On going digital!

Whoa is me!  I did it! I went digital!  I don't dare tell my wife how much I spent.  I caved in to all the "digital talk," and bought a high end, 6.3  mega pixel 35mm SLR.  Thank god all my lenses will fit this new camera or I would be in deep doo doo!  Oh by the way, I had to get a complete computer system to handle the digital output. So I'm broke.  I just  shot 40 rolls of film in Europe. Next year no film.  Instead, a couple of compact flash cards, and my battery charger, and I'll be all set.  I figure I will save the cost of the camera and computer by not having to buy and develop film. By my calculations, I should be even in about 15 years!  Isn't it great to have a hobby?

Just do it!

I bet  Canon and Nikon both wish they had thought of it first.  Can there be a better exhortation to aspiring photographers than; "Just do it ?"  Of course, NIKE beat them to it, by coining the now famous phrase.  I can't tell you the number of times I passed up a good photo opportunity because I was on the way
somewhere, or I had something to do, etc..  The inconvenient shot that must be taken from on high, down low, early or very late; they all come under the "Just do it!" imperative.  Lately, I have been trying to force myself to "just do it!"  Writing down the potential shots, going there and taking them.  I will endeavor to keep that trademark phrase "Just do it," in my mind and take the damn picture!


Quotations are a funny thing. Why do so many of us find the need to quote famous people?  Is it a means of validating what  is important to us because we're too insecure to go our own way?  I suppose that's why so many copies of Bartlett's quotations are sold. 
       Regarding photography , I no longer seek approval of the way I approach it.  There are so many "experts,"  who have a different way of doing things, and who each define what photography and a photographer should be.  Therein lies the original premise.  I can find agreement in my personal approach to photography, and I can provide a quotation for validating each and every step I take!  For example;   "There are no rules for good photographs, only good photographs."   This quote by Ansel Adams fits my technique to a tee. Catch as catch can. If it is a good photograph, so what if I didn't follow somebody else's rules.  Matthew Brady the great photographer of the Civil War said;  "Results are uncertain, even among the most experienced photographers."  So I keep on shooting, follow the basics, and try to improve. When I feel inadequate, I read some of my favorite photo quotes, and don't feel so bad.


I've dabbled in scenic photography, and I  tried my hand at wildlife, and pet photography.  Without a doubt , nothing beats people photography. It might seem a little obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many photographers actually avoid candid people photography.   Of course, there are reasons for this avoidance.  Many people do not appreciate a camera pointed at them.  Even family members sometimes balk at the camera!  Photographer Steve McCurry, a National Geographic Magazine photographer, captured hundreds of candid portraits from around the world. He published them in his book "Portraits." I cannot recommend that book enough.  No text, but the human condition, and the dignity of  the individual are conveyed  vividly,  by means of his portraits.  So, if you see my lens pointed your way, be tolerant, I am a budding Steve McCurry!


                                                               Parlez vous digital?
This year, during my annual trip to Europe, I was completely digital!  I shot scenes and people in Nuremberg, Prague, and  also in Iceland.  A thought occurred to me during this trip, which was brought about by some encounters I had, mostly initiated myself, with other photographers.
        In Germany,  I saw a guy taking photos with a Canon Digital Rebel. He didn't speak English. I showed him my 10D camera, and he gave a thumbs up sign and said; "digital gut"(good)! We examined each other's cameras, smiled a lot, took each others photos, and  then waved goodbye!
         In Prague, I was walking down a narrow, people filled street, and came up behind a young lady aiming a digital slr up towards the top of a beautiful piece of architecture.  I said to her ; " nice digital camera." That began a 45 minute discussion about her new Nikon D100 digital camera, and my 10D. As it turned out, she was an associate editor of  PC World Magazine.
         Finally, in Iceland, I encountered a gentleman photographing a geyser, and we spoke of pixels, and megapixels, CF cards, and photoshop!
         The thought which occurred to me, and I mentioned earlier, is that I spoke with people in three different countries, in a second language, which I just discovered I could speak.  I feel I can go anywhere now, and communicate. Repeat after me!  Sprechen sie Digital?
The Day I Met Michelangelo

In July of this year, (2004), I found myself at the Democratic National Convention with a full access floor pass. I was allowed to go virtually anywhere I wanted. I noticed right away, that  at times, the delegates only barely outnumbered the photographers.

As a devotee of digital photography, I was soon speaking with photographers from all over the country. We spoke of  digital cameras, mega pixels, processors, CF cards etc.

The best way I can describe my experience is as follows; imagine yourself an aspiring artist. You are in a great hall with history's most famous and revered masters of art, and since you know a little about painting, you soon find yourself talking to Michelangelo, DaVinci, Titian, Raphael, and other famous artists who had gathered there. You are pleasantly surprised to find how accommodating they are, down to earth, and self-effacing. During five days of rubbing elbows with these famous men, you ask many questions. They all oblige, and you know that you were blessed to be in that place, at that time.

My famous people, from whom I draw the analogy are; Ron Edmonds, Chief White House Photographer for AP, and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Paul Richards, Chief White House Photographer for AFP, Khue Bui, Newsweek Magazine, and also a  Pulitzer Prize winning photographer. Don Bartletti, Pulitzer Prize winner from the Los Angeles Times. Gary Hershorn Reuters, Tom Ferrara, Newsday.com, and last, but by no means least,  Dennis Brack,  White House News Photographer's Association Leadership Award winner for 2004.  Mr. Brack averaged a picture a week published in TIME magazine for twenty-two years.

So, I found my photographic Michelangelo, gathered there with some of the world's best journalistic, and artistic photographers, and they each signed my guestbook!

                                         Photography and the Parenting Instinct

With digital photography comes the ability to enhance and change photos in various editing programs. I do it in Photoshop CS2. I have been studying this program for the past three years, and I figure to have it mastered in about another ten.
I don't switch heads! So don't ask me to!  What I will do, is  take a photo of your grandmother as a little girl and fix the yellow, and the mold, and give you back a pristine photograph! 
       I have no guilt in enhancing photos. I will lighten, saturate colors, crop etc. The way I look at it is that the digital camera, will capture all this information. Sometimes, it will not display it all. This is where photoshop comes in. With that program, all I do is bring out the information which the camera has captured, and put emphasis on this or that, and reduce that or this. I do not add what is not there! This September Photoshop World is coming to Boston , and I am my fellow nerds will swap storys, and techniques which make us better at what we do.
        The more I dabble in digital photography, the more I realize the lasting effect photography has on my being. When I look at a photo which I have taken, and worked on  in post processing, I feel like a parent watching a child mature . So are my photographs;  a mass and mess of pixels, which I guide and nurture to the final product. I know it sounds strange, but my photos, are my children. The product of my love of photography; the result of my sweat and tears over mistakes and the learning curve.  Like a parent, I can tell you intimately about each  stage of a photo's life; from capture, to post process to printing. Also, as scary as it may seem,  I remember every photo I have ever taken.
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Life goes on, and change is slow.  Slow, but inexorable. I thought it would never end. The excitement, the pride, the sights and smells of the enclosed ice hockey rink.
In addition to watching the progression of my kids in the sport, I was one who photographed the teams. I worked hard at producing great shots!. I bought the best lenses. Upgraded to digital and learned photoshop!.
After five trips to Europe to  play hockey, time moved on.  Now, as with all things, this journey has ended. My children have aged out! What to do now? Where to go? Without a hockey playing child I'm done! Toast! Finished!
But wait! I have the equipment, and since  I have photographed the wild, unfettered behavior of the hockey player, maybe I can make this change work.
Surley I can translate the swiftness of a hockey player into the graceful stride of a deer? After shooting crashing  and slashing young human bucks in the rink, I must be skilled enough to photograph the violent crashing, and bashing between male moose in the wild!
What about the graceful flutter of butterfly wings? Have you seen a shot from the point flutter past a goalie? Surely a thing to behold! 
Familiarity with  speed, anticipation, strength and discipline should make it an easy  transition to a different kind of wildlife. Maybe it won't be so bad. I'll do it! At least until my son approaches and asks me to come watch little Johnny at his first hockey game. Then back to another type of wildlife! I can't wait!text.
Click here                                                           THE ARTIST

It has been a year now since ice hockey  is no longer my main photographic endeavor. The transition I spoke of previously, from the action of hockey to nature photography, has gone well. Six months of walking in mud, rain and wind, and sitting in my car, waiting hours on end, finally has paid off!
       My photos have been on exhibit in the Thomas Crane Library in Quincy! Nicely matted, under good lighting. They were a success, A hit! Several really nice people came in and complemented my work. Two of those people really ,made my day.  First , Mark Garfinkle, staff photographer for the Boston Herald. His personal photo site displays his awesome talent, especially his aviation photography!  Thanks for coming Mark!  Second,  was a young woman, who after looking at all my photos, came up to me and congratulated me. She said " It must be nice for an artist like yourself to have so many people complementing  your work."  I looked behind me, and there was nobody there. It was then I realized she meant me! An artist!
I've been thinking of myself more like an over the hill Police Detective close to retirement, who was seeking to retreat from the insane world of police work. Photography has been my way of relaxing, getting away from it all.
       Well, I take her statement as it was meant. I am an artist. Can I still be an artist and like beer as much as I do? Do artists pay a lot of bills, worry about their kids, and drive a second hand car?  If so, then I humbly accept the title.  Next year, God willing, "The Whales of Stellwagen!"