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.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today. What did I do? I got up, made the coffeee & got some guitar practice in. Over the years I have neglected the guitar. I love it so, and truly am adduicted to it. I juust wish I the command of it that I do of photography. There are only so many hours in a day & they get consumed & eaten up. Then suddenyly one finds his or her self at my age ( I don't want to say it), and realize you are most certainly counting downward, not upward.
The biggest problem I have had wth the guitar & music has been fear. Read that as Stage Fright. I once was afraid of the water. In fact I was afraid of the deep end of the bathtub. Why? Because I didn't know how to swim. Well eventually I overcame that fear, but I have retained a respect for it and know my limitations. Thus, I know how to prepare for a maritime related crisis should I experience one. I do little things. For instance, I know now that one does not need much of a flotation device to keep one's head above water. Suppose you take the ferry from Cape Vincent, NY to Wolfe Island in Canada. It is laden with cars. The journey is brief. You can remain in your car, or stand on the deck of the craft. Like all public, passenger carrying boat, they have life preservers stowed aboard. You are informed of their location & what to do in an emergency. Well, I have thought about such emergencys. For starters, when aboard a ferry I get out of my car. Should it capsize, I don't want to have to escape a submerged vehicle just to get on the deck of a sunken ship. Usually one doesn't have time to fight through a panicking mob to wrestle a life jcket on as a crisis is unfolding. Imagine a jumbo jet is on it's way crashing to earth from 30,000 feet. Everyone is screaming. Is that the time to go rummaging for a parachute and trying to find an exit? Suppose you find one but you are tossed from the plane & hurling toward the Earth. It will be a real challenge trying to strap it on while you are plunging to your demise. Well, the same goes for a PFD on a boat. (PFD: Personal Flotation Device). Amid the panic, if you are fortunate enough to get your hands on a PFD you still have to manage to hang on to it if not actually wear it.
Anyhow, what I am leading up to is this. Anytime I know I will be boarding a boat I put a plastic grocery store bag in my pocket. They compress down to almost nothing. But in an emergency if you fell overboard, you could easily trap enought air in it to keep you afloat easier than being without it. It's a smple safety net. The problem I have with the guitar & music is that I have never really created, or came up with a similar safety net, so to speak. So I have good voages with the guitar and I have some panicky times with the instrument in which the music washes me overboard.
When it comes to photography I am supremely confident in my abilities. Drop me into any situation and instruct me to meak a suitable photo for such & such's needs and I don't care what it is, I will do it. Or give it my best shot. I have a realistic & pragmatic approach to it. The guitar & music remain a challenge.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Self Portrait & Gardening

Taking time out for a quick post. It is warm, Sunny, humid here in Cahumont, NY. 70 degreesF. I am finally digging up my garden beds to put in some tomato plants. I will also plat some Kentucky Wonder pole beans and cucmbers. That's pretty much it. I don't have a lot of space in the backyard for a garden and what I do have is rather shady. Tomatoes like more Sun, I think. However, some years we have a LOT of tomatoes. Last years crop was disastrous because so many deer came in an ate everything. This year the back yard is all fenced in. That does not mean the dear cannot or will not jump the fence, but I suspect they will not bother. We will see.
Self portrait while waiting for something to happen at an NAACP banquet.
The photo here is a self portrait. It seems thah whenevewr I'm on a job and have some idled time to kill, and there is a mirror in the area, I snap a shot of my reflection. In this instance I was photographing and awards banquet for the NAACP in Syracuse, NY. I arrived early. I introduced myself, got an idea about the evenings events, and then  waited for people to arrive. So, with a bit of time on my hands, I experimented and ended up with this self portrait.

"Music isn't just learning notes and playing them, You learn notes to play to the music of your soul." ~ Katie Greenwood

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rain On Top Of Rain

We have had months of snow & cold here in Northern NY and lately it has been rain on top of rain. It is May. Mother's Day has passed. This morning it was a mere 40 degrees at my home in Chaumont, NY. Is it any wonder I write this at 11:00PM next to a fire in the wood stove & a half a bottle of Merlot in my system?
View in my rear view mirror driving South on Rt 81 in the rain.                                                             photo by Gary Walts

Yesterday I spent 12 hours in the rain.  What a day I had. I went out to my 1999 Dodge Caravan at 7:30Am and started out of my driveway, headed for Colgate College in Herkimer, NY. I was going to photograph their commencement.  As I depressed the brake pedal while starting the van,  my foot went almost to the floor. That's not good. I moved back & forth a couple times in the driveway, hitting the brake pedal, and then the brake light comes on. Great. I lift the hood & see that the brake fluid reservoir is dry. What does that mean? It means no brakes. I have no idea what the problem is because the day before I drove it and the nrakes were fine. I have to leave.  I load most of my crap into the Better Half's car and head out.

All this time it was raining. I get to Colgate a hundred & five miles later. I must park a half mile away from the Commencement and walk to it in the rain under the oversized, yellow raincoat that I take with me in all inclememt weather. I arrive there at 10:00. I make a few pictures and am ready to leave at 11:00 for an hours drive Herkimer where I am to photograph college lacrosse game for some national title. The game is between Onondaga Community College & Essex something or other. It rained all the while on the drive. The game lasted until near 4:00. OCC won, 12-9. It rained the entire game. I was dry from my waist up, but my feet & legs were soaked. Yuk. I edit & transmit back to the Post-Standard 6 pix from the game. Then I drive home. It took 2 hours & 27 minutes to get from Herkimer to Chaumont. It rained every mile of that drive. I got home at 7:30PM, in time to see the finale of CBS' Survivor. I spent 12 hours in the rain. That's enough to take the edge off of almost anyone's Spirit.

Then this morning I turned around and spent today ramming the roads & streets in the rain for the Post-Standard. I am sick of the rain. It is now after 11:00PM & I am half pickled with Gnarley Head Merlot, a 2008 vintage. The rain is scheduled to continue for the next 3 days or so. That's nice. Tomorow I will go out in the rain and jack up my van & try to figure out what happened to my brakes. In a perfect World I would pull my vehicle into the garage and work on it in there. But the garage is so full of other shit, including my 1978 Corvette, that there is no room.

So that's the way it is in My World in Northern, NY.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

All My Loving: Video Test

OK. Today I am uploading a video to this blog. Something I've not done before. I have LINKED to videos on Youtube, but never uploaded one directly. I recorded this video with a Nikon D7000 camera. I then added a text frame to thye opening using Sony video editing software called Vegas. The company I work for installed Vegas on our laptops and tonight I was simply playing around with it, trying to get familiar with some of it's features. So, it's me playing All My Loving by the Beatles, arranged by Australian guitarist Joe Washington. The audio as recorded by the camera was too "hot" and became blown out a bit. I couldn't figure out how to clean it up with the video software. There's also a minor flub while I played the piece, but I wasn't interested in trying for a perfect take. So it is here, warts & all.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Skaneateles Wall

Wall in Skaneateles, NY.                                                                                                                     photo by Gary Walts
 Some days just don't wanna end. It's 7:00PM. I'm still in Syracuse. Have an hour & 15 minute drive home. I was in Skaneateles a couple days ago shooting some products for sale in a couple of local shops. They will be used in a magazine spread. When I was done I decided to walk to Doug's Fish Fry and get a fish sandwhich. That was when I saw the above photo. I stopped nad studied it, photographed it, settled on this one. Again, it is all about shapes, light, contrast, color. It is a combination of things that make this photo work for me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Trees On RT 81

So I am driving down interstate Route 81 heading for Syracuse. It's about 3:00 in the afternoon and the light has a nice quality to it. The trees are leafing out, but not all of the way yet. I like how they look. You are only allowed to stop on RT 81 in an emergency. I want to snap the trees. So I just hold the camera against the glass of the driver side window and use the rapid frame advance and let the camera take a couple dozen photos. I am not looking through the viewfinder. The camera is set on Aperture priority. It is a Nikon D300. I liked this particular frame.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's day. It is cool here in Chaumont, NY. A mere 45 degrees at 7:00am. Partly cloudy. Later today I will visit my mother. The apartment that has been vacant since the first of Februray has finally been rented. A fine young man who moved here from Texas. Of the many inquiries I had for this aprtment he stood way out in front of the rest. He is mature and articulate, and seems to have a good outlook on life and strikes me as a self reliat type with a good work ethic. This is a far cry from the last folks that rented the place.
Yesterday we enjoyed Saranac Black Forest beer while grilling jerked chicken wings.
The beer was bitter and strong , just the way I like. This batch of wings was
among the best I ever grilled. Full of flavor, perfectly grilled, spicier than the Devil.
My celebrity brother ready to dive into jerk chicken wings.
I had a typically full day yesterday. I put in 2 hours of good guitar practice, then went to teach guitar. Got done with that at 2:00. From there I met two of my brothers at the Depauville fire hall where there was a fund raising event for a woman with lukemie. There were sevral bands schedules to play at the event. I popped in with guitar and sound system in hand and play a 30 minute set. From there we went to my home in Chaumont where we grilled jerk chicken wings and drank Saranac beer. By the time that was done it was 8:30. My brothers exited and the Better Half & I watched a movie on TV. It was Crossing Delancey. Not knowing anything about it I looked it up on the net and saw that most people gave it 4 or more stars.
I'm inclined to give it no more than 3.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It Was A Good Day

Osama Bin Laden is DEAD! I snapped a photo of the TV screen this morning just to have "something" of this historical event. The Better Half doesn't really watch The View, but if she's home when it's on, she has it on. So today we were both home, it was on, I snapped a shot of it.

What made it a good day

It was a good day today. I woke up at 5:00AM. That was earlier than I would have liked because of how the previous couple of days went. I was concerned I would be too tired if I didn't get another hour of sleep. Anyhow, I laid in bed for 45 more minutes listening to the Better Half snore periodically. Not a loud snoring, just a relaxed, subdued snore. I look at the clock and decide I might as well get up. Now here is what I do first thing out of bed: I go downstairs and start the coffee. From there I go to the bathroom (to take care of routine, fresh out of bed business) and look out the window at the thermometer we have tacked on an old Maple tree. This morning it reads 55 degrees. Yes! For where I live in Northern NY that's a nice temperature to start the day on May 2nd.  I do what I need to do and get back to the kitchen and pour a coffee. Black. With a packet of Knox gelatin dissolved into it. More about that another day.
Next I take my coffee & go to the guitar. The practice is good. I have several solo guitar arrangements I am working up and hope to add to my reperoire soon. They are Lady Madonna by the Beatles, arranged by American guitarist John Knowles. Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkle, arranged for guitar by Britain's Jorge Nolla, and Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline arranged for guitar by Slovakian guitarist Martin Vedej. 
About 8:00AM the Better Half gets up. The first thing she does is turn on the TV. Minutes later I hear from her the news "bin Laden is dead!" That's BIG news. And good news.
OK. So the day begins #1: warm, #2good guitar practice, #3 Osama bin Laden has bitten the radish.
The day gets better. The Better Half purchased a new shower head and wanted me to install it. Well the one we are replacing has been there for 20 years. I figure it might give me trouble. Indeed, removing the old one could have been trouble. It was seized up pretty good. One can damage the plumbing it's attached too if one isn't careful. Well it took a bit of carefull struggle with a pair of pliuers and pair of channel locks, but I got it off. The new one went on with out a hitch and worked fine. Took me about 40 minutes. Another success
At this point I am pretty hungry. I have a ham & cheese sandwhich on Italian Rye bread made by the Mastroianni Brothers in Rotterdam, NY. This is some really terrific bread. I spread it with Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Pepper Mustard. Trust me, if you like spicy hot, this is some good, good mustard. And colorful too!
Next, I socialize a bit with the Better Half. She likes that.
Then I face a project I have been putting off for awhile. The muffler and tail pipe on my 1999 Dodge Caravan is all rusted, loud, and needs to be replaced. I have been driving it for about four, mayybe five months like this. It's been awful. I could get a ticket. With the loud noise & rust that has formed around the perimiter of the van I don't really present myself as gloriously as I really am. It MUST be fixed. I intend to do it MYSELF. Today was the day of reckoning. I WILL repair the van.
Let me digress a bit. I don't like to wrench on vehicles. I am no mechanic. I don't want to be a mechanic. I don't want to play a mechanic on Broadway. However, I am somewhat capable. Many years ago when Jimmy Carter was president the economy was in terible shape. Gasoline was at an astronimically high price of a dolar a gallon. There were no jobs. I was unemployed. I was trying to be a photographer. I had a wife and two little kid. Life was tough. I was young. I landed a job at Camp Drum (which is now Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain division) as a combat vehicle mechanic. What I really was was a mechanics assistant. I knew nothing. Camp Drum was the home for Summer training for the New Jersey National Gaurd.  They were tank drivers / crews. The NJ Gaurd kept a year round staff of gaurdsmen at Camp Drum to maintain their Army Tanks and other equipment, including personell carries, army jeeps, trucks and other vehicles.
US Army's Abrams M1 tank.
Anyhow, I assisted the gaurdsmen  who were professional combat vehicel mechanics. Before long I was changing oil, sparkplugs and tread pads on tanks and personel carriers. Then I / we were changing enigines and all manner of other things. What I learned was basicall how to remove and replace parts. I never learned diagnostics per se,  but to this day you could send me to Iraq and I could repair  or replace tank treads, spark plugs, oil, various gauges and idiot lights, even the entire engine pack. At least on the Abrams A1 tank.
So what this is getting around too is that I wrench on my own vehicles to save money. That's it. I'd rather not do it because I'm really not that good. I make mistakes and do things twice. In these days I have more time than money. Exhaust systems used to be fairly cheap to take to a shop and have repaired. For many years I took my cars to Cole Muffler on Arsenal St in Watertown NY. They ran a good, honest shop. The most I ever paid was $169.00. Usually I was in & out for less than a hundred bucks. But why did I drive around around for 3 or 4 months without repairing it? I'll tell you why. When my job situation wentn to Hell on me 2 years ago I decided to quit using credit cards. Period. I started paying them down. It used to be when I had an unexpected car problem I just whipped out the plastic, got the work done, & worried about paying for it later. Those days are gone Baby. I went to Cole Muffler to have the work done. The first thing I notice is new management. A new sign. I ask the guy in charge where the old staff went. "We bought them out," he said. They looked over the van & gave me an estimate of $387.00! What! You must be joking. How do you justify that I asked them? He said the tail pipe alone cost $125.00. I was incredulous. "A 125 bucks for a tsail pipe" I said. "Are you kidding?" Anyway, to make a long story short, I went to Auto Zone and found a muffler for $39.00 and a tail pipe for $15.00. I said to myself screw it. I'll go home and change it myself. So today I did just that. It took me about 4 hours of frogging around but I git it done. I saved myself over $340.00. So what's the difference if I spend my time shooting a freelance photography job for that ammount of money, or I spend my time wrenching on my van and NOT spending that ammount of money. So I reach the end of my day feeling that life is good. And it is!!
Love to all of you out there.
Gary Walts

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May First

Today is May first. I left my home in Chaumont, NY this morning at 5:00AM. It was 40 degrees. I had to drive to Syracuse to photograph the 31rst Annual May Day celebration at Thornden Park. It was quite an entertaining event and made for some good photos.  The man shown here was among those in the small gathering that showed up for the Sunrise event. From there I shot a small video clip of the annual Mountain Goat Run that takes place in Syracuse. Then I am off to Oswego to photograph a school student that wrote a public service announcement that is being recorded or taped. I'll know more when I get there.