Into the world

Back into the world

Back into the world

    The hardest part of any religious retreat is when you leave the protection of the cloistered environment and must return to the real world.  This weekend Father Jack presented a talk on living your faith in the real world, and not turning a faith community into a faith ghetto.  He said this at the beginning of the retreat.  It gave us each plenty of time to meditate, pray and plan for the afternoon exit.

    For Catholics practicing the magisterium, we face many challenges in the current political and economic climate.  In just a single keystroke any one of us can, and eventually will, experience a portion of the sufferings of Christ for our faith.  If we are lucky we will not face the physical harm being put on christians around the world, but this is also not guaranteed even inside the once secure United States.  The daily newscast is enough to prove these two problems a dozen fold.

    Despite these threats, traditional Catholics and christians cannot retreat from society.  We must continue demonstrating, even to those who hate us, we respect the image of God embodied in each person.  We hope and pray one day, all will celebrate in full communion with our faith as children of God.  We must in word and deed demonstrate the faith Christ taught us through the apostles.  This is the daily witness of the faith required by all, and the most effective means to evangelize one person and moment at a time.

    As a father I often find myself challenged when faced with worldly threats and my calling as a Catholic man.  Instinctively I possess a built in desire to protect my family from all evil.  I also have a desire to remove threats at their origin.   (I've had St Michael the Archangel as my working patron for 25 years, so yes I do mean protect from and root out all evil! )  Despite this, I am a practical man.  I recognize one day my number will get called, and I'll be walking with St. Joseph towards Jesus for a little talk.  If I do not prepare my children to assume the mantle of defense of the faith and evangelization, I failed my grandchildren's grandchildren a hundred fold.  

    The solution is easier to conceive than walk.  We must maintain the protection of children and families to permit evangelization of our successors in some type of safe environment.  As adults we must continue to engage the world as Christ-bearers everyday, no matter the cost to ourselves.  This is our cross to bear as we evangelize in word and deed.  As the generals of our households, we also must do what all great combat generals do.  Be willing to sacrifice the things we love most in this spiritual war.  This means slowly introducing our children into the conflict.  As their intellect and faith allow, our children must replace our tired bodies standing watch at the gates of the city of God.

    In the spiritual war, can we offer no surrender and no retreat.  For this is simply how it is in the real world.






Miami Day 2

Good Morning Miami! @ 540AM

Good Morning Miami! @ 540AM

   After a rough introduction Sunday, Miami provided a lot of fun today.  The town is an engineering marvel.  Everywhere I turn in downtown there is something fantastic to capture.  The people also have a rather nice temperment here to us tourists...especially those that don't speak the prefered language downtown, Spanish.  The town does shine with a Central and Southern America twist.  You can see it in the business links, food, culture, and vibrancy of the town.  Despite all that it does really have an American flavor to it all.  In the business district there is the normal go get 'em attitude I found in New York earlier this year.  So all in all I am finding exploration here rather fun.

The old Miami Freedom Tower..once a newspaper's home and now a museum to Cuban Culture

The old Miami Freedom Tower..once a newspaper's home and now a museum to Cuban Culture

I am enjoying the juxiposition of the classic 1920's Miami and modern day construction.  The bridges between islands are facinating...and the huge skyscapers extending all the way to the water's edge.  Wow!



   Even inside our hotel there are so many fun things to photograph...outside my room by the elevator these lights just screamed to be photographed. 


Oh I hope tomorrow to get even better light to photograph this remarkable town.


P.S.  All photos shot with the Fujifilm X-E1 and the XF23mm lens.  I took the day to practice with one lens and one focal length.  I did this to make my mind conceive and execute the photo in a 35mm equivalent on a 35mm film camera.  The lens  is fantastic.  I just need to get better at using it.  

One other interesting test I made was to work harder at using the internal controls of the camera to create the tonal curves.  One, Three and Four are examples of this with minimal cropping or alignment corrections in Snapseed.  The camera is much better than I am still. 


Weakness turned into everlasting life

20140418-143442.jpg Christ took on the burdens of all of us. He hung the on the tree, and the weight of our sins pulled him into death.

Christ then showed how the power of God defies worldly wisdom.

In the weakness of death he set all men free.

By ripping open the gates of hell, Jesus brought the gospel to the faithful who died before his word circulated the world. Those who embraced it, I am sure, are now saints in heaven praying for us below.

The words he preached continue today to circulate among us, and possess the power to save us if we surrender our lives to him.

I am working on the complete surrender to Christ's call...I know it is a lifelong process. I know with each step I take, he will be there with me making my cross lighter. I certainly know that this week he lifted my family up through the power of his love, his church's sacraments, and words of wisdom. I could not have done it without him.

I hope you too will make the same journey, because God's love grows with each and every step we take together in his name!


Something a little different

20140329-212511.jpg Today was two days in one, so please forgive me if this is a confusing.

We had one of those days around the house which makes you appreciate each person in your family and close friend circle a little more than when you woke up.

We had the little boy praying for his favorite pastor, now in heaven, the night before surprise me with the things he learned about faith, hope, love of God, and respect for authority this year in Blue Knights (and his catechism!).

We had a friend race over to help us and another storm heaven with prayers, as Mom and Dad had to make an unexpected trip...and we saw how deeply we love the lives of our children...and the new one on the way...before any saw the first light of day.

I had two big kids step up and grow up just a little more when faced with a challenge. I love them lots. Much more than words or photos could ever show (well no one really gets photos of me with my kids since I'm the photog!)

And then my youngest daughter fell asleep on my shoulder in church tonight while two boys sang in the children's choir (of course now at almost 10PM she just wants to party!).

This photo I played with seemed to fit the day's adventures. A lovely red blossoming flower surrounded by by busy texture. That was unfolding surrounded by the texture of confusion, noise, friends sustainment, and warmth.

All in all it was a day when we could say God is good to us in ways we could not fathom at the first light of dawn. A day reminding me to say thank you to God for all he did in so many little ways and lives to sustain us. A day which makes me say thank you for having one more day tomorrow to recover and praise his name again.


Less is more.

Color and Chrome Out at Old Car City not all is lost in terms of color!  I wanted to combine the chrome and color for a few shots, and this was my favorite if the bunch.  This is one of the few I set up that was not HDR.   The image just came out better is way.   Lesson for the day is that sometimes less is more!

I think that was an important part for me to digest last night at the movie.  God really does give us what we need for anything he expects of us. While we may always want more skills, riches, or luck....he equipped us with just what we need. So just work with it and trust in him!

Ok I'll admit I'm working on the last part myself! That is my cross to bear.


No Blues Here!

Names from Yesterday While at Old Car City a two weeks ago I had some fun with hubcaps!  Yes those fancy things on your wheels!  As with all chrome and HDR I found the hardest two challenges to be removing the HDR blues and keeping myself out of the reflections.  I have a lot to learn in both areas, as with everything else experience and review will help me get better in the future.

Now many of  you are proficient in Photoshop so removing this blue tint from chrome is not too hard if you know the six mask, layer, etc tricks available in that venerable program.

I on the other hand do not "know" photoshop.  I can still get the blue out pretty easily though using two other tools I have on hand OnOne Perfect Effects or Nik ColorEfex.

To get rid of the tint Perfect Effects simply go to the color masks and select Purify Highlights, and then on a second layer select Purify Shadows.  Move the sliders left and right to get the effect you want.  Don't want it on the whole photo?  Select brush in and apply like you would in Photoshop.

In Nik ColorEfex simply select the White Neutralizer, go into the additional modes and select wedding dress.  Move the sliders to suite.  Done....

I use these not as stand alone options, but as round trips to and from Aperture.  You can do the same thing in Lightroom.

Ok that is the tip of the day.