HELP PORTRAIT 2013  On December 14th I once again participated in the Photographers Adventure Club’s Help Portrait event.  This year it was held in conjunction with the DSNetwork’s annual Christmas party at The Venue in Scottsdale.  The PAC’s role was … Continue reading

“Pigeons from Hell”


Feeling the urge to write something today desirous of keeping the 5 or 6 consistent readers of my humble little blog happy.

The Photographers Adventure Club, which I have mentioned in several previous posts, has a weekly photography theme that members are encouraged to submit photographs that fit the theme.  I like the idea, but admittedly I am not very consistent…oh who am I kidding, I rarely, if ever post photographs to the site.

This week, I decided to go shoot some images for this weeks’ theme of “Wheels”

I took a trip down to Sahuaro Ranch Park in Glendale.  They have some antique farm equipment that made for some good shooting for this topic.  I converted 3 of the images to black and white or sepia in order to give the photos an old time feeling.

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Sahuaro Ranch Park has some marvelous old buildings on the grounds.  While working my photographic magic (sorry, a bit of shameless self promotion here) I noticed a gathering of pigeons on the roof of a nearby building.  Whenever I see pigeons on the roof I am reminded one of the scariest television show episodes I have ever seen.  It was the show “Thriller” hosted by Boris Karloff, who played the original Frankenstein and Mummy and was in a host of other B grade horror flicks in the 30’s and 40’s.  The episode was called “Pigeons from Hell”.  I saw this scary little gem when the family was visiting my uncle back in Michigan the summer before the sixth grade.

The gist of the show is that wherever these pigeons appear on the roof, someone is murdered.  Now I know that with shows like “The Walking Dead” and other splatter movies etc., that a man walking down the stairs with an ax in is head is pretty tame stuff, but in 1961 it scared the holy heck out of me.

And thanks to “the time machine of my life” You Tube, I can watch the whole episode.  Haven’t worked up the courage yet, but someday…

This is the opening sequence of “Pigeons from Hell” episode.  {link}




Hey, you try coming up with eye catching titles, OK.

It will be kind of a scatter shot of ideas and photos for this morning’s blogging.  The insomnia gremlins are running wild. I must have broken one of the three rules of gremlins…again.



On Valentine’s day I semi-mocked the “holiday”, created by the card and flower industrial complex. I mentioned on Facebook how thankful I was that the kids came to class on Valentine’s Day burdened with flowers, balloons and candy.  This was a clear disruption of the educational environment so I was within my rights to confiscate the offending items.  My wife had awesome Valentine’s Day presents for 31 years.

But Valentine’s Day is for lovers, and as a wedding photographer, I need those lovers to get engaged and hire Poole Photography for their weddings.  So to make up for my  past wrongs against Valentine’s Day, I present this visual love gift to you all as a token of the importance of love in our lives EVERY day of the week, not just 2/14.



I talked  in an earlier blog about my wonderful day of shooting at the Matsuri Festival  {link}.  I entered three of my photographs I took that day in the PAC contest.  I didn’t place, but was happy that my photographs got a few votes.   On the positive side I did vote for the photograph that won the competition.  I may not have shot award winning images that day, but I do know an outstanding picture when I see it.



Although my ultimate goal for Poole Photography, my “White Whale” so to speak, is to be primarily a wedding photographer, I am attempting to shoot as many sessions as I can to gain experience and improve my portfolio.  For the last couple of weeks, my friend Dave has been persistent in telling me that I should come and take pictures of his new cute puppy before it grew into his new big dog. On Sunday I finally went to his place and did my first pet session.


The adorable Leah.

I love the following series of images.  Reminds me of those old monster movies in which the photographer, usually named Tim, sees the danger coming directly at him but instead of running away he holds his ground and continues to photograph the beast charging him until the bitter end!

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It is now 3:37 and about time to wrap this up and see if the insomnia gods are pleased.  I am not sure if they will be.  I have been drinking Mountain Dew,  which does contain caffeine.  I also was alerted by a Facebook post that Mountain Dew contains brominated vegetable oil.  I Googled brominated vegetable oil and its related health risks.  Oh great, one more thing to add to the list of stuff that might not be good for me.  I can just hear and see the early morning commercial now: “if you or anyone you know has drunk beverages contain brominated vegetable oil and you or they show one or more of these symptoms….” Yikes.

So with that information on my mind, I will try close my eyes and get some sleep, all the while knowing, and yes, hearing the BVO in my bloodstream, reeking havoc on various internal organs.

Pleasant dreams.




The good people of the Photographers Adventure Club, PAC for short, hold monthly photography contests for its members.  This month, under the supervision of event organizer Evy Olivia, the contest was a photo shoot at the Matsuri Festival of Japan held down at Heritage Square Park.  I had not participated in any of the previous contests, so I thought this would be a great time to enter one, not with any expectation of winning, but as a chance to enjoy the new experience of the festival and to practice and improve my photographic skills.  On Saturday, many of the PAC members were meeting together at 10 AM to go as a group and shoot the parade.  Unfortunately for me, I had another commitment that morning and could not make the 10 AM meetup, but I did have the organizer’s number and could call her when I got to the festival and meet up with the group at that time.

Saturday morning, functioning on about 3 hours of fitful sleep, (my Medifast counselor asked “are you OK?   You don’t look good!) I finally got my act together and headed downtown.  As I was driving, my I-pod, which normally tries to make every other song a Christmas carol, shuffled a back to back selection of “Sea of Tranquility” by the Japanese trio Rin’ followed by Deep Purple’s “Woman from Tokyo”.  I thought this to be good Karmic evidence that this would be a great day.

Although there were a few bumps along the road, such as going the wrong way in the parking garage, paying $12.00 for parking and $3.00 for a Pepsi, and not meeting up with anyone from the PAC, (I decided that at 1:00 everyone was probably gone or getting ready to go)  I had a great time.  Visited some nice exhibits, met some nice people, bought some incense and a CD from the Nippon Kodo booth, sampled and purchase some Hawaiian Crispy Wafers (Cherry Vanilla) from the High-T Snacks booth.  (hightsnacks@amigo.net), and shot some decent photographs.  I sit here now, lighting the incense, listening to the CD and noshing on a Cherry Vanilla Wafer while I share my thoughts and photographs of the day.


I normally head to the events and displays I like first, and then take in the rest if time permits. Being a drummer, the first thing I headed for was the drum show. So had everyone else. There I was with my 50mm lens getting shots of the back of people’s heads with the drummers way in the background.  I kept thinking of a play on words of a line from “Jaws”.  “We’re gonna need a bigger lens.”


Many photographers are reluctant to crop their original images.  Although I agree that composition should be done in the lens, I have no guilt or shame when it comes to cropping. I will crop any image if I believe that crop makes for a stronger picture.


I eventually maneuvered myself up as close to the stage as I could.  I took this picture of a drummer watching the show from offstage.  I was reminded of the lyrics “the drummer relaxes and waits between shows” by Neil Young.



It was suggested to bundle up because it was going to be cold.  After all, it DID snow in Phoenix just a couple of days before.  I wore a sweatshirt, which I quickly ditched.  People found many ways to try and keep out of the sun and cool down.

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Once again I followed the sound of drums, and came upon this performance.



Another example of my willingness to crop. I wanted to showcase this tambourine.


The “dragons” unmask.


One of my favorite photos of the day.  One of the “dragons” lost a flower from  his mask.  The child quickly picked the flower up and gave it back to him.


The Dragon Masks were provided by Masks by Zarco


I would love to own and care for a Bonsai tree.  However, I know it would end up an epic fail.  I once  bought a lucky bamboo plant that promptly died.  These trees were at  The Phoenix Bonsai Society display.

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The following photograph initially reminded me of a Japanese ink painting.  I turned it to black and white trying to emphasize that similarity.




As I was photographing this display, a young woman came up to me, gave me her business card and asked if I would send her copies of the pictures I was taking.  Being an affable guy, naturally I agreed to do so.  We started chatting and I asked what the cranes were made of.  She told me they were mad out of cyanotypes.   I knew what a cyanotype was.  When I started teaching photography I had a supply of special blue print paper so I taught the making of cyanotypes until the supply was gone.  Cyanotypes are made by the placing of objects on the special paper and exposing the paper to the Sun.  Whereever the objects are, the paper stays white. The paper that is exposed to the light turns blue.. Look at the following closeup.The objects she used on her cyanotypes were feathers.  All the cranes were made out of feather covered paper.


BUT, as my friend Shannon Gillis says, there’s a story…there’s ALWAYS a story.

This is not your typical high school photography class cyanotype paper.  The artist, Airi Katsuta, makes her cyanotype paper from scratch.  She takes a special type of paper, coats it with two different chemicals to make the paper light sensitive.  Once the paper is made, she proceeds with the laying on of the feathers.  All 1,000 cranes were created from handmade cyanotype paper.  For a complete look at  the step by step process illustrated with photographs of Airi making the paper and the origami cranes, click here

But the creation of the 1,000 cranes did not come about because of her desire to make a pretty wall hanging or a conversation piece at the Festival. Airi started creating the cranes after the May 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  That summer, she went to Japan intending to stay a week as a volunteer working in the village of Ishinomaki.  She ended up staying longer and was determined to come back to Japan after her senior year at ASU was finished.  She used the symbolism and importance of the 1,000 cranes in Japanese culture as a fundraising vehicle to raise enough money to go back to Japan to continue her volunteer work.  Additionally, Airi, as a photography major, used her photography skills to record the devastation and recovery of Ishinomaki.

For the full story of the 1,000 cranes and Ms. Katsuta’s efforts, click here.  To view her photographs of the village, click here.


Airi Katsuta, it was a pleasure to met you, and thank you for letting me share your story of the 1,000 cranes on my blog.


“take a sad song and make it better.” *

About three month’s ago, the Photographer’s Adventure Club started advertising for interested club members to volunteer for something called Help Portrait.  At the time, I didn’t have any idea what Help Portrait was, nor did I have any interest in finding out about it.  And so I went about my merry way going about my merry business.  Then about a month or so ago, I saw another posting in Facebook saying they still need people to lend a hand in the Help Portrait endeavor.  By then I had heard a little bit about the project, had gotten some literature on it, and figured I might as well go ahead and volunteer for the day.  I am glad I did.

This is Help Portrait in their own words: “In December, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their picture. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered.”

The PAC held it’s Help Portrait day at the 1st Congregational Church in downtown Tempe.  There were makeup artists, hairstylists, 4 studio stations available, 4 printing stations, entertainment including a magician and a face painter.  Snacks and water were also provided.   Those that had their photograph taken were given a high quality print and the option of a jump drive with their photos on it.  This was all free to those getting pictures taken.

I don’t feel that I am a good enough of a wordsmith to accurately describe the way the day affected me and the others in PAC that contributed on Saturday.  Anything I think of writing just seems inadequate.  The good feelings of the day came from working with the clients that came through the door.  From the first lady I met who showed up at 9:30 to be the first in line so she wouldn’t have to wait, to the single mother of four, to the last man who came and took his picture with his dog, and all the other individuals and families  in between, these people are what made the day a special experience.

I think one could safely assume that everyone who came in to get photographed had had their share of hard luck and trouble.  But I hope and believe that once they walked into our little “studio”, that as they became our “customers” and we made them the center of our attention, that some of the hardships of life were suspended for a few moments and things got a little better this day.

Kimberly Haugen, a member of PAC, summed up the day best when she talked about how much everyone was smiling and what a happy day it was.  There certainly were many a smile that day.  My job allowed me to roam around quite a bit so I spent much of my time at the printing station just watching the reactions of people as they first saw their photographs come out of the printer.  There were smiles all around.  It was a beautiful thing.

*lyric from the Beatles’ Hey Jude



My hair styler is pregnant and due on the 15th of November. I told her my father’s birthday was November 15th also.  Then on Sunday, I got an invitation to pizza and cake for my father’s birthday on October 18th.  Slap my head, of course!  My mother’s birthday was on the 15th of  November.     I ALWAYS  got those two confused as far back as my college days.  Always had to be careful when I was sending cards.

Aside from being my father’s birthday, today is an anniversary of sorts for me.  This month, Poole Photography started its first baby steps to becoming a reality.  I had bought my first digital camera and started my first class with Dianna Elizabeth on how to use this said digital camera.  And my father’s birthday party last year was the first shakedown cruise of my Canon T3i.  My first couple of pictures I submitted for Dianna’s critique came from that birthday gathering.

It has been a fantastic year for me.  My biggest concern was would I like being a wedding/event photographer?  As Clint Eastwood counseled, I know my limitations.  If I am not enjoying my work, I cease to work.  I would have hated to spend all that money on equipment just to find out I didn’t like what I was doing.  After this year, I can enthusiastically say that this is what I what to spend my time doing.    I have not made a mistake.

In this year I have taken several classes, joined a nation wide photography group, started a website and a blog, photographed several events including  birthdays, a senior portrait session, and  a couple of weddings, the last one of which I was the  lead photographer.  Part of me says it wasn’t enough, another part is pretty darned pleased with what I have accomplished.

So now is a good time to look at where I want to be a year from now.  I have a few more classes I want to take.  I need to take time and sit down and reevaluate my goals and objectives for the next year and the future.  I want to get more involved with the Photographers Adventure Club.  I want to improve my blog writing and my photography skills.  Of course I hope to find more work, the Holy Grail for all photographers.  I want Poole Photography to get 100 likes on Facebook.   And this may seem funny, but I would like to second shoot for or assist an established photographer. I believe I will learn more by observing and helping those at a higher skill level than myself.  Sort of like classroom observation or student teaching.  There is so much I don’t know and I need to learn.  I can read and watch DVDs as often as possible, but I know I learn better when I observe someone else doing.  I will be sharing my journey’s downs and ups over the next year on this blog.    Come along and enjoy the trip.

Note to self: I also need to clean and organize my home office, which I promised myself I would do when I retired.  A little behind on that one.



So, so lame, but I can’t come up with anything cute and clever to title this post.    Maybe it should be “fill in the blank” and the reader can put in his or her own title.  That is a definite possibility in the near future.

I had many plans for the day that were cut very short by a bad headache.  I don’t get migraines, but I have enough friends with migraines to know how much those bad boys make a person suffer.  Actually, I rarely get headaches at all.  And this is really one of those low grade kind of headaches, the kind that are just there and annoying.  I was able to get it together enough to do some yard work and run some errands in the afternoon, so I feel a bit accomplished, but there were many other things I wanted to get done.  Tomorrow.  Me and Scarlett O’hara.

An former classmate of mine from Azusa, Andy, commented on my last blog.  That was really nice.  Andy and I were on the football team together.  As I recall, Andy played while I made sure nobody from the other team snuck over and captured our water.  We all have our roles to play.  Andy suggested a saying to me that he had heard while in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  “Total Release Performance”.  I wish I had that little gem of a statement back in my coaching days. Thanks, Andy.

I am working at being more involved with the Photographers Adventure Club.  As I mentioned yesterday, I went to a business tip meetup on Monday and am going to two other PAC events later in the week.  One of the things Nick talked about at the meetup was the 365 day challenge.  There are a lot of variations on how it is done, but the idea is to take one picture a day, not a snapshot, but an artistic photograph.  The idea intrigued me.  I like challenges.  OK, OK, blogging 30 days straight hasn’t worked out quite the way I want, but someone said it was all about the journey anyway.  One step forward, two steps back and such.  So I am going to sit down and plan out exactly how I want to complete this challenge.  Some photographers do a different portrait everyday, or other subject matters every day, or the same subject but a different picture of it everyday.  Those were just some of the suggestions I saw when I was researching the project.  I will let you know what I decide to shoot and when I decide to start.  Another fun journey for us to take together.  If this doesn’t work out, I am blaming Nick and the PAC, and George Bush.

Another thing I am going to make a better effort at is taking and submitting photographs for the PAC daily theme shoots.  Themes are posted throughout the month, and we are allowed to submit our three best shots.  I have submitted a few times in the past year or so, but I am going to challenge (there is that word again) myself to shoot specific pictures for each theme  The following are the three I posted for the theme “fill the frame”  The flowers were shot with that theme in mind.  The flower girls weren’t.  They were part of my wedding shoot, but they fulfill the requirements of the theme.

I also got an unsolicited post with words of encouragement from my friend  Kimmie.  Those are always the best and it was nice of her to do.

Music to blog by:  Sweet Child Of Mine covered by Zepia playing the ukulele.  Her voice is very pure and soothing.  Helps the headache.