Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Whirlwind tour of an overcrowded club

This is what happens when I go one of those places with live dance music and no possibility for conversation.  

(1)  Enter, take picture of gyrating crowd as a spotlight strikes my lens.  

(2) Take another picture when the spotlight goes away, and get nothing but colored shafts of light...

(3) Go outside to rest my ears and watch other people smoke.  

(4) Return inside and take pictures with condensation covering my lens because it's f*cking cold outside and a sweaty mess inside.

(5) Catch some interesting moments. 

(6) Catch some people forgetting that they're in public.

(7) Leave and go to a nice, quiet bar that allows me to hear my own ears ringing.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stay classy, Columbus.

Well, that's all the time I have for you, Columbus.  Warmer climates are calling (or is that the job?) and I must return to the sweaty city.  Thanks for another round of holiday fun with friends and family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

New adventures with old pals

Those adventures won't be detailed here because my head hurts too much to write.  Good times, fellas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sh*t my wife says

Honest and open communications are the bedrock of a great relationship.  An example of good communication is when my wife says the following.
Honey, if you buy me a Snuggie for Christmas I'm gonna kick you in the balls.  
I've taken good note of this request, and there can be no doubt that there will NOT be a Snuggie under the tree Christmas morning.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Need a Christmas tan?

Am I wrong in thinking I should be able to take my sunglasses off once I enter a building?  During the Christmas season....yes, yes I am.  I guess I'll just sit back and wait for Santa to fly by flinging presents at everybody.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to make buckeyes

I thought I'd share the process for making buckeyes, the delicious confections named because of their similarity in appearance to a nut (that is named because if its similarity in appearance to the eye of a male deer), that contain the "butter" of a different nut, and are in reality just a tasty fast track to diabetes.  To make this more interesting (or pointlessly confusing), we're going to go in reverse, like starting with a fully assembled piece of furniture and ending up with its parts back in the box....except you don't melt the parts of the bookshelf and roll it into little balls and what not.  

(1) To kick us off right, here's an empty soup can full of liquid chocolate.  This is what to do with the leftover melted chocolate chips.  Drinking it is delicious and optional.  Replacing the lid and putting back in the cupboard with the rest of the soup is recommended.  

(2)  This recipe makes a LOT of buckeyes.  By the time you're finished, your fridge will be full of trays like this, and you'll really get an idea of how fat you'll be getting eating all these things throughout the next week or so.  

Once all of them are properly coated in chocolate, they're done!  Cool them, take them off the wax paper, and store them for midnight snacking.

(3) You'll be using toothpicks to stab the peanut butter/sugar/butter balls and dunk them into the molten chocolate.  I've always wanted to stick my whole hand in there and encase my fist in chocolate, but I'm slightly afraid of the intense pain and loss of skin that results from sticking your hand in molten anything. 

If you didn't stick the balls into the fridge prior to dipping, they're probably melting and sliding off into the chocolate, in which case, you might get to try the chocolate hand scalding experiment described above.

(4) You use a double boiler to melt stuff like this, right?  I really need to start paying attention to things...

(5)  Melting stuff is fun!  Mix the chocolate continuously to keep everything from burning, but a word of caution:  the whisk is great at acting as a prison for half melted chocolate chips.  If the whisk gets stuck and you put pressure on the handle in the just the right spot along the edge of the mixing bowl, those melty little prisoners are adept at leaping right at your face. 

(6)  In that last picture you were wondering what the little white bits were, weren't you?  It's wax!  That's right, with every buckeye you're coating your innards with tiny amounts of paraffin wax.  Sorry, our buckeyes don't have the thin candy shells that keep them from melting in your hands...

(7)  Grooves or no grooves?  Using the method described below the balls come out with deep grooves in them.  You have to roll them out by hand, otherwise, they're flat on one end and have deep, chocolate absorbing ridges.  

Make sure you put wax paper over all the trays unless you want a sticky mess.  Although, sticking them on thin paper plates is fun because you get to watch the butter melt through...

(8)  The first time we made these we pulled gob after gob of the peanut butter mixture by hand to form the balls.  Go ahead, try it.  You'll quickly learn that this is a pain in the ass that leads to poorly formed and unevenly sized buckeyes.  Break down and get yourself a melon baller or mini ice cream scoop so you can behave like a proper, tool using homo sapien. 


(9)  Get your hands in there!  This mixture is not a good opportunity to use the $4 Walmart mixer you picked up on Black Friday, unless you like the smell of motors catching fire.  Mix thoroughly.  A buckeye with a big chunk of butter in the middle is not a buckeye, it's just disgusting.  

(10)  You didn't really want to see the basic ingredients, did you?  A few pounds of powdered sugar, a couple pounds of peanut butter, and a  pound of ...butter butter.  There are certain things that you'd just rather not know the ingredients of if they're to be properly enjoyed -- salad dressings, any food bought from shifty-eyed street vendors with dubious health inspection certifications, and buckeyes.

That's it!  I don't have any other pictures, (1) because it was pretty late when we made these and pictures were an afterthought, and (2) I'm seriously hoping you can figure out how to put three ingredients into one bowl.  Hint:  It helps to heat up the butter first.  

Just in case you actually want to make these, here are the ingredients.  

In the mixing bowl:
1 lb butter
2 lbs peanut butter
3 lbs powdered sugar

In the double boiler:
30 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 bar of paraffin wax


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday evening editing

I dragged myself away from The Simpsons long enough to go through some photos from a Christmas party last night.  I figured I'd get these posted while Jenny is napping and can't tell me not to put them up.  :D

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cords, computers, and camera crap

Every so often I break down and make an attempt to organize bits of my life.  Today, the clutter on my desk finally gave me the resolve to do stuff I've been putting off for eight months.  First step - get rid of the old emachines desktop that has been sitting idle since I got the dreamy iMac.  Unfortunately, my refusal to ever delete anything means that I have to back up the hard drive one last time.  Transferring five years worth of music, pictures, and movies from the PC to multiple external hard drives takes FOREVER.  So much for getting all of this out of the way quickly.

The stack of external hard drives that I've accumulated is another problem in itself.  Despite my making fun of black friday deals, I ended up getting a pair of 2TB external drives for next to nothing, which I hope can give me sufficient space for a few years of primary and secondary backups.  Losing data sucks.  I've experienced it before, and because of that I'm willing to be a little obsessive about preventing a total loss again.  

Speaking of losses, it's a lovely Friday afternoon and I should be saving this computer junk for darker hours.  Time to go see some daylight.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don't read this (unless you want to see a penguin statue wearing a tie)

Yeah, that was a test.  If you're reading this, you (a) don't follow instructions very well and you failed, (b) win because you defied the rules and hey, the world needs some rule breakers, or (c) you really like penguins in formalwear, in which case you can join the club of people with unaddressed personal issues.

No really though, I said don't read it because this is one of those "I've changed stuff on my site" posts.  Nothing major on the blog, just some additional text thrown on here to add some much needed clutter.  On, I finally got around to adding a more legitimate "about me" page.  I'm finding that I'm not thrilled with the service that I used to make the site (BigBlackBag) for a number of reasons, but until I decide to spend time learning some web design (not currently on the schedule) or decide to pay somebody else to do it (not currently in the budget), I'm stuck with BBB.  There are a few layout things I'll be doing over the next week, but I won't get into reasons here.  Why are you still reading this, anyway?!  Go back to watching funny animal videos like everybody else on the internet.

I bet they don't have a penguin wearing a tie on that site though...  That's what I'm here for, folks --  Providing more distractions that keep you from doing anything productive.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reality, for better or worse

One of the things I most enjoy about photography is its ability to capture those moments that are absolutely and unequivocally real.  No fake smiles and skinny-arm poses; no huddling together waiting for a flash; no opportunity to look at a tiny screen and say "aw, that's cute."  I get to use plastic and glass to share the genuine moments that people would love to forget, but can't deny that they happened.  

That's it.  The rest is up to the viewer to decide.  That's where the "reality" of pictures like this gets interpreted, reinvented, and flat out fabricated to suit the viewer's own point of view.  Time to make up your own story for why these two are passed out on the bench.  

And before you go laughing at somebody else for how they look while snoozing, remember that you most likely resemble a slobbering infant yourself while you sleep.  I certainly do and there's proof thanks to unnamed a**holes that commandeered my camera one night. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recovering from the Bulldog

I feel terrible.  The Bulldog's dead guy burger, beer, and cheese fries for second dinner will do that to you.  Time for a breakfast pizza and several hours of football.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

So I'm going to be an uncle: Part 2

Today my sister was informed that she would be having a boy.  I'm suddenly finding myself pondering all sorts of ways to corrupt the child and annoy the parents.  I'm thinking a mini drumset when he turns about two years old.  What else makes lots of noise and/or smells bad?

Congrats to the future parents.  I can't wait to meet this guy.  Ya know, once he' of the womb.

Monday, November 29, 2010


So I finally upgraded to Lightroom 3.  Every time I get into a new program or upgrade I feel the need to go back and rework everything I've ever done.  Just looking through the items in the develop module shows me that we're getting greater and greater ability to control ever more nuanced bits of our images.  Maybe it's about time I actually learned how to use some of these features.  As much as it pains me to sit fiddling with slidebars in these programs, having a graphic designer / Photoshop sorceress of a wife makes me feel very inferior at times.

Anybody know of any good (and free) tutorials out there?  

Something's lurking around the corner

In horror movies, you're always lured into a false sense of calm right before a big scare.  The contrast between serenity and terror enhances the impact of both.  I hate to say it, but I'm getting the same feeling right now.  I've enjoyed five peaceful days leisure, but my work inbox is lurking around the corner.  Something is always there, just waiting to jump out and bring me back to reality.

I feel somewhat bad about comparing my return to a regular schedule to a horror movie.  It's probably just that the contrast effect works both ways.  I went from the "scares" of work to having an extended period of time to read and write and enjoy whatever it is that I enjoy.  These long weekends happen so rarely that they become all the more special when they do materialize.  Perhaps the best way to think of things, is that I could never appreciate the weekend so much, if it weren't for the week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Walmart has two dollar vietnamese language Legally Blonde DVDs?  YES!  Not that I want it or will ever watch it but it's only two dollars!  Four dollar toasters?!  Sure this cheaply assembled, barely functional piece of crap will catch fire the third time I try to toast multiple bagel halves simultaneously, but HEY, I'd buy a dead opossum from a drifter for four dollars!  HOLY SH*T!  There's a 46in TV on sale for ONLY one month's rent!  That would look so amazing in my cat's linen closet.  Oooo, and here's a 7in touch screen GPS device with the sexy voice upgrade, including maps for the migratory patterns of Alaskan caribou!  I know that I never leave my city, but since I never bothered learning to read the map that I can get for 98 cents at any gas station, I NEED THIS NOW.



*sells soul for fleece sweater, silly bands, and night vision golf ball locator*

And don't forget to wear your curlers.  Wouldn't want to hold onto any of that dignity stuff while you shop.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Must. Do. Something.

So the south isn't immune to winter gloom either.  Does anybody else find it difficult to get motivated to do anything when it has been gray and stormy since 5 am?  I'd love to stay inside and watch old rainy day favorites, but I'm already at the midpoint of my long weekend.  Time to go for a swim.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just giving you what you want.

What, not as entertaining as a guy peeing on the beach?  What am I going to do with you people?  Ok, how's about some bird poo on a trash can?  In honor of Thanksgiving, you can be thankful that you didn't get crapped on by these birds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Only in New Orleans...

I was amazed by the number of people up and out around the French Quarter so early on a Sunday.  Take this gentleman, for example.  Looking into the sun I saw the silhouette of a guy walking along a sandbar, enjoying the morning haze and snapping a few pictures with his cell phone.  I'm glad I'm not the only one that can appreciate the beauty of the sun creeping up over the meandering Mississipp-oh holy hell he's peeing...


I really need to start wearing my glasses...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To see the sun come up

There have been plenty of times that I've set my alarm with hopes of seeing a sunrise, only to slap the vile device silent for doing its job.  Not today.  Maybe I'm ill, maybe it was the high fog advisory, maybe I just wanted to take my new lens out for a spin.  Regardless of the reason, I got to see the other side of the day for a change.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Almost Free

Short weekend followed by short work week followed by long weekend.  We're almost there...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Never trust a magician

Sometimes you don't understand what's going on, you know you're being deceived, but you're compelled to watch the show anyway because you need to see what happens next.  Ain't human nature a bitch?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life lessons from event photography

A year ago I was walking into building I'd never entered, to find somebody I'd never met, to do something I'd never done.  Sure, I'd taken my camera out to a lot of different places and taken a lot of different pictures, but this was the first time that I actually had to produce and deliver photos according to set specifications.  How all that was going to work was an unknown to me.  I figured I'd follow my normal procedure:
  1. Show up

  2. Celebrate because I did such an awesome job
Fast forward through a year and over fifty events.  I've learned a lot, only, not at all what I expected to learn going into this.  I'm going to have to break this into multiple parts because it's getting a little too long for my taste.  The first part here will be the non-picture taking learnings, starting with this -

Experiences of almost any kind follow the same pattern.
  1. You start off in the honeymoon phase; you're nervous and excited, you learn a lot in a short period of time, and you love what's going on.  
  2. After a while, the excitement goes away and you enter the dreaded "this is bull sh*t" phase.  You realize that things aren't perfect, that there are more challenges than you thought, you want to quit and retreat into your comfort zone.  
  3. If you make it through phase two, you end up in the acceptance phase.  This is a leveling off of emotion where you're not distracted by the highs and lows, but find a balance in what you're doing.  This is the stage where you start fine tuning and improving things.  This is where you get good at what you're doing.  
After reflecting on my experiences over the last year, I realized that I've gone through this pattern with a lot of things - travel, work, exercise, hobbies, and most definitely photography.  Not everything makes it through the phase two, but persistence and experience and a drive to make things better usually yields results.

People.  Yes, just "people."  I'm not a naturally boisterous and gregarious person, but going into crowded events with masses of people I don't know has helped define what I enjoy about other people and myself.
  • I enjoy that I can be the pillar of calm in a chaotic environment.  The phrase "herding cats" comes up a lot during my events.  The contacts I work with are often apologetic for having trouble getting photo subjects together for me.  I get to tell them "It's normal.  If you see me getting stressed out, then you're doing something wrong."
  • I enjoy that I've learned to appreciate truly nice people and that I've developed patience for unpleasant people.  We humans cover a very broad spectrum of personalities, some more tolerable than others.  Face it, some people are just dicks.  Minimize your time with them and move on.  
  • I enjoy that I've had to question how I deal with others.  Do I do like some people who treat me like an idiot when I ask them to spell their simple names (Jon Smith v. John Smithe)?  Or do I empower them to get it right by actually spelling out Kharamapakiev for them?
After having dealt with doctors, hospital owners, politicians, chefs, lawyers, grammy winners, athletes, actors, and all manner of businesspeople, the main lesson is simply to make eye contact, extend a hand, and smile.  If there's a human on the other end, they'll normally respond in kind. 

Part Two - The finer points of photographing parties will come later.