Tag Archives: humor

Morty’s Comedy Joint Open Mic Quarterfinals – 7/5/2017

Last night I headed back to Morty’s Comedy Joint after a fairly long hiatus.  There were lots of new faces but the basic crux of the place hadn’t changed a bit.

First up, as is typical, you have your regulars, your “house comics.” You can tell these guys are polished, smooth and in their element. Their expressions reveal confidence and their sets are well rehearsed.  They are your comics of tomorrow and a very amusing tomorrow it will be.  Facial reactions range from “happy welcome” to “I just swallowed a bug” to “God, it’s me, Luke.  Please help me, I’ve just swallowed a bug.”


Next you have your up and coming comics.  They’re here for the sheer thrill of competition as they duke it out in a winner-take-all fight for comedy supremacy.  Of course there is the fact that the winner is determined by vote of the audience and the comics bring all their friends to pack the house but that’s neither here nor there. Never once has that mechanic of the competition swayed the outcome of one of these immortal battles of fisticuffs!

Here the expressions rage hard from “I don’t think that’s a schmedium, honey” to “yeah, I’m 19 and I’m already cooler than all y’all” to “who?  me?”  The bottom row I leave as an exercise to the reader.


The closers are your old pros.  One thing I love about the comedy scene is the equality of it all.  Too fat for other jobs?  Don’t play nice with others?  Too ugly for contact with the general public?  Fuck it, come on down!  Comedy folks love everybody.

Ryan Niemiller is hilarious and I can’t stop thinking about him trying to unbutton his shirt…  I feel bad for thinking about it… but I still can’t stop thinking about it.


Last but not least we’ve got the legendary Chris Bowers.  As rumor would have it he’s one of the absolute nicest guys around but he seems so put together and with-it that he’s too intimidating to talk to.  I’ve exchanged a few words with him and I felt like I was going to shake myself apart like a rusted out 72 Pinto running down the interstate on four bad tires.  I’m 6’4 and 250 pounds and the dude makes me feel like a little kid.


And there you have it, one night of great comedy at the city’s best venue for comedy. Your comedians for the night were:

Warmups:

  • Ryan McMannis (host)
  • Ray Hensley
  • Luke Basile
  • Logan Baert
  • Deon Curry

Contestants:

  • Lissa Sears
  • Riley Dismore
  • Cale Forbes
  • George White
  • Mike Williams
  • Grant Weber

Closers:

  • Ryan Niemiller
  • Chris Bowers

You can find full-size originals on our IndyLivePhotography website for this show and dozens of others.

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On portraits and “Tamelife” photography

If you look at my work at all you’ll notice that it’s quite a lot of random. When it comes to photography, if something sits still I’ll shoot it in macro. If it runs I’ll chase it and if it’s looking back at me then I’ll try to pretend I’m not really taking its picture. I tend to approach all my photography like I’m stalking a wild animal on the Serengeti, even if it happens to be the middle of GenCon and everybody will stop and pose even if you look at them funny.

Despite this general outlook, I still like the idea of taking people’s pictures because they want them taken. For years now I’ve put out the general message that yes I will take your picture, dozens of pictures, and give them to you if only you ask. You don’t even have to sit still because I’m accustomed to that sort of behavior in my subjects, though usually they’re furrier and faster than the average human. On a very rare occasion someone will take me up on my offer and I’ll show up and awkwardness will commence. Having done this a couple of times I’ve come to realize that portrait photography doesn’t really have all that much to do with actual photography, at least not as I define the science of the whole thing. I’m used to having to sneak up on my subjects and work for a couple of hours to catch them at their best whether they want to be caught or not. When you’re doing someone’s portrait though, they do something even more unnerving than run away. They stare back at you expectantly as if to say, “you’re the expert. so now what?” Somehow the desired answer of “Just go about your business and do whatever you’re going to do” doesn’t sit well with people.

This, I think, is a real pity though because it’s those absolutely frank and unposed moments that are most evocative. For example, a few years ago at the Talbot art fair I was behind a dad who had a very tired and very hot child in his arms and snapped this shot. It’s one of those absolutely raw moments but her eyes bore in to me even a year later. This is the sort of thing you get after you’ve let your guard down and stopped smiling the 3rd grade photo day smile into the camera.

I’ll wrap it up because I’m close to coming up on rant status, but I guess my real point is that the good shots happen after your hair is down, your makeup is smudged and you’ve forgotten anybody is taking pictures at all. It’s that moment when you look up and say, “Dad, is it time for lunch yet?” in your best and most expectant face. And that, I suppose, is the difficulty of Tamelife photography. Getting it to revert to its natural state so you can get the best out of it.

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Frank’s Joyride – Reunion Concert

On August 3rd, Lafayette Indiana was treated to a reunion concert from perennial local cover band Frank’s Joyride. Since their formation 25 years ago, the band-mates have drifted apart to various parts of the country but they come together every few years to rock out in front of their fervent and fanatical fan-base. The band describes itself as “Sloppy and you never know when we’re going to come back. We’re the McRib of music.”

Musically, they’re a joy as they hit all the old standards with great enthusiasm. From a photographic standpoint, trying to get any good shots in this venue was a nightmare. Lighting was scarce and the lead singer had a red spotlight in his face the entire night which made post processing lengthy and deeply troubling.

Here’s our red spotlight victim; I finally managed to negotiate his beet-red face down to a cool and shiny magenta. Also didn’t help that I failed to realize early on that I should have been shooting at about 2 stops below my camera’s suggestion.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

The expressions here are wonderful as the band jams away. The guy on the left was perfectly lit in white the whole night.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

I never could wrestle this into anything but the rather psychedelic colors the camera picked up. I pondered a grainy black and white but in the end didn’t go with it.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

See! Like I said. Enthusiasm! He was in the red spotlight for this shot as you might be able to tell. I couldn’t wrestle him down much past a rather pink cast.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Unaltered, he just looks like his head is going to explode.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Sometimes you just have to take time to relax even on stage.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Eventually, they sent the drummer out to sing a song…

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

… but the other two are keeping a close eye on him.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Moving away from the music for a bit, there are some great images just hanging about in the dark. This half-empty beer glass caught the light just so…

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

After a brief break in the music, the band was back with a vengeance.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert
From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

After playing for 4 and a half hours, the band went back to their day jobs. Check them out when they’re next in town…. whenever that might happen to be.

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Cheeney Creek Nature Area

Today found me wandering about the Cheeney Creek Nature Area. This was at the recommendation of he-who-shall-be-pictured-later. He-who downplayed it enough that it was a surprisingly amusing visit. Hoo-Rah for expert expectation setting.

#1 This shot is only amusing if you think that 1950s movies with silly puns like “don’t! stop!” are amusing. Or, I suppose, if you have some bizarre form of synesthesia that causes you to smell mom’s apple pie whenever you see red and orange together.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#2 Note the ragged “For Rent” sign in the culvert. Real estate tycoons have to start somewhere I suppose. Anyone in the market for a 2-foot culvert, slightly damp? Easy access to the adjoining nature area.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#3 The view of the eventual water feature

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#4 Hereby hangs a tale. I had asked my cohort on this day to throw a rock into the water right at the leaf in the center of the shot. Shutter speed at 1/2000th of a second? Check. Focus set at the target location? Check. Camera set to take shots at high speed to catch the splash? Check. Having a cohort on hand who can hit a target in the water less than five feet away? Not so much. Still, it made for an interesting result that I could not have achieved singlehandedly even if it wasn’t QUITE what I was looking to get.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#5/#6 The highlight was this tiny railroad bridge. Seems a mighty amount of trouble to span three feet of ditch but nature and her drainage patterns will prevail, I suppose.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area
From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#7 He-who-was-to-be-pictured.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#8 Admittedly it was a wonderful day given that it was, after all, almost December in Indiana.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#9 We played “chase the ducks” briefly to little actual avail. It’s amusing to me that they even swim in a V pattern.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

#10 We close with a crayfish, or as grandpa always used to call them, “crawdads”. It’s atrociously difficult to take a decent picture of a creature at the bottom of a murky pond but these arthropods deserve, I think, special attention. I recall as a young boy spending time at “The Lake” (as a child any lake, no matter where it is, is simply “the lake”) teasing these clever little gentry of the undermuck onto my line. While the adults were all consumed with catching some animal called a “fish” I was outwitting these devilish blighters. Almost makes me want to take up fishing just for the photo ops.

From 11-27-2012 Cheeney Creek Nature Area

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Of Coincidence and Stiffel Lamps

The Stiffel

The Stiffel

A few weeks ago I was sitting at home and realizing with some annoyance that I needed a lamp. I’d found myself in the habit of turning on every light in the apartment just to read at night so I took myself boldly unto the local furniture consignment shop to peruse their offerings. Because of the arrangement of my apartment at the time the added bit of furniture would have to be a floor lamp and sadly all the consignment store had on hand was an assortment of table lamps. I gave up the search and went home to my Cimmerian apartment but was nagged by the image of one lamp in particular. In a fit of energy that evening I rearranged the apartment to accommodate a table lamp and bounded hopefully back to the consignment store the next day.

I arrived at the store, held the door for a woman coming in behind me and found the lamp that had caught my eye yesterday, referred to hereafter as “the Stiffel”, still awaiting a buyer. Placing myself next to it in a clearly “this is my lamp now, back off” posture I looked around to catch the eye of the proprietor. As I looked up I found the woman who had come in just behind me looking at me with eyes the size of saucers. She approached gasping, “are you interested in that lamp? That’s my lamp!” Over the next several minutes she related the lamp’s history as it served happily in her mother’s house for many years. In her home it was always referred to simply as “The Stiffel” and so it shall be known in my home as well.

All this rather unlikely happenstance does put one of a mind of just how oddly the world operates at times. If I had stopped anywhere different for lunch that day or failed to drive that particular route or even left five minutes earlier I would never have had the story. One hesitates to assign such things to some intentional mechanism but it is certainly very welcome when things somehow turn out in such mysteriously perfect ways.

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Swimstock 2012

Last month when Amanda had an outdoor swim meet I took it as the perfect opportunity to do some sports photography. This is the sort of thing I’m always pestering people to let me photograph for them.

The expressions at these things are always priceless. Some true determination reflected here.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

And it never hurts to catch someone in mid-dive either.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

And… well, not ALL the expressions are all that flattering. Some of the adults seem rather disinterested.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

The sheepish ‘why are you taking my picture, dad’ look if ever I saw it.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

One thing about swim meets… they’re LONG affairs punctuated by very brief periods of activity that the spectators may specifically care about. Izzy is unimpressed.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

In fact some of the onlookers are bored absolutely stiff.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

But, making the best of a rather dull time, there’s always the macro lens to play with. Is it obvious what this is?

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

These little things are all over the place this time of year in Indiana. Let me just stress again the importance of exfoliation lest YOU have to shed your skin.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

Izzy doesn’t know whether to eat it or be scared of it. Apparently the average of those two emotions is ‘bored’

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

Claw detail. Note the carapace of some other creature on the left.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

Izzy also managed to sit on a mosquito without damaging it. Miraculous.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

Wonderfully complicated little creatures.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

So after two more hours, bored has turned to patently annoyed.

From 7-14 15-2012 Swimstock Swim Meet

And so eventually ended a day at the swim meet. In retrospect…. it didn’t really seem to have much to do with swimming at all.

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Talbot Street Art Fair 6-9-2012

As I sit here on a balmy June day, I listen to the camera clicking away on the patio. Since 1:00 today it has been dutifully recording the sky at 2-second intervals. I’ve endeavored many times to time-lapse the sunset but something makes me want to do so today with complete perfection, to start with a turbulent and cloudy sky and to watch the Indiana horizon all the way until the proverbial ‘fade to black’.

I’ll admit though that being this lazy about my photography does harken me back to the winter. I recall with great vividness sitting in this exact same spot and being vastly annoyed that the weather was so averse to my usual summer pursuits. Now that summer is upon us, here I sit upon my ever-widening posterior being lazy. That is not to say that I haven’t taken ANY photos over the past week but it certainly hasn’t been a week of abundance that one would expect given my previous annoyance at my force lethargy only 4 months ago. Damn these temperate climates.

Last Saturday we traipsed off to the Talbot Street Art Fair in Indianapolis. For an entire weekend a whole section of the city plays host to hundreds of artists selling their wares. Laura and I debated briefly whether the people who actually live here enjoyed or despised the presence of these people. Whatever the case, the transformation is amazing.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I have learned, as of late, that artists hate to have photos taken of their work. As someone who casts his artistic progeny freely and widely into the public domain, I find this disappointing but I obeyed their desires anyway. Any “artwork” found in these shots is purely coincidental. My main focus for this trip was to capture the attendees and ignore anything of a material nature. I wanted to capture culture, personality, people.. all that intangible rot.

This woman is a sign of our age. She motors along with her child in tow (who is obviously unamused by the whole thing) while she putters with her phone. The yellow necklace and blue nail polish also say something but I’m not qualified to say what that something is exactly.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

So, a few words about this type of photography. Firstly, it’s REALLY hard. My intent in all these is to capture people candidly so there’s not really a whole lot of ‘aim and focus’ involved. You point your camera in the general direction of what you want to capture and hope desperately that it works out. The second that somebody KNOWS that you’re taking their picture the whole universe changes. Life lives on a knife’s edge and even the hint that you’re trying to capture it disrupts it. In this case, I liked the hat. It screamed to me 1960’s Parisian. Unfortunately, she’s out of focus. What *IS* in focus is the guy in the background looking on. I’ll save my more candid commentary on his person but I don’t doubt that you’re thinking the same thing I am. Whatever the case, I love the result.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I always take shots of these when I can get them because really, they are the epitome of childhood. Parents sacrifice to lift us up and as a result, we get a really grand view. In many cases, it’s a view that we will never, ever have even as adults. This is a grandfather I suspect.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

One of my goals in this session was to focus on strong personalities. This woman screamed personality and strength to me. Clearly the sort of person that if you came into contact with her you want her on YOUR side.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

Outside the concession area, we found these adults looking much like 10-year-olds enjoying their snacks. Oh how little things actually change despite the passage of decades.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

I… well, I don’t even know what to say about this. Dude with shirt unbuttoned, looking on with his pizza in the upright and ready position…. Well, ok, I know what to say, but I’m not willing to say it in print.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

Some of the art was quite visibly alive, though it chose its moment of movement all on its own.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

So one tries to be candid. One tries to be subtle. One tries to just slide unseen through the crowds. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it doesn’t always work. This gentleman seems to peer effortlessly into the photographer’s soul. As I look at him, I wonder what his story is and ponder the possibility of inviting him to have a beer sometime.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

This hat… is dramatically huge. I say nothing more than that.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

And so we close with this face of childhood. As kids, we were all here. WAY too tired and don’t even want to WALK. As parents, we’ve all felt this but seldom actually see it in our children’s faces though we can feel it the small frames that we carry towards their rest.

From 6-9-2012 Talbot Art Fair

And with that, we close. And that was the Talbot Street Art fair.

PS: A while ago I took photos of the Superbowl crowds and against all odds I found that somebody from that crowd actually not only saw my photo but recognized themselves.  If you should see yourself in this blog post, then don’t hesitate to reach out.  Hopefully not with a subpoena.

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