Thursday, November 30, 2006

Apple Pie a la "Mole"

A few weeks ago, my daughter had a Chemistry assignment to do. The project was to make something that had a Mole in it.

According to Wikipedia, "The mole (symbol: mol) is the SI base unit that measures an amount of substance. One mole contains Avogadro's number (approximately 6.022×1024) entities."

Her chemistry teacher provided a paper pattern to make a Mole and with some brainstorming, she submitted the "Apple Pie a la Mole" you see above.

The pie was made of wood and then covered with homemade "paste" made of flour and other ingredients. The apple slices were made entirely of the flour material.

Among the entries from her classmates:

Rock 'n Mole
Mole-ing Alley
The Spice Moles
Moler System

But nobody came up with my favorite: "Mole, Larry & Curly!"

We also thought of "Molester," but thought that might be a little difficult to pull off... lol

Monday, November 27, 2006

Vivitar 283 Flash

A year or two ago, the Vivitar 283 flash was discontinued. It was the end of an era.

The 283 and 285HV flashes were the workhorse flashes of the industry. I still own two 283 flashes and use them on occasion. Many of my weddings were photographed with these flashes because they gave a high quality of light and were extremely reliable flashes.

I'm not quite sure how long the 283 flashes were on the market, but I do know it was available in the 1970's. Although it is an older model, the 283 and 285HV flashes were favorites (and still is) among professional photographers. The 285HV version has a zoom flash head whereas the 283 does not.

Since the 283 is now discontinued, the price of the flash has gone up. But for many years, you could purchase a new 283 for around $69. Yes, it's cheap compared to modern day flashes! My Nikon SB-800 flashes sell for approximately $315 each! Sure, there's more automation on the Nikon flashes which makes my life a lot easier, but it doesn't really give off any better light than a 283 used properly. And both flashes have about the same power ability as well.

Why do pros still use the 283? Because of its simplicity and reliability. You need to know how to properly use a flash to get good results and that's part of the pleasure of using the 283. It hones your skills.

If you decide to get a 283 (if you can find a good used one) be sure to get a Wein voltage regulator before mounting it up on your new digital cameras though. Some of the 283's out there have very high trigger voltages (upwards to over 300 volts!!) that can fry your digital camera! The voltage regulator helps protect your camera. It keeps the voltage to a safe 6 Volts or under.

Today you'll see me using my Nikon flashes at most weddings. But on occasion, you can see me sporting my trust 283's whenever I want to get back to basics. At every wedding, I bring four flashes with me... two Nikon SB-800's and two Vivitar 283's. I don't go anywhere without my trusty 283's!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

My friend Steve gave me a call yesterday to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. He told me that it was has favorite "holiday" of the year because it is the kind of holiday that does not require anything from anyone except the love of having your family and friends around. No gifts, no expectations.

I think he's right in that Thanksgiving is just about being thankful for all the things you've received for the year.

For me, I'm thankful for my family and friends and for all the new friends I get every year. I meet a LOT OF PEOPLE over the course of a year's time... new clients, potential clients, wedding guests, etc. Sometimes I can't even remember the names or faces of all the people I meet, but they all seem to remember me and my name!

Over the course of a year, I will literally photograph over 10,000 people. Now it may not be portraits of individuals, but sometime during the wedding day, whether it's a family group photo or a table shot of guests, these people will be photographed.

I'm thankful for all the new people I meet every year. Many of my clients refer their family and friends to me and so my client list grows every year. But many of these clients become my friends too, they aren't just my clients.

Take the time today to think how fortunate you are when you are spending time with your family and friends. Life is good!

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 20, 2006

Bridal Fashion Show at The Congress Plaza Hotel

Yesterday, I participated in a Bridal / Fashion Show held at The Congress Plaza Hotel - Downtown Chicago.

The fashion show was a lot of fun to photograph. It always amazes me how fast these models can change clothes and come back out for another walk down the runway! They did a fabulous job and I got some great shots as well!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Perhaps it was the recent 30 year reunion with my high school classmates that got me on this nostalgia kick, but I've been really enjoying listening to all my old Chicago albums again! In a survey of my classmates from the reunion, the group Chicago was mentioned more times than any other group as their favorite band. No other band even came close to being mentioned as often as Chicago!

The first album entitled "The Chicago Transit Authority" is probably my favorite album of all time. Since then, Chicago has gone on to release a total of 30 albums! That's incredible!

Their unique sound, complete with a fabulous horn section, solidified their place in Rock 'n Roll history and every band I knew that had a horn section had to cover at least a few Chicago tunes. I recall playing in a band in the late 70's and we covered a few Chicago tunes too.

I recently purchased a DVD which featured Chicago along with Earth, Wind & Fire. Wow, both groups still sound great!

I recall seeing Chicago in 1976 at the University of Illinois. Guitarist Terry Kath was still alive and I remember how much I enjoyed the show. It was the first concert I ever attended and I was amazed at how good the group sounded. I had the chance to see them again several years later at a concert in Chicago as well.

After all these years, their sound still holds up. I encourage you to check out their songs!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Taylor Doyle Dykes Signature Model (DDSM)

This is the latest guitar acquisition for me... a 2006 Taylor Doyle Dykes Signature Model guitar!

The DDSM was designed in conjunction with Doyle Dykes, one of my favorite guitarists of all time. It has solid Big Leaf Maple back and sides and a solid Sitka Spruce top and a florentine cutaway. Electronics is the incredible LR Baggs Hex Pickups with a custom acoustic equalizer preamp. A shallower body than most Taylors makes the guitar easier to handle. And the new short-scale neck makes it so much easier to play. The playing action is absolutely the fastest I've ever played on an acoustic guitar!

This guitar was built for live performances. The sound is bright, full bodied and articulate. It has the most distinct sound I've ever heard from an acoustic-electric guitar.

The guitar is adorned with abalone inlays including a beautiful White Rose on the headstock. Doyle tells the story that many years ago when his daughter Heidi was very young, she asked him if God would bring her a rose. Not knowing what to say, he just told her that they should pray about it. The next day when a rose did not appear, she asked her dad why she didn't get a rose. So Doyle just told her that perhaps she needed to tell God what color rose she wanted. "Do you think God needs to know that," she asked? So again, they prayed and this time she asked God for a White Rose.

Doyle didn't quite know what to do. He had thought about all the "plan B's" he could do... perhaps he could call a florist... But after his concert, a mentally-challenged woman in her mid-thirties came up to him and handed him something wrapped in foil. She told him that God told her to bring him something from her garden. Figuring it was some vegetable that she had picked from her garden, he said, "Well, I'll be very happy to eat this later." Hearing that, she said, "Well you better not eat that!" So he unwrapped the foil and there was a single White Rose!" Totally amazed, he said, "This is not my rose." The woman looked at him and said, "Well, God TOLD me to give this to you!" So he told her the story of how Heidi had asked God for a white rose to which she simply replied, "Oh, that's nice." And then she just walked away. Doyle just stood there "slack-jawed" in amazement. Of all the people God could have picked to deliver this, he picked a simple woman to do His work.

Later that evening he went home and Heidi ran up to him and said, "God brung me my rose, didn't he?!" As Doyle handed the rose to her, she just said, "I just KNEW God would bring me my rose!"

So to this day, as Doyle performs all over the world, he tells this story of Heidi's White Rose and then plays the composition he recorded called, "White Rose For Heidi." It's a powerful story and a testament to the power of prayer and belief in God.

As you know, I attend every Doyle event here in the Chicago area when he comes to play. Over the years, I've gotten to know Doyle personally and I'm very excited to have one of these special guitars of his.

To see a custom slideshow I photographed of Doyle in March 2006, click here. Use the member name RussLowe (no space between my name.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Better Than A Studio Backdrop

I have always told my clients that it is better to use the natural settings at their receptions than to use a studio backdrop. Why? It shows where your reception was held! Besides, those backdrop images often look like you went to someplace like Sears or JC Penneys to get them done!

Often you can find a few areas at a nice reception hall that can act as your backdrop. This image was taken at the Herrington Inn located in Geneva, IL.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Classic Poses

"Formal" wedding poses are classic.

These are the photos you will most likely want blown up to 8x10 or larger. If you have a picture frame, most likely, these are the kinds of photos you'll put in them.

As much as my clients like the photojournalistic shots I do, these classic poses are really necessary too. Your family will not only expect them, but you'll appreciate having them too.

I shoot these formal images really fast. Ask any of my past clients and they can tell you how quick it goes. It always takes more time to get people to come up to have the photo taken than it does to actually take the photo.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Beatles Tattoo

Since we are on the topic of The Beatles, I thought I'd post this image of a Beatles tattoo!

One of the bridesmaids from a wedding I shot recently had this tattoo on her back. She told me she had it done because her dad was a huge Beatles fan. The apple of course is a reference to the record label that the Beatles owned called Apple Records. Any way, she said right after she had this done, her dad had one put on as well... I think she said it was a Yellow Submarine!

Now that's fan dedication!

Also, see the comment on the Beatle Figurine post for more details...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beatles Figurine

I'm not sure when I got this little guy, but he was on my birthday cake many years ago! I suppose it had to be sometime around 1964 or 1965 when the British Invasion and Beatle-mania was happening. I hadn't yet learned to play the guitar (that was around 1969) but for some reason, my parents thought I would like a Beatles birthday cake and that I would like the guitar.

Little did they know that just a few years later, I would quit piano lessons and ask them if I could learn guitar instead! Look what happened after that... at last count, I've owned around 19 guitars & basses!

I've always thought this figurine looked like George Harrison, but it's never been specified which Beatle it was. In fact, it never really references The Beatles, but considering it was in the mid-sixties and based on the outfit he's wearing, it's got to be one of The Beatles. Who do you think he looks like?

I kept this figurine all these years because it reminds me of just how much my parents did for me and of course it's guitar-related!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Latest Testimonial

I decided to post any new testimonials on my blog as well as on my website. This way you will all know when a new one has been put into the Testimonial section of my website at

This one is from Angela whose wedding was August 19, 2006. Thanks Angela!


"My husband and I were married on August 19th of this year and we found Russell Lowe through Russell was our first photographer we interviewed and he ended up being our last. I had no idea what to expect from a photographer, you hear a lot of things from other newlyweds and their experiences but I really think you have to go with your gut. Russell was extremely honest, both with his prices and his views on photographing weddings. We told him that he was our first interview and he actually told us we should go out and get a second opinion. To me, I liked Russell because you can tell just by talking with him that he is so passionate about what he does and he loves his job. He has a blog on his website where he'll post not only wedding related material but also material related to picture development, it was very interesting and gave me a different perspective on photography itself. I think another key point to Russell's business that is definitely worth writing about is his option of letting the bride and groom layout and put together their entire album, page by page (this is a separate charge, very minimal, but definitely worth it). This was key because our package contained more photos than our album would hold so who better to decide what pictures went in the final version? We just finished putting ours together last weekend and it took over 4 hours. It was very time consuming and difficult at times but when you are the one to make the decision of which photo of mom and dad you want in the book, it's your decision. Overall, our experience with Russell was fantastic, most of the time throughout our wedding that day I didn't even know he was there. Having just gone through the experience of a wedding I realize how important your photographer is and I am so glad that we found Russell. Best of luck to all you bride-to-be's, you're going to have the time of your life!" - Angela from Chicago, IL.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

How Many Guitars?

Taylor 314ce-L4

I was talking to one of my clients the other day and the topic of my guitars came up. Since my wedding work is winding down for the year, we were wondering what I was going to write about on my blog during the winter.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I enjoy talking about guitars because besides photography, I love to play my guitars. But how many guitars have I gone through in my life so far? I really didn't know. So tonight, I made a list of all the guitars I have owned and still own. I'll get to that in a minute. But let me tell you about the first two guitars I ever owned...

My very first guitar was a "no name" electric guitar that my dad bought me at the old Korvettes store in Morton Grove. It was a hollow body thinline electric guitar similar to a Gibson 355 with an awful neck that made it really hard to play. I remember it cost $59. I also got a Kingston 15 watt amplifier to go with it. Not sure how much that cost.

A few months later, my dad happened to run into a "deal" for another guitar while he was at a music store buying a Fender Rhodes 73 key suitcase model keyboard for my brother. Some guy came into the store and tried to return a Fender Telecaster Thinline guitar that he had bought a few months before. The store owner didn't want to buy it back, so my dad asked the man how much he wanted for it. $175. Well, my dad really didn't know anything about guitars, but he remembered me telling him that one day I would like to own a Fender or Gibson guitar and he knew that Fender guitars could not be purchased for only $175 back then.

He didn't have enough money with him, but he asked the man to get in the car with him and they drove to my dad's workplace and he got the $175 and bought it! I recall coming home from school and my dad said he had something for me and it was on the sofa. I was in shock when I saw that guitar! That was the biggest surprise I ever had!

I was only eleven years old when my dad bought me that Fender Telecaster. Not too many kids can claim to own a real Fender Telecaster at the age of eleven! My dad was the best! Later, he bought me a huge Fender Bandmaster Tube amp to go with it! We got that for only $225.

Like my dad, I bought my daughter a Fender Stratocaster when she was fourteen.

So here's the list of my guitars:

Owned and Sold:
“No Name” Hollow Body 355 copy from Korvettes
Fender Telecaster Thinline
Gibson Les Paul Deluxe
Gibson Les Paul ‘57 Goldtop – Custom Shop
Takamine F340
Takamine NP45C
Takamine CD132SC
Takamine EAN60C
Ovation Legend – Steel String
Yamaha FG Series - 12 String
Taylor 414rce
Taylor 614ce
Taylor 314ce-L4

Fender Precision Bass

Currently Owned:
Gibson Les Paul 25th Anniversary
Ovation Legend – Nylon String
Taylor GSMSe
Taylor Doyle Dykes Signature Model (DDSM)

Fender Jazz Bass - 5 string version

Owned by my daughter:
Fender Stratocaster

How many guitars is enough? Is this too many?

I don't think so...


I Have The Funniest Clients!

I asked the father of the bride to give his daughter a kiss on the cheek and this is the reaction we got from the bride! She just "cracks me up!"

Yesterday I gave my clients their photos and we all had a big laugh when we saw this image. I threatened to put the image on my blog and she just said, "Go ahead... I don't care!" So there... now it's on the blog for everyone to see!

When you have clients as fun as this, your photos can't help but look great!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Missed Halloween This Year!!

Well it's around 1:50 AM and I'm still working!!

Yesterday (I'm tempted to just say "Today" since I'm still awake) I was out delivering two different albums to two different clients in two different cities. I was stuck in traffic for what seemed to be an eternity and by the time I got home, there were no more kids going around asking for candy. :(

In fact, because I was driving on major roads and not on residential roads, I didn't see a single kid in a costume this year! That has never happened to me before. Even if I had to work, I would at least see a couple of kids walking around in their costumes going from house to house. Well this year, I didn't see anyone! I MISSED HALLOWEEN!

Now if I were still a kid, I'd be very upset. But since I'm not a kid anymore (at least not physically) it really doesn't matter. But I'm still a kid at heart and I MISSED HALLOWEEN!

I think I'll pout a little more and then go to bed. Besides, I can always steal my daughter's candy from her work of collecting candy. :)

What? That's not ok?