Finding His Will on the Backstreet

Lovettsville, Virginia….the Backstreets

Here we are just finishing our third month in our new home of Lovettsville, and we’re starting to venture out a bit here and there. This adventure took a Dad and five kiddos on a walk down the backstreet where my mind went right into our Lenten lessons….

If you told my wife and I we’d be moving eleven times, escorting six kids through life, work our way through five miscarriages, enduring some long term illnesses, and I’d have an overall mediocre professional life twenty years ago we’d be surprised and overwhelmed. We had our plans, and we were going to follow them!

This Lent we listen and read lessons from our Good Catholic series created by the Catholic Company. The main focus is to help us understand God’s will, live in his will, find happiness in his will, and then endure the hardships of a fallen reality on the way to our final judgment. One key lesson they harp on again and again is our main sources of stress come from our personal choices to deviate from God’s will in our actions.

Outside of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes, God’s will for my life is pretty hard to discern. I have no outstanding talents. I have far too much pride. I will never rise to the top of my daily profession. I have no idea how I will work my next profession….and all this leads to stress over “what is the right course of next actions.”

Thankfully Father had a reminding us (paraphrasing a bit): “ The past cannot be changed, the present is where we are now, and the future is not here yet. God gives us enough grace to survive the present, so stay in the present. Make each present decision in accordance with his instructions, and it will all work out in accordance with his will.”

So as I walked one of the little backstreets of our little remote Loudon County town, I just enjoyed the moment. My pains disappeared, the sky seemed a little nicer, the cold winds didn’t cause me to shiver, and I enjoyed the laughs of my children a little more. Somewhere out here, in what the world would call a backstreet, God’s will called and I listened to it.

I have to walk the backstreet a little more with an even better attuned ear.


Two years of Joy!

I'm two! How fast can two years go?  For child number four, my precious Kellie Marie it is like a stroke of lightening across the sky.  Here are just a few highlights....

Thank you God for every minute I have with each of these incredible people you graced my family with, and charged me to care for.  I can only pray I am doing right by them, and get to do it for a lot longer before you call me home.




Halloween 2012

Kellie Marie's first birthday party!

15 Months!


Reading Assignment

Christmas Present and helping Mom

Happy New Years!

Lessons from the farm

20131223-225838.jpg So what does a farmer do when a baby lamb loses its mother hours after it birth? My second son's Godparents recently had this occur on their farm. A ewe carried her 10th lamb to term, and died shortly after the birth. If the lamb existed in the wild, it would simply be left to fend for itself immediately. No other ewe will care for it, preferring instead by instinct to care for its own offspring.

This farming family instead will feed the lamb ewe by hand until it can fend for itself. Extra work yes, but it is an example of proper stewardship of the world we live in. These Godparents let nothing go to waste if they have any say in it. I find it is also a little example of following the wisdom of God, and an example of what we saw from Christ. We are all fallen creatures, even if we have good genes we are all still flawed. Despite this problem of ours, he for came into the world as a child, and grew to become a man...the perfect sacrifice and example for us to follow so we too could be with him in heaven.

So as you prepare for the arrival of Christ tonight...remember that as hard as it is to fathom...he calls us to follow his example in largest, smallest and everything I between parts of our life.

-ehw P.S. Fujifilm X-E1 with the 18-55



Model A goes to town

20131129-212252.jpg My Dad and I went for a ride in the Model A yesterday, just to take out the trash in town....and of course the truck demanded a short photo shoot! Luckily we had the historic school and some clouds to make the shot a little more interesting!

No crazy thoughts today...other than I hope you had a great weekend! I start a long road trip home tomorrow with the family in the "Silver Bullet." So if you see a big van running down I-81 to Ashville, NC that would be us!

-ehw P.S. This is little X-E1 with an appearance of the 14mm. I really enjoy that lens! Edited in Snapseed on my IPad.

A few more for sale

Tuscon Morning for sale I added three photos to square market you might like...Tuscon Monsoon Morning (above), Roswell Bridge and the DC Tidal Basin.  You can purchase them on square market.  If you want them in a different format...or see anything else in my Smugmug portfolio you like please contact me so I can serve you!

The EHW Photography store is open at:  EHW Square Market

View the rest of my portfolio here: EHW Portfolio

You'll also see some other gear I have up for sale there as well.  Some good gear not getting enough use.

As always 10% of the print profit goes to charity.


Happy Times

Blast from the past! Here is a simple little shot from a four years ago...whoa you mean old photos still hold relevance?  Photos taken with old technology like a Pentax K200D 10mp CCD can still "work?"

Well...yes they can...I know people who could shoot with a pinhole camera and put my efforts to shame.  A good photograph is less about technical excellence than it is about my humble opinion.

So many iconic photographs come from a spit second decision, snapped on instinct guided settings not perfectly applied logic.

Not much different than life..always comes back to that life thing...

People we trust the most are those that we know who will do right when under duress and short timelines.  We know that their soul contains excellent guide rails, and we can trust their instinct more than our indecision.

So I'm going to get back to the good book tonight and try to strengthen my guide maybe you will trust me to do right when my next time of trials begin.


PS This is a Pentax K200D shot with a Tamron 18-250 ultrazoom.  Good kit if I say so myself.  K200D is still my back up, although now I don't know how I ever got by with only one whiz wheel (control wheel) and not two!

Day One at Old Car City

Desoto puts a twinkle in my eye on Day one of Old Car City... Heading back into the evening class...put wanted to post something from this morning.  Six miles of trails and seventy years of cars to photograph!  I only covered two small yards so far, and they are full of fun shapes and images just crying to be photographed.  I am of course the only Pentax shooter here!  So my stuff does not get borrowed much for some reason.

Getting ready for critiques tonight and learning from what I've done and failed to do...

More tomorrow!


Five Year Old Saves Christmas

20121224-151139.jpg My five year old saved Christmas!

The last few weeks pressed me from every angle. Work, not being able to get my dream moving, the evil at Newtown and in my own town..All felt like a bone crushing weight on me. Even my picture taking, my refuge for sanity, was falling flat. The spirit of Christmas felt as far away as the moon. I could recognize the evil was in a person's choices, not the wonder of creation.  I was just overwhelmed by the amount of darts thrown at good people of late.  I had closed myself off to the spirit of Christ's power because I was letting things other than keeping God foremost in my thoughts and family's development matter.

All this started to change when as I put my head down, my lovely wife said...make small changes and the change will come. I slept on it, and through the night the weight of everything started to feel workable. I got up and walked into the living room to watch the sun rise on the Christmas tree. It was then that my five year old came down the stairs and plopped himself right on top of me.

His first words were, "Dad we have a wonderful tree. It is magic." God was speaking through the mouth of a babe. For ten minutes we sat still, and quietly talking about favorite ornaments lest we wake up the other four souls in the house to early. Then he said, "Dad we need to take some pictures of our tree." That was all I needed. Out came the tripod, the light for my first light painting attempts, and photographic direction from my five year old. My soul was alive, and responding to the cuing from God to live and enjoy Christmas in the present.

Every year I look at the Christmas tree form a new perspective. This year I took it from my five year old. Christ does bring grace if we let him. I pray that you and yours can do the same.


PS These photos are from perspective of my five year old...his height I hope conveying some of the awe we felt as kids before the Christmas tree.


Christmas Ball

Christmas Ball on a tree at Church We enjoyed another evening at church with my service and fraternal organization, The Knights of Columbus, at the annual Christmas Dinner.  We enjoyed being with other families, good food, and a festive atmosphere.  During the day my family went to church to help decorate for the holy day coming up, and my wife and four kids decorated two trees in the church.  I was pretty impressed when I heard my wife had the 11 month old on here back while stringing lights!

Well they inspired me to take a look at the trees for something fun to snap!  The hardest part of this was getting me out of the reflective surface of the ornaments.  So this took a  few minutes....and caused my wife to come rescue me from my photographic obsession!

This is yet another photo with my hip bound Oly XZ-1.  Processed in Perfect Photo Suite 7.  Just a note for you tech junkies... I am shooting RAW with my Point and Shoot.  So my files are typically the RAW flat, so I need to post process them.  This is just my normal preference and gives me more control over the product.  If I had no time to process them, I'd really have no problem with the on board jpeg engine or effects filters.  Olympus colors are just great.  I often use filters when I am on the road to get an effect without the post shoot work of RAW.

I am leaning to picking up a M4/3 camera as a slightly bigger "hip" camera.  That way I'll have a few accessories that can be used on either camera.  We'll see what the future will bring.  For now this is a good tool for my mission.



Bird Bath

Bird Bath in Chantilly, VA This was a fun shoot out with the children back with my then new Pentax K200D in 2009.  Ducks were just happy as a lark while we sat there sweating away in the August heat of Northern Virginia.

I wanted to include this photo for two reasons.  The first was something said by Brooks Jensen of a little while ago in a podcast.  He said a photo is an evolving piece of art.  Our technique and personalities change over time, our knowledge increases and tools change.  Since we have these incredible "negatives" to work with we have the opportunity to remake works into something more contemporary or "better" using those tools and knowledge over time.  That is exactly what I did here.  I took an image and updated with the knowledge I have now, to hopefully make it "better" than it was before.

Mr. Jensen's discussion of reflective visits to past work made me think about was how we as a society often get wrapped around the next new thing.  I'm feeling that right now...The D600 is on a wicked good sale for about 24 hours and its 24MP of full frame goodness and increased dynamic range are beckoning me like the Christmas star!  But do I need it?  Is it going to make me better...or do I still have lots to learn here with my Pentax K5.  I'd venture to say no it will not make me a better photographer...and the only thing it would do is give me more to learn!  Does my current gear limit me?  Well yes...and no.   I'd venture to say the biggest thing holding me back is the lack of attention I'm placing on learning from each frame and edit I make.  I should be applying those lessons to maximizing the potential of future shoots.  The limits of my camera are not the factor holding me back from making great images.  I am am the largest limiting factor.

So is the image above perfect?  Nope.  It is better than it was in 2009 though.  And I have a photo shoot coming up in a few hours that I need to apply a lesson in highlight control to...that is the lesson I need to apply today to a 10-12AM outdoor photo shoot!


PS  Lenswork is both a very nice website, and a highly reflective podcast available on iTunes.  Mr. Jensen is extremely good at making these podcasts meaningful to the development of the artist in you.  I also hear some very good life lessons coming from them on a regular basis.  I highly suggest you take the time to listen in.  You might become as hooked as I am!

Family Circle Memories

Making a family memory I'm getting ready for a little trip here in Georgia.  So I have the usual feelings of already "missing" my family before I leave.  Kids are in bed, fast asleep and I am all packed ready for a long drive.

This is a little picture my then seven year old son made on his birthday showing how we were having a good time with his then three year old brother a few minutes before.  He wanted to remember the moment, and I wanted to remember the image he created as well celebrating the love surrounding him that day.  When I feel like I do now, I pull it out and look at these types of good memories long past.

As Scott Bourne said in a recent speech, photographers are the guardians of all our memories.  After an event fades away, the photos are often the only physical memory we'll be able to keep when the other trappings are long gone.  So take the photos, and make each one the best you can!


PS Check Scott our on



Build a home to fly free

A stork flies over a Virginia farm This summer my father found he had a shallow spring at the corner of his property.  So he had it dug out to make a pond, and then left and overflow drain to keep the creek flowing regularly.

One consequence of building a pond on the farm was that wildlife now gets a new home to flourish in.  This lovely bird is one that took up residence in the pond area.  On the grace meter... I will happily give this one a 10 out of 10!

This reminded me of the movie "Field of Dreams" when the hero is told, "Build it and they will come."

Instead of a baseball field, my father combined some diesel powered bucket loaders with nature's life giving water to make a new home for some of God's creation.  A home to which animals flock to and obtain strength to fly free towards their dreams.

I hope we can all find the springs of life God put around us, and build them up using the tools God gave to glorify his name.


Perspective Changes

In the Review mirror of a Model A After shooting several people in the Model A truck over a few days, I had to literally find a new angle to shoot the truck.  Looking up I saw the mirror, and decided to have some fun with it.

I like the photo, but the reality is that you cannot tell if this is an old truck, a Jeep, or a go cart.  So I learned something about perspective in reviewing this shot.  The first lesson was if you keep looking around you can find interesting perspectives of a subject you missed before.  This perspective change may not however meet the goal of the image's sponsor to show off people in a clearly identifiable Model A..  In this case I have a cool photo, but it does not scream, "Cool Model A!"



Sheep teach photojournalism!

Baby sheep move up to get there dinner on a Virgina Farm. Dinner time was calling these sheep, all only a few weeks old, to come with their mothers to dinner on a Virginia farm.  The sheep were pretty well mannered about everything....although some did find a way to get more than others!

After dinner my children held several of the lambs, helped get their water ready and did a few other tasks for their aunt and uncle who raise them.  When we were done, the babies were left in the heated barn to protect them from a strong cold front that hit that night.  The little lambs needed the extra protection, just because we don't want to lose any of them!  Just minutes after we left I missed an opportunity I'd wanted to capture for years on the farm, the birth of a lamb.  The last pregnant mother gave birth to two more lambs.

I have to say that is one of the hardest sets of challenges facing photographers wanting to capture a realtime photojournalism story:  We have to be there, the conditions need to be "right" and we have to be prepared for those two conditions to collide before us.  This gets even harder if you want to make that moment art.

I think that is why, even though I love all types of photography, trying to capture the beauty of life in its own moment is my favorite type of photography bar none.  I love the challenge and the reward that comes from these adventures, and I say quite a few prayers of thanks when I see the moment captured in my frame.