Sometimes I hear that cameras “get in the way” of real experience. Some say that photographers should “put the camera down” more often and remove the barrier between ourselves and the world around us. After several years of keeping the camera close at hand, however, I’ve never found it a hindrance. Rather, the camera has enhanced my vision and brought me closer, sometimes literally, to my environment. A camera in hand reminds me to notice the world and to explore it.

In her book Eyes of the Heart: Photography as Christian Contemplative Practice, Christine Paintner talks about “receiving” photos as opposed to “taking” or “making” them. She offers several exercises throughout the book. At the end of her second chapter, she suggests a contemplative walk with an emphasis on reception. She writes, “Photography is simply a tool to cultivate our ability to be present to the world” (p. 40). My “Creation Theology, Spirituality, and the Arts” class is reading through Paintner’s book as we explore biblical themes related to our environment. In preparation for this class, I took a contemplative photo walk around our campus. In these walks, I’m challenging myself to explore areas of the campus that I rarely visit, and I discover some beauty along the way. On my last walkabout, I encountered these colorful daylilies.


The theme of “reception” was on my mind as I approached the lilies. I immediately thought they resembled little satellite dishes receiving life-giving solar transmissions.


In the first chapter of her book, Paintner suggests an exercise of taking images from 50 various angles or perspectives. While I didn’t quite make it to 50, I did explore various angles of the lilies. This is another example of the “satellite” pose. (Print Available)


Of course, I always want to get closer …


… and closer. (Print Available)


As I was walking back to my office, I was still in a receptive spirit and happened upon this crack in the sidewalk. Dr. Ian Malcolm’s chaos theory from Jurassic Park came to mind, as I heard him saying, “life … um … will find a way.” I’m interested in capturing more of these tiny urban landscapes in the future. (Print Available)

Time to Put the Wheel back on the Wagon

We know. It’s been a while since a good, content-heavy post. Between our work and travels in 2015, we got a little bogged down like this farm equipment. But it’s time to put the wheel back on this wagon and start sharing more from our 2015 adventures as we look forward to even more exciting photography in 2016. This first batch is from our October trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We stayed in the Cade’s Cove campground so we could be close to the action and the light. I think I had just finished some binge sessions playing Witcher III. The virtual explorations looking for herbs in farmhouses might have influenced my perspective and tone. At one point, we even saw a bulletin board and went looking for quests. 🙂


I loved the mix of textures in the wood, the puddles after the rain, and the bits of metal on the hub. Print Available.


Michelle loves texture, too, but she likes to get in closer than I do. 🙂


Another mystical fantasy image. This was from our first night in Cade’s cove. I liked the cool gray clouds, but I went for a more other-worldly approach, adding some texture and purply-ness to the scene. Print Available.


Michelle had everyone fooled. The whole park was full of people searching for bears. The people in the line of cars saw Michelle with a longish 90mm macro stalking this caterpillar. Everyone stopped and asked where the bear was. Print Available.


Towards the end of the trip we decided to go chasing waterfalls. We decided to hike up to Laurel Falls in the rain (thank goodness for panchos). When we got there, we watched a couple climb the falls followed by a proposal. We ended up taking a couple of shots for the family who was watching from below (no pressure!). When they left we decided to play with some long exposures.

A Wild Time in the North Dakota Badlands

It’s been about a month, but we are finally around to processing some of our favorite photos of our Dakota adventure. The first  stop in North Dakota was Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we encountered the “badlands” as well as some great wildlife. Here is one of our early views of the landscape:


A black and white rendition of the North Dakota Badlands landscape. I’ve always been fascinated by sedimentary rock. I also could not keep from saying, “It’s sedimentary, my dear Watson,” to Michelle.

We also encountered our first bison of the trip while in the park. Here are a couple of portraits:

I love their orange eyes!

I love their orange eyes! Print Available.

Mmmm, snack time. Processed in Tonality Pro by MacPhun.

Mmmm, snack time. I processed all the monochrome images in this post using Tonality Pro by MacPhun.

One of the highlights of the trip, by far, were the feral horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We came upon this group of horses on our first morning drive of the loop road.

This was the first horse we came across. It seemed to keep a distance from the rest of the herd, thought there was one other gray horse with it.

This was the first horse we came across. It seemed to keep a distance from the rest of the herd, thought there was one other gray horse with it.

This colt was laying beside it's mother, having a snack on the grass.

This young horse was laying beside it’s mother, having a snack on the grass. Print Available.

The horse herd seemed to work together as a family unit.

The horse herd seemed to work together as a family unit. Print Available.

“Marching Orders.” Fed up with the loitering photographers, the herd decided to hike up the mountain for some alone time. Print Available.

A bit later we ran into a family of deer.

A bit later we ran into a family of deer.


I wonder what these two prairie dogs were conspiring about. Print Available.

This was one of my first attempts at stitching a panorama. I made this photo out of about four or five individual shots. Print Available.

This was one of my first attempts at stitching a panorama. I made this photo out of about four or five individual shots. Print Available.

All images ©2015 by Garber Geektography

You Can’t Handle the Cute! Some Baby Grrrrranimals to Brighten the Holidays

Just a few baby animals to add some cute to your day. We took these at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.


Time for my portrait.


Cute Cub

What a cutie! This little lion cub was quite curious about all the movement behind the glass.


Baby gorilla, Joanne, doesn’t look like she wants to eat her vegetables.

Dinner date.

A dinner date.

Supper time

Supper time.


Catfight after dinner.

Wrestling time.

Wrestle-mania, Cheetah style.

Sleepy time.

Time for lion cubs to chill.

Lion chain

Cat got yer tail?

Gorilla manicure.

Time for a manicure.


Fall Fun Fest, Chapter Four: Rediscovering Stone Mountain Park

When I first moved to Atlanta, I spent a lot of time at Stone Mountain Park: walking the dog, hiking, biking. As the years went on, I lost interest in the location. In the past couple of months, though, Michelle and I have been visiting the park to practice our photography, and we have discovered it from some different perspectives.

Stone Mountain Sunset

A Stone Mountain sunset on the west side from the road that leads up to the songbird habitat.

Songbird Trail

A fun trail through the wooded area of the songbird habitat.

One of the new discoveries I made this past weekend was the Songbird Habitat Trail. It is on a less-traveled road in the park, which means there are fewer people, dogs, bikes, and cars. The sanctuary itself has some very nice trails through a meadow, and is quite peaceful and serene. I didn’t do any birding, but had a good time shooting some landscapes.

And Michelle explored the world in miniature with a macro lens that we rented.

Michelle explored the world in miniature with a macro lens that we rented. This was some moss on the granite by the waterline.

The next morning, Michelle and I went to the Grist Mill. It is on the eastern side, so you need to be there in the morning to get the best light. Otherwise, the big hunk of granite known as Stone Mountain will cast a shadow over the whole area.

Michelle had some fun playing with a macro lens we rented to test for an upcoming trip. She loves to go into a different universe and see things in unique ways.

Songbird trail around sunset.

The songbird habitat is on the eastern side and is beautiful during the sunset golden hour.

There were some beautiful autumn trees with great color around the mill.

There were some colorful autumn trees around the mill.

Rusty screw

Michelle loves to play with texture, and this rusty screw in the wood filled the bill.


She also had fun exploring the fibrous universe of burlap that was lying around for a landscape project.

Autumn Grist Mill

Some autumn colors framing the grist mill.

Somber Sunset Clown

Fall Fun Fest, Chapter Three: Halloween Edition

Halloween is one of our favorite days of the year. It’s like a DragonCon that everyone attends! We’ve been saving up some creepy and Halloween related photos for today, taken with a variety of techniques. Hope you enjoy!

Here are a few from the Gwinnett County Fair that we’ve been holding onto for a creepy day:

Happy Creepy Clown

A beautiful, partly cloudy day for the happy clown.

Sleepy Creepy Clown

The creepy clown gets sleepy a little later in the day.

Somber Sunset Clown

Sunset brings out the somber tones in these clowns.

The next week, we attended Historic Oakland Cemetery‘s Spirit of Oakland special tour. It was a lot of fun, with costumed actors playing the roles of some of the more famous people buried at Oakland.

A Toast.

Apparently, whoever this character is, a bullet to the eye precipitated his burial at Historic Oakland Cemetery.

Reflection by a monument.

This was one of the tour assistants. They were all dressed in old-timey garb. I was happy to catch him in a moment of reflection.

Austell Light Painting

We are rarely at the cemetery in the evening, so I took advantage of the timing to light-paint one of my favorite mausoleums.

The following night, we went to Corn Dawgs corn maze. It was a great place to do some more light painting and long exposure photography and try to catch the creepy spirit of the season.

Electric Corn Maze

I took this one from the top of one of the stands overlooking the corn field. I had to wait for people to walk through the maze with their flashlight in order to capture the spirits.

Phantome Corn Maze

“The Phantom Michelle.” This was a fun combination of three different photos to get different elements into the picture. If was hilarious to see the other attendees reactions to Michelle walking back and forth with a red spotlight under her face through the corn maze.

The next week took us to Owl-O-Ween in Kennesaw. I had a lot of fun trying to capture the fire dancers, something I’d like to do more of in the future.

Fire Dancing Devil

I was able to practice some rear-sync flash techniques while doing a long exposure to capture the trail of the flame.

Frosty Owl

I channeled my inner street photographer to capture this ice sculptor in the process of fashioning an owl. I had to go with an old-school Fujifilm-type processing on this one.

Have a safe, happy, and tolerably creepy Halloween!!

2014 Fall Fun Fest Chronicles Chapter Two: Conasauga Falls and Family Photo Shoot


Some crazy fun chaos on a blanket!

The Fall 2014 adventures of Garber Geektography continued last weekend with a family shoot and a “quick” two mile hike. We started off the weekend with a fun shoot with our friends Carra and Brian at Alexander Park in Gwinnett County, GA. The light was great to work with in the fields of tall grass. It was a crazy fun shoot, since Carra and Brian have one-year old twins, a toddler, and a four-year-old. They have such a great family.

Walking towards the sunset.

Walking towards the sunset.

The deceptively easy trail.

The deceptively easy trail.

We spent most of the weekend indoors with my family cheering on Duke, Baylor, and Texas A&M. Yes, that is an eclectic mix. Our cousin, David Helton, plays linebacker for Duke, so there is one connection. I graduated from Baylor, and, oh my, was that a great comeback, or what? My sister and her husband are Aggies, so we pulled for them despite the loss.

A detail shot of the Falls that Michelle directed. We had to put up one camera since it isn't weather sealed.

A detail shot of the Falls that Michelle directed. We had to put up one camera since it isn’t weather sealed.

On our way home from the Knoxville area, we stopped off at Conasauga Falls for what we thought was going to be quick two-mile, in-and-back hike. The first part of the hike was deceptively easy, with a gradual downhill slope and some switchbacks.


The cascades of Conasauga Falls with some hints of autumn color.

The golden light at the end of the tunnel?

The golden light at the end of the tunnel?


It got a little more slippery as we approached the falls at the bottom. But the hike was definitely worth it when we got there.

Of course, we need to remember that when you hike down to the bottom of the falls, it means you need to hike back up. We stopped along the way for a few shots to catch our breath. One lesson we learned is that when the hiking trail fairies provide you with walking sticks, you should take them up on their offer. It might have lessened the burden.

On the way back up, Michelle pointed out the cool textures in these wooden waves.

Waves in the wood.

Waves in the wood.


Mercier Orchards

2014 Garber Geektography Fall Fun Fest Chronicles: Chapter 1 “How about ‘dem Apples?”

In the middle of grading and writing, we did find some time to escape last weekend for our favorite season of the year. Our first stop was at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia, to get our annual supply of apples. It was a bright, sunny day, which made for some harsh lighting conditions, but I was able to get a couple of environmental shots. I love how the winding paths on the hillside drive you through the whole orchard. We also found out that our favorite apple is the mutsu, or crispin.

Mercier Orchards

Mercier Orchards in October

I was also grateful to have my Lee Seven5 polariser in my bag to bring out the sky in this shot:

Mercier Orchards in October

Mercier Orchards in early October

Having come home with a plentiful harvest, we rested up for the next day’s adventures, which included getting Sargon back into the groove of agility training at the Canine Ranch.

Sargon's motivation for training is his tennis ball. Really, it is a quite unhealthy obsession.

Sargon’s motivation for training is his tennis ball. Really, it is a quite unhealthy obsession.

We also ran into his pal, Beauregard, training on the A-frame.

Beau strutting his stuff.

Beau strutting his stuff.

We ended the day with Sunday in the Park at Historic Oakland Cemetery. We were overjoyed to learn that I took first and second places in color in the photo contest, and Michelle took second in black and white! The mausoleums were open, so I played with some HDR while we were there.

Mystical mausoleum at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

Mystical mausoleum at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta.

They also had a car show there, and Michelle captured this emaciated passenger. A cool, spooky shot to get us ready for later in the month.

Whew, I'm famished!

Whew, I’m famished!

What are your plans for a great Fall weekend?

A Creepy Thirteen: Bioshock at DragonCon 2014

Elizabeth Leads Parade

Elizabeth leads the parade.

Little Sister, Big Sister

Little Sister and Big Sister walk in tandem.

Little Sister ready to harvest.

One of the creepiest things about the game is the large needle filling the baby bottle with blood.

Little Sister and her Big Daddy.

Little Sister loves her Big Daddy.

Elizabeth is a popular cosplay.

Elizabeth is a popular cosplay.

Peddling Power Ups

Peddling power-ups.

Don't mess with this little sister.

Don’t mess with this little sister.

A decapitated motorized patriot.

A decapitated motorized patriot.

Little Sister Ghost

Don’t look behind you!


A creepy approach to predestination.

Robert and Rosalind

Robert and Rosalind examine the coin of fate.

The Bioshock Infinite group shot.

The Bioshock Infinite group shot.

A Big Sister spotted at the Atlanta Aquarium

A Big Sister spotted at the Atlanta Aquarium.

Being the Bear: Our First Mercer University Football Game

Last year Mercer University revived its football team, and for the first time since their return, Michelle and I were able to make it down for a home game. The McAfee School of Theology held a tailgate party at the game, so we went with several faculty and staff to show our support.

When we decided to go, I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out the a6000 with the Sony 70-200 FE lens. So, I extended my rental from the past week’s DragonCon and had a blast with it. Unfortunately, the Bears didn’t win, but they showed a lot of heart against Furman.


Mr. McAfee School of Theology, Barrett, our colleague and friend in admissions.


An impressive entrance.


Ready to play.


I was impressed by the pressure of Mercer’s defense.


After a punt. I just thought this shot demonstrated the great action freeze of the a6000 and the depth of field of the 70-200.


A timely QB sack.


The pressure on the quarterback which led to …


… this interception.


More Bears’ defense.


After a good play.


More pressure!


A shot of the band with the flag corps for my niece.


This guy was a riot!


And the next two players had a lot of spirit …


… as they cheered on their teammates.