Rock n Roll!!

We did our first full-on rock-n-roll photo shoot today… and it was a blast.

Think heavy metal, guys in leather, girls in fishnets and skimpy outfits… loud music, groupies (well, friends of the band), plus me, Andy, April and Jackie…

We took about 1200 images — of everything and everybody..

We’re exhausted, but it was fun — lots of fun.  If the band makes it big, we’ll be able to say we knew them when they couldn’t pay a photographer — and had to recruit friends as models.

Overall, it went very well — April and Andy did the more posed shots — Jackie and I took more crowd and random shots… we all put in 110%…. and getting home to my pajama pants and some quiet hasn’t felt this good in a long time.


Fun Stuff!

I had a kind of odd day today… not bad, but kind of challenging for a Monday…  All of the images are from this fun website



































Missing Sara

For those of  you who missed knowing her… here are a few of my favorite photos of her… I’m categorizing them as “Artsy Day” because I use that category to tell the story behind some photos — this time, it’s the story of Sara.

Here are Sara and James, her last debate partner…

Here she is at a tournament in San Diego…and her first time in the mountains… The day we took this photo, it was really cold at home…

and our feet together on the beach — this one makes me know that she’s always with me in some ways…

The story of Sara is one that is kind of typical of many of my students, in an extreme way.

Sara was dyslexic — and smart.  She never knew it until she came back to school…. after being a manager at a pizza place, an “exotic” dancer and several other occupations in between.

When I met Sara, she was in my Intro to Philosophy class.  She was scared to death to turn in a paper and shook like a puppy in a thunderstorm every time she had to hand one in — every week :).  By the end of her college career, she was writing long articles for the school newspaper.  I cried when she graduated, I was so proud of her.

In between Intro to Philosophy dand September 16, 2009 she was a debater of mine, a logic tutor, my friend, chemo support person and as close to me as a sister.  Sara had her challenges and sometimes she wasn’t an easy person to be around, but she was funny, energetic and loyal… fiercely loyal to her friends and family.

By the last year of her life Sara had strong opinions about what she should do, both intellectually and morally.  She became strong enough to make big changes in her life and seeing her do so gave me the courage to do the same when I needed to.

The last six weeks of her life were a time of ups and downs… she got kicked out of a dude’s house, lived with me for a while and met a wonderful guy… one who really appreciated her for her.  I’ve often missed talking to her, if only because I know that she’d give me her honest feedback about what’s going on with me and mix it with her unique blend of humor, sarcasm and love.

When she lived with me two summers ago we spent a lot of time on my deck — Sara smoked, so we sat at the table and talked about the stuff going on in our lives — at the time, mostly her life but mine too.  I wish she could join Andy and I on the deck for more good talks in the dark… if I could bring back two people Sara and Pam would be the ones.  They’d appreciate porch time like nobody else I’ve known, and they would have liked one another too.

On September 16, 2009 Sara was on her way home — to her new man’s place.  She got stopped in construction.  She was driving her little VW Rabbit convertible.  A 17 year old in a Honda was probably texting as she sped down the highway toward Sara — she hit her going about 70 MPH.

Sara survived long enough to be pulled from her car and airlifted to the hospital.  They tried to save her for a couple of hours before she died.  She was 32.  She was a recent college graduate and she had a new job, a new love and a great outlook on life.  The last time I saw her was on campus — she brought her new guy to meet me and she was glowing.

The night she died, her new guy spent most of the night trying to find her.  She wasn’t answering her phone and she wasn’t anyplace he thought she’d be.  He told me that he came to my place several times that night looking for her car — sadly, it was on the highway crumpled like a piece of tinfoil.

Speaking at Sara’s memorial service was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done — but I had to, because I knew she’d do it for me — and she’d haunt me if I chickened out.  When she was a debater she often cried to relieve stress, so when I cried giving my talk I knew she’d be fine with it — what she wouldn’t have been fine with was having her family miss my unique view of her….

I painted a picture most of them only saw from the outside.  I was blessed enough to have seen her growth from a trembling philosophy student to a confident debater (who was willing to, but never had to, take off her clothes to win a round), to a logic tutor helping others understand what had previously terrified her — to a member of the honor society and a writer for the college’s first edition of the student newspaper.

When my students frustrate and annoy me, I realize that I may be part of their transition from nervous student to a student who had been offered scholarships at very well respected universities — and who had plans for grad school.  It makes me miss her more and it also makes me realize that every one of them has the potential to become as exceptional as Sara.

The two year anniversary of her death is a week from Friday — I’m writing this now because I suspect we’ll be spending some porch time in her memory that night…

I miss you a lot Sara — you were here for too short a time and it makes me sad to think that the world missed out on the tremendous things you would have done to make life better for others.

Old photos… new technology

This is me, getting my MA in Philosophy — a long time ago!

So — I’m a procrastinator — big time… and sometimes I just forget stuff — like to develop film for many, many years.  I moved a zip lock bag of film about 5 times before I got it processed.  In a way, it’s a good thing because I’m finding old photos and instead of having them locked away in a drawer, I can share them with you…

Here’s me, probably after getting my MA — we went to lunch at the best Indian restaurant in the world — then went home for a nap.  As usual, the cats had to nap on me…

The little girl in this photo is currently working as an assistant on a movie shoot in Oklahoma — she’s at least 25!

This is me, my sister and some of my cousins at the beach — some of them remember an unfortunate an un-bloggable incident on the way home involving my purse…

This is SuperMom, Oliver, Pam and some family friends — we must have been on the river that day — I think I took this one, since I was there but I’m not in the photo.

Pam and Mark on their wedding day — lots of fun!  Pam’s face looks funny because there were bubbles involved…

Pam getting ready for her wedding — Every time I see wedding photos, the Billy Idol song “White Wedding” gets in my head — her bff’s sister was in charge of getting Pam to the alter without any stains on her dress…. so the theme song for the day was “White Wedding” —

Here’s Pam with her bride’s maids… at the rehearsal dinner..

Here’s SuperMom with her siblings and parents — probably at Pam’s wedding.

Here’s a photo of me in our base housing house — back when the world was black and white —

And, finally — a photo of Jason during his first year of college debate — debate friends — this is where it all started.

What a trip down memory lane —

How to photograph fireworks..

Yep… I took that one…

and this one too…

To take these, you’ll need some decent camera equipment… I used a Cannon DSLR (sx model).  The important features of the camera are that you’ll need to be able to either do two second exposures or control the exposure time manually with an remote.  You’ll also need a tripod.

In terms of the lens — the top one was taken with a Tamron 18-270 zoom lens — I’d guess the photo above was at 270, probably with a 2-3 second exposure.  The bottom one was taken with a Tokina fisheye lens — 10-17, set on 10 to provide maximum curve.

In terms of the camera settings, bulb or 2 second shutter speed (bulb lets  you control the open and close), F16 and ISO 400 —

Then you go way, way early to find a good spot.  For the top one, we were about level with the place they were shooting them off — (Bloomington) — for the top one, we were on that funky hill / park near the new Gutherie — with a great view of the Stone Arch Bridge.

Before it gets dark, set up the tripod, check your settings, take a couple of practice photos and wait — In our case, last night we ended up joining into a Native American family’s birthday party for a 3 year old.  They were a hoot — they had music, food, cupcakes and bags of party favors — all of which they shared with us as we hung out near them.

When the action starts — the first thing you should do is to make sure the fireworks are in your viewfinder — because the direction you aimed the camera before dark is just a guess 🙂 — then snap away.  Make sure to check your photos every once in a while to insure that your camera hasn’t moved — (or the fireworks haven’t shifted) — and that you’re getting good colors with your exposure time.

I’d generally push the trigger as they sent one up – then keep the shutter open until a second one went up, maybe a third if they’re spread out in the sky… then close it again.

Remember that your DSLR will take about as much time to process the photo as it takes to actually take the photo — so you can’t continuously snap.  It takes a bit of luck, some skill and some good advice — but, it’s a lot of fun and a great way to spend the evening…

and — don’t forget the snacks, pop and bug spray — or you’ll end up hungry, thirsty and bug bitten :).

Happy 4th of July!!


This is a photo I took tonight– yes, me… with a lot of help from Andy. We took a class this week on how to “shoot” fireworks.  When we told SuperMom what we were doing, she had a strong negative reaction… until we explained it was photographing fireworks — then she was ok with it :).

I know that the 4th makes some of you kind of ill… all the patriotism and such — but, I think the 4th is more like a celebration of the good stuff about us — our generous spirit, our generally inclusive nature and culture and the fact that we can take a day to be with family, friends and explosives!

I have to say that this was one of the better fireworks experiences I’ve had — the show itself was pretty good… the company was excellent and getting to take some amazing photos was a fantastic new way to play with the camera.  This was the trial run for the fireworks photos — tomorrow we’re going to do the big show in Minneapolis — wish us luck!

Support a Photographer you know and love!!

Support my favorite photographer — Andy…

If you need something cool for your walls, look at his photos…. here...