Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Farmers market, 224/365

Most of the locals around Des Moines are familiar with the huge farmers market, held every Saturday morning during the summer.  But, a second, smaller farmers market debuted today, just west of the Pappa John Pavillion.  I took a quick walk down the street to see what the vendors had to offer today.  This first picture caught my eye, because of the hands in the shot.  Also, I did feel obligated to support the farmers market by trying some baked goods myself.  The gooey cinnamon rolls were excellent.  And finally, a picture of Noelle tonight, just because I took it.  Now, back to my homework...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meals from the Heartland, 241/365

It's time for the annual Meals from the Heartland mass packaging event in Des Moines.  They plan to package 6 million meals this year.  If you've never helped, it's really a great thing to be a part of.  We take for granted how lucky we are to have plenty of food to eat.  It's hard to even imagine parts of the world where kids are starving to death.  I took this picture this afternoon to show everything that is prepared for the 12,000 volunteers already signed up to start packaging meals tomorrow through September 3rd.  But, there are still shifts open, if you can help.  I personally guarantee that you will walk away feeling good about yourself afterwards.  You can find more information or sign up for a shift at their website:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bike ride, 240/365

A co-worker told me about a trail that ends at a park in Des Moines, which I have never explored before.  So, I took my running clothes and ran it over lunch today.  It isn't too far, 38 minutes round trip, including a stop at the drinking fountain in the park.  Unfortunately, I can not carry a camera when I am running, so I had to get a picture for the day after work.  We took the kids for a bike ride after supper.  I snapped this shot of Matt riding ahead on the way home.  Also, before I even got to the steps to come inside after work, I could spell fresh baked cookies.  Kim made Gum Drop Cookies, Grandma Reiling's recipe, of course.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Velvetleaf, 239/365

We were a small group for dining after church today.  Rachael spent the weekend with a friend, and Noelle had a youth choir music retreat/pizza party following 10:00 Mass.  So, Kim and I took Matt and Claire out to lunch while we waited for Noelle.  But, we were back together as a whole family again by early afternoon.  Tonight, I went for a walk with Kim after supper.  It was so quiet and peaceful outside, I hated to end the walk.  Back on the bike trail, I found this velvetleaf, nicely backlit by the low, evening sun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bugs, 238/365

An ant was not the subject I had in mind today.  I was pulling some weeks out in the back yard this afternoon and noticed a nice, colorful striped caterpillar dining on a milkweed.  So, I got the macro lens out and took a few shots.  Unfortunately, he wasn't a very good model, I just didn't care for the end results.  However, while I was out there, there were a couple ants crawling around on the leaves as well.  This one was pretty fast, but I squeezed of a shot of him that I like a lot better.  But, that's life, sometimes you go in search of one thing, but instead, find an unexpected treasure.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fire station, 237/365

The United Way kick off event was over lunch time today at work.  They had hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and soda.  You can't complain about a free lunch.  So, I didn't have time to go exploring in Des Moines on my lunch break.  Instead, I walked across the street from my office and grabbed this shot of the fire station.  They had most of the doors open, so the trucks were visible.  There's something about firefighters that everyone loves.  It's the selfless willingness to help others and sacrifice for the greater good.  And what child hasn't dreamed of being a firefighter?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to school, 236/365

No, I am not talking about my kids, although they are my favorite subject.  It's back to school for me starting tonight.  I am taking a communications class in Des Moines, through the University of Iowa.  I guess I'll have to start cheering for the Hawks now.  Just kidding.  But, seriously, it's been almost 20 years since I got out of college at Briar Cliff.  To say that I'm a little nervous about this venture would be an understatement.  I worked out sufficient study skills back when I got my B.A.  Live is much more complicated now.  I've got a wonderful family, whom I would prefer to spend my free time with, and of course a career and other obligations.  But, it's something that I've been putting off for far too long.  It's time to further my education and do something about this darned complacency.  Never stop learning.

In trying to get my things together this morning, I somehow forgot to bring a camera with me today.  I know, it's more likely that I would forget to put on shoes before going to work, but it happened.  So, I had to make due with a camera phone today.  I thought this was interesting graffiti of an apple.  The apple has been fully eaten, and it does not appear to be very happy about it...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cathedral, 235/365

There are some days that I find something to photograph that really speaks to me.  For example, yesterday's picture of the mannequin.  The subject matter really isn't all that exciting.  Yet the composition worked.  I knew before I even pushed the shutter button, that was going to be my picture.  Today, on the other hand, I walked around and nothing jumped out at me.  If I can't come up with a dramatic composition, then I'll at least shoot a dramatic subject.  

Many of you know that I love old churches and cathedrals.  I never pass up the opportunity to see some of the magnificent religious architecture when I travel.  Some of my favorites are in Spain, which I will have the opportunity to visit again next summer, and Mexico.  While our culture in the U.S. is relatively young in comparison, we do have some pretty nice churches here as well.  Here is the view when entering St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines.  I understand that the "Church" is really the religious community.  But, the grand architecture of an old church reminds me of the power and majesty of God.  I just don't get that same feeling in newer church buildings.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mannequin, 234/365

Mannequins hold some interesting symbolism.  They are made to look like real people, but lack all the attributes that make us human.  There are no emotions or expressions, they are posed in whatever manner their owner chooses for them.  I think they could be representative of the oppressed people of the world... no freedoms, no choices, no one really cares about them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Graffiti, 233/365

You don't have to wander far from downtown Des Moines to find some interesting graffiti.  I've shared some of the bird stencils before, which are spread all over downtown.  But, these are a couple new ones that I found, just a block from the Science Center of Iowa.  The meaning of these paintings are a mystery to me.  Perhaps they are gang related, I probably don't want to know.  Regardless, I find that a lot of graffiti has a great deal of artistic value. I would be very interested to know what kind of people paint these things.  There is no question that some of them have real, creative talent.  Perhaps if they were putting their skills to use in a more productive manner, their lives would be very different than they are today.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Staying home, 232/365

We have been so busy running around lately that we decided to just stay home today (well, other than going to church this morning.)  When we got home, we grilled hamburgers and had a picnic out under the carport.  The kids and I went over to the park and launched a couple model rockets.  We have a number of older rockets that have gotten broken, so we're down to two flight-worthy rockets at the moment.  I believe they were both rockets that Noelle had gotten for Christmas or her birthday last year.  One of them had never even been launched before.  There was practically no breeze, so it was a good day for it.  I also took them for a bike ride and to the park to play for a while, until we got hot.  Rachael cleaned out the shoe closet and started sorting out shoes that no longer fit anyone in the house.  She actually got another row started around the outside after I took the picture.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

State Fair, 231/365

Rachael presented Marathon Training at the Iowa State Fair today.  She received a Certificate of Recognition with the Seal of Excellence, which is basically a long way to say she did great.  Then at noon, she played Sonata on her flute for the Share the Fun show.  She had a very successful day at the fair.  We were basically tied up with 4-H activities until 1:00 this afternoon.  We didn't really stay very long after that, but did see the butter cow, go down the big, yellow slide, and look at the pictures.  We also went through the DNR building.  The kids LOVED just standing there watching the swans, geese, and ducks.  I asked a couple times if they were ready to go.  Finally, I dragged them away.  But, I was surprised how content they were watching those birds.  Of course, we couldn't leave without petting some horses and sheep too.  After all, it is the fair.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sunflower, 230/365

This sunflower came up at the end of our sidewalk.  I'm letting it grow to see how big it gets.  I've planted sunflowers before.  Oddly, it seems like the volunteer sunflowers are always bigger and better than the ones I've deliberately tried to grow.  Life is like that sometimes.  A lot of the best things in life are the unexpected.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Capital visitors, 229/365

I walked up to the Capital over lunch today to photograph the dome.  And I did get some interesting shots of the dome, but that's not what I'm going to show you today.  They are putting a floor in the middle of the first floor, directly under the dome.  So, you can not see the dome from the basement when you first enter the Capital now.  Anyway, I went up to the second floor to take some pictures.  And as I was about to go down the stairs to leave, I took a look over the railing.  So, I composed this picture of the banisters, with some visitors resting on a bench on the floor below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Noelle's tooth, 228/365

The tooth fairy must know the route to our house by heart after the past few weeks.  It's been a while for Noelle, but she pulled out a wiggly tooth this morning.  It's in the tooth box, ready to go under her pillow tonight.  Noelle has a birthday party to go to after school tomorrow.  Then it's off to the Iowa State Fair for Rachael's presentation first thing Saturday morning.  This summer felt busy, but it will only get more so, now that school is starting up again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rachael's birthday, 227/365

We celebrated our last summer birthday today, Rachael is a teenager now!  We did not have enough biscuits to make monkey bread, so we started the day out with Casey's doughnuts for breakfast.  Kim had inservice already today, so we went out for supper, to Hickory Park, of course.  It was good to get some BBQ again.  I was a little surprised when Rachael ordered a type of mint ice cream dessert.  But, she said she wanted to try something new, which is good.  I think that a sure sign of getting old is when people get stuck in their ways, and are not open minded to new and unusual things in life.  One way to stay young, or at least make time not feel like it is going so fast, is to constantly try to come up with new experiences.  We should get plenty of that over the upcoming few years.  Next thing you know, I'll have to teach Rachael to drive!

Happy, Happy Birthday, Rachael!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lemonade 25 cents, 226/365

Kids running lemonade stands are just part of summer time in small town Iowa.  And it looks like business was good this afternoon.  Matt had a great time helping Ashlyn sell the cold refreshment for a quarter a glass.  I'm not sure what they like the most.  Is it the independence, being in charge of their own business?  Is it the feeling of helping when others, including grown ups, stop and want their product?  Or maybe it's just the quarters.  Regardless, there is no doubt that as long as there are kids living in a small, personal community, there will be lemonade stands.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Party room, 225/365

We did a lot of cleaning up in the basement this afternoon.  It's pretty much been a disaster area since we flooded in the spring of last year (over a year ago).  Here is a shot of the "party room" (formerly known as the toy room).  It's coming along nicely, but we have a lot of other ideas, which may materialize over time.  We moved the TV in, and I've got cables ran for the satellite, so we can watch that, as well as DVD/VHS.  We just might have to have a movie night down in the basement tonight.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sapling, 224/365

This tiny tree is trying to grow between the boards in my deck.  The seed just landed in the wrong place.  Instead of a long life growing into a strong, tall tree, it will soon wither and die from lack of water and no where for the roots to grow.  It's kind of sad, really.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Entrance, 223/365

I switched to black and white for today's picture.  It's a vacant old restaurant on Court Avenue.  I've walked past the front of this building many times.  Funny, I've never noticed this entrance over on the side of the building before.  This just goes back to the importance of being observant and noticing  the every day things in our lives.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dock, 222/365

Here's the dock at Little Wall Lake, on my way to work this morning.  I took a similar shot years ago, but liked still liked this one better than the other shots I took.

I haven't talked about the technical stuff in a while, so I'm going to comment on this a little bit today.  When I took the similar dock picture at sunrise years ago, it was shot like a proper landscape sould be.  At that time, I had used a digital SLR with a larger APS-C sized sensor, with the camera on a tripod, etc, etc.  So, what's different this time?  This one was shot with a little Olympus Pen camera with a half size sensor.  I used a 20 1.7 lens, which is the equivalent of a 40 mm lens (just slightly wider than normal.)  More interesting though, it was taken hand held, no tripod, no monopod, no propping the camera on a post or tree, just hand held.  The Olympus has in-body image stabilization, so any lens I put on it is image stabilized.  Now for the amazing part, this was hand held for 1/4 of a second exposure.  I never would have dreamed of hand holding this focal length lens for that long, but this camera can pull it off.  

Now, as far as image noise, detail, etc., would a larger sensor camera have taken a picture with better image quality?  Sure.  The real question though, is, does it matter?  If I wanted to print the image at 11x14, then yes, the details would make a noticeable difference.  However, in the digital age, do you know how often people print their pictures these days?  Very rarely.  It's mostly web and screen viewing now, which is MUCH more forgiving than a high quality print.  Now, I'm not saying that this change in general photography is a good one, but it's the reality.  There are a lot of very, very good cameras out there.  And most of them are overkill for 95% of the photographs that the average person takes.  I've been telling people for years that in photography, we spend 90% of our equipment investment on the items that we need for 10% of the images.  Or, put another way, just about any camera would work for most of what people shoot.  That being said, the rule doesn't work very well for photo enthusiasts, who I admit, can be very particular about our equipment.

When we were on vacation in the northeast recently, it amazed me how many people I saw taking pictures with their phones.  And this is one that we've known has been coming.  Camera phones are getting good enough that they are going to wipe out the point and shoot camera market a few years down the road.  Most of the camera phones are not really that great of quality.  But, the generation using them most, doesn't care.  They are taking pictures for the fun of it.  They don't care if the images aren't good enough to print enlargements, that's not how they use images anyway.  I read recently that photography is going through a "revolution of imperfection", and I believe it's true.  If an image is good enough quality to post on Facebook or text to their friends, that's all they are interested in.  They would rather have fun art filters in their iPhone camera to create pinhole, grainy black and white, or other effects.  It's kind of funny how we now want the same effects that the photographic industry spent decades trying to eliminate, through technical improvements.  And this change has been in the works for years.  Even before digital, there has been a big following for Holga or other "toy" cameras and alternative processes.  I think part of it is that photography has gotten too good.  The images are too perfect, with edge to edge sharpness, no light fall off, no light leaks, etc.  Especially with digital, image quality has gotten so good that they are actually lacking something.  It's some character, or mood, or feel to the images that people want, so they are using vintage effects to try to create images that they love again.  So, as a very serious photo enthusiast, how do I feel about that?  I think it's wonderful!  If some photographic effect or process makes people passionate about taking pictures and motivates them, then I say, go with it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teeter totter, 221/365

The family came down for lunch with me today and then they went to the zoo.  After supper, we took Matt and Claire up to the school park tonight.  It was Matt and I vs. Kim and Claire on the teeter totter.  So, we took turns holding the other up in the air.  Which reminds me of when I was a kid in grade school.  There was a playground merry-go-round at Mt. Carmel.  We would have pushing contests with teams trying to push in opposite directions.  It was John Deere vs. International (John Deere was better, of course.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Orange flower, 220/365

We camped out for Noelle's birthday party last night.  Everything went fine, no storms this year.  Sunday night, we learned the hard way that I needed to put a new coat of tent sealant on the rain fly.  I got the last can at the store yesterday, so we would have been prepared if it had rained anyway.

We had actually picked up these flowers for Mrs. Peterson's grave a couple days ago, but didn't take them out to the cemetery until this afternoon.  Oddly, while we were walking out there, some pollen came off on my hand and Noelle's shirt, and appears to make an effective natural dye.  I sure hope it washes out, because Noelle had her good white "Team Huegerich" shirt on.  Regardless, they were beautiful flowers.

Claire lost her second tooth tonight (with a little help from mommy).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Noelle's birthday party, 219/365

Noelle had a couple friends over for a camping birthday party today.  The girls all wanted certain pieces of cake, with a flower on them.  I don't have time to write much, its time to make smores.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dragonfly, 218/365

Noelle pointed out this dragonfly to me this afternoon.  She wanted me to stay back, or I'd scare it.  But, I kept edging closer and closer to it, pushing the limits as much as I could get by with.  Sure enough, it did take off.  Oddly, it kept coming back to this same dead weed, perching in the same place.  So, I had the opportunity to get a few shots of it.  I was trying to get an angle where I could put the yellow flowers behind it.  Noelle said it's eyes look like jelly beans.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

On the fence, 217/365

Today was city-wide garage sales in Ogden, so we headed over there after sleeping in a bit this morning.  We found a few knick knacks, but no wonderful deals to mention.  After having lunch in Boone, we took the kids over to the park to burn off some energy.  This yellow fence surrounds the kiddie coral at the park.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Spider, 216/365

This spider weaved it's web in my grape vines behind the house.  I've always thought these black and yellow spiders were creepy, ever since I was a kid and saw tons of them around the farm, ditches, and creek.  But, as long as he's catching bugs in my yard, I'm ok with him being here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Birthday, 215/365

We celebrated my birthday today by going to Hickory Park for BBQ and ice cream for lunch. On the way home, we stopped at the antique mall in Story City.  While not an antique, per say, I did pick up a camera body.  I got a Canon EOS 650 body for $8.50.  This was actually Canon's first auto focus camera model they came out with, back in 1987.  It uses their EF mount, which is still in use with current DSLR cameras.  So, I can use most of my current lenses on it.  The real advantage though, is that it's 35mm, unlike the smaller sensor size on my digital cameras.  So, a 50mm lens is really 50mm on this camera.  And, more excitingly, a 17mm lens is really 17mm, which is outrageously wide, much wider than anything I've ever even used before.  So, it'll be an interesting perspective to play with, not to mention, a piece of Canon history.  Anyway, I took the kids out to the lake for a little fishing before supper.  Rachael and Noelle caught a few bluegill out there.  (Please forgive the quality.  I forgot my camera and had to take these on my lousy phone.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crazy Daisy, 214/365

We decided to stay home today, in spite of the fact that I'm still on vacation.  We did have to run to Ames for a little bit this afternoon so the kids could do some last minute birthday shopping.  Then we picked up Daisy after a long stay with the vet.  She quickly got all slobbery wet in her bucket of water in the back yard.  When Rachael and I picked her up, they said she was a big fan of the little swimming pool they had outside behind the vet.  And she apparently got along great with anyone/all the other animals there.  That's not a big surprise though, it's the main reason I picked this breed in the first place.  And she is a very nice dog.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Home sweet home, 213/365

We made it home tonight, 4,500 miles of driving since a week and a half ago.  It was a good vacation, but wow, is it good to be home.  I'll sleep good in my own bed tonight.  We took the kids to Panther Park and had lunch with grandma and grandpa Smith before heading west this afternoon.

I've had some people say they were excited to see what pictures I came up with on vacation.  Unfortunately, I really don't like taking pictures at tourist attractions.  I discovered this at Mt. Rushmore a couple years ago, and it held true with all the wonderful sites we hit this summer.  I figure that if there are thousands of people seeing the same thing as me, why bother taking a picture.  So, I'll take a couple obligatory snapshots of them, but don't really do "photography" of those types of places.  I kind of took a vacation from doing artistic photography, as well as work.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to Iowa, 212/365

We had a long day of driving today, but made it back to Iowa in time for supper with Grandama, Grandpa, Ted, and Marilu.  The trip did require a few stops along the way, the kids had a lot of energy to burn off after sitting in the van for so long.  We've covered over 4,000 miles in about 10 days, it's good to be almost home.