Monday, December 28, 2009

One Week And No Blog Posts!

It's been one full week and I haven't done a blog post! What have I been up to?

Well, like everyone else, the holidays have been keeping me busy. With my daughter back from school and dealing with family things for the holidays, I just have not had time to update my blog.

But the biggest thing that has kept me busy is getting my computer back up and running! Exactly two years to the date, my main computer was hit by a virus that caused it to stop working properly. And so on Christmas Eve, once again, it happened. No matter what I tried, I could not get the computer to work right. The only thing it did was go to an anti-virus site which I did not recognize and ask me to buy a "full version" of the software for $59.95. Then, after I refused to do that, it would pop up adult oriented websites instead. NOT GOOD!

So, I decided the best thing to do was to wipe my hard drive and start all over. No worries because just two days prior, I had done a complete backup of all my data stored on my external drives as well as my C: drive. Not one item of data was lost.

But I did lose time. It took a long time to reload the operating system and to tweak it in order for it to work properly with all the various computer programs I had loaded on the computer. It was a hassle, but it had to be done.

I had used an anti-virus program that was a free program downloaded from the internet (I'll leave their name off here) but it did not detect this one virus from disabling my computer. So I went back to McAfee's Antivirus program which I had prior to using the other company's product. Hopefully the "name brand" anti-virus program will work better for the future.

Being a very heavy computer user (I'm on the computer constantly it seems), I am very well versed in working with them and fixing problems on computers. But this virus did its job so good that to be safe from any possible lingering effects, a total hard drive wipe was the safest course of action to protect my data.

Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to my regular blog posting schedule next week. But with New Year's Day coming up soon, I'm sure I'll have things to do yet again for the rest of this week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Alhambra Palace

Once again, I was invited to photograph a holiday party at the Alhambra Palace in Chicago this past weekend. Same group... same place... new year. To see the other posts on the Alhambra Palace, click here.

The Alhambra Palace is definitely over the top. The decorations in this place is incredible. From the outside, you'd never know that the place is actually very large. Even walking in initially, you don't get that impression. But once you walk past the bar and into the main hall, you are greeted by a huge expanse that just feels like a theater!

Go check it out for yourself. Be sure to get a good table to see the belly dancers and other entertainment.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Julia Child

Image Borrowed From The Internet

I just finished watching the movie, "Julie and Julia" on DVD and thought it was interesting.

While not quite the movie I was expecting (not sure what I was expecting really) I did think it was fun. I recall watching Julia Child on PBS TV when I was young and really loved it. I didn't love it because of the recipes as I was too young for that. But what I loved was the fact that the host always seemed to make mistakes.

Julia Child would drop things, make a mess, burn herself... it was great! No matter the disaster, it never stopped her from moving forward with her show. That is what made her so interesting.

Who can ever forget her mannerism or voice? Saturday Night Live even did skits about her. I recall seeing those live on TV as well. I'm now watching a PBS production on DVD which chronicles her life called, "Julia Child! America's Favorite Chef." It is a nice look into what made her into the icon that she is.

While I was working at the DA's Office in San Diego, we had a woman working in our deparment whose brother was a chef. I recall at the mention of Julia Child, she would say, "Julia Child! That woman is a Saint!" Like me, she loved Julia Child and so did her brother the chef.

Without doubt, Julia Child made in impact on a lot of people. She paved the way for a lot of TV Chefs.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deadliest Catch

Image Borrowed From The Internet

This year, fishing has gotten back into my blood. Many years ago, when I learned how to fish, I went out as often as I could on Sunday mornings just before going to church. But when nobody else was available to go with me, eventually I stopped going.

This year, my nephews and nieces took an interest and so I got back into it. Now, I've been obsessed it seems.

While I don't want to go ice fishing (at least not yet), I have been keeping my interest by watching fishing shows and reading books on fishing. My most recent interest has been a Cable TV show called the Deadliest Catch. The show has been on the Discovery Channel for several seasons now. For me, I just take out the full season's episodes on DVD at my local library.

It's a great show. After watching, it's hard not to appreciate all the hard work that the guys on the crab boats do to make crabs available for people's dinner tables. It is not at all like what I would have thought fishing would be like. It's a LOT harder!

The various captains have become celebrities now, but it doesn't seems to stop them from wanting to keep going out to go crab fishing. Would I like to do it one day? No way! I'd never survive the Bearing Sea and I'd never survive the amount of work these guys have to do!

If you want to see what life is like out on a crab boat, go check out at least one season of the Deadliest Catch on DVD at your local library. You'll be hooked like me!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Access - A Photographer's Benefit

Being a professional photographer often gives you access to areas that are unavailable to amateur photographers.

Although I was not able to be directly in front of each gymnast at last Saturday's event, I was invited to go onto the gym floor directly on the opposite side of where the parents were sitting in the bleachers. Nobody else was allowed to do this.

I did not wear a badge or have any other identification which stated I was a professional photographer, but from all the parents there who were taking photos at the event, I was singled out as a pro photographer by one of the people who helped run the music at the floor competition. She asked me if I wanted to get better shots by going closer to the vault, beam and uneven parallel bars. Of course I jumped at the chance.

It seems that my large camera and large zoom lens gave me away. Most other photographers there did not have quite the type of equipment I had with me. But it seems that no matter where I go, people can tell I'm a professional photographer. Maybe it's in how I conduct myself at events. Who knows. But it happens quite often.

I usually hear whispers of, "Wow! Look at that camera!" Or I might hear, "Hey, look at that guy!" I usually just ignore the comment and go about my business. But even when I am not shooting in an official capacity, I often get special treatment.

Yes, it's nice to be able to get into events, concerts, and sporting events and get the best seats or access areas where others cannot. Even when I was working in law enforcement years ago, I had the opportunity to do things many people could not. Flying in a helicopter to take aerial photos was one thing. Another was getting full access to an aircraft carrier to take photos for Law Enforcement Quarterly magazine was another.

It pays to be a pro sometimes!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Gymnastics - Make A Wish Foundation

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to photograph some gymnastics. I was asked to take some photos by one of my friends whose daughter was part of one of the gymnastics teams participating in the event.

While I concentrated mainly on their team, I could not help taking a couple of images of the other gymnasts who were there as well.

A lot goes on at the same time at these events. It reminded me of a Three Ring Circus because so much activity was happening at the same time. The main problem though is that access to good shooting angles and locations was limited. Had I been given free access to anywhere I wanted to go, I would have had a lot better images. Maybe one day...

Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Album Decisions

Whenever clients ask me if they need to make a decision on an album when booking me for their wedding, I tell them that it is not necessary, but often helpful if they decide now.

The reason for this is because in today's flushmount album style, certain photos must be taken so that they can be used for a panorama spread. Some images simply can't be used in this manner if photographed without this in mind.

Take the photo above for instance. Because I knew the couple was getting a flushmount album, I purposely shot the image so that they were in the far right side of the frame. This allows me to put another photo on the left side and for the album binding to fall right in the middle of the image without it being on top of the couple.

If I did not know that the couple wanted a flushmount / panorama style album, I might have photographed them more towards the middle. Then, if after the wedding they decided they wanted a flushmount album, how would we be able to use this photo for a panorama?

Making a decision in advance helps the photographer in deciding how to take photos to work with an album. Various album sizes can change his decision on how to properly frame a shot. So yes, it is often helpful if you decide on an album in advance.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"It Keeps Me Out of Trouble"

How often have you heard this... "I do this, because it keeps me out of trouble!"

I think perhaps men use this a lot as an excuse to buy things. For me, it is used for fishing gear, camera gear, guitars...

Where have you heard this? Have you ever heard women use this line? I doubt it is too common for them. I can't see them saying, "I bought these shoes because they keep me out of trouble." Doesn't make much sense to me.

But for guys, we can say things like... "But I bought all this new fishing gear because fishing keeps me out of trouble!" You know, instead of fishing, I could be out gambling, hanging out on the street corner with the guys... you get the idea.

Really, does it keep someone out of trouble? I think perhaps it can GET you into trouble too! You could spend a lot of money on things like fishing gear, guitars and cameras! I know I've been in that situation. I tend to spend too much on equipment!

We all have our vices I suppose. For me, while I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, gamble, etc... I do tend to be a gear junkie instead. Luckily for me, my camera gear is paid back by my work. In the past, my music gear was paid back by the various music gigs I've had, or the recording sessions I've engineered. But so far, I can't say that for my fishing gear.

I wonder when fishing will become a money maker for me... somehow I doubt it ever will. I guess fishing gets me into trouble then! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Painting Update

Well, after painting the back door in our kitchen, I found that the door would not close easily because the added thickness of the new enamel paint on the door edge! Plus the enamel paint on the door edge rubbing against the enamel paint on the door jam didn't help either.

So, my wife and I took the newly painted door off its hinges and I sanded down the edge of the door to remove the new paint. I also made sure that some additional wood was sanded down too for good measure. Then, I painted the edge of the door with a standard "flat" latex paint. Now it fits just fine.

After reinstalling the door, I had a hard time getting the dead bolt lined up properly again. That took a lot longer than I had anticipated as well.

All in all, the kitchen update that should have been relatively quick and easy took a lot more time than either of us had thought it would. But now that it is done, it sure looks a lot better than it did before. The lesson learned? Nothing is as quick and easy as you might think when it comes to home improvement.


It seems as winter months near, I'm always stuck painting. No, not artistic painting... painting the house.

This weekend, my wife said she wanted to change the blinds in our kitchen windows. OK. So we went to Home Depot and purchased several blinds and I installed them. Not bad. The problem though was the new blinds made the old wallpaper in our kitchen look really bad. That old wallpaper had been on the walls since we purchased the house many years ago.

Well, the kitchen isn't all that large, so we decided to go ahead and strip off the wallpaper and paint. We figured it shouldn't take us too long. Wrong! After steaming off the old wallpaper, we found that the walls were originally painted yellow! And it was different shades of yellow on the various walls too! I have never seen anything like it.

Well, it took a couple of coats of paint to hide that awful yellow, which of course took longer than we thought. So after finishing the walls by 1 AM, I still had to paint the back door of the kitchen... which I saved until today.

We used semi-gloss enamel paint for the door and of course, that takes longer to dry than standard latex paint. The original door color was an awful beige color which neither of us liked and so we decided to paint the door a "Vanilla" white. Well, it requires several coats as well to cover the beige color and enamel paint is rather "slick" too, making it harder to roll on. Brushes just make a visible "brush stroke" and so that had to be avoided.

So yes, painting always takes longer than you think. But one thing is for sure, had we tried to plan for this "upgrade" to our home, it probably would never had gotten done. An impromptu upgrade seems to be the best way to get it done. But boy, does it sure take a lot longer than you think!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monitor - Color Calibration

Image borrowed from the internet

I am always surprised when I talk to some photographers and find out that they do not color calibrate their computer monitors.

Without color calibration, it is impossible to know if the colors you see on your computer screen will match the colors of the prints that are made by the photofinishers. When working with Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop, photographers make decisions about exposures and color balance and adjust the images so that the final print will look correct. But if the monitor isn't calibrated, it is possible that the colors seen on the screen will be totally different that what is printed.

It is a simple matter to color correct a monitor. Several companies make calibrators and one as simple as the Spyder Pro 3 can do the job easily. It is not expensive (well some calibrators are) but it is important and well worth it. So always calibrate your monitors if you want to be sure that you are making the right choice when checking your colors!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bird At The Doorstep

I found this little guy with his wings all spread out, laying by our front doorstep this afternoon.

At first I thought perhaps he may have hit the front door and fell there. But after checking him out more, I don't think so. He looked just fine and he refused to leave! So I just had to grab my camera to take a couple of photos of him.

Afterwards, I picked up the doormat and shook it to try to coax him to fly off. No way. He just wanted to hang around so he dug his little nails into the mat and hung on. Even turning the mat vertically, he hung on. He even walked up the mat a little.

I left him alone to go put my copyright notice on the photos so that I could post it here on my blog and then went back to check up on him. He was gone.

I guess he wanted to just stop by to say hi.

Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Do DJ's scratch anymore?

I get to see and hear a lot of DJ's at work when I photograph weddings. Most don't scratch anymore. With the use of computers, many rely on digital to help do their work. So whenever I see a DJ actually using a turntable and making live mixes, it's a real treat.

Last Saturday, we had two DJ's who actually used both an Apple computer and turntables! That's getting very rare. But these guys did a great job combining the two mediums. Bravo!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lasers & Fog Create Atmosphere For "Crazy Hour"

This past Saturday's wedding had a couple of great DJ's who not only created their own live dance mixes, but also had great laser and fog effects! (The fog really helps you see the laser beams!) While most dance photos from receptions are lit by a flash, sometimes turning the flash off and getting some shots of the ambience of the darkened room can pay off big time! With the use of the lasers and fog machine, the image above shows what the room really looked like.

Besides the dance music, we had everything at this wedding including harpist Jennifer Keller, a great Mariachi band and a special treat called, "Crazy Hour." The bride and groom had hidden hats, masks and other items under the tables for their guests to put on. It turned the place into a Mardi Gras atmosphere! With these items in the hands of the guests, everybody got up onto the dance floor! What a party!

Doing something different at a wedding that your guests are not expecting can really bring life to the reception. This past Saturday really proved that. And, I'm finding that many couples today are offering cupcakes instead of a traditional wedding cake as well. Makes a lot of sense to me... it's easier to serve and people who want one can just go up and take one! This couple had theirs arranged like a wedding cake. Cool!

Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bowie Knife

How could I forget this knife?

Purchased for $19.95 at Wall Drug in South Dakota on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park in 1976, this Bowie knife is huge and heavy! Not exactly your typical pocket knife, this one has an 8 inch blade with an overall length of 13.5 inches and came with a leather sheath.

Is it sharp? Well, yes and no. While it is impressive looking, it's not a very good knife for holding an edge. The steel isn't all that good and the bright chrome finish has tarnished pretty badly over the years. When it was new, it was pretty impressive looking, but again, it was more for looks than function.

Check out my other knives here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

New 11x14 Album Cases

Without doubt, of all the various albums that I offer my wedding clients, the overwhelmingly most popular album for the past several years has been the 11x14 standard album. But it never came with an album case option... until now!

The new 11x14 standard album case is a quality case that will compliment your wedding album. Designed to fit the album along with the "pillow case" slip cover that normally comes with the album, this new case will surely impress you besides protect your wedding album. Made of simulated leather like the albums themselves for durability, the case has stitched seams on the cover, a magnetic latch and a ribbon inside to help in the removal of the album.

The normal price of this case is $60, but for a limited time, all of my past wedding clients can get one for only $45 if you place your order before the end of the year. Just give me a call at 847-840-4082 or email me at to place your order. Then, send a check for $45 to Russell Lowe Photography, P.O. Box 403, Prospect Heights, IL 60070. Once received, I'll order your case and will email you when it arrives.

I highly encourage you to get one of these quality cases to compliment your album. It's priced right and made well and will protect your album for years to come.

Be sure to click on each image to take a closer look.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pike Number 3 (or is it number 2?)

This morning, I went out to the Des Plaines River again, near Big Bend Lake. This is the same spot that I caught the other northern pike from October 5, 2009. I was hoping to catch another pike and this was the only spot I had caught one in the past.

I started casting out like I normally do with a spinnerbait hooked up to 25 lb. test monofilament line on a baitcasting rod and reel. After 15 minutes or more with no luck, I decided to target the area that was just after the dam between Big Bend Lake and the Des Plaines River. A couple of weeks ago, I had a fish hit my lure 3 times at that spot but he didn't hook up. So after trying once more, I got nothing again.

I swung myself around to go back to where I had tried in the beginning and then I heard a SPLASH at the spot I had just been at! So I quickly turned around and went back to the dam area and tried again. Nothing.

About this time, a guy who was out there doing some metal detecting (seems to be a popular thing to do near water...) came up to ask if I had caught anything. Well, no... nothing. But I did tell him that I had caught one weeks ago. As we talked, I explained that this very spot I was trying seemed to have something there, but I have not yet caught it. Then WHAM! Fish on!

We were both amazed to be talking about the fish and then having it hit the lure. I did not have a landing net with me, so I did my best to try to bring the fish to shore without harming it. I kept its head up and carefully lifted it so that only its tail was on the ground as it headed towards the shore. Then with a couple of quick flips, the fish unhooked itself and rolled back into the water! OH NO!

Technically, the pike was landed since it was at least three feet on the land, but it was still able to execute an escape. I was disappointed, but determined to try to catch it again. I had heard that pike and other fish don't have much of a memory that they had been caught before and so I was counting on that happening. So once again, I started casting at the same spot.

After about ten or fifteen minutes of nothing happening, I turned my attention to Big Bend Lake itself. I heard a splash there and then looked again and saw a HUGE fish do an aerial summersault. I tried my best to cast to the spot where I saw the huge waves eminating from, but to no avail. It was just too far away. So back I went to the first spot again.

After another 5 minutes of trying... FISH ON!

This fish did exactly what the other one did... aerial summersaults while hooked. This time, I made sure to keep the line taunt and lifted it totally off the ground and grabbed it with my Boga Grip before it had a chance to unhook itself. It didn't get away this time.

It's a smaller pike than the fish from October 5 at only 20 inches and 2 lbs., but I was glad to get it. But as I was checking it out, I started wondering if this fish was in fact the same fish that I had caught earlier. I really do think it is because it was caught at the exact same spot as the other fish.

So perhaps fish do not have a good memory. If it were me being caught the first time, you can bet I'd be out of there before someone else tried to catch me a second time!

Be sure to click on the image to take a closer look.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gateway Arch - St. Louis, Missouri

I've been to the Gateway Arch several times over the years. Here are the most recent photos from this past weekend's visit taken while onboard the riverboat Tom Sawyer. And yes... the Mississippi River is rather "brownish" in color. Be sure to click on each photo for a closer look.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


When I was a young boy, I had a Cubscout pocket knife. I'm not sure if I was in 2nd grade or 4th grade... all I know is that I had a knife. Actually, I was always a little surprised that my parents allowed me to have a knife at such an early age. But ever since then, I've had a facination with knives. I think many guys do. But it wasn't until I was in my forties did I actually ever buy another pocket knife!

My first knife was a Buck 181U Odyssey which is the knife on the left with the very pointy blade. I think it cost something like $45. I've carried this knife for many years, but since it's a larger knife that is not easily carried or accepted in some circles, I also bought a very small $10 Gerber knife next. I'm not sure of the model number of this knife, but while it is small, it does have a rather intimidating look to it like the Buck Odyssey. The small Gerber knife is really only good for small jobs, but being made entirely of steel, it's pretty much indestructable. Not bad for a "cheap" little knife, but not perfect.

The Buck 285BK Bantam BLW on the far right is the most recent knife. With a drop point style non-serrated blade, it is a near perfect lightweight everyday carry knife. And at only $15 on sale, it's a bargain.

The two Buck knives have quick single hand opening capabilites, while the small Gerber requires two hands to open. All knives have locking mechanisms which require two hands to release in order to retract the blades. And all blades are extremely sharp.

Over the years since carrying a pocket knife with me, I've found that it does come in very handy. I use them all the time. You'd be surprised at how many things you need to cut. It's a matter of convenience.

Do I use the knives as self defense weapons? Well, I've never had to and hope I never have to. But of course having it with me does give me that option, doesn't it? The problem with knives is that unless you know how to use them safely in a self defense situation, it can easily be taken from you and used against you! Luckily for me, using it for self defense is something I've never had to do. I don't carry a knife for this reason, but it's nice to know it's with me in the event I ever need to use it for that purpose. Still, I believe I would hesitate in using it. I'd rather find a way to get out of the situation than to use it. That's the best defense of all. Be sure to click on the photo for a closer look.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Doyle Dykes Performs A Sold Out Concert At The Skokie Theatre

Last night, Doyle Dykes packed the house at the Skokie Theatre in Skokie, Illinois.

I recall going to the Skokie Theatre in the 70's when it was still a movie theater. I always thought one day it would be torn down because it was so old, small and run-down. But instead, it has been renovated into a world class concert venue with some amazing acoustics and pleasing decor.

I felt a bit of nostalgia going to the theater because it had been one that I visited as a teenager to watch discount movies. I found out on the radio on Thursday night while listening to DJ's "Steve and Johnnie" on WGN Radio 720 that it had been built in 1917 and that Charlie Chaplin had made his first movie by the Skokie Theatre! I never knew that!

The night opened with introductions from hosts Steve King and Johnnie Putman from WGN AM radio. Long-time friends of Doyle Dykes, it was fitting that they would be the ones to introduce him.

Surprisingly, when Doyle asked how many people had never seen him perform before, a lot of hands went up. Often, Doyle packs the house with fans who had seen him before. But this time, there were lots of new fans. In fact, people came from several states just to attend this concert!

For me, I had seen Doyle perform many times. However, I have to say that perhaps this was the first time that I had really heard Doyle play at an acoustically perfect room. He sounded fantastic! The house sound was flawless and from where I was sitting (on the second level) it was great!

Besides Doyle performing, daughter Haley Dykes did several songs as well. Once again, she sang beautifully and played her mandolin nicely as well. In fact, early next year, she will be opening for Earl Scruggs... so she's going "big time!" And, she will be working on a new CD soon too. That's exciting!

Later in the show, Doyle asked Steve King to help play guitar on stage too! The night before, Steve had accompanied Doyle on the guitar as Doyle played the banjo for the radio audience. It was the first time I had ever heard Doyle play a banjo and had often wondered if he played or not. Of course he does! And he did it just fine too. So as Doyle got ready to play the banjo on stage, he invited Steve to the stage to play once again. Steve did a great job and it was fun to see Doyle play with someone accompanying him. I've never seen him play with anyone else other than Haley on mandolin.

Later, at the end of the evening, Doyle invited Steve up again, but this time Doyle presented him with a Taylor Doyle Dykes Signature Model guitar as a gift! Steve later told me that the gift left him speechless... something DJ's never are! On the radio the night before, Steve had joked that one day he would like to buy a Taylor guitar. Well, now he won't have to buy one! Congratulations!

It was a terrific evening filled with wonderful music. Thanks to the management at the Skokie Theatre for allowing me to take photos of the evening and for turning the old Skokie Theatre into a fabulous music venue. Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Nice Fishing Spot

Found this nice spot for potential fishing in the future! Sorry for the low resolution images... these were taken with my older cell phone (see yesterday's post on cell phones) and it only has a 1.2 megapixel camera built-in.

This spot is nice because you can hear the water falling over the dam. Very relaxing! Plenty of space for several people to fish there at the same time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wet Cell Phones

Image borrowed from the Internet

This past week, my wife dropped her cell phone in water. It stayed there for perhaps 2 to 3 minutes totally submerged.

Not knowing what to do, we fished the phone out of its watery bath and took a hairdryer to try to dry it up. Then we made the fatal mistake of powering up the phone. While the display did work for a short time, it eventually died. No amount of effort could bring it back to life.

Four days later, my daughter (who is home on a short break from school) accidentally "washed" her phone in the laundry. It was probably in the washing machine for a couple of minutes as well. I could not believe that in less than a week's time, both of them had submitted their phones to a watery punishment!

This time, I checked the internet to find out what to do. We found that using a hot hairdryer is not a recommended remedy. However, having spoke to a Verizon sales rep earlier in the day, he suggested using the hair dryer on low heat to help blow out as much water as possible. So we did that. Another suggestion is to use a can of compressed air (like the ones sold to blow out computers.) Unfortunately, I had used up all of our compressed air cans and only a little remained. That small amount of air left in the can did seem to blow some of the water out by the buttons.

One suggestion on the web was to put the phone into an oven at perhaps 180 degrees to "cook" out the water (or leave it on the dash of a hot car.) At this time of year, the car just isn't all that hot, so we put the phone in the toaster / oven at 150 degrees and left it there for perhaps 15 minutes. Upon further web searching, I read that excessive heat like this could melt some of the glues in the phone... so we took the phone out immediately. It was hot, but not melting hot.

Another suggestion on the internet was to place the phone inside a sealed zip-lock bag of uncooked rice. The rice is there to help dry out the phone... similar to how silica gel packs are supposed to work. So, after the oven trick, we put the phone in the rice and left it overnight to do whatever it can.

This morning, I reinserted the battery and powered up the phone. It worked! While we can still see some traces of water in the LCD display screen, the phone is working! We decided that the phone needed more time in the rice so back it went, but we are confident that the rice trick will do a better job after it has a litle more time with the phone.

So if you ever drop your phone in water...even submerged for a long period of time like being in the washing machine... dry it quickly by blowing compressed air in the openings to get as much water out as possible. Avoid excessive heat from hair dryers and stick the phone in a sealed bag of uncooked rice for at least overnight and preferably for a couple of days. And never turn on the phone until you are sure all the water is out of the circuits! If you do all this, you might just be able to bring the phone back to life! By the way, my wife is now using my phone and I have gone back to using the old phone that I had before switching to the phone I gave my wife. Interesting how the one person who did not do damage to his phone is the one having to use his old phone now, huh? Actually, I think that old phone performs better than the newer one anyway, so I'm ok with it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Possible New Location for Fishing

Photos taken with a cell phone camera

After catching the nice Northern Pike on Monday, I've been searching for other places on the Des Plaines River to try out. Interestingly, this location in Mount Prospect seemed pretty nice to try and it's not too far for me to travel to either.

Again, these are photos from my cell phone as I did not have my camera gear with me. I don't normally carry my cameras when I go out to fish as it's just another thing to drag around and worry about while out there.

Didn't catch anything here yet, but I'm hoping one day it will pay off. I'd like to get to the other side of the river, but it will take a little more effort to access those areas.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Fishing Persistence Finally Pays Off - 23" Northern Pike at 3 lbs.

After shooting a 50th wedding anniversary yesterday and working on the computer late into the night and then doing the same thing all day today optimizing the images on the computer, I decided at the last minute to go off to do some fishing to wind down after a long day.

I decided to go to Big Bend Lake in Des Plaines and got there around 4:00 PM. After throwing some casts into the lake, I saw another angler out on the other side of the lake and so I decided I'd get closer to where he was to try my luck. I wasn't sure how to get there, but since the lake isn't all that large, I figured my best bet would be to just start walking along the perimeter of the lake until I got to him. Along the way, I kept casting into the lake but I got nothing. I finally reached his area and saw two other people fishing there too. I looked over to the left side of the pathway and found a "stream" there and thought I'd give it a try since I didn't really want to disturb the other people there. It turns out that it wasn't really a stream, but rather it was the Des Plaines River (DPR) which runs right next to Big Bend Lake at that point.

I casted out my line into the DPR perhaps 10 times and was just thinking that maybe it wasn't worth fishing in this area and then WHAM! I actually saw the fish strike my lure and then jump! It was maybe 8 feet away from me because I could clearly see him strike it. Man, he hit it hard! It took me totally by surprise! The fight wasn't too long since he was so close to me already, but it did take some pulling and tugging to get him to shore. When he hit, I could clearly see him... a Northern Pike! After reeling him in, I put my gear next to him to take a photo of him with my cell phone. I didn't have camera gear with me, so the phone was the best I could do. I had pre-measured my rod so I knew exactly where 18 inches was and he was way past that point. Later, I measured the rod to the point where he lay and it turns out he was 23 inches! I used my Boga Grip to hold onto him (pike have sharp teeth) and to weigh him... 3 lbs.

To date, he was the largest fish I ever caught and I released him with the help of the other angler whom I had seen from across the lake. He came over to see what I got. He also helped take a photo of the fish and me together because I could not hold my phone with one arm and take my own photo. Afterwards, we had a good time talking for a few moments about fishing in general and then he went back to his own fishing. He was fishing for carp which is ok, but the technique is a little too passive for me since all you do is put some corn kernels on your hook and put your line in the water and sit back and wait for something to grab it. Of course the action starts at that point.

For me, I prefer to continuously cast and retrieve. It's a more pro-active way to fish. Using this technique, I caught this pike with a "buzzbait" attached to my line. A buzzbait is a "top water" lure in that the lure stays on top of the water rather than being submerged beneath the surface. This was the first time I ever used this kind of lure for bait. Basically, a buzzbait is a large hook which has a skirt made of plastic attached to cover the hook. It also has a couple of metal "spinners" attached which is used like propellers to spin around and splash and make noise on the surface of the water as the lure is retrieved to the rod. I used a baitcaster rod and reel to catch this fish, also my first time using this kind of equipment. In the past, I only used spinning gear, but I always thought that baitcasting gear would allow me to be more precise in my casts. I was right. This is better for me!

The other angler told me that he had never seen anyone ever catch a pike with a buzzbait before. Apparently, pike usually lie in wait and then ambuse their prey, so maybe they don't usually go to the top of the water to attack? I don't really know... (10-09-09 Edit Note: Other anglers have since told me that spinnerbaits and buzzbaits work well for pike.)

Persistence finally paid off! I have had a really bad run of luck this season, but then again, I have been using this season to learn different techniques in fishing. I have fun just being out there to cast and retrieve even if I don't catch anything. But it sure is better to catch something! Be sure to click on each image for a closer look.