Saturday, April 30, 2005

Twee Alley

I promised more Fife Street and I'm true to my word(sometimes). As I've noted before, I'm very interested in historic preservation. In the center of Charleston's downtown Victorian village district, is an old alleyway known as Fife Street.

The drug store/soda fountain that this sign advertises... long gone. It's just been repainted there to preserve a bit of the old city.

As part of the Streetscape project, the city tried to change the name of it to Brawley Walkway, but I don't know anybody that calls it that. It will always be Fife Street. It looks pretty good with the restored storefronts, Victorian streetlamps, etc... but some of the businesses have let their awnings go bad...


Friday, April 29, 2005

Mmmm.. kiss me baby...

I never had a model with fuller, redder lips...

This is another example of "time killing photography".
UPDATE: Welcome Althouse readers. Ann perceptively pointed out "you know you've been working on the computer too long when the mouse starts to resemble Angelina Jolie."
Rick's blog home.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Produce, Boring

More useless produce blogging...

... because thursday is grocery night. This is the cleanest worm hole I've ever seen in an apple. It looked like it was made with a power drill.

The Duke of Fife Street

This was just a quick grab shot...

...while walking down Fife Street, but it says a lot if you know the man and the place. If you don't know either, just enjoy a fun shot of a friendly face.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Wi-Fi Proliferation

Open up a wi-fi enabled device in a city or an upscale residential neighborhood and this is what you are likely to see...

... a plethora of networks! In my experience, at least a third of them are completely unprotected by security. We're in a strange state of affairs where just anybody can walk into Wal-Mart (never mind Circuit City) and pick up everything you need to set up a home or office wireless network. It's relatively easy to set this up with no security enabled. It takes a little bit of extra work to turn on the security and set the passwords on all of the computers using the net... sooo... a lot of people don't bother to do it. This makes it really easy to find a place to check your email. [UPDATE: Read comments for some good information on wireless security from Oncee.]

Monday, April 25, 2005

Big golden arches

I knew that they were demolishing the old McDonalds at Patrick Street, but I didn't know they were replacing that building with this...

... a cool retro old-school McDonalds building with actual golden arches. I like this style.
UPDATE: Welcome, readers of Virginia Postrel's "Dynamist Blog".


to folks who came here from the Maple Creative link. Maple has a great blog which has been up and running for quite a while now.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

You live in "the what"?

ATTN: If you have already read this post, be sure to scan down for updates and comments.

This my friend Becky Kimmons, an independent (I'll say) communications consultant... she stopped in at Taylor Books for coffee today...

... and announced that she's starting a campaign to re-name the city of Charleston, West Virginia. If you live outside the state, your reaction is probably "Charleston? Isn't that in South Carolina?" We're sick of that. We live in the capital city of our state and most people in the country don't know that it exists. The SC version is older by at least 200 years so you can't begrudge them their fame. Every so often, someone seriously suggests changing the name of the West Virginia Charleston. It's not a completely crazy idea. Think of the publicity! It would take many years for the ensuing confusion to die down... but it could be worth it. Becky says that her brilliant idea for a name is "The Diamond". I'm not making this up... she thinks that is a good idea. There was a (long defunct) department store in town called "The Diamond" so it has warm fuzzy connotations for people of my age and older. Becky listed all sorts of reasons why this is a good idea but I can't remember most of them. Her second choice was (I think this one is a joke) Jennifer Garner, WV. I told Becky she was nuts. But beware the nut championing a big idea.
UPDATE: Becky emails to expound with her additional reasons

  1. The article in front of the word makes it even more distinctive. No other capitol city has The in front of it. The only other major city with The in it is The Hague.
  2. If you depress--compress?--coal long enough, it becomes diamonds. I'm for sitting on our coal reserves for a few more years. Go for long term benefits!
  3. It would make a nice new name for the newly consolidated towns of the Greater Kanawha Valley--including Huntington. Hah! Now THERE's an idea! You know, that town at the other end of the high-speed rail line that connects Old Charleston and Old Huntington...

See comments for explanation of this....

UPDATE AGAIN: Becky emails some more...

OK, I've been thinking some more about this. You should probably know that George Clendenin named the plot of land he owned at the convergence of the Kanawha and Elk Rivers Charles Town, in honor of his father, Charles [Note: edited typo... changed George to Charles]. That was in 1769. The people of Charles Town West, Charley West, if you will, endured the hardship of their luggage, mail, and friends being delivered to the other, older Charles Town, Virginia, which had been named for George Washington's brother, until 1819. At that time, Charley West residents saw the futility of fighting that battle. Alas, they made another, even worse marketing error. They named their "product" Charleston. Now I ask you--if you were going to create a new line of vehicle, would you name your new car "Chevrolet," then spend the bulk of your budget on convincing your market that your cars aren't "those Chevrolets?"

Yes, I know; they weren't thinking. But it's time that we did. Rick said that a name change would cause confusion, but I maintain that, rather, it would clear up nearly 200 years of confusion. So I submit that we should rename our city The Diamond, the name that was waiting for us until the 20th century, and reap the benefits of all the buzz it would create. In fact, we could make it official in 2019, 200 years after the original mis-naming, and set it all aright.

Some other suggestions have been--Vandalia--nah. Do we want our town named after Vandals? You really don't want to hear the history lesson on that... Kanawha? I think not. Folks can't even pronounce Appalachia. Give 'em a break.

I've already moved to The Diamond. Y'all can live wherever you want.

This is from a VERY early map... says "Charlestown on the mouth of Elk River. [illegible] Courthouse of the County of Kanawha". I copied this map before it was sold at auction. The map was huge.

[After updating this post, I've changed the date to keep it on top for a while]

Two eyes, the usual number

In the previous post showing the Taylor Books eye logo on the wall, the light was coming in the window in the morning, but not directly. The sun was reflecting in a window across the street. This is the eye on the wall in the afternoon...

...when the sun is shining directly in. The eye falls on the huge painting by Paula Clendenin, who by the way, designed the eye logo.

Friday, April 22, 2005

I'm not a scientist, but I play one on tv...

I just gave a talk to the Charleston Camera Club. I gave a demonstration on how I might go into a laboratory setting and "pull a rabbit out of my hat". Often a laboratory might be a rather boring looking, flourescent-lit facility. I can scrounge some glassware or equipment, a person and with some interesting lighting create a cool photo. This photo for instance...

...wasn't taken anywhere near a lab. The club meeting was in the Dunbar Public Library. I surveyed the club members and pulled a nice lady out of the crowd who I thought might look like a scientist. I put a white lab coat on her (which, in this photo is barely visible) and arranged some glassware (sitting on a cardboard box) into an interesting pattern. I set up a large white softbox for the main light... I lit the background wall and clock with a blue-gelled light... and I put a small softbox with a red gel on it on the right to the rear of the model. I thought it turned out rather well. Better than some shots I've done in real labs, for sure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dogwood or Doug Wood? You decide.

Some of you thought I didn't know a Dogwood from a Doug Wood.
This is a dogwood flower (also from my front yard)...

This is my cousin Doug Wood...

I clearly do know the difference.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Tiny Tots

I see a lot of babies in the course of my work...

...but most of them are sick. This one I saw today is a preemie, but not nearly as small as some. The wide-angle lens makes it appear larger. For a while I saw so many preemie babies that I started thinking that this is what babies looked like. It seems so reasonable for the tiny little babies to come out of someone's body. Then I would see a friend's normal newborn, and whoooaaa! Giant freak baby!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Wi-Fi Saga

The fact that I installed wi-fi in my favorite cafe has generated a lot of interest. Here's the whole story:

Late in 2003 it was bugging me that I kept reading about the wi-fi revolution but there was not a single public gathering place in Charleston (WV, not SC) with wi-fi. I knew the owner of Taylor Books because she bought some artwork of mine and I'm a regular in the cafe. I asked her if she had thought about installing wi-fi but of course she didn't know what I was talking about. I told her it might be possible to install it and make a little money on it and that I would investigate the options.

Google uncovered a startup (which shall remain nameless) in the Pacific northwest that offered turnkey systems. They would sell me a Colubris WAP/Access Controller for 700 dollars. This unit would allow "the company" to accept payment and control access remotely from their office. All I had to do was to take the unit and plug it into the router from the existing broadband service in the store, sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Users would log in and input their credit card info and pay for a certain amount of time access. "The company" would then pay the credit card company their fee and split the rest with us, sending a check each month. I would take all the profits until the unit was paid for, then I'd share the money with the store. The resulting profits were, to say the least, paltry. As meager as they were, I still had trouble getting the company to send me the checks. After several months of this frustration, I contacted Colubris to find out how my very expensive access point could be configured to allow for local control. One day I turned off the remote control and never heard from "the company" again.

We decided to offer the wi-fi free to customers. The expensive Colubris unit made it easy to control access. We change the password regularly, so that we can offer the service to customers rather than the neighborhood.

Break time

This really is a picture of me with my car... those guys just happen to be there in the way.

It looks like they are eating lunch but it's 9:40am. I guess it's break time.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Screw aerodynamics

Wow... my car is clean for the first time since, uhhh... I can't remember.

This is one of the first Elements sold in America. Man, that first couple of months was interesting. It was like being a rock star. Everywhere I went, people stared. Men in parking lots would gather around to ask questions. Opinions varied, but everybody had one. It's important to be able to laugh at one's self:

Saturday, April 16, 2005

"Lookit Herman, flars!"

"Lookit Herman, flars!" (what's that from?-see comments)
It's spring. Am I obligated to photoblog flowers? Here's some dogwood (UPDATE:just informed it's not a dogwood... see comments) from my front yard...

I gave a talk on flower photography to a gardening conference recently. They were surprised when I said, "What's the big deal about shooting flowers? What could be easier? I mean, they're already beautiful... you just shoot them! Learning the crap about macro lenses, etc is just technicalities." But seriously, I don't shoot nature much. Everybody else does it so I'll leave it for them. Mind you, I do love Spring. I'm sick of looking at brown hills.

Friday, April 15, 2005

"... a very good place to eat"

On the way home from Virginia, I like to stop in Charlottesville if it's close to lunchtime. The historic downtown is nearly perfect. I'm a big fan of historic preservation. If only they hadn't made the humongous mistake of closing the street to traffic.

We needed to find a very good place to eat, so naturally we went in here:

As it turned out, the sign was accurate. The food was good and the re-purposed hardware store was fantastic.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hello Kitty!

If you were expecting baseball photos today, sorry. I wasn't able to go to the WV Power home opener because of a funeral I needed to attend. I didn't take any photos today that I feel like sharing so I pulled an old one out of the files. It's got a cute little girl and a kitty cat! What could be better than that?

UPDATE: Some people have told me they assumed this was a studio shot. This is an example of classic "door light". I was on location at a suburban home, shooting this family working in the yard for a bank ad. The little girl picked up the cat and was walking around and I sensed a photo opportunity. I told the girl to step just inside the garage, so that the sun was not shining on her, but diffuse light from the great outdoors was washing in from the right (her left). This is equivalent to the "north light" studios of old, where there was a giant glass window facing north (so that the sun would never shine in).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

On the road

Flipper and I are on the road... going to a funeral in Newport News, VA.

Several years ago we had a huge snowstorm and the snowplow drivers piled a six foot high pile of snow in my yard. When the snow finally melted months later, I found this toy under the snow. I threw it in the car and he's still with me.

Killing time

So I'm sitting around my office waiting for 5 CDs to burn. What do I do with my time? I surf the web a lot. Sometimes I take pictures. I can always pull out the pocket camera and goof around with it. I'll take some stupid pictures of my feet on the desk... some stupid pictures of the desk lamp... some stupid pictures of paper clips, but every so often I might just keep going long enough to take a shot worth saving... hmmm... how does the macro function on this thing work...

I'll keep that. Camera: Pentax Optio S4i (fits in an Altoids tin with the lid shut) Lighting: Desk lamp from Target bouncing off of wall.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat

"Pulling a rabbit out of my hat" is a phrase I use when we need to shoot a cool picture where you wouldn't think there was one to be had. These guys from Marshall University...

...recently got a patent on this glowing ceramic technology (I'm not going to attempt to explain it any better than that). We met them in a rather cushy looking conference room with ornate furnishings. I really would have rather shot them in a lab, but that's where were were... the reason isn't important. I closed the curtains and turned off the lights and lit them with dramatic side light and lit the wall behind with a red gel. I shot with the camera down on the table to accentuate the table reflection. I experimented with the camera straight and angled. Ta-daaa.


Is this a joke do you suppose?

Monday, April 11, 2005

What a way to start the day

I was feeling rather groggy as I went out to the car this morning thinking about driving to Morgantown. The morning air was exactly the right temperature and humidity and I got to see this fantastic sky... this kicked my mood up a few notches.

This is the sort of shot that makes a nice desktop background. If anybody wants it for that, send me an email and I'll email it back to you in an appropriate resolution.

Fellow-blogger Oncee came by Taylor Books this morning for a meat-space meetup. Cool!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Columbus pilgrimage

Easton Town Center... Columbus... Even for a guy, this is a very cool shopping center. I read that Arnold Schwarzenegger is part owner.

I was talking to some friends from Europe a while back and I told them this old joke: What's the difference between Americans and Europeans? Americans think a hundred years is a long time... and Europeans think a hundred miles is a long way. They all looked at each other and said, "a hundred miles IS a long way". I told them that Americans will go a hundred miles to get an ice cream. Heck, we'll go TWO hundred miles to go SHOPPING. Here we are in Columbus.

Mmmm... Starbucks...

Starbucks and some other places here are trying to sell Wi-Fi access... but the shopping center provides it FREE. It even spills into the neighboring hotels. (snicker)

People wear this?

I shot a few things today with my tiny Pentax Optio... but little good enough to share... this is neat:

Department store display design can be pretty cool.

Manolo, he love the shoes.... Rick love to shoot them.

Too bad there is no opportunity to get paid shooting shoes in my town.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Extreme coffee chauvinism

More coffee-blogging... I can't help it. Taylor Books is the best coffee-shop in the western world. The coffee is good, but it's located in a restored Victorian building in downtown which a hundred years ago was a hardware store... exposed brick walls, creaky wood floors, comfy chairs, free wi-fi. (the owners didn't know what wi-fi was so I just installed it myself with their permission)

My morning coffee group is diverse... some left and some right but we have great discussions and share our lives.

Does that say "Desserts for Literacy"? Don't ask me.

Speaking of the owners, here's one now:

The good doctor grew up in wartime England and knows how to save a dollar. He owns a bookstore but he waits for me to bring in my subscription copy of the WSJ and then he reads mine.

UPDATE: Additional Taylor Books blogging here.


Welcome Instapundit and Althouse readers! Many thanks to those blogging biggies for the links.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Grocery blogging... nahh.

Thursday is my grocery night. I was thinking of photo-blogging my trip to the store, but all of my ideas were trite. How many pictures of produce does the world need?

All the best photo ops involved children sitting in carts. I figured I'd get arrested if I started shooting pictures of little kids in the store.


I recall when Hubert Humphrey was dying of cancer, a rule was changed to allow federal buildings to be named for a living person... a nice gesture for Humphrey, but a bad idea in general.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Better living through surgery

I do a lot of health care marketing photography. It's becoming something of a specialty for me. Surgical weight loss, or bariatric surgery, or gastric bypass, or whatever you call it... it's a booming phenomenon. Here's a stunningly beautiful lady I met today holding the pants she used to wear.

I've met... ohhhh... let's say, 30 or 40 people who have had the procedure and boy howdy, do they have some fascinating stories. Most of them carry around a photo of themselves when they weighed 100 or 200 pounds more and it never ceases to freak me out when I see these people alongside their "before" photo. Many people will argue that it's crazy to undergo elective surgery to lose weight... the risk of infection and death is always there. I'd really, really like to lose 15 or 20 pounds... for the last 5 years I've wanted to lose that 15 pounds. If it's that difficult for me to lose 15 pounds, what would I feel like if I needed to lose 10 times that much weight? Being morbidly obese isn't a cosmetic problem. It will kill you more surely than the surgery will. The patients bristle when people call it "an easy way out". It's a difficult experience to go under the knife, have your guts re-arranged and then deal with the grossly unpleasant gastric effects that come later. But the one phrase I hear over and over is... "I have my life back... I have a life now".

Dale the costume guy

I was working in Hurricane, WV the other day and I noticed Dale Morton's shop in the historic Main Street area. I just had to stop in and say hi. Dale is a really talented fellow that I met on a shoot for a local hospital. He makes mascot costumes and other sorts of costumes, masks, etc. for advertising or sports teams or whatever... he sells nationally, not just local. I wanted to mention him and give him a link because he deserves it and because it gives me an excuse to mention that the project we worked on won a "Best of Show" ADDY Award from the Advertising Association of Charleston.

There was a whole series of these babies. There's a bus around town with all of the babies printed on the side (in that process they do where the printing goes over the whole side, including the windows) but I don't have a photo of it. I hope I can get a good picture of the bus and I'll post it here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Opening Day is coming

I just found out that I'll be shooting officially at the April 14th opening game of the new West Virginia Power minor league ball team at the new downtown ball park. This is pretty exciting for the city. The tickets for opening day sold out immediately which is something that we haven't seen in Charleston for a long time... baseball tickets that are hard to get! Here's a shot of the new park in it's almost finished state...

The above shot is pieced together from 3 photos... I didn't have a good camera with me that had a decent wide-angle lens. The day I was shooting, apparently there was some sort of press conference going on....