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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 183: Another Photo From Home

This is yet another photo taken at my home in Chaumont, NY. It is the light that makes this photo. A couple of Summer's ago I built the fence. This Summer I installed the walk. By that I mean that I ACTUALLY did the work myself. All of it. My sister was visiting recently and mentione how she and her husband gutted out their kitchen and re-did it. Well, they really hired someone to do the actual work. So they had it done, they did not do it. I did it. Why? Because I cannot afford to hire anyone. Well, actuall, I probably could, but the money I save on labor by doing it myself allows me to buy more materials to do more things myself. Get it? In other word, I have more time than money at my disposal. So that's one of the trade offs for trying to make a living from my photography and music. Things could be worse. I could be bored. Yikes, what a terrible thought.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 182: Summer Is Still Going

Well it was 65 degrees at 7:00am this morning in Chaumont, NY. Today and the next couple of days are supposed to reach near 90 degrees. Today I will be photographing at the NY State Fair in Syracuse, NY for the Post-Standard newspaper. The assignment is upposed to be a color based theme for a photo page. I'll link to it when it is completed.

Guitar practice has been a bit off whack again due to more people visiting. Hence, I have been staying up later at night and getting up later than I like in the morning. Soon, though, things should settle back to normalcy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 180 : Crystal Restaurant

So one of my sisters is visiting from Tucson, AZ. We go to the Crystal restaurant in Watertown for breakfast. While we wait for some other family to arrive, I snapped some photos of her waiting. I am paying close attention to what is in the background. I cannot settle on a favorite, so I am posting three of them here.

Need a wedding photographer in the 13601 zip code area? Call me, Gary Walts 315-649-4174. Check out my wedding photography album on FaceBook at

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 179: Morning Coffee

Well, it was 50 degrees and sunny when I got up this morning. I am heading to the New York State Fair for the Post-Standard today. As I was getting ready I set my coffee down on the table and noticed immediately the play of shadows. So once again my morning coffee has become a photo subject.
All told I snapped fifteen shots of it, settled quickly on this one to post befor heading out the door.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 178: How to Play The Guitar

You learn how to play the guitar by constant repition of chords and / or scales. That's really it.

For those who do not know, the above are guitar chord diagrams. The vertical lines represent the six strings of the guitar. The horizontal lines are frets. In this case, the very top horizontal line is the nut of the guitar. the 2nd line down is the first fret. the next the 2nd, and so on. So this diagram is said to be in the first position.
OK, enough of that. Let me explain something. In the broadest, simplest sense you can say that all songs p-layed on the guitar are nothing more than a series of chords. It can be any pop song, Christmas song, country song, you name it. To play them you learn a series of chord changes. The same is true of guitar solos. Simple ones and complex ones by Bach. In the end, they are all a series of chords. Some more difficult than others. It is what is done with those chords that makes up the individual piece of music or a particular arrangement of a piece of music.

So here is what I am geting to. To play the guitar you must be able to go from one chord to the next. The diagram above shows a C chord and a G chord. If you have a guitar and cannot play it, or do not know how to play it, start by practicing these two chords. If you are new to the instrument you must perform the chord change hundreds of time over many days. Eventually you will become fluent with that chord change. That should be your first lesson. From that point onward everything you do with the guitar will be exactly the same as learning to go from a C chord to a G: Constant repitition. Every song or slo you learn will have to be learned by constantly repeating a series of chord changes. Some of these changes get broken up with scale passages, or various approaches to how the chords are played with the right hand, but in the end it is always the same. It is continually repeating the chord change, scale passage, or what ever, over and over, hundreds of times, thousands of times. It 's really not learning to play so much as it is developing the skill to play.
I play some rather complicated arrangement of pop songs and classical guitar pieces. To this day (after 30 years) I must play a piece over and over. If it is complicated or intricate it has to be broken down into small components, chord by chord, note by note, practiced slowly until it gradually comes together and smooths out. It is no different than when I first tackled learning to play a C chord to a G chord.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 176:

It was 65 degrees at 7:00AM this morning.

Have been working around the house for most of the day. I'm off to teach a couple of guitar lessons and hopefully might have something more worthy for the blog afterward.
Consider this to be temporary filler.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 175: No Rain Today

It was 55 degrees and a Sunrise this morning in Chaumont, NY. At last the rain has neded. Hopefully for a couple of days. There is a water advisory in the village today. Residents are warned to boil their water befor drinking it. So I boiled a kettle of water. Condensation formed on the kitchen windows, photographed at 6:45am, and shown here.

Yesterday and today I spent quite a bit of time playing and slowly polishing Estudio Brillante, a difficult guitar solo by Francisco Tarrega. I am a bit hesitant to post a video of it here, but, I AM! This video has poor audio. I usually use an external microphone and touch up the audio afterwards, but I didn't do so for this video. The piece is also somewhat twangy, and coarse sounding. IT was recorded back in May of this year.

Progress on such a piece is slow, incremental. It's a good idea to record yourself every few weeks or months so you can see/hear your progress. I am in know way satisfied with the above performance, but it was about as best I could do at the time. How I wamnt to play it and how it comes out are two different things. It is most confounding. I always welcome comments and criticism, and ideas on what to do differently with it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 173: Rain

It was 58 degrees in Chaumont, NY this morning at 6:30AM. It is now 1:00pm and the Sun has come out. Hooray! We have had so much rain and I am so sick of it.
This photo was taken yesterday. I converted it to balck & white. I guess it's not too bad.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 171: Home Work

Well, not home work in the usual sense, but work around the house. Today I have been tidying up the sidewalk project that leads to my back door. The pictures show it is pretty much finished. Still have to pick up a few scraps of debris. Did it all myself with help from a friend on one ten hour day, and from the Better Half, here and there. This was something I had never done befor. I had to dig out the earth, lay in some sand for a base, level it, lay in the 16" x 16" paver stones (actually some sort of concrete product), suround it with some edging, fill in the cracks with a polymeric sand mixture, and finally fill in the edges with some of the dirt I originally dug out. I worked at it alone on three different days for a solid ten hours each day. Then I had a ten hour day with help from a friend. So, for a 100 square foot area I gues I have invested about 40 hours. Hmmm... I think next time I can do it quicker, and better. Total cost for raw materials works out to $7.86 a square foot.

So today the first thing I did was get a fire going in the Chargriller and put a pork butt and two whole chickens in it for a long slow cook with Hickoty wood. From there I put in two plus hours on the guitar, and then proceeded to take care of a lot of small stuff, most related to the above side walk project. My celebrity brother will be stopping by later with some Dundee India pale Ale beer. Terrific. Hope all is well in your world. What a wonderful life.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 170: Birds on Wires

It was a cool, low humidity morning in Chaumont, NY today. The photo presented here was taken yesterday. I love how these black birds gather together in late Summer, flying about in large flocks. I grabbed this photo while enroute to somewhere lese. The birds fly off quickly. Unfortunately I had no time to adjust the camera & shot this with a slow shutter speed which introduced some blur. But that's OK. I still like it.

I put in some good guitar practicee this morning. I have been working to polish up a short etude by Agustin Barrios Mangore. (Most people refer to him as Barrios) It is titled Estudio Inconcluso Not a terribly difficult piece, but a fun one to play. I usually have a number of pieces "in the works" so to say. That is I play through numerous pieces frequently and over time some of them come together. Eventually some come to the surface and get more attention than others, and then I add them to my repertoire. Other pieces I I have a strong desire to learn and play. Those get a lot of attention. One of them I am currently working on is also by Barrios. It is the third section of La Catedral: Allegro solemne .

Allegro Solemne from Barrios La Catedral, performed by Denis Azabagic

I put Denis video of his performance here because I have not yet mastered it to where I am ready to record it. Also, I stumbled on this video quite by accident. It was the first time I had heard the piece. I think Denis does a great job with it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 168: Good Days, Bad Days

So you have good days, you have bad days, and some days are so, so. Well today was pretty good until the end. I spent the morning snorkeling in Henderson Harbor, well, actuall Sawyers bay in the Town of Henderson. Spent a good two hours in the water. That was great. But in the afternoon I had to do some errands and the day went down hill from there. So, at 8:30 this evening I decided to take a glass of wine and a guitar to the front porch and play some music. I do that frequently, play on the front porch. Usually in the evening and I play selections from my repertoire. However, tonight there were so many mosquitos I had to abandon it. Most disappointing. So I came inside and posted this photo. I took it in my backyard at about 8:00pm. This is one of the few sunflowers that the deer have not eaten.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 167: Shirt in Window

Every morning when I get up I pretty much follow a routine. I come down stairs a bit fuzzy headed, start the coffee brewing and head from there into the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. From there I pour some coffee, go to the guitar and hopefully put in a couple of productive hours. But some mornings something will catch my eye and I make a photograph before pouring the coffee. Such was the case with the shirt in the window. Evidently my Better Half had taken it out of the washing machine the night before and jut hung it off the window frame to dry over night. So, I get up, start the coffee, enter the bathroom and whoa... The shirt is hanging there, back lit, interesting looking. So, I stop everything and photograph it. I snapped a dozen frames maybe and settled on this one. I also converted it to black & white. In the old days I would have shot it on tri-x film and that would be that. I am still not real comfortable changing a color digital file to b&w, but it is something I am beginning to dabble with. So I present this one in B&W.

Now this brings me once again to something I harp on all of the time: there are good photos all around you, right in your own home, school, workplace. You do not need to go on a trip or vacation to find photographs. Just get into the habit of seeing what is around you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 166: Guitar Playing @ Arts Festival

These are a couple of shots of me playing guitar in the gazebo on
Watertown's Public Square during the arts festival. I got a real good reception from folks that were there, however, I didn't feel it was one of my better performances. The biggest problem I had was playing accurately and cleanly. The heat and/or humidity caused my right hand fingers to swell up some. This has an adverse effect upon my playing. The strings feel like they are sticking to my fingers making it difficult to play. This happens once in a while when playing outdoor in the Summer. Consequently I abandoned some tunes that I would have liked to play. At one point I took a short break and rinsed my hands in the water fountain. That helped for about three numbers, then it was back to the sticky, dull picking. The left hand fingers are also affected cuasing problems with quick chord changes and scale passages. But it's like evrything else, you have good days, you have less than ideal days.
This is an old photo of Watertown's Public Square, looks to be from the 50's or 60's.

You can hear a sample of my guitar playing at my Myspace page www.myspace.com/heavymellowguitar I have to tell you though, the page is less than exciting. I hate myspace. The interface is confusing, managing your calendar and posting upcoming events & shows SUCKS. It is tedious & unfriendly. I want so badly to keep it updated, but everytime I go ther eit turns into a lesson in frustration. For example, you can post a quick event listing rather easily. However, if you edit it, it requires several new fileds to be filled in that general;ly are not relevant and try as I might, I end up with errors, lost info, no posting, or a posting that says the event is private when it is indeed public. It seems to default every event I list as private. I cannot seem to chnage it to public. Also, I play at a small tea garden during lunch time evry wednesday or Thursday through the Summer. It is recurring. Everytime I want to list it I have to start at square one and fill out every field with date, time, location, etc. It is monotonous. I bought a Myspace for Dummies book. Well, that was a piss poor book. I think it was published about an earlier version of Myspace, not the current manifestation of Myspace. But, I do have some music samples there, for what it's worth.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day 163: Off Until Tuesday

Well, I may not be able to post anything for a few days while my laptop has been taken away to be updated. I will not have it back until Tuesday. I have an iMac still using System 9 on a dial up connection. I'm not sure I can succeed with that. However, I will try. As for todays photo, I was trying to capture some motion blur as this kid floated on the pool. I was using flash to freeze the subject and a slow shutter speed to create the blur that would suggest motion. As always I tried various shutter speeds and exposure compensation. Some a little over exposed, some a little under. In the end I wasn't happy with any of the results , until... the one presented here. I was luke warm on this one too, however, just for kicks I rotated it 180 degrees so it was upside down from the way I shot it. That was the trick that made it work for me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 162: Guitar and Photo

So today I drove 176 miles round trip from my house to Norwod, NY, to play guitar during dinner at a benefit to raise money for a wounded soldier. It was a freebie. I paid for my gas, bought myself a beer, played for an hour, and it went well. I left the house at 3:30 in the afternoon, got back home at 9:30 in the evening. The above photo was my reward. It's not one of my best photos, but it was nice to get and finish off the day. I was just coming into LaFargeville on the drive home and saw the scene. Nice light, moon, sky. I pulled over and took the photo. I realized later that I was lazy and should have worked the scene more, with a longer lens. But the fact is, I have been real tired lately and was more interested in getting home than working the photo op. But you see, if I had not volunteered to play at the event I would never have been pulling into LaFargeville at the time the moon was in the sky, and would never have otten this photo. So that's nice.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 161: Walkway Project

It was foggy and warm in Chaumont, NY this morning at 7:00am. The following pictures are from a walkway I have been installing at my home. I had to dig up some large tree roots, excavate out some dirt, lay in some sand, and place the paving stones. It's been physically hard work, which I like. However, it has left me worn out, tired, too tired to give the blog any attention. There are only so many hours in a day and something must give. I am off to play guitar at Teaism in Clayton NY today, then guitar lessons at Musicology in Watertown. If not for that I could get the walk project completed today. Anyhow, the photos:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 154: Front Porch View

Well it's a hot one today in northern NY. It was 75dgrees at 6:30am. I don't know what it is now, however, the backyard here has lots of shade and a nice breeze. For those who do not know, Chaumont is a small village on Lake Ontario. Actually, the body of water is Chaumont Bay in Lake Ontario. My house is in the village. Across from it is a cemetary that is on the shore. From my front porch I can see the water on the other side of the cemetary.

Consequently we generally have a nice breeze blowing through our yard. So it's a pleasant place to be.
Now the other day I shot two freelance jobs. I don't think that has ever happened to me befor. I went to Ogdensburg for NYSUT, (the ny teachers union), to photograph a librarian. When I got back to Watertown the NY Post called and wanted me to shoot a job in East Syracuse, right then and there. So I went and did that. It's intersting that happened because a couple of weeks ago I photographed two weddings in one day. I had one scheduled for s few months. It was a small affair held at Thompson Park in Watertown, NY. I would be there for four hours. 10:30 to 2:30. Well, about 1:00 I get a call from a distraught woman wondering If I was available at the last minute to photograph a wedding. She said it was at 3:00pm at THOMPSON PARK!!! Watertown. It was to be a small wedding, I should be done around 7:00pm. Can I do it? It seems their photographer called and backed out on them an hour earlier. So, it was unreal that I was allready there. Yes I will be there. So I went from one wedding to the next. That was an unusual set of circumstances. Now, a couple of weeks later I shoot two jobs in one day. One which was planned, and the second one came in at the last minute.
19 montha ago my job hours at the Post-Standard were cut. But somehow, these freelance jobs have started falling into my lap, saving me from a lot of financial trouble & stress. I can only thank God for taking care of me. Thank you, Lord, thank you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Day 152: A Busy Day

So today I left the house at 6:00am to go to Ogdensburg to shoot a freelance job. Iwas back in Watertown at 12:30. Drove 145 miles. Got a haircut. At 1:00 I get a call from the NY Post. Was I free to shoot a job for them In East Syracuse? OK. So I head out to do that at 2:15. I get home at 7:45PM. Drove 225 miles for that job. Wow, I am beat. I would love to tell you more about the days events, but I just do not have it in me.