The Greatest Generation Is Passing

Recently I was going through some old RAW files in my “To Be Processed” folder and ran across this shot from five years ago when our son Lucas interviewed Capt Arnold Nass for a school project. I sat in and photographed the captain as he described flying his B-24 over the beach at Normandy on D Day. He said he could have hit the German machine-gun emplacements on the cliff, but his assignment was to blow the rail lines inland to halt Nazi reinforcements. He went on to serve as a flight instructor and then had a career in oil & gas. He passed in 2013 at 93 years. We’re losing some great Americans.

Captain Arnold Nass


Children are so open, with such mercurial expressions, that sometimes it’s better to just shoot video. You won’t hang it on the wall, of course. With the iPhone, there’s another option, and that’s actually holding the shutter button down to capture a series of photos.

That’s what I did recently when I visited our grandson, Jack, at his daycare during recess. We were sitting under a huge bull pine and I was teaching him how to use pine needles as mini-helicopters when he began to exclaim about the size of the tree we were sitting under. This whole sequence took less than five seconds, and you can see how his facial expressions changed.

Semi-Spontaneous Portraits

Brooke & Jody McClosky

For the past few years, my walk-around camera has been a Fuji XT1. It is mirrorless, so lighter and more compact than my Canon 5D’s. It isn’t fast, though, and I use it mainly for scenics and posed photos. It’s not good at capturing our dog or our grandson in motion, but when I see something interesting along the road, I hit the shoulder and pull it out. Or, when I am in a closing with a real estate client, I like to grab a shot for Facebook. Last Friday, I went to Jacksonville to close with two people I like a lot…a young couple I’d helped find their first home. Now, with two little girls, they are moving home to Rusk and selling their home in Bullard. We closed in the old formal dining room of the John Wesley Love home, now an office for East Texas Title. So I posed them in front of the big bay window overlooking the old orchard that had made the Love’s wealthy (he was known as “The Peach King”) and again in front of the massive chandelier.

Vegetable Study

Andrea had just made turkey chowder, a family favorite using a Greenberg smoked bird, and I was cleaning the kitchen when I noticed this interesting geometric pattern formed by the celery stalk she had discarded. I experimented with various backgrounds, then brought this into editing software and experimented first with color and then black-and-white versions, which I wound up taking to finish.

Event Photography: Fall Festival

I’ve never pretended to be an event photographer. I know some very good ones, some who have created profitable businesses chronicling conventions, sales meetings, wedding receptions, rodeos, etc. However, a couple of times a year our neighborhood puts on events and I show up with my camera to get some snapshots. I can handle the more static stuff…adults visiting and food prep, but kids moving fast present big challenges. I’ve shot this event a half-dozen times before and so have some general idea of how to approach it, but in retrospect I missed a lot. Ah well, there’s always the Spring Picnic next year.

The Camera Most Often Carried

How often have you seen something you felt worthy of a picture but, darn it, you didn’t have your camera. If you haven’t, then you’re an unusual person.

For those who carry a smart phone, you might be surprised by the level of imagery coming out of these ubiquitous devices. My wife, Andrea, like to stalk flowers in our garden with her iPhone and post them on her Facebook page. Kent Barker, a wonderful photographer who has posted some of his abstract iPhone images on his Facebook page, recently posted a link to Emil Pakarklis’s video on iPhone photography tips. It’s over-long (almost 28 minutes), but I watched it and learned some things I didn’t know. Last night I received a follow-up, the winners of his most recent iPhone Photo Academy contest winners. I really had no idea an iPhone could deliver images like these.

Shot and edited with iPhone. Photo by Elina Mitsova

Shot and edited with iPhone. Photo by Elina Mitsova.

Unplanned Portrait

Jack Panagl and Big Board at Country Place Lake

Jack Panagl and Big Board at Country Place Lake

I ran across this young fella yesterday while out fishing. He was sitting on the lake bridge looking out on the water. I felt a certain sympatico with someone who appreciated the view enough to sit and admire it so I stopped and introduced myself to 14-year-old Jack Panagl. I found out he and his family are neighbors on Oak Meadow Circle, that he’s lived here about a year and goes to Whitehouse Middle School (not Jesuit). He rides this big board down the hill on Lakeshore (but only about half of it…he’s not nuts). Jack’s not sure of what he wants to be when he grows up, and he doesn’t “dislike” fishing (damning with faint praise). I told him about my 10.5 pound bass, hoping to motivate him, but am not sure he shared my excitement.

I don’t normally ask strangers for portraits, but this teen was generous enough to give me a couple of minutes to act as my model against one of my favorite backdrops. My best to Jack and his family.

Thanksgiving With The Fam-i-ly

Robert Earl Keen would have felt right at home. Mom had baked her mother’s signature pies, caramel and vinegar (as well as pumpkin and cherry), and made dressing and giblet gravy. Little sister Denice and Richard provided the venue, as well as the turkey and ham. My queen provided the string beans and cranberry salad. Dave brought our nieces, Cambridge and Riley (who spent most of the afternoon sequestered in a distant room playing Minecraft). Monica came, as well, as did our boys, Leo with Scherrie and Lucas solo. Niece Kelsey came late to the party. Lunch was lovely and we put together a 42 table. It had been many years since I’d played but it was a hoot, with Monica and Denice beating Mom and I the first two games, then we won the last two. I snapped shots of niece Cambridge playing with Winston, Denice’s standard poodle, who proved to be very patient. Kelsey posed for a couple of headshots against the backdrop of Hollytree’s golf course and then it was time for one more piece of pie and the Cowboys vs the Panthers. There were no raised voices today, no hurt feelings. I think we are all grateful for this period of peace and good health.

The Future of Cameras?

CanonFTMy first serious camera was a Canon FT. With the 55-135mm lens, it weighed in at about three pounds. In the years since I have carried both Nikons and Canons. Today my go-to camera is a Canon 5D Mark III, and with the 24-105mm lens, it’s a lot of weight to hang around your neck at more than four pounds. I do carry a Fujifilm X-T1 on my nature hikes. It’s a mirrorless camera and so is a bit smaller, at 2.25 pounds. With both the 5D and the X-T1, I download all the images to my desktop Mac Pro and post-process the raw files in Lightroom, Photoshop and On1.

Meanwhile, I also carry an iPhone 6 Plus, which weighs about a half-pound. Lately I have been shooting with the iPhone, experimenting with the built-in camera there, using Camera, Camera! and Camera+ then post-processing in the iPhone with PS Express. The photos from my phone are actually fine for web use, and most of my photography is seen on the web.


I’ve seen a lot of changes in photo gear since I purchased that first Canon SLR in 1967, and we are about to see even more…smaller, lighter cameras capable of shooting macro and telephoto. The mirrorless cameras are a big step in that direction, and we are about to see another major breakthrough with the Light 16, a camera that can shoot 52mb files, zoom from 35mm to 150mm, and will have 128GB of onboard storage. It appears to be about the size of my iPhone 6 Plus.

You can learn more about the camera and see sample images here.

“The Light 16 Camera is the first multi-aperture computational camera. The L16 makes it easy for anyone to take DSLR-quality images, and is small and light enough to fit in your pocket. Light’s technology combines folded optics with sophisticated computational imaging algorithms to deliver the highest quality images from the smallest possible device.”


B&W Challenge: Fog Horses

This photograph was taken in the early 80’s, shortly after I moved back to Texas from Hollywood. I was on a fishing trip, it was very early, and I saw these horses standing almost motionless in the fog. I stopped, rested my camera across the roof of my Scirocco and shot three frames. These slides were kept in a storage facility for twenty years without the benefit of climate control and the color shifted so much that a transition to black-and-white was almost painless.12-81_Buffalo_FogHorses_372