Saturday, October 27, 2012

Remember in August?

Do you remember in August when I said I would do a write up soon regarding my promotion in Judo?  Well I sort of put it off for awhile, then awhile longer, and here we are at the end of November looking at it. 

I still have to write part 3 of the Pittsburgh trip blog (I'll take care of it this week).

Well I almost forgot about writing anything about this until I was recently asked about it (the promotion in general then that discussion branched out further).  I started training in Judo at the very end of 2004.  I've had some training injuries over the years.  Anyone who has known me for any length of time has made mention of it a few times...that basically, you should just quit.

 I've met a lot of great, and even some not so great people over the years in Judo and JuJitsu.  I've obtained a new outlook on some subjects that I otherwise would have not been exposed to.  Yes, I've hurt myself training.  Much the same as a football player or a wrestler may injure themselves as well.  Both physically and mentally.  With that said my decision to stick Judo out was a difficult one.  I will not lie, there was a point where I had resigned myself to the fact I would probably not continue on.

One thing I've learned is that in almost every single martial art, and in almost every single school there's some sort of drama going on.  At my old school someone wanted to play mother hen to all of nature's derelicts and in doing so committed a betrayal against his business partner and all of the students there.  It was at that point that I left.  I had been planning on "transferring" (I'll explain that) but that was the final push I needed.  (On the transfer I just mean it like this.  I trained at both schools anyway, but one more than the other.  I planned on switching that, but it was the above situation that had me respond by going to the other school altogether).

The new school is one of the most respected Judo families in PA.  Patrick Johnston and Jim Dignan were my direct coaches.  I've worked out with Jason Dignan before they went full on MMA, and even after in MMA but during our Judo classes,  he was mainly teaching the MMA classes at the same time. (he has a large MMA class 4 nights a week)

If you've made it to this point in my 'essay', I appreciate it.  I understand it's a bit of rambling.

Pat had seen how I was at my brown belt and not continuing.  That wasn't good enough for him.  He pushed me to continue my studies with him and Jim for my black belt.  I've been asked before why I continue Judo/Jujitsu and the only answers I really can say are, "why not?"  To me it's more than throws and joint locks.  It's more than Japanese words and pyjamas.  Even when you're not on the mat, you can benefit from the principles of Judo.

In the book "The Canon Of Judo" written by Kyuzo Mifune 5 main points and 7 principles are listed.

"Five main points
1. Only the actions of a flexible mind and body can defeat strength and rigidity....
2.Display the most dynamic energy in the worst situation...
3. Negligence is the equivalent of lacking fixed principles...
4.Never hold to a fixed idea, exist in a selfless state...
5. Never make light of trivial matters, instead have a faithful heart."

"Seven Disciplines
1. Avoid falsehood in spirit.
2.Do not lose confidence.
3. Correct your posture.
4. Be swift.
5. Use your power without restraint.
6. Do not neglect your training.
7.Discipline yourself.

If you think of these, not just in the martial terms but also in spiritual terms you can see how these apply to life in general.

Two other statements are integral to Judo as well.
Seiryoku zen yo (Maximum efficiency through minimum effort) and Jita kyoei (Mutual welfare and benefit).  Those two statements are pretty self explanatory.

I don't want to get into the origins of Judo and everything in between.  If you're really interested in that, check out or even wiki it.

With that said, Judo is an important part of my life even if I'm not training the techniques of Judo.  The same thing with the principles of Bushido.  They are important to me as well.  On principle one of the most difficult things that I've accomplished was being able to call myself a student of Judo.  There's a misconception that a black belt is a mastery of an art.  It is not.  It's the start of the journey. Thank you Pat, Jim and Jason for getting me there.  I expect to be humbled by Pat MANY more times...especially since we've got a black belt in JuJitsu to get to.

There's a cool way to fold your gi where you can loop your belt over your shoulder to carry the whole rig, but for a photo, I like this much more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part blog update.

I spent some time walking around Oakland and ended up at Mt Washington in Pittsburgh last Saturday. 

As I said in part one, when it comes to photos, I'm all about people.  Well I wanted to try and avoid taking photos of people.  I

Here's a few more photos from that day
This is a mural in (guess where) Oakland. 

I like the lines and shapes of this.  I enjoy the contrast of colors as well.

I just was walking by and I seen this.  Not really sure what it's all about.

In a shop window there were these absolutely faded beer bottles.  (in part one I spoke about seeing in b/w)  I imagined it as a b/w image, with only the pale blue of the Blue Moon bottle.

This is one of the more strange editions at the car show.  I'm not too sure what it is, but it was neat.

This guy was enjoying an apple, and I snapped a photo.

These women were taking pictures of each other in the grass.  I like taking photos of people taking photos.

This building is massive, but I exaggerated the foreground with my perspective and lens choice.

Just people walking across the street.


I don't know much about the history of the Burgh, so I don't really have an idea of what I'm looking for in the Burgh skyline.  I'm also shooting it at 2PM...If only I was there for the evening.  The Burgh has such a pretty skyline.

Someone left it there on the bench...

Part three will have the remainder of the weirdo stuff and also the cars.  Thanks for looking.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Part 1 of 2...maybe 3

Today was an interesting day.  Without getting into the details of the arrangement, I was a back-up photographer for a group today.  Basically it goes like this.  I walk around the town where they have an event.  If their normal person calls in sick/dead/missing or something else awful, they call me to head to the location.  Otherwise, I just walk around.  In a way it's awesome because there's really no pressure...then in a few ways it stinks because of a few things.  First, it's always last minute.  Second, you are loaded up to shoot a wedding and may have loaded up for nothing.  Third, it's never close to home (I do this by choice though) and Fourth, it's the first time you'll meet that client. 

Well today I was in Pittsburgh.  Most of you know that I photograph people.  That's my thing.  People.  I love photographing people in action, or static.  Doesn't matter, just love shooting photographs of people.  When it comes to abstract and street photography...I just don't shoot it.  I look at the scenes and I think "well oh my, that looks great", but then I can't ever get a composition I'm happy with.  When I shoot street or abstract, it's always last minute as well.  Being a PJ at heart in my approach to this things, I don't want to clone out sets of power lines, light poles, cars and bird doody cacca.  I want the scene as it is, but then again, the scene...well it doesn't do anything for me.

That said, I gave myself an "assignment".  I figured that if I'm somewhere else, I should photograph different THINGS and not PEOPLE. 
I spent 7 hours walking around Oakland and ended up in Mt Washington.  I was totally a tourist...a camera around my neck and a starbucks in hand!

I shot some abstract things and some cars (there was a cool car show that seemed sort of hodge podge...there were lambos, porsches and high end bmw's.  Then I seen these guys with their newer camaros and no one was really paying attention to them...I mean, if you have the choice to look at a line of Lambos, or camaros, what are you going to look at?  Aside from running into a moving Lambo with my bike when I was 12 years old, or when I was driving around Dulles Airport (I swear my mid 2000's crv was the crappiest car on that stretch.  It was BMW, Acura, Ferrari, Lambo, but I digress) I had not seen them in person before.  So naturally that's what caught my eye.  I'll post those photos on the next update, but I'll post a goofy one of me in front of them today (totally easy to take a "self photo" with a 16-35 on a full frame camera with an out stretched arm).

Well here they are,

These are some dirty pillars.  The other sides of the building are clean, but these were (to me) more visually interesting.  There's a significant crop to this.  I may post the full one next time. Processing is minimal.  When I shoot B/W I imagine it B/W before I shoot it.  It's not a "oh let's turn this to grayscale to see if it looks good".  I am of the thought you've got to think of it as a B/W FIRST, then convert it.  Just a crop, conversion and a similar action I made up for my fight photos.

I'm just walking around and here's some dumpsters...really nothing more to it than that.  Remember, I gave myself the assignment to NOT photograph people.

How do you not shoot a photo of this?

I know it's a statue but they look like they are having a great time.  Imagine them flesh toned, they would be alive.

For no other reason than the faded and peeling sticker.

Remember when I said about shooting B/W, you have to (at least in my head) figure it out before you shoot it?  When I arrived in town, the sky was gray.  I seen these silver and gray fixtures with the black/dark gray.  Ilike the line leading you into the "OPEN".

It seems that every hydrant is a different color in town.  I swear, I may go back and only shoot a day of them.

As with the above comment.

I typically don't photograph people without them knowing it, unless it's at an event or wedding.  This guy coms out and he just looked like a character.  I only regret that I didn't have a longer lens with me (it was back at my "Operations Point" lol) to get in tighter.  I also would've probably still shot it this way with everything else in the field...just so I could be angry at myself later.  With that said, I wish I would've struck up a conversation with him and seen if he would let me take a few of him.

I love Coca-Cola, and that deep black with this mural painted just JUMPS out.

I seen this place and thought...what an ODD dentists windows?  The woman walking in was completely accidental.

This is yours truly.  just holding the camera and "guessing" where my face was in relation to the focus point (did pretty good!).  Photo is straight out of camera then hit with a boost in the shadows.
Stay tuned for part 2!  Thanks for looking!
(meanwhile I'm thinking about how I bring all of my old blog posts to my new website...)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An oddball post

I'm taking care of some paper work and I've got a few photographs that I want to post on the blog.  Don't worry, the new launch of the site isn't far out.  Just getting the final colors/layout under control.  I've also completely blown off writing any words about myself.  I really do need to get around to that part!

So what's going on?  I'm going to post a few photos that were taken today and also at the MMA show in Millersville PA.
In Millersville I was running around with an ultra wide angle zoom on a full frame camera. It exaggerates perspective pretty easily and sometimes it's just what I'm looking for. It gives a distinct and unique perspective.

 Jim wanted Brent to text him the address of the place we were going to eat at, after the fights.  Well Brent didn't want to text it and they fought back and forth for a few minutes over it...finally this was the solution, brent brought it up on his phone and Jim typed it on his...I can't remember off-hand but the address was three digits (I think 109) and Prince...

 This is Bill Bookwalter, and he's been in the cage a few times (inside joke, but seriously he has been).  I have no idea why but I felt it appropriate to take his photo a few times. Also Kevin Killian is on the left of the frame.

 Like I said I have no idea why but I was talking photos of Bill.

Jim spent half of the night typing on his phone.

This photo is funny because I believe the 2 are a couple.  The guy was our waiter/bartender.  He was a nice guy and had the kitchen staff stay to make our food.  The girl she was taking photos of our table like a paparazzi.  Well I caught her.  Had I been about 1 second sooner, I would've captured that on camera.  I don't know why but I think taking a photo of someone taking your photo is neat...only if they don't know that you know.
So today we decided to go for a walk.  Well Dad can't leave the house without a camera.  Sometimes it's incredibly convenient to capture what I see.  Other times I feel bad that I'm looking through the lens at something rather than looking with my own two eyes.  I think though that having the photos of my son are going to be worth it.  He's not quite 18 months, but it's fantastic looking at how much hes grown from birth to now.  He was a little late to the walking game, but he's loving it so far now.  I fear though that I'll have to worry about the constant bruising from him exploring and learning what he can do and where he can go.
This is him chilling out in his wagon.  The ducks were coming up by and he was smiling, cooing and laughing at them.

Remember what I typed a second ago about him exploring?  He thinks grabbing his wagon wheels when it's moving is cool.  Mommy and Daddy tell him it's an ouchy, but he doesn't care.

Back to lounging

Now he thinks it's a game. 

After awhile he had enough of being pulled around and he wanted to push the wagon.  He became frustrated quickly because the wagon doesn't push well.  Those steer wheels don't work well in reverse.

This is just a photo of the waterfall there.

Same with this one.
Alright, see you soon!