Wednesday, June 29, 2016


The older I get, the more it seems I surround myself with reminders.  Depending on where I am, those reminders can be Post-It notes, things stuck on the fridge with magnets, scraps of paper with unintelligible notes scribbled on them sitting on my desk, etc. But those are not the type of reminders I was thinking of...

This is the coffee mug I use at work.  While it may seem odd that a UCF employee (and alum) would use a University of Florida-related coffee cup, this is (you guessed it) a reminder.  For nearly 12 of the 15 years (so far) I have worked for UCF, I was in the Career Services department.  Since career services departments are not football teams, all 10 state University career centers enjoyed a collaborative, non-competitive relationship. There was a time, several years ago, when we helped the UF Career Center setup their recruitment management software.  It was on that visit to Gainesville when I got this coffee cup.

Okay, blah, blah, blah work, blah blah blah.  What's my point?  Well, this coffee cup from the UF Career Center was given to me by Dr. Wayne Wallace, their director. At the time I took it home, tossed it in the cabinet with the dozen or so other coffee mugs and didn't think much of it. A few years later (which, coincidentally was a few years ago), Wayne passed away after a very brief illness. When I heard of his passing, I dug out the coffee cup and brewed a cup. Turned out that the coffee tasted exactly the same as every other cup of coffee in every other coffee mug, but I enjoyed that cup just a little more.  So, to make a long story even longer, I brought the cup in to use at work. Now, every day I have a cup of coffee and a reminder of a respected colleague who is no longer here.  And, just like the phenomenon that happened at home, I enjoy each cup just a little bit more than if it were in one of the other mugs.

No real point to make today, other than to perhaps suggest that you surround yourself with things that make you smile or mean something to you.  The world can be a dark place sometimes, and things like this can add a little bit of light when it's needed. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fridge Magnets

A few months after my mother passed away, my father gave up traveling.  They were a traveling team, and I guess Dad just didn't want to do it on his own.  That's understandable, as my parents had been road junkies for as long as I can remember.

I still remember visiting Niagara Falls at the age of 3, and driving to Florida when I was 8.  In those days, Disney had ticket books for their rides.  Space Mountain was an E-Ticket, as I recall... Back then I-95 wasn't complete all the way through Florida, and you had to get off the Interstate and drive surface roads in some areas.  We didn't take Interstates all the time anyway, there were lots more interesting things on the back roads of America. If we never got off the Interstate, we never would have gone to Marineland, or Gatorland, or countless other bits of roadside America that are not built next to an exit ramp.

So, after my Dad stopped traveling, I tried to keep his interest in the road alive in different ways.  I'd buy him DVDs about Route 66 and National Parks, and when he started slowing down a bit I would buy him jigsaw puzzles to do, many with location themes.  On the occasions when I would travel somewhere, I started to buy him refrigerator magnets from the places I went, just so he would have a visual reminder of some of the places he and Mom had been (or not been). What else can you bring back for someone who has been damn near everywhere and already has a house full of stuff...

I was down at my Dad's house two weeks ago, packing up some of my stuff that was still there (he passed away in February).  After walking past his refrigerator a few dozen times that day, I decided to take those fridge magnets with me.  Some are at home on my refrigerator, some are now in my office (see photo above).  They are, oddly enough, not a reminder of the road for me, but rather a reminder of a life well lived.  And a man greatly missed...

No photography talk today, sorry.  just a reminder: If you're not having fun while you're out shooting, you're probably doing something wrong.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Is It Yesterday Already?

Yes indeed, here it is June 1st.  Another year going by remarkably quickly, just a little faster than the one before.  And with each passing year I seem to gain more appreciation for something that seemed like punishment as a child: Black & white...

When I was a kid, the family color TV was in the living room, and when I got a TV for my room it was black & white.  I still remember the fun times spent adjusting the rabbit ears antenna to get fuzz out of the picture, only to have it get fuzzy as soon as I let go of the antenna. Ahh, memories.  But I was thinking more about black & white photos when I decided to write this. When I was 10, 15, 20 (hell, maybe 30) years old I didn't understand why people had coffee table books of Ansel Adams photos.  With all of the amazing colors in nature, why would you want to look at it in black & white?

Well, fast forward to adulthood.  Once I started to really look at black & white (and I credit the amazing photography of Clyde Butcher with turning me into a true fan), I began to understand the magic that black & white brings with it.  I always thought one of  the hardest parts of taking photos was getting the color right, so the photo tells an accurate story.  Turns out that color is fairly easy.  Black & white is hard, because you have to use shading and light to tell the story.  A color photo engages your eyes, a black & white photo engages your mind.

I am still a novice with black & white, and I don't know if I'll ever get it right.  But it's fun trying.  And, as I say over and over, photography should be fun.  If you're not having fun when you're out shooting, you're probably doing something wrong.  Happy Black & White Wednesday!