Old Guy Photography

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Portraits …

I love shooting portraits of interesting people with interesting faces mixed often with a subtle hint of intrigue, danger or a dozen other compelling factors. And I don’t mind the commonplace person. In many ways, the everyday personage has outstanding characteristics that bring them to the forefront of JEMDSC_5988-1desirability as a portrait subject.

Shooting street type portraits is a challenge. I use no fancy lighting setups, electronic flashes, reflectors or extra ordinary means of capturing an image. Experimentation and experience have taught me that natural light, providing you pay attention, works well for non-studio, non-edited portraits. But stark reality conveyed by an up close and personal image can be an eye opener. Men as well as women are often skeptical that their image will be flattering. I would be skeptical also.

During my photographic journeys I meet people and according to my wife I have never met a stranger. So, I am not shy to explain to a subject who I am ThelmaDause-1(2)and what I am doing when asking to take their portrait. Now, I am careful not to wear my Ted Bundy, molester, stalker or  ax murderer face when I am requesting a portrait. And, I do not troll supermarkets, doctors waiting rooms and the likes of other inappropriate places for portrait subjects. I go through my normal routine and meet wonderful people along the way.

No one yet has flat out refused, but quite a few were reluctant. When I demonstrated how painless the process was … they normally relented. To put their mind at ease, I always show them the photograph accompanied by a complement.

The portrait process is painless. Sit there, turn this way, look this way and smile. In ten or twenty seconds four or five frames have been taken. About the largest problem I have encountered when shooting a portrait would be getting the subject to keep their eyes open. At times, the closing of eyes seems to be an instinctive reflex.

No matter how many street portraits I take, I am still surprised by what can be found in each and every one. I am attracted, when studying the portraits, to the eyes that express so much information such as excitement, devilish charm, concern, candor, playfulness and hidden desires. They are wonderful.


Next week … Snapper Days …

For more portraits go to







Old Guys …

JEMDSC_0155-1bI don’t mind being an Old Guy. Of course realistically, I’d be out of luck if I did. Anyway, I love being an old guy with old guy ways … old guy wisdom, old guy thoughts, desires and hopes. Ever wonder what old guys do during the day, night or throughout the week?

Well, we pretty much do what we want to do, baring surviving spousal direction, or economic necessity. Either whim, dislocated thought train, or following an impulse that usually proves expensive and near about impossible to explain, old guys are out there; often unsupervised and left to their own devices. Where can you find old guys? Well … we are found in bars, public parks, lounges, coffee houses, fast food eateries, and diners for a short list.

Pretty much old guys can be found where they are not run off for being a nuisance, eye sore or disruptive to the common good. Old style diners that have survived the march of time are nearly a sure bet to support a clutch of coffee drinkers and long lunch old guy patrons.

A few days ago at the diner. I had a captivating lunch with a couple of ‘country boys’ as they referred to themselves. Since we were approximately the same age and Old Guys, it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to the good old days. Stories flowed about galvanized buckets filled with chunk coal sitting on a screened-in back porch for a morning fire, to clapboard two room houses without electricity, reading Progressive Farmer Magazine by candle light, and the old wood veneer cabinet radios powered by Model A car batteries.

During our spirited conversation, I noticed out of the corner of my left eye that the waitress was leaning against the counter … listening with an expression reminiscent of curious disbelief.DinerSeating-1bw

We had a grand time sharing stories of things past and the peculiarities of the present. There was coffee, tea in endless ups and glasses, and a meal fit for kings and queens. There are few places that personify hospitality and age association more than an old fashioned diner. I come by my love of them honestly. I was raised to appreciate the feel of chrome steel, faux-leather and the distinctive smell of the meatloaf special from last August.

One Thanksgiving back in the late fifties, when my mother was in the hospital, my father took my brothers and I to a diner located near his office. The whole incident was similar to the Christmas Dinner scene in the movie ‘A Christmas Story”. It made a strong impression on a very young man such as myself. I was pretty much hooked on diner eating and the diner culture.

I do love being an old guy even with all the baggage it entails. And, I do admit I follow a schedule subject to instant change or revision, My photographic eye has more than once led me astray, changed my schedule or to attempt something far beyond my present physical limitations. Even as I pen this blog post, I am trying to figure out how to climb a cliff to obtain that great and often not seen train shot from above … of course without being arrested for trespassing.OldGuyAtCoroner-1BBut for the most part … I can often be found lounging in a good coffee house, diner or lax visitation policy minded fast-food establishment with other old guys. If you happen upon me, sit down, and if I still have a dollar in my pocket, I’ll buy the coffee.

Next week … Portraits … To see more old guy photographs go to

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Pitching Peanuts To The Blue Jays …

The Blog Post previously scheduled for this week which would have included nudity, Redi-Whip Dairy Topping and liberal applications of various sized feathers,  has been cancelled due to my inability to figure out a way to illustrate it without showing or betraying confidences. I am working on the problem.JEMCSC_1250-1

So, I found myself sitting on the back porch … semi-contently, almost thoughtlessly, pitching peanuts out into the yard. This was a direct consequence of running out of my special mixture large bird feed. And so, the third round of peanuts this morning momentarily, and I strongly stress momentarily, rested in the grass about sixteen feet from my shooting perch. I was in a way … fishing for Blue Jays by pitching peanuts with no small amount of accuracy,  into the backyard.

I ran out of my special seed mix during a small marathon bird shoot where I was trying to get a special shot which would be leaps and bounds beyond the standard run of the mill bird photographs. In my inventory of blue Jay photographs are numerous left, right, front and rear shots of the magnificent birds. I wanted something special.JEMCSC_1432-1 JEMCSC_1466-1

Unfortunately, I hadn’t shot a single digital frame which could be considered a keeper because I was being worked over by a band of those blue bandits. Even as I put pen to paper, I have lost two peanuts. Land, hop, hop, gone. Land, hop, hop, gone. A series of blurred blue and white rear-end tail feathers was all I was seeing. I was being picked clean without being afforded the opportunity to show my ability to adjust shutter speed, aperture settings or my pan and shoot ability.

Blue Jays are illusive, fast as hummingbirds, sneaky, whisper quiet and at times bold as a thief in the broad daylight. You can look away, scratch your nose or adjust your shutter speed for a change in the light and there … a peanut is gone … and another one. A blue and white blur burns your vision. You can watch a bluejay flying straight at you where it lands in the pine tree to the left and at the same time a different one flies in from the right … whoosh … another peanut gone. At times, I’ve had more than one gang of blue work me over during an afternoon.JEMDSC_0394-1

Generally, my inventory of photographic shoot supplies contains a cane, straw hat, chair, footrest, camera, iPod Touch, coffee and either a bag or large jar of in the shell salted peanuts. Now, these aren’t share with the critters peanuts but nice grade A number one fancy eating peanuts. Unfortunately without the lure of a nice meal, the blue Jays would be non-cooperative to say the least.

I found that a random pitching of peanuts into the yard was counterproductive. It was hard enough to predict exactly  where the blue thieves were heading after picking up the photographic bait … such as up, down, left or right… but it was nearly impossible to guess which peanut would be selected. So … to help my odds of a good photograph, I found that a single pile of peanuts worked wonders. It took a while to get all my ducks in a row, but I was soon obtaining the keeper photographs I was after.

For this new season of shooting, I have an additional factor that often complicates my shooting. The Gretchen dog has on occasion scared off a Blue Jay by investigating the peanut file or continually barking at a real or imaginary curiosity. She has a lot to learn about the peculiarities of fast bird photography and good dog decorum.

Pitching peanuts to the Blue Jays was a learning experience. Several times, I even had Blue Jays waiting up in the tree for me to pitch them a peanut when their pile was exhausted. I even had one arrogant bird fly down and wait in the grass for me to pitch it a peanut. Two hops and the blue bandit sprung into the air with its prize. It was good to feel wanted.


Now … about those Hummingbirds …

Next week … Old Guys … Ever wonder what old guys do during the day, night or throughout the week? 

To see more bird photographs go to


For My First Post


For my first post, I have decided that throughout this blog … I will go against my nature and not be reactionary to events or frustrating influences encountered on a daily basis.  In other words I will play nice … yeah … play nice. As I have in the past curbed the impulse to strangle, berate or go primitive on peoples or institutions rear-ends … in my space, I will write about things and people who interest me, make me smile or are dear to my heart; home, family, grandchildren, children, and Gretchen the dog will do nicely.

And … there will be photographs on this blog. I will try to make them interesting but this will not always happen. The one thing I have found out is that you cannot predict what the public will like, favor or repeatedly view. I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out a pattern of behavior. I know what I like in photography and I know what frustrates me. I have never gotten the hang of food porn as they call it. It is something I will have to work on and suggestions will be appreciated.

JEMDSC_7284-1bgI will try for a while to post at least once a week if not more. I used to do Intersect posts and produced the columns in a somewhat shotgun manner. It worked for a while but consumed a lot of valuable. I think a once a week blog post to start will be sufficient. Later … as I get comfortable and maybe squeeze more personal time free, a comfortable rhythm will appear.

Next week … I don’t do commercial work and after the latest shoot for a friend … I don’t do favor shoots NO more. This blog post is contingent on nothing coming to mind or a scheduling change.