Lost in Oscar Hotel is Out!

Hey­­ everyone. If you follow the site, you’ve probably seen me post work I’ve done for the book Lost in Oscar Hotel. I’m excited to announce that the book is now out in both hardback and digital formats on Amazon.com.  We’re also running a giveaway to win a copy over on the Lost in Oscar Hotel Goodreads page.


For those of you who may not know Lost in Oscar Hotel is a book on aviation in Ohio, and is a collaborative effort of a group of students and professors, spear-headed Kent State Professor Gordon Murray (check out the project’s main site here http://www.lostinoscarhotel.com/ ). The book primarily follows Murray and his fellow Cub Cadet pilot, Ron Siwik, as the two attempt, “The first, longest, slowest and most peculiar flight to Wright Brothers Airport ever made,” landing at an airport in every county in Ohio, culminating at the historic Wright Brothers Field. Murray writes,  “For nine days, from sunrise to sunset, we flew. We spent 36 hours and six minutes in the air, tracing a 1,809 nautical mile route over Ohio’s countryside at a thousand feet above the treetops. Sometimes, we would fly low and slow enough to shout a greeting to farmers waving at us from the fields below. For a short while Ron and I, along with photographer Gary Harwood, brother Mike, old Tom and a handful of family, friends and students, all unwittingly became Ohio’s good will ambassadors of flight—honoring the legacy of the Wrights in the Birthplace of Aviation. We were good enough.”

While Murray and Siwik were in the air, the rest of us were covering the state, exploring Ohio’s living legacy of flight through the men and women who have devoted much of their lives to the ideals of freedom and adventure that inspire flight. I saw planes passed down through generations, teams of people who gave literal hundreds of hours to restore classic aircraft, and the fraternities of pilots united through the singular experience of flight.

If you live anywhere near Kent, Ohio, come out to the Kent State University book store to meet me and all of my fellow collaborators for a signing Wednesday, April 9th  from 12pm-2pm. They’re all fantastic photographers and writers, and I was so lucky to get a chance to work with them. We all put a ton of work into this labor of love, and I can’t wait to see where Lost in Oscar Hotel takes me now that it’s been published.



The Heron Hike

My friend Jen informed me that the blue herons are returning to the area, and now is one of the best times to shoot.  Well, the males, anyway. They fly back to the area in advance to prepare the nests for the females who will come later. I even saw a few fighting over prime real estate. Others were squatting down two or three to a nest, making me wonder if they were trying to get the others to move out through passive-aggressive sticky notes and not washing dishes like a nasty college roommate. Either that, or they’re just two dude herons on back from Massachusetts who have decided to settle down and start a nest together, and maybe adopt a few eggs.

It’s worth mentioning that while I was out, I may have taken a step towards photo elitism out there.  I saw this a man with point-and-shoot trying to take pictures of the birds, and I wondered why he was even bothering with it. Something like that can’t get nearly the optical zoom one would need to shoot these birds from so far away, the sensor couldn’t be strong enough that there would have been any sort of clarity if he tried to enhance the image digitally, and there is no way that an automatic camera could have metered  correctly for the herons in the trees with so much sky blowing it out. And just was I was trying to wrap my head around this, a woman drove up in a minivan, roller her window down, and started shooting from the street with her iPhone! It blew my mind. Here I was with my Nikon D80, 70-300 lens, and monopod, and I still felt like I wasn’t properly equipped to get the shots I want. 

Now, I’m not saying that one can’t get good, or even great, photos without top-of-the-line gear. Sometimes what you’re shooting means that you won’t end up with an unintelligible mess of a photo. I know that some people feel the obligation to shoot certain experiences, and I get that. But, you’re really only distracting yourself from from what you’re living now for a piece of posterity that you won’t even recognize in a month if you even think to look back through the photos at all.

This goes for you pros too. I make it a point to put my camera down every now and again and just soak in what’s in front of me. Not every experience needs to have photos. Some of them just need to be lived.

The Year In Review

A full year. Since I graduated. Since I proposed. Since I started freelancing. Since I started the site to keep myself in practice. I suppose that I should take a hard look back at 2013.

                Let’s start by looking at things from a purely objective standpoint and take a look at the numbers.

  • Numbers Total Hits: 9,709
  • Overall Average Hits Per Day: 27
  • Most Hits In A Single Day: 283
  • Total Number of Followers: 110
  • Total Number Of Posts: 205
  • 205 posts/ 365 Days= 56.1% of Daily Goal
  • Then again, I was working 60-80 hours a week the last two months of the year, so taking off November and December, we get 196 Posts /304 Days= 64.5%

 What do these numbers tell us? Well, they tell me that I need to do better. I While I have started writing, editing video, and dabbling more with graphic design, I haven’t come as far with branching my skills as I would have liked. And yes, I have been shooting daily, it hasn’t necessarily been what I want to be working on.

It might be fair to say that I’ve been… disconnected. After I graduated, I lost all of the resources available to me through the university. That doesn’t just include the photo gear and technology, but the connections though fellow students and teachers. Add all that to the fact that my car died early this year, and funds have been relatively low. So, with no money, no car, and no connections, it honestly felt like a year adrift.

But, those are just the numbers and the setup. What did this year in photos actually look like? (Be sure to click to open in theater mode. There’s a cut line for each one of these. )

Where does that leave me? I wouldn’t call the year empty, and I can’t say there was nothing fulfilling.  I wouldn’t say that I didn’t grow, but I still feel like I could have been more. I feel like I’m falling behind my peers. All I can do is try to keep at getting myself off the ground this year.

I photographed this collision with my cell phone on my lunch break. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. The photograph was picked up by one of the local papers.

I photographed this collision with my cell phone on my lunch break. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. The photograph was picked up by one of the local papers.

Still, with everything I shot this year, one photo stands out more than anything I did. It was the photograph I took on my lunch break with cell phone of the car crash. It reminded me how much I can care; not just about news, but about people. I had just finished Dave LaBelle’s Lessons in Life and Death, and learned just how much photographs of tragedy can help those involved cope and come to terms with those events. I felt like I had a responsibility.  It reminded me that no matter where I am, or what I’m doing with my life, that drive for journalism, and news is always there. I’m never going to give up.

Kent Air Show

I took a few hours to go shoot Kent’s annual air show for Lost in Oscar Hotel this weekend. Don’t forget to scroll over the photos; some have captions. Fun fact; I listened to Kenny Loggin’s Danger Zone on repeat while editing this shoot.

WACO at Wynkoop Airport

I got a last minute email from one of my former professors asking me if I could head down to Wynkoop airport to photograph a big annual meeting of WACO biplane pilots for our aviation book, Lost in Oscar Hotel . It was a great experience, even with the storms cutting the attendance by more than half. Even with the rain though, I was able to track down a handful of decent photos and a few potential stories for the book.

I still have about 2/3 of the editing left, so I’ll do a bigger post once I get those done. I just wanted to get this up in the mean time. So, keep your eyes out for more on Wynkoop.

Taking Flight


With spring slowly winning over control of the thermometer from winter, the animals have been reemerging. As such, I’ve been really getting into wildlife photography lately. This may be my current favorite nature photo… sort of. The more I shoot with it, the more the clarity issues on my lens seem to bother me.

I tried doing what I could to sharpen it in Photoshop with some marginal success. The drawback is that it greatly increased the grain of the image. So, I rant it through a noise reduction filter and played with the levels the best I could to get rid of the grain.

The last few days have been pretty crazy. I woke up in a different city three days in a row. A friend and I did DC and back to Ohio on Saturday for the Cherry Blossom Festival, then off to Salem to  visit with Karen’s family on Sunday, then down to Columbus on Monday for some academia and chicken. Then, all of Tuesday was spent outside enjoying the weather and taking even more photos. Thankfully, it was rainy today, or I would never have had the opportunity to edit anything. Don’t I’m playing around with some projects from DC now, and I’ll hopefully be posting those, along with a few other personal projects soon.