Category Archives: Thinking Photo

I’m not an expert, but I think about being one. I see every scene as a photograph and often wish I had to talent to capture it with my own lens. If you think about photography, welcome to my thoughts on the matter.

Curious Kids Photo Contest

I see a ton of photos online every day of kids posing for cameras. Although many are really cute, you know, because kids are cute, the ones I really love are photos of kids not even knowing there is a camera around. If you just let a child be a child, you will get wonderful emotions and reactions.

I decided to dig around in the world of amateur/semi-pro photography and see just what sort of photos there might be out there capturing those wonderful emotions and reactions. As a member of Pixels.com, I am able to host contests among other members as a way for all of us to get together and share our work, and learn to get better. I honestly thought going in that I had the best photo, and that the world would agree.

Man, did I ever have something to learn. There are a lot of awesome people out there taking photos, and 60 of them submitted images in my contest.

The rules were simple: “Kids are fearless and curious. This can get them into trouble. Show us your best photo of kids living on the edge.”

Here is the winning image, as voted on by viewers at Pixels.com.

"Can You See It?" - photo by Barbara Dudley
“Can You See It?” – photo by Barbara Dudley (Taken with Nikon D5100 with 55-300mm lens)

Now, you might be saying, “Wait, they aren’t living on the edge!”

I disagree. I think this photo is the perfect example of the spirit of my contest. We have no idea what they are looking at, or why they are curious. We only know the older-looking one seems slightly cautious and the younger-looking one seems ready to tackle it, no matter what it is. This is the way kids tackle all of the things that worry us parents silly.

The photographer, Ms. Barbara Dudley, explained a little more for me via email :

“The photo was taken last fall when I shot the family of these two little hooligans! These were among the best shots and great representation of the energy ( trouble) these two carry with them…
I used my Nikon D5100 and my 55-300mm lens…I did shoot from a distance as they were on a bridge with their little heads poking through…
Their expressions were priceless and really can’t remember what caught their eye as my focus was on the two of them…”

While I wouldn’t exactly call a Nikon D5100 a “budget” camera, it is far less expensive than the equipment full-time professionals use, however Ms. Dudley shows us here that photography is not now, nor has it ever been, about the price of the equipment. It is more about the value of the moment. To see more of her work, you can view her gallery HERE.

There was one other photo in the contest that I feel obligated to mention, mainly because it is the one I voted for and because it did finish in second place, losing by one vote.

Here is the 2nd-place photo, getting an Honorable Mention, and giving me a giggle every time I look at it.

Going Fishing - Photo by Kris Hiemstra
“Going Fishing” – photo by Kris Hiemstra (Canon 3ti with Sigma 18-250mm lens)

Another photo proving that you don’t need a kid staring at a camera to get a great shot. I loved this photo because of the humorous situation, but also because it has great composition, lighting and color. I also appreciated the moment because, as a kid, I was forever trying to get in any fish tank I could get in.

Here is what Ms. Hiemstra had to say about how she captured the image:

“The photo was taken on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay, California. I walk past it every day and, of course, I always have my camera with me. The steam always attracts attention and this curious child was no exception. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was supposed to be somewhere else (school perhaps?) but became completely distracted (you might say immersed).”

If you would like to see more of her work, you can see it HERE. (If you are looking for very colorful photography to decorate a sunroom or other “beachy” space in your home, I highly recommend you look at her work.)

As for the image I submitted, most of my readers have seen it before. But since I technically finished two votes back in a tie for third, I’ll share it again.

Fearless - photo by David Cothran (Nikon D700 with 24-70mm fixed 2.8)
“Fearless” – photo by David Cothran (Nikon D700 with 24-70mm fixed 2.8)

A little Easter shoot we did last Spring, and the photo that inspired me to host the contest. If you would like to see more of my work, all of which is for sale, visit my gallery HERE.

Ringo Goes Pro?

Actually, I’ve been getting paid for photography for more than five years now, and I guess that makes me a professional, but among my Navy photographer peers, I am like a minnow among sharks.

Perhaps that is why I have always been nervous about my prospects to actually get paid for photography outside the military.

Thanks to social media and digital technology, just about anyone with a pulse can be a photographer these days, and competition is everywhere… often at the cost of quality, as most images I see on social media are total garbage. I call them “pictures”, not “photographs”.

There are, however, many quality images being shared online, and now it’s easier than ever for artists to market and maybe sell their images via social media outlets.

And so it is… Ringo has decided to dabble in the world of semi-professional photography. I am offering a selected group of some of my favorite shots at a social-media driven website called Pixels. They are an offshoot of Fine Art America, which has been selling art online successfully for quite a while.

Below you will find a few links to art I am featuring in specific galleries, along with a link to my overall profile. These images are for sale in several printed/framed varieties, as well as for use on greeting cards or cell phone covers. Additionally, my images can be licensed for commercial use. All details can be found on the site.

If photography is a hobby for you, I encourage you to look into using Pixels to share your art with the world. Even if you don’t sell anything, Pixels is a nice social community for artists to learn from each other and enhance their craft.

My page: Click Here

Galleries I sponsor and have work in:
Bridges
Children
Nature

Welcome Home and Farewell Once Again

0514myship_1440Im going to let this post be a short one, and it is going to send you to an external link, but it’s a safe one:

All Hands Magazine, the official magazine of the US Navy. This is my most recent contribution to the magazine. It details my experience of going to see my ship pull in from deployment.

http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/ftrStory.asp?issue=3&id=80848

If you don’t wanna check out the story, the video is below.

When My Ship Comes In

Oh Hoppy Day

Baskets, bunnies, bridges and boulders – A photo essay.

This is the expression we imagine when we run out fight crowds and traffic to blow money on cheap toys and candy...
This is the expression we imagine when we run out to fight crowds and traffic to blow money on cheap toys and candy…

 

Bunny and Bridge
Put a toddler and a bunny on a rock over the water. Hold breath. Take photo. Easy as that.

 

I do not believe in telling a subject to look at a camera. When you do that, you don't get this.
I do not believe in telling a subject to look at a camera. When you do that, you don’t get this.

 

Phoenix likes say he's a starfish when he poses like this. For a photographer, its just a fun moment and a little bit of luck.
Phoenix likes to say he’s a starfish when he poses like this. For a photographer, its just a fun moment and a little bit of luck.

 

No, he doesn't want to pose on a rock in the creek, but he does want to play in the water. This show illustrates how we don't always need much of a face to have a good shot. The action tells us more than any expression could.
No, he doesn’t want to pose on a rock in the creek, but he does want to play in the water. This shot illustrates how we don’t always need much of a face to have a good shot. The action tells us more than any expression could.

 

You never know when there might be one more treat hidden under that plastic grass, and Phoenix is one to make sure he finds it. The emotion we captured here is "determination".
You never know when there might be one more treat hidden under that plastic grass, and Phoenix is one to make sure he finds it. The emotion we captured here is “determination”.

 

You have to take chances to get the good shots. Two nervous parents and some curious onlookers created a little more tension than I like, but the shot made it worth it. Besides, he wouldn't really jump, would he?
You have to take chances to get the good shots. Two nervous parents and some curious onlookers created a little more tension than I like, but the shot made it worth it. Besides, he wouldn’t really jump, would he?

 

I HATE posed photos. I almost never use the posed shots. I shoot while they are getting ready to pose, because those moments are real. These are not the faces of people saying "cheese".
I HATE posed photos. I almost never use the posed shots. I shoot while they are getting ready to pose, because those moments are real. These are not the faces of people saying “cheese”.

 

This photo is not particularly well done. It does illustrate the importance of timing. Most folks get the shot at the top of the slide or at the bottom. Try getting the motion next time, it's way more fun.
This photo is not particularly well done. It does illustrate the importance of timing. Most folks get the shot at the top of the slide or at the bottom. Try getting the motion next time, it’s way more fun.

 

Use the comments section to tell me which one you liked best, and why.

All photos in this post are taken by the author with a Nikon D-7000 equipped with a Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED lens. No flash was used. 

Where are you from?

“Where you from?” – This is a pretty friendly question. People from Alabama ask it.

“Where are you FROM?” – This is not so friendly. People from everywhere else ask this one. (It has a close cousin – “Where in the Hell are you FROM?”)

This is one place I am from.
This is one place I am from.

I have lived 600-700 miles, on average, from where I grew up for most of the last five years, thus I get the second question 10 times more often than the first one. It is a very subtle difference.

The first question comes about when you meet someone and you are casually exchanging information and getting to know each other. I like to call it “striking up kin”.

If you look closely at where you are, where you are from becomes part of the background. You will always  still be from there though, wherever it was.
If you look closely at where you are, where you are from becomes part of the background. You will always still be from there though, wherever it was.

The second question happens when someone really wants to make sure you know that it is obvious you are from somewhere far, far away from wherever the conversation is taking place. Either because you have “that accent” or you have some ideal that seems odd to the person asking the question. To say that I get asked that question every single day would not be an exaggeration.

The family farm in Alabama
The family farm in Alabama

“Where are you FROM?”

Translation: There is no way you are from anywhere around here because you talk funny, you have stupid ideas, and therefore must be some right-wing idiot from the dirty south.

Old times here are not forgotten.
Old times here are not forgotten.

I used to answer the question honestly, out of ignorance I suppose. It took me a couple of years to realize the question was an insult.

“Northeast Alabama, in the mountains,” I would usually say, beaming with pride. After all, being from Alabama is something that I am extremely proud of, blue laws notwithstanding.

Yes, I am from here, too.
Yes, I am from here, too.

“Oh, I knew that accent had to come from somewhere like that,” was roughly what I would hear next.

Being in the military, it was just normal for me to be as honest and respectful as possible when answering the question, and to make no assumptions of the person asking it. Ironically, it is my military service that has most often subjected me to this rather irritating insult.

A pretty place can be anywhere. Even a pond created by highway development somewhere in Virginia.
A pretty place can be anywhere. Even a pond created by highway development somewhere in Virginia.

Some of it is my fault, I suppose. I use euphemisms and colloquialisms early and often in conversation, usually without even thinking about it.

“How are you doing,” they ask.

“Awesome, if I was any better I’d be twins,” I reply.

Or, “Fair to partly cloudy I guess.”

Or, “I feel rougher than two Saturday nights in Georgia back to back.”

“Where are you FROM?” – It always follows my answer.

San Diego. One of my many hometowns.
San Diego. One of my many hometowns.

Now, I’m not a dummy. I was on a state-championship math team in high school. I have never scored below the 90th percentile on a standardized test in 30 years of testing, often scoring 98th or higher. I was the only student in my graduating class to be offered a four-year, full academic scholarship to an accredited four-year university. (Sometimes when I’m bitter I like to toot my own horn a little)

That means the person asking me the question, and assuming my ignorance, stands a better than 90 percent chance of being the actual dummy (assuming they think people like me, or less intelligent than me, are dummies), while calling me one.

Three generations of bare feet. They are from the beach, on this particular day at least.
Three generations of bare feet. They are from the beach, on this particular day at least.

But where AM I from? I live in Maryland. I spent three years in Virginia. I lived in Alabama more than 30 years. I have spent time in Chicago, San Diego, Baltimore, Washington DC, Charlotte, Asheville, Myrtle Beach, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Indiana, Scotland, England, France, Bahrain, Dubai, and Greece. I even spent a day in New Jersey, not that I learned anything other than hot-dog vendors in airports aren’t very friendly.

I am from the Southwest. I flew over it on Southwest.
I am from the Southwest. I flew over it on Southwest.

Each place I have been has made an impression on me and helped form parts of my personality. I am from all of those places. I am from USS Harry S. Truman as well. She is a place, after all. She has her own zip code and post office. She certainly helped form the current version of me.

I am from many airport bars. Some of my favorite hometowns are located there.
I am from many airport bars. Some of my favorite hometowns are located there.

Yes, I am from all of those places. And tomorrow, after they ask me that insulting question, I will be from wherever we were standing when I gave the answer. I will forever be FROM where I have BEEN.

But to keep it simple, and to test their wits, while also letting them know I’m not the dummy in the conversation, I have a new answer that is sure to change the subject.

“I’m from Brooklyn.”

Beauty in all things, depending on your view. Their origin loses importance.
Beauty in all things, depending on your view. Their origin loses importance.

All photos in this blog post were taken by the author using a variety of camera equipment. Mostly Nikon D-series cameras and a little iPhone in there as well. 

Final Epic Journey – Again – Probably

1092.

That is, give or take a few hours, the number of days I was assigned to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). For my less salty readers, Truman just happens to be the finest military ship in the world, and has won the prestigious Battle E award so many times, they are out of places to paint it on the ship.

She is also 1092 feet long. Coincidence? Hardly. Destiny? Probably.

Her hull number is 75. Just guess what year I was born. Truman himself became president in April. Take a guess what month I was born.

What happens when you subtract 75 from 1092? You get 1017. Guess how many days are left in the year on October 17th (10-17). Thats right… 75.

Creepy yet? Hang on. Truman was the 33rd President of these United States. On October 17th, 1933 (10-17-33) astronaut William Anders was born. He, along with Captain Jim Lovell and another astronaut were the first three Americans to orbit the moon. Guess who I am having breakfast with in the photo below in the month of OCTOBER??? (Actually October 12th, 2010, aboard Truman).

Having breakfast with Apollo 13 Commander Captain Jim Lovell. Photo By US Navy MC2(SW) David Giorda
Having breakfast with Apollo 13 Commander Captain Jim Lovell. Photo By US Navy MC2(SW) David Giorda

The assignment had to be fate. The ride, it was epic. At times. For short periods of time. With lots of time in between the epic… And I loved every minute of it.

In early spring of 2013, I went underway on her for my final 11 epic days. I earned my Aviation Warfare Specialist qualification during those 11 days (the normal process is several months). I also cried the first and only tears I would ever cry over the thought of leaving that ship and never stepping foot aboard anything that floated again.

The tears were short lived. They may have even been the result of the onions being prepared on the mess decks that day.

I swore off watercraft and water-related sports for good. I even ruled out visiting places near coastlines. I considered never getting in another bathtub.

Three months later, I was working the system at my shore duty trying to get a chance to get back on board a ship for just one day.

Experimental Unmanned Aerial Vehicle being tested on board Truman sometime in fall 2012.
Experimental Unmanned Aerial Vehicle being tested on board Truman sometime in fall 2012.

Well, it has taken me a solid year, but if things work out, my next seven days will include more than 700 miles of driving, more than 5000 miles of flying (five different flights), 24-36 hours on an aircraft carrier, and the bonus of landing on and flying off of the ship while it is at sea.

Epic. Probably.

All sorts of things can go wrong, the most likely of which is cancellation of the visit due to the ship getting busy and not having time to participate in the mission I am going there for. I saw it dozens of times on Truman. Visitors planned, visitors cancelled.

I will not be writing on the blog for the whole week. Probably.

But when I get back from this epic journey, I will have tales of airports in three states, military plane rides landing on boats, jet fuel in my skin, salt water on my boots, sea stories galore, adventure, excitement, fun, great beer on a coastline I have never visited, in a place I swore I would never go.

When I get back, I am going to have an EPIC story to tell. Probably.

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Touchdown! Shot on a lazy Sunday at sea on Truman Oct 14, 2012. Shot from Vulture’s Row.

 Photos by the author (except photo of myself with Captain Lovell), shot with Nikon D-7000, D-700 and D-800 with Nikon 24-70 fixed 2.8 aperture lens. 

Born Lucky

(All photos in this post taken by the author with a variety of camera gear, primarily Nikon DSLR bodies ranging from D-200 on the low end, to D-3 on the high end.)

I was born lucky. It was a matter of timing and era, but I was born lucky.

The 1800’s would have been cool, for a day or two. Wooden bridges that lead into vast stretches of forest. Everybody has a horse and they all know how to ride it. I would have worn my gun outside my pants for all the honest world to fear, just like Poncho did, according to the legend. I have a feeling I would start missing electricity and antiperspirant after about three August days in Alabama, but man I would have rocked the scene for a day or two.

DJC_1619

I could pick a century out of a hat and find a reason to want to be there – for a few days. Try to deny your desire to spend a week in ancient Egypt. Ok, maybe 24 hours. Pyramid building is hard work, unless, of course, you have alien help, but that’s another blog.

I have to confess though, I can’t imagine being born and living in a better era than the one I find myself stuck in. Assuming Marty and Doc don’t show up at my door needing plutonium any minute, it is likely I will stay right where I am on the time line, and I guess I have a lot to be thankful for. I guess I was just born lucky.

Clearly, the idea for my birth came about sometime in the late summer, or early fall of 1974. I was born in the late spring of ’75. I like to think I was the result of a substantial amount of Budweiser following a fight over the checkbook or the amount of gas in the car. I like to think this because it is the only way I can explain how Budweiser, the checkbook, and gas in the car have been recurring themes in my life for 39 years.

It put me in a very lucky spot though, for too many reasons to count. I don’t give up easily though, thus humor me as I count a few.

For starters, I grew up in the 80s. If that isn’t reason enough to claim victory over life, I don’t know what is. Still close enough to the 60s to live them through your parents without actually having to take LSD and deal with the risks therein.

I was born at a time that allowed me to have a grandfather who was part of World War II. I have met many of the men who fought in that war and I find it a blessing to share this period of time with them. We lose a few of these national treasures every day and I feel so fortunate to have known so many and had the chance to hear, and help tell, their stories through my work in the Navy.

MNT_5255

My three-year-old son was born right into the most recent boom of technology. He can use an electronic tablet or smartphone as well as many adults, and better than some. While that is fun to see as a dad, I feel so lucky to have been born at a time when I could witness, first hand, the evolution of these technologies and experience the awe of each one as they came into existence. It is so easy to take technology for granted, when much of it is such an amazing feat of human ingenuity.

DJC_1317

Just five years either side of my birth and the likelihood of ever knowing and marrying my wife would have been roughly zero. This is perhaps the luckiest thing that has happened to me as a result of my birth date. Going on 19 years of marriage, the coins just keep falling in the tray, my triple sevens still flashing on the slots after all this time. Adding to the pot, she makes a terrific mother, which means my luck is already being passed on to my son, the three-year-old computer geek.

DJC_0471

I had the good fortune of being born just in time to get into the Navy, or I suppose you could look at it that way. Waiting until I was 33 to decide to start the process of enlisting might have been a bad idea, but luck was on my side and I finished boot camp and A-school  10 days prior to my 35th birthday (the age cutoff without a waiver), unlocking tremendous adventure and opportunity for me.

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As a Navy photographer serving in the golden age of photographic technology, I have had the chance to witness, and photograph, things that would make your heart race, make your heart warm, and make your heart break. I have witnessed the beginning of life and the end of it as a member of the U.S. Navy.

MNT_5299b

I photographed my biggest childhood fear, the Russian military, landing on my ship at sea. Later, I reassured close friends who were deployed and worried that new disagreements with that same Russia would prevent them from coming home from deployment on time. I know that luck is on my side, and I will see the pendulum swing again, but I don’t know when.

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I was born at a time when medical technology would allow my son to not only know three out of four of my own grandparents, but also would allow him to know and love a great grandmother and great grandfather who both survived cancer. Indeed, my luck is already rubbing off on him.

DJC_1282

Although I live in a world where all of my old dirt roads are turning into super speedways, I can still find those places of refuge where a nail and a chain make a sufficient lock.

DJC_1616

I still have the opportunity to learn to drive, and use, the same tractor my grandfather plowed his field with, and my son will have that opportunity as well.

DJC_1623

Despite what you hear on television by people who know the value of selling controversy, I know I still live in a time where nature is thriving and beautiful. I feel so fortunate to have the chance to photograph, and just be near so many beautiful natural settings. I want to pass that love of nature down to my son, and with any luck, he will accept it.

DJC_1186

Right now, he is content to build a train station with Legos and show me he can count to ten. I am so lucky to have him, and I want him to be lucky too. He will never understand how great it was to be alive in the 80s. That is just how it is supposed to be.

DJC_4554

But if he someday feels about his era the way I feel about mine, I’ll consider that a win. The odds look pretty good. Like I said, I was born lucky.

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