2017 Best in The Desert BlueWater Resort Parker “425”

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2017 Best in The Desert BlueWater Resort Parker “425”

Continuing the motorsports theme, I attended the BlueWater Resort Parker “425” Presented By Impact (thats a mouthful) in Parker AZ last weekend.  This was a work event as the majority of the course is on public land, but that didn't stop me from capturing some of the action.  I've never been to a race of this sort, but the buggies and trucks were impressive on a course that claimed many of the participants.

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2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona

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2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Continuing with the "it's been a while" theme, I recently attended an event I hadn't been able to make for the last 13 years.

From the late 80's through 2003, late January brought the annual pilgrimage to the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race.  Camping in the infield of Daytona International Speedway with my father and friends is one of my strongest memories of my youth.  The sights and sounds of the exotic cars, mixed with the party among the other spectators are forever ingrained in my mind.

Me, Chris, and Eric at the Rolex 24 at Daytona around 1989

Me, Chris, and Eric at the Rolex 24 at Daytona around 1989

Life eventually kept me away from the annual event.  Our time in Kuwait and later, Hawaii made the trip impractical since 2003.  This year, I decided I could be kept away no longer and flew to Florida, met up with my childhood friend Chris, and enjoyed a long motorsports weekend.  

Naturally I had to bring my camera to capture some of the action.

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I see your true colors, and that's why I love you.

It's been a while.

I'm sorry

Through moving, new job, new life, I've neglected you. 

Again, my bad.

I'll get into the details of our move, and everything going on in our lives in an upcoming post, but for now I wanted to share something thats struck me.  Actually, a song thats been in the back of my mind for some time now.  Brought on by a remake of a Cyndi Lauper classic renewed in the recent movie Trolls by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. 

The song just makes me think of everything we've been struggling with over the last few years.  For those more visual:

You with the sad eyes, dont be discouraged, though I realize it’s hard to take courage. In a world full of people, you can loose sight of it, and the darkness inside you, will make you feel so small.

This line, so simply, so beautifully, sums up the struggle we've faced.  But like our own lives, it doesn't end there: 

But I see you’re true colors shining through. I see you’re true colors, and that’s why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors are beautiful, like a rainbow.

Anyone seeing a theme here?  I wish I could take credit for this.  A more beautiful sentiment I couldn't write myself.

Show me a smile, dont be unhappy. Can’t remember when I last saw you laughing. If this world makes you crazy and you’ve taken all you can bear, you call me up because you know I’ll be there.

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50lbs and Counting

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50lbs and Counting

Logging my weight and the resulting graph above has been a great motivator.

Logging my weight and the resulting graph above has been a great motivator.

Since June 1st, I’ve lost a little over 50lbs!

Big headline I know, but I’m pretty excited about it. I still have some work to go, but I wanted to take a minute to share where I started, my goals, and what has worked for me. This is going to be a long one.

I've always been a little on the bigger side, but things had gotten out of control.  Having back issues and the resulting surgeries had allowed me to get lazy using that as an excuse.  Add to that plenty of other factors such as a poor family health history, a love of food and beer, and poor self esteem, and next thing I know I had ballooned to over 270lbs on my 6'2" frame.  Not good.

Over the summer, after motivation in the form of coaching my son’s team, I started playing baseball again for the first time in 22 years. I caught the bug from him and started looking for softball teams in my area but stumbled on an adult baseball league and thought that would be way more fun. I was right but it was also a lot more demanding. My body didn't move the way it did 22 years ago and in addition I just didn't have the stamina. 

Getting in shape for baseball was my biggest motivating factor to get started.

So, it was June 1st, I weighed 270lbs, wanted to get in baseball shape, and I needed a plan.

I can be described as a bit of a nerd at times so obviously, when I decided to go down this path I looked for tech solutions to help me. I sat down and thought about what my priorities were and what I would need to get started. 

1. I don't enjoy going to the gym or have the finances to pay for a membership or personal trainer so I wanted something (preferably an iOS app) to guide me along the way. 

2. Needed to change my diet. While I can cook, I’m not the type to formulate my own recipes. Especially healthy ones. Add that to the list.

3. A method to analyze my activity, track my weight loss, and manage my goals.

So lets take a look at my solutions and how they’ve worked for me….

1. After checking out and trying a few fitness apps, I have settled on FitStar Personal Trainer and FitStar Yoga. I hate running and since I'm not in the Air National Guard anymore, that wasn't a necessity. I wanted an app/plan that included variety and allowed me to focus on specific goals, in this case weight loss. FitStar has a number of programs you can select from including Get Lean, Get Strong, Daily Dose, and Get Moving. Each with a selection of workouts for those particular needs. It also has a Freestyle section with workouts aimed at a specific target or situation. These range from ab focused routines to morning wakeup or even running focused warmups. The workouts are anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes depending on your selections and are presented to you in the form of videos. I really like this app a lot.

Second in this category is the FitStar Yoga. I was hesitant at first but decided to give it a try after feeling stiff all the time and wanting more flexibility. It operates just like the Personal Trainer app so I wont waste too much time on details, but I really enjoy this as well.

If you’re interested in checking out the FitStar apps, use referral code 2Q6XU5.

2. The app and site Fit Men Cook has been absolutely essential in my success. I plan my meals out for the week, only cooking once or twice during the week which takes all the stress out of deciding what to have on a daily basis and takes away the opportunity to make bad choices. On a day when the last thing I want to do is cook and would have otherwise picked up take-out, I just have to grab out of the fridge and reheat. This has been the crucial factor for me. The site and iOS app have been really helpful because I can scale the recipes to a desirable size, it collates ingredients into a simple shopping list, and the recipes are budget friendly and optimized for meal planning. Last but probably most important is they are all very tasty as well.

3. My Apple Watch. Yup, it’s the ultimate geeky tool but I love it and it really has helped me reach my goals. First of all, it tracks my daily activity and lets me know how I’m doing toward reaching my goals. It even gives me gentle reminders if I haven't gotten up from my desk in a while. Second, the apps mentioned above work very well with it. The watch app for FitStar displays the current exercise and the number of reps or time remaining and the Fit Men Cook app has a really helpful display of your shopping list for the grocery store. It tracks my heart rate during the workouts and catalogs everything so that I can compare how I’ve done in previous days/weeks/months. This is all in addition to everything else it does. Love it.

So thats it, the tools that have helped me loose a little over 50lbs since June 1st. Please let me know if you have any questions, but more importantly, what’s worked for you?

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Khloe and Paige

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Khloe and Paige

After the previous two posts (here and here), I thought I'd put up something a little more fun, and what could be better than two adorable little girls?

A few weeks ago I traveled to upstate New York to visit family including the daughters of two of my nieces.  We decided to shoot some pictures of the two of them in my sister's back yard just before the sun disappeared behind the trees.  

This was a really fun, last minute shoot of two beautiful little girls.  I loved getting to spend a little time with them.

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Thank You

Thank you to everyone for the incredible love and support you’ve shown us the last couple days.  The comments here, in addition to the many private messages, phone calls, texts, comments on FB, have overwhelmed our family.  All I can really say is a very humble “thank you.”

We still have a ways to go as her course of treatment is scheduled to run for a few more weeks but Raquel and I have learned that we’re not alone in this fight.  So many people have rallied to the cause to offer whatever support they can and for that we are eternally grateful. 

I want to ask that you share our story.  Please feel free to repost on your own pages, talk about it with friends, do whatever you can help others in need.

I recently attended the annual VFW National Convention in Pittsburgh PA, and in his address to the audience President Obama said that “it’s time to end the stigma and shame around mental health issues.  Every American can help by learning the five signs that someone may be hurting so we can all reach out.  We need to be there for them 100 percent.  We’ve all got a role to play.”

He’s right.  It’s time.  

This is who we are.  We’re not ashamed of it.  We need help, and others do too.

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How to Lend a Helping Hand

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How to Lend a Helping Hand

Raquel with her drug of choice

Raquel with her drug of choice

This will probably come as a surprise to many but my wife, that happy, life of the party, center of attention type of gal has suffered with severe debilitating depression and anxiety for over 10 years. We've shared this secret with some and with others we've just turned the wattage up on the fake "cover" smile.  

Two weeks ago she started ECT (electro convulsive therapy). You can read more about it here, but in a nutshell 3 times a week she gets put under general anesthesia and her brain is shocked into having epileptic type seizures. She wakes approx 30 minutes later in varying degrees of muscle ache, jaw pain, headaches and tiredness.  

So why go through this now after 10 years of therapy and meds?  She no longer wanted to live, just couldn't face another day of the same old battle.  She had/has suicidal idealizations and has gone so far as to plan her exit with precision and care and knew exactly where and how.  She was just waiting on the right when.  

Luckily throughout, she was almost always medicated and in some sort of counseling/talk therapy etc.  It's only when she realized she might not see our children grow up that she became more truthful. We let our family in, and was honest about her wanting to die.

We honestly never expected what came next.  

A flurry of airline tickets, text messages, and a rally of help that floored us!  We had our very own million man march made up of family, in laws, neighbors, distant relatives and friends all willing to do anything to help.  

She's now about midway through ECT and will then receive "maintenance" ECT periodically (whatever that means!).  She no longer wants to die today and probably not tomorrow either but now has better tools.

I realized I get this question a lot and typically answer with some BS line like “your support and understanding means a lot’

I spent some time taking to a friend a few nights ago and the one thing he kept asking me was “what can we do for you guys?” I realized I get this question a lot and typically answer with some BS line like “your support and understanding means a lot,” but in reality there are things you can do to help your friends who are suffering with depression.  So, inspired by this question, I present the following tips for how to help a family dealing with mental health issues.

Food is always welcome.  When times are at its toughest or we’re wiped out from therapy the last thing we have on our mind is cooking a healthy meal for the family.  This usually means we order takeout or pop some chicken nuggets into the microwave.  Not the ideal meals. 

Bring over a dish or two.  You can bring them hot and RTE (ready-to-eat) or have them prepared and ready to pop into a crock pot or the oven.  Meals that are already portioned and keep well in the freezer are awesome as well.  You have no idea just how helpful and meaningful this is to the family, especially when in need. 

Help clean the house/room/car/lawn.  It’s so easy to neglect chores when going through any health ordeal and this is especially true for depression when it's hard to get out of bed.  One of the most amazing things my mother-in-law did when she came to help out for a while was to deep clean everything.  This had a huge effect because it broke the cycle of being too depressed /tired/overmedicated  to clean which further aggravated the situation.  Don't think you have to come and do the whole house either, the small things can make a huge difference.  Do the dishes/laundry/gardening, any little thing helps.  Lastly, if you’re like me and not that capable in this department, hire someone to come in for the day.  It’s much more affordable than many think.

Help with the kids.  I think we’ve done a pretty good job of shielding our kids from what’s going on but we couldn't have done so without the help of our amazing friends and family.  Picking the kids up from school, having them over for a playdate, hosting a sleepover can all help in times of need.  It helps to keep the kids happy and engaged when their parents are having a tough time.

don’t push for information or try to give advice

Be a friend.  I know that’s very generic, but it encompasses so much.  If you haven't heard from us in a couple days, check in.  Offer to take us out to lunch, shopping, to the beach or any other activity we might enjoy.  Come over for a cup of coffee and just chat.  Really anything to show you care, promote activity, and stimulate conversation.  It’s easy and will go a long way.  This is especially important when their partner has to work or is away leaving them alone at home.  These alone times can often be tough so stop in when you can.  But don't push for information or try to give advice.   They aren't doing great which is why you are there so why ask?  Keep the conversation light and generic.  A person will open up to you when they need it. But sometimes they just don't want to remember the pain. 

Dont forget the spouse/partner.  This could have gone into the “be a friend” category but I believe it’s important enough to have its own.  It’s easy to forget that the partner of the sick person often suffers greatly as well.  The percentage of effort shifts heavily to their side as they now have the burden of worrying about their loved one while simultaneously taking care of the family, home, finances, food, and their job.  Engage them, see how they're doing and if there’s anything they need.  It’s an incredibly stressful time for them so offer to take the kids so they can have a night out or provide them the opportunity to enjoy an activity specific to them.  Also, talk to them.  The partner is going to have the best perception of whats going on and how things are going and will likely be the best source for information on how you can help.

These are just a few suggestions on how you can help someone who is battling depression or any kind of mental illness.  I’m sure there are many more, but this is what I’ve found most useful to our family.  Please keep in mind that everyone’s experience is different but above all else, do something!  Depression can be overwhelmingly crushing to a family and it’s easy to become isolated.  Don't let this happen! Get involved to the best of your ability.  Do what you can.  It can be the difference to save a family and a life.

I recently attended the annual VFW National Convention in Pittsburgh PA, and in his address to the audience President Obama said that “it’s time to end the stigma and shame around mental health issues.  Every American can help by learning the five signs that someone may be hurting so we can all reach out.  We need to be there for them 100 percent.  We’ve all got a role to play.”

He’s right.  It’s time.  

This is who we are.  We’re not ashamed of it.  We need help, and others do too.

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Competition Season

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Competition Season

So I'm not really a competition brewer.  I say this for a couple reasons:

  1. I'm a bit of a hoarder, so beyond my friends and family, I'm not into sending my beer off to complete strangers.
  2. It's expensive to ship from here in Hawaii.
  3. I hate bottling.

I do have some exceptions to this mentality though....

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Just a Quick Update

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Just a Quick Update

Just wanted to take the opportunity to post a quick update with some randomness.  I haven't really been working on anything lately, brewing or photo wise, but have taken a few shots here and there.  

As a family, we love the zoo.  We go at least once a month and always have a great time.  The Honolulu Zoo is a really nice, compact spot we can go and see our favorite animals.  I wish I had pictures of it but the last two times we went to see the orangutans, the male, Rusty, came up and sat down next to us in front of the glass.  It's been such a cool intimate moment.  Like he just wanted to sit and talk.

Anyway, the zoo is packed with lots of cool spots for a quick photo so every time we go we try to work in a few snaps here and there.

We had a lovely easter with some close friends, some of which stopped by the house easter morning.  They had stopped at the beach and tried to get a quick family photo in with little luck so I found a small bit of shade in the yard for them to sit and started snapping a few pictures.

Not bad for a quick session, but I wish I had changed a few things.  A reflector would have been nice to direct some light and I should have paid better attention to hair and clothing but overall not bad.

Lastly, I have been making an effort of exercising more lately.  I'm terribly out of shape and have been doing what I can by getting up extra early before work to work out some.  Luckily we live in Hawaii so the view early in the morning isn't half bad

Thats it for now.  Hope to have more soon.

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Day at Sea Life Park (or Why I'm in Love With The X-T1)

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Day at Sea Life Park (or Why I'm in Love With The X-T1)

A post with two titles.

Earlier in the week our little guy, Christopher, had a field trip to Oahu's Sea Life Park with his pre-school class.  Not wanting to let him have all the fun, we made a full family day out of it bringing Robert as well.

In addition to the awesome family time, the trip reminded me just how much I love our new Fujifilm X-T1 camera.  It was attached to my wrist all day with little thought to it.  It never felt bulky or in the way but most importantly, I always had it with me to shoot with.  This just emphasizes why I replaced my old Canon 5DkII with the X-T1; less weight, less bulk, and outstanding image quality.

Looking at it further, in October we took a trip to Florida which included three cities, a reunion, a birthday, a cruise, a wedding, a proposal, and of course Disney!  In reality this was my first long term test of the X-T1 as I would have it with me throughout.  Bottom line, the camera gets out of the way yet still has the ability to support my shooting.

Again, I'm not going to go into a formal review but in short, I love the camera.  For the majority of the time, I have it mated with the battery grip (mostly to help with longevity) and the XF 18-135 lens.  While the lens is a little large compared to the compactness of the camera, this makes for an excellent walkabout combo.  I really look forward to rounding out my lens collection in the future, but for now, I have few if any complaints. 

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Minor Keg Fridge Facelift (New Tap Labels)

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Minor Keg Fridge Facelift (New Tap Labels)

So I've been growing tired of my keg fridge lately. Don't get me wrong, it works fine and serves its purpose, but I've been getting the question "what's on tap" more often than I thought I should.  

When I bought it, the fridge worked perfectly but was cosmetically in rough shape. Not a big deal I thought as I just put a couple coats of chalkboard paint on it, serving a couple purposes. One, it provided a canvas for my boys to draw on and two, it gave me space to write what's on tap.  

Great idea in theory, but there were a couple problems.  First of all my writing is atrocious.   Seriously, can't read it. Second, the writing would fade over time from condensation and wear. 

So after thinking about it for a bit, an idea came to me. My friends, while at the beach had a thought that the ocean safety warning signs would make cool beer names. I played with it in Photoshop a little and made some designs for the fun of it. They sat for a few weeks since I really didn't have a plan beyond the design. 

Eventually I thought I could print them out, place them in a clear frame of some sort and stick them on the fridge. This led to the solution below: 

1. Pick up some plastic card holders and print your sheets to fit. I used these 3x4 trading card holders since I felt I wouldn't have enough room for anything larger. In hindsight, I could have probably fit 4x5 holders in the space. One thing I found when sliding the sheets into the sleeve is that 3x4 is the size of the entire card including the bezel surrounding three sides. For now I just cut them down but tomorrow I'll actually print appropriately sized sheets. 

2. Now how to mount them to the fridge. I looked all over Amazon for magnet tape but eventually settled on these business card sized magnets with adhesive on one side. They come 100 to a pack and can easily be cut to any size and I knew we would have dozens of uses for them around the house.  One peel and stick later and the solution is complete.  

3. Stick them above the appropriate taps! 

It's a pretty simple solution.  I like it cause it's easy to change out, especially if you have some regular beers in rotation.  Next I need to work on the rest of the fridge cause I think it's starting to look a little ragged.  Since I added a fourth tap, I need to replace the drip tray because it's only  wide enough for three.  Any thoughts on what to do next?

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My Struggle with Self Identity

Allow me to get personal for a minute. 

I have a constant battle in my head over my own identity. How do I see myself? What label do I give?  How do I answer the simple question, "what do you do?"

I realize as I'm writing this how silly and contradictory this sounds.  

"Um, isn't this site about Lee Tucker? You know, photographer? It even says it in the title! Duh!" 

Fair point.

Well, let's start with the simple answer, first and foremost I'm a husband and dad. This is the easy one.  I'm lucky to have a supportive family in Raquel, Robert, and Christopher who back me up every step of the way. But beyond this, the question about identity becomes a little more cloudy for me. 

As I've said before, I started my career in television.  I found I loved creating video in high school and followed that path through college. I landed some nice gigs along the way doing everything from shooting to producing but learned that my particular niche in that world was editing. There was really nowhere I was more comfortable than in a dark, quiet edit bay. I'd spend countless hours in there, often forgetting to eat or sleep.  That said, I never wanted to title myself an editor.  I just didn't want to exclude everything else. 

Then through a few interesting twists, I found myself a graphic designer.  You see, when I joined the Air National Guard, there weren't any video production positions available so they put me in a graphic designer slot. This wasn't a big deal for me since the same office housed video production, graphic design, and as fate would have it, photography. So I found myself being sent off to graphic design school. 

I was scared as hell about this since I had no previous experience in the field. But, soon found I was decent at it and actually enjoyed it. Thus adding to the list of identities, Graphic Designer.   

Fast forward a few years and I discover the world of photography. I've written about this before so will spare the details but this soon became my passion.  

So now, I'm a photographer.  but what about everything else?  I still love television. Still love edit. And I know my way around a layout or two. 

But later found I had a passion for photography

But what kind of photographer? Everyone wants to pigeonhole to a speciality. Wedding? Portrait? Commercial? Product?what are you? 

I didn't want to choose. Not because I didn't like or wasn't particularly good at any specific category or thing, but because I loved it all.  

Jack of all trades, master of none.  

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Structured Tasting Socials

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Structured Tasting Socials

A couple years ago I started hosting structured tastings socials at the house.  Our friends would come over to hang out and everyone would bring over some beer to taste.  Each week had a theme that forced you to think about the type of beer you would bring.  Some examples of themes include:

  • Beers from a specific region.
  • Examples of a particular style.
  • Selections from one brewery.

What I like about doing targeted tastings like this is that it forces people out of their comfort zones and it ensures a wide selection of beers to taste.

Yesterday I had the guys over for a night with the theme "Favorites."  The instructions were: "Screw what everyone else thinks, you like what you like and aren't afraid to show it. Bring your current favorite beer, style, or brewery and let us know why you love it so. Bring one or two 22oz bottles or a few regular sized ones, enough so everyone gets a taste. If it's a style, try to bring a couple examples. If a specific brewery, try to bring a couple of their offerings."

My selection for "Favorite" was a new offering from Big Island Brewhaus called Red Sea of Cacao.  I chose it because everything the brewery has put out in bottles has been stellar so I wanted to see if this one lives up to the others.  The red ale is brewed with Hawaiian cacao nibs, sea salt & pink peppercorns.  Smelled much like cream soda in the with some nicely interesting flavors.  I wish I had taken better, or any, notes but I do remember liking the brew.  Looking forward to more from the Big Island.

Pretty simple stuff and lots of fun.

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Brew Day: Rip Currents Coconut Wheat

My coconut wheat has become a favorite around my bar and I knew I was running low so I decided to brew it again this weekend.  This time, I'm trying something new with it though.  I've always separated it into two 5gal fermenters, one with WLP300 and one with WLP320.  I then blended them when kegging to get the profile I liked.  This time, out of sheer laziness, I just pitched both into the same fermenter.  Will see how it goes!

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I hate bottling

I despise bottling.  Never liked it.  Luckily it didn't turn me off of homebrewing but I knew after just two batches, I needed to get a kegging setup.

Why am I talking about this now? Well, it's competition season for me so I'm preparing entries for the Kona Homebrew Competition as well as the National Homebrewers Competition.  That means I need to do some bottling.

I find the whole process tedious and a chore.  Everything from cleaning the bottles to breaking out the beer gun is a pain.

I know I'm whining.

I know I need to just get over it.

Needed to vent somewhere.

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Last Minute Recipe

My planned brew day ran into some snags when I couldn't get my ingredients in on time.  So as not to waste an already scheduled brew session I scanned homebrewtalk.com for a recipe that sounded good, took advantage of ingredients I already had, and would be ready somewhat quickly.  So I present Sudden Drop Off Irish Red:

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Photos in the News

I woke up this morning to a nice surprise, one of my older (Aug 2004) aerial photos being used for a news story about a fleet of UK Tornadoes being sent to aid in the fight against ISIS.

http://gizmodo.com/the-uks-sending-a-fleet-of-supersonic-tornadoes-to-take-1640839670/all

http://gizmodo.com/the-uks-sending-a-fleet-of-supersonic-tornadoes-to-take-1640839670/all

This happens from time to time when there is a military aircraft related story.  Sometimes you're given credit, sometimes not, but it's very cool to see my imagery still getting some play some 10 years later.  Here's another one from earlier in the year:

http://www.peninsulawarrior.com/news/top_stories/article_269c5c6e-a939-11e3-98cb-0019bb2963f4.html

http://www.peninsulawarrior.com/news/top_stories/article_269c5c6e-a939-11e3-98cb-0019bb2963f4.html

The images also pop up in books and magazines:

And have even made the cover of a set of DVD's:

image.jpg

They also pop up often in military and aviation related blogs and forums and I've even seen clocks and other merchandise with my photos being sold throughout the web.  I'd love to say I'm making some decent money off these, but since they were taken during my military career, they are the property of the DoD.  

Oh well.

It's still cool to see and I'd like to think it's a testament to the quality of the work I did then that the imagery is still relevant today.  Thats what I'm going to tell myself anyway!

Here's a gallery with more of my aerial work, including some of the images seen above:


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Wings Over the Pacific 2014 Airshow

I was worried I wouldn't be able to get out of bed on Saturday.

This wasn't good cause I had the opportunity to shoot an airshow this weekend, and with aircraft being one of my favorite photography subjects, I had to find a way.

Earlier in the week, I had my annual Flu vaccination and this time opted for the nasal mist.  Fast forward to Thursday and I could barely function.  Headache, fever, sore throat..... I was a mess.

Saturday rolled around and I didn't feel great but pulled myself out of bed and headed out to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, unloaded my gear, flashed my "Media" pass at the gate, headed for the press tent to find a place to drop my bags, and slump into a chair to catch my breath.  

You can do this.

This is fun, remember?

U.S. Air Force F22

U.S. Air Force F22

The weather over the weekend was pretty crappy.  Defiantly not the best for photos, and nothing compared to my last show.  That said, while the schedule of performances was a bit light, those that did failed to disappoint.  First off was the F22 demo where the U.S. Air Force's top of the line fifth generation fighter was put through its paces.  Think what you will of the costs and all the production issues which have plagued the program over the years, but the Raptor is an amazing piece of machinery.  I've been lucky to spend some time around the F22's during my career in the Air National Guard but I'm still amazed and impressed when I have the opportunity to watch one of these demos where the aircraft is put through its paces.

I spent some time after the F22 Demo walking around checking out the static displays.  Lots of cool aircraft to see but one thing that caught my eye was the Red Bull skating demo.  These guys were lots of fun to watch and an opportunity to shoot something I hadn't before.

Saturday capped off with the U.S. Navy's Aerial Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels.  I've seen them quite a few times now and I'm still so very impressed with their performances.

Saturday was for me to go shoot but Sunday was for the family.  Raquel and I took the boys in the afternoon to see the static displays and to view the Blue Angels performance.  The boys gravitated to the helicopters, checking out the cockpit of a Blackhawk and the interior and guns of a Chinook.  After those, we found a nice spot to watch the Blue Angels perform and again they didnt disappoint.  Robert and Christopher were so excited by the show, much more than we ever thought. Christopher just screamed with joy after every pass and Robert was so impressed he had to go get autographs after. He was sure to tell each pilot "I really like how you fly." Funny Kid. Christopher, when asked what his favorite part was said, "When the planes go upside down!"

Before we left, we surprised the boys with a couple Blue Angel F/A18 toys.  They were so excited and took off "flying" them throughout the crowd.  Both boys clung tightly to them throughout dinner and even to bed.

It was a fun filled weekend.  I'm thankful to be feeling better, shoot some decent pictures, and spend some time with the family.

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First Sergeant Humphrey

A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery for United States Marine First Sergeant George H. Humphrey.  This service was unlike others I had attended.

On September 15, 1918, Humphrey participated in the first U.S.-led offensive of WWI under the command of General John J. Pershing. The battle with the Germans became known as the St. Mihiel Offensive. There were 7,000 Allied losses during this offensive and it was the first time the American term “D-Day” was used and it was the first time tanks were used by American units.

Humphrey, a member of the U.S. 6th Marine Regiment, attached to the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, was killed in action during the battle and his remains were buried by fellow Marines the next day. In October 1919, a Marine who witnessed the death wrote a letter to Humphrey’s brother recounting the attack near the village of Rembercourt, France. He included a map of his recollection of the burial site.

Attempts to locate Humphrey’s remains by U.S. Army Graves Registration personnel following the war were unsuccessful. In September 2009, French nationals hunting for war relics found artifacts near Rembercourt-sur-Mad they believed to be those of a World War I American soldier.  A month later, a team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command excavated the area, recovering human remains and military-related items including a marksman’s badge with Humphrey’s name engraved on the back.

Ninety-two years later, First Sergeant Humphrey was given a final resting place at Arlington.

I cant begin to describe the feeling of being a part of this ceremony.  Our Nation’s commitment to it’s service members is timeless and I’m honored to be a part of it.

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I've sold it all....

Don't get nervous, I've not abandoned photography or anything, just going in a little different direction gear-wise.  Let me explain.

The Evolution of the Photographer.  Fujifilm posted the above graphic on their Photokina 2014 page and it perfectly describes my own evolution as a photog.  The guy on the right, that's so me right now.  Free from the weight and burden of gear and excited to create again.

The Evolution of the Photographer.  Fujifilm posted the above graphic on their Photokina 2014 page and it perfectly describes my own evolution as a photog.  The guy on the right, that's so me right now.  Free from the weight and burden of gear and excited to create again.

No wonder I have back problems today.

First let me say just how much I loved my Canon 5D MkII setup.  It served me well for six years.  I knew this camera, its lenses, and flashes inside and out.  It takes amazing pictures and even more amazing video and is a system I still have and use at work.  But in the everyday, and in my personal work, I found myself using it less and less.  Ever since I started experiencing back issues and the resulting surgery, I just didn't want to carry around a large camera body, two large heavy lenses, flashes, and all the other accessory gear.  So I didn't.

The problem with this is my life as a photographer began to diminish.  I was no longer creating the body of work the creative in me needed.  So I decided to sell it all, body, lenses, grip, bags, and everything else I didn't want to carry on a daily basis and move to a new system.  But what?  

This is a scary proposition for a photographer.  Just do a quick search for Canon vs. Nikon and you'll get thousands of results and quickly find that people are VERY passionate about their choice of gear.  I never really fell into that debate because I always felt that a good photographer could produce amazing imagery with any system, the basics are all the same, it's just a matter of taste.  Myself, I used Nikon gear throughout my career in the Air National Guard.  It just happened that when I bought my first camera system, I really liked the feel of the Canon 10D so thats what I went with.  Now, some 15+ years of gear acquisition later, I found myself staring at a closet full of gear I no longer wanted to carry around and wondering what I could replace it with that still met all my needs? 

I looked at some smaller Canon bodies to replace the 5D MkII but that wasn't enough.  It would have been the cheapest and easiest solution but I would still have to lug around the same lenses.  Have you ever shot for a full day with a 70-200 2.8L?  It gets heavy fast, even if it just stays in the bag.  After deciding that wasn't going to work, I started looking at other options.  Eventually it was Zach Arias and David Hobby who turned me on to Fujifilm's newish line of x-series mirrorless cameras.  I lusted over the X100s and the X-Pro1 but it was the X-T1 that eventually sealed the deal for me.  I ordered the body and a couple lenses and was hooked right away.  This is a setup I don't mind carrying.  It fits in my everyday work bag easily, even when paired with a couple flashes and the images from it are outstanding.  

A quick size comparison between systems.  On the right, the Canon 5DMkII with 24-105 f4L IS and 70-200 f2.8L IS compared to my new Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135 as well as the 35mm f1.4 on the left.

A quick size comparison between systems.  On the right, the Canon 5DMkII with 24-105 f4L IS and 70-200 f2.8L IS compared to my new Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-135 as well as the 35mm f1.4 on the left.

I don't want to get into the nuts and bolts of the X-T1 as this isn't intended to be a review.  There's enough of them out there.  It's more a post to explain where I'm at as a photographer and why I'm excited about the art again.

So what's next? Well, I don't really know.  I carry my camera with me every day now and am excited to create again.  Is it because of my shiny new toy or is it something else?  Again I don't know, but it doesn't hurt thats for sure.

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