Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kelley Farm Reception

Well this is a bit late but last Saturday a reception was held at the Sherburne History Center for my Kelley Farm show. The turnout was good and enjoyable.

I had some time to talk with Bob Quist the site manager for the Kelley Farm. We had a great conversation and I was pleased that he was very impressed with the images. A number of other members of the Friends of the Kelley Farm were in attendance as well.

The show will be up thru the end of February but will likely remain up until the next, unscheduled, show is hung.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Show Hung and Images Posted

Last night I hung my show, Life Around the Kelley Farm, 1861, at the Sherburne History Center. What a nice hanging system they just had installed. Hanging rods are connected to a rail on top and have a sliding hook assembly. Basically the frames can be placed along the wall anywhere where there is a rail.

I place the wire such that the hook is 2 inches from the top of landscape frames and 4 inches from the top for portrait frames. Once I determined the height of the frame on the wall all I needed to do was to set the hooks in the same place on 26 rods. Hang the rods on the railing, center, and hang the frames. It was actually pretty easy.

In the end I'm really happy with the way it has turned out. The reception is Saturday from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Images in the show are on my web site at:


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I've been Barred by George Barr

Recently, I rediscovered George Barr and his website. I had read some of his articles on the past on Digital Outback Photo but recently he was interviewed in Lenswork Extended #72 (Lenswork is the best photographic magazine around). So I paid his website/blog a little visit and I have become addicted.

George's blog is not your typical blog. It is a realtime learning experience. Not just in the technical aspects but in the creative sense like how to see, what to photograph, what makes a good photograph, really heady stuff. His book was recently released and to me it is more text book than a technical primer. I have already gone back to reread parts and I'm just a third of the way thru the book. Can't wait to read the rest.


I've Moved

Well yes and no.

We have a large house. Frankly, much larger than the two of us need or should have. Our lowest level, kinda a walk out basement, is spacious. Since we moved in back in 1993 I've used a bedroom upstairs as my 'office'. Then I got back into photography a few years ago I did all of my matting and framing downstairs.

Well last Sunday I moved my 'office' downstairs to my new 'studio'. There are a number of things I like about the new location. It's large and without a large window behind me it will be easier to control room lighting. I like having all of my photographic activities in just one place. It's just a really nice place to work.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Kelley Farm show announcement

An article appeared on the front page of the Elk River Star News this week announcing the opening of my photography show, Life Around the Kelley Farm, 1861, on Jan 26 at the Sherburne History Center in Becker Minnesota.

The announcement can be read on the Elk River Start News website at


Thursday, January 17, 2008


This weekend it is supposed to get pretty cold. Saturday’s high is supposed to be -3 with a low of -15. This isn’t uncommon winter temperatures in Minnesota but it is cold.

This reminds me of an adventure I had back on Dec 19, 2004 that resulted in the following image:

Most people when they see this think it is an icy leaf on the road, no big deal. They are surprised to learn that the black asphalt is really lake ice, see the small bubbles in the ice. What makes this picture more memorable for me was that the temperature that morning was 15 below.

I went to all the trouble to go shooting at 15 below and only took 10 pictures or so before me battery went dead. I was really disappointed. I didn’t know at the time that if I warmed up the battery then I had a few more shots before warming the battery again for a few more shots…..

Will I go out this weekend? You just never know. I like the idea of shooting the Trumpeter Swans, in Monticello, thru the steam rising from the Mississippi River. So I may have to head over there one morning.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Thule, TV

We have a great dog. An Australian Shepard we call Thule. Thule has a rather unique behavior...he just loves watching animals on the TV. We have a large 64" projection TV and were watchng something about elephants. Of course Thule was very interested. During one shot the elephant was running toward the camera. Thule was a bit intimidated as he slowly backed away from the TV. Funny stuff.

He usually has one eye on the TV when it is on and his head springs up at the sight of a four legged animal. Every once in a while he is sleeping whan an animal appears. All we have to do is say 'Thule, TV' and he's up checking out the TV. A few weeks back I happened upon a dog show. When Thule really gets really excited he stands right in front of the TV as he did on that day.

During Christmas the TV was on one of the funniest home video shows and is often the case animals are involved. This time both Thule and DJ, our grandson, got quite interested:


Monday, January 14, 2008

All Standard Now

One of the images for Arts in Harmony was to be printed at 20 x 30. This is a new image size for me having just sold one print with these dimensions. However when I went about to size Cascading Falls to this size I was not liking the results. So I decided to cut 2 inches from the long size and go with 20 x 28. This new dimension better frames a 2:3 image.

Carrying on with my thought of standard image/mat sizes, I came up with a standard image size for each frame size I use, both portrait and landscape orientation. Some resulting image sizes are a true 2:3 ratio and others require a slight crop.

Of course I will totally throw the standard size out the window if the image wants to be cropped in a totally different way. But up to this point my eye has preferred the 2:3 ratio.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Bags, Bags, Bags

Camera bags that is. I just ordered another camera bag. If I really thought about it I could count the number of bags I’ve bought, but why bother it would take a while. Some I still have, some I’ve sold and others are almost ready to put on EBay to be sold. It seems like the perfect camera bag just doesn’t exist. They look so organized in the pictures in the catalogs but for some reason they just don’t hold my equipment. I think they must use cutouts in the pictures instead of the real stuff.

Hopefully this will be the last of the bags I buy for a long time. Now I have three camera carrying ‘systems’. 'Systems' because two are bags and one is a belt.

Last fall I bought into the Think Tank Modulus system which consists of a couple of pouches on a waistbelt. I have 4 pouches and I can carry 3 lenses, filters, batteries and other small stuff. It worked very well shooting the north shore last fall. Strap it on and go shooting.

Then I bought a Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 for our trip to Florida in December. This is a rather sleek shoulder bag that carries the same equipment as the belt system and a little more. I can also put my camera body and flash in this bag. It is a great lightweight setup, although it does get a little heavy with all the gear in it. It will be really good for around town and I love that it doesn’t scream out ‘expensive camera equipment’. As it’s name implies ‘Urban Disguise’ it looks just like another professionals bag.

The latest camera bag is a 'real' camera bag. While it won’t hold all of my lenses it will hold almost everything I would need for a multi-day shoot, including a laptop. The Tamrac 613 is a rather large shoulder bag, the kind of bag I thought I would never get. But I have to admit I have been seriously influences by a photography video I’ve seen recently, thanks Ralph. In the video the pros, about which the video is about, are seen scurrying around the wilderness carrying pretty large camera bags. I also took a workshop last fall and the instructor had a similar bag. They are able to pull out stuff I would have had to leave at home with the smaller bags I’ve owned. Plus this bag should be a good bag to store my equipment in at home.

The good thing is that I was able to find the last two bags on EBay so I saved a ton of money. Now I need to get a couple of my bags listed on EBay.


Monday, January 7, 2008

2007 Reviewed

Last night, while trying to get to sleep, I was thinking about 2007 and what occurred photographically during the year. Using my less than stellar memory here is what I came up with.

  • Arts in Harmony 2007 - The year started with a huge surprise. Two of my images were selected to be displayed in the Arts in Harmony art show here in Elk River. As described in a previous post this is the largest juried national art show in Minnesota. The previous year I had not won a reward so this year I was hoping for an honorable mention, gotta start somewhere. Lynn and I went to the reception in February and as I approached one of my photographs I saw a ribbon hanging from it. I was smiling as I saw it was a members award, given to Arts Allience memeber. Then on the tag next to it on the wall it also said: Great River Energy Purchase Award winner, Great River Energy is a local power company. I looked in the program only to discover that this was a $1000 purchase award, one of two $1000 awards in the show the other being the Best of Show. I showed Lynn and we just couldn't believe it. Great River Eneregy was purchasing one of my images for $1000. Amazing.
  • New Camera - In preparation for out trip to Europe I bought a new Canon 5D camera. This is Canons 'other full sensor' 35mm DSLR.
  • France and Italy - Not only was this a wonderful vacation for Lynn and I it gave me the opportunity to take some very memorable photographs. During the course of 3 weeks I shot 5479 images. Good thing it's the digital age since i wouldn't have been able to carry that many frames of film, nor afford to get it all processed.
  • Minnesota State Fair Art Show - This was my third year participating in THE largest Art show in Minnesota. There were over 600 photographs submitted and only 120 selected for the show (this was just the photography class). Well I didn't make it again so I am 0 for 3. I really thought I had a good chance using an urban landscape from Paris. But there is always next year. Here is the image.

  • One Man Show - At the Arts in Harmony reception I signed up to do a one person show at the Sherburne County Government Center, the location of the Arts in Harmony Art Show. To have a show I needed 30 images which I figured I should be able to handle. The show was set to run the month of August. I was rather hesitant as to the contents of the show but I figured that our upcoming trip to Europe would give me enough photographs to make up the show. In the end I had photographs from Italy, France and Minnesota. In retrospect I could have left out the Minnesota images but as it turned out the way the Govt Center is laid out the two bodies of work, Europe and Minnesota, were separated. I ended up with 46 images, 36 from Europe and 10 from Minnesota. Boy was that a job and I sure learned a lot. First off I had to select the images then buy materials, print, mat, frame, make labels, make business cards, prepare signs, determine my selling price. Seemed like the list would never end but I got everything ready just in time. I even had a feature article written in the local paper about me and the show, another shocker. The story was on the front page of the second section and one of my images took up half a page. You can see all of the show images here,

  • First Art Show - In October I participated in my first art (and craft) show. Cost me all of $20 for the weekend. I had a 10’ section of plywood wall, the show was in an unoccupied and unfinished retail space, from which to hang my photographs. I got a couple of print racks and it actually turned out to be a pretty nice display, wish I had taken a picture of it. I wasn’t expecting to sell anything but I ended up selling 4 prints so all in all it was a real success. I also met a lady whose sister is the buyer for Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. I will be meeting with her in the spring to see if they would be interested in stocking some of my Split Rock images.

  • First Workshop - I finally took a workshop. This one was easy since it was at the beginning of October and Grand Marais. Grand Marais is along the Minnesota North Shore and is where we have our 5th wheel from August thru the first part of October. The workshop was run by Layne Kennedy who is a Minneapolis professional magazine photographer. The goal of the workshop was to product a photo story. I must say I got the most feedback of all the participants and it was not because my photo story was so good. It was a lot of very constructive feedback. I really enjoyed following a pro around and seeing what he was seeing. It was a great learning experience something I plan to do more of in the future.

  • New Web Site - After the art show it became obvious I needed to do two things if I am going to be successful selling my work. First I need to add greeting cards to my lineup and secondly I need my own web site. So I signed up for a Pro level account with Smugmug. Smugmug allows one to heavily customize their site. I knew I wanted a simple site and I was able to achieve that look. I had to learn a bit of Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) lingo and with the help of their very helpful support group get my site up and running. I’m very happy with the site. I don’t get many visitors and haven’t sold a print from the site, I did sell some greeting cards though, but that’s ok since I haven’t started heavily promoting myself. But I do have the site, and greeting cards, ready for the future.

  • Another New Camera - Sometimes it would be nice to have a camera with me without my DSLR camera and lenses. The DSLR is big and bulky. Finally Canon came out with a point and shoot and has the feature I want and allows files to be stored in the native RAW format. This is the P&S I had been waiting for the Canon G9. I keep it in my car and can pop it out any time I like. I haven't printed any images from it but will get to that soon.

It’s been a fun year with a lot of firsts. I don’t know what will happen in 2008 since I only have thoughts now with no firm plans.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Matting Followup

I've got all of the mats cut for the Kelley Farm project and it went very well. Printing the images to the same size really sped up the cutting and now I have a bunch of uniform sized mats created for future use.

The only issue is the paper size of the print. Normally I print on17" roll stock. So for a print to be matted to 16x20 I would print it at 12x17. But since I found a great deal on Enhanced Matte 13x19 at Best Buy, $11 for a box of 50 instead of $50, I printed the project on 13x19. When I go back to 12x17 I'll have to install additional corner tabs onto the backing board for that size.

Not a big deal.


Friday, January 4, 2008

The Results are In

Two of my four entries have been accepted into the Arts in Harmony '08 national juried Art show. This is my third year entering this show and in each of the shows I have had two images selected. Last year one of my images was selected as the recipient of a $1000 purchase award. Was I ever surprised and excited especially when this award the the Best of Show were the top prises.

This is the 13th year of the show which happens to be the largest national juried Art show in Minnesota. This year 218 pieces of art, paintings, sculptures, photography, you get the idea, were selected from 668 entries by 242 artists.

My two selected entries are:

Cascading Falls



Matting Dilemma Solved (maybe)

I do everything with my photography from capture all the way to hanging the image on the wall. I went thru a number of iterations with matting and framing and I’ve arrived at method that suits me. However, there was one nagging area, I’m sure there are more than just one but this one hit me the other day, for which I think I have found a solution. The solution can be somewhat limiting but I think it will work for me.

I have a couple of Photoshop actions that I use to prepare my image for printing. One of the things the actions do is to resize the image to fit the intended mat. I know the maximum dimension of the image and set one of the dimensions to that maximum and let the other dimension automatically adjust. The image is printed and I’m ready to mat.

I mat images with a border around the image, none of the image is covered by the mat. I also sign the photograph, under the image in the lower right, and the mat is cut larger at the bottom to account for the signature. So matting is rather precise and specific to each image. The problem lies in the ‘specific to each image’ statement. I’ve just been unsuccessful reusing my mats and I’m just getting way to many matted images.

So I’m reading Alain Briot’s book ‘Mastering Landscape Photography: The Luminous Landscape Essays’ and he is talking about developing portfolios and storing the images in clam shell boxes. The clam shell box provides great protection and easy accessibility for the images. I’m also working on my ‘Life Around the Kelley Farm, 1861’ show and I know that I will not want all of these images sitting matted, taking up space, once the show is complete. But I would like to preserve the images for future reference.

OK, now to my new direction. I decided that for each size mat that I use, 11x14, 16x20, 18x24 and 20x30, I will determine a ‘standard’ image size. This ‘standard’ image size would be very close to a 2:3 aspect ratio but each would take into account the aspect ration of the mat itself plus the thickness of the mat border. So for instance, for a 16x20 matted landscape image the standard image size would be 9.5” x 14.25”. This would result in a mat border of approximately 2 ½”. If I was happy with the crop, using this image size, then I could put the image in a ‘standard’ landscape 16x20 mat. As long as I printed landscape images 9.5” x 14.25” I could reuse the mat.

Of course some images deserve very different crops and I’m free to crop those as I see fit. But I am preferential to the 2:3 aspect ratio and shaving a little of the image off the sides is perfectly acceptable.

I have been employing this new method as I print the ‘Life Around the Kelley Farm, 1861’ images. I think I have 3 images, of the 26, that did not lend themselves to the ‘standard’ crop. As I begin the process of matting the 26 images I’ll have just 5 size openings to cut, the 3 unique openings then a portrait and a landscape opening.

As with most things I’ll give this a whirl and see how it plays out. But from now on I’m going to stick with my ‘standard’ mat concept. Hopefully this won’t be a failed experiment and I waste even more mat board.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Life Around the Kelley Farm, 1861

A few months ago I received an email from the Sherburne History Center in tiny Becker, Minnesota. The Sherburne History Center is the home of, you guessed it, the Sherburne County historical society. Bobbie explained that they had a new facility and they wanted to use their empty wall space for art work. She had heard about me thru the Elk River Area Arts Alliance, of which I am a member, and she wanted to know if I'd be interested in showing my work. I said SURE.

As it turns out the History Center was in the process of researching and purchasing a hanging system for their walls and as such I get to have the honor of being the first artist to have a show there, I'm honored. I met with Bobbie to discuss the show and she was interested in a show that represents Sherburne county, a reasonable request given that this is the Sherburne History Center. So I went home and pondered the images from which I had to choose.

It didn't take long to decide what the theme of the show was to be. The Minnesota Historical Society operates an 1860's farm in my home city, the Kelley Farm. The Kelley Farm was owned by Oliver Kelley who founded the Grange Society and today is operated just like it was back in the 1860s. It has been a favorite place for us to go as a family and for me to shoot as a photographer. Over the years I had accumulated a nice collection of images and I thought this would be a great theme for my show.

So I've been going over images and I've selected 26 to be included in the show. Since I was depicting the Kelley Farm in 1861 I wanted to not only give it the feel of 1861 but also the look of 1861 so all images are sepia toned.

I've decided to print them all on 13"x19" Enhanced matte paper, image size approximately 9.5 x 14, and frame them in 16"x20" frames. I've got all images printed except for 1 and tonight I'll start the matting process. I think I have made a discovery, relative to matting, during this project but I'll discuss that in another post.

I'm pretty pleased with the prints and I think it will be a nice show.

Oh, the show opens on Jan 26 with a reception from 11am to 1pm, in case you are in Becker and want to stop by.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's All Ralph's Fault

Well it is New Years Day, 2008 and it is time to start yet another Blog. Ever wonder how many blogs get started every day? I think it is kinda neat to be starting this on the first day of the new year.

As I said in the title my brother Ralph is really the reason I began this pursuit. I had thought of a blog in the past but since I didn't have a website of my own, until just recently, and since there really weren't many people interested in reading yet another blog I could never see the point. But Ralph change that.

Ralph and I have had a rather long interest in photography, dating back to the 1970 for me and probably longer for Ralph (he's my older brother). Actually Ralph and I have had similar interests thru life including careers in the computer field. Back in the early 2000's, with the advent of the digital age and after long absences, we both got back into photography and we've been pursuing our own artistic personalities since.

Ralph is a fine photographer and if you haven't seen his work then please your senses by taking a look at But Ralph has another gift, which is not hereditary, and that is the gift for clear thought and the ability to express that thought in words. My thought pattern tends to be more scattered and my writing is less than eloquent but what the heck, we're all different.

So recently Ralph started his own blog, Ralph's Blog, and I have become quite captivated by his comments (I'm feeding his blog to 'My Yahoo' so I can keep up with him). While Ralph and I trade email and talk on the phone regularly, reading his blog has opened another line of communication that allows me to further share his experiences and discoveries. So I thought I might try the same thing.

So here it is, my blog. What do I plan to do with the blog at this early stage? Well first of all I doubt many people will actually read the blog, especially now at the beginning of 2008. So the blog will likely be kind of a journal. Comments that will have interest to me and things that I think may be of interest to others. It will be a way to share what I'm doing, what I'm learning, things I've learned and sometimes just what I'm thinking.

Thanks Ralph for once again inspiring me to take another step.