Category Archives: Macro

Notes from Yesterday

I got another mysterious fortune yesterday. I lunched at The Mandarin with Frank and Jesse. We had a lengthy conversation about bathroom etiquette at the Computer Mine. Then I got this fortune:


01-09-08

I have yet to get that offer. I’m standing by and I’ll let you know when I get it.

Jesse came in and gave me the thing in the picture below:


01-09-08

I think this proves that Mentos has realized that as a candy or mint their product is lacking. However, as something to be dropped into a two liter bottle of Diet Dr. Thunder, they are it. I think you know what kind of pictures are going to get posted here in the near future.

A few days back I purchased a small mirror from Wal-Mart. It was designed to hold a candle. I was looking to put a couple cracks in the mirror and use it for a photography project. I got out my trusty hammer and whacked it. Softly. Then a little harder. Then a little harder. All that whacking produced not a crack. I decided I was going to have to get a bit tougher. I cover the mirror with a towel and gave it a harder hit. Then a harder hit. Then I brought the thunder:


01-09-08

The mirror didn’t crack a little bit. It shattered into about a thousand pieces. I’ll probably be going to the Goodwill store to find another mirror to take out this weekend.

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.

Odonata

I haven’t had the “pleasure” of being on MySpace much lately. Which means that my “blogs” have become sporadic and if I’m not mistaken, lower in quality. I can’t say that this saddens me. There are more important things I should be doing with my time, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that I miss the moments of entertainment I get from this little site or the contact I lose with some people that I seem to only make through this “social networking” thing. Still, Uncle Sam hit me with a pretty stiff tax bill this year. I should be trying to figure out how to raise the funds to pay the feds off before I end up rotting in debtors prison. Although I do know this one thing about many of my chums. If I do end up rotting in debtors prison, I shant be alone. Some of us will be rotting together. I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Do your worst Uncle Sam! Just not to me, I’m not like normal people. I don’t like pain.”

I have changed the background music for the blog yet again. I will not pretend to have the musical talent or knowledge of at least 4 of the subscribers to this thing. I just felt that I should cool things off a little bit after the hard rocking of Pillar’s cover of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”. I’m also quite certain that somewhere north of where I sit typing, Mike Britson is scoffing at my tenet that Pillar is anywhere near the neighborhood of hard rocking. I can’t dispute this fact. Mike has always claimed to be the “World’s Greatest Music Snob”. I do not think that he has a t-shirt that proclaims this fact, but in my heart of hearts I hope that Stephanie made him a button that did.

I come away from that aside. All I really wanted to point out is the fact that the new background music is “Minuet in G”. It was composed by the great Ludwig Van. It has always been one of my favorite pieces of music. Due to my relative musical ignorance (despite being a wretched to middling trombonesman in my day) I may be interpreting the intent of the music incorrectly. I have always been struck by how desperate this music sounds. It is more than sad. It is desperately mournful. Yet when you feel like it should be too depressed to carry on, it seems to find a way to carry on. In that ability to carry on, I find the song hopeful as well.

Take that for whatever you like. I don’t claim to be an expert. Although I do subscribe somewhat to what Roy Adzak said about art:

“Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.”

Meaning that the person interpreting the art is in many ways more important than the artist. That is a somewhat scary thought. I have the slight delusions of my own artistic ability I don’t like giving up my art and allowing whomever stumbles upon it to translate what it means. I don’t even struggle with the control issues that some of my friends do and it is still difficult.

I guess what makes this concept bearable and allows me to subscribe to it is the fact that the alternative is utterly unbearable. Namely, having to explain the meaning of everything. Of course, this also allows me to view “Minuet in G” as desperate and hopeful in the same breath and dear old Ludwig Van just has to accept it. IN YOUR FACE BEETHOVEN!!

Dictionary Dot Com defines “irony” in such a way: 5.an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

I’m not sure this following tale is actually really ironic in the way the word was forged by its creators or in the “Alanis-Morrisette-I-Clearly-Wrote-A-Song-About-Irony-Where-I-uses-Examples-of -things-That-Aren’t-Ironic” way.

Perhaps it is ironic that I don’t know if this is ironic and I am having a go at somebody else for their ignorance. Perhaps I should just tell the tale.

Not really much of a tale. I have found a home for some pictures of mine. Here is the arguably ironic part: that home is the Boone Homeless Shelter. My church has adopted a room at the homeless shelter. As a congregation we are donating items to fill this room. I have donated a copy of “Happiness Shared: #01” & “Happiness Shared: #02” to adorn the wall of our room.

What I found out tonight is that when each homeless family leaves the shelter and sets up their home, they get to take everything from the room to furnish their new home.

I did not hand the pictures over to Pastor Phil personally. I left them in the hands of my sister Teresa. Allegedly Phil was excited by this donation and thinks that I should donate such pictures every time a new family moves into our room.

In some small way I have a “standing order”. In no small way, this kind of excites me. Looks like I’m just doing good deeds all over the place. But before I break my arm from patting myself on the back, I should show you what is going to the homeless shelter, to somebody’s home, and perhaps someday to a Goodwill Store near you.


04-04-07

04-04-07

So what would these other good deeds be that I am doing? Depending on your ability to recall facts about me, you may remember that a while back I was instrumental ( by instrumental I mean the same way I was instrumental to the success of the BHS Concert Band by holding down the last chair trombone) in the making of a batch of soap. Some of the soap from that batch is going into care packages for people being released from Mitchelville State Penitentiary.

The truth is that I had nothing to do with this donation. It is all Shannon. Yet since, she is donating soap for this cause AND I helped make the soap. I get to glom onto some of her glory. The boys I hang with like to call that bandwagoning. Except for one. He likes to call it innovating.

However, I am going to attempt to make the world a better place in one more way. It is through something I hope to propose and railroad through Friday Night Supper Club through my power of oratory. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will give you a hint. I should also point out that at this time Friday Night Supper Club is a secular organization. I point this out for my sister Teresa.

I like to go out to the woods on my break. Some people like to smoke. I like to commune with nature. No tax on that, suckers!!

While I was out there I went a little crazy with the camera on a fellow that became a buddy of mine. Since he was what I like to call Odonata, I cracked out the 50mm lens. This is a lens that is fine and dandy for Odonata, but then I heard a rustling to the left of me. There he was for the 5th time this year. The groundhog! The problem was that I was unprepared for this development.

I did not have the proper equipment. He was staring me down, practically screaming at the top of his rodent lungs: “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille!” All I could do was take this incredibly bad picture from about 75-100 feet away. This picture is cropped quite a bit. If you saw the original you would never be able to find the groundhog. That isn’t a challenge. Just a statement of fact.


04-04-07

At least I got a few decent shots of my chum Odonata:


2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

2007

Within these images I find solace, but I’m still coming for you Mr. Groundhog!!!!

A Tale of Grotesque Proportions

I know that the deer story did not have the happy ending that we were hoping for, so let me throw this out there. Did I mention that there are also squirrels back there.




So I have mentioned that I have this formal American Cancer Society Fundraiser/Oscar Party coming up this week. On a Saturday I went down to Des Moines to pickup a new dress shirt. This seems to be a fairly simple task.

Within that assumption lies the problem. You see I am a person of strange proportions. I have the neck of a much fatter man. I have the arms of a much taller man. The shorthand version of this tale is that even the Big and Tall store did not posses a shirt in stock that perfectly conformed to my dimensions. On Sunday I shall arrive in a shirt that is freakishly long and a button extender so that I can look stylish and be comfortable.

One last factoid. I am hesitant to admit this fact. I let them talk me into buying a zipper tie. Oh the humanity!!

You may recall that whenever somebody pursues acquiring a picture of mine it always ends up in the bathroom. My eldest sister is redecorating her bathroom. Who do you think she called looking for black and white photos of flowers?

I didn’t take many flower pictures last year. Although B&W is my favorite photographic medium I don’t think I took any B&W flower pictures. So I had to do a little post production work.

Below would be the options I gave her.


Flower Proposal
Flower #1

Flower Proposal
Flower #2

Flower Proposal
Flower #3

Flower Proposal
Flower #4

Flower Proposal
Flower #5

Flower Proposal
Flower #6

Flower Proposal
Flower #7

Flower Proposal
Flower #8

Flower Proposal
Flower #9

Flower Proposal
Flower #10

Flower Proposal
Flower #11

If you are the curious sort, she choose #2, #4, #9, & #10. She also wants a copy of #7, but it won’t be in the bathroom because it isn’t consistent with her theme.

So where will #7 end up? My guess is the guest bathroom.

2007 Calendar

So most of the 2007 Calendars have been printed, laminated and bound. There are just a few left that need to be distributed. If you still want a calendar and didn’t get your order in, better let me know. Because 2007 begins in 13 hours and every day that a calendar comes late, it depreciates in value.

Below is a little bit of a look at what you would get by “purchasing” a calendar.


2007 Back Page

I would just like to impart a small bit of information about why each month was selected.

January Image – Ledges Daily Denouement

I selected this image because it was the most wintery of the images that I have selected. It definitely leaves you with a cold feeling.

February Image – Unnamed Butterfly Image

I made this image exclusively for distribution with this calendar and I don’t like it, so it will remain an Unnamed Butterfly Image.

March Image – Flower in a Ditch

March begins the Northern Hemispheres return to life. Therefore, this is the first of many traditional nature images.

April Image – Oversaturated Dragonfly

April is a month traditionally oversaturated with rain. I went a little crazy with the exposure compensation on this image. Make it a bit oversaturated by traditional photographic estimations.

May Image – Kentucky Appetizer

Traditionally I put my favorite image in May irregardless of whether or not I think anybody else will enjoy it in the slightest bit.

June Image – Yellow Swallow Tail

The end of the traditional nature images.

July Image – Outburst of the Soul

A random selection here.

August Image – Wildflower

August is a great month for wildflowers.

September – Portrait of the Artist as a Middle Aged Man

A random selection here.

October – Wheat Grass

The only fall looking image of the bunch so it went in a fall month.

November – Four Flowers

Olivia’s birth month. My auction image from Songs for Olivia.

December – Building 429

A Christian image for the month of Christmas.

Not much info there, but enough for the intellectually curious.

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.