I have respect nouveau for Alex Trebek

You know him, you love him, you acknowledge his existence as the host of the long-running quiz show Jeopardy!.  If you’re a trivia geek, you might also know him as the host of such game shows as The Wizard of Odds, High Rollers, and others.

Yep, I’m talking about Alex Trebek.

And this morning, I want to share a very interesting clip with you, as shared by a friend of mine, fellow trivia player Dan Blake (he of the Dan 2017 trivia squad).  This clip aired in 1978 (you can tell because Alex has a big old’ Robert Reed perm going here), and it’s a collaboration of two quiz shows, Reach For The Top and Génies en herbe.  Both programs feature high school students throughout Canada as they compete in a battle of brains and trivia knowledge.  Génies en herbe ran from 1972 to 1987, while Reach For The Top aired between 1966 and 1989, with a revival a decade later.

Well, in this show, the champions of both programs compete against each other for what appears to be the coveted Beaver trophy.  And your host is none other than Alex Trebek.

But here’s the catch.  Génies en herbe features students from predominantly French-speaking educational institutions, while Reach For The Top has English-speaking champions.  Yeah, in case you haven’t heard, Canada has two official foreign languages.

Does that stop Alex Trebek?  Mais non.  Trebek, who normally hosted Reach For The Top from their studios in Toronto, did this entire episode IN BOTH LANGUAGES without hesitation or confusion or complication.

Take a look at this clip and see what I mean.


You get the feeling that Alex Trebek doesn’t need to look at the answer sheet when he’s quizzing the contestants on Jeopardy! these days?  😀


Another test of my IRIX lens

Of late, I’ve really enjoyed my new Irix 15mm f/2.4 super-ultrawide rectilinear camera lens.   I used it last month to capture my Stone, Saltwater, Surf and Seagulls picture, which is already aimed for Competition Season 2017.

Stone, Saltwater, Surf and Seagulls. Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

But one picture does not a lens purchase make.  I need to see what else this lens can create.

And with that in mind, I decided another trip to the North Country was necessary.  I slapped the IRIX 15mm f/2.4 lens on my Nikon Df camera, and it’s off to Corinth I go.

Continue reading “Another test of my IRIX lens”

The Ugliest Fish and the Black Bubble

Yesterday I went to the retinal specialist, Dr. Templar (he’s a bit of a saint), for my second of what I hope will not be too many more vitreal eyeball injections.  Ugh.

So while I’m waiting in the doctor’s lobby, I notice that he has a fishtank with some very large fish in it.  Okay, looking at fish is a very peaceful way to pass the time.  Heck, how many people out there want to get a fishing pole and a carton of red worms and go out to the lake for some nibblers?

Yeah, it’s still too cold for nibblers…

And I’m staring at the fish in the aquarium, and all of a sudden I’m greeted by what has to be the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen in my life.  This fish is FUG-LY.  It looks like it bumped into the ugly coral and tried swimming through it to get away.

Don't call me ugly…

A post shared by Chuck Miller (@kchuckradio) on

Anyways, after having a staring contest with Mr. Ugly, Dr. Templar called me in for my eye injection.  First, his assistant dabbed my eye with some numbing agents, then they dropped in a few squirts of yellow antiseptic.  Then came the needle.

Yes, I know.  I cringe every time I think about it.

But a moment or two after the injection, I noticed something strange.  As my eye was readjusting to the medicines that were injected in me, I saw what appeared to be a dark black bubble in my field of vision.

“Doctor Templar,” I said, “something’s wrong here.”

“What do you see?”

“There’s a big black bubble.”

“Don’t worry.  It will go away.”

Five minutes later.

It was still there.  When I looked down, it actually centered into my field of vision.  As I looked from left to right, the black bubble bounced boldly into my brightness, bothering and bugging and bewildering me.

“It’s still there, Doctor Templar.”

“Now don’t you worry.  It will go away soon.  This can’t be the worst thing you’ve dealt with this week.”

Really?  Let me tell you about the day I had last Saturday …

As I left the doctor’s office, I stopped to take one more gander at the aquarium.  That big ugly fish swam over and gave me what must have been the equivalent of a fish stinkeye.  Okay, buddy.  Just wait until Friday, you and me are going to a little place called Ted’s…

I drove home.  The black bubble was still bouncing in my field of vision.  It wasn’t painful … it was just annoying and frustrating.

Again, just like last Saturday.

I went to do my domestic chores – clothes aren’t going to wash themselves – and yes, the black bubble was visible all night.  In the wash, in the dryer, when I folded my clothes.  Yes, I do know how to fold my clothes.  No, I don’t fold my clothes in “wad” patterns.  Try again.

After a quick view of WebMD – which, after I read the diagnoses, I discovered that I have some sort of rare, incurable and fatal disease (I think it’s called Big Ugly Fish Face Syndrome), I learned that the black bubble is just leftover medicines from the injection, and that they will dissipate from my eye within 24 hours.

Okay, black bubble … you’re on the clock.

I used my wristwatch as a measuring gauge – I was able to raise my wrist until the watch face was completely obscured by the black bubble.

By noon, the watch was as high as my chest.

By 3:00 p.m., the watch was as high as my stomach.

By 6:00 p.m, the watch was as high as my hips.  The dot was actually shrinking.


Okay, I guess I can handle these eye injections.  I have to.  There’s no other way around it.

I guess that old saying is true.

Black bubbles in your eyes may go away … but ugly on a fish will always stay.


Well, that was an adventure…

So let me fill everybody in.

Last night, I received my Times Union archive of blog posts from the past eight and a half years of blogging for them.  I thought everything would be fine, I simply would upload my files and combine old blog posts with new.

Unfortunately, the second I did this…

My chuckthewriterblog.wordpress.com site went crash.  Locked me out for violations of terms of service.


Never mind.  It actually gave me the impetus to create a dedicated HTTPS:// compatible website.  So now I have chuckthewriterblog.com.

I’m sorry to put everybody through all this.  But please bear with me.

I have to rearrange the furniture again.

I have to hang up the pictures again.

But this time … I’m making damn sure that we’re operating at full capacity.

Count on it like three follows two.

Chuck the Writer and the new portal

So it’s time to enter a new chapter of my life.

First of all … welcome.  Nice to meet you.  Pull up a chair.

Who am I?

My name is Chuck Miller, I’m a writer and photographer and blogger from Albany, New York.  My blogs have been a mixture of my life’s overview, my time in the world, and how a guy like me survived all the horrors of life and came out only slightly singed.

This will be my new portal going forward – for the past eight years or so, I’ve blogged consistently for the Albany Times Union, my local paper of record.  Before that, I had a blogspot.com portal, for which I wrote semi-frequently.   I also wrote several columns and articles for various publications, so being a “writer” is almost an extension of my personal soul.

It will take some time to get my bearings here on this wordpress.com plug… but if you bear with me, I think it will all work out in the positives.

So why am I venturing into a new portal and a new avenue?

Many reasons.  But the biggest reason of all is that, for all purposes and extents, it’s time to move on.  The Times Union blog was fun and entertaining and it opened me up to a new audience.  Now it’s time to take that audience on new adventures and new projects.

Now I’m sure someone’s going to say to me, “Chuck, now that you’ve moved onto your own portal, aren’t you worried that the only people who might read these posts are yourself and your three imaginary friends?”

To which I say … nah.  I write for myself.  This is my blog, my personal space, my observations and ruminations.  I’m good with this, believe me.  And no, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke… this will be my new portal and I will write whatever I want, whenever I want, as often or as infrequent as I choose.

So if you all have my Times Union blog on your portal… that’s fine.  But you may want to add this URL to your blogline.

And I know this space is a bit bare boned …

But bear with me.  I just moved in.  The furniture hasn’t all arrived yet.

The Lenticular Horned Dorset

As I gather my photos for Competition Season 2017, I know that there are several images that I’ve placed in the “short pile” for this year’s shows.  And in doing so, I hope that my photography skills have improved with time.  It’s a challenge each year to come up with the best images – ideas and concepts that are locked in my mind, and to somehow find a way to free them and turn them into real physical imagery.

Yeah, I know that’s a lot of psychobabble, but work with me on this.

Last year, I captured this photo of a horned dorset ram at the Altamont Fair.

The Horned Dorset. Nimslo camera, Fuji 400 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

He’s a nice one, ain’t he?

And after going through all my three-dimensional film photos – the ones I’ve taken with my Kodak Stereo and my Nimslo cameras – I thought that this little sheep should get its chance in Competition Season 2017.

I sent the four-image strip to my friends at Snap3D.com, who can make one-off lenticular prints for a reasonable price, and in a few weeks they’ll send me the finished print.  Once I get that, I’ll make the decision as to where I can enter this picture.

See, here’s the thing.  There are places I could enter the Horned Dorset photo … but I won’t.

I could enter this picture in the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival’s photo contest, but the size I chose for this print – 16×20 – would be too large for their competition’s rules (they prefer photos no larger than 8×10).  The large sized print would also prohibit me from entering it at the Big E, where they also have a rule about the picture being a single exposure (and yeah, technically it’s one shutter button on fo0ur lenses, but I’m not feeling like splitting hairs on this one).

Realistically, though, no matter where I enter this photo, this is going to be my “aw isn’t he cute” entry.  You know … the one where someone submits a picture of a kitten with a ball of yarn.  Or kids running through a sprinkler.  Or a dog shaking off water.  Or cows in a pasture.  Or Grandma’s old wrinkled hands.  Or two cans of paint.

Okay, none of those will have a three-dimensional look to them, but still…

There’s three places I could enter the Horned Dorset in competition – he could go to the New York State Fair and then to the Durham Fair (those competitions run consecutively), or I could frame up the Dorset and submit him to Altamont – but not in the “sheep photo” category, mind you … I’d enter this big ram in the Art Center barn.

These are the decisions I go through.  It’s like trying to pick the horses to enter in the Kentucky Derby while they’re still learning to stand in their stables.

But you know what?  After all the stuff I’ve gone through in the past twelve months …

The fact that I can think about Competition Season 2017 with an idea toward my entries …

Doing so is actually calming and refreshing and peaceful and exciting.

And I need some calm and refresh and peace and excite in my life right now.

Yes indeed I do.

Continue reading “The Lenticular Horned Dorset”

Repairing The Switchback

One of the essences of creativity is that you have to reconstruct your ideas when you’re not happy with them.  And another part of creativity is knowing when to ask for help when you can’t get something to look the way you want it to.

Case in point.  My 2016 multi-image shot, The Switchback.  This was the picture I took with my Krasnogorsk ФT-2 Russian ultrawide camera “Raskolnikov” last fall.  You know … the one where I angled the camera in three different positions, shot the picture, then layered the developed images together in a bowtie-effect final image.

The Switchback. Krasknogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film (three strips). Photo by Chuck Miller.

The Switchback. Krasknogorsk FT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film (three strips). Photo by Chuck Miller.

I liked the image … I really did … but I didn’t like it as much on second view as I did at first view.

So I decided to keep the center panel, and re-scan the film strip to include the film’s control numbers.  You know, to make it look more “authentic” as a single shot panorama that shows Beaver Dam Road in the Thacher Park area in all its winding glory.

And I came up with this.

The Switchback 2017. Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

The Switchback 2017. Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Yeah.  Much better.  Sometimes less truly is more.

I can crop this picture to enter it in competition, especially in any competition where a panoramic entry is accepted …

Yeah … something’s still bothering me about this picture.

And you’ve probably noticed it, too.

Look halfway between the center and left of the photo.  That vertical light line.

That line occurred because of the design of my Raskolnikov ultrawide camera.  To take a picture, the camera lens swings from right to left to instantly capture the image on film.  Unfortunately, at some point in the camera lens’ capture, the lens swing “hesitated” on its journey from right to left – and that instantaneous, minute hesitation showed up as a distracting light streak in the photo.

Urgh.  And once you see that line, you can’t un-see it.

Yeah.  You see it now, don’tcha?

And although I do have Adobe PhotoShop CS6, I didn’t have the technical acumen to remove that streak.

At that point in time, I had three options.  I could either:

(A) Try to re-scan the image and hope that the light leak would disappear.
(B) Print the picture and hope nobody will notice.
(C) Hobble back up to Beaver Dam Road and re-take the photo.

And in the end, I chose Option D.

And Option D involved a phone call to my film processing lab, McGreevy Pro Lab in downtown Albany.  I sent them the digital file and asked if they had any ability to remove the light streak.

“We can do it,” was the response.

A day later, I received word that the file was fixed and I could come in and pay for the completed and repaired file the next time I needed to drop film off.

Nah, didn’t feel like waiting.

“I did some digital burning to get the light streak removed,” said Lisa, the McGreevy Pro Lab tech who fixed my digital file.  “I also had to clone out some of the streak, but I think I got everything fixed.”

Yep.  She did.

Take a look.

The Switchback 2017 (repaired). Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

The Switchback 2017 (repaired). Krasnogorsk ФT-2 camera, Kodak Ektar 100 film. Photo by Chuck Miller.

Holy hairpin turn, Batman…

It’s fixed.

Much thanks to McGreevy Pro Lab for all their efforts in getting this picture fixed for me.

And now The Switchback can go back into the short pile for future competitions.

Aces all around.

FTC Disclaimer and Notice: At no time did I receive or request any special compensation or financial remuneration for mentioning McGreevy Pro Lab’s services in this blog.  This blog contains honest and unsolicited testimony of McGreevy Pro Lab’s services regarding my photography and film development.