Category Archives: Fine Art

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

IMG_0086

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.

IMG_0063

IMG_0090


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.

IMG_0039

IMG_0035

IMG_0055

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.

IMG_1440

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.

IMG_9998

IMG_9978

IMG_0020

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…

IMG_0094

IMG_0096

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.

5_idmphotovehicular039

4_idmphotovehicular002

GOPR2275

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

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.

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.

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.

looking back at my 20’s in polaroids part 2

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

| 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

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

Exposure: n/a sec – Aperture: n/a – ISO: n/a – Focal Length: n/a
lens info -n/a – Camera: Polaroid Instant

| 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.

out the window

Exposure: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 51mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 70mm
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.

killer fog is better than the blob

Exposure: 1/13 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

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

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

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 500 – Focal Length: 28mm
28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/20 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 1000 – Focal Length: 28mm
28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

| 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.

detroit rock city, 2010

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 57mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 32mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1600 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 40mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 38mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 45mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 38mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 32mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 54mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| 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

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f3.2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

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

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f2 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

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

Exposure: 1/250 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: 1/500 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.

leaf peepers have all gone home

Exposure: 1/60 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

Exposure: 1/60 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: 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: 1/50 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

Exposure: 1/80 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: 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
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: 1/3200 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: 1/3200 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: 1/4000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

Exposure: 1/100 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: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – 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: 1/800 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

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

Exposure: 1/640 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: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| 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

flynn avenue, burlington, vermont

Exposure: 1/13 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 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: 200 – 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: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exposure: 1/100 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: 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: 1/160 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

| 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.

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.

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

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 63mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

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

Exposure: 1/160 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: 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: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 57mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 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: 62mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 62mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

Exposure: 1/200 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.

what is the difference between jam and jelly?

Exposure: 1/2000 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: 1/1600 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: 1/4000 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: 1/6400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 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: 640 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

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

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).

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.

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…

tin roof rusted

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Ghost of Karelia, Mastodon, Crack the Skye, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
not 35 minutes before i started walking home after shooting these photos and the portraits of andrew (50PP #21) did i drop my camera on the sidewalk thus temporarily destroying the usability of my 50mm 1.4. a shame really. it’s my favorite lens. relatively inexpensive, fast, caring, loving and light, this lens had it all. sometimes when i think about the times we shared together, the cold nights huddled in the corner after long walks on the beach in the rain, crying while screening fried green tomatoes, eating pate and toast crisps, i just want to sob hysterically in the arms of my 24-70mm 2.8. ah…. the memories… am i cheating? when i figure out if it’s fixable, i’ll keep you posted. these photos are of and from the gallery with which i am a member. one of the members found an old ceiling section made of tin in the dumpster. before you could say, Ro Sham Bo, it was cleaned up and attached to the ceiling in the gallery. it’s pretty sweet.

the music:
must stop listening to this record… must stop myself… must… can’t… won’t…

it’s june in chicago but it feels like february in seattle

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 15mm
Lens: EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 40mm
Lens: EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 15mm
Lens: EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Don’t Change, INXS, Shabooh Shoobah, 1982 | followed quickly by | Kick, INXS, Kick, 1987 | LINK

the photography:
so the weather in chicago has yet to let up. crappy rain and 60 degree fog soaked mornings are what i’m dealing with. if i wanted to live in the PNW, i would have moved there years ago. yuck. the photos today are from the middle of dearborn street, in the offic parking garage, and from this fantastic recording studio in an old loft off the river in Milwaukee. the photo looking north up dearborn street is pretty self-explanatory as is the parking garage image. the recording studio loft was the setting for my recent shoot with All Tiny Creatures. these kids are fantastic. check them out. the shots were taken with my 15mm fisheye. a cheeky look but i totally dig it. the studio reminded me of my old art space in cicero. i shed a tear. BTW… i love the stigmata photo with a polaroid. might go down in history as one of my favorite “found” pieces of art. i love walking around old buildings and looking rooms.

the music:
do any of you remember when INXS hit the states over the head in 1986? i do. my brother was just getting into music (his musical tastes coincided with his love for skateboarding and included such great underground and new wave heroes as The Dead Milkmen, INXS, OMD, and the Thompson Twins) and my parents always let us play pop radio on our Chevrolet Celebrity station wagon. so when INXS took the US by storm i was there. and i was impressionable. these records stick with me wherever i go and let’s be completely honest, Don’t Change is one of the greatest songs ever written. i don’t care what kind of music you like.

vermonted 2

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 47mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 65mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 105mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: This is Not How Forever Begins, Swearing at Motorists, Last Night Becomes This Morning, 2006 | LINK

the photography:
here are 5 B&W photos of what i have come to call a tree nosher. it’s actually a machine known as a logging skid. this one is pretty beat up. ahhhh. can’t you just smell the northeast kingdom of vermont? the problem with black and white on a super sunny day is that the green grass and the blue sky are almost the same amount of neutral gray. also, the harsh overhead light creates bad harsh underbody shadows. oh well. this thing was cool.

the music:
this might just be a swearing at motorists marathon. you all should support your local heroes. dayton has the motorists. what does your town have?

the irony is not lost on me

Exposure: 1/8000 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/5000 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F3.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F3.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: What Have I Done?, Cursive, Mama, I’m Swollen, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
the weather yesterday and into last night (as we sat in my house listening to the tornado warnings from 8-11 pm) was especially craptastic. today’s weather? the opposite. gorgeous, breezy, perfect. if anything, the wind was a bit strong today. but that did not stop me from taking a walk around the office. shots are from the standard 5 block radius walk.

the music:
dave t. hooked me up with a copy of the new cursive disk. i sorta liked the last one (Happy Hollow) and the one before that (Ugly Organ) belongs in my top 50 of all time. over the course of the day (i have spun the record about 3 times in it’s entirety) this new record has grown on me. the last song is so strong that it makes you want to listen to the whole album again from the beginning. that rarely happens. i feel like these days, the last 3 songs on a record are there so that the band can call it an album’s worth of material when they actually should have put out an EP. this last song shows off tim kasher’s confessional writing style at it’s best. a great build it up tune complete with horns and a rousing chorus. it’s really a great way to send the listener home. turning point lyric?

you’re young and you’re gonna be someone

and you’re old and you’re ashamed of what you’ve become

well take a look around you, you’re preaching to the choir!


4:11

craptastic day in chicago

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Good Morning, Captain, Slint, Spiderland, 1991 | LINK

the photography:
can i talk about how crappy the weather has been in chicago this spring? what have the weather gods given us this year? bupkus. nadda. zilch. nothing. where’s my 68 degree sunny day with a slight breeze? oh, sorry, the memo says that it has been replaced by rain, 43 degree mornings, and some serious wind. dag yo. i did get a chance to sneak out and walk around the block and document the crappy day. not always a fun subject, crappy days tend to end just as horribly as they begin. i think today will be different. the mrs. and i are headed to the gym, then back to the house for some lounging with the puppy. i think things will follow the natural course and we will see the sun soon, and with said sun comes our 86 degree days. i hope.

the music:
a crappy day outside deserves some serious ass kicking sludge. slint, from outta no where, in 1991, gave us one of the great indie records of all time. spiderland laid the ground work for anything and everything that was post-rock. oh boy is it good. the cover photo was shot by will oldham too which is totally sweet. anyways, you can google them and figure out what all the hub-bub is about. or you can just dive in.

photos in 3 hours

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: F3.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/640 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F3.2 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: 007, Desmond Dekker & The Aces, 007 (Shanty Town), 1967 | LINK

the photography:
it was a great mother’s day today. i spent the morning gorging on one of the best buffet’s i have ever laid my eyes on. it was complete with homemade corned beef hash, eggs, something with tortilla chips, bacon, sausage, french toast, and savory crepes made with nuts, mushrooms, swiss cheese, and spinach. holy crap. it was really awesome. i was so full that i decided to update my website. i was in pretty bad shape to not want to do something other than that. wheeeew. anywho, these photos are from saturday morning. i spent the early hours of the day helping out a friend of a friend smoke some pork shoulders, plant and replant some bushes and a tree (respectively), all while drinking too much coffee. it was fun. it turns out that this new friend of a friend has the same background and love affair with the same music that i do (the genre of midwest/chicago/angular/math/rock/post-punk/kickbutt music made on guitars, basses, and drums). it’s nice to meet like minded people. he also has a totally sweet apartment that is decorated straight out of a DIY website. love it. here are some snaps of the house, the pork shoulders, his neighbors dog, the el, and todd (my mannequin) all taken with the 3 hours that spent doing all of the things i just listed doing. a fun saturday morning.

the music:
desmond dekker is one of those guys who was there in the beginning and is here now. so he must be the real deal. he must be! he’s so old that and so good that he probably still gets 20 year old girls backstage even though he’s in his late 70’s. the self-declared king of ska, dekker has had hit after hit in jamaica. but 007 is one of his best. indeed.

5 more from ireland

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 640 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 1250 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: I’m On Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA, 1984 | LINK

the photography:
i have a hard time having fun while on vacation. it’s been a problem since i started to document my vacations with my camera. when i was younger, i was care free and easy to please. give me water, give me sunshine, give me good food and even better wine and i was a pig in mud. these days, all i want to do is take that one photo that gets me onto the National Geographic staff. i know i have touched on this subject before but every time i revisit my photographs from a trip, i just realize that somedays i just need to leave the camera at home and enjoy my surroundings. ireland is so photogenic it hurts. i think i shot more photos on a 10 day trip (which includes the 2 days i spent in bed with a head cold) than i shot in my entire life up to senior year of college. insanity. damn you digital cameras and your easy to download files. damn you indeed. next time i go there, i’m bringing the whole shooting match of 15 lens’ or more.

must… document… entire… country…

the music:
bruce is bruce. i spent much of this morning trying to convince a rather smart and dignified musician friend of mine that bruce springsteen is worth a damn. it still hasn’t stuck. and we can split hairs and point to how awful Tunnel of Love is and how overblown Nebraska is but my goodness, that dude has written some spectacular songs. and he keeps proving again and again that you don’t need the best voice in the world to kick butt. you just need to put on a 3 hour non-stop show at the age of 59.

under the BQE

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Tears Of Rage, The Band, Music From Big Pink, 1968 | LINK

the photography:
when i was first out of college i moved to the city of boston. it was a big city compared to the small vermont town (3,000+ population) i grew up in. i was a little wet behind the ears when it came to cities but i figured if my parents could weather nyc through the 60’s and 70’s, i could probably make it through beantown fairly unscathed. the urban landscape, as an entity, has always fascinated me. during my lunch break or when i could wrangle up a sunday afternoon, i would grab my little mp3 player (pre-ipod), my gigantic sony headphones (dj styled ear muffs), my camera, and my transit pass and head out over the largest urban landscape in the great state of massachusetts. not much has changed since those early days of riding the red line down to southie and hopping off to walk to the ocean. these days i kick around chicago in much the same manner. whilst in new york recently, i did took a foot/train tour of brooklyn. on this particular morning, i spent much of my time off the beaten path walking under the brooklyn queens expressway next to the east river. it was a fascinating hour and a half walk from the bottom of cobble hill to the brooklyn bridge (i obviously took my time). here are some photos from that walk. at some point, i will get the chance to put together a show titled “under the bqe” and i will fill it with oversized prints of the cracks in the structure that holds the highway in place. until that day, here is a snippit of what that walk was like. along with some wide shots of the street i was on are some close-ups of the buildings around that area. they are old factories and harbor buildings. years of paint and metal and rust and brick. fun. sorry trevor, these are all horizontal. my bad.

the music:
this first track from their 1968 debut is one of the greatest songs ever written. richard manuel walks us down a lonely road about family, relationships, and misunderstanding with distinct frustration and pain. robbie robertson’s wah and flanger covered guitar crawls along the beat while a distinct bass line brings us home. organ, saxophone, and tom-toms accent this track. i find it hard not to bite my lip and get angry with him. it’s indeed a truly breathtaking five minutes and twenty one seconds.

for trevor

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F4 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 73mm
Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: A New England, Billy Bragg, Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, 1983 | LINK

the photography:
i had a chance to sit down and chat with another photographer here in chicago about all of our likes and dislikes of the current state of the photography world. our long list of things we chatted about sounds a lot like overheard conversations from beneath a porch at an old people’s home. almost every sentence started with, “kids these days” and finished with “and then you know what he did? he asked if i had ever used film before…” it was fun to blabber on about storage needs (filled last week), digital shortcomings (can’t push and pull, sucks in low light, easy to ruin files, etc.), film’s pains (waiting, hours in the darkroom, silver poisoning, etc), and the cost of crappier products made of plastic and not metal (all camera gear on the market today). but we both agreed that photography will improve and digress like it always has with new equipment and new ways to adjust photos. like the ebb and flow of the tides, we just have to deal with it. and i’m really ok with that! it’s just fun to chew the fat with someone who has been through the same experiences. the four verticals today are from the archives. my grandfather, dirty windows, a foot, and wires are all fun subjects. i also took some much needed advice from bones and i added the camera information back underneath each photo so you can now know the specifics of each shot. ah, the digital world meets traditional film techniques. some things never change.

the music:
billy bragg is one of the most meaningful and under appreciated songwriters in all of musical history. i hold his canon higher than dylan. bragg slips in there amongst the soul giants and great reggae musicians, right above the clash and right below fugazi. this record was originally released with 7 songs, a play time of almost 16 minutes, and it played on 45 rpm as opposed to 33 rpm. it’s fast, witty, poignant, pensive, and straight up bad-ass. a man, his telecaster, and his fender reverb amplifier. that’s it. billy carries the torch of woody guthrie with pride. bragg gets better with age although he has slowed down his torrid pace of anger towards facists. now that bush is out of office, he might have to stop touring and retire in spain. who knows. this is the first real song that i learned to play solo and i belt it out whenever i get on stage.

four from before

| currently listening to: Someday My Prince Will Come, Miles Davis, Someday My Prince Will Come, 1961 | LINK

the photography:
today has been a long day. we spent most of last night listening to the party that our tenants downstairs were throwing. i didn’t fully fall asleep until well after 5 am this morning. it was bad news. but it was nothing a good home cooked meal couldn’t fix. eggs, bacon, waffles, coffee, orange juice, and a citrus fruit cup. divine. no photos today due to the awkward stress that sleep deprivation plays on my head and my hand eye coordination. i trudged through the files and found these four photos from various times in my career. i don’t know why i threw in the photo of the guitar. the photo itself is nothing to write home about but there is something special about the homemade box light that i made out of 2×4’s and fluorescent tubes. it about 2.5 feet wide and tall and had a mounting bracket on the bottom so i could stick it to a light stand and shoot through it. you can see it’s effects on the eyes in the first photo posted. with today’s ability to adjust your white balance to meet any light, these lights become cheap alternatives to expensive strobe driven ring lamps. the 50 portraits will continue this week. some volunteers have sprung up along the way. i am really excited to dive even deeper into the process. expect to see some unexpected things come out of this. if anything, shooting 50 different people is pulling me out of my comfort zone and making me think hard about what’s coming next. and who…

the music:
this recording is the last record miles did with coltrane. it’s not one the most highly touted records, though it is one of my favorites. people always point to kind of blue and in a silent way but i am quite sure that this record bests them both. amazingly orchestrated and superbly recorded, this record is smoother than anything before and since. it also reminds me of my dad and i playing records while my mom would be working in the kitchen. i love that the bass and trumpet are centered in the mix (left to right, stereo sound) the piano is pushed right and the drums and saxophone all left. it’s an amazing listen on headphones. it transports you.

four by five

| currently listening to: Move On Up, Curtis Mayfield, Curtis, 1970 | LINK

the photography:
lugging around a 10 pound camera can really add some wear and tear to your joints. i have no idea how the founding fathers of modern photography pushed and pulled their gear up steep mountains and though raging rivers. i just know that every now and again, i bust out the old standard sinar 4×5 and the tripod that i bought to hold it. it’s a great camera and with a little bit of patience and love, comes great photographs from it. here are some test shots i took with a polaroid back attached to it. even without the bonus of taut film, the polaroids come in nice and crisp when scanned. i love the chemical stains and the untrimmed edges. and nothing beats a nice clean large negative. nothing.

if this camera were a little lighter and film and processing costs were a little cheaper, this camera would get used every day.

the music:
there is nothing better in the world than curtis mayfield. one of the great guitarists of all time. unbeknownst to many, curtis honed the modern sound of funk guitar. he was a legend on many fronts. i love his music.

fluorescent lighting sucks

| currently listening to: Art, The Firebird Band, The City At Night, 2004 | LINK

the photography:
fluorescent lighting sucks. especially if you are photographing an area with both natural light and fluorescent light mixed. it drives the color meters on digital camera sensors bananas. the only time i really enjoy fluorescent lights are when the are the only light source (or the major light source) and i am shooting in RAW mode. when you can adjust the very yellow fluorescent lights to be a bit more blue do you finally get to see some incredible effects that the light has on it’s surroundings. i wish every old abandoned industrial warehouse in the world was lit by long tubes of fluorescents.

piles of wiring, ducting, dust, dirt, and metal look utterly fantastic under the glowing yellow that are fluorescent tubes. it helps if you have one long pull string that is hanging from a fixture that is barely holding on for dear life as the long tubes look as if they could fall out of the ceiling and explode on innocent bystanders below. but i’m getting ahead of myself. the worst light in the world is above our heads all the time. you just need to look up and recognize it every now and again. these photos do just that.

the music:
jeez, this band will never be as good as the bands that came before it (braid specifically). but i really like some bits and pieces of this record. this song specifically is full of trite and boring lyrics about people who make art. but it’s pretty awesome.

when all the world (square block) is a stage

| currently listening to: Draw Us Lines, Constantines, Tournament of Hearts, 2005 | LINK

the photography:
chicago has plenty of architecture to photograph. and talking about cal’s liquors last night made me think of showing off what it looks like. it’s quite interesting on the inside too. if you have the means, i think you should stop by some day.

the music:
constantines have been around for some time now (ten years even) but many have yet to hear about them outside of their native canada. amazingly, they are not from montreal. give em a listen. and go see them live, they put on an excellent show.

after the dishes are done

| currently listening to: New Hampshire, Matt Pond PA, Emblems, 2004 | LINK

the photography:
street photography to me is something that i enjoy doing more than any other kind of photography. as i have stated before, plop me in the middle of a city with a bus pass and my camera and i’m a pig in mud. here are some shots from around the loop and all the way out in logan square. the “effort” is not ironic. it’s the name of the skateboard company. these three photos were taken with my favorite two lens’, the bicycle and light in the parking garage were taken with a 24-70mm 2.8 zoom, and the skateboard pic was snapped with a 15mm fisheye. there’s something about a harsh florescent light bouncing off a parking garage cement floor that gives off the air of something sinister and creepy. i really like the ambience in that photo. the bicycle was chained across van buren from cal’s liquors just outside a taco shop.

it’s a great example of someone keeping an antique in tip top shape. i always wanted to stop whomever owned the bike just to ask them if the lamp worked. the paint job was in great shape too. the skateboarding shot is from a gray rainy day at the obelisk in logan square. james needed to get out of the house and i needed to not be in the fort for the day. it was a perfect stop before we went out to eat at el cid on milwaukee.

the music:
matt pond is from the same part of the country as i am and he’s the first singer songwriter that has captured the modern rural new england drive to live somewhere other than where you grew up. the pull of new york city and boston is so pleasing at 18 and by the time you’re 24, going home is all you can think about. it’s a gorgeous song about seeing family, laying in lakes, and relaxing. it’s what i want to do almost every day (if only someone would pay me to do so…).

one block radius

| currently listening to: Stars, Hum, You’d Prefer An Astronaut, 1995 | LINK

the photography:
during my down time during the week i sometimes sneak away and walk around the block. alleyways and the people that inhabit them are a couple of my favorite subjects. i have walked up and down this one alley a couple of dozen times and every time i see something new that i had missed from the walk before. three dozen dumpsters line this alleyway and more than four major office buildings, a dozen restaurants, and one very large parking garage supply it’s ever growing trash piles. when you have as much garbage truck traffic as this alley has seen, you are bound to look different every day of the year. it never ceases to amaze me.

the music:
from the small metropolis of champaign illinois, the foursome known as Hum have made a large impact on the sound of a generation of rock and rollers whether they know it or not. large chords, blistering amplifiers, and sci-fi nerds meets graphic novel lyrics stuck in space made this band a “must have” in any collection of 1990’s alternative rock. you may know this song from the newest cadillac CTS car commercial with kate walsh. this is the song that comes crashing in when she’s done talking about the car “turning her on”. sweet.

negatives

| currently listening to: If You Can Hold Your Breath, Karate, s/t, 1996 | LINK

the photography:
sorting through old negatives is always a blast. i haven’t done it in a while but these couple of strips are from two very impressionable times in my life when i really wanted to be a budding photographer. the black and white shots are from my senior year in college when i was trying to impress my teacher by finding the prettiest girl i knew to look hot. it actually was pretty fun. we spent the afternoon in my living room with some very yellow, hot, and above all cheap(!) lighting from home depot before i decided that the photo shoot needed to be moved outside on the fire escape and on the roof. i got a B+ on the assignment. errica was a trooper. she’s done really well in new york as a musician. she’s friends with my wife.

the color photos are from my second incarnation as a budding photographer. i spent the better part of the three years after college taking classes at mass art, the only truly stand alone higher education public art school in the country. it was a fantastic couple of years. i had the best time using the school’s color lab, their 20″ x 24″ polaroid camera, and i met some crazy people in my art history class. i was working full time so my free time was spent taking evening classes. these photos are from my final piece for color photography III titled, “the artists i know: portraits”. it was a fruitless exhibit but a bunch of the photos stand the test of time. at least in my eyes. plus, it was a blast to work on.

the music:
what a ground breaking record karate’s s/t LP was. this music opened my eyes (more so than the pixies) to the local music scene in boston. i bought a used copy when i was a record dj in college and it really changed my idea of what independent music really was. it also fueled my love of the “post rock” sound.

karsh-ism

| currently listening to: How To Put It Down, Goner, Rock ‘N’ Roll Always Forgets, 2008 | LINK

the photography:
one of the sad technological losses in the race to deliver artistically (out of many many many sad technological losses in the race to deliver artistically) is the death of black and white film photography. i know that black and white isn’t “dead” per se but how many people are still holding the “i still shoot film” flag? very few of you. i thank you for doing so. from the bottom of my heart. but let’s be honest, these days photography is a digital game. and thus, gone are the little intricacies of lighting, shooting, and printing black and white photos. now that you can adjust everything (and i mean darn near close to everything) in post production, we have lost the attention to detail while setting up a shot, setting up a light, and with setting up a model to fill out the perfect gray-scaled cheek. gone are the days of using contrast heavy/grainy film, dark gray makeup, and pushing 1600 iso film to 3200 iso. well, i miss it. i like the way that black and white looks on my monitor, and if i spend enough time and money, i like how it prints out on my printer.

but today’s digital systems have got nothing on yesterdays black and white film and the printing process that goes along with black and white film. i saw the new Yousuf Karsh exhibit at the Art Institute in chicago recently. the man knew his film, his lights, and above all, how to engage his subjects. i fear that newer photographers have very little patience for all of the above. deliberate faces, hard lighting, and beautifully intricate backgrounds defined a man who ran a working studio for 60 years. if you have yet to see it, please go and check it out. it’s worth every minute, every penny, every ounce of energy that it takes to get there and to enjoy it. while you’re there, i’m gonna try to bring back my B&W habits. they are a bit rusty.

the music:
i designed the cover for this record for the band Goner from raleigh nc. they are three guys making great art without the use of a guitar (ok, an acoustic shows up on at least one track here). you should take them for a test drive. the vocals, lyrics and music are gonna make you want to tap your feet in applause.

vertical portraits

| currently listening to: Satisfy My Mind, The Greenhornes, Dual Mono, 2002 | LINK

the photography:
spring has finally started it’s decent into the chicgaoland area and i for one am all for it. let their be green grass and let their be warmth. exciting times. here are four portraits for different reasons and from different perspectives. all vertical (mr. bones) and all color. b and white will happen soon, i promise. i think my favorite might be nathan’s hands. there’s something a little off kilter here, a story behind the photo that i can’t quite put my finger on. i like that it’s intriguing.

the music:
before there were the raconteurs, there were the greenhornes. great garage rock from city of cincinnati.

macro via extension tubes

| currently listening to: Silly Girl, The Descendents, I Don’t Want To Grow Up, 1985 | LINK

the photography:
“I’ve also noticed that you tend to favor the landscape/horizontal format, twist that bad girl 90 degrees every once in a while . . .” my friend bones wrote this in a note to me not too long ago. he’s right. i spend so much time photographing cars (a very horizontal shape indeed) that i almost never shoot vertically these days. anyways, i just wanted to add a couple of photos to the blog that were (at the very least) north south and not so much east west. these photos were taken with a tube extension attached between my 24-70mm lens and the body of my camera. the subject is a old voltage/ampage/place-name-here-age meter that i transformed into a lamp.

the extension tube is an interesting and inexpensive piece of equipment that allows for the exact same focal length (even though it extends the lens from the body by about 1/3-1/2 of an inch) but decreases the focal distance. it’s a pretty sweet way to shoot macro photography. the only drawback? you need to be pretty close to the subject to use it. really close.
the music: “we are the proud, the few, the descendents rocking you home tonight”. great music for a slow morning of editing auto photos. just add coffee, turn volume to 11, repeat as needed.

city themes

| currently listening to: Run It, The Replacements, Hootenanny, 1983 | LINK

the photography:
i spent this weekend (much like last weekend) eating my way from one dinner party to the next brunch, to the next restaurant, etc. i am going to live on lettuce and water chestnuts for the next year. too much bread, butter, and ribs were ingested this weekend and i need to get out and about. but it sure was fun. i did get s snippet of time where i wasn’t eating my day away on saturday afternoon so i hopped the damen bus down to wicker park for some bookstore shopping and leisurely strolls with one of my friends. divine. and boy did i need the exercise.

getting out and and about for me means cruising the city streets with my friends and family. i could ride a city bus or hop on a train at any given moment and get myself lost for hours. it’s something i enjoy doing and inevitably, i find something to aim my camera at.
the music: this song precedes one of the greatest rock and roll songs ever (color me impressed) and in the great “rock and roll album centric music listening experience”, this song gets you ready for it. i miss the days when albums were meant to be listened to in song order or (gasp) to be listened to in order by the sides of the record.

photos of graffiti

| currently listening to: It’s Natural To Be Afraid, Explosions In The Sky, All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
there are so many ways to express yourself with art. since the late 1970’s, spray paint graffiti in the urban sprawls of america has come to mean so many different things to so many different groups, positive and negative. the newest crop of artists are developing and deploying new methods of communication via the traditional paint on wall. freehand spraying skills of the past have morphed into more traditional graphic design elements with the creation of stencils and the use of one or two colors. fine artists are getting in on the act and using the decayed walls of our cities to protest, show off art, make statements, and above all, as canvas’. i am so down with photos of graffiti. the first two photos are from the near south side of chicago. or as the developers call it, the south loop. the third is from dublin.

the music:
explosions in the sky are a singer-less four piece from austin texas who rose to fame scoring the movie, friday night lights (and subsequently the tv show with the same name). their echo and delay laden guitar attack is driven by a pounding rhythm section. etheral soundscapes fill the down tempos and their build-it-up only to break-it-down mentality makes this instrumental band fun to listen to. take a listen if you have never heard them. it’s post rock at it’s best.

todd

| currently listening to: In Particular, Blonde Redhead, Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons, 2000 | LINK

the photography:
i’m not sure if i can keep up this torrid pace of posting but i’ve got the fire. so why not? for a while, my friend james and i ran an art studio space in cicero, illinois that we aptly dubbed, The Fort. we held concerts there, had a skateboarding halfpipe, and it was a place where we kept all of our musical instruments so at 4:30 pm on the dot, we could grab our drum sticks, turn the amps on, and make some noise. todd is a mannequin. when we started the fort, todd had two eyes and no holes in his head. by the time we closed the door on the fort, todd was missing the back half of his plastic skull and both eyes were missing from inside his face. todd never had legs or arms. but he does have an 8 pack. my old roommate placed the tape over todd’s nipples. this is todd.

the music:
blonde redhead have been around a while now. this record is almost ten years old and it really stands the test of time. i think it is the pinnacle of their music career with some of the best early “ought’s” indie rock from NYC. don’t get me wrong, other blonde redhead records are quite good in their own right but this one is my favorite. syncopated and pretty with a touch of otherworldly. the voices on this record are so flipping pretty and when they are paired with precise guitar lines and back beats, they become a floating vocal layer that peels and covers the music with ever turn. perfect.

portraits in four; part three

| currently listening to: Fitz & Dizzyspells, Andrew Bird, Noble Beast, 2008 | LINK

this is part three of a three part series.

i have found that the best way for me to practice my photography is to experiment as much as possible. this means getting friends and family involved. after a comfy dinner party on a warm late summer night, we took over a back yard and set up some strobes and umbrellas. the photos that were produced from the first have of the shoot were pretty straight forward and rather plain. as my models were getting bored i decided that i would heed the advice of one of my mentors.

“when a subject starts to become mundane or boring, leave your lights where they are and move yourself to a side of the subject that you haven’t been photographing. hopefully when you’re there, you’ll find an angle or a view that will be exciting enough to keep the shoot going and will keep you (as the photographer) interested. once you loose your interest, your models will as well.”

so i walked around the other side of my models and discovered an entirely different perspective. suddenly the backyard, which was earlier being lit up by the strobes, disappeared to black and the hard lines of backlighting began to shape the photos. as the models turned their backs to the flashing lights, umbrellas, and soft boxes, their demeanor lightened and they relaxed. everyone had a blast and the photos that resulted from a change in perspective were the ones that i love the most. it’s all about putting the subjects into the right perspective.

to give you an idea of where the lights were set up, here is a wider shot.

the music: i am a huge fan of local chicago musician andrew bird but i feel like his new record is a little too “out there” for pop audiences to grasp. his last record was filled with uplifting pop gems that were disguised as intricate indie chamber pop. the record brought bird to edge of a national breakthrough. in contrast, the new record is so very esoteric in it’s music and in it’s lyrics. this makes it hard to understand at times as musical genre experimentation, lengthy words, and (for lack of a better word) noodling leave the listener wanting a standard song structure and for andrew to put the thesaurus down. cluttered is what i would call it. i like it. in fact i like it a lot. but i don’t think a lot of the record buying public will. Fitz & Dizzyspells is probably the best traditional single from the record. it’s really good. there’s a video for it, found here.

portraits in four; part two

| currently listening to: C-Lo, Proof, s/t, 2004 | LINK

this is part two of a three part series.

photographing other photographers can be a lot harder than you’d expect. many photographers know the small intricacies involved with handling/working with models but once the tables are turned, things can go awry quite quickly. my friend jay falls into the category of “one of those photographers who has no problem getting his picture taken”. in fact, sometimes i feel that jay might actually enjoy being in front of the camera. either way, these photos are great examples of backlit bright sun light versus the shade. Both light sources are the exact same (color temperature, angle, intensity, etc.) sun and these portraits were taken within a 10 minute period of each other on a cold afternoon of shopping in chicago while jay was visiting from north carolina. as you can see, the colors are much more vivid and the yellows jump off the screen with the backlit photos while the shade of the alleyway provides a blue/grey hue. these are four examples of training yourself to bring your camera everywhere and to shoot photos all the time because you never know when you’ll get some good looking shots or when you’ll walk into some unique lighting. thanks to jay on this one. his glasses were fantastic that day.

the music should be noted as a great band that should be taking the country by storm. this song is about one night that jay and the song’s writer spent with the late great chicago band, sweep the leg johnny. a tip of the cap to all those involved.