Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D70
Exposure: 30 sec (30)
Aperture: f/22
Focal Length: 300 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0 EV


Aesthetic Universe (the purpose of art)

The purpose of art is an odd, unanswerable question. The purpose of studying/practicing art is a question worth asking.

My approach to art is a deconstruction process. The understanding of past aesthetic traditions that have influenced my technique is an incalculable act. As a lifelong developmental student of art/composition with an attraction for different genres and disciplines, I discover design by looking in reverse.

I see the purpose of art from four conjoined perspectives. No one perspective is the correct viewpoint. Additionally, balancing all four views is not needed to master any discipline. Enhancing your point of view from blending the perception can create a place for insight and technical advancement

Aesthetic Universe (the purpose of art)
- Educate
- Develop a skill
- Heal
- Pleasure

Education – Scholarship in history through painting, photography, cuisine, music, poetry, and dance is to a large extent a more multidimensional process to understanding different periods of history. Verses the textbook approach to understanding our history.

Develop a skill – All art evolves the mind/body connection, and in turn develops whole-brain thinking. Having the body achieve what the mind wants is a repetitive task that develops memory, muscle coordination, cognitive and psychological development.

Heal – Art and healing are a subject that I like to rant upon. It has always amazed me that in times of post-tragedy they call on the artist to help aid in the healing process. Be it different types of therapy, fundraising or to bring people together to lower/raise emotion. Art has a responsibility to serve. Art has a responsibility to heal. Art should give us the ability to transcend, be the precursor to prevent adversity (in times of war send the musicians in first).

Pleasure- An unanswerable question can be answered with the word pleasure. Art is sensory discrimination, entertainment and the enjoyment of the process.


    City Night to Ambient

    2007 has been spent working on city night photography. It has been this year’s side project for me. The venture has been great fun, rewarding and a mind-photo-expanding-experience. I have a little over thirty days left in which to complete my project and complete the documentation of Pittsburgh at night. The fruition of the work will be seen in our fine art greeting cards.

    2008 my new side project will be ambient art photography. Not quite sure what the definition of ambient art photography is? Hopefully I will be posting about the definition next year at this time.



    Have you ever had the experience of not recognizing your own reflection in the mirror? The delusion of understanding who the reflection is but not accepting the answer your brain gives you. A phantom pain occurrence: paralyzing information that becomes wired into your brain circuitry every time you look in the mirror. This is not good and I think I am experiencing this. At times I just feel old. I no longer feel that I am the perpetual eighteen-year old. I sense my age. That is a very odd thing. People never feel their age due to their mind set, especially men. Men are the eternal little boys still playing ball down at the park. Even when we have children all we can think of is when will we be able to take that kid to the park and play some ball?

    For the last couple of months I have been standing in front of the mirror pondering the reflection. The gray hairs in my chin I can accept. The skin aging I can accept. The eyes I do not recognize.

    In the end of this rant I am probably just going through an existential phase of life (it sounds a lot cooler than a mid-life crisis). Plus mid-life for me doesn’t happen for another 12-14 years. I am going to be one of those people who live to be over 100 years old.



    Grey, foggy, rainy day in Pittsburgh, it’s a good day to listen to the new Radiohead download. Plus I am starting a new book by Steven Pinker, you can check out his Ted Talk here.


    Photo of the Week

    Camera: Nikon D70
    Exposure: 2.5 sec (5/2)
    Aperture: f/4.5
    Focal Length: 70 mm
    ISO Speed: 200
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV

    P.S. I will be taking the rest of the week off from blogging. Have a great Thanksgiving Day!!!



    Current Reading: The Monk and the Philosopher: by Jean-Francois Revel, Matthieu Ricard

    Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!: Cartoonist Ignores Helpful Advice By Scott Adams

    The Moment of Seeing: Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts

    Current Music: Live at Radio City Music Hall by Dave Matthews , Tim Reynolds
    Mood: Bored
    Sounds: Printer
    Smells: Left over white pizza
    Sights: Empty plate
    Temperature: 61°F Cloudy
    Thoughts: I am not angry; it was supposed to be comical (The Perfect Giggle type of funny)… My personal mantra is: Give with out expectations (the mantra is for Mike)


    I Am Angry (probably not at you)

    Lately, I have started to notice just how angry of a person I am. If you know me either personally or through my writing you may be shocked to find out that I am riddled with anger. Generally people find me to be optimistic, upbeat even to the point of maddening, just ask my wife. Seeing life sunnyside up can be a real downer for those around me.

    I have also noticed how much I read about things that make me angry: global warming, lack of health care, lack of people taking care of their own health, the baby boomer generation using up the social security retirement funds, what the government places in our food, what people choose to place in their own mouths, lobbyists, smokers, and not to mention things that don’t make me angry because I am just too numb with anger to notice any longer; disease, poverty, malnourishment. Please don’t judge me…this is a confession of sorts.

    Next comes deciphering between being judgmental or angry. Typically if I see a fat person driving a min-van smoking a cigarette, eating a pop tart, talking on their cell phone all the while barely avoiding a catastrophe and almost wrecking into me I will make a judgmental comment. For those keeping score rarely do I swear or make a rude jester. What I do is quickly make a list in my mind how that person is the cause for the world falling apart. Only if they could take an interest in the world around them, how much better of a world this would be.

    For years I have been a closeted judgmental person justifying my point-of-view with the phrase “I know I am right”. However, the number one thing that makes me angry are people always thinking their point-of-view is the only correct possible point-of-view in the know universe to have on any given subject matter. Hence, I am not judging that person, I am angry at that person. An epiphany of sorts!!

    The greatest thing about having this epiphany is that I can rest in the fact of knowing that I am not that judgmental of a person. Clearly, I am a justified angry person with the only correct point-of-view. Wow, what a relief.

    Pittsburgh Light Up Night

    Camera: Nikon D70
    Exposure: 13 sec (13)
    Aperture: f/16
    Focal Length: 105 mm
    ISO Speed: 200
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV


    First Snowfall

    First snowfall of the year today in Pittsburgh. Saying those words bring a smile to my face. What is the sensation inside of us that a glorious new season brings out? Sitting inside my home all warm and snuggly and knowing that it’s cold outside just makes me feel good. The first snow is akin to inspiration, you must write, work, create, and move…it’s a gift of a divine gathering of thoughts.

    Today, this first contribution of snow is an extra special gift to me for tonight is Light Up Night in Pittsburgh. It is the annual kick off of the holiday season. At sundown the entire city will turn on all of their lights and unveil the new decorations for the holiday season. I will be perched up high on one of the city’s overlooks photographing the event. This city of Pittsburgh has developed into a muse for me. I look at her differently now. I see life, grace, stillness and openness.

    Zen Circles & Aperture

    Zen circles of enlightenment and the aperture of a camera lens.

    1) Enso: a simple circle, free of an accompanying inscription, leaving everything to the insight of the viewer.
    2) Aperture refers to the lens diaphragm opening inside a photographic lens. The size of the diaphragm opening in a camera lens regulates the amount of light that passes through.

    If Zen has a defining symbol it would be the Enso representing the circles of enlightenment. In photography the symbol would have to be the aperture opening inside the lens. I find it philosophical that enlightenment can be seen through the aperture of a viewer’s perspective.

    “The Zen symbol "supreme" is an enso, a circle of enlightenment. The Shinjinmei, written in the sixth century, refers to the Great Way of Zen as "A circle like vast space, lacking nothing, and nothing in excess," and this statement is often used as an inscription on enso paintings.”

    This is how I choose to feel, view and compose when I raise the camera to my eye. Andrew Ilachinski quoted these words on a comment on my blog.

    Minor White's words: "Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen." Implicit in this, is that Spirit identifies the photographer by the sincerity with which he or she seeks Spirit.


    Things that bug me…

    - People who call themselves perfectionists are really just complainers. This is how you know that you are a perfectionist: One, you don't call yourself a perfectionist. Two, you do the task at hand yourself, i.e. that is why you are a perfectionist. Now, this is how you know that you are a complainer and not a perfectionist: One, you do not have the ability or the will to do the task at hand. Two, you refer to yourself as a perfectionist. Three, when reading this you think to yourself "this is not me but I know who is and I can't believe the grammatical errors in this post, you should really have someone like me check your work"

    - At every large venue be it a concert or sporting event there is always that person behind you that ruins the event for you. You know the kind: drunk, whistling, screaming, cursing, drink spilling, can't clap to the beat to save their life type of person. This is how you know if you are that person. If you are not complaining about the crowd the next day then you are by default that person. Shame on you, there was children in the audience...

    Pittsburgh at Night

    Camera: Nikon D70s
    Exposure: 20 sec (20)
    Aperture: f/20
    Focal Length: 56 mm
    ISO Speed: 400
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV


    Gratitude Journal

    - I am going to the Bruce Springsteen concert tonight with my wife, sister and brother in-law.

    - Had a good conversation with my friend yesterday and he pass along some sound therapy resources to me.

    - I saw a hybrid taxi in Pittsburgh today. Pittsburgh is green…

    - Night Photography



    Norman Mailer died this past Saturday. I was reading a Mailer novel on Saturday. I did not take pleasure in the book. I trust my bad vibes were neither a coincidence nor a serendipitous act that caused his death.

    I took a walk in the woods this past Sunday morning. Left the camera at home, this is characteristically a good thing. I enjoy the stillness and the silence that nature has to offer. The tranquility of letting go of the rest of the world is a pleasure for me. Frustratingly, I walked into the ideal shot. No camera, not really caring about how I should take pleasure in this compositionally perfect moment. I spent the next 45 minutes cursing myself for leaving the camera at home. Probably bad karma for the negative thoughts about Mailer.

    Pittsburgh at Night

    Camera: Nikon D70s
    Exposure: 25 sec (25)
    Aperture: f/20
    Focal Length: 40 mm
    ISO Speed: 400
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV


    Photo of the Week

    Camera: Nikon D70s
    Exposure: 15 sec (15)
    Aperture: f/29
    Focal Length: 70 mm
    ISO Speed: 200



    One Foot In Front Of the Other & Tao of Photography are two blogs that have recently come to my attention. Examine their archives and read their profile (here & here) to get a complete grasp of how good there work is.


    Is saving time a waste of time?

    Why are we always looking for ways to save time? Fast food, instated food, microwavable food, rush hour traffic short cuts, finding faster, quicker routes home, we hire, we employ, we outsource, we subscribe so we don’t have to do it. The “it” being the proverbial “it” that is taking up all of our time. What do we do with all the minutes we save? Where are those extra minutes of life? Why are we racing around trying to save time in the first place? What could we have been doing with that time?

    Is time saving tips wasting our time? Here is a quick list of things in my life that is supposed to save time but in the end, ends up fanning the flames of frustration and shortening my lifespan, which by the way is a waste of time.

    - Preparing already prepared foods: No matter what the instructions on the box tell you this is the universal correct formula for cooking already prepared foods: Place in over 3 times longer than the box tells you then add an additional 17 min for the food to cool down on your countertop, so you can eat it without burning your mouth. Finally add another 20 min since you have to place it back in the oven because it is still ice cold in the center.

    - Any automatic voice response phone system: These systems never work, nor save time. They increase stress and blood pressure, which in turn add to higher medical bills and health insurance costs. Not surprisingly, this is probably why you were making the phone call in the first place.

    - Any online bill payment: There are too many choices, options and navigational issues to deal with. You need to call one of those life-shortening automatic voice response phone systems then remember to press 0 to get an operator to have that person explain how to navigate the online system. Just write a check.

    - Trusting Mapquest: If Mapquest works out for you then you probably already knew where you were going in the first place. Just ask somebody at your final destination how to get there. This will cause less frustration, in turn, your health will improve. Saving you from having to call one of those life-shortening automatic voice response phone systems to figure out how to pay your medical bill online.

    - Using spell checker in Microsoft Word, Google always gets it right the first time.

    - The grand finale of wasting time trying to save time is: Multi-tasking while driving: People eating their prepared foods, which was the original source causing them to be late in first place, forces them to make their phone calls on a cell phone while driving in conjunction with having to navigate a life-shortening automatic voice response phone system. Sequentially starting an occurrence of events that will bring about a multitude of people to have to call their insurance and health care companies due to the fact that you were not paying attention while driving, thus causing a pile-up on the interstate. At that precise instant causing that very multitude of people to be late due to the accident that you have just caused. When it’s all said and done your time reduction activities cause a wave of innocent people to waste a lot of their valuable time.

    When it’s all said and done you could use the extra minutes you save to go see your lawyer. I wonder if your lawyer is interested in saving you time when you’re sitting in his office?????


    Neuro-Science & Photography???

    I have been struggling to find out if photography has the ability that music and meditation has on the brain (Neuroplasticity). When the human eye sees, it does not see life as a complete picture. It scans through the environment placing order and preference to the scene. The camera sees in conclusion, placing directives of emotion and concentration as a completed whole. Can the study/practice of photography focus the brain to help gain insight and details that otherwise we might miss?

    Music, meditation and the brain have been topics of significance to me. The brain’s ability to grow into whole-brain thinking in conjunction with the capacity to help promote the body healing process has become an obsession to me. I have long alleged that music and meditation are part of the evolutionary process. Man’s next step on the evolutionary ladder is not upward motion but an internal development. Art therapy and photo therapy equally are great tools but I have not been able to find any information on the possibility that photography can help the plasticity of the brain.

    Where does photography fit in? Do you think that the photography process helps the photographer or the viewer evolve? Photography as a passion or a hobby will bring great enjoyment, stress relief and flame the creative process of the individual. However, does photography aid in healing and help the brain develop into a more whole-brain system?

    Today I am asking for your input. Personal reflection upon photography as therapy, or a development tool, or neuro-science of photography would be helpful. Please leave comments or e-mail me.



    Current Reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
    Current Music: ipod shuffle
    Mood: Discourage and groggy
    Sounds: Printer
    Smells: Freshly cut apple
    Sights: Empty coffee cup
    Temperature: 40°F Partly Cloudy
    Thoughts: Does photography heal and help the brain develop into a more whole brain system???


    Photo of the Week - 2

    Forgotten photo that I just found

    Camera: Nikon D70
    Exposure: 0.125 sec (1/8)
    Aperture: f/29
    Focal Length: 70 mm
    ISO Speed: 200
    Exposure Bias: 0 EV

    Gratitude Journal

    - We found a vegetarian restaurant in our new community, and we love it.
    - The Steelers game tonight
    - I read a couple of really good articles today about music, meditation and the brain.
    - IOC blog for motivating me to remember to be grateful.

    Photo of the Week

    Camera: Nikon D70s
    Exposure: 1 sec (1)
    Aperture: f/11
    Focal Length: 70 mm
    ISO Speed: 400

    Motivation for this photograph was inspired by the work of Howard Grill. This is not my best work but it is the start of a new series of photography that I will be working on.


    Does a photographer have to have a philosophy

    Does a photographer have to have a philosophy when it comes taking a photograph?

    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it” – Ansel Adams

    One of the questions asked in the book Image Makers, Image Takers by Anne Jaeqer was “Do you have a philosophy?” The question got me thinking if I have a personal philosophy towards my photographic approach. In Jaeqer’s book the question was not answered well or plainly by any of the interviewees. It is a hard question to answer. Being philosophical or extenstential is easy. All you have to do is question and ponder anyone else’s view. What you get in return is either really good dinner conversation or really bad dinner conversation. Influence from a philosopher is easy. You find a philosopher you like, read their book and interject their views in to your life.

    Living, defining and explaining your own outlook on photography and philosophy is a daunting undertaking. What I did was to quickly write down my thoughts; free associations to see what would come out of me. This is what I wrote:

    Expressing and communicating
    Life is surreal enough, document it
    Mistakes equal experience
    Immerse yourself in different worldviews; this is where perspective comes from.
    Style happens, don’t think about it
    Know where you want to go professionally
    Shoot the light
    Crop in camera
    Photograph what you enjoy: Weddings, City landscape, abstract nature
    Work with what you have
    Don’t think outside the box. Cut the box in half and do something creative with that.

    To answer my original question, I would have to say that my photographic philosophy is:

    It’s all about the ambient and the art of seeing.

    If philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of existence, then noticing the ambient has to be the philosophy for photography. In the end the practices of the art of seeing is why a photographer raises a camera to their eye.


    Gratitude Journal

    - First Halloween in our new home
    - DRM free & CC: I like it when artist have control/choices over there own work.
    - Completely understanding that my wife & daughter (is) my connection to the divine.
    - 6:10 am


    Current Reading: Image Makers, Image Takers by Anne Celine Jaeqer
    Current Music: The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggytardust! By Saul Williams
    Mood: Happy
    Sounds: Background conversation
    Smells: Miso Soup
    Sights: Cotton ball clouds and muted autumn colors
    Temperature: 48°F Cloudy
    Thoughts: Effort is the solution to your problems.