The Coles' Home Page


Matt & a Lightning Bolt, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Matt & a Bolt of Lightning, June 2002. Hi there! I've suffered for my Art, now it's your turn. Enjoy!
Contax G2, 28mm, 2 seconds f/2.8, homemade lightning detector, Kodak E100SW

Hi there! You found us!

Photography is an avocation I've pursued since the early 1970s in the desultory fashion I pursue most of my avocations. I'm not a big artistic photographer; most of what I take is pictures of people I know, not magnificient scenery or crumbling black and white urban scenery or anything. After all this time, I can sum up my attitude in these two items:

I broadly agree with both these sentiments although, as you will see, I have neither shot enough Ektachromes (or now, digital shots) nor been a sufficiently judicious editor!

This site more or less documents my various Adventures in Photography, which date back to the early 1970s and come up to the current day, including the transition from film to digital. The main bit of content is The History of Photography which follows my experiences with cameras. I've got friends who are superb photographers, with published nature photo books (see my friend Dave's Paragon Press site and books) or dozens of contest wins. Me, I just muck around with it and take snaps of my holidays and kids and stuff, although I do use nice equipment. I did once get a ribbon at the Iowa State Fair! And $25 too! But of course it was just a picture of one of my cousin's cute kids, not black and white peppers or creative figure photography or anything. I am adding pictures from time to time. There's nothing like looking through 35+ years of your own photos to make you humble about your skills. Anyway, check out the History and enjoy it. Many valuable photo hints are included!

Separately, if you want so see pictures that I actually kind of like, you can check out my Flickr galleries and see what I've got up there.

My Tedious Explanation of the f/stop page has proved remarkably popular for what sounds like a pretty boring topic, garnering thousands of hits a month, and I've added a Tedious Explanation of Depth of Field and a page about Sensors and Lenses too. There was a period of time when I was the top hit on Google for both "f/stop" and "tedious" though I've slipped a bit in recent months, darn that wikipedia! I also wrote a page about Lightning Photography and a page on the Nikon 35mm Perspective Control lens which has been linked to by people from all over the world, some of whom I hear from, which is kind of neat. I also have posted my quicky guide to the Technical and Artistic aspects of photography, which started life as a two-page guide from an Introduction to Photography seminar I taught in the mid-80s. I've also got pages describing how to Build a KAP rig for Kite Aerial Photography use. KAP has evolved all out of recognition with the onset of digital cameras and radio control quadcopters, but the page remains popular with robot people (making robots, not sentient mechanical beings) who occasionally write to ask servo modification questions I am unable to answer.

Bicycling's big in the family. I first wrote a bit about the bike I rode on a bicycle trip in 1980 which has drawn some hits, then started a blog about Practical Cycling in the Twin Cities called Two Cities  Two Wheels which cyclist nerds might like, though I don't write as much as I used to. A more recent effort has been my Bicycle Commuting Guide which runs 20 pages (it's a PDF file) and is a bit Twin Cities-oriented, but which folks seem to like. I've collected other bike things I've written into An Index of Matt's Bicycle Articles for your convenience and have also helped start the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition to work on cyclists' issues in Saint Paul.

And finally, since I'm all about Handy Guides, I figured I'd post a Handy Timeline for the End of Capitalism so you can follow along. The economic events of late 2008 had a long genesis, and this fills in some of the blanks for you. This ends abruptly in October 2008 when family events became more pressing, but is an interesting time capsule and, looking back from five years on, it is remarkable how little has changed and how few people have gone to jail.

Bounce Flash for Natural Lighting
Bounce Flash for Natural Lighting: Having just said how I use Vivitar 283s all the time, this photo shows me (in some alluring flannel pajamas) using the chrome Nikon FE, 28mm Nikkor and a Minolta 320X flash bounced straight up. This was when I was testing out the FE body and trying out the 320X. The 320 is a nice flash, and the head pivots sideways as well as vertically, but it is a bit weaker than the 283 and I have never liked the lighting quality as well. Nikon FE, 28mm, Kodachrome 64.

One thing I do like is bounce flash. I used Vivitar 283s for years (got my first on in February 1976) and nearly all of the indoor shots in here are lit with a 283. The bounce flash thing never caught on like I figured it would so most people put up with really pathetic flash lighting. This is mostly because bounce flash in the film days required a beefy flash unit and so was inconvenient compared with built-in flashes which give the old deer-in-the-headlights-against-a-black-background look typical of modern flash photos. Flash photography has evolved a lot in digital times due to the instant feedback loop on results and thanks to the efforts of David Hobby's superb Strobist blog. Still, I liked bounce flash back in the simpler days of yore, and so note how the lighting looks on the indoor shots in this site and see if you like bounce flash too. (Oh, and check out A Day in The Life of a 283 which shows how the aforementioned Vivitar flash worked out one day in 2002 when I shot a wedding.)


We live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Being Minnesota, the weather here normally is uncomfortable in one way or another. In the summer the state is basically a big, hot, humid mosquito-infested bog; in the winter it's a salt-encrusted frozen tundra, but it does get nice in May and for a little bit in October. The rest of the year we mostly moan about how hot/humid/cold/icy/wet/cloudy it is. You can see what we're putting up with at the moment:

Click for Twin Cities, Minnesota Forecast

Karla is the Music Director at Saint Christopher's Episcopal Church in Roseville. Karla is a highly-trained pianist (Masters in Piano Performance) who also has been a lifelong church musician. She brings excellent technical skills, a wonderful artistic sense and her delightful personality to the position. While previously at Saint Mary's Episcopal, we released a CD, called A Saint Mary's Sampler. Karla chose all the music, rehearsed the groups, performed on or conducted every piece, and wrote the excellent insert. There's some really good music here, and I think you can still buy one of these from Saint Mary's (I'd call 'em first though).


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