Saturday, August 26, 2006


Jacksonville Zoo

I spent a Sunday afternoon at the Jacksonville (FL) Zoo a few weeks back. I've finally gotten around to posting some of the pictures to the site.

OK, shoot me! I've been swamped-- new job, lotsa travel, trying to figure out what to do with all the stuff in Tampa Bay and Tallahassee, getting ready for the Nikon/Adobe/NAPP trip-- and it's 100 freaaking degrees here again, which just sucks the life right out of you.

I will NOT miss being here for the rest of Hurricane season. and I'm looking forward to being someplace where they have Fall.

Anyway, the pictures are at Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 25, 2006


More notes from the road

Well, I lived through week 1 of the new gig.

Actually, I did a lot better than live through it--This is quite possibly the best decision I've made in ages. Nice people to work with, interesting project. Not only is the work hard enough to be interesting, but the proximity to family and old friends is already paying off in spades. I had dinner with Mike, Julie and the boys on Monday, with Deb on Tuesday, and with George and Olivia on Wednesday. Aside from a few minor logisitical nightmares, the whole living/working setup is damn near perfect. (and I'm working on the logistics.)

One little fly in the ointment, however, is that there's been a deafening silence from one of the key players in my personal drama, and that hurts a little. Ok, that's a lie. It hurts a lot.

I know he's going through a bad time right now and I'm well aware that his M.O. is to clam up and lick his wounds in private when he's hurting. I really don't think he knows how much it hurts when he shuts me out like this. But there's not a freaking thing I can do about the fact that this kind of behavior hurts me ....and, more than that, it dredges up all my old insecurities. And then I go through the worried-sulky-snarky-bitchy-angry-"Fine, you wanna be like that? Just F-off and die" cycle.

The thing is that I do accept that I can't change him any more than he can change me. That means that since I can't control his behaviour, all I can do is try to limit how much I allow it to hurt me.

This isn't the first go-around for this kind of thing with us. It's probably the fifth or sixth. It's probably as unrealistic of me to expect him to suddenly start confiding in me when he's sad or confused or hurt or unsure of himself or of the future as it is of him to expect me to serenely wait and blithely accept that he won't emerge until he's ready to come back out of his cave. (And, if history is any indication, by the time he does, I'll probably have moved from worried and hurt to royally torqued off.)

Sometimes I wonder what we do to boys that makes them turn into guys who think being anything less than the Absolute Master of the Universe every waking moment of their lives is tantamount to failure. (And I hope I managed not to do whatever that is to my sons.)

I'm trying to be patient and understanding, but frankly, I don't see any resolution to this recurring stalemate. Arggh. I'm so much better with software than with relationships.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Schooner Freedom

at the dock in St. Augustine. Posted by Picasa

A few weeks ago, I was near the harbormaster's office in St. Augustine, admiring a lovely 2-masted schooner as she sailed in Matanzas Bay. An offhand comment to another photographer yeilded the information that one could sail upon her for a rather modest fee. I immediately booked passage for the following afternoon and fell in love with this pretty lady.

Three weeks later, I found myself driving from Amelia Island to St. A, and I booked a sunset cruise. The skies were not as pretty as I would have liked them to be, but the company, the ship, and the early evening were as lovely as can be.

There are some photos from the second sailing at

The shrimp boat and the rainstorm pictures in this set were taken on Amelia Island. The suspension bridge is on the way from Little Talbot Island to Huguenot Memorial Park.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Cummer Museum and Gardens, Jacksonville, FL

There's a gallery of a small group of images from a recent trip to Jacksonville and the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens there at the link above.

Guards were pretty aggressive about being "camera police" (even without flash) inside the museum, even though I'd called in advance and was assured that I would be able to shoot everything except the traveling exhibit-- then was told something else entirely after I got there and had paid my admission--so I spent most of my camera time in the gardens.

Had an amazingly silly conversation with one of the guards. On the road, I use a Targus case for my Nikon. It is backpack-shaped, and holds the body and the three lenses I use most often and very little else. It is smaller than my everyday handbag. I shove my wallet in a side pocket and clip my car keys on a D-ring and lock my handbag in the trunk of my car. When I entered the museum, I allowed the guards to inspect the contents. Satisfied that I didn't have burglary tools or incendiary devices in there, I was allowed to pass. After being told in three different galleries inside the museum that I was not permitted to use my camera there (contrary to the brochure, website and phone call info) I stashed the body back in the case and proceeded to tour the museum sans camera for a while.

A few minutes later, I was stopped by a guard.
Guard: "We don't allow backpacks in the museum"
Me: "This is my camera case. I submitted it for inspection at the front desk" I unzipped it and displayed the contents.
Guard: "Well, you can't put the strap over your shoulder like that."
Me: "Do you allow women with shoulder bags and people with diaper bags?" I ask, glancing around the room at several people with those very items.
Guard: "Of Course!"
Me: "I see. No, actually, I don't. This bag is smaller than my regular handbag. In fact, it's much smaller than the shoulder bag of that woman over there. What is the problem? The SHAPE?"
Guard: "It's a backpack. "
Me: "No, it's a relatively small camera case that happens to be shaped like a canned ham. But I'll be happy to carry it by the other handle if that would make you happier."
Guard: "That would be best"

Give me a break. I realize that most museum guards are volunteers and may not be rocket scientists, but the difference between the intent of the rule and the execution is huge. I can only assume that the no-backpack rule is to discourage theft, yet women with handbags nearly the size of my regular carry-on luggage go unquestioned.

Note to photographers-- the permanent collection isn't all that great, they're overly fond of putting sculpture behind glass, and they won't let you in more than half the museum with a camera, even if your flash is suppressed. Lighting in the few galleries where they will permit you to shoot is very subdued and very yellow.

Skip the museum and do the gardens on a modestly sunny day-- spring would be best, as there are lots of rhodies and azaleas-- the summer garden was waning and the upkeep on the fountains and reflecting pools is less than impressive, but at peak bloom, the gardens are probably gorgeous, in a slightly shabby chic way.

The formal gardens, designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman in 1931, are a lovely little oasis in the city. If you remember my photos in the spring from Stan Hywet (the Seiberling estate outside Akron, OH) she was the landscape architect for those, as well. Interesting lady... Jacksonville-CMOA Posted by Picasa


Another new gallery at the site

Jacksonville, FL

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Why Consultants Burn Out, part 2

Several months ago, in a rare moment of lucidity, I wrote a long-winded piece on consulting and burnout.

I won't reiterate it all here, but the main thrust of the piece was that being in an environment but not a real part of it for many months (or in my case on this last project, years) can be corrosive -- particularly for those of us who are not just road warriors M-F, but for whom the weekend travel is not back to a loving and welcoming familly or community of friends, but to another empty residence in our "home" city.

That post was sparked by a specific incident with a co-worker with whom I'd interacted on a daily basis for several months-- yet who, apparently, didn't know my last name. I was a little hurt and a little discouraged and more than a little cynical about the whole thing.

Well, I've come to the end of my involvement in that project. I"ll be leaving it this week to move on to another assignment in a city much closer to my family. In fact, I specifically sought out a new opportunity that would put me "only one airplane away" from the people I care about most. After 2 years of a minimum of 7 hour one-way commutes (and often closer to 12 hours) to get to the folks I love, I'd promised myself that I'd orchestrate things a little better this time. It looks like someone up there heard me, because the right project has presented itself just at the moment I was ready to take it on. For the next few months, I won't just be only one airplane from "my peeps," I'll be close enough to pop in the car and meet them for a meal or a visit. After the Tallahassee Marathon project, this is balm to the soul.

In an interview recently, I was asked what I do to combat the loneliness and isolation of consulting. Frankly, just hearing that interview question was a tipping point for me. I knew I was talking to someone who "got it." This was a group of people I could work with.

People who have never done this don't "get it." As the Tallahassee project has slipped into its next phase, I've recently seen the on boarding of a number of new folks, some of whom are working their first consulting gig. You can tell, even without hearing their stories, because they haven't learned the coping mechanisms that experienced road warriors have to develop to stay sane.

--Know who you are, outside of the job. People who define themselves solely by the work shouldn't consult. The project will end. Your life goes on.
--Have a portable hobby or interest. For me, it's the cameras. For others, it's knitting, or running or something else. Whatever it is, you need to be able to do it alone using equipment that you're willing to cart on a plane every week or store locally. Ideally, whatever it is engages your mind as well as your body. You can only watch so much HBO in a hotel room.
--Explore the community in which you are working. Find the parks, the neighborhoods, the mom-and-pop restaurants, the used bookstores... there is life beyond the airport, Marriott, the chain restaurants and the office.
--Make taking some time out for yourself a priority. I rarely go to lunch with other people. That's my time to read and recenter myself.
--If you're going to be on a site for more than a couple of weeks, beg your travel coordinator to get you a room with a fridge and a microwave. There are going to be nights when nuking a Lean Cuisine in your sweats is all you have the energy for, and living on fast food is a quick route to a coronary.
--Find a good hairstylist, manicurist, dry cleaner, etc. in the community in which you are working. Even if you are flying home to your family every weekend, do you really want to waste the 24-36 waking hours you have with them running errands?
--Learn how to pack for business travel. This is work, not a vacation. You don't need to be carrying 5 pairs of shoes every week. Think about leaving a duffle in your office or with the hotel with things like a pair of running shoes, your personal care items, etc. It is cheaper and easier on you to buy duplicates than it is to cart staples every week. Buy yourself some real shampoo, soap, lotions, etc. instead of using the hotel stuff. Get in the habit of dropping your laundry off at the dry cleaners on Thursday night or Friday morning. It will be ready for you after work on Monday.
--Learn how to dress for airline travel. Forget your mother's rules. I travel in casual clothes, but I always make sure there's a crush-proof outfit of business attire in my carryon.
--Remember to tip the hotel housekeeping staff. I can't believe how many young consultants have never been taught to do this. The few dollars this costs you is both an investment in your ongoing comfort and just plain good manners.
--Learn to be comfortable eating in a restaurant, going to a movie, attending a performance, or walking in park, etc. by yourself. There won't always be someone to hang with. If you need a posse to grab dinner at Outback, you're in the wrong business.
--I'm not a prude, but the one thing you don't want to be doing much by yourself is drinking. It is too easy to use alcohol to numb yourself. Depression is a very real issue for road warriors, and sellf-medication has ruined many careers.
--Married? In a committed relationship? Your life is your own, but the "100 mile rule" is complete BS. If you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself. Yes, your spouse or SO may never find out, but the road warrior life is too hard all by itself, without adding more stress and guilt to the mix. OTOH, I've seen consultants take on road warrior jobs because things at home pretty much suck. If you're using your job to run away from the rest of your life, you're eventually going to implode.

Well, this is a lot longer than I intended it to be, so I'm outta here.
--Learn to sleep on airplanes.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Timeless Serenity and New Software

Used Nikon Capture NX to edit this image of a small terra cotta figure from the Cummer.

I like the feline grace of her facial features and the dreamy, peaceful expression.

But the Cummer shoved her behind glass and lit her harshly, causing sharp-edged shadows.

I downloaded the trial of Capture NX from Nikon, and this is definitely one of the most innovative pieces of software I've used in AGES. Nikon (Nik Multimedia) has changed workflow, paradigms, and approoaches and the result is a stunning piece of editing software with a very real learning curve but extraordinary capabilities.

Watch out, Adobe. It's not a replacement for Photoshop, as it only does one thing-- photo editing- but it does that one thing very, very well. Once you get used to the new interface and embrace the whole "control points" methodology you'll be as blown away as I was. Designed for use with NEF files, but will also work on the JPG's and Tiffs produced by most digital cameras. (Though you lose the non-destructiive adjustment advantages of RAW in those formats) . Posted by Picasa


Sometimes I like to mess with the output

Heavy-duty Photoshop post work combined with tight focus and tightly controlled DOF in camera-- it takes alpha channels and adjustment layers to make this happen-- I like it. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Black and White

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Tuxedo pink

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Talk to the hand

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Found in the archive

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