Mom’s Cottage

Posted on Dec 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

My mom lives in Coronado in a simple but beautiful seaside cottage.  She decorates everything so tastefully and simply and the spirit of cottage living.  We were over to her house visiting her and to watch the Coronado Christmas Parade which is an annual event.  It was a nice night, although we somehow managed to miss most of the floats.  I went up to her bedroom and it seemed so calm and peaceful.  I took this photograph of her bedroom which shows her simple but very nice taste.  There is a cross above her bed – she is very religious and always has been.  A night-stand, a simple makeup table and books stacked on the floor.  My mom likes to read. She reads in bed at night before she goes to sleep.   This looks like a nice peaceful place to wake up to in the morning as the fresh sea air and bright sun rises.

Mabel wants to go outside

Posted on Dec 2, 2011 in photography

Mabel does not want to stay home.  Mabel wants to go outside. Mabel thinks it’s more fun out there then in there, unless of course she is out here, then it would be more fun to be in there. Mabel likes snacks. Mabel is hungry. Mabel wants to shred something.  Mabel wants a pet. Mabel looks outside.  Boy that looks like fun out there. A snack sounds great. I want to go out there. I am going to find something to shred. Mabel wants to go outside.  It’s more fun out there then in here, unless of course she is out here, then it looks more fun in there. Mabel you’re cute.

Black and white or color? I can’t decide.

Posted on Nov 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

I love taking black and white photos.  I love taking color photos.  Luckily, deciding which one to shoot is not required at the time a picture is taken rather it can be decided later when you are editing the photos.  I still remember using my Olympus camera in the 80’s and buying Ilford film so I could shoot in black and white.  I went to Mexico for 6 months and the only thing I took down with me was a bunch of Ilford B&W canisters.  I must say the pictures came out more interesting then if I took them in color.

I have a hard time making a decision when I am editing wether I am going to use color or black and white so  I will often save a version of each and use them later.   My general rule of thumb is that if color is going to make the picture more appealing then I will use it, however if I am trying to convey some emotion I will use black and white.  In any case, a good photo will often look great in either so you can’t lose.  Here are two versions of the same picture that I took of Tu.  You can be the judge and decide which one is better.


The picture in black and white

The same picture in color

Taking pictures of my dad

Posted on Nov 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

He has the same name as me – Frank McKenna.  He was born in 1931 in a tough New York neighborhood and fought his way out of it coming out to California with my mom in the early 1960’s.  At the time they had one daughter – my sister Kathy and they had no money to make the trip.  Arriving in San Diego he eventually settled the family in Chula Vista and established one of the first insurance agencies in the city that was more well known for groves of lemon trees then people or progress. Over the next 40 years he and my mom had 12 kids and supported all of them by money generated from that Insurance Agency.  My dad has always been known as a dynamic and creative business mind and is notorious in Chula Vista for his quick wit and interesting stories.   For example, he once paid a cab driver for a ride home from a bar with our pet chicken Eggatha (much to our dismay).

I had the chance to take some interesting pictures of my Dad and interview him about his life.  The pictures in the gallery show the creative and funny side of my Dad. He was a good father and taught each and everyone of us the value of a good education and hard-work.  I like to think that everyone in our family is extremely successful and that is because he and my mother insisted on teaching us these things.  Every night we ate dinner and prayed together.  Can you even imagine a family of 12 doing that today?  I can’t, but I always feel blessed because for the structure and clear direction that it instilled in us.  We all love Dad a lot and thankful for everything he did for us. Click on the link below if you want to see portrait photos of his gallery.


Chaos at Wal-Mart

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 in photography

Turkey, Cranberries, Apple Cider and WalMart stampeding. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving has become about all of these things – the best and worst of what we are about here in America. It’s hard to believe that a Holiday that has us giving thanks for the simple things in our lives has been over-run by greed, groveling and outright disregard for other humans. That is what I think of Black Friday at Walmart. Just this week at Black Friday sales people were shot, robbed from and maced as they tried to do there Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving.  We decided to have a look first hand at this mess and headed out on Thanksgiving to WalMart in Mira Mesa and it did not disappoint.  People were there in force – probably 2,000 jammed into the store and everyone was out for themselves – groping pushing and shoving to get a chance at deals on things they probably didn’t need or want.  My brother handed a 99 cent video game that he had scored (an outdated Xbox game that never caught on) to a lady next to us and she was thrilled and then stated that she actually needed to buy the Xbox now so she could use it.  It’s that illogical behavior that companies like WalMart are hoping for when they have these frenzied midnight Thanksgiving sales.  People are hoping to improve their lives by getting a fantastic sale on something but they just dig themselves in deeper.

Here is Danny sleeping in Aisle 5 of Walmart.

Here is a photo I snapped of the gang loading up on silly stuff that they had no intention on ever buying.

Thanksgiving Day

Posted on Nov 25, 2011 in photography

What a Thanksgiving Day.  Tu and I spent the day making rounds visiting the families in various parts of San Diego.  There was a trip up to San Marcos to have Turkey Dinner/Lunch with Tu’s Uncle and her family and then it was off to Danny and Camille’s house to have a second dinner.   All in all we did what everyone does on Thanksgiving – eat too much and have a great time.  On the way back from San Marcos we spotted this beautiful church and I thought it looked really nice as the storm clouds brewed in the background.   I shot this picture and I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty and drama of it – the clouds really made the picture.

Occupy Los Angeles

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 in photography

Last week I visited Occupy Los Angeles.  It is my third visit to Occupy camps throughout the country and it was quite interesting to see.  What is most interesting having visited the camps in various cities is that the movement in each city really seem to take on the identity of the city itself. The Occupy movement in Los Angeles has over 100 tents and they completely surround City Hall.  In the middle of the camp they have a created a super size structure that has interesting artwork documenting the movement itself. Los Angeles by far had more tents than New York and San Diego combined.  It also appeared to be more heavily populated by homeless people than the other two camps and I would have to say the camps in San Diego and New York had at least 25% homeless populations.  While the movement was large in Los Angeles it seemed to be much more heavily skewed toward Marijuana legalization and environmentalism than either San Diego and New York which were much more heavily focused on economic injustices.  I am not sure why that is, but that is what it seemed like to me. The police seemed to be much more lenient than the other two cities as well. In fact, for the very large camp (probably 100 tents or more), I really only saw two police officers patrolling the perimeter.  In San Diego for example I saw about 25 police officers monitor 7 to 10 tents and 50 protestors.

The Occupy movement is growing stronger and new people are joining everyday. There was a national day of activities for the movement last week and it resulted in a flurry of activity that was well publicized.  My next stop will be San Francisco and perhaps Chicago as my goal will be to photograph and document as many camps as possible.

There are performers, and there are artist.

Posted on Nov 20, 2011 in photography, Uncategorized

There is the Ukulele. There are people that play the Ukulele.  Then there is Jake Shimabukuro. I got my first glimpse of Jake Shimabukuro years ago when I was browsing YouTube and came across a video of him playing in Central Park New York.  He was playing a song written by George Harrison “While my Guitar Gently Weeps”.  The way he played that song completely transformed my perception of the Ukulele.  The beauty and complexity of the sounds that he was bringing out of the Ukulele were grander and more beautiful then a 34 string harp yet he managed to deliver it with the simplicity of a traditional Hawaiian Ukulele sound.  The video went on to become a viral sensation and since then Jake Shimabukuro has been transforming the world of the Ukulele with mind-blowing renditions of familiar songs as well as creating beautiful and timeless original pieces.  Jake Shimabukuro has transcended from performer, to artist, to virtuoso.  We are lucky to live in times where we can see a musician who is truly the best of all time.

I got a chance to see Jake for the second time in my favorite music venue in San Diego – Anthology. The atmosphere of the club is picture perfect for a performer such as Jake.  The acoustics, lighting and ambience is conducive to watching and listening to every single note; and Jake does not miss a single one seemingly playing on every fret and string of the Uke in every single song he performed.  If you have a chance to watch Jake you will find that he is like no other.  He is young, hip and brings a rock and roll attitude to every song while respecting the timeless tradition of Ukulele playing and his Hawaiian roots.  Jake loves San Diego and has many friends and fans here.  He has played at Anthology 5 times and I have seen two of those performances thankfully.  After each show, Jake takes the time to meet with fans back stage, sign Ukulele’s, CD’s, T-Shirts and anything else they present.  People come from all over the world to see his shows in San Diego – there were 5 people that flew from Japan to watch him at this show.    I feel lucky to have only been required to make the short 10 mile drive to Downtown to catch the show. Every time I see him, I feel like I am watching history in the making – watching the greatest Ukulele artist ever to play.