About Photomatter Blog

Photomatter Blog is an extension of Photomatter.com's Photography web site featuring photos by James Markus. The blog will focus on photography, business practices, equipment, new photographic creations, important photographic news/information, recent work, and my occasional posts.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

FREE Concert tonight

Scenes from Sunday's Open House...
There was a wonderful community turn out for Jenison's new art center Sunday December 1st. The space has to be seen in person to truly appreciate the wonderful design. But here are some teaser photos...
 So, come tonight at 7:30pm (earlier for better seat selection) and hear Jenison's first music concert, and performing arts in their new facility.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jenison Center for the Arts

It is really heart warming to see my community invest in the arts. Jenison has been hit extremely hard by the 2008 economic crash, but I couldn't agree more with the priorities the community decided a short while ago in a bond issue to invest in the schools infrastructure, and the arts. The project was funded by a combination of voter-approved bond, state, and federal money. The arts center has a 1200 seat auditorium, a costume and scene-building area, school administrative offices, and event or convention space.
 In just a few days the center will be open, and in use for the Jenison High School music programs, performing arts, art, and it has been reported that Meijer Gardens has entered into a partnership to display some contemporary art in the facility.
 Jenison doesn’t really have a defined downtown area. However, Tom TenBrink,  Jenison Public Schools superintendent, said that he hopes the performing arts facility will be a center of activity for the area, and help revitalize community. He was also quoted as saying..."This was one of our glaring needs, not only in the school district but in the community. For years, we’ve had to rent space from area churches for our theater and music programming. Our students deserve better.”
 The center is booked with school groups through May 2014, after which the door is wide open for programming. There is an sneak peak Sunday December 1st 2-5pm, and a Ribbon Cutting + Open House on December 2nd 6:30-9pm

Monday, November 11, 2013

Landscape "Mark of Excellence" award from I Shot It

I received this morning a notice that I had won another "Mark of Excellence" award from the web site I Shot It. It was almost a year ago that I decided to shoot on my way to the studio, because of the fog.
 Here is the awarded landscape photo.
Judge Duncan MacArthur wrote..."Nice country scene taken in foggy monotone conditions. The road leads a strong line to the tree and the sun through the fog completes the game of shapes. I expect this was a spontaneous shot… Well spotted, composed and executed. Well done, one of my favourites.

You can see the awarded photos at this link HERE.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Seattle Center Double Feature

There are two installations within the Chihuly exhibit at the Seattle Center. You really should go and experience it in person. Here is a teaser for Chihuly's absolute mastery of glass making from a room full of bowls...
 I thought I would post some images from the Seattle Center Chihuly installation since they are allowing photography, and I did want to encourage people to go see it for two reasons. Chihuly glass is like the Fuji Velvia of the photography world. The colors are simply amazing. Here is just a part of the ceiling of one room...
The amazing artwork continues for room after room until you are outside, and then it continues outside as well. This is a massive installation.  I talked to some of the cleaning crew about the many hours that are spent each and every night (approximately 5 hours) cleaning and polishing this exhibit. Some pieces are literally the size of a tree...
But, there is another incredible photography related treasure at the exhibit. In the very first Chihuly room, on the right hand wall as you enter...is what appears to be volume nine of Edward Curtis's "North American Indian" photos cut into individual prints covering the entire wall  with about 50 or 60+ photos.
Edward Curtis had the foresight to photograph many disappearing tribes, cultures, and other native American ceremonies. He even made thousands of audio recordings. It is probably the most epic and thorough photographic anthropological record of any culture ever undertaken. There were only about 250 of the 20 volume sets ever created with approximately 2100 total images published. Curtis' life's work spanned 30 years, and ultimately cost him his marriage. There is a great documentary about him on Netflix called "Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians". That I would highly recommend watching. Anyway, to actually see one of these volumes was simply amazing, and very unexpected. Additionally, there were dozens of native American blankets, and exquisitely woven baskets.

I witnessed the rapt awe in a child's face while there - as she drank in a hanging Chihuly work from her stroller. His artwork hits at a very basic level that even a toddler can appreciate.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I Shot It Food Photo WIN!

It was a little less than a month ago that one of my photos won a  "Mark of Excellence Award" in a I Shot It competition. This morning, another entry of mine won the "Food Photo Competition 2013 No 2" contest. This time there was cash and prizes...YEAH! Here is the winning photo.

Judge Duncan MacArthur's Comments

Beautiful warm colours, tones and shapes, the gas flame and the pot in the
background all make this scene so real. An everyday subject from everybody's
kitchen, beautifully composed and so simple. Great food shot and this round's
worthy winner. Congratulations !

my response...
My name is James Markus from James Markus Photography, and Photomatter.com located in Michigan. What a wonderful surprise - thank you.  Judge Duncan MacArthur's comments are spot on.  It was about colour, tones, and shapes. It is "real", because that was my breakfast cooking there.  I shot it in my kitchen. Camera was the Nikon D800 in manual mode. Lens was a manual focus 28mm Nikkor f2.8 ais.  Royalty free licenses, products, and prints are available in my "Food" gallery... (See Link Below)...Thanks again!

My Stock Photo Galleries

I Shot It Competition Link

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Phoebe comes home

I picked up Phoebe from the vet today. She got spayed. When I got home she wouldn't let me out of her sight. At one point she balanced on my left foot with three of her feet...closed her eyes and purred for 10 minutes (I didn't dare move). I decided to take her to work with me. Phoebe immediately took up postion between me and the computer monitor.

She chased the cursor, walked on the keyboard, stole cough drops, rubber bands, my lunch, and laid on my mouse hand. All day she was my shadow, and very little work got done. She needed this contact with me at all times, and she never stopped purring.
We all are happy to have Phoebe home sporting her shaved belly, and new tattoo.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fractals in nature...the sunflower

Here are a lovely bunch of sunflowers. Shot with the Nikkor 16mm f3.5 ai.
 I recently watched a documentary about fractals. In the 1980's Mandelbrot sets were discovered and the mathematical equations to describe fractals. In the Mandelbrot fractal "sets" are ever repeating and never ending patterns. Regardless of direction (either smaller or larger) the pattern repeats over and over again. There seems to be a key fractal to define each and everything in nature. These shapes are beyond simple geometry. Shot this with a Nikkor 105mm ais + extension tubes.
The sunflowers have reminded me of these Mandelbrot fractal sets. The complex geometry seems to be a repeating pattern. It also reminds me of what I was taught in school about Democritus in 450 BCE thinking that matter was made up of indivisibly small versions of the object we could see. For example:that a chair atom looked like a little chair.
I'm not sure If I have remembered this all correctly or not, but I can see a repeating pattern in sunflowers...in the petal, leaves, and seed forming area. I find it all fascinating. In the center of these grocery store bought sunflowers is a dime sized area with a tightly packed black geometric pattern of the sunflower. Shot this with a reversed Nikkor 28mm ais.
For more info see Arthur C. Clarke's documentary about fractals
 "Fractals: The Colors of Infinity" http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/fractals-colors-infinity/

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Shot It.com's Child Photo Competition

   This morning I got notice that one of my I Shot It entries had been awarded a "Mark of Excellence Award" in the child photo contest by judge Lisa Alessandra Kutselnig.  I Shot It  is a relatively new phenomenon to me. Their Facebook page passed 200,000 likes earlier this summer, and many of my Facebook "friends" were liking photos or competitions from the  I Shot It web site. So, about three weeks ago I thought I would try entering. Obviously, this was shot awhile ago. Here is the awarded photo ...  I still get this same look whenever I ask Sam to clean his room or do a chore. :-)
The I Shot It web site slogan is "The Best Photo Competition". I have to admit there is really an impressive amount of activity on the site. There are multiple contests in progress at all times, and some with cash and/or Leica equipment as prizes.

Child Photo Competition 2013 No 3 Finalist Page 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Interesting Fox Islands info

While at Peterson Park in Leelanua County last week - I noticed I could see both Fox Islands to the North west of the park, and approximately 25 miles out into Lake Michigan. Some google searching reveals each island sports an air strip, but no residents. Rather curious - don't cha think? Apparently, there are a total of three lighthouses as well. One on the north island and two on the south. According to this wiki..."South Fox Island boasts some of the most spectacular freshwater maritime scenery in the world, including towering dunes, virgin cedars, and untouched beaches." I've never been able to see them from Peterson park before, but only from the north end of Cathead bay. All I had mounted on my camera was a nikkor 35mm f1.4 ais lens. Here is a 12,000 pixel panorama stitch of the view (resized), and a zoomed in crop. (click to see larger versions)

Here are some of the sources I surfed...

Article titled "It doesn't make sense"

Historical Information by the Beaver Island Archipelago....(the islands are part of an archipelago)

A Great Map

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Black Sail

Sometimes you just instantly recognize a scene. It hits you very hard, and you know it is rare. I was packing the car to return home from up north when I looked out across the water. I love watching the waves, but a sight greeted me that I have never seen before. A large sailing vessel with a black sail. It seemed to be chasing a group of small white sailed sail boats to the south. I quickly unpacked the car to get to my camera bag, because the black sail boat was closing the gap quickly. Click the photo for a larger view

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Phoebe is the name of our new cat. She is the second cat rescued from under a porch or deck in fifteen years that we have adopted. All our five cats are rescues except Lucy - whom we will not talk about today. I brought Phoebe to the studio the other day, and she literally turned the session into a game of pounce on the photographer. I was using some old manual focus Nikon lenses for some of the shots, and it was a challenge to get her in focus with all the running, and hopping she was constantly doing. This first photo was with an auto focus lens...

  The next photo is when I just grabbed her with my left hand, and shot the photo with the right hand. I titled this ... "I don't want to stand still". She was free within a couple seconds, but what she did afterwards surprised me. She began pouncing on me from 3-4 feet away...she would land on my camera and nibble on my ears. I had a manual focus lens mounted at the time, and this is the best I could capture of a mid air pounce.

Just as quickly she ran out of steam, and fell asleep. When she first came to us she had this cobalt blue haze over her eyes like the spice induced one in Frank Herbert's "Dune". Now the blue is fading away to a greenish hazel color...very pretty.

Click on photos for larger versions

Friday, May 31, 2013

Exit Strategy?

With the news that the Chicago Sun-Times has fired it's entire photo staff it raises some questions. How could management be so antithetical to their stated goal of reaching their audience in it's visual media of choice - the web? By firing the professional visual experts in their own organization it makes one wonder what they were thinking? A quick search  found a Pulitzer prize winner among the 28 photographers fired.

 It's doubtful that Chicagoans will voice their displeasure with the unavoidable lowering of visual media standards at the Sun-Times which must occur.   In Chicago there is no media monopoly. In New Orleans the citizens didn't quietly accept the gutting of their over 170 year old media institution, The Times Picayune. Covered by the New York Times just two weeks ago.  Article Here   However, here we are again, witnessing the gutting of another media voice by management seemingly bent on destroying their own corporation.  Is this the Chicago Sun-Times exit strategy?

In a
"2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners" series of articles from the Sun-Times.

Isn't this the very kind of multimedia that management claims they want?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Poignant Sunday - April 14th 2013

I want to thank Rick Martinez for inviting me to the Sunday Press farewell. As I entered the building from the north entrance I was struck with the sweet aroma of ink. Smells really do trigger memories, and at 155 Michigan Sunday April 14th a flood of memories overwhelmed me. The poignancy deepened when passing the empty marketing department, but I could hear music coming from editorial. A brief round of hellos and plumbing the depths of ackwardness ensued. Kept asking what I assumed were former employees what they were doing now. Only to discover they were still current employees. Ooops, I'm really outta of touch, and only knew about the farewell because of Rick.

Soon I felt a bit like a party crasher, and had an urge to visit other areas of the building. The first spot I went to was  just outside the editorial photo department. On 9-11-01 I was standing watching a little TV perched on a pillar with many others in the newsroom as tower 1 burned. Then the second plane hit. I can still hear the newsroom gasp in my head, and the instant realization that this wasn't any accident. Next I went to Photo, Imaging, and Dispatch as Rick and I visited. I slipped away to visit where my desk had been in marketing, and headed back towards editorial. When I reached the double doors at the top of the escalator I saw the banners from the pinnacle of the Press's achievements were still hanging. "We're on Top of the World" declared the middle one.  I looked down the escalator toward the lobby. Then went to the lobby to visit the press room window - all that was left was the bed of concrete and steel that use to house the presses.  This is what I saw, and it was enough contrast for the day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

March 2013 - Mom

A hard act to follow

My mom is amazing. She is in better health than I am 40 years her junior. She has been incrementally packing up her life in little plastic shopping bags and having family and loved ones carry it all away bit by bit. She has never mentioned her intentions, but it is clear what they are. This photo was from a lunch this March, and the highkey is to reflect on a life well planned.

February 2013 - Angus

A product of his upbringing

After the concert, Angus had an eruption. Never one to hide his emotions, nor varnish his disapproval - Angus let fly in this less than 5 second tyraid of facial dexterity (and verbal lashing). I had to edit the number of photos, because my camera captured many more similiar images. I love the sincerity with which he delivers his disagreements with me. Even when I try and be serious he makes me laugh more often than not. You may ask what the disagreement was about? I don't remember!

January 2013 - Pickels?

Inspired by a song...

Arlo Guthrie's "I don't Want a Pickle" line inspired this latest cross section image. There are some good live versions of the song on youtube - that you should watch. The song has always had a strange appeal to me. Almost like a childhood story, with outrageous elements. In fact, story doesn't quite cover it - it is a yarn. It spins and unravels into utter delightful nonsense. Much like my cross sections photo gallery HERE