The Baby and the Bike

Imagine that you’re pregnant with your first child and you’re excited to mark your progress with your regular visits to the doctor.  When you’re in the exam room, you notice that your husband can’t take his eyes off the beautiful, canvas wrap of Lance Armstrong and the United States Postal Service team in the 2005 Tour de France. If you’re really into cycling, you would know that 2005 was the SEVENTH and last Tour de France that Lance Armstrong won!  Well, dad, otherwise known as Travis, knew that and a lot more about Lance Armstrong.   His wife, Amy, knew she had a gift for Father’s Day and it wasn’t just the new baby to be!

Cycling: It's a family affair!

You see Travis races as a Cat 3 cyclist for Team Extreme Cycling and will be racing in the Tour of America’s Dairyland, that begins tonight (June 16) in Shorewood, WI.  This 11 day racing series, presented by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board,  travels through 11 communities from June 16 – 26, 2011, and he’ll be coming to my neighborhood on June 25th for the Downer Ave. race – neighborhood favorite summer event!  It’s full of family fun activities, live entertainment and of course, food and drink.  As a Risk Manager for Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), Travis is working to earn the honor of becoming a Cat 2 rider by earning points in these races.  His supportive sponsors include:  Extreme Ski and Cycling, Houseman & Feind, Hollrith Realty, Juniper61, LuLu Cafe’ and Cocktails, Cycling Form & Fitness, Centec Security, Port-a-John, and OS Nutrition.

After William was born and she returned to her doctor for ‘well-baby’ check-ups, Amy saw that canvas wrap again and called me about purchasing it for Travis as a surprise for Father’s Day.  She couldn’t wait until Father’s Day, however, and this week I returned to their home to photograph them with the canvas wrap and explain to Travis how I came to make this photo of Lance Armstrong and his 2005.  I had scouted the location the day before and decided where I wanted to be.  My location would allow my two views per lap around the Champs – Elysees and Arc de Triomphe.  I settled in at 9:30 a.m., expecting the racers to arrive by 4:30.  It was a primo spot!

People started to fill in and find their spots when a man came by and told me that I had to move.  I was in a VIP section.  OH NO!  All the next best spots were now filled in and this race was high on my list to photograph!  In a desperate, fast-paced attempt to find an good location, I could only find an spot on a tight, inside corner.   A very tough place to photograph world-class cyclists!!  More people filled in and a rain shower ensued.  To top it off, Paris is not known for it’s volume of public toilets so I rationed my drinking water to a half-cup for the whole day.

As the cyclists arrived, I pre-set my aperture, shutter speed, and fill-flash while also pre-focusing where the cyclists would be.  I raised the camera up over my head, and the heads of others, and panned/shot the cyclists as they past by in a burst of noise and wind.  Finding Lance in the crowd and then photographing was a disaster.  They came too quickly so I didn’t think I had any images of him.  After standing out there for 9 hours with little water or food, I cried because as I quickly flipped through my LCD, I didn’t think I had any images of Lance.

7th Victory of Tour de France

Later, back at the apartment we had rented, I loaded the images into my laptop.  I shouted with joy when I saw that I had 2 images of Lance.  This one was the best and it occurred one of the last two laps, when the other cyclists let the winner ride in front.  Glorious!  Now a new mother that supports her husband’s passion for cycling, has given her husband and new father a meaningful Father’s Day gift.  Ride Strong, Travis.  Ride Strong!

Turkey: A Sense of Place

Remember Ancient History class?  All those facts about 100 BC, or 400 AD or the Greeks, Romans and Constantinople?  Just thinking about it puts you to sleep, right?  Me too, except I woke up real quick when I recently spent 2 weeks in Turkey walking around the ancient sites, on which a cornucopia of peoples, from civilizations past, have tread.

Hagia Sophia - A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Take the Hagia Sophia mosque for example.  Built in 4 years, this enormous mosque, filled with tiled mosaics, can hold the Cathedral of Notre Dame inside its immense walls.  They even built cobblestone ramps inside so that horses could reach the second floor!  If you feel small when you look out over the Grand Canyon, try tilting your head skyward in Hagia Sophia.  Your neck will ache from looking upward for so long.

View from Hagia Sophia towards The Blue Mosque

From one of the windows on the second floor of Hagia Sophia, I spied the mosque rooftops of both Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque).  I’ll show more images of The Blue Mosque in another post but for now, I wanted you to get the feeling of mosque rooftops doting the sky in Istanbul and other cities and smaller towns all over Turkey.  Five times a day the people are called to prayer and reminded that Allah is the one and is with them always.  While men and women pray in different sections of the mosque, they can be found inside mosques at any time of day.  The first call to prayer was around 4:45 a.m. and the last around 8:30 p.m.  I came to appreciate and welcome, the shivering chant that echoed out via microphone.

Time for prayer

As we learned about the deep history of Turkey and I  talked with local people, I began to get a sense of how intricately they are rooted with the land/history there.  They know where they came from.  With my “merhaba” (hello) or my ‘luften photo’ (please – photo), I came to venture forth and communicate with them.  While many people speak some English in the cities, that was not always the case in the smaller villages.

Universal Body Language

When words failed between us, body language became useful.  Most men welcomed the camera but more women said ‘no.’  I came to learn that it was a cultural difference of which Islam has its influence over.  Nonetheless, you will see in future posts that I had lots of fun with the people, especially in the smaller towns!

A very large Qur'an

Very early in our tour, I came to understand the role that religion has played in Turkey’s history.  From the Christian times of the Constantinople Empire and the walled city of Istanbul, to the breach in the wall by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 and the rule of Islam, many of the mosques were churches and vice a versa.  In one Turkish Antiquities museum we saw Qur’ans that must have taken two people to open, to tiny pocket versions, where the man who did the writing went blind after working with such small print.

Beautiful tile mosaics depicting Joseph & Mary registering for the census

The Chora Church Museum is one such ancient building that has changed hands over time.  The gorgeous mosaic tiles that depict the Christian story of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus where whitewashed over with plaster when the Turks came into Istanbul.  Over time it was discovered what was underneath the falling plaster and history simply revealed itself!  I was humbled by all of this history of empires, religion, and architecture.  In that land of history, I would think its good to know where you come from.

Beachin’ It

Spending time with my extended family is always a great way to relax, laugh, recharge and, of course, record family memories through photography.  Since I have a 3 year old nephew and 4 other great nieces and nephews under 3.5 years, there was lots of action to go after!   Enjoy the images made at New Smyrna Beach, FL.  First my mom,  then it’s Ryan, George, Peyton, Kylie and Maura.

Enjoy the beach scenes and if you live up north, feel the warmth I send!

My Mom at 83

Ryan after exciting the pool

Warm-up time

George playing football (He's a Brit!)

Peyton - a natural runner

Mia Familia

Kylie - "I own this beach!"

Ryan - dodging the waves

Peyton - the water bearer

Maura - modeling her 'beach tutu'

Kylie and her charming smile

George - waiting for a wave

Maura - beautiful eyes that don't like the wind

All images made with Nikon D3s and Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens.

One Lagoon, One Bull Terrier in Puerto Rico

Just returned from a fantastic stay in Puerto Rico!  My cousin Carole and her husband Joe, taxied Kathy and I to some of the great ‘off the beaten tracks’ locations on the west, north &  south side of the island.   (More about those locations coming)  It was warm – 75 – 85, sunny, and the weather packed the kind of humidity that your skin and bones long to soak up in February.   When you hail from the upper mid-west it takes about 3 days before your skin feels ‘human’ again!

First Day at Cabo Rojo Beach, Puerto Rico

On the extreme southwest side of the island lies Cabo Rojo.  There you’ll find a light house and a lagoon beach to die for!  Warm water that’s more than swimmable can be found here, and the friendly people that Puerto Rico is know for.  Because my camera is with me wherever I go when I travel, I had fun photographing an 8 week old Bull Terrier.  Like me, it was his first visit to Cabo Rojo!

I'm Safe With You

He was curious about the waves coming and going and when he was a bit frightened, he hightailed it towards his owners feet.  It was fun to watch him play with the water and even try to drink it – too salty.  I loved his flat, broad muzzle and of course, those pinky, pig-like ears.  I’m sure he’ll be making more visits to Cabo Rojo in the future!

My First Day on the Beach

You might be wondering how I made these images and managed to stay dry.  Bathing suit – of course I was in the water.  I like to get my autofocus point set in the camera for the kind of image I want to make – horizontal vs. vertical.  Use a wide angle lens (this was Nikon 12 – 24mm f2.8 DX lens) to get an environmental portrait and start shooting.  You should know the closest focusing distance of your lens so you can keep your subject at least that far away from your lens.  Continuous focus settings help also.  Try it!  You’ll get some great images that show the life of the dog from their point of view.  Try something different from the thousands of images that shoot down on the dog’s face.  This angle show a more relaxed dog from their perspective.

One Winter Morning

Mid January brings some cold, snowy, blustery days to the Upper Midwest.  The kind of days when our dogs head into the yard to do their business and then quickly run back towards the door.  Yes, -30 degree wind chill days!

January also starts my year off with a birthday – the 15th.  I’m honored to share the day with Martin Luther King!  January also turns my attention to seeing my photography friends, when I attend the Professional Photographers of America National meeting and head off to the Seniors and Youth Conference.  This year brings me other new adventures instead of conferences, but I found myself thinking about one winter day, about 3 years ago.

I’d invited a photographer friend to come visit me in January, when we could both go out and photograph the winter landscape, and enjoy a little time off after the busy Holiday seasoon.  Janet and I had met at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana and have been friends ever since, so she was ‘game’ to see what winter was like in Milwaukee.


Frigid Morning at North Point


When she arrived, Milwaukee was into our usual mid-January, deep chill – and I mean deep!  I convinced her to accompany me one early, Friday morning to North Point, near Bradford Beach, to photograph the chilly dawn.  I had been inspired by another local photographer and the work he created of the dock piers, still in the ground after all the years that had passed since boats moored there.  It was -4 degrees air temperature and about -20 with the wind chill.  (One good thing about early morning photography is that until the sun rises, there’s usually very little wind.)

Janet soon discovered that she didn’t bring warm enough clothing so off to the warm car she trudged.  Forty-five minutes into it, I conceded to the loss of feeling in my toes and paid for it as I felt the pain upon re-warming!   Funny I didn’t feel that kind of pain as they were getting cold.  I did get this wonderful shot and yes, Janet’s still my friend!  When we talk about her coming back for another visit, she’s quick to mention, ‘any month but January.’

For my birthday, we head north this weekend for the UP of Michigan!   It’s fun to take the dogs and get in some decent snow shoeing.  Of course I’ll take the camera and, this time, some hand and feet warmers!


Get MORE From Your Digital Camera!

Get MORE Out of Your Digital Camera in 2011!

Did you get a new digital camera for Christmas/Hanukkah and need to learn how to use it?  Tired of only using the ‘P’ or ‘A’ button on your expensive DSLR?  Want to get the great images everybody else seems to get with their new camera?  Well now you can!

Get instruction from one of the best area photographers for 4 week, 1 hr classes for $140! Class size limited to 6 people.

Check out more info below:

Couple Reading Near Window In Scotland
The Warmth of the Sun in Edinburgh, Scotland

Digital Camera Class Starting January 18th! 


You know you’ve been waiting for a class like this!  You’ve got family events to record, destinations you’ll be traveling to only once in your life, or kids and grandchildren whose moments you want to capture. Or maybe you want to grow your skills in the art of photography.  Now is your chance! 

WHEN:  Tuesday – January 18
Tuesday – January 25
Tuesday – February 1
Tuesday – February 8

WERE:  PEGGY MORSCH life photography studio
2738 N. Summit Ave.  Milwaukee  53211


CLASS SIZE:  Limited to 6 people

COST:  $140/person or $250 for 2 from same family for all 4

Scottish 'Leprechan'
Scottish ‘Leprechan’
1.)  Point & Shoot and Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR)
2.)  Various camera settings – both automatic & manual
3.)  Composition!  Composition!  Composition!
4.)  People, Nature, and Travel imagery and the settings
to best use for them.
5.)  Lens selection
6.)  Best Software for your skill level to produce photos
7.)  Producing a Book of your images for self, family, etc.
8.)  Mini-Critiques every class to advance your learning!
9.)  Email learning/support options for after the class! 

Register:  Email/text –
Phone:  414.550.5340

If you’re coming from work, I’ll have some healthy snacks for

WHEN CLASS IS FILlED you’ll be added to a waiting list for the
next class.

SUGGESTED BLOGS To Wet Your Appetite:

Have an iPAD?  Consider the Time Life Book (for iPAD) by the amazing Joe McNally for $10.