Monday, June 30, 2008

It May Be Dark, But It Sure Is Cool...

I took advantage of the videographer's light during Saturday's reception. No flash was used...

OK, the Nikon D3 helped too... :)

Nikon D3 Works Wonders At A Wedding Reception

These two images were taken with a Nikon D3 and a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens. Russ Lowe held the camera, composed the shots and pushed the shutter release button. :)

The top image was taken with a Nikon SB-800 flash as well. The image was shot on manual mode at 1/30 second at f 4.0 with ISO 1600. Flash was set to TTL-BL. Focal length was 31mm.

The bottom image was taken with just the D3 and no flash. Settings were manual at 1/30 second at f2.8 at ISO 5000. Focal length was 24mm.

If not for the D3, these images would not exist. While some may say the bottom image looks dark, this is how it actually was at the reception hall. The only lights here were from the DJ lights, the videographer's light and the faint reception hall lights. Using a flash on a shot like this would wipe out all the colors of these lights! The high ISO ability of this camera is amazing. Be sure to click on each image to see a large version. Even though I have downsized the images to 4x6 size at 300 dpi and saved the image at a "3" quality in Photoshop, you'll agree, the images are clean. Granted there is motion blur from people moving on the dance floor in the bottom image, but look at how clean the other details are. There is very little digital noise in the full-resolution file and you can see that even in this downsized "web-sized" image.

It's only going to get better over time. Cameras today are getting SO GOOD! While the D3 is way out of the price class for the average person (and for some wedding photographers), I predict we will see similar results in less expensive cameras within a year or two at most. (Edit Note: The very next day after writing this post, Nikon has introduced the D700 camera which has most of the features of the D3 at $2000 less than a D3! While it is not built like a D3 nor does it have as fast of a continuous frame rate - only 5 FPS instead of 9 FPS, it's image quality should rival the D3 since it has the same sensor.)

Still, with good image quality becoming more readily available, that doesn't mean anyone can shoot a wedding. Knowing WHAT to shoot and HOW to get the desired image is still a professional attribute and for that, there is only experience to go on.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Saturday's wedding had 11 bridesmaids, 11 groomsmen, 1 flowergirl, 1 ringbearer and two ushers. Yeah, "That's-a-lotta-people!"

Horse Killed On The Way To A Wedding

While traveling on my way to this Saturday's wedding, I passed the scene of an accident which I had never seen before.

Lying on the road was a horse that had just been hit by a car. Several people were trying to comfort the horse as it lay in a huge pool of blood. A man was carrying a 13 year old boy onto a waiting stretcher to be put into the ambulance.

My first instinct was to jump out of my car and take photos since my camera was right on the passenger seat of my car. But I knew I was limited on time and needed to be at the church soon. So all I could do was pass on by the accident scene like the other cars.

The horse was still alive when I drove past and firemen and other people did what they could to calm the horse down.

Today, in the Chicago Tribune's website, I found out that the 13 year old boy was thrown off the horse before it darted into the street. Nobody was hurt except for the horse who later died.

I had some interesting things happen at weddings, but nothing like this while going to a wedding.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"I Can't HEAR You!"

Acu-Life Ear Wax Removal Syringe

"I can't HEAR you!"

This was what Sgt. Vince Carter used to say to all the Marine recruits on the TV show, "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.," which ran from 1964-1969.

Well, I had my own episode of this recently and had to go to the doctor's office to clear out my right ear. For years, I've had problems with wax buildup in my ears and while I was always able to clear my ears out myself with a Q-Tip, I wasn't so lucky this time. By the way, Q-Tip usage for wax removal is NOT recommended by doctors.

For almost an entire week, I had lost practically all of my hearing in my right ear due to the wax build-up. Yeah, GROSS, I know, but it's a fact of life. Everyone gets wax in their ears, but some people get it more than others. And for me, it's always the right ear that gets it more than the left.

Anyway, my visit to the doctor had me sitting in the exam room for 1/2 hour before the doctor came in. He did a quick 30 second exam of my two ears, made the determination that the right ear was sufficiently clogged and then went out to get a nurse to help. Together, they sprayed warm water into my ear with a high pressure syringe and in about 30 seconds, I was done. No pain, no inconvenience either. I was impressed! For those who need the technical term, it's called "removal of impacted Cerumen."

Once the water drained out of my ear (about 2 minutes later) I had "super hearing" in my right ear! Before the procedure, I could not hear any high frequencies at all. I'm not kidding. If you crinkled a cellophane candy wrapper next to my right ear, I could not hear it! Now, my right ear has better hearing than my left!

Well, the doctor recommended that I go out and buy an ear syringe of my own and to do this occasionally to keep from having to come back to see him for this problem. (Of course the doctor uses an "industrial strength" syringe, not a small one...) So I went out to my local Walgreens drugstore and paid $4.99 plus tax for an Acu-Life syringe. Of course, I immediately went home and worked on my left ear! The doctor would not do this for my left ear because he said it wasn't blocked. But I wanted to be sure I was evenly cleaned out!

This syringe is really nice! It sprays three jet streams of water into the ear canal, but not directly into the ear drum. It's safer that way. And since the tip is to be inserted so that there is a total seal, there are portal holes in the surround of the tip so that the water can exit, along with any debris.

Yes, this post is a little gross, but I wanted you all to benefit from what I had to go through. If you have problems with wax build-up, consider getting this syringe. It's really easy to do and it's not painful at all. You will need some kind of basin to catch the exiting water though. My friends at the Acoustic Guitar Forum suggest that you do this while in the shower. Good point! Less mess!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Farmer Wants A Wife - Finale

Brooke Ward
Images borrowed from CWTV website

Well, I guess I was right all along.

From the beginning, I had hoped Brooke would win, but thought Amanda probably would instead. But Amanda was sent home last week. Christa had a shot at it, but was asked to leave to go back to the city. So in the end, it was Brooke who stole Matt's heart! Yay!

What I liked about this reality TV show was that no prize money was involved. You either win and get married, or you don't.

The question remains... is a wedding really going to happen? And who's photographing this wedding?

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Abby Normal"

I saw this display of the human brain at the Museum of Science and Industry last week. When I first saw it, I couldn't help but think, "This must be Abby Normal's brain!"

Don't know what that means?

In the Mel Brooks movie, "Young Frankenstein," Dr. Frankenstein instructs Igor to go out and get him a human brain. But when Igor goes to steal the brain, he drops the one Dr. Frankenstein wants, so instead he brings back one labeled, "Abnormal Brain."

Later after the Frankenstein monster is created and things start to go wrong, Dr. Frankenstein asks Igor whose brain he got. So Igor tells him it was from, "Abby Normal." Makes sense to me! :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Farmer Wants A Wife - Update



Images borrowed from website

Well, I watched this week's episode and I was shocked that Amanda has been given the boot!

I thought she was the front runner since Matt's family liked her so much. But Brooke has taken the lead instead! I've been thinking Brooke would be Matt's choice all along, but Amanda seemed to make such a good impression with Matt's family. Brooke obviously has a lot more in common with Matt since she does have interest in the country and doing "country" things like hunting (per her bio on the website) and country line dancing, but I still thought it would come down to Amanda and Brooke. But this week, Matt eliminated two girls, Amanda and Kanisha (who I never thought had a real chance anyway.)

So now we are down to two girls... Brooke and Christa. I never would have guessed Christa would be in the running either. She just does not seem to have a connection to farming in my opinion. She's too connected to New York (per her bio on the website.) And she seems so bitter all the time, at least she is towards Brooke.

Christa really dislikes Brooke since she feels Brooke ruined her date with Matt by sneaking around outside with Lisa (already eliminated in an earlier episode) when they got back from their date. Christa was the first to have a date with Matt. And ever since then, it's been a showdown between the two with Christa never forgiving Brooke, although Brooke tried to tell her that she did not intend to ruin her date. They just returned back sooner than Brooke thought they would.

Perhaps Matt wants to see what would happen between the two rivals in the final week... who knows. But I'm still confident Brooke will win in the end. Brooke does seem rather insecure though whenever one of the other girls cozy up to Matt. But Matt did admit that Brooke was charming his relatives and the towns people... a hint, perhaps? I never really saw any connection between Matt and Christa so having her around still makes no sense to me.

We'll find out next week on the final episode who will be the new Farmer's Wife! Stay tuned! But here's a question... can you find true love through an elimination process of a reality TV show??? Well, if they really do get married after this show, they are going to need a wedding photographer right? Wouldn't it be cool for me to go out there and shoot that?! (Read the June 4th post for my initial comments on this show.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Museum of Science and Industry

The museum was celebrating its 75th anniversary!

The Idea Factory is just for kids

Prenatal Development in Various Stages

What happened to the "body slices" that used to be in the stairway?

The kids loved watching the cloned animals!

This is how the Wright Brothers flew!

Couldn't have gotten this shot without the D3!

The ONLY way to travel!

The Museum of Science and Industry was my favorite museum growing up in Chicago. I recall when I was young, I looked forward to any trip to the museums! I still look forward to it!

Today, I had my Nikon D3 and 24-70mm f2.8 lens with me and I was anxious to see how well the camera could do taking photos at the museum with just the ambient light and no flash. Once again, I was not disappointed at all with the results.

To get the right "feel" of the various colors at the museum, ambient lighting is the way to go. Take out a flash and you'd lose all the glory of that colorful light!

Many of the images required a slow shutter speed and a high ISO setting. No problem for the D3's full frame sensor. These images remained sharp and clean! And, the auto white balance did a great job keeping colors the same as I saw it in person.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Sign Says It All

Digital Is The Accepted Medium Today

It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, I was still being asked if I could shoot a wedding with film!

People were still wondering if digital gave a good quality to wedding photography and so they would ask, "Do you shoot film or digital?" I don't get that question so much today. I do still get the occasional, "Is that camera digital?" But I rarely, if ever, get someone asking if I can shoot their wedding with film.

I think today, most people have come to acknowledge that digital is a fact of life now. We can thank things like TV as a contributing factor. I think by now, everyone knows that by Feb 2009, all TV's will have to be digital or you just won't be able to receive "free" TV over the airwaves. If you still have one of the older analog TV's, you'll need a digital converter box to receive the digital signals. But because of all the advertising on TV today about this new digital change, I think people are beginning to see that this is the wave of the future.

So for photographers, the question of film vs. digital will soon be a thing of the past. That's ok with me. I've gone fully digital for many years now!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Do you workout? Do you use equipment like this? Do you do it at home or at a gym?

Do you run? Do you walk? Do you do pushups? Do you use weights?

Do you listen to music while you workout? Do you do nothing?

Monday, June 09, 2008

What Are Your Personal Pet Peeves?

Everyone has something that just rubs them the wrong way. Here is my number one pet peeve:

I can't stand it when people in the "customer service industry" don't know how to treat customers properly.

This applies to every service profession from salespeople to customer service reps, from waitresses to taxi drivers... anyone who works with the public who does not know the proper way to handle customers.

For example, it doesn't sit well with me when a salesperson starts helping you and then turns his attention to another salesperson because that salesperson doesn't know how to work a cash register or something else. Then he ignores you and continues to work with the other salesperson for the next five minutes while you stand there...

Or how about when you go to return something at a Customer Service line and the rep yells out, "NEXT!" and then you walk up and tell her why you are returning the item. But instead of saying, "I'm sorry you had a problem with this item. Would you like a refund or to replace it with a new one," she says, "Huh! Fill this out. Did you damage the item in any way?" (Assuming you caused the problem.)

Or how about a waitresses who looks really perturbed that you have not decided on what to order after only giving you two minutes with the menu. Then she says, "Have you decided yet or do you need more time?" Then when she returns with your order, she just plops the plate down and never returns to check on you or to see if you need a drink refill...

Or how about the cab driver who refuses to get out of the cab to help you with your luggage. Instead, he pops the latch on the trunk and stays in the driver's seat waiting for you to load the luggage yourself. Doesn't that bother you just a little?

I suppose all I want is a little courtesy and a little more common sense from service people. Knowing how to say "Thank you for your business" goes a long way. Or when something isn't working out quite right for the customer, saying something like, "I'm sorry that it didn't work out for you. Can I help you find something else that is better suited for you?" That makes a huge difference to someone who is already upset with their purchase.

Often I've thought about how much more business companies can get simply by training their employees to be a little nicer when dealing with customers. Customer service can then truly mean "Customer Service." That's my pet peeve.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Heads Will Roll

While on a visit to Illinois Wesleyan University, I came upon this interesting object by McPherson Hall (School of Theater Arts.)

What in the world is a head doing there? This is no small object either. Look at the size of that thing in relation to the building!

If you attend this school or have the story behind this head, let me know!
6-10-08 - A quick update: Here's where you can find information about the head - Click Here

Friday, June 06, 2008

Farewell To A Friend

This past Monday, I photographed the funeral of one of my friends from church... Rosita. Several years ago, I photographed her husband Conrado's funeral.

Rosita and Conrado (we called him Conrad) were one of the original members of our church and my wife and my in-laws have known Rosita and Conrad since the 1970's. Their son Elmer and daughter Gaylyn are good friends of our family and Gayle played piano at our wedding.

Rosita was loved by everyone. A fine Christian woman who loved the Lord and served at church without complaint, she was someone we all looked up to. Her husband Conrad was also a faithful servant of God and someone we all loved as well. Rosita and Conrad will be missed by our entire congregation.

While it is not unusual for me to do something like photographing a funeral, it is especially difficult to do when it is one of your friends. It's hard to hold back the tears and keep yourself from shaking while taking photos at such an emotional event. But because of my training and experience in law enforcement, having photographed homicide crime scenes and the like, I was able to hold it together.

I shot well over 1000 images at the funeral and wake but decided that this image was one of the most powerful and would be appropriate to show here on the blog.

Farewell to a dear friend of our family. Until we meet again...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Farmer Wants A Wife

Images borrowed from website

A take-off of ABC's The Bachelor TV Series, the CW's "Farmer Wants A Wife" has a new twist.

Matt is a 29 year old farmer from Missouri who finds that it is difficult to find a wife in his town because the population there is just a little over 300. Slim pickins... So, ten city girls are sent to compete to get his attention and win his heart, but it's obvious that none of them are really that well suited for farm life.

The show reminds me of The Bachelor which of course pairs an eligible bachelor with many hopeful bachelorettes. The ladies are eliminated each week until a final "winner" is found.

But this new show is interesting because it shows the element of how "out of place" these girls are on a farm. It reminds me of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie on their first season of "The Simple Life." In that show, Paris and Nicole are definitely out of their element and can't function at all out in the country. Obviously, this show was just for fun to see how awful Paris and Nicole are at anything that resembles real work.

While the ladies in Farmer Wants A Wife are much better in the country than Paris and Nicole, I'm not convinced that any of the girls could really last as "the farmer's wife" even if she does win. Some do really try to win at the contests that are set for them, but I wonder if all it takes to become a true farmer's wife is to win these contests!

So who do I think will win the show and Matt's heart? Well, my gut feeling is that Amanda (21) will win... but I'm also hopeful that it could be Brooke (23). Amanda had a date with Matt and they went to Matt's parent's home for dinner. It looked like his family really liked her. Brooke on the other hand has not even yet had a date with Matt (as of this posting) and has still refused to kiss him on the lips whereas all the other girls have.

So why do I think Brooke has a shot at this? Well, I think Matt is really wondering why she is so different than the other girls. This could give her an edge. Plus, Brooke looks a little like Britney Spears and that can't hurt her chances either. On top of that, she's been on farms before and just seems to like "country guys" according to her interview on the CW website. Matt has got to recognize that. But Brooke is one of the girls that the other girls do not like. She and Lisa (who has already been eliminated) are into God and reading The Bible and that seems to turn off the other girls.

We'll find out soon enough who will win.

You may be wondering why I have an interest in watching this kind of TV show... well, perhaps it's because I'm a wedding photographer! I always ask my clients, "So how did you meet?" Every client of mine will tell you that this is one of the first questions I ask them when I first meet them! I'm genuinely curious how people meet. It tells me a lot about them and tells me if they would be a good client to work with.

I have had clients who met:

1. On the internet
2. Introduced by a friend
3. At a party
4. At church
5. At school
6. At a baseball game
7. At work
8. On a blind date

And countless other ways... but Reality TV? Haven't had that yet... Hey! Who's going to photograph this wedding? Fly me out to Missouri and I'll do it! :)

Forensic Pathology - (Do not click on link if you are squeamish!)

It's been a while since I posted about forensic work...

I've been often asked if I have seen a lot of "GROSS" things while working crime scenes in the past. While I suppose anything that is out of the ordinary could be considered gross, I think a lot of it is just plain interesting. Take for example the topic of forensic pathology. I think it's very interesting. But to many (maybe even most) people, it's just plain gross.

While I cannot show you the actual images from the various crime scenes I have worked over the years, I can provide you a link to a website that does show some images from autopsies.

Now before you click on the link I'm going to provide below, let me warn you that the images on there are very graphic. This link brings you to the topic of contact gunshot wounds... but if you click on their link that says "Index" it will bring you to the index page which will list all the other "interesting" images that relate to forensic pathology. Many of these images were taken from autopsies... so be warned.

Here's the link.

Like I said on the title of my blog... this is NOT your average photography blog...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Another Guitar Gathering

Once again, a group of guitarists gathered together to play some music. But this time, we were joined by famed Hammered Dulcimer artist Bill Robinson and Greg Ferguson on guitar.

We were all memzmorized by Bill playing this incredible instrument. Wow! This guy is FAST! The little "Hammers" that he uses to play the instrument are very flexible as you can see in the photo. I can't believe he can move so fast and accurately too! Definitely worth checking out if you ever see that he is playing in your area.

We rented a room at a local park district building this time rather than meeting at someone's home. Because of that, we had a chance to bring in more players. The amount of "high-end" guitars in the room was staggering! Yeah, we all like to play nice guitars! I played my electric bass most of the time to give us some bottom-end, but you can see me on guitar in the image above.

Can't wait for the next gathering. To see some videos, compliments of videographer Andy Schneider, go to