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Time to make lemonade

5 Nov

A painful ankle for 4+ years, an operation to reconstruct my foot/ankle and NO weight on my right foot for 3-4 months equals a lot of free time.

Parkinson’s Disease (diagnosed at 48 years of age) already forced retirement at 55 years old.  I hung in there for as long as I could, my effectiveness as a salesman made more and more difficult as the speech went downhill along with the number of sales.  The customers were having difficulty understanding my sales presentations.  Laid off in 2009 after 25 years of sales. Then God lead me to an industrial telemarketing position part-time for 1.5  years.  My speech was still understandable in the mornings at that point, so that is when I worked.

Going from a productive 55 hour per week career to not too much to do was a transition. To keep busy and productive I do event photography for non-profits and churches, volunteer at the Life Enrichment Center, I’m involved at The Fine Art Center at Cross Pointe, at our church and I go to Parkinson’s exercise classes 3 times per week.

Now that I can’t drive or put pressure on my right leg for the next 3-4 months, am I supposed to sit here in my recliner with my foot up – for 3-4 months?????  Sounds very depressing.

NO, this necessary roadblock in life will not define me.  To sit alone and feel depressed and unproductive is not the answer.  There is my relationship with God to refine, prayers to offer, improving my knowledge of the Bible, online photography classes, books to read, and exercises to perform to keep my body as limber and healthy as possible.  This is a mental choice, an attitude adjustment, a time of growth under pressure, a trial allowed by a sovereign God who loves me and wants the best for me and all people. His love, care and concern doesn’t mean people won’t die, or be murdered, or discriminated against, or mistreated; happens all the time all over the world.  But God does not orchestrate those events and still cares and loves us even when those events happen.  He knows our every hair, personally “created our inmost being, knit us together in our mother’s womb”, and when we will sit down and stand up (even if on one leg), He knows our every word before we even say it according to Psalm 139.  “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

So, nothing surprises God. Nothing escapes His gaze.  I will remind myself of that fact in the months ahead.  He is large and in charge and more than able to knit a few bones together!!  That is simple stuff!!20151105_141351

 

Five years after Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s

13 Mar

Gary with his halo on before DBS Surgery 2010

This is a picture of me with my halo screwed to my head just before DBS surgery.  They use the halo in surgery to place the wires accurately where they need to go (which is a good thing!).

It has been 5 years since I had Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery ((DBS) – what a miracle of science.  Place two little wires implanted in my brain, add some electricity, and wham – I get my life back – or most of it.

Let me expand on that a little – current symptoms:  I can’t speak very well, my voice is indistinct and speech garbled much of the time.  My wife, Carol, is so patient with me, asking over and over to repeat!  I learned how to write in elementary school, but have lost the ability to physically write much more than my first name.  Fortunately I can type, so I carry a tablet most of the time to take notes in – thank You Lord for the modern digital era!!  I also get easily fatigued, so I have to watch my energy level.  But I drive, dress, feed myself, etc. all of which would have been difficult or impossible without DBS.

How do I know that?  I have accidentally let the battery go dead twice – I charge it once per week for about 2 hours – and found out very quickly that without DBS and WITH medicine, I am very impaired.  My right arm is nearly paralyzed, my face drawn into a frightful mask, and the act of moving is like walking or moving through mud.  WITHOUT DBS and WITHOUT medicine, movement is nearly impossible.  Getting dressed – forget it!  Drive – You wouldn’t want to see that scene – scary.  Massive pileup.  Eating – very sketchy if nearly impossible.  The meds only last an hour or two, then I would not be able to move, stuck in cement, for another two hours when my next dose would be due.   To a lessor degree that was my life before the DBS operation.  The “On/off” was a killer.

You can see why I am thankful to the Lord for DBS!  That includes my photography career/hobby on steroids (as Carol; my wife calls it).  Thankfully I have early onset Parkinson’s which was diagnosed when I was 48 years old. I have now been under the Parkinson’s spell for 11 years!  Many people who have early onset don’t have quivering hands.  Mine are steady as a rock!  Makes for much sharper photos when the camera isn’t gyrating !!

My 27 year career in sales was very satisfying, mostly enjoyable and somewhat successful.  The last 5 years, however was somewhat of a challenge.  What do salespeople do – talk and talk and talk…  As I lost my ability to speak clearly I’m sure many of my customers were saying (to themselves), “What did he just tell me?”.  In 2009 I left the material handling industry (not by choice), was unemployed for a few months and was hired as an Industrial Telemarketer.  You heard right – telemarketing for a guy who couldn’t speak.  To be clear, I could get by in the mornings when I could speak better, so I worked in the mornings until 2 years later even morning speech wasn’t working and I was forced to quit, trusting God to supply our needs!  One week later I received Social Security Disability (after only one application, most of the time it takes many multiple applications!)  That was a direct supply of our needs by our Heavenly Father, who worked it out to get my application through the red tape at just the right time.

So, you might ask what am I doing today?  I am involved with The Fine Art Center at Cross Pointe, a coop art gallery in Centerville, OH.  www.thefineartgallery.org  I display my photos there and I’m the Webmaster and Facebooker.  I am an also an event photographer for churches and non-profit organizations.  And I’m a landscape photographer.  My photo website is: http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery-list

I can drive.  I can move, somewhat.  I can feed and dress myself.  I am so thankful to the Lord for the things I can do!!  Nothing like losing some capabilities to make you appreciate what you have left.  I am eternally grateful for my loving family who are patient with me and Jesus who died in my place on the cross! As is famously quoted from 9-11, “Lets roll”.

 

 

 

Sunrises and Scenes from Florida

1 Mar

 

We just got back from a trip to Florida.  We drove my wife, Carol’s mother down so she could be there for the next 6 weeks.  After getting her settled in, we rented a car and traveled down to Islamorada in the Keys.  Each morning we were up at sunrise (Carol joined me most of the time) to photograph sunrise scenes.  They were magical sunrises and bring thoughts of God’s beautiful creation to mind and heart.  A free show hosted by God most mornings (when given good weather).  Just rise from sleep to enjoy it.  You can see the pictures at:  http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery-list   Just click on the first gallery (picture of a sunrise).

A Small Treasure Found

22 Jan

Have you ever opened a drawer you haven’t looked in for a while and as you peer into this forgotten space you discover a $20 bill or an object you forgot you had.  Well, for a photographer that is like opening one your photo files (one of more 140+ folders) and finding fresh RAW files which have never been edited.  A RAW file is a setting on digital cameras which does not compress the images at all and leaves them completely unprocessed, unlike JPEG images.  JPEG compress the pictures you take immediately after capturing the image. This can be helpful, as it keeps the file sizes low (using JPEG compression) and takes care of color correction, including white-balance, tint, and exposure, so you don’t have to.  (see: http://www.techterms.com/definition/cameraraw)  RAW files are sometimes HUGE (as large as 7 MB or more), but these days memory is cheap, so why not!   However, when I bought my laptop, I built it for photography with a 500 GB hard drive, which means LOTS of storage!  I still don’t want many 7 MB RAW files just hanging out, so when I discover them, I edit them or delete them.  When you look at the RAW file on the computer you don’t see the picture until you double click and open it up in Photoshop (or some other photo editing software).  So, it is like finding the forgotten $20 in a drawer!

I discovered these bee photos this morning (I couldn’t sleep – awake at 2:30 AM – another Parkinson’s symptom).  I originally took the pictures in September, 2010 with my prior camera (Nikon D80) and when I first bought my 60 mm macro lens.  So, a lot of the shots were blurry and deleted right away.  Here are two of the remaining gems:

Go to my website link to see the rest of them:

http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery/Bee-Photography-Click-on-image-to-enlarge-or-purchase/G0000U3U03Is.4Z4

Snow and Ice Outside, Flowers Inside

21 Jan

Well, we had an ice/snow storm last night.  What is a photographer to do?  I played with my speedlight which can be remotely operated off camera.

Question:  how many different looks can I get from one flower?  How about 30 different views of one flower.  Take a look at my website to see the different views:

http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery/Snow-and-Ice-Outide-Flowers-Inside/G0000NGFdRPqs8tY/

Revolutionary War Heros

4 Sep

I recently spent some time in the “Bellbrook Pioneer Cemetery.”  You might ask, “Why spend time in a cemetery?”  Like a funeral, a cemetery can spur thoughts of life even thought they are places of death and darkness.

I ask questions to myself among the tombstones.  “What was your life like?”  “What challenges in life did you face?”  “Who did you love and who loved you back?”  Many of these people lived 50, 60, 70 or more year on this planet in a very different time from today – no electric lights, no cars, no computers, no trillion dollar deficits.

Link:  Pioneer Cemetery:

http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery-list

The very interesting thing about this particular cemetery are the tombstones of Revolutionary War Soldiers!  There are little bronze standards showing their status.  These people had to be born in the 1700’s, obviously!  That puts them as witnesses to the birth of our nation!  The cycle of life shows up here!  Questions come to mind like, “Does my life have meaning?”  “Will I be remembered after I am dead?”  “Why is being remembered (a legacy) so important to many people?”

I also visited the Wright Brothers cemetery plots.  It was an interesting feeling being close to their final resting place.  It seemed as if I could touch a little piece of their lives by standing there.  They became much more than words in a history book.  Their accomplishments have changed the world!

This life is short, little more than a single comma would be in the whole Bible.  But, through Jesus’ sacrifice as a substitute for us, taking the punishment for the sins we committed, our comma turns into an eternity busting reality in HIM!  People may not remember me in the future years, but I am secure in the eternal nature of God.  I don’t need a library to be named after me or the invention of the airplane  to be significant.  My significance comes from God’s love, from the service I give to the people around me and from my efforts to make His name known around the world.

Blessings in the storm

4 Sep

I am trying to get used to my new designation – disabled.  After contracting Parkinson’s in 2004 then having life-giving Deep Brain Stimulation surgery in February, 2010, I received Social Security Disability acceptance in July about 3 months after applying (a God-thing!).

That is a great thing because even though many of my symptoms are muted because of the operation, I still can’t speak clearly much of the time, I can’t make my hand write, I get fatigued easily, etc.  NOT a good resume to take to an employer!

So, how can God use an old, washed up salesman who can’t speak right a lot of the time?  I am determined to answer that question!  My daughter, Cheryl, told me most of her clients (social work) have some sort of disability and sit around all day watching TV.  Is that God’s best for me?  NO!  He has many jobs for me to do yet.  Sometime in my life, perhaps the near future, Parkinson’s may progress to the point where I may not be able to do much.  Even at that time I can have a ministry.  Perhaps a prayer ministry?  But in the meantime, as long as I can move, I want to serve the Lord.  I just need him to show me how.

One answer is through Target Dayton, where I am volunteering 1 day per week at 6:00 AM when they serve breakfast.  Serving the homeless coffee when they enter the building is a joy.   I’m also Target Dayton’sunofficial photographer when they need me.  Link:

http://targetdayton.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=1

I am  working on putting together a number of organizations where I can be their volunteer photographer for events, etc.  So far I am part of a team of photographers at church, the Gospel Mission in Dayton has me take photos of their special events (one coming in October), and I have taken pictures at a Parkinson’s fund raiser.

http://parkinsonswellness.org/steady_strides_2011.html

I will also be taking pictures at the Parkinson’s Sunflower Symposium on September 10. They used one of my pictures on the front cover of the brochure!

http://ucgardnercenter.com/sites/ucgardnercenter.com/files/Sunflower-brochure-2011.pdf

So, I’m getting some opportunities to serve God as a photographer.

God has a purpose for everyone on earth.  Sometimes that purpose may be hidden, but the sanctity of life holds true.  It is sometimes hard to see unless viewed from God’s perspective.  When someone has Alzheimer’s, or a brain injury, cancer, or some other difficult ailment God seems unfair – why don’t you let them die, Lord?  Why don’t you heal them?  I can’t answer those questions, but I know the Lord loves us and is just and perfect.  Psalm 34:8-10, 15-18 says:

Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.

But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
      he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

As you go through various cloudy or stormy events in your life, remember that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

Moon pictures/visit to Second Street Market

21 Jun

I woke up at around 4:30 AM the other night and couldn’t get back to sleep.  That is another symptom in Parkinson’s – sleep disturbance.  I noticed that the moon was full, so I got out my camera, 70-300 zoom lens and tripod for a picture-taking session.  There were clouds crossing over the moon which I hoped to capture, but they didn’t turn out, the sky was too dark around the moon.  Take a look at the pictures at the link:

http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery/Moon-Click-picture-to-enlarge-or-order/G00006kUOn0Tsinw/

(At website, click on image to enlarge)

Also, a few Saturdays ago Carol and I went to the Second Street Market in downtown Dayton.  I had a good time snapping some pictures of the colorful sights there.  The cabbage roll I had was excellent.  A very enjoyable place to visit! See the link:

http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery/Second-Street-Market-Dayton-OH-Click-picture-to-enlarge-or-order/G0000iZDkFRNdalU/

I haven’t posted much recently because I have been concentrating on remodeling the basement, which has turned out to be an enjoyable project but very slow because I can only work a little while at a time.  Another symptom of Parkinson’s is fatigue.  So after a little while of working, I have to rest to regain my strength.  That lengthens out a project quite a bit (from weeks into months).  That is a lot different than when I originally worked on the basement when we moved into this house in 1992.  About 1/3 of the basement was finished and I built 4 additional rooms into the remaining space each evening after working 8-10 hours that day. 

Sounds like I’m whining about my current lot in life, but God has allowed this disease to impact me.  I can either choose to move on with Parkinson’s or give up and give in to the symptoms.  He doesn’t promise to heal every infirmity or take away every pain but I keep going back to Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecution and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

It is in my attitudes that Christ can gain the victory as I choose victory over defeat, strength over despair, helping people who are worse off than me rather than lounging in my own troubles.  God has a purpose for each one of us, even those who struggle to move or speak well or work a part-time job.  Each day is a new adventure.  I need to grab life and live it in the fullest way possible.

Baby Goose Pictures

4 May

Last Sunday my friend called me about a photo opportunity at the Fraze Park Pond.  Some young geese were “posing” for pictures.  What could I do?

Link: 

http://creationsourceimages.photoshelter.com/gallery/Its-a-birds-life/G0000cAGKkVA64Fo

Hero Parents

28 Apr

Last Saturday I had the privilege to photograph a long running event at Fairhaven Church called “Egg-stravaganza”.  Out of respect for the privacy of the parents and kids I won’t show their pictures here.

This event was for special needs kids.  I was touched as I wondered among the families gathered for the event. No matter what the challenge each child faced, the parent or parents were there,  smiling and involved in the moment.  I’m sure if you asked them if they always were smiling and happy, many would level with you and relate times of great sorrow or depression or frustration.  I’m sure there are many times they want to scream or run or give up.  But their love and dedication to their child keeps them going.  Carol and I had the normal frustrations, pain and joy while we were parenting our now adult children.  And in the last 6 years we have had to face up to Parkinson’s Disease.  But I honor these parents of special needs kids!  God has given them additional grace, faith and strength to meet whatever challenges they face.  James 1:2-5 says:  “Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.   If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”  (New Living Translation) 

None of us is exempt from living life in all its colors – bright, dark and all the shades in between.   However, we can choose how we will face all those colors, especially the dark ones.  Will we react in faith in our God, recognizing His care and love for us even in the difficult and demanding times?  Or will we react in bitterness and anger.  These emotions are the normal face of an initial challenge or disaster, part of our initial reaction as human beings.  But if we cling to bitterness, hold it to us and own it, we will be destroyed by it along with all those around us.

Many of these parents have chosen to trust God and look at the positives of their circumstances.  I choose this as well.  How about you?