Love Battles

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A few weeks ago, I was in Arlington National Cemetery, and I stumbled across a simple, painted stone resting atop a headstone. I could not help but wonder who left it. A mother? A father? A wife? A sibling? A child? Or a friend?

Out of respect, I try very hard never to share a picture with a visible name on the headstone. This particular photograph, I took in Section 60 which is in the southeast part of the cemetery, and is the burial ground for military personnel killed in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

I was moved by its simple beauty and the message it conveyed. I think Neruda’s poem best describes how this photograph makes me feel.

Section 60

And because Love battles

And because love battles
not only in its burning agricultures
but also in the mouth of men and women,
I will finish off by taking the path away
to those who between my chest and your fragrance
want to interpose their obscure plant.

About me, nothing worse
they will tell you, my love,
than what I told you.

I lived in the prairies
before I got to know you
and I did not wait love but I was
laying in wait for and I jumped on the rose.

What more can they tell you?
I am neither good nor bad but a man,
and they will then associate the danger
of my life, which you know
and which with your passion you shared.

And good, this danger
is danger of love, of complete love
for all life,
for all lives,
and if this love brings us
the death and the prisons,
I am sure that your big eyes,
as when I kiss them,
will then close with pride,
into double pride, love,
with your pride and my pride.

But to my ears they will come before
to wear down the tour
of the sweet and hard love which binds us,
and they will say: “The one
you love,
is not a woman for you,
Why do you love her? I think
you could find one more beautiful,
more serious, more deep,
more other, you understand me, look how she’s light,
and what a head she has,
and look at how she dresses,
and etcetera and etcetera”.

And I in these lines say:
Like this I want you, love,
love, Like this I love you,
as you dress
and how your hair lifts up
and how your mouth smiles,
light as the water
of the spring upon the pure stones,
Like this I love you, beloved.

To bread I do not ask to teach me
but only not to lack during every day of life.
I don’t know anything about light, from where
it comes nor where it goes,
I only want the light to light up,
I do not ask to the night
explanations,
I wait for it and it envelops me,
And so you, bread and light
And shadow are.

You came to my life
with what you were bringing,
made
of light and bread and shadow I expected you,
and Like this I need you,
Like this I love you,
and to those who want to hear tomorrow
that which I will not tell them, let them read it here,
and let them back off today because it is early
for these arguments.

Tomorrow we will only give them
a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf
which will fall on the earth
like if it had been made by our lips
like a kiss which falls
from our invincible heights
to show the fire and the tenderness
of a true love.

Pablo Neruda

Hitched!

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Last Saturday, my baby sister married the man of her dreams. My older sister (she hates when I call her that) was also present, and I finally met her husband. After finally meeting him and watching my baby sister’s ceremony, I am content in knowing that my sisters are happy, secure, and most importantly… LOVED. I finally have brothers.

The wedding was to be held outdoors in Morven Park, Leesburg, Virginia. However, severe thunderstorms and 60 to 70 mph winds forced us to have the ceremony in Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis’ mansion. The reception was to be held in a white tent outside; however it was moved to a horse and carriage museum — which was beautiful!

As a groomsman, I wasn’t able to photograph the ceremony, so I entrusted my brother-in-law with my camera, and he did a fantastic job! Unsure of the lighting, I set my camera on shutter-priority of 1/250 second, an ISO of 6400, and let him go. He got some great shots.

After the ceremony, I piggy-backed on the wedding photographer and captured a few shots. I am not good at posing people, and she did a great job. It is very difficult to coordinate large groups of people for shots. I prefer candid shots, so I just wandered around before it was my turn to BE photographed.

Later that evening, I broke out my camera. I even turned my camera over to my friend Ben, who is also a photographer. I wanted to record some video, and I knew he was a competent photographer.

So, here are some shots from my sister’s special day:

Our homemade signs survived the storms. (Photo by David and editing by me).

Photo by David (my brother-in-law) and editing by me.

They were preparing for a formal photo but they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. (Photo by me).

Margot — the groom’s niece was one of two flower girls. (Photo by me).

Aubrey was one of two flower girls, she LOVED the lion statues. You can see the rain drops streaking in the background. (Photo by me).

Margot — one of two flower girls. They LOVED their dresses… I was getting dizzy just watching them spin around. (Photo by me).

My sister…. she was very happy! Married the man of dreams, country music was playing, and she has a beer. (Photo by me).

One of my sister’s friends. My sister has beautiful friends! (Photo by me).

Photo by Ben and editing by me.

One Lovely Blog Award

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Thank you Kip’s Thoughts for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award. I am grateful and humbled by the nomination, especially considering there are so many GREAT writers, artists, and eccentric people brave enough to share their work with the world.

My blog certainly has evolved, and continues to evolve. In the beginning, I was embarrassed about sharing my poetry, writing, thoughts, and photography. However, with the support of complete strangers, I am sharing it all now! Thank you!

According to the rules, I must display the award on my page, thank my nominator and link back to their page, tell 7 things about myself, and nominate 15 other deserving bloggers for the award.

Seven Things About Myself

  1. My profession is Principal Software Engineer. I’ve been an engineer for over twenty years, and I love designing and building things. I specialize in the security of operating systems (such as multilevel security (MLS)) .
  2. I started writing software structural C when I was sixteen years old, when I bought a Lattice C compiler for my Amiga. Some kids spent their money on taking girls out on dates… not me.
  3. I am an avid reader, and I prefer printed books — not this electronic stuff. I love the classics, poetry, philosophy, history, and I even have a handful of books about calligraphy and type (another geeky passion). I don’t read those “Kiss-Handsome-Boy” books like Fifty Shades of Gray.
  4. I’ve never been married, nor do I have children. However, I LOVE kids. Perhaps, because I can relate to them. I am anxiously awaiting my baby sister to consummate her marriage in order to provide me with a niece or nephew which I can spoil. 😉
  5. I am married to Amazon.com, but Friday is my mistress.
  6. I hate talking on the phone, so much so I let voice mail pick up most incoming calls.  This sometimes infuriates my family and friends.
  7. I do not have a college degree, but I would not be where I am today if wasn’t for the experiences afforded to me by many great people who saw potential in me. Nonetheless, the road would have been easier had I completed a degree. One day, I will pursue a degree in literature… maybe, if it doesn’t cut into my beer-drinking time.

My Fifteen Nominations

In no particular order, here are the blogs I love to visit. Often, I am left scratching my head (Kip), contemplating a different point of view, or simply inspired.

  1. Kip’s Thoughts – Better have your coffee in hand and an open mind. Kip always posts something thought-provoking.
  2. Sometimes I like to write – There is something pure and honest about Carole’s photography and writing. The way she shares the world around her gives me that warm-fuzzy feeling.
  3. Love Hate Music – I LOVE music, and Erin brings it to life. Her writing, and photographs of bands are energizing.
  4. Photo By Holly – Holly, a second generation photographer, is simply awesome. Her photographs bring you into her world. Often focused on nature and family, her photographs are inspiring.
  5. Iced Tea with Lemon – Karen is an awesome writer. A hippie chick living in the beautiful Ozark mountains, she provides a glimpse into her world.
  6. Leanne Cole’s Photography – Leanne’s work is amazing — so vibrant and alive.
  7. These Are The Days – Kate is an amazing photographer. She loves her family and the outdoors, and her photographs reflect it. Her photographs make me want to get off my fat butt and get outdoors more, or start a family!
  8. Texas Tweeties – Bob is an amazing photographer, and is considered an expert when it comes to birds. If you love birds, you will LOVE his blog.
  9. 1500 Saturdays… – Helen is an amazing photographer, too. I really like how open she is when it comes to sharing the world around her.
  10. The Dark End of the Street – Chloe is a creative writer and artist. Her street-style photography is awesome. I hate labeling anyone’s work by placing them into a genre. Nonetheless, check out her blog — it might open your mind up to a world you’ve never experienced.
  11. Abe Pacana Photography Blog – Abe’s photography is amazing. Not only does he have a fantastic eye for composition, his amazing technical skills in both capturing a photograph and post-processing it are matched.
  12. Inspired Vision – Cecelia’s photography and writing are awesome. She is another one of those photographers whose passion for nature, family, and life are clearly visible in her work. Her posts always make me smile.
  13. Chloe Sutcliffe | Photography – Chloe is an amazing photographer from the land-down-under.
  14. Muchin with Munchkin – Wow! I wish I could cook! Kris is my dream girl: beautiful and can bake! Sometimes, in lieu of cash payments for photography work, I ask they make me something from her website!
  15. Nick Exposed – Nick never ceases to amaze me with his creativity. Boring and cliché are not words which describe Nick.

B&W Photography – The Right Toning

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This is my second post on the topic of toning black-and-white photographs. In the first post, I introduced the concept of toning black-and-white photographs and provided some examples. Toning a photograph in the print stage can alter the mood. Of course, selecting the right toner is the artist’s preference; nonetheless, it should be chosen carefully.

In this post, I want to focus on the subject of the photograph and how toning can alter the mood. But first, one should ask, “Does the color of this toning complement the subject matter?” Does it, for example, make sense to apply a sepia tone to a photograph of some drunken idiot on a cell phone in a bar? Or should sepia be reserved for something a bit more traditional? Something which has a more vintage feel?

I like to categorize toning by the colors they provide. Historically, the resultant color wasn’t planned, but rather a manifestation of the archival process. In other words, no one set out to create a warmer tone by applying a dark-brown-gray color (sepia). Instead, they chose chemicals to convert the metallic silver in the print to a sulfide compound, which is much more resistant to the effects of environmental pollutants such as atmospheric sulfur compounds. The conversion to the sulfide compound resulted in a sepia tone. However, with today’s technology we can choose our toning based on our color preference not our archival needs.

My first category include the browns and reds — those that invoke a subtle, warm feeling. The ones I would place in this category would be sepia, coffee, and copper.  My preference is to apply these tones to photographs with an Earthy feel such as brick, metal, rock, and aging architecture. In particular, I think metals such as black painted iron, rusting metal, and the likes lend itself well to such toning.

The second category includes the cooler ones in the blueish to silver range. These might include blue, selenium, and cyanotype. I find it interesting that cyanotype has its roots in engineering — the blueprint. In the typical procedure to create a blueprint, equal volumes of an 8.1% solution of potassium ferricyanide and a 20% solution of ferric ammonium citrate are mixed. Upon exposure to ultraviolet light (such as that in sunlight), the iron in the unexposed areas will reduce, turning the paper a steel-grey-blue color.

I tend to apply cooler tones to sunsets, water, and metals such as chrome, brushed and polished steel. I sometimes apply these tones to photographs of sculptures or white marble structures.

Lastly, I would group the yellowish ones such as ambrotype. In my opinion, these tones suit subjects such as sunrises, floral scenes, and some portraits. Portraits of fair-skinned and blonde-haired people tend to look nice with these tones. Conversely, brunettes might look better with the darker tones such as sepia.

Again, these are NOT rules but rather my personal preference and taste. There is no such thing as the “right” toning.

NOTE: Please don’t steal my work — see my copyright notice below. If you’re a charitable organization or an educational institution, and you’d like to use any of my images, send me a message. But please, ask me first. Thank you. If you do decide to purchase a print, all purchases will benefit the Friends of the Wounded Veterans.

I chose a coffee tone because I liked the warmth it brought to the red brick building and the contrast of the tree branches.

Even though this is a snow-covered awning and we were trained as little kids to stay away from yellow snow, I think the yellowish tone makes the brickwork and signs pop.

Copper toning

Cherry Blossom Tree

My beautiful friend Patty looks mysterious with the vignette and tone. I also kept some selective coloring on her lips and eyes.

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A gift at a baby shower.

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Convention Center

Untitled

Louis Window

Louis Vuitton window.

Silence and Respect

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I recently visited Arlington National Cemetery — our nation’s most hallowed ground. Every visit is a humbling experience, and this last one was no exception. The soldiers of The Old Guard (3d U.S. Infantry Regiment) never cease to amaze me. I am awestruck by their impeccable appearance and performance, which is rooted in their dedication and professionalism.

Usually, I have lots to say and tend to ramble on. However, in this post I am going to cheat by simply sharing a quote a by one of my favorite photographers and let my images speak for me. I will not provide any insight as to what they are or how they make me feel. If you’re brave enough, please comment on this post and share your feelings.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. — Ansel Adams

NOTE: Please don’t steal my work — see my copyright notice below. If you’re a charitable organization or an educational institution, and you’d like to use any of my images, send me a message. But please, ask me first. Thank you. If you do decide to purchase a print, all purchases will benefit the Friends of the Wounded Veterans. Please, check out my galleries of The Old Guard.