Corncrib

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Corncrib copy

Photographing horizontal lines is extremely difficult. And it is especially difficult when you are trying to keep everything straight and vertical. Even if your camera is perfectly level, you may not be completely perpendicular to the subject which will make the horizontal lines look like they’re running up and down.

So how do you solve this? Here is my four-step approach to getting it right.

  1. Choose your camera position. Try to point the lens perfectly perpendicular to the subject by eye.
  1. Whip out your trusty level and make sure the camera is perfectly level in all directions.
  1. Look through the viewfinder and check to see if the horizontal and vertical lines are still horizontal and vertical.
  1. If the lines aren’t vertical and horizontal anymore, slowly turn the camera left and right while looking through the viewfinder until the lines become straight.  You may have to move the camera position left or right to re frame the scene.

Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work all at once. It takes a little practice.

 

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Michigan Fall Leaves

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MI Fall Leaves

I love my home state of Michigan, at least during the spring summer and early fall.  When the leaves turn in early October there is nothing in nature more beautiful.

Unfortunately when I was living there I never took full advantage of that beauty, This is one of the few fall color photographs I have. Now, I try to plan my trips to MI during peak color season, although my current list of responsibilities make those trips few and far between.

So let this be a lesson. Take full advantage of what where you live has to offer. You never know if you’ll not pass that way again.

El Jardin

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El Jardin

Brownsville, Texas is a really old town. Its origins are way before the Civil War. It showed great promise being that it was right on the Mexican border. Unfortunately like most border towns it never really reached its potential.

Instead of taking the best of both cultures and running with it, the city fathers always seem to cater to the low end and keep the city buried in the past of old world Mexico.

A case in point is the El Jardin Hotel. This hotel was built in the late 20’s and was a pretty glamorous hotel at that time.  It is where Brownsville used to host many celebrities and movie stars.  However, as years went by, it became a symbol of Yankee decadence and slowly begins to deteriorate.  There had been plans to restore the place since the 90s but it is only now that the El Jardin Project started after Captain McCurry bought the place.

I thought the day I made this photograph was very appropriate. The gleaming white of the hotel contrasted against the stormy sky. The weather had been building up to a bad storm with dark skies and heavy clouds. But just as I finished setting up my 4X5 view camera for the shot the sun burst through a small hole in clouds and gave me this really neat lighting effect.

Doors and Windows

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Doors and WindowsSometimes as I’m walking around looking for something to photograph, a scene or subject would grab my eye without really knowing why. This is a case in point.

This is part of a wall on an old grain elevator. I really liked the different textures.

When I went up close for a good look to see where the doors went, it seemed they had all been boarded up on the inside. Even the window went nowhere.

Hmmm. Does make one curious.

Palm Court

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Palm Court

For tons of years, Joe Baldwin and Gerald Collier owned and operated Palm Court Restaurant. It was by far the finest restaurant in Brownsville, Texas. And even after being closed for many years upon Joe and Gerald’s retirement, it has never been equaled.

I loved taking clients there. They made you feel like you were the only one there. It was always a great experience.  If only more businesses were like Palm Court, they would have no trouble getting clients and making sales.

I had wanted to photograph these two restaurateurs for years. It took me quite a while to work up the courage to ask them if they would sit for a portrait. They graciously agreed so one day after they had closed and everything was put back ship shape, I showed up with two assistants and a ton of gear.

I really wanted to go all out for this portrait. They were quite surprised with all the elaborate equipment and how long the preparation took. I remember being surprised by Joe’s comment that he thought photography was just coming in with a camera and making a few snaps.

I used a Sinar P2, 4X5 view camera and Tmax 100 film. We had two power paks running 6 light heads strategically placed around the restaurant. I wanted to pack some drama in the shot but also retain the look and feel of the natural lighting.

When I presented them with a perfectly printed beautifully framed 16X20 portrait they were really blown away. It hung in their restaurant right up until they retired.

I really love surprising people I deeply like and respect with gift portraits. I get as much joy out of their reaction to receiving the gift as they do receiving it.  It also gives me the opportunity to take on a new challenge and broaden my portfolio.

My Dad

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My Dad

I took this photograph while we were all together to celebrate his sister’s (my aunt’s) 105 birthday. I noticed this rather pensive and somewhat melancholy expression on his face, so I grabbed the shot. I wonder what was going through his mind, perhaps he was thinking of all those years ago when he and his brothers and sisters were kids at home and some of the hijinks they did. I don’t think he knew I took it. As it turned out the way he was sitting against the window provided the perfect light.

I can’t believe I didn’t get a shot of my aunt or of the two of them together.  Well, I always find it extremely hard photographing family and close friends. I don’t really know why. If anyone else is in that position I’d like to hear from you.

Anyway, I always found my dad to be somewhat of a superman. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do and I have missed him dearly. I wish everyone could have the relationship with their mom and dad like I had with mine. I bet the world would be a much better place.

Landry

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Several years ago Brownsville, made a bid to become the national training site for a lot of our young people with Olympic hopes.   At the time I owned a regional sized ad agency and we got the bid to  conceive and execute the advertising campaign that was hoped to win the bid for the city.  We had several gold medal contenders flown in to use in the campaign.  Landry was hoping to win the gold in the heavy weight  division for Judo.  He was a real gentleman, what class.  We worked together for about an hour making several photographs that we thought would work for the campaign. This one turned out to be the winner.  I never heard from Landry again. So I don’t know what happened in his life. But, he really deserved the best.

Several years ago Brownsville, made a bid to become the national training site for a lot of our young people with Olympic hopes.

At the time I owned a regional sized ad agency and we got the bid to conceive and execute the advertising campaign that was hoped to win the bid for the city.

We had several gold medal contenders flown in to use in the campaign. Landry was hoping to win the gold in the heavy weight division for Judo. He was a real gentleman, what a class. We worked together for about an hour making several photographs that we thought would work for the campaign. This one turned out to be the winner.

I never heard from Landry again. So I don’t know what happened in his life. But, he really deserved the best.