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, December 27, 2012

Dressing In Layers For Winter Warmth Outdoors

Winter is now well upon us here in Northern N.Y. Yesterday it was a mere 7 degrees F. Last night was windy and began to snow. This morning there was a good 12 to 18 inches of snow with drifts over 2 feet. Blowing and drifting snow can create some unusual shapes and patterns that no person could duplicate. The picture presented here was of a snow formation in a kitchen window of my home in Chaumont, NY. What is interesting is that somehow the wind managed to blow minute bits of snow between the storm wind and the screen, causing it to pile up in the form you see in the photo. The base of the storm window, where it meets the sill, has two small weep holes. They permit moisture from condensation to exit. As best as I can figure, the wind blew the minute, icy snow particles through these weep holes.
Snow formation in my kitchen window, Chaumont, N.Y.   photo by Gary Walts
Today's high temperature reached 23F. I was supposed to teach guitar today, but one by one my students called to say they would not be there, so I had the day off. At 1:00 I went out and shoveled the driveway & sidewalk. I did some other puttering around, brought in dome firewood from the wood pile, walked to the store and the like. All told I spent a solid four hours out doors. I never felt cold. The key thing to staying warm outside in Winter is to wear layers. I was wearing a turtle neck shirt. Over that a flannel shirt. Then a fleece vest. On top of all that I was wearing a long sleeved fleece with a zippered turtle neck. Then I had on Winter boots and a knit hat, a toque. In my opinion a toque is an essential Winter garment. The next is a turtle neck or any other zippered garment that comes up around the neck like a turtle neck. I usually do not wear long underwear until the temperature starts getting near zero. I have also found that with a good pair of Winter boots I never need more than one pair of socks. In fact, I believe that most people wearing more than one pair of socks have cold feet. I believe it is because the socks are too small and doubling them compresses them, defeating the insulating value of the layers. That effect is compounded by cramming their double socked feet into their normal shoes or boots, compressing everything even more. On occasion I wear two pair of socks, but that is rare. 99.5% of the time it is just one. When I do wear a second pair they are made of wool and are much larger than my everyday socks. I have small feet. For most of my adut life I have worn a size 8 1/2 to 9 shoe. The width of the shoe dictates whether it's the 8.5 or the nine. Anyhow, my Winter boots are a size 10. This gives my single, or double socked feet plenty of room. No restrictions. My feet stay warm. So, to stay comfortable outdoors for extended perionds dress in thre to five layers on your upper body. My lower body gets by with two to three layers. That would be regular underwear briefs and pants, or long underwear and pants. For athird layer it would be roomy overalls or extra large jeans, or snow pants. For my feet it is a good Winter boot with one or two pair of socks. If I have the maximum number of layers as out lined above, I can spend a good four hours in 20 below zero weather comfortably.

Monday, December 24, 2012

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

It is Christmas Eve, 2012 and I have linked to a video of me playing It Came Upon A Midnight Clear. This is a Christmas song composed by Richard S. Willis (February 10, 1819 – May 10, 1900) The arrangement I am playing is by John Fahey (February 28, 1939 – February 22, 2001) I kept it short, no repeats. We had some family over for a couple of hours this evening, tomorrow we go to The Better half's daughter's house for Christmas dinner. Hope you all have a very merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Bishops Wife starring Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young

I just finished watching the 1947 film The Bishops Wife. It starred Cary Grant, (one of my all time favorite actors), Loretta Young and David Niven. It is a Christmas movie and so good that it brought tears to my eyes. Not that it's a sad movie, but it touched me on a spiritual level. The basic plot: Cary Grant plays an Angel who visits a Bishop (David Niven), who has become a bit misguided and neglectful of his marriage because of his desire to build a new cathedral. It is an overall good movie. I am inclined to give it a 4 stars. It probably is more widely regarded as 3 stars, a solid three stars. The movie is based on the 1928 book by Robert Nathan. I see that it's available through Amazon.Com 
Our 2012 Christmas Tree at our home in Chaumont, NY. 

I am so pissed off!!! I spent an hour writing more for this blog entry and it vanished. I clicked save, I clicked update, I clicked publish. Where the hell is my work?? nd this, just before bedtime. I was talking about this Christmas season being the bets one I've had in years. I finally am not afraid to spend some money. I talked about some of my co-workers who facing a job loss in January. I talked about how savvy I am with paying down my debts with 0% credit card offers. About how it snowed the past two days. I simply cannot re-write it. I have had so much to share on this blog and day after day goes by and I cannot seem to get to it. When I finally do, wham! Good night.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 21rts Wedding is End of the World for the Bride Groom

I went to bed at 10:00pm lasst night. Awoke at 3:00am. Dozed back off, got up at 5:00. Went downstairs & turned on the Christmas Tree lights. Made the coffee. Got a pretty good hour & half of  guitar practice. At 7:00 I went to my mother's house and took her to the cardiologist office for a check up. At 9:00 we were out of there. Met my daughter and we had breakfast at Frieda's on Court St.
From there we parted ways. I went to JC Penny's at the salmon Run Mall. I purchased a nice Arrow brand shirt for $17.00, a new suit coat  for $40.00, and a good looking, wool , wither jacket for $52.00 These items were for me, not Christmas presents. All of the items were on sale. Supposedly the original prices were $40.00 for the shirt, $70.00 for the suit coat, and $80.00 for the winter jacket.

Next I went to Wal-Mart for a couple of Christmas gifts. Then I went to the Sportsman's Barber shop on state St. and got a $10.00 hair cut. I gave the girl that cut my hair a $5.00 tip. From there I went across the street to Musicology. It was now 1:30PM. I had guitar students come in for lessons until 6:00. I then went home, had a nice, light dinner with the better half: Baked chicken thighs and a salad. From 8:00 to 11:00 we watched a couple of old moves on TCM. I forget thye title of the first one, but the second one was a Bob Hope movie titled The Lemon Drop Kid. That movie introduced the now classic Christmas son Silver Bells. Now it is 11:25 and I am dog tired and heading to bed. Tomorow is  Dec. 21st, the last day of the World according to the Mayan Calendar. I am playing guitar at a wedding at 4:00 on that day. I don't know if the world will come to an end for most of us, but I suppose the world as he knows it will indeed come to an end for the groom. Good night everyone. Sweet dreams and soon Christmas will be upon us.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Photography Lesson: Foreground and Background

When I take photographs I am always paying attention to the relationship of the foreground to the background. I photograph a lot of events such as weddings, fund raisers, business grand openings, art show openings and more. Photos of those event usually involve people. Whom ever is the main subject in a given situation is usually in the foreground. I focus on that subject and as I begin to take snaps I keep an eye on the folks in the background. I try to capture a moment when the body language of the subject and that of the background people comes together in an interesting fashion. Wide angle lenses are best for this. They provide more depth of field and a more readable background when the depth of field is shallow.
The singer in the foreground is the main subject. I kept an eye on the background people so as to capture a moment in which the body language of each individual added something to the overall interest and composition of the photo.  photo by Gary Walts
I probably snapped a dozen or so photos of the trio in the above photo. I was keeping a close eye on the relationship of each person to the other and settled on this photo as the best. When I photograph events I am always working to capture moments. Photos such as these are not accidents. They are the result of a deliberate attempt to capture such moments by watching what is going on around me. These principals apply to family photos and events also.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

63 Degrees Today in Chaumont, N.Y.

DJ at a wedding I photographed as he waited for the bridal party to arrive.
It was a beautiful day in Northern NY today. The high hit 63 degrees. The Better half & I went to Sonny's Greenhouses in the Town of Pamelia and bought a Christmas tree. It's a Douglas Fir, 6 foot tall, cost $35.00 On the way home we visited my mother at her home in the hamlet of Calcium. We ate lunch today at TGI Fridays. She had a Reuben sandwhich, I had a spicy hamburger. The sauce was intense, made with beer. Quite good. We also shared a half order of potato skins. I thought they were rather bland. We had a coupon for $8.00 off so our tab added up to $21.09, so, we left the $8.00 for a tip. (So it was $29.09 for the whole thing). Any how, we were back home with the tree at 2:300, set it up and got it decorated. I also managed to get in some good guitar practice. Overall it was one of those good days.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Parade in Clayton, New York 13624

The Bach & Co. parade float in the 50th annual Christmas Parade, Clayton, NY.
The village of Clayton NY is located on the St Lawrence River. The population in 2009 was 1,978.  Last night I went to Clayton and snapped the following photos of their 50th annual Christmas Parade. For a small village they put on a really good parade.
This parade entry pays tribute to nThe Griswold Christmas Tree from the Chevy Chase movie Christmas Vacation.

The Clayton Dive Club's float.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

No Nativity Scenes For Santa Monica

About three years ago an atheist named Damon Vix began a campaign to eliminate Christmas nativity scenes in Santa Monica. He has finally succeeded. The link will take you to a news story about it;
I found Damon Vix on Face Book. If you are a Face Book member you can send him a message.  Just type in his name in the people search. He is the one from Burbank.  I did just that.
 I went to his Face Book page ( he has 114 friends) and sent him a simple message: "Hello Damon, I wish you a Merry Christmas" Let's get as many people as possible to wish him Merry Christmas through a message his his Face Book page. NO negativity or hatefulness. Simply a message of warm Christmas spirit. See if we can win him over with love for Christmas and our fellow man.
It would be terrific to get hundreds, thousands or more to wish him a Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Tale of Two Squirrels

The Sun is shining brightly here in Chaumont, N.Y. this morning. The night time temperatures have been around 24 to 28 degrees for the past week or so. That is decidedly cooler than my recollection of last year.
I am getting a bit tense because I have had no freelance work this month except a small paying guitar gig that was nothing more than a trial event at a seasonal restaurant. That would be J Fins in Sackets Harbor. I wanted them to try me out and it turned out god. They plan to have me play there next Spring/Summer season.  I lost out on one lcrative freenlance job a couple weeks before election day. It was a political rally for NY Senator Bill Owens. It took place in Alexandria Bay. The NY State teachers union asked me to cover it, but, because it was on a Friday evening,  I had to photograph football for the Post-Standard. Working Friday nights for the paper is terrible for me. It means I have a conflict shooting Friday evening weddings. Also, many brides like for me to go to the wedding rehersal which is almost always on the Friday evening before the Saturday wedding. So that's a hassle. I wouldn't mind working Friday days (which I used to do!) But working nights on Friday means I get to bed late on the night before I photograp[h a wedding. This just leaves me overly tired. Also, from a musical stand point, I have turned down numerous friday night guitar gigs because of my Post-Standard schedule. I hate it.

Young grey squirrel I caught in a live animal trap. After catching him I went up to repair the hole he used to enter our house and discovered the remains of the squirrel in the lower photo.
 Recently there has been a squirell running around in our house. We heard him inside the walls and ceiling.
So I set out a live animal trap and captured the critter in the above photo. Since then the noise seems to have stopped, so we assume he was the culprit. I drove him  eight miles away and released him. There is a hole in the eaves next to the chimney at our house where he probably got in. Back in the Spring I saw an adult squirrel enter in and out of that hole. The ladder I had on hand would not get me close enough to repair the hole. My longer ladder was in town at one of my apartment houses. I was anxious to be rid of the squirrel so I took a shot at him with my Gammo air rifle. It seemed that I hit him, or at least scared  the wits out of him because he leaped in the air and dashed back into the hole in the eves. A few days ago I finally got my long laddr back here and climbed it to close up/repair the hole and a peek inside with a flashlight revealed the remains of the squirrel in the photo below. How macabre!
Remains of a squirrel that I assume was living in my house, running around the attic. I suspect he the one I shot with my air rifle. Months passed before I got up there to close up the hole and discovered the carcass.

Friday, November 9, 2012

General David Petraeus, Head of CIA Resigns

General David Petraeus, the head of the CIA during the US Embassy attack in Benghazi announced he resigned, saying it was due to an extra marital affair. Isn't the at convenient? Next week he was supposed to testify before congress about the Benghazi attack. Now, in his place the acting head of the CIA will testify. The acting head of the CIA will be briefed about the incident prior to the hearing. So who will that person be? Probably some one who was not actually involved in the situation as Patraeus was, so that person will have no direct knowledge of the incident. Petraeus was the man on duty, one of the decision makers. How blatantly convenient for the Whiote House that he suddenly resigns. His claim to having an affair will probably turn out to be as ficticious as the story about the video provoking the attack. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Oswego Light House and Hurricane Sandy

This is the light house at the Lake Ontario city 0f Oswego, NY. I snapped it while Hurricane Sandy was in full force. You do not often see waves of this magnitude there.

On another note, I will be playing guitar at J Fins restaurant this Saturday in Sackets Harbor, NY. Sackets is a village located on Lake Ontario. I made this promo piece which I mailed out to some friends and contacts.

Finally, the presidential election is over. I was a Romney supporter and he lost. I do not understand how the people could re-elect Mr. Obama. I think the economy is the most pressing issue and I cannot believe the government can get out of it by raising taxes and increasing spending. maybe it will work. Hopefully it will. I think the Romney path would be a more sure, quicker road to recovery. It looks to me that more people voted for social issues as opposed to economic issues. I believe that social issues should be left to the individual states. The president & congress should limit their focus to the economic health of the country and defense. Education, abortion, gay marriage, drug use should be decided on the state level. Just my opinion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Self Portrait With Saranac Pumkin Ale

This is a self portrait I made with a Nikon D300, 17-55mm f2.8 lens, at my home in Chaumont, N.Y.
It wouldn't be Halloween at my house without Saranac Pumpkin Ale from the Matt Brewing Company in Utica, N.Y. Check out www.sranac.com Happy Hallowee everyone.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rainbow in Town of Cape Vincent, N.Y.

The morning after Hurricane Sandy and we are in fine shape here in Chaumont, NY. Our yard was blanketed with a thick layer of leaves yesterday. When we awoke this morning they were mostly gone. The high winds from the storm carried them off somewhere. It appears a great many of them were piled near the neighbors fence and some blew off to the shcool yard. The Better Half and I took a drive to Cape Vincent to check out a our favorite Lake Ontario swimming spot. Then we went into the village where we also checked our favorite St. Lawrence River swimming spot. Then we ate a late breakfast at Aubrey's Restaurant. Driving home it started to rain while the sun was shining and a rainbow appeared. So, we stopped and I took a snap of it. Nikon D300, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 lens.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tom Bintz at Honk's Ferry, Lake Ontario

It is a beautiful Indian Summer day here in northern NY. Last year we had a several weeks of good weather nat this time. I was hoping for the same this year. I was hoping to get my driveway sealed, but that requires a couple of rain free days.
I spent yesterday editing a wedding and splitting firewood. Today I am taking care of odds & ends. Put thye wedding pix in the mail. I am teaching guitar at Musicology this afternoon.

The photo presented here is of the artist Tom Bintz at his home on Pillar Point, Lake Ontario. He refers to it as Honk's Ferry. I took this photo in 2007. It is a view from the boat house. The body of water in the background is Black River Bay in Lake Ontario.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Maple Tree In Fall

I was driving to my Mother's house to take her to a doctors appointment when I came upon the Maple tree in Brownville, N.Y. (This was yesterday). I stopped and snapped it with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Did President Obama Lie About The Benghazi Attack?

It was a lovely day here in Chaumont, NY today. However, I spent most of it taking care of paper work type of things. I should have have gotten outside to take care of some yard work.

Here is something I do not understand. Why did President Obama keep publicly blaming the attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya as a spontaneous reaction to a video that was anti-Islam after it was clear that it was not the case.? By the time he went before the United Nations and spoke about the video being the cause of the uprising it was allready clear, world wide, that it was not so. It was a terrorist attack on the anniversary of 9/11. Why did he and his administration continue to say otherwise? What was there to gain from that?  He has recently been criticized for not attending his daily security briefings. Evidently the White House log reveals he has attended only 40% of those briefings. Maybe he missed some important stuff and did not want to get caught with egg on his face. However,  history shows that it is worse to try to cover up something than to just fess up and admit, "Hey, we screwed up." He is only a human being.

Obama is a gifted speaker and can deliver a sales pitch like no other. But, after he closes the sale he does not deliver the goods. That is my impression. Four years ago he ran against Sen. John McCain. It was no contest. McCain was a lackluster, uninspiring candidate. I know many republicans that were impressed by Obama, as was I, an independent. He sounded good. We went for it and ultimately we were let down. 

The photo for today is one of my father, Aubrey Guy Walts. It was taken by one of my cousins or aunts. He is playing my guitar at his home in Calcium, NY. My father was a troubled man who took his own life when he was 56 years old. Suicide is not an easy subject to talk about. There is a social stigma attached to it. If anyone close to you has committed suicide please know that you are not alone. Many people, myself included, know how difficult it is to live with. It can take years to come to terms with it. I found the best thing for me was to tell my story about my Dad. It set me free. However, I must tell you that I kept it locked up in my own head for ten years before I finally told my tale. I wish you all of the best.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wedding In Trumansburg Today

There will be little guitar practice today. Nothing I dislike more than starting the day without guitar practice. I am photographing a wedding today in Trumansburg, N.Y. That's a solid 3 hour drive from here (Chaumont). Normally I would get up at 6:00AM and t5hat would give me an hour or so. But last night I had to photograph 2 football games for the Post-Standard which was quite an ordeal. Consequently I didn't get into bed until almost 1:00AM. I dragged myself out of bed at 7:00 and must be on the road by 8:30. On the plus side, the Sun is rising and blazing and it appears to be a beautiful morning shaping up. The photo I present this morning was snapped by me a week or so ago. They are leaves in a mud puddle that caught my eye as I was walking through a local park.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mitt Romney In Syracuse

MThe days are decidedly shorter here in northern New York. I got up in darkness at 6:00 AM. I am posting today a photo I took of Mitt Romney a couple of years ago when he visited Syracuse, N.Y. to campaign for Ann Marie Buerkle.

Mitt Romney Personal Information:

His full Name is: Willard Mitt Romney

 He was Born: March 12, 1947 and is 65 years old.

His Father: George W. Romney, former Governor of the State of Michigan

 He was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

He is Married to Ann Romney since 1969; they have five children.

Mitt Romney Religion:

Mormon - The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints

Mitt Romney Working Background:

After high school, he spent 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary. After going to both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School simultaneously, he passed the Michigan bar exam, but never worked as an attorney. In 1984, he co-founded Bain Capital a private equity investment firm, one of the largest such firms in the United States.In 1994, he ran for Senator of Massachusetts and lost to Ted Kennedy.
He was President and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. In 2002, he was elected Governor of the State of Massachusetts where he eliminated a 1.5 billion deficit.

Some Interesting Facts about Romney:

 Bain Capital, starting with one small office supply store in Massachusetts, turned it into Staples; now over 2,000 stores employing 90,000 people. Bain Capital also worked to perform the same kinds of business miracles again and again, with companies like Domino's, Sealy, Brookstone, Weather Channel, Burger King, Warner Music Group, Dollarama, Home Depot Supply and many others.

 He was an unpaid volunteer campaign worker for his dad's gubernatorial campaign 1 year.

 He was an unpaid intern in his dad's governor's office for eight years. He was an unpaid bishop and state president of his church for ten years.

 He was an unpaid President of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee for three years.

 He took no salary and was the unpaid Governor of Massachusetts for four years. He gave his entire inheritance from his father to charity.

Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest self-made men in our country but has given more back to its citizens in terms of money, service and time than most men. And in 2011 Mitt Romney gave over $4 million to charity, almost 19% of his income.
... Just for comparison purposes, Obama gave 1% and Joe Biden gave $300 or .0013%.

 I cannot understand why anyone would knock a person for being wealthy. Immigrants from all walks of life have come to this country for the very reason that one can rise from poverty to wealth. Start with nothing and create something and make something of his or her self. People are free to excell or not. What's wrong with that?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Obama Romney Presidential Debate

So last night the Better Half and I watched the first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. By all accounts Romney came out on top. The Better Half really likes Obama and she was disappointed in how he handled himself. But it is no wonder. Obama won people over with his articulateness, creating an illusion that he was an intellectual, thoughtful person. But that is because he always uses a teleprompter to read a script. He simply cannot speak extemporaneously. I believe he has not taken his presidency seriously and also has an unrealistic view of himself. The media has praised him to the point he believes he is greater and more effective than he is. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For having done what? That was a hollow gesture that also fueled his misconception of his greatness. He has been a charade and the debate exposed just how normal and human he is. Take away pre-written material and the teleprompter and there's just a man who is of average eloquence. There are many more trappings that the real Obama is hiding behind and eventually, as more of those trappings fall away, the real man that is our president will surface. That will dismay many people. One cannot carry on such a pretense forever.
The photo presented here is of my grandfather, Guy Walts. It was taken when he was in the Army. He is the man on the left. I have no idea who the other people are. I am most curious as to who the young boy is at lower right. I believe my grandfather was a Corporal in World War I. I must learn more about that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Burville Cider Mill Waterfalls

I had a meeting with the Powers That Be at the Post-Standard and was offered a job with the new company as a photographer/videographer. It is a part time position, but am relieved that I will still have a paycheck. I'm basically in the same position as I was. Sadly almost 150 of my coleagues were laid off effective January 1, 2013.

I snapped this photo yesterday at the cider mill in Burville, N.Y. Used a Nikon D300, rested it on a railing and used a slow shutter speed to streak the water. Today I changed the front brake pads on the Better Half's 2005 Dodge Caravan. Guitar practice has been quite good recently.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tomorrow The Fog Will Clear

Tomorrow we who are employed at the Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y. will learn our fate. For a month we have been working in a cloud of uncertainty as to whether we will have a job or not come January 1, 2013. Supposedly all employees have been going through an evaluation. Tomorrow some will be offered a position in a "new" company and others will be laid off. This is a result of the company betting it's future on a stronger digital, internet presence. The daily paper will be printed only three days a week.
I snapped this scenic photo yesterday on my drive home from doing some errands. It was taken with a Nikon D300, 17-55mm f2.8 lens. I do hope all is well in your world.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?

The price of gas here in Chaumont New York remains above $4.00 a gallon. Today it was $4.04 a gal.  The photo of the gas price was snapped at the neighborhood market a couple of blocks from my home. It was taken on September 11 (of this year). On the morning of September 10th I bought gas there at $3.96 a gallon. I drove off to work. That evening when I pulled back into town the price was $4.04 / gal. An 8 cent increase. The next morning (Sept.11) it was as you see in the photo: $4.09  which amounted to a 13 cent increase in 24 hours. I was outraged at that. THEN:P The next day it rose to $4.11!!  What the HELL is going on?  Search the internet and you can find President Obama actually saying he would like to see the price of gas at $5.00 or more a gallon. He feels that would spur research for alternative energy. He welcomes this  price. As a result I maintain NONE of us are better off than we were four years ago. Prices of all goods have gone up accordingly.

Gas Price in 2008

I dug out a reciept for gas that I purchased December 30, 2008. The election was over and Obama had not taken office.
How can you be better off if a tank of gas cost you $35.00 four years ago as opposed to $70.00 now? An a aquaintance of mine said he and his wife were doing just fine. That may be, but he cannot be better off. He simply has the resources to absorb it. He metioned his son was a contractor and spends a huge ammount on fuel for his trucks and machines, but he didn't care because he just charges his customers more to off set it. DUH! That's what everyone is doing and it's driving up the prices of all goods and services but most folks pay checks are NOT increasing. Fine or not fine, you and we as a country are not better off.

On a personal note I also had my job hours cut to 20 a week in January of 2009. Four years later I still work only 20 hours a week and this is my 26th year with that company. I have had to bust my ass to make up the difference and with God's blessing and my ambition I have been able to hang on. I too can say I am doing fine, but I am far worse off than I was four years ago. And, guess what? Next week the company I work for is going to layoff a lot of people. Numbers I am hearing is about 100 people are going out the door. Isn't that lovely?  I will not be voting for Obama.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Birds of Autumn

September is fast drawing to a close here in Northern N.Y. A sight I am most fond of is the gathering into flocks multitudes of black birds. Huge numbers of them forage the farm fields along the roadways. Then fly off suddenly in great moving shapes.

I have always wanted to spend some time photographing them, but so far have not gotten around to it. This photo was a quick snap made with a Nikon D300 and 17-55mm lens. I was driving and simply held the camera up to the wind shield (without looking through the view finder) as I passed by and through the flock, holding the shutter release down.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Street People

I am an all around red blooded American male. I am walking down the stret with camera in hand (as usual) and I see the photo presented here today. What do you expect me to do when I encounter such a sight? I snap it.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dark Days Are Looming

Once again things are becoming uncertain at the Post-Standard. In January they are going to publish only three days a week. I soon may learn that I will no longer be working there after 26 years. It sucks.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

People Pictures

As many of you know, I like to snap photos of people. I was at a party recently that was honoring volunteers for the Thousand Islands Art Center in Clayton, NY. These photos were snapped while I was there. I hope you find them interesting.

Photos were taken with a Nikon D300, 17-55mm f2.8 Nikon lens.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nature Photography: Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor)

Tonight, near dusk, as I was preparing to cover our Easy Set pool, I saw an unfamiliar looking frog on it. I grabbed a camera, in this case a Nikon D300 and snapped some shots of it. A Google search revealed it to be a Grey Tree frog which is wide spread through out New York State. In all of my life I had never seen one before. I didn't have a macro lens so these images are cropped from much wider originals. Hence, it is limited upon how large I can make them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

State Trooper at the New York State Fair

This is a photo I snapped a couple of hours ago at the New York State Fair. I was there to shoot a video of night scenes at the fair for the Post-Standard newspaper.I had to do it in a four hour shift and get it uploaded on the web by 11:00, so I didn't have the luxury of wandering about making interesting, artsy still shots.

The Post-Standard Reduces Their Daily Publication

Today the Post-Standard announced they will reduce daily publication to three days a week for home delivery, and a smaller edition on the off days for news stand sales. There will be jobs lost as a result of this. Read more at www.syracuse.com> I have a lot to say about this but don't have the time to devote to it. It's all horse shit. I have worked there for 26 years. I saw the writing on the wall a few years ago. Hence, I remortgaged my house and eventuall nbought three rental properties. Three years and eight months ago my job hours were cut to 20 a week. So I have had all of that time to re-establish myself as a wedding photographer, guitarist, and guitar teacher. I have aggresively been paying down debt. I have been telling my collegues at the Post for some time that they should be laying down similar plans. Well, I don't want to be one of those that loses a job, but it will not as terrible as it could have been. Good luck to all of you out there.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Francisco Tarrega's Estudio Brillante Practice

I have been practicing and trying to polish for performance Francisco Tarrega's guitar composition Estudio Brillante, sometimes known as Study in A. It is a
challenging piece of music. Memorizing it was fairly easy. BUT, the rest of it has been tough. I never dreamed it would be as difficult as it is. It is physically demanding. There are hammer ons & pull offs that require solid technique. Slowly the piece improves. The photos here show how I go about keeping a sort of "Practice Diary" I usually practice a chord change or scale passage or what ever in groups of five or ten. Then I write down that number in hash marks somewhere in the margins or cover of the music along with the date. I usually will do the particular task at hand for 100 repetitions. It is like a body builder who does a series of reps. For instance, I do a chord change 5 or 10 times and stop. Rest a few seconds and do 5 or ten more. Eventually I reach my goal of reps for that part of my practice session. Estudio Brillante has been unbelievable. My notes and record of reps has filled up the back cover and a good deal of the inside cover. Much of my notes would not mean anything to others unless I explained them. The bottom line is that the guitar, at least in my hands, requires constant repetition for me to finally master a phrase, lick, scale passage, chord change or what have you. Estudio Brillante is a long term project. For sure the most difficult piece I have attempted. Why do I do it? Because I love it. The first time I heard it I was smitten by it. I have had the music for over 20 years and only began learning it about 4 years ago. I have had it memorized for a long time, it's just getting it to performance level that has taken so long. For a long, long time my left hand & arm would become fatigued trying to play through it just one. Now I am more relaxed and can get through it 5, 6, maybe 7 times or more before I become that fatigued. Those of you out there who have worked on this compostion know what I mean. Christopher Parkening says the piece is "extremely difficult." I know now that he wasn't kidding.

Today's Practice:

The highlighted section in the above photos shows a segment that I practiced this morning for a total of 100 reps. It isn't difficult, but I am trying to reach a point where I make the chord change / position shift flawlessly and evenly every time, with no clicks, rattles, buzzes or string squeaks. This was "focused practice." You should zero in on something specific such as this when you practice. Slowly but surely it get better, your playing becomes stronger. The following photo is of the back cover that is filled up with my "Practice Diary" notations.
The following photo is a detail of the practice notes I have made in my copy of Tarrega's Estudio Brillante.
The music notation I have written is an exercise I created for the left han. The dates tells me how many times I executed that exercise on that given date. You can see that I worked at it on January 4, 2009,l January 5, 2009, February 2nd 2009. Oh, I also see January n16, 2009. The section of the song that I created ti=his exercise for is still giving me troube, and NO WONDER: I have not been practicing the exercise or the musical passage enough! So you can also see that these notes reminde me of that so I practiced it again on August 19, 2012. And so it goes.

Two More Pix of my Estudio Brillante Music "Diary"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stage Fright And I

I got away from playing the guitar for people for well over 15 years. Mostly it was becaus my photography career took over. It was just as well because even though I love the music and the guitar, I was never comfortable with performing. The nervousness was terrible. Playing in a noisy bar or at a private party was one thing, even playing in a wedding ceremony wasn't too bad because the focus was not on me. Every time I got into a situation where I was the focus of attention the stage fright was horrible. I think back about performing in a Christopher Parkening master class in front of all the other student guitarists and I wonder how I ever got through it. This has always bothered me because I want to be in CONTROL of my thoughts and actions. I want to overcome stage fright, or "performance anxiety" which some call it. There are two key things in doing so. You must know your material and you must go out and perform as much as possible. In the past four years I have been re-learning my repertoire and putting myself out there playing in front of people again. Last December I played a gig at a musicians Christmas party. All eyes were on me as I played about a 20 minute set. I fumbled in the usual spots in some of the songs, played most of them OK. The listeners LOVED it. I got some really good feedback. However, I was a nervous wreck. I was sweating so much it flowed off my face and into my eyes with a burning sensation. Profuse sweating. I remember experiencing that years ago. On other occasions my hands would shake. Sometimes both would occur. Three Summers ago I played an outdoor lunchtime concert in down town Watertown. I thought people would be sitting around eating their lunch and chatting. I was not prepared for what I got: Everyone sitting quietly, hanging on every note I played. My mind was racing with ways I could excuse myself and flee. The worst part of it was I had to fill up two whole hours! Yikes. But I got through it. Each time gets a little better.

Sor Study #2 Played by Me at Depauville Library August 15, 2012

Anyhow, last Wednesday I played a recital type situation at the library in Depauville, NY. There were about 25 people there. One of the things I did was introduce myself to folks as they arrived and mingled a bit before the show. That was a big help. Then when it was time for the show I stood before the audience and formally inroduced myself and talked a few minutes. I was 100% relaxed, feeling GOOD, comfortable with the situation. They settled down, I sat down with the guitar and formed an A major chord to start a fairly easy etude by Matteo Carcassi. At that moment my mouth went dry. My mind went off somewhere and I couldn't remember what I was about to play. So I said something to the audience, my hands began to tremble, and I proceeded to play an alternate piece (also by Carcassi). Mentally I more or less tried to downplay the anxiety. The shaking hands were not anyway near as bad as when that would happen in the past, and, I managed to not break out into a sweat. Overall the show went well but I simply abandoned some of the pieces I was going to play, I had a few memory lapses, and I fumbled in, once again, some of the same spots in the same pieces that I frequently fumble. That means I must still work on those segments. Some selections I played well and was pleased with how I performed the. Romance was one of them. Lagrima by Francisco tarrega and three other Tarrega etudes came off especially well. I fumbled a spot in Carcassi study #19 that I thought I had down so well i would never fumble it again. That's what is confounding. Playing something well dozens or hundreds of times and then suddenly fumble it or simply have an unexplainable memory lapse. It's akin to singers forgetting song lyrics. Anyhow, I plan to keep at it and learn how to master the stage, stage fright, and gain command of the audience. The Better Half doesn't understand why I want to do that. But it's simple: I want to be in control of myself, not let my emotions and situations control me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

SU Football Team at Fort Drum

What did I do today?
Well, I had a couple of hours of good guitar practice. I caught up my check book and took care of some other paper work. Then, this afternoon I photographed the Syracuse University football team as they practiced at Fort Drum, NY. Major General Mark Milley and SU football coach Doug Marrone were there and appear in one of these photos.

These photos were made for the Post-Standard newspaper. You can see more at www.syracuse.com

Good night all.