Put down the camera

I was driving into work, looking at the spectacular colors of the sunrise over the trees. I found it inspirational. But not the way most people think.

Now, when my mind starts going, it tends to hop on a speeding train. And my train sometimes jumps the tracks. Usually, it comes around. But after a long, somewhat bizarre, and often disjointed detour.

Back to this inspirational sunrise. My inspiration went something like this:

The first thought upon seeing this beautiful sunrise: I wish I had my camera.

Wow! I think this a lot.

I often look at things and wish I could take a picture. I started thinking about how often I get inspired to take a picture. Sometimes it makes sense, pretty view, beautiful sunrise, picturesque lake, etc.

Then again, I do get inspired by some very varied things. One day it may be the rubber ducks I collect, the next a spider web. I’ve been inspired by bugs, flowers and rusty railroad tracks. I’ve taken pictures of waterfalls and crumbled, abandoned roads within moments of each other. I’ve been inspired to stage and take one picture while taking an un-staged picture. I’ve even been watching The Walking Dead and wondered if a location was real or staged and, if real, where is it so I can go take pictures.

So let’s see if we can follow this road I’m on so far: beautiful sunrise – camera – rubber ducks – The Walking Dead. I did warn it was a bizarre and disjointed detour.

But it does come around and make a little sense.

The final thought on this beautiful sunrise: in a time when everyone carries a camera disguised as a phone, a time when nearly everyone feels the need to take a selfie at the drop of a hat (and often the hat too), sometimes it is nice just to experience and enjoy what you are looking at and where you are.

It is more than ok to just put the camera down.

All that from one camera-less sunrise in the space of one red light.

Is your post processing actually cheating?


I have for years had people tell me using Photoshop to process pictures was “cheating” .  I still see articles on it.

I was on a particular site that required that you label your photos as “digitally altered” if you used photo editing software.  This included cropping a picture. It did not include pictures taken in jpeg.

If it was a common film practice, how is it “cheating” to do it digitally? Cropping, certain filters, double exposure.  All techniques used in film.  So if it is cheating, have photographers always cheated?  Or is the ability to use post processing a skill similar to that of actually taking a picture?

If you shoot in jpeg instead of RAW, your camera uses an algorithm to process the photo before saving it to your memory card.  Is this “cheating”?

Many cameras (mine included) have a function that will shoot in black and white.  Once again, an algorithm processes your picture before saving.  There is a button in Photoshop that will automatically convert a color photo to black and white.  If you process to black and white using these quick tools, should you be sharing credit with the person (or team) that wrote the code? Does this diminish the fact that you took a good image? Or that you could recognize that your good image looked even better in black and white?

I have been using Photoshop since before it had any numbers or letters after it. (yes, I now feel really old).  If a picture requires massive amounts of post processing, I usually toss it as no good.  Sometimes I play with it and have some fun.

It is a useful tool.  It can be used to fake it.  It can make people lazy.

I guess it would be cheating if instead of putting effort into getting a good shot, you rely on software to do the work for you.  After all, getting a good shot is a skill and post processing is a skill.  It is just a different skill.  It can save a good shot that ends up being a bad picture.  It cannot save a good picture from being a bad shot.


Don’t stick to the plan

“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal.” – Ritu Ghatourey

I frequently make plans for photo trips.

I frequently have to change my plans for photo trips: money, weather, health.  Things just get in the way.

Sometimes, I go where I plan but I don’t get to shoot what I plan.

A while back I went hiking hoping to get some good nature shots.  I was thinking of water shots: rapidly flowing streams and rivers, maybe some miniature waterfalls.  It had been raining heavily for a couple of days so I thought this would be easy.

Yeah, right!

Many of the plants had yet to recover from the deluge.  A lot of trails were closed due to their condition after the rain.

So not much to shoot.

I started thinking I would be heading home with nothing to show for my outing but a couple of miles on my fitness band and being covered with sweat, sun block and bug spray (last two always necessary when hiking in a marsh in the springtime).  Don’t get me wrong,  I appreciate the Park Service closing these trails to prevent the large divets and holes that, once dry, require, for your own safety, that you spend more time looking at the ground than around.

I get buzzed by an orange butterfly.


Change of plans.

I shot pictures of interesting bugs, beetles, and flying things that I cant identify. And a frog.

So goal: interesting nature pics. Achieved.

Plan: rivers, streams, flowers, foliage. Failed.

Still a successful trip in my book.

Even though I never did get a decent picture of that damn butterfly.

If its broke……

…….bitch about it online.

So the past eighteen months or so, I have not been adding much to this site.  I have been having numerous issues with this site.

Some of them were me deciding I just did not like the look and not being able to find the look I wanted.

Some of them actual issues with the site’s template.  I’ve changed it twice in eighteen months.  The last time,  I rebuilt several of the pages.

Still having some issues with the images not flowing as they show on the thumbnails: extra added in, not going to the next photo.  Check out the Annapolis page for an example.

I had several posts saved as “DRAFTS” that I would not put up.  I have several sets of photos I decided I would be wasting my time to put up if the site is giving me too many problems.

So, is it fixed the way I like it.  Nope.

I got to thinking: I started doing this for fun.  I like taking pictures. I like sharing my pictures. I do have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and GuruShot accounts (I know why not Google or Instagram: still deciding and I have a Windows phone.) that I share some of the same and some different pictures on. I even created a Pintrest page, that I am still deciding on.

I like creating something of my own to show my stuff in my way.

It is not a high traffic site.  I don’t have a million followers waiting for my next awe inspiring picture or rant.

I am the only one bothered by its lack of perfection.  And it only bothers me occasionally.

Now I am working on getting all the backed up “DRAFT” stuff on it. Re-reading and editing, checking the photos for stuff I wanted to but didn’t post.  They will not end up posted in order.  They will have a created date on them. NOT assigned by the site, but the real one.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

It just has to be enjoyable.

And I am going back to enjoying it.


Although…..if anyone knows how to fix the stream problem in the Twenty Fourteen template, let me know.



What’s Your Decade?

I started a trip down memory lane based on a comment I read “Nothing good came out of the 80’s”.  I must disagree.  I was not born in, but I came out of the 80’s.  That was the primary decade of my development.  Most of my favorite people came out of the 80’s.  Decided to write it up when I heard a song on the radio “19 Somethin'” by Mark Wills – not a song of the 80’s, but about the time he grew up in.

OK, I will admit that some pretty bad things came out of the 80’s.  Bad fashion for one: neon, parachute pants, mullets, fishnet tops, fingerless gloves, acid wash jeans, rat tails, massive shoulder pads and Members Only jackets.

Several things came out of the 80’s that have since evolved into something different: Walkman’s evolved into mp3 players, the first commercially available mobile phone has since evolved into the commonplace smart phone. Audio CDs started to replace cassettes and vinyl records.  Personal computers became widely available, since overshadowed by the tablet and smartphone.

Memorable movies came out of the 80’s (though not all memorable for good reasons): The Breakfast Club, Aliens, The Right Stuff, Caddyshack, Dirty Dancing, Full Metal Jacket, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Urban Cowboy and of course The Princess Bride.

Of course there are the TV shows: MacGyver, Magnum PI, The Cosby Show, The Wonder Years.

The 80’s embraced an eclectic array of  music: Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Dwight Yoakum, Travis Tritt, Run  DMC, LL Cool J, New Kids on the Block, Salt N Pepa, Metallica, Randy Travis, Bananarama, The GoGo’s, Madonna, Culture Club, Wham, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Violent Femmes,  and Joan Jett.

Then there are just the songs: “Push It”, “When Doves Cry”, “Livin’ On A Prayer”, “Back in Black”, “Always on My Mind”, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, “It’s Like That”, “We Got Our Own Thing” , “Jump”, “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Billie Jean”.

How much “good” stuff and how much “bad” stuff came out of the 80’s depends on your taste. But I still say that it is far from “nothing”.

Lookin’ back now I can see me
And oh, man did I look cheesy
But I wouldn’t trade those days for nothin’
It was 1980-something
Mark Wills – “19 Somethin'”

Exploring Your Own Backyard

I frequently plan trips to visit beautiful scenic places so I can take pictures.  Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, so many beautiful and interesting places. England, Ireland, Italy, cities with beautiful architecture or landscapes featured in calenders and books and National Geographic Specials.

Unfortunately, I cannot afford to make all of these trips.  Fortunately, I have discovered that I don’t have to go that far to find beautiful scenery.
Only an hour’s drive from my front door are beautiful beaches. An hour in the other direction are spectacular mountains.
I can see wild horses and soaring eagles and still have dinner at home.
I live close to three historic cities with buildings designed by renowned architects.
And I too often take it for granted. I am pretty sure I am not the only one.

I have every intention of visiting many of the places on my list. Face it, no matter how beautiful where you live is, places like the Rockies are worth seeing.

I also have every intention of seeing as much of the beauty as my “backyard” can show me.

It’s not necessary to go far and wide. I mean, you can really find exciting and inspiring things within your hometown. – Daryl Hannah

What Inspires You?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams

I started this a couple of weeks ago, got busy, and finally made it back.  Funny thing is, I was having a brain flow that turned it into something completely different.  I started musing on what inspires me to take a picture or put a page together. I started thinking about someone who inspired me to make the “Looking at the Sky” page simply by posting a picture on Facebook. And off I went on this tangent. I decided to keep it.

I do not find many people impressive or inspiring.  I have never understood when people say an actor, musician, sports figure is their hero. I may have found an exception.

Like most folks, I participate in social media – Facebook & Twitter.  I check out celebrities, but most are only interesting in sporadic bursts. Are people really that interested in what people have for breakfast?  And being able to carry a tune, play a character or throw a ball does not make someone hero worthy.

I discovered this actor when he had a small part in a movie with Robert DeNiro.  Something about him left an impression. I wanted to know if it was a fluke or actual talent. I have since spent a few years watching him on tv and in movies playing a wide variety of characters. My appreciation of the Actor growing every time.

I started to check out his Facebook and Twitter expecting the usual.  I am not the first and will not be the last to say that I was happy to see a well spoken, intelligent, well informed individual who manages to have strong opinions and be open minded at the same time, encourages intelligent debate, and provokes people into making informed decisions not just blindly agreeing simply because they are mesmerized by the nice view. My appreciation of the Person is growing.

Recently, the East Coast was hit by a major storm – Hurricane Sandy.  New York and New Jersey hit the hardest.  There are celebrities doing benefits and commercials to raise support. I commend these performers for using their talents and popularity to help others. But the person who inspired me artistically to make a page of sky pictures has now both inspired and impressed me as a Human Being.

“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” – Ann Landers

Why am I impressed and inspired? With friends, he is one of many who spent their weekend gathering, delivering and distributing much needed basic supplies; trudging through streets running with sewage and debris; grabbing a shovel to dig crap (literally and figuratively) out of people’s homes; bending their backs to carry out ruined furniture and appliances; and fueling that spark of hope that things will get better.

Now that I have rambled on, I will say that I debated not mentioning the actor by name. There are no press releases or photo ops or interviews. Just heart wrenching stories of one man’s experience shared with his fans.  If anyone reads this, I am referring to Anson Mount (AMC’s “Hell on Wheels”; National Geographic’s “Seal Team Six”; “Cook County”)

He is one of the many people who do not sit and think “What is the least I can do?” but instead ask “What is the most I can do?”  Each and everyone of these people is a Hero. As individuals, they will be unrecognized. Most likely forgotten by all but those they helped. I do not think Anson Mount more of a hero than the rest.  Being an actor does not make his actions any greater or lesser than those of anyone else. But maybe, since he is a public figure, he will inspire people, and they will inspire people and so on and so on…

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.” ~  Buddha

Taking a moment to breathe

Recently, I spent several weeks in hectic work mode.  Nothing new, unusual or unexpected about it.  Happens every year at this time.

Suddenly I realized why it always gets so stressful.  I forget to breathe.

To take a quick walk outside during lunch.
To sit and look up at the sky and notice the clouds.
To read a book of absolutely no literary significance but that makes you laugh out loud.
To watch a mindless television show or movie. I personally like cheesy, campy horror flicks that do not scare anyone.

To listen to a guilty pleasure song at high volume and sing along.

Is it really such a bad idea to put down the cell phone, turn off the social media, put away the work and the bills and be frivolous or childish for fifteen minutes?

That still leaves 1,425 minutes to be stressed out and plugged in each day.

But maybe, just maybe, it will take a lot more to get there.

Are you a photographer?

I was out early morning trying to get a nice sunrise over water.

I was not alone.  There were a couple of gentlemen discussing the cameras people carry.  Apparently, there was an abundance of Nikon’s.  Mine included.  A man (who looked like he had been dragged out before the sun and was not quite sure why) asked if having a Nikon made his wife a photographer.  I chuckled. Why? Because of a quote: Buying a Nikon doesn’t make you a photographer.  It makes you a Nikon owner.  ~Author Unknown


I was then asked if I was a photographer.  My reply: No.  I take pictures.

I get up early on a Sunday morning and head out before the sun is up to take a picture.

I look at items and decide to reposition them to take a shot.

I post my pictures on line so anyone who stumbles across them can enjoy.

As I pulled “Baby Cam” (aka Nikon Coolpix) out of my back pocket, one of the gentlemen laughed and said: If you carry a backup camera, you are a photographer.

Am I a photographer?

I guess that depends on who is looking at the picture.

What it is about

I love the medium of photography, for with its unique realism it gives me the power to go beyond conventional ways of seeing and understanding and say, ‘This is real, too.’ – Wynn Bullock

I take pictures.

I do not limit myself to a single subject.

I like to look at the world through a lens.  It is amazing to me how much more you can see through a tiny whole than you can looking at the whole surrounding the same view.  I have found that I don’t necessarily need a camera to see the world through a lens.

“Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” is cliche.  And true. And only the beginning.  No one will argue the beauty of a rose. Many will argue the beauty of a piece of rusty metal.

I guess the real trick is to show something in a way that people have never seen it before.

Of course, there will always be those who look only at technique, who ask “how,” while others of a more curious nature will ask “why.”
Personally, I have always preferred inspiration to information. – Man Ray

If a photograph stirs the emotions in at least one person, that makes it art. This includes the person who clicked the shutter. – Henrik A. Lundh