I am Building a Guitar

I have been working a lot on building an acoustic guitar. My inspiration is the guitar that James Taylor plays (made by luthier Jim Olson). It will have an Engleman Spruce top and an East Indian Rosewood back. For those up on acoustics, it will be shaped like a Martin OM, except curvier and deeper bodied. I have the braces on the back. Here are some pictures!

Luthier Notes: The back is assembled in a concave dish in order to put a dome in the back of the guitar (this I think aids in projection). The dish is essentially a section of the surface of a sphere that would have a radius of 15 feet. I profiled the braces in the dish (in their respective locations) and then glued them in place using hot hide glue (old school violin making stuff). Next, the braces are quickly clamped into the domed shape by using 24" long 3/16" fiberglass rods to exert pressure. The whole clamping structure is called a go-bar deck. The fun part is that I built all of it - it feels good to see parts of the guitar starting to come together.

Photo Notes: 20 mm lens. It distorts, which I think looked really cool here. Ansel Adams said to never apologize for your lenses. Interesting thought.

Advent Service

Our friends, Aaron and Kristina (see last post with their son, Oliver :) put together a sweet Advent service at our church last Friday night. There was inspired music and sweet instillation-style art up. Here are a few long-exposures I took:

Photo Notes: 8 Seconds or so for the exposures. 20mm lens (good for interiors). F/11 for depth of field. Tripod and cable release for 1 and 3. Second one was an accident - gathered light as I walked to take photo 3 (had accidently hit my trigger release). I find that my camera's long exposure noise reduction is often a good call - I used it here as well.


Oliver . . . what a great name and what a great smile. Megs and I could not get enough of Oliver when we were photographing his family the other day. Here are a few of our favorites:

Photo Notes: Shot inside a beautiful home with two SB-80's. One had a 1/8 CTO gel. The other 1/4 CTO. All shot at 5000k for WB. 1/8 CTO was shot through a 24" Ezybox that was directed at the ceiling to bounce the whole room (1/2 power). The other was into a white shoot through that was directed at the ceiling as well. The shoot through was kept at eye level and relatively close to the subject. This allowed some light to fall sideways across the subject while the rest headed toward the ceiling to bring up ambient. It was a really fun lighting scheme to stumble on. It really worked great. Megan was the one who figured it out which was fun too.

Norris Woodworking Cutting Boards

My friend Jim Norris is a fine carpenter with a great ability for design. Recently we had the opportunity to photograph a few cutting boards that he had made. It was fun for me because I got to do some "food photography" which I had been learning about by skimming through Megan's Donna Hay magazines. Here are the photos:

Photo info: Shot with a 24" Lasolite softbox (Ezybox). Megan did the raspberry and green bean lay-out.

Cutting Board info: The first board (with the tomatoes) is rock maple and cherry. The second board is figured bird's eye maple. Jim is available to make more cutting boards and can do custom designs. Email me if you would like to talk with him for more info.


I love posting to this blog. I also love not posting to this blog. It has been great taking a break, but tonight there is some sort of creative thing inside of me that just needs to get out, so here it is . . . some pictures that I took recently. My photography has never felt so free. The trouble with my hobbies in the past is that they have owned me. Recently I have been more in right relationship with photography than ever before. I like it. Finally, the pictures :)

Photo Info: Fun. Free. 150 mm Macro Lens.

Fall Wildflowers

I love fall wildflowers. I particularly love the mixture of earth-toned grasses that have passed their peak for the year. We went for a run tonight at one of the local metro parks, and I decided to take my camera with me. All the shots were shot with my 150 mm macro lens around f/3.5.

Photo Notes: I had fun taking these pictures.

Waters of Rest

I really worked pretty hard for this one. It is also from the Smokies this August (on Meg's and my Honeymoon Part II). This is Roaring Fork. It boasts the steepest decent of any stream its size in the Eastern United States. There is a beautiful little one-lane drive along it, and we stopped at this pool to fly fish and photograph. Fly fishing came first of course - don't want to scare the fish :) After no fish, I got in the stream, submerged my tripod (and myself bit), checked to make sure the front element of my lens was not getting totally soaked from the rushing water and clicked away. I am amazed at how steady the images came out with the water rushing on the tripod.

Photo Notes: Light is not always simply influenced by color temperature; it can often take on hues from surrounding objects. In the case of a stream surrounded by a sea of green, the camera will see the scene as having a green hue. A slight move toward magenta in Lightroom brings it back to how our eyes are able to see it. I am ever increasingly impressed with our eyes marvelous ability to render the most difficult of optical scenes with acuity.

One of the keys of success with panoramas is to shoot "on-level" - unless using a tilt-shift lens. In this case level was 6" above the water downstream of what I was photographing. Accounting for the shooting angle allows the resulting panorama to be free of distortion left-to-right.

First Light

This panorama was taken within the same half-hour or so that Country Road and Down that Old Rusty Trail were taken. Beautiful light. I made use of the reflective puddle in the foreground of the horse pasture and let the first light of the morning speak for itself.

Photo notes: Panorama made as detailed here. This one was about 7 images. Prints about 60 inches. Sometimes you can go round and round with editing photos and end up where you started. I thought about trying to bring this one up a bit in terms of exposure, but found my field exposure was just what I wanted . . . I once met a gentleman on the trail to Half Dome in Yosemite (same day I took Vernal Falls Rainbow), and he told me something that has stuck with me about landscape exposures. "Pick your favorite part of the scene and expose for that; let everything else fall where it will." I have done that for years now. This photo was all about the first direct light of the day cresting that ridge, so I exposed for that. And after messing with LAB color space and levels in photoshop, I found that I had done it just right.

Landscape Website Updated!

A quick note that the landscape website has been updated with beautiful music from Pete Huttlinger, and new gallery design. I have really enjoyed the process of updating the site; I am really happy with the improvements. Enjoy!

Tractors at the Fair

I love a good ole' tractor :) We had a nice time at the Canfield Fair over Labor Day weekend. Here are some of the tractor shots. (I decided to combine the posts and simply have one tractor post :)

Photographer's Notes: All 85mm at about f/2.2 for all of them. About 8 pm, late summer's late sun. It was a nice night. Felt a bit like the end of the summer to me.

Baker at Heart

Ever feel like you really see something specific in someone - maybe even before they are totally walking in it? Along those lines, my wife is a bread baker. I know it. It's one of those things that's less an activity of the hands and more an outpouring of the soul. She is going to be a great baker. This banana bread was one such example. I loved watching her prepare with all these mixing bowls and I loved the "Clabber Girl" can as a visual element. Wish I could share the bread too :)

Photographer's Note: Prep photos were taken with 43" shoot through positioned back and high. I have been getting into food photography recently and it seems that higher light sources have something to them when lighting food. Didn't bother with the lights for the bread - just ate it.

P.S. The counter space below was provided by Jim. It was constructed with 8/4 rock maple and 8/4 cherry. Really nice! Also, the vanilla is from Penzey's Spices. I recommend them too. For example, if you like to have 4 types of cinnamon to choose from - go there :)

Morning Light, a Fence, and a Bird

Here is another sequence from last Sunday morning at Atwood Lake. Shortly after taking the shots through the windshield in the middle of the road, I saw this fence lit up with shafts of light through the nearby trees. I parked on the next road I could turn off on, grabbed my camera, locked my car, and ran 200 yards back up the road to this scene - landscape light does not last long sometimes! I will probably pick my favorite of the bird at some point, but I am not ready to yet, so here are the three to consider. Enjoy.

Through the Windshield

Adventure on a foggy morning! After stopping to take some shots of the cows and surrounding land, I was trying to find this small old bridge that I had taken a picture of before. Drove past the road, realized I had and then turned around. On the way back towards my road I stopped my car in the middle of the road, prayed for safety and shot four or five exposures through the windshield. My favorite of the bunch is below. I love going for drives in the country!

Photographer's note: I shoot landscapes in manual mode while making use of the spot metering pattern that is available in my camera. Sometimes, however it is nice to be able to move more quickly than that - like when stopped in the middle of the road! So, a quick change to aperture-priority and a +0.7 exposure compensation as the camera came to my eye helped keep the high-tone feel of the actual scene. Contrast adjustments in Lightroom for this one.

Cows, Windmills, and Fog

Cows, windmills, and fog! My favorite! Got up early this past Sunday at my parent's lakehouse in eastern Ohio. Went out, looked over the water and fog - lots of fog. I walked back up to the house, grabbed my camera gear, and took a drive. Here are some from my first stop along the road:

Tired and Well-Kept

School has been very rewarding and very busy recently. The new program we are doing is off to a rocking start, and I have not had much time for sleep :) Luckily, I have a wonderful wife who really has been taking care of me, supporting me, and helping me during this busy season. This picture (which she took) tells the story. Papers in the midst of being graded in the background and Megan's wonderful dinner in the fore. Rosemary and garlic pork with garden-fresh heirloom tomatoes and swiss chard!

Old Things and Waiting

I was looking through some old photos today in order to get one ready to make a print for a friend's wall. What beautiful pictures they are! I think that I so often get caught up in the newest technology and the best technique and the growth of my photographic eye and vision, that I forget my roots. My roots are Fujichrome Velvia. My roots are a rickety tripod and a long hike to a secret spot. My roots are two weeks of shooting on 36 exposures. There is a certain naiveté in these photos that I am drawn to. Here's to looking back and realizing we've always had it.

Sept. 2003 - First shot of first photography class

Fall 2004 - Borrowed friend Brian's 20mm lens for the day

Fall 2004 - Another detail with the 20mm at the Farmer's Market

Summer 2004 - Vernal Falls from Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park

Summer 2004 (Below) - Penney Lynn's Windtoys, somewhere south of Bishop, CA