Category Archives: Contests

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.

Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest

So I’ve weened the field of contenders down to 16. What lies below are the 16 photos I’m considering for the Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest. I can enter six images, so please feel free to give me your opinion on what pictures you think I should enter. It really isn’t difficult or hard to leave comments on this “blog”. If you don’t have a google account, just select anonymous. I look forward to hearing some feedback . . . he said wistfully.


2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Ant

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Jen’s Flower

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Night Cross

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Faux Sunset

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Franklin

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Epson 350 Scanner Test

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Frogtography

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Darrel’s Place

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Intermediate Creature

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Clouds

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Same Clouds – Sans Color

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Another One of Jen’s Flowers

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Time Filler

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Wheels

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Yellow Rose

2007 - Pufferbilly Days Contest Nominees
Shannon

It should be pointed out that these are not the actual names of the pictures, but just something to call them by at this time.

The Past

I can hear out of my right ear!!! That doesn’t seem like such a big accomplishment, but I have been stuffed up lately and my right ear has been pretty much useless as a result for the last few days. It finally seemed to unclog tonight. Hearing rules.

I’m posting a few pictures of my trip to the State Fair with Sara. There aren’t many pictures, so it didn’t seem like a gallery was necessary.

In the last couple of days I’ve participated in providing music for people going on long moving trips. Stephanie has moved to Pittsburgh to pursue her education. On Monday night she had a going away party where she had the most ingenious idea. Rather than people giving her going away presents, she requested that people make her a mix CD of some of their favorite music for her to listen to on her way to Pittsburgh. I think that this is a brilliant idea and think that there is a fair to excellent chance that I will steal it in the future.

I wish I could remember what I put on the CD I made for her, but my head seemed like it was on the verge of explosion. I can remember putting on a song by Buddy Guy, Melvin Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Jars of Clay, The Donnas, Harold Melvin, Sam Cooke The David Crowder Band, and Otis Redding. I think in retrospect I could have done a better job, but I think that I did a fair job considering my weakened condition.

In exchange, Stephanie gave everybody who gave her a CD a CD in exchange. This is another part of the idea I like. There is many a time when I’ve looked at somebody and thought, man this person could really use a listening to “Right Off” by Miles Davis off the album “Tribute to Jack Johnson”. However, I didn’t put that song on Stephanie’s CD. That song is 27 minutes long. It wouldn’t have left much room for the theme from the original “Planet of the Apes”. If you are wondering, I chose “Prince of Darkness” off of “Sorcerer” to represent Miles Davis.

Unfortunately I only was able to make the CD exchange because of my pulsing head. I bid Stephanie a fond adieu and headed home to nurse my pounding gulliver.

Nate is currently in the process of moving from Mendota Heights to Tuscon. He is doing a 3 month internship in Tuscon. Due to the length of the drive to Arizona, Nate purchased an iPod. He needed help getting songs on to the iPod. I told him to bring his computer over while he made a quick stop in Boone. I don’t want to go into to much detail about why we were doing this, but the short version of the story is that when I turned on his computer, sparks shot out the back of it and I got quite the electric shock. To add to the pain, my middle finger was bleeding when it was all said in done.

As enjoyable as the electric shock was, I was able to salvage his music by putting his hard drive into my computer. Nate got his iPod filled up with music and I only received a small injury.

Now that my head is beginning to clear, I can start putting some energy into the Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest. I might post the finalists on here before I enter them.

>I haven’t been to many weddings in the last couple of years. I went to one in June. I went to one on Saturday. I have 3 more to attend in the next month. I get the pleasure of doing the photography for two of those weddings.

>While I was under the weather, I was able to finish reading the last two Harry Potter books. I had stopped reading the Harry Potter books after the third book. I didn’t really like the third book and didn’t see a need to continue. The movies seemed to satisfy me, but after I saw the fifth movie, I was left with several questions and I decided it was time to finish reading the books. I am left with quite a few thoughts about how the 7th book ended, but I’ll save those for another time.

I would like to point out that the new Iowa State football helmet options are absolutely terrible. Absolutely terrible. I don’t think I could be more disappointed.

I’ll just finish off with those State Fair pictures.


Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Iowa State Fair - 2007

Vacation

I am on vacation this week. I have not taken a vacation since before Christmas last year. It has become apparent in the last couple of weeks that I was in a desperate need of a vacation. I had become burned out. I was no longer looking forward to coming to work every day. I was definitely looking forward to every weekend with increasing desire every week. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to concentrate and the easier the task, the less desire I had to complete the task.

This came as a surprise to me. I did not think that you could become burnt out at a job where on most days it is fun to show up to work and there is next to zero stress. As it turns out, I could get burned out. It turned out that I did get burned out.

So I’m taking this week to recharge my batteries. I’m taking this week to sharpen my saw.

The need of a vacation was not merely derived from my waning batteries. It also came from the need to stop answering the same question over and over.

As many of you know, I was rejected by the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon this year. I haven’t written about this rejection yet because I’d been working on this blog about the Des Moines Arts Festival and the difference between liking to take pictures of naked chicks as art and pornography. I was hoping to write a really clever blog that included some examples of parody, but it just seems that my heart isn’t in it. I might later today publish my weak attempt, but it might just be better for the world if this poor attempt never sees the light of day.

I believe because I haven’t written about my rejection, some people feel that I am ashamed or angry about this snub. This is not the case, but because of my silence on the subject, I see how people could have reached this inaccurate conclusion.

So I’ll break my silence.

On the Saturday of the Boone County Fair, I woke up and went to the mailbox. There was a letter in it from the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon. It read as follows:

Dear Mr. Bennett:

There are days when it is great to be the all powerful judging committee of the Iowa State Fair Photography Salon. Those are the days that we discover new talent or days that we see things that we have never seen before. This letter is not in response to one of those events. It is our duty to inform you that you are not a startling new talent. Your work is not revolutionary. In fact, the only thing startling about your work is its decided lack of talent. You sir suck! We take no joy in pointing out your numerous inadequacies as a photographer. However, we would be derelict in our duties if didn’t beseech you to never pick up a camera again. It would be better for you if you pursued a different hobby that isn’t so demanding. May we suggest playing the keytar. We feel it is an instrument poised to make a comeback.

If you have not yet picked up what we are laying down, let us quote the immortal Marty McFly:

“Get out of here kid, you got no future.”

If you decide to ignore our advice, we have done some research and found out that one of your co-workers, a Mike Vest, is a very talented photographer. We feel that your only chance is to study at his feet and maybe some day you will take a picture worthy of being in our Salon.

Good luck next year you no talent hack,

2007 Iowa State Fair Photography Salon Judges*

How could I be angry? They were so nice about it.

The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t bother me that a co-worker got a picture in and I didn’t. Truth be known I always get it handed to me at the Iowa State Fair. I had a streak of two years in a row of getting pictures into the State Fair. That was a good run.

I start over again next year.

I don’t get angry or upset because I know that this is a hard competition. Only 20% of the pictures entered get displayed. Whether or not you get a picture in is kind of a crapshoot. Who knows what the judges are going to like and not like? I have theories about it, but I’m not going to go out my way to make a “photo contest” picture.

I make the kind of pictures I like. I figured out a long time ago that these aren’t the type of pictures that do well at photo contests. I try to make the type of picture you would want to put on your wall. These are not the type of picture that do well at photo contests.

So be it. The end result of this rejection is that I will end up entering the Pufferbilly Photo Contest this year. I was slowly entering a mindset that I was “done” with photo contests. However, I realized this past year that what I don’t like about photo contests (the competitive part) is outstripped by what I like about photo contests. What I like is people seeing my work and reacting to it.

These are my favorite photo contest memories.

A few years back at the Boone County Fair I entered a picture of Karma. The picture was a macro image of her mouth. I was standing nearby and these people stopped and looked at my picture and insisted that the photographer must have “brushed this dog’s teeth” before taking the picture. Karma was a great dog and companion. She never had her teeth brushed though. Although in retrospect, she might have liked it.

Last year I won three trophies at the Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest. That was not my favorite moment.

My favorite moment was when I was standing next to the photo display with Jay. A couple of ladies came down to look at the displays. One of the ladies had drug her friend down with her just to point out one picture to her. It was my picture. It was not a trophy winner, but it made such an impression that she had left to bring her friend back to see the picture. That was a great moment.

The question about my co-workers success and my failure are not quite extinguished by these answers. People feel I should be jealous or angry about this situation. I ask you, what kind of person is angry about somebody else’s success. I’ll tell you what kind of person. A small person. A prick. A software support person.** I am none of these things.

As humble as I might be, I do have some pride in my work. So before the failed images get locked in a trunk for the rest of time I would like to put them on public display here. I could go into theories about why they were rejected, but I’ll let you postulate on your own.


Throes
Throes

Ant Food
Ant Food

A Deceptive Likeness
A Deceptive Likeness

Lost Dreams
Lost Dreams

The good news is that my family is only tainted with one loser. My sister Teresa did very well with her crocheted projects. She did thusly:

1. Snowmen Ornaments – First place
2. Blair the Bear – Second place
3. Felted purse – Third place
4. Felted bowl – Third place
5. Crinoline Lady – Third place
6. Grab Ball – Fourth place
7. Heart doily – nothing
8. Baby afghan – nothing

*Just for the sake of gullible people. I didn’t get this letter. Just a post card saying that all my pictures were rejected.

** I say this because I recently went to a bachelor party for a guy from work and a good portion of my party experience was spent listening to the people from software grousing about other people in software. Come on people!!! It is a party, leave the office at the office.

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.