Have camera, will document

Helen and the girls with the evidenceI think It’s so cool that we can document those little – or big – moments in our lives within seconds just by pulling out a mobile phone. This simply wasn’t the case years ago, unless you were one of those geeky photographers who had a huge SLR camera permanently strapped around your neck.

Many pro photographers today are choosing instead to carry small point-and-shoot cameras, or use their mobile phones, when they’re not working on a regular project, or when they’re on vacation, because their work cameras are too cumbersome.

this is a photo I took yesterday at our midsummer celebration. Helen and these two little girls were having fun swinging on our hammock when suddenly, “RIP!” went the fabric. I heard the screaming and laughter, turned around, and got the shot.

Sniff! Sniff! It was a good hammock. it served us well. Actually, who cares about an old hammock? But, 10 years ago I would have missed the chance to document this humorous event.

Look at me! Here I am ranting about how cool it is that we can document life’s little happenings with our small cameras or mobile phones, when actually, I made this photo with my big bulky SLR.

Ah! Well, the principle still applies, doesn’t it?

Giant Gymhall Hamburger $3.95


Today, I heard an inspiring photographer say “Shoot what you like to shoot. Don’t just copy someone else’s style.” His point was that if you build a porfolio of work that you enjoyed making, there will be an audience that also likes it, and they’ll hire you to create something for them too. but, if you always do what others want you to do, or try to copy someone else, you might not enjoy what you do.

So, here’s my first attempt at having fun with the camera – not that I’ve never had fun before! But I mean with this new perspective. It’s one of those FX pictures, where the hand looks incredibly ginormous because of the way I placed it in the frame in front of the gym hall. Pretty nifty, huh? My brother and I tried this once when we were kids, in our parents’ back yard. So much fun!

I think I like this new way of shooting. Maybe I’ll make lots of bucks selling pictures of giant gymhall hamburgers. Or, maybe, just maybe I’ll develop unique a style out of it and become the next Ansel Adams.

How to break a rule without sinning

boys in front of oak treeThe most important thing I’ve learned lately, in regards to photography, has been ‘seeing the light’.

Light is the one thing that is essential to photography.  The word Photography means literally, ‘drawing with light’.
“Photo” is derived from Greek – the Greek word “phos” means “light.”
The word “graph” also comes from a Greek word meaning “to draw.”

It’s kind of cool to think that I can take a shot like this one using just my Android phone and some available light.

How I found this shot

This oak tree is being illuminated by the sun’s reflection bouncing off of some kitchen windows a few meters away. The sun itself is directly behind the tree.

The light was so wonderful, I simply couldn’t resist asking my boys to strike a pose for me.

“Dad! Not again!” I could see it written on their faces.

A year ago I wouldn’t have thought of taking this shot, because, as a general rule you’re not supposed to shoot into the sun. But that’s the cool thing about knowing the rules.. because then you know how to break them!

How to tell which battery is good

Tale of two batteriesI have this dilemma. As a photographer, I use a lot of batteries. And after a while, I have to start keeping track of which batteries can hold a good charge and which ones can’t. It’s kind of like cat herding; I spend lots of mental energy trying to design systems to keep the good and bad batteries separated. You might say to yourself, “Piece’a cake. Just put them in two separately marked pockets!” But, for me, it doesn’t work. I still mix them up.

I’m all for saving a few bucks when possible, but at some point, I need to decide if it’s worth the hassle. You see, I was asked to shoot a friend’s wedding this summer. So, for me, the condition of my batteries might determine whether or not I get that shot of the bridal couple, at the altar, putting on the rings. I want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that, years from now, they can flip open that wedding album and see that ‘ring’ shot, and talk about how lovely and smooth their hands looked back then.

That settles it! I’m putting an end to my dilemma. I’m asking my wife to pick up a few new rechargeable batteries for me the next time she goes shopping.

Answer to the Title question:  Both are good! I just needed a couple models for my blog post. Moohaahaa!

How raw milk made me a better person

group travelWe were five adults and five children, stuffed into a minibus that leaked oil profusely. For eight hours we virtually flew along winding, Nepali, cliffside roads at breakneck speeds. We passed just about every freight truck we could find on a blind curve. We slammed on the brakes, so we wouldn’t read end the travel bus in front of us. And, oh yes. The toilet stops. Driver! Stop! – I discovered that squatty potties and Swedish children are not a great match. So many small, individual, harmless events, that tend to gang up on you after a while.

It’s like being on a game show, where the goal is to be the last one to snap. Nobody wants to be the first one to snap; to say something they probably shouldn’t.. no.. something they definitely shouldn’t say. But the compilation of all those small, harmless events, one after another, begins to grate on one’s nerves. Finally, your patience barrier bursts, and you lose it.

On this trip, the first one to snap was me. But I gave it a good run for the money! I was able to hold my tongue the entire trip, till we returned from our week-long journey. And it was back in Kathmandu, in the kitchen, standing over a pot of raw milk, boiling on the stove, that I snapped. I won’t say who I snapped [at], or what I said. But I lost it.

Now, I had a choice to make. Do the right thing and say “Sorry”, or let pride and stubbornness put mortar to the ‘brick’. Do you want to know what I chose?

You can ask me.

10 things Nepal has that we don’t

Bottom Billionaires

Street in KathmanduMy wife started reading a book called ‘The Bottom Billion’ while we got to Kathmandu. It’s about the poorest billion people in the world.

Nepal is included in this group of nations. With its dusty roads, electricity outs, curfews, gas shortages and sex trafficking, many would say “Nepal is in bad shape!” One of the traits of a bottom billion nation is that the country is often landlocked. Nepal’s neighbors are India and Tibet. India sells Nepal their gas and buys their hydroelectric power – They can pay more for it than the local Nepalis. Many of Nepal’s young girls and boys are tricked, er! I mean.. sold for sex. First stop on their journey, India. And then there’s Tibet. Hmmm! Not gonna get much help from those neighbors. Or? Can anybody correct me here?

Nepal used to be a monarchy for like,  forever. Only recently, this century I believe, did they cash that system in for a “democracy”. But they still don’t have a constitution. They’re supposed to be voting on their new constitution any day now, but they just extended the deadline. They’ve tried writing a constitution before but failed. A written document of beliefs can help steer a nation in a good direction.

All this bad news from this bottom billion member state, and yet, God created the Nepali people. They’re a wonderfully hospitable and friendly bunch of people. I like to think of Nepal as a sort of India in slow motion. It looks like India, but not entirely. It sounds like India, but you don’t need to use the earplugs quite as often. It smells like India, but not as strong. Yeah, Nepal is a special place.

Ten ideas for creating killer posts

swedish farm in springtimeHere’s a cool video I found today with some great tips on making your blog [or Facebook] posts more interesting to read. I believe it will be helpful, even if you’re not a photographer!

If you’re a photographer on G+, chances are you’re mostly followed by other photographers. But there’s a lot more to creating a captivating presense on G+ than posting a new photo every day. Author and photography instructor Matt Kloskowski (co-host of the photography talk show “The Grid” gives you his Top 10 tips for creating posts for photographers that engage, inform and inspire.

My 7 takeaways from the video

  1. Post at regular times – i.e. Facebook traffic is highest during the middle of the week in the middle of the day
  2. Share a Top Ten list
  3. Do a post on ‘How To’ or ‘Lessons Learned’
  4. Quick reviews – Three things I like about “X” (where “X” might be my DTS, working as a misisonary, my camera bag)
  5. Use simple words – Don’t use words people won’t understand.
  6. Take polls or ask questions
  7. Interviews – Ten questions with “X” (some person your readers might be interested in)


Where did my stuff go?

Veronica sitting on the back stepsOur ‘stuff’ takes so much of our time and attention. What I mean by ‘stuff’ is our techy stuff, like our iPhones, our computers, social media, uhm.. even blog posts! So, when we got to Kathmandu we decided we would try and let the modern world take the back seat for most of our travels. And here’s the result! Veronica, sitting on the back steps of our friends’ house, with nothing to do but chill. Niiice!

It blows my mind how much more relaxed and focused we became when we set aside our ‘stuff’. And, it’s also shocking how much time and energy – especially the mental kinds – we actually spend on our ‘stuff’.

Of course, other things still demand our attention: whining children, hectic pre-meal activities, and putting kids to bed. But, by just putting one tiny device like a phone, or a camera, on the shelf for a day, or two, or more.. brings balance and perspective.

The Challenge: Try putting some of your ‘stuff’ on the shelf for 24 hours, or longer if you dare! Then, see if you don’t start crying, like a baby in its crib, without a bottle! Or if you start to feel more relaxed. I bet if you do it enough times in a row, you’ll start to feel more relaxed. We did.

They came bearing gifts

Lucas and his friendThe first thing we did when we arrived in Kathmandu was sleep! The next morning, the first thing we did was give our friends some presents we had packed all the way from Sweden.

To see the smiles on their faces, especially the children, made me think just how powerful an act gift giving can be; especially if it’s a gift given to someone who lives far away.


Preston's new grill
Preston tries out his brand new Weber grill brought all the way from Colorado Springs