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Where Has the Time Gone?

I have been thinking about getting back to this blog for a few weeks. This morning I woke up with the Willie Nelson song, “Funny How Time Slips Away” rolling around in my head. I figured something inside me was saying “Get busy!”  So here I am again.

It’s not like I have been lazy, procrastinating or easily distracted. (All which, in my case, are good possibilities.) The reason has been “health issues.” I use that term because I haven’t considered myself sick, but in a long state of recovery.  Let me give you the short version. (Trust me, you don’t want the long version.)

In November of last year I had a colonoscopy.  (Yup.  It’s one of those stories.)  A tumor was discovered and in mid-December I had surgery that removed the tumor and the cancer cells it contained. After the operation my surgeon stopped to tell me how well the surgery went and that I was, to the best of his ability, cancer free. We talked for a while and just before he left he said. “While I was in there, I saw something on your pancreas that you need to have checked.” So I did.

It took a few months and several trips to meet with a surgical oncologist in Detroit before a second surgery was performed in June to remove a growth on my pancreas. The arduous surgery removed the lesion along with a third of the pancreas. The ducts that supply insulin and enzymes to the small intestine were also removed and subsequently rebuilt. The abnormal cells growing in the lesion turned out to be pre-cancerous. In layman’s term, that means the lesion wasn’t cancerous… yet.  Given a couple years or so to fester it would have become pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer is generally asymptomatic and not often detected until long term survival is unlikely.

I had been told to expect a long and difficult recovery from the second surgery, but it turned out to be much more than we expected. I was released from the hospital, twice, and relapsed, twice.  Both times requiring emergency room and Intensive Care Unit intervention to ensure my survival.  By the time I made it home I had lost thirty pounds, had no appetite, was still on antibiotics and unable to walk more ten steps without needing a rest.

It definitely took a while, but since August I have been recovering nicely.  I gained back my usual more than healthy appetite and gained back half of the weight I lost.  By September I was able to walk around the neighborhood on my own and eventually could walk two to three miles per outing.  In mid-September, four months after the pancreatic surgery and with surgeon’s approval, I rejoined our local fitness club and workout there three days a week.  I feel fine and am getting stronger every day.  For the record, I am very grateful to the surgical team and nurses for their medical expertise, my family for their love and support and most of all my wife Joanne for getting me through the ordeal.

Since returning home, I have spent many hours reflecting on what my situation might be, or soon would become, had I not gotten the colonoscopy.  The procedure started difficult wheels in motion, but in the long run saved my life twice and I wake up each morning with the score, Dan: 2, cancer: 0.  So, in my mind, the moral of this story is this… Talk with your doctor and if recommended, get a colonoscopy.

(Sorry, but all the above was just the set-up for perhaps the worst segue ever.)  Speaking of reflecting…

Joanne and I were in Frankenmuth, Michigan a few weeks ago and while walking the covered bridge that crosses the Cass River, we looked back at the Bavarian Inn and saw the makings of a nice photo. (Photographer, Chase Jarvis couldn’t have been the first person to say it, but he did write the book titled “The Best Camera Is the One You Have With You,” so he gets the credit, even though it’s going cause some people to grind their teeth in disdain.) The only camera I had with me was my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone and with that I took the image of the hotel, trees and a great reflection on the river.

I like the image better with the reflection on top. But I’m funny like that sometimes…

Dan

November 2, 2015

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Big Snow

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While part of our family and many friends are without electricity in the greater Lansing area after a big ice storm, we have been digging out of a good-sized snowstorm.  As luck and home design would have it, when we get a nor’easter, like this one, the wind and snow wraps around our house and fills the back steps and covers the sidewalk with snow.  It drifted about three feet deep.  In the side yard we got a peculiar drift about five feet high but, fortunately, only about four feet around.  It looked like a mini Matterhorn.

I learned the snow blower works on the sidewalk too. (But watch out for the steps…)  A couple of times yesterday, I wished I’d spent the extra bucks and bought a 10-horse snow blower instead of the 8.5-horse.  But I took my time and it got the job done.

Of course the travail of snow blowing a sidewalk and a couple of driveways is nothing like have electricity to your home knocked out for several days, including Christmas.  We hope everyone, especially those without power, have a warm Christmas.  Most of all, we hope the workers in Lansing get their jobs done and the power back on as fast as they can.

We’ll see many of you just after the new year.

Dan

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It Really Is All About the Light

Several years ago I enrolled in a community college photography class in southern Michigan.  The class, an entry-level photography class, included digital imaging.  I had recently purchased my first digital camera and was making the switch away from film.  On the first night I arrived a few minutes early and took a seat in the second row.  After a quick look around the room I could see that my tripod was twice as old as most of the other students.  A young guy seated next to me leaned my way, whispered, “Aren’t you suppose to be up there?” and hooked an index finger toward the desk at the front of room.  He thought I was the instructor.  I assured him I was in the right seat.  A few minutes later the real instructor arrived.

The instructor, a commercial photographer, handed out the sixteen-week class syllabus and began with his philosophy of photography.  The first thing he said was, “It’s all about the light.”

At that time, I had been taking picture for close to forty years and had the carousals of slides, sleeves of negatives and boxes of photos to prove it.  Over the years, I had documented more family celebrations, vacations and school events than others in my family cared to remember.  I taught photography classes for a short time (in the dark ages of the seventies); made a little money selling photos and had some photos published.  But in all that time, I never thought about photography in that simple, clear, singular way… It’s all about the light!

Light is everything to a photographer.   There can be too much or too little.  Photographers fret about light direction, intensity, contrast and color.  We see light as indoor, outdoor, natural, mixed, artificial, infrared, warm, cool, filtered, mottled, reflected, refracted, the list goes on and on.   And that’s light before it gets to the camera.

Inside the camera light is bent by a lens, a shutter determines how long or short the burst of light that make it into the camera will be and an aperture Read the rest of this entry

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