Happy Veterans Day

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My dad is retired Air Force, and he is a veteran of a foreign war, Persian Gulf. He worked with dangerous chemicals and things that go boom. He’s always been a good spirited, funny, strong, healthy, John Wayne kind of guy. He doesn’t get sick. He has God given stamina and endurance. He’s never had surgery or been to the hospital.

Until recently, 7 days before my birthday, he needed to go to the ER because he was having trouble breathing. I couldn’t believe it. He was even trying to grab his stuff for work, because apparently he thought he was gonna be going there after a quick visit to the ER.

need blood

They ran dozens of tests (seemed like 1,000’s) and just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. They finally said he was anemic. More like he was a starving vampire. He walked into that place with 3.7 units of blood. The normal level is 4.7 units. Even though it was obvious something serious was wrong he was talking, making jokes, and his skin wasn’t even pale. They finally diagnosed him with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, which we’re pretty sure he got from a weed killer. (Maybe you’ve seen the late night commercial.)

Of course the hospital’s concern was very focused on insurance. That’s when I felt so grateful for his service in the United States Air Force. They had a little trouble finding his info because like I said at the beginning of this post, he doesn’t get sick. So, he never actually completed the paperwork. He figured other people needed that insurance more than he did. Everything got sorted out, and just a little more than 2 months later he’s recovering remarkably well thanks to God, and the strong man he made my dad to be.

I told a lot of people in that hospital about his service and that he’s a veteran. I don’t know the exact number of people, but out of all of them, only 1 person thanked him for his service. Now that Veterans Day is here, I want to thank all of our brave veterans for their service. The way my dad faced these challenges, is the way our troops face their challenges to protect our freedoms.

They’re not just heroes in war but they’re heroes in the everyday. I was reminded of that when my dad went into the hospital. (BTW, 2 months earlier he fell off my roof, and got back on the roof to finish the job.) He was brave and cracking jokes and making everyone else feel comfortable when he couldn’t even hold his head up. Bigger than life. That’s the kind of people that join up.

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Right now on the holiday we make an effort, but we can show our appreciation all year long. After all, they do that for us. It really means a lot to them to hear it. I pray that God blesses you and your family like he blessed mine.

Happy Veteran’s Day.

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Two Invaluable Traits We can Learn from Former White House Photographer Pete Souza

pete souza taking a pic

Meet photojournalist Pete Souza. Former Chief Official White House Photographer for two former American presidents: Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. He’s just come out with a book, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, where he shares 300 of the nearly 2 million photographs that he took during President Obama’s two terms in office. With that kind of CV we photographers need to pay attention to this guy.

Trust

I happened to catch Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning interviewing Souza, and he asked him how he earned complete trust from President Obama. Any photographers out there know that if you’re following someone around documenting them you’re going to be apart of intimate moments.

Souza told Charlie Rose that he actually knew Mr. Obama for 4 years before he became president. They had already built a professional relationship and over time he built on that trust each day.

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It’s very important for the photographer to earn trust so that the people getting their photo taken will feel comfortable. The first engagement shoot I ever did was really easy because I was best friends with both the bride and the groom. When I asked them to kiss we all turned deep red for a moment.

Kim and Dex flirty copy

We quickly finished laughing and they let their guard down and I captured the fleeting moment. It helps when you ask them how they met or how he proposed. They’ll quickly get comfortable, forget you’re there and give you plenty of photo opportunities. Which brings me to the 2nd invaluable trait:

Invisibility

invisible

Who hasn’t wished they had the super power of invisibility? Co-anchor Norah O’ Donnell mentioned how President Obama actually forgot that Souza was in the room; that he pretty much became invisible. Wow. I have no problem becoming invisible while shooting birthday parties and weddings . . . but this guy did it in the White House. Color me impressed! I’m sure his previous experience with President Reagan didn’t hurt.

I don’t have any tips on developing your invisibility . . . it pretty much came naturally to me. (I’m short.) Or maybe the camera is actually a cloaking device . . .  people do want to look good and natural in their photos, so they just live in the moment.

sam elliott the ranch

I like the show on Netflix, The Ranch. Sam Elliot’s character has a running line where he says in his deep drawl that he hates everyone, except [fill in the blank]. In one he says, “I hate everyone, except Ronald Reagan.” lol Cracks me up. Check out some awesome photos taken by Souza. Notice the one of Michael Jackson and Ronald Reagan.

By the way, I recommend that you study Pete Souza’s photographs. Pay attention to light, composition, what he chooses to include in/out of the frame, etc.

So how do you build trust with the people you photograph? Do you have any trouble blending in? I’d love to hear any tips you have on building trust and becoming invisible.

 

A Leonardo da Vinci Painting with an Illustrious and Deceptive History Re-Surfaces

new salvator mundi

I love how the art world has a history filled with intrigue, mystery, and conspiracy. I heard on the news this morning about an unquestionable and unexpected 21st century discovery of a finished Leonardo da Vinci painting. My ears perked as I was pulled away from my Clash of Clans game. The journalists were very excited about how much money it will be going for at the auction, and how much the painting reminded them of the Mona Lisa.

I can see right away that technically the painting has the luminescent quality of Leonardo’s work, especially in the careful detail of the curls in the hair. Notice the hair in this detail of the angel from Verrocchio’s, The Baptism of Christ, which was painted by Leonardo da Vinci.angel hair da vinci

When I first laid eyes on the Salvator Mundi painting I didn’t think of the Mona Lisa. I saw differences in the background, in the placement and the position of the figure, and in the symbolism of the hands. Also notice the absence of the cleft chin in the Mona Lisa painting.

Instead, I thought of Albrecht Durer’s most famous Self Portrait from 1500 where he expressed his divine creative inspiration by painting himself in the reminiscent style of Christ.

Here we have many similarities with the background, with the straightforward positioning of the figure’s body and with the positioning of the hands. You can also see that both figures seem to have a cleft chin. (The beard on Durer does make it a little bit hard to tell.)

The experts aren’t 100% sure when the painting was done, but they have narrowed it down to around 1490 – 1500. The experts are however confident that this painting is an authentic Leonardo da Vinci. It first resurfaced in 2005 disguised as a copy. Over the span of 500 years it had disappeared, had been damaged, had been painted over . . . and at the same time, had been remarkably preserved in some areas like in the curls and the hands.

I hope you check out this website to learn more about the interesting history, and the unusually unanimous authentication of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting. I love art . . . it never fails to amaze me.

While very different from Leonardo’s version, Albrecht Durer also painted a Salvator Mundi portrait. It was unfinished and kinda creepy looking.

AD salvator mundi

Creepy Goya Artwork Perfect for Halloween

Before I turned 1 my dad introduced me to scary video games like Castlevania and DOOM and scary movies like Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th. Been hooked ever since.

I love scary stuff all year long but I always feel extra creeped out around Halloween. Well, I was driving home today when I saw an 18 wheeler that had the word “Chronos” written on it. I immediately thought about the Francisco de Goya y Lucientes painting, Chronos Devouring One of His Children. I haven’t looked at that painting in years, so I dug out my very heavy art book and took a look.

chronos devouring one of his children

Also named Saturn Devouring One of His Children

Goya painted this in 1820-1822 during the Romanticism period. I remember thinking that period would actually be romantic but it wasn’t. Instead you get a bunch of creepy and scary artwork.

Last night, I was watching Rocky V with my friend (who’s 13) and when Adrienne said she wanted her son to use his mind, not his fists, my friend said he didn’t understand how you’d fight with your mind. Well, he’s got some learning to do because our minds are the most fascinating and mysterious and most powerful parts of our body.

It’s my vivid imagination that usually scares me the most. And the creepy and scary things the human mind can think up is something that a lot of artists were trying to depict during the Romanticism period.   

chronos close up

Close up

I like the bright red blood pouring onto his hands which are clenched so tightly around the miniature body of one of his children that he must have broken the bones. His long hair and that crazy desperate look in his eyes sends chills down my spine. Even the color of his skin and the way Goya positioned the titan god’s body makes me feel sick.

Apparently, Goya originally painted 14 paintings known as the “black paintings” directly onto his walls in his Madrid home. That would be sooo scary to have this “dad” staring at you as you go get a drink of water . . . or gosh . . . a late night snack.

los caprichos

Another scary piece by Goya that’s perfect for Halloween is Los Caprichos, plate 3, from his aquatint etchings series. In this etching, The Boogeyman is Coming, Goya depicts an irrational and common fear which was created by parents and society to scare children into behaving.

I was never afraid of the boogeyman, but I knew people who were. After staring at this etching for a while and contemplating the fear I do start to get a little scared. Goya’s use of dark and light go really well with the terrified looks on their faces. And I can’t even see the Boogeyman’s face. The unknown is always scary.

My imagination has no trouble running away from me. Especially as I sit here in the dark on Halloween night while the rain beats on the roof.

I hope you enjoyed looking at Goya’s creepy artwork. I know I did. Have a Happy and Scary Halloween.

 

Some Pretty Flower Pictures

 

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My town has a lot of beautiful trails to bike and walk. The trail I chose this week is pretty new. I can’t remember, but I’m guessing it’s about 5 – 7 years old. This trail is connected to other trails that are all connected by Lanana Creek. The University has a really good forestry and agricultural dept. So there’s always beautiful plant life to admire and takes pictures of.

 

I really like the bottom left picture. I always want to get a good picture of a dead or dying flower but usually they turn out looking dead and ugly. This one turned out pretty cool.

 

Is it Legal for an Artist to Sell Photos of Graffiti?

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In my last post I shared some pictures of some graffiti I found. I went back and took some more photos that I’m pretty happy with and I would like to sell. I haven’t finished researching the copyright issue but it’s probably a good idea to get permission from the artist before trying to profit off of your documentation of their work. I don’t know how I’d get a hold of the artist . . . maybe hang out around the area for a while and hope for a little luck.

I don’t want to take any chances though, because I really want to avoid legal issues. I’ll just share my favorite shots with you guys in the meantime. (I do see a signature on the Juicy Lips, and I’ve seen his signature on a mural downtown. I could probably find him.)

 

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Jumping Cowboy

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Sad Cowboy

I Found a Hidden Free Graffiti Art School

 

 

I was driving down North St. one day near the college, when I noticed this Octopi graffiti painted on the wall of a closed down fast food restaurant. I snapped a few pictures then I turned around and saw some juicy lips and the familiar “Nac Rats” rat.  Even the concrete had been painted. As I continued to explore I stumbled on a whole bunch of graffiti hidden in this little area.

I walked along the wall checking out this little art museum wondering how the people who live in the apartment feel about their view. Then I noticed a hole in the fence, a couple of couches, and the words “Free Art School” written on the wall in sharpie. Hmmm . . . I’m really curious who attends this free art school, but nobody showed up while I was there. Maybe I’ll visit it again sometime and run into an artist.