John Handley High School’s graduating class of 2021. | Order prints

Congratulations Handley class of 2021 – there’s no way you’ll forget this one!


I was cleared for takeoff this evening.  Yep, I filed my first (and second) flight plan.  It’s kinda surreal for me that I’ve made it this far.  When I got my first aerial camera, it was so new that there weren’t really any regulations for it (which explains all the images in my collection that I can’t really shoot these days).  It’s crazy how fast the governemnt moved on this set of regulations.  But I’m always about what’s next and that usually spells trouble for me being a gear-head and all.  I have to separate myself from the ever-growing community of “dronies” who are basically shooting with the same super-wide-angle-infinity-focus camera that everybody else has.  That’s not good enough for me anymore.  Not after tonight’s flight.


Can you appreciate what’s slightly different about this aerial image? | Order a print of this image.



I wasn’t about to let a photo opportunity slip by that was basically handed to me “on a silver platter.”  It was a scramble to get it, but I think it was worth it.  And, of course, I just had to shoot it at Handley High School.  I probably could have gotten some decent ones at the Handley Library, but this will do just fine.


The Strawberry moon ushering in Summer 2016. | Order a print of this image.


My home office is in the basement and has absolutely no connection to the outside world.  I need to get out every once in a while.  If not to see what the weather is like, at least for my own sanity!


#TB (Insert Day of the Week)

Wow, it’s been a long time.  Not that I’m lazy, but I’m going back through all my photos to see if I can dig up some good ones.  Someone recently gave me a great quote about what separates a pro from an amateur photographer.  Basically it come down to size matters.  Now, get your mind out of the gutter…

The size of their “trash can.”  Pros take a crap-load of photos and most are never seen by anybody.  In 2015 I shot 6478 “general” photos.  This figure doesn’t take into account all the paid gigs that my studio handled.  That would bump the number of images up to 29,925.  Still not an enormous number compared to a lot of pros, but when you factor in the fact that I only considered 90 good enough to post here, that’s a lot. A mere 3 tenths of a percent were deemed decent enough to represent my studio.

Wow, long story short, here’s one of those images that never made it here (at least I don’t think it did).


It was almost a year ago that we had our first snowfall and two weeks ago it was nearly 80 degrees!


I was out to shoot the full-moon rise, but it didn’t happen like I was expecting.  Never saw the moon, but I’ll take this just the same.


Order a print of this image.


Just over 50 days until we’re done with high school as a family.  Wow, that’s going to be a big piece of the puzzle that’s missing.  Moving on to act II and getting ever so close to that empty nest!

How many different ways can I shoot this iconic cupola?  I'm determined to find out.

How many different ways can I shoot this iconic cupola? I’m determined to find out.


Gotta get back into shooting every day.  Slacker!  <— Spoken in the best Principal Strickland voice you can muster.

I haven’t been consistent with my shooting these days and since I’m pretty much back to normal here at Cedarmeade Studios, I’m making that my goal moving forward.  I may not post every day, but I’m going to shoot every day which will inevitably lead to posting more.  At least that’s what I’m hoping.

Is that the "something wicked" that's coming this way?

Is that the “something wicked” that’s coming this way? | Order a print of this image.

Angle of View

My depth perception is always a little off when I’m flying this thing.  Since it’s a pretty wide-angle lens, it’s really difficult to gauge where exactly I am in z-space.  But it makes for some really cool angles and images when I can figure it out.


The iconic cupola at Handley High School


Look Harder

Can you spot the drone?  It may be a little tough to see.

Did I make you look?

Did I make you look (come on…be honest)?


What more can I say, it was a great night for shooting.  Oh, and I’ve decided that the GoPro is a keeper.

Oh what a night - to shoot the Handley Bowl. | Order a print of this image.

Oh what a night – to shoot the Handley Bowl. | Order a print of this image.


Another awesome sunset over what has turned into my favorite place to shoot these days.  Go figure.

Order a print of this image.

Order a print of this image.

Cut Short

There was going to be a great sunset at the school this evening, but I had my first complaint about the aerial camera that cut me short.  A lady was going to go walk somewhere else this evening (as opposed to her usual walk at the school) because she was “uncomfortable” with the drone.  I was just hovering taking a shot every couple of minutes – just waiting for the money shot.  This is the last shot I was able to get.  I never did get a clear answer as to what made her uncomfortable.  Oh well.

Another great sunset over Handley High School. | Order a print of this image.

Another great sunset over Handley High School. | Order a print of this image.


Teaching creative workflows is tough.  I’m quickly learning that I really need to back up and start from the beginning.

I took this group through the workflow of capturing and aerial image and editing it with a miniature effect.

I took this group of Handley students/faculty through the workflow of capturing an aerial image and editing it with a miniature effect.

The English Channel

So we took a tour of Handley High School today.  We, who have a child who is a current senior.  We, who have a child who is a recent graduate.  We took a tour of Handley today.  It was sort of cool.  A little weird, but cool.

We’re trying to get our daughter to start referring to the English hallway as the English Channel.  We want to see if we can start something.  A tradition of sorts.  Wink, wink.  Nudge, nudge.

One of the really cool "new" hallways on the tour of the school today.

One of the really cool “new” hallways on the tour of the school today.


So this is it.  The last homecoming.  This year marks the 25th (2 and half decades!) since my wife and graduated high school (separate high schools).  And tomorrow marks the last high school homecoming for our family.  What the heck – where has the time gone!  Although…look out empty nest, here we come!

Happy 25th to all the 1989’ers!

Handley High School (a favorite photo spot for me) celebrates their homecoming tomorrow.

Handley High School (a favorite photo spot for me) celebrates their homecoming tomorrow.

Night Owl

Anybody else see the moonrise tonight?  I’ve always tried to photograph the moon when it’s just over the horizon and have always missed it by the time I find the right place to set up.  I almost missed it again tonight.  I got some really decent images of the moon as it was rising in front of Handley High School.  I had some fun with this one.

Handley High School's iconic cupola at night.

Handley High School’s iconic cupola at night.


1. a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
  • “the team was bursting with pride after recording a sensational victory”
    • synonyms: pleasure, joy, delight, gratification, fulfillment, satisfaction, a sense of achievement; “take pride in a good job well done”

 How is Handley Different?  by Dr. V. Doug Joyner

From letter jackets to lunch lines, Handley isn’t outwardly intriguing, nothing differentiates us from any other high school across the nation-but step inside the checkered hallway; have a seat in the auditorium; cheer for the football players at a game and you will find there’s something else that lingers in the hallways.  It’s an unfettered force that the community refers to as “Handley Pride”.  It’s the one thing that sets us apart from the rest.
It’s embedded into the glistening marble hall, woven into the upholstery of the auditorium, and saturates the Handley Bowl on a sparkling autumn afternoon.  The fundamentals associate us with every other school, but pride fractures the concord, and keeps the student reputation from being slandered into uniformity.
As a profile is examined and its features begin to tell a story, the inner thoughts come to the surface.  Even though the picture hasn’t told its story with words the wrinkle of a brow and a shy smile tell more eloquently than words the sorrows of the character.
Most important to the piecing together of a person are the eyes.  Are they quick and alert?  Do they search for something beyond the four walls of the picture?
When a teacher watches many profiles agonize over a test or listens to one lone profile struggling over an oral presentation, they see focus in their student’s eyes.  Focus and motive to achieve, to be known, to excel outside of the four walls of a classroom.
As we live our daily lives, our personalities become exposed, and we expose those of others.  Each situation, whether within the walls of Handley high or experienced elsewhere, defines us. Our surroundings mold us emotionally- no two of us are the same.  We are who we are; our appearance is unique, our mindsets are one of a kind, our experiences differ.
Through our activities, we have revealed ourselves to the school.  As the school year has progressed, the definition of our individual profiles has become sharp, and we have placed our profiles along the halls among all other Handley attendees-past, present, and future.  Our profiles, representing our lives – stay – waiting to expose our experiences for those who follow.

I disagree on that part about Handley not being outwardly intriguing.

I disagree on that part about Handley not being outwardly intriguing.



Somehow I find myself back at Handley a lot these days.  I just like shooting here.  And that’s not dirt or dust on the lens – those are the birds that like to attack my craft.  I’m very concerned about what’ll happen to the bird if it gets to close.  It’s pretty much a flying weed eater.



I know that a lot of apps and cameras and software will emulate the Tilt & Shift effect these days – it became really popular really quickly.  I experimented with it, but never really got into it because it was hard to get the camera into the right position to accomplish one of the primary requirements of the effect – shoot from an overhead angle.  Well, I think I have that covered now.  This effect was done entirely in Lightroom, by the way.


Handley High School in miniature.