A Veteran’s Day Salute

The Chapel at Luxemburg American Cemetary

The Chapel at Luxemburg American Cemetery

Each year this Veteran’s Day becomes more emotional for me.  This year I reunited with an Infantry colleague from 20 years ago on a project for our current employer, and  he had sad news to share.  He spent some time going back and looking for soldiers we worked with in our first few years in the Army, and found many of them on the casualty roles in the since 2001.  He shared a name, and I remembered the face and a story.  I myself often did the same thing, and had only found a few of my old soldiers or comrades in the casualty roles.  The number of names my friend found though, staggered me.

Over the weekend my family participated in a Knights of Columbus Patriotic Rosary filled with invocations by our founders on the need to follow the guidance of the Christian God (or as some called him Nature’s God).  It was so powerful my ten year old son came home wanting to say that forty five minute rosary every week for our nation.

Yesterday we held a brief Remembrance Ceremony during mass, just seven minutes.  We Knights of Columbus provided an honor guard as the roll of Georgia veterans who lost their lives in the last year blended with taps.  We closed with bagpipes playing as the poem of why remember the fallen from World War I filled the hall.  I barely kept it together as I stood at attention rendering an honorable salute with my sabre.  I know I saw a lot of handkerchiefs out afterwards, so I know it was not just me being sentimental.

What made this even more stinging right now was the insanity I see around me, with national core beliefs being challenged with a fervor that can only be fueled by the great enemy of all mankind.

Sitting in our Supreme Court is a challenge to opening civic meetings with a prayer from New York brought forward by two atheists.  Every meeting of the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, the U.S. Congress , Supreme Court and Presidential Inauguration stated with a prayer!  That is over 240 years of prayer invoking God to raise us above narcissistic selves to achieve a higher calling for all of mankind through faith, hope and charitas!  How this even has grounds in the court is a tribute to people not reading the Founding Fathers.  Time after time they found historical examples of leaders thinking they knew the answers, and trying to rewrite natural law to create failed nations.

Can you imagine priests being threatened if they serve their God by offering the sacrifice of mass?  That happened this year!  Practicing Catholics and religious people being forced to pay for abortion!  That happened this year!  these are not alarmist stories.  These happened, documented six ways to Saturday, and twice on Sunday.

So on this day taps meant a lot more to me than every before.  I’ve seen these evils coming for a long time, and today as they wrap themselves in the law of the land around me I have to question the implications they have on everything I do.

I know a soldier fights on the field of battle for his buddies on his right and left….but what are they enlisting for?  What are they keeping up?  Is it anything that resembles what those intrepid souls stood up for in the previous centuries?  Or I have to ask, was this taps being sounded for a lot more than a few men….but as a warning to the soul of our nation?  I fear the latter was why my tears were so plentiful this year.


PS The photo above was scanned from my analog files.  Taken in 1994 in Luxembourg American Cemetery with a Canon Rebel on that thing called film.

Piano Master to be!

Piano Master

Piano Master

Today I had to substitute as the Silver Bullet driver for my wife who was out with the nasty stomach bug…so I took the three big kids to Joyful Noise Band.  Me being me, grabbed my camera to do some street photography and contribute to the yearbook.

Ok, for those of you new to the blog we are homeschooling in the Wojo household.  Best thing we’ve ever done for our little family of six.  Atlanta Metro has a growing home school movement over over 85,000 children!  Well Joyful Noise Band is a large group of dedicated parents and children who gather once a week to form orchestras, bands, jazz bands, guitar bands, recorder bands for the youngest children and choirs.  I know I forgot something…but they do gather and make merry music.  The teachers are wonderfully trained instructors, many of them home school their own children.  I sat in with my big kids and snapped photos in their intermediate orchestra, and I was impressed.  I almost felt like I was back in the pit orchestra with Mr. Whitman at Paul VI High School ready to play myself.

Well this young boy was in the cafeteria between classes.  He was not much different than a number of other boys and girls who aw the piano and just started playing.  The music they played was not some chopsticks number, it was wonderful beautiful music.  Some talked while they played, they were the party social butterflies.  Others took a challenge and played at the urging of their friends.  Some like this young lad put their fingers on the keys and played, leaving the busy auditorium behind and entered the place where you can play with the angels.

I found myself wanting to capture the photo so badly, that I set the camera to quiet mode, and shot from the LCD at hip level.  It was not a stealthy shot, it was quite crazy inside a busy door!  But the lad just kept playing away long enough for me to experiment with the camera and get the shot I wanted.

I hope it makes the yearbook…and I hope I can get it to his parents.  It was a special moment that will be with me for quite a while.


PS X-E1, 18-55 lens at F4.5.  Internally processed jpeg with extra saturation and contrast.  Processed in Silver Efex Pro 2 for the B&W with vignette added back in Aperture 3.


Dodo Bird spotted in Alpharetta!

The Last Dodo Bird

The Last Dodo Bird

Contrary to most textbooks, the dodo bird does show up from time to time in the wild.  This one wore a mask to disguise itself amongst the busy downtown Alpharetta Canton Street.

For this photo I did a little bit of work in Capture One 7 Perfect Effects.  One thing I’ve learned is that many, many effects can be done in your primary photo editor.  Programs like Perfect Effects and the Nik products (I own both) can make the process of having fun with your image faster.  Yes there will be some things you can only do in Photoshop, but reality is that for 95% of your work these tools will do just fine.  Yes I did use some one shot HDR work with Perfect Effects for this…as RC Conception says…everything can look better in HDR.


PS Fujifilm X-E1 with the old 18-55 again.  The darn thing is just so versatile!

To color or not to color


Art Shop

Bridal Shop

During my work around in Alpharetta I began to work with my camera settings internally.  In this case I shot the jpeg with Artisa Film mode on high color and contrast.  It as nice, but I also wanted to see what the B&W would look like.  So I simply reprocessed in RAW using the B&W setting with increased contrast and detail.  The more I get comfortable with adjusting settings in camera, I think I may be able to reduce my time at he computer after the shoot.

I also wanted to experiment with the B&W because out of camera, many much more experienced and savvy photographers, say this machine is a B&W dream machine.  I think it did pretty well, but I’m not an expert yet.

In either case, it makes a good study of how removal of color can change up a photograph and focus your eyes and experience on different parts of a photo.  While the white frame and dress draw you in while it is in color…the shapes and patterns box you in for the B&W version.


P.S. Fujifilm X-E1