Painting Abstract


This painting hangs in the atrium of my office building, and around noon a shaft of light rakes across it, bringing out the texture of the many (and thick) layers of paint. I must have amused my co-workers by standing there during my lunch break, waiting for just the right moment.


I have written before about photographing Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St. John’s Catholic Chapel. The student organization that sponsors these Masses has appreciated my work, and had me back again earlier this month for All Souls’ Day.

Dominus Sit in Corde Tuo

Dominus et Deus Meus

In my previous post I wrote something about not being satisfied with the way I had captured the decisive liturgical moment. By now I know the lighting in the church well enough to set exposure and forget it, and as I prepared I was thinking less about gear and more about finding the crucial (no pun intended) moments. I’m much more satisfied with this pair of images, particularly the second one, than I have been with most of the others I’ve taken. The more familiar you are with both your gear and your subject, the less you are distracted by technical details from making expressive images.

Ektar 100 – Architecture

While I was still shooting my way through a roll of Ektar 100, I decided it had been too long since I had strolled around the northernmost part of campus, unofficially called the “Beckman Quad” because of the Beckman Institute on its northern edge. The walk gave me a chance to see how Ektar handled contrasty midday light.

New Digs

Here is the upper façade of the new Electrical Engineering building, which I think looks much better from the inner (quad) side than from the street. The architect evidently wanted commonality in difference by cladding the building in red-orange metal or plastic, instead of the customary red or orange brick.

The colors are punchy and dramatic but not inaccurate, and the shadows are pleasantly neutral.

Beckman Tower

I first experienced the University of Illinois through a tour of the Beckman Institute when I was a sophomore in high school. Because of that tour, the use of advanced technology to investigate complex problems on the frontiers of knowledge dominates all my other perceptions of the University, and I have a particular affection for the Beckman building.

Aedes Siebelii

Shortly after the Siebel Center was dedicated, a pair of large sculptures were set up on either side of the walkway to its north. This one, called the “House of Imagination,” makes me think of a computer-age Stonehenge.

The one quibble that can be made against this image is a heavy blue cast in the shadows. Now, most shadows under clear skies are blue; after all, they’re being lit by diffuse blue light from the sky. Still, the blue shift here is a bit excessive, and I probably should have added a little extra exposure.

To Dream in the House of Imagination

Here’s a pure reaction shot. I lay down on the ground inside the ring of three pillars, and as I brought my camera to my eye I saw the cloud tuck itself neatly in position. I made about five other frames, attempting to grab different configurations of cloud and sculpture, but none of them were as good.

Just as I was with Portra 400, I’m hooked after one roll of Ektar 100. The colors are beautiful, the grain is ridiculously fine, and it’s a lot of fun to shoot. I’ll probably stick with Portra as my all-purpose film, but the next time I want to shoot some landscapes or sunsets on film, I think I’ll reach for the Ektar.

Finding Jesus Among The Unsorted Socks

Domestic Church with Laundry

The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children…. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, article 11)

I think that the phrase “domestic Church” can easily conjure up visions of a tidy and peaceable household of the kind that can only exist in an unfallen world. Reality is not that way, as Pope Francis takes great pains to remind us, yet even in the untidiness and strife of our lives we seek the ideal that Lumen gentium holds out to us, not by our own efforts, but through the mysterious actions of grace.

Perhaps that’s too deep for a grab shot I took one tired evening when I saw the laundry next to the icons and found it amusing; in any event, there you have it.

ο κήπος των θεών

My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Colorado Springs, and we have long intended to go back there with our children, to show them the Garden of the Gods and take the train up Pikes Peak. The train had to wait for another trip, but we had a nice walk through the Garden on a sunny day.

Me and Mini-Me

The nice thing about the Garden of the Gods is that it’s not a tourist trap. Sure, there are gift shops and kitsch if you want them, but if you don’t, you can just park your car and walk around, along with the locals who enjoy doing the same thing.


The sky begged for a polarizer to bring out the color. (I also discovered just how dirty my sensor is. 🙂 )


Did the kids like it? They complained a lot, but I think they were glad in the end. Besides, we had another, longer nature trek already planned.