An Open Apology to Westboro Baptist

Last week I wrote a piece about the Westboro Baptist Church’s “picket” at Kent State. If you missed it, Kent State University suspended a wrestler Sam Wheeler after he made some highly derogatory, anti-gay tweets, WBC threatened to protest, never showed, but Photoshopped themselves into a photo at Kent State, and claimed they were there. A few hours after I posted my piece covering the whole thing, I received this message from Westboro Baptist’s Timothy Phelps in response to said piece.

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At first, I dismissed the comment as the WBC blowing hot air. That is until I followed Phelps’ link to his site, GodHatesTheWorld.com. I browsed a bit, and was blown away when I saw these photos from his site.

 

And so, I would like to formally apologize to the Westboro Baptist Church. Given the amount of time all this globe-trotting must take, it’s completely reasonable that the WBC wouldn’t have the time to come to the Kent Campus in person. After all, traveling to countries as diverse as Madagascar, Bangladesh, and Tanzania, and posing for stock-quality photos, must leave them so spread out and funds too low to travel to a lowly campus, no matter how much of a “bully” that school may be.

That being said, I do need to offer a small correction to this image, which was Tweeted at me.  

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See, this monster here in this image is, in fact, Godzilla. Fagzilla was a creature from Nigel Crumpington’s series of anti-smoking films released in the United Kingdom back in the 80s (see below). It’s an easy mistake given that both have purple spiky bits.big-ben fagzilla

As far as the rest of the image is concerned, we can’t let that setup go without some sort of resolution. So, I present to you, Godzilla and Sign Face…

Politely discussing their differences over tea and scones.

Tea and Scones

The Impossible Protest:The Westboro Baptist Church At Kent State

I had one of my more interesting post-graduation journalism experiences yesterday, and it was almost too surreal not to type up. I’ll get to exactly how in a minute, but we’re going to have to take a step back and give some context first.

Last week, University of Missouri football player Michael Sam came out as gay. While this was well received by his teammates, family, and America in general, it’s the unfortunate truth that some backlash was to be expected. One of the more vocal detractors was Kent State wrestler Sam Wheeler, whose Twitter feed looked a little something like this:

sam-wheeler-michael-sam-tweets

Unsurprisingly, the higher-ups at Kent State were none too pleased about those and suspended Wheeler from the wrestling team. And that’s when the Westboro Baptist Church got involved. True to form, WBC took to Twitter and put out a press release denouncing Kent State as “bullies,” and announced a picket of the university in protest. Because, well, that’s pretty much what these guys always do.

After a brief internal debate on whether or not to give this group any more attention, I decided it was better to be shooting than staying home, and made tracks to the university. I found a place to camped down on the eighth floor of the library overlooking the two most likely protest spots on campus and kept all my social media open in case they showed anywhere else. I didn’t have much faith that they would show though. See, when an organization as hungry for attention as Westboro didn’t bother to put a date, time, or location on the press release, it made my journalism spidey-sense go all tingly that something isn’t right. And, my hunch was correct, the WBC never showed. Dejected counter protesters sulked away with their signs and rainbow flags like Linus missing the Great Pumpkin.

But then I got home and my buddy Phil sent me this:

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At first, I was worried that I had gone home early, but then I actually saw the thing full screen. I don’t know what bothers me more, the fact that they didn’t show, that they then Photoshopped one of their protestors into an old photo and then claimed they were there, or that it s just such a bad Photoshop. But it didn’t stop there. Oh no. This went on for most of the night. It only became a more inexplicable decent into madness.

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Now you, like me, are probably thinking that this has to be a joke, probably a fake account trying to mess with the WBC. But no, I can confirm after extensively reviewing this page and where it connects to, this is 100% the official Westboro Baptist account. I just don’t know what to say. There is a bus. That is a goddmaned hot air balloon! Do they expect anyone to believe this? Are they that far off in their own little world? Was the whole thing a joke to them? Did plan to get the entire campus into an anti-protest and news frenzy, only to pull the rug out from under us, and then pour salt into the wound with bad Photoshop? I’m just too baffled to know at this point. In the end, I decided that the only way to fight crazy is with more crazy, and responded with in the best way I could.

Rainbow Lasers!

For, what better way to fight bigotry than a Godzilla firing fabulous, rainbow lasers? Or, perhaps, you know a better way. I strongly encourage everyone reading this to save the screen-caps and shopping them again in the most awesome way you can. Link them back here by next Sunday (3/2/14), I’ll post them, and we’ll have a contest to see which one reigns supreme.

 

Wine Glass

Broken Wine Glass 2Karen broke one of our wine glasses the other night, which can only mean that I have anew photo prop to play with!

     I played around with some photo manipulation too. I filled an identical (intact) glass, shot that under the same conditions, and played around with a couple variations on combining the two images. I think I’ll need to a) lean how to better shop the imperfections off the glass, b) light a bit differently to reduce glare, and c) try again, but fill the second glass more to give more definition to the glass’ shape.

Broken Wine Glass combine 1

Broken Wine Glass combine 2

 

Six Month Retrospective

Wow, it’s been about half a year since I started this site. So, I thought that a quick retrospective would be interesting, so I rounded up a handful of some of my favorite photos thus far. I have a ton of ideas I want to try, unfortunately, life has a habit of getting in the way. I hope that the best is yet to come.

My First Composite Attempt

Moon Gestalt Attempt 2The “Super Moon” that got hyped up around the web turned out to be a massive letdown. So, screw nature, I’ve got Photoshop! I’ll just make my own moon image. Admittedly, my composite skills are still very basic, so most of this was trial and error. I’m not totally happy with it, but it’s a start. I’ll just have to keep practicing with it.

Of course any suggestions for improvement are welcome. So, please leave any thoughts in the comments below.

New Tricks on an Old Photo

Since I get two entries for the This Week in Photo landscape contest, I decided to submit this along with my other entry. I felt that the original needed a bit of retouching to really competitive though. This photo below is the new piece that will be submitted to the contest.

Swiss mountain retouch

Mountain before and afterIf you enlarge the before-and-after image at right, you can compare the two photos. There wasn’t really anything too major done. I just increased the contrast, nudged up the saturation, brought the shadows on the mountains in the background down a bit, and cropped the clouds out of the top. I think that these minor changes came together to produce a much stronger photo overall.

Shooting on the Job

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Working three jobs doesn’t always leave much time to shoot. But, since one of my jobs is landscaping, I can sometimes snap a few frames with my camera phone as I go. I shot this one while trimming, edited it on my phone during a break, and then uploaded it via my WordPress app.

Borg Jesus!

borg jesus

I really am terrible. After noticingPhoto Apr 03, 12 57 41 PM the book in the photo to your left  in the local used book store, I couldn’t help but picture Jesus crossed with a Borg from Star Trek. So, then I took 15 minutes to throw an atrocious Photoshop together to make my juvenile fantasy reality. And, since the Internet is a thing, I get to share it with all of you.

Oh, and of course I used Buddy Christ, because that is the best depiction of Jesus ever created.