends. That other family is the Herricks. What I’m getting at is that Amy Herrick an old family friend (her dad and my dad were friends) is getting married very shortly. For reasons unknown to me, she has asked me to do the photography for her wedding. Now I am a lot of things (brilliant, funny, dashing) but skilled portrait photographer is not on the business card. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t mean to give a game effort.

However, when I was taking stock of the situation I realized that I was missing one ingredient that I would need to even give this thing a shot. A decent flash. That is correct, I do not own even a passable flash. So I went out and purchased one. Then I went out to Ledges to run some tests, also known as playing. What unfolds before your eyes below is what I captured.


09-09-07

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The color saturation in some of those pictures is off the charts and I dig it!

Yes I know there is an obvious flaw in my test, my “top” photo assistant has already made me aware of the situation.

Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest Entries

I believe I received feedback from over 20 people during the second round of voting. That was awesome and I appreciate all the time that everybody took to voice their opinion. In the end, I could only enter six pictures in the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. So I now reveal the six pictures that advanced and a little bit about them.

I did not actually spend much time considering the names for each picture, so in the end the names are admittedly pretty lame. I can deal with it if you can.


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Wheel

The first image is from when the #844 stopped in Boone on its Midwest tour a couple of months ago. I took this picture in the Boone train yard while it was on display. The train was surrounded by other people so I made a conscious effort to find interesting angles to shoot the train while trying to keep the other humans around out of the shot. This picture was originally captured in color, but I converted it to black and white as the palette was already quite monochrome.


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Last, Loveliest Smile Redux

This second image was created sort of out of a collection of follies. I had been wanting to take a hammer to a negative and then scan the negative with my home scanner, but I have never really found the time, proper negative, or hammer for the task. However, I do have a job where I get paid to play with printers and scanners. I had a copy of “Last, Loveliest Smile” hanging on the wall over my desk. I had printed this a long time ago with a Canon 1700 when we had first switched over to that printer after the Canon 1600 had been discontinued to see if the Canon 1700 lived up to the bold proclamation on the box that it was “photo lab quality”. For the record, the Canon 1700 does not print photo lab quality. It does make a decent appointment card printer if you don’t mind replacing it every 4 months when the ink trap gets full. However, it was a decent enough print for me to put some tape on the back of it and throw it up on the wall above my computer next to “Blue Steel” and “Kentucky Appetizer” and “Grizzly McAlpine”.

A couple weeks ago one of our customers ordered a pretty decent document scanner. (Truth be known they ordered a label printer and the order was filled out incorrectly so I shipped them a document scanner) While I was testing this scanner I wondered if it would scan a crumpled up piece of paper. So I pulled “Last, Loveliest Smile” off the wall and crumpled it up. Then I crumpled it up some more. Then I threw it against the wall and jumped up and down on it. Then I uncrumpled the sheet of paper and ran it through the scanner. That is the story of the creation of “Last, Loveliest Smile Redux”. The creation of “Last, Loveliest Smile” is a whole other story.


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Labour of Ages

I don’t know if there is much of a story to this picture. I was given the charge of watching over my friends Jen and Derrick’s dogs while they were off having fun in Wisconsin. While looking in on their dogs I walked past the flower garden and noticed this little flower fighting through several larger flowers to get to the sunlight. This flower had yet to fully bloom and I have always loved pictures of flowers that were not fully bloomed, although I usually find myself in the minority. I guess I believe in the end that flowers that haven’t fully bloomed yet are similar to humans. In the respect that all humans fall short and are never really fully developed. All we can do is fight through to our sunlight.

Jen worked very hard on their flower garden this year and it certainly paid off for me as I found quite a few fascinating images in their garden this year.


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
1900

This picture was taken of Shannon at Living History Farms. I spent about half a day at Living History Farms when I was on vacation. I had always figured that Living History Farms was one of the most boring places on Earth, but Shannon argued that nobody that loved history could be bored by such a place. So I went to visit. Shannon works at the 1900 Farm so she gave me the tour. (However, I don’t feel it was the full tour because she would not take me to see the boars.) We went up to the hayloft and the lighting up there was magnificent. Not boring flat light, but a bright beam of sunlight broke through the doors at the top of the barn and shone down on Shannon like a spotlight. I don’t want to say that it perfectly lit her, because I don’t think that does it justice. I believe that the light illuminated her. She says that she thinks the picture makes her look like an angel. I’ll leave that for the historians to decide. I did change the picture from color to black and white even though I loved the original color image because the black and white helped hide a bit of lens flare that was clearly visible across the front of her skirt. Ahh, lens flare! One of the hazards of shooting directly into light.


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Faux Sunset

This picture is somewhat of a miracle. Not in the respect that it exists, but in the respect that it made it to the contest. It came very close to not making it to Round 2. In fact the only reason it made it to the second round was because of a last second phone call from Jesse Howard saying that he wanted to vote for this picture as well.

Even though it limped out of the first round of voting, it was a juggernaut in the second round. Absolutely crushing the competition in the second round. At the top of most of the pages on my website is a quote from Picasso:

“Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.”

I don’t know if there is a picture that lives up to this quote on my entry slate than “Faux Sunset”. Most people have told me that it is a lovely sunset picture. It might be lovely, but if they were to concentrate more closely on the first word in the title, they would know that this is not a picture of a sunset at all.

I took this picture on a foggy night in Ledges back in April. The picture is of a street lamp. I became enamored with making a picture of a mysterious light in the woods. My hope was to eliminate the light source and just capture the light through the trees. I thought it would be a curiosity. What was making that light? I’m a huge fan of 50s Science Fiction. People who spend time with me inevitably end up sitting on a couch watching the original “The Outer Limits” on DVD at some point. Movies like “Forbidden Planet” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” were my influences for taking this picture.

In the end, people didn’t find this picture mysterious at all. They saw it quite clearly as a sunset. I haven’t decided if fooling people is good enough when what I wanted to do was make people wonder.


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Franklin

The final picture to sneak in is “Franklin”. This picture was taken back in June. I had committed to helping Shannon make soap, but at that time I had not realized that the soap making day was on the same day as Brian Beavers’ wedding.

I showed up to help make soap, but I had to leave early in the process to drive to Grinnell to attend the wedding. I wanted to take a few pictures of the soap making process because I thought that it made an interesting subject.

Shannon had let her cat Franklin wander around outside in an effort to make him tougher. The lessons weren’t sinking in because he spent a good portion of his time outside begging to be let inside. He stuck his head through the railing bars of the front steps and I took this picture.

There have been times in the past where I have been accused of not liking cats. Whether or not that is true, I have never denied that cats had interesting eyes. For that reason I chose to keep Franklin’s eyes in color and change the rest of the picture to black and white. I was hoping that because Franklin was already black and white a person giving a cursory glance to the image would not be able to tell that the eyes were the only part of the image that is in color. It would take a deeper examination of the image to reveal this fact.

This is a technique I have used before with “Outburst of the Soul” and “Lost Dreams”. I do like it, but hope not to over use it as its effects can be almost too obvious sometimes.

I end this entry with an e-mail I got from Derrick Gorshe. I don’t want to say that I rate or rank the correspondence I have with my amigos, but I would say that this e-mail he sent me is one of my favorite e-mails I have ever received. He was casting his vote in the second round:

When Storm Thorgerson of “Hipgnosis” (the man and company responsible for most of Pink Floyd’s cover art)was questioned about his design of the late sixties albumn “Atom Heart Mother”, he said that that particular photo of a cow was the most perfect cow photo ever. No photo before and probably ever would convey “Cow” as much as that particular photo, and while it really had nothing to do with the source material within the record, that was enough to make it memorable.

It is this reasoning that leads me to my two choices.

“Franklin” is truly a picture of a cat. And while that statement says very little in and of itself, that is enough to make it memorable. The other choice falls between two of the other photos.

I really like “Clouds with Color” for the same reason….it is the ultimate picture of clouds and as such is very memorable, but I also really like “Faux Sunset”. It may not be the definitive picture of a sunset, but it really is quite beautiful, and conveys a feeling of peace and a quiet end of the day. A little mystery remains with that sunset though. The day has closed quietly, but the night remains open to unlimited possibilities and anything is possible. Good or bad, it’s an evening you likely will never forget.”

The People’s Choice – Round Two

I appreciate the input from the ten people who answered my call to help select my entries into the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. Thank you.

After one round of feedback, 4 pictures have been overwhelmingly voted into the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. However, I can enter 6 pictures. So I’m looking for feedback on those last two pictures. I have placed the 5 pictures that all tied with the same amount of votes for 5th place. Please take the time to select two of those 5 pictures that you think I should enter into the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. The five contenders are:


2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Cloud Sans Color

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Faux Sunset

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Franklin

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Darrell’s Place

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Clouds with Color

One last request. Please don’t vote for both cloud pictures. It might muddle the issue.

Flood

Before I went to the gun show on Saturday I went to Ledges to check out the flooding. It wasn’t the most impressive flooding I’ve ever seen, but I stopped and snapped off a few photos to mark the occasion. The pictures below are those photos.


08-25-07

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08-25-07