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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Jeff and I went to Colorado for a friend’s wedding in Snowmass Village, where it was autumn and the aspen leaves were in their golden prime. Then we spent the next day and a half at Rocky Mountain National Park, where it was winter and the snow crunched under our boots.

When you go to a big, epic place like Colorado, you need to take a big, epic camera. So I brought my Pentax 6×7 and all three lenses, plus a few rolls of Portra 400. Enjoy!

© 2014. Looking westward from Ute Pass Road off of Highway 9 near Arapaho National Forest, Colo. Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.

© 2014. Aspens at Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Wildflowers along the road to Snowmass Village, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colo. Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. Wildflowers along the road to Snowmass Village, Colo. Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

© 2014. View north from Falls Road near West Horseshoe Park in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. View east from Rainbow Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. Tundra Communities Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.

© 2014. View from Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.

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When I went to Houston in May for my grandfather’s funeral, I brought not just my digital camera, but also my Mamiya C220. I shot an entire roll of just family time in the backyard, but this one’s my favorite.

© 2014. Emily with Layla, then almost 20 months old, in Houston.

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When I first made plans to fly to Houston for my grandfather’s funeral, I had no intentions of bringing a camera. When my brother made plans to fly himself, my sister-in-law and my niece to Houston, I packed up my cameras, both digital and film.

As I previously wrote, exploring our childhood home through the eyes of my niece, then almost 20 months, was a lot of fun. Without further ado, I present pictures of the world’s most important toddler:

© 2014. A particularly grueling customs process at IAH put Matt in the depths of despair, but gave Layla some time for a nap.

© 2014. Wide awake, Layla explores one of her favorite things — the stairs — under the watchful eye of my mother. To the right are baby portraits of my younger brother and me. Matt’s baby portrait is out of frame.

© 2014. Mother and child.

© 2014.

© 2014. Jet-lagged.

© 2014. You’d be pretty self-satisfied too, if you’d navigated going down the stairs by yourself not long after waking up.

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Earlier this month, I returned to Houston for my grandfather‘s funeral, but I was hardly the most far-flung traveler: My brother, sister-in-law and almost-20-month-old niece flew in from Italy.

Not since Christmas 2010 had my two brothers and I been together under the same roof, so while we had gathered to pay respects to our grandfather, we had fun being siblings again and exploring our childhood home through the eyes of Layla, who is now a very confident toddler.

Making pictures of a constantly/unpredictably moving target is a lot different from making pictures of a babe who is either being held or lying relatively sill, but it’s also a lot more fun. Unfortunately, editing down pictures of a toddler who is rambunctiously touring her new domain is pretty difficult. How can you say no to this face?

Saturday, May 3, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. Like many other young ones, Layla has been trained to stop what she’s doing and smile at the camera. I think I’ve largely trained her out of that when I’m the one holding the camera, although she’s still pretty intrigued by its buttons. This was the first (and only) time she actually walked right up to me and smiled. I’m okay with that.

…Or to this face?

Friday, May 2, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. EPIC POUT.

Layla isn’t quite ready to put nouns and verbs together to form sentences, but she is very capable of understanding directions and making pout faces. The pictures in this blog post wouldn’t have made the final cut for what I’ll ultimately share, but I take my responsibility as family photographer* very seriously and believe that not sharing these pictures would be akin to committing a serious transgression.

Saturday, May 3, 2014. Layla at 19 months in Houston, Texas.

© 2014. At the breakfast table, with the “Little Mermaid” plate that was my favorite when I was 5 or 6.

14-0503-layla-0861

© 2014. I think my younger brother Geoff made this picture, at Grandma’s house.

Obviously, there will be more Layla pictures to come.

 

* Apparently I was always the family photographer: While looking through photo albums for pictures to submit for my grandfather’s obituary page, my uncle Doug discovered this picture:

A picture of Chris taking a picture of extended family at Uncle Emmo's Sugar Land house in 1994. Friday, May 2, 2014.

A picture of me taking a picture of extended family at my second-uncle Emmo’s house, probably in 1994. I would have been 6 years old. We couldn’t figure out who actually took this photo, unfortunately, nor who the girl on the far right is.

Uncle Doug was very proud of this discovery. I am very excited about this early evidence that I’m better behind the camera than in front of it.

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Grandpa

My grandfather — my father’s father — died earlier this month. Tomorrow, I’m flying to Houston to spend time with family and attend his funeral.

The announcement that was printed in the Southern Chinese Daily News.

The announcement that was printed in the Southern Chinese Daily News.

My grandfather led an enormously productive life (as you can read in his obituary), but my brothers and I mostly got to know him better after he retired in 1997 and settled with my grandmother in a house 10 miles from our own home. A significant language barrier lay between my generation and him, but I knew him as a stern yet benevolent patriarchal figure who was largely content to spend his retirement in peace and to observe us quietly as we grew from rambunctious, bickering kids to generally functioning adults.

Every Sunday night for years, we’d drive over for family dinner. Every Christmas, Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year, my father’s two brothers would fly down and join us for a food-filled celebration. These were rituals that we could count on. At first, as an oblivious, sometimes bratty kid, I resisted particularly the weekly dinners, for which my grandmother often cooked up seven different Chinese dishes from scratch. But over the years, I learned to appreciate these times and, especially once I went to college, my grandmother’s cooking. I therefore made a point of visiting my grandparents every time I was in town during college and afterwards.

13-0210-chinesenewyear-web

The Dunn clan (plus Jeff, minus my younger brother and cousins) on Chinese New Year, Feb. 10, 2013, at my grandparents’ house. Four generations are represented in this picture. This is the last picture I ever took with my grandfather.

My grandfather won’t be present at Jeff’s and my wedding — one reason we booked a Texas venue was so my grandparents could attend — but it’s okay. He served his country for 54 years in three (I think) different countries, and earned his long, quiet retirement. He lived to see one of my generation get married and to meet one of his two great-granddaughters, and he liked Jeff and knew of our engagement.

creepin-web

© 2009 by Jeff Lautenberger. Jeff took a picture of my grandparents at my older brother’s wedding, and I probably intentionally hopped in at the last minute and probably unintentionally became a creeper/photo bomber.

In Chinese culture, it is important to honor your elders, and in addition to attending his funeral and spending time with family, writing this blog is the best way I can honor and remember my grandfather.

Rest in peace, Grandpa.

  • You can read more about my grandfather’s life and see pictures here.

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If you took Yoda (non-combative, original trilogy version), Obi-Wan (mostly Alec Guinness’s version) and Gandalf the Grey (pre-White) and mashed them together, you’d get Grant Kalivoda.

Grant wasn’t an awards-amassing ivory tower type, nor was he a lofty-minded artist, nor was he a Jedi (I think). But he was a whiz at camera, darkroom and printing technology who dreamed of organizing Segway tours of his beloved Santa Fe and who had a hearty appetite for New Mexican food and good conversation. He was the “New Mexico hippie [who] put a medium-format film SLR camera into my hands and told me to have fun” who is mentioned in my biography on this blog.

Grant passed away earlier this week.

Grant Kalivoda, 67, sits for a portrait in his Santa Fe front porch with Gnorm the Gnome on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

© 2013. Grant Kalivoda, 67, sits for a portrait in his Santa Fe front porch with Gnorm the Gnome on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

I’ve mentioned Grant before on this blog, but only once, apparently. Which is absurd now that I think about the extraordinary impact Grant had on my life. So, I now belatedly attempt to correct this oversight.

Rewind to 2006. I had applied for several different summer jobs at Philmont Scout Ranch in northeastern New Mexico and, on a whim, included a CD of pretty craptastic photos I’d taken on my first digital camera, a Canon point-and-shoot. For whatever reason, Philmont offered me a job as a photographer. I accepted, even though I knew nothing about photography and was terrified of learning how to use real cameras and the darkroom.

Enter Grant. Grant, a photo and printing specialist out of Santa Fe, had for years been training Philmont photographers how to use the gigantic Pentax 6×7 cameras, how to develop C-41 film with the Jobo processor, how to use the enlargers and the Kreonite print processor for individual prints and how to use the Noritsu print processors for prints en masse. As the only photographer on staff who’d never manually exposed or developed her own film before, I was at a distinct disadvantage, but Grant treated me just as if I were any of the other photographers. All I needed was a bit more mentorship, which he provided.

Under Grant’s instruction, I didn’t botch up my first-ever roll of film (which I still have), nor any roll of film I shot that summer. I fell in love with film, hard. Being in complete control over every step of the process never ceased to awe me, and I was hooked. I happily lugged the heavy Pentax gear up and down mountains, relished the thudding sound of the heavy shutter and voluntarily spent many late nights developing film and printing.

This said, I was still an awful photographer. I’m not sure that the ranch was able to use most of the pictures I produced for marketing purchases that first summer. But I sure did have fun.

In fact, I had so much fun that when I went to Mizzou that fall, I slammed the brakes on my aspirations of becoming a reporter, and instead worked my tail off to become a photojournalist.

And now here I am.

A photojournalist.

© 2013. This is a control panel from one of two Noritsu printers that was saved and mounted amid the 2007 digital conversion at Philmont News & Photo.

© 2013. These prints, dating from the early 1990s, were ones that Grant Kalivoda used to demonstrate color compensation for the Noritsu printers we used at Philmont News & Service before the 2007 digital conversion.

I came back to Philmont for two more summers: In 2007, I was one of the only returning photographers from 2006 to help transition the department from film to digital, and in 2008, I headed the ranch’s weekly staff newsletter. Grant provided training during both those summers, albeit at a diminished frequency compared to 2006. Still, I loved seeing my old friend whenever he made the drive from Santa Fe, and was greatly reassured that he was only a phone call away.

When Jeff and I made Santa Fe our destination for our 2010 spring break road trip, I made sure we saw Grant. It only made sense to introduce two of the most important people in my life to each other, and of course it was great to see Grant again. We met up for green chile burgers at the now-defunct Bobcat Bite and ended the night at Grant’s house, where we ate ice cream and played dominoes.

© 2010. Santa Fe from afar, coming up north on I-25, on March 31, 2010. Kodak Portra, 35mm, not sure which ASA.

After that trip, my contact with Grant was limited to a few emails here and there. I’d occasionally catch a recurring mountain fever, but finances and time kept me from making another trip to my beloved Sangre de Cristo mountains. Then, last spring, a friend contacted me with news that Grant had Parkinson’s and arthritis and wasn’t doing too well.

That changed everything.

Three months after I emailed Grant to check up on him and one month after he replied, I was on a plane to New Mexico. I stayed three days in the Land of Enchantment; the only times I wasn’t with Grant and his girlfriend Charlotte were when I took a quick driving tour of Santa Fe and made a half-day trip up to Philmont. But we spent two days eating lots of good food, taking driving tours, sharing old memories and puttering around their home on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Usually when I make trips, I produce lists of things to do and eat, and every day is planned out to the max. But this trip, I had no agenda except to be with Grant and Charlotte. I don’t think Grant ever believed me on that — several times, he tried to guess why I really came from Pennsylvania to New Mexico — but my earlier revelation that Grant might not be immortal made me realize I wanted to share more time with him.

Earlier this month, I got mountain fever again and started babbling to Jeff about booking another trip to Santa Fe. This trip, I’d want to make a few hikes, but seeing Grant and Charlotte was definitely at the top of my list, too. Unfortunately, a few hours after I got off a 12-hour overnight shift today, I received word that Grant wasn’t immortal after all.

© 2013. Grant Kalivoda and Charlotte Schaaf stand in their Santa Fe, N.M., backyard, “American Gothic”-style in late June 2013.

Lessons I learned from Grant Kalivoda, many of which he may not have known he taught me:

  • Slow down. (Still learning this one.)
  • Knowing more than others doesn’t necessarily make you better, and often it just makes you lazy.
  • Never stop tinkering. Never stop learning. Never stop wondering. And have fun in the meantime.
  • You’ll enjoy things a lot more if you slow down and appreciate them. Unless it’s ice cream we’re talking about.
  • It ain’t broke until fixing it just makes it worse.
  • Anything can be repurposed.
  • Taking the time to enjoy a meal (slowly) with friends, sans phones and other distractions, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The thing is, I’m just one of countless people who learned from Grant and became a better person for it. I have no clue how many summers he helped train Philmont’s photo department, and he also had a sizable presence in the Santa Fe community. The man’s influence was and is far-reaching. He helped me realize where I wanted to take my career, and I’m positive I’m not the only one who so benefited from his instruction, patience and kindness.

The Philmont and Santa Fe communities owe much to Grant Kalivoda, whether or not they realize it. For myself, I’m learning that there’s never enough time in the world to spend with those who matter most to you, but I’m no less grateful for the time that we did share.

Rest in peace, Grant. You are dearly missed.

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Thanks to warehouses and shipping and other forces beyond my control, I won’t get to send Christmas presents to my brother, sister-in-law and niece in time for Christmas. So, Matt, Emily and Layla, here are some analog photos from Italy (and a bonus frame) as an early Christmas present to make up for the belatedness of your package!

© 2013. Layla rides a turtle? dinosaur? something? in a playscape near the Pozzuoli harbor.

© 2013. Emily and Layla along the river Tiber in Rome. This frame looks like I applied an Instagram filter, but this is real film, y’all.

© 2013. You can sit on ancient pillars inside il Colosseo. I think my mom might’ve had something over the lens, on the righthand side of the frame.

© 2013. Family photo in Montepulciano.

© 2013. Along the Pozzuoli harbor.

© 2013. At this point, I was trying to use up the rest of the roll of film, and Emily and Layla happily obliged.

Aaand now for a bonus frame — the last frame on the roll, which I took during one of three snowfalls we had in a week back in York:

© 2013. We bought this bottle at the Maker’s distillery back in May, and I got to dip it in the wax. Jeff finally opened it to make bourbon balls, but before he did, I insisted on making this frame. Check that dynamic range!

And thus concludes my blog posts of photos I made while in Italy.

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Sunday, it snowed a few inches and then melted down a bit. Today, it snowed another six inches on top of what we already had, so after I shoveled out three cars and then some, and after Jeff helped a neighbor shovel her driveway, we took snow pictures. I might have made us wait 20 minutes for the sun to come back out so we could get this shot of me:

© 2013.

© 2013.

The snow picture pertains to my Italian vacation and Il Duomo di Firenze (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower, which is topped with Brunelleschi’s Dome) because there, I too waited a while for good light.

Like, an hour.

Here’s what happened. Best sister-in-law ever, aka Emily, and I left Matt and my mom in  Galleria degli Uffizi so we could climb il Campanile di Giotto in time for sunset pictures of il Duomo di FirenzeThe sky was pouring rain on us the whole way from Uffizi to il Campanile, and it was still coming down when, 414 steps later, we reached the top of the bell tower. But we’d come so far, so we stepped out into the rain anyway, at which point another man in the room thrust his open umbrella at us, which we obviously accepted.

This is what il Duomo and the rest of Florence looked like under heavy rain:

© 2013. Il Duomo di Firenze, under heavy rainfall, as seen from Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower) on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.

Emily, who has never known me to be without a camera, graciously accepted that we would be waiting at the top of the bell tower, just to wait and see if the sky would ever break up and if the light would ever improve. So we kept baby Layla occupied and checked outside every now and again. When the rain stopped, we stepped back out. The sky was definitely clearing up in the west, but I still waited. Finally, just over an hour after I’d taken the photo above, the sunset cast an amazing orange glow over the city, and quality of light was almost Rembrandt-esque.

So, here’s my best Duomo shot:

© 2013. Only minimally toned in post-production.

Moral of the story: Real photographers wait for good light. (Unless, of course, you have two or three other assignments to complete and can’t afford to linger.) And, the quality of light can truly make or break a photo. Just take another look at that rainy-sky Duomo photo.

Thank you, best sister-in-law ever, for understanding this and being patient.

© 2013. Il Duomo from the ground, in less-good light.

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When my mom and I visited my brother and his family in Naples, Italy, Matt and Emily made sure we saw the sights. For one thing, I’m pretty allergic to cats, and Emily wanted to minimize my exposure to their cat by getting us out of the apartment as frequently as possible. For another, we were in Italy — and who knows when or if we’ll be back?

So the photos below — a mix of landscapes, food and cute baby — are largely in chronological order of our travels around southern Italy and then our four-day excursion to Rome and Florence. Enjoy!

Costiera Amalfitana

Our first outing took us along the Amalfi Coast, where the views and seafood are ample.

© 2013. Can you tell where the sky and Mediterranean meet? View of the Amalfi Coast from an overlook near Ristorante L’Incanto in Furore.

© 2013. Matt’s platter of fried fishes, squids and shrimp at Ristorante L’Incanto in Furore.

Matt and Emily generally feed Layla “real people” food. She’s not allowed extremely salty things like prosciutto, but she can handle Indian food and a variety of other cuisines, and Emily always cuts up small samples of the meal for Layla to eat. So, nobody was surprised when Layla grabbed one of the lightly fried sardines that Matt left on his platter…

© 2013. Layla reaches for the fried fishes remaining on Matt’s platter.

…but everyone — including Layla herself — was surprised when she ate the tail end of the fish:

© 2013. What happens when a 14-month-old eats the tail end of a lightly fried sardine.

Onwards and eastwards down the coast. We stopped in Vietri sul Mare, a hamlet known for its ceramics. It also has a pretty nice view:

© 2013. View from a metered parking area overlook in Vietri sul Mare.

…and we discovered that Layla, who previously hated gelato for its frigidity, is okay with it as long as she’s holding the spoon:

© 2013. Chocolate gelato tastes even better if it’s all over your face.

Napoli

It’s easier to say Matt and Emily live in Naples, but they’re a bit removed from the city itself. Anyway, Emily took my mom and me into downtown Naples to check out some old churches (including Chiesa del Gesù Nuovo di Napoli and Museo Cappella Sansevero) and, of course, eat true Neapolitan pizza.

We learned that verace pizza napoletana (“true Neapolitan pizza”) is taken pretty seriously. There’s even a sort of governing body that inspects and approves pizzerias that produce verace pizza napoletana. Matt was a big fan of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele — until he found out that that’s where Julia Roberts ate pizza in the movie Eat Pray Love. (Awful movie.) Since then, his loyalty lies with Pizzeria di Matteo (whose website includes an entire section about Bill Clinton’s visit there), where Emily took us:

© 2013. Pizza con funghi (mushroom pizza).

It was pretty tasty.

Roma

Matt and Emily spent their fourth wedding anniversary in Rome… with their baby and the in-laws.

© 2013. Il Colosseo by night.

And then the restaurant where we ate dinner (I had carbonara) had a pretty teeny bathroom, so Emily had to change Layla’s diaper in a dark alley between parked Vespas. Typical.

© 2013. Oh, the indignity.

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Ciao bambina (Napoli)

Nine months ago, we all got to meet my baby niece Layla. A few months later, I was lamenting to a coworker about how fast the baby was growing, and how her living in Italy makes it hard for me to be a doting aunt. My coworker immediately chided me for not applying for my passport, booking flights and getting my butt over to Italy, because after all, Layla’s not exactly getting any younger.

So, two weeks ago, my mother and I flew to Naples, where my brother Matt and his family live, for a 10-day trip that would be my first-ever journey abroad. We explored Naples, had a four-day excursion to Rome and Florence, ate a lot and played with the baby. And I made a lot of pictures.

© 2013.

The pictures in this blog post (which is the first of at least three to come) show home life in Naples — or, Napoli. But first, the obligatory travel photo:

© 2013. First light over the Atlantic as we flew from Houston (IAH) to Frankfurt (FRA).

I never wanted to be that person who traveled abroad and returned home with all sorts of snooty attitudes about food, culture, etc., but let’s be real: You really cannot beat super-fresh mozzarella di bufala.

© 2013. A home-made charcuterie board at Matt and Emily’s apartment was our first meal in Italy. Clockwise from the top: Olives, fresh basil, freshly sliced prosciutto, cut tomatoes, olive oil and mozzarella di bufala.

Baby moped:

© 2013. Emily put Layla on a pint-sized moped in a Pozzuoli park.

Real moped:

© 2013. Matt on his Vespa. Behind him are his landlady, who lives downstairs from his apartment, and one of the many stray cats she feeds.

And now for some scenes at home:

© 2013. Emily takes Layla for a walk around the neighborhood above Pozzuoli.

© 2013. Layla pushes against the door screen to watch Matt as he sits on the terrace.

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So, I guess I like rubber duckies, because this happened in July:

© 2013. At the 25th annual Rubber Duckie Race in Lancaster County Central Park in July 2013. Kodak Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

…And this happened in October:

© 2013. My best attempt at “duck lips.” Rubber Duck art installation in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park. Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2013. Jeff’s best attempt at “duck lips.”

It was our first trip to Pittsburgh, and honestly, we went for the duck. We did do other Pittsburgh things, though. We toured the Strip District, dined in an old-person Italian restaurant in Bloomberg, saw Andrew Carnegie’s dinosaur skeletons, nixed a few sketchy hotels in sketchy areas and rode an incline:

© 2013. View of Rubber Duck art installation in Pittsburgh’s Point State Park from the Duquesne Incline. Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

But let’s be real: It was mostly about the duck.

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T-rex jack o’ lantern

Today, I carved my first-ever pumpkin. Granted, my parents bought us pumpkins when I was probably six or seven, and I remember we scooped out pumpkin guts in our patio, but I’m pretty sure my mom handled the knife work. Which means, I’ve never carved a pumpkin. Until today.

Normally, I wouldn’t blog these sorts of shenanigans, except…

  1. I’m really proud of my pumpkin,
  2. I used all three of my prime lenses in documenting my pumpkin and
  3. Jeff and I went to some ridiculous measures to light up my pumpkin for the final shot.

So, here we go!

Taken with my 28/2.8. First, I had Jeff print out the “Jurassic Park” logo. Then, using my light table and a Sharpie, I traced it onto another sheet of paper and simplified some of the details, like the teeth. Jeff helped me tape and tack the pattern onto my beautiful pumpkin, which we picked at Barefoot Farm in Dover.

Using a weird pick tool (not sure why we have it), I punched small holes along the outlines. Then, once I removed the pattern, I used the same pick to create the lines via the holes. The hardest part was not the teeth, but actually the letters.

And voila!

Taken with my 100/2 lens on our deck. Because the pattern is so intricate, I figured it’d be easier to do a relief carving, rather than actually carving through the flesh and meat.

But as we all know, the only thing that matters is how good your pumpkin looks when it’s lit up. So… voila!

Taken with my 50/1.4. This is on our kitchen floor. A couple of tea lights are inside the pumpkin. My Boy Scout headlamp is on the floor behind the pumpkin, and Jeff held up his iPad (on a lower brightness setting) and used the iPad fold-over case as a gobo. Yeah. That happened.

So, uh, yeah.

I promise I’ll have some more, uh, professional photos up soon. And some film, once I pick it up tomorrow and get it scanned over the next few days.

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Five years ago, Bill Eppridge visited my university. He and his wife Adrienne had some time to visit with students, so I hastily threw together a portfolio for them to review. I was terrified and convinced that they’d tear it apart — Bill being a venerable visual journalist and Adrienne being a venerable visual editor — but they were completely kind and supportive in their criticism and suggestions.

Looking back now, I’m guessing they recognized that I didn’t really know what I was doing, and that prodding me along would be more productive than tearing me apart. (Related: I’ll never forget the only written comment that former Columbia Daily Tribune photo editor Gerik provided after reviewing my exit portfolio in May 2010: “Could be a newspaper photographer someday.”) I’ve since made conscious efforts, every time I’m in a position to encourage or review work with a younger photographer, to be just as considerate and supportive as Bill and Adrienne were to me.

. . .

I’ve just learned that Bill has died. His legacy includes a number of iconic images made in times of peace and war, and I’m certain he inspired and helped young photojournalists who are far more successful than I. But for my part, I’ll never forget the gentle, compassionate critique he and his wife gave me five years ago in the Missouri photo lab. My next portfolio iteration was much more restrained and well-edited enough to land me an internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the following summer, and I’m convinced that Bill and Adrienne gave me just the right push to get my internship applications rolling.

(With a wink in Adrienne’s direction, Bill also told me that the best advice he could ever give a young photographer is to marry a good editor. I’d like to think Jeff and I have edited each other’s work fairly thoroughly in our almost-five years together.)

Just for fun, I’m opening myself up to potential embarrassment by posting what I believe is the portfolio that I showed Bill and Adrienne on that Oct. 2009 evening:

Sgt. Curtis Webb moves forward to reinforce the line formation during the 1140th Military Police Company's riot control training on April 15, 2007. The company, which is a local division of the Missour National Guard, practiced blocks and movement patterns using wooden bats.

Sgt. Curtis Webb moves forward to reinforce the line formation during the 1140th Military Police Company’s riot control training on April 15, 2007. The company, which is a local division of the Missour National Guard, practiced blocks and movement patterns using wooden bats.

Columbia City Clerk Sheela Amin swears re-elected mayor Darwin Hindman into office on April 9, 2007. Winning more than 70 percent of the vote, Hindman won a record fifth term.

Columbia City Clerk Sheela Amin swears re-elected mayor Darwin Hindman into office on April 9, 2007. Winning more than 70 percent of the vote, Hindman won a record fifth term.

Oklahoma State junior shortstop Jordy Mercer slides home during the series finale against the Tigers on April 6, 2007, in Taylor Stadium. Mercer scored three runs in the game, which the Sooners won 8-6.

Oklahoma State junior shortstop Jordy Mercer slides home during the series finale against the Tigers on April 6, 2007, in Taylor Stadium. Mercer scored three runs in the game, which the Sooners won 8-6.

(No cutline, apparently, but this was from the first-ever Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Mo.)

(No cutline, apparently, but this was from the first-ever Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Mo.)

Andrea Molina and Maria delCarmen Reguera dance the flamenco during the Multicultural Dance Expo's opening act on March 19, 2007, at Memorial Union. Other dances featured at the expo highlighted Mexican, Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Andrea Molina and Maria delCarmen Reguera dance the flamenco during the Multicultural Dance Expo’s opening act on March 19, 2007, at Memorial Union. Other dances featured at the expo highlighted Mexican, Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Robert Ray places a rattlesnake's still-beating heart on his hand after skinning the snake in front of a small audience on April April 26, 2008, in Mangum, Okla., during the 43rd Annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby. Ray, a Mangum native who now resides in Oklahoma City, has been butchering rattlesnakes at the derby for 32 years.

Robert Ray places a rattlesnake’s still-beating heart on his hand after skinning the snake in front of a small audience on April April 26, 2008, in Mangum, Okla., during the 43rd Annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby. Ray, a Mangum native who now resides in Oklahoma City, has been butchering rattlesnakes at the derby for 32 years.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., concludes her speech to more than 5,000 supporters on Jan. 19, 2008, in the McCluer North High School gym in Florissant, Mo. Clinton had just won the Nevada primary and was beginning her campaign in Missouri and the other Super Tuesday states.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., concludes her speech to more than 5,000 supporters on Jan. 19, 2008, in the McCluer North High School gym in Florissant, Mo. Clinton had just won the Nevada primary and was beginning her campaign in Missouri and the other Super Tuesday states.

Elton John acknowledges the audience's screams and applause after making his entrance on Oct. 5, 2007, in Mizzou Arena. During an encore, John wore a headband with tiger ears, which a Missouri fan gave him in anticipation of the Tigers' football game against Nebraska on Oct. 6.

Elton John acknowledges the audience’s screams and applause after making his entrance on Oct. 5, 2007, in Mizzou Arena. During an encore, John wore a headband with tiger ears, which a Missouri fan gave him in anticipation of the Tigers’ football game against Nebraska on Oct. 6.

Missouri guard Kassie Drew scans the court to pass the ball away from Nebraska guard Ashly Ford's block during the game's second half on Jan. 20, 2007, at Mizzou Arena. The loss was the Tigers' fifth in conference play.

Missouri guard Kassie Drew scans the court to pass the ball away from Nebraska guard Ashly Ford’s block during the game’s second half on Jan. 20, 2007, at Mizzou Arena. The loss was the Tigers’ fifth in conference play.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reads aloud a quote he always carries with him, on Feb. 1, 2008, in the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The quote, by George Washington in 1789, reads, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars and how they were treated and appreciated by their nation."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reads aloud a quote he always carries with him, on Feb. 1, 2008, in the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The quote, by George Washington in 1789, reads, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars and how they were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

A man holds up a sign to cheer on participants in the Disney World Marathon near Mile 2 on Jan. 13, 2008. The marathon course began and ended in Epcot, and went through each of the theme parks in the Disney World complex.

A man holds up a sign to cheer on participants in the Disney World Marathon near Mile 2 on Jan. 13, 2008. The marathon course began and ended in Epcot, and went through each of the theme parks in the Disney World complex.

Then-Missouri House of Representatives Minority Floor Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, waits to be recognized by House Speaker Rod Jetton during the House's morning session on April 17, 2007, in Jefferson City. Harris has since resigned from his position as Minority Floor Leader to concentrate on his campaign for Attorney General.

Then-Missouri House of Representatives Minority Floor Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, waits to be recognized by House Speaker Rod Jetton during the House’s morning session on April 17, 2007, in Jefferson City. Harris has since resigned from his position as Minority Floor Leader to concentrate on his campaign for Attorney General.

IndyGround LLC hip-hop artist Bustrip freestyles a song and a beat on March 5, 2007, at the Sapphire Lounge. Hailing from Tulsa, Okla., Bustrip has joined forces with seven other rappers to form a new record label in Columbia.

IndyGround LLC hip-hop artist Bustrip freestyles a song and a beat on March 5, 2007, at the Sapphire Lounge. Hailing from Tulsa, Okla., Bustrip has joined forces with seven other rappers to form a new record label in Columbia.

Byron Carlisle awaits instruction during swim practice in the Student Recreation Complex on Nov. 9, 2006. Carlisle, who is a competitive swimmer on the University of Missouri swim team, was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia in the fourth grade.

Byron Carlisle awaits instruction during swim practice in the Student Recreation Complex on Nov. 9, 2006. Carlisle, who is a competitive swimmer on the University of Missouri swim team, was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia in the fourth grade.

Missouri forward Leo Lyons tries to hold onto the ball as Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush grab at Lyons' forearm during the game's second half on Jan. 15, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers attempted a failed three-point play in the game's final 11 seconds and lost 80-77 to the Jayhawks.

Missouri forward Leo Lyons tries to hold onto the ball as Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush grab at Lyons’ forearm during the game’s second half on Jan. 15, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers attempted a failed three-point play in the game’s final 11 seconds and lost 80-77 to the Jayhawks.

Rest in peace, Bill, and thank you again.

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Last week, Jeff, his brother Mike and I found a T-rex skull at the National Zoo. Much to the joy of a nearby 17-year-old girl whose mother insisted she was too old to pose with the skull, I insisted that Jeff take this photo of Mike and me:

© 2013. Um, yeah, I’m 25. And a half. Pentax 6×7, Kodak Portra 400.

Today, while on assignment at a 30-attraction fun park in southern York County, I discovered that owner Hugh is a kindred spirit when I asked him to hop on top of an incomplete tire-saurus for a picture and he immediately struck a dinosaur pose without my prompting him:

© 2013 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Maize Quest Fun Park owner Hugh McPherson stands atop a “tire-saurus” whose head has yet to be mounted on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. The tire-saurus and a nearby sea serpent — also made of tires — are the latest additions to the 30 attractions at the park, and need to be completed within the next two days before opening day. McPherson opened the park with the original corn maze 17 years ago, and has added another attraction or two every year. DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS – CHRIS DUNN

KINDRED SPIRITS, I’M TELLING YOU.

(Read more about the Maize Quest Fun Park here.)

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Jeff was burrowing around last week and found three rolls of undeveloped 35mm film in a cookie tin. (There were several unexposed rolls in there as well.) So I took them to get developed. One is a Fuji roll he shot during our 2010 spring break trip to the Santa Fe region of New Mexico; another Fuji roll is from his Dec. 2009 visit to Houston.

The Ilford XP2 Super roll is from our Feb. 2012 trip to New York City — a trip whose digital pictures I never blogged, and whose film frames I never saw ’til now.

Along the lines of an earlier post about how I had a bad habit of wasting film, I was pretty disenchanted with the frames on that black-and-white roll: Too many frames where I shot something just for the sake of depressing that shutter button and advancing the film. Like I wrote before, I’m working now to make pictures, with film, that mean something to me, which typically means they need to be of people I care about. That roll from New York City is a good reminder of what I as a photographer should never do again.

But here’re two frames that I do like from that roll. Obviously, I shot one and Jeff shot the other. Can you tell who shot which?

© 2012. This was shot on 400 ASA Ilford XP2 Super, so you can imagine what the shutter speed was.

© 2012.

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Earlier this month, I finally bought my dream camera, and I’m going to use it to cure myself.

. . .

For seven months now, I’ve been dealing with a struggle.

It’s not a daily gloom, nor is it definitive, long-term or easily explained. Additionally, “dealing with” is the best way I can characterize what I’ve been doing — largely because I can neither face it head-on nor avoid it, largely because I don’t know what it is.

It’s not a rut or cabin fever. I’m still passionate about what I do as a photojournalist, and I’m proud of some of the recent work I’ve done.

It’s probably related somehow to my experiences in Newtown, but I’m not sure how or why.

It’s not impacting my ability to function as a human or as a photojournalist, although I’m sure that my boyfriend would appreciate it if I helped out more with chores, as I once did.

I can’t diagnose it because I don’t know what it is, where it came from or why it’s affecting me, but I’ve recently decided that the best prescription is to care a little harder.

. . .

I think, in this age of Instagram, Facebook and quick-and-easy photo-taking/-sharing, we don’t care as much about the pictures we make. We snap a shot, share it, move on. By the end of the week, we’ve shared two or a dozen more photos, and we don’t even remember what we photographed two weeks ago.

On a related note: I love my job. We are trained to transmit photos almost as soon as we make them, in certain cases (mostly breaking news and sports). It’s fun and fast-paced, and I think it’s a neat step forward that we’re able to do. But because I work for a daily newspaper, I can have anywhere from one to four assignments in a day, which adds up to a lot after any given period of time. People ask me what I did this week, and I have to explain to them that I honestly can’t remember because every day has blurred into an indistinguishable continuum.

So, I have recently found myself pretty anxious to take a very large, deliberate step back from the immediacy that everyone else supplies and demands. (At least, for personal work.) Therefore, I’m returning to my roots, which means film. I first learned real photography at a summer job in New Mexico, where a hippie named Grant put a 6-pound, medium-format Pentax in my hands and taught me the entire process. To make frames on such a tank of a camera — and to develop the film, use enlargers and make prints, all in the same day — was incredibly empowering, and magical. I fell in love.

Last month, I went to Santa Fe to see Grant again and spend time with him. (I don’t think he ever believed that I made the trip just for him, but it’s true, Grant.) It was only a three-day trip, but it was peaceful, and in my heart, New Mexico is home. As I used my Mamiya (no Pentax yet) to make a picture of Grant and his Charlotte in their backyard, I knew I’d found a cure, or at least a relief, for my struggle.

I’m going to return to film, and make pictures that mean something to me. I can’t tell you how many rolls I’ve wasted on shots “just because,” and how many of those frames are just languishing in my binder because they ultimately are of no value to me. So I’m going to care harder about my personal photography, and it’s going to be film, and it’s going to be something that I will treasure 20, 30, 40 years down the road.

I’m starting now, with a few frames from a few rolls I got developed after my New Mexico trip. These were all taken with the Mamiya, but expect to see a lot of work coming from the Pentax from now on.

© 2013. Let’s start with Grant, who here strikes an “American Gothic”-esque pose with his Charlotte in their Santa Fe backyard in late June 2013. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Grant and his guidance, patience and warmth.

© 2012. An accidental double-exposure during a Special Olympics event at Blue Knob State Park in February 2012. This frame features two Jeff’s, and two Mike’s (Jeff’s younger brother).

© 2011. When Jeff moved in with a family in Broken Arrow, Okla., for the duration of his Tulsa World internship, they brought home a cat for him. I named her Oreo, and finally met her when I visited Jeff in October 2011.

© 2011. The Blue Whale of Catoosa, because who doesn’t love a Route 66 roadside attraction?

© 2012. I went back to Houston for a few days in August 2012, and Dad happened to match up his authentic Hawaiian shirt perfectly with his Crocs. So, this happened.

© 2012. My mom took this of Jeff and me on the morning we left Houston to drive back to York. Notice the brand-new boots.

© 2013. Step aside, Prince George Alexander Louis. Baby Layla is the only baby that matters. Family portrait with Matt, Emily and Layla, then 6ish months old, in my parents’ Houston backyard in February 2013.

© 2013. Can you tell this is May in Missouri? Chelsea and I were college roommates, and this visit was the first time we’d seen each other since senior year.

© 2013. I went up to Philmont Scout Ranch, where Grant first taught me in 2006, for a day. This is Bryan outside the News & Photo building, and he’s holding a printer that I took back for Grant. Bryan and I worked together at Philmont in 2008, and he’s now the ranch’s marketing director.

Every single one of these frames means something to me.

Is that something any given person can say about any given photo they’ve taken recently?

Probably not.

But it’s something I want to be able to say, honestly, about all of my personal work from now on.

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Hello baby

Hello baby.

© 2013.

Everybody, meet Layla. She’s the five-month-old daughter of my brother Matt and his wife Emily, and as the first member of my family’s newest generation, she’s a big deal.

© 2013. Matt, Emily and Layla in my family’s Houston backyard.

Jeff and I flew down to Houston last weekend for Chinese New Year, and Matt and Emily brought the baby for everyone to meet.

© 2013. My grandma greets Layla, held by Matt, during dim sum on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

© 2013. My uncle Doug – who declares himself to be not a “great-uncle,” but rather a “great uncle” – holds Layla, who is apparently laughing at/with my uncle Dave (whom Doug says is a “grand uncle.”)

© 2013. Wherein Matt offers a fish eyeball (held between the chopsticks) to Layla. Needless to say, Emily would not allow him to actually feed it to her, so he happily ate it instead. Eating fish eyeballs is, um, a fairly male Dunn thing.

In case you were wondering — yes, I have a lot of photos from the five days we spent in Houston. Like I’ve said, Layla is kind of a big deal. Plus, this is the first, last and only time I’ll have had with her as a baby. Because an ocean separates Matt’s family from me, the next time I see Layla, she’ll be crawling if not walking, probably talking and definitely showing more personality.

So yes, I made a lot of pictures, and this post reflects a few of my favorite moments from our trip.

(more…)

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