Interlude - RIP Robin Williams by Josh Trudell

Robin He wasn’t always on.

That’s the one description of Robin Williams I’ve read this week that doesn’t quite ring true.

When he was on, he was on like no one else – an arsenal of one-liners, jokes, impressions, physical comedy coming at you in a Russian-accented, Jewish-flavored, Scottish-highlighted, short, hairy, blue cartoon tornado. You were swept away in laughter.

And we did laugh – all of us. The outpouring at the news of his suicide has been higher than anything I’ve ever seen – everyone seems to have weighed in with memories of inspiring speeches and off-the-cuff comedic genius. The depth of our connection to him was deeper than anyone would have suspected a week ago.

If you find yourself in darkness, there are people out there with lights. Start with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.

We all thought of our favorite moments and characters – the brash DJ Adrian Cronauer from “Good Morning, Vietnam” and the genie from “Aladdin” were mine, but I’d always watch him be Dr. Maguire in “Good Will Hunting” or the title character from “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

The unfiltered Williams was like a drug – two hours (that filmed for five) of him Inside the Actor’s Studio, or onstage Live at the Met – felt like pure dopamine channeled into the brain.

Seeing the spitfire spiels with a comeback for every occasion, it did seem like he was always on, that there was a neverending fountain of quips and tricks inside him somewhere, relentlessly spilling out joy.

It was the moments in between that were the difference, though. After watching something enough times, you knew the lines well enough to not laugh with your head thrown back and eyes closed, instead smiling like you were seeing an old friend again.

Then, you started to see the quiet moments, where he’d take a breath and look around, wondering if the audience was happy and if the constant damn noise in his head would be silent for just a second.

He learned how to at least partially channel that weariness and quiet need for peace – adding human moments to the comedic avalanches, and wearing it as a skin in his award-winning dramatic roles - but it wasn’t enough. He tried quieting it with drugs and booze – and that wasn’t enough.

If you find yourself in darkness, there are people out there with lights. Start with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.

Italy, Days 9-10 by Josh Trudell

Pensione-Pellegrino Every stop on a trip could start like this.

After being welcomed to our hotel, our host pours us glasses of cool limoncello and offers us fresh, homemade, incredibly good midafternoon pastry/desserts.

After most of a day’s train and car ride, we made it to our final stop – the Amalfi coast. Specifically, Pensione Pellegrino in the town of Praiano.

Luigi Rispoli, our host, welcomed us warmly, to say the least, helping us with our bags, offering some limoncello and a midafternoon snack. From our ocean front balcony, we could see the water crashing into the rocks on the coastline.

This is a good example of the benefits of traveling during “shoulder season” – the prices were much more reasonable than they might be during high season.

Since it was so late in the season – Luigi told us we were the last customers of the year – the kitchen at the inn wasn’t fully operational for dinner. He drove us into town for a late dinner and picked us up when we were done –one of the many above-and-beyond services he offered while we were there.

As we had prepared for this trip, I had seen those click-friendly slideshows of the most beautiful abandoned places in the world – one of which is in the Valley of the Mills in Sorrento, an hour-long bus ride from where we were staying.

Down in the overgrown chasm, vines and branches wrapped around the stones of the old flour mill and sawmill, almost completely hiding them.

The Valley of the Mills in Sorrento.

I could have spent hours exploring this, but eventually lunch became a pressing issue, and we headed out to the waterfront for lunch.

Stone buttresses that have been holding up this part of the coast for centuries lined the shore from our vantage point on a floating restaurant.

Content to window-shop among Sorrento’s many shops and take it easy, we relaxed before our big plans for the next day – hiking the Pathway of the Gods.

Italy: Day 6 by Josh Trudell

Pompeii Building roads. Arguing over lunch. Putting out laundry. Leading ordinary lives – before they were buried under hundreds of feet of ash.

From the ruins of Pompeii, it’s hard to miss the decapitated mountain that snuffed out all those lives – Vesuvius sprawls in the distance, looking more like a group of smaller mountains rather than one massive peak since its explosion.

Taking a brief respite from Rome, we hopped the train and headed out to the ruins.

It’s a relatively easy train ride from Rome to Pompeii, but it is three hours long, with a change in Naples. The journey was worth it, though.

Despite being buried under the ashes from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius for hundreds of years, restoration and preservation efforts showed what was once a busy, prosperous city. The narrow stone streets are grooved from chariot tracks — except where they stopped as a rebuilding project was halted by the explosion.

As we came to an intersection, open buildings on opposite corners held what appeared to be benches and counters with holes that once held hot food — they appeared to be competing chariot drive-through restaurants.

The narrow streets open into the main piazza, a wide grassy area that, with the open plateau the city rests on, gives Pompeii the feel of a park.

In comparison, Herculaneum – another town destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius - is wall-to-wall with the modern-day town of Ercolano on three sides. Laundry hanging from neighboring apartment buildings flutters over the edge of the ruins.

We initially were unsure about stopping in Herculaneum - by the time we left, Pompeii it was getting late in the afternoon, and we were hoping to stop in Naples for pizza on the way back to Rome.

But the stop for Ercolano is only a couple of stops from Pompeii, so we jumped off the train and enjoyed the short walk through the city streets. We were glad we did. The mosaics and paintings were better preserved than what we saw in Pompeii, with bright blues and reds still marking the tiles.

Far fewer people were touring the site, and more of the city was available for simple wandering.

Studies have suggested that Herculaneum's condition is better than Pompeii's because ash helped prevent buildings from collapsing, creating an airtight seal that lasted until major excavation began at the site in 1738.

As we ducked into and out of the narrow doorways, the difference between the two communities became clearer — Pompeii was more of a commercial hub, with wider streets and bigger buildings, while Herculaneum was a bedroom community.

pizza Stopping in Naples – where pizza was invented – was an adventure all by itself. With the city suffering ongoing garbage disposal issues, the piles of trash on the street corners were huge. Combined with a lack of streetlights – we walked six blocks from the train station and didn’t see a light – it was a challenge.

The pizza, however, was excellent. Da Pellone only serves pizza – huge slabs of fresh crust with cheese and sauce in true Neapolitan style, and it was fantastic.

The cooks were kind enough to let me shoot a few frames of them cooking, too, which was a real treat.

*Portions of this post appeared in a story I wrote about the trip to Pompeii for the San Antonio Express-News, titled “Under the Ash Lay a Prosperous Pompeii.”

Italy: Day 4 by Josh Trudell

Rome-1 After three days in Venice, - seen here, here and here - we made our way to Rome via train, arriving at the Hotel Golden in the late afternoon.

It’s a hive of unavoidable history – from our hotel window, we could see ancient city walls and a statue of General Belasarius (d. 565 AD), as tiny cars and mopeds buzzed along the street.

We quickly discovered that Rome is a great walking city, making our way to the famous Spanish Steps. The steps are an interesting social experiment – people actually sit and talk to each other. Who knew?

The steps – the 135 steps are the widest staircase in Europe - are a wonderful place to sit and absorb the culture. Watching the conversations and the passers-by are equally entertaining. No sign of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, sadly.

After a few minutes soaking it in, we wandered down to the Trevi Fountain, another of Rome’s great pedestrian landmarks. Even at a late hour, it was swarmed by tourists, voguing like supermodels as they threw their coins in to try and assure themselves of another trip to Rome.

Throwing technique is important here – back to the fountain, right hand throwing over left shoulder is how tradition claims to ensure a return trip. We tossed our coins in the fountain, and a few more coins at a gelato stand as we walked back to our hotel.

Holding hands, strolling down the street, gelato in hand, Rome all around us…it doesn’t get much better.

Italy: Day 2 by Josh Trudell

Venice-2 “Let’s go to jail,” our guide tells us, and off we march.

We crowded into a narrow stone hallway and looked into the tiny, low-ceilinged cells under the doge’s palace, which is in the heart of Venice - Piazza San Marco.

We don’t usually pay for guided tours on our trips, preferring to read books and wander, but taking the secret itineraries tour was worth it. Winding through the back passages and disappearing doors made me realize how those bad guys in Scooby-Doo always got from one end of the haunted mansion to the other so quickly.

Built first in 1340 and rebuilt several times since then, the ancient building is a maze of secrets, especially the rooms used for torture – some of which were ironically covered in beautiful paintings.

The torture chambers were positioned so prisoners could hear torture victims screaming, our guide told us. From the judges’ chambers, a secret passage built into a cabinet let them go visit the prisoners.

In the administrative part of the palace, the offices were tiny, with low ceilings and small windows even for the most important Venician officials. "It was to keep him humble,” our guide said. “It was Venice that mattered.”

That view is reflected in the art in the palace where Venice is often shown as a woman, and the doge is an old man worshiping her.

Sadly, photography is not allowed in the palace (except for one random staircase where we were allowed to take pictures). However, once the tour was over, we had a nice view of the square and the lagoon from a second-story balcony.

One of the square’s highlights is the ornate clock tower, with wooden slides for numbers and a huge engraved zodiac clock face, topped by a bell. A lowlight was the enormous LG banner covering one end of the plaza, which made photography challenging.

The palace is in the heart of Venice – Piazza San Marco. Our hotel was about a 15-minute walk from the piazza, which made for a nice way to get acquainted with the city as we made our way over.

Walking through the narrow streets gave us much more of the sense of what Venice is – very much a tourist city, but with a strong sense of everything it was – a historic city-state with a glorious past - and the efforts to hang onto that.

She’s a city that has lived a long hard life, but still has a sparkle in her eye and wonderful stories to tell. It

It is also a city that needs some upgrades in public facilities, as we passed one woman squatting in the middle of a street relieving herself.

After exploring the square a bit and going on the tour, we wandered a bit more, strolling across the narrow canals and enjoying the colorful atmosphere. Venice is a wonderful place to wander – It’s not that big, so getting lost isn’t an issue, and every street has something noteworthy on it.

A late-afternoon vaparetto ride was a good way to see a large chunk of the city, and cheaper than any boat tour. Late afternoon sun made the buildings and water glow.

Squid-in-InkOur night finished up with a search for dinner, and an experiment in local dining. My brave traveling companion tried the squid cooked in its own ink.

It was … an acquired taste that we hadn’t acquired yet. I tried a trifle, despite my ongoing belief not to trust anything that resembles Cthulhu snot.

The rest of the meal was delightful, however, and we retired looking forward to another day.

Arizona & Utah, Day 4 by Josh Trudell

  Heading into Arches National Park, we all craned our necks to look up at the huge red stone building blocks and the – yay! – blue sky beyond.

We start with Balanced Rock, and shoot steadily for an hour or so. That stop resulted in one of my favorite shots from the trip:


Those wisps of clouds started to thicken into the deadly flat white sky as we reached the Windows, big almost-matching arches.

There were a lot of tourists, but Chris and I avoided them by walking through the arch and doing our best Spider-Man impersonation on the ledges on the other side, reaching a small ledge where we perched to shoot back through the arch at land formations on the other side.

After making our way down, we headed over to Double Arch, two huge arches that had tourists climbing all over the base.

We set up near the trail nearby. With some advice from Ian, I pulled out the big zoom I rented for the trip and got some nice detail shots of the arches intersecting – thereby cropping out the myriad of tourists below.

This was one of the few instances on this trip where the big zoom lens - 70-400mm - I rented came i nuseful.

All this time, it’s getting darker…

After lunch, we took a siesta, and I wandered the streets. As rain began to patter down, I realized I had forgotten a raincoat, and picked one up, along with a new Otterbox for my phone.

I keep all my notes for stories on my phone – both written and in voice memos – and the black casing – the most reliable phone case I’ve ever had - had finally worn out. When I peeled it off, grains of red sand from our adventures pattered on the countertop in the store.

The rain continued, but we braved it, heading back into Canyonlands in a storm that swept through the canyons, slowing us down at times to a walking speed.

At one point, we see a storm sweeping across an open plain to our right. Braving the rain, Chris, Ian and I dashed out to the cliff’s edge, setting up and shooting while trying to keep our gear dry with middling success.

It was pouring all around us - but there was hope of one little beam of light sneaking through.

The rain broke again as we headed for Mesa Arch – one of the most photographed arches, and really a unique challenge compositionally. The rock detail is amazing, but the view through it – to the plains and mountains beyond  - requires a very high f-stop.

And oh, by the way – the arch is right on the edge of a thousand-foot drop. It’s been photographed a lot and by the best, but it’s still stunning.

After Mesa, we hauled back to the car and headed for the Green River Overlook again, hoping to get one shaft of sunlight to break through the morass of storm clouds.

We waited.

And waited.

While we were waiting, I turned around for a moment and looked behind us. This rainbow appeared, centered over the old, worn tree.


I shivered – but that might have been the rain and falling temperatures.

And….the waiting finally paid off.

At the last gasp, one beam of sunlight broke through and lit up the canyon walls on the far side of the overlook. We all shot furiously, trying to capture it in the few seconds before it was gone. Trudell-Breaking-Through

Day 5: Heading home

2013 is over? Wait, what? by Josh Trudell

Thinking about 2013: As the wise philosophers Calvin and Hobbes once said, “The days were just packed!” Or you could go with Inigo Montoya: “Let me esplain. No, is too much. Let me sum up.”

The summary: It rocked.

One of my photos ended up on a baseball card. (And I met baseball legend Nolan Ryan).

I was a finalist in the 2013 Texas Parks and Wildlife photo competition.

I crossed off one of my bucket list photo trips with the Arizona and Utah expedition.

From that, I put together my first gallery photo show, reception and all.

The Red Sox won the World Series.

I got to visit Italy, including standing on the floor of the Colosseum and hiking the Amalfi Coast.

I read a lot of good books, saw some good movies, and kept walking around this earth, seeing cool things.

Through it all, I can’t emphasize enough how thankful I am for the people who encourage my photography. There’s a long list, but it starts with Superwife Tapley, bearer of good cheer and planner of fabulous trips.

Thanks to everyone who has taken a minute to take a look at one of my photos. Your appreciation – in any form, be it likes, buys, clicks or comments - is a constant reminder to be thankful.

Let’s go see what 2014 has to offer.

A few thoughts about the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox by Josh Trudell


A few thoughts about your (and mine) newly crowned 2013 World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox.

Hearing “Three Little Birds” being sung at Fenway by the entire stadium was awesome.

Big Papi will be the first DH elected to the Hall of Fame. It may not happen the first vote, but at this point, he’d need to get caught doing something very naughty indeed to not be included.

Jon Lester finally took that ace mantle and owned it. A big story next year will be if he can keep it up - Josh Beckett flamed out after being unhittable in 2007.

Speaking of 2007 (and 2004), I was intrigued by people saying that 2007 was the best team of the three championship winners this century.

(Pausing to let that sink in).

The general storyline seems to be that the 2004 team was good, 2007 was better, and the 2013 squad lags somewhere behind. Poking through baseball-reference.com, I sketched out a comparison of the three teams.


  • 98-64, 2nd in AL East
  • Previous season: 95-67, second in AL East


  • Eight of the starters hit at least .264.
  • Seven of them had OPS over .800.
  • Six had at least 70 RBI.
  • Two - David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez - had more than 40 home runs.

The Big 3:


























  • Four starters threw at least 180 innings. A fifth (Bronson Arroyo) was within 11/3 inning.
  • Everyone in the rotation - led by Curt Schilling’s 21-6 - had at least 10 wins.
  • Derek Lowe was the only starting pitcher with a regular season WHIP over 1.4.

The Big 3:


























  • 96-66, 1st in AL East
  • Previous season: 86-76, third in AL East


  • Seven of the starters hit at least .268
  • Five had OPS over .800
  • Three had at least 70 RBI.
  • One - David Ortiz - had more than 30 homers (35).
  • Jacoby Ellsbury made his debut.

The Big 3:


























  • Three pitchers threw at least 189 innings.
  • The same three - Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield - each had at least 15 wins.
  • Schilling only had 17 starts. Jon Lester made his debut, going 4-0.


  • 97-65, 1st in AL East
  • Previous season: 69-93, last in AL East


  • Six of the starters hit at least .273
  • Five had OPS over .800
  • Three had more than 70 RBI.
  • One - David Ortiz - had more than 23 homers (30).

The Big 3:


























    • Only two pitchers threw at least 189 innings - Jon Lester and John Lackey.
    • Ryan Dempster led the team in starts with 36.
    • Four of the top five starters had at least 10 wins (Dempster).
    • Koji Uehara was insanely good.

The Big 3:

























This is just a very rough sketch - I’m sure number experts can tear this apart. But I thought it made it interesting.

People seem to forget how ridiculously good the 2004 team was. The two 40 homer mashers led an AMAZING offense.

2007 was great - and there was a shadow of the 2013 redemption team by finishing third in 2006 - but I don’t think it stacks up quite as well.

The difference in 2007 was Josh Beckett - he was filthy in the postseason. Better than Lester this season (although not by much.

It’s hard to compare 2013 to those other two. The makeup of the teams is very different - the talent levels on this team aren’t as high, but the chemistry is far better than 2007, I think (he says from his comfy seat on the couch without being near the team all year).

2004 will always have the top spot in a modern-day Red Sox fan’s heart. But this team has made it a much closer vote than anyone expected.


I hope Wolverine shreds this poster by Josh Trudell

In my day job, I’m a graphic designer. It’s one of those jobs that can be tough to explain – people either think I draw pictures or I Photoshop warts off people. Neither of those are true (Okay, occasionally they are true, but not usually.) In my case, I’m about organization and presentation of information.

I don’t consider myself an artist – I’ve got enough skills to fake it, but I know some real artists. Their skills can put mine in the shade. However, because of the organization/presentation skills, I manage to keep steady paychecks coming in.

One of my favorite things to design and see designed is movie posters. I love the vivid imagery of movies, and, in the right hands, they lend themselves to great posters.

Which brings me to something that is not a great poster.


Now, I’m admittedly biased. I’m a fan of Wolverine – I like Hugh Jackman as the character, and I generally like him in the comic books. X1 and X2 were solid movies, and let's just consign X3 and Origins to the "that didn't really happen" bin, okay?

That said. This pop-up Wolverine-in-the-box is ridiculous. The lighting is terrible. The interaction between the two forces is nonexistent. Why are the ninjas dark and Wolverine has two spotlights on him? The claws relationship to the knuckles is different on each hand. The head is obviously cloned from the same shoot as the international poster (and as others pointed out - why is Wolverine in front of the Dark Knight poster?) – it may be the same image. Some of the ninjas are cloned. I could go on, but I'd rather impale myself on those claws.

It’s a depressing start to summer movie season. I’m hoping the movie reflects the kickass teaser poster more than this badly Microsoft Paint-ed drivel.

A Photo Story: My New Camera by Josh Trudell

I've been saving for several months to buy a new camera body. On Christmas Eve, I was finally able to pull the trigger on a new Sony A-99. Full-frame, 24.3 megapixels, various and sundry pieces of awesomeness. (If you're a camera nerd like me, you can read up on all the specs here. Instead of writing a lengthy blog post extolling its virtues, however, I thought a little iPhone documentary would be a little more fun. Hope you enjoy.

The box from FedEx arrives.

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So there it is - my new A99. New Year's Resolution is to learn to use it in time for the big fall trip. Stay tuned, and Happy Holidays!

Big Bend IV - Or, A Little Banjo Music by Josh Trudell

When we walked into the Starlight Theater in Terlingua after our rafting trip, I thought they’d play both kinds of music there – country AND western.

Then the cowboy-hat wearing guitarslinger behind the mic started playing Cole Porter songs. The stuffed goat with a Lone Star in its jaws seemed unimpressed.

Terlingua is one of the more interesting small towns I’ve ever visited. As it was described by one person, it’s where the hippies from Austin came after life started getting too intense there.

Bikers, tourists, river guides and others hung out on the porch connecting the Starlight with the Terlingua General Store, a small town scene if I’ve ever seen one. Strangers five minutes ago, we chewed the fat with another transplanted New Englander who was attracted by my New Hampshire t-shirt.

After a steak, we sat on the porch for a bit as the sun started to set behind us, lighting the Chisos Mountains in golden tones. A pickup band of banjo pickers brought back the country sound, with classic Willie and Waylon tunes.

Terlingua was originally a mining town, and the ghost-filled remains of ruined stone huts sit in front of the general store, covering the slope down to the graveyard.

The scattered piles of stones glowed in the evening light, the yellow and orange rocks keeping their warm hue. Fresh wood and plastic toys showed that a few huts are still being used, even with roofs held down by tires and rope to keep them from blowing away.

Rubble sprawled across the ground, spraying in worn and weathered lumps. Walls yawned from fatigue, getting a little closer to joining those on the earth. The rocks leaned downhill, as if all they wanted was to roll off the hillside and down into the cinnebar mines.

The wear of desert wind and weather is visible on every surface. Some of the older graves are as featureless as if they had endured decades of New England winters, but here they’ve been wiped clean by the sand. Splintered and shattered crosses lean defiantly – others lie broken, their post lost. In the fading light, it’s a mournful vision.

And yet…the banjo notes float across these tombs, calling the workers to come up from the mines and out from their huts, calling the children to laugh and run and play, calling us to dance, to love, to live.

Next up: Climbing the peaks

Big Bend, Part III - Rafting, Rafting on the River.... by Josh Trudell

As we sat in the Chisos Mountain Lodge and watched it storm, one thought kept running through my head.

“There’s going to be enough water for rafting tomorrow! Awesome!”

The rafting trip on the Rio Grande had been one of the planned highlights of this trip – I had been dying to photograph the steep walls of Santa Elena Canyon, in particular.

Most rafting trips on the Rio Grande leave from Terlingua, about 45 minutes from the lodge.

With the lodge restaurant not open yet, we had an 0-dark-thirty start, and stopped at India’s Coffee Shop and Bakery for breakfast.

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, the scene changes, but the morning formalities remain the same. Here, we sat out on a patio framed by Christmas lights, and listened to the locals bullshit each other as they sipped coffee. An Australian drawl added a little flavor to the fluent Texan being spoken.

As the sun drew a line across the mountains in front of us and slid down, we loaded up on fantastic homemade tacos and a breakfast burrito like no other.

The peaceful easy feeling from the great breakfast and the sunrise was dinged a bit, however, when we found that Santa Elena Canyon was not available for our rafting trip. Not because the river was too high – but because the road to the take-out point had been washed away.

We would, however, float Colorado Canyon, which was not as dramatic.

I’ve got to admit – I was a little disappointed at this point. This trip had been up and down a little too much for my taste so far. But, buckling up, and renewing determination to enjoy what I could get at, we jumped in the van and headed out.

Bouncing down the bumpy roads on our way to the river, the burrito might have momentarily felt like a bad idea. But it, and we, survived, and before long we were loading onto rafts and into the river.

With all the hot air and self-importance about borders, it seems natural to think of rivers that serve as borders as huge bodies of water. The reality is much humbler – for virtually all of this trip, I could have walked across the Rio Grande and not gotten my belt wet.

The guides told us of often meeting the vaqueros who herd cattle on the Mexican side, occasionally in the sights of border guards who hadn’t counted on the people who lived on the river when the political walls grew higher.

As we rafted, we looked up at the hundreds of feet of canyon wall and couldn’t help but wonder why exactly politicians thought we needed a manmade wall. Kids occasionally hopped over to the Mexico side and then giggled back to their rafts.

While the canyon wasn’t the one I hoped for, being there for the rain showed how quickly the river can be reborn. Thick green sheaves of river cane flourished on banks that had been brown or yellow just a week ago. Our guide said it was the greenest he had seen it in three years.

As we pulled the rafts out, I looked at the river – both life force and barrier. Living here means living on the edge – if the water goes dry, you’re done. But on this day, the river offered stillness, peace and a snapshot of the rebirth simple water can bring – more valuable than any photograph I could hope to take.

Faith in the trip – renewed.

Next: The ruins of Terlingua.

Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys? by Josh Trudell


I'm convinced every photographer becomes Batman if they shoot long enough.

They swoop about, capturing images before the flighty light has a chance to escape, with the help of a trusty utility bag.

Let’s face it – you’re looking at a Batman. (Or a Batgirl – but if you’re making that distinction, you’re probably deep enough into Batman: Arkham Asylum to understand that Oracle is a better character for this story.)

What makes Batman cool? Other than the movies and the costumes? It’s the gear – the gadgets and gizmos that help him be the World’s Greatest Detective.

Most photographers live and die with their gear bags. Lenses, camera bodies, filters, tripods, tape, batteries, cables, notebooks, flashes – you name it, it’s in there.

So, in my quest to be the World’s Greatest Photographer – what? It’s a dream… - I’m looking at buying some new camera gear.

This is a tricky stage. There are brand choices. Cost choices. Types of gear: Macro lens? Zoom? Lights? Flashes? A new camera body? It’s easy to spend Bruce Wayne’s millions on camera gear, by the time you sort through all the add-ons and should-haves.

Now, I’ve seen the guys who have it all. New cameras, lenses, filters, tripods – all shiny and bright, with price stickers still on them. Usually, I see them on eBay, selling this gear they haven’t touched in two years.

I’d like that to not be me, but it is tempting to splurge, especially after Superwife goes into her study and whips up some mathematical alchemy that shows a tax refund in the offing.

A chunk of money and Wolf Camera’s website? Verrrrrrry dangerous.

But – and this is relative to anything you enjoy devoting time to, I think - it’s not just the gear. It’s the time. It’s the patience. It’s learning and knowing. And it’s being smart with purchases – buying gear that I know I will use, not just things that look cool – so it doesn’t become a money pit of a hobby.

On that note – Alfred, let’s go shopping.

Braving the photography bigwigs by Josh Trudell

Eiffel Tower at Twilight
Eiffel Tower at Twilight

I've got a dream.

Nothing so auspicious as Martin Luther King - it's my little dream that I feed and water as often as I can.

I take/make photographs/photos/pictures/captures. Once in a while, I even get paid for it. My dream - somewhere way off in the distant haze, when I'm not plowing through work/traffic/chores - is to get better at it, and get paid for it more often. If you've ever seen Peter Lik's work - well, that's who I want to be when I grow up.

A short backstory: I took some photography classes in college and was the student newspaper's photo editor for a while. I put the camera down until about four years ago, when I picked up a digital camera and realized I didn't have to take hundreds of dollars in film to the drugstore any longer.

So I started shooting. And re-learning. And learning new things. And growing. And reading more about photography.  And following people such as Scott Bourne on Twitter.

As this has progressed, I've had some good conversations with photographers, and some not-so-good conversations, both online and in person. The not-so-good ones have generally been with the people who have been at it a while - the semi-pros and pros who are frustrated by another newbie with a new toy out trying to be Ansel Adams. (Check out this great exhibit, by the way.)

It goes something like this: "Grumble-grumble-bought-a-DSLR-grumble-set-up-a-site-grumble-grumble-now they're professionals!-grumble-grumble-don't-deserve-their-gear-grumble-grumble..."

Look. I understand the frustration. I do. No one wants to put up with obnoxious newbies. I certainly don't want to be an obnoxious newbie - who wants to be that guy?  Now, not everyone has the temperament or time to mentor, and I understand that too.

But I want to learn and get better, so here I am - asking questions, taking what you think are horribly cliche photos, living the dream.

Once you had a dream too. I just found mine a little later, that's all.

The first brick in a multimedia empire that will stretch beyond the limits of space and time... by Josh Trudell

Monarch Butterfly Okay, not really. My schemes to take over the universe only extend as far as Australia right now, but the universe has a wary eye on me. Wary, I tell you!

I'm Josh. I do things - mostly in the realm of graphic design, photography and writing. It's a crowded realm, but I'm trying to carve out a little bigger space for me and mine. Me is, well, me, and mine is Superwife and Echo the Amazing Feline. <waves>

This is starting out as a blog for class - I'm one of those back-to-school fools - but eventually it'll be folded into the home of my multimedia empire. I've got the crown picked out and everything.

I like to talk photography, design, travel, baseball, books and movies. There will be a healthy sprinkling of pop culture references, many of the Whedon variety. I don't paint myself as an expert of anything - that way lies bloated egos and other similarly bad things. So sit down, hang out, and we'll talk a bit.

To kick this off, I'm adding one of my favorite pictures - maybe the first one I took in my new era of photography that I really liked. It's not perfect, but it struck me.

Till next time,