Monday, February 28, 2005

Musical Ditties for February: Ray and Jamie

Wasn't it a great that Jamie Foxx won best actor Oscar for "Ray"? I saw the movie and loved it. Foxx did a wonderful job bringing to life such a brilliant but tortured soul like Ray Charles.

Last month I wrote about how Miles Davis and Frank Zappa were musical pioneers who weren't afraid to go down different roads. Sometimes those roads led to dead ends. Ray Charles was the same way but none of the roads he went down ended up as dead ends. In fact, he was incredibly successful with hits in soul, rhythmn & blues, jazz, rock, gospel and country music.

Here's my pull list from eMusic for February starting with Ray Charles:

Ray Charles - The Essential Collection: "Georgia on My Mind" is not a favorite. I like more upbeat things and this is a ballad, slow, powerful and bluesy. "I'm Movin' On" is more to my liking where Ray's sound is more rocking with a slide guitar and a female chorus providing just the right accent to Ray's lyrics. "What'd I Say" starts off with a lengthy electric piano intro by Ray. It's one of the first hits using that new keyboard. A couple more, "I Got a Woman" and "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" are great.

It's weird writing about Ray Charles. I lived in East Cleveland but moved to Cleveland Heights in 1970. I wouldn't have been caught dead listening to a Ray Charles record in the hippie Heights. In the 70's it was all Woodstock music like Jefferson Airplane, Led Zepplin, Arlo Guthrie and Joni Mitchell. In East Cleveland we only listened to the Temptations, Jackson 5, the Supremes and the Spinners. What a mixed-up white boy I was! I moved to hippie-land and no one wanted to hear soul tunes. So I bought Jimi Hendrix's Smash Hits because it had a black guy on the cover. Yikes! It was all psychedelic rock. It took me awhile to get adjusted but it actually helped me learn to love many different musical genres.

Gary Bartz - Harlem Bush Music: An alto saxaphone artist you may not have heard about. He was part of the free-form jazz movement of the sixties but I thought he was trying to bring some structure back. Dave Holland, Anthony Braxton and John Abercrombie are others who come to mind. Gary also has a wonderful bluesy voice and two of the tracks include his vocals. They are "Blue (A Folk Tale)" and "Vietcong." Both are funky and laid-back. (I have to thank my old college roommate and Heights buddy, Steven Begleiter, for discovering Bartz back at Kent.)

SFX - Party: "Dusk til Dawn". Incredible sound from this guitarist/percussionist duo. When I heard the fat bass line I knew this track is a tribute to the late Jaco Pastorius.

Robin Trower - Passion: "If Forever". Though I usually like fast-paced car driving music I think Robin Trower is best when he plays ballads. Reminds me a bit of Thin Lizzy ("Still In Love with You") when they play slow tunes with luscious guitar licks. This track is great and gets me singing along in the car (only when I'm alone).

Fats Domino - I'm Walkin: "Walkin to New Orleans", "Blueberry Hill", "Ain't that a Shame", "I'm Walkin". Forgive me, I don't know why I got these tracks by Fats. They're just so free, easy and classic. He was another genius but he stayed in his own sound.

There was also some interesting early Fleetwood Mac tracks with Peter Green. I found some live versions of tracks later recorded in studio ("Then Play On" days).

That's that for this month proving once again you can get a quality, diverse and legal music collection at a small cost.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A night in St. Louis.

Shooting pictures at night isn't easy especially without a tripod. These are just some experiments from last Saturday. All are handheld with me hanging out the car window, dodging trains or annoying pedestrians with my camera clicks. Yeh, I know they're a little underexposed but if your monitor is set right (more white less orange) then the enlarged versions will look pretty cool especially the train.

Speedway Arch.
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A dinner train along the Mississippi River.
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Union Station in downtown St. Louis.
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A black and white!
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My son Nate keeps his eye on me all the time.
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Lots of fries and fried food at BW-3.
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Nate and Mary take a break at the Missouri Museum of History.
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Copyright © 2005 James D. Fisher
All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Inland Seas Maritime Museum: A photo safari

It's been years since we've visited the Inland Seas Maritime Museum in Vermillion, Ohio. The lighthouse was built in 1877.

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This is the entrance to the museum built in 1909.
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These three girls are waiting for their mom to catch up to them.
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The Lake Erie shore looks pretty barren this time of year.
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Someone has a pretty nice home on the beach.
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The only thing more stupid than riding a bike through snow is to ride through the crud that washes up on the beach.
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The squirrel observes us from his perch.
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This is an old post to tie up your ships. I love the engraving work.
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Who would have thought that this place is for lovers?
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Copyright © 2005 James D. Fisher
All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Cavaliers vs. Hawks: Beating the hell out of the bums.

Lou Boudreau used to say the way to win championships is to "beat the hell out of the bums and split with the competition." That's what the Cavs did to Atlanta who have the worst record in the NBA. This was a fun night to shoot with lots of dunks. I figured out how to push the Canon D20 to 3200 ISO which gave me another f/stop. Most of these were shot at 1/800 at f4.0. Enjoy.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks warm-up before the game at the Gund Arena.

Josh Childress and Jeff McGinnis fight over a loose ball.

LeBron James readies a jumper.

LeBron James shoots over Josh Smith.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas slips through the Atlanta Hawks defense.

It's tough under the hoop.

Everyone loves the Cavaliers Dance Team. Sorry guys, no close-ups. You'll have to get the calendar.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Josh Childress go up for a rebound.

LeBron James puts up a lay-up over the Hawks defense.

Lots of pushing & shoving.

LeBron James wants the crowd to get it going.

The scoreboard and confetti says it all.

Copyright © 2005 James D. Fisher
All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Cleveland: You gotta be tough!

Yesterday it was 67 degrees. Today...well, you's Cleveland.
This shot is Bainbridge Road near my house.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A sunny winter day in Hunting Valley, Ohio

A lovely little building in Hunting Valley, Ohio.

I seem to have a knack for finding wonderful wooded driveways. Who lives in these places?

This flag was whipping pretty hard from the wind. The sun was behind it and voila!

More flag whipping.

These are huge blocks of ice broken up by the Chagrin River. They flow right over the banks and onto the roads. Not good for cars to hit.

Like I said, these blocks of ice are huge.

Copyright © 2005 James D. Fisher
All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

First Picts: LeBron vs. Carmelo

My favorite sport is basketball. I played in high school and college. Later on I played in some over-the-hill leagues. In college (Kent State) my degree was in photojournalism. I worked as a "stringer" for AP and would shoot Cavs games back at the old Richfield Coliseum. It was tougher sport to shoot back then because the lighting was always lousy. Today, the lighting is much better, the shooters have remote transmitters for strobes and the digital cameras have automatic "white" balancing built-in.

My seat was about 80-100 feet from the floor. That's a big difference from being on the floor under the hoop and using fast 35mm or 50mm lenses. To see the difference check out these great picts of the same game by Roadell Hickman from the Plain Dealer.

The ISO was 1600 and the exposure was set at 1/640 f4.0 shooting RAW. The lens was an older Canon 70-210 F4.0 EF (not an ESM). The focus was center spot and AI Servo.

Overall, the compositions are pretty good with some nice action shots and facial expressions but there is too much "noise" from going 1600 ISO and the autofocus on my lens couldn't keep up with the action.

Jeff McInnis preps LeBron James and Drew Gooden.

Zydrunas pops a hook over Kenyon Martin.

Drew Gooden proves again why we don't care about Carlos Boozer.

LeBron James rips down a rebound over Marcus Camby.

Sasha Pavlovik stretches his arm and eyes for this hook shot.

Robert "Tractor" Traylor snatches a loose ball over Denver.

Carmelo Anthony pierces the Cavaliers defense for a lay-up.

LeBron can't be stopped on this dunk.

LeBron James strokes a jumper over Carmelo Anthony.

LeBron James directs traffic on the floor.

Former Cavalier Andre Miller challenges a jumper by Lucious Harris.

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony square-off at mid-court.

LeBron James fires up a three-pointer.

Drew Gooden tries to pull Kenyon Martin from an easy lay-up.

LeBron James outscored Carmelo Anthony 35-14 tonight but Denver was the winner 106-101.

Copyright © 2005 James D. Fisher
All rights reserved.