About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 150: Fence Construction

So today I am erecting a fence in my back yard. It is the only un-fenced area, so, obviously it is where the deer entry my ayrd and feed on my garden.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 149: About Comics

It was 60 degrees at 6:00am in Chaumont, NY this morning. Cool. It's a pleasant day, great for getting work done around the house in anticipation of visitors from Ohio, arriving this coming Tuesday.

I grew up reading comic books and comics in the newspapers. I love how in just a few frames the artist can tell a story. Now, one of my all time favorite themes is the man stuck on a deserted island. Usually in frame one he is sitting forlorn and lonely looking. Then he sees a box or piece of luggage drifting toward shore. The stranded man is excited. Then when he finally opens the container it reveals the punchline. Well, that brings me to today's photograph. I would say 99% of all the photographs I make are unplanned. I am either up to something else when a photo possibilty cathes my eye, or, I am at an event trying to capture what is going on. This photo was from that 1% where I have an idea I wish to express, and it is my nod to the mystery packages that wash up on shore in all those comics that I love.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 148:

It was another lovely day in northern NY. Low humidity, sunshine. Supposed to be a cool evening, around 55 degrees. This photo was taken at my home in Chaumont, NY.

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. ~Leopold Stokowski

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 147: Hectic July

Well it's quite pleasant in Chaumont NY this morning. 70 degrees at 7:00am, sunny, breezy, low humidity. Supposed to hit 80 degrees later. It's been four days since my last post. You would think I could at least offer upa photo every day. The one presented here was taken in Cape Vincent, NY.

The month of July has been particularly busy and stressfull. It began with a Fourth of July visit tp Ohio. That was followed by a string of freelance photography jobs, a few guitar gigs, as well as my part time job with the Post-Standard newspaper. Then I have had family visiting from Florida and St, louis. The last of that gang leaves on Friday. Then, on Tuesday we have family from Ohio, (those we visited over the Fourth)rolling in for a few days. It's too much. Ther has been no let up. I need some time at home alone. However, this is unusual that so much happens so close together. So, I must hang in there.
Let me clarify my position. It has been great fun, but it has thrown my routine way off. Barely anytime for the blog. Guitar practice has been spradic. Going to bed and getting up at various times. So what I really miss is the routine. The schedule.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 143: Visitors

So, this is my nephew & his dog Ralph from a couple hours ago this morning.
Off to a big family party later today in Cicero, NY.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 142: My Dilemma

My dilemma is what do I do right at this moment in time? Do I go on writing this blog entry? Do I go out to the front porch with a beer and my guitar? Or do I finish up the CD's of wedding photos for the two weddings I photographed last Saturday? What I want to do is go to the front porch with the beer & guitar. But, now that I have begun to write in the blog, well, I'd like to fininsh. The problem is, it will take me awhile and then I will have no energy left for the guitar. I could do all three, but that would mean staying up late. I am allready tired and that would push me over the edge. I certainly don't need the calories that the beer offers.

Allright, some background. My niece and her family are visiting from St. Louis. Her family and her Dad, (my celebrity brother), were at my house last night. So it was a nice festive time we all had. However, I had to leave this morning at 6:30am to photograph three jobs at Harborfest in Oswego NY. Well, that meant I had to give up my morning guitar practice. I don't like that at all. I got in 20 minutes. To do my normal two hours I would have had to get up at 4:00am. anyhow, I leave and go shoot my jobs. It rained cats & dogs until 2:00pm. I'm sick of the rain. I got drencehed to the bone. I finally got back home at 6:00pm. I want to take a nap. Instead, I finish editing and transmitting to the Post-Standard the last job I shot. Now it's 7:00pm. I am also a land lord and have an apartment available. I had to meet a young soldier from Fort Drum at 8:20 there to show it to him. He liked it. I like him. He should be moving in August first. I get back home and begin writing this at 9:30. Also, I am home alone because my better half is at another brother's house in Syracuse helping them get set up for a huge party tomorrow. Big family get together and graduation party. So, the hell with the wedding CD's. They are all done, I just have to print the artwork on them & create the artwork for the packages. It is now 10:pm, I am done writing, I am going to go get a beer and play outside on the porch. In the morning I will get up bright eyed & bushy tailed, put in 2 hours of guitar, finish the CD's and then head off to the big family/graduation bash. How's that?

UPDATE: It's now 10:40pm. The phone rings, interupts some great guitar playing on the porch. It's my golfing brother and his two kids & wife. I failed to mention they are also in town visiting from Winter Haven, Florida. They were wondering if they could crash at my place tonight. They just left the Syracuse brother & should arrive here in about 45 minutes. Hey, why not. Things get a little crazy and out of the ordinary when the bros & their families all roll into town. You gotta love it. However, I'm not so sure the Cd's will get done in the morning, or my two hours on the guitar. There will be guitar, some time tomorrow. I ramble. Adios.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 141: I Make A Photograph

So I am sitting at a red light, waiting for it to change and for reasons I can never explain, the arrow painted on the road along with the shadow of my car catches my eye. I think there is a photo to be taken. I look through the viewfinder and the first thing I notice is myself reflected in the rear view mirror. Oh cool. I take that photo. Then I shoot several more of the pavement, changing my camera angle as best I can given the restraints placed upon me. You know, I'm behind the wheel in traffic. I can't exactly get out and move around. Anyhow, I like the result. But as always, I wonder what does it all mean? What is the relevance of taking such a photo? What's the point? What? What? What? In the end it's just pixels on a screen or ink on paper. The World keeps spinning reckelessly round and round and in the end it will all just end up in a black hole somewhere in God's Universe.

Here is the final photo:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Best Beer I Ever Drank

It was mid December, 2009, I was going to a party at a friends house in Clayton, NY. I stop by Winged Bull Studio to meet up with Greg & Karen Lago. Greg offers me a beer. It was a a Dundee India Pale Ale. I took one pull off the bottle and was sold. What a great beer. Nice & bitter! I know that's not for everyone, but it works for me. My favorite beverages are black coffee, unsweetened ice tea, and grapefruit juice. This beer is actually reminiscent of grapefruit juice. So today it's July 2oth. I have just spent the morning mowing the lawn (with a walk behind mower), and splitting & stacking some firewood. It was a pretty good workout. So, I took a Dundee out to the front porch as a reward for a couple of jobs well done. I was really hot, sweaty, could feel some of my muscles that got over used, and that beer has to be one of the best I've ever drank. It's the perfect beer to chase hard labor. So good in fact, I was inspired to make this blog entry. From the Dundee Brewing Co., Rochester, NY.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Photo From A Wedding

Much less humidity today than in recent ones. The following photo is from one of the weddings I photographed this past Saturday.
My better half is attempting to quit smoking. She jusr went to bed after having smoke free day. It' sunbelieveable to me. She went an entire day without a cigarette. Spectacular. I think she should start a blog about it. I doubt I can get her to do it. Maybe. I have suddenly gotten very busy after more than a year of little happening, work wise, that is. I am way off my schedule. I like to go to bed by 10:00PM or so, get up at 5:30-6:00. It's not happening. That's why the sporadic nature of the blog recently, as well as my guitar practice getting all skewed. Somehow it will all sort out. God, I aM tired. I love you all, I love life, I love my job and everything I do. Otherwise, I would not do it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A few days Off

Well, I don't know if I have any regular followers, but if I do you may have noticed I've taken a few days off. Sometimes one gets really busy. Yeserday I photographed two weddings. These photos from them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 132: On Beer & Wine

Wine is for introspection, beer is for ispiration.

Or so it seems to me. The guitar playing went well today. No nerves, but the humidity was such that my fingers stuck together and felt sticky. It made for sluggish movements on the fret board.

What are we to make of the world? Of fate? Of the big scheme of things? Why do we go through life and suddenly stumble upon one another, often born years apart and then to have the lives lead have an effect, one upon the other? What is it that makes the roads we choose intersect in such a way as to discover each other? We are all so intertwined that it blows my mind. Charles Dickens understood how peoples individual actions would impact those they knew and did not know. How those effects may not become apparent for many years. The more that my life goes on, the more I see the magic of mankind, of inter-relationships. For what purpose are two people brought together?
A few weeks ago I photographed a wedding in Sacket Harbor, NY. It was a small affair and the bride needed me for only a couple of hours. She is easily thirty years younger than I. Her father was in the Army which brought the family to Northern NY region via Fort Drum. Well, I was born and raised here. She graduated from Indian River Central high school, as did I. So, eventually our paths crossed as she was in need of a photographer and hired me. The following photo is from her wedding.

The bride in this photo is at left, holding her niece. The infants mother is at right, smiling with hands on her hips. What a joyous moment in their lives. They are a sweet and kind family and made me feel very welcome and "at home". Now, who could have known that about three weekks later tragedy would strike this family? A few days ago the infants father, SSGT Jesse Ainsworth, stationed at Fort Drum, NY, was killed in Afghanistan. What a terrible shame. I do not know what to make of it. Until a few weeks ago I did not know any of these people. Did not know they existed. But there kindness was so touching, so sincere. I was grateful for having met them. And though I do not know them well, because it was really a business relationship that brought us together, I cannnot help but be saddened by their loss, especially following so close on the heels of such a joyous occassion. What does it all mean?
After I heard the news I did a search on Jesse Ainsworth's name and found this photo on the web:
It was evidently taken recently in Afghanistan.
Read more about SSGT Ainsworth at Freedom Remembered

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 131: ???

Those question marks mean I am lost for words. I no sooner wrote the previous sentence when something flashed into my mind to talk about: I have a guitar gig tomorrow, noon to 2:00pm. It's at the Jefferson County Historical Society in Watertown, NY. The following is a blurb about the event from the Watertown Chamber of Commerce:
July 13, 2010
2nd Annual JCHS Victorian Garden
The Jefferson County Historical Society’s fashion show and luncheon models are preparing for their appearance in the Victorian Garden on Tuesday, July 13th, 12pm-2:00pm. The luncheon is being catered by Johnny D’s and Bistro 108. Attendees will be treated to the classical guitar styling of Gary Walts. Seating is limited. Paid reservations should be made by July 7. Tickets are $35 for JCHS members, $40 for non-members.

Playing the guitar is a funny thing for me. I often do not know what to make of it. That is, what's the purpose? Who really cares? Many, many times after I play a gig I feel like a kid. The whole process seems silly. But then again I love it. My good friend Greg Lago recently asked me which I like the most, music or photography. I cannot pin down an answer to that. I truly love both pursuits.

Since I was a child I wanted to play a musical instrument, but for a variety of reasons it never happened until adulthood. However, I believe I was born to be a photographer. I wanted that more than anything. I dreamed about getting published in Life magazine. That dream eventually came true, however, with a heavy price. That's a story for another day.
Anyhow, at age 25 I took up the guitar. I did this after seeing Andres Segovia performing at the White House. I think it was around 1979. I had never heard of him befor. He was on old man and played like I had never seen the guitar played before. Before he began I little kid in a tuxedo carried his guitar to him. Who was the kid? Why was this such a big deal? I needed to learn more. There was no internet in those days, so who knows when I would learn the answers to those questions. There was one thought paramount in my mind: This old man, Segovia, had better teach someone else how to play guitar the way he did. Otherwise, he will die and there will be no one to carry on.

OK. About three weeks later I am walking around downtown Watertown with my camera, looking for snaps. You know, snap shots. Photos. Robinson's Book Store was a favorite haunt and I would stop in there during my photography walks. So I walk in and what do I see? A book with a photograph of Segovia on the cover. Titled Segovia: My Book of the Guitar Well, what a surprise. I bought the book instantly. I cannot believe that I had never heard of the man ever, and suddenly I am exposed to him twice in about as many weeks.
From there I borrowed my brother Al's guitar and tried to make sense of it all. Ran into road blocks and went in search of a teacher. From that point on I was hooked. How naive I was. I soon learned that Segovia was the greatest guitarist probably in the entire history of the instrument. He was influential in all aspects of the guitar. He taught hundreds of other guitarists. The boy that handed Segovia the guitar at the White House turned out to be his youngest son. He appeared to be about nine or ten years old. I later learned he had an older son that was fifty years old!

Now, at this point in time my dream of being a photographer appeared to be going no where other than as a wedding photographer. That was OK, but I really wanted to pursue my artsy, personal photography. The big problem with that was the great expense involved. Photography was not an inexpensive hobby. So, the deeper I got into the guitar and music, the lesser time I spent with the photography. It was apparent that no matter which art form I was devoted to, I was going to remain a starving artist, so to speak. Finally, the guitar just became dominant and I thought my photography career was not going to happen. That was a sad but OK realization.

Now about those hundreds of students of Segovias'. One of them was Christopher Parkening. I knew nothing of him either. My guitar teacher, Ron Sacci, told me about him. I went in search of Parkenings' albums. They were vinyl LPs. No CD's yet. What I discovered about him was that he had a goal to retire by age thirty and that was what he did. For five years he never touched his guitar, he recorded nothing, performed no concerts. He gave it up. He just spent his time fly fishing at his ranch in Montana. Well, just a couple of years into my guitar study Parkening decided to come out of retirement. I learned that he would be giving master classes at Messiah College near Harrisburg, PA. How could that be? In my mind I am thinking I just discoverd Segovia, and now his most highly acclaimed student, Christopher Parkening was returning to the guitar world and was teaching again. I applied for a position in the master class and to my astonishment, I got in. There were twelve of us students. I was one of them. I childhood dream of playing music was coming true. And in a big way. I was then, and still am today, blown away and feel that my life has been blessed.

So, I now have pretty much decided to forget about the photography all together and focus on the guitar and music. Something else happens. Was it fate? Let me tell you. It's like this: You can chase your shadow all day long and never catch it. As soon as you give up the chase and forget about it, it follows you around. You cannot shake it. A friend of mine saw an ad that the Post-Standard newspaper was looking for freelance photographers in my region. Well, being a starving musician I contacted them and they tried me out. They liked my work and soon I had some steady money coming in shooting photographs for their daily paper. I enjoyed it. So now I am studying music and making money with my camera. What a wonderful, wonderful existence. Suffice it to say that over the years I have used photography to make money and the guitar to satisfy my artistic expression. There's actually a lot more to it, but that's enough for now. I am so thankful to God for the great life I have been living.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 129: Picasso Film

So I jst finished watching this film about Pablo Picasso, the great Sapnish artist. Thougth he was not on of my favorites, this film gave me a new appreciation for him and his art. I found it inspiring. I am so dog tired, I cannot make myself write anymore about it. Hopefully tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 128: Lake Photo

Woke up to 75 degrees at 6:00AM here in Chaumont NY. Have been in Syracuse all day, temps close to 90.
Does this photo work for you? If you like it, can you explain why? Can you explain why you do not like it? When looking at photos, especially when you are new to photography, or, if you have been photographing for a long time and are not satisfied with your photos, you should try to identify what it is you like or dislike in a photo. Or in a painting, film, music, what ever. Pin down just what it is that you like / dislike. It's not always obvious. With this photo that there are two things that immediately come to mind that make it work for me: The subject matter and the composition. Subject matter is important, but I believ composition is of greater importance. I think you can make a decent photograph of almost anything if it is composed well.

About Composition

Notice how I have drawn lines in this photo. When I look through the camera I view the scene as an arrangement of shapes. I move the camera around, zoom in or out until I see an arrangement of shapes that works for my eye. The lines illustrate how I saw this scene. There is a distinct line dividing the frame horizontally where the shore meets the water. The main subject matter is the people: those in the water and the kid in the kayak. I moved around until they lined up in the view finder. They are stacked up, like two blocks, the previous line (water meets shore)places them into two seperate compositional blocks. Are you following me?
I was driving when I spotted this scene and quickly got out and began shooting it. There is nothing accidental in the composition. The subject matter was allready in place, all I needed to do was frame it & shoot it. I took a half dozen or so photos, watching the people in the background as they moved, snapping as they did, waiting for the best arrangement of them. The scene ended for me when the boy in the kayak turned around and ended the shoot.

So, in a nutshell, I view the scene before me as shapes created by the natural lines provided by the subject matter in relation to the background. This same group of shapes could be filled with any subject matter & background. It just happens to be what I saw for where I was. I see the world that way. An arrangement of continously moving groups of shapes. That's enough. Gary

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 127: Backyard Photo Variations

Well, I wake up at 4:30am to birds chirping outside. It's too early to get up. I want eight hours. But, I get up for a half an hour and then lay back down. I get into some weird dreams and reawaken at 7:30. Now I have slept in. I don't like that, but what is one to do? It's a late start to the day. It's also been really hot & humid here recently. It was 75 degrees when I got up.

So I get some coffee and head out to the backyard to do some guitar practice. I'm working on a couple of new pieces and the light on the fence and the red chair keep drawing my attention way from the music. So, I photograph it. The first photo is the way it looked. Then, I was curious how it would look in black & white. So, while playing around with it I liked how the middle version looked. Not b&W, not full color. Then the bottom photo is just b&w. However, that version is less than ideal. It needs to be done differently for my eye. I have little practice converting color to b&w with Photoshop. There is a lot more to it than simply converting to grey scale or desaturating the file. This is an area that I need to explore and work on. I have always relied on b&w film, Tri-X to be specific, for my b&w work. But, in this digital age, one must be prepared to expand one's horizons. Bear in mind, the great pianist / composer Rachmaninoff said, "In art, the horizon is always receeding.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 125: Driving Home

Well, we are driving home from spending the Fourth of July weekedn in Painesville, Ohio, visiting the better halfs family. Hot there. 90 degrees. Looks to be the same at home in Chaumont, NY. We should be arriving ther in about 40 minutes. So, there are a few cold beers in the cooler. Will probably meet up with some other family members and head for the lake (Ontario), or the river (St. Lawrence), or just hang in the shade in our backyard. I am anxious to get to work on the wood pile, stacking oit for next Winter. The photo above is the start of the wood pile. The photo below is the wood being delivered to our home last week. It's supposed to be twelve face cord. I don't know yet how much is really there, all I know is that it's a lot of wood.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 123: Multiple Exposures

First of all: Happy Fourth Of July!

I have always been interested in multiple exposures. That is, exposing one frame of film more than once. It can be twice or more. I love the unexpected that comes from it. The tree was shot on Tri-X film. 4 or 5 exposures, made with a Minolta camera, I think it was the Minolta 9xi. The color photo I made today with a Nikon D300. Now, in this digital world with Photoshop ther are many ways to create multiple exposures, or overlay numerous images to create a psuedo multi-exposure. Anyhow, being on vacation in Ohio, with spare time on my hands, I decided once and for all to try out the D300's multiple exposure capability. After a few failed trial & error attempts (I did not have the camera manual to assist me), THe color photo below is the FIRST such digital, in camera multiple exposure I have made. I rather like it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 121: More Famly & Friends

It was 54 degrees in Chaumont NY this morning. I am en route to visit family in Ohio. The Sun is out, the clouds are puffy, white, and high. Lovely day.

A couple of nights ago I happened to stumble upon a file full of black & white photos that I scanned quite a while back. So, being that they are forefront in my mind, I'll post some of them here over the next few days. Many of these photos have never been seen by anyone other than myself. Only because I have not had the opportunity to publish them, or exhibit them.

All of the black & white photos you will see here were shot on Kodak Tri-X film, processed in Kodak D76 developer. Tri-X is my absolute favorite film.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Day 120: Family Photo

Well, another cool day in the North Country. Played guitar at Teaism in Clayton. That went well. I notice more & more how people are intertwined in ways we are not aware of. There were two incidents recently that I experienced and will try to talk about soon. For now, I present another photo from my Family & Friends series.