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, November 30, 2010

Day 273: Auto Inspection

It was windy and warm throught the day in Chaumont, NY. A pleasant 50 degrees.

Today's photo is a multiple exposure of city lights on North Salina St. in Syracuse, NY.
Today I finally got my 199 Dodge Caravan inspected. You see, here in New York state we must have annual vehicle inspection for mechanical and emissions. My vehicle's inspection expired this past July and I finally got it done today, the last day of November. A big part of that was procrastination on my part. However, it was mostly due to the check engine light being on. When that light is on the car will not pass the emissions part of the inspection.

Well, I am a busy guy and just kept blowing it off. Finally I went to AutoZone and they hooked up their diagnostic device to the van and it revealed it had a large EVAP leak. OK. So I get into my Hayne's automotive manual and read all about that system. Then I get on YouTube and find videos of auto repair shops showing how to troubleshoot the system. This proved to be most informative. So after a couple of hours of that I go outside and check out my van's EVAP system.

These two videos were really helpful in understanding the system and trouble shooting it. My van is a couple of years old and slightly different how the components are laid out under the hood. But, after this I had no trouble gfiving the system a visual check. When I got under my van and located the EVAP canister I immediately discovered a loose fitting hose. It pulled off easily. The rubber ends appeared deteriorated. It happens that I have a 96 Caravan that I recently took off the road and am about to sell for scrap. So, I reached beneath it and found the identical hose. It too was worn looking, but not as bad as the one off the '99. I swaped them. The other thing I did was remove & inspect the purge solenoid. This was easier to remove than a light bulb. I inspected those hoses and thought things looked pretty good. Next I decided to go to the local Dodge dealer to see about buying a replacement hose. As I was driving there the check engine light went off within the first 3 miles. Wow!! Terrific. I'm feeling good. The vehicle should pass inspection now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 272:

It was a lovely morning in Chaumont NY this morning.
The following quote is from one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived.

The advice I am giving always to all my students is above all to study the music profoundly... music is like the ocean, and the instruments are little or bigger islands, very beautiful for the flowers and trees.
Andres Segovia

This month of November, 2010, is just about through. Quite a stressful one for me, primarily because of all the bills I have had to pay in addition to unexpected expenses following a period of reduced cash flow. But, we are getting through it. I have a lot of money out there from several sources that I await payment for. When that eventually comes in I can get back to a more comfortable course. I would like to share the details, but simply do not have the energy to do so. For now, I wish everyone out there all the best.
The photo at left was a little creation outside my back door, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 271: My Two Aunts

Photo of my two aunts by my cousin Bill Fish

Today is Sunday. It is 11:00pm. There is snow on the ground here in Chaumont, NY, and that is OK. Thanksgfiving is behind us and Christmas is on it's way. I for one have had a blessed life over all. There have been some trying moments that still infuse me with guilt should I give the past too much reflection. Those are moments I am not proud of of so am reluctant to share with the world at large. They are also events that when I do reflect upon them cause me to wonder how God can bless such a sinner as I. Occassionally I become reminded of other things that I have somehow overlooked. Case in point: I am perusing faceBook and see that one of my cousins posted a photograph of my father's two sisters taken during this past Thanksgiving Day. It was taken by my cousin, Bill Fish. His mother is on the left. She happens to be fighting breast cancer at this point in time. These two women are my father's sisters. All that are left from his family. I love this photo. They are two sweet women, my father's siblings whom I know, but not as intimately as I should. As I looked at this photo it dawned upon me that I do not think I have ever told them directly the I love them. But I do. I just have never come out and said it. I must rectify that at some point in the near future.
I am somewhat sentimental and melencholy at the moment. I think there are several reasin for my immediate state of mind. eight or nine days ago a 20 year old woman in Liverpool NY was reported missing. She was home from school for the Thanksgiving holiday. She vanished. Yesterday her body was discovered and her 21 year old ex-boyfriend charged with her murder. Today I heard of a report from Syracuse were a 1 and 1/2 year old boy was shot and killed. Syracuse has lately seen many shooting incidents. I work in Syracuse a few days a week as a newspaper photographer. I know the city well. So, here we are at the start of the holiday season and these poor families are experiencing tragedies. I think back about my father's suicide 20 years ago, my Aunt's current situation with cancer, the events in the news and ... well, what more can I say? I just must let my aunts and all of my family and friends know that I love them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 270: Snowy Morning

Well it is windy, cold, grey with wet snow on the ground here in Chaumont NY this morning. I slept soundly last night and later than I would prefer: 7:00am. I was supposed to be at my son's house at 8:00, but that plan included me arising at 6:00, so, now I'll get over there by 9:00. I am going to help him build some counters for a convenience store under construction in Watertown.

This was how my driveway looked this morning.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 269: Here's Looking At You

I am tired and I don't like it. I have no ambition to do anything, and when I go ahead and do something it is difficult to be enthusiastic. When I am properly rested I go after the World with gusto. I am tired because I went to bed last night at 8:00 in the hopes of getting some sleep early before rising at 1:00am to embark on the Black Friday shoppers assignment for the Post-Standard newspaper. I slept soundly until 10:30, then, it was fitfull and restless. I also ate more than Is hould have yesterday and drank quite a lot of wine too. It was Thanksgiving Day. I thought if I overindulged somewhat it might aid in my sleeping. It did at first.

Ihave just finished editing some wedding photos and am now copying them to my iMac computer after which I will burn them to a CD and then create a fancy label and CD package. I am also about to change the strings on my guitar. That is long, long overdue.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 268: Thanksgiving Day

Well it was 20 degrees or so in Chaumont NY this morning. The photo is the thermometer attached to a maple tree in my backyard. Today we will be having dinner with the Better Half's daughter's home in Brownville, NY, about 12 miles from here. The BH has baked a pumpkin pie and I am making an apple crisp which is our contribution to today's dinner.
Tomorrow is what he become known as Black Friday. Supposedly it is the biggest shopping day in The US. It is the day when retail businesses sell enough merchandise that their books go into the black. Black ink that is as opposed to red ink which shows a deficit in their books. In other words, it's the day that they hopefully make a profit for the year, making up for all the lousy sales of the past year.
Now, as anyone living in the US is aware of, there has been intense competition amongs these retailers. So, many of them offer special, select deals to those willing to come into their store at 4:00AM. I personally think people who get up that early to start shopping have rocks in their heads.
The other thing I dislike about it is it has become a "news" story. Consequently I have to be at one of these stores at 3:30AM to photograph the lines of shoppers waiting for the doors to open, and then to photograph them inside the stores as they shop. Well, at least I am getting paid to do it, but believe me, I think I'd rather go have a tooth pulled.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 266: Kennedy Assasination Remembered

This photo I shot in Syracuse on yet another rainy day. By and large, though, it is hard to complain about the November weather this year.

Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of President John F Kennedy's assasination. I was in the fourth grade in a two room school in the hamlet of Calcium, NY. In one room a teacher taught first & second grade. In the other room a teacher taught third & fourth grade. This was also during the height of the Cold War between the US & The USSR. The fear of nuclear war existed in the collective world psyche. There was a Civil Defense warning system in place. In the event of a threat a siren would sound. The only time that siren ever went off was when the school participated in an emergency drill.
So, we were in school thye day Kennedy was killed. All of a sudden the Civil Defense siren sounded. The teachers were well aware that there was no drill planned. They became very concerned, probably alarmed. A few minutes later the school's phone rang. Mrs. Carlisle, the third & fourth grade teacher answered it. When she hung up the phone she was weeping. And then she met with the other teacher, Mrs. McManamin. Then they told all of us kids what had happened, the President Kennedy had been killed. That was an unforgettable moment.
One more thing that sticks out in my mind from that day was a comment one of my class mates said as we walked down the school sidewalk to board the bus. He said, "I'm glad he's dead. I didn't like him." Now that comment puzzled and confused me. And disturbed me. I couldn't understand how a nine year old kid could have such an opinion. I realize now, many years later, he was probably just repeating the opinions of his parents.

The following is the famous Zapruder film of the event. Quite disturbing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 265: Reflection

It is about 50 degrees in Chaumont, NY at noon. A light rain. Overall it is pleasant here for a November day.

Well, in another 100 days it will be a year since I began this blog. Mostly I was hoping to post a new photo every day for 365 days. Well, that has proven to be more difficult than it seemed. But this is a leats a place where I can post those photos that catch my eye. Previous to this I hadn'e had as an agreeable place to share them. The photo today came about as I was walking the streets of Syracuse. The window reflections caught my eye. I like reflections because the effect is similar to a multiple exposure. There is an interplay of overlapping images.

Here is a quote from the great guitarist Andres Segovia: "When one puts up a building one makes an elaborate scaffold to get everything into its proper place. But when one takes the scaffold down, the building must stand by itself with no trace of the means by which it was erected. That is how a musician should work."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 264: Wedding Pix

Chilly this morning, about 20 degrees at 7:00am. Two days since a blog entry. I don't like that but what is one to do? There is sooooo... much. Anyhow, these two photos were made at a wedding I photographed yesterday in Syracuse, NY. It was a real nice affair, the people were great and so were the photo ops. But it proved to be a long day and it was midnight befor I got to bed. I spent a good part of today editing the photos.

There is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is. ~William P. Merrill (1867–1954), theologian and hymn-writer

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 261:

This photo came about because I wanted a picture of a guitar to accompany a quick posting on FaceBook. I first dabbled with some multiple exposures and that evolved into me zooming at the guitar with a slow shutter speed. This was one of the better results.

I had some rather excellent guitar practice this morning.

I just finished changing a tire on my '98 Dodge Caravan. I pulled a good tire of another van that I recently took off the road and am going to sell for scrap.

I am off to Musicology to teach guitar this afternoon.

As usualy I have a lot I would like to say, but am short on time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 260: TV Picks - Survivor - The Middle

I don't watch a lot of TV, but among the shows I really like are The Middle, The Office, and Survivor. The Middle is particularly well written and truly a family TV show. Sort of a modern Leave It To Beaver. So tonight I have just watched The Middle and taped Survivor. Now the Better Half & I are about to watch Survivor. Me with a nice glass of Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvigon, and she with a Mike's Hard Lemonade. Nice way to finish the day, which for me was rather rough.
So, I just finished watching this evening episode of Survivor. It got REALLY good. Brenda & Sash ( or sach, not sure what) have been very cocky up until now, believing they were in complete control of the game. I for one, have not been very fond of either of them, primarily because of their arrogance. Anyhow, the night went my way. Jane, the oldest member of the tribe won the immunity challenge. She & most of the rest finally realized the power being wielded by Brenda & Sach, and they succeeded in voting out Brenda. Brenda has been my least favorite. Sach, seeing the writing on the wall & realizing that he was no longer in control, actually voted for Brenda to leave. That was smart on his part, however, Brenda is now on the jury and sure to be much upset with Nayonka & Sach for having turned on her. She's liable to not look favorably upon either of them should they make it to the final. Now, as for Naonka: She is a straight forward, no hold bared player. Crude and blunt about winning the game. She will use you and then toss you out when your no longer useful. I have dislike her for the most part, but I must say. I have begun to grow fond of her. She is playing the game for HER. Very much the way Russel played in the previous two seaons. Tonight was one of those pivotal episodes that really make you jump out of your chair. The payoff for some of the slower episodes. Tonight was a GREAT night for Survivor. Loved it. One of the highlights was when the 60 year old jane won the immunity challenge against all of the other, varied players. It was a challenge of physical & mental endurance, and when she won, the Better Half & I each cheered. What a great TV show.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 259: Wedding Photos

It was 35 degrees in Chaumont NY this morning at 7:00. It has been twentythree months since my job hours as a staff photographer at the Post-Standard were reduced. That was an alarming time. I can only say the God has been looking out for me. Ever since that day I have had freelance work come my way to compensate for the reduced pay from my job. This month of November has been quite tense for several reasons. One of them is that I have had a vacant apartment for three months so I have had to absorb that reduction on cash flow. A couple of other things on top of that as well as auto insurance and property taxes coming due. Well, I had no freelance jobs on the books, no weddings, no guitar gigs. Nothing for this month. Yikes. So just as i am getting good and worried the phone rings. The man on the other end of the line says he is getting married this Saturday (nOv.20th) and his photographer cancelled. Was there anyway I could photograph his wedding on such short notice? Well, you bet I can. And so, I thank God for this unexpected turn of events. Once again something has come in to help me through the month with meeting my obligations. But next is December. What will that bring?

You can view more of Gary Walts Wedding Photographs at Gary Walts' FaceBook Wedding Album

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 258: Two Photos Today

So once again I am walking along, going back to my car after photographing a job when I spot this building scene. First of all it was the light. Then it was the shapes and the lines. The play of the shadows. There is a monotone to the color also, almost an absence of color. I think I snapped only one frame. It was a little bit sloppily composed so I had to clean it up with a crop. I suppose this would be considered architectural photography. The lower photo was taken earlier in the day. I used a 400mm lens with a 1.4X converter. This long telephoto compresses the scene, sort of layering together foreground and background.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 257: Guitar Problem Solved

Well the new machines arrived a day late. Well, better late than never. As I started to remove the strings I discovered that the problem was not with the machines. It was with the strings. Here's what happened. The last time I changed the strings I inadvertantly wound the 2nd string over the excess of the 3rd string, effectively tying the 3rd string to the 2nd string peg. Thus, as I tried to tune the 3rd string it would wind only so far and stop, being restricted by the 2nd string. It seemed to me that there was something wrong with the tuning peg and / or gear. I should have looked at it much closer before ordering the new machines. In all my years playing and changing strings I have never had this happen. Live and learn.

“There's a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.”

- Oscar Levant (1906-1972) pianist, composer, comedian.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 255: Multiple Exposure

The temperature was around 23 or so degrees in Chaumont NY this morning at 5:30AM. I looked at the thermometer but have forgotten exactly what the temperature was. I can sat there was a fairly heavy frost on the ground na dthe cars in my driveway. We have had clear, Sunny skies the last few days.

I made this photo on Route 81 early this morning. It is another in camera multiple exposure. I say in camera to differentiate from a similar effect one could do with PhotoShop by layering several images and adjusting the opacity of the layers. This was made with a Nikon D300. I set the camera to make 6 exposures. I shot from a moving car with the frame rate set to high speed. So the 6 exposures happen rapidly, each one a fraction of a second after the next. This was something I tried on a whim recently and have continued to experiment with it. Most of the results are disappointing. But some are interesting, as I feel this one is.

The second photo I snapped by accident immediately following the multiple exposure.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 253: Where Are My Machines?

It was sunshine and somewhat mild for a November day in Chaumont, NY. The wood stove is in use. Last week on the evening befor I had to play guitar at an event, the button on the third string tuning peg of my guitar stripped. Fortunately I was able to get it tuned to pitch. But that was it. Any changes would mean tuning all the other strings in relation to the G. This Saturday I have an event to play at. So I ordered a set of new Schaller tuning machines from a place in California called Luthier's Mercantile, Inc. I paid for two day shipping. The package should have arrived today but it did not. Fed Ex tracking said it would be delivered by 4:30PM today. Well, that time came and went, it is now almost 8:00. I go back to track the package again and it now says the package is in Oakland, CA. Well that is where it originated from. At 1:00pm today the tracking site said the package was in Memphis Tennessee. Why is it now saying it is back in California? To reitereate: It started out from CA, by this afternoon it was in TN, supposed to be at my door at 4:30, and now this evening it's back in CA. This is most fustrating. I wanted the machines TODAY so as to get them changed and some new strings on and get started on breaking in the new strings as much as possible before Staurday's gig.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 252: Garbage Disposal Woes

So I have some rental units. I like to have garbage disposals in them so that all the vermin attracting food scraps can be ground up and washed away. In my latest vacancy I discovered the disposal unit was not working properly. The ex tenant said he never used the thing. Anyway, I removed it, checked it out, discovered it had seized up due to lack of use. Simply put, the rotating thing inside was rusted together. Also, the unit had evidently been leaking & the tenant never informed me of it. Hence, the mounting ring and related hardware were all rusted & difficult to remove. I finally got it apart and got it cleaned up and working. But when I went to reinstall it I could not make it fit or lock into place. Try as I might, no go. These things are simple to install. I have installed half a dozen of them. Just a ring that turns to lock it in place. But it will not mate up. All I can figure is I must have deformed it somehow when I held it in a vice and cleaned the rust off with a wire brush attached to an electric drill. Today I am going to pick up a new one and see what happens.

I picked up a new garbage disposal at Home Cheapo, uh.. I mean Home Depot, it is a 1/2 horsepower Insinkerator Badger model 5-81. The one I removed was an Insinkerator Badger 5-75. They appear to be identical. Only difference I noticed was the way the discharge tube connects to the body of the unit. The new one slipped nicely into place and the mounting ring turned smoothly to lock the thing in place. On closer inspection of the old one I could see how the mounting ring became deformed, probably from over exertion when I removed it, breaking it free of the rust. The old one also showed evidence of internal leakage and rust inside the electrical connection chamber. It's been running well for about seven years. The new one cost $108.00 with the NY State sales tax. So, I would rather ave salvaged the old one and gotten 2 or 3 more years use out of it, but it wasn't really practical.

Need a photographer in Watertown or Syracuse New York? Call me, Gary Walts at 315-649-4174.

Hey, I can install garbage disposals too for a small fee!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 251: Self Portrait

Sort of chilly in Chaumont NY this morning. About 25 degrees. A couple of nights ago a tuning key on the G string of my guitar stripped, making it difficult to tune that string. I have a gig I'm playing at the Best Western hotel in Canton this Saturday so I need to replace it soon. I have another guitar but it has no pick up to plug into the sound system. I could use a microphone, but that never really works out too well. So, I ordered some new machines that appear to be identical to the original. With two day shipping from California i hope to have them by Wednesday. I'll change them out, put on fresh strings and I should be good to go.

I was walking through the galleries in downtown Syracuse and spotted my reflection in the mirrored walls. It was the light falling on my face that caugtht my attention. I simply wanted to see what it looked like, so I shot my reflection "from the hip." The lower photo is a detail cropped from the photo at top. After the crop I resized it larger and added the PhotoShop sharpen filter to it a couple of times. I am just experimenting, trying to satisfy my curiosity. Just another reason why I photograph. To see what something looks like photographed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 250: Blue Ribbon

So I picked up first place in photography in the North Country Art Council's 62nd juried annual fine arts show. The show is hanging in the lobby of the NY State office building in Watertown, NY.

Earlier in the day I played guitar at a fund raising event. Just twenty minutes or so. Played tunes that I should be very secure in playing. And it seemed like I botched up something in every tune. It's frustrating. I somehow must gtet out and play a LOT. I simply have not been making myself rehearse my repertoire. That is probably the biggest weakness regarding thye guitar & I. So, I am off to rehearse some of my repertoire.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 249: Busy Saturday

It was 28 degrees at 6:30 AM in Chaumont, NY this morning. Also wet from yesterdays lingering rain.

So today is a rather full day. I have a vacant apartment that I am showing to a prospective tenant at 1:30. At about 3:00 I am going to the North Side Immprovement League in Watertown where I will play guitar at a fund raising benefit. This evening I will be at the NY State Office Building in Watertown for the opening reception of the North Country Arts Council's 62nd annual fine arts show. I have four photographs in the exhibit. The event is 7:00-9:00pm.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 247: Wedding Ad / Estudio Brillante

It was warmer this morning, 45 degrees, but with that warmth comes rain. I am still burned out from the past week which was very hectic. So, I am not really enthused with this grey, damp morning.

The photo here is a new ad I created for plugging the wedding business.

Guitar practice was less than ideal this morning. The problem is that it is unfocused. I periodically notice how I reach a plateau, realize I have made progress in improving my guitar playing, but seem to be stuck on that plateau. That is how I have felt the past few days. Stubborn spots in some of the pieces I play do not seem to be improving. Other spots that I felt were mastered are in need of work again. It is this up and down, hill and dale experience. Some days I feel like I am a good player and know what I am doing. Then other days it seems like I can do nothing. I realize that we all have good days and bad days. When it comes to photography I am supremely confident in everything I do or have thrown at me. I am 100% aware of my strengths and weaknesses. But with the guitar, after all these years, I am still in search of that same awareness, that same level of confidence. If I had not let ten or more years go by neglecting my serious practice with the instrument, maybe I would be where I want to be.
I really need a gig, playing somewhere once or twice a week for two or three hours. That would force me to play through my repertoire. I need and desire to learn new pieces to expand my repertoire. However, as i learn new pieces I tend to ignore previously learned pieces. Yousee, one must doi regular practice on one's repertoire to keep it up. So there needs to be a balance betwen working on new and maintaining old. A regular gig would automatically take care of the repertoire maintenance.

There is a great guitar composition by Francisco Tarrega titled Estudio Brillante that I began working on in earnest about three years ago. When I started it, I knew it was a difficult piece, but until I got well into the study of it, I had no idea just how difficult it really is. Today I have the piece memorized and I can pretty much play it with out my hands, fingers, or arms getting fatigued. That was an achievement in itself. I have performed the piece quite a few times too. But, it is still most unsatisfactory. I still have problems with tempo, clarity of notes in some passages, and overall tone and interpretation.

The following two videos show Julian Bream playing the piece. The second shows me playing the piece earlier this year.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 245: Election Day & First Frost

It was 25 degrees in Chaumont NY this morning. I made this photo in my backyard. This is the first frost to appear in my yard this year. That's a new record I think. Other places near me have had a frost, but not me.

Rough day today in some respects. I got to bed late last night (midnight) because I photographed Condoleeza Rice at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. I was dead asleep when at 2:00AM the Better Half roused me to say there was something wrong with the furnace. Well, the problem was really with the programmable thermostat. Befor I went to bed I noticed the display blinking. I began pressing buttons to reset it, realized I couldn't remember how to do it, said the Hell with it & went to bed. My mistake. It began running non-stop, trying to heat the house up toward 80 degrees. Yikes! Anyhow, I straightened it out & went back to bed. And then I lay there awake until 5:00AM. Finally I dozed and got up at 8:00. It was chilly outside. The day went somewhat normally, getting the wood stove going, checked e-mail, and had to go vote. Also, I had to cut some mats for some photographs that will be in a group art exhibition this monbth. The artwork must be delivered tomorrow. So I got that mostly done before I had to head to Ogdensburg, NY to cover the NY State 48th district senate race. That is where I am now at 10:36PM. I am with the republican candidate Patty Ritchie. She is trailing her opponent, Darrel Aubertine by about 1600 votes. I'll be here for awhile. Another long day in the North Country, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.