Stephens County

Sunday Night

I hate Sunday nights.  I know I have to begin the drudgery of another week.  A fifty mile drive and then work and all before 7:25.   Today I kept looking at the outdoor temperature and looking at the bright blue skies and decided to go ahead and go out for a walk.   My furry friends didn't all get to go with me today because on New Years Eve they decided to get skunked. 

Walk January 10th -1

Now Jack dog was with me and he barely would let me get the shot I wanted because he was constantly blocking my camera. 

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I didn't do a New Years Post, last weekend my friend and I went to see Rob Thomas at Winstar Casino, we had a great time.  

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So I noticed this at the base of the tree, it is actually a part of the tree now. I don't know what it is, but it has been there a very long time. I don't edit a lot of photos black and white anymore because I kind of feel like if you can't get it right in color why bother with black and white.  But sometimes the image just "feels" black and white. 

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Here is a shot of the tree in color. 

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So nothing exciting, photographing the same old things.  It is still good to get outside in the cold.   

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I have an incredible amount of topics that I'm interested in right now but I do not have the time to write about them.  I've discovered how much I enjoy reading on my kindle app on my phone,  which means I keep reading books.   My reading list is a lot of food histories and economic history.  But I am reading some classic political philosophy.  I know, I'm super exciting right now, but it enhances my teaching.  

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I have some serious philosophical issues with the education system.   We teach in a system where the focus is pedagogy and technology over content.   Procedures and rules are important but I am still a firm believer that content is everything when teaching a discipline.  It is my job to make the content more interesting, to diverge from these boring text books.  Yes, I said boring because texts seem to find a way to kill interest in a subject.   How can we force kids to sit still at desks for hours on end and still engage them?   

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I tried to blind myself by staring into the sun.   

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This is my new favorite spot to catch winter sunsets.  

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By the time I sit down to write I don't have much to say.  I probably could work on becoming a better writer on here.  I certainly need to update posts from my trip last summer but that is usually something I do mid-winter.  

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Sunday evenings go so fast...  

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Sundays go too fast and I never finish what I need to do. Never enough time in the day.  

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And that's enough from me tonight. 

The Sun, The Moon, The Stars...

I will never be caught up with work.  I have to accept it and get over it.   It is the nature of the job.  


Yesterday was the first day I've felt "good" since September 8th so what did I do?  I stayed out until almost Midnight with the moon and the stars....  

I have spent the last year and a half thinking I will be caught up on my portrait photography work too, which is usually a brief respite in between booking.   Now, I have a clear date where I am not booked, and it's a nice feeling. I realized that September and October would be insane for me, I didn't realize that I would also spend three weeks of September sick. 

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My neglected blog, here is the blood/super moon...eclipse, I get on my high horse when I see people fawning over the moon when really the universe is quite amazing if you take the time to look away from your screens and be aware of it, without Facebook telling you to. 


Like a good American, I took a selfie with the eclipse... 

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While you were watching this....  did you see....

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This...  it was out there, next to the eclipse.  By the way, I think it's awesome people have photography skills but can we stop being in awe of composites? 

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This evening I had a portrait session so I snapped a few shots of the sunset before I went home.  Between driving and work I haven't had a lot of time for anything lately. 

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It's 11 and I made it home by 8 this evening from my shoot.  An hour of rest and then to load images.  

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And I'm too tired to do anything else, so hopefully I will get some work completed tomorrow.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  


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Red Dirt Country in Velma

Stoney LaRue Show-7882

Last Friday night Stoney LaRue and a few other musicians played an acoustic show in town.  But, there was also a great feast.  I was asked to photograph so it was pretty cool.  I have spent the last week battling a sore throat and cold/congestion.  I would like to feel better soon.  

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I enjoy watching people play the guitar.  

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 This is Stoney LaRue he's pretty big in the Red Dirt Country genre.  I really have never listened to him though.  I was pretty much at the show out of curiosity.  Although this song Oklahoma Breakdown is pretty good. 

Stoney LaRue Show-8108


Pretty cool to get these shots.  Cursing the lighting, enjoying being able to stand by the speakers right up front.  

Stoney LaRue in Velma Oklahoma on 9-11-8024


Now this guy is talented Evin Brady 

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Stoney LaRue Show-8108


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Love live shows, a week before we went to Tulsa to see Rob Thomas (who is my favorite).  I have some instagram photos but haven't put them up here yet.  I've been sick for over a week and today wasn't any better.  I stayed home from work (which is just as stressful) and hopefully tomorrow I can make it through okay.  Teaching is one of those things that its hard to do if you have a sore throat and that is exactly what I've been battling for a week and a half now.  



Obligatory Blog Post

So here we are Monday night and tomorrow the weekend ends.  It's hot out.  I mean it's miserably hot out.  I didn't spend my weekend outside.   I spent my weekend recovering from the Rob Thomas concert in Tulsa that I went to Thursday and working in the house (never ending story).   I did make it outside today and I decided that it was too hot to go for a four mile walk.   

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Sometimes my blog is where good intentions go to die.  I'll just write a blog post, I'll worry about everything else tomorrow.  Anyways, here I am writing a blog post and working on laundry (never ending story part two).   I have lessons to plan, papers to grade, sessions to burn on discs and events to edit, batteries to charge, webpages to build.   Did you know what a pain it is to set up a web domain to where your traffic is redirected to your "www...." that you purchased on godaddy?  It's a pain.  But I'm switching photo hosting pages because I'm not happy with the one I use and I found a better page to sell photography from.  I can also easily offer downloads to my customers.  I registered my business name with the state and I'm working in the direction of business building (because that's what I should do).   

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I took a few shots today, not many.  It was hot, it was also a gorgeous day with the fluffy clouds and deep blue skies that I love (but no longer 100 degrees love).   

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I get restless when I don't spend any time outdoors, but I'm not motivated by 100 degree heat and near that high of humidity.  One thing I've learned over the last few years despite earning money with a profession (two now).  I am not defined by those duties or jobs.   I can be a professional at work and not be absorbed by it on my time.   

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I don't know why I'm still driven to build a portraiture business, probably because it is something not everyone can succeed at and it is mine.  But this is what I've been working on this weekend: It's still not right... ugh.

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But it's getting late, it's time to go...   I have a lot of things I want to write about, I don't seem to have the time right now.  I think we can't continue to be such a data driven society.  I think we lose sight of the humanity that gave us the ability to understand data.   I wonder what kind of leaders we will create when we teach kids to value a test score over a person.   People have lost the ability to slow down.  Five in the morning will arrive far too soon.  Next week brings, portraits, a party, a wedding, a concert oh and work.  I'll let you know if I survived on Sunday.  I'm grateful for my overly scheduled life and my business and job.   But I have to work the time in to slow things down.  This song means the world to me and I think after all these  years I'm still looking for Something To Be.

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But I exist and I am.   I've been looking for something, something I've never seen... we're all looking for something. Something to be.   

Nature In The Digital Age

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How do we as a society slow down?   How can people find peace when the only nature they experience is a photo on a computer screen? I'm trying to leave my camera behind when I walk (for the most part) because I don't 'need' it. I know the landscapes I explore. I know when the sunset happens, I don't always need a photograph of it, because it happens every single night.   I don't need to share landscapes as much.  When I take my camera out (I had already walked/jogged four miles by the time took the camera out for the last mile).  I'm taking the camera out to work on technical skills, not to document the experience.  

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couldn't get my focus right in this photo, even with manual settings the sun is all the camera wanted to see as I made the juxtaposition.   

When I'm out walking I'm filled with brilliance and have a million things that I think I could write about or say when I'm home writing on my blog.   Then I get home and load my photos and start editing and I lose all my words.  I can't remember what I wanted to say, I have vague memories of my sparks of genius.  

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 I took about 60 photos, lighting sucked.   It was almost dark, really no inspiration at all.  These photos, aren't very good.  


I don't show you "reality" but I like my photos to be as "real" as possible.   So I do not use a lot of filters (copouts) and I don't do a lot of photos in black and white.  I pretty much think anything that I shot before last summer is total crap.  I know I'm far harder on myself than other people in regards to photography.   But it's good to want to be excellent.   


Six years ago I didn't know about focus. I knew I had a $600 camera (which was expensive to me then).  Six years ago I knew how to shoot in program mode and people were telling my photos were "good" and I had "talent"- my photos weren't very good at all and I really didn't have that much "talent" -  six years later I'm equipped with great glass and knowledge.  The knowledge is worth far more than those talentless shots of the fall of 2009, and the beginning this blog five years ago.  Skill has to be nurtured, talent has to be identified and found, yet I still think we spend so much time on remediating kids that we miss so much talent.  Why can't we focus on natural skills over remediating them for their weaknesses.   Our education system is a weakness based system.  Our resources are spent in remediation instead of excellence.   

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So I'm a history teacher again.  It is kind of hard to get back into identifying with all things education since I left in 2010.  I'm glad that I am more than a career.   But I have to start exercising again to deal with stress, today I went well over five miles and by the time we were almost finished walking I was hungry and my phone was dead.  So we went back to the field and I found a melon and broke it.  

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This week I spent a lot of time discussing the Paleolithic versus the Neolithic and the importance of agriculture.  So, in honor of those discussions I gathered.   I was also hypoglycemic with a dead phone and a half a mile from the house.  

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So I ripped the heart out with my bare hands and I ate watermelon as I walked back to the house.  I killed my phone listening to The Great Unknown and my Mom and Sister came to look for me, and found me walking out of the field with two handfuls of melon and I had to explain the death of my phone and how my dogs needed to go swimming.   

So if the only nature you get is looking at photos on a computer screen, you're missing out on a lot of life.   If the only learning you do is reading blogs and blurbs; go read a book.  If the only music you love is on the radio; go to a concert.   Go Live Your Own Story.   *And maybe start to write it because it's something that only you can do.  


So I can #hashtag a post title, right?   So it is #NationalDogDay and after a long day at work (one hour commutes both ways) and a full day of teaching I came home and picked up my lovely dogs and took them to the farm for a walk.  Exercise for me and after that we went to the pond so they could take a swim.   

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Old man Ozzie is getting old with his white muzzle.  We got him in 2009 which seems like a long time ago now.  

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It was hot! Almost 95 degrees this afternoon, we didn't pick the nice cool day to go walk.  I am ready for Fall!  

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Punky was having fun. 

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So was Sister 

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Did I mention that I cannot wait until next Thursday!  Sigh.

Photography  (1 of 1)

So transitioning back into teaching hasn't been bad. I absolutely love my new school.  I made the right decision. I was thinking about photography and education and all this philosophical stuff while I was walking and I came to a realization.   Photography in a way is not about taking a photo or a camera it's about awareness.   When you are out shooting you have an incredible awareness of your entire world.  You notice things that you wouldn't notice.   So while I get outside to find "inner peace" and a way to cope with anxiety - I still realize that this incredible awareness of my world allows me to become a better educator.    


But, right now I need to work on paid edits and since my morning started at five I'm kind of tired.  


Did I mention how much I am in love with this song... Paper Dolls

Cutting Hay (Insert Photography Rant Here)

I went over to capture some images of my brother cutting Sudex last night.  I had a busy weekend complete with a wedding (work) and a birthday party for small children (friends and family).   I spent the weekend working on edits and staying indoors out of the miserable heat.  But given the opportunity to go to the farm and go shooting I'll almost always choose that as a preferred activity.  

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Photographers are obsessive about images.  We are our own worst enemies, we are our harshest critics, we are destructive to one another.   We chase after gear as the solution to our own imperfections.  We are competitive with one another, we snub one another and then proceed to pay the "good photographers" to teach us secrets.  We chase after forums, and workshops, gear, and ultimately knowledge.  It is a strange world.  

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This is my brother Steve out working on this hot, miserable day.  

I have a few photographer friends who I'm very comfortable with.  We banter on Facebook messaging and are very open about our techniques and how and what we shoot with and why.  We are not out to steal each others' business or clientele (and seriously?  I'm tired of not having weekends if you want my business, boy have at it).   Tonight I learned about "clean processing,"  or cleaning up a shot.  Which I guess is more or less my style.  I do like the crushed black look but that's a personal preference for richness of color.   

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If you notice throughout this post my greens vary.  My friend and I are having serious discussions about greens in photography-  how to get dark, rich greens as opposed to neon greens.  We all know that newbie photographer whose neon greens will make you go blind and their super blue sky is so unreal you know they just must be drinking a bottle of wine when they slide the saturation slider all the way to the right.   But there is a fine balance between accepting nature as it is and making it our idealized version in photography.   A perfect photo for me five years ago is  totally different than one now.   

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I made it out just in time for golden hour (my preferred shooting time).  Would I be too much of a diva to refuse to continue to shoot indoor events?  Probably.  I have plenty of weddings on the books this fall - which means this fall will be exhausting.   But, the more I do this I realize that when you're just starting you really aren't "taking business away from someone else" - in fact I don't think most people "see" the way experienced photographers do.   Steve Cutting Hay on the Farm -1-5

I also realize that some people are natural business people.  I'm really a terrible business person for doing something I love.  Why do I care if someone shares my image?  I don't.  I don't often look for people who violate my copyright.  Why? It's the freaking internet. You heard me. It's the internet. I do image searches often, I rip memes from google image search when I want to make a sarcastic reply to someone.  I find humor online.  I avoid too much sentimentality.  But, I do not get upset over people using the web to share information.  I also am very aware that when I take photo of someone that they feel ownership of that photo, no matter how I feel.  If you see a photo of yourself do you not feel that photo belongs to you because it IS you?   Exactly. Put yourself in your clients shoes.    Cutting Hay -2302

I do not edit using any crap some so called awesome photographer sells me off the web. I don't edit using presets for the most part. If I can't adjust the photo or save a composition really nothing can save it.  

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I also don't understand people who invest in portrait studios and props and all of that business building nonsense before they invest in the equipment. I guess those are the people who think photography is simple.   It is not.  Photography is deceptively simple.  Any of us can get a good shot at any given time with our cell phone camera (which is way better than my first digital camera that I had in 2001).   

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I shoot. I shoot A LOT; not daily but generally every other day.  I don't have to be paid to go shooting. I am not begging for portraiture work now, because I want to go back to what I love about photography, the solitude.   I go find my own opportunity. I find my own things to shoot, the exploring aspect of photography is just as much fun as shooting.  I love shooting the obscure, the monotonous, my boring life. 

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I don't get landscape photographers obsession with sharpness as much as I don't totally buy the obsession with bokeh.   Bokeh for a great portrait, because when we watch television we are sold on our solitary subject or actor who gains the sole attention of the camera.  But the HDR super sharp landscapes don't show the softness of the land.   I guess I fall into the impressionist school of thought on landscape photography.  I love the colors and the softness of the land.  

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I still love a nice sunset, but I am not in a competition with myself to capture the "best" sunset photo anymore.  I am challenged by the darkness and feel like I have a lot of room to work within the night.   

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It is still enjoyable, it's a release and it is how I enjoy spending my spare time.   My unstructured, spontaneous spare time.  



A Spring Day and Night

Daddy Farming March 24 2015-8331

Took the dogs on a walk and went out to the back pasture and my Dad was busy plowing. 

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My Dad was born in 1937.  He's still out working every day.  He's always doing something.  My Mom also works every day.  I have amazing parents.  

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I got there in time for break time.  The dogs and I walked our half a mile back to the house.  But I went back at 11pm to get some of the photos below. 


What an amazing world we live in...  

Spring Blossoms and the Stars-8373

So, I'm wondering how this would work with the macro lens.  I may have to go back and try it.  But it was dark and I wasn't one foot from my car like I normally am and I was pretty creeped out as it is and afraid I'd run into Mr. Skunk.  

Spring blossoms at night March 24-2

I didn't stay out long - I'd like to try this again but since a hail storm just passed I'm not sure if I will have blossoms left, we will see tomorrow. 

Spring blossoms at night March 24-8370'

I didn't stay long -  but here are a few more..

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  Just had to get a few shots, it was too nice and too still. 

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Today's weather was not.  We had our first spring storm.   March in Oklahoma comes in like a lion and often goes out like a lion.  

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I thought I'd take a selfie since I was under the stars last night...