Category Archives: Contests

Time to Come Clean

Over the last week I have had to face a couple of hard truths. The first truth is that the Pope isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Or perhaps I’m wrong and during this time of religious bickering, it was a smart thing to piss off Jews and Protestants and unify them against him and the Catholic Church.

The second truth I’ve had to face is that I’m not going to finish my 14 part blog. Or at least not any time soon. So I’m going to break the silence on the things of done since May 19th. So these are the things I’ve done since that day, in no particular order:

I’ve went to the following movies:

Pirates 3 – Very disappointing ending.
Oceans 13 – Better than Oceans 12, but what wasn’t?
Ratatouille – Easily the best movie of the year thus far.
A Mighty Heart – Not as good as I had hoped.
Waitress – Also not as good as I had hoped and the doctor gets off way too easily.
Transformers – Easily one of the worst movies I have ever seen. What passes for wit in this loserfest is the racial stereotype transformer tells Megatron “You want a piece of me?” Megatron rips the racial stereotype Autobot in half and says “No, I want two pieces.” This movie is even bad by Michael Bay standards.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – A lot more fulfilling if you have read the book, other wise many sequences are just confusing.
I talked to and shook hands with Barack Obama and told him about my job.
I helped set a sales record for Little White Lye Soap.
Walked a few laps with Willy at Relay for Life. He walked 31 miles.
Went to the 2nd oldest restaurant in Iowa (Stone’s) with Jay.

Had lunch with Faust in Mankato.
Visited the National Hobo Museum.
Took pictures of flowers.
Saw Buddy Guy in concert with Derrick and Jen.
Turned in my photo entries for the State Fair.
Attended a birthday party for Jen.
Took the Henning family picture.
Watched K-Dawg’s team get smoked by Jefferson in the Little League tournament one day and come back to do the smoking a few days later to advance to the state tournament.
Took Jesse to the emergency room.
Bought a sweet new monitor for my home computer. (I’m not normally one to brag about my consumer tendencies, but I really love this monitor.)
Watched Killdeer lay on eggs and the eggs hatch a few days later.
Went to the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Beavers.
Saw the world’s largest strawberry.
Saw the world’s largest bullhead.
Saw the Jolly Green Giant.
Despite have to walk a half mile due to a guy’s gastronomical difficulties, watched Willy complete the 5K at Midnight Madness.
Had lunch with Mark before he returns to Taiwan.
Went to Backbone State Park with Shannon.
Helped Stephanie pick out a camera for work.
Went to the State Center Rose Garden with Jay.
Attempted and failed to make Mentos/Diet Coke rockets with Eric.
Took pictures of the “844”.
Enjoyed several Friday Night Supper Clubs with Jay and Willy.
Enjoyed several New Taste Tuesdays with Frank, Jesse, and Steve.
Went to the Company picnic. Seemed like people were actually excited to see me.
Drove to Minnesota to see Nate and watch Harry Potter.
Watched a slide show of pictures from Willy’s trip to Spain.
Attended a pretty sweet Memorial Day barbecue.
Set up a new squirrel feeder and two new bird feeders.
Changed the oil in my car. (personal reminder, change oil again at 161,000 miles)
Helped make soap.
It is most likely I did more than that, but that is all that comed to my head at this time, with one exception. One major exception.
I went to the Des Moines Arts Festival with Rebecca and Jay. I would have to say first and foremost, what a dog that was. What a major disappointment.

However, it did inspire me to put together the blog that I will hopefully post on the morrow. I can’t say that it is a good blog. In fact, it is probably the type of blog that makes one lose friends and gain enemies. It is the type of blog that may make people stop returning my e-mails or phone calls. The type of blog that may make people move to the other side of the street if they see me walking down the street. It frankly might be a subject that will make some people uncomfortable. Yet, that is for tomorrow.

Minutia – Chapter 4: Failure

Chapter 4: Failure

Thomas Edison failed on his first 100 attempts to invent the light bulb. When asked if he was upset with all of his failures he responded that they weren’t failures. He had learned 100 different ways not to invent the light bulb. I think of that story at times when I need motivation and I can’t seem to make the picture in my head and the picture on the screen the same. Then I also remember that Thomas Edison used to publicly electrocute cats and dogs to show the dangers of Tesla’s competing style of electricity. That reminds that the distance between genius and insanity is measured by success.

I had just got home from Ames. I had a belly full of Club sandwich. I had invites to not one but two swinging parties burning in the back of my mind. One party was in Des Moines. This party was to celebrate Nate and Ryan’s birthdays. If I attended this party I would get to see Ryan. He is the recognized master of the high five. This was a strong selling point.

The second party was for Sara H.’s graduation. She had recently graduated college and was having one last shindig before she left for North Carolina for a stint with Habitat for Humanity. While Ryan is an acknowledged master of the high five, Sara is an acknowledged master of profanity. Perhaps the only one I know.

Sara H.’s party was in Ogden. Nate’s party was in Des Moines. I considered my options. Then I considered that the sun was quickly fading in the sky. It had been a while since I had felt the Maxxum 5D in my hands, if you hadn’t counted the pictures of Bethany and her new camera I had taken an hour or so ago.

I was feeling restless. I grabbed the camera and loaded the car up with fake flowers. I hit the road. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t know where I wanted to go. Plus, I was going to need an assistant.

There was really only one man for the job of assistant. With apologies to Baier, if I were an artistic genius like Van Gogh, Jay would be my Gauguin. This is for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that Jay would look great with a mustache. The second reason is that Jay is always riding me for being lazy.

Any time that I say that I should put up a tripod, but that I won’t do it because it is too time consuming, he is right on my back calling me lazy.

I dream that someday Jay and I can have a confrontation where he tells me that the only thing he can tell by looking at my work is that I work too fast. So I can get right back in his grill and tell him that he “looks too fast”. If this happens I would prefer that Jay was wearing red pants.

I had drove around aimlessly for awhile before deciding on giving Jay a call. He answered his phone and sounded a bit like a man that had been beaten down. I’m sure he had. He had probably spent 10 hours at work.

Without trying to sound pushy I asked Jay if he might be interested in helping me with a little photo project that I was working on.

“When?”

“The sooner the better.” In reality I had some disposable time, but I wasn’t in the patient mood.

“I’ll need to take a shower first.”

“It would be better if you didn’t.”

That sentence kind of hung there for awhile.

“What do you want me to do?”

“It might involve you getting wet.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want to go down to a stream and then you are going to throw these fake flowers into the stream. It might involve you actually getting into the stream, plus we might have to cross the stream, and you might have to help me find the flowers if they get lost. Plus there is always the chance of mud.”

“I can’t take a shower?”

“I wouldn’t see the point. You are just going to have to take a shower after we are done.”

“I really stink.”

“We both are probably going to stink before this little exercise (in futility) is over.”

“Why me?”

“Because you are my Gauguin!”

“Wasn’t he kind of a prick?”

“It would be better than being my Signac?”

“Yeah, that pointillism joker with his ‘scientific method’.”

“Yeah, screw that guy.”

“Screw pointillism too.”

“So you’re in?”

“The deal is that you can’t complain that I stink.”

“I wouldn’t think of it.”

I swung by Jay’s pad and picked him up. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do. Although I knew this was going to be entirely a test run for a later photo, I needed to make the test run as soon as possible. The deadline for State Fair Photography Salon was quickly approaching and I wanted to be able to place my order with Adorama with plenty of time to spare. That way I would get the pictures back with plenty of time to discuss my matting options with Monica. After all, Monica is my matting expert because of her vast knowledge of the color wheel. Plus she can put a picture on different colored mattes and say “that looks good, it really brings out color X.”

I’m not at liberty to discuss what I am trying to do with this picture. Only Monica gets to see the four pictures I enter to the State Fair Photography Salon before the reception the Tuesday before the State Fair opens. At that point, Sara J. gets to see the pictures. Then, I might post them on my website. That is if I do well. If I don’t do well, I just pretend like I’ve never heard of the State Fair Photography Salon.

Jay got in the car. I didn’t smell any stench on the man. Which means he was either grousing for no reason or he had made haste to take the White Trash Shower. I didn’t smell an excess of cologne on him, so I think that he was really just trying to buy time until he could think of a good reason not to wade through a stream with me. His plan failed.

I turned the radio up and we headed towards McHose Park.

I had chosen the stream that ran behind McHose Park. Perhaps it isn’t the most sanitary stream in the world, but it had three things that I prized above all else.

The thing I wanted the most was solitude. I knew that if I was hanging around this stream, I would most likely be able to do my work in peace. As opposed to Ledges, where there would be people crawling all over the place. McHose Park is always busy on the front side, but not many people hang around the backside, unless they are engaging in an illegal narcotic based activity. If I ran into such people, we would leave each other alone.

The second thing that I liked about the stream behind McHose Park is that while it isn’t deep, there are sections of it that are fairly deep. The water can get as deep as 3 to almost 4 feet deep. Finding one of these deep spots would be key to my artistic pursuit on this day.

The final thing that appealed to me was clear water. Unlike portions of the stream at Ledges or Squaw Creek, the water that runs through this stream is very clear. At least in the parts of the creek that have a sandy bottom.

One of the sad truths about McHose Park is that despite being one of the largest and most beautiful City Parks in the state, it has come into disrepair lately. The main paved road that cuts through the park has huge sections where the term pothole seems to hardly even be appropriate. The gravel back roads are eroding away and the city does not seem to be interested in grading them. A couple of the bridges on the backside of the park are well past being called safe.

I drove down the one gravel road that is still passable for somebody in a sedan. I stopped and parked a few hundred feet past Turtle Pond. I parked right in front of the Water Treatment Facility.

There are no words that adequately describe the smell that first attacks your nostrils when you smell the air outside of the Water Treatment Facility. If Jay was worried about any body odor, this smell should have put him at ease. I don’t know the person that can produce an odor that can compete with this smell. For purposes of intellectual honesty, I should admit that I do know a couple, but nobody that I would ever allow in my car.

Years ago McHose Park had a road on its very backside that you could drive through. It was a gravel road that allowed you to drive through the stream on a couple of occasions. For some reason, the City closed down this road. Although you can’t drive on it any longer, it is still there. Slowly eroding away and being reclaimed by the forest. We walked down what is left of this road.

When I originally envisioned this project, I thought about a part of the stream that is on the very south edge of McHose Park. A part of the stream that was almost all the way to US30. There was a small waterfall at this part of the stream and a stretch of the stream that was a decent depth. However, we were quite a ways away from that part of the stream, so I decided to just make do with the first decent part of the stream I came across. After all, these were just test shots. It didn’t need to be perfect.

Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind as walked down the road, past a crane and a Bobcat that blocked part of the road. Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind as we approached a section of the road where the stream crossed the road.

Jay looked at me and said, “Now what?”

My plan wasn’t terribly thought out. I told him what I knew.

“You are going to stand down here. I am going to walk down there.” I said while pointing in the general direction of downstream. “When I give you the signal, I want you to throw the fake flowers in the stream.”

“That is it? You drug me out here to throw fake flowers into a stream?”

I saw that he had brought with him his particular brand of insolence.

“Yeah, that is pretty much it.” I conceded.

I decided to take on the stream barefooted. I loathe sandals and do not own a pair or their bastard offspring the flip flop. I can’t even bring myself to say flip flop. Last time I bought a pair, I made Olivia refer to them as “water related footwear.” Those “shoes” ended up in the bottom of the channel that separates Lower Cullen Lake and Middle Cullen Lake. It was either lose the “shoes” or go underwater with the Maxxum 5. Today I chose to go barefoot.

I do not know if Jay thought what I was doing was stupid, but he didn’t ask me any questions. If Jay knew what I was about to do was stupid, he has been conditioned in past encounters to let me make my own mistakes.

The other theory that I can operate under is that Jay might have noticed that I was wearing hiking boots. He may have considered the possibility that I didn’t want to get my hiking boots wet or muddy. They might have been my dress shoes. After all, we did have a friend that was vacationing in Spain that tried to pass hiking boots off as dress shoes on more than one occasion.

Whatever Jay’s motivation for not pointing out my stupidity, what I was about to do was a very stupid thing. I was going to try to make my way through a series of concrete blocks and rocks to a part of the stream that was just sand. These concrete blocks and rocks stuck out of the stream at weird angles. These concrete blocks and rocks were intermittently covered with algae.

I took off my boots and socks. I waded into the stream. The cool temperature of the water gave me an initial shock, but that gave way to a sensation of pleasure. The water was rather refreshing.

I inched my way off the road and onto a concrete block. My first step was decisive. Then I stood there and realized I didn’t really have a good second step. The rocks and the blocks were at funky angles. While I would have no problem handling this situation with two hands free, one hand was clutching the Maxxum 5D. True I could have left the camera dangling from its strap around my neck, but quite frankly I don’t believe in the camera strap. I believe in my right hand.

I was standing on a concrete block. On all sides of me was rushing water. About a foot a way was the bank. I could have stepped to the bank and walked about 20 feet and hopped into the stream in a place that wasn’t occupied by a mishmash of rocks and blocks.

It is possible that what crossed my mind was that taking the bank would have been a wimp’s way out. I would say the way of the pansy, but I have since learned that the pansy is actually a very hardy flower and does not deserve to be compared with people that are feeble or cowardly. The iris on the other hand . . .

In actuality I don’t think I ever considered the bank. I made a few more tentative steps. It seemed like I was going to make it. I made a few more steps. It seemed like this plan was going to work.

Then I tried to step up on to a concrete block. I placed my foot on top of a rock and began to push off. The rock was covered in algae. My foot slipped right off. I lost my balance and started to fall face first towards the concrete block.

I had an option though. I could put a couple of hands in front of me and stop my fall or at least push myself off to the side of the concrete block. The only problem was that I held the Maxxum 5D in one hand. If I tried to use it to help stop my fall it would surely be smashed into several no longer functioning pieces or it would have ended up in the stream. Then it would have been in one no longer function piece.

Out of my peripheral vision I realized that I still was only a few short feet from the bank. I tossed the Maxxum 5D in to a growth of grass and continued to let gravity take its course.

I put my hands out and pushed against the concrete block. My face was saved. My body shot upwards, but I was still not in equilibrium. I fell to the side and landed in the water.

“You alright?”

Jay’s concern was heart warming. I pulled myself and what was left of my dignity out of the water. I walked over to the bank to find the Maxxum 5D. It was sitting on top of the grass, looking as if it had not been flying through the air a few moments earlier. I picked it up. I looked it over. I tested it. It was fine.

I sat down on the concrete block and looked myself over. The camera was still in one piece. My face was still intact. There was a throbbing pain in my left foot though.

This term is not used with any kind of medical training. I believe that I hyperextended my left foot. When I was falling on the rock, all my weight went on the front of my foot and my toes bent upwards well past where they are supposed to stop bending. The result was a dull throbbing pain on the bottom side of my foot that felt like a bruise, but there wasn’t a bruise to be found. Further examination of my foot revealed a decent sized gash along the side of my big toe.

“I’m fine,” I answered. “Just a little cut.”

“We calling it a day?” He asked, but he already knew the answer.

I just gave him the look. The look that indicated that I wasn’t an iris, I was a pansy.

“Want your boots then?”

“Yeah, that suddenly sounds like a real good idea.”

Jay threw me my boots and I made the rest of the journey without incident. I stopped at a bend in the stream that was about 100 feet from Jay. It seemed like a good spot because on the west side of the stream there was a clearing on the bank. Plus on the outside part of the stream’s bend, the water was at least 2.5 to 3 feet deep. I gave Jay the signal.

He began dropping the fake flowers into the stream. I waited. He kept throwing them in. I waited. He had thrown them all in. I waited. I waited. I waited.

“This isn’t going to work.” He yelled downstream at me.

“Why not?”

“They’re sinking.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Doesn’t matter what it makes, they all sank.”

I began to walk upstream. Sure enough, not even 20 feet from Jay I found all of the fake flowers. They had all sunk. Fake flowers don’t float. This didn’t make sense. The flowers were made out of plastic, which floats, and silk which I would assume isn’t heavy enough to sink. I had reckoned wrong. I reckoned that maybe that the part of the stream where Jay had thrown the flowers in was too turbulent for proper floating. I grabbed all the flowers and headed back to my bend.

I dropped the flowers into the calmer area of the stream. They floated for a second and then they dropped to the stream bottom.

This sucked. I looked up to call out to Jay. I wanted to tell him that this sucked, but he was gone. It was like that moment in the horror movie where two people are in the woods and one of them disappears. Either the person that disappears shows up moments later for a “fake scare” or their body shows up in the third act all distorted and mutilated.

This wasn’t a horror movie though. Jay showed up moments later. He had wandered off and collected some small real flowers.

“This sucks.” I was finally able to verbalize, but I had lost some of the venom.

He ignored me and threw the flowers into the stream.

“Real flowers float.”

Which was great, but not real helpful. If I was going to use real flowers for my picture, I would need a flower with a much larger bloom than what Jay was finding. I saw a grouping of the type of flowers that Jay was throwing into the stream and I took a few pictures of them so that I could identify them later.

I came back to the stream and tried to get what I could out of the sinking flowers. I figured it was good enough for a test run.

I walked back to Jay, got out of the steam and walked the uncomfortable walk of somebody with wet boots. While I was walking in these wet boots to the car I decided that I didn’t really feel much like going to a party. I felt like getting out of these shoes, taking a shower, and playing with Photoshop. This would be my Saturday night. Not exciting, but I would get plenty of sleep and be able to start up my church streak again. Plus I would be plenty rested for the next day’s graduation festivities.

When we got back to the car I came to the sad realization that even though this was a test run, I hadn’t learned how to take the picture that I wanted. I had learned a way not to take the picture that I wanted.



Broken Bridge of McHose Park

05-19-07
Back of the Crane

05-19-07
The Deceptively Tricky Rapids


“You should have worn your shoes and I would look smashing wit a mustache.”


The Small Flowers on the Bank


Coming Back from the Bend

05-19-07

Sister, The State Fair, and A Few Jokes

For the last few years my sister Teresa has talk a lot of jibber jabber about entering the State Fair crocheting competition. In the same time frame, Monica has made a similar amount of dissonance about entering a painting into the State Fair.

Last year they were together in a contingency of people that made their way to the Fair with me. Once again they began opening their mouths and allowed words to escape about how “next year” they were going to enter their wares. Perhaps it was the heat. Perhaps it was hunger. Perhaps it was hearing the same inane prattle for years, but I believe that I snapped at them.

I can’t recall what I said, but I’m sure I pointed out that I was sick of hearing this same song and dance every year and yet every year the State Fair deadline came and went and all their talk had yet to spawn any action.

It has always been my philosophy to not pay too much attention to the words that people use. Everybody can talk a good game about what they are going to do or how good a person they are. One of the great truths I’ve learned in life is that “action defines character”. If you want to know the truth about a person, don’t listen to what they say. Watch what they do.

At that point they struck a deal. They both agreed to enter something next year. Well as I gaze admiringly at the Photography 139 Calendar on my wall I realize that next year is now this year. That immediately begs the question: “How are they doing?”

At a recent birthday dinner for Monica she revealed that she “still had plans” for the State Fair. So that is where Monica stands.

Teresa on the other hand has been quite diligent in her pursuit of the State Fair. She has been crocheting things left and right. The picture below are her latest creations. What makes these creations impressive is that these bears are a few inches tall.






I wanted to throw out a couple of jokes from the “Showbiz Show” that amused me:

A new video game allows you to form a “virtual band” online with other Xbox users. Those who’ve played it say it’s so realistic you almost feel like an actual failure.

Bono was granted an honorary knighthood, but he’s not entitled to be called “Sir” because he’s not a British citizen. “It’s cool, I wouldn’t want to be called anything that’s not my god-given name,” said Bono. “Yeah, that’d be totally pretentious,” said The Edge.

Former Spice Girl Melanie Brown has given birth to a baby girl, who she claims was fathered by Eddie Murphy. She’s basing this on the fact that the baby is capable of both being totally amazing and putting out crap.

Kelly’s Christmas Present

This weekend was the annual “Howard Family Christmas Card Photo Shoot”. I think it went well this year. Hopefully they find a picture or two that they like enough to use for their Christmas card.

As a result of that photo shoot I found out one more little tidbit about the Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest. Apparently Kelly went down to the exhibit with her two co-workers. Or perhaps they are technically employees. They did not like “Blue Steel”. Not even a little bit. In fact, not at all. Perhaps they just don’t play enough softball. At least now I know what Kelly gets for a Christmas present this year.

I have really been spending more time lately painting frames than taking pictures. I think I have come close to master the technique that will result in the “finished products” of all Photography 139 artwork. I have a completed framed picture of: “Earth’s Laughter Series – #04”, “Grizzly McAlpine”, “Blue Steel”, and hopefully by the end of the night I will have ““Building 429”” completed.

I also should note that I have decided to expedite the naming process for my flower pictures. In the future they will all fall under the series title “Earth’s Laughter” and be given a number. The name is derived from a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “The Earth laughs in flowers.” I enjoy using parts of quotations as photo titles. This series is currently only numbered up to four. I should note that there are times when a number and a subtitle will be used. An example would be: “Earth’s Laughter Series – #03: My Giverny”. You get the idea.

I have a new complaint about the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. When I got my pictures back the one’s that did not receive awards had my name and the name of the picture taped to the front of them. When I removed that label, the tape ripped and destroyed my mats. 1 step forward turned into 1 step back. My resolve to win the color division of this contest has been weakened.

Last week’s picture of the week was Building 429. The inspiration for this picture comes from the band Building 429. Building 429 took their name from is one of my favorite Bible verses: Ephesians 4:29. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”. Building 429 has a special place in my heart as they recorded one of the most important songs of my life: “No One Else Knows”. Jen and Derrick’s band covered that song for me at Songs for Olivia earlier this year. Below is a copy of the lyrics from that song:

No One Else Knows

My world is closing in
On the inside But I’m not showing it
When all I am is crying outI
hold it in and fake a smile
Still I’m broken
I’m broken
Only one can understand
And only one can hold the hand
Of the broken
Of the broken

When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I’ve been
You run to me with outstretched hands
And You hold me in your arms Again

I need no explanation of why meI just need confirmation
Only You could understand the emptiness inside my head
I am fallingI am falling
I’m falling down upon my knees
To find the one who gives me peaceI am flying
Lord I am flying
When no one else knows how I feel
Your love for me is proven real
When no one else cares where I’ve been
You run to me with outstretched hands
And You hold me in Your arms
Again

I have come to you in search of faith
Cause I can’t see beyond this place
Oh You are God and I am man
So I’ll leave it in Your hands

“Building 429” is a picture of a pocket cross laid on top of Olivia’s NIV Bible open to Ephesians 4:29. It is a macro photography. The intent is to make the image bigger than life, show how beat up the cross has become, and make the cross shine. I think it makes for an emotionally powerful image.

Weekend Reflections

Pufferbilly Days has now passed. At some point in the future I will go up to the Chamber of Commerce and retrieve my pictures, trophies, and ribbons. That is correct, instead of giving our ribbons for Win, Place, and Show; they give out trophies. I’m not complaining. This will be the first trophy that I have won since I was maybe 10 years old. But a trophy doesn’t help with my quest to some day have a wall covered with ribbons. I suppose that I could nail the trophies to the wall. The truth be known, I feel like I don’t need to enter the Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest any longer. Even though I only won 1 division and there was no “Best of Show”, I feel like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. When their video for “Jeremy” won the VMA for “Best Video” he said: “Good. Now we don’t have to make videos any longer.” They didn’t for a long time. I feel like, “Good. Now I don’t have to enter that contest any longer.” But of course I haven’t won Color yet!

I most likely will continue to enter the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest though. Not because of my “ribbon wall” that will never come to fruition. Although if somebody would give me a “Participant” ribbon for “life”, I would proudly display that. Which reminds me of a point I shall make further down in this page.

I also won’t continue to enter in some narcissistic attempt to win the Color Division. I will continue to enter for the only reason that I think most artists enter anything. To see how people will react to their art.

On Friday evening I was standing near the Photo Contest with Jay. He had just received his marching orders from the Salon 908 CEO about his artistic contribution to the Salon 908 float. On the way back to his Keeler Street studio, we dropped by the Contest so he could gaze at the entries.

As we were admiring the artwork, two girls from a slow pitch softball team known as either the “Jammers” or “Slammers” came around the corner. One of them had already came up to the Photo Contest. She had brought her friend back with her to specifically see 1 picture. I tell you with no small amount of pride that the picture that so piqued her interest was my self-portrait entitled: “Blue Steel”. The title is a reference to the movie Zoolander. I briefly considered the name “Magnum”, but I decided that was a bit presumptuous. The reason that I relay this anecdote is because it is an example of the type of recognition that is most meaningful to me. I enjoy it way more than any ribbon or trophy. A stranger connecting to something that I have made. How cool is that?

Unfortunately I get little of that kind of recognition because I can’t just hang around my pictures all day. Despite any voyeuristic tendencies I might possess, I just don’t have THAT much free time. It does remind me of a time that I entered a picture of Karma in the Boone County Fair. The picture was a close-up of Karma and a predecessor of “Happy Karma”. As I was looking at the flowers in the horticultural exhibit nearby I overheard some lady remark to her husband that I must have “brushed that dog’s teeth” because they were so white. Karma was perhaps the greatest dog in the history of the universe, but she never got her teeth brushed.
That brings us to Saturday night. I headed to Jack Trice Stadium know full well that I forgot to charge my camera batteries. Therefore there will not be a page of “Snapshots for the ISU-UNLV Game”. At least it is not likely that there will be one. If I do get bored enough to put something of that ilk together, it will at most include 10 pictures.
Observations from Saturday’s game:

We played terrible. But we always play terrible the week before the Iowa game.
The defense was quite a bit better, but UNLV made many more mistakes than Toledo. The same dump passes and 3 yard crossing patterns worked well for them.

We can’t cover kickoffs at all.

I’ve never seen anything quite as pathetic as the display that UNLV put on after the game. Refusing to shake hands and jumping up and down on our logo was reprehensible. What is the old saying: “Sports don’t build character, they reveal character.” I believe that they do both. For the record, the play that UNLV insisted was a touchdown. Their receiver was closer to Webster County than the north end zone of Jack Trice Stadium.

Brett Meyer had what had to be one of the worst games of his career. Even the passes he completed weren’t accurate. Also there was a decided lack of the QB draw that was extremely effective against Toledo.

3 carries isn’t enough for Jason Scales. When can we see what this guy can do?

RaShawn Parker is the man. He is a true Freshman and he already making big plays on the defensive line. Jason Berrywho?

So Sunday was a washout. Art in the Park is always my favorite part of Pufferbilly Days. I
didn’t even go to it this year because it rained all day. Instead I finally made it to the theater to see Little Miss Sunshine. I had forgotten that Labor Day weekend had passed and finally the theaters will start to fill up with good, intelligent movies instead of the barren waste of space movies that occupy the multiplexes during the summer months. Movies like: Hollywoodland, The Prestige, The Illusionist, and The King of Scotland. Finally a reason to go to the theater.
Little Miss Sunshine was better than I expected, which is saying something because I have been anticipating this movie since May. I am ready to proclaim it “The Best Roadtrip Movie Ever Made!!” I would go into more detail, but I think it is sufficient to say that it is both intelligent and funny at the same time. I very rare combination for movies these days.

One last note. I’ve been experimenting with adding video to the website. If you are one of the observant fans of this site you may have noticed a 2 second video of Bethany at the bottom of this page. That video was the result of said experimentation. That success shall pave the way to a future little video segment I hope to get going in this journal. Jesse and I are going to act out 10 second clips from some of my favorite movies. No particular reason for this besides that it entertains me. Hopefully it will entertain you too.

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest

Well times are a changing. Every complaint I ever had about the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest has been corrected. I can bellyache no longer. The pictures were actually up early this year. As opposed to years past when they were sometimes 48 hours late. The pictures actually had the title of the picture and the photographer clearly placed on the photo. All I can say is that times are a changing.

Perhaps you are wondering how I fared in this new environment. I can’t complain. My picture of Willy won First Place in Black and White. My picture of a cross in the Bible on Ephesians 4:29 took third in Black and White. My picture of Derrick received an Honorable Mention. My other 3 pictures did not receive any love, but at least they were displayed.

Of the 6 pictures that were entered, only the First Place picture is currently up on this website. “Grizzly McAlpine” is on the home page as the picture of the week.

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest Deadline

Today at 4 PM was the deadline to get pictures turned into the Chamber of Commerce for the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. Last night I set aside some time to mount and mat my images, but my pictures had yet to arrive from Adorama. Not their fault. It was entirely my own fault for not getting my order to them on time.

I used the time to watch my favorite movie to come out this year: “Akeelah and the Bee”. A movie I can highly recommend to anybody. The movie also contains a quote I find to be highly motivational. What follows is not the exact quote from the movie, but as it was originally written by Marianne Williamson:

“As I interpret the Course, ‘our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I did not spend the entire evening watching television though. Monica came over and picked out the mats to go with the photos for the competition. Fortunately, this morning while I was at work my pictures arrived. I was able to mount them and take them back to Boone while I was on my lunch break. Therefore, you might be able to see some of my images at the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest if you are in Boone that weekend.

Although I don’t get to worried about Photo Contests as a general rule, I feel this might be the strongest collection of images that I have entered. I am not predicting anything by any stretch of the imagination, but no matter how well I do or how extreme I fail, I feel good about this collection of pictures. I think there is at least one picture that should speak to everybody. Which picture really strikes each person is always a surprise to me. Such as Willy really liked the butterfly picture. Monica really liked the picture of Derrick. Jesse really liked the picture Willy. I don’t like to play favorites, but I think I most enjoy my self-portrait (for reasons of vanity) or the picture of the crucifix on the Bible open to Ephesians 4:29. A scripture I chose because it is one of my favorites and an inspiration for one of my favorite bands: Building 429. I believe most people won’t like how dark the image is, but I really wanted to create as much contrast in the picture as possible to make the crucifix shine as much as possible.

I am also pleased with the amount of techniques or at least styles represented in the pictures. There are 3 black and white pictures and 3 color pictures. 2 of the pictures utilize Photoshop. There are 2 macro pictures. There is a nature picture. There is a flower picture. There are 3 portraits, but all 3 completely different. 1 still life. The only thing really missing would have been some kind of flashy in camera special effect or a double exposure. I am going to get into multiple exposure a lot more in the next few months, but nothing that I’m ready to discuss or at least have cemented in my noggin.

At this time, there aren’t any of the entered images available for viewing on the website, but hopefully sometime Friday I will be able to get something up in the Photo Contest section of this website. Keep your eyes glued to the “News” section of this website to tell when they get added.

Tonight is the first game of the season for the Iowa State Cyclones. It is a night game, so the amount of usable images I will get out of the game will not be many. At least there won’t be many without the demon viper known as “digital noise”, but viewed at a smaller size, they shouldn’t be too bad.

So look for a “snapshot” page of pictures from tonight’s game sometime this weekend. I also plan on putting together a similar collection for the pictures from the Iowa State Fair this weekend.

Eastern Iowa Road Trip

Closing in on the deadline for the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. I’m not sure if I will have any pictures ready for the contest. I procrastinated to a point where I don’t know if my pictures will even be delivered in time for me to mat them and get them down to the Chamber of Commerce before the 4 PM deadline tomorrow. However, I do have 6 pictures ready to take on the competition. They are not the 6 pictures I thought they would be. The 6 pictures ended up being a picture of Willy, a wildflower, Derrick, a self portrait, a crucifix in a Bible, and a butterfly. Hopefully the pictures will arrive at my workplace early in the morning, allowing me time to mat them and take them back to Boone on my lunch break.

Also this last weekend I went on a roadtrip to Eastern Iowa with Jay, Jesse, Monica, Derrick, Jen, and Robert. It was an extremely pleasant time.

State Fair and Ledges

I have spent a few days planning for the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. I need six images for the contest. My goal is to have 6 entirely new images. I believe I have 4 of the images ready. Which those with basic math skills can tell you leaves 2 images left to create. I know what the first image will be. That will be a fairly easy image to create. I’m a little undecided on the final image. Although I have a basic concept in my head.

The first image is from a recent trip I made to a wildflower area in Ledges State Park. I am fortunate to reside so near a park with as many photographic possibilities as Ledges. Anybody that has loitered around the galleries of this website knows that I spend a lot of time on the Lost Lake Trail taking pictures of frogs and dragonflies. I also spend a tremendous amount of time trying to get a halfway decent picture of a turtle. That venture continues to be a complete and utter failure. I just don’t have a long enough lens at this time to get a good turtle picture. Couple that fact with the well known cowardice of turtles, you can see the predicament I am in. I am considering buying a 500mm mirror lens for the upcoming Iowa State season and that may help me with my turtle problem. The mirror lens is attractive for budgetary reasons, but it has its limitations. It loses image quality in the corners of the images and it is manual focus. There are times that I am scared of how reliant I have become on autofocus, but then autofocus lenses were not built for manual focus and therefore their focusing rings are usually a bit loose. My future mirror lens should have a nice tight focusing ring and allow me to focus quickly and get some decent close up shots of the Cyclones this season. Of course all of that is off topic.

In upper Ledges there are many lovely patches of wildflowers. I have frequented one on a couple of days recently to get a picture of some flowers from underneath framed against a stark blue sky. My first trip actually ended in total failure. There are times when I get lazy and don’t really check the settings on my camera. There are times I just compose and fire away.

At I accidentally adjusted the ISO setting on my camera to 3200 without noticing. The result was disastrous. Most of the images were worthless. Thank you “digital noise”.

The second trip was much more successful, despite the presence of a bird that despised me as much as is avian possible. This bird stalked me and swooped at me. I ignored it to the best of my ability and got an amazing amount of shots of butterflies with which this patch is blessed. Plus, I got the flower picture that I wanted. However, the picture is not on the website yet.

The second image is a picture of Derrick walking down the alley behind Rieman’s Music with his guitar on his back. I have taken that picture and changed everything but his guitar to black and white. I have yet to create an acceptable title for this picture, but it is on the website under the temporary moniker: “Guitar Slinger”.

The third picture is a close-up picture of my goatee. It is a little bit difficult to take a picture of one’s own goatee. This would have been much easier to do with somebody else’s goatee, but sadly none of my friend’s have a goatee that is quite as impressive on so many levels. This picture is a riff on an earlier image I did when I was at work taking pictures of myself for a MySpace journal entry that never came to fruition. The original image was sepia toned. Which I do actually prefer, but there are only two categories in the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest: “color” and “black and white”. I’m not sure where sepia toned fits.

I experimented with the new image. I took some pictures using the “Blue Steel” pose from “Zoolander”. I took a few pictures with my tongue sticking out. I took a few while eating a Star Bar. I look a few while leaking water out of my mouth, but I am currently leaning towards just a standard shot of pursed lips.

The experience has made me consider doing a series of these pictures trying to convey different emotions. I don’t know how that will work out, but if any thing comes of it, you’ll find out about it from this journal.

The current images aren’t currently on the website, but the original sepia toned image is on the website under the title: “Facial Hair Self-Portrait”.

The fourth picture in the hopper is a picture of an ostrich’s head. This picture was the best image from a wonderful day spent at the State Fair with Ernie, Monica, Tim, Robert, Liz, and Teresa.

I have a very large amount of objects I need to see at the State Fair. One of my favorites is a visit to the “Avenue of the Breeds”. While we were there I was able to get some wonderful pictures of an ostrich. I have to admit to not being completely satisfied with the ostrich picture because of some red in the background. As fate would have it, I am going down to the Fair tomorrow to retrieve my pictures from the Photography Salon. So there is a chance I can get another picture of the ostrich with a better background or perhaps a picture of the emus from the petting zoo. Although the ostrich had a wonderful dome, the emus has an amazingly creepy eye. Fortunately I still have a couple of days to decide which one is better.

The fifth image is simply going to be a picture of a cross in a hand. It will be a black and white image. It has yet to be taken.

The sixth image is still in the mulling over stage. Perhaps something will strike my fancy in the next couple of days. Perhaps nothing will and I’ll end up entering a retread from somewhere else.

One thing is for sure, the clock is ticking.

First Journal Entry

So here is the first journal entry. I felt like having as pretentious sounding name as possible for my journal. I have a few goals about this journal. My main goal is just to actually write in it. My second goal is to be as truthful as possible towards my true thoughts and feelings. I have another journal on another website, but it is really just a collection of sarcastic statements and cheap jabs at open faced sandwiches. This journal is meant to be about what my achievements and failures are in the world of art. What projects I am working on and what I have accomplished and what I have failed to accomplish. What I am photographing and what I am thinking about entering in photo contests. What I am thinking about. It might not always make sense. It might just be things I need to write down because they strike me as poignant or inspirational. This is in a small way an online “idea box”.

I do also have a goal of producing something that makes me worthy of having a pretentious sounding journal title like: “An Artist’s Notebook”.

So last night, I attended the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon Reception with Sara. I figured that the two pictures that I had accepted for display would be a picture of Jay entitled “Portrait of a Self Portrait” and a picture of a bullfrog entitled “Kentucky Appetizer”. I didn’t have any real strong images to enter into the contest this year, but I felt that I had some that were good enough to display, but probably not good enough for ribbons. I was correct. Those were the two pictures selected for display. They did not receive ribbons.

So now I turn my attention to the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. I wasn’t going to enter this contest because I have been frustrated in the past by the way it is ran. The pictures are never displayed on the day that they are supposed to be displayed. Instead, they might be displayed as late as 48 hours. The second thing about this contest that sticks in my craw is that they don’t put the names of the photographers or of the image up anywhere. Basically, there are a bunch of pictures up and who knows who took them.

I don’t complain because I seek the fame and fortune that comes with having your picture displayed at the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. I complain because I would like to know who took some of the other pictures. Sadly, 1 town west the now defunct Ogden Fun Days Photo Contest was ran a million times better.

Jay talked me into entering this year’s contest. I told him that I didn’t like having to put any emotional investment into this contest, when it was so poorly ran.

He said it wouldn’t require any emotional investment. I could just put the pictures I made for the Ogden Fun Days Contest into the Pufferbilly Contest and whatever happens happened.

For better or worse, I’m just not wired in such a manner. There are very few things in my life I can just say “what happens, happens.” Photography certainly isn’t one of them.

He did convince me it was a waste not to enter one of the few contests around here just because it was so poorly ran. So, I am entering. I need to come up with 6 entries by August 31. That is the limit and I do not want to do anything less than the limit. I don’t want to mail it in.