Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SPC - 'Skill' #4

My skill this week: I can push a button!

At our annual family get-together (we don't call it a "Reunion") on July 4th, somebody (not me) suggested that we have a group photo taken.

"Yeah, right. Like that's gonna happen" was what drifted through my mind, but remained unspoken.

Well, time passed; kids played in the pool; adults snacked and chatted indoors; we shared a meal together; played a few yard games; lit off a few fireworks at dusk, etc.

It wasn't until after the fireworks were finished and the light of the day was nearly gone that anybody mentioned the group photo again.

"There's no way," I thought. The light was all gone and I didn't see how anybody would organize this group of 31 (ranging in age from '1 to 92' like the Christmas song) to get them indoors. It's usually not long after the fireworks are done that people begin to think about heading home.

Fortunately, my cousin David was there and was able to motivate and organize everyone. He scouted a couple of locations, too. The garage was big enough, but not ideal for a group portrait like this, plus there was no seating besides a few lawn chairs. The living room seemed ideal, so we began setting up in there.

As David was setting up his camera and tripod, I asked him if he minded if I shot alongside him. He didn't, so I ran out and grabbed my tripod, too. When I got back, I noticed that he was shooting with a Nikon D70. I wondered if my wireless remote that works on my Nikon D40 would also work on his D70. One way to find out, right? I found the drive mode button on his D70 and set both of our cameras to shoot when I pressed the button on the remote.

I can push a button

I suspect that David has an image very similar to this on his camera, because it worked! Go Nikon!

David continued getting everyone fit in the frame, my generation ('the cousins') standing in the back row, parents of the cousins seated in the middle, children of the cousins seated on the floor in front. Voila!

Like I said, he set it all up. All I had to do was push the button!

See others' skills at Self Portrait Challenge.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Look Ma! No Training Wheels

In early July, we set out to a local park to give Hannah a chance to ride her bike without training wheels. We'd tried a couple of time around our house in the drive and along our front sidewalk, but with limited success.
Look Ma, No Training Wheels!
Once she got a bit of open road and a bit more speed than either one of us were comfortable with, she took to it like a duck to water. Yeah, there were a few spills, but she was willing to get right back on and try again.
As one who grew up riding bikes just about everywhere, I was quite the proud Dad to see Hannah do so well.

“The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.”
- Sloan Wilson

Friday, July 18, 2008

Photo Friday - 'Flight'

On the wing...
I thought I'd completely missed this shot. I saw the bird, had to change lenses to get a zoom for another 'cardinal-in-a-tree-shot,' because -- well, why not? By the time I got set and released the shutter, I only got one shot and I thought I'd missed him entirely. I didn't really look at what I'd gotten until hours, or possibly days, later. It wasn't perfect and it needed some work (I cloned out a tree branch that crossed the bird's tail), but I liked the end result.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photo Friday -- 'The Office'

Office Space

It's not my office, but it's somebody's office -- well, it used to be somebody's office, at least.

This is Plant 18 in Anderson, Indiana. One of the few old GM office buildings they haven't torn down, yet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Juggling Fruits

So, I drove a couple of Flickr folks nutty when I posted a photo (here) of me holding a newspaper, which [unbeknown to me ;-)] contained a photo and an article about yours truly, without any further explanation as to how it all came about.

I went to the trouble of writing it all down, so I thought I'd post it over here, too:

Juggling FruitsOK, so here's the long story:

A friend from my church (Kayley -- she wrote the article, right) was doing her MassComm internship at our local paper. Kayley called one night and left a message about doing an interview with me about my juggling.

What? My juggling? How does she even know about that?

It occurred to me that I had posted this photo on Flickr and on my blog when I did the photo for one of my Self Portrait Challenge themes. Maybe she came across one of those. I think, at one point, she had mentioned something else that she had seen on my blog, maybe?

It also occurred to me that this poor girl must be simply desperate for story ideas if she's calling me of all people about juggling.

So Kayley and I communicated about a time to do an interview. I agreed to doing the interview only with the condition that if she spent her time doing the interview and ended up with nothing that added up to a decent article, that there would be no hard feelings either way. She wouldn't be mad at me. I wouldn't be mad at her. She agreed, so we set up a time.

She came over one night after my kids were in bed and she and I and my wife talked for hours, catching up on what she'd been doing, what her plans were for after college. We talked about politics, religion, Seinfeld -- you know, the essentials.

Oh yeah, and somewhere in the midst of all that, she slipped in a few questions about juggling. She didn't make an audio recording of our conversation and, from what I could tell, she made very few notes as we spoke.

I asked her about how this had all come about. Why she called me, etc. As it turned out, she didn't come up with the story idea. She was working from a list of potential features and came across "Jeremy Stockwell -- local juggler." She figured that she would sign up to do that one since she already knew me. To this day, I still don't know how my name ended up on that list.

As an afterthought, as Kayley was getting her things packed up and getting ready to leave, I mentioned that I had a photo that I'd done for Self Portrait Challenge of me juggling and that I'd send it to her in case she could use it.

That was it.

Kayley graduated and got a job in Chicago (with CareerBuilder -- she posted her details up on to get a job, any job. CareerBuilder saw it, contacted her and gave her a job -- sorry for another aside, but I thought it was interesting).

I haven't spoken or communicated with her since that night (I got the CareerBuilder story from her parents, who still go to my church, fyi).

One day at church, a couple of people mentioned that they had seen my picture and an article in Madison Magazine, the publication for which Kayley had written the article.

So, it was printed, but I had yet to see it.

That Wednesday at choir practice, another friend mentioned that he had seen the article. I mentioned that I heard the article had run in the magazine, but that I had yet to see the article myself. He promised to bring me his copy the following Sunday. He came through and brought me his copy.

When I offered to send her my photo, I was imagining that if she used it at all, that it might appear at the bottom of the article, the width of a single column, maybe. I was so surprised how she made use of the photo a prominent part of the article, wrapping the text around the image, etc.

Then I read the article, and was surprised again at how well written it was. I mentioned that she took very few notes, but she had quotes from me and did a good job representing my attitude on the whole story. I was quite impressed. She did a good job forming my rattling on into a cohesive, entertaining article. (I posted this photo as full size. I believe that, for those really interested, if you view it full size and scroll around a bit, you can read the entire article.)

I thought that was the end of it.

Then, on Friday, June 13 (National Juggling Day), I came into work and on my desk is the 'People & Places' section of my local newspaper (I'm not a subscriber, if you hadn't already figured that out). It's the same article that ran in Madison Magazine (there's an ad inset for the magazine at the bottom of the article), just slightly reformatted for the space.

The newspaper has a much wider circulation than the magazine, so for a while, just about everywhere I went, somebody would mention to me that they saw the article in the paper. I was almost a local celebrity for a few days! Crazy.

It also occurred to me (and several others, I might add) that perhaps somewhere in Madison County, Indiana, there is some other guy named Jeremy Stockwell who actually is a master juggler, wondering who in the world I am and how I managed to steal all of his press.

So, that's more than you ever wanted to know about how my photo got in the paper. Hopefully, that will make up for being a bit mysterious about posting it here without any explanation as to the details.

Monday, July 14, 2008

SPC - 'Skill' #3

My skill this week: I can count to ten!

Hey, it's harder than you'd think! I used the 10-second timer on my camera for this shot. Do you have any idea how many tries it took me to just get myself in the frame, let alone anywhere close to actually capturing the dunk?

Slam Dunk
(full disclosure: goal not at regulation height)

See other skillful folks HERE.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

SPC - 'Skill' #2

I believe I have a skill for noticing things that others miss.

I enjoy finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. I enjoy finding beauty where others see none. I believe that photography has aided me in this. I see things through a viewfinder that I don't think I'd ever notice with my own eyes.

For example, there wasn't anything interesting in today's newspaper, but if there had been, I would have noticed it right away.

Captain Obvious
See what skills others are showing off over at Self Portrait Challenge.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Photo Friday - 'Spiral'

Primary Playground Revisited
If this shot looks familiar to you, it's because you've been paying attention. Congratulations! It is very similar to the shot I used a few weeks ago for Photo Friday's theme, 'Minimalism.'

I revisited this location for a couple of reasons.

1.) The older shot (Primary Playground) needed the square crop to be effective.

2.) Low resolution (on the older shot). This is partly related to the crop mentioned in #1, but is also related to an older digital camera (which served me well, bless it) with only 3.1MP max which was used to take the photo.

Strangely, within a couple of weeks of taking the newer shot, I was contacted by a company about using Primary Playground in a book they were working on called Fantastic Plastic. Knowing that they would eventually ask for a high resolution copy for printing (that didn't exist), I referred them to my new shot, 'Revisited.' In passing, I also mentioned that only the yellow background in the photo is actually made of plastic, and that the red post and blue spiral are both made of metal -- just in case it made a difference for the subject of the book. It made a difference. They were glad that I mentioned this but informed me that the image would not be suitable for this publication. Oh well.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fourth of July

Happy Anniversary of the day on which our country declared its independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain!!

Hannah and I went to the fireworks display in Alexandria last night.

It was, I believe, the first public display of fireworks that Hannah ever attended -- strike that -- that Hannah ever stayed awake for.

It was also my first attempt to capture photos of these types of fireworks using proper techniques:

Fireworks 01
Fireworks 02 (Fry Guy)Fireworks 03Fireworks 04

I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

SPC - 'Skill'

So for the month of July, participants at Self Portrait Challenge are allowed to put their clothes on again. The new theme is 'Skill.'

Occasionally, I notice other people on the road driving...and doing nothing else!! I think to myself, "What a Waste!" I think of all the other things they could be doing at the same time and I'm always amazed by their selfishness and lack of ingenuity. This is what is wrong with America! Sometimes I put my coffee down long enough to roll my window down and tell these ridiculous people what I really think of them -- for their own good of course.


Like Rainman...

Here I am, eating breakfast, talking on the phone, reading the morning paper, putting on my make-up, digging a hole (and filling it back in again), washing the laundry and planting corn -- oh, and operating an automobile, too -- commuting to work.

The very picture of efficiency.

Just like Rainman. I'm an excellent driver.

Find out what Skills others are demonstrating this month over at Self Portrait Challenge.