I Need Your Help

Photography website & blogs that you can not live with out

Recently I lost my list of web/blog favorites that I use to research and educated myself on the ever on-goings of photography. In effort to rebuild my list I am asking you for your must have sites of interest. Please leave your favorites in the comments or e-mail me at Craig Photography (at) mac.com. After generating and reviewing the list I will post a blog entry to share will all of you.

Thanks ~ John


Becoming “Indifferent To”

Becoming “indifferent to” without the labor of study - In a life of limitless choices becoming “indifferent to” is a daunting task to avoid without the passion of practice and study. What I love about being a working artist is the work, not the end product.

The function, flow and wakening energy of creating something new is an addiction for most artists. When your art/skill/practice becomes your mistress, a culture of generosity can coexist with the ethics of profit (a.k.a. – making money by doing something you love.) It’s a point of ecstasy and a different reality when you enter this creative point of fulfillment.

Society values consumerism as a substitute for the creative process. It is easy to become “indifferent to” the whatnots that make up our lives. Understanding art, food, education, health and exercise has lost the resonance that drove our culture forward.



Current Reading: Remix by Lawrence Lessing
Current Music: In a Dream by Peter Kater & Dominic Miller
Mood: Superb
Sounds: Wind & rain
Temperature: 38 degrees and rain
Thoughts: We are becoming indifferent “to”, without the labor of study.


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 1.8 sec (9/5)
Aperture: f/25
Focal Length: 35 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0 EV


On Photography –

Perceptions, light, click of the shutter and then you’re done, that’s how you create a photograph.

Surrender to love without possessing. That is the first key to understanding what perception is. A photographer is not in control no matter what the subject or lack of subject is. A photographer is only a seer of light. The judgment of what you do with the click of the shutter is perception.

Second key is light: light is alive and stirring, light has sounds, scent, colors, patterns, textures, emotion and flow. To see the light you need to practice. Concede that you don’t know everything there is to know about light. Concede that you do not have to know everything about light. Know that you will have to be present and accountable for what you do with the light. Practice being a seer of the light. Be a poet of the light and enjoy this part.

Third key: be humble, uphold and a mind-set of gratitude. When people tell me that they are a photographer/artist my answer is always the same; already? My follow-up question is always “how do you know?”

Fourth Key: write your ideal moment. This is mine:

I raise the camera to my eye looking through the viewfinder. I go into a place of silence, a place of inner stillness. My environment could be filled with noise and rumblings of a passerby or I could be in the forest sitting next to a raging stream. At that instant of composition I go into stillness, simple mindfulness. My consciousness changes into the environment that surrounds me, moving into a moment of unearthing discovery. Looking to see the unseen to find the spark where God lives and art grows. Following that I move into the “yes of the blessing”, when I capture that sacred frame that lived only for that finite second of stillness. To conclude, I move into the point of celebrating the gift, that presence of grace that I alone was able to see, experience, document and share with the world.

Conclusion: the light is never the same twice, as it should be.


Peak Conditioning Project – Week 9

Day 67 of my PCP journey and this is what I learned (so far).

Starting Weight 171 lbs. Current Weight 164 lbs. Height 5’9

I enjoy the personal responsibility I have towards keeping this goal. Seeing my body change in the mirror is nice, but the real conviction to sustain this practice is the mind-body connection that I am undergoing. At this stage I am seeing my body as a thought process. There is no difference between physical and mental effort. Dropping limitations, focusing more on consciousness, which in turn has transcended my self-limitations.

Truth-be-told I am no super model (yet) but the knowledge of matching my exterior workout with the interior subtle body is the achievement that I will carry with me. Meditation and prayer are equal to but not greater than diet and physical strength training. All inclusive, this is integral and paramount to having a balanced mind-body-spirit connection.

For more information see: Peak Conditioning Project (be sure to check out the sidebar links)


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 1.6 sec (8/5)
Aperture: f/25
Focal Length: 70 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0 EV


Craig Photography by Elizabeth

Elizabeth, my wife, has started her own blog featuring what she does best as a photographer; weddings.

I have purposely shied away from writing about weddings since the conception of this blog. Sporadically, I would post a quick "thank you" or upload a photo from a wedding but the focus never seemed to be a fit for me.

Stepping to the pulpit as a voice, photographer, and the driving force behind Craig Photography is my wife. Please check out her new blog, leave a comment and spread the love as a passionate, kind and intelligent woman writes and posts photos about the subject she loves….

To Know My Space

Bold dark coffee, re-mixed acoustic music, a fresh fire-roasted tomato and egg sandwich served on a whole wheat pita and my day begins.

Standing to my left working behind the counter are fiercely artistic independent employees of this local bistro. Like the type of employees that Starbucks used to hire before they became the McDee’s of coffee. Remember them? People with piercing tattoos, cultures of style, their own genre of music and demarcated values, which would shape the next generation of autonomous thought. I sit alone, sip my coffee, and write in my journal, take a bite of my breakfast. I feel inspired from this atmosphere.

This environment in which I sit is what life needs more of. Life, a simple concept, local economy set within local environment. In the truest definition of the word economy: management of one’s household. That is what this bistro represents. A connection to the life that is local to our own humanity.

This blog is read by a global audience (which I ‘m thankful for) but I often wonder how many people in a ten mile radius of where I write will read this rant?

To live a life which a person gets to experience the space of their own, not living a virtual hyper-linking existence. Economy of household, food from local soil, community of culture…this is what I want to become familiar with. To live within the ten mile radius from which I write this. To no longer just transport myself from edge to edge of this city, but to be within society of these ten miles.

To know my space, a simple concept – wisdom is bliss, ignorance is suffering.


Heather & Kevin (Elizabeth)

We had such a great time photographing Heather and Kevin's wedding this weekend. This couple was such a blast and up for anything!

We were fortunate to have this fantastic blue shed nearby the church.

Absolutely loved this red door.

Thought this was such a cute picture.

Special Thanks (guest posting from my wife--Elizabeth)

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a local "Shoot N Learn" session at the studio of David Burke. David teamed up with another local photographer, Heather Lahtinen from Weddings by Heather, to host a Boudoir/Intimates lesson, which was presented by the very successful and extremely talented AC Ellis. Not only did I get the chance to learn some very interesting techniques and hear some fantastic business advice, but also getting the chance to mingle with local photographers is just priceless.

It's a great thing when business owners of any craft can get together and share their knowledge and experience in hopes of helping others to become a success.

My special thanks go out to David, Heather and Cory Ann. I had a great time and I'm looking forward to the next Shoot N Learn!

For more information on Shoot N Learn sessions check out David's Blog.



Current Reading: The World in Six Songs by Daniel Levitin
Current Music: Devils & Dust by Bruce Springsteen
Mood: Perturbed
Smells: Oatmeal
Sounds: Humming
Temperature: 70 degrees
Thoughts: Wisdom is bliss, ignorance is suffering


Music, Mind & Mosquito Food

Sat outside today at lunch reading a book about how music and the mind work. It is most likely the last time this year that I will get to sit outside and read. I love Indian Summer in Pittsburgh. This is probably the tenth book I have read about music and mind connection. It’s a topic that I wonder why I even read about? Music is a beautiful mystery within itself. Why pursue the answer? The world has already lost enough mystery.

Why do humans create art? Because we cannot stop it from happening. This is what separates us from the rest of earth’s inhabitants. All life can do what we do, which is to survive. Gary Snyder wrote something to the extent that said, “humans were created to entertain the rest of nature”. Speaking solely as mosquito food: that seems to make sense.


Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 3 sec (3)
Aperture: f/25
Focal Length: 40 mm
ISO Speed: 100
Exposure Bias: 0 EV


Classical photography of autumn

Autumn for photographers is akin to playoffs in football. The energy level is high and expectations are immense. Fly fishing is a truer analogy; the process can be much more rewarding than the catch of the day.

For the past couple of years I have not placed much effort into autumn photography. I have an enthusiasm for nature photography but haven’t placed focus into it because it has been typical/traditional photography that I have been purposely shying away from.

Ambient and city night photography have fulfilled my project catalog for the last two years. This autumn I am going back to basics; classical photography of autumn. The hurdle is time, October is booked up. Hopefully I will get my butt out of bed early a couple of mornings and make my way into the wilderness. In November time frees up and I am thinking about doing some deep forest photography of autumn.

Inevitably, you find a stream or mountaintop combined with colorful tree tops and shoot. My perspective is going to be “deep forest stillness within the light”. That will be the working title going into this new project.

Ebb and flow, maybe I’ll shoot in black and white? That’s classical.



Current Reading: Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou (****)
Current Music: Welcome to My Party by Rusted Root
Mood: Foggy
Smells: Apples
Sounds: Rain, background conversation and sneezing
Temperature: 57 degrees with light rain
Thoughts: I need to read more books by Maya Angelou


Peak Conditioning Project – Week 7

Starting Weight 171 lbs.
Current Weight 165 lbs.
Height 5’9

Day 51 of my 90 days of peak conditioning project. This is what I learned.

Maintaining goal weight of 165lbs, feel good about that. Starting to develop lean muscle mass. Feel really good about that. My wife has even been throwing around the nickname “Adonis the Greek God”; spelling the word Adonis is hard. I had to spell it then re-spell it about fifteen different ways before Google spell checker figured it out for me. Ok, truth-be-told I never even came close to spelling it vaguely correct. I had to call my wife for the spelling. She laughed at me. Come to think about it, she can never say the word Adonis without laughing? This is probably not good for me. Nonetheless my ego is huge and my waist is down to thirty inches and my belt is three notches to the negative.

What I have learned (so far): Journaling my diet along with my general state of health is the best appetite control. Taking one day a week to eat whatever I want is delicious. Protein shakes for dinner: 2 hard boiled egg whites, 1 apple, 1 banana, and a handful of chopped dandelion greens and 5 oz of soy milk. This concoction is fulfilling.

Workout guru infomercial her I come: Combining strength training (resistance bands) with subtle whole body exercise (yoga) works.

This is how I envision my guru/infomercial: First it will only been televised at four a.m. as this is when dedicated, slightly schizophrenic people are up. They are trying to write their memoirs or grazing through their kitchen for food they shouldn’t be eating. That’s my audience. Second, it will only be seen in black and white. I feel that is more hypnotic, sort of subliminal visual encoding.

Hopefully it will be scandalous!!!

For more information see: Peak Conditioning Project (be sure to check out the sidebar links)

Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 0.167 sec (1/6)
Aperture: f/29
Focal Length: 52 mm
ISO Speed: 320
Exposure Bias: 0 EV


Palinism Rant

Sarah Palin has ruined this election campaign for me, as I suspect for others as well. I have been following and trying to educate myself on politics for the last eight years. Not an easy thing to do, cultivating yourself on politics? Politics appears to be more of religion vs. secularism than the civics of our nation.

Then inject the marketing scheme of “Palinism”. If it works, brilliant, and if it fails what a waste of time. You can read my wife’s rants on Palin (here) for an examination of her. For me, this election is only about the marketing of “fear vs. hope” with the right hook of a beauty pageant, PTA, hockey mom and spokes model for the Republican Party (a.k.a. George Bush with girl parts).

For me the gold at the end of rainbow is Tina Fey. God Bless you Tina…you have made all my efforts in this past eight years worth it.

If you want to read a really straightforward (and comical) point of view regarding Palin from a very talented writer, click (here.)



Current Reading: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: by Thomas Friedman
Current Music: Accelerate by R.E.M.
Mood: Vigorous
Smells: Green Tea
Sounds: Too much noise…
Temperature: 54 degrees & cloudy
Thoughts: May my consciousness and behaviors be of service to all


The Maverick Retort (guest posting by my wife)

So...it appears I have been sportingly challenged on the previous statements I have made regarding Sarah Palin (I truly dig a good debate). In an effort to clear a few things up I decided to justify 10 of the 11 statements I listed, and partially concede to one. I was challenged here as you can read in the "comments" section of my original posting.

I'll break down each one, one by one. I will be referring to the list of facts I wrote at the end of my original post.

Sorry this has taken me so long to reply to. A business, a house, a husband, a 2 and half year old…you get it.

1. "YES, she did vote YES for the “bridge to nowhere”. I was wrong that she didn't "vote" for the bridge to nowhere, as the Governor she can't. However, I was correct that she did in fact support the Bridge to Nowhere, until it became a kind-of laughing stock issue (which at the time McCain himself called out as pork-barrel spending), at which point Palin pulled her support as it became increasingly obvious that to continue her support would just be embarrassing. As a matter of fact, in the web page of facts from the individual that contested my statements, his claim states in number 59 that "yes, she did finally turn down the money for the bridge to nowhere". In fact, she did not turn down the money at all. She simply re-allocated all of it to other transportation projects in Alaska.

And folks, truly it is not that she changed her mind. We all have the right to do that. It is the blatant disregard for our intelligence as Americans that she had the nerve to make the statement "I told Congress "thanks but no, thanks" for that bridge to nowhere". I stand by my statement.

2. "The Right finds that Obama not wearing a flag pin is more of an issue than Palin’s association with the far right Alaskan Independence Party, which has been known to support succession from the US." I never said she was a member. I simply said she was associated with this organization. She did in fact speak in front of this party in 2006 as a candidate for governor and furthermore, I think it is safe to say that given that her husband was a member for 7 years allows us to use the word "association" when discussing Palin and the Alaskan Independence Party. For the record, I never said she was a member, which was in fact a misconception widely printed and stated in the media. I stand by my statement.

3. "Palin, like her running mate, does not support funding for teen pregnancy programs." This is a tricky one. Here's where semantics can be a real pain in the ass. Although, as stated in the list of facts given by the individual contesting my claims, it seems the Alaskan government does appropriate a portion of its budget to help support programs for "troubled youths", I still can't seem to find where there was an "increase" in support. And mind you, these are programs that support all troubled youth. These are not "teen pregnancy programs". However, with that being said, there is no direct facts that I can find stating that Sarah does not support those either. I can't find that she does, and I can find that she doesn't. I will partially concede my statement.

4. "She has vehemently refused to support sex education in schools, other than abstinence." In answer to this question from the Eagle Forum Alaska Questionnaire:
"Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?" Palin's answer was: "Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support." So, yes she does support abstinence-only education. And even her own supposed supporters have stated that her comments on abstinence-only education and lessons on contraception didn't sound clear and seemed disjointed. I stand by my statement.

5. "Palin does not support pro-choice abortion rights. So, while applauding her daughter for CHOOSING (interesting selection for a word, don’t you think?) to have her baby, she has made it a point to try and take away choice from other women." Palin has stated many many many many many many times that she is pro-life. She has stated she thinks a woman should not have an abortion for any reason other than the mother's life being in danger. She has stated that she believes it should not be a federal decision, but a state decision. Now, I know everyone will tell me "this is her personal opinion", but what are we to judge her future decision-making on if not her "personal opinion". And I will also give you my personal opinion that the reason this has remained a federal decision is because it is the only way to fully protect this right for women. Should it become a state decision I believe you will find many women taking many drastic measures, including ones that put the mother's life in danger. AND during an interview with Newsmax.com, she answered “And your stand on abortion” with this: “I'm pro-life. I'll do all I can to see every baby is created with a future and potential. The legislature should do all it can to protect human life.” I think that’s clear. I stand by my statement.

6. "She claims to want to put the smackdown on earmark spending, yet applied for over $200 million in earmark requests this year before being asked to accept the VP nomination. She also applied for and received thousands and millions in earmarks over the years during her stint as mayor of Wasilla. And a few of these earmarks were actually criticized at the time by McCain himself." I fully stand by this statement. You can show me how she actually decreased earmark spending during her time in Alaska but the fact still remains that "Alaska has consistently topped the pork per capita ratings drawn up by Citizens Against Government Waste since 2000. According to the latest 2008 ranking, every Alaskan received $555 in pork over the last year, compared to $25 for every inhabitant of Illinois and $15 for every Arizonan."

AND "While she has cut back on earmark requests, records cited by the Associated Press show that she has requested $750 million in federal subsidies during her two years as governor, the largest per-capita request in the nation."

AND "McCain has also weighed in on the Gravina Island Bridge. In advertisements, McCain labeled the bridge as wasteful spending. [40] and in an August 2007 townhall speech recorded on video[41] and quoted again on April 30, 2008,[42] he blamed the tragedy of the Minneapolis I-35 bridge collapse on the Bridge to Nowhere. His advertising and comments which before September 21, 2006 contradicted Governor Sarah Palin's support of the bridge drew the attention of the media,[43] when he chose Palin as his running mate." (all citations left in this quote are backed up on the wikipedia page as linked above). I stand by my statement.

7. “She is in the middle of an investigation that is accusing her of abusing her powers surrounding the termination of her public safety commissioner. Apparently an attempt to get back at her ex-brother-in-law for violent (and unforgivable, if true) acts against her sister and her nephew, she pressured the public safety commissioner to fire her ex-brother-in-law. When he refused, she fired him.” I could link a whole bunch of articles stating this fact but I really don’t think I have to. It is common knowledge that Palin is in the middle of this investigation. She is, in fact, accused of the above. I stand by my statement.

8. “She tried to have books banned in the local library in Wasilla, Alaska during her time as mayor because “some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them”. This is a case of “you say potato, I say potato”. In my statement I claim she tried to have books banned. In the statement given by the person contesting my claims, he says “…she did ask the librarian if some books could be withdrawn because of being offensive…” So, here we are. I don’t support Palin, so I say “banned”. You do support Palin, so you say “withdrawn”. Potato/potato. I stand by my statement.

9. “She opposes same-sex marriage.” “Ms. Palin said she supported Alaska’s decision to amend its Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. But she used her first veto as governor to block a bill that would have prohibited the state from granting health benefits to same-sex partners of public employees. Ms. Palin said she vetoed the bill because it was unconstitutional, but raised the possibility of amending the state Constitution so the ban could pass muster.”

So she supported amending the state’s constitution to ban it, then vetoed a bill trying to prohibit health benefits for same-sex partners, but went on to discuss amending the state’s constitution AGAIN to support the ban. You be the judge. I stand by my statement.

10. “She opposes embryonic stem-cell research.”
It is widely known that McCain supports embryonic stem cell research and his running mate does not. I stand by my statement.

11. “She opposes the decriminalization of marijuana for people with painful illnesses.”
Palin has stated several times she does not support the decriminalization of marijuana. I stand my statement.

Photo of the Week

Camera: Nikon D70s
Exposure: 0.625 sec (5/8)
Aperture: f/29
Focal Length: 70 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0 EV