Cedar Point 2012

Since I was a child I have had a fascination with roller coasters. Not only am I infatuated with the actual ride, but with the architecture, and the theme created for each one.  I am amazed by the structures that can be created with tubular steel.  Roller coasters today are reaching unprecedented heights.  I recently had the privelege of travelling at 120 mph and 420 ft in the air.  This was not even thinkable when I started riding at the tender age of 5.  I find the architecture that supports these monsters beautiful and many times catch myself sitting in wonder for hours before I actually ride. This was especially true with the Top Thrill Dragster in Cedar point.  I watched in amazement for two days as the trains flew by my head before actually strapping myself into that ride.  Another wonder of modern technology was the Millennium force.  I would venture to say that standing above the park was one of the most graceful and peaceful looking roller coasters I have ever seen.  Over one mile of track spreading out over nearly half a mile of real estate makes one stand in awe of what can be created.  Do not let this serene structure fool you, it is quite possible one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and heart pounding rides of all time.  You will ride in open air at 93 mph through those “gentle, sweeping” curves and then realize they are banked at angles the for all practical purposes should be considered inverted.  It was an amazing ride!  I decided to try and document some of these rides in my most recent trip so I could share roller-coasters with you the way that I see them.

Corkscrew was the first roller coaster to be built across a park midway. This allows riders and guests each a unique view of each other.
Artistic view of Corkscrew as it travels back to the station.
Mantis Color
I found the Mants to be one of the more aesthetically pleasing roller coasters in the park.
Mantis Art
Artistic view of Mantis’ first hill
Standing a mere 310′ tall is the Millennium Force. A brand new class of roller coaster called the Giga-coaster.
Millennium force hanging for a second showing riders the most terrifying view of your journey straight down to earth.
Millennium force structural view
Wooden roller coasters are the most fascinating structures. In some respects they look like a random pile of toothpicks designed to scare you.
Notice the track from the top comes down to earth at an incredible 90 degrees. For two days this ride struck fear into my heart.
Did dinosaurs come to Cedar Point to destroy the Millenium Force? It looks that way.
Lovely view from the train into the Maverick and Mean Streak section of the Park.

Raptor sillouhetted against the breaking clouds.
The Raptower towers of the park and is the first thing you see when you walk in the main entrance.

SSR Designs 2.0

Hannah - In The Basement
Composite photos are some of my favorite work. This particular photo features model, Hannah, in a basement with several other photos from the series used to create the texture.

Over the weekend I spent a great deal of time re-vamping my portfolio as well as my website.  Here are a few highlights from that experience.  I hope to be adding more of my actual art pieces, much like the photo of Hannah featured here, very soon.  I not only enjoy the art of photography, but the whole concept of visual art as well.  I have recently had the pleasure of going back through some of my older portfolio shots and being completely re-energized with inspiration. The first photo of Hannah here was one of those fun days where we decided to just do a random photoshoot…just for the sake of getting dressed up crazy and playing outside.





One of my favorite pieces from my Firestarter collection.

The second piece was inspired by Stephen King’s Firestarter and Carrie.  I loved the ideas of fire and insanity, so I mixed the two together. I get a lot of my inspiration from good stories.  The model in this series was a great deal of fun to work with.  Blainne is from the Kansas City area and working on being a rock fashion model.  I originally printed this on metallic paper which made the background look incredible. This photo eventually ended up being displayed on the back of my business cards.






Jewsome J CD Cover
Jewsome J is a great hip-hop artist from the Kansas City area.

This next photo was created for a great Christian hip-hop artist.  I met this artist while working with his wife where she told me he needed a little help with his upcoming album.  The story of how the album came about is a great story for another post, but I wanted to share with you the vision of this young man.  The concept was his and I just put it together.  He was incredibly happy with it as was I.





Angels and Demons Wallpaper
Angels and Demons was my first composite production and to date still my favorite.

The final preview piece I am going to show you is the first piece I did.  This was commissioned by a band wanting an Angels and Demons theme.  We rented an empty warehouse and spent the day shooting an entire story line.  To date this is still my absolute favorite piece in my portfolio.  There was something about the way this came together from beginning to end that made this a special piece.  Not to mention it is where I first started really honing my style.


I hope you enjoy this preview and feel free to check out more work at www.ssrdesigns.com.

Long Live the 80’s

So here are some photos from my latest photoshoot.  My makeup artist wanted to do an 80’s theme. I believe that the 80’s was one of the last great decades…so in the spirit of having fun, we got first time model Madison to help us out.  She was a real trooper.  So here is my tribute to the 80’s SSR style.  I hope you enjoy.

We had a lot of fun doing this shoot.  It involved many hours of preparation to get Madison’s hair to do that.  And in true 80’s fashion we went through an entire can of Aqua-net.  Just the smell of the hairspray alone made me want to go to a school dance and a pep rally.  On this end of the camera it was incredibly hard to do this shoot without laughing which made the entire crew laugh and in turn made for a great day of shooting.

Until my next update…I wish you all a wonderful day.

Blue Light Inspiration!

Tonight was a great night.  I woke up with the intentions of going out this evening to attempt to do some true HDR / Blue Light photography.  I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a challenge, but hey why not I started off this morning brewing my first batch of beer.  If I can do that I can certainly take on the challenges of twilight lighting.  So out the door I went, camera and tripod in hand.

I first set up shop in the parking log across from me.  I had a great view of an old movie theater turned convention hall.  I love the look of the old marquis on theaters and this one proved to be the perfect photo.  After a few clicks and some minor adjustments this is what I ended up with.


Of course I had to play with it to make it just a little surrealistic.  I left the coloring alone…there is something about the sky with the setting sun that just puts me completely at ease. Sitting out in this perfectly kept grass just made all of the problems of the world go away.

After I got a few photos of the theater it was off to try my hand at water.  This is a little more difficult, but since there was a perfectly good lake less than a mile from me I decided to give it a go.  My favorite place in the world to be is on the water while the sun is setting.  I love the sound of the crickets, the waves settling after a busy day, and just the smell of the night approaching.  So my next attempt yielded this photo.Image

I absolutely love how all of the colors in the sky begin to merge and create new colors.  I sit here until the sun was completely gone just taking it all in.  A few times I even forgot to push the shutter button on my camera due to being overwhelmed by the natural beauty.  I hope that you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  Until I post the next set I hope all goes well with you.

Charlotte Skyline


This is a photo i took from the parking garage of a hospital in Charlotte NC. It was a beautiful day with an amazing view of the skyline. After I took the picture I decided to play with a few apps on my phone to edit it. So here is the result of my playing.
via PicsArt Photo Studio

My favorite project.

Son anyone that knows me, knows that I am a musician first.  I have been in bands through my entire life and I have a lot of great memories of each of these bands.  One of my favorite projects was Fuse 22.  This band not only produced great music but it created some friendships and experiences that have shaped my life to this day.  While the band officially went on hiatus in 2009 the dream is still very much alive.  Currently I am in the process of building a website de

voted to those songs and those memories with the hope that life will come back around and allow this band to create more music together.  This particular post is dedicated to some of my favorite memories with the band and I will continue to post more Fuse 22 related stuff so I can share that with all of the SSR Designs readers. You can find a link for the site here. Fuse 22 website

For this post I present some of the land mark photos for the band.  The first photo is the first promo shot taken for the band. (Complete with original contact info).  This photo highlights the bands love of including friends and family as part of the project.

Fuse 22 Promo
This is Fuse 22’s first official promo image. Shot in Lawrence KS by Bryan Dillon.

This was taken by 16 year old Bryan Dillon, Denny’s son, and budding photography student.  Friends and family would come to the aid of the band in many different ways throughout the life of the band.  Either providing funding, food, and even places to stay.  This was absolutely the best part of being in Fuse 22.

Another crowning moment for the band was teaming up with Larry Perez.

Flyer by Larry Perez
Original Larry Perez graphic design for the band.

Currently Larry is a nationally recognized rockstar photographer.  He has worked with numerous national acts including Shinedown and Jackyl.  Larry teamed up with the band to completely reimage their visual appeal and created some graphic work that is, to this day, the most popular with the band’s fans. This particular design was used in the band’s original website as well as being made available as a mobile wallpaper.  Thousands of downloads later the band is still thankful to Larry for his generosity in working with the band.

Another great memory from the band is the time we spent in Carl Dunlap’s studio Raven Studios.  Carl was hidden gem.  Sitting in the woods surrounding Grand Lake in Oklahoma, he had retired from a long career as a touring sound engineer.  With credits from Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, and ZZ Top he decided to work with up and

Jon at his best
Jon is seen here doing what he does best, Thinking. You were probably thinking lounging, in which case that is what he does second best.

coming bands and pass on his years of experience in a laid back pure hippie mentality.  I can honestly say some of the best times and best laughs were had in that studio.

Dan and Craig Studio
Dan and Craig listening to some play back. If memory serves me correctly Craig was telling Dan not to be a diva


There are a lot of great memories from the band.  I am trying to collect some photos from actual shows so I can post those as well.  So if you are a fan of Fuse 22 keep checkin back as I attempt to compile some of the best memories of my life and maybe even some of yours.

Who says gaming is for losers?

I am quite impressed with some news I saw this morning.  A team of surgeons is now developing an application for Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect that will allow surgeons to manipulate images during a surgery without removing their gloves.  It is all very futuristic.  It reminds me of being a child and watching all the science fiction movies where space ship captains would guide their crusier using only movents of their hand and body.  It even reminds me of some of the more recent movies where electronic items are controlled with the wipe of a finger on a huge clear board.  While this is great for remembering the past what does it mean for the future of medicine?

I personally am very excited to be part of a team that is pushing medical technology forward.  I train clinical staff, doctors, and nurses on how to use a new breed of electronic health records.  I see technology advancements everyday.  I must say, however, this is one of my favorites.  Allowing a surgeon to navigate images of a patient without having to physically interract with a computer will eventually lead to shorter surgery times, less chance of infection, and the ability to perform surgeries with greater accurracy.  All of this boils down to better paitent care.

It is pretty amazing to me what is happening in the healthcare world.  Take a look at this video about this app and tell me what you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5Ep3oqicVU&feature=player_embedded

One Year Ago

It was  a beautiful Midwest evening.  Birds chirping, sun shining, and that perfect breeze that puts you right out.  I decided it would be a good time to lay down for a nap and collect my thoughts.  It had been a rough year for me and I was trying desperately to go out on my own to start my business.  I had also been working with St. John’s Regional Medical Center and the surrounding clinics supporting one of the largest software changes they had ever seen. In short, I was tired.  As soon as my head hit that pillow I was in Heaven.  It was to be the perfect early evening nap.

I was awakened by a small tapping on my door.  It was my father who told me we should be getting in the storm shelter.  Well, this was odd.  I don’t recall even a thought of rain. However, I followed him to the shelter to wait out the traditional midwestern spring welcome.  Having lived in Missouri all my life tornados were as common as hot dogs at a ball game and only slightly more dangerous.  So I took my time getting there.  I will say, I started to get a strange feeling the closer I got to the shelter.  My hair began to stand on end.  I felt as though I were in one of those horror movies where you can feel the evil coming over a town.  Suddenly, I wasn’t pokin’ around.

Looking out over our back pasture I could see the storm clouds moving in. I thought it was beautiful so I pulled out my phone to begin getting some video. In just a few moments I realized I was shooting something that would make things different after it rolled over my property.  It was truly scary. Not scary in a “I don’t want to confront this sort of way”, It was scary in an apocolyptic evil sort of way.  The cloud coming in filled the entire horizon with black.  There were magnificent explosions of green and white.  This is one time where ignorance truly was bliss, had I known those explosions were my town being leveled, I would have had an entirely different reaction. I knew now it was time to get in the shelter.

Inside the shelter the fear took over.  I had sat in this shelter many times before and laughed waiting out tornados and such.  This time wasn’t funny.  We could hear it approach.  As the storm passed over our property, it became angry.  I don’t know if it was angry that we were underground or if it just had a chip on its shoulder, but it was trying desperately to pull our shelter out of the ground.  The concrete box buried six feet under ground began to shake and wobble back and forth.  We were underground! How was this happening? For fourty five minutes I sat cramped in that tomb like shelter.

Photo: Joplin Firefighters Remember
Joplin firefighters stand at attention and observe a moment of silence on May 22nd, 2012 5:41 pm, 1 year after the deadly tornado destroyed 1/3rd of the town.

Cut to today.  This post is not at all about what happened a year ago.  It is about what is happening today.  It is about how May 22nd, 2011 was the beginning of the rest of my life.  One week later on May 30th I hopped on a plane to North Carolina to begin one of the best jobs I have had.  I was doing the same thing I was doing in Joplin, except, this time I had a little more experience under my belt.  I also found that I could use the stories of Joplin and the will to survive to help put doctors and nurses at ease. I am very proud of what I do for a living and how it is changing the face of healthcare for the world.

During this year I hae had the opportunity to polish my photography craft and move to a new level allowing me some opportunities I would never have had.  SSR Designs and Seventh Seal Records are taxing down the runway getting ready for take off.  Some things are about to change.  I am about to introduce a brand new product line.  I’m about to introduce several new websites.  I am even working with some folks that will make things a lot easier.  Things have just been falling into place this last year.

As I continue to move through the journey of this last year I take a lot of Joplin with me.  I notice a couple of things the last chance I got to go back to Joplin.  There is still a scar and a very open wound left by that day, however,

its healing.  You can see trees beginning to sprout.  The grass is adding some color to the rubble.  People are out working. Most importantly, people are rebuilding.  They are moving forward with their lives and refusing to let something so massive stand in their way.  That whole spirit of Joplin has been an inspiration to me as I am moving forward.  May 22nd 2011 was not the end…It was the beginning!

Newtons Law of Motion

Fire Princess
Energy is all around us, it is built with every little thing we do.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest.  An object in motion tends to stay in motion.  During my entire time in highschool and college I always applied this law to physics, as it should be.  However, recently I have begun to take a look at this principle and apply it to all aspects of my life.  Energy is exciting! You can find it anywhere.  You can see it in its most obvious forms such as electricity, gasoline, the local power plant, and even in your common kitchen utensils.  When you look around and a little deeper though, you start to see it everywhere, in the standing hairs on your arm as you watch a storm roll in, in the eyes of a newborn baby seeing the world for the first time, in the voice of an instructor truly excited by their lesson, or even in the birds waking up at sunrise.  When I started looking around and realizing that energy is everywhere I started thinking that maybe we can find it in the most unexpected placs, and so, I began really thinking about Newton’s law.

We have all done it, sat on the couch after a hard days work thinking we would only rest for a few moments and then begin our chores at home.  How often do we get back up?  Many times we do not.  How often to we do something exciting like go to the amusement park and seem to have energy with us all day?  Even those of us who are getting up in age resort back to our inner child and go much farther and faster than we ever thought possible.  This led me to the conclusion that for those things that we really want we must pursue them with unending energy.  We aren’t born with that energy we create it.  Much like the brewing storm energy is built up with each passing breeze, each spark of electricity, and every falling rain drop.  When that storm comes to a head it releases its fury and we truly see the magnitude of the energy that was created.  In life we have to create that energy with our actions.

We have all wanted to achieve something.  We have all wanted to do something.  What keeps us from doing it? It is our lack of energy, the need for momentum. The hardest part is getting the ball rolling.  Once that ball starts it gets easier and easier to see things happen.  That ball starts by doing the little things.  Do something, anything, to start towards your dreams.  Something as simple as researching where to start can provide the energy and the inspiration to continue going.  Do anything but sit there and watch other people get what you want.  Do something to create your own energy!  What are you going to do today to create that energy?

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