Up, Up, and Away

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We have owned a home in Galena, Illinois for 12 years now.  Every June I see, or hear, the balloons overhead.  I’ve always wanted to go to the ‘Great Galena Balloon Race’ but I have never been able to …  until this year. At about  4:30 in the afternoon I got the heads up, a Blue Hour special was to take place at 8:45pm.

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The festival start’s early in the day. The Great Balloons, an Antique Car Show, an Ale Fest, and a band to boot! This is a big deal and a whole lotta fun. People travel from all over, from Detroit’s Motor City to Baton Rouge, Louisiana….

Pack lunch and bring a blanket, this is family day.

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I was thrilled at the sight of these brilliantly colorful monsters and wanted I to shoot (as in photograph) them again, sooo…

The following morning I rose at 4:30am, caught a ride with my neighbors, and witnessed the Dawns Early Light.  Another spectacular showing.

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With the sun gently spilling over the horizon we transitioned into the Golden Hour, need I say more?  The illumination was beautiful.

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Now let me explain how the race is won. This particular race was a ‘bean bag toss’. Because the balloons do not take flight at the same time, it can not be won by the first balloon to arrive. Therefore, a target is placed on the ground and where it is placed is determined the morning of, the winds will make that decision.  Anyhow, when the balloons arrive at the target, the bean bag is tossed and the closest bag to the target wins!!

Elementary my Dear Watson…

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I love the above photo, but in the upper corners you can see the shadows from my lens hood, or is it from my lens? Shooting too wide with a 35mm?  In any case if I had cropped this image, the scene, or the balance, would be off  and it would have ruined my picture.  So…. I let it be!

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 Oops, same with this shot, can I get a little help please …..?

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Proceeds from the Great Galena Balloon Race go to support research to find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes – JDRF and to support Camp Hertko Hollow – a summer camp in Boone, IA for kids with diabetes.  

Man’s Best Friend…

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Remember the pups?

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This is Banks, eager to please and wanting nothing more than your love and approval.  Sweet to the bone.

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This is Banks today, nothing has changed.

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Meet Barley, he is ready, willing and very capable.  Also sweet to the bone  ….

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…. and again nothing has changed.

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God Bless the Child ….

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Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

His love to guide me through the night

and wake me in the morning light

 

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Golden slumbers kiss your eyes

Smiles await you when you rise

Sleep little baby do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby

 

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Robert ‘Pierce’ Gilbert

January 19,2016

The Winter of my Discontent ….it’s time to come clean!

Winter Shed

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Yes, it’s time for me to come clean, to acknowledge to myself that I am lost somewhere, somewhere under the covers or over the rainbow. I’m struggling and must admit that I am in a creative rut. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been shooting, ’cause I have, it just means that I have nothing to show, nothing to show to myself  …  this is all about ME !

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Fever River in Color

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In order for me to stay above water, while treading, I need to lose myself in a project. This project is titled, “Winter…”

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The Depot

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 Yes, I am aware that photography is a process, and I’m also aware of one’s creative ebbs and flows that fluctuate with time. However, the issue that puzzles me, the one issue that is most troubling to my psyche is that I haven’t discovered my direction. I haven’t found my niche.

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Grant Park Bridge

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Fever River in B&W.

When given a project to photograph I excel, I love the challenge that it presents. Right now self proclaimed themed projects are what’s keeping me behind the lens. Please feel free to help me along with any suggestions you may have, I am ready, willing and able to step up to the plate. I welcome your thoughts with an open mind. This photo gal is on a mission to find her way.

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  Winter Barn

 My Winter of Discontent

Big Bills Sandwich Shop …. alias The Shop!

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Today is not about my photo’s, today is about my son, my one and only, my pride and joy. As you may remember Jack was attending St.Louis University and was enrolled in the Entrepreneurial School of Business.  Hmmm, let’s take this slow.

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What is the definition of an Entrepreneur?

 One who starts a business or other venture that promises economic gain but that also entails risks.

What are some qualities of such a person?  

unwavering passion, open-mindedness, desire to be an expert, able to delegate, able to manage time effectively, visual goals and success, listening skills, seeking help when needed, knowing when to get out of the office, giving back

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These qualities can be honed in, and are enhanced with time. So how does this relate to my son? My 19 year old son has taken a leave of absence from college to pursue his dream, a business of his own. Was the food industry what he had in mind? I really don’t think so, but the plan fell into his lap and he ran with it. The stars were aligned and the gods were smiling..

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Let me begin again with his inspiration and the backstory. In a resort town in Northern Michigan their is a take-out sandwich shop like no other, the name of the shop is GURNEY’S. Is it fancy? no. Is there seating? no. This past 4th of July, 80 degrees outside with Lake Michigan beckoning, I waited in line for 45 minutes to order my lunch, need I say more?  

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Well, wouldn’t it be great to open a ‘Gurney-like’ shop in Galena Illinois? If we were to do half the business Gurney’s does we would still be a success. But why Galena?  Galena is a historic town in the North-West corner of Illinois. This Civil War era lead-mining town was once the most important city in Illinois. Galena, named after the lead that was mined, is situated on the Fever River just off the Mississippi where steamships and passenger ships could maneuver.  Today the town depends on tourists and the Chamber is a success when it comes to luring the people in.  The clincher:  we ownminers cottage a stones throw from Main Street … 

As you can see one thing lead to another, which lead to the right employees, which lead to a perfect team, which leads to an open mind, which lead to a coffee bar, which lead to soups and salads, which all lead to stress and worry and stress and more stress! This beautiful shop is designed by my son, built by my son, installed by my son, lit by my son,  and now operating in it’s 6th day by my son and his excellent team!  As a mother I am extremely proud, worried to the point of no return, and stressed to the point of me taking a leave of absence from my day job to be with him.  I am the mother Grizzly that will stop at nothing to make sure my cub is taken care of in his time of need, but the stress on me cannot compare to the stress he is enduring.

Now I know what you are thinking, where are the sandwiches? the salads? the soups? the coffee ????  It has been about a year since I have seriously photographed food and I will be damned if this shop closes because of my shots!  I need to work the food some more, practice will make perfect, at least better,  but let’s peek at the soup …

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 The Santa Fe Chicken Soup

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 Organic Lentil Soup with Roasted Garlic

Too close ?   old dog. 

   

So far the reviews have been wonderful, the towns people are rally-ing around Jack and the word is getting out. No better advertising than that! I will post again and include the menu, photo’s of the  main attractions, and keep you abreast of his ups and downs. This is quite a feat for such a young lad.

BIG BILL’S SANDWICH SHOP

301 North Main Street

Galena,Illinois 61036

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  “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney, co-founder of the Walt Disney Company 

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“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”   Wayne Gretzky, NHL Hall of Famer

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“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”  Ronald Reagan

Cuba: #5 The Final episode …

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This will be my last post on Cuba … from this trip.  Our final two days and nights were spent in Trinidad with a detour to Cienfuegos en route. There is a ton of history in both of these towns but I was so intent on the people and their daily lives that any other thought was kept at bay. I think I’ve said it all, my gushing is over, and the obvious is apparent. In this final episode the pictures will speak for me.

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 ya gotta love his hat!

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Trinidad and Cienfuegos are beautiful sleepy towns on the Southern Coast of the Island.  After the hustle and bustle of Habana you may find them a welcome retreat.

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I realize that some of these images are a bit soft in their focus. My last day on the Island I was  practicing ‘back button focus’.  If this were any other post I would not reveal those photos, I have my pride to consider …. but this is Cuba!

To Petey E. and anyone else who is thinking of going:  Cigars and Rum, a few of your closest buddies, great music, delicious food, and to share this amongst some of the loveliest people I’ve met … need I say more?   I realize everyone has their own comfort level when traveling, personally I like to get in the thick of it and mingle with the locals.  I walked into areas most tourists would not and never felt threatened, awkward, or even out of place. Now don’t be to confident and leave your purse on a chair, one must always be aware, I’m just sayin’ I felt safe wherever I ventured.  Now let me leave you with this final question you may be asking yourself:  Michelle, would you go back?

 Yes, in a heartbeat… 

 

Cuba : part 4 ‘ Mis Compañeros Fotógrafos ‘

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When one travels much of your experience depends on who you are with. When you travel with a group and you don’t know a soul it can be a crapshoot, the people you are with can make or break what you see and feel. Upon arriving in Miami I could feel the tension in my body building, the unknown was at hand. I tried not to perceive anything, I wanted to look forward and not mar my perception. At 6pm we met in the lobby and I immediately knew it would be OK, this was a great group!

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On a couple of afternoons we had ‘crit time’, a critique of our photos. Our leaders and mentors were kind but direct, their suggestions could take a photograph from good to great. Focusing on the ‘main event’ is what sticks in my mind.

Everyone seemed to have at least one winner, one photo better than the others, the best B&W, the best morning shot, the best facial shot etc…   There were four of us who liked to shoot at the same pace and we would photograph together when free time was available. Our game, our challenge, was to try to out do the one with the best shot, in this case it was the ‘puddle’ shot. Did the Cubans think we were nuts? probably.

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El Capitolio:  Prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban Congress was housed in this building. When the Communist Regime abolished and disbanded the Congress in 1959, the building lost its purpose as the House of the People. El Capitolio is a replica of the United States Capitol.

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The four of us would wander off the beaten path into areas where tourists typically would not veer. It was another hard look at the other side of paradise. You would think that we felt out of place, or even intimidated, but we didn’t.  A simple ‘hola’ and a smile made it all OK, and it was returned as graciously as it was given.

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What makes a country great?  I guess everyone has there own idea, it could be the food, the landscapes, the water… well, in my book it’s the people. I cannot get a feel for a place, a country, if I don’t interact with the locals. If I haven’t portrayed to you in my past three posts on Cuba, then I gotta tell you now… I love the people of Cuba, they are victims with pride. With all that these stifled and neglected people have been thru you would have thought that their bitterness would have shown through. Quite the contrary.

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I realize I was going to write this post on Cienfuegos and Trinidad, but I wasn’t ready to leave Habana. I am now writing for myself, I don’t want to lose what I felt, and still feel.

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As we were ready to board our bus, leaving Habana behind, I met this woman. This gal was one of maybe three Cubans that ‘asked’ me for money, it was rare.  I found her adorable and held a broken but delightful conversation with her. I gave her one CUC then she told me her baby needed clothes.  We both giggled at that comment, then she raised her hand over her head and said, ” my baby.”  I gave her a hug and a kiss, and another CUC.  

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Adios por ahora hermosa Habana !

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… to be continued.

  

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