Time Off

I am off to a castle to find a mouse?????

See you at the end of next week.

WYEP Photography Workshop info (HERE)

General Workshop info (HERE)



Current Reading: Confession of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor
Current Music: Draw the Line by David Gray
Mood: Excited, on vacation in 48 hrs
Smells: Coffee
Sounds: Daughter singing and typing out the alphabet
Temperature: 55 degrees
Thoughts: Off to a castle to find a mouse....


WYEP Photography Workshop

(I was told that this class is filling up quick, if your are interested be sure to reserve your spot...)

How to Take Great Photographs
Photography Workshop
May 10, 2011—May 17, 2011
The WYEP Community Broadcast Center

How to Take Great Photographs Workshop
Taught by John Craig this is a two part class: Tuesdays, May 10 and May 17. It is a basic class which is open to all, but is best suited for those who have a DSLR.

What you will learn:
-Understanding exposure
-What ISO, F/stops, Shutter Speed mean
-How to use your camera in Manual mode
-How to take a photo “correctly” in camera
-Natural light techniques
-Understanding your lens
-Understanding White Balance

Bring your DSLR with you if you have one. It is not mandatory for the class.

buy tickets


Commandments of Creativity (Part 1 of 10)

Commandment 1. Do Not Give Up On Being (Part 1 of 10)
See complete 10 commandments list (Here)

She taught me one final lesson before she passed: Do not give up on being human.

The second injection went in, her heart stopped. My companion for the past 18yrs passed. I fell to my knees, cried, prayed and gave thanks for the life we spent together. Till we meet again, in the forest of heaven, hiking along the path, you will be missed.

My dog has come to the end of her nature. She lead a great life, a dog-life. She enjoyed everything about being a dog. Walking, running, playing, eating, sleeping, snuggling, protecting. She loved it all, a purist at being pure to her dog-ness.

Final lesson: live your nature. How many of us can say we do this? Do we live our nature, our “human-ness”? What is human-ness anyway? What does it mean to be human?

My answer is found in the the teachings of Ken Wilber’s Integral Philosophy: living a balanced life of body, mind and spirt in self, culture and nature. Simply put, a life of purpose, effort and happiness. That has been my pondering question as of late. Do I live this way and do we as a culture live like this?

This new way of thinking and questioning arose from teaching people about photography, which lead to conversations about creativity. Teaching creativity to others is hard (if not impossible) but giving advice on the creative process is far easier. Follow your heart, listen to your mind, trial and error, failure is a good thing, enjoy the task, perfection is found in the process not the outcome, and finally, enjoy your results.

This is where I feel we as a society have fallen short. We no longer ache to be human. We want (if not need) results with no concern or interest in the how, what and where of the process. Is that being human?

Much of being human is already being done for us. No need to think, Google does that for us. Why be curious? Have a question? Type it in the box and we accept the answer. Why exercise? The need to exercise has been handed over to big pharma. Why work the body when a pill can do it all for you? What need is left for the body? When is the last time that you felt soil, walked on the earth barefoot in the grass? If we can sit and stare at a screen it seems our bodies are doing all that’s left in it’s job...the bare minimum of living. Is our spirit dead? Not faith or belief, but the spirit that guides us internally throughout our life. We are people of congregation, we listen, sit and repeat, but we have no practice.

Ok, I know this is moving in a morose direction, I have not given up on humanity. What I am questioning is: what is left for us humans to do?

My answer is to create...anything. That is our purpose: to create. Why? God gave us empty space and everything is provided for us to fill it up. I love the story of creation vs evolution. My favorite part is that we, humanity, were placed here last. After all the fruit was placed on the trees and the vegetables have grown out the ground, after the clean water ran down hill from the mountain tops, Earth-Gaia-God gave us life. Creativity is the greatest gift to humanity. I suggest that we can only do three things in the images of God: love, forgive and create.

Before my dog passed she taught me this by the way she lived her life. A dog’s life of purpose is to love, have effort to explore and enjoy the happiness of a belly rub.

1993 - 2011 Kiani.
Magnificent and loving friend


On Light

I love light. Light is a mystery that needs to be experienced.

Often I think I should of become a painter instead of a photographer. I go to the painter for inspiration more often than not. Even when I speak about light in photography I use words that are more akin to the brush than the camera. I sprinkle, dust, blend my photographs with light. Talk of key, fill, and back light simply feel too antiseptic for my taste.

My philosophy for creating photos is: Photograph the light first, compose the subject second. Consult nature first, for the light is never the same twice. I love that last line, carve it on my tombstone.

The grandeur and splendor of natural light is God to me. Always there if only you take the time to notice. Light is omnipresent even in the darkness, mystical bugger.

Next year I will be taking a trip to Utah to photograph the nighttime sky. I want to see the stars move from left to right. This is something you can't do in Pittsburgh due to light pollution of the city and the general low gray skies.

Photo tip: Just learned this (thank you Google for making me smarter), a digital camera can only handle an exposure of 20 to 30 minutes before your sensor overheats. To create longer exposures you have to shoot film. I researched renting a medium format camera for my trip, maybe an 8 x10 camera? It will be a lesson in self-discipline having to wait to see if my exposures come out correctly.



It is Sunday afternoon as I write this. It is the first truly warm day of the year: birds are chirping, bees are a buzzing and neighbors work in their yards. I sit on my back porch listening to Bach as I finish reading the biography of Saint Frances.

There were two parts of his life that amazed me. The first one being the early stage of his calling to God. Frances needed to leave the city and go to a land that was untouched by man to pray. The year was 1202. How often in today's world do we need to get away from it all? Even in Saint Frances' time he suffered from the noise of the city.

On September 14, 1224 Saint Frances prayed to God to experience the suffering of Christ’s Passion and to feel the very love that caused Christ to undergo such a sacrifice for mankind. Brother Leo, who was with Frances, at the time wrote these words:

”Suddenly he saw a vision of a seraph, a six-winged angel on a cross. This angel gave him the gift of the five wounds of Christ.”

This is the only case of a recorded stigmata ever. In faith much of what we learn is based on a mythic belief structure. We believe it because we want to believe it. That's OK as long as we do not push these beliefs on others. Did a flood happen? I don’t know, but I get the lesson.

I have always been attracted to the monks' way of life. Being that I am a father and husband I would make out to be a bad monk. Also getting up at dawn does not cut it for me either, nonetheless I am continually inspired by the ascetic life.

Years ago I read “A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life” by Brother Wayne Teasdale, great book for all faiths. His writing has stayed with me.

If I was to ever to walk off to the monastery I would need to find an order that has a Christian-Buddhist blend. Let me not conform to the conformist's life but let me experience the divine on my own terms. See I would be a bad Monk.

Next book on deck: Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist by Stephen Batchelor.


Sorry to the Creatives

Is the internet disappointing to you? It is to me. I used to be able to get lost in blogs, websites, social media and general reading and researching stuff. Now it's evolving into more and more of a corporate-big-box-web-store than the worldwide web. The web does not seem so wide or worldly anymore. What's left is a web of corporate conglomerates pushing out the independent person.

You, as a reader of this blog, may be thinking the same thing of me...am I boring? Nah, you have too good of taste to waste your time on a blog that's not up to snuff. (love you, hugs).

I have just come off my longest digital hiatus since I became addicted to the web in the late 1990’s. Over these last months my time on the computer has been limited to answering a few e-mails and scanning my favorite sites. What I have realized is the web is boring...sorry to the creatives out there working to build a new way of sharing and e-commerce. But we as the creatives (uploaders) of the internet are losing.

My complaints are not new. When information and technology level off, when it's no longer a new thing it becomes boring. There is only so much time we can spend with the screen in front of our face. I used to argue that we are all fighting for screen time. Fighting to get you, the reader, to spend your time reading, well...me or your favorite artist.

Today I change my argument to:
Do not give up on being human. Our only purpose is to create something new, daily.

Going for a walk, thanks for reading.


10 Commandments of Creativity

Forgive me Moses....This is my top 10 list for unleashing creativity. These 10 commandments will be my speaking points for my talk on "Faith & Creativity” later this summer. Also during part two of my workshop, which focuses on composition, I will be discussing these points at the end of the class to sum up the whole of creating a photograph.

1. Do not give up on being human.

2. Do not let the machine think for you.

3. Do not concern yourself with results, concern yourself with the process.

4. It’s ok to fail...fail often, fail forward, enjoy the failure.

5. Living your purpose is living your calling.

6. Do as little harm as possible. Be aware of the harm that you do.

7. True-Metaphor; arts only purpose is to serve.

8. Create something new daily, anything...

9. Share it!

There is no #10...it's up to you. Go.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be writing blog posts on each commandment to fill in the details. Stay with me on the journey...it should be interesting.



Current Reading: Biography of Saint Francis
Current Music: Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit
Mood: Not to shabby
Smells: Waffles
Sounds: Wind, water and knocking at the door
Temperature: 61 degrees
Thoughts: A functioning addict of wellness: All time favorite phrase...

p.s. All canceled workshops have been reschedule, check out the workshop page for new dates.