Archive for the ‘Deep Thoughts’ Category

This image is full of contradictions. First the location of the image is quite misleading. When you see this you probably think it is the middle of the country somewhere; however, you would be wrong. On my way to work today, I turned off the interstate and stumbled upon a welcome center for an industrial part. I initially turned into the small center to throw away some trash and was greeted with this windmill, a covered bridge and a beautiful farm house. The ironic part is that this welcome center is smack dab in the middle of the DFW Metroplex far from any “country”.

The second, and for me, more important paradox about this image is how it was taken. As you may know, I used to own thousands of dollars in camera equipment and shot quite a few pageant girls for their commercial ad. pages. I considered this genre of photography to be the Mipinnacle of the art and I so badly wanted to become a fashion photographer. As you may surmise, becoming a successful fashion photographer is a little like becoming a professional athlete. After many years of buying what I thought was the “right” equipment and shooting and never having achieved this goal, I grew frustrated, disappointed and I quit. I sold everything and purchased an inexpensive compact camera to take some happy snaps.

This entire blog is the result of my friend challenging me to step outside my miserable comfort zone and assert myself as an artist. I completed his challenge and I can say that today I confidently consider myself both an artist and a photographer. Now, this is important to this post because one of the major transformations I went through was finally realizing that the equipment does not matter. Certainly, a camera with more feature such as a larger sensor, interchangeable lenses, etc make capturing some shots easier, but not having said features is not an excuse to not make art. The shot I attached was taken with my Samsung camera phone. A mere few weeks ago I would have balked at using my camera phone as a serious tool, but I have since grown to love it as a tool for making art. Which brings me to the name of this post.

Today I added a gentlemen to my Google+ circles who manages a blog called Minimalist Photography 101. The entire point of his blog is to remind people that thousands of dollars worth of equipment and complex post processing software is not needed to make truly amazing art. Having come full circle from a neophyte with a camera, to a wanna be with the best equipment and back to a photographer who sees the camera as a mere tool, his blog really hit home. Now, I have to admit I am enjoying some post processing with Google’s Picnik application, but I do not take pictures with the intent of “fixing” them later.

Well that is all for now. Peace!

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Well here I am with my beautiful bride on day 31 of my photoblog challenge. Towards the end of June, I was at Amy James’ home visiting with my friend Bobby Harris. I explained to Bobby that I had sold all of my camera equipment and was taking a hiatus from photography for many reasons. Besides needing the money, taking pictures simply had stopped being fun. I told him that there was simply too much emotion wrapped up and that I was just a “tormented artist.” Bobby looked at me with a scowl and said that was all BS and that he was pissed off at me. I was perplexed to say the least.

A few minutes after the initial exchange Bobby challenged me to take a photo a day for one month and blog about it. Initially, I dismissed this idea because I had taken thousands of photos and what could a few snap shots per day really matter? A week or so later, I decided to accept Bobby’s challenge as I had been missing taking pictures. So my month long journey began and I cannot thank Bobby enough for kicking me in the ass and making me do it. You are welcome to browse the daily photos to see what I captured during July so there is no need to rehash each day, but looking back I can honestly say that it made all the difference in me as an artist.

Before I engaged in this challenge I was always so focused on the technical details of the picture I did not appreciate simply taking photos and seeing the art come out of them. Instead of shooting with thousands of dollars worth of equipment, all of these photos were taken with an inexpensive compact camera and a little help from post processing. I learned to appreciate the randomness that accompanies simply snapping images and seeing what happens. I learned to tear down the ideological boundaries that traditional photography place on art. I learned to take photos for my pleasure and for my art rather than for others approval.

I am not sure where my photography will go in the future. I do not know if I will ever become a professional or serious photographer, but I am a photographer and a good one. I can be a professional if I chose and I know I have the skills and talents to do so. I know that I am my own worst critic and that I need to work on accepting the outcome for what it is: ART!

What is water? Water is many things to many people. For all of us water is the giver of life, the medium of survival or a harbinger of death. This image is a rather boring picture of me watering my front lawn spiced up with some post processing. Frankly, today’s picture of the day is my laziest attempt yet at simply putting something on a page. But what is water? Billions of people all over the world would look at this image and think how perverse it is to waste drinkable water on a lawn. How vain is it to care about how one’s lawn looks when people the world over are literally dying for a drink of clean water? The sad truth is that life is relative. Is watering my lawn essential? The answer is both yes and no. Cosmetically the answer is no, my life will be no different if my yard is brown grass and dirt. On the other hand, if I do not water my lawn, the ground dries up which affects my foundation possibly causing it to shift or crack which can fundamentally affect my life. People living in Haiti might wish they simply had a house with a foundation cracked all to hell to shelter their children, yet for me a cracked foundation is a fear of crisis proportions. All life is relative and in America we live a relatively great and rich lifestyle so we have little appreciation for things like clean water. So little in fact we, I included, simply waster by watering our lawns and allowing the runoff to flow down the streets into the sewers. Water is the giver of life, the sustainer of humanity and yet we treat it as the most worthless and abundant liquid around. All life is relative!

Today as I was thinking about my daily photo, especially in light of the fact that I skipped yesterday, I ran across the Cavanaugh Flight Museum again. I posted a few nighttime images a week or so ago, but went back today and captured a few shots. The included image is the nose cone of a Russian Mig (short for Mikoyan Gurevich) 17 sitting next to a United States Air Force Reserve Republic F-105F Thunderchief. Both of these aircraft saw service during the Vietnam War and were often adversaries over the skies of Vietnam, but that is not the story I want to tell.
As I snapped a few photos of the Mig, I thought about the news article I read yesterday reporting that a Russian agent was linked to the US Embassy bombing overseas. Thinking first about the article taking me back to my youth and seeing the Russian fighter reminded me of just how frightening the Cold War truly was. Most people under the age of 25 today have little to no memory of the Cold War and living daily with the threat of nuclear annihilation but I do. I can remember the 1980s and hearing President Reagan label the U.S.S.R. an evil empire and watch the enormous buildup of thousands of massive nuclear weapons on both sides. I remember hearing the Strategic Air Command Boeing B-52 bombers and KC-135 tankers take off night and day from Carswell Air Force Base wondering if it was just another drill or the real thing. It may seem absurd to sit around wondering when the bombs would fall, but for most of us it was a foregone conclusion that someday they would come, until the wall came down.
I will never forget witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was as if the world had finally awakened from a deep and horrible nightmare and we could all breathe a little easier. There were concerns about the safety and security of the massive Soviet nuclear arsenal, but that was miniscule compared to the daily anxiety caused by the ever present threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. Looking back it truly is a wonder that by some twist of fate, moment of passion or just plain act of madness the human race did not decimate itself. To this day, I still wonder if God himself controlled the Cold War years more closely than any other in human history.
Seeing the Red Russian Star on the side of the Mig-17 simply brought back a flood of memories from my youth. I will never forget asking my father if a nuclear war was going to happen and him not being able to assure me the answer was no. Today we live in fear of terrorism, and to be sure there is much to fear, but currently no terrorists possess the ability to remove most of the human race from planet Earth within a few hours, and make our species extinct within months. Let us hope that the sort of misinformation, paranoia, distrust and madness that accompanied the Cold War never surfaces again.

Today I had my first ever music lesson. Music has always been one of those things that was beyond logical comprehension for me, despite the fact that I briefly learned to play the drums as a teenager and that I am married to a vocalist. I was always able to grasp the science of music, understanding that basically all music is simply a matter of making various instruments vibrate in such a way that is was pleasing to the human ear, but there is so much more to music than that.

My first few days learning guitar remindrf me of my first few attempts to learn golf. There is that singular moment when learning to strum a guitar (and I guess playing all instruments) when you strum a chord perfectly and the sound rings true. The sounds just envelopes you and for that one singular moment you feel like you are one with the guitar. I had the same experience the very few times I hit a golf ball perfectly. In golf, this is known as hitting the “sweet spot” of the club and it just feels clean. Both of these moments seems almost as though everything in the world that has been distracting you has faded away and you are living in a moment of perfection.

Now before you read this and roll your eyes, let me assure you that I no longer play golf, and am by no means a guitarist. I am a student with the most rudimentary skills which are mediocre at best, but experiencing those moments of harmony compel me to learn more. Spending just one hour with my instructor Paul proved to me that I can learn the guitar, which was always so daunting to me in the past. I suppose as I get older I am willing to try new things because frankly there is no reason not to. I look forward to experiencing more of these moments and learning to play actual music in the future. I suppose my ultimate goal is to be able to accompany my amazing wife some day as she sings!

The Surly Bonds!

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Deep Thoughts, Kipper

Since I was a young man growing up just outside Carswell Air Force Base, I have possessed a genuine love for aviation, space and all things other worldly. Besides the technological thrill of flight, the philosophical aspect of escaping the bonds of Earth has tickled my imagination like no other. Living on planet Earth is paradoxical. On the one hand the entirety of the human experience, the reality that each of us knows is inextricably linked to this rocky planet which has given us life for billions of years. On the other hand, the entirety of the human condition with all its suffering, pain and death is also deeply ingrained into our world. Flying allows us, if only for a short time, to escape and soar high above our human condition. As the old Irish Blessing says, “May the wind always be at your back” and “May the sun shine warm upon your face”