Category Archives: photojournalism

Back in the saddle…

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

the photography:

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

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

I guess it could be worse.

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

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

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

Make art. Make Art. Make. ART.

the music:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s been a while…

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

Sincerely,
– Ian

world leaders and me.

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

the photography:

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

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

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

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

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

the music:

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

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

love it.

tractor parade

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

the photography:

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

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

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

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

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

the music:

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

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

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

seeing old friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

maybe art can sell.

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

someday i’ll get them to do it again…

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.

portraits, cars, where i wanna go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unique portraits

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

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

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

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

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

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

looking back at my 20’s in polaroids part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

looking back at my 20’s in polaroids part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

waiting for the get-away car that never came.

my first day back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

indeed good sirs, indeed.

out the window

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| 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.

beijing revisited – 1/3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

so many time changes, so little time.

so many hammer-ons, so few fingers.

killer fog is better than the blob

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

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

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

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

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

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

hong kong revisited-4

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f4.0 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF24-105mm f/4.0L USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hong kong revisited-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hong kong revisited-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hong kong revisited-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

they are just so damn good.

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

the figgs

the gravel pit

the gentlemen

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

college graduation v7.4.1.2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

edd’s current favorite records:

The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash

Flogging Molly – Swagger

The Dropkick Murphy’s – Blackout

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

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

inside detroit

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

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

a) i work in the automotive industry as a photojournalist

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

c) i’m not a reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

detroit rock city, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

horses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

taking over at lunch, flickr style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

north east kingdom, 100th post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

giving thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

historic downtown la on a friday morning in december

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| currently listening to: Motorist, Jawbox, For Your Own Special Sweetheart, 1994, | LINK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jawbox – Savory

Jawbox – 68

Jawbox – ff=66

the standard hotel, la

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

flickr meet up at coco’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

annual holiday sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo crew or posse or something

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

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

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

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

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

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

finger picking time

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

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

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

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

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

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

what is the difference between jam and jelly?

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| 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.

you’ll always be mini golf to me.

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| 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.

farmers market, on a saturday

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| 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nature photography (i’m new at this…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

grand teton indeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pitchfork festival, not just another outdoor party in the chicago summer

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

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

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

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

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

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

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: f2.2 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

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

| currently listening to: Over It, Dinosaur Jr., Farm, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. i have quoted that statement so many times it now just flows from my mouth without the slightest touch of irony or snark. these days, when i get together with my best friends for a weekend of crazy, i’m pretty sure i actually mean it. two weekends ago, the pitchforkmedia music festival was in chicago for three nights of fun, music, art, crowds, and above all, drinking- festival style. what a great excuse for three of my groomsmen to float into town for some down home festival loving. and friends in a band who were playing showed up to boot. it was great. with said band, came some VIP passes. wow. you know what makes a great festival even greater? free beer. friday night, after a great noshing on lots of pork (thanks Publican, you rule. i will be back), i endured one of my “Top 10” going out on the town nights. needless to say, saturday hurt. the photos are from running around the festival grounds and from getting ready in my TV room. count the number of Sparks wrist bands that show up and make sure you look around in each photo, sometimes the best moments are happening outside of what you’re looking at. thanks again to the Bowerbirds, you guys are amazing. shot with the fixed 28mm f1.8. nice.

the music:
dinosaur jr. kick butt. i have been listenign to them, pretty much non-stop, since i was in the 8th grade. it’s one of those bands that are so instantly recognizable and oh so gosh darned love-able and warm and fuzzy, and above all else, loud. this new CD with the original lineup of Murph, J. Mascis, and Lou Barlow, is their first output as the original lineup, in decades. i love it. it’s 1994 all over again. bring the fuzz boxes, the marshall stacks, and shimmy yer butt. i said shimmy!

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?

vermonted 1

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F2.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 60mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 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: F4.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 65mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F2.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Calgon Take Me Away, Swearing at Motorists, Number Seven Uptown, 2000 | LINK

the photography:
spending five days in the state of my youth reminds me of how much i HATED where i grew up when i was a kid and inversely just how much i LOVE it as an adult. visiting family and friends is always good for the soul and this past weekend was no exception. as i wrote earlier, my nephews are ridiculous. here’s some photos from wandering the place. a motorcycle, a house, some trees, great bubbly, lobsters, and a privy. my feet felt like they were up all weekend long.

the music:
swearing at motorists are one of the great unsung midwest indie rock heroes. their biting wit and dead-on lyrics cut even the most staunch listener to the core and they make random stories about small city living relevant to anyone. it’s fantastic lyrics mixed with lo-fi DIY production that sounds miles better than it should. these guys should be touted as the “best little band with song writing that people have never heard”. this song could have ended up on a modest mouse rarities record. the touching line for me (sorry about the curse words in advance): “you shut the fuck up, and you calm the fuck down.” he means it.

playing with the boys

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

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Wouldn’t It Be Nice, The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds, 1966 | LINK

the photography:
hanging out this weekend in vermont couldn’t be any sweeter. my twin nephews are here as are my brother and sister-in-law. it’s a good old down home family get-together. we spent the day running around burlington. amazingly we ran into friends from high school, friends from college, and one random friend from chicago who just happened to be rolling around downtown. spending time at my parents house means lots of lounging on the rug in the living room, lots of watching/talking hockey, lots of talking about kids i went to high school with, and much chewing of the fat. it’s pretty awesome. photos are of the boys. they are damn cute. the first one is titled “shit patrol”. the rest are untitled.

the music:
the beach boys remind me of sitting in my parents living room listening to my dad’s vast collection of vinyl records. we had all of the hits of the 50’s, 0’s, and early 70’s and i would spin them left and right and make my mom dance with me. it was an awesome time. besides tim hardin and bob dylan, the beach boys were number 1.

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

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.

shorn grass, hot day, cool dog.

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F8.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/500 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/3200 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 24mm
Lens: EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Stuff, MU330, Press, 1994 | LINK

the photography:
after posting a facebook update that stated that i was about to mow the lawn, i was told by a dear friend from across the country that maybe i should be taking photos of said lawn instead. i took him up on his offer. so before i spent the rest of the day enjoying the friendly confines of the local horse track (it was derby day for crying out loud) but after i had mowed said lawn, i snapped off some shots of the faithful puppy (Monte Verde) hanging around on the deck. it was a glorious day indeed. the blossoms from the neighbor’s trees were blowing into our yard like soft floating summer snow. monte decided that he would roll around on top of an earth worm. yesterday morning proved that the world is at ease. forget about the M1H1 swine flu… summer has officially broke in chicago. things are gonna be alright.

the music:
things couldn’t get any more summer than listening to ska and/or reggae. this song was one of my favorite tunes in the summer of 1995 when i first listened to it. the lyrics are crass, the horn line is kicking, and the rhythm section is tight. exactly what i need when listening to american ska. ah… to be a youth again.

tweeting

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F4.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2500 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: 200 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: .8 sec – Aperture: F6.3 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 70mm
Lens: EF 24-70mmL f/2.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: nothing. i have my headphones on without music playing. 2009 | LINK

the photography:
so i just started tweeting. i know what you’re going to say, “jeez ian, what a johnny-come-lately. you only started ’cause oprah was doing it”. well, in all honesty, it’s a great way to meet people who might enjoy my photography. and also, it’s a great way to chat with peeps i know across the country. and my wife has been trying to get me to join for something close to a year so… consider it done. you can hit me up at @IDMPhoto if you are so inclined. photos are from brooklyn, some subway station (thanks leigh for being patient), a restaurant cocktail shoot, and brooklyn again (not in that order). this week marks my second trip up to road america and i’m excited to test out some new cars on the track. it will be nice to race around in the smaller cars with powerful engines. it makes me feel much safer than rolling with the big dogs. i’ll post some shots when i get the chance. until then, drive safe.

the music:
um, you should click on the link next to the “currently listening to”. mac book + me + coffee = a goofy looking guy in a cardigan and an 18 year old Pearl Jam shirt.

brunch in lincoln square

Exposure: 1/125 sec – Aperture: F3.2 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F3.2 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: F3.5 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F3.5 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F8.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: F8.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Woods, Bon Iver, Blood Bank EP, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
today was great. i spent much of the early morning going from one grocer to the next collecting what we needed for a fancy feast of waffles, fruit salad, (pork) bacon, turkey bacon, banana nut pancakes, syrup, coffee, mimosa’s, and orange juice. it was a feast attended by family and two close friends and their son, it was great to sit and chat and chew the fat over what was sure to be a great beginning to the summer. after noshing and jawing, we walked outside and went strolling up and down lincoln avenue in lincoln square. my father-in-law was on the prowl for copies of the reader (local chicago arts and newspaper) so that he could collect the subway sandwich coupons hidden in each issue. sorry to anyone who picked up a copy at costello’s thinking that they would get $1 off a subway sub. our bad. pics are from the subsequent walk and hang out. check the us weekly reading affair as well. quite splendid.

the music:
i just picked up this EP for this song alone. it’s layered voices that may not sound much like anything new or ground breaking but justin does us all one better (eat it lil wayne). mr. vernon adds auto tuner to ever single voice as if he were a lost hip hop producer in search of the next best track for an atlanta mix tape. it is so well done that i can’t stop listening to it. it’s divine (as in it belongs in a church).

in wine country

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: F5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: F5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: F5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: F6.3 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F6.3 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: F6.3 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Skinny Love, Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
in sonoma county in northern california, things seem to slow to a crawl. the pace of living, the time spent pondering, the moments spent doing, they all seem to slow down to half speed. when you spend much of your time in a city, soaking up the noise, the people, the movement, you start to forget what the country is really like. i remember the first time i spent a night in the woods of wisconsin where i found it too quiet to sleep. too quiet. ridiculous. driving through the southern tip of the redwood forests and watching the ocean rise below you as you wind down a rolling hill, it’s truly spectacular. it’s trips like this that i need to make twice. one to photograph my surroundings and the other to enjoy them. here’s six from the ocean and the dry creek valley. both beautiful, both close in geography and distance but both completely different.

the music:
this is probably the prettiest song written by my generation. justin is an artist who sets the highest of standards for his craft. it’s beautiful and honest. if you haven’t heard this song, you have been doing a disservice to justin vernon and the music public at large. go on, go buy it. it’s breathe taking.

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.

gigantic hand live in brooklyn

Exposure: 1/13 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/50 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/30 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/15 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/15 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: F1.4 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: EF 50mm f/1.4 – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Gigantic Hand, Myspace Music, 2009 | LINK

the photography:
“when in rome” is a phrase i use very often with not only photography but also with music. while i spent much of my week running around the javits center on the west side of manhattan, the rest of the week was spent kicking around brooklyn and queens. when i travel within the US., i like to listen to local music which in the case of new york, can be found on my ipod. when i was walking around williamsburg one afternoon, i ran into the lead singer of les savy fav which happened to be the band that was playing on my ipod at the not 20 minutes before. it was quite a simple twist of fate. i was pretty happy and shocked. we didn’t talk to each other or interact in any way as he was walking his dog with his wife and their child. running into tim harrington was a sign that i would be comfortable and at peace with new york. this is something i had yet to feel as a grown adult. it was soothing to know that nyc was on my side and down the road, maybe we could become friends.

the music:
gigantic hand are a band from brooklyn that features my friend edmund on guitar. i caught their set at Public Assembly in williamsburg last thursday night. it was fantastic. it’s great to see a group of guys get back to what they love, loud, build-them-up-only-to-break-them-down pop songs. lots of strumming. lots of great drumming. lots of fun. rock and roll indeed.

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.

eddie and sarah’s

| currently listening to: Tiny Island, Leo Kotke, Greenhouse, 1972 | LINK

the photography:
most nights i come home from a long day at work and i feed and walk the dog. after he chomps down his nightly meal, we head out on (depending on the weather) a fantastic voyage that leads us past barking dogs, crazy ladies on porches, and right past one rather weird church. it is a ritual of ours to soak in all of the local sites and for him to relieve himself. me, i just bask in the glow of his charming swagger, his puppy-ish good looks, and his knack for scaring the crap out of sheepish dog owners who think he’s tough. it’s cathartic and wonderful and i do it every day i am home. i look forward to our time together and today was no exception. we are like a couple of school kids on the way home from a long day of art class and gym. we always take the long way home and he loves to stop and sniff the dirt. it’s great.

when i got married a couple of years ago my friends came out to the far northeastern part of the country to support me on my big day. i returned the favor for some good friends a year or so later. we traveled down to north carolina to witness something really special. i grabbed a ton of candid shots from the crowd. it is really fun to go to weddings when you know you are not on the clock. this wedding in particular had it all, perfect weather, a perfect crowd, a great ceremony, and it was a fantastic spot. awesome indeed.

the music:
i love leo kotke. he may not be the only musician that my father and i agree on but he is probably the only living musician that we love for the same reasons. also, he’s one of the few performers that my father, my brother and i have seen independently of each other. this song shows off not only his virtuosity as a musician but also his pipes as a singer (a rarity). it’s a truly beautiful song.

wedding photos

| currently listening to: Skinny Love, Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago, 2008 | LINK

the photography:
weddings are delicate matters that should be taken seriously. especially when you are the hired photographer. i enjoy photographing weddings. they are truly celebrations of family and friends and of each other. they are almost always full of personal and group outpourings of emotion. there is inevitably some gorgeous older lady in the corner who is crying her eyes out with tears of joy. it’s usually someone’s grandmother. weddings are perfect for portraits. they are also perfect for practicing your photojournalism skills.

the music:
man oh man… what can i say about justin vernon that hasn’t been said a thousand times in the indie press. i met justin 3 years ago when he was the front man for deyarmond edison. it was deyarmond’s last tour before they imploded and called it quits as a band. that night they played a show at the fort in front of something like 30 people. it was a special night indeed that will be a shiny moment in my personal history. justin spent the afternoon warming up by strumming my old 50’s harmony archtop in the corner singing softly to himself. sigh, swoon, sigh.

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.

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.

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.