I’m originally from East Northport, Long Island, and became interested in photography at an early age. I had plans to pursue photography after high school; however, certain events took me on other journeys. I've had a number of experiences; employment, education, religious, family, friends…some wonderful and some not so. In recent years, I had the opportunity to get back in to photography and have found it to be extremely therapeutic and rewarding. I loved (and still do love) looking at all the photos my parents have in their home; boxes of them. They are images of moments and memories that can stir the heart and evoke emotions. I enjoy being able to capture such moments for my own family, friends and potential clients. I’m not a terribly eloquent man; however, I thought I would attempt to share some of my world, with others, through the combination of my photos and the narratives I attach to them. This blog is not intended to be a forum for deep discussion, but perhaps it will serve to prompt people to ask questions in other venues. Please feel free to send me feedback, even if I don’t post all of the comments.

Blessings to all who take the time to visit my world.

Groentesoep met Hollandse Brood

February 20, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Food is an important partof my life.
One of the greatestthings about growing up was that both my father and mother enjoyed cooking, andthey were good at it.
Shot in my kitchen; Canon 7D; 18-55mm (at 42mm) lens;
ISO 200; f/5.6; 1/100 sec. I fired two flashes; one was above,
slightly behind, and to the right of the bowl with a small,
handmade beauty dish. The other was fired at a white board above
and pointing down (from camera left) at the bread.

My father learned to cookfrom his mother, who was from German stock. However, he was born and raised inNew York, so there were also a lot of influences throughout the communities helived in, socialized in and worked in. Although my father cooked a variety ofthings, one of the constants was that he cooked A LOT of it. It was as if hewas cooking for the troops every time he made something, whether it was aroast, soup, pancakes…but, with three growing boys in the home there had to beplenty of food. What wasn’t consumed right away may have been sealed in jars orfrozen, or eaten as leftovers the next day. If it was simply put in the fridge,it wouldn’t last very long.

My mother came well equippedwith a number of European dishes, having been born and raised in theNetherlands. There is such a variety of foods that come from that culture, dueto their proximity to other countries’ influences, the country having been aColonial Power and their connection to the early trade routes. My mother’s mealplan was a bit different from my father’s. My father might have cooked a coupleof large, hot meals a day, whereas my mother would be fine with some bread andcheese (perhaps some lunch meat) in the morning and then in the afternoon, butthen prepare a hearty, hot meal in the evening.
One of the common itemsin the Birdsall Kitchen was SOUP! Between the two of them, there were severaldifferent types of soup that we would enjoy. They were typically robust and itdidn’t take much to fill you.

(balletjes, carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions, tomatoes)
This is one of the soupsmy mother would make and I remember enjoying it every time. The actual name ofit could be slightly different, depending on whom you ask. It is a VegetableSoup (Groentesoep), but it also has meatballs in it (Balletjes). The Groentesoepand Balletjes Soep (Vegetable Soup with Meatballs) are made from a beef stock;whether you use bouillon cubes or boil a soup bone of some type. The vegetablescould vary, but they seem to share carrots and celery, as well as rice (I knowit’s not a vegetable, but it is a common ingredient).

My mother refers to thissoup as Groentesoep, even though they always put balletjes in it. One of thegreat things about cooking is that you can change things around to suit yourown liking. I chose not to put any rice (or fine noodles, like my mother does) inmy soup, since I had put in so many vegetables. I started by boiling a piece ofmeat, on the bone, with a couple of bouillon cubes. Once the meat was ready tofall off the bone, I took it out and added my vegetables; carrots, celery,onions (my mother does not use onions), diced tomatoes and cauliflower (putthis in later, because it cooks quickly).  While that was cooking, I was cutting up themeat and also making the balletjes (season the meat the way you would like),which are simply put in the pot and allowed to cook in the soup.
Hollandse Brood
Rolled oats, flour, honey, salt, yeast & water.
With all of the vegetables,and the meat, the soup is very satisfying; however, it was not uncommon to havebread on the table as well. A great memory of growing up was the smell of freshbread being made by my parents. I’ve wanted to do it myself, for some time, andfigured now, with the Groentesoep in the pot, was as good a time as any. Ipulled out one of my Dutch cookbooks, found a recipe for Hollandse Brood (thebook says Dutch Homemade Bread), went to the store for some ingredients and setoff to make some bread. This was a relatively simple bread (rolled oats, flour,honey, salt, yeast, water), but it was a good one for my first one.

Although there is some physical labor involvedin making the dough (all of the kneading), the toughest part is the waiting. Imixed all of the ingredients and then had to set the dough aside to rise (twohours). After that, cut into it, divide it (yielded two loaves), put it in thepans and then set it aside to rise AGAIN. Meanwhile, the smell in the house isalready creating a Pavlovian response, and I haven’t even started baking ityet. About an hour-and-a-half later, I am finally ready to put the bread in theoven…another 50 minutes…ugghhhh. I will say, the 4 ½ hours did give me plentyof time to clean the kitchen counters, the kitchen floor, the two and a halfbathrooms (including the floors and tubs) and the floor in the laundry room,with some time to rest.

When I told my olderbrother that I was making homemade bread, he said he remembered all of the timeand energy our parents put into making the bread, which we would consume in,what seemed like, ½ and hour.
By the time I was donecleaning, I was ready to eat.  The bowlof soup and two thick slices of bread were more than enough to satisfy me.

Ete Smakelijk - Good Appetite

First Things First

February 14, 2012  •  Leave a Comment
I needto acknowledge my inspiration.

First off,I am a Christian and believe that God can inspire us through His creation. The thingswe see every day, but we may take for granted…because we see them every day…canbe extremely inspiring if we simply take the time to stop and appreciate them.We see the sun every day, but when we take the time to simply bask in itswarmth or watch it as it sets behind the horizon, it takes on a whole newmeaning. It could be as simple as a bird gliding through the air and simplyusing the thermals to keep itself aloft.

Especiallywhen I'm out, shooting wildlife or landscape type photos, I’m always trying tokeep my mind, my heart and my eyes open to the wonders of God’s creation.Hopefully I will be able to convey some of that to those of you who choose toview my work.
"Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or
harvest or put food in the barns because your
heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far
more valuable to him than they are."
Matthew 6: 26 (NLT)
Anexample of this is the photo to the left. When I’m driving, manytimes I'm looking for interesting locations or images. There is a tenmile stretch between the town I live in and the larger neighboring town, whichI have driven many times. Paralleling this main road is the original road thatconnected the two towns. It’s a bit more winding and hilly, so it’s a bit morepractical to take the main road. From the main road, I had seen the topof this cross poking out over a hilltop and thought it would be interesting tofind out where it was and how I could gain access to it. However, I put it offseveral times, until I was coming home one day and really felt as though Ishould go check it out. I didn’t have to get home right away, the sky looked incredible and I felt compelled to take the less traveled road. Pleasantly, I saw the cross high on a hillbehind a church; I had complete access to it. The way the cross was decoratedwith the sash, it was set up to face the setting sun, which was a wonderfulgolden color; warm and subtle. The wind was blowing slightly, to give the sashsome motion, and then…the small bird settles on the right arm of the cross.                     CLICK!

I alsoneed to give credit to my parents for my inspiration.

Myfather was very much a Renaissance Man. He was knowledgeable about many thingsand was able to do them with a level of skill. He loved to teach people what heknew and was always willing to lend a hand, or whatever else he had, to helpothers out. He allowed me the opportunity to use his camera equipment tophotograph my brothers’ football games and also during my photography classesin high school. He gave me some basic pointers and the freedom to burn up somefilm while I learned to manipulate the camera.
My father enjoyed the outdoors and had a keen eye for seeing things that many people would miss or overlook. I can remember countless drives on the Northern State Parkway, traveling 55-60 mph, or walking through Blydenburgh Park, and my father appeared to be able to spot every rabbit, bird, critter...you name it.
My motheris a different breed. She has a very gregarious personality, which used to embarrassme to no end. She was raised in Amsterdam and came to America in her earlytwenties. To this day, she has a Dutch/NY accent that can’t be beat, and youwould hear it screaming across King Kullen or Pathmark or Waldbaums…or wherever…whenshe saw someone she knew; you never knew what kind of socially awkward commentwould come out either.
Mymother loves to stir things up and experience life, even if it meant that mybrothers and I may have felt embarrassed. I remember being at a Sweet 16 partyfor one of the girls I went to school with, who lived just around the corner…hermom and my mom were friends, which meant my mom was at the party. It was yourtypical Boy Girl Party, which meantthat the boys stood on one side of the patio and the girls were on the other.Well, the music was playing, and when the music plays, My Mom Dances. Ohhhh, butshe doesn’t necessarily dance by herself…Nooooooo, she grabs me from thecomfort of my fellow wallflowers and drags me to the middle of the patio for alittle mother-son dance…can I crawl into a hole somewhere?

I hadstopped taking pictures for a while, because it was getting very expensive topurchase film and then have the labs process and develop it. My parents knewhow much I enjoyed taking pictures (to this day my mother still tells anyone she can that I won an award at my Vocational/Technical School, for Photography.I did very well, but the award was actually for being the most helpful student.The teacher knew that I could be trusted, I had a good grasp on the subject,and that I was always willing to assist him or my classmates, so he gave me extratasks that the students would normally go to him for) and on Black Friday of2008, they bought me a new DSLR Kit; a Canon Rebel XSi with the 18-55mm and 55-250mmlenses.
I took this on January 4, 2009, only about a month
after receiving the camera from my parents. My father
died in April of 2010, and this is the last portait we
have of them together.
I miss you dad! 

Formaking me who I am, and providing me with the opportunity to get back intophotography, I am forever grateful to my parents.
For giving me such amazing parents, I am forever grateful to God.
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