Category Archives: Night

Mmmm…. Eel!

Last week I had a heated debate with Andree, Russell and Andree about what is the best Asian restaurant in Ames. This happened because Andree had the temerity to badmouth Hu Hot. Somewhere in the debate, the good name CoCost was slandered, everybody agreed to the greatness of CHC and the restaurant China One International Buffet was discussed.

China One International Buffet was brought up by Andree as a place that I would love if I loved Buffet City. I do love Buffet City and sometimes I’ve been known to take their crayfish home to photograph, but that is another story.

A plan was hatched. Last night Jay and I met Jason, Andree and Russell after they concluded their work day at Principal and hit China One. We hit it hard. It was everything that Andree had hyped it up to be and I ate eel sushi.

After the meal was completed and we parted company with Andree and Russell, Jay, Jason and I loaded up into the Rideshare van and headed towards the Des Moines River because I wanted to snap off a couple of photos.

As we headed in that general direction we passed a parking ramp. I remembered a night after Sara’s graduation party where I stood outside that parking ramp in the middle of an ice storm lamenting the fact that this parking ramp was locked down tight as a drum.

I pointed out the parking ramp to Jason and told him how I wished that I was able to get to the top of that parking ramp.

He looked at me and said some magical words:

“I can get into that parking ramp with this card.” Then he picked up a card that was sitting near the dash.

“Then lets go to that parking ramp.”

We made a quick turn and entered the parking ramp. When we got to the top after about 10 minutes, the view was even more beautiful than I had dared hope. We were right across the street from the cheesy*, rotating cross that adorns the FUMC of Downtown Des Moines.

My only problem was that I wasn’t prepared for such a development. The lens that I wanted for this moment was sitting 30 miles away, in my car, in Huxley, attached to the Maxxum 5 (not to be mistaken for the Maxxum 5D). I was also planning on using a polarizing filter for when I came face to face with this beauty.

However, I shouldn’t complain. This was not the ideal circumstance, but I could get some shots and be satisfied with the knowledge that I could come back at a later date all prepared and with more time. As it turns out, Jason Baier makes a poor photo assistant with all of his whining about wanting to get home to see his family before he has to go to bed because he works at 7 in the morning.

So I present some of what I got on top of that parking ramp and some of what I got down by the river.


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You might notice that some of these pictures are a bit crooked, more than usual. I broke the piece of my tripod off last night that I would use to straighten out the camera. I decided not to fix the slant in post to remind me of how angry I was when that piece broke of my tripod. I hope nobody thinks I’m into Dutch Angles.

*I do not condone the use of the word cheesy in connection with this beautiful cross, but I would not know this cross existed if Shannon wasn’t complaining about it being cheesy.

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

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Flowers

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Self Portrait

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Fat Jake

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Jay Snuggly

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Fat Jake

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Willy: Keeper of Fat Jake

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Fat Jake

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Experiment

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Vest

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Frame


Party in Jesse’s Office


Cory

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Deer


Deer through Windows of “The Quad”

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Computer Mine Basketball Hoop

Commuter Art

I’m sure that at least one person is going to look at this and begin to think: “Is he ever going to just take a picture of something and then that picture will look like that thing again?”

All I can say to that person is this: “I’m being influenced by a mix of modern art and impressionism currently. I like recording trails of light and finding out what the picture will look like afterwards. I do have an idea of what I’m going to get, but I never really know. That is exciting to me. It is currently dark by the time I get off of work and this is a type of photography I can do very easily at this time.”

They then might reply: “If I took a picture like that, I’d throw it away.”

I can only reply: “Look closer.”

This person would then reply: “Look closer at what? Your pictures? The ones that I’m throwing away?”

I would only reply: “Look closer.”

I took these pictures that record more of an impression of the subject rather than the actual form of the subject while I was driving home from work yesterday. I was torn on explaining the subject of these pictures or leaving it entirely to your imagination. I’ll leave it to your imagination.


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Christmas Beanies

I hope you had a great and wonderful Christmas. My sister Teresa unloaded a new batch of beanies on me. I now have 7 new beanies. As it happens, while I was wandering around town last night, Fashion Photographer Jay Janson happened upon me several times and kept insisting on taking my picture with all my new beanies. Below is the result of his handiwork.


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Kentucky Fried Methodist

I’m not sure how the subject came about, but one day I was talking to Shannon and she revealed to me her extreme disdain for the cross on top of her church. I didn’t really know how somebody could dislike a lit up cross on top of a church. I had visions of the cross that adorns the Marion Methodist Church in Boone. A cross that both symbolizes the faith of the followers of the Son of Man and could make a pretty mean bug zapper if Boone was ever to fall prey to a plague of locusts.

Upon further questioning, she revealed that this cross not only lit up, but revolved. On this revelation my mind was flooded with visions of a revolving lit up cross. I was immediately reminded of one thing from my childhood.

There are several things I miss from my childhood. The velvet bull painting in Jack’s Tacos. The train booths at the Hardee’s in North Grand Mall. The airplane booths at the Hardee’s on Duff. The animal tables at Arctic Circle. Not knowing that Ronald McDonald actually lives in Ogden. Getting the special Country Kitchen coins that you could use in their vending machines. Putting down the economic status of another person by referring to their possessions as “Pamida specials”. Among those memories is the old KFC road signs. To the best of my knowledge, the old KFC next to Goeppinger Field never had the sign that I remember. However, somewhere in my youthful travels I remember driving by a KFC that on top of their road sign was a bucket of chicken. This bucket of chicken lit up. This bucket of chicken also revolved. I haven’t seen a functioning, revolving bucket of chicken in years. While I might be permanently denied access to that revolving bucket of chicken, I did have access to a cross that was more than a suitable surrogate.

I tried to convince of the greatness of this cross. How it represented more than most crosses, it represented eternal truth and the beauty of God’s grace and the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices.

She was dismissive of my arguments and stood fast that the revolving cross was “cheesy”. I argued against her elitism, but failed to make a convert.

I told her regardless of her snobbery, I wanted to photograph this rotating cross. Shortly after our discussion fate took a hand. The beautiful cross broke. It didn’t light up. It no longer rotated.

I’m not saying that I believe in telekinesis or auras or crystals or Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or that inherited wealth hasn’t created a caste system in our country. I’m just saying that when somebody puts off that much negative energy towards something it will tend to break. I offer up my experience with just about every automobile that I have owned. Particularly that 91 Grand Prix. I still hate you!!! So I’m saying that Shannon’s visceral disdain for the rotating cross was a factor in its ceasing to function.

When she delivered the bad news to me about the fallen symbol of the Good News I was not alarmed. I figured that such a thing was considered a local treasure. Certainly the congregation of the “Big House”* would rally around their pride and joy and it would be only a matter of time before it was proudly beaming out its hopeful message in 360 degrees.

Then nothing happened. A week went by. Then a month. Then another month. Then the season changed. Then the season changed again. I was beginning to think that the FUMC of downtown Des Moines didn’t realize what they were missing. What they were failing to protect and nurture.

I was beginning to doubt. I was beginning to lose faith. Not in God, but in the FUMC of Des Moines. What was their deal? Was the whole congregation as dismissive of the now lifeless cross on top of their building as Shannon.

I might not believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Yetti or Ghosts or that some people can afford to have health care choose not to have health care. I do believe in miracles. I don’t believe that God stores up miracles and then just cracks them out around Christmas. I do believe that during Christmas people are more likely to be open to seeing miracles. Due to the fact that people are a little nicer, a little more generous and quite frankly just better people during the holiday season there is something known as the Christmas Miracle.

At 10:41 PM on November 29th, I got my Christmas Miracle. That is when an e-mail from Shannon fluttered across cyberspace and landed in my computer mine e-mail account inbox.

The revolving lit up cross on top of First UMC in downtown Des Moines is working again. I hope that it leads to a good photo opportunity. Otherwise I see it as pointless and cheesy. I mentioned to my pastor that you had a photo opportunity in mind, and he said he’d be interested in seeing the result. So, the ball’s in your court now. Have fun with that!

I joined the Ames Jaycees back in October. I have yet to contribute to the organization in any way, shape or form until last Tuesday. It was on that night that I attended an Ames on the Halfshell committee meeting and apparently became a member of the Band Selection Committee. Before the meeting began, Shannon showed me a copy of her church newsletter that had an article that could have been entitled The Return of Greatness, but the actual title escapes me. The meat of the articles was about how a couple had donated some scratch so that the church could return their cross to all of its glory. The article noted that this return to downtown Des Moines skyline was newsworthy enough to have been covered by at least a couple local stations.

As it turns out, I was planning to be in Beaverdale on Friday night to attend at least the third graduation party for Sara. She has one expensive brain. Beaverdale is just a quick hop, skip and jump a way from downtown Des Moines. I negotiated an abbreviated FNSC with Jay and Willy on Sunday. This worked out well for Jay because he was heading back to Cedar Rapids on Saturday for a family Christmas and a date with destiny on Sunday morning. That tale of destiny is for another time, but it does involved a naked old man and not closing the door when you are using the bathroom.

After a tasty meal and some in-vain-attempts to find a facsimile of Spin Art, I headed down to Sara’s party. The party was a good time. I made visual confirmation of the existence of Todd and Kristal. I had a lengthy conversation with Derrick about man vegetables.

I got to talk about music and Jaycees stuff with Shannon. I got to watch Sara go down to her basement to smoke so her parents didn’t see it. I got to take a ride in Derrick’s new ride. It was a good time.

At about 1:30 or so I left Sara’s and headed towards downtown Des Moines. I found the church at the corner of 10th & Pleasant. Unfortunately, it was snowing and freezing cold. Both of these things are unpleasant for humans, but they are dreadful for cameras. Condensation and just general wetness created all sorts of light flare issues. That is the bad news. The good news is that I was able to scout out the area and make some shots. Once again, nothing is quite what I’m looking for, but the first image is pretty close.

While I was downtown I also checked out some of the river walk. I now just wait for better weather, because I have some new inspiration.


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*”Big House”. The Downtown FUMC houses two separate congregations. There is the one that has always been there. Then there is Shannon’s congregation that originally met in South Ridge Mall. I forget the name of that church, but I think it is The Colony. I do remember that the name is based on Philippians 3:20 – “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” She refers to the other congregation as the “Big House”. It never fails to amuse me.

Does Size Matter?

This week’s full Moon will be the largest full Moon of the year. The two days to get outside and enjoy the largest full Moon of 2007 are Thursday and Friday. I lifted this article below from SpaceWeather.com for your perusal if you are interested in more information.

This week’s full Moon is the biggest full Moon of 2007. It’s no illusion. Some full Moons are genuinely larger than others and Thursday night’s will be a whopper. Why? Read the answer below.




The Moon’s orbit is an ellipse with one side 30,000 miles closer to Earth than the other. The full Moon of Oct. 25-26 is located on the near side, making it appear as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser full Moons we’ve seen earlier in 2007.In the language of astronomy, the two ends of the Moon’s orbit are called “apogee” and “perigee.” Apogee is the farthest point, perigee the nearest: diagram. This week’s full Moon is a “perigee Moon” with extra-high “perigean tides.”

The Moon is 14% bigger, but can you actually tell the difference? It’s not so easy. There are no rulers floating in the sky to measure lunar diameters. A fun experiment: Take a friend outside Thursday night and ask if they notice anything unusual about the Moon. Explain perigee after they answer.