Sunset At The Beach Or Pie For Desert?


Sunset on the beach last night turned out to be pretty nice. Unfortunately if you have come down to enjoy the spectacle or to meditate on the blessings of life, forget it. I am going to put you to work and then tell you exactly when and how you are messing up MY photo. After fifteen minutes my subjects could not take it any more and announced that they were going back to the cottage to eat pie. Did I mention how much I like my Nikon D300 and the new Nikon SB600 flash for balanced fill flash? In this photo everything is on autopilot. That’s not to say that I took all the photos that way because I didn’t. Most were taken on full manual in order to adjust the ambient light and flash against each other. I was doing some off-camera flash in iTTL mode also. There is always more than one way to do things and creativity often dictates alternate approaches but if you are going for a safe shot and working against the setting sun it is nice to know that the camera and flash combination will provide you with a useable exposure without a whole lot of head scratching on the part of the photographer.

Breakfast update: Todd and the Uber-fit gang seem to have been corrupted by the constant smell of bacon wafting over to their compound every morning. No yoga, no jumping jacks, no running in place and no free weights today. Maybe it’s their rest day or something but I like to think that we had something to do with some sort of mutiny over there.

Speaking of super-fitness, I had the worst headache of my life last night and nothing seemed to knock back the pain. I had a cold compress on my head and a hot water bottle on my neck. I started by taking a hot shower in the outdoor shower which usually makes me feel good but no go. I took some ibuprofen and that did nothing for me at least not for about an hour. I can usually ignore a headache if I am doing something but there was no ignoring this one. It’s better today but I am still taking aspirin.

We had pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast. It was the battle of the blueberry cakes verses the chocolate bacon cakes. Yes, there is a commercially available chocolate bar with bacon in it. In the end it was a tie. We started the prep work for tonight’s dinner which is all about skewers on the grill. Jumbo shrimp for the shrimp lovers and chicken for the rest. We don’t exclude anyone here. There are also pepper, onion and tomato skewers to keep the shrimp and chicken company on your plate and some sort of fruit or melon salad to round things out. I went on a bike ride this afternoon so I am all set to chow down this evening. 


Provisioning The Mob

Ten adults can eat a lot in one day. That means another trip to the market to buy the ingredients for tomorrow nights dinner but before I start on that story let me give you an update on Todd and his group of uber-fit house guests. This morning when I got up they were in the backyard doing yoga. Later as we were passing around yet another plate of bacon, they were working out with free weights. They must have worked out for over an hour this morning or about the same amount of time we spent eating. Todd came over late last night to complain about the noise coming from the bunkhouse which takes up half the detached garage and is nearest to their house. Todd says he works for a construction company but I think it’s a cover for his real job with the Secret Service. The whole family drives big black SUVs and I keep thinking I have somehow been transported to an episode of the 24 series. I keep thinking Jack Bower is going to burst in and start screaming orders at me in some effort to save the free world from destruction. Nope, it’s just Todd and the Uber-fits working out again.

Anyway, I drove to Holland with two of my daughters and went to the big super discount store and bought giant bags of shrimp, melons, onions, chips and a mountain of other stuff for tomorrows dinner. Tonight we are having spaghetti and meatballs (you can’t go wrong with that). The girls make their own sauce from scratch. There was a fight last night over some purloined bread but I think everyone is over that now. We also went to the charming fruit stand that my lovely assistant told me about yesterday. I have to admit that it was pretty photogenic but there was a crowd there so I did what I could do in between them.

Later we went down the road to Amsterdam which is a funky ceramic and antique store that has all sorts of cool artifacts sitting around outside. I had a good time just wandering around while the girls went shopping. I almost forgot, we went to Cranes Orchard on the way to Holland and bought a couple of pies for desert along with some apple cider doughnuts. I’m getting plenty to eat on this trip so far. Lots of good photo-ops everywhere you turn. I found a new (to me) neon sign in Holland so that kept me happy. I also found an Imperial 127 camera to add to my pile of photo junk.

Dinner is on the stove and I don’t want to be late.

Summertime Market, fresh produce.
Summertime Market, fresh produce.

Relax, you’re on vacation.

IMG_0100Today’s post is coming to you from the Village of Douglas on the shore of Lake Michigan. The days fly by too fast and run together like watercolor paints. We had a bonfire on the beach last night and stayed up way too late once again. It took me a while to get going this morning even though I was woken up prematurely by some sort of clatter going on in the kitchen. When I got up to investigate, I discovered some banana bread waiting on the counter that was still warm from the oven. Yesterday we had baked eggs with cream (like a souffle), bacon and warm croissants for breakfast. In the afternoon we had home made cookies, again straight from the oven. It’s about food first with this group.

There are some people renting the house next door and they appear to be super fitness freaks. I glanced over there this morning and they were running in place on those small trampolines prior to going on a bike ride which was probably following by a mile swim. When we went to the beach today (or rather when I wandered down there much later than everyone else) there was another family of super fit parents and kids. The kids ranged from about eight years old to maybe fifteen years old. Those kids were running in the water, wave boarding, tossing footballs and about a hundred other activities all at the same time and never paused to take a breath. This afternoon Tod the Uberman came over to chide me for starting the BBQ grill at four in the afternoon. Well, I may not be able to beat him in a marathon but…

The Fruit Loops Of My Labors

I finished my ring flash (fruit loop) project yesterday before going to work for eight hours. I finally made it into bed at 2 in the morning. Up again at 4 to hit the road but it feels more like the road hit me. All the other travelers have arrived safely.

Unfortunately there was no space left to bring any lighting gear on this trip other than my SB600 which got it first scratch somehow from bouncing around in the trunk of the car. It had to happen sometime, so maybe now I can get over worrying about it and just take photos. The first big gouge on a new piece of kit still really hurts.

After dinner I’m walking down to the beach to take some sunset photos, at least if anyone is still standing by then.

Just a note to let you know about my DIY Ring Flash project. There are photos of the project at

I’ll be posting photos of the finished project tomorrow.

Five Minutes Later…

Every time I go over to the offices of Atomic Dust ( I leave after a short interval with my head spinning and the only persistent thought I can muster is that all my efforts up to this point have been meaningless and just plain wrong. This is not to imply that the people who work there and own the company are not the finest and most considerate humans on the planet, they are just worlds ahead of us ordinary mortals when it comes to things like web design, marketing and color coordinating the typeface on your company letterhead.

I don’t even remember why I went over there today but I left with a new web domain, a self-induced headache and a complimentary beverage.

In between waves of information being thrown out like hand grenades, I also had the opportunity to demo the Nikon D90 which for some reason I have never held in my hands before today. It had an 18-200 DX VR lens attached, something else I have constantly heard about but never gotten around to inspecting. I’m into my second Nikon DSLR so the whole thing seems familiar to me though a couple of buttons are in new locations compared to what I am used to . If you are one of those people trying to decide between a D90 and a D300, I can tell you that inside electronics aside, they are two completely different beasts. I’m sure the image quality is neck and neck but the D90 feels a lot different in use than my D-300 which I sometimes refer to as my “Big boy camera.”  The video looks interesting though I quickly found out that you need something better than a discount store tripod if you want vibration free video. So that is my miniscule review… for now anyway. Next time I am over there I will have to sneak the D90 past the bouncer and out the door for a more thorough test.

To And Fro

What’s the matter with me,
I don’t have much to say,
Daylight sneakin’ through the window
And I’m still in this all-night cafe.
Walkin’ to and fro beneath the moon
Out to where the trucks are rollin’ slow,
To sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow.

– Bob Dylan, “Watching The River Flow.”

It’s been a weird week with people and dogs in the hospital. Not much happening photographically this week except for a couple of trips to buy supplies for lighting projects. The new flash should arrive this afternoon so I will be playing with that this weekend and reading the manual online at lunch time. I didn’t win (didn’t expect to) the Orbis ring flash in the Strobist Boot Camp II assignment, so I guess I’ll have to get busy and build my own instead.