Thursday, July 31, 2008

Duck Hunt

I think I posted about this before in the past, but thought it was worth mentioning again.

When I first learned to shoot a handgun, I qualified higher than a San Diego police officer who was there with me. When she asked how I learned to shoot a gun, I told her, "Duck Hunt!"

Try this game on the computer! Click Here.
And for you game freaks... check out this Youtube video... Click Here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Brides... What's More Important To You?

The bridge image was shot with a panorama album page in mind.
The inset photo supports how we got to the bridge.

Recently, I was contacted by a bride inquiring about my photography services. After discussing my approach to photography and my qualifications, we talked about price. We found out that the cost of hiring me to photograph the wedding and also designing her wedding album was beyond her budget.

Bummer! She really liked what I had to offer too!

So I asked her, "How about hiring me to shoot your wedding, but let's forget about doing a wedding album for now?"

I told her that the quality of the photography has to be something that you like. No matter how much you pay, if the quality isn't what you like, it doesn't matter that you get an album to fit it. Besides, brides often find that they end up with a lot of cash after the wedding because of wedding gifts and perhaps some of that could help pay for the album after the wedding!

This strategy for finding the right wedding photographer works for some brides but not for all. There are those who recognize that while they may not be ordering an album immediately, they can always come back after the wedding to get it. The key here is getting the right photos taken and that may mean having to hire a more experienced photographer and foregoing the album. But other brides need to get both the photography AND the album ordered at the same time. They just feel more comfortable with that. That's fine. But if the budget is tight, this could mean finding a less experienced photographer to shoot the wedding just so that an album can fit in the budget as well.

What's more important to you?

It's my position that hiring a qualified, experienced photographer is the key to good wedding photos. I'd rather have great looking pictures without an album, than an album with mediocre pictures in it.

What do you think?

Over the years, I've had a lot of clients opt to just hire me to get their photos and skip their wedding albums initially. Some have come back to get albums, others have not. But at least they got great coverage of the wedding day.

So while a photographer with experience may cost you a little more than a new photographer, consider that you might be able to book that experienced photographer for a lot less than you might think. You might have to forego an album initially, but you'll still get the same quality photography as anyone else hiring him with an album. Then later, you could always get an album in the future.

The key though is to let your photographer know if you do plan to get an album later. Shooting styles may have to change so that photos will fit in your future album. For instance, I'll shoot some images with the subject way on one side of the frame so that extra space is left on the other side so that other photos can be placed on top of that photo in an album and not "cover" over important areas. (See the bridge image above.) Shooting for an album is slightly different than just taking other photos. But communicate with your photographer so that he can shoot it the way you ultimately need it.

You CAN get what you want if you are creative. Just hire the right guy for the job.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Dark Knight

Who is scarier looking, The Joker or Batman?

Wow... what a movie!

The acting is great and the special effects are terrific! I'd highly recommend this movie if you are a Batman fan.

Continuing with the "dark" image of Batman (unlike the comical version of the 1960's TV version of Batman), the most recent incarnation of this series really shines. I couldn't help but be a little sad that Heath Ledger (who plays The Joker) is not going to be able to bask in the glory of the movie since he passed away in January. His performance of The Joker is by far the best ever and I think it will be very difficult for someone else to come in to fill this role for future movies. The Joker steals the show in my opinion.

Undoubtedly, this is not the last Batman movie we will see. It seems Batman keeps the interest of audiences worldwide and like the popularity of James Bond movies, we will be seeing more movies from this DC Comics character. What's cool about Batman when compared to other comic book heroes is that he's just a regular man without special powers. Superheroes like Superman and Spiderman have special powers and they rely on that to fight crime. Batman has no powers, only special weapons and vehicles. Yet he does just fine, thank you. :)

Chicagoans, go see this movie. Chicago provides the backdrop for Gotham City this time and it is very obvious to anyone who lives in the Chicago area.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mount Prospect Midsummer Downtown Block Party

MPPD Officer takes time to wave to kids

"The Brunswick Zone Man"

Blues Bar personnel getting ready to cook up some goodies

No Sumo Wrestlers Allowed... But Karate Is OK!

MPPD's Prisoner Transport Unit

Every year, Mount Prospect hosts a Midsummer Downtown Block Party. This year I found some new subjects to photograph.

Shot with the Fuji S5 Pro, these images came out great! The lighter weight of the S5 compared to the Nikon D3 is an added bonus for street photography.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What Should I Write About?

I was contemplating what I should write about on my blog, now that it's Thursday, and I couldn't come up with anything!

So I started looking through my photo drives trying to find an interesting image to post and to talk about it. Nothing!

Sure, there's literally hundreds of thousands of photos on my drives but none of them grabbed me. It seemed I had posted similar images in the past and I just didn't want to re-post something in the same vein.

So today, I decided I'd just write and not post a photo.

But photos are so important to keeping a post interesting, don't you think?

I could just post more wedding photos... there's always plenty of those, but I figured plenty of wedding photographers do that... you don't need another doing that! I typically try to find other topics to write about or to photograph. That's what makes it fun.

So yeah... this post has no real topic... no photo... nothing! Kind of like a Seinfeld episode... "A Show About Nothing."

Saturday, July 19, 2008


While driving around, I saw this barn and decided it was worth taking a photograph. It was shot while the vehicle was moving at around 35 miles per hour, so I couldn't frame it better than what you see here. The barn had all the elements I would associate with a typical barn... it is red and has a silo... what more could you ask for?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Spider and the Ant

For days, I've been watching this tiny spider in the corner of my bathroom floor. He's just a little guy... perhaps only 1 mm in size. Yeah, he's really small.

I thought about wiping out his life by squishing him with a small piece of toilet paper, but there was something about him that I liked... he didn't seem bothered that I was there watching him! So I left him alone.

I wondered, "This spider is SO SMALL, how in the world does he expect to catch anything by just hanging around in the corner of this bathroom floor? Anything that would come by is bound to be too big for him to handle!" But he had a lot of determination and just stayed there for days. So I left him alone.

Today, just before going to bed, I moved the waste paper can that was obsuring my view of him and was I surprised! Caught in his very thin web was this HUGE ANT! Now ants are typically pretty small themselves, but have you seen some of these really huge, hard shelled black ants that's been running around? This ant has got to be at least 1/2 inch long. I'm not kidding! Now that spider's got my interest!

The ant was already dead, so I assume that the spider had already subdued it with some venom. Now all he had to do was figure out how he was going to suck out all the juices from this ant!

Years ago while living in San Diego, I caught a huge spider and put him in a jar. I kept him alive for weeks by feeding him "Rollie Pollies" and flies. I'd watch the spider leave the other insects alone and then without warning, the spider would move quick, grab the other insect and roll him around and tangle him up with more threads of his web and then inject venom into the other insect! Instant death for the other insect. And just as quick, the spider would suck out all the juices from the other insect and that insect would shrivel up! It was amazing! It was almost like watching a Dracula movie!

So yeah, this little spider has my respect now. He caught something a lot larger than he is and he waited for days to do it. So did I wipe out his little life after seeing these two guys hanging there? No. I left him alone. He deserves to have his meal. But here's the real question... "How did that huge ant get into my bathroom?!"

To see my other spider posts, check out this post on August 31, 2006 and this one on September 3, 2006.

Deep Dish Pizza Number Three!

Ok... posting so many times about pizza is getting to be too much... but I had to post the latest pizza on this blog to remember how great it was!

Although similar to pizza number two (1/2 the dough ingredients and only 1 cup of sauce this time), we made the dough the night before and then after 4 hours of letting the dough rise and then punching it down and kneading it, we refrigerated the dough overnight.

Wow! This crust is dramatically better now! The dough on the other two were "harder" and it was definitely more "bread-like." Not this one. This dough was perfect! Light, fluffy, but still with a crunch to it when you bite into it. We also made it less deep. But we didn't cut down on the amount of cheese or sausage! If you compare the photos of all the pizzas, you can see that the dough is not as thick this time.

My daughter's friend was here for lunch and she was totally impressed with the pizza!

If you want the recipe, just email me and I'll email a .pdf file out to you . The file size is about 415kb in size, so be sure your email server can handle large file sizes.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"Do A Little Dance..."

"Do A Little Dance, Make A Little Love, Get Down Tonight..."
- K.C. & The Sunshine Band

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Niles West Birthday Bash

Last night, a group of my high school classmates and I gathered together at Tuscany restaurant in Wheeling, IL to celebrate everyone's birthday. Now I won't tell you how old we are, but let's just say most of us are about the same age.

Set on a ten-second self timer, I put my camera on a tripod, composed the shot and joined everyone for a group shot. Although a few other friends came to the party after the photo was taken, most of us are here. I needed to get the shot done before we lost the light outside.

Although it had rained the night before and there seemed to be a chance for a repeat performance on this evening, we were lucky... it turned out to be a really nice night! We couldn't ask for a better evening... a nice cool breeze as the sun went down... it was amazing!

Thanks to my friends for making it so much fun! And a very special thank you to our organizers for the evening, Steve N. and Mike P. Without you guys, this evening would not have happened!

To read about the 2006 reunion, go to the October 2006 archive section of my blog. And, can you name everyone in the photo above? If so, send me an email with the list from left to right, front to back! Thanks!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Acoustic Guitar Forum CD - Volume 1

Many of you know that I enjoy playing guitar and have posted many of my guitars here on my blog. But what many of you probably don't know is that I had aspirations of becoming a full-time musician or a recording engineer early on in my life!

I've been playing guitar since 1969 (yeah, a LONG TIME) and I still do that today. I've also recorded several projects over the years too as engineer. I learned recording engineering from one of the best engineers around... Gary Hedden. Gary has worked with people like Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, James Taylor, Gloria Estefan, Wynonna, Steve Winwood, Amy Grant, Tommy Sims, Raul Malo, Suzy Bogguss, Don Potter, Phil Keaggy and Chester Thompson... to name a few.

So what have I been up to with my recording knowledge? Well, I became a court expert in Forensic Audio for one thing... but most recently, I produced a CD project for my on-line guitar forum friends at The Acoustic Guitar Forum. I am a moderator of this forum and I was lucky enough to get to be the producer of our first Forum CD!

The Acoustic Guitar Forum CD - Volume 1 has songs from a bunch of talented guitarists who are part of our forum community and have contributed their songs to help promote our forum. As of this post, we currently have 25,156 members, which makes us one of the largest (if not THE largest) acoustic guitar forums on the internet.

I'm proud of the efforts of our members both on the production end of producing the CD and also the artistic portion of the CD from the recording artists who contributed their songs to the cause.

If you want to hear some of the songs, visit this site and you'll get to hear some sound clips of the songs. And, if you really want a treat, order a copy of the CD as well.

As the producer of the CD, I spent nearly one year getting everything together. It was a lot of effort, but well worth it. Enjoy!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Nikos - Bridgeview, IL

I photographed a wedding engagement at Nikos in Bridgeview this weekend.

While leaving the banquet hall, I decided to take a last shot of the facility. This is the result. I thought it was an interesting "last shot of the night." This image was "spot metered" on the Nikos sign. (Update: The top photo was the second shot of the day. I just added it for a comparison. Which one do you like better? The first shot of the day was an image of just the Nikos sign.)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Pizza Number Two!

The second attempt at deep dish pizza by my daughter!

Half the amount of dough ingredients used to keep the crust less thick.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Smart Car

Image borrowed from website

Image borrowed from website

Have you seen these Smart Cars on the road yet? I've seen several here in the Chicago area already. Wow... are they small. One pulled up next to a standard mid-size car today and I was surprised to see that the Smart Car was less than half the size!

I wonder how this car would hold up should it get in an accident? Makes me worry...

The lower image is a 1977 Chevrolet Chevette. My first car was a 1976 Chevy Chevette and it looked almost identical to the one you see above! I thought my car was small, but the Smart Car has it beat in terms of size. My car had a decal on the lower side of the car, just before the rear wheel well that said, "Rally 1.6." It came with sportier wheel covers than you see above, but yeah, it was still a nerdy car. My dad bought it new for around $3700 so that I could get to school while I was attending college. Years later, my car caught fire and the entire interior burned! My guess was that the new muffler was installed too close to the underside of the car and caused the fire. Rather than declaring the car a total loss, surprisingly, the insurance company had the car repaired! It was totally burned out and waterlogged by the fire department, but they still fixed it! Shocking!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pizza Time!

10" Round / 3.5" Deep Dish Pizza

My daughter made pizza for the first time and wow... did she make a good one!

Recently we took a trip to Champaign/Urbana to visit the University of Illinois and we stopped by Papa Del's Pizza for a late lunch. Since Papa Del's is one of my favorite deep dish pizza places, I had to let her try it as well. Unlike the typical Chicago-style deep dish pizzas which have deep but thinner crusts, Papa Del's Pizza has a thicker bread-like crust.

Since then, we did some research on the internet and found this recipe for a version of this great pizza. Click here.

So today, I ran out and bought all the ingredients (I bought too much cheese, but who cares!) and we started making the pizza early in the afternoon. Because of all the prep time involved, the overall time to make this pizza was about 5 hours! Of course, cooking time was only 45 minutes, but you do have to allow for all the time needed to let the dough rise.

While it was not quite a real Papa Del's pizza, I'd say it was pretty close! We learned some things along the way (like to pre-cook the sausage before putting it in the pizza to cook... there were a lot more sausage pieces hidden below the sauce and cheese) but next time, the pizza will be near perfect! If you check out the photo of her pizza, I'd say she did pretty good for a first time, don't you think?

Deep Dish Pizza... if you live in Chicago, you know why we crave it!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


First Attempt

Second Attempt

Who's your favorite jumper? For me, it's the guy on the far left. Click on each image to make them larger. These were shot on the D3 at nine frames per second.