Author Archives: ian

About ian

i am a professional photographer with a huge music problem. i reside in the city of chicago, il. on the northwest side. my life revolves around my wife, my dog, my camera, and my job. i like to take long bus rides and short train rides. these days i spend my free time working on this blog and trying to defy the baffling new technology that is my home computer. occasionally you will find me out on ice at my local hockey rink.

Back in the saddle…

| currently listening to: Divine Invasion, Trans Am, Liberation, 2004 | LINK

the photography:

It’s been exactly 3 years, 3 months, and 1 day since I left my position as Staff Photographer and Staff Photo Editor at Cars.com. A lot has happened in that amount of time. I will try to list them briefly here in no particular order:

– Archibald (Archie) Brian Fitzsimmons Merritt was born
– I’ve helped launch 4 new vehicles for Subaru of America while traveling to Iceland & England
– My photography helped launch a ton of Sharpie Products since 2012
– Hefty and Reynolds Consumer Products have used my lifestyle photography extensively
– I shot multiple photographs that were included in Doug Sohn’s Hot Doug’s The Book
– I’ve discovered less hair on my head and more gray hairs within the amount that is left

I guess it could be worse.

I started this blog as an outlet years ago to broadcast the work I was creating that did not have a place to live. It was a landing for any photo projects, fine art, and non-Cars.com photography that I started and wanted to show off. I named it “I am a working artist…” because I wanted to relate to people that being an artist in the real world meant that many times your creativity needed to take a back seat to your production and technical expertise.

Unless, of course, that you are being bankrolled. That would be awesome.

I strive to reopen this part of my career. This blog will once again stand as a creative outlet, a portal, a creative abyss, a photo dump…

Make art. Make Art. Make. ART.

the music:

TRANS AM.
I have followed this band’s career since the late 90’s when two musician friend’s introduced them to me during my last few years of college. The bass, guitar, synth, drums, midi-triggers attack of this three piece intrigued me to no end. I have always want to make as much noise as possible with other musicians in the same way that these three friends do it. Sebastian is also one of the best drummers I have ever seen. Period.

This is the man behind Ken Block’s Blockhead logo: Huck Gee

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Almost every racing fan and avid Jalopnik reader under the age of 37 knows who Ken Block is. Oh… you mean Ken Block the DC Shoe brand creator, GoPro slinger, Tire Slaying Hoonigan, and Gymkhana master? Yeah, I’ve heard of him. But do you know the man behind one of motorsport’s most recognizable logos? He’s just a man. A man they call Huck Gee.

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Funny thing is, if you’re a toy collector who frequents stores such as KidRobot and Rotofugi and you collect modern art, then you already know Huck from his work with KidRobot’s Dunny’s (standardized vinyl bunny toy designs that start life as matte black and are painted by various artists). What you might not know is that Huck’s 2007 8″ Dunny titled “Hello my name is” now sits in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and he has consigned several projects for Christie’s Auction House. You may not know his name but Huck’s work is so sought after, his new pieces sell out quicker than Springsteen at Wrigley. Not bad for a graffiti artist from South Central Los Angeles.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. Huck is first, and foremost, a fine artist and designer who has a serious car problem. Born in England, Mark (Huck) Gee, emigrated to Los Angeles with his family at the age of six when his father, a transmission rebuilder, capitalized on a lucrative opportunity to start his own transmission garage here in the states. Huck’s father was an amateur rally driver back in the UK who’s hobbies included rebuilding Porsche shells in the garage on the weekends. Surprisingly, Huck didn’t catch the car bug until he was well into his mid/late twenties.

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These days, Huck can’t stop his addiction to cars. A Subaru enthusiast to the core, Huck time attacks his heavily modified Alpine White 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. These modifications could be listed but you’d be scrolling for a while. He’s owned 4 Subies: 2 bug eye WRX’s, his current STI, and a Forrester that he has eyes on converting to an STI. A fair amount of the work is done by Huck’s friends over at LIC Motorsports in Lovato, CA. Subaru wrenchers might recognize their name as LIC Motorsports was the first Subaru shop to complete an RS to WRX engine conversion. Excellent friends to have.

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Enough about Huck, let’s talk about his art. Blockhead came about as Huck was tapped to initially design the entire car wrap:

“We planned on doing a play on my own iconic Skullhead character for Ken’s logo and car wrap. Tying in his name just made sense. It was originally going to be plastered down the side of his STi but about 90% of the way through the project it was brought to my attention that No Fear energy drink had a giant skull on the side of their X-Games car which meant my wrap design got scrapped. We still managed to keep the logo, thankfully.”

And then Block changed teams. So the final wrap?
Ended up on a (gasp) Ford.
Block had this to say about working with Huck:

“The skull logo that Huck designed for me has been amazing. Between using it on my cars and incorporating it into my gear with DC, the overall reception has been extremely positive. Fans love it, I love it and my other sponsors like it as well, because it’s now so readily identified as my mark thanks to how much I’ve used it these past few years. They know that if they incorporate it into things they’re doing that relate to me, fans will instantly recognize it.”

So next time you take a look at a piece of art, a car, a toy, a logo… Always remember that there are hundreds of man hours that went into making it look awesome and there is always a creative person (and most likely a creative team) behind it, from idea creation to the refinement and all the way to the final execution. Huck may not drive like Ken but he’s getting there. No worries. His design work, creativity, and personality are off the charts.

Although Huck doesn’t have any large car projects on his design radar (except for a few LIC Motorsports race car wraps), he loves to dream about driving. Maybe in the near future, Huck can list “having-my-work-embossed-on-the-top-of-the-brake-lever-of-a-WRC-championship-car” to his list of accomplishments. Your move Ken…

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Full disclosure? I spent about 10 hours with Huck last summer at his studio in San Francisco. The fine people at Subaru supplied us with a brand new 2013 Subaru BRZ to show off and Huck and I made sure the kids over at LIC Motorsports got a good look at it. Lucky for me, the trip coincided with the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance outside of Monterey, CA which means… well… Gobs of pretty photos.

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Here’s a video of Huck driving Thunderhill shortly after I met him in 104 degree weather. Diehard indeed.


It’s been a while…

So in the past year or so since I last posted, life has moved pretty quickly in the Merritt household. I’ve shot a major in-store campaign for Sharpie pens, my wife gave birth to our second child Archibald, I’ve shot the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach for Bentley Motors, and I’ve even updated Hot Doug Sohn’s head shots for his new book coming out this summer. Obviously these are just the highlights but It’s been a wild ride. And now it’s time to post some images. I plan on doing this more and more this year as I explore some interesting new work, face new challenges behind the camera, and try to decipher where my career is headed. Also, I’ll tell you about the time a $20K piece of camera equipment died in the middle of a shoot with 3 main models and 35 extras dancing in a night club at 11:45am. Long story. Enjoy some car porn in the meantime.

Sincerely,
– Ian

world leaders and me.

| currently listening to: Better than Blue, Goner, Rock ‘N’ Roll Never Forgets, 2008 | LINK

the photography:

this past week i found myself placed smack dab in the middle of a scenario i never thought i would ever find myself. i pinched myself awake and realized that in a room filled with people i was forced to choose between photographing a dozen world leaders/celebrities or standing there starstruck and slack jawed like some rube who had just wandered out of the corn field. well… i decided to do the professional thing. i took photos. gobs of them. then i sat there and stammered like a blithering idiot.

these photos were taken while working for the Chrysler Group LLC at the 2012 World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. i spent two days covering famous leaders, actors, and activists. it was, easily, one of the most rewarding assignments of my career. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Jackson Browne, Sean Penn, Petra Nemcova, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jimmy Carter, Jody Williams, Richie Daley, Muhammed Yunus, and many others passed in front of my lens and within arms length. calling it surreal would be a gross understatement.

but beyond the glitz and glamour, the famous people and the metal detectors, i walked away from the assignment with a feeling i hadn’t felt in a long time. after listening to everyone speak about making a difference in the world i realized that i haven’t done a damn thing for my community in a long long time. it is truly humbling to sit and listen to complete strangers talk about how to change the world and then present you with solid proof that it can be done. and not just ‘change the world’ in that awesome pre-game speech by your high school football coach. i mean ‘change the world’ but tearing down that Berlin wall ‘change the world’. it was a sobering experience to say the least.

enjoy the photos. my favorite is the stand alone shot of Jody Williams and her pink shoes. she was one of the nicest people i have ever met. and a Vermonter to boot. awesome. also, Jimmy Carter’s hands. they are incredibly telling.

i am still in awe that i was given the opportunity to take them. the entire week was so moving that it’s time to pay it all forward, time to give back, time to do something for someone else. get ready chicago, consider me motivated.

the music:

Goner. what can i say about one of my favorite bands? well… i am biased. i did design their third record cover and i did donate to the recording of their upcoming release via a kickstarter project thread.

BUT THAT BEING SAID… they really are one of the best bands that you have never heard of. pop sensibilities via keyboard, accordion, bass, and drums – no guitars (well ok, there are a couple of tracks here and there with 6 strings on them but not really…). harmonizing vocals, incredibly heavy rhythms, and glorious choruses keep these north carolinians on the edge of what makes indie rock / college radio relevant. they make you tap your toes and sing along. joyously.

love it.

Farnsworth House II

| currently listening to: Panic Switch, Silversun Pickups, Swoon, 2009 | LINK

the photography:

As I mentioned in the last post, The Farnsworth House is an architectural legend. Designed and built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the house is, simply, an icon.

In my last post I showed off images from the interior of the Farnsworth House. Today’s images are a mixture of exterior shots of the house and photos from the set of the Japanese commercial shoot. It was a rather prolific shoot for me as there was always something to look at and different angles to decipher. It was such a great experience as a whole and the amount of excellent photos = many.

Not only did I get to hang inside and outside of said icon, I also got to see a RED camera up close and personal. Combined with a SuperTechno 50 crane, the TV commercial side of the shoot was amazing. What a crazy combination of cool devices. A tip of the hat to A.J. Rickert-Epstein (featured at the helm of the RED controls). He’s a fantastic Director of Photography with an impressive aesthetic eye.

This entire experience was splendid to say the least.

the music:

Alright. Silversun Pickups is one of my guilty guilty guilty pleasures. They have picked up where various ‘Oceans of Guitars’ styled bands left off. One that comes to mind as far as sonic intensity is the Champaign, Illinois indie greats, Hum.

While garnering quality radio play with this single, SSPU has solidified themselves to have at least a couple more records paid for and released by the underdogs at Dangerbird Records. Hook laden shoegaze is hard to come by but this quartet really knows how to put the elements together.

In most shoe gaze bands, a two guitar drone would lead the attack but the SSPU’s employ a keyboardist who fills in the gaps with gigantic blips and chords. But the secret weapon in SSPU arsenal is their bass player, Nikki Monninger. My god. She belongs in the ‘Female Vocal Hall of Fame’ right next to Kim Deal. Right around the 4:29 mark Nikki’s voice overpowers this song and wrestles it to the ground. She really ties the room together.

Farnsworth House

| currently listening to: Alone Again Or, Calexico, Convict Pool EP, 2004 | LINK

the photography:

The Farnsworth House is an architectural legend. Designed and built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe himself, the house is a living icon to American creation and ingenuity. A while back I was lucky enough to not only get to visit the house and was given carte blanche by the preservation society that oversees it but some Japanese businessmen decided it was a good idea to pay me to photograph it. I don’t have enough time on the train ride home to make this scenario up. Japanese businessmen.

The project came about because a friend of mine from LA was hired to shoot the house for a Japanese real estate commercial. They needed a still photographer for a print ad that would accompany the commercial. Plano, Illinois is not exactly the easiest place in the world to get to.

In a word, the Farnsworth House is ‘Exquisite’. It is the envy of all architects and industrial designers across the world. This set of interior images were the closest I have come to perfection, not with the images themselves but with where they were shot. I love love love the way this house looks, smells, breathes, etc. The floors produce radiant heat. It was a pleasure just to wear socks and slip around with a tripod for the 35 minutes I received inside. It was calm and beautiful. I will post more photos from the shoot and of the exterior later on. For now, just revel in the awesome that is Farnsworth House.

SIDE NOTE. I was given such a small window of time inside this house and I was pretty much allowed to touch nothing. This meant that I had to make due with the natural lighting that was given to me. Which is how I would like to do it. But I was not allowed to choose which time I would be able to take the photos. If it were up to me? We’d be in there at 7:30 am when the light outside would be perfection. Did I mention it’s a glass house?! I think it works. Emily Gilbert is totally going to critique the hell out of it…

the music:

Calexico is one of those niche indie bands that everyone will tell you they like. Mixing the best of classic Tex-Mex music with some down-home indie rock, Calexico has mutated from one sound to the next without losing their authenticity or their Arizona roots. It’s been a wild ride.

Calexico members have had their share of indie rock greatness while in Giant Sand w/Howe Gelb and in forming the great Friends of Dean Martinez. This EP shows off their musical chops. Especially in this SPOT-ON rendition of the Love classic 1967 track.

Lurve.

tractor parade

| currently listening to: Go Ahead, The Rosebuds, Loud Planes Fly Low, 2011 | LINK

the photography:

i grew up in a small town not unlike many small towns across rural america. Charlotte, Vermont is a shrinking farming community that has morphed into a rural suburb of Vermont’s largest metropolitan area. Charlotte is a sleepy town with an interesting population that is made up of old school Vermonters, long-term transplants, and flat landers who have recently found themselves living next to the 13th largest lake in the US.

Charlotte is interestingly divided into two distinct groups of people; those who shop at Marble’s Store (Eastside) and those who shop at the Old Brick Store (Westside). It’s not a bicoastal ‘Rap Battle’ but more of a quick determination of what side of the local K-8 elementary/middle school you live on. Does this representation of the locals cause a rift in the population? Not really. But it does lead to some interesting bus routes once you get to high school.

As a child of the eastside growing up, Marble’s Store was my Mecca. Less than 1/4 mile down a rather big hill was the key to my summer as a young adult. I could meet my east side friends there, buy a candy bar, a Mountain Dew in a glass bottle, pick up the paper for my old man, and be ready for the adventure of biking to whomever’s house was designated for the whiffle ball game that day. It was a meeting place and a place of great comfort to those of us who looked at Marble’s Store as the center of town. It was as if Marble’s was placed on this earth to be the VFW for anyone between the ages of 10-14 complete with cheap beer, movie rentals, and various animals, animated townspeople, and local legends floating around at all times. Obviously we only took advantage of the cheap beer later on in our lives but you get the picture.

Two weeks ago marked the 11th straight year that Marble’s has been the home of the Charlotte Tractor parade. What started out as a gathering the first year when a dozen tractors paraded outside of the store in the fall of 2000, has blossomed into the fall assembly of the year for the town with more than 130 tractors prancing down the street.

A small petting zoo, food trucks, t-shirts, and plenty of people watching make the tractor parade the perfect stop for an 18 month old. This year Teddy began what I hope will be a long standing tradition of visiting Grammy and Squid (yes, my dad’s nickname is Squid) during October to see the locals and collectors from afar pull their tractors right through the center of my young adulthood and beyond. It truly feels great to pass on my childhood places and experiences to my son and to my wife. Charlotte, Vermont will always be home to me. and I love making it feel like home to them.

the music:

My goodness. I could talk about the Rosebuds for pages and pages. In the beginning, they were a jangling garage rock trio with melodies ripped more from Buddy Holly than the Ramones. These days their music is much more than Elvis Costello rave-ups and the band has expanded to cover more than just schoolyard relationships as they have grown. With five full length records and a smattering of singles, 7 inches, and one EP, the Rosebuds have solidified their place in modern Indie Rock Lore.

The key to their success? I mean beyond the fact that Ivan Rosebud has a voice that will melt even the staunchest hipster… The key lies within the relationship of the two leaders of the band, Ivan and Kelly. Once married, now divorced, their adult lives have been played out over lyrics, during live shows, and worn on their sleeves.

Their newest record is a collection of statements that ring like questions. Statements to each other, to their fans, to their individual futures, to their collective future as a band, and to no one in particular. Go buy it. It’s beautiful. The audience is not questioning them as a creative entity. We know that they will go on.

moving photography, stylish

| currently listening to: Anchored, Starlight Conspiracy, Sounds Like A Silver Holler, 1996 | LINK

the photography:
so recently i have been broadening my photographic horizons. it’s hard working in an industry (automotive) where you don’t the opportunity to work with a bevy of different scenarios/models/makeup arrays/fashion styles. a car, is in fact at the end of the day, just a car. rubber, glass, and steel. and after four years of photographing over 546 cars in the office (not counting the endless number of cars at auto shows etc) it’s good to find something else to aim your lens at.

now if i were to start blabbing on about an interesting niche in the photographic world it would most definitely be ‘fashion photography’. sigh. these guys have all the fun. beautiful models, amazing and expensive lighting rigs, top notch sets, wads of cash falling out of their pockets, etc… life is good for the fashion photographer. so why not give it a shot?

this exact opportunity arose in the form of my friend Katie Fazio. Katie has started a great little business venture as a personal stylist and as a strong voice for those who are interested in their own personal fashion. her blog can be found here: Katie Keeps it Simple. the above photos were taken on a sunny day in downtown Chicago at Katie’s request so that she could blog about her outfit. i took the opportunity to add my own ‘naturally lit’ style to Katie’s fashion blog and to be honest, i think it works. of course, there will be plenty more opportunities to capture what Katie is wearing so i’ll blog more when i do. and if ever given a budget to pull it off, i would create a seriously bad-ass 18 page spread in Vogue complete with 42 bikini clad background dancers, a tiger, and at least one candle opera all set on top of the Taj Mahal.

but for now, i’m intrigued to take more fashion-forward photos.

the music:
Starlight Conspiracy were one of those bands when i was growing up that changed how i looked at music. up until around the time i was 14 or so, music was just a companion to what i was doing. it wasn’t just white noise but it wasn’t a soundtrack yet to my emotional ups and downs. and it wasn’t music’s fault. i was young and interested in whatever everyone else was listening to. i hadn’t let music in.

and somewhere around 14 i heard (not in any particular order) bands like Fugazi, Morphine, Nirvana, Uncle Tupelo, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Tool, Graham Parsons, Rage Against the Machine, and Billy Bragg. Out of my car went all the generic hippie jam crap that i was listening to at the time and in flooded the rawk, the soul-searching, and moving.

when i was 18 i went to the record release show for alternative local darlings/shoegazing heros Starlight Conspiracy’s ‘Sounds like silver holler’. it was one of the most kick-ass shows i had ever been to. they ripped through 10-12 songs before announcing that this would be their last tune. immediately, guitarist Denny Donovan (Drowningman, Slush, 5 Seconds Expired) decided to hang upside down from the rafters using only his feet. bassist Shawn Flanigan followed suit and decided to pry the bass strings off of his Rickenbacker with a drum stick. drummer Brad Searles crashed and banged his way through the song keeping the beat and beating his sticks to splinters. and the ever shy, ever cute (my first real rock girl crush) singer Jan Tofferi stood by the side of the stage and watched the carnage from afar.

it was amazing. i was moved. life changed. live music was never the same. in a good way.

seeing old friends

| currently listening to: Governor’s Daughter, The Rosebuds, Compulation: Volume One (Pox World Empire), 2003 | LINK

the photography:
so last night i had the privilege to see some of my favorite musicians perform on one of the biggest stages in Chicago (other than Lallapolooza). The Rosebuds and Bon Iver rocked my world at the Chicago Theater last night and I was lucky enough to be invited to hang out with the bands before they went onstage. Humblebrag aside, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, the leading peeps in The Rosebuds, are old friends of mine and as their careers have blossomed, I have been lucky enough to witness their journey.

back in 2003, my friend Bumbalo (everyone should have a friend named Bumbalo) called to see if i would like to see the band with whom he was touring with and their subsequent headliners, Superchunk. ‘The Rosebuds’? i said… sure, why not. do you need a place to stay while in Boston? and so began a friendship that has lasted a number of different apartments, at least 40+ concerts (as in i’ve seen them that many times), four different states, some design and photo work (i designed the insert to The Rosebuds debut release on vinyl and i shot the photo they used on their first EP band photo), marriages, kids, divorces, playing as the live band at my surprise birthday party, living in the same city, working in the same comedy troupe, and through their numerous drummers (i remember at least 6 of them…).

and almost 10 years down the line, my relationship with Ivan and Kelly had culminated into an amazing opportunity to see them play in front of 3,500 excited concertgoers. and it was fucking epic. i brought along my 5D and my trusty 28mm wide angle lens. I wasn’t there to take concert photos and i didn’t really want to document the whole show for publication. i was there to listen and to watch and to enjoy the music. photos are for work sometimes. the pics posted here are the few that i had the chance to snap.

and did i mention that Bon Iver was the headliner? i met justin vernon about 5 years ago when he toured through our old art space out in Cicero, IL (documented in this post: Mr. Vernon ) with his first band, DeYarmond Edison. if there is any individual out there in the art world who deserves the success that Bon Iver is currently having it is justin. he couldn’t be a nicer dude. did i mention it’s great to catch up with old friends yet? it is indeed.

the show? outstanding. the crowd? amazing. the bands? couldn’t have been nicer, better musicians, or more earnest. highlights? seeing Daniel Hart for the first time in a while (also a former player of The Fort and a great dude who plays with St. vincent from time to time…), meeting MARTTTTYYYY (The Rosebuds doggie…), and catching up and telling funny stories from our former lives. OH… and also… it was great to see some old friends doing what they love doing and making it big. much love.

the lasting impression of the night? just before The Rosebuds took to the stage, Ivan leaned in and told me ‘You know man? you’ve got my dream job’ (referring to working in the auto industry, photographing cars). i looked out over the sea of guitars (Bon Iver tours with like a gazillion) and all of those faces in the crowd and said, ‘Ivan, i’m pretty sure you’ve got mine.’

the music:
The Rosebuds sound has evolved from the jangled garage rock of their early years to that of strong indie pop rockers. along the way they have released a number of records, ep’s, and they’ve added songs to various compilations. this tune, off of the Pox World Empire comp titled Compulation Vol. 1, the sound of North Carolina, is one of my favorite Rosebuds tunes. every time i hear, i mumble the chorus for the entire day…

maybe art can sell.

and it keeps me going. ivan’s voice is golden, his guitar playing is driving, the drumming is classic bubblegum pop, and kelly’s keyboards and shouts keep the band and audience going throughout this raveup that could have been recorded during the early 60’s. it’s classic Rosebuds and it’s guaranteed that if i’m in the audience at one of their shows, i will first ask Ivan first for ‘more leg kicks’, then i will demand that they play this tune.

someday i’ll get them to do it again…

50 Portraits – 39

| currently listening to: Slack Motherfucker, Superchunk, s/t, 1990 | LINK

the photography:
Portrait #39 is anna

anna is one of those few art school attendees who is living the dream. born and raised in the midwest, anna is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute and even though her career is just taking off, she has already designed for some big names including Ecko, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and Target.

while many teenagers enter art school with dreams of a career in the creative sector, very few actually stick around to see their dream job materialize. anna has been lucky enough to embody the rare combination of hard work, determination, and creative talent… did i mention that she’s talented? but it’s not just talent alone that allows her to run her own clothing design company. while many of us in the creative world struggle with carving out our own space, anna seems to do it effortlessly. am i jealous? of course.

one of the most unique things i learned while hanging out with anna is that she has found a way to stay connected to the community. by finding and utilizing local vendors, (that’s right, all of anna’s clothes are made in chicago) she’s supporting the local economy. that is truly refreshing to hear. in fact, i think more people in the manufacturing world should follow suit.

so how does someone who comes out of art school make it in the real world? how do you move from the creative academic bubble and keep your artistic integrity intact? how do you find a job and keep your eyes on the prize without needing the constant praise and codling that comes from being in school?

from my own experience, you need some realistic goals, a touch of luck, a whole lot of talent, and an intrinsic work ethic that won’t throw the towel in no matter how good quitting sounds. anna has all of these things in spades. some people squeak by on piles of family cash or on their own insane talents (only to implode later under the stress of ONLY being talented). anna is one of the few artists i’ve met who is not only incredibly gifted but who is happy to create AND to work hard to stay afloat. all of this (waves arms around studio wildly) will pay off one day. and that day is coming soon for anna.

please check out her handy work which is located here: Annahovet.com
please check out her collections which are located here: Anna Hovet Collections
if you are interested in ordering, click here: Anna Hovet Shop

the music:
ok, so i’m missing Pitchforkmedia’s Festival this weekend. but you know what? i’m not that into a lot of the newer bands that they are supporting these days. do i want to see Guided by Voices again? sure… Neko Case? i’m always down for a Neko set. but do i want to see these bands again with a gigantic crowd, blistering heat, and bad sound? not really. big let downs? i would love to see Fleet Foxes for the first time and see one of my favorite bands, Superchunk, for the twentieth time. but hey… i guess i’ll have to listen to Superchunk on my headphones in the Denver International Airport instead. oh well.

I once met Mac from Superchunk/Merge records before a show in Boston. my friends were on tour with them and they introduced me to him. i’m pretty sure i said something like

‘you got me through high school’

and then ran away like a school girl giggling at the boy she likes.

so i got that going for me. which is cool.

50 Portraits – 38

| currently listening to: Learo, You’re a Hole, Archers of Loaf, Icky Mettle, 1994 | LINK

the photography:
Portrait #38 is tony

i can’t remember who approached whom in my online relationship with tony. we both decided that it was either in reference to early SST bands or Archers of Loaf but we both agree that our shared love of music, culture, and aesthetics (photography and graphic design at the top of the list) has made us, at the very least, compadres. so i thought to myself, why not meet tony in person (IRL for those of you following at home)?

when i first looked up tony’s photography on the interwebs (Don’t Explode) i was grabbed by his attention to detail and the honesty presented in his portraits. my goodness tony can get to the point quickly with his photos. most of his subjects will lay out their life story for you with one deep look into their eyes. tony captures these moments with great precision while giving taking an off-the-cuff relaxed ‘studio-less’ style. it’s no coincidence that he’s quite an accomplished art director and his love of symmetry, colors, patterns, and composition play a large role in his photography.

because tony’s camera work focuses on two niche groups; portraits and skateboarding, i feel that i have found a kindred spirit. many artists these days spread themselves too thin artistically and they forget to practice their craft and focus on the subjects that they love. in trying to make a buck, lots of photographers accept mediocre results in the pursuit of being able to photograph everything for their clients. all of the kind things i said above about tony’s portraiture can also be said about his skateboarding photos as they are world class. you can feel the passion in his work because he is photographing the places he’s been, the people that he surrounds himself with, and the activities that he loves. even if you are not familiar with the subject matter, you can tell when someone truly owns their work.

music and culture can bring people together from all walks of life and tony and i just happened to meet at the end of a gorgeous spring day in chicago. we walked around the Ravenswood corridor right about the time that the light falls off the horizon and the world is left in a soft indirect glow. because we love the same music, because we make art that appeals to us, and because we are sticklers for doing it right the first time, tony and i get along smashingly. i hope that this mutual admiration continues and i seriously can’t wait to buy his first skateboarding coffee table book that encompasses photographs of everything that the modern skating lifestyle has to offer. hats off.

check out some of tony’s design and art direction work at Wellborn Clothing (they are currently undergoing some maintenance) and keep looking for his name in places like Thrasher, TransWorld Skateboarding, and keep an eye out for him up at the Wilson Skate Park this summer. he’ll be the guy with the fisheye 15mm who’s in the right place at the right time.

the music:
before eric bachmann was the leader of indie folk rockers Crooked Fingers, he was the tall front man for the lesser known Archers of Loaf. sprung from the depths of the fertile rock soil in Ashville, NC, these four dudes let us know what punk/indie rock guitar interplay could sound like. witty lyrics, odd finger picked guitar noises, and rabid fans made them underground heroes. speaking of underground, Archers are probably known for 2 famous phrases that they coined in their lyrics: 1. The underground is over crowded (written to show that the tube in London was packed) 2. She’s an indie rocker and nothing’s gonna stop her (written about a sassy riot grrrrl for sure).

if you haven’t heard the Archers before, it’s probably time you heard what all the fuss is about. go out and buy Icky Mettle and Vee Vee. you will be happy that you did (regardless of what Pitchforkmedia says…).

‘you’re a nervous brand of metal, i’m a solid state’.

50 Portraits – 37

| currently listening to: Puke + Cry, Dinosaur Jr, Green Mind, 1991 | LINK

the photography:
Portrait #37 is melanie (riley)

since i started this project i have yet to meet a subject who i had so much in common with. granted we are the same age, we have similar interests, she married a hockey player (i play hockey), and we both like dogs and beer. but there is something comforting about the ohio-ans i know. i can’t put my finger on it but i feel like people my age from ohio and people my age from vermont have some weird bond. did g.i. joe cartoons run at the same time in both TV markets and did we all just fall all over ourselves when watching ‘you can’t do that on television’? i just don’t know. the problem arises when we look back at the 80’s and wonder what all the fuss was about. our time was the 90’s.

and melanie embodies exactly what i love about our generation. she carries with her more than a few shades of punk attitude, she’s a lover of great beer, a shepherd of lost puppies, and she dishes more sharp whit than chuck klosterman. oh, and did i mention she’s a roller girl? all and all, she’s a completely unique and snarky experience that can be summed up by her roller girl name, Riley Coyote.

melanie’s output via her tumblr page and her blogspot account can read like a looney tunes episode. all that’s missing is the Acme Brand missile tied with rope to her back (she’s already wearing roller skates dummy). her unique humor, potty mouth, and personality really shine when dealing with pop culture, the arts, design, fashion, and life. she’s the type of online writer i love to love. humorously graphic non-sequitor’s coupled with riffs on linked images and pop cultural beheadings. she writes the way i think. i can’t get enough.

as i trudge on towards collecting 50 subjects for this project, i realize that i am finding more and more people who i can relate to. not just on a personal level but also on an artistic level. as this project drags on, the newest subjects can flip through the archives and see what i am trying to accomplish. this whole darned thing started out as an exercise in stretching my wings as a professional and it has slowly turned into the best party guest list i could have dreamt up. thanks for watching.

and thanks to melanie and david for the hospitality, the beer, the chips and guac, and the insight into their world for a couple of hours. cheers.

PS. you are truly the only people i know in the city of chicago who have a feeder specifically for the squirrels.
PSS. and melanie, you should totally get an Acme tattoo. i’mjustsaying.

the music:
j. mascis is a force of nature. as the college radio friendly indie kids were knee deep in the pixies and DIY ex-hardcore bands, j. snuck in the back door by offering up this mainstream record filled with guitar heroics and heavy drums. this record single handedly opened up my mind to what was coming down the pipe. i liked pearl jam, and i liked nirvana but i didn’t like dinosaur jr. it was grungy, it was dirty, it was loud, and it was heavy. but it wasn’t grunge. and it wasn’t from seattle. shows you what i knew when i first heard them.

it took me more than a year of owning this record to truly enjoy it. dinosaur jr have always been a bit of a shipwreck as j. is not known for being able to hold onto his personal relationships. and honestly, i felt that our relationship (music provider, music listener) had been up and down more than once or twice through the years.

and c’mon, j. can’t sing in tune to save his life. it’s as if his voice is hitting next to the right notes and hitting the right notes at the same time. and that’s what makes him unique. oh, and his bombastic ‘LOUDER THAN SHIT’ guitar playing and his heavy handed drumming that make this record undeniable. it still finds it’s way onto my stereo fairly regularly. you should really listen to it. there are a number of great songs here but the aptly named ‘puke+ cry’ is on my list of favorite songs from the early 90’s.

Perspective

| currently listening to: Take The Skinheads Bowling, Camper Van Beethoven, Telephone Free Landslide Victory, 1985 | LINK

the photography:
there is something very tangible about learning a trade from someone with deep insight, years of experience, and an updated knowledge of the industry you are studying. the learning process is best described as an open dialog between student and teacher. great learning opportunities arise when both sides bring a desire to be in such a relationship.

as i look back at my schooling it seems funny (read: depressing) that many of my relationships with my teachers were fairly cordial but bordering on the ‘politely frigid’, especially in college. i blame myself for these relationships as i tried my damnedest to put in a solid effort in many courses but the subject matter wasn’t always what i wanted to learn at the time. the story of my life will inevitably read something like this: blah blah blah wasn’t what i wanted to do at the time blah blah blah blah ironically blah blah blah.

coincidentally i didn’t major in art in college. my American Studies BA is doing me a ton of good right now but i digress. even though i focused my work on american history through the eyes of sociologists, anthropologists, musicians, and artists, my real love was art and the study of photography and design. when i received my degree, i was 4 credits shy of an art minor. i never wanted to take those 4 credits because they were only offered for Art History 101. so what was the first thing i did in the 3 semesters after graduation? i went out and took an art history course, a color photography course, and a 20×24 polaroid course. lordy… i feel like people should go to college when they are 24 instead of 18. that way they would appreciate the academics a bit more.

but there was one professor i liked. and i liked him because he liked me and i liked him because he hated me. come to think of it, i think he liked/hated all the kids. he was my photography teacher. we would spend hours in class arguing over aesthetics and arguing over processing film and arguing over the great photographers of the 21st century, it never stopped. now, bear in mind that this was a time before the consumer digital age and DSLR’s were still $10K for the cheap ones. out of all of our (i use our as a collective because discussions in class would involve the entire class) yellings and name callings (oh yes, that happened on many occasions), one of the greatest things he ever taught me was thus:

CHOOSE YOUR PERSPECTIVE. if you don’t like what you see through your lens, move your feet and try again. words of wisdom. to this day, this statement is one of the reasons i love using prime lens’. primes won’t let me cheat on the perspective by zooming in and out. find the perspective you want by putting yourself in the right space to take the photograph you want to take. if you set yourself up right the first time, you’ll never second guess that you should have been three feet to the right, or six inches down. creating your own perspective before you take the photo also allows for less time in the editing process. if you move your feet and and find the right balance through your viewfinder before you take the photo, you won’t have to crop your photos after the fact.

and amazingly, if you take the time to practice taking photographs with a specific camera and a specific lens you will actually get to know the differences between what your eye sees and what it will look like through your camera. you will instinctively know where to plant yourself to get the right perspective. it’s a great feeling knowing that you didn’t spend the day walking around in circles zooming in and out just to get the three photos you wanted. think ahead, move your feet, click the shutter three times, viola. next location.

the music:
camper van beethoven is one of the great american art house bands. misunderstood and hard to classify, they spent much of their time making great albums and creating a niche following of diehard fans. and once they broke up (only slightly), their leader went on to have commercial success with his follow up band, Cracker.

like their contemporaries R.E.M., CVB turned out more genre bending music in the 80’s. a quarter of this record is instrumental ska-ditties that show off the brilliance of the up-strum on the guitar. but this track, which takes a mighty swing at the lameness that had become the mid-80’s punk rock cliche, hammers home the humor, the tight musicianship, and the pop sensibilities of this rollicking crew.

instead of fighting? let’s just take the skinheads bowling. awesome… listen for the call and response hilarity that follows.

got big lanes.

desolate

| currently listening to: Wake Up!, Les Savy Fav, The Cat and the Cobra, 1999 | LINK

the photography:
as a photographer i am subconsciously looking at the scenery around me and setting up photographs in my head. ok. so maybe it’s subconscious half the time. during the other half of the time i’m wondering to myself, ‘how quickly can i run and grab my camera and take this photo?’ or ‘this is the place for that fine art shoot that i want to pull off with the knives and the gorilla?’ or ‘oh my god, if everyone took off their clothes and danced around, i could be the next David LaChappelle. now all i need are some feathers, face paint, and Lady Gaga’.

ok… so that last one only happens in my dreams. but seriously. as a photographer, it’s hard to turn your inner camera off. every angle of a sunrise, every room, every snippet of light through a window shade, every piece of furniture can trigger my creative side. if i really like something i see, i will place a mental check mark next to the memory so i can dial it up and use it at a later date. this inevitably long checklist becomes a deep dark internet exercise into the depths of ‘DIY’ to recreate what i remember. somehow i keep my mind satisfied.

if you are invested in the idea of creating the image you see in your head then you will (hopefully) be constantly invested in finding out how to do something you don’t know how to do. a perfect example? lighting. i ask myself a dozen times a day, how can i get that lighting? ‘how do i recreate that thin line of light around that girl’s hair on the train platform?’ well… i could come back tomorrow with my camera and put my friend in the exact same spot at the exact same time of day and hope that it’s not cloudy so i can take the photo. or i could learn how to do it myself whenever i wanted to with a couple of standard light setup’s and maybe a few off-camera flash units. sometimes getting the results you want involves some serious effort which may or may not include lengthy lighting rig diagrams and at least two different 8 armed assistants. even if this effort involves reading a handbook (gasp), taking a class, or asking for help, so be it. make it happen. finish what you started. take the shot.

obviously the problems arise when recreating what you see in your head involves illegal activities (trespassing, real vs. fake blood, and stealing a helicopter). this happens a lot. i mean… A LOT. but don’t be deterred. if you think that you can only create beautiful images with certain pieces of technology that you don’t own (lights, cameras, lens’, helicopters) than you are truly missing out on creating beautiful images all together.

for me? i like desolate man-made places. spaces that should be used but are currently vacant. large rooms with patterned carpet and tables arranged, empty airport terminals, empty bus station benches, empty parking garages, and empty closets with lots of clothes. i’ve found one thing to be certain while trying to capture these spaces and their emptiness. there is always one place that will most likely be empty and contain some really decent lighting and interesting subject matter. the bathroom. yup. bathrooms. the bigger, the better. check it next time.

i’ve covered this a little bit before in my post on diptychs FOUND HERE. it really is all about perspective.

the music:
“this house is a freight train
and it’s mine it’s mine it’s mine.
back in 1989
they found my body on the Morris Essex line”
– Tim Harrington

man… i love this band. my friend brad turned me onto them in the summer of 2000 when we were traveling across the country in my old subaru legacy station wagon. back then i was still smoking cigarettes, driving ridiculously fast (especially in wyoming where i set the cruise control at 84mph during that trip, completely legal BTW…), and listening to The Get-Up Kids, Nirvana, Wilco, The Tragically Hip, Nerf Herder, The Dropkick Murphy’s, and The Pogues religiously.

Les Savy Fav came on the stereo and blew my mind. Tim Harrington and crew showed me how rock and roll my life was even though i felt like it was mundane. Les Savy Fav showed us how living in the city didn’t have to define us but how living life the way we did helped us define the city we were in.

does that make sense? they weren’t a NYC band… they were a Williamsburg band. i wasn’t living in Boston, i was living in N. Cambridge. i discovered Les Savy Fav at a moment in my life where i was proud to be where i was, i was proud to be where i was from, and i was proud to be a little insane. Harrington showed us all that putting your heart into your work was what life was all about. if i ever need a creative pick-me-up… i look no further than Les Savy Fav and i crank it up.

disco beats, eighties new wave guitars, math rock jumps, impeccable musicianship, arena hooks, and a crazy bald man at the helm of a sinking ship. fucking epic.

hanging in a garage – lifestyle product photos

| currently listening to: Lifted Bells, June of 44, Four Great Points, 1998 | LINK

the photography:
these are some test shots from a print campaign shoot i did a few weeks ago. the client was looking for worn hands and an industrial feel. Scooterworks in the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor was the perfect location. rough, dinged, scrapped, scrubbed, metal, wood, oil, grease, you name it, this room had it. i couldn’t have imagined a better spot if i tried.

the shoot was based around an industrial professional who worked with his hands. we made sure to not make it look like he was a DIY’er in his basement but more along the lines of a machinist or a industrial metal worker. the set of hands you see above were from a scooter mechanic who unfortunately didn’t make the final spread but was kind enough to let me test shoot his hands.

the final two shots are of a scooter lift (red metal table top) and of my gear set up around for the shoot. i will always spend money on gear that is unbreakable no matter how heavy it is. my tripod was purchased more than 8 years ago to house my 4×5 portrait camera and boasts aluminium construction. it can extend to over 9′ tall and really fit any job above 2.5′ tall. if i was spending my days backpacking through the Andes i’m sure i’d worry more about a lighter rig but my goodness does this bad-boy do the job right.

and for any of you up and comers out there who are looking to do more studio work, there are two things that i always use… ALWAYS. 1) Photo/Video Sandbags 2) A-Clamps. you’d be amazed at what they can be used for (and even sometimes in tandem). i recommend going to your local hardware store for the A-Clamps as you will save more than $5 a clamp and you should head directly to the photo store/online for the Photo Sandbags. if you can make the sandbags yourself? more power to you. you always want to get the sandbags sewn down the middle that will flop over the leg of a stand to create a solid base for anything you are holding up, especially lights and backdrops. the last thing you want to do is drop a hot 20 lb. light onto the floor or even worse, onto a model. you probably shouldn’t let that happen.

also, if you look closely, you can see a number of dunkin donuts cups littered around the set.

it’s true, ian runs on dunkin.

the music:
“often referred to as the punk rock pirates of the math rock world”
– Touch and Go website

wow. formed from members who were/are in Rodan, Crownhate Ruin, Codeine, Hoover, Him, Shipping News, Rex, Sonora, the band June of 44 truly was a super group made from angular guitar riffs, precise drums, repetition, and odd lyrics. its a beautiful mix of everything i love in indie rock. and c’mon, best band name ever? pretty close.

with a repeated chorus of ‘Take Down Your Art’ these guys really do want you to edit yourself, lest you wreck yourself. i’m guessing i have a ways to go before i can critique the art world at large… you should listen to all of June of 44’s records. do it now!

portraits, cars, where i wanna go

| currently listening to: Fiery Crash, Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
this past week i spread my wings. not only was i asked to put in a bid for a commercial job via an ad agency for a national campaign but i also saw one of my photos published in Bust Magazine. well skin me alive and call me luggage, that’s a couple of steps in the right direction…

so what is my right direction? my professional goals include at least 3 very different subject matters. professional direction #1) i want to shoot editorial content for print/online (story based portraits, lifestyle, fashion, etc. in the vein of Mark Seliger). professional direction #2) i want to shoot automobiles for print/online magazines (old, new, editorial, pinups, models, calendars, you name it i’ll shoot it – as long as there’s a car in the frame). if you haven’t seen my first big step into the classic car photography arena, please check out my site: http://shinyside.net. it truly is a labor of love and it’s where i want my creative juices to take me. #3) run my own studio that shoots fashion photography. i mean… what photographer in their right mind wouldn’t want to do that?! lights, models, action.

on top of my directional aspirations, i want, nay, i need to take the time to go to get my masters in fine arts. my professional goals do not inhibit this from happening but rather they allow me the time to get back into the studio to study what i love. i can’t think of a better way to spend 2 years of my life. dive in, get dirty, create, and produce. sigh… applications for fall 2012 are due in winter 2012. time to get cracking. but hey… it can wait too.

so where does this put me? i would be really excited to start shooting editorial assignments for magazines or fashion models with bright lights tomorrow (but realistically that’s not gonna happen). i love the idea of following a subject in their own element, taking photos of them at home, at their favorite bar, getting into their routines, their rhythms, their daily lives… i love the idea of becoming a fly on the wall, making relationships, printing images in magazines, and moving on to the next subject. these ideas inspire me.

so what does this all have to do with these images? well… while looking through my hard drive to find more photos to pitch to the ad agency, i stumbled upon a bunch of random shots. these just happen to be the ones that jumped out at me.

speaking of jumping… in the future, if given the chance to tell a story with my photos, i’m gonna jump all over it. JUMP ALL OVER IT. this is a turning point for me in my career, not just as a photographer on the move but as a human who is clearly setting his sights on a goal and my god, you really should get out of my way lest you get trampled. oh… and i bought a new iPad2. so you know, i’m really on the move now…

don’t get me wrong, i love my current job but these are future aspirations, goals to strive for, bars to reach. we all need something to believe in. i believe Poison taught me that…

the music:
if i were to pass away today and my wife was forced to marry someone, i think she would choose Andrew Bird. and it’s not because his music is so amazing (because it is) or that he’s such a good looking dude (because he totally is) or that because he plays most shows without shoes on (because he does)… it’s because he’s all of these things wrapped up in a shaggy haircut and a vintage suit with a shy demeanor and a perfect chin.

did i mention that his music is phenomenal? i first saw Andrew play the Intonation Festival (Pitchfork Fest before it was called Pitchfork Fest) and he was truly an incredible musician to watch. andrew mixes live guitar, xylophone, and world class violin with looped sounds of all three that he creates on the spot. not to mention that he has some of the classiest speaker systems on the planet to back him up.

if you get a chance, buy all of his music and see him live as much as possible. he’s my generation’s best musician. and my wife really crushes on him. hard.

DeYarmond Edison

| currently listening to: Bones, DeYarmond Edison, Silent Signs, 2002 | LINK

the photography:
while most of us were sitting comfortably in our various living spaces last night, somewhere down in austin, texas at the SXSW music convention, one of the best bands of the last 15 years was reuniting. and to be completely honest, these guys never really broke up. they may have stopped touring as DeYarmond Edison back in 2005 but really, they’ve stayed close friends ever since and have even shared in each other’s success.

Now let’s start at the beginning. I moved from Raleigh, NC to Chicago, IL in the dead of winter at the end of 2004. Within two weeks of moving to the midwest, I was up and running at a new gig designing pen packaging at uni-ball. Within a few months, four dudes from Eau Claire, WI moved into Raleigh, NC to set up shop as indie heroes. We essentially swapped living arrangements. I feel like a Karma high five happened somewhere in Kentucky as we crossed paths. It would not be the last time.

That band was DeYarmond Edison and before the end of their second year in Raleigh, they broke up. Justin moved back to Eau Claire and recorded his seminal work as Bon Iver. and the rest of the guys ventured on as Megafaun. It was a beautiful yet heart wrenching dissolve of a band that had so much promise, an incredible stage show, an amazing catalog of tunes, and enough touring gear to make a symphony wince.

But before they broke up, they put on one great tour that just happened to have a stop in Chicago at the artist space I was running with a good friend out in Cicero, IL called The Fort. What an amazing show. Emotional Joystick and Collections of Colonies of Bees opened and brought the crowd of 50 people to their knees before DeYarmond took the “stage” (the spot under the string lights…). Old Styles’s were toasted, songs were sung, and friendships were solidified. Todd the mannequin was introduced and held aloft (he was subsequently dropped on Wincek mid keyboard jam from a height of no less than 7 feet). It was a magical time and a magical place. People peed off the side of the building as cans were thrown through the gaping hole in the roof, and some group of kids drove all the way from Eau Claire to see four dudes sing their songs. I’ll never forget it.

So when I see that DeYarmond got back together last night, I raised a glass and toasted their success (BTW, Video can be found here: DeYarmond at SXSW). There couldn’t be a nicer group of guys on the planet and I hope they stick around and make more music for us to enjoy. The photos are from a photo booth I had set up in the corner of our space during the dhow at The Fort. This is a snapshot of one of the best live music nights of my life that peeked with a hardcore/screamo rendition of Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’. I wish i had video of that… Enjoy.

Also, I used to design rock posters… so I threw in four of my DeYarmond Edison posters for posterity.

the music:
while The Hold Steady carry the ‘The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle,’ Bruce Springsteen torch, DeYarmond Edison occupy the music lexicon as ‘Nebraska’ era flag wavers. Tight knit harmonies, beautiful acoustic melodies, and Justin Vernon’s honest, needy, and strained voice bring the songs home. Their music is as comfortable as The Band with lyrics as honest as Springsteen, and all within a genre as americana and folk as a banjo. Find their music. Listen to it. You’ll be happy you did.

suggested/related listening: Bon Iver, Megafaun, Collections of Colonies of Bees, Gayngs, The Rosebuds, The Bowerbirds, Volcano Choir.

mexico

| currently listening to: Light Rail Coyote, Sleater-Kinney, One Beat, 2002 | LINK

the photography:
so we snuck down to mexico recently with a group of friends. all-inclusive travel is something new to me so i really did not know what to expect. amazingly? i loved it. now i’m not a “let’s go sit by the pool for 8 hours and drink foofy drinks till we need a nap” type of guy but as i learned rather quickly, i can be persuaded. the weather was perfect, our friends were great, and the wedding was amazingly beautiful. it’s always fun to meet new people, reconnect with good friends, and just be relaxed and happy.

one of the best parts of the trip was the wedding. it was gorgeous. a beautiful setting with wonderful people and the perfect weather. i hate to say it but i’m not always a happy camper when i’m behind the camera at weddings. don’t get me wrong, i’ll do it graciously for strangers (or friends of friends) but when you know the entire wedding party and many of the guests, the dance floor becomes a minefield of aunts who feel the need to pull on your sleeve to let you know that you should be photographing their 11 year old who is doing something remotely funny somewhere NOT near the bride or groom. it can be really really hard. thankfully i was just an innocent bystander for these nuptials. which also means that i also took the photos that i wanted to take. which is fun.

without any bad sun burns and without falling on my face from the tequila, the only downside came the morning we left when i got sick. throwing up in the Cancun airport is nothing new. in fact, i’m pretty sure i wasn’t the only one in the bathroom partaking in the ritual, known to my brother and myself as, ‘shouting for huey’ (just try not to laugh by adding the name ‘huey’ while making vomiting noises, it’s tough). flying with a stomach bug is really not fun but nothing could ruin the rest and relaxation that comes from not having a schedule for six days and five nights. did i miss my son? more than anything in the world. but you know what? he had a blast entertaining his grandparents with all of his squawks and walking abilities. quality family time indeed. i’m thinking we could try to do something like this once a year as it does a body good.

the music:
there is something amazing about sleater-kinney. there is a lot going into the music of this outfit: inter-band relationships, the pacific northwest, straight love lives, ridiculous breakups, gay love lives, the rise and fall of grunge, riot grrrrl power, anti-stupid, punk rawk, and DIY ethics all siphoned through two distinct voices, two distinct guitars, and one heavy-ass drummer (in style, not IRL). it’s epic, truly epic.

and through it all, they made some great records. and hats off to them for going out on top. they saved their best record for last and they took an incredible stage show and made their impression lasting. sure they’ll probably do a reunion tour in five years but i, for one, will buy tickets. because they were that good. suggested listening: the entire catalog. this song is one of my personal faves.

unique portraits

| currently listening to: Radar Gun, The Bottle Rockets, Brooklyn Side, 1995 | LINK

the photography:
taking photographs is a process. i don’t think anyone would argue with me on that point. and it’s process that is constantly evolving. i can boil it down each portrait session i have worked on to the simple dialogue between subject and photographer. as the photographer, i engage the subject on many levels and rely on my personality, my body language, and my conversation to create the right environment for the subject to feel any number of emotions that i want them to evoke. the more photos i take, the more i refine these conversations so that i can (essentially) get the subject to feel the emotion i want them to feel for the final picture. nine times out of ten i want my subjects to feel relaxed and calm but every now and then i aim for sexy and seductive, angry and sad, mad and unhappy. it all depends on why i’m taking the photo in the first place.

lots of times, great photos are the karmic explosion known as ‘dumb luck’. but hey, as a photographer, you had to be in the right place, at the right time, with your camera to your eye, AND with your finger on the shutter. it’s never really cut and dry but you can give yourself the best advantage by knowing how/where/and when those moments are going to be captured.

the more photographs i take, the more i learn about myself and my personality. looking back throuhg my nearly ten years of getting paid to take photographs, the more people i meet and shoot, the more i catch a glimpse of how i act and react to strangers and friends alike. each portrait sitting is a lesson in manipulation and control, in creating a sense of comfort or a sense of uneasiness depending on what reaction you are looking for from your subject. if you know what outcome you want to achieve, then you should always be ready to set the subject in motion to get there. sometimes, it’s a strange ride.

each shoot is a learning experience. i’m not the photographer who blows through 15 head shots in a day so my favorite question to ask myself after a shoot is, ‘what would you have done differently?’. to be completely honest? i answer that question a dozen different ways every time. ‘i could have asked the subject to move slightly this way’ or ‘i could have chosen a different lighting technique’ or ‘i could have dropped my point of view about three inches to hide that gigantic forehead’. bottom line: photography is a business where i will never be completely satisfied with every shoot. i AM a perfectionist in my head but i MUST BE a realist in my output. the client wants it one way, their budget allows for it to be a different way, and it’s raining out, so make it work (thanks Tim Gunn…). as long as everyone is happy with the final outcome, i have done my job and i can lay to rest the over-amped OCD voice in my head. or i can at least drown it in beer.

the music:
when i was 17 years old i couldn’t decide if i wanted to be in Uncle Tupelo or The Bottle Rockets. it was a toss up between the band that would define the great mid-90’s movement known as ‘Y’all-ternative’ (Uncle Tupelo) and just another band from the St. Louis bar scene that kicked total ass (The Bottle Rockets). amazingly, i never got into either as Uncle Tupelo famously imploded and, well, The Bottle Rockets are still an amazing bar band from St. Louis. but my goodness does this song rip. 15+ years into their career, the Rockets still get up there and extend their brand of midwest grit to our ears. love it. bob yer head. raise a shot of jack. enjoy.

vegas

| currently listening to: Next Girl, Black Keys, Brothers, 2010 | LINK

the photography:
What can I say about Las Vegas that hasn’t already been said, filmed, studied, photographed, lit on fire, drank, snorted, and puked? It’s a place that brings out strong emotions in everyone. In the vein of Vegas, i’ll just say that it’s a crap shoot. love, elation, fear, drunk… is drunk an emotion?

for me? i felt despair. i know that sounds sappy but it’s true. Vegas would be the perfect place for me to go if i wanted to end it all and go out in a blaze of glory. don’t get me wrong, i like Vegas. but it makes me feel like i’ve hit rock bottom and this will be my last hurrah.

that sounds all dark and horrible but it really is the truth. under the glitz and glam and the utter beauty of the strip is a desert waiting to claim your life. it’s pretty amazing how comfortable it was to walk alone for more than 4 hours with my camera. but i was really happy to be working and heading home.

also, sorry i’ve been offline for so long. i launched a new website called ShinySide.net. it’s chalk full of car porn. also, i’ve got a 9 month old who needs more attention right now than my blog. but believe me… i’ll be back in the swing of things soon enough. thanks for being patient.

the music:
oh my dirty dirty dirty ditties. sure the indie blues kings have gone major label but that’s awesome for them. their music hasn’t changed a bit. sure it’s a little more polished in places but my god have they made a point of making it dirtier and dirtier and grittier and grittier. this tune might be my favorite breakup song right now. i wish i could have written this song about a lot of my friend’s exes. it’s all about accepting that your next experience better not be like your current/last one. oh lord, i feel yer pain…

driving rain

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EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

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| currently listening to: I’m Not Surprised, Bats and Mice, Believe It Mammals, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
moving vehicles provide some of the more invigorating subjects for me as a photographer. capturing movement, power, chaos, and motion within a frame, then bottling and selling it as emotion is something i strive for. i love wheels, grilles, motion blur, screaming motors, rumbling exhaust pipes, road noise, whipping wind, and most of all, the constant hum of the highway below your car. i just can’t think of a more comfortable place to be than moving on a highway, griping a wheel, scanning the horizon, becoming one with the car, glancing at the stereo, grinning. there is something very american, very wild west, very cowboy about driving on the open highway. something intrinsically human about moving at speed with all the weight and power behind you, throttle in your control, brakes within reach, and just a large chunk of metal, rubber, plastic and glass between you and the wind.

i’m scared shitless to ride a motorcycle and to be honest, the safety of an automobile suits me just fine. i don’t need to feel the wind through my receding hairline, i just need to know it’s there if i open the window or let the top down.

here are 15 photos taken in succession while riding shotgun. incessant rain and the big rigs of the midwest were my primary focus for the day. i spent a good ten minutes with my body pressed against the inside of the door so as not to create camera shake at 200mm. one 18 wheeler plowing through the rain become my obsession. so i took as many photos as i could. these are the ones that came out.

they also look great animated.

the music:
bats and mice are a fantastic little band from nc. they rock and they roll. and i like them for it.

led by the charismatic Ben Davis, bats and mice are a traditional three piece that play post rock. there’s not much more i can say about them other than they may or may not be a band right now as it is the ultimate side project. they also may or may not be one of the best live acts around. playing off the dynamics of soft – loud, fast – slow, and complicated – less complicated, these boys bring it. they also can sing. and that goes a long way. virtuosic playing while singing in key helps a ton with selling cd’s when you’re a band that someone may have seen at end of a long night out or just ran into the show with only half a song left. these dudes would make it worth your while. for sure.

perfect rainy day music.

men and their toys

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| currently listening to: Porno Queen, Paris, Texas, Action Fans Help Us!, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
men and their toys. as a full fledged automotive journalist (i’ve adopted the title these days. it was only a matter of time) every time i go to work i see lots of fan boys, dreamers, droolers, wrenchers, car dorks, motor nerds, and gearheads. i even work with a couple of them. it’s awesome. certain automobiles create such a response from just about everyone who sees them. these cars are powerful enough as design pieces, engineering feats, and just plain aesthetic awesomeness, to evoke giddiness from even the most chill of people.

case in point: this series of photos depicting men in cars. at the core, both nathan and joe are car enthusiasts (although joe is a professional automotive journalist – i think i added that title to my name so that i could be in the same profession as joe). both men enjoy the roar of a V8, the centripetal pull of a tight corner at high speeds (with quality tires), and the joy of lighting up a rear wheel drive beast on a slick surface.

nathan is sitting in what amounts to a couple of million dollars worth of steel, rubber, glass, and leather that he subsequently does not own (nor will he ever i suspect). these cars are museum quality and there are very few examples in the world like them. nathan is as happy as a pig in shit.

joe, on the other hand, is hanging out with his infamous Fiat 2000 Spyder (infamous for once being owned by a famous brother from a famous car radio show). it’s in decent shape for a 30 year old car but it won’t be taking home any blue ribbons at the Concours D’Elegance at Pebble Beach next year. joe is as happy as a pig in shit.

how can this be? how can they both be happy when they are obviously in completely different situations with vastly different cars? well… pictured above are two men who like cars. nay… two men who love cars. if their roles were reversed, each man would still be smiling, still gripping the steering wheel with pleasure, and they would each be happy to be smelling a carburetor. cars capture our attention via all of our senses, feeling the rumble of the idle, seeing the sleek metal lines, hearing the engine, smelling the combustion of gasoline, tasting the exhaust, and smelling the leather. cars are powerful forces of happiness as much as they are sources of severe unhappiness (especially when they do not work).

that is why… in about a month or two i will be launching a new automotive photojournalism site for car enthusiasts who like pictures of cars. the site is titled Shinyside.net and it’s a labor of love of mine that hopefully will grow and prosper with every visitor. i’ll still be posting here (albeit more often) and my love affair with automobiles will be on display at that URL.

the site will be dedicated to vintage, rare, old daily drivers, and fun cars that pique my interest as a photographer. i’ll keep you posted as it’s gonna take a lot of work to get it off the ground.

SIDE NOTE: i love the second photo. it’s probably my favorite photo that has not only a person but also a car (since i take lots of photos of each individually, not so many together). thanks to nathan for helping out in documenting all those pretty sweet rides… and thanks to joe for letting me live my ferris bueller dream of rolling down lakeshore drive in a vintage italian whip sans top.

the music:
oh my, Paris, Texas is one poppy fun band to bounce along to. these wisconsinites land somewhere directly between Minus the Bear, and Hey Mercedes. their mix of pop punk, musicianship, and sing-songy chorus’ make for an enjoyable mash-up of fun.

i also love that on their label’s website that their sound is ‘non-emo’. it must have taken more than a few craptastic reviews pointing to their ’emo-ness’ for them to go so far as to call their music, ‘non-emo’.

love it. enjoy.

50 Portraits – 36

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| currently listening to: Modest Mouse, Ohio, This is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, 1996 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #36 is brad

well well well. post-child 50 portraits project post? don’t mind if i do… brad is the brains/brawn/style behind one of chicago’s best local websites, Windy Citizen. Windy Citizen is a news site that asks for readers to link to their favorite or most interesting stories and post them for other readers to rate. the higher the stories rate, the closer they are to the top of the page with the highest rated story on top. sometime late last year, i was lucky enough to have this very blog (blog.idmphotography.com) be chosen by a reader to be posted on Windy. it was an honor and a privilege to have readers fight for my words and photos to be at the top of the page. power to the readers!

earlier in the week, brad had contacted me about taking some head shots for him to use professionally. the silly thing is my interactions with brad started back with theresa who had mentioned that brad would be perfect for the 50 Portraits Project. i can’t remember if we emailed and things fell through or what but alas, he is here, finally, and he is standing and being counted. so to brad’s name (not this brad), i attach the #36. and i also set him up with some sweet hi-res pics that he can distribute when needed.

since brad and i were already in the photographing mood and had spent a few minutes smiling and clicking off head shots respectively, i decided to fuss around with my own method of shooting portraits. for if anything, this project exists for me to broaden my horizons and to explore new ideas, methods, and styles. so here’s my take on the photos:

a. i injected my own framing into the shots i took (as i have trained myself to do, ie. my own style) but instead of publishing just one image from a set of 5 or 6 example photos of said framing, i published almost all of the images in order. the biggest example of this being the last 6 photographs, shot in succession within a couple of seconds as a garbage truck rolled by.

b. it was about time someone took some black and whites around here. since it was such a blindingly bright day, i figured what the hell, let’s lose the color and crank the contrast. i think it worked quite well considering the subject, the color of outfit, the shadows and highlights, and most of all, the urban terrain with it’s bricks and concrete and metal.

c. i didn’t edit myself as strongly as i have in the past. there are two (count them… 2!!!!) out of focus images in this set. this is coming from a guy who is so infuriatingly anal and technical about how he uses his gear that it’s unfathomable to use such a wasted piece(s) on such a pristine set of images. but hey, i took a chill pill and look where it got me. these blurred images work artistically with what i was trying to accomplish, which was to create a coherent and expressive set of images of brad. maybe someday i’ll turn the camera around and take a vertical image… but don’t cross your fingers.

the first two images were taken with the 24-70mm f2.8L as we were working on professional head shots for brad. the rest were taken with the 28mm f1.8. all images were shot with the Canon 5DMKII

the music:

modest mouse is one of those indie rock bands that has been around forever. they started small and ended up getting huge. but you know what? their small records with all of the blips and scrapes and out of tune guitars are what i love about modest mouse. the high-gloss mega records they make now? they’re pretty decent. but they lack the authenticity of their early work. when i first saw issac brock in person he was skinny, drunk, and worn out from being on the road for eight months straight with the same three guys in their cramped econoline van. five years later? he was still drunk, but now he was well fed (read a bit pudgy), he was smiling, and you could tell that he was happy to be traveling across the country on his pair of tour buses with his numerous roadies and his six band mates.

i’m not putting issac down for making a living at his art. in no way am i doing that. i applaud him for all that he has rightfully earned. but as even issac knows, the sense of urgency in his playing the guitar, the gut-wrenching heartache that drove his lyrics, and the bombastic personality that led to public band implosions have all but been replaced by personal happiness and leisure. brock is not the first to stumble upon feeling good about themselves after spending so much of their artistic careers feeling shitty. it is why, when artists like the shins, modest mouse, the promise ring, when these bands wear their hearts on their sleeves as twenty-somethings, people can relate to them. fans were there man… they felt that pain in person, in the front row, in the pit. but ten years later, when you try to write happy music about happy times with happy sounding instruments, your early fan base is gonna cry foul. not because you sold out, but because the very thing that hit home with so many of your contemporaries has suddenly been erased for you as an artist. but your fans? they still burn for your misfortunes. they still cry for your breakups. and they still want to get in fights with you at the bar. because when you’re unhappy issac brock, we all can relate to you.

even though i have a mortgage, a child, a wife, a dog, a car, and a 2.5 car garage, i still relate to the traveling musician who stuffs their entire life into a beat up mini-van. don’t get me wrong, modest mouse has payed their dues. i just like the music they made while doing so, much better than their new stuff.

this song is a great ode to Ohio. ohi-o-o-o-o-o-so.

looking back at my 20’s in polaroids part 2

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| currently listening to: Black History Month, Death From Above 1979, You’re a Woman I’m a Machine, 2004 | LINK

the photography:
so polaroid is making a come back huh? awesome. as some of you may know, i collect antique cameras and i own a 4×5 portrait camera. maybe it’s time to spend some more money and make some new memories for my 30’s so teddy can see what kind of household he was born into. my guess is that he’s gonna be pretty non-plussed about how chill we have become. let’s replace the keg tossing contests and bad shiny green short sleeved shirt for a hoodie and a glass of bourbon on the back porch all while sporting a baby bjorn cuddling mister you-know-who. life moves pretty quick sometimes…

more polaroids, more memories. as i look through these it’s hard to not be overcome with my own emotions. jon gilmour, my old roommate, is pictured in many of these. jon (or J-Boy as his father called him or Gilly Gally as some of us were known to utter) passed away 4 years ago. you should check out jongilmour.org if you get a chance. jon was one of those one-in-a-million personalities. and i don’t use that phrase lightly. it still stings to know that i will never run into him at my college reunion or see him at some random zoo with Teddy. i will never be able to say, “hey Tedkins, you see that man over there? the one with the gibbon wrapped around his body? that’s my friend john. we’ve been friends for ages. he’s in a video game, how cool is that”. that sorta shit hits hard.

but that’s the thing about memories and (what i will now mis-name) historical images; you will always have you positive and negative. holy crap, is that some cat’s ass? how did that get in here?

again, the images above are full of people i know, people i knew, and silly things. including one cat’s ass. sorry about that. i hope i burned that green lamé shirt… enjoy.

the music:
death from above 1979 came and went. like a ship in the night, if you blinked, you missed them. if you ever saw them live, you never forgot. is that drummer not wearing a shirt? is it only two of them? is that dude gonna play bass AND keyboards? that drummer is singing? there’s only TWO OF THEM? where is all that sound coming from?

one of my favorite live music photographs happened when i was watching DFA 1979, it is on my website located here. click on the third thumbnail from the left, second one down. that’s right, i’m gonna make you work for it.

drums and bass and amplifiers. dirty distortion. love it.

looking back at my 20’s in polaroids part 1

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| currently listening to: Ruins, Aloha, Home Acres, 2010 | LINK

the photography:
for a few years in the late 90’s and early 00’s, besides shooting b/w and color film for school, i spent much of my time toting around a polaroid instant film camera that i bought for $19.95 at an upstate new york CVS. the height of my polaroid fetish can be pinpointed some time around 2002 when the house that lived in was perfectly suited for a polaroid wall. one such wall was created in the kitchen. every photo i (we, as guests often snagged the camera) took went up on that wall and some word or phrase was written on the photo in Sharpie about what was happening, who was there, wtf, etc… in hindsight, we should never have written on those polaroids. said wall can be seen in some of these images. someday i’ll scan those in as well… but for now, here are the clean ones. at least the first part of them.

as teddy marches forward into life, i am struck by how his new experiences drum up my old ones. nostalgia creeps up in many forms and sometimes it’s fun to go back and see where you’ve been so that you can make some choices in where you will be going.

each of these images is a documented memory linked to something in my life. and looking through them makes me happy to know that teddy will be given the opportunity to make his own set of memories. i am floored and humbled by that idea.

i just hope that when teddy is old enough to document his life, he doesn’t waste as much money as i did on cigarettes and polaroid film… holy crap. what i would buy today…EDIT: ok ok ok… the photos were well worth the cash. i should have stopped smoking 5 years before i did. Teddy, if you’re reading this, spend money on film and beer, not on cigarettes and 3 card monte.

the images above are full of people i know, people i knew, people who are not alive anymore, old girlfriends, old co-workers, old friends, random strangers, binge drinking, music playing, too many self portraits, too much shaky picture taking, poor focus, scratches, road trips, parties, random people who my wife was friends with before i knew my wife, musicians, a couple of airplanes, a cat, a dog, halloween (in general), thanksgiving, a couple of kegs, poker night, roommates, roommates friends, neighbors, fire, one boob grab, an infamous red wall, friends ex-girlfriends, raleigh north carolina, boston massachusetts, saratoga springs new york, bartenders, bar owners, bad haircuts, bad outfits, and three nipples of the male variety.

the music:
ok ok ok… i know… Aloha is the same band i talked about last post… but they are that good. for real. this record is unstoppable.

this is the last song on the record. the chorus is:

waiting for the get-away car that never came.

my first day back

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EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Moonless March, Aloha, Home Acres, 2010 | LINK

the photography:
it’s been a number of weeks since my last post and i’ve got a pretty good reason for that. for two weeks, i took a paternity leave. on march 22nd, at 4:49 pm, my wife gave birth to a baby boy who we named Theodore. wow. and what i really mean is “holy shit woooow… (smiling)”.

my wife has been amazing since the beginning of this whole process as she carried almost all (99%) of the physical burden of bringing a child into the world. her mental and physical strength through the entire 9 months deepened my feelings for her and our relationship with each other. she’s a rock and i am in awe. and that’s not some “lovey dovey date movie” affections, i truly mean it, she’s amazing. sigh…

and this little dude who makes noises and squirms when you hold him, and who can’t quite focus his eyes, who can’t quite lift his head, but who can poop, eat, and sleep at the drop of a hat; this little dude is such a peanut, he’s such a gift, and he’s such a handsome devil. i can’t wait to watch him go through life’s trials and tribulations and to help him when he needs a hand or to give him tough love when he needs to learn to do it himself. it’s going to be an amazing journey from here on out. i just hope the dog forgives him for stealing his thunder…

my favorite image from this set is the photograph that captures the moment when the nurse hands Theodore to Catherine so she could see and hold him for the first time. this is the same face that Cath made when she saw me standing at the end of the isle next to the minister at the wedding. it was a simply amazing moment among many simply amazing moments this week. other notables in this set include the family photo, Teddy’s first toweling off after Teddy’s first bath, and of course, who can forget, the holding of Grandma’s first grandchild.

looking back at the last 2 weeks, i can barely even wrap my head around it all. after 13 hours of contractions and labor, 2 days of sitting in the hospital without seeing the sky, and after a week with my parents at my house, and after almost a full week by ourselves, i’m still beside myself with happiness, joy, and utter bewildering curiosity as to who this little man is.

he is, of course, Teddy, son of Ian and Catherine. and i couldn’t be any prouder of him.

you’ll have to excuse the lack of camera information on the photos, i pulled them from my Flickr account and the meta data was lost in the transaction. they were all taken with my 5D and with the exception of the first photo which was taken with my EF 24-105mm f/4.0L USM, they were snapped with the trusty EF 28mm f1.8.

oh, and how nice is Prentice Women’s Hospital? my lord…

the music:
aloha is one of those bands that sounds so familiar that you know you’ve heard it before but you just can’t place the signers voice, the instrumentation, and the songwriting. BUT YOU SWEAR you’ve heard it before.

with their new record, Aloha takes their brand of indie pop (think 1 part Rogue Wave, 1 part Trans Am, and 1 part Minus the Bear and mix with some emo underpinnings) to new heights. poppy and beautiful and full of melodies, sing alongs, keyboards, harmonies, and dripping with 16 beat drums and guitars… i flipping love it. it’s been a long time since indie rock came out from the underground and it’s been even longer since pop indie bands haven’t forced themselves to have an angle (angelic indie pop, twee, twee-gaze-pop, indie folk pop, etc) to delineate that this band is not a pop band but an indie pop band. Aloha is above all that. did i mention that i love it so? glistening grooves and sugary strolls in the park, take me away…

you’ve been down so long
can’t let the light in…
you’ve been down so long
can’t let the light in…
you’ve been down so long
come let the light in…

indeed good sirs, indeed.

out the window

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EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

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EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

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EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Please Drive Faster, Braid, Please Drive Faster 7″, 1999 | LINK

the photography:
i spend about 1/3 of my professional life in/around/driving cars. it’s the life i’ve picked by accepting a job as a staff photographer for an online automotive editorial team. what all this boils down to is the fact that i spend a lot of time driving. a lot.

in my intro to photography art class in college, one of the first assignments we were given was to take photos from a moving vehicle. nothing more, nothing less. take photos from a moving vehicle. wow… my teacher had a lot of faith in our driving abilities especially since i went to a college in the middle of upstate new york that catered to many a youth from the isle of manhattan, many of which had never driven a car until they were 19. scary stuff. add in the extra curricular activities commonly found at college and i can’t believe that no one got hurt.

photos are exactly that… from a moving car. but alas, i was not driving. which was great. i just aimed the camera any which way i could though and i did not pay attention to what i was capturing, i was most interested in capturing it. when processing these, i didn’t crop or rotate the images as i felt that holding the camera away from my eye and aiming it all willy-nilly was much more productive than trying to slow down and spend the time clicking at what my eye would want to capture. i was in the was in the zone of photographing what zooms by before it has a chance to be gone. angles are skewed, things are out of focus, and i like it.

i’m also a sucker for an 1980’s MG raodster…

photos are with the 5DMKII and the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM aimed out the window with the auto-focus turned to on.

the music:
with the passing of two revered song writers in the last couple of weeks (the profound and misunderstood Mark Linkous and the indie-hero Alex Chilton) i have found myself going back to my favorite records over and over. i feel like i have to sop them up before they too will be gone. it’s like hoarding your favorite toy in the sandbox because, subconsciously, you have the insight to know that you will never play with that toy again in another year. this also could be chalked up to my severe ‘american-consumerism’ gut reaction of MUST HAVE NOW… sigh.

this is again (i think i’ve talked about Bob Nanna and Braid a lot via this blog, sorry…) just a fantastic song. i’m constantly on the lookout for post punk reunions but as my new baby gets ever closer to a reality, my show going days might just be numbered. at least for a little while. until then… i will listen to my favorite records at a galloping pace. press play, ingest record, burp, repeat.

corned beef heaven

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EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Virginia Don’t Drown, Chin Up Chin Up, We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, 2004 | LINK

the photography:
when i say st. patrick’s day, what’s the first food that comes to your head? 95% of americans will answer corned beef and cabbage. and when i say corned beef, 95% of chicagoans will immediately start salivating and thinking of Manny’s deli.

one of the oldest deli’s in the midwest, Manny’s Deli is a staple for most of the chicago food community. family owned and operated since just after World War II, Manny’s has been a foodie must-have for anyone looking for the best corned beef and pastrami sandwiches West of the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel (and i, among others, would argue that they are just as good if not better than the sandwiches East of those landmarks).

but i’m not here to bore you with historical facts and mouthwatering tidbits. this place is just plain famous for being itself. everyone from US President Barrack Obama, to Chicago Mayor Daley make a point of stopping by and eating at Manny’s when they are in the neighborhood. you just can’t walk by and smell the food without heading in the door. when i was asked to take some products shots of their mouthwatering food, how could i pass up the chance?

so, in honor of st. patrick, and in honor of chicago’s most legendary eatery, i bring to you, deli sandwich photography pornography.

before you ask any questions, the sandwich in the fourth photo is in fact, a breakfast rueben. you read that correctly… a breakfast rueben. oh dear lord it’s as good as it sounds. photos are with the 5DMKII and the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM. everything was shot on location with natural light.

the music:
Chin Up Chin Up were one of those bands that succeeded in the face of adversity. even with something as profound and hard hitting as the death of their founding bass player overshadowing the recording of their first record, this band trudged on and made a career out of jangling some indie-rock guitars together and producing some great tunes. i had a chance to see them live a handful of times and with each performance, they crafted indie pop perfection with a groove all their own.

in 2009 and with only two full length records and re-released self titled EP as their mark on the industry, Chin Up Chin Up called it a day and broke up. their presence in the chicago independent music scene will sorely be missed. reunion show? too soon…

beijing revisited – 1/3

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| currently listening to: Room Temperature Suite, Don Caballero, What Burns Never Returns, 1998, | LINK

the photography:
SIDE NOTE FROM THE LAST POST: so i have one clarification to make about the music from the last post. my wife noted last night that if it were not for her, i would not have listened to that stellastarr* song so much. this statement could not be more true. i love my wife and during our early days of courting, i would play whatever music that she liked so i could keep her attention on the music and not on the fact that the floor of the passenger seat of my subaru was covered in empty dunkin donuts extra large coffee cups. oh… and i tried to hide the fact that i’m a steering wheel drummer. that didn’t go so swell…

here is more of our china trip revisited. images are from our stay in beijing. we spent much of our time walking along the enormous (and i mean really large) streets near the forbidden city as well as taking some side trips out to see the great wall and some of the larger temples outside of beijing proper. the forbidden city and the waterways that surround it are some of the most interesting places on earth to people watch. fishermen, peddlers, tourists, students, you name, they’re here.

amazingly the only thing that bothered me about beijing (besides the fact that it reminded me of not only LA but also of the couple miles of Western Avenue in Chicago north of North Ave and south of Howard) was the air pollution. not only was it everywhere but it was dense and thick and awful. i have had asthma since i was in 5th grade and i have never been in a tougher situation than walking the streets of beijing. it was like breathing through an exhaust pipe on a car without a catalytic converter while smoking three cigarettes. ok… maybe it wasn’t that bad… but it was pretty awful. looking back on it, i didn’t even worry about the air while i was there because everything else was so amazing and new and intriguing that i didn’t let it bother me until after the fact.

mmmmmmmm. street food. stinky tofu has a scent all it’s own. it’s the closest thing to ipecac that i have had the pleasure of smelling.

sigh… it was a gorgeous city to say the least. this group of images is part 1 of 3. the photos were with the 5D and my EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM. did i mention earlier (in fact i did…) that for this entire trip i was wearing either flip flops or my blue dock-siders. true story.

the music:
volatile is probably too kind a word for the history of this band. as far as descriptives terms used for their live shows, i would pick “bombastic”, “thrilling”, “loud”, and “build it up so you can break down and/or blow it up”. don cab has been through more lineup changes than the smashing pumpkins yet the center of attention is always on their founding member and drummer, Damon Che. that dude slays.

so many time changes, so little time.

so many hammer-ons, so few fingers.

killer fog is better than the blob

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| currently listening to: My Coco, Stellastarr*, Stellastarr*, 2003 | LINK

the photography:
there was a small break in the gorgeous spring weather here in chicago. yesterday and on into this morning, fog blanketed the north side of the city making for some awesome pictures and some wonky traffic jams. only in chicago would drivers be distracted by low lying clouds.

to set the tone of just how creepy it was outside, i also took some indoor shots of our back stairs and of our kitchen. my wife and i love to watch the CTA workers do their nightly rounds which include walking down the tracks past our house. once they hit a specific spot, they turn around and walk back up to the platform in an awkward single file line. we always joke that it’s the ‘Others’ from the the TV show Lost. last night, we were so entrenched in the cinematic quality of the weather that we actually got spooked by the whole ordeal. thus no photos of people walking on the train tracks in the fog. we were too busy hugging each other and laughing… oh well…

with the baby on it’s way any day now (holy crap i don’t know if i can wait any longer!!!!!) my blog posts have slowed to a trickle. i will make sure to post as much as i possibly can… when fog like this rolls in, i can’t help myself. i also have a good 6 blog posts (or so) containing my-trip-to-china photos waiting to be published… photos are with the 5D and the 28mm f1.8. no tripods were used. everything here is handheld. i’m still like that. enjoy.

the music:
stellastarr* channel not only the great 80’s rock gods, flock of seagulls, duran duran, but also the 70’s new wave bands that bred them, blondie, the cars, the knack, etc..

this ode to the nose candy is one of the best radio hits that never made it on to anything but college radio. it should be a dance club favorite, it should be on everyone’s ipod, it should be the cornerstone for post 80’s revival that’s been brewing and overflowing for the last 10 years but alas… this band just never got high enough off the ground. me thinks they tried to be too much like rainer maria and not enough like the ting tings. sigh.

hong kong revisited-4

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EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 96mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 65mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: f4.5 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/4000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 60mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 80mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 50mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 92mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 84mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 85mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/15 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 93mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 55mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 67mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: The Devil Isn’t Red, Hella, The Devil Isn’t Red, 2005 | LINK

the photography:
the fourth installment from my trip to hong kong is centered around the waterfront of the city and a small little day trip we took to Lamma (think Llama) island. Lamma island is most famous for it’s fishing villages and quaint seafood markets/restaurants but it’s also an enclave for hippy ex-pats. perfect. out of all of the places to hang out in southeast asia and i find the one that’s most like my home state of vermont. sweeeeet.

it was a really rad experience. Lamma island does not have any cars or traditional roads per se. everyone gets around by foot, bicycle, or by these little narrow work trucks that look like cushman’s sliced in half the long way. we hopped off the ferry and walked the entire island in a less than a couple of hours. the only drawback? it was 85 degrees with about 85 percent humidity. wow. i haven’t sweat through t-shirts that fast since my days playing ‘sauna football’ (which is, in fact, a made up game where you can assume one sweats a lot because of the heat, humidity, and the weight of the football pads). this is what shows up in google if you type in the words ‘sauna football’. too hot…

my favorite images from Lamma are from the dragon boat (i think that’s what they called the boat with the red flags flying ferry) which brings tourists to the island for what i can only assume is the chinese equivalent of the hawaiian luau. check the roast pig. tasty. also? the baywatch photo. you know which one i’m talking about. the entire beach on the backside (southeast) of Lamma island had a shark fence. yeah… i’m gonna go swimming… sure.

photos again were with the 5D and my EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM. in retrospect, if this were a photo-centric excursion, i probably would have brought my entire lens arsenal. but since we were meeting my sister-in-law and checking two duffel bags of her stuff back to the US, luggage room was at a bare minimum. this combo worked out great. versatility versus size/weight.

the music:
hella is one of those bands that makes music on a level that is all their own. ‘traditional pop songs’ is a phrase that doesn’t even come close to enter my brain when thinking about hella. the music is a combination of the incredibly talented Zach Hill on drums and the ‘also as incredibly talented’ yet weird bending guitar stylings of Spencer Seim. it’s an acquired taste of metal/indie/rock rhythms mixed with blips, cracks, circuit bending, and straight ahead strumming all with nasty time changes and what can only be best described as ‘time loses’.

sometimes it’s as if my bloody valentine made love with the black keys and mr. bungle jumped in right before conception. but most of the time hella’s music is closer to that of trans am

hong kong revisited-3

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 35mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 60mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 98mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 85mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 47mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 50mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 67mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/00 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 32mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/10 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: I’d Run Away, Jayhawks, Tomorrow the Green Grass, 1995, | LINK

the photography:
i’m still on my kick of dragging up older photos but let’s be honest, if no one’s seen the photos (except for the family and friends who were bombarded when we returned from our trip), then no one knows what they look like. on that note? here is more of hong kong from the summer of 2008.

photos are mostly from our tram ride up victoria peak, from hanging out on the observation deck at the top, and from our time consuming (and mentally stressful) descent down through the city. you’ll notice that from the top of victoria, the skyscrapers play out before you in a stilt-like manor as if you could just leap out and jump from the top of one to another. it’s really quite breath-taking for an american tourist as we have nothing even close to this type of geography-meshed-with-cityscape stateside. it’s really remarkable. i liken hong kong’s skyline to “if las vegas and manhattan had a baby and it was raised on fresh fish and old boats”. that’s fairly esoteric but quite an interesting thought nonetheless. oh well. i need more coffee.

one of hong kong’s (and much of developed china can be lumped into this as well) powerful aesthetic visuals is the play and dichotomy between the new (buildings, materials, fancy cars, immense wealth) and the ancient (rickshaws, junk boats, 100 year old ferries, foot paths, peasant attire, straw brooms). it’s a beautiful juxtaposition. i snuck in one night photo that i took from our last night in hong kong. it was a beautiful but cloudy night. we went out and enjoyed some sushi and drinks from a 30th floor restaurant in kowloon and at one point, the clouds lifted and i got my shot. pretty awesome. laser lights, all night.

photos again were with the 5D and my EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM. for this entire trip i was wearing either flip flops or my blue dock-siders. true story.

the music:
my dad and my brother turned me onto the Jayhawks back in 1994 or so. i was knee deep in understanding Uncle Tupelo, Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, and The Pietasters, all at the same time. confusion really doesn’t even start to describe my mix tapes.

but confusion is what best describes my musical tastes since those early days. to me, the Jayhawks are the perfect conduit between what i grew up on (Beach Boys, Tim Hardin, Bob Dylan, Abba, The Beatles, The Kinks, Tom Waits, The Moody Blues, The Grateful Dead) to what i discovered on my (or with help from my brother) own (Operation Ivy, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Mudhoney, The Dead Milkmen, My Bloody Valentine, Wilco, The Tragically Hip, The Get-Up Kids). and whenever i hear Gary Lewis’ voice, i just think of rolling along the hills of Vermont in my dad’s pickup, tapping my knees, and loving the beautiful mixture of rock and folk. it’s pretty blissful.

hong kong revisited-2

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 45mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/20 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 35mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 35mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 60mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 32mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 73mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 45mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 58mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 45mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 67mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 35mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Hang on to Your Ego, Frank Black, s/t, 1993, | LINK

the photography:
one of the coolest things about hong kong is the open markets. fresh produce, souvenirs, antiques, metal, stones, jewelry, clothes, you name it, you can buy it. many of these open air markets (especially the fresh meats and fish markets) were closed during the SARS epidemic and hysteria of the early oughts. since then, a number of the markets have reopened and offered up their wares yet again. one of the most famous markets takes place at night. the Temple Street market roars into the darkness on the Kowloon peninsula with neon lights, strange and comforting food smells, and the constant chatter of tourists and locals alike. the whole experience made me feel like i was in the middle of the beginning of Blade Runner (sans downpour, flying cars, and edward james olmos…). it was fantastic. known these days for mostly souvenirs and t-shirts, there are still a number of quality vendors hawking more authentic wares such as antique chinese war propaganda, army hats, and bronze buddhas. and the food, oh my, the food. it’s a pretty rad experience.

when i travel to new cities, new countries, and new continents, my favorite scenes to photograph are scenes that include unaware locals interacting with their environments. as a constant tourist (i really dig visiting new places), i try to capture with my camera, locals in the middle of everyday life. it’s the photojournalist in me trying to break out. new york times cover, here i come…

also, you should still check it: Awkward in China, my sister-in-law’s blog about living there. it’s pretty fantastic, witty, and funny.

the hardest thing about photographing people in the dark without a tripod is ISO settings. people talk about gear via dollar amounts with the misconception that the more expensive a DSLR is, the better the photos are going to turn out. that would be utter bullshit. it’s just another tool to manipulate buyers into spending more money than they should be. more megapixels?! only if you are going to be printing wall sized portraits for your next ad campaign. chances are you’re just posting to your Flickr page (which i do fairly regularly i might add…).

PRO TIP: photos are going to be as good as the photographer taking them.

the only time more expensive gear is a must is when you are shooting images in varying places. high speed ISO is a must for sports photographers, quality low speed ISO is a must for photographers who shoot in low light. any time i can get rid of digital grain, i will spend extra money to do so. photos are with 5D and my EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM. love that combo.

the music:
i declare today to be, “Find your best cover on your iPod day”… .

so i went right for the jugular there. choices included but were not limited to: cowboy junkies – sweet jane, the pants – golgi apperatus, the pietasters – fiesta, rage against the machine – ghost of tom joad, reel big fish – gigantic, johnny cash – rusty cage, ted leo – since you been gone/maps, braid – alec eiffle, etc.

when you precede the beach boys cover with the songs, los angeles and i heard ramona sing, only to follow it up with fu manchu? i pick frank. mr. black, the stage is yours. rock me joey…

hong kong revisited-1

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 55mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 58mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 32mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 67mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 32mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1250 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 105mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 35mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 100mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: The Boys All Went Home, The Gentlemen, Blondes Prefer The Gentlemen, 2002, | LINK

the photography:
two years ago this summer, my sister-in-law maeve, was living in china. that’s right. china. she was spending her junior year abroad from college traveling, studying, and honing her chinese language skills. she was also fulfilling her own personal dream of constantly being the most awkward person in the room. picture this: 5’10” blond white girl amongst a dense asian population. she stuck out like a sore thumb. she even wrote a blog about it. check it: Awkward in China

now the reason i am telling you all about this is because just yesterday, maeve flew back to china for another 6 month stint. i’m so excited for her and i wish we could bring a new born baby (still in the womb but headed out shortly) with us to visit her. but alas… almost two years ago, cath and i spent a little under two weeks leapfrogging from shanghai, to beijing, to hong kong, and back to shanghai. it was an incredible journey with lots of stuff to see and experience. walking around the cities, seeing all the sights, hearing all the sounds, it was just an amazing experience. i could walk through the markets for the rest of my days, meeting merchants, haggling over squid heads (i never actually haggled over squid heads but i did witness it…), buying porcelain mao’s, and eating smelly tofu. i could do it all day, every day.

so since maeve is headed back to china, and since i don’t have a ton of time to take more photographs (as i am getting ready to welcome a new baby in about a month) i figure i could post a few sets of photos from our time in eastern asia. have i mentioned before that i would live in hong kong at the drop of a hat? all it would take was a good job offer and i would pack the family up in jiffy. i just don’t really like the 14 hour plane ride… jeez. i am

this first set is from walking around the streets of hong kong. photos were shot with the 5D and my EF 24-105mm f/4.0L USM. it was the perfect camera and lens package to not seem too much like a tourist but to still get everything i needed out of a camera and a zoom. sigh. i miss exploring in asia. it was just simply magical.

the music:
i may have spoken the wonders that are ‘the gentlemen’ on this blog before but let me re-iterate for those non-believers, non-listeners, and never-heard-ofs… these four men from the boston region kick so much ass, it’s not even funny. the gentlemen are a combination of two boston area (via upstate new york and connecticut) bands that have done their time in the eastern seaboard touring trenches. hardened living, hard drinking, fast women, and loud playing are the themes that run through their music.

they are just so damn good.

if any of these bands make it through your town, you need to be there. your life will never be the same:

the figgs

the gravel pit

the gentlemen

if all three play on the same bill? you can bet your sweet ass i’ll be there.

50 Portraits – 35

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

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Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D MKII

| currently listening to: Teen Idles, Get Up and Go, Minor Disturbances, 1981 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #35 is Shannon

holy crap it’s been a while since i’ve posted one of these. if you think i went over board on the pictures… you should see the out takes. it was the toughest group of photos i have ever had to whittle down. jeeeeeez…

i first heard about miss shannon from a mutual friend via twitter. it was a mention here, a twitpic there, and before you know it, i was tracking her down for a chance to model for the the 50 Portraits Project. it’s crazy how social media and the online world works with all the idea-megaphones (blogs), personal advertisements (facebook pages), and instant friend-of-a-friend connections (you may know so-and-so). the fact that i can connect with and follow like-minded people from all over the world and check out their content, view their video blogs, and read about their creative process’ is mind blowing. like minded people should really band together. maybe that’s exactly what i’ve been trying to accomplish with this project. maybe i’ll call it my 50 Peeps Club when all is said and done…

shannon is one of those people that likes stuff that i like. shannon moonlights as a food/horror movie buff who writes and video blogs about the connections she makes between the two. her blog, Slash and Dine, and her videos pair recipes to fit bloody classics. when she’s not enjoying her time in the kitchen (and her time with her BFF #33, Miss Bake and Destroy, she’s styling hair and educating her fellow stylists at a high-end salon in chicago. judging from her personality, her outgoingness, and her overall demeanor, i’m guessing she has a lot of repeat clients who love her work (and that’s without factoring in her expert skills as a stylist). let’s all just agree that shannon is pretty flipping rad ok?!

currently, shannon really loves the color orange. the kitchen walls are covered in the most warming and comforting shade of orange. if given the chance, why not “go big” in the one room of the house that you spend the most amount of time in? any way you slice it (i have a lot of knife jokes…), it works smashingly. her design style and aesthetic shine through from the art work on the walls to the vintage chairs and table to the vases on the half wall. sigh… with all the natural light and spot-on layout, shannon could rent her kitchen to those photographers in need of a kitchen set. it’s totally sweet.

as a side note, it turns out shannon has done some modeling in the past but really? that should surprise no one. this girl has style, style, and more style. it was a pleasure getting to know her and it was a breeze taking pictures as all i had to do was sit back and soak it all in. please make sure to check out her writing and videos at Slash and Dine and at Brutal Snack when you get the chance. as usual, the photos were with the trusty 5DMKII and the always present, 28mm f1.8. cheers.

the music:

if you choose to look beyond the skin-deep visuals of hard core and punk rock in america there is one music scene that sprouted some of the truest bands lyrically, the straightest bands ethically, and the most forward thinking bands musically. since the early 80’s, the Washington D.C. hard core/punk scene has been the birthplace of many of the truly great underground/DIY bands of my generation: Teen Idles, Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, Youth Brigade, Government Issue, Fire Party, The Nation Of Ulysses, Jawbox, Q And Not U, Circus Lupus, and of course, Fugazi (just to name a few…).

Teen Idles is one of the first bands to break the DC scene wide open. this band is why Dischord Records started. this band is why it all came together. and they were pretty impressive. shannon’s framed cover of Minor Threat’s s/t record on the wall in her kitchen kick started my DC review on my iPod. it’s pretty awesome to try to soak up an entire scene via the magic of digital music. looking back, the Teen Idles were raw and powerful, sloppy and trite. but they were just what the youth of DC needed. art needs a catalyst sometimes. in the early 80’s, leaders like Reagan provided that riff. sigh. the kids on the streets today just aren’t that interested in making a difference. that’s a tough truth to swallow…

college graduation v7.4.1.2

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EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Respect, Otis Redding, Respect 7″ Single, 1965, | LINK

the photography:
i am currently hanging out in my parents dining room amidst the tap-tap-tapping of my wife on my mother’s old white iMac laptop. it’s a fitting scene for a snowy and flipping freezing afternoon in February. the high for today? looking at a whopping 8 degrees above zero. oh crap. days like this prove that mittens are not just for second graders.

we are in vermont to celebrate my sister-in-law’s graduation from college. graduation from college is a special occasion that i have celebrated with friends and family at least a dozen times (only once for myself) and i am always amazed by the jubilation, awe, and just plain “scared shitless” emotions that make the entire day so energized and full of smiles. now if only you could repeat this feeling of accomplishment later on in your life when you could use a little pick-me-up to get you through the doldrums (also known as your “20’s”). i think half the reason so many people go to graduate school is to feel that sense of accomplishment again. i know that if i could celebrate my college graduation over and over and over, i would. even if i had to listen to “i’ve got you babe” every morning for the rest of my life.

as an 18 year old entering the doors of academia, i distinctly remember that college was going to prepare me for the business world that lay ahead of me as an adult. i honestly thought that college was going to prepare me for a career path or at the very least, give me the smallest inkling of what i wanted to do. in fact, college did not do this. in fact, college prepared me with the social tools to be able to STOMACH the business world (not how to navigate it). for these social preparations, i am extremely grateful for my experiences during my four years of school. i just wish that during my senior year one of my professors had taken me aside and reassured me that while i would be trying to navigate this vast and very very serious business world that i would be shipwrecked and marooned at least four times.

for if i had known this, i would not have felt so down upon myself when i was working 50 hours a week and feeling so very alone and unhappy with where i was headed. professional loneliness (for a lack of a better term) is never pointed out as a possibility within the halls of academia. it’s not even mentioned. i think it should be mandatory and embraced. when i left the academic bubble, all i got was a “here’s the alumni network” and a peppy “enjoy your first job!”. strong words to make you feel important and dearly missed but these words hold little water when you resumé lists “Bakery Delivery Driver – six months”, “Freelance newspaper advertisement designer – 2 months”, and (my personal favorite) “Band photographer – 1 band”.

oh well… it’s not planting the flag on the top of the mountain that defines us… it’s the climb. right? right?

photos are with the 5DMKII and my EF 24-105mm f/4.0L USM. i want to say it one more time but it was silly cold outside… 8 degrees yo. sunny, but c’mon. 8 degrees!!!

the music:
whenever i get to hang out at my parents house, people are always chatting. the conversation topics range dynamically from the government (the vermont state secessionist movement is currently high on the list), artists (local photographers are my fave), books (my mom is the head of the board of trustees at the local public library), and the obligatory where-are-they-now-Champlain-Valley-Union-High-School-class-of-1996 check-in. it’s always fun to chew the fat and music is also always on the tip of my father’s tongue when the conversation turns boring. the CD players in the living room and in the cars are always loaded with something fun and exciting. my father’s newest kick? punk rock music with an irish twist. you heard it here first.

edd’s current favorite records:

The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash

Flogging Molly – Swagger

The Dropkick Murphy’s – Blackout

what the what? that’s right… my dad is listening to the Murphy’s. amazing. the man who introduced me to Tom Waits has come full circle and instead of scatting off the quick witted “Step Right Up” he serenades the bar world of broads with “Kiss Me I’m Shit Faced”.

i couldn’t be prouder. but right now i’m kicking back and listening to the original (which i was totally unaware of BTW) Respect by Otis. my friend poor-white-trashley would be proud. hit it otis. hit it.

inside detroit

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EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Forever got shorter, Braid, Movie Music, Vol. 1 2000, | LINK

the photography:
you know what’s fun? taking an outsider’s stance while standing in an insider’s job. confused? you should be. i’ll lay it out for you:

a) i work in the automotive industry as a photojournalist

b) i’m not an enthusiast (or at least i wasn’t before i started this job) nor am i an automotive blogger

c) i’m not a reporter

d) and i’m not easily swayed (or impressed for that matter) by those who are

when i’m working the show floor, i’m simply a photographer with a job to do and a deadline to meet. thank you so much for understanding my frustration when you step in front of me to make sure you take a camera phone photo of your buddy for facebook. please be polite and get out of my way.

this (almost) oblivious mind-set allows me to work at an auto show as efficiently and as objectively as humanly possible. auto shows are basically cavernous rooms filled with PR suits, reflectively clean metalic cars, million dollar plastic replicas, and thousands of people wanting to know what this that and the other thing are all about. there are freelancers, writers, photographers, and videographers everywhere, snapping pictures, taking video, tweeting, and producing everything from newspaper columns to the occasional online web-isode video about transmission fluid. it’s an interesting group of people to say the least.

by staying in an almost oblivious state of mind, i find that i don’t easily wrap myself up in the notorious game of cat and mouse that i have dubbed, shiny objects (shiny objects is a marketing ploy which causes the buyer or viewer to stare at a new shiny object and because said new shiny object is so amazingly shiny and new, the buyer/viewer’s head is cleared of any thoughts whatsoever. ending scenario? buyer/viewer’s head has clouded over and any sense of how said shiny object fits into the “big picture” is lost; it’s a distraction method employed by many and understood by few).

one of the few historic sights (and the grandest of shiny objects) from the auto show circuit that always draws my attention above the sea of noise, news, lights, and commotion are the gorgeous (and highly-suspect) auto show models. dressed to the nines and paid to stand next to a large hunk of steel and plastic, these models eek out a living looking pretty, standing at attention, and smiling like they don’t know how to frown. unlike their runway cousins, the auto show model must not only fit the part (visually matching the brand) but they must also stand next to their respective vehicle and touch it occasionaly, thus drawing needed attention to whatever is being displayed. it sounds silly, but picture bob barker repeatedly announcing “A new Car!!!” over and over. car show models are a lot like that. imagine this job description:

seeking size 0-3 female, at least 5’9″
must be able to stand under hot lights with very little clothing for 5 hours straight
must be able to smile entire four hours
must be able to stand smell of armor all
must be able to stand up to sleezy reporters and photographers who want to possibly smooch you or buy you drink
must be able to stomach new chrysler lineup
must be able to do all this in 4″ heels

there are more than a few deal breakers in there. jeez…

so anyways, i took some quick pics of the models. my mind always works in funny ways so i tried to create a dichotomy between images of the models being models and hamming it up for the camera, and of models not paying attention to me. i think it works well. the funny thing is, half the time i’m at an auto show, i pay zero attention to the models. zero. except unless they ask me to get them a sandwich (model humor… too soon?!) or possibly a 2,500 calorie protein shake? (way too soon)

photos are with the 5DMKII and the 24-70mm f2.8L and the new 70-200mm f2.8L. i likey. thanks for another smashing year detroit, i actually miss you already. Joe? i’m gonna take you up on that offer to do a DETROIT-IN-24-HOURS-PHOTOGRAPHY-MARATHON. that will be fun.

and just to clarify, i am a little jaded at the process but i love the people i work with and i love what i do for a living. some of the best days of my year are spent walking around detroit during the auto show. i really dig it.

the music:
i enjoyed spending much of my downtime today reading hilarious braid facts posted by their bass player Tod Bell over his twitter feed. this stroll down memory lane obviously led to me playing lots and lots of braid over the headphones. i could listen to them forever. i’m a nerd, a geek, a husband, a former jock, a soon to be father, a photographer, and a braid fan. but not in that order.

detroit rock city, 2010

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| currently listening to: A house, Doves, Lost Souls 2000, | LINK

the photography:
i’ve been MIA for a bit. sorry about that. the holidays are busy with family and really busy with work. my bad. but i’m posting now, right?

i spend at least one week in detroit every year as i cover the north american international auto show as an automotive photojournalist from the floors of cobo hall. it’s always a wicked exciting time to be around for the major car releases from the big three american automotive giants with all of the pomp and circumstance that comes with the dance party that is the press days. sigh. january in detroit? sigh.

every time i enter the detroit city limits, all i want to do is spend my time photographing the world outside of the hall walls, the desolate, decrepit, weed-infested streets, and burned out house shells that make up the greater detroit metropolitan region. this year i took the plunge and i snuck out of the hotel and i explored. it was amazing. on that warm/cold/warm morning, i took the time to photograph the GMC Safari van that is jacked up with at least an 18″ lift kit complete with gigantic mudding tires affixed to it’s tiny axels making it look like the ultimate redneck salute to the A-Team. too bad it’s painted tan (or should i say faded tan). finally. i have been eyeing that bad-boy for three years.

one of the glimmering pillars of detroit’s losing battle with it’s own humanity is the Michigan Central Depot, located on Michigan Avenue in detroit, just down the street from the former Tiger Stadium. this building has been empty since Amtrak left in 1988 which means that the 17 story structure (slightly guessing since the first floor atrium has 76′ tall ceiling) has been empty for more that 22 years. the condition of the building is a national and architectural travesty that many photographers have taken a stab at capturing. so i gave it a my best shot with the time i was alloted and i feel quite good about the results. i will, mark my words, one day return and climb inside this building and i will document the horror that lies within. one day.

another stop on my way out of detroit is this great little diner/hamburger joint. two of us ate 2 eggs over easy, hashbrowns, toast, and bacon. we paid $7.47. crazy. the man behind the counter shredded the potatoes for the hashbrowns while we sat and waited. amazing.

it was a gorgeous couple of days but much of my time was spent in a conventional hall and then in a casino. don’t ask. i didn’t bet a cent. but the time i did get out and take some photographs, the light was perfect, the sky was filled with voluptuous high clouds, and the temperature was perfect while sitting right around 33 degrees. i couldn’t have asked for a better 1.5 hours. next time? i’m gonna take a couple of days and document the city of detroit as it should be documented. it’s a beautiful place. truly beautiful.

the music:
i first heard the band doves when i was working in a crappy design job laying out old-people-group-tour catalogs for an old-people-group-tour company located in boston. boring, mind-numbing, and anti-inspirational were the terms we threw around that office like oyster crackers onto a bowl campbell’s clam chowdah. an aging hipster coworker (in his 40’s who wore chucks and took care of his 15 year old daughter on the weekends) spent much of his time pulling me aside and chatting about bands in hopes of passing the rock’n’roll torch to an up-and-coming music junkie such as myself. it worked. his first lesson was to never forget the importance of punk music no matter how trite and watered down it becomes and his second was to always listen to captain beefheart. i soaked up a lot of information during my 6 month freelance stint on the third floor of that brick building just south of the five points channel. a lot.

one of the records that was passed down to me during that educational period was the doves, lost souls, the first full length from these three chaps from manchester. it’s quite a fantastic record from start to finish with the ebb and flow of songs that peaks with the epic “the cedar room” which needs the calming cool down of “the house” to bring the record back to earth. if you want to know where coldplay get much of their sound from i can tell you that it’s not all radiohead ripoffs. doves mix floating chords and keyboards with a smooth rhythm section and echoed staccato guitars to make you feel right at home in your chair with your headphones on. i went so far with my love of doves to track them down during their first couple of tours to the states. the opening band for their first tour? a little group called the strokes. the second tour? a little group called my morning jacket. not too shabby kids. not too shabby.

horses

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Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Take Warning, Operation Ivy, Energy 1989, | LINK

the photography:
that’s right. i love horses. they are the most majestic, non-urban, non-exotic, animal that i can think of. yet, for some reason, right in the middle of the Old Town neighborhood on the northside of chicago, there is a field (empty lot) that is a fenced in pen for a group of horses. why do i know this? because it is visible from the train (brown and purple lines for those at home keeping score) just south of the Sedgewick stop looking west.

glorious prancing horses. yup. amazing. on this fine day, there were three light colored specimens and one eerily ‘black-as-night but with red highlights’ specimen trotting around the lot. every time i got close to the fence with my camera, one of the horses would inevitably walk up to me as if to say ‘this is the part of the story where you give me a carrot or some hay and i’ll be cool with your presence’. it was pretty awesome.

the back story is that my wife and i have been enamored with these gigantic creatures since we started riding the train together to go to work about three years ago. a good day in my book is when i get to see the ‘guys’ (as they have come to be regarded) on my way to work and on my way home. i even go so far as to make sure i am sitting on the proper side of the train for a good viewing. oh yeah. i’m obsessed.

photos are with the 28mm and if you know your focal lengths, you will realize that 28mm is pretty wide so you can really get a sense of how close i was on some of these frames. good times. they are beautiful creatures and they scare the crap out of me when i get too close. it’s humbling to be so close to such a powerful animal in the (cough, literary license) wild.

the music:
i have this reoccurring habit (um, doesn’t the definition of habit mean reoccurring?) of leaving my ipod at home. this sucks when i have gobs of photos to edit and nothing to listen to whilst doing so. pandora radio is an ok distraction but it’s biggest fault lies within the fact that after about 45 mins, the songs start to repeat themselves. thank god i brought the ipod today.

Operation Ivy were a raucous nor-cal punk outfit featuring a very young (and extra snarly) Tim Armstrong (of Rancid fame) that were full of the punk ethos as much as jamaican rock steady. their mix of punk, ska, and anti-establishment sounds a lot like a cheap The Clash rip-offs but Op Ivy meant much much more to the music community in the late 80’s. Op Ivy’s real claim to fame (at least in the music press) was that they solidified the Berkley punk sound that led us directly to bands like Green Day and Sublime. as Op Ivy played their last show in 1989, the openers were a small little punk trio that had just changed their name to Green Day. oh well, someone had to do it. if kids in the 2000’s are picking up Op Ivy records because Billie Joe Armstrong told them to, so be it. these guys deserve their due. legacies aside, take warning is a stripped down ska/punk jam filled with advice, upstroke guitars, and a damn funky bass line. it stands the test of time for sure. go out and find the Energy LP. it’s as awesome as much as it’s cliche and trite. but hey, they did it really well.

taking over at lunch, flickr style

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

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Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Ball and a Biscuit, The White Stripes, Elephant 2003, | LINK

the photography:
another day, another Flickr meet-up. sigh. i will never get tired of meeting and chatting with this interesting group filled with interesting people, who are all interested in the same sorta stuff i am. there is nothing better for the soul than meeting like minded people and eating crepes. hallelujah!

this is my second time having lunch with this crew and it’s really been fun getting to know people and their work. sometimes when i get some free time while i’m sitting at the computer, i’ll peruse various pages of their photography and catch up with what the peeps have been up and who’s talking to who and who’s photographing who. it’s a great visual representation of what these photographers are doing and what they are finding artistically interesting.

i could look at photos all day long. the act of photo browsing is pretty wonderful and if i didn’t spend so much time editing my own photos, i would spend all day flipping through photos. here are 5 (.5) reasons why i find looking through photographs (specifically) on Flickr so cathartic and ediucational:

1. i really enjoy seeing what other people are doing with their cameras and their free time. these particular searches sometimes end in fits of jealousy but at the very least, looking through photos of someplace i want to be invigorates me and gets me out the door with my camera strapped to my shoulder and a granola bar in my pocket.

2. i get to see where my fellow contemporary photographers (professional and amateur alike) in the city of chicago are finding the gritty gritty. i like the gritty gritty and so do a lot of the people i follow on Flickr. urban decay is gorgeous. say that five times fast… gritty gritty… it just sounds dirty. now picture tom waits saying it… awesome.

3. i love to see how different photographers take portraits. from the kid on the street shooting strangers with his new DSLR to the woman who photographs herself and her husband on the train with a point a shoot, portraits come in all shapes and sizes, and colors. i love checking out what people will do while having their picture taken. i also love where people decide to take portraits. i take notes on the stuff i like about other people’s portraits and i try to remember to reproduce certain bits and pieces when i create my own work.

4. it’ always fun to see how people set out to do photography projects. i personally have spent almost a year working on my own 50 portraits project. best stuff on Flickr? self-portrait projects. especially the 365 self-portraits (1 a day for a year). there is nothing better than looking through hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of photos of the same person to see how the photographer (and the subject) changes it up (to beat the monotony) or keeps the shot the same especially when said person is on their 8th year of taking one photo of themselves every day (that doesn’t actually happen but you get the idea). so much interesting work being done here… lots of great ideas and plenty of bad ideas too. it’s a virtual how-to and how-not-to in one set.

5. and finally, i just love reading people’s comments and thoughts about photographs. sure, it’s easy to leave the essential “Great shot!” or “Sweet!” or “First!” but i love it when people start to converse in photographic terms with meaning and insight. it’s great feedback not only for the photographer at hand but it’s also great for readers to converse in the conversation as well. fun (and sometimes humiliating but mostly fun!).

Special Reason (or reason #5.5). every now and then you get to see something truly exceptional, emotionally driving, and knock your socks off fantastic. then you copy down everything you like about the photograph and you try to grow out of your photographer’s shell and make your next female model drop the top of her dress just a little lower, you ask your next male model to make that dark sinister face a little more believable and disgusting, and you push your boundaries of comfort as a photographer to make yourself and your art, that much more productive. sigh…

if you look closely, you’ll notice the photos are with the new Canon 5D MKII body and my same old 28mm. a rather splendid combo if you ask me…

the music:
this record has been listed on almost everyone’s “end of the century” essential-to-own record list which, to be completely honest, has become a boring way to wave your i’m-just-as-meaningful-to-america-as-lester-bangs-male-phallus about to see who has the biggest one (the winner of that contest = no one, you all lose). this particular white stripes record deserves all the credit it receives, don’t get me wrong as i tend to rant when prodded with a stick, i’m just upset that making a definitive list is the only way to prance about and posture your “manhood” in the music press. that’s right, i’m looking at you pitchforkmedia… lame.

the white stripes have always been known to take traditional blues and push the boundaries. ball and a biscuit is their ode to the old timers and the forefathers. it’s also jack whites homage to the screaming distortion pedal and tube amplification. in the beginning, this song just fingerpicks midlevel hum hum and reverb that builds to a squeeling, pedal stomping, guitar olympics that could just as easily define white’s guitar playing style if only we could imbed MP3 files into the dictionary. the fact that meg actually keeps time (i mean really truly actually keeps a standard 4/4 beat) throughout the entire song is not lost on me. the lyrics are old world, the guitar sounds are all jack white, and the drums are meg’s best slowed-pace-bohnam bass drum and snare. i love this song. love it.

north east kingdom, 100th post

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Keep the Car Running, Arcade Fire, Neon Bible, 2007, | LINK

the photography:
i’m still sorting through all of the photographs i took during the thanksgiving holiday. the sad thing is that it’s literally almost christmas. whoops… i’m a bit of a slowpoke sometimes but hey, i got a ton of stuff on my plate. the detroit auto show is in january, the chicago auto show is in february, the new baby arrives in march, and i’m still shooting about 3 cars a week at work. wowsers. busy.

after spending our first thanksgiving dinner with my side of the family down in rhode island, my wife, my parents, and i hopped in the car and drove to my wife’s cabin in the north east kingdom area of vermont (it’s where canada, vermont, maine, and new hampshire meet… maine is technically 60 miles to the east, you can thank my father for the edit). it’s one of the more remote parts of the state, gorgeous, and virtually untouched for a long time. the accents are so thick on the natives that most vermonters don’t even understand what people are talking about. its a special place.

the funny thing about our trip up to the cabin is that thanksgiving falls right in the heart of deer hunting season. when we decided to go for a walk, we needed to wear as much “i’m-not-a-deer-orange” as we could pile on. we actually came prepared with bright colored jackets of our own as my mom always packs extra bright clothes in the back of the car during hunting season. i can’t say that people in chicago are worried about being mistaken for deer during the fall but who knows.

the cabin is where my wife and i got married. it’s a special place that holds a lot of meaning to not only her family (it’s been a place of refuge for 40 plus years) but also to me and my family. photos are from the woods surrounding the cabin and the players are cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, and parents. it helped that it was brisk and sunny. perfect for walking with the 5D and my trusty 28mm. vermont’s pretty pretty. it’s no joke.

dinner that night was stupendous. back to back thanksgivings is pretty awesome. did i mention that this is my 100th post? that’s right. check out the archives. i got a lot of stuff to look through.

the music:
out of the handful of indie bands to garner national attention in the last 10 years, the arcade fire have backed up their hype by putting on some of the best live shows and have released two of the century’s best studio records. this was the first single off of the second record and it is one of the catchiest tunes around. i’m a sucker for some mandolin. i saw the arcade fire for the first time back in the day at Merge Fest 15 (Merge Fest XX was this year) when they played a free show opening up for lou barlow (of sebadoh and dinosaur jr. fame). i’m pretty sure no one remembers his set…

the show was at the “local 506”, a small club on the main drag in chapel hill, north carolina that doesn’t fit a lot of people. needless to say, it was the most packed show i have ever been a part of. i like it when artists step up and live up to the hype that others put upon them. i hate being disappointed. pitchfork disappoints me a lot. thank god someone else broke these guys. it was a great time to live in the triangle area (raleigh, durham, chapel hill, located in *gasp* a triangle). there was a lot going on five years ago…

giving thanks

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: 1, 2, 3, Party, Mission of Burma, The Sound The Speed The Light, 2009, | LINK

the photography:
as my family gets used to the constant click-click-clicking noises that surround me like dust to pigpen, their guard is dropped (like galileo dropped the orange? beastie boys reference? check). i knew this day would happen. i just knew it. sometime during the first 2 hours of the thanksgiving family get-together in providence, rhode island, my family forgot all about the fact that i was wondering around with a camera. moments like this have happened sporadically with individuals but never with the entire family. it was like i was a ghost. perfect.

there was one little hole to this theory. my ghost like qualities were only applied to those over the age of 20. my twin nephews, ages 3 and 3 respectively (cause they’re twins, duh), could see and hear me the entire time. even if i was real quiet and took my shoes off to lower my chance of audible and visual distractions, they would always pop up and look right into the lens. “unkie, e, you’re taking a picture!”. damn you little brilliant dudes, damn you!!! i am always so excited to see my family. this was no exception.

as the pictures DO NOT prove, we are a happy bunch, jovial and cute. i just like the quiet moments, long pensive looks, and very little screaming. you’d be amazed how much screaming 3 year olds do… they can do no wrong in my eyes though. no wrong.

photos are with the 28mm and for some reason, i took lots of pics of my grandfather. he is a wonderful man indeed. as a fifth generation farmer he has put his time in. this summer, along with my beautiful grandmother, we will all be celebrating their 65 wedding anniversary. a great party will commence. getting four generations under one roof is special. i love my family very much and i can’t wait until march when i can add my own little one to the fray! that makes me smile widely…

Pro tip: ISO rises slightly as the light gets dimmer.

the music:
my love of mission of burma grows with each passing record. they make me smile so big and so wide. support the arts, support local musicians, support your local emperor (that’s right, that’s a Blues Traveler reference, you’ll never see one again… i promise). these guys keep getting better with age. rock and roll, punk, and art house music would not be the same without these bostonians. do yourself a favor. like them.

leaf peepers have all gone home

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Anchored, Starlight Conspiracy, Sounds Like Silver Hollar, 1997, | LINK

the photography:
i have always wanted to make a t-shirt and bumper sticker campaign featuring the phrase, “Real Vermonters don’t vacation in Jersey” complete with some huge Cooper font lettering scheme (think old iron on letters) and with some line art of the two states fighting. now, if you didn’t grow up in or attend college in the north east, you probably won’t get the reference. let me lay it out for you…

now we all like to pick fun at the expense of the fine state of new jersey. everyone does it. chemical plants, swamplands, the jersey shore, even the Boss is fair game. but in it’s defense, north eastern new jersey, near the Penn border, is absolutely stunning. the terrain is all rolling mountains, cow pastures, and beautiful river valleys. anywho, that specific region does not save the rest of the state.

as a child growing up in vermont, sometime around late august, the influx of new york and new jersey license plates started to roll into town in search of some late summer delights such as leaf peeping (a legitimate money maker in vermont), maple syrup purchasing, ski-lodge renting, and golfing. these cars would then stay through the winter only to disappear sometime around february. now granted, these people are spending money and keeping the economy running long after the cheese and milk industry have run out of ideas but most vermonters, and i mean most vermonters, would let you know that they cringe when they see those license plates.

it comes down to this: vermonters love peace and quite. that’s the main reason why families settle there. they enjoy the outdoors, the mountains, the lakes, the farms, the wildlife, the skiing, and winter driving. there is a reason it is illegal to put up billboards in vermont and there is a reason it is the only state without a McDonalds in the capitol city. what most vermonters can’t stand is brash, loud, obnoxious, demanding, and downright contentious crowds from the garden state who own time shares in Killington and thus think that they own everything in vermont. undoubtedly, these same people are probably wearing some sort of gaudy fuschia ski parka complete with gold lamé patches and a fake fur collar so they are easy to spot. just don’t mistake them for canadians. canadians wear the full fuschia snow suits to cover up their denim on denim ensembles, not just the jackets (i kid…).

people who grew up in upstate new york (and yes that means north of albany as more than 2/3’s of the fine state of new york is located north of albany!!!) feel my pain. so when i go home, i tend to judge people by their license plates. it makes me feel better. i guess every state has at least one mortal enemy… unfortunately, most of new england despises new jersey. and let’s be honest, the hippies in vermont would never let hypodermic needles and dirty diapers wash up on their shores.

photos are from thanksgiving weekend from my parents backyard in charlotte, vermont. for some perspective, the house is located an hour and a half, door to door, from Montreal, Canada. on that fine mid-morning it was raining and brown and a bit on the cold side. 28mm lens again. i just can’t quit you. to be in the state of vermont is relaxing. i take deep breathes when i go home. i love it and i miss it from time to time. but this mid-west city is where i need to be. mid-west for life? possibly… vermonter at heart? most definitely.

the music:
with pictures of vermont running through my head, i figured i would tap into the deep and vast musical cd’s from said fair state that reside on my ipod. for a small area with a small population, some really good art is made in burlington vermont. back in 1997, one of the best bands in chittenden county was the shoe-gazing noise makers Starlight Conspiracy. the band was lead by the guitar genius of Denny Donovan and highlighted by the softest/sweetest female vocals this side of Kim Deal. this record is a diamond in the rough that was the mid-90’s wasteland of crappy grunge rip-offs and bad rap rock. Starlight’s music fits more with 1991 britain and My Bloody Valentine or on the mean streets of washington d.c and Fugazi than it does in the hippie mountains of phish.

Starlight Conspiracy’s entire catalog can be downloaded here: Starlight MP3’s

on a side note: god bless marshall amplification.

historic downtown la on a friday morning in december

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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| currently listening to: Motorist, Jawbox, For Your Own Special Sweetheart, 1994, | LINK

the photography:
so when you’re stuck in downtown los angeles without a car, there are very few places for you to roam especially if you don’t have enough time to ride the bus or take a cab anywhere. what’s a shutterbug to do? well, i did what i thought was right. like dell, i wandered.

after about five blocks i found myself smack dab in the middle of “old theater heaven” also known as historic downtown los angeles. HDLA instantly reminded me of the less populated sections of hong kong, much of the the lower east side of new york circa 1995 BG*, the old irving park neighborhood in chicago, and a few other busy market streets in various cities across the world. city block after city block was filled with turn of the century architecture that has fallen into disrepair and is inhabited by square foot after square foot of little shops and eateries. and every block has at least one broken down theater that, before the second war, was the heart of the street with gigantic marquees and flashing lights that used to call out who, what, and when. pretty awesome.

after checking out the of the standard, i left my bags with the front desk so all i had on my person was my wallet, my phone, and my camera with the 28mm. the 5D body with a prime 28mm lens on it is pretty sneaky. the rig is big but not big enough to be un-hideable. that’s not even a word but you know what i mean. the entire camera and lens can be hidden quickly if you feel like you’ve possibly taken a photo that will get you into legal trouble or if you feel like it might be time to leave before you get beat-up. it’s tough to walk around a foreign city in 65 degree sunshine when my body is used to 35 degree slush and rain. but i managed, hoodie and all.

*you know, (B)efore (G)iuliani

the music:
jimmy fallon (this is the last time i’ll mention his name in print) reunited the band jawbox to play live on his stage last night for his ill-conceived yet amazingly-talented-musical-guest-lineup tv show. jawbox are re-releasing remastered copies of their early records from desoto records. what can i say about jawbox that i a)haven’t already said b)someone with a better knowledge of music hasn’t already said c)hasn’t been tattooed on the arms of many a post-rocker? if you are looking to get into heavy indie music and haven’t already?

look no further as jawbox is the real deal. bred from the heart of the hallowed dischord label, these washingtonians have compiled some of the best records recorded in the 90’s. the irony is that it takes the jimmy fallon show to get them out into the public eye after not playing live since 1997. j robbins is a genius. if you don’t agree, you’ve never heard the records he’s produced. it’s phenomenal. yum yum yum jawbox.

here are the links to the videos from last night’s fallon performances. 3 songs. hot shit indeed and 12 years of rust kicked off in one note:

Jawbox – Savory

Jawbox – 68

Jawbox – ff=66

the standard hotel, la

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| currently listening to: Stars, War Paint, Exquisite Corpse, 2009, | LINK

the photography:
i like boutique hotels. i have stayed in a number of them through the years. the best being a japanese boutique hotel that my wife and i stayed in while vacationing in Beijing a few years ago. what i like about boutique hotels is that they match form and function to create class and style. usually boutique hotel means classy designer furniture coupled with hip outfits, cool bars, and everything matches and looks like it came out of the pages of the magazine Dwell. unfortunately, the standard hotel in downtown los angeles is all about the snark. and i say “snark” with the curled-est of lips. the LA standard is probably just like all the other standard hotels across the globe (they have many locations) but since it’s the only location i’ve stayed at (three years in a row), it’s the only one i can comment on. let’s start with snark, shall we?

first off… no hotel in it’s right mind should have valet’s who wear $200 jeans, have $150 haircuts, and who all wear ray-bans. it just shouldn’t happen. second: every hotel room in the world should have more than one trash can and if you are going to have just one, make sure it lives in the bathroom. no one likes to carry their used q-tips to the living room. the standard in LA covers it’s room and bed riser in carpeting only to add one cool chair, a mattress on said carpeted riser/floor, a plexiglass window that looks into the bathroom from the bedroom, and the whole shooting match gets tied together with some line drawing wall paper that feels too “Logan’s Run” to be anywhere near cool.

what the standard lacks in usability, it makes up for in package design. everything from the sticker on the toilet paper to the box of condoms, to the fire extinguisher signage, breaths “70’s key bowl party decadence” meets “90’s hipster snark with ironic mustaches”. if the standard didn’t have a world class roof deck bar, i don’t think i would ever set foot in it again. as a place to visit? it’s awesome. as a place to lay your head for four days, it sucks. check it for yourself in the pics above. i tried to connect the dots with all of the standard’s glory which include a couple of photos from the roof, a shot of the random organ in the lobby, all of their cool design signage, to the free pool table, and the weird sparse rooms. what a headache. but an enjoyable headache to boot.

don’t get me wrong, the hotel is eye candy as are all of the components that make it up. but the rooms are pretty dreadful as far as comfort and quality. roof deck bar with pool? awesome. hotel room without a coffee maker and kleenex? bogus.

ALSO: worst WiFi ever. 15 minutes to send a 1MB email. FAIL!!!!

the music:
war paint is a random band from LA that we (a couple of coworkers and i) ran into on the roof deck bar at the standard. about 3 minutes into their set, i finally realized that there was an actual live band playing in the corner and not that the DJ was ripping some serious grooves. i was slack jawed and happy to see that an LA band was ripping through some psych groove rock and we hadn’t paid a dollar to see it happen before our eyes. so good. so cool. and it turns out that shannyn sossamon was the original drummer. who knew?

flynn avenue, burlington, vermont

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| currently listening to: Green Doors, Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot, s/t, 2009, | LINK

the photography:
so this thanksgiving 2009 was much like any of my previous thanksgivings, it was mobbed with nephews, 4 generations of merritts, good food, great company, talk of babies, two different sit down dinners, and 1 happy dog waiting for us at home at the end of all the hub-bub. as i look back on thanksgiving ought-9, i see it as the end of a chapter in my life as it was the last thanksgiving for both my wife and i as a couple. the 2010 thanksgiving will mark our first as a trio. as baby merritt’s due date gets closer there will be lots of chapters closing and new ones starting. it feels absolutely wonderful. lots of “firsts” on the horizon, lots of ’em.

but more about this years thanksgiving in a later post!

PHOTO WALKING WITH A FRIEND: after traveling through 4 states already in 2 days, we finally arrived home at my parents house for 72 hours of some much needed r and r. i decided to take the opportunity to sneak out on a photo jaunt with an old friend who just happens to be a great street photographer whether he is in his hometown of burlington or roaming and clicking the streets of his former hood, san francisco. trevor is known on the interwebs as @roamandclick on the twitter and his personal photo website Roam and Click is quite fantastic. trevor also is a flickr-ite and can be found here under the moniker, [ bones ] : Flickr

i reconnected with trevor via facebook after 10 or so years of not seeing each other. he was heading into chicago and wondered if i would be up for a drink. since it was st. patrick’s day, i figured, what the hell. this was four years ago and we have kept in touch ever since. we’ve had our ups and downs as individuals but the connection trevor and i share is focused (pun intended) primarily on our love of two things: photography and urban decay. AND we both grew up in the same small town with the same group of 100 kids and we’ve both since travelled the world and seen the sights. last saturday we decided to tackle photos and urban decay. it was a blast. for the record, trevor is a Nikon guy. not that there’s anything wrong with that…

the photos are from just off of flynn avenue, in burlington, vermont. locals should know this area as the first magic hat brewery was located just around the corner. as usual, the lens is the trusted 28mm f1.8 and we hit the train tracks at the perfect golden hour of dusk. it was breezy and cool but not yet winter. you could smell the wood stoves in the air but you didn’t need a scarf. perfect weather for some photo walking with old friends. salt sheds, railroads, trucks, and dirty old buildings were provided by the city of burlington and it’s inhabitants. sigh.

the music:
lowell is a guy i grew up with who is making the scene in new england as what northern country twang means. he’s a heart-on-sleeve songwriter who delivers his brand of northcountry alt rock with a voice of gold and a cracking back up band containing some of burlington’s finest musicians. it’s a recipe made in “Wilco” fan heaven. go and check them out if you can and if they come to the midwest, you’ll see me in the front row.

THREE SIDE NOTES: i once worked for lowell’s dad as a house painter, lowell and i played high school lacrosse together, and his punk band in high school once opened for my ska band in (redundantly) high school. fact.

flickr meet up at coco’s

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| currently listening to: Hanging On A Curtain, Morphine, Like Swimming, 1997, | LINK

the photography:
i met a bunch of fantastic people yesterday at a flickr meet-up at coco’s southern style soul food. it’s quite a place and with the right people, it can quite easily be overrun. amazing.

it also helps when you are all holding cameras and gabbing about where you are, where you were photographing on your new posts, what your screen name is, and how meeting people IRW (interwebs slang for “In the Real World”) makes complete sense most of the time and that interwebbers (twitter folk, flickr heads, and facebook friends) tend to be a pretty cool bunch. this chicago flickr crew is no exception. with the newest in new social technologies and media outlets being created and implemented all over the net, like minded people are finding it easier and easier to congregate in a southern fried kitchen on the 400 S block of Clark with a bunch of sort-of strangers to talk about camera gear, photos we liked, why fried lobster might be overrated, and to explain what we all do to make money to spend on camera gear.

the social media outlets have also given us (as artists) a great place to connect and network. instead of sitting through industry nights at the local Ritz Camera where you would sit through an amateur lecture on how to light and photograph your great aunt Bertha’s WWII bed pan so it can be sold on eBay, you get to sit down and enjoy a lunch of fried goodies and chat with people like they are human beings, not just consumers. it’s pretty sweet. thanks to the select few who put the group together and to all of those who showed and to those i didn’t get to talk with, we will find time to do so at the next crossroads.

it’s nice to meet such a talented group of people without egos. cheers.

here are a list of links, from their flickr handles, to the gathering via different points of view. a good time was had by all:
Thee ErinPhuleJoem500Chicago ManSFMoeChapendraMerlinsMan

the music:
morphine defined underground music to me when i was in high school. how could such a great band with such an interesting musical lineup (trio of two string slide bass, baritone sax, drums) who made such incredibly accessible music never make the big time? they did everything right. they even scored a hip and well received underground piece of cinema (their record, Cure For Pain was used as the back drop to the disturbingly weird coming-of-age-inside-a-disintegrating-marriage-incestual-broken-leg-mowing-the-lawn-flick, Spanking the Monkey). as far as the business was concerned, wasn’t there just only one direction to go from there? well, the ideal path is to sign a record deal, become major rock stars, make hit records, make it with groupies, etc. this scenario only plays out if your lead singer and central song writer does NOT die onstage in Italy after signing said recording contract and before the groupies and money. Mark Sandman will be missed dearly in the musical world. the Boston music scene will never quite be the same. go out and buy their records. your money will be well spent.

annual holiday sale

| currently listening to: The Bradley, Further Seems Forever, The Moon is Down, 2002, | LINK

the photography:
i belong to a collaborative arts gallery located in the ravenswood art corridor on the NW side of Chicago. last year we created an annual holiday art sale to help offset some of the bills associated with running a store front art gallery. this year, as a group, we’re gonna make us some magnets to sell. my 8 designs are located up above. for the most part, they are chicago themed. i wanted to mix humor with chicago with holiday greetings. i may have missed the point on a few but hey, i think they’re gonna be pretty sweet. 4″ x 4″ fridge magnets couldn’t be cooler. expect buttons to be made as well. sweet. as we get closer to the date, i’ll make sure that everyone knows when and where (we might be moving spaces… gasp!).

one of the major partners in my collective is a photographer by the name of Emily Grimes. through the years she’s mastered many things photography including (but most certainly not limited to) Holga film photography, mid-west farm photography, “growing up southern belle” photojournalism (which can NOT be faked), and now, hip hop/rapper/gangsta photography. oh yeah, you read that one right. Emily is a dear friend and a fantastic artist. her new blog is up at Emily Grimes Photography. please go and check it out her various sites, you’ll be really happy you did! gosh darnit, she’s got a book coming out for criminy’s sake? Emily Grimes = the real deal. god bless her for inspiring me by showing me that it’s possible to stretch out of your photographic comfort zone to make some really great art.

on that note, tomorrow is a big day for me. i’m aiming to shoot some glamour styled photos for the 50 Portraits Project. Niki has gladly volunteered her modeling services and we are gonna paint the town red. dresses, bars, buses and a laundromat shoot that i’ve wanted to do since i graduated college. it’s gonna be epic. stay tuned…

the music:
oh my, what’s my problem? emo? even worse, floridian christian emo fronted by none other than Mr. Dashboard Confessional himself, Chris Carraba? oh yeah… umm… this record, it’s a vice. in their defense, this 3:02 minute song might be one of the 10 best pop songs written in the last decade. it’s true. screw what pitchfork says. this song slays.

i’m gonna go and brush my teeth, this song is too sweet.

photo crew or posse or something

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| currently listening to: We’ve Got a File On You, Blur, Think Tank, 2003, | LINK

the photography:
so i’ve got this posse. and in this posse are two dudes who know how to use their cameras. and let’s just say it’s not really my posse. it’s probably more joe’s posse. moe and i are more privates than lieutenants. i digress. there’s three of us and for the first time, we went on some sort of photo/manny’s deli/chinatown/south loop walk about with our cameras. it was rad. here are their flickr sites. check em out. MOE and JOE

the only reason i think it’s joe’s posse is because he’s tougher than moe and i. it’s true. he was air force, moe was navy, and i, well, i played long stick defense on a mediocre public high school lacrosse team which is to say, i’ve really never been to boot camp. so for lack of a better hierarchy, the posse is joe’s. we went out with one thing in mind, to photograph the bejesus out of the south loop. we ended up talking as much as we took photos so i guess we kinda succeeded and kinda failed. either way, it was awesome.

photos here are with the 28mm again (i just can’t quit you!) and most of them were taken down in an abandoned, filled-in basement of a building that had been destroyed. it was probably the coolest urban destruction site i’ve ever found. if i ever wanted to film a post apocalyptic thriller about the decline of rice production and it’s affects on the shanty towns that relied on the it set in downtown chicago, i would film it there.

SIDE NOTE: have you been to manny’s deli before? you should really go if you haven’t and you live in chicago (or if you would like to go when you are visiting chicago, please call me. i am always ready for manny’s). it’s pure corned beef fantastic with a side of love and latkes. mmmmmmmmmmm. visit their website HERE.

the music:
blur’s last studio album (and first without graham coxon) is spotty at best. there is one song from a jeans commercial, one from a car commercial, and then there is this beautifully spun, one minute and two second punk ditty on the atrocities of government and it’s over arching power-hungry secret service/big brother policies and polices. it’s awesomeness bottled into jangled fuzzed out guitars that get to the point right away. crank it. sit back. be blown away.

finger picking time

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Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Owls, Leo Kottke, Greenhouse, 1976, | LINK

the photography:
we rolled out to indiana recently for some apple picking, corn mazing, and cider donut chomping. it was awesome. deep in the heart of indiana, just off i65 lies the glory that is Country Line Orchard. it’s completely top notch.

the photos are of adam, nathan, catherine, and stevie. we had a really good day out even though it rained, gusted, and shined all over our autumn parade. to those who think that corn mazes are for kids? think again. if it hadn’t started to rain, we would kicked that maze’s ass sideways. i can tell you that!

28mm lens and a coat to hide the camera under during the rain. awesome. rain and electronics don’t mix too good. to top it all off? we hit up ruben’s, a hot dog joint on the edge of town. let’s just say it was quite divine and leave it at that shall we? i hate giving gastro-intestinal descriptions of both indiana and hot dogs.

the music:
leao kottke might have the worst active professional website i have ever seen. it’s as if a fifth grader from 1992 decided that they would put up a website for their favorite ‘instrumental songwriting deadpan minnesotan guitar player’. it’s atrocious. but at the same time, i can’t tell if leo is laughing at me. he’s got a sense of humor you know… god he’s good at playing the guitar.

when he comes to your town, you should go see him. it’s quite a spectacle. i’ll give you fair warning though: after watching leo kottke play the guitar live and in person you will probably go home and walk out behind your house and behind your garage and proceed to blow up your guitar with m80’s and other assorted fireworks. he’s THIS good.

50 Portraits – 34

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/20 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: The Melodians, Rivers Of Babylon, Rivers of Babylon, 1970 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #34 is Jenni

jenni is set to marry 50 Portraits Project subject # 6 and i couldn’t be happier. i first met jenni when i moved to chicago in early 2005. she’s a peach. we’ve been playing scheduling phone tag for weeks so when i sat both james and jenni down for an engagement photo session, i took the opportunity to snap a bunch of jenni by herself. two birds with one stone? you betcha.

one thing i love about jenni is that she’s out in the world making a difference as a pre-school teacher in a public school out on the far west side of chicago. although i have yet to witness her in action, i can only imagine how her calm and understanding demeanor and patient sincerity coupled with her overall positive outlook rubs off on her impressionable kids. i don’t think i’ve ever seen her unhappy or even flustered for that matter as her face always seems to have a smile on it. she’s as cool as the underside of the pillow.

with this coolness comes jenni’s sense of style and fashion. jenni always looks put together (not manufactured) and she always looks the part. unique but not loud. professional but urban hip. classic yet slightly groundbreaking. it’s tough to pinpoint or define her look but her look is definitely defining. jenni is also an avid ohio-an, she’s a THE Ohio State Football fan, (as you can tell) she’s the proud owner of a Chad Ochocinco Bengals jersey, and she’s never shy about skyline chili as it was a staple two years ago at their super bowl party. i can’t wait for the wedding. it’s gonna be epic… and i couldn’t be happier for ms. jenni!

as you can see james sneaks into a bunch of these (he’s not *overbearing! *i just wanted to say overbearing. i photograph james a lot) as does monte. it’s tough to take photos at home and not have monte sneak in. the first photo is with the 24-70mm as i was in the middle of the engagement photo session when i snapped it. it’s hilariously perfect. the rest are shot with the 28mm f1.8. also also perfect. i have never taken photos of someone during the daytime in my downstairs bathroom. it has tons of natural light. it’ll be used again. thank you 1998-era-rehab-chicago-glass-brick sales!

the music:

the Melodians are legends. Bob Marley may be the face of reggae music but he is not the only jamaican musician. many americans believe in this misnomer. as the Sex Pistols visually encapsulated the punk movement of the late 70’s, they were not the only punk band on the planet. it is the same with the Melodians. and with the (once trio) jamaican duo, you get one of my top 10 favorite singers of all times in tony brevett. it helps that tony’s brother was the bass player in the Skatalites (ska music legends the Skatalites). rocksteady, ska, reggae, and dub would be nothing without the beautiful song writing and harmonies of the melodians. truly truly truly amazing.

people need to listen to more jamaican music. i need to listen to more jamaican music. the bass, the melodies, the drums, the beats… awesome. if you have a couple of minutes, check out the Melodians in the present with this video clip.

i turned my camera on itself

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 63mm
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Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 57mm
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Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
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Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
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Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
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Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
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Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: The Sword in the Stone, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead , 2003, | LINK

the photography:
every 10 months or so, i take a break from photographing whatever it is that i’m currently enamored with (these days it’s mostly people, traveling, and quick road trips outside the house) and bring myself back to photographing old cameras in the macro. i know i know, it sounds weird but i really enjoy taking photographs of cameras. i think my love of the of mid 20th century camera construction (specifically craftsmanship and materials) draws me back to my antique camera collection. it’s a little fetish-y but hey! i’m not hurting anyone. plus it gives me a reason to take the older cameras off the shelf and give them a good dusting.

i created a little seamless studio floor and backdrop with some white printer paper and a manilla folder (for some structural balance) while natural light poured in through the tv room window. it’s amazing how easy and inexpensive it is to create professional studio environment when you don’t feel like going to the studio! the camera i chose to photograph is an old minolta 16mm stainless steel contraption. it’s tiny and i have a couple of them (this one is the larger of the two as i have an 8mm slightly smaller version). i like to think that if i was a spy, i would carry one of these everywhere. this particular camera was purchased at a farmers market/swap meet/flea market in the town square in healdsburg, ca in the spring of 2005. pretty awesome. it’s classy yet fashionable, small but heavy.

to make things even more exciting (i.e. to work on my photo chops), i used a Canon 12 extension tube with my 24mm-70mm to achieve some serious depth of field, some seriously close focusing, and some serious camera shake! when you are this up-close with this tiny amount of depth of field, any little camera movement will cause severe blur. it takes patience. i rarely have any. but when the mood grips me, i like screwing around with my gear. you all should try it. i also set up a funky little tripod made out of a tabletop microphone stand and a foldable strobe/umbrella head. i own a couple of tripods but none that is only 7″ tall. and man, stainless steel looks really good in black and white.

the music:
ted leo. every time i hear this song, i think back to 2003 when i sat on the side of the stage at a Middle East Downstairs (in glorious Cambridge, MASS!!!) ted leo show next to my friend the hahn. after playing this song solo (you better walk around, ’cause no one’s gonna drive you…), ted busted into a solo version of the pogues classic, dirty old town. hahn and i looked at each other and went (simultaneously) “POGUES!”. it was a great show indeed. i love me some ted leo.

50 Portraits – 33

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Greyhound, Orange, 1994 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #33 is Natalie (and sometimes Teno)

i’m pretty sure that natalie has never had a bad picture taken of her. now i am almost positive that she will argue with the validity of this statement as most modest people should. before i go any further and dump my size 10.5 (size 11 if Adidas) foot into my mouth, i would like to make one defining statement about natalie: she is the most photogenic adult i have ever photographed. i purposefully stated ‘adult‘ because natalie’s son teno has inherited his mother’s photogenic genes.

before i met natalie, i had followed her work online as she writes and edits a great website that caters to a younger generation of kitchen worshipers. at Bake and Destroy, natalie combines here unique take on the world with baking and everything needed in the kitchen. stories, interviews, links to other baking industry peeps, and kitchen centric ideas litter the site with enough content browsing interest to keep you busy for a long time.

at the heart of Bake and Destroy is natalie’s writing. she’s got a BA in journalism from Columbia College and her thoughtful interviews and profiles are aimed at shining a light on chicago’s (and the nation’s) growing interest in everything baking related. the crazy thing is that Bake and Destroy is natalie’s second job. her full time duties? making sure the world uses reusable bags. amazing.

fighting plastic bag abuse, keeping teno and tony in line, and baking the most incredible edibles are all in days work for this fantastic lady. please take the time to visit Bake and Destroy and ReusableBags.com and help put a dent in reducing our plastic bag waste while you put a dent in your local flour and sugar bags. i promise, it’ll be worth your while!

photos were taken with the 28mm f1.8 again. natural sunlight in a kitchen really does make all the difference. thanks to natalie for letting me into her home to meet her wonderful and very photogenic family and also thanks to natalie for sending me home with some cupcakes that just happened to be sprinkled to perfection by the one, the only, mr. teno.

the music:

i saw the JSPE live back in 2001 in boston. i had no idea how rock-n-roll it was to be a heroin addict. amazing. skinny jeans, thrift store tees, and a dirty-patch-covered-falling-apart jean jacket completed the denim tuxedos on all three members (they are called Canadian tuxedos within a hundred mile radius of the northern US border). besides their well documented battle with drugs and the like, the jon spencer blues explosion are possibly one of the loudest bands on the face of the earth. large Orange cabinets and Marshall stacks littered the stage. and they all went to 11 complete with the loudest mic’ing of a drum kit i have ever heard. the bass kick sent shock-waves through your sternum. it was impressive. what? no bass player? who needs one. these guys tore off the roof. this instrumental is the closer to one of their better records. it’s one of those tunes that you hope will never end.

mmmmmm dirty rock and roll, sloppy feedback, dj scratches, heavy bass drums, and keyboards that rip off Dr. Dre… yes please.

50 Portraits – 32

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/2500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: The Shins, Sleeping Lessons, Wincing the Night Away, 1995 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #32 is Kendra

kendra is a student. and with being a student comes student problems. i remember this time in my life as if it were yesterday. a healthy balance of school, school work, social activities, and the creation of art as expression (at least when i was enrolled in art classes) ruled my free time. 9 times out of 10? social activities would win the battle. and let’s be honest, it was much more like a slaughter. kendra is really lucky. she has two very important things going for her.

1) kendra feels naked without her camera 2) kendra is fearless.

i only wish these were a part of my limited repertoire when i was in college. not only do they set kendra apart from her classmates but i feel that they both will be really important to her growth as a photographer (as long as they don’t get her into trouble first…).

when i was in my late teens and early twenties, i dreamed of taking photos as hard hitting as the street photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson, as stunning and stoic as the portraits of Yousuf Karsh, or as decadent and perfectly lit as David LaChapelle. and within the realms of academic reason, i probably could have made photos just like them. the only logistics i was lacking were a) money (easily overcome), b) time (actually a cop out as i wasted so much time in college) and most importantly, c) self-confidence and the unwavering sense to just go ahead and try it. in turn, my photography from college is littered with cheesy metaphors, painted plastic guns, cigarette cases, friends trying their best to look edgy, and dozens of out of focus portraits highlighted by cheap dramatic lighting. my photography portfolio from college can be easily summed up: trite subject choices with promising camera technique.

but you know what, that’s totally cool. that’s what college is for right? practicing? learning? developing? i friggin hope so…

kendra, on the other hand, has a leg up. she already has some fantastic and candid portraits of strangers whose faces could tell a thousand stories. it’s endearing, in this digital age, to have no fear in walking up to people on the street just to chat and take photos. she also takes boatloads of self portraits. i mean, BOATLOADS. it doesn’t happen anymore. courage and self-confidence in your work is, ironically, why i started this 50 Portraits Project in the first place. our meeting was destined.

kendra’s lesson for ian: take risks, get uncomfortable, make it happen

ian’s lesson for kendra: practice leads to jobs which leads to more time and money to practice

kendra’s other lesson for ian: wear more lime green

awesome. photos were taken with the fixed 28mm f1.8 and they were taken in and around the south loop of chicago during some of the best natural light i have ever seen.

the music:

if you don’t like the shins, that’s fine. if you don’t like his voice, that’s fine. if you’re worried about where the band is headed since half of them quit, that’s fine. if you think they are over rated, that’s fine. but i don’t think anyone can deny the power of this song, especially when played live. it’s on par with a lot of great rave-ups from the 90’s and 00’s. but as we close the 00’s chapter at the end of this year, a lot of people (probably mostly critics because they really are the only ones who talk about this stuff) will point to the shins as a gigantic driving force in music. especially in regards to lyrics and sonics. this song combines both.

WATCH THE VIDEO.

what is the difference between jam and jelly?

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/4000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 640 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 640 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 640 – Focal Length: 28mm
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Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 640 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Honestly, Zwan, Mary Star of the Sea, 2002, | LINK

the photography:
making jam is so awesome. this is the second time we’ve ventured into the realm of doing things “like grandma” and after going two for two (the first being an awesome batch of applesauce in the fall of 2005), i think we might just go ahead and start marketing our jam, canning, and apple sauce services as Merritt’s World Famous. it definitely has a nice ring to it.

with a bun in the oven (well, technically, my wife’s oven), i have been reminiscing more and more about the days of yore when my brother and i were little munchkins and the things my own mother offered up to us as alternatives to playing video games (in all honesty, she did this because we didn’t own a video game console). as kids we did a lot in the kitchen. we were always spending hours making our own play-doh, baking cookies, making brownies, canning jelly, smushing apples into apple sauce, etc. as i approach my own impending fatherhood, these activities seem excitedly and amazingly eminent.

in many ways, i am amazed at how crafty i have become in my young adult years. as a kid, i never thought that years later i would be appreciating the skills my parents taught us (my brother and i) in that kitchen. it just seems natural now that i make lamps for fun and that i can dismantle a computer in no time flat. i think my wife is psyched i never learned how to rebuild a car engine.

the weird part is just after i wrote the last paragraph (^^^^ above ^^^^), i went outside to help fix my friend’s ’81 Corvette. we installed a new headlamp. it took 10 minutes. that stuff feels pretty good. now if only i can pass it on to the next generation… i think my wife might kill me if the kid starts taking apart the lawnmower with a screwdriver.

Q. is McGuyver out on DVD yet?

A. yes. yes it is.

photos are from south eastern michigan and from our kitchen in chicago. we (my parents and the wifey and i) spent the day picking raspberries and buying blueberries in the hopes of making lots and lots of jam. and we did. the blood of the fruit was on our hands that day and to top it all off, i bought new kicks at the outlets. it was awesome.

the music:
i’m pretty sure that billy corgan is a dick. i have never met him. but i know his story: everyone who has ever played in a band with him has hated him. now, don’t get me wrong, this could be said about a lot of rock’n’rollers but with billy it seems like his genius is what draws people to him and it is his cockiness and controlling nature that push people away. the only interaction i have ever had with the man (other than standing 400 people deep in the audience at one of his shows) is when he sped by me in his lamborghini in the wicker park neighborhood in chicago. he just looked smug. and rich.

but oh my god this song is so good. i mean saturday-morning-driving-to-wisconsin-to-buy-spotted-cow-beer-because-they-don’t-sell-it-in-illinois-super-sweet-awesome-being-pumped-out-of-your-corvette’s-speakers good.

i think corgan gives bald genius’ and fender strats a bad name.

diptych – or dip stick – or whatever.

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Criminal Piece, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Shake the Streets, 2004, | LINK

the photography:
keeping with the tradition of posting in spurts, here goes nothing. diptychs are awesome. and quite fun to spell. nuances can be determined only when you have a second ‘something’ to prop your first ‘thing’ up against. hence the photographer’s long standing love of diptychs. i think i’ve talked about them before so i’ll just skip over how awesome they are and just show some off.

these photos were taken within a two day period while i was wandering along chicago avenue, daytripping with the mrs. up sheridan road along the north shore in glencoe, walking from my garage to my house in my backyard (Monte!), and after i had used a rather interesting bathroom housed in a grocery store which is then housed in a tall apartment complex in the west loop (notice the changing table in the mens room, gonna use that thing soon enough!).

my need to take two photos every time i click the shutter stems from my work with autos. i photograph cars at such a pace that sometimes i get ahead of myself. when you already know what angle you are going to be working from and when you’re working on memory repetition, sometimes your hands and feet move faster than your shutter. thus, if i take two photos, hopefully one of them won’t be blurry. as i shoot fine art and portraits for myself and this blog, i find that each shutter click becomes a little more refined, a little less hurried, and a lot more thought gets put into what i’m aimed at. so these diptychs, as you look at them, they really do pop with subtle differences. btw… did you know that subtle nuances is redundant? nuances are subtle by definition. huh… cool.

shot with the 28mm again. also, you might notice that i added a fantastic little plugin feature to my WordPress driven blog. it’s the jQuery lazy load plugin and it totally rules. as you scroll down my blog you will notice that the images will load when you need them as opposed to trying to load all at once. did someone say, user experience? shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. thanks to srobbin for the heads up. he’s got his ear to the ground and i appreciate his help!

the music:
oh ted, how you make my life better. i once saw ted leo play a concert in a defunct bar at my college with nothing more than a microphone, his gibson es335, his twinreverb fender amp, a chair, and a reel-to-reel 2″ tape deck with a built-in speaker sitting on the chair. after he introduced himself into the microphone, he pressed play and began to sing and play along with recorded bass and drums. and to the bewilderment of the crowd of less than 50 people, he rocked his ass off. it was truly amazing. i have seen ted leo live more than 25 times and he keeps getting better. when i hear that his music is being listened to by kids of all ages it makes me smile and it reinstates the fact that he is one of the reasons why i love music. ted leo = passionate singer-songwriter guitar hero who loves what he does and he does it for the kids. truly punk (even though he may sound like Thin Lizzy sometimes).

50 Portraits – 31

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f2.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Hum, I’d Like Your Hair Long, You’d Prefer An Astronaut, 1995 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #31 is Joe

joe and i have been running social circles around each other for probably a good 5 years (who knows, it might even be for longer, i’ll have to do a more thorough background check). he is a well known online photographer (the chicagoist, gapers block, being totally sweet in chicago have (re)published his pics), a super duper bike enthusiast around chicago, and thousands of people have (repeatedly) checked out his flickr page and his hilarious take on the world via twitter. yesterday was the first time i actually got to meet joe in person. i have seen him from a distance 3 times before but under very crowded circumstances. he’s almost instantly recognizable. people like that fascinate me. joe fascinates me.

joe and i share the same love of lots of things but most notably, we love kicks. and by kicks i mean what most people would refer to as their “everyday” shoes. and by shoes i mean really sweet footwear. and by really sweet footwear and i mean the types of sneakers that make guys like joe and i go “oh hell yes please” and drop to our knees with envy.

joe also is the type of guy who is never too far away from his camera or his camera phone. the man takes images constantly. and i love every single one. if you spent enough time, you could actually mark out joe’s path on his bike tours around chicago just by putting the pictures together. it’s a fascinating way to tell a story. and i get completely absorbed in joe’s stories. he’s the kind of photographer who takes pictures of what he likes, not what he’s told to like. it’s pretty awesome.

i hope to see a lot more of joe in the future. i will keep my eyes peeled for the biggest wheeled bike in all of chicago. maybe next time i’ll meet him at publican and ya’ll can witness some fantastic gorilla food photography. that would make my year. photos were taken again with the 28mm f1.8 as the 50mm f1.8 has yet to move off of my desk. i might just have to threaten myself to get it to the lens doctor. one of these days… also, you might notice that with a couple of the outdoor photos i kept the ISO set to 1600. that would be an accident. i set the camera at 1600 when we were shooting in joe’s poorly lit concrete bike locker and i failed to return it to the proper ISO setting (for bright sunny days at least) of 100. i hate it when i don’t recognize stuff like that. i absolutely hate it. good thing it was super duper awesome sunny out and none of you would have noticed if i hadn’t told you.

the music:

many of the people who have appeared in the 50 portraits project evoke certain feelings of some shape or form when i have met them or even when i think about them as artists, chef’s, friends, or just peeps. interviewing doug #27 made me hungry for obvious reasons while photographing jay #24 made me want to go out and learn to paint. with joe, all i wanted to do was relive my early years of college radio where i would play anything from the get-up kids, wilco, bad ska, worse hip-hop, and even (gasp from my friends…) steve earle (side note: steve earle rules. get over it!). i imagined myself, all alone in the radio station dj booth with the monitors at full blast, making sure the needle of the receiver wasn’t pinned in the red. so for the drive home, i proceeded to play drums on the steering wheel while i blasted champaign, IL’s hum, really loudly. when i grow up, i’m gonna play through two completely different amplifiers simultaneously while jumping on pedals and destroying my fender strat. uh huh. when i grow up. the best part? when i got back to my in-laws, the bears beat seattle. so, you know… i think it all worked out ok for a sunday that was perfect.

you’ll always be mini golf to me.

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 14000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/4000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Bells, Hey Mercedes, Hey Mercedes EP, 2001, | LINK

the photography:
it is called a few different things across the world. putt putt, miniature golf, mini golf… but no matter how you slice it; the smaller than real life golf course is one of the greatest places to relax on the planet. 1 father-in-law, 1 wifey, a dozen life-sized paper-maché animals, 1 waterfall, 1 not so close to scale replica of the great wall of china, and 1 gorgeously sunny afternoon in illinois = THE perfect labor day.

here’s a fun perspective/take of a miniature golf course in skokie, illinois. we snuggled our round in between a rather quick threesome of daughter, son, and dad who sat quietly behind us while we putted, and four twentysomethigns who were trying not to curse too loudly when they missed their 4th and 5th shots. it was awesome. did i mention the weather? gorgeous. i also love that mini golf courses have their own little alien-like ecosystems that may or may not survive on rain and sun (they might just grow on dreams and luck). these environments offer up some pretty radical angles. everything was shot using the 28mm 1.8 that was slung around my neck while i putt-putt putted to the head of the leader board after 17 holes (we never did play the first hole).

for a historical look back at golf de mini, check our this link.

the music:
sometimes i just want to hear melodic rock and roll so i can set myself afloat in my office chair. this song does just that. spinning and spinning and spinning i forget just how boring work can be sometimes. thank god for Panodora.com.

auto as art – object not subject

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 48mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 43mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 55mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 45mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 57mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 42mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 60mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Motr, Tans Am, Surrender to the Night, 1997, | LINK

the photography:
in many ways, a car is a car is a car. if it gets you from point A to point B without fail, it’s doing it’s job correctly. now, getting from point A to point B is determined by the driver and how the driver would like to or can afford to get from A to B. some cars are made for those with money and some cars are made for those with no money and even more cars are made so that you can look like you’ve got money. exterior designs and drivetrains are copped every day from manufacturer to manufacturer and lawsuits and lawyers help to keep original ideas original. but no matter how you slice it, no matter how many models are on the road in one given model year (347 last year, much less this year) every individual entity known as “the automobile” can be viewed as a work of art. even the craptastic ones.

it’s funny that i ended up where i am today as a professional photographer. a couple of twists of fate, a coffee table book that went no where (which is a total bummer because i really look at the entire experience as some of my best editorial work as a whole and collected), a design career that was just asking for a break (although i still do the occasional album cover so keep those requests coming), this guy who i sorta met once who was looking for an auto photographer, and one fatefully awesome working interview later and, ta-da. so what has the two years brought me? well, for one thing, i know that i can make almost any car look good enough to pass off as awesome when viewed at 350px x 269px @72dpi. say that one five times fast.

other than that… say, the basics of first gear? eh, ummm… i know what torque does but could i describe it to you? probably not without using the word ‘torque’. and i know how a 600 hp engine feels when you stomp on the gas really hard. but do i know what shocks and struts do exactly? not so much. what i HAVE learned is how the light will react off the hood of a car in the shade and at what angle i should park a car at any given moment in the day to get as much soft light to bounce off the dash. it’s the little things, right?

photos are of a car without a single photo of a decipherable badge (i do leave one hint…) or a Monroney sticker (the thing on the window at the dealer, and yes, it has a proper name). i decided to take some shots without the normal car pieces extruding thus ruining the photo, with the exception of the headlights and the taillights which, after a while, feel less and less car like and more and more just plain mechanical. no wheels, no dashboards, no engine, no sounds, no fury, no burning rubber. just metal lines after gooey metal lines… (and some leather and more metal)

the music:
what happens when you mix two crazy multi instrumentalist dudes, one incredible drummer, numerous midi triggers, a couple of keyboards, a vocoder, one heavy bass, one heavy guitar, and then to top it off you pour lighter fluid all over the cymbals and light them on fire? after the drummer hits them repeatedly to put out the flames, you get Trans Am. this song is one of their best. and this band still sits in my top 10 live acts of all time. amazing. i will drive to cleveland to see this band. that’s how much i love their music.

with all the crap indie-metal-synth-pop-vocoder-idiots out there (that’s right, i’m looking directly at you dan deacon), you can point to trans am as a ground breaking band. on their 2004 record, liberation, they even remixed george w bush speeches into one of the best anti-war songs ever created. these guys are boundary pushers. and sometimes they come up sounding lame and trite (don’t buy the record TA). but for the most part, these guys kill it. and they kill it every time.

Portrait Photography

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 54mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F9.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 75mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 +1 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 34mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 43mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: F1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 48mm
Lens: F 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Bobcaygeon, The Tragically Hip, Phantom Power, 1998, | LINK

the photography:
in these post-film photography years, actors, writers, artists, musicians, businessmen, professionals, public speakers, chefs, and anyone who does something (almost any job me thinks) for a living will inevitably need a professional photograph of their face. with the death of film and the price of quality digital cameras at an all-time low, the need for a head shot is easily remedied. someone you know, somewhere, owns a digital SLR camera and remarkably, you will be able to exchange very little money in return documentation of your person from your belly button to the top of your head.

now i’m not putting down amateur photographers for wanting a piece of the professional pie, hell, i started out doing exactly that. in fact, you must start somewhere and practice makes perfect in this world when it comes to a trade. and there is very little that is new when it comes to portraits. for years and years, people have been documenting themselves for future generations to ogle at and revere over drinks and food. in 1809, you sat for a painter for hours (maybe even days) at a time. in 1909, you held yourself still for 15 seconds or more without blinking so a photographer could capture your image in silver and chemicals.

these portraits are the new proof of life, the artifact to be found by future generations, the art on the wall of a collapsing building on fire. portrait photographs are the new form of existence past death. in 60 years, these photos are the pages that will be thumbed through and purchased at thrift stores and second hand marts across the country; your headshot, your portrait, your memory, your legacy.

but that’s already happening now, right? you go into a thrift store and you can find a dozen old photographs in broken frames, of family members, lost grand parents, and posing great great grandmas in their ugly 1930’s sweaters. but what happens with our generation? you know what they are gonna find? that’s right. our facebook photos. wasted snapshots of how many tequila shots you took on your 27th birthday and hazy moments where your friend captured you checking out that girl’s bosom at that party back in 07. oh yeah. that’s what people will find when we go. oh lord i hope that’s not all they find. let’s make sure we leave our ancestors some good photos no? your grand children might thank us. go get your photo taken by someone, for serious’s sake. and don’t put bunny ears up. don’t wear a shitty sweater. go and make these few shots count. you can save the stupid photos and poses for your next wedding reception.

photos are of two writers, one filmmaker, two actors, two musicians, one new father, and one rather fantastic chef. i love portraits. i love trying to tell a story. i love feeling emotion from people i don’t know. i could study faces for hours. and sometimes i do just that.

the music:
“went to your house this morning, it was a little after nine, could have been the willie nelson, could have been the wine”. gordon downie is known more for his edie brickell meets joe cocker style of spastic dancing than he is for his intriguing and incredibly legible lyrics. downie supposedly has a photographic memory when it comes to conversations and quotes. his lyrics tell incredible stories because of the snippets he remembers from life. we try to create dialogue with our work, he reaches back and reproduces it. no wonder their songs sound so familiar. i really have the biggest love for this band. they are one of the pop-ier bands to grace my catalog but they deserve it. no pulling indie-cred punches here, these guys are canadian and way older than me. listen to them if you like your rock to be rolling with stories to be told and as many hockey references as possible.

50 Portraits – 30

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/4000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: The English Beat, Mirror in the Bathroom, I Just Can’t Stop, 1980 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #30 is Lauri

lauri is one in a million. she is a wonderful conundrum of sorts (professionally speaking), the kind that can only manifest itself in the modern world of multiple careers, job jockeying, and with a market that is keen on hiring as many creative people as possible. she’s a writer, a photographer, a politically charged painter (on the humor fights fear fights humor side), a lawyer law school grad (by schooling) (my bad!), freelancing coordinator, and according to a biography from the real hot 100 issue of 2007 she’s lived a thousand lives. before tuesday, lauri and i had never met. i guess you could say that i remedied that situation by asking if she’d join the 50 Portraits Project crusade. she said yes. turns out she’s done stuff like this before.

there is something uniquely endearing about small town people who live and create art in the city. escapism is nothing new to the world of literary genius but to those of us who grew up in rural areas, the urban sprawl is something to behold, to digest, to explore, to interrogate, and to investigate. lauri does this on hundreds of different levels with her art, her writing, and her genuine (and i mean it) interest in the lives of everyone around her. it took ten minutes of conversation to catch the documentary bug from lauri.

lessons learned from my experience with lauri? easy: 1. go out and learn, document, photograph, speak with, engage, walk, run, look; and 2. do it all within the world around you that you have yet to explore. i really like that. there are few interactions that are better than meeting people who make you want to get out of you chair, grab your camera, and run out to the closest ‘ren fair’. i reacted exactly that way to lauri.

did i mention that lauri has a couple of websites? i didn’t? well, here they are. and they are awesome. Found Clothing (take the time, read it, it rules), The Trendpiece Factory (art for laughing, art for sale, art for art), and here’s a link to her most recent stuff at the Chicagoist.

the first couple of photos were taken at the Bleeding Heart Bakery (a fantastic place indeed, check it out if you are in Lakeview) and the rest were snapped in the surrounding area. again, sitting tight with the fixed 28mm f1.8. fun. bike shots are an homage to Candy Cane Sammy and his tall bike in my alley way (my goodness that sounds racy). there’s lots of color in these photos, that’s something that i love. lots’a color.

the music:

in the fall 1995, my high school ska band was holding court as the only ska band in vermont (a title quickly sent down the tubes by many other bands that popped up, most notably, Una-Panoona-Ska-ka-Poleeta from montpelier) and as the local jazz fest placed the Skatalites upon the main stage at the end of church street in downtown burlington, this english beat tape was stuck in the dash of my maroon 1988 buick century. by 1998, ska had become such a passing phase as dozens of craptastic bands dragged the genre through the mud (i’m sorry but no doubt sucked and so did most of the sublime catalog). so it comes as no surprise to me that when people say ska, i think of the early eighties and i think of england and i think of these bad boys. who cares what the lyrics are about, feel that bass, rock those horns, kick that upstroke guitar… pick it up pick it up pick it up.

50 Portraits – 28/29

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/20 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Van Halen, Nerf Herder, s/t, 1996 | LINK

the photography:

Portrait #28 is Joel | Portrait #29 is Elizabeth

kickball shall bring-ith us together-ith. that’s pretty much the mantra that i followed for a while back in 2007. that’s when i met joel. it’s also how i subsequently met elizabeth but i don’t really remember it that well. either way, they were both kind enough to tag along for some logan square photography complete with a 2 block radius sweep of the CTA blueline stop.

joel is a kindred soul. i knew this already but after further discussion, we realized that we each have significant ties to the upper peninsula of michigan and that we both enjoy the same humor and intellectual stimuli. amazingly, we have lived with the same roommate albeit in two different parts of the country and at least 5 years in between the two apartments. funny how life works like that? friends bring friends together in the oddest of ways.

and that is also how i met elizabeth. she’s from the same suburban chicago-land town as joel but they were enough apart in years to not know each other from school. it’s all about how you use your six degrees. the reason i asked joel to be a part of this project was because he is a reader of the blog and he owns this fantastic leather jacket. i told him to bring it with him. elizabeth noticed that joel was being photographed and wanted in. my philosophy? the more the merrier. and she was smashing. it helps when your subjects are comfortable with each other. awkward moments caught on film? we save that for facebook. they do make a pretty pair, don’t they?!

photos again are with the 28mm f1.8. it just makes things right in the world. i’m gonna get the 50mm fixed, someday. numerical order = chronological order = story telling w/out editing.

the music:
i started a thread on twitter the other day that centered around nerf herder lyrics. my friend dixie picked up on it quickly and we have been going strong for a few days now. it’s been cracking me up the entire time. who knew that some fleeting frat-punk band could last the years and make some inspiring songs for the world to hunger over? the song van halen was my introduction to nerf herder. pantera fans in love is where i pee my pants. “i bought van halen I it was the best damn record i ever owned…”

farmers market, on a saturday

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/4000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: I’m Afraid of Everything, Braid, I’m Afraid of Everything 7″, 1996 | LINK

the photography:
at the end of this week i realized how slacker i have really been with posting photos and, ABOVE ALL ELSE, taking photos. so in a flourish of productivity i have secured four new 50PP portrait sessions and i am about to email three more. it feels good to be productive.

do you know what else feels good? going to your local farmer’s market and purchasing fresh produce for which to make the summer’s first crock-pot chili. i am so stoked. walking around evanston’s farmer’s market is always a blast as i know i will be able to sample some fresh fruit, some fresh bread, possibly a nibble of some pickles, and my very favorite – a taste of some of the local jams. if the day is rainy, we’ll usually follow it up with a feature film or some thai. today, the ladies decided it was mani/pedi time and took off. me, i headed home to secure some computer time uninterrupted. win-win.

photos are with the fixed 28mm. still sitting pretty in my #1 spot as fave lens right now. so photojournalistic in nature, and so fast and easy to use. it also is compact and doesn’t get in the way of grocery hauling. daddy’s got to carry what daddy’s got to carry.

the music:
“goodbye mr. good humor, now i’m just a joke”. this is, by far, some of bob nanna’s finest and most heartfelt lyrical work. this song hits so close to home as the subject is coming to grips with his ability to do day-to-day tasks. i too wish that some days i could just “howard hughes” myself in the house and stay in the comforts of what i know and can control. i remember hearing this song early on in college and i remember how it related to my own thought process surrounding self-esteem. big ups to bob for putting it into words. this song picks me up every time.

night walking with a posse of photographers

Exposure: 5.0 sec – Aperture: f4.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1.3 sec +1 – Aperture: f6.3 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1.0 sec +1 – Aperture: f6.3 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 2.5 sec -2 – Aperture: f8.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 8.0 sec – Aperture: f9.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 15mm
Lens: EF 15mm Fisheye f/2.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Imagination Blind, Dinosaur Jr, Farm, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
the other night i got together with a couple of other chicago based photographers and we did a fantastic little night walk through streets of downtown chicago. it was, in a word, fantastic. i really enjoyed getting the chance to walk around and shoot the breeze with a couple of shutter-nuts like myself. i think i just coined a phrase. at some point, i’ll have a section on here called shutter-nuts. it’ll be portraits of photographers i have met and know. i think that’s a grand idea.

back to the walk. i am such a sucker for a good long exposure photograph of urban settings. i love trying to figure out how photographers compensate for several light sources, light temps, glares, light pollution, and moving subjects. it just plain fascinates me. when i’m shooting my own long exposure photos, i always carry a large tripod and i try to take the explicitly human element out of the frame. moving vehicles hide their drivers and passengers at night and they allow for a mechanical movement that is still very creepy and linear. long exposures with humans tend to just be blurry masses. which is cool sometimes. but i currently like working with lines and edges and moving parts and big f-stops and clear images and … sorry. i’m rambling.

i remember back in college when i really first experimented with long exposure nighttime photography, i realized that subtle pieces of each image would reveal themselves during the development process after the photo was taken. every time, to this day, my eye adjusts to what it wants to see through the viewfinder at night, not what it actually sees. these days, i get home and pull the images up on the computer and i notice about fifteen things that i didn’t see or take into account when i took the photo. it’s a fun process. i blame the darkness.

anywho, photos are from inside the loop at night and one thing to point out that this is my first real photo of the new trump tower in downtown chicago. it’s an ominous building that i really have grown to like. equipment lugged around after dusk includes: Camera body, tripod, 24-70mm f2.8 lens, 15mm fisheye f2.8, 28mm f1.8 lens, cable release, and extra batteries and CF cards. not a light load but a good time indeed.

the music:
my god these guys can really do no wrong. if i get a chance this year, i am gonna track them down and see a show. if you think i’m kidding, watch this video. oh my. i’m just so stoked to be back in the mess of rock and roll that matters. i am pretty done with dance rock as it was never for me. i am also done with the 80’s being rehashed as “cool”. wow. i could scream about that all day. but i won’t. i’ll just listen to my DJR and love it.

also? this is a lou song. i like it a lot. a lot.

nature photography (i’m new at this…)

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f11.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 55mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 32mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: the two camps in my head | LINK

the photography:
as a photographer, i love the wham bam thank you ma’am moments. i adore walking around with a camera around my neck, shooting from the hip, taking it all in, a click here, a click there, you know, real fast like. i would even describe my style as being slightly gung ho. i have very little patience when it comes to the time consuming slow process photos that take four days to set up in the studio. how david lachapelle does it? i will never know. but what i have learned about nature photography might surprise you.

in all honesty? eff ansel adams. eff ansel adams for making nature look perfect. eff ansel adams for taking the time to hike through the world and shoot photos of it. eff ansel adams for living during a time of less man and more nature. eff ansel adams for being a perfectionist. eff ansel adams for leading the general public to think that they can take photos like he could. and most of all, eff ansel adams for making it look easy.

nature photography is hard. very hard. it takes time. you must be in the right place, at the right time, with the right light, during the right season, and with the right angle. every time i take photos of nature i curse my own eyes as false. what i see without my camera and what i see through my camera are totally different things, this i already know. but nature photography widens this disparaging gap. widens. yuck. it drives me nuts that i can’t sit nature down and chat with it for a little while. once we got to know each other a little better, i would take funny, yet unalarming portraits of nature. THAT is never gonna happen.

photos taken with the 24mm-105mm lens. when i’m shooting nature, i’m keeping it wide open. but sometimes you just want a touch of zoom to get those pesky electric lines out of the frame. god i wish i had a helicopter. every angle of the mountains that i want to photograph starts with me, 100 feet off the ground. i’m just saying… (i threw a car in there for good luck measure)

the music:
so again, i am left with very little music to listen to. so gratefully, my inner psyche has divided my brain into two camps. camp #1: chatty cathy. my head keeps yacking on at the speed of light about nothing and everything. someday i’ll draw a map of how my thoughts progress. it will look like someone threw up on the page. camp #2: let’s get rocked by def leppard. someone, please kill me.

grand teton indeed

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f13.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 32mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2500 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 45mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: utter fucking silence. when was the last time that happened? | LINK

the photography:
i am a huge fan of traveling to places you have never been. i enjoy making the journey, landing in a foreign airport, traveling around by taxi (or rental car) and running into the unexpected. well i’ve been to wyoming before but i have never been to jackson. flying into the jackson airport, you literally touch down on the runway as if you were being placed directly in the length of the valley between the mightiest of tetons and his nearest relatives. it’s breathtaking. truly. every time i visit some place new that i visually fall in love with (aesthetically on par with almost every huge landscape in alaska, arizona, and china that i have visited), i start to look at real estate signs and ask questions about the culture. jackson is no different. the only problem with this region? tourists. it’s fun being one. but growing up in vermont taught me two things; 1) real vermonters don’t vacation in new jersey and 2) leaf-peeping tourists can suck it.

photos are with the trusty 28mm f1.8 fixed and my dynamic 24mm-105mm f4. we rode a tram up the length of Rendezvous Mountain which is the largest peak attached to the Jackson Hole Ski Resort. more to come when i visit the rest of the area. hope the kids in chicago are enjoying lalla-pall-ooooooza and all that heat. it’s like 60 and sunny here. weird weather. or better yet, EXTREME…

the music:
i try not to curse when i type. if you’ve met me, you know that i curse a bit here and there but only within polite company. last night, i couldn’t sleep because it was too quiet. living in an urban sprawl of sound and noise (although some would categorize my music as neither ZING!) makes sleeping in a rural setting (and if you looked at the photos, you know what rural means in wyoming) very difficult. since growing up in the woods, i have assimilated to the urban streets and i now need car horns, dog barks, box fans, and airplanes to make my night peaceful. oh well. as depeche mode once said, enjoy the silence…

pitchfork festival, not just another outdoor party in the chicago summer

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Over It, Dinosaur Jr., Farm, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. i have quoted that statement so many times it now just flows from my mouth without the slightest touch of irony or snark. these days, when i get together with my best friends for a weekend of crazy, i’m pretty sure i actually mean it. two weekends ago, the pitchforkmedia music festival was in chicago for three nights of fun, music, art, crowds, and above all, drinking- festival style. what a great excuse for three of my groomsmen to float into town for some down home festival loving. and friends in a band who were playing showed up to boot. it was great. with said band, came some VIP passes. wow. you know what makes a great festival even greater? free beer. friday night, after a great noshing on lots of pork (thanks Publican, you rule. i will be back), i endured one of my “Top 10” going out on the town nights. needless to say, saturday hurt. the photos are from running around the festival grounds and from getting ready in my TV room. count the number of Sparks wrist bands that show up and make sure you look around in each photo, sometimes the best moments are happening outside of what you’re looking at. thanks again to the Bowerbirds, you guys are amazing. shot with the fixed 28mm f1.8. nice.

the music:
dinosaur jr. kick butt. i have been listenign to them, pretty much non-stop, since i was in the 8th grade. it’s one of those bands that are so instantly recognizable and oh so gosh darned love-able and warm and fuzzy, and above all else, loud. this new CD with the original lineup of Murph, J. Mascis, and Lou Barlow, is their first output as the original lineup, in decades. i love it. it’s 1994 all over again. bring the fuzz boxes, the marshall stacks, and shimmy yer butt. i said shimmy!

freelance portraits

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 35mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 63mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 65mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 43mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 51mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 45mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 42mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 40mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 55mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 55mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Your Old Love is Dead, Stars, Set Yourself on Fire, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
i have been filling in my days making ends meet with various freelance jobs from here and there. the largest of these projects is a bit of work that i am doing with the MFA creative writing department at Columbia College in chicago. i’ve been taking portraits of various contributors for the student run Fictionary magazine. it’s a great opportunity to take portraits of people i have never met before and it’s a great opportunity for me to hone my art direction as I need to put all of the portrait-ees into places and positions from scratch. each of the writers and editors that i have met have been so relaxed and pleasant about the entire process that i wish the rest of the client side of the world would be so kind. the only real guideline that was set before i started was that the images be in black and white. so i’ve been playing a bit with trying to find some really diverse natural (and unnatural) places to shoot. it’s been fun. up next? more portraits. enjoy.

the music:
i absolutely love watching and listening to bands that have fun when they make music on cd and in a live setting. montreal’s Stars fit so nicely into both of those categories. ever since i heard their breakout first record, heart, these kids from canada have been killing it abroad and slowly gaining fans in america. it helps that they are indeed a part of the greater collection of canadian artists known as the “broken social scene”. those crazy socialists in canada actually give money to their artists because it’s a way to progress as a society. society, socialists, communists? while you sit on your hands and try to make a case against socialist tendancies, i’m moving to montreal to get paid to make stuff…