Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Giant Is Laying Down Quietly

Have you noticed the erosion? Factories are closing everywhere. In the larger cities, it might not have quite the obvious impact that it will in a smaller town, but don't kid yourself, we are circling the drain as a nation.

Take a small town of say, 57,000 people. Say that town has a large factory that employs 1,200 people all earning a decent middle-class income of $45 to $65K. Life is sweet in our little town. There is a whole infrastructure built around the existence of that plant. One that was necessary for it to survive. Stores, restaurants, hotels, services of all kinds. Banks, churches, schools and hospitals for the employees, entertainment centers of all varieties. The community serves the plant and the plant supports the community.

One day the factory says they are closing down the operation. With this decision, our little town will loose over $60 million every year from factory employees alone. All of these support businesses have to keep rolling because they are still here and with all of that activity the little town seems to have absorbed the loss of the factory, but all of the support businesses feel the loss and it starts a landslide. Soon our little town is more of a ghetto than a community. Crime rates soar as more and more people live in despair and on welfare. More of their children never complete high school and the crime rate soars again.

If we could peek around at the other side of the world, and, you know, through the big wall, we would see a nation on the rise. A huge industrial monster standing up to flex it's muscles and growl at us from across the ocean. This monster is running on steroids, because it is not restricted by pollution regulations or even quality standards. It has negligible concern for employees wages, benefits or working conditions. It is not burdened with invention, design or research and development. It's only mandate is to be cheaper, and we all cheer it on.

It seems our industrial giant has grown tired of carrying the crown and wants to retire in a recliner in front of a large screen tv. We want to cheer on China because we feel entitled to the good life, but we are too lazy to earn it. Consequently we need our good life to be easier to obtain, or more plainly - cheaper.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Award-Winning Photographer!

Halloween has come around again and, as is my custom, I decided to take a photo of Stevie in his costume. This year it was a fireman.

It is not hard to pull the character out of Stevie.

Ok, no biggie, shoot it and put the camera away. The evening's festivities ensued.

The next day, there is mention of a photo contest with a fall/Halloween theme and it looks like everybody is sending in pictures of their kid in their Halloween costume. I'm thinkin' I got one in the bag of Stevie, why not participate? So I sent it in.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the contest has nothing to do with the merits of your photo, but everything to do with how many of your friends you can get to go online and "Like" it. Now it is a campaign. We rallied as many of our friends to go online on our behalf as we could. (If you responded to one of these pleas, you have my heart-felt thanks). Unfortunately, the winner had a gazillion friends mobilized for a landslide victory. We were, however, able to maintain our status in the community with a very distinguished finish at third place.

If you have ever been to our little town, you will have noticed a landmark in the form of a giant pink elephant hoisting a martini in front of the liquor store. It is in the spirit of our fabled landmark that I reveal to you my distinguished prize.

Obviously, I am going to have to address my rates in light of this accomplishment. I recommend you book your project before they go into effect! :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Got Sad Mac'd!

Monday night, while I was at the Fair, I started having a problem with my iPhone. The Home button quit working. If you have one of these phones, you know this is like loosing your mouse on your computer. You can get in applications, but you can't get out. Tuesday morning, I was still having problems with it, so I thought I would try syncing it and that maybe it would straighten out.

Recently, I updated to the new OS4.0. I suspected that upgrade might have bugs that was causing my phone to behave erratically. While I was syncing, I noticed there was already an OS Update and iTunes was suggesting I should take it. God help me, I clicked on the button that said "Update". That, my friends, is when I fell down into the rabbit hole.

After iTunes finished updating my phone, it didn't recognize it anymore. I was given the message "iTunes has detected a phone in recovery mode. Use "Restore" to return it to normal". Understand that "Restore" wipes your phone back to factory new and removes all data. It then attempts to restore the data from a backup. I clicked on the button that says "Restore".

After the restore process was complete I get a message: "iTunes has detected a phone in recovery mode. Use "Restore" to return it to normal". After looping through this procedure two more times, I am about ready to throw up from the vertigo.

Nothing else matters when you have to rush one of your little ones off to the emergency room and I tried as best I could to obey traffic laws, but I felt woozy and my mind was reeling on all of the information I depended on this little guy to deliver on the spot whenever I needed it. The imperceptible loss started to creep into my thoughts and I fought to keep them at bay. There was something they could do. There had to be!

My first line of defense was the AT&T Store. I bought it there, so maybe they will know what to do. Things were a little slow in the store so I had the attention of three associates when I burst in through the front doors screaming for a doctor. What I actually did was approach the closest one and start to tell my story in the shortest way I could. They all get this oh-you-poor-man look on their faces and punt my case over to the guy that handles phone hardware issues. After they established I was under warranty, he was quick to turn me over to the folks at Apple. He directed me to the Apple Store in my area. They were kind enough to set an appointment for me, I think they could tell by looking at me I was in no shape to get the appointment myself. The warned me there could be like 30 people ahead of me when I get there. On a Tuesday afternoon? I scoffed, but then again, I had never been there.

It was right at 1:00p and my appointment was for 2:10p. In my haste, I had left home without my wallet and I thought I had better run home and get it. Driving home I remember I had done a load of laundry that morning, including the shorts I had worn to the Fair the night before. Did I take my wallet out of my pocket last night? I start to drive faster, fearing the worst. I run into the house, straight to the dryer door, pull it open and most of the contents of my wallet jump out and land all around my feet. Credit cards are curled, my drivers license is curled and everything that was paper in indecipherable. I rant (quickly because I don't have much time) and grab the essential items and cram them in my still damp wallet and run back to the car.

Once at the Apple Store, I am shocked to see what must be 150 people in the store. Half are scared parents like me and the rest are customers shopping. I am impressed at the number of employees though, maybe twenty. I am directed to a kid with a pink iPad to check-in. After check-in, I wait and I watched. The Apple people are all trained to be smiling, polite and very calm. For me, this was a trauma center, so I appreciated their calm. I watched as they helped people while I waited my turn.

There is a strange phenomena surrounding Apple products. They are all designed in a way that says "We only want very smart customers". Their devices only have one to three controls on them. As a consumer, when you have a problem with one of these devices, you are going to try every combination of controls you can think of to try to fix the problem yourself. You hand it to one of these smug little Apple people and they disappear with it for 30 seconds and present it back to you fully restored. They won't tell you what they did or what the problem was and you know it won't do you any good to ask.

Finally, my turn came and the girl shot to the back room with my phone and quickly returned with it saying we do indeed have an issue with that home button, so she will have to give me a new phone. I have to sign a disclaimer about all of the data I am going to loose, because I must set this device up as a new one and it cannot be restored from the backup of the old one.

I'm not sure I know the moral to this story, all I know is I have a phone again and it will take me a week to get it running like the old one did. Please don't send cards or money...I think I will be ok.

Monday Night At The Fair

Got a rare opportunity to go out with Kim Monday night as we had no kids. When we were discussing what we should do, she announced "I wanna go see KISS at the fair!" I had to look at her to make sure she was serious. She wasn't sure if she was or not. I am always excited about doing something unusual, so I started the feasibility study. There were tickets available, but when you factored in Fair admission and extras, the costs got prohibitive quick. In my mind, I was already starting to taste Fair food. Kim had already dismissed the idea, since the Fair itself offered no appeal to her. "You haven't thought this through", I told her. "There are all kinds of craft exhibits!"
I convinced her to go and inside, my mouth started watering for the Fair food again.

After we got there, we were thinking about food right away (at least I was). we saw the deep-fried Twinkies and I had to try them. We split one and it was delicious! I mean, why not - Twinkie good, fried batter good, what's not to like? I couldn't see any reason to try deep-fried butter or deep-fried Pepsi, so for that I have no report.

After 'dinner' we hit nearly every exhibit hall and barn available and my feet were killing me. Even though we weren't going to see the concert, we didn't want to leave before it started. We thought maybe we could get a glimpse of the action from the side as we were heading out to our car. Well, a few other people had the same idea, but someone had figured out how to open a gate, that got us a lot closer! If you click on the picture below, you will notice Mr. Simmons um...singing on the jumbo screen on the lower right.

So we got to do the fair and see KISS after all. By the way, I have never been a fan and the show is pretty much what I expected, but it is a sideshow and what would the Fair be without one.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nashville Trip

I spent half of last week in Nashville, Tennessee. I had never spent any time there, only driving through on my way to somewhere else. I would make a point to stop somewhere to hit a drive-through to hear that sweet southern drawl from the girl taking my order (though these days, she sounds suspiciously Hispanic, just like at home). Anyway, this time, I got out of the car and walked around for a couple of days.
I allowed myself to be the googly-eyed tourist, as such, there are a few things you must do. Wednesday night, we went out honky-tonkin'. We got downtown too early for the real action (it was full daylight), so we made a semi-casual browse of 2nd Ave. and the cheesy celebrity -named gift shops. We decided to duck inside the Hard Rock.

As soon as the bartender brought us our drinks, he started to work us over. Kind of felt like being frisked at a traffic stop (not that I have any idea what that's like!). "You guys from out of town?" "Where you from?", "Would you like to be able to take those glasses home?", "Are you going to visit our gift shop?"
We realized this isn't quite what we had in mind, so we left.

We headed up Broadway and found the seedy little dives that I was looking for.

Sure enough, you could hear music pouring out into the street as you walked by. We ducked inside Robert's Western World and listened to several songs performed by a really good band, but I have forgotten the name.

Thursday, I had a few hours on my hands, so I went back downtown to take some photographs. Of course, I had to tour the Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Ol' Opry.

(BTW, not one left-handed instrument in the whole place! Go ahead and cross them off your must-see list, as I have)

It took me a while to put my finger on it, but I am very impressed with Nashville. They have preserved all of the historically significant areas and they are clean and inviting. All around are gleaming high rises that belong together. There are no big eye sores on the city skyline

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Lost Something

I guess you could say I am kind of obsessed with pushing myself to be better, particularly where my photography is concerned. When I am driving, I am listening to podcasts about technique either with the camera and lighting, post production or business and marketing. When I am home I make time to read books along the same lines. Since I made the switch to 100% digital photography, it has been an all consuming immersion into 'catching up' with the technology and current business practices.
Along with the new tools, my creativity has bloomed into areas that I had always wanted to do, but didn't have the resources to explore. Photography is expensive and when you are shooting film, experimentation is a days long process and every click of the shutter cost money. Progress came slow and required you to keep meticulous notes. Today's cameras take all the notes for you (if you care to read them) and the screen on the back immediately tells you if you are getting the results you want.
I find that I am lazy with photography theory now. I fall into the trap of priority programs in the camera and just manipulate the settings I need to for the effect I want. Another way of loosing your camera smarts is shooting the same thing over and over again. You know, that certain portrait set-up you always use to yield F:8 at 1/60th. You can take the lights out of the bag, eyeball their distance to subject and never consider changing the settings on your camera, because you are getting paid and you know this always works.
I recently came across an old issue of Black and White Magazine which seems to really be a catalog of print collections that galleries are hoping to sell. Well the images are stunning and interesting, mainly because they are black and white. Then I started thinking all of these amazing images were made without the benefit of a camera that was more of a 'computer with a lens' than anything else. The people that took these images had to know what they were doing.
So I am missing black and white film. There, I said it.
I performed a little experiment to rekindle the old fires of yesteryear. I can't grab a roll of black and white film and go shoot (actually, I could. You won't believe how much useless darkroom equipment I have in boxes, just in case), that would be stupid given all of the niceties I have grown accustomed to with digital, namely instant results. I put my camera in Manual Mode, which shuts off all of the computers that want to push you around. I set the camera's Picture Control to a setting that emulates contrasty black and white film, put the camera on a tripod outside and composed in the view finder. I used my light meter, a Depth of Field Calculator and used the screen to verify results and evaluate adjustments. I focused manually based on my DOF calculator's reported hyper-focal distance. No need to check focus in the bright sun light, which is impossible to do anyway. Just like in math class, I think you should have to know how to do it the long way before you are allowed to take any short-cuts.
The image above is my pick from the few I shot today. The beautiful thing about shooting in black and white is that it reduces your composition to shape, contrast and texture. It is another way to keep your creativity excited about the next corner you are going to turn. As for me, I have re-acquainted myself with some of the theory and science that I love about this medium and along the way found some of the subtle beauty that has been missing from my work for a long time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wind Farm

Last December, I was driving north on I-65 in heavy fog and snow. Apparently, I don't get out of town very often, because shortly after passing through Lafayette, I was startled at the sight of a huge windmill lumbering around like a 747 cartwheeling out of the sky. It is like 300 feet tall and each of the three blades on it are 125 feet long. Due to the fog and snow, visibility was greatly reduced, but my awe was compounded by the distant sillouettes of many more trailing off in the distance. There must be hundreds of them or more!
I had stumbled on a huge wind farm in northern Indiana and I decided I would have to make a point, in nicer weather, to come back up here and get a better look. Now, if you live in a part of the country where these things are common, forgive me for being so fascinated. Since last December was the first time I had seen anything like this up close, it all seems like science fiction to me and something new that must be documented. I decided the ultimate would be to photograph them in the twilight as the sun is rising. Since I hate the cold, that meant waiting until May. Last week, my son Isaiah and I made the pilgrimage up north.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Headshots for the Unemployed - Redux

Last fall, I did two free photo events to benefit the swelling tide of unemployed folks. I called it Headshots for the Unemployed. I provided them with a professional business portrait they could use on their social networking sites or include with their resume package. As part of the promotion for those events, I was asked to be on the Fox 59 Morning News to talk about what I was doing. As their interview wrapped up, the anchor, in a polite, joking way asked me to come back to give them a progress report. Recently, I remembered that and thought I would poll all of the participants from last fall to see how they are doing.

I was very surprised to learn that after six months, only 35% of them were working anywhere. If you are like me, you are soothed by the media reports that unemployment figures are improving by a micropercent. We go about our day, assured in our optimism that everything is working itself out.

I have no delusions that a free business portrait is part of the solution to the unemployment problem, but I do know that it can be an encouragement to the person that is going through the ordeal. When you are daily trying to whip up the courage to jump out there and sell yourself, what you tend to feel inside is all of your faults and weaknesses screaming at you that you are wasting your time and it is no use. Everyone else is a more desirable candidate, etc. Everything you can do to improve your presentation, gives you that much more confidence and desire to put it out there. I can't give everyone a new suit to wear to an interview, but I can take a great picture of them that will speak for them when their next employer is deciding who their next superstar will be.

To that end, I am going to do it again, but this time it's going to be bigger. I am going to repeat my offer of free professional business portraits to anyone that is unemployed and looking for work. No strings attached. There will be four separate events, all in a different area on four days in May.

May 3 - Greenwood Public Library 1:00pm - 4:00pm
May 10 - New Palestine (Hancock County Library, Sugar Creek Branch) 1:00pm - 4:00pm
May 17 - Fishers Public Library 1:00pm - 4:00pm
May 24 - Brownsburg Public Library 1:00pm - 4:00pm

If you or anyone you know is interested, contact me by email (preferred) or by phone to schedule a time for a portrait.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Race For The Cure

I was able to witness something quite amazing Saturday. I participated in this year's Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure Run/Walk. I got volunteered by my wife, who, in turn, was persuaded by a mutual friend to take up the cause. I was thinking this could be fun and at the least, an opportunity to be there and take some photos, not as an observer, but as a participant.

Now I knew this was a popular cause, but I was not prepared for the number of people that were all involved, in some way. I kept saying over and over,"Would you look at all the people!"

Shortly after we started, I took a photo of the crowd ahead of us, then turned around to snap the crowd behind!

This was a really big, exciting party of sorts. While we were all glad for sunshine, I think everyone would have appreciated it being about 10 degrees warmer. Oh well, it adds to the camaraderie between total strangers. All around were cheering teams with crazy names and home made t-shirts. Some of the younger 'participants' were less enthused.

Every so often, you get close to someone that has been tragically affected by breast cancer and you feel a wave of the serious life and death struggle that is the reason for this gathering.

I can safely say we will be back next year.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Isn't Cereal Cool?

Hello! I have been extremely negligent with my blog of late. These are my excuses:

1). December doesn't count. I am reduced to something similar to the walking dead and I am not responsible for any of my actions or lack of action during that time.

2). Spent all of January gearing up marketing for my new (old) portrait business Pictures of You. While I have been frantically getting the word out about Bill Anderson Photography to everyone I meet and explaining it is a commercial photography business, it never fails that someone will ask about personal portraits. I don't want to send mixed messages to anyone, so I decided the best thing to do is market two separate photography businesses. Bill Anderson Photography for all of my commercial clients and Pictures of You for my retail clients.

3). I got an iPhone for Christmas. This thing peels your attention away from everything else! Suddenly all of your conversations revolve around the new apps you have and what new apps your friends have. Some of my friends have cut me off as they don't have an iPhone and cannot bear any more demonstrations of how cool this phone is. One good thing, everybody knows I am still around due to my almost daily iPhone picture posts to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. Since I had the phone, I had to get Chase Jarvis' Best Camera app so I could become a complete iPhone monkey for all of my friends.

So I'm sitting here typing out all of my excuses and guilt about not keeping the lines of communication flowing and I realize I am not the only one at fault here. Where have YOU been? Are you following my blog? Have you subscribed via the RSS feed? Are you following me on any of the social networking platforms I mentioned before? Have you ever commented on anything I have posted? Few things are as difficult as a one-sided conversation. It would be nice to hear from someone now and then.

There. I have cleared the decks and I am ready to forge ahead. Stay tuned-in and check in with me every now and then. We can all get through this together.