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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 334: Summer Photo

It has been snowing for most of the day here in Chaumont, NY. A light, easy snow, nothing to get worked up about. Temperature about 22 degrees. The village of Chaumont is pronounced Sha-mow. It rhymes with snow. It is a french word so the nt is silent.

I have taken so many photos over the years I simply cannot recall them all. Today I was looking for a specific image from my archives when I came upon this photo. I took it probably ten years ago and had completely forgotten it. The boy is walking on a pile of some type of crushed stone that was at a local highway dept. Anyhow, here in the thick of Winter, February only a couple days away, it was quite pleasant to stumble upon this image. It is also nice to have a place like this blog or Face Book to display such images that otherwise, no one would probably ever see.

Day 333: Guitar At The Art Council's Dinner

This evening I played guitar at the North Country Arts Council membership dinner which was held at the Black River Valley Club in Watertown, NY. The playing went well. It was the first public playing opportunity I have had since some time in December before Christmas.

I must say that 15 years or so ago I was never comfortable playing in front of people. I did it a lot, but it was always stressful. Well, it still can be stressful today, but not like back then. In fact, I am beginning to desire it and getting a real satisfaction from it. Among the pieces I played were Here, There, and Everywhere, Eleanor Rigby,  All My loving, Octopus's Garden, all by the Beatles and arranged by Australian guitarist JoeWashington. I played Fernando Sor etudes # 2 & 5 from Andres Segovia's grouping of 20 Sor studies. Also,  Somewhere My Love (theme from the movie Dr. Zhivago) and Blue Moon, both arranged for guitar by Laurindo Almeda. I played a wonderful arrangement by Larry Beekman of Elton John's  Your Song, Chet Atkin's arrangement of Mr. Bojangles, & Miguel Llobet's transcription of  Enrique Granados' Spanish Dance #5. Another piece was Don MaClean's Vincent (Starry, Starry Night), as arranged by John Knowles. Now then, I have not rehearsed the piece in quite a few months, and thogh I love it, and LOVE Knowle's arrangement, I never truly have gotten it don "pat." That is to say, flawlesly committed to memory. So there was one point in the execution where I  began to fumble and just abandoned the accompanying notes and playe 2 or 3 bars of melody only. No Problem, that saved the day & I was able to cruise to the end of the piece.  There were also a couple of easy etudes by Francisco Tarrega as well as his great composition Recuerdos de la Alhambra. His Recuerdos...   is a famous piece. Sometimes I play it as an 8th note study, omitting the tremolo. Most folks in these situations do not know the piece, or if they do, do not notice that I have played it wthout the tremolo. Now, an afficianado of the istrument would pick up on it immediately. However, I played the piece as writen, with tremolo. How well did I do? I really do not know. All the feed back I got from those in attendence was positive. It was a rather noisy event because I was playing during cocktail hour. Thus a lot of chatter going on. (When everyone was seated I counted at least ten tables with 8 people each seated at them, thus, 80 folks in the room).
With all of those people it was difficult for me to asses my playing because I could not hear myself as adequately as I would have liked. I was playing through the Fishman Solo Amp with no monitor. The guitar was my Guild MARK V Classical from 1984 or '85. It has Indian Rosewood back & amp; sides, Spruce top.
It has a transducer mounted on to the heel of the neck inside the guitar body. I do not remember the make, but believe it may be a Dean Markley.  I assume the projection was good based upon the limited feedback from those I spoke with.  The bottom line is that I was happy with what I did, I got some attention, and was not stricken with debilitating stage fright. I came home to the Better Half, drank down most of a bottle of Cabernet Sauvigon wine and am now informing you about my recent events.

\So, for the most part I have had a terrific day, people seemed to enjoy my music, had a nice dinner with people from the Art's Council, spent some quality tgime with the Better half on my arrival home, drank up some nice wine, and once again, at the end of the day as I prepare to head upstairs to bed I am reminded of how wonderful my life is. I thank thee Lord, I thank thee. Good night.

Need a wedding photographer in Waterown or Syracuse New York? Look no further. Call me, Gary Walts one of the most experienced wedding photographers in northern and central ny. Pleases call me at 315-649-4174.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 331: Sweet Caroline

Well it was 26 degrees at lunchtime in Chaumont, NY. We can live with that. For w few days I have been less than enthusiastic about things. As I have mentioned before, many of the irons that I have in the fire are slow to heat up and bear fruit. But, one must continue on and keep trying. Those that quit, quit. Their vines produce no fruit. So this morning I started out sort of glum, but proceeded to work at some things and slowly, I worked out of my funk. I am embedding a YouTube video from soymartino, a Serbian (I'm pretty sure he is a Serb, could be wrong) guitarist playing his arrangement of Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline.

In pre-internet era I and most everyone else in the World would never have discovered this guy. Being one of my favorite Neil Diamond tunes I was excited to see  that his arrangement was available for sale. Well I really like this arrangement so I bought it and began learning it yesterday. Which is anothe thing that's great about the internet. I used PayPal to pay him and his arrangement was e-mailed to me within moments, arrivinbg as a PDF document that included standard music notation & guitar tab. What A Wonderful World! (Oh, that Louis Armstrong tune was included with the purchase too!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 329: Rabbi

I have made so many photos over the years I simply cannot recall them all. The other day I was going through some archives looking for a photo for a friend when I came across this photo of the rabbi. I shot the picture in Syracuse, NY, during Hanukkah where he was on hand to light the Menorah. Out of focus Christmas light in the distance became a pleasant background thanks to the effects of a 200mm lens.

So I decided to post it here while I had the opportunity, or rather, while my discovery of it was still fresh.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 328: Another Cold One

Yes, it was 24 degrees below zero here in Chaumont, NY this morning. Tomorrow it is supposed to go 30 or higher above zero. That's a fifty degree spread.  Well, that's Winter for you here in the North Country.
Occassionally a piece of burning wood in the stove catches my eye. Such was the case with the photo here. I snapped it last night.

Photograph By Gary Walts

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 327:

Today the high temperature here in Chaumont NY was -4 degrees. (that's 4 below zero farenheit). However, as is most often the case with these low temps, the Sun was out. I spent about three hours outdor in it. I was perfectly comfortable. I Had two layers of clothes covereing my legs, four layers on my arms & torso, my head covered with a knit toque(a knit hat, not sure how it's spelled). I also split up some firewood. These activities make one warm indeed out there in the frosty elements. At 4:30pm it has dropped to 5 below zero. Tonight it is supposed to go down to minus 20 to minus 30 degrees. We shall see.

Well it is now 9:00pm and the temprature here in Chaumont, NY is minus 14.

Gary Walts photographer serving Watertown, Syracuse, and surrounding areas. Photographing weddings for over 30 years.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 326: Promotional Prints

Supposedly the temperature is to fall to 25-30 degrees below zero tonight. That is pretty, pretty, pretty, chilly. It was 11 degrees here this morning at 7:00. I just got some 16" x 20" promotional wedding prints delivered here yesterday from Shutterfly.com. The quality is OUTSTANDING! These were from digital files I uploaded to their web site. I was unsure just how good a print that large would be, in particular because some them were from jpeg files taken with a Nikon D2h camera, which only has a 4.1 megapixel sensor.
One of my 16x20 promotional prints made by Shutterfly.com  Excellent quality, great price, fast service.

So, to reiterate, I am very happy with the prints from Shutterfly made with the Nikon cameras I have been using. Now the next thing I plan to do is see how well Shutterfly makes black & white prints from my scanned Tri-X negatives. That will be interesting. I imagine a lot of it will depend on the film scanner.

Start your own account at www.shutterfly.com

For those who came in late: My name is Gary Walts, the author of his blog. I was born & raised in Jefferson County, NY. I have been a photographer forever. And a pretty darn good one. I shoot regularly for Associated Press, The Post-Standard and have shot many freelance jobs for various publications, including Parade, The Washington Post, The NY Daily News, USA Today, just to name a few. My personal work has appeared in many publications and books. Consequently, I have a lot of experience photographing nin a variety of situations, dealing with all manner of personalities. Politicians, criminals, babys, corporate executives, sports, industrial workers and places. And WEDDINGS. I have photographed many weddings in just about all denominations under all kinds of conditions: Indoors, outdoors, in dark reception halls, poorly lit churches. You name it. Anyhow, I know how to react to a situation and quickly frame up a memorable photograph. I also know how to conduct myself. To move about as discreetly as possible and still get the photos. So, if you are in need of a wedding photographer in northern or central New York, give me, Gary Walts,  a call at 315-649-4174. Actually, for the right fee I will travel well out of this region to photograph your wedding.

For a wedding photographer in the 13601 zip code area call Gary Walts at 315-649-4174

Visit Gary Walts wedding photography site at www.garywalts.com/weddings for more info.

P.S. I am also a fairly decent guitar player and teach guitar.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 324: Santitas Corn Chips

Where have I been for the past three days? Hmm... Anyway, it was 11 degrees this morning when I jumped out of bed here in Chaumont, NY. Teaching guitar this afternoon. Today's breakfast consisted of black beans, guacamloe, & corn chips. Incidentally, the best chips, in my opinion, are Santitas made by Frito-Lay. They seem to be stronger or maybe they are a little less brittle than all of the others. They don't break as easily when scooping into the guacamole. I love 'em.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 321: Baby It's Cold Outside

So this morning it was 14 degrees below zero here in Chaumont, NY. I had no idea yesterday that we were headed for so a low a temperature. The reward for that was the nice frost formations on the windows.

Frost formation on a window of my home in Chaumont, NY.

At left is the thermometer that hangs on a Maple tree in my back yard. It can be difficult keeping up enthusiasm for one's endeavors when the fruit they bear produces a small crop over a prolonged period. What I am getting at is how slow it has been for me to establish a solid group of guitar students and to book a susbstantial number of wedding photography jobs. Many years ago I photographed weddings almost every week end. I often would cover two weddings in a weekend.  When I was teaching guitar 18 years or so ago, I generally had about fifteen or so students at any given time. (The guitar has a high dropout rate, so students tend to turn over frequently.) My job with the nerwspaper eventually kept me so busy and paid me well enough that I gave up the teaching and the weddings. That was great for about 23 years. Then, 24 months ago my job was slashed to  twenty hours a week.  I figured that by now I would be re-established in the area as a wedding photographer and as a guitar teacher. Sadly, I have been averaging only four or five students. The weddings have been coming in at a dismal rate also. I assume some of it still has to do with a sluggish economy. There also are a lot of other photograp[hers out there trying to hustle up wedding gigs, and quite frankly, most of them are rather poor shooters. What a person in my position cannot do, however, is quit trying. So, I keep plugging along. Now don't get me wrong, I have had good success and have been able to make up a good portion of my lost job wages, but it's work. I don't mind the work, but at times one does get discouraged.  Anyhow, I hope al of you out there are doing OK.

The best to you all, Gary Walts

Do you know anyone who needs a wedding photographer in the Syracuse or Watertown regions of NY? Send them to me, Gary Walts at www.garywalts.com/weddings

Wedding photography in northern NY, Watertown, and central NY by Gary Walts wedding photographer

Day 320:

So I am going through a troublesome few days where I do not feel like doing anthing. So what?  However, I did have a ncie day. It was cold and windy. My Celebrity brother came over bearing filet mignon steaks. We wrapped them in bacon, grilled them over charcoal on an intensly hot cast iron grill. Had a great salad & stuffed baked potatoes. And a few Labatt Blue beers, the nectar of Canada. So what the hell, we manage to enjoy Winter. Sorry there were no photos. I took a rare day off.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 318: Morning In Chaumont

I get up a little late this morning. Look out the kitchen window and like the overall blue look of the World. It is 11 degrees. I go get my camera and take a snap. It is 7:00am. Then the coffee goes on, and my guitar comes out.
View from my kitchen window at 7:00am in Chaumont, NY

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 317: Coca-Cola & Self Portrait

First of all, let me tell you that today is a real Winter day here in the North Country. I am in the village of Chaumont, NY, located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Jefferson County. About twelve miles from the Canadian border. It's cold enough, and windy enough to cause me to wear long underwear. The self portrait came about after I was done shovelling snow from the driveway, and carrying firewood indoors for the wood stove. I liked how the snow formed on the window panes of my garage. So i positioned myself there and made this portrait. I am also drinking a Coca-Cola while I make this entry. I prefer Coke to Pepsi any day. This Coca-Cola will be the first of probably no more than four I will drink the entire year. I simply do not drink soda, but on the rare occassion I do, it is Coke for me. There were some in the fridge left over from the Christmas season and it looked inviting. So I went for it. Now then, two observations about Coca-Cola: #1 there are 140 calories in a 12 ounce can. #2 Why is it spelled Coca-Cola with all letter C's, but when shortened to Coke it is spelled with a K? Pepsi-Cola doesn't have this problem.

photos by Gary Walts

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 315: Today's Work

So, I am lucky just to put this up here today. I have taken a few days off from the blog world. There are only so many hours a day and unfortunatly some of them must be spent sleeping.

photos by Gary Walts

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 310: Socks & Snow

I was up a little late last night, so, got up this morning at 7:00 to sunshine on yesterdays snow. Nineteen degrees. A pretty and pleasant day, at least in regard to the weather.
The month has just begun and I see no freelance work on the immediate horizon. I get nervouse, because I need more work to meet all of my obligations. I get this way in the first few days of every month, and something usually comes my way and life keeps going on. For al of the adversity I have faced in recent years i have managed to chop away quite a bit of debt. I surprise myself when I look at the figures.

A terrific buy at Sam's Club: 10 pair of socks for $11.38
Speaking of money, I love to get a good buy for my dollar. Thus, I shop at Sam's Club fairly regularly. I have never given any attention to the clothing they offer for sale, until last night. I was walking through the store and a display of socks caught my eye. It just so happened that I had been thinking about buying some socks. They had ten pair for $11.38, and, they were MADE in USA!  I was thrilled to think that a piece of clothing was still being made in the USA. Also, 10 pair for that price seemed like a great deal to me. So I bought them. I am wearing a pair now & they feel great on the feet. An excellent buy that I reccomend at Sam's Club.

"Luck is only important insofar as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you've got to have talent and know how to use it." - Frank Sinatra

photos by Gary Walts

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 309: Winter Wonderland Returns

Snow this afternoon at my home in Chaumont, NY
So, we had a warm spell that quickly melted away all of our snow a few days after Christmas. Well, I awoke this morning to six inches of fresh snow. Enough to make me shovel the driveway for the first time this Winter season in Chaumont, NY

The gate at my backyard entrance.

Let me tell you about shovelling snow. It's good exercise. Now, it is not such a nice thing if one wakes up in the morning to two feet or more of snow and must shovel it  before going to work in the morning. However, often times we know the snow is coming and can plan on getting up  early to shovel it. But most people still do not like it.  It is laborious. So, some folks buy a snow blower. That makes it go quicker. If you have vast areas of snow to remove that is a good, perhaps only option. However, one can always park the car closer to the road end of the driveway so as not need to shovel, or blow as much snow to get to work on time. But that means one must hike from the front door to where the car is parked. That might mean trudging through snow up to your knees. Then, try as you might to brush it off your legs, some remains and then the car heater melts it and you arrive at work with wet pant legs. Well, you could always park near the road, at the farthest point from your house, closeste to the road, and THEN: Start the snowblower up in the morning and use it to blow a narrow path to your car. This would be much quicker than than clearing the snow from the entire driveway.
I prefer to just shovel the stuff. Mainly for the exercise. But shovelling can be dangerous. Many people have had heart attacks from shovelling snow. Immediately I can think of three people I know who have had such a problem. When I was a teen my grandfather died of a heart attack while shovelling snow. I forget his exact age, but he was well over 80 years. My ex- brother-n-law, who is my age, had a heart attack while shovelling snow about three years ago. He survived, but it was real touchy. Finally, a co-worker who is about six year older than I experienced the same thing. He too survived.

The problem is they over exert themselves. They are in a hurry. They are bending over and scooping shovel fulls of snow, which, depending on conditions, can be very heavy, or light and fluffy. Often times these people have not done anything more strenuous around the house than mow the lawn with a riding mower. Then the snow comes and they are impatient, and BAM! The big one hits.

When I shovel snow I try to keep the bending & lifting to a minimum. I use my snow shove more like a plow. I lay it on the driveway surface and push the snow to the edges, and then scoop ot farther away. I also (and this is most important) Work slowly and steadily. I do not want to get winded, that is, to start breathing heavy and hard. If I notice that happenng I simply stop working. I pause to look at the beauty of the snow, to experience the cold frseh air, to really, rejoice in the experience. If I am going to be late, well, so be it, or, I shovel just enough to be able to get out of the driveway and get to work.

You can burn up a lot of calories shovelling snow, so for me, that's a a good and welcome way to get some exercise. I feel the same way about mowing the lawn in the Summer. I use a push mower (or, some call them a walk behind). Free exercise. And here is the thing with both endeavors: You get instant gratification. With every motion there is less snow, or shorter grass. Your exercise has a distinct and clearly visual reward.  When you are done you can look at it and admire what you have done. Feel a sense of pride. You have accomplished something. Then, go on into the house and reward yourself with a nice cold, refreshing beer!

My God, that's what living is all about. Getting your ass outdoors in God's wonderland called Earth, experiencing the Elements, working at something that needs to be done, seeing what you have accomplished, feeling satisfied by it, and then drinking a beer! What better way can there possibly be to live life as a man? At least that is how I see it living here in the North Country.

Today  I offer this quote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

photos by Gary Walts

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 308: The Good Guys Cancelled

It's good by for The Good Guys. One of the few TV shows I have enjoyed in the last ten or fifteen years.
I don't watch a lot of TV. In fact, I almost gave it up all together quite afew years ago because every thing was so poorly written with stupid jokes and puns usually infused with vulgar, gutter, toilet type humor.  I cannot stand that stuff.  Anyhow, the Good Guys from Fox TV I found to be a refreshing and truly funny cop show.  I just heard it is being cancelled. Story of my life in recent TV history. The shows I like generally only last one season if that.

Bradley Whitford  and Colin Hanks  in The Good Guys

 Colin Hanks (Tom Hanks' son), portrays a promising young detective who is partnered with a washed-up, often drunken cop portrayed by Bradley Whitford, to solve what appear to be petty crimes that ultimately lead to involved plots filmed with Hollywood style action. That action is part of the fun of the series. It's like they are poking fun at all of the shoot 'em up, blow 'em up action sequences of big Hollywood movies.  In one memorable episode there is more lead flying  than was fired at Bonnie & Clyde. The room was riddled like swiss cheese, and when the smoke cleared, no one had taken a hit. There are usually a nice big explosion or two along the way, again, to me, it's like they are doing a satire of a Rambo or Schwartzenegger type of movie. 

In this video from TV Guide the lead actors talk about theri characters and the show.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day 306: New Years Day

Photographing a wedding today. It is 50 degrees here in Chaumont and should be a little warmer in Syracuse, where the wedding is. We watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV last night. Fell asleep right away after that. Woke an hour later. Fell asleep again, I don't when, got up at 8:00. Wedding is at 5:00, must be there at 3:00, so I should leave the house around 1:00.

This photo from an August 2007 wedding in Chaumont, NY.