Her First Father’s Day

What a special day.

I was able to meet up with Aaron, Brittney and Madilynn on Father’s Day, June 21, 2015 at Lamar Park in SW Grand Rapids.

Madilynn was reaching her sixth month of seeing this big old world with her mom and dad.

With some help from a friend and Madilynn’s noisy toys, we were able to get some great expressions from her.

It was also Aaron’s first Father’s Day. :)

Here are some of our favorites from the photo shoot hosted on my flickr page.

-Dan

Up or Down?

Landscape or Portrait? Telling Your Story in Photos.

While visiting my mom and sister one evening, sis mentioned that she had been making dog biscuits for her dogs. She only has two of them but they’re big enough to eat for six being German Shepherd, Husky, and Rottweiler mix. So she makes them herself to save money. She’s got a couple of cats too but that’s a different story.

I used to think of my sister as Ellie May from the Beverly Hillbillies if any of you remember that show and her love for critters.

Home baked dog biscuits.
Close-up photo of a batch of dog biscuits that my sister makes.

While taking some close-up photos of her freshly baked dog biscuits, my mom said “Let me take your picture Dan.” So I smiled for her to take my photo.

Photo of me horizontal and dead centered. Photo by my mom.
Mom’s awesome son. Doing the traditional adding 20 pounds pose.

I noticed how she was holding her camera and suggested that she turn her camera upright and put my head toward the top and try it again since I was standing upright.

Mom taking my photo with her camera.
Mom turned her camera upright to take my photo after I asked her to try it again and put my head toward the top.

So she obliged and took another one.

Photo of me by my mom after turning her camera upright.
I suggested that mom rotate her camera upright since I was standing upright.
Good job mom. What a handsome son you have. I even noticed that you are bracing both of your arms against your body for stability.
Later as they were looking at her photos on her camera, I started taking photos of them looking at the photos and I had to remind myself to rotate my camera to capture the subject.
Mom and sister looking at something that the picture doesn't show.
Mom and sister looking at what? I don’t know. The picture doesn’t tell the story. How about if I rotate the camera like I suggested to her?

As a horizontal, I could only see them and not what they were looking at. They could have been dissecting a frog or playing cards for all anyone could tell.

Every picture tells a story right?

Some of these photos don’t tell the story as clear if the entire subject isn’t in the frame.

I was sitting on a couch opposite them and had a fixed length lens on so I couldn’t move back any further. Simply rotating the camera tells the story more completely.

Mom and sister looking at photos that she had taken with her camera.
Telling the story more completely. After turning MY camera upright, I am able to tell the story more clearly.
I am aware that many people are using cell phone cameras now and they are more naturally shooting vertical photos of vertical subjects because of how the phone is held.
I thought I’d just mention this in passing to think before you shoot. Or in this case, re-shoot after if you can because you ARE taking photos to tell a story aren’t you?
Mom and sister giving a smile to me.
Mom and sister giving a smile to me.

Marinara, Pizza Sauce, Gravy.

Here’s a savory sauce that I make once in a while. I can make as much or as little as I want. This takes as little as a half hour to make but needs continuous attention on the stove top so it doesn’t scorch. The longer you cook it the sweeter it gets. My mom used to cook it on the stove top for up to six hours. I still have her recipe and others in my files. Another one that I have is from Madonna’s step-mother Joan who has some nice marinara that I enjoyed with her a couple of years ago up at Ciccone’s near Traverse City during an LPVA wine touring weekend but that’s another story.
Start to finish in 30 minutes. Pizza bread made on stove top from diced tomatoes and bread.
Time lapse, five photos. 30 Minutes to make tomato sauce and toast with cheese melted on top.

The smallest amount that I make is with one can of diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste. This makes about two cups of sauce and the leftovers (if you have any) can also be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen in a ziplock bag if you want to reheat it later in a sauce pan or add to a new batch.

Modify your marinara / pizza sauce / gravy to taste with different amounts of garlic and onion after you try it this way.  Sometimes I add cooked, drained ground beef or Italian sausage, homemade Italian sausage and ground beef meatballs that I bake myself, or sliced and cooked Italian sausage links.
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Recipe for the sauce (The smallest amount that I make:)
Two Tablespoons of Olive oil.
One 12 oz can of diced tomatoes. I will use three freshly chopped tomatoes if I have them.
One 6 oz can of tomato paste.
A tablespoon of dried Italian herbs. Fresh, finely minced basil will enhance this if you have it.
Salt and a bit of black or white pepper to taste. Take it easy on the salt and pepper.
One or two bay leaves (do NOT eat the bay leaves though or you’ll slice your throat and insides.)
Cook on LOW, stirring about every ten minutes. Stick around the kitchen and pay attention or you’re going to be sticking around a lot longer trying to get scorched sauce out of your pan. I also recommend a spatter screen on top or you’re going to have a lot of red spots on your stove top and clothes or face. I use a stainless steel stick blender by Cuisinart to liquefy the sauce to hasten the cooking process.
If you cook this for a long time, have a cup of water handy and a bit more olive oil because it will thicken and keep cooking down add a little of each as necessary so it doesn’t thicken too much. If it goes brown, you went too long.
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Garlic butter for toast: Place a half stick of butter in a ceramic or glass dish on your stove top with a bit of garlic powder in it when you start cooking and it will be melted by the time you need it on the griddle. You can apply it with a basting brush or just pour some on the griddle and place the bread in the hot butter.

Bread / pasta options: I use French bread, sliced Jimmy John’s Day old, or other medium sized bread sliced to make toast. I and my family have also used small flour tortillas toasted slightly with olive oil or garlic butter (a teaspoon of garlic powder mixed with a half stick of butter) on a griddle or 9 inch saute pan. Makes for some super thin crust pizza.

For pasta, get a 4-5 quart pot or pan of boiling water and add your pasta and cook about 8-10 minutes and strain and rinse in your sink with cold water to stop the cooking process and you won’t have sticky pasta. You don’t have to cool it completely, just stop it from cooking by getting the boiling water off of it.
Topping options:

Finely shredded Mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, onions, small diced tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.

DEJ_6345lrCookware: I can’t emphasize enough that you have to use low heat / flame for both making your sauce and toast.

8 – 10 inch skillet or sauce pan. Cast iron or stainless steel. I do not use or recommend non-stick pans. Teflon is not a healthy option in my opinion.
8-10 inch griddle or comal, or a two burner griddle for toast.
Stainless steel stick blender for using in hot liquids.
Bamboo, wood, or stainless steel utensils. I have used silicone spatulas and tongs. The spatulas work well for scraping the sides of the sauce pans.
Keeping this from scorching in cast iron or stainless steel is worth the effort. I have done my sauce on stove top with a 9 inch cast iron skillet with great results. I have cooked the ground beef and minced onions in cast iron, drained on a paper towel and let it set for a half hour while I began the sauce and added it right back into the pan after the tomatoes were cooked down.
I use a cast iron griddle on low flame for making the toast also. Using a clear glass lid to place over the bread will help to melt any cheese topping by bringing the steam on top. Again, this is where you need to pay attention to what you are doing so STBTO (Shut the boob-tube off) and enjoy some music. After toasting your bread in a drizzle of olive oil and / or garlic butter, top it with your sauce with a spoon or small ladle, shut off your flame under your griddle, add toppings and cover for five more minutes while getting your serving dish or plates ready.
Recap abbreviated directions with more notes, tips:
On low heat, place diced tomatoes and tomato paste in pan with spices and olive oil and stir frequently for 30 minutes. If your bread isn’t sliced or cheese isn’t shredded, this will give you something to do while the tomatoes cook down. if you have a large griddle (two burner) you can make almost all of your toast at once. The smaller the griddle, the more work you have cut out for yourself. You can begin toasting your bread with a light drizzle of olive oil or garlic butter. If your butter browns quickly as it melts, your griddle is too hot. Once you’ve made your toast and spread on the sauce, add the cheese and any other toppings you desire and cover for a few more minutes for the cheese to melt. I use a stainless steel stick blender by Cuisinart and liquefy the diced tomatoes to about 90 percent sauce and leave a few chunks in there. I’ve used minced garlic but isn’t appealing to the eye so I stick with garlic powder.
Quickest time pan to plate: 30-45 minutes. If you consider this compared to cooking a TV dinner with their fresh conveyor belt taste, you’ll be eating better and enjoying the flavors a lot more while doing something creative. Why don’t I normally use Barilla, Prego, etc? Because I enjoy taking time to cook and I know what’s in my food. Plus I have something to take photos of. :c )
Serve with salad, black seedless grapes, grape juice, red wine.

Mmm Donuts…

I like donuts but…

I think I need to reconsider my joy of eating them very often.

I belong to a photographer’s group at flickr.com called Macro Mondays. Each Monday we have a suggested theme to follow to help pique our interest in macro photography. I’ve been a member of this group since March 2008 and have posted an image or two almost every week since then. On Tuesday, they post the suggested theme and we have the rest of the week to come up with something.

Six months ago, they posted a weekly a theme called “diptych.” A diptych is a single photo created from two images.

As I was shopping at my local grocery store, I came across some colorful donuts and the idea hit me. I chose a pair of pink and blue frosted donuts and bagged them up and brought them home to take a few photos to compile my diptych.

Here’s the original photo linked from flickr.com:

Boy or Girl Donuts

I like taking photos of food and was planning to eat this food after I took the photos but I wasn’t hungry at the time so I put them back in their plastic bag for another day. Well, after one or two days, I thought differently and decided to set them aside for a future photo. I like taking ‘before and after’ photos for comparison and decided to save these for a while to see if they get moldy or go bad.

Six months have passed since then and I took the donuts out of the dark corner of the shelf where they have set and I took a peek in the bag for mold or rotting and they were only slightly discolored from the sugar sprnkles merging with the frosting. They weren’t as hard as hockey pucks and no, I didn’t taste them but I did re-plate them and shot new photos for an updated diptych six months later. I’m guessing the sugar and oil that they were fried in helped to preserve them like McDonald’s french fries that you might find under your car seat that have been there for months.

Here are my six month old donuts…

Two donuts that are six months old.
These two donuts are six months old with no signs of mold.

Not much difference is there?

It kind of changed my desire for eating donuts on a regular basis and I am debating on putting them back on the shelf for another six months for a follow up photograph. I promise I won’t try it with beef or chicken. That would just be sick and twisted.

Sticky Situation


Sticky Situation

Originally uploaded by photoshoparama – Dan

Sometimes I just have to get these things out of my head.

This photo illustration came from a previous location I was residing at. I was visualizing a hostage situation so I added the rope to the image but then it started looking like I was going to hang myself. That’s out of the question. I’m glad to be here but know I could go at any time.

Enjoy life. I am.

-Dan

So I just got untied and have had a chance to do something with it.

What do you think?

Via Flickr:
We have ways to make you talk.

Moonlit Watering in the Acidic Garden

Have you considered that all of these trees around us are our neighbors and they’re keeping our air clean?

Can you identify ten different trees in your area? Five? Two? A maple leaf is pretty easy. What about the three lobed leaves that are similar to a maple?

Pine trees (evergreens) were most likely used in the framing that is holding the roof and possibly the floor together wherever you are sitting right now unless you are in a cave, school, or a high rise building.

I’m not suggesting that we all start hugging trees but we could try to be as aware of our environment as we are of football, movies, or video games.

This was a six second exposure in full moonlight but the moonlight did not show on the top of the frame as I was hoping. I took only one shot while I was holding an LED flashlight in one hand and a spray nozzle set on ‘shower’ so this was only illuminated with a small flashlight seen swirling around as I was weaving in between these three evergreens.

I wonder how this would have turned out if I didn’t use a flashlight? Black? Probably so. Must mean that you need light to take a photograph.

It’s been a very long time since I did tree identification (7th or 8th grade) and it was about this time of year when I got that assignment. I remember that I had to do it pretty fast since it was September and the leaves were changing and falling off of the deciduous trees and I had to collect at least 20 good leaf specimens for a good grade. I’m a little rusty on this since it was ages ago. Time to set aside some study time and refresh my memory on tree identification.

Keep learning.

It’s a Wrap.


Furrowed

Originally uploaded by photoshoparama – Dan

This past weekend can be pretty much summed up by this photo of a field of sunflowers blowing in the wind. Fast, colorful, and fun with some adventure ahead.

I toured the central and eastern peninsulas of the Traverse City area, visited a few of their wineries, and ended up cruising with friends for a while on Torch Lake. These sunflowers were near Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Personally, I think I ate too many times but the meals were excellent.

Thank you to Dale DeVries for being a great host, tour guide, and actually a pretty good captain of the yet to be named boat we were safely cruising in.

A great weekend with friends is now in the record books.

Via Flickr:
A very windy afternoon blew us by this sunflower field in Northern Michigan near Elk Rapids, Michigan.

Reorganization


Reorganization

Originally uploaded by photoshoparama – Dan

Hey Crew, I’ve called this meeting to discuss the current state of affairs in the company. To be brief. We’re moving up.   :c )

I’ll need your cooperation to make this work.

I’ve been very busy in the workings of this and other stresses and it appears I’ve lost some weight. I’ve been wanting to get into smaller sized clothes…

The green walls that I dared not paint. Are going bye bye. The 7′ 3″ inch ceiling is staying here. New heights are available. New viewpoints and lighting opportunities. Happening this week.

-Dan

Action Shot


Action Shot
Originally uploaded by photoshoparama – Dan

A few days ago I went up to Manistee for a couple of nights.

I took these on the day that I headed out of town and away from the concrete for a while. I’ve been fortunate to have some family property available to visit and stay at since 1967. Only about two hours away from the grind. Plenty of Michigan sights in between home and there to pull the car over for a few minutes to memorialize with a camera.

So, what’s with the gerbil on the wheel? For me it is the money shot. After about 30 other exposures I got this. When I was done with this shoot, I packed and left the concrete jungle for a few days.

It was good and refreshing.

Yes, the problems in my life are still here but I am refreshed and ready to take the problems on.

I’ll try to trickle out a few photos that I took along the way in the next few days.

Mom

My Mom stopped by a few days ago and I got her to relax in my studio. You’re doing pretty well for a woman just over 50 mom. :c ) If any of you know her, don’t forget her birthday is March 19. That’s just a few days away. Contact me if you need her mailing address to send her a card.

She Brought Me into this world...
Hey Mom, I love you!

I’ve been busy sorting papers and crunching numbers for the tax man.

I’m  working on the tutorials that I mentioned in my last post. My class went well, I’ve done and am scheduling one on one tutorials for Lightroom also.

I am networking a lot and building a diversified sales team.

Time flies when you are having fun.

The best part? The days are getting longer.