The blog incubator



I work at night, and my hours are somewhat flexible. At the beginning of the week, I try to get in earlier- say, 2000 or so. Depending upon my department’s workload, it is not uncommon for me to put in some overtime. When this happens, I will come in later on the next day. Unfortunately, this tends to be something of a vicious cycle with a long night leading to a later bedtime and a later start. I haven’t had any overtime thus far this week, but my sleep has been iffy at best. Today typifies the week (and its only Thursday!)

I got in this morning a little after 0630, put my plastic containers and utensils from lunch in the sink and gave them a quick rinse. I then greeted Tinka (our calico furbaby) with a smile and a gentle pet or two. She responded with an outpouring of indifference, Emotionally bouyed, I hopped into bed and started to drift off around 0700.Thirty minutes later, Jennifer’s alarm went off. My wife shut the alarm off, and I drifted back to sleep.

We live under a takeoff pattern just a few miles from Chicago’s O’Hare airport- since it was a pleasantly cool morning, my wife had left the window open. At 1030, I was awakened by an aircraft of some sort. I don’t know what sort of aircraft it was, but I do know it was loud. Think a steampunk coal-fired boiler flying Formula One car. Loud. Loud. Loud. I got a drink of water, went back to bed, tossed and turned for forty-five minutes, and gave up on sleep. Lack of sleep, though, is often an idea incubator. For example, during this morning’s edition of stating at the ceiling, staring at the walls, and then staring at the ceiling and staring at the ceiling again, I solved a data problem for a new table in my database, and came up with an idea for a blog entry on my other blog.

Now, Schwarz, our other cat (a sable/black Bombay) is behind me in the cat’s bunk bed. Snoring.

In my previous post I had noted a big storm was passing through. I think its rained every day this week, and on Wednesday morning it was light when I got home. I looked at the hood of our car and saw the beaded water, which seemed to be a photo op! I hurried in, dropped my things off and went down to the Secret Underground Lair, which is the current home of the Nikon. I affixed the short telephoto, powered the camera up and went outside. I quickly composed the shot in the viewfinder, depressed the shutter release, and…


However, I remained calm. Grace under pressure and all of that other rot. I looked at the business end of the camera- the lens was fogged. I carefully wiped it off, recomposed the shot, and this time it worked. I had to repeat the procedure another six times.

I like the results; I suppose they’re probably not more than snapshots. My  coworker Anna and I were talking about composition last night, and she said that composition is so hard for her. I told her that the key to photography- especially at her level and mine- is to keep on taking pictures. Lots of them- after all, past the initial investment, digital is free.

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- One f-stop short of a six pack.

*Don’t forget to visit my data analysis blog…it’s more fun than it sounds like…





“Rain” is probably one of the most underrated of George Harrison’s songs- this is my title because we had something of a downpour… more like a deluge, actually, on Monday the 12th. These meteorological events are uncanny in their knack for occurring when photography or videography is a challenge, to say the least. (WordPress gave me a red squiggly line under “videography”, but “videography” has at least ten pages of hits on Google, so it MUST be a real word).


These photos don’t really tell the story of the storm; the last one, though, does offer a bit of insight: water never pools up at our front stoop like that.

I shot a bit of video with my Nikon D3200 as well. As the storm was raging outside, I was desperately searching the internet on how to get the camera into video mode! In the time it too to find the answer, I could have down went to the Secret Underground Lair (SUL), grabbed the digital version from my camera bag, found the answer and been out shooting!

So, to match the photos, I have some fairly unimpressive video. To be fair to myself, though, I consider it to be training.

Speaking of training, I’m not sure if anyone else out there reading this shares in my journey of starting out with a 35mm SLR, taking a break, and then starting afresh with a DSLR. To be honest, there’s a bit of a learning curve.

I want to share one other salient, odd, interesting (pick an adjective, already!) point: does anyone use “old” technology in photography?

Prior to digital, prior to Adobe, there was Cokin. At the time (ca. 1978), Cokin introduced a line of filters which were brilliant by any standard. These square filters would fit any number of lenses- all a photographer had to do to add a filter to the stable was to have the appropriate adapter ring (which corresponded to the filter diameter of the lens.

Back in my 35mm days, I had purchased several Cokin filters. A search this past week discovered twelve of them- everything I need to get going except for one crucial item: a 52mm adapter ring! Jennifer (my wife) found the filters- we have yet to find my old camera bag, which may have a few additional adapter rings and my tabletop tripod.

One other piece of news- I am going to try to make Friday my “Photography Friday”.  I work in what is considered to be one of the largest industrial parks in the United States.  The extreme upside to this as a photographer is the vast array of industrial and railroad subjects which are available on any given Saturday morning, and I hope to be able to capture and share some of them here.

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- One f-stop short of a six pack.

*Don’t forget to visit my data analysis blog…it’s more fun than it sounds like…




This… or that?

DSC_0006 DSC_0008 DSC_0007

Choices are nice to have. Even if one is a fanboy/girl of a certain color, sport or brand, we still like the opportunity to make a choice. More often than not, life’s everyday choices are fairly inconsequential, but we still like the opportunity to have them. In a way, it’s like we’re shaking our fists at the cosmos as if to say, “I’m having honey in my tea, cosmos. Whaddya think if that of that?” Right. Of course, the cosmos, the person next to you in the elevator and the announcer on television collectively all agree in silence with what the cosmos thinks of your choice, “<yawn> So what?”

So we boldly proclaim our choices…

Black or white?

Red or blue?

Coffee or tea?

Android or iOS?

Windows or anything else?

To be fair, on any given day the answers to the above will not matter one way or another, and only the last two might produce some spirited debate. Sports, sports teams, car brands- now here, you’ll get some very lively discussions, but once again, for the most part at the end of the day one’s particular allegiance or patronage won’t generally count for much. Unless you’re on the losing end of a wager, of course.

Other choices are more important in the scheme of things, such as which brand and specific model of appliance or automobile? These are important, because you will be living with the consequences of this decision for three to ten years (maybe more).

However, as this is a blog about photography, I’d like to throw out some questions which may be salient to photographers, such as…

Love or money?

Hobby or profession (or, on the side vs my main income)?

Commercial or art?

OEM or aftermarket?

I think I could go on for quite some time, but in my view the one important question for someone starting out in digital photography is this:

Nikon or Canon?

Now, although I’ve made my decision and am blogging about my experience with Nikon, it does not mean Canon is a bad choice. It is simply a choice, and the cosmos really doesn’t care.

When I first started shooting 35mm, I researched cameras as best as I could in the pre-Internet world and choose Minolta. My other choices at that time were Olympus, Canon and Nikon. Back then, I really thought of Nikon as the “professional” 35mm brand, at least in part of what I thought was their commanding breath of lens variety, bodies and photographers using Nikon to make a living. My Minolta choice, I think, was at partially based on cost- it was less than either the Canon or Nikon.

Today, though, I’m shooting with a Nikon D3200. I’ve had this body for around two weeks, and have shot the equivalent of four (twenty-four exposure) rolls in it. My first impressions of this camera in particular and digital photography in general are quite positive. Prior to the actual purchase,  I had done a fair amount of research and narrowed my choices down to this camera and the Canon Rebel T3i.  The Nikon came in at a lower price point, but more importantly delivered over 24MP vs the Canon’s 18MP resolution… for fewer dollars!

DSC_0010 DSC_0009

So for now what I’m publishing here are things which I consider to be snapshots- good enough to upload, but not good enough to sell… stuff which I like that might bring a smile to someone’s face.

*For those who are slightly more stream-of consciousness- please check out my data analysis blog at hochspeyer.blogspot,com

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- One f-stop short of a six pack.

Thanks for reading, and have a joy-joy day, citizen!









What do you mean, “No film?”

This is my second blog. I’m feeling a bit the minimalist, right here, right now. This is a blog about photography, and there won’t be any photos in the inaugural post. No matter. Blogs are built with words, and away we go!

When I was in high school, I didn’t have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. My cousin Jeff and I had thoughts about traveling to Germany (his Mom was an actual German, naturalized, and much of my family had German heritage). As most of my “plans” went, this didn’t happen. Well, it didn’t happen until I met Jennifer. I graduated high school in 1977, and for the next ten years tried to figure things out, mostly without success. Among the more interesting things I did during that period was a stint living away from home  at college. When I first went there, I had sold my Dad on my lifelong-dream-of-the-week of becoming a special ed teacher (at the time, no one knew that it was I who was actually the “special” one!). So I went there, and got my comeuppance. It turned out that I had a tyrannical instructor in one of my basic special education courses; if you did not have an excuse of typhoid, malaria and leprosy signed by Mother Theresa and witnessed by Nelson Mandela, you could lose a letter grade for missing a single day of class (well, I AM serious about the one day of class= one lost letter grade!) Upon experiencing this harassment 1st hand, I chose to switch majors. Photographic Technology beckoned. Odd switch, to say the least. Kids to cameras. Well, not really. At the time, I owned a 35mm camera, a Minolta (can’t remember which body). And, I liked taking pictures… and as I took a lot, photo tech seemed a natural. Except for the math and science parts (um, did someone bother mentioning “technology”???). You see, math was never my strongpoint in high school, and if I had been a little better at it, I would have gotten A’s in the classes. Instead, I received B’s, because I had to do catch-up math work. My lab partner was good at math, but not so good as a photographer or a lab person (very inconsistent). My takeaway from this period was some good photographic composition skills. Fast-forward several years. I’m married; Jennifer and I are planning a trip to Legoland (unbeknownst to me then, but an item on my bucket list). We are  living in Germany and Jennifer’s parents are on the phone asking if we need anything for the trip. I chime in, “twenty rolls of film!”  They think I am joking.

I never joke about Lego.

I think they sent us a dozen rolls- which were greatly appreciated; we shot nearly three dozen in that one glorious day in Denmark. That was ~1991. We’ve used a few other cameras since then, as well as the ubiquitous cell phone cameras, but I’ve always wanted to get back into SLR photography…”real” photography. In another blog ( I had mentioned a desire to purchase a DSLR. As of this past week, this desire has come true: we now have a Nikon D3200 with a pair of zoom lenses- an 18-55mm and a 75-200mm. The entire outfit was quite the bargain, considering I probably wouldn’t have been able to get a 35mm camera body, 50mm lens and 35-70mm zoom for the same price back when I was shooting film. So as Norbert would be quick to remind me, my latest  “dream-of-the-week” has come true. I’m very happy and feel blessed to have this camera- as little as six months ago we would not have even considered purchasing it… that’s another story for another time. For those who don’t know me, I believe the proper time to close a blog is when one runs out of words… and here  we are.

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- One f-stop short of a six pack.