Photo 101, Final Day: Triumph, best shared

ChuckHalfNearFinish copyToday’s Photo 101 assignment asked us to capture an image of triumph.

I went to the files for one of my favorite vicarious triumphs — one of my sons completing his first half-marathon, in 2011. I snagged the above shot of Chuck as he rounded the final corner at the 13-mile mark, with just one-tenth of a mile to go. He was happy (and ignored the red signal for pedestrians).

Running is a huge part of my life, and it’s even better when I get to share it with my sons. This October, my oldest (Dan) and I will run a full marathon together — his first, and my 12th go at the 26.2-mile distance. Below is a photo of my bib and shirt from last year’s Columbus Marathon.

The word on the front of the shirt? “TRIUMPH.”


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Photo 101, Day Nineteen: Double, double, toil and … stars!

Stars1Today’s Photo 101 assignment — find something that’s a “double” and then rotate the image if you feel like it — was a fun challenge. I actually caught myself looking for sets of twins everywhere I went, but quickly decided that made about as much sense as shopping for Doublemint gum.

So, I did what I don’t do often enough. I looked up.

When I did, I happened to be in the 12th-floor solarium of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, which is affiliated with the medical university where I work. The day was dreary and rainy, but no matter. We have our own stars, and a quiet place to enjoy them day or night.



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Photo 101, Day Eighteen: Finding the edge

Court 1Today’s Photo 101 assignment — “show us an edge” and use a photo editing tool to check the alignment — made me think of an outtake from Day Seventeen’s assignment with classmate Mark Bialczak.

I retrieved this shot of our city court building, knowing it had a lot of lines and edges. But the original wasn’t straight, so I tried out free editing site PicMonkey to check and fix the alignment. (I wish I could get my car’s front end aligned for free after dealing with a winter of Syracuse potholes.)

There’s only a slight difference in the before and after, as I tried to remove a sliver of blue sky showing on the left side of the building. Either way, I like the plentiful lines and sunlight streaming through the glass. And the more I compare the two, I like the original better. The sliver of sky gives the building some depth, some context.

Court 1a

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Photo 101, Day Seventeen: Glass and a happy hour

OnCenterGlassEvery day of Photo 101 has been instructive, and today was no exception.

It also was fun, because I teamed up with fellow blogger, Photo 101 classmate and long-time friend Mark Bialczak of on the “glass” assignment.

It was instructive for two reasons.

1. I learned just how difficult it is to create an image that works, or fits a given assignment. I think Mark did just fine, and I’ll check his homework shortly. I, however, failed miserably during our “working lunch,” so I went out later on my own.

2. I became aware of how little attention I sometimes pay to my surroundings. The photo above is of one of a set of circular windows that I walk past five or six times a week. Until today, I never thought to look for any kind of reflection or image in the glass. So I gave it a shot, trying to capture a representative street scene on a very sunny afternoon.

I added the photo below, of our local Justice Center, because the reflected “dazzlers” on the wall caught my eye. I couldn’t determine what was causing them, and I didn’t want to push my luck by snooping closer. Standing outside a jail and taking photos of the windows isn’t the wisest thing to do these days.


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Powerful echoes of a simple sound at 6:50 a.m.

The 6:50 a.m. school bus ... squeaky brakes and all.

The 6:50 a.m. school bus … squeaky brakes and all.

Weekday mornings, if I’m in the kitchen with my coffee at the right time, I’ll hear a familiar sound coming from the stop sign at the corner. And an entire era of my life replays in my head.

It’s the sound of squeaky brakes on a school bus. If I time it right, I can either look out the window to see the bus, or see its flashing lights dance off my living room walls. Sometimes I just hear the brakes, and then it’s gone.

For several years, that sound meant one of three things — my sons were at the corner en route to high school; they missed the bus because they were still getting ready in a sleepy fog and would need a ride; or they were at their mom’s house, meaning my house was empty and quiet.

Emptiness. The nest has been officially empty for a few years now, my three boys now young men on their own, following their bliss, doing well and doing good.

Their absence, and the quiet that accompanies it, are the norm except at holidays or occasional visits. I miss having them around, and the times we are together are usually festive and occasionally raucous. I am often not the most responsible adult in the room.

I don’t consciously await the 6:50 a.m. school bus any more. So the mornings I do hear it, the sound grabs me and takes me back.

It’s comforting, yet there’s a twinge of sadness. That’s not unusual, I suppose, when parents see, hear or feel something that recalls the blur of diapers, day care, play dates, lunch-making, teachers’ conferences, practices and games, concerts, girlfriends, cars, jobs, parties . . .

With my boys gone, every time I encounter a mom or dad with a little one, I tell them, almost evangelically: “Yes, it’s a cliche, but it’s true! Enjoy them while you can! Hang onto them for dear life — it’s over before you know it, and they’re gone!”

And on and on. The polite ones smile, then go back to their screaming toddler who is tired, wet, hungry or just wants to be anywhere else at that moment.

Yes, it’s all true. Everything the books say, everything the “experts”  tell you, it’s all true. It’s there, and it’s gone. Enjoy — better yet, appreciate — being a parent. Some of it is brutal, honestly, and you give up a lot of yourself to do it right.

And then, one morning . . . you wake up in the dark, put on the coffee and hear a school bus at the corner.

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Photo 101: A closeup of a treasure? Good grief …

Charlie Brown in my house, 2015.

Charlie Brown in my house, 2015.

It took all of two seconds to choose a “treasure” to photograph today for our Photo 1o1 assignment.

Charlie Brown has been a part of my life since I was old enough to read “Peanuts,” the ingenious and tender comic strip penned by Charles Schulz. My Charlie Brown figure is actually older than I am. I seem to recall family photos of my older brother with it before I was born; somewhere I have photos of the two of us in our snowy front yard with “CB.”

When the snow was deep enough, we’d take turns throwing Charlie behind us over our heads and then race each other to find him buried in the snow. All three of us survived the ensuing mayhem.

The photo below shows me with my Dad and Charlie. I think I’m probably a little over 1 year old; Charlie is at least 60. He holds a place of honor on top of my refrigerator.

Charlie Brown in my house, circa 1958.

Charlie Brown in my house, circa 1958.

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Photo 101, Weekend 3: A moment, in motion

Syracuse University graduate students at work on a stop-action video project.

Syracuse University graduate students at work on a stop-action video project.

This Photo 101 assignment — “Moment & Motion” — instructed us to capture a small moment that is part of a big event. Either the camera, or something in the frame, should be in motion.

The photo above shows three graduate students at Syracuse University working on a stop-action video project.

The final video will be about 2 minutes long, but each second required 24 separate still photographs. The math alone is daunting (120 seconds x 24 shots = 2,884 photos). It is a labor-intensive task, to say the least, and it kept these students up until the wee hours just about every night for a week — during spring break.

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Photo 101, Day Fifteen: Landscape & Cropping

Descending A window seat of a descending airplane is a pretty good vantage point for a landscape shot or “sweeping panorama.” Even a bleak one. I took this a year ago as we approached an airport in America’s heartland.

Every time I fly, I look for baseball diamonds as the plane descends. It makes me happy to see evidence of America’s pastime, even when the fields are covered in snow.

I cropped a row of scrub trees from the bottom of the original (below), since they were distracting and not all that attractive. Some sharpness is lost, but the crop gives the baseball diamonds more prominence. Now, can baseball season please get here?

Descending 2

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Photo 101, Day Fourteen: Scale and Observation

Mr. Bones and microscope.

Mr. Bones and microscope (not to scale)

OK, I admit I’m having fun with this one. But just a little.

Working at a medical university, I’m surrounded by tools that are crucial to advancements in medical science. It’s hugely important stuff and very serious business, but that doesn’t mean it has to be somber or morbid.

The discoveries made by looking through a microscope — at things so small they can’t be seen otherwise — can have a huge impact on the human body. So, Mr. Bones, my apologies . . . you may be taller than the microscope, but not necessarily bigger.

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Photo 101, Day Thirteen: ‘Ultimately, life is fleeting’

Family and friends of a little girl known as "Ms. Toots" release balloons last summer on what would have been her 2nd birthday. Arie Baugh died of kidney cancer at 22 months.

I struggled today to find an image to satisfy the Photo 101 assignment, “Moment & Motion.”

And then I thought of these shots I took last summer. Family and friends of a 22-month-old girl who died of kidney cancer gathered on what would have been her second birthday. Little Arie Baugh was a sweetheart. The balloons were released at the conclusion of a celebration of her life.

I can’t think of a better fit for today’s instructions from Cheri at Blogging U.: “Our lives are made up of big events and tiny moments. Ultimately, life is fleeting, and oftentimes it’s these small moments, this motion, that we love to document.”


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