Phi Kappa Psi – Iowa Beta: 46 Years Later

Welcome to my photoblog, please “Follow” along.  Today’s post is a bit off topic yet it’s an interesting piece of personal nostalgia from my university days.

Back in Apr’16, I had an offer to share my time since university with my fraternity brothers in the latest Jul’16 issue of “Cyclone”, a publication of Iowa Beta at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.  So I drafted my thoughts of times gone by with the final write-up seen below.  First, I thought I’d share some old time images.

Question to my Phi Psi Brothers: Is Mary Ellen Barnes still remembered?

Iowa Beta Chapter Photos 1971 – 1974

I had to look hard to find myself.  I’ve provided a Row / Column reference identifier.

R5 C13

R5 C13

R5 C1

R5 C1

R4 C1

R4 C1

R3 C6

R3 C6

Phi Kappa Psi – Iowa State University – Alumni Brothers

Iowa Beta Spotlight Article – July 2016

(Editor’s Note: We are spotlighting two brothers in this issue, whose careers have been quite different but whose love of photography provides a common thread between them. Be sure to check out their websites for some truly amazing photographs.)

Where to start? Do I go back to 1970 to revisit my freshman year, or do I begin today in 2016? I’ve flipped the coin so let’s go to the (almost) last chapter, first.

Today, I live and work in Chennai, India, often referred to as Old Madras. (I’ve always wondered if those old bleeding Madras shirts from the 1960s were made here.) I enjoy the people and character of India, which is ever-changing with surprises around every corner. However, like other expats here, we at times share a frustration of “what is vs. what it could be.”

During my two years in Chennai, I’ve re-discovered photography across the many different genres (i.e., street photography, infrared photography, portraits, macro photography, landscape) with twice-a-month Chennai Photowalks. I’ve found photography to provide the technical challenge while building my skills in achieving an artistic final image for my viewers. This newfound passion will play well with my travels around China and abroad.

I continue to plan my retirement beyond just the financial aspect with a focus on the “daily what-to-dos” to keep me physically active, ever-learning, and experiencing life. I’ll return to my home in Xi’an, China as my 41+-year career in Quality/OpEx eventually draws to a close. When I hang up my game jersey, it will be kept clean and pressed in case I’m called back to the “Show”. Since Xi’an is the home of the Terracotta Soldiers, I’m sure some of you may have future plans to visit. So, if you’re in the neighborhood, let me know.

On the family side, I have two sons (grown men now) in the Seattle area, with four grandsons and one granddaughter. I’m back in Seattle once a year to catch up, as all the e-mails, videos, and phone calls just don’t make the full connection like seeing people face to face. I’m married to a beautiful woman I can truly call my best friend from Xi’an, China.

I suppose I’m obliged now to provide some overview of my work life. After graduation from ISU in 1974 with my BS in Math and an Iowa Teaching Certificate (actually a punch card), I headed out for the great unknown. After student teaching in Marshalltown in fall 1973, I found my initial calling in the education of young minds.

In May 1974, the New South Wales (Australia) government was recruiting on campus, so I jumped at the chance to be a Maths Teacher in Australia, seeing it as another adventure. This was my first real job, paying $6,750 per year without taxation by either the U.S. or Australian governments. I had it made in the shade, so young in my life. In August 1970, I left for Sydney on an immigration visa (and could have stayed until this day) with another 150+ “imported teachers,” as NSW was experiencing a teacher shortage. I still recall being allowed to go up to the flight deck on the Qantas 747 airliner and talk to the Captain — you can’t do that nowadays.

We received our NSW teaching assignments after two weeks hanging out in Sydney, where we first enjoyed the taste of real beer and formed friendships with other Yanks. I was assigned the SW suburb of Ingleburn HS (~30km from Sydney), where two other American teachers were stationed. With shoulder-length hair, shorts, and knee socks, I taught Forms 6-12, with 11-12 being the Junior/Senior years of high school. At this time, most students left high school after Form 10 and headed out to the labor force at 16 years of age.

Teaching Forms 11-12 was a great experience, as it was about preparing students to pass the national university entrance tests in their last year. In fact, I had the chance to teach Calculus, meaning I had to re-learn it myself to teach properly.

I’ve retained many vivid memories and lengthy stories from my two years in Australia, ranging from travels around the Outback, to driving up the Queensland shore in an Austin Mini, to placing off-track bets on horses (run in the clockwise direction), to watching cricket test matches or playing darts in the Maths Staff room between classes. Travel has always been my engine for enjoyment and adventure. However, after two years, reality set in and I headed back to Ames in 1976 to get a real job, start a career, and raise a family. I knew teaching was not my long-term desire, so I looked toward a career in manufacturing.

I started my first U.S. job with Sundstrand Hydro-Static Transmission, north of Ames off I-35, as a General Bench Inspector on the shop floor. I worked my way up to the office as a Quality Engineer, doing problem-solving and early statistics in Quality/Reliability using SAS for statistical analysis with punch cards. Boy, have we evolved now with the ease of PCs.

From 1982 to 2016, I worked with Graco, Inc., in Minneapolis, Minnesota; ITT-Automotive in Asheville, North Carolina; GKN Driveline in Alamance, North Carolina; Eaton HD Truck in Kalamazoo, Michigan; Magna Powertrain in Syracuse, New York; TRW Automotive in Shanghai, China; and now ZF TRW in Chennai, India, as Resident Director at our JV partner. I’ve been active from the shop floor to the boardroom, yet have always embraced the shop floor, knowing it’s there where the money is made and value gets added.

So let me end with some reminiscences about ISU and Iowa Beta. Yes, I could talk about the swimming pool we had, jumping off the roof top, late night runs to the I-35 truck stop for pizza burgers, road trips to Kansas for the Coors, sleeping in cold air dorms with snow on my electric blanket, being a pledge and trying to wake up the older brothers, or my first concert in a sports coat (never again) to see John Denver. But it’s the Phi Psi values and personal skills I’ve retained from my fraternity experience that I put to use later in life.

The experience which served me best in my work endeavors was the opportunity to feel free and comfortable while standing up and speaking out at our chapter meetings. This is where I first learned to compose my thoughts and speak in an impromptu manner on a particular opinion, observation, or recommendation. To this day, I’m comfortable talking to large audiences with or without a PPT, and interacting one-on-one with other individuals. Thank you, Iowa Beta, for preparing me for life.

For those interested in keeping up with my international adventures and/or re-connecting, please feel free to reach out to me at

My Web site and Photoblog may be found at:

My professional profile may be found at:

Photowalk(s) Jun’16

Welcome back.  I’ve been offline since my Macbook Pro experienced a “black screen” eventually resolved with an internal SSD hard drive reformat and reinstall from my Apple’s Time Machine.  Worked slick as a whistle, nothing lost.

I thought I’d share images from recent June photowalks in Chennai (2) and Koblenz, Germany (1 along the Rhine).

Note: Red-Colored words are hot links for you to gain further information on a particular topic, person, website, ...


DaShanSheYing-1545Faces of Chennai – Marina BeachDaShanSheYing-1537 Red Flower: From a Cannonball TreeDaShanSheYing-1547Marina Beach – CruisingDaShanSheYing-1552Wall Art – Multiple posters over the yearsDaShanSheYing-1551IR B&W Portrait


DaShanSheYing-1542 IR Monochrome: Bicycle at rest.DaShanSheYing-1544 IR B&W along the Rhine River in KoblenzDaShanSheYing-1540 IR Faux Color along the Rhine River.  Look at the height of this evergreen.
DaShanSheYing-1541Home of Leica Camera in Wetzlar, Germany


Photographic Society of Madras (PSM) June Talk

Welcome to my photoblog, please “FOLLOW” along – you won’t be disappointed.

Well won’t this will be interesting as I share with my fellow PSM colleagues an introduction on Infrared Photography and The Zone System.  I don’t pretend to be an expert yet now an experienced photographer capable of exchanging my experience with others.

My hopes are fellow PSMers gather an interest in exploring the IR genre and gain an appreciation for Ansel Adams’ (Fred Archer) Zone System in today’s digital world.


See you later Alligator.

Salt Farming in Tamil Nadu, India

Welcome to my latest photoblog post on “Salt Farming“, a livelihood over many of 100s of years, maybe 1000s.  Hope you enjoy these images and the story behind the scenes.

Please “Follow” along as the journey continues down roads yet untraveled.

Note: Red-Colored words are hot links for you to gain further information on a particular topic, person, website, ...

From the little information I gathered, here’s a short explanation behind the scenes of Salt Farming in Tamil Nadu.

  • The sea flows inland where the salt waters are pumped into a very large (acres) holding area raising the water temperatures for a salt brine formation over 25 days .
  • This brine water flows into small paddies for the salt to crystallize over three days with various valves and channels.
  • At this point, the men who work from 7:00am-1:30pm rake the salt crystals from the bottom of the water and onto the edge where it drains for a day.
  • The women (who do the heavily lifting everywhere in India) lift and carry the salt in a woven basket weighing 25-30 kgs creating the large piles of unrefined, coarse salt.  Back and forth they go, from 7:00am to 10:00am Mon-Sat.
  • The salt is later bagged (~80-100kg bags) and loaded on a lorry (truck).
  • A state government sales agent purchases the salt at Rs100-200 ($1.50-$3.00 USD) per bag.
  • The land is leased from the state for the farmer’s use all-year long with the hotter months (Apr-Oct) being most productive.

Salt PaddiesDaShanSheYing-1532DaShanSheYing-1533

Salt RakingDaShanSheYing-1535Yes slanted down to the left, can’t you feel his lean.DaShanSheYing-1529

Salt HaulingDaShanSheYing-1531

Salt PileDaShanSheYing-1528DaShanSheYing-1530


B&W Images – Is There Really Anything Better?

Welcome to my blog post and hope you return to keep up with my photographic journey.  “Follow” me for the latest posts.

B&W Gallery

When color is not the subject of your image, consider a monochrome, B&W image.

I have two preferred methods for converting to B&W, it’s not in Lightroom, nor in NIK Silver Efex Pro, nor ON1 Photo 10 Effects nor in Topaz B&W Effects – I use Photoshop.  Why?  It’s all about the targeted control you can achieve in the tonal ranges.

Photoshop has 7 methods to convert to a B&W image as follows:

  1. Generic Gray Scale
  2. Saturation Adjustment Layer
  3. Monochrome Channel Mixer
  4. B&W Adjustment Layer
  5. Adobe Camera Raw
  6. Lab Color Mode
  7. Gradient Map Adjustment Layer (This is the best conversion given its full-range application to the RBG-CMY Color Wheel)

Method 1 – In Photoshop using both a “Hue-Saturation and Gradient Map” Adjustment Layers.

– In the Hue / Saturation Adjustment Layer has one color selector dropdown and three sliders that control the action.  First select one color at a time from the Master dropdown then for the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders adjust to taste and tonal separation.

– Merge the layers and save the image back to Lightroom where additional adjustments and/or B&W plug-ins can be used to taste.  Done.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.32.33 PM

Method 2 – In Photoshop using the Blake Rudis Action Set for “Digital Zone System”.

– As mentioned in a previous post I use the 11 Zones created for film by Ansel Adams and now for digital image processing by Blake Rudis.  Each of the 11 Zones has an Adjustment Curve to fine tune the tonal range for a particular zone.  One can view the zone by either clicking on CMD/CTRL and the layer mask for the “marching ants” or by OPT/ALT and the layer mask for the white highlighted tones for adjustment.

– It’s all to taste and with continued practice the process isn’t lengthy at all.

– Merge the layers and save the image back to Lightroom where additional adjustments and/or B&W plug-ins can be used to taste.  Done.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.38.26 PM