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.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The museum gets stormy

I got to be at the opening of the Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond exhibit at the LA State Museum a couple of weeks ago, but my time was limited so I knew I'd have to go back to actually take in some of the displays.  After spending a couple hours there this weekend, I can officially recommend it to others.  As its location at the Presbytere (right next to St. Louis Cathedral) is perfect for catching all the tourist traffic through Jackson Square, its in prime position to get a lot of visitors.

Over the last three and a half years I've gotten to hear a lot of first hand accounts of the storm.  Those accumulated histories come together to create an understanding of the event's impact that can't really be reproduced in a few news reports.  The museum does a good job of communicating that message to people that haven't had to live in a "post storm" environment.  Even the most hard of heart can't help but be moved by the films and pictures and objects that do so much to tell this story.  It's a visit well worth the six bucks to get in.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Things I find stupid...

I know I tend to over analyze things, but normally, the red circle with the bar will overlay a symbol of the prohibited action (e.g. the no smoking or no firearms signs).  What is it supposed to mean if the "prohibited" symbol isn't on top of anything?  No invisible pink unicorns allowed?  They're really leaving themselves open to all the noisy illiterates that hang out in the the French Quarter.  I'm going to suggest installing a speaker system that gives a "shhhhh" to every person that walks by...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You can't handle the truth!

There are a million things that I would like to write about right now, but can't.  Not because I can't physically or mentally put fingers to keyboard and fill pixels with text, but because my inner political animal won't allow me to reveal all my thoughts in such an open forum.  There are life events going on that could easily fill a few screens with the delightful rants that I so enjoy writing, but can't.  The internet is great because of the extreme ease of sharing information, but it can easily cause problems for you as well.

As certain things drag on, I'm finding it more and more difficult to maintain the relatively calm and controlled demeanor that some people might be accustomed to.  I can't help but think about politicians or celebrities in certain situations.  How many times do you think a president wished they could call somebody a brainless a-hole that should focus on managing their own lives before trying to opine on what others should do?  How many times do you think certain celebrities would like to smack some overly persistent paparazzo upside their fancy camera?  But they can't...

Everybody has those situations.  It could be with family, friends, work, whatever, but most people are smart enough to recognize that certain circumstances dictate silence rather than total openness.  Sometimes not saying what you really feel is just healthier for the relationship.  While honesty should be considered a virtue, most people are not accustomed to dealing with the level of brutal honesty that would come out if we all said what was really on our minds.  We're smart enough to realize that, so we filter and sugar coat our thoughts, until what we finally say is a watered down, sappy, unoffensive version of what we might say if we were kings of the universe and answered to nobody.

You know what?  Having to do that sucks.  I've got no more eloquent way of putting it.  While I pride myself for being able to inhibit the inner Steevo for the sake of managing a relationship, I also crave the cathartic pleasure gained from offering a depiction of people and events as I view them.  But as I do not fit into the "universe ruler" category just yet, these thoughts have to be kept private.

It took a simple comment from my wife to suggest that I write about these things anyway, but don't post them.  Ha!  What a ridiculous idea!  What's the point of writing if nobody can read it?  I guess the idea is like writing a journal or a like a letter that you never mail.  The act of writing is enough to think through things and relieve some tension even if the intended recipient never reads a word of it.  Frankly, half the fun is knowing that there are people out there seeing what I write, but I suppose I don't get much immediate feedback anyway.  I'm disciplined enough to keep writings in draft form for long periods of time, until such point that whatever personal risk I might suffer has abated.

I think tonight I begin the Photo Steevo books of secrets; a cache of writing that will be read by no one unless I see fit to release it.

See, I feel better just having written all that.