Did you really think I was going to let this entire month go by without speaking on it? Come on now...do you know whose blog you're reading??
Instead of going into a long dissertation about one or more subjects, I decided to do a Black History Month in pictures. If you see me on The Book you were able to experience this on a daily basis. I changed my profile pic once a day to coincide with my favorite person (or sometimes people) from Black History. For the purposes of this blog, I've condensed that into a collage for all to enjoy. Let's see how many of the 29 images you can identify...
When we say we miss an artist that's passed (like MJ) is that really accurate? I mean they are still around in their music and videos so what is there to miss? It's not like any of us really knew them personally
They've really got "Fast and Furious 6" in the works?? Now that I think about it...I'm okay with that
I still have no idea what Kanye meant by he would have married Kate and Ashley if he was Chris Williams. Who's Chris Williams??
Despite the fact that plenty of other folks have been bashing it, I'm rather fond of that ticker that The Book has recently added
Someone pointed out that only nosy people like it. Well there you go!
If I see one more hip-hop artist/group trying to make a come-up in Des Moines...where's all the R&B local talent??
So I was watching the Patriots/Chiefs game on Monday Night Football and thought for a minute that Brady was scared of the Chiefs because of what they did to him last time they played. Then he quickly got over it
Speaking of which, no I haven't intentionally been omitting my "Hail to the Chiefs" posts. Let's face it..there just hasn't been a lot to talk about recently regarding their abysmal performances
Now my Cyclones on the other hand...MAD props to them for upsetting the #2 team in the country this past Friday night! Still mad that I had tickets to the game and didn't go because I thought they would get blown out. That's what I get
Never thought I would see the day when a Ford Taurus was considered a premium vehicle. Next thing you know Taco Bell will be considered gourmet dining #obscureDemolitionManreference
I'm still baffled at why the window washers were cleaning the exterior windows at the office while it was raining outside
I don't think it was a coincidence that most of Marc Anthony's back-up dancers in his recent American Music Awards performance looked like J-Lo
The new Verizon phone has beats by Dre on it?? That's what's up. Almost makes me want to switch to Verizon and get rid of my iPhone. Yeah....right...
Can't believe Zombie Burger stopped selling onion rings. What's a burger joint without onion rings?? Which reminds me...guess I better get that restaurant out there before I forget about that too
Watching those old shows like "The Big Valley" and "Bonanza" always cracks me up. Those cats are walking around dirty, dusty wild, wild west roads all day long and never have a speck of dirt or dust on their outfits
Everytime I look at Madden Football I laugh at how far video games have come since the days of M Network. How many remember that Atari gem?
Was that Amber Rose I just saw starring in a high-end alcohol commercial?
Read that MidAmerican Energy suggests keeping the thermostat at 60 degrees during the winter. I don't know about them but I like keeping warm during the winter
Saw photos of the new auditorium at my alma mater. WOW! Can't wait to see it in person. NHS has come a long way since "The Pajama Game" in the gymnasium
Dear Mickey Ds: It's probably not a good idea to have the hard of hearing employees taking orders
I wonder what the over/under is for number of food-related posts we'll see on The Book today. Mine included
If they will gossip with you then best believe they will gossip about you
So The Book has made some changes again which means people are complaining about it again. As an FB friend pointed out, they do realize that their use of Facebook is completely voluntary AND free, right?
I could really use a manager and/or assistant for this XL-Images business. But I love how business is getting to the point where that would even be a consideration
I'm rather excited about the lights I just obtained that will now allow me to add light when shooting somewhere that needs a little extra boost. Soon as I get a portable power source so I can shoot anywhere anytime then it will be even better
Speaking of which, the squatting pose that Lil Kim made famous ie NOT sexy. Whether shot from the front or back. It looks like you're trying to take a dump. Please don't do it. And if you know someone that's thinking of doing it when taking pictures, please stop them
As long as we're on the subject of The Book, some folks should really learn to incorporate spellcheck before posting updates. And misspelling words for the sake of trying to be cool is not cute. It just makes you look stupid
Can we please get a shout out to my ISU Cyclones that are now 3-0? WOO-HOO! Have to celebrate now before they start getting into the heart of that Big 12 schedule where they have to face Texas AND Oklahoma this year
On the flipside, let's all offer our condolences to my Chiefs for the rest of this season. They are currently the frontrunner for next year's Andrew Luck sweepstakes
Of course with the Chiefs luck, Luck will turn out to be first Ryan Leaf tragedy since Ryan Leaf. Or since Jamarcus Russell
Had a very enlightening conversation with a fellow photog yesterday and received some excellent advice. Have I mentioned before how great the photog community is here?
Scouted some locations downtown and found some I can't believe I had previously overlooked. Can't wait to utilize some of them for shoots this weekend
This Troy Davis cat could really use Casey Anthony's attorney right about now
It's rather ironic that my digestive system doesn't want to cooperate whenever it comes to processing chicken. Next thing you know I'll start having problems with watermelon
Totally spaced off that yesterday was National Talk Like a Pirate Day until it was almost too late. I only got a chance to use one pirate phrase the whole day
Went back to Google Plus the other day to see if I was missing anything. Nope
I tried to get into that "Beyond Scared Straight" marathon that was on but whenever they started doing their yelling I just kept envisioning that SNL skit with Keenan and I would start cracking up
I will always love me some Stevie Wonder, but why is he still holding on to the braids??
My favorite conversation from this week... G: I got an A+ on my Science test! Me: Great job, son! I thought you didn't get letter grades yet though? G: We don't. But I didn't miss any so that means I got an A+
There are certain moments you just never forget where you were when they occurred. I'm not talking about the obvious things like your marriage and/or the birth of your children. I mean news events. For instance, I have already mentioned in a previous post where I was when the Challenger space shuttle exploded. Likewise, I'm sure my parents and everyone from that generation can vividly tell you where they were when they heard that King and Kennedy (and maybe even Malcolm X) had been assassinated.
So as far as life-altering moments go, I very distinctly remember where I was when I heard about the planes hitting the towers. I had just dropped off Elijah and Mariah at school since I was living in Cedar Rapids at the time, working as a field claims rep. On my way back to my in-home office, I was listening to 99.7 FM. They talked about the first plane rather cavalier as they didn't fully know what happened. Initially, it made a little sense just listening to the scenario that it wasn't that bad. Maybe a plane went too low and hit one of the towers accidentally? I mean they are rather large so wasn't it bound to happen sooner or later, right?
Once I got home I started working my normal claims with the tv on and slowly got more details. That's when I started to realize the full magnitude of what was happening. I also recall trying to go to CNN.com to get even more information. The site was so swamped with hits that it's the first time I have EVER seen it lock up and not respond.
Long story short, on the tenth year commemoration of the tragedy, I can safely say that it is one moment in my life that I will never forget. We can put the blame on as many different people as we want as to why it happened and it still won't change the fact that the surreal became a reality. An attack on American soil. I'm certain it won't be the last, but now I will never forget where I was when the first significant one occurred during my lifetime.
The latest trend on The Book seems to be a fettish with creating a "You know you're from (insert city name here) if..." where folks relay their favorite quick memories from the past. It was cute at first but then it started getting annoying. The timeline started getting c0ngested with those posts because group moderators didn't know how to properly edit the settings of their group. Okay...I'm going a little off the deep end for those of you who aren't familiar with Facebook so let me cut right to the chase. The latest phenomena led to a creation of a similar Norwalk group which of course brought up memories of Mrs. Ward. Which reminded me I had to do a post about her.
We all have that one teacher from our past who is our favorite for different reasons. Mrs. Ward held that distinction with me. The band teacher Mr. Patten was a VERY close second but we'll save that for another post. For now, it's about Mrs. Ward. It really is quite an honor too because I don't have the best memory when it comes to my time in Norwalk. However, most of my better memories stem from her class and the folks that I interacted with in it and because of it.
The irony of it is that Mrs. Ward started her career at Norwalk at the same time that we were beginning our journey there. We were just freshman and she was supposed to be filling in just for one year for a teacher. I think the story is that something happened to that teacher and Mrs. Ward ended up getting the gig full time. Don't quote me on that though because I could be missing something. The important thing is that Mrs. Ward was able to enjoy the first year of NHS just as we were except she got it from the teacher's perspective.
Mrs. Ward choir room was like a haven of sorts for all of us. The fact that we enjoyed singing was a definite plus. However, the best part about being in her Chorus class was that she let everyone be themselves. She was fully aware that we all brought our own personalities to the table and she did not try to stifle that. Now could that have had something to do with the fact that it was her first year and maybe she was trying to get in good with us? Afterall, Chorus was the only class besides Band that had a mixture of students ranging from freshman to seniors. That may have had something to do with it. If so, that was just fine with us.
Most of all I loved how Mrs. Ward allowed our creative juices to flow. Sure we had to stay within the structure of a song when singing as a choir, but there other opportunities for us to shine differently. Things like the Swing Choir, the Madrigal Dinners, the musicals. She would let us come up with our own dance routines for certain songs or maybe even put in some additional lines to already scripted performances. It sometimes took some goading and maybe even a compromise or two but it was always well worth it.
We always knew where we stood with Mrs. Ward. She had such an affable personality that she was able to take some polite ribbing from the students at times. We always knew where to draw the line though. There was never any disrespect. We just enjoyed the fact that she would let us have our own fun that we would sometimes want to include her. She was probably privy to more inside jokes than any other teacher I've ever known. Heck, most of those inside jokes were probably initiated right there in her Choir room.
I would like to think that over our four years at Norwalk that Mrs. Ward was able to enjoy our presence just as much as we enjoyed hers. There was a core group of us that stuck with Chorus from freshman year all the way through our senior year which allowed her to get accustomed to all of our little idiosyncrasies. There was pretty much nothing we could say and/or do that would shock her. And believe me, there were more than a couple of instances that my friends Skip and Wahl would try. Mrs. Ward was always a good sport though which went a long way with many of us.
I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the teaching aspect that Mrs. Ward brought to the table. She was able to help me to better develop my singing voice which I naively thought was already good. She knew full well that I couldn't read a lick of music and worked with me so that I could still understand melodies enough so I could at least do it by ear. And don't even get me started about how she helped bring about the Barbershop quartet.
I can honestly say there were a number of teachers at Norwalk that I will always remember. Many for better and a few for worse. However, Mrs. Ward will always remain the most memorable. I alway wished that when my kids got into school they would have a teacher as great as her. Not sure it could ever happen though. Mrs. Ward was definitely one of a kind.
It sounds so uneventful to say. Maybe that's why I've waited this long to get to my annual birthday post. Wellthat and I've been busy running around all day. But beyond that, I was just thinking that 41 is such an inconsequential birthday. If you think about it it really is one of those awkward birthdays. All of the important milestones are either already past or still to come. At least that's how I look at it when I reflect on the landmarks of years past...
I looked forward to 16 so I could finally get my license and be able to drive...
I anxiously awaited 18 so I could vote for the the first time (and that year happened to be an election year too)...
Of course I couldn't wait for 21 so I could "legally" drink...
I wasn't really dreading 30 but I embraced it since it felt like it was officially putting my "youth" behind me...
Then there was 40 which is the age that folks half-jokingly consider you to be getting over-the-hill. Not that it seems to be too far from the truth since it often seems like my better years are behind me....
So yeah...41 wasn't that big of a deal. But something happened today that made it feel a little more special. Something that gave more weight to the theory that age really is just a number. It started right around midnight. That's when I started getting the wall posts on The Book wishing me a happy birthday. And they just kept coming and coming and coming. There were folks who I didn't even know that well that were sending birthday wishes. Before I knew it, I had surpassed the 300 mark of wall postings. And they're still slowly filtering in as I do this entry.
That's when it dawned on me that there's a clear benefit in getting older. With each passing year you slowly accumulate more acquaintances. Thanks to networks like Facebook and Twitter, that possibility increases exponentially. And my collection of Facebook cronies is so diverse that they come from all walks of life. There's something that can be learned from each and every one; therefore, I'm grateful that they took the time to reach out to me on my birthday.
I have to give a special shout out to one of my oldest friends. That'd be my buddy Mike out in Cali. I've known him since the 4th grade so we go back like babies and pacifiers. Leave it up to him to find this picture in his archives. I had forgotten all about it. Or the fact that I was throwing up the Alpha sign in it. And yes that was intentional. Even at 17 I knew which was I was going to go. So I may not have gotten an updated photo to share on this special day but that's okay because this one is so much better anyway.
I must admit that I don't Tweet near as much as I should. Probably because it really turns out to be me just talking to myself. Twitter isn't as interactive as The Book is. However, I can speak more freely out there because my friends list is much more exclusive.
What I primarily use Twitter for is an information source. I can't count how many times I've learned of important news items due to timely updates on my Twitter feed. When it's not doing that, it's an excellent source of entertainment. You just have to make sure you're following the right folks to have your timeline be efficient. I would like to think I have achieved that balance.
I widdled my list of folks I follow down to only 117. That may sound like a lot, but I would estimate that only 1/3 of that list actually uses Twitter actively. Of those that do, I have fashioned my own list of my personal favorite Top 10 Twitter IDs:
10. @CiciLaw I just realized that she was officially my very first client for XL-Images. Technically anyway. She was the first to ask for a shoot but we could never get our schedules to mesh. By the time we did she ended up being my third client. Anyway, her Tweets tend to be short and to the point while being a mixture of informative and funny.
9. @jpkmensah This is my frat brother Josh who also hails from the Mighty Omicron Pi (Iowa State, for those who still don't know). I can't lie...he'll sometimes get a little techie with his tweets so I tune some of those out. However, most of the time he's on some relevant news and/or pop culture reference with his own insight that is often quite clever
8. @walkerdl Another frat brother that I met thru a mutual acquaintance on Twitter. I can't even remember who now, but glad I did. His updates are commonly news items and/or links to recent breaking stories. Sometimes they are things I may have already known, but they will occasionally be tidbits that I wasn't aware of. He seems to get his sources from all over. It's like he's got about a dozen different news sites pulled up at once.
7. @rolandsmartin I didn't start following him until the exact same time that the Teena Marie story broke. I don't know what took me so long because Roland is not only Frat but one of my favorite journalists. It's also helpful that he doesn't just provide generic Tweets. His are impersonal to make him more down-to-earth.
6. @darthvader Yes....THE Darth Vader. Okay...I'm sure it's not actually David Prowse or even James Earl Jones behind the ID. Whoever it is always on point with their Star Wars relevant tweets. I will admit there are some that reach a little sometimes, but that doesn't happen often. His is a must-follow for any Star Wars fan.
5. @SLAMonline You have to first get past the fact that when they Tweet they usually do two or three in rapid fire succession. Still not sure why they do that. However, I quickly learned that when I pay attention to those, there's really little need to have their magazine. You're not going to get full-length articles from the links they provide, but you can still get some very useful hoop nuggets. If you're an NBA fan then you should definitely be following this ID.
4. @shitmydadsays You'll have to forgive my French but that is the exact name of the Twitter ID. It has gotten more notoriety lately because there is now a tv show by the same name. This is where it started though. Some loser twentysomething (or maybe thirtysomething?) who lives at home with his dad and tweets the random things his dad says. Some of the funniest things you've ever read. The tv show really doesn't do it justice. I'm sure the book would which is why I need to pick that up.
3. @headgeek666 Don't let the ID fool you. It has nothing to do with anything satanic. This is actually the first time I just now noticed that there were three 6s at the end. Anyway, dude is the head honcho at Ain't It Cool News. When I don't feel like going out to the site to get the latest movie news I can just check his feed to get more timely information. Just have to be careful because he may give away some spoilers every now and then. The best part about his Twitter feed is being reminded when he posts his weekly dvd column. That's how I get alerted to flicks that I would have otherwise not known at all
2. @BreakingNews The name is just what it sounds like. This ID constantly delivers the latest news updates from around the world. It's like CNN on speed. Sometimes it's even better than CNN. There have been a couple of instances when the news story they tweet about hasn't yet hit CNN. Now that I think about it, maybe it is CNN's Twitter ID? Anyway, for every international story they tweet about that doesn't interest me, there's at least two national ones that do. If you add Twitter, this should be one of the first IDs you add without question.
1. @BlackMediaSCOOP The best thing about this Twitter ID is how they combine their types of news. They will hit pop culture, gossip, real news, sports. They don't discriminate. If it's news about our people that they think will be even the least bit interesting, they'll scoop about it. So it's like TMZ, CNN and ESPN all rolled into one. The only thing I don't like about it is they will repeat the same stories a couple of times during the course of one day. I suppose it's okay for those folks that might missed the first one, but I'm a little more attentive than that. I'm dying to know who's really behind that Beyonce profile pic that they've been using for the longest.
It's been so long since I've had an entity for this category as opposed to a person and/or persons that I can't even remember when the last one was. However, there was no doubt after Saturday that IKONIX Studio would be breaking that streak. I kept telling myself that I would do a post about just them. I kept putting it off for no good reason. Then I participated in their Creative Lighting Workshop. After that, I was convinced that there was no time like the present.
I had been following IKONIX Studio and its owner Tom Woolery on The Book for some time now. I figured the best way to get better at photography would be networking with some local folks that were already doing it. Not necessarily the heavy hitters but fellow up and comers who had been doing it longer than myself. That's when I saw that he had an upcoming workshop on Creative Lighting. The introductory one he offered on how to set up a shoot should have been what I did first, but I missed that one the first time around. I wasn't missing this one.
I knew going in that I would end up having a case of camera envy. As good as my Canon SX1 is, it is by no means top of the line. It's clearly better than average, but nowhere close to what those other photographers brought with them. I was embarrassed to break mine out. That's why I kept it covered most of the time while everyone else was freely brandishing theirs.
My intent was to sit there and observe then catch some tips and hints by watching others. It didn't work out quite the way I planned. That was definitely for the best though. When they started doing the lighting exercises I snapped a couple of random pictures to see how my photos would stack up to what Tom's camera was producing. Here was the best one from that collection:
Not entirely bad but nothing at all like the other folks were coming up with. Tom quickly saw that I was struggling and slyly pulled me aside. He gave me a quick Cliff Notes lesson the manual settings so I knew how to get the most of my camera. Most importantly, he hipped me to the Pocket Wizard that made a WORLD of difference. Check out a sample pic that I took after heeding his words of advice just a few moments later:
The difference is clearly negligible. I was like a little kid in the candy store once I discovered the joys of the Pocket Wizard. What was even better was I was gaining a little respect among some of the folks there. They could see that my camera wasn't quite the juggernaut that some of them had, but they could also see from my shots that I had an eye for good shots and angles. I was getting the most out of my camera in spite of the fact that the F-stop doesn't go below 2.8 and no higher than 8. If you're not a camera nerd then that last comment means nothing at all to you.
Once I was getting into the flow of things I was able to do some networking with some of the other folks there. I found out even more helpful hints that I could use on later shoots. Like how to get the best depth of field effects (again...too bad my camera doesn't go lower than 2.8). Or what online groups to join to meet other photo enthusiasts. Or what local places NOT to shop at if you want good customer service as well as decent prices.
There was much to be said for the model who posed for all these pictures. Kari was quite the good sport as we sat there snapping away. And she was spot on with each pose. She knew just how to get the best angles possible out of the contours of her frame so that each shot looked professional. It was clear she had been doing this modeling thing for a while as she transitioned flawlessly into each new pose with ease.
That workshop was probably some of the most productive 4-hours I have ever spent. I went in expecting that most of it would be entirely over my head. Okay...a lot of it was. But Tom and many of the folks there made it much easier to understand with the hands-on demonstrations. You can see the proof in the pudding yourself in the IKONIX Creative Lighting photo album. Thanks to that workshop, I now have the confidence to work in that strobelit studio. I actually look forward to it more than the natural light studio. But most important, I realize that even though I desperately need an upgraded camera I can still wreck shop with the one I have.
This is a category that I have done every year since doing year-end recaps. Which would essentially be every year this blog has been existence. I decided to switch things up this year for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is I'm not sure how many people actually stick around to watch the entire slide show. I just have a funny feeling that I invest a whole lot more time selecting the perfect pictures (which is already a daunting task as it is) for very little payoff.
The other reason is the introduction of my new website that can serve that same purpose anyway. Well...almost. It is a composite of several of my photo work over the past several years. There isn't an area that sums up the best photos of the year. Yet. But I figured I would use this space this year to instead talk about my newest addition:
I decided I would keep the name consistent with my blog so it would be easier to associate with it. Weebly is a free host provider so the "weebly" thing had to stay in the name. I could register a domain name with GoDaddy.com like I did with my blog and have that removed relatively cheap. I still may do that. The reason I'm putting it off is I'm still considering the idea of possibly using a different name. Nothing is coming to mind just yet though.
If I'm going to get more serious about photography as a part-time gig then this was the next logical step. I needed a platform where I could highlight my work where folks could access it easier. It had gotten to the point where I was publishing so many photo albums on my blog that there were too many to keep up with. Certainly too many to keep on the main page. This way I could consolidate my best work in an area where people could always see example of how I roll.
Naturally, the next and even bigger step would to get an even better camera. However, the more you want to upgrade, the more expensive it becomes. The few that I have been looking at are currently very far out of my price range. The good thing is it really doesn't matter how good the camera is if the photographer isn't good at what they do. Therefore, I'm working on honing my craft at the moment to compensate for not having that $1,500 camera.
So far, the new site hasn't garnered me any extra work. However, I haven't been pubbing it very much either. Not many people know about it. Once I start talking about it on a more regular basis on The Book as well as on my blog, folks will be better informed. They will be able to go to my Images gallery to check out my versatility. They will then see there is an easy way to contact me with requests thanks to the simple "Contact" page. Let's hope that 2011 brings more opportunities which would subsequently cause ModestGeniusPhotography to become more fluid. Check it out for yourself and maybe you can help contribute to its success. Hope to hear from you soon!