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, February 27, 2011

Day 362: Ladybug Photo

I never know when a photo opportunity will present itself. Last night as I reached for the pull cord to turn off the dining room light I spotted this Ladybug crawling about on it. Well naturally I grabbed a camera & began photographing the creature. What makes this photo work is the repeating circular shapes. The beads on the cord, the large bead at the bottom, the round shape of the insect, the spots on the insect. I do not have a macro lens for this particular camera so I couldn't focus as close as I would have liked. So I had to crop the photo to what you see here. Consequently it suffers some degradation. But I still like it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day 361: Guitars Lessons & Plumbing

I began some Saturday guitar lessons at Musicology in Watertown, NY. For some people saturday is the only day they  can schedule a lesson. Sturdays are wedding days for me, so I will have to cancel the guitar lessons on days I have weddings booked. Anyhow, today is a Sturday & I have lessons until  1:00, after which I will go back to my Clay St apartment and get back to work on that plumbing project.

8:00PM update: My celebrity brother & I removed the toilet & bathtub, and tore up the old flooring  from the apartment I have been working on. It is long overdue for such maintenance.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 360: Plumbing

Five days away from a year since the creation of this blog. Three days since my last post. Time. I just don't have enough of it. I tore into some old plumbing in one of my apartments on Clay St., Watertown, NY.  The galvanized water supply lines to the kitchen & bathroom sinks were so corroded it is a wonder any water could pass through them. The drains appear to be clear & functional, however, I would like to rplace them with some PVC pipe. But then the project get more time comnsuming than I wish. I am under a bit of financial pressure to get this apartment rented sooner than later.  So I will probably save the drains for another day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day 357: Update and Inspiration

So it has been 357 days since I started this blog. The past few days have been a bit hectic, I have been a bit tired. I konw that I should sleep in some days & get properly rested up, that way I function much better and get more things accomplished. But recently I do not and the blog suffers.

I would love to have written more about my outrage against the Somalia pirates and the Mexican drug lords because I have not expressed myself adequately.  But I truly do not have the energy.

Let me talk about the photo uploaded yesterday, the shadow on the wall.

Once again it was just a scene I came upon. IT was closing in on Sunset and I was driving by a Syracuse high school and simply saw the shadows of houses and trees cast upon the brick wall. It was like a mural. I just stopped and took the picture. It was that simple. IT was an observance of my surroundings.

Likewise with a photo from a few days back. I was stopped at a traffic light and was struck by the shape and contrast of all the dirt revealed by the melting snowbanks and how they were juxtaposed against the brick building and windows. The light was right too, which  was a blessing. This was at a busy, busy street light. There were no shoulders on the road to pull over. I quickly looked about and could see no convenient place to park & walk around to get a similar angle as that which I saw from the drivers seat. So I quickly snapped it while sitting in my Dodge Caravan waiting for the light to change.  Hmm... maybe there's a book or exhibition idea forming here: Photos From The Drivers Seat. I certainly have taken quite a few from that perspective.

Oh, get this: the above idea was a sudden bit of inspiration. Simply writing this blog entry evolved into this sentence  "Hmm... maybe there's a book or exhibition idea forming here: Photos From The Drivers Seat. I certainly have taken quite a few from that perspective."

It's quite a good idea. It was inspired by my act of writing. It goes with what the great, legendary Spanish artist Pablo Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it must find you working." For it is always within the act of doing one thing that our minds reveal other options. Like pathways.  We are enroute to a destination and the road forks, or intersects and another direction is presented to us with the promise of a different opportunity. Had we never embarked on the journey ( or set out on a specific creative goal), the new opportunity or INSPIRATION would not have popped into our psyche.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday morning. It was minus 2 degrees here in Chaumont, NY. The Sun is shining which is always a plus at this time of year. I am photographing high school basketball this evening for thye Post-Standard newspaper.
I was most distressed to learn that pirates off the cost of Somalia killed four Americans after hi-jacking their yacht. This is a breaking story. Evidently US forces stormed the yacht after they heard gunshots as the pirates were killing their victims. At least two pirates are dead and and a dozen taken captive.

A short while back there were two American teens killed in Mexico. Then a week or so ago US agents were gunned down in Mexico, one was killed, the other wounded. This country should retailiate against the Mexican drug lords and the Somalia pirates without mercy, and without regard to the mexican government.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day 352: Dirty Snow

So, I am driving along, minding my own business, it is almost 50 degrees outside, I am stuck at a traffic ligh & what do I see? The scene presented here. As the snow melts all the dirt that has been hidden inside it's white beauty begins to surface. The truth comes out. Winter is full of dirt. Beauty is but skin deep.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 350: Snow Removal

In fifteen days it will be one year since I began this blog. I had hoped to post a photo every day. Seemed easy enough. Well, it never happened. I suppose it would have had I just popped up the photo and not worried about any commentary. But oh well, time marches on.

Been busy, busy. Working on wedding photography ads this morning and my web site. Hope to have it updated in a week or so. Winter lingers. I must get to my Caly St. apartmen that is being cleaned up and improved in between tenants. Still paying all of my bills, but don't know how I manage. God is being good to me. I thank the Lord. Still reading Mark Twain biography by Ron Powers. Great book. What a life Twain lived. Inspiring.
So I am at my apartment house on Clay St in watertown, Ny and I see the city snow removal crews cutting back the snow banks. What a wonderful sight.

On another note, the TV show Survivor started it latest season this evening. A most entertaining tribal council with a few new players. It looks to be the start of an interesting season.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 348: Things Are Melting

Just a quick post after three days of negelect. Things are warming up in the North Country. Oh yes, It's Valentine's day. Not a day I care about.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 344: Getting sick of Winter

Sunrise view from my kitchen window in Chaumont, NY. 4 below zero.  And the day is down hill from here.
I am so upset I could puke. Am at the eye doctors with my mother. She has cataracts. We have to do something about that. I just spent 30 odd minutes of typing a blog entery and my stupid fat fingers hit something on the laptop keyboard that caused me to erase it all, and I couldn't figure out how to get it back.  That is just the latest event this morning that is trying my patience.

For one thing I am sick of the Winter. I no longer give a damn how it can be pretty. (Well, I'm still thankful for the photo ops, but where is the money?)  Shovelling snow on top of snow. None of it melts before the next layer arrives. The frigging plow fills in the end of the driveway. I go out to the wood  pile and encounter some kind of animal shit in the pathway. I think it's from the neighbors cat. A few days before I encountered a large pile of dog shit in the pathway.  There's no mistaking a dog pile. It's bad enogh shovelling snow. I do not own a cat, I do not own a dog, so why the Hell do I haver to shovell up shit from these animals. Why don't they shit in their own yard? What ever happened to the litter box? The lazzy ass owners probably do not clean it out so the cat is digusted and takes it out on me. I am sick of this shit (pun intended).This morning, for the third time in the past ten days or so, the rear wheel on my 2005 Dodge Caravan was frozen solid & would not turn. So I drag my floor jack out to it, jack it up, remove the wheel and heat it up with my Bernz-o-matic torch. It happens to be below zero while this is happening.

I have an empty apartment I am trying to get cleaned up. The previous teneant lefyt a couple truck loads of worn out furniture and other odds & ends that I have to haul to the dump. I must get that done befor 3:00. That's when the dump closes. Oh, pardon me for not being politically correct, it's not the dump, it's the Transfer Station.  Another government run entity that opertates on banking hours. Well, actually the banks now have longer hours than the dump.

I also have to teach guitar today, starting at 3:00pm and into the evening. So, I have a full and varied day today and I am sure gonna want a beer or a bottle of wine when it's over.

So, I have typed up my rant for the second time today. At least this time I managed to save it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 342: Color or Black & White?

Black & white has always been my favorite photographic style. I loved it as a kid, I love it now. Some subjects work better than others. In the digital world we can have our cake and eat it too, so to speak. shoot everything in color and convert it to B7W later. However, that doesn't always come off well. It requires practice which I must confess, I have not done a lot of. Anyhow, lets look at the photo presented here. I shot it a couple of weeks ago. It is a paper mill in Brownville, NY. It was 10 below zero. The extreme cold really makes the water vapor visible. What this translates to in the photograph is texture.  And texture is one of the elements that can make a photo interesting. Especially in a black & white photo.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 341: Honey

This rather abstract photo is nothing more than some honey in the bottom of a coffee cup. How did it come about? Well to begin with, I like vanilla. I was at the grocery store looking for some pomegranate flavored herbal tea. I had some at my mother's house one day and was telling the Better Half about it. I thought she might like it. The store I was at was all out of the pomegranate flavors but a box of CELESTIAL SEASONINGS Sleepytime Vanilla Herb Tea caught my eye so I bought a box.

As I said, I like vanilla. So I got home and brewed a couple of cups. One for me, one for the BH. She didn't like it. Point blank, it simply didn't taste good to her. I, on the other hand, thought it was OK, but very weak. The flavor was too subdued, too mild. I'm the type of guy that likes black coffee, unsweetened ice tea, grapefruit juice, beer, dry red wines. Get what I am saying?
Well, I am going to drink the whole box eventually, but I decided i had to perk it up some. So, I poured some hone into a cup along with an 1/8th teaspoon of vanilla extract. Well, when I did that, what I saw in the bottom of the cup is what you see in today's photograph. It looked interesting to me. So I snapped it. There you have it. Photographing my food again.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 340: Stuck In Snow

So this morning I arose and the snow had stopped. I look out and see my neighbor had his car stuck in his driveway. I spent an hour or so on the guitar and then went outsdie to shovel snow. It was heavy and wet snow, perfect for making a snowman. Temperature was about 25 degrees. So, I spent a little more than three hours shovelling snow from my driveway and a section of flat roof on the backside of my house. Burned a lot of calries today, Baby!

Need a photographer in northern or central New York? Call me, Gary Walts for weddings, reunions, events, corporate and PR photography, and more. I am the best. I am versatile, hard working, dependable. I have been working as a professional photograher in Watertown and Syracuse and surrounding areas for 25 years. Call me at 315-649-4174 e-mail at waltsphoto@aol.com

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 339: Snowing

It's been snowing a lot here today. The Better Half got caught in a white out while driving home from work. Fortunatley she was near her daughter's home and managed to get there and is staying the night. Ten miles away I am home alone and it has been snowing steadily, however, at 11:00pm it has subsided somewhat. THe visibilty has greatly improved. Earlier today I had a couple of guitar lessons, then spent a couple hours cleaning up a vacant apartment. The couple that just moved out left it quite a mess. The living room carpet is a disaster and must be replaced. Otherwise, they left a lot of junk behind. Some clothing, a television, various household odd & ends.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 338: Winter Night Driving

At this point my morning and my day are rapidly getting away from me. So just a quick photo of a car at night on a typical, snow covered Winter road.
Car on interstate Route 81, somewhere in Northyern New York.  photo by Gary Walts 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 337: Winter Wonder & Woe

Last night I went to bed at 1:00am. I awoke at 6:00am to 8 degrees below zero. Quite cold. Not enough sleep. Later in the morning I went out to the wood pile to bring some wood in for the stove. As is often the case in below zero weather here, the air was still and the Sun was bright and strong. I looked across the street at my neighbors house and WOW, what do I see?  The Sun behind this frost covered Maple tree. I race into the house, grab a camera, get back outdoors and snap this photo. Such is the beauty and glory of Winter in Northern New York. It's a good thing that God made Winter so pretty or we would never put up with it.  

A little while later I am reminded of the problems of living here in the Winter. Those problems can often be anticipated, but usually they show up unexpectedly as was the case this morning. The Better Half was running late for work. She went to back out of the driveway and got hung up on some ice. Her wheels were spinning. My neighbor who was outside shovelling off his porch roof came over and the two of us pushed her out of the driveway. She headed down the street. I look at where she was parked. There was an unusually large block of ice that had formed and kept the van from backing up properly. Well, that's not the real problem. A few minutes later she is pulling back into the driveway and telling me something in wrong with her van. It wouldn't drive properly. She had trouble explaining it. So I hop in and take it for a spin down the street. Yes indeed, something was wrong. It turned out that one of the rear wheels was frozen such that it would not turn. It was just being dragged down the street as if the rear brakes were locked up on that one wheel.  Now everything begins to make sense. The wheel locked up made it difficult to back out of the driveway.  So, I go to the garage, get my floor jack and wrench to remove the problematic wheel.  After the lug nut were removed I had to take a sledge hammer to the wheel, give a number of "luv taps" to break the wheel rim off the hub. Then I got out the Bernz-O-Matic torch and began heating the wheel. A few minutes later it was free and spinning like new.  Evidently water (melted snow) had gotten inside the hub and froze in such a way that the wheel seized up. I have never experienced this before today.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 336: Ground Hog Day

Ice cicles hang from my garage in Chaumont, NY.                                                         photo by Gary Walts
The ice cicle photo was taken two days ago. The photo below was taken of my back yard about half an hour ago.

Today is Groundhog Day. This is the day when the groundhog crawls out of his hole and takes a look around to see his shadow. According to tradition: If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

So most of the country has been hit with a snow storm. Some places with sleet and ice in the mix. Well, herre in Chaumont, NY it is more or less business as usual. I have been out in conditions far worse than this. The snow is on and off. What aggravates the situation is the wind. It is quite strong so it creates snow drifts. The wind can make driving difficult because it blows the snow across thye roads creating moments of  limited or no visibilty. But in between gusts, it's fine. One must exercise cautioon in these conditions.

View of my garage & snow drifs this morning. 

I'll be going outside after this to shovel the snow from the driveway. I will be comfortable because I will dress in two to four layers of clothing. The worst part will be the wind. So one of my layers will be regular Winter jacket that breaks the wind. Usually I wear sweaters and / or sweat shirts over a couple of shirts. Always I wear a knit hat.

To Love,
To Read,
To look skyward,
To believe,

To gaze at you,
To be bold,
To be true,
To be honest,

It's me,
In love with you.

copyright Gary Walts 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 335: Expirimental Photo

This photo came about rather unexpectedly. The result I found interesting and pleasing from an aesthetic viewpoint. I have often thought I would like to get a macro photography set up for photographing individual snow flakes. Not exactly an easy task. Snow flakes are tiny and melt quickly. Anyhow, I was outdoors at the wood pile, the Sun was shining and it was cold. Probably no more than 5 degrees. It had been snowing. When it snows in such low temperatures the individual flakes hold their shapes and pile up in light, fluffy mounds. The conditions were right so I was able to see individual flakes of snow. That set me to thinking about how to photograph them. I certainly do not have a macro lens that is up to the task.

One of the old techniques for macro photography was the use of a reversing ring. This device is a lens mounting ring that is threaded on one side so you can screw it onto the front of the lens, the same way a lens filter is attached. This allows you to mount the lens backwards onto the camera. It becomes a macro lens. Todays digital cameras would lose much of their functionality with such a ring. Well, I don't have a reversing ring. What I do have is an old 28mm Minolta lens that I often look through backwards to view minute objects. I hold it up to my eye like a loupe. Anyhow, I just wondered if it would work by simply holding the front of that lens against the front of the lens on my Nikon D300. I did this simply out of curiosity, not as any serious endeavor. Trying to hold it with one hand and then move in & out to try & focus on a snow flake was just about impossible.  So just for kicks I thought I could focus on some bubbles in an old pane of glass in the back shed of my home. Peering about I saw this tiny fly or mosquito (not sure what it is) stuck on the other side of the glass. I was in no mood, nor had the time to go to the trouble of maiking the camera stationary, or somehow fix the two lenses tiogether, so I simply hand held it, very sloppily and unsteadily, snapped a few frames. This one was the most reasonably sharp of them.  I like the final result.

This photo came about like many of them do for me. I was doing one thing, the Sun and snow caught my eye and set me thinking. Then, just out of curiosity to see if it would work I tried to shoot snow flakes and ended up wit this insect pressed against the glass. The lesson here is to always experiment, try different things. One leads to another and who knows where you end up.