Category Archives: Flowers

Test Camera

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


02-28-08
Computer Mine Basketball Hoop


Flowers

02-28-08
Flowers

02-28-08
Self Portrait

02-28-08
Fat Jake

02-28-08
Jay Snuggly

02-28-08
Fat Jake

02-28-08
Willy: Keeper of Fat Jake

02-28-08
Fat Jake

02-28-08
Experiment

02-28-08
Vest

02-28-08
Frame


Party in Jesse’s Office


Cory

02-28-08
Deer


Deer through Windows of “The Quad”

02-28-08
Computer Mine Basketball Hoop

Clearing My Head

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

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

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

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

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

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


11-23-07


11-23-07


11-23-07


11-23-07


11-23-07


11-23-07


11-23-07


New Toy

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

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


09-09-07

09-09-07

09-09-07

09-09-07

09-09-07

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

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

Pufferbilly Day Photo Contest Entries

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

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


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Wheel

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


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Last, Loveliest Smile Redux

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

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


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Labour of Ages

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

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


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
1900

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


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Faux Sunset

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

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

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

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

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

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


Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest - 2007
Franklin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flood

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


08-25-07

08-25-07

08-25-07

08-25-07

08-25-07

08-25-07

08-25-07

08-25-07

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.

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.