Category Archives: Self-Portrait

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – WEEK 179 – SELF-PORTRAIT

Another week with subpar participation despite being perhaps the easiest theme of this set of 52. Weather I’m sure contributed. This week central Iowa is supposed to get two more snowstorms, so we’ll see how many people struggle through the elements for this week’s theme.

But you didn’t come her to listen to me talk all tommyrot about participation rates. You came to see the submissions:


WEEK 179 - SELF-PORTRAIT - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker

WEEK 179 - SELF-PORTRAIT - MICHELLE HAUPT
Michelle Haupt

WEEK 179 - SELF-PORTRAIT - TAMARA PETERSON
Tamara Peterson

WEEK 179 - TRANSPORTATION - CHRISTOPHER D. BENNETT
Christopher D. Bennett

WEEK 179 - SELF-PORTRAIT - LOGAN KAHLER
Logan Kahler

But enough dwelling on the past. Time to look to the future. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future! This week’s theme:



TRANSPORTATION

TRANSPORTATION! What a great theme! But what is a TRANSPORTATION photo? A TRANSPORTATION photo is a photo that involves any aspect of TRANSPORTATION. A car, a train, an airplane, an airport, a bridge, a road, railroad tracks… the list goes on and on. It bottles the mind! Truly mind bottling!

As always, I look forward to seeing your interpretations!

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HOUSEKEEPING

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 RULES DIVISION

The picture has to be taken the week of the theme. This isn’t a curate your pictures challenge. This is a get your butt off the couch (my personal experience) and put your camera in your hands challenge. Don’t send me a picture of you next to the Eiffel Tower, when I know you were in Iowa all week. I will point out that I have let that slide some in the past. I will not in the future. Since it is literally about the only rule.

Your submission needs to be emailed to bennett@photography139.com by 11 AM on the Monday of the challenge due date. It should be pointed out that this blog auto-publishes at 12:01 on Mondays. So it wouldn’t hurt to get your picture in earlier.

That is it, them’s the rules.

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION DIVISION

Nobody showed class, taste, and sophistication this week by signing up for a Photography 139 email subscription. I’ll try and do better next week.

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That’s all I got for today, so if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will commune right here again next Monday. Hopefully it will be a very transportive Monday.

Iowa State Cyclones Football – 2005

I still need to circle back to the Alamo Bowl Trip, but thought I would share more from my project of re-organizing some photos that pre-date the Photography 139 website.

I’m actually going through a big photography re-organization in general. One of the photographers I follow on Instagram recently shared a post about their photography closet and a light went on in my head.

My house has an excess amount of closet for just one person. My bedroom has 2 closets. The office has 2 closets. The guest bedroom has 1 big(ish) closet. My bedroom closets are obviously used for clothes and some miscellaneous stuff. The guest bedroom closet house like 3 shirts that randomly ended up in there, board games, and a bunch of photographs and negatives. One office closet houses retired electronics. Electronics I should just throw away, but just haven’t. If any of you want a VCR and old DVD player, a receiver, or an old CRT television let me know and you can have it. The other office closet is mostly random stuff.

My photography stuff is strung all over the house. I have a big metal cabinet with sliding glass doors in my bedroom that is meant to house all my photography stuff, but that has never really worked. Then I decided to dedicate an old dining room table that is in my living room to store stuff. That definitely hasn’t worked. I’ve decided to steal the photography closet idea from that Instagram photographer.

I’ve decided to make one of the closets in the office the photography equipment closet. The other closet in the office the photograph closet. The guest bedroom closet will become the retired electronics closet, unless I finally am able to get all of that stuff out of my house. Especially before I retire any more electronics. For example, in 2020 I may upgrade the projector in the Union Street Theater to 4K. This will mean that I will also need to upgrade the receiver in the basement and then add a 4K player to the Union Street Theater. Of course, that will mean more retired electronics.

But that is 2020, I need to conquer my 2019 goals first.

Some of this physical reorganization has lead to digital reorganization. Which has lead to this post. Here are some pictures from the Iowa State Cyclones 2005 football season:


Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Illinois State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Iowa 2005

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Nebraska 2006

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Baylor - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State - 2005

These pictures were taken with my very first digital camera. A Minolta Dimage Z2. It was at a point where I wanted to dabble in digital photography but was still really loyal to film.

The Dimage Z2 was a point & shoot digital camera, but a bit on the higher end of the spectrum. I was so broke back then, I couldn’t have imagined buying an actual DSLR.

There are a couple hundred more pictures from that season that you can peruse by clicking on the link below:

Iowa State Cyclones Football – 2005

Hopefully next Friday I will return to the Alamo Bowl Road Trip.

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This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is SELF-PORTRAIT:


WEEK 179 - SELF-PORTRAIT
SELF-PORTRAIT

A SELF-PORTRAIT is a picture that somebody makes of themselves. Pretty simple and straight forward.

Happy photo harvesting!

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – WEEK 178 – EYE

I would describe the amount of submissions this for the theme EYE as fair. People might be coming out of the winter doldrums even though winter weather doesn’t seem to be going anywhere for this week. Maybe next week won’t be so bad.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me talk all tommyrot about participation rates. You came to see the submissions:


WEEK 178 - EYE - LOGAN KAHLER
Logan Kahler

WEEK 179 - EYE - STEPHANIE KIM
Stephanie Kim

WEEK 179 - EYE - STEPHANIE KIM
Stephanie Kim – These mosaics are in the Chambers Street station in Manhattan.

WEEK 178 - EYE - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker


Christopher D. Bennett

WEEK 178 - EYE - TAMARA PETERSON
Tamara Peterson

But enough dwelling on the past. Time to look to the future. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future! This week’s theme:


WEEK 179 - SELF-PORTRAIT
SELF-PORTRAIT

SELF-PORTRAIT! What a great theme! What is a SELF-PORTRAIT? It is a picture of yourself. Sometimes called a selfie, but a selfie and a SELF-PORTRAIT aren’t the same thing. A selfie is a SELF-PORTRAIT, but a SELF-PORTRAIT isn’t necessarily a selfie. A selfie has to be taken on a cell phone to be a selfie. Regardless, take a SELF-PORTRAIT with your cell phone camera, your 35mm camera, your pinhole camera, or your DSLR camera. Doesn’t matter. Just take a SELF-PORTRAIT and submit it.

I look forward to seeing your interpretations!

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HOUSEKEEPING

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 RULES DIVISION

The picture has to be taken the week of the theme. This isn’t a curate your pictures challenge. This is a get your butt off the couch (my personal experience) and put your camera in your hands challenge. Don’t send me a picture of you next to the Eiffel Tower, when I know you were in Iowa all week. I will point out that I have let that slide some in the past. I will not in the future. Since it is literally about the only rule.

Your submission needs to be emailed to bennett@photography139.com by 11 AM on the Monday of the challenge due date. It should be pointed out that this blog auto-publishes at 12:01 on Mondays. So it wouldn’t hurt to get your picture in earlier.

That is it, them’s the rules.

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION DIVISION

Nobody showed class, taste, and sophistication this week by signing up for a Photography 139 email subscription. I’ll try and do better next week.

+++++++

That’s all I got for today, so if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will commune right here again next Monday. Hopefully it will be a very self involved Monday.

Remember Tonight…

I thought I would take a Friday off from regaling you with events from the Alamo Bowl Road Trip because, I do now own the drone that I have been planning to own for several months now.

While admittedly, I only reached 9 of my 10 goals, nobody has seemed to displeased with the fact that I’ve switch the filling of my change jar to when I pulled the trigger on the Sony RX0.

I received the DJI Mavic 2 Pro on Wednesday. I was able to put it together and charge the batteries and read parts of the manual. Because I wanted to at least see it in the air, I flew it about a foot off my dining room table and took a picture.

When I got home from work on Thursday there was a brief respite in the harsh weather conditions and I was able to fly it around my backyard for a bit and snap a few more pictures.

Therefore I present the first pictures taken with Photography 139 One (name unofficial and probably will change by the end of this blog):


Drone Photography

Drone Photography

Drone Photography

Drone Photography

Drone Photography

Drone Photography

Drone Photography

This is the tip of the iceberg. There will be plenty more drone blogs in the future. A full review and tons of video. Tons of video!

I can report that Naima is not a big fan of Rodan 139 (see, I told you the name would change), but I feel in time she will grow to love it. Like how she loves being carried to the basement to watch Iowa State basketball games or two watch the feature movie on Movie Night or how she loves inflatable things or how she loves her dog food bag.

Speaking of Movie Night, Movie Night in February will be ON February 17. Projector rolls at 6 PM. The feature will be FORTY GUNS. It will be the first (but certainly not the last) Samuel Fuller movie shown during Movie Night. The B Movie is still to be determined. Snack currently to be determined, but popcorn will definitely be on the menu.

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This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is EYE:


WEEK 178 - EYE
EYE

An EYE photo is simple enough. It is a picture of an EYE or anything EYE related.

Happy photo harvesting!

Selfie Project – January

Loyal leaders may recall that I started up the Selfie Project again in 2019. At the end of every month I will check-in with it to share some of my favorites from the month.

If you don’t want to wait until the end of the month, you can follow me on the Instagram to see what I have done and where I have been.

To follow me on the Instagram, scan my Nametag below:


Instagram Nametag

Spoiler: For January I’m not sure I did anything all that exciting. Although I did leave Iowa once to visit the Miller Triplets in Kansas.

Here are my favorites:


December 31, 2018
December 31, 2018

January 4, 2019
January 4

January 8, 2019
January 8

January 10, 2019
January 10

January 12, 2019
January 12

January 14, 2019
January 14

January 16, 2019
January 16

January 17, 2019
January 17

January 18, 2019
January 18

January 20, 2019
January 20

January 21, 2019
January 21

January 22, 2019
January 22

January 23, 2019
January 23

January 25, 2019
January 25

January 26, 2019
January 26

January 27, 2019
January 27

January 29, 2019
January 29

January 30, 2019
January 30

January 31, 2019
January 31

Hopefully I will be interesting in February. There is a baby I need to visit up in Minnesota. A baby I need to visit down in Des Moines. If the weather gets nicer, I could spend some time pursuing THE TOWN SIGNS PROJECT or I could spend the entire month hanging around the house with Naima.

The struggle is real!

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Here is a big update on my pursuit of a drone:

  1. Car paid off. – I got the pink slip daddy!
  2. Training Budget Reimbursement – Bought about 10 books and signed up for an online portrait photography class that I will discuss someday.
  3. Purchase Popcorn Maker – The Union Street theater has procured its very own popcorn maker from Flat Earth Joe. The one that was borrowed from Andy’s friend of a friend has been returned.
  4. Computer Upgrade – I have completed upgrades on my home computer. I’ve put in a solid state drive to run the OS and the applications, I upped the RAM to 16 GB and I replaced the video card with a video card with twice the ram and that is capable of running 3 monitors.
  5. Figure out the effect of the Iowa GOP Tax Scam – The Iowa GOP Tax Scam will indeed result in me paying more taxes. There is about a $7 effect on my paycheck, meaning I am getting a tax cut of roughly $200. (Assuming the withholding from my paycheck is being done right.) However, since the Iowa GOP Tax Scam made it so a 6% sales tax is levied on all online purchases, I will be taxed well more than the $200 benefit. For example, I’ll pay over $100 in taxes on purchasing the drone that I wouldn’t have had to pay before the Iowa GOP Tax Scam became law. 
  6. Rear Brakes – I had the rear brakes replaced on my car last night. It costs me about 40% of what I was expecting Win!
  7. Computer Mine Bonus – I did indeed get a Computer Mine Bonus. I can’t complain about it one bit. 
  8. Bank Fraud Resolution – I am going to consider the bank fraud situation resolved. I haven’t received a letter saying that it is a done deal, but the bank did place the $350 that I requested in my bank account as a provisional credit. The investigation is still to be closed by January 31. I have a naive faith that the investigation will end in my favor. Otherwise, Credit Union Time?
  9. Federal GOP Tax Scam – The Tax Scam didn’t effect my tax refund at all. It was almost like it wasn’t meant to be a tax cut for lower class and middle class people. It is almost like it was a cash grab for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations under the ludicrous precept that some of the benefits would trickle down to us poor folks. I can say this with 100% certainty. I respect a person that believes the earth is flat way more than I respect somebody that believes in the Laffer Curve. 
  10. Change Jar -I have added some change to the change jar, including the change I won in a football pool at the Computer Mine. However, I am still probably 2 inches short of being almost full. I should effort to go through the cushions of my couches. If I can get within one inch, of the top of the jar, I will call this quest complete and proceed to order my drone.

That looks identical to last week’s drone update. This is because it is identical to last week’s drone update.

Here is what is different. I’ve decided not to wait until the coin jar is full to pull the trigger on the drone. I pulled the trigger last Friday and it should arrive to be safely caressed in my arms tomorrow.

I don’t know when I’ll be able to actually use it due to the weather, but I will monitor the weather closely. It is possible that the first day of decent weather I’ll take off of work and go play in the skies above us. No higher than 400 feet and not within 5 miles of an airport.

I know what you’re thinking, you snagged your reward before achieving your goals. That shows a lack of discipline. This is very disheartening, considering you have been yammering on and on to anybody that would listen that you are going to be more financially responsible this year.

This is true. My main goal of 2019 is to be lest wasteful with money in certain ways. However, the benefit of that is that I get to be more wasteful in other veins.

My way of being more financially responsible is to have set some goals.

Goal #1: Decrease my actual debt load my a certain amount of money. I’m not heavily in debt. I have a house payment and some credit card debt. However, while I don’t have a car payment, I want to hammer on my debt and get it below #X by the end of the year. I’ll report on my progress here, because congratulations, you just became my accountability buddies.

Goal #2: Figure out why my website is costing me so much more money than I ever intended. I have partially concluded this goal. I actually (I know people should do these things) sat down and reviewed what my webhost was charging me. I discovered that I was paying $10 a month for something called Website Builder, that I don’t use. I built my website with my own two hands and Vest’s two hands and WordPress. They are also charging me like 8 bucks a month for PHP 5.2+. I’m still trying to figure out whether or not I need that, but at the very least, I’m saving $120 bucks a year on this website.

Goal #3: To stop wasting so much money going out to lunch at work. It is not an exaggeration to say that in 2018 and the years before I went out to lunch, on average 4.5 out of 5 work days a week. If I conservatively estimate the average lunch to be $10, I probably spent $200 a month on lunch. That is $2400 a year. My goal is to only eat out for lunch 20% of the year. I estimate that just by bringing lunch from home, I can save $1800 a year. The good news is that I’m on track this year. In January there were 22 work days. I went out to lunch one time. I’m currently at a 4.5% eating out for lunch percentage. My worry is that I will get burned out on eating in. So I’m going to try to mix it up as much as possible. If you have any cheap, healthy lunches that are easy to prepare either at work or on the Sunday before the work week starts, throw them my way. This week I’m eating overnight oats. This space is a place where I might also share some of the recipes I come across. I have to thank American Ninja Steve for introducing me to overnight oats. I’m not making his recipe yet because it involves lots of exotic ingredients I need to be able to track down like flax milk and hemp heads. But when I make that for a week, I’ll share that recipe here.

Goal #4: Save money by buying used lenses. I’m still torn on whether or not I’m going to buy a new camera this year. It has been almost 3 years since I bought a new camera and I’m getting the itch. However, I am vexed on what camera to buy. I’ve thought about crossing over into the Sony mirrorless realm, but that means a whole new camera mount. The other option is to buy the camera that is above my camera in my current platform. That camera sells for about $3200. That price tag is going to take me a lot of meals of overnight oats to justify in my head. Especially with my debt lowering goals. While I don’t know about buying a new camera, I have compiled a list of lenses I want to buy this year. I’ve decided to hit the used lens market this year as I can save sometimes as much as 30% by going used. Some of the lens I want are pretty cheap, but some are not. The exciting news for you is that every time I get some used glass, you’ll get to read an exciting equipment review! Yay you!

Goal #5: Up % of the paycheck that goes into savings and 401K.

But none of this explains why I felt it was okay to pull the trigger on the drone with the change jar still 2 inches from the top.

There are two reasons for that:

#1. Through my works and luck at the computer mine, I had $325 in Amazon gift cards burning a hole in my virtual wallet. In my wildest dream, there isn’t $325 in the coin jar.

#2. I recently ordered a new photo toy called arsenal for $185. It is a camera attachment that allows you to control your camera with your smartphone. Now I can already control my camera with a smartphone, but there is limited control. It basically throws the camera into automatic and you get what you get. Arsenal allows you to control pretty much all the main settings on the camera. Plus it is supposed to do its own focus stacking and HDR. Plus it has some pretty sweet time-lapse settings. However, I got an email that they can’t make it Arsenal work with my camera and don’t think they ever will be able to. They refunded me that money. Although to be honest, that $185 isn’t going toward the drone. When the refund hits my account it is going towards some glass. Not sure which one I’ll pull the trigger on first. But don’t worry I’ll let you know.

So where is that change jar money going to go. Well, one camera purchase I am dedicated to this year is the Sony RX0. Therefore, when the change jar is full I will take it to the bank and then order up the Sony RX0.

This concludes your Tuesday camera equipment purchase updates.

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – WEEK 177 – RUINS

It would appear that the polar vortex not only crushed the temperatures, it also seems to have squashed participation for RUINS. But at least a few hearty souls got out in the weather and found something decaying to photography.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me talk all tommyrot about participation rates. You came to see the submissions:


WEEK 177 - RUINS - CATHIE RALEY
Cathie Raley

WEEK 177 - RUINS - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker

WEEK 177 - RUINS - TAMARA PETERSON
Tamara Peterson

WEEK 177 - RUINS - CHRISTOPHER D. BENNETT
Christopher D. Bennett

But enough dwelling on the past. Time to look to the future. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future! This week’s theme:


WEEK 178 - EYE
EYE

EYE! What a great theme! But what is an EYE picture? Well an EYE picture is any picture that involves an EYE or anything that might be EYE related, like say an EYEpatch.

Of course, there is more than one definition for the word EYE. Interpret the theme as you see fit!

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HOUSEKEEPING

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 RULES DIVISION

The picture has to be taken the week of the theme. This isn’t a curate your pictures challenge. This is a get your butt off the couch (my personal experience) and put your camera in your hands challenge. Don’t send me a picture of you next to the Eiffel Tower, when I know you were in Iowa all week. I will point out that I have let that slide some in the past. I will not in the future. Since it is literally about the only rule.

Your submission needs to be emailed to bennett@photography139.com by 11 AM on the Monday of the challenge due date. It should be pointed out that this blog auto-publishes at 12:01 on Mondays. So it wouldn’t hurt to get your picture in earlier.

That is it, them’s the rules.

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION DIVISION

Nobody showed class, taste, and sophistication this week by signing up for a Photography 139 email subscription. I’ll try and do better next week.

+++++++

That’s all I got for today, so if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will commune right here again next Monday. Hopefully it will be a very eyed Monday.

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: Branch Davidians

We loaded up the car and I punched the address of the Branch Davidians Compound into the GPS. I had absolutely no clue what we would find what we would find when we got to the place where 76 people died in the Waco Siege.

You see, we had stayed the night in possibly one of the worst places in the United States. If it wasn’t for Chip and Joanna Gains, Waco, Texas would have zero positive press.

When you say Waco, Texas people only think of a handful of things in no particular order:

1. Branch Davidians and their fiery end.
2. The Baylor football program and the scores of sexual assaults and rapes that they committed that were then duly covered up by the school, athletic department, and most disturbingly… the police department.
3. The 1916 lynching, torturing, burning, and mutilating of Jesse Washington. A lynching that was attended by in excess of 10,000 people.*
4. Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy being murdered by fellow Baylor basketball player Carlton Dotson.
5. FIXER UPPER

I wish I would’ve thought to go see the memorial to Jesse Washington, but it was forgotten. Sorry Jesse.

But being someone with an interest in history and more than a bit of a fascination with cults, there was no way we were going through Waco, Texas and not visiting the Branch Davidians and the site of the Waco Siege.

It is not a stretch to think that it was one of the most important historical events of the 1990s. It was an event that contributed to the dangerous rise of the alt-right and was directly responsible for the Oklahoma City Bombing. The deadliest domestic terrorist attack in American history. Killing 171 people. Including 19 children.

It is not overstated it to say that we would be living in a different America if the Waco Siege never happened. If you don’t know or don’t remember the Waco Siege, here is a brief synopsis from the Wiki:

The Waco siege was the siege of a compound belonging to the Branch Davidians, carried out by American federal and Texas state law enforcement, as well as the U.S. military, between February 28 and April 19, 1993. The Branch Davidians were led by David Koresh and were headquartered at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the community of Axtell, Texas, 13 miles (21 kilometers) east-northeast of Waco. Suspecting the group of stockpiling illegal weapons, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) obtained a search warrant for the compound and arrest warrants for Koresh and a select few of the group’s members.

The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF’s failure to raid the compound, a siege lasting 51 days was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. In total, 76 people died, including David Koresh.

There is too much controversy and too much backstory to really do the Waco Siege justice. If you have questions about it, I suggest you leave them in the comments and I’ll answer with what knowledge I have and what opinions I possess.

What I will state definitively is that the Waco Siege was a terrible waste of life that could have been easily avoided. It is what happens when law enforcement tries to do things for public relations, rather than for… well law enforcement. They took their mistakes at Ruby Ridge and made them exponentially worse.

I’m sure these were some of my thoughts as we pulled up to the gate of Mount Carmel. One gate was open. There was a sign that said that you could get a look around the ranch for $10.

Shortly after we pulled into the ranch a truck came speeding up towards us. Considering where we were, was a little disconcerting. The driver rolled down their window and told us that we should hurry up to the chapel. They were giving a tour up there and we could make it if we hurried.

So we bypassed the building we thought we were supposed to pay at and headed up to the chapel.

Once we got there, there was a guy there telling the story of the Waco Siege. He wasn’t a member of the Branch Davidians in 1993, but now he researched the event with David Thibodeau** (one of the few to survive the fire).

He showed us pictures of the people that perished in the fire. He showed us “trophy photos” that the FBI took after the church (they are offended by the term “compound” because of its militaristic connotation) burned completely down. If you know any hunters, you know what a trophy photo is. You can imagine what you would feel like if people took trophy photos with the remains of your friends and loved ones.

He argued that David Koresh wasn’t even doing anything illegal. It isn’t illegal to stockpile and sell firearms. While it might (you can take out the might for me) be morally reprehensible to most of us to have sex with 14 year old girls, in Texas 14 year olds can be married with parental consent. Which David Koresh did have. Yeah. Gross. Texas, Do better.

Eventually the man (I can’t remember his name) left and we were introduced to Heather***. Heather really made this a special stop.

Heather was 9 years old during the Waco Siege. She was in Mount Carmel when the siege began. She was the last person to leave, days before the final assault that ended in the deaths of almost every Branch Davidian in the building. Including her father.

If you know the timeline of the Waco Siege, Heather’s dad was the mailman that was inadvertently tipped off to the ATF’s attack by a lost member of the media. This is why the ATF didn’t have the element of surprise. This is why the raid should have been called off.

Before he died, he gave her a teddy bear and told her that the bear would watch over her until he saw her again. Then he sent her out into the “Babylonian” world.

As she told us the story she paused and then said, “I didn’t know at the time that he meant, when we see each other in heaven.”

As she walked down the driveway, she expected to be shot in the head every step she took. Finally, she reached the end of the drive and was grabbed by the police. They took the teddy bear away from her and ripped it up.

This wasn’t done (completely) out of malice though. They were checking the bear for a bomb. There wasn’t one.

Tears rolled down her face as she told us this part of the story.

Then she said, “I never got the bear back.”

You could tell with the way she said it that it still hurts that the last thing her dad gave her. The thing that was supposed to “watch over her” was taken from her, destroyed, and never returned.

She wiped the tears off her face and apologized for crying.

We told her not to apologize and thanked her for sharing such a memory to people who were basically tourists in her pain.

Then she offered to give show us the rest of the grounds.


Branch Davidians
The current chapel was built in the same place as the chapel that was burnt down.

Branch Davidians
The fire.

Branch Davidians
Trophy photos.

Branch Davidians
Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Stage.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Telling the story.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Pointing out the “Trophy Photos”.

Branch Davidians
David Koresh

Branch Davidians
Heather is seated in the lower right hand corner.

Branch Davidians
David Koresh thought he was the second coming of Jesus, but this time he wasn’t sinless.

Branch Davidians
Bill Clinton was president during the Waco Siege.

Branch Davidians
Tanks crushed this bus.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
People were trapped in this storage room.

Branch Davidians
Heather’s ducks.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
They built this pool the year before the Siege. They got to use if for 1 year.

Branch Davidians
Heather was really cold. It wasn’t cold for Iowans with plenty of built in insulation.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Oklahoma City Memorial

Branch Davidians
ATF Officer Memorial

Branch Davidians
Current Chapel

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Branch Davidian Memorial

Branch Davidians
Branch Davidians are an offshoot of Seventh Day Adventists.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
Gate.

Branch Davidians

Branch Davidians
The road outside of Mount Carmel.

Branch Davidians
The Branch

Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Selfie with Heather.

During the tour Heather didn’t say anything positive about David Koresh. She talked about how he separated her from her dad and took over her discipline.

As a child Heather was pigeon-toed. He used to make her walk back and forth the length of Mount Carmel. He would hit her with a stick when he felt she was walking pigeon-toed.

If David Koresh would have stayed alive and remained in power, she would have become one of his wives when she turned 14.

Mount Carmel burned down when I was in high school. We watched it in class. I have seen at least 5 documentaries on it. I have seen a movie on it. Willy and I watched the WACO television show last year. The tragedy of what happened there didn’t really hit home until I was standing on the same ground where it all happened. It is something I will never forget.

We thanked Heather again for sharing and giving us a tour. I felt like a doucher, but I asked for a picture with her. She obliged willingly. She asked us to friend her on The Facebook. This made me feel like less of a doucher.

I broke my 2 month absence from Facebook long enough to become her friend on The Facebook, but I haven’t been back since. If I ever get the stomach to return, I’ll hit her up and see if she remembers us and see how she is doing.

We gave her a hug. Loaded back up in the rental and left Waco profoundly changed in a way that is hard to figure. My best guess is that it would be the way you would change if you saw the Vietnam War Memorial with a veteran of the Vietnam War or if you talked to a holocaust survivor or met somebody that was in the towers on 9/11. Something that was merely academic, was suddenly real.

We were a couple hours from San Antonio and several hours from the kickoff, but the game seemed decidedly less important than it did just an hour or so earlier.

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This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is RUINS.


WEEK 177 - RUINS
RUINS

A RUINS photo is a picture of something that is in decay.

Happy photo harvesting!

*If we ever have Youth Group again, we will briefly discuss the lynching of Jesse Washington
**David Thibodeau is the survivor that wrote the book that part of the television show WACO is based on. He was played by Rory Caulkin in the show. I can’t recommend that show highly enough.
***Heather is featured in a documentary about the Branch Davidians that aired on A&E in 2018. I have procured a digital copy of it. If you ever want to watch it, I can arrange it. But you have to ask nicely.

Alamo Bowl Road Trip: Magnolia

I slept like a baby. Like an angel. Like a baby angel. I woke up in the morning ready to take on the world.

After I got out of the shower I decided to walk the Motel 6 grounds to check out the lay of the land. I carried the trusty Alpha 77ii with me as I was deleting images because I didn’t want to run out of images on the memory card because we were going 2 places I planned to photograph.


Alamo Bowl Road Trip
Motel 6

While I was deleting pictures a paranoid Motel 6 employee approached me and wanted to know what I was photographing. I explained nothing, I was just deleting images. He seemed to be satisfied with this answer. But he also seemed to shadow me for several minutes. Not very trusting these Waco types.

I don’t watch a ton of home improvement shows, but my two favorites are REHAB ADDICT and FIXER UPPER. While Chip and Joanna Gaines aren’t making the show now, they have created a tourist trap where people can fork over their hard earned coin for overpriced mugs, shirts, and bags.

Jesse and I left the hotel and headed to this oasis in Waco known as Magnolia.

Here are a few images:


Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Alamo Bowl Road Trip

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

Magnolia

The fact that the Alabama Sweet Tea food trailer wasn’t open was a minor tragedy. True, I still had a couple bottles of Gold Peak Extra Sweet Tea in the cooler in the car, but I strongly wanted to evaluate this Alabama Sweet Tea to see how it stacked up against my own brew, Thick Soul Sweet Tea.

The lack of Alabama Sweet Tea wasn’t going to ruin the trip, but it certainly left a hole in the trip that didn’t seem could be filled.

My recommendation if you go to Magnolia is to skip the bakery. There is a trailer that sells the same food as the bakery, with a considerably shorter line.

Magnolia was cool and all, but it is still mostly just a store. As a minimalist, there is only so much unabashed commerce I can stand.

That being said, if you are in Waco I would recommend stopping.

As for the bakery, I had the Silo Cookie and the Chocolate Chip Cookie. They were both tasty, but the Chocolate Chip Cookie has it all over the Silo Cookie. They also sold cupcakes, but I didn’t purchase any, as I am not a big fan of cupcakes.

We loaded up the car and I punched the address of the Branch Davidians Compound into the GPS. I had absolutely no clue what we would find what we would find when we got to the place where 76 people died in the Waco Siege.

+++++++

This is your reminder that this week’s WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is SURPRISE!


WEEK 176- SURPRISE
SURPRISE

A SURPRISE photo is a photo of anything that deals with a SURPRISE. From reactions to results to planning.

Happy photo harvesting!

The Bearded Camera

Back in May of 2018 I did a self-portrait session to create a new avatar for my Instagram and Twitter accounts. It was also to create an image I might use if I were to order more business cards.

I picked an image out that is my current avatar on Twitter and Instagram. However I never edited the rest of the images. Until now.

Here are the best of the rest of the images:


Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

Bearded Camera

I also tried to re-imagine Photography 139 classic image “Blue Steel” on this day, but I’ll share those images on another day

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – WEEK 175 – MACRO

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE, I want to acknowledge that today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While the day is named after and honors Martin Luther King Jr. it is important to acknowledge that it also celebrates this country’s advancements (and recent attempts at regression) in Civil Rights.

To honor his legacy and the tremendous amounts of work that still need to be accomplished on ALL civil rights fronts, I’d like to share some words from his final speech he gave before being brutally shot down outside his hotel room in Memphis:

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life — longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything, I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

He was in Memphis supporting the Sanitation Workers Strike. May we all strive to continue his legacy.

There were a decent amount of submissions this week for what can be a somewhat technically demanding theme in MACRO.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me talk all tommyrot about participation rates. You came to see the submissions:


WEEK 175 - MACRO - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker

WEEK 175 - MACRO - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker

WEEK 175 - MACRO - TAMARA PETERSON
Tamara Peterson

WEEK 175 - MACRO - STEPHANIE KIM
Stephanie Kim

WEEK 175 - MACRO - CARLA STENSLAND
Carla Stensland

WEEK 175 - MACRO - CHRISTOPHER D. BENNETT
Christopher D. Bennett

WEEK 175 - MACRO - ANDY SHARP
Andy Sharp

But enough dwelling on the past. Time to look to the future. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future! This week’s theme:


WEEK 176- SURPRISE
SURPRISE!

SURPRISE! What a great theme! But what is a SURPRISE image? A SURPRISE image is a picture o somebody in the state of SURPRISE or somebody that is about to be in the state of SURPRISE or the result of a SURPRISE or somebody that is about to somebody is the state of SURPRISE.

I think this one might be one of the harder themes and I expect participation to take a dip this week. Hopefully some of you will SURPRISE me! That being said, I look forward to seeing your interpretations!

+++++++

HOUSEKEEPING

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 RULES DIVISION

The picture has to be taken the week of the theme. This isn’t a curate your pictures challenge. This is a get your butt off the couch (my personal experience) and put your camera in your hands challenge. Don’t send me a picture of you next to the Eiffel Tower, when I know you were in Iowa all week. I will point out that I have let that slide some in the past. I will not in the future. Since it is literally about the only rule.

Your submission needs to be emailed to bennett@photography139.com by 11 AM on the Monday of the challenge due date. It should be pointed out that this blog auto-publishes at 12:01 on Mondays. So it wouldn’t hurt to get your picture in earlier.

That is it, them’s the rules.

A MESSAGE FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHY 139 SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION DIVISION

Nobody showed class, taste, and sophistication this week by signing up for a Photography 139 email subscription. I’ll try and do better next week.

+++++++

That’s all I got for today, so if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will commune right here again next Monday. Hopefully it will be a very surprising Monday.