Welcome!

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With nearly 20k followers on Twitter, and over 3000 subs on various blogs and music sites, it is impossible for me to welcome each person individually. Of course, I wish I could. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories! Until I find a way of cloning myself a few hundred times, this will have to do. 🙂

A brief summary about myself. I have been writing since I was 12. I love the horror genre and that is what I read and write mostly.I also write fantasy and mystery.You can learn more about my writing just by surfing this site, if you so desire. I have been singing and playing guitar since I was 15. All of my music is FREE. (who actually sells music these days?) The music I create embodies Rock, Blues, Chill, EDM, and Downtempo. Give it a listen if you like.

I have only recently started doing photography, but I studied the craft very carefully before beginning, and spent the money required, to do it justice. I am unhealthy and trying to build a legacy, before I die from all of the health problems I have. Everything I create is with that in mind.

I currently live in a new RV in Texas, with my wife and a majikal cat named appropriately, Jinxy. If you want to learn more about me, or just seek something to discover, here is a complete list of all my websites-

http://jb-thomas.pixels.com-My main photos site. You can buy prints, cards, iPhone cases, tote bags, towels, shower curtains, and much more with my best photos on them.

https://www.facebook.com/jbthomasphotography– This is only place I will be discussing photos and art. Come join us!

http://licensing.pixels.com/profiles/jb-thomas.html– If you would like to license my photos for books, online ads, TV, or many other things, go here.

axewielderx.wordpress.com -Main blog with jokes, funny pics and music.

authorjbthomas.wordpress.com– This is where ALL of my writings are. Poetry, prose, short stories, Novel chapters, and more.

amazon.com/author/jbthomas– My amazon author page where you can buy both e-book and paperback versions of my books. There are more book links, in the My Books” section of this site.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5251326.J_B_Thomas-My Goodreads profile.

http://www.reverbnation.com/lucidchaos– My reverbnation website. All music here is in mp3 format only.

http://lucidchaos.bandcamp.com– Any format, lossless or mp3, is here. For those who like the best sound!:)

http://soundcloud.com/lucid-chaos– I only put sneak peeks of music WIPs here. I don’t care for soundcloud’s limitations.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Axewielderx– Various videos ranging from music videos to gaming casts.

http://www.facebook.com/authorjbthomas– My FB author page. This is strickly for the fans. I hate FB and self iced my personal account there.

http://axewielderx.tumblr.com/-Tumblr– It catches most of my posts from nearly every blog.

https://twitter.com/JB_Thomas– My twitter account where I do most of my daily posting.

I want to thank each and every person who has followed, subbed, or become a fan. I hope you enjoy the ride you just climbed aboard, and tell your friends, before the train has left the station for good. Take care and feel free to contact me anytime. I will answer as time allows. 😎  If you would like to connect on any of these sites, just send me your info via the contact page.

JB

From my heart to yours…

I have spent most of the last 17 yrs. online. I have spoken too and litterly met 1000s of people. I never once in a all that time, dreamed this world was filled with people who possessed stone hearts. I guess as they hide behind their glass screens they are able to deceive with perfection.

Funny thing is, with all those people I met and spoke to individually, not one thought it was worth $5.00 to keep me around. Yep, that is all any one would have had to donate to fulfill the goal I set for the gofundme campaign. Actually, it is not really funny. I suppose it just heart breaking to find out that EVERYONE was this cold toward another human being.

I am usually moved towards large speeches in times like this but find myself unwilling to project those words to you. Instead, I will keep it simple.

I will be suspending ALL internet activity until further notice. I have to process if getting online and spending time with people, who clearly do not want to be my friends, is in my best interest. It is taking me back down into a darkness that I had thought I’d left behind.

Until forever ends…

JB

It’s not about me…it is about her!

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This entire gofundme campaign was not something she asked me to do. It was entirely my idea. Why would I do such a thing without asking? The answer is quite simple…really!

My wife suffered a stroke less than 2 yrs. ago. While it is debatable whether the stroke was caused by her working a lot of overtime at the time or just something meant to happen. It is still a fact! This entire situation has her stressed to the max and who could blame her. In losing her job, she lost all income AND all hopes of having any kind of retirement outside of poverty. All benefits are gone! All ability to pay bills is gone. All hope is gone!

This is not something anyone deserves, especially someone who has worked their ass off for more than 30+ yrs. to provide for her family. Whatever problems occurred, she arose to the challenge, and made sure everything was taken care of, no matter how many hours of work it required. She gave her lifeblood to being responsible.

Furthermore, she is just a downright good person. EVERYONE and I do actually mean everyone who has met her always speaks about how “nice” my wife is.  Frankly, it sometimes makes me sick. But it does beg the question, do truly good people deserve to be punished, for doing nothing, but being good to others?

I don’t believe so and I doubt you do either. However, if we do not get some help, she is going to continue stressing over this, until she is hospitalized or dead. This I cannot just sit idly by and watch. The Gofundme campaign was to help avoid this altogether.

You can believe me when I say this, my wife most certainly would rather have a job, than have me ask total strangers for money. She has been looking every single night, hours upon hours, until she litterly falls asleep at the kitchen table in her searches. She does not want to lose our home, go bankrupt, or live on the streets.

Sadly all 3 of those thing are likely to happen without help. I understand and get that some people can’t or won’t help for whatever reason, however, anyone can share this. The power is within your grasp. This campaign is not just about her though. It is also about YOU. What kind of person are you? Would you turn your back on an old lady who was crying in the street or would you offer some kind of assistance? Only you know the answer to this question! If you choose to ignore this cry for help, then you most certainly need to take a look in the mirror, and live with what you see.

I have done my part. I have created this campaign and when to vast lengths to get the word out and offer everyone an opportunity, to either be a good and caring person, or to be an uncaring jerk. The choice is yours!

As a final note, I have never created any of the music, writings, and photographs because I desired money. Sure, that was a side benefit, but it was not my main goal. I have always sought, first and foremost, to enrich peoples lives with my words and actions. I can look in the mirror this night knowing, I have given much and received very little in return. Can you say the same?

If you wish to contribute to the gofundme campaign, just go to this link-http://tw.gofund.me/fight-against-cooperate-america&pc=tw_co_share_m&rcid=r01-149978880781-8dfa28a6b2d64103

If you can’t contribute, for whatever reason, please at least share the link with anyone and everyone. I don’t want you to have to look in the mirror and not like what you see. Believe me, I have been there and would not wish that on anyone. Furthermore, I don’t want to lose my wife because cooperate American decided to throw her away. Please help in one way or another. The goal is set for one year’s salary. I would not ask for anything more than is actually needed. Thank you for your time and my God or whatever higher power you believe in, bless your life for helping!

JB

Announcements: Plan For the Future

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As one begins to age, a larger scope of vision takes place. We, as intelligent beings should begin, without too much effort, to see the big picture. Obviously, an open mind and keen spirit are factors in this emerging foresight. Both possess qualities that should enable a larger perspective on life.

In my aging, I have seen the futility of social media and do anticipate a future that holds many nasty surprises for those glued to social media. I foresee a shift in public opinion, and an end to communication without connection, that social media currently provides. Thus, in my future plans, I must incorporate these forth-coming changes. Change and adapt. Foresee to forego. Prepare to prevail.

It is with this in mind, that I shall be making moves to better solidify what I have already begun to build. I will be re-investing all monies from sales of my products and services, into building a lasting website that cannot be harmed by any future coming changes. So I announce that a website devoted entirely to my photography and art shall be coming in the near future. I have made sufficient funds to carry the cost of this website for many years and I have only just begun.

While there were many individuals who doubted my success, this was not the case with all, and their loyalty shall be vindicated in the coming of this new website.

I hope that those who had lost hope or frowned upon my method of madness, shall once more look to me for guidance, leadership, and creative motivation in their lives. I hope all will join me in this new and exciting pathway. There is much more work to be done and I assure you that as long as I am alive, I shall endeavor to put all my effort and skills to the task, of creating a website of beauty and meaning.

Stay tuned in and watch as things take place. Subscribe and be rest assured you will not be left behind. Instead, you shall be at the forefront of a new era of growth and creativity, of one man who speaks for many.

One final note, Chapter 6, the next to last chapter of my Art of Creative Photography series will be posted in a few days. This completely free series explores all the aspects of creative photography and really gets to the meat of what is takes to learn and become a creative photographer. Join me on this journey, whether you want to be a creative photographer, or just want to improve your overall photography skills. There is much to learn, but you can’t really ask for anything more than FREE instruction!

I hope this day finds you well and you make the best use of your time here on this planet.

Sincerely, JB

The Art Of Creative Photography: Chapter 5

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In this photo, after basic edits, I chose to make this an period piece. Thus, I used Silver Effects Pro to change this to a sepia look, with a coffee filter, and used some effects from Analog Effects to age the photo.

If there is a major difference between an amateur photographer and a professional photographer, it indeed lies in the area of knowledge. Far too many photographers these days think that buying a expensive camera makes them a professional photographer, when nothing could be further from the truth. The difference between a professional photographer and an amateur is knowledge; the kind of knowledge I am about to share with you today.

Today we are going to discuss basic editing. Now I realize this might not be as inspiring or action-packed as your mental attitude, or the way you perceive and examine your subject matter. But, it is far more important that you gain the proper knowledge than have the correct mindset when shooting. A bad picture can be edited into something useful, while a great picture can be ruined without the correct knowledge of how to develop a photo with software.

When a photo is taken and then uploaded to a computer, it is known as a digital negative. In saying this, I am referring to the RAW file, not the jpeg. We as creative photographers want to have as much flexibility with our photos as possible, and the RAW file is where that flexibility lies. Sadly, film photographers don’t have quite as much flexibility, but that is not really the point of using film, now is it?

In this photo I nearly removed the background, with many darkening filters and adjustments, to keep focus on the flower and leaves. I was very careful to not overly emphasize details. This way, the flower retained its natural beauty.

So now we have our digital negative (RAW file) from our photoshoot and we have placed it onto our computer. What’s next? I am going to give a list of the things I do, that I consider basic editing. After that, I will give a brief explanation of why I do each thing on the list. We must learn to do the basic stuff, so that we have the best possible photo available to us when we then venture into the creative realm. (The next chapter will consist of advanced/creative editing.) So let’s get up that list, so that we can examine it.

  1. Apply lens corrections and remove RAW defaults
  2. Export to Dfine 2.0 to remove digital noise
  3. In Lightroom reduce luminance and color noise, remove distracting objects if needed.
  4. Adjust contrast
  5. Adjust white and black balance
  6. Adjust highlights and shadows
  7. Adjust clarity
  8. Adjust vibrance
  9. Export to Output Pro Sharpener for print, crop photo if desired.
  10. In Lightroom add vignette

I know this seems like a lot of basic processing, but I can assure you that each step is necessary and must be done to have a print-ready photo. The order of these has a purpose too and once you have practiced doing this, it can be done in an hour. However, it should be noted that there are extra steps involved when shooting living things, as opposed to inanimate objects. Those will be explained in the next section.

After bumping up the details, without sharpening, I adjusted camera calibration settings to increase the reds and greens without saturation. The dark foreground to lighter background adds dimension to the photo.

The order in which I do these things are dictated by my workflow. I use Adobe Lightroom for all of my basic editing. If there are special circumstances such as people, animals, flowers or distracting elements to be removed, then additional steps are required before we can enter into advanced/creative editing. We must have a good foundation to work from before getting creative. So let’s discuss this basic foundation, or basic editing, in full.

  1. Lens corrections must be done early because they often unwarp a picture. There is usually barrel or pincushion distortion that is created by the lens of the camera. These lens corrections can only be applied to the original photo (RAW file). When we export in the next step, the opportunity is lost because the file format is changed in the process. By default, the Lightroom Raw processor adds sharpening and a color boost. Since we want to have total control over both of these elements later in processing, these defaults must be removed. Just slide any Raw processing sliders to zero.
  2. Exporting the photo to Dfine is a logical next step when we are editing. We do not need or want to edit noise. Dfine 2.0 is part of the Nik Collection and is completely free software that works with both Photoshop and Lightroom. I cannot recommend this software enough. Whether you are editing a scanned photo or a RAW file, this FREE software will help you to take your photos to the next level. Dfine analyzes the photo and removes the most prominent digital noise that is present in all photos. This is why we do this so early in the editing process. Once you have run this program and clicked save, it will then open back up in Lightroom as a Tiff file. In Photoshop it just adds a layer.
  3. Reducing luminance noise and color noise is the next step, because as per the last step, we don’t want or need to edit noise. After reducing/removing both of these kinds of noise, we should then add in details. Reducing noise can make for a softer picture overall. Unless that is the look you are wanting, add back in details. Here it should be noted that if you are doing a person or animal, the next step is to go over the largest details of the face with a clarity brush to bring the facial features detail back. It also needs to be said that if there are objects that distract from the subject such as poles, telephone lines, fences, people, etc. now is a good time to remove them from the photo. I do this by exporting to Affinity Photo. Once inside that program, I use In-Painting to remove the unwanted objects. This can also be done in Photoshop as well.
  4. The next step is the contrast. RAW files, especially, will lack contrast. While with film you might want to keep that look, it’s best to add some contrast to each digital photo. I generally add more contrast to darker photos and less contrast to lighter photos. It seems counterintuitive but it works for me. If after adding contrast you find the photo too light or dark, you can adjust the exposure here in this step. Contrast will boost up both the shadows and the highlights.
  5. Adjusting the white and black balance is an extremely important step. If the white balance is not set correctly, it will show up in the print as portions of the photo without ink. Obviously this is not a good thing! When a photo is printed, we want ink on every portion of it. So when setting the white balance we must examine the histogram and make sure no whites have peeked out. This can further be adjusted with the highlights setting if needed. This is usually only found in backlit subjects. The black level can be go beyond peeking level because it will not change anything in print. However, it can make photos appear better on lit monitors (computer screens). Adjust this to taste.
  6. One of the great benefits of working with a RAW file is the ability to pull details from shadows and that is exactly what this next edit is about. In this next step, we want to pull out details that are important in the shadow areas and reduce any highlights that are too bright or distracting.
  7. Adjusting clarity is akin to sharpening. You should keep in mind that is not exactly the same. The clarity slider wants to bring out details in the picture and it will change lighting to do so. To further complicate the adjustment, it can easily bring out too much detail in living things, making them look unreal and plastic. Therefore, be careful with this slider and only use as much as is needed. In advanced editing, we can do more with this type of adjustment. Remember, we are trying to get a good, solid foundation first.
  8. I always adjust Vibrance, rather than Saturation. The reason for this is simple. Saturation boosts all colors in the photo, while Vibrance adjusts the less saturated colors first. Experience has shown me that every different make of camera tends to boost certain colors and hues more, by default. Thus, in no photo are the colors evenly distributed. Using Vibrance rather than Saturation helps to avoid over-saturation in any portion of your photo.
  9. We have waited this long to finally add in sharpening for so many reasons. We don’t want to sharpen anything in our photos that is not needed. Sharpening things that are not needed is the equivalent to adding in distraction. We never want to distract from the subject. If a photo does not have a point of interest, how is anyone going to find interest in it? I use the Output Pro Sharpener 3.0 (also found in Nik Collection) because it analyzes the photo and based upon photo dimensions, it determines optimal viewing distance. It can be customized to reflect what kind of printer and DPI setting will be used to further refine its output. I have mine set to 300 DPI and constant flow because most customers of mine will either be printing their photos at home or from the lab printer my website uses. Adjust this to fit your customers’ needs. This piece of software saves you a lot of guesswork and the photos produced are never too sharp. When we have finished the sharpening, then we can crop the photo, if needed. One of our goals is to create as large of an image as possible. Thus, waiting to crop later serves this point. We may also find that things we found distracting earlier on might be a great addition to the photo. I only crop earlier if I know for certain there is something I absolutely will never want in the photo.
  10. I always add a vignette to photos. Sometimes it will be one imperceptible to the naked eye and when trying to go for a more creative look it will be very evident. The reason I do this is because with every photo, even a realistic one, we want to make sure the focus is on our subject. The vignette accomplishes this by making the subject the brightest thing in the photo and the human eye always falls upon the brightest object in ANY photo. In a photo you are wanting to keep realistic, you will use barely any vignette. It should not be obvious it is there. When going for the more creative look, we want this vignette to be obvious. We do this last because the Output sharpener will lighten the vignette in its analysis of what to sharpen.

When we have completed these steps, then we simply export to whatever size and format we want. It should be noted, never export to a larger size. It will ruin all the work we just did. Always export to the image size or smaller.

In the HSL panel of Lightroom, I played around with the luminance settings to achieve the almost surreal painting look. This photo really came into being out of a desire to see just how far I could push a photo inside of Lightroom alone.

Now you have the golden pathway to creating a good photo for export or for further creative editing. So go edit some of those photos you have taken.

One final special note. If you are shooting with film and have scanned it into your computer to edit, be very careful with it. The goal in this case is to improve the photo, not to lose all of the light falloff and dreaminess that comes from this kind of photo. I usually will add only a slight amount of clarity and Vibrance to these scanned photos. I want to make that analog look better, not force it to look digital. The main benefit from shooting in film is you have creativity built-in. Let’s not lose that due to over editing. As for any cell phone users out there, Adobe does make a Lightroom mobile app and I mentioned a few other apps in the previous software chapter. While you will find that most of the apps available for phones have the ability to make most of these adjustments, there is nothing that I am aware of that optimizes these photos for print like the Output Pro Sharpener by Nik Collection. So if you want to be able to provide professional photos for printing, you will have to import the photos from your cell phone and process that part from your computer. Sorry, but that is the nature of cell phone photography.

If you have not subscribed to this blog, there has never been a better time. You will never receive spam or email from me. I do not collect email addresses or sell them. The purpose in subbing is to get notified whenever I post. Thus, you are not forced into watching my Twitter feed for an announcement, or having to visit my blog, only to find nothing new. Subscribe now and make YOUR life easier. 🙂

In the next chapter, we will finally be ready to move on to advanced creative editing. Certainly this chapter will be a page you’ll save for many years. Come join me as I reveal some of my biggest secrets for creating art out of your photos.

Until next time…

JB

The End Of The Digital Age Is Nigh

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For me, this is a truth and I am not the only one. Many are seeing, especially those who are creative in their endeavors, that the digital path to discovery is a path loaded with pitfalls and danger. It is a dark path…filled with serpents in the road. A plague upon the the mind, body, and soul. It cuts you open and leaves you to bleed…upon the dry sand of life.

But let’s step back from these horrible thoughts for second…let’s find the safety of some memories to add a layer of reality. Life is like an onion indeed. For every layer you pull, you will find another just below…waiting, waiting for you to peel it too!

I remember back when I first got on the computer, back in the year of 2000. The whole of the internet lied there, just waiting for me to find and discover its richness, its bounty, its beauty. Back in those early days, people did actually want to communicate with each other. They wanted to share, to reach out, to find a REAL connection. The entire idea of being able to communicate with a total stranger, and receive true and real feedback was more than just an ideal, it was reality. We could hide behind an identity and revel in who we really were and receive the same from others. I found MSN Communities within my first year on the internet and formed my first message board group within a few months.

The community that I formed was never the largest on MSN, but it was within a few months time, the most active. We had a constant flow of new people and everyone shared their stories, their dreams, their visions. But that was not the best part. The best part was that EVERYONE replied. Everyone commented. Everyone gave input. All wanted to share and to be part of what everyone else was doing. It was within this group that I first shared my some of my poetry and writings. It was within this group that I shared my earliest musical compositions. It was within this group of like-minded, free spirits, that I created some of my earliest graphics. Heck, I created nearly every image that was used in the group’s pages.

I am not saying any of this to brag. I am just remembering how it was and what used to be. Some things in life are worthy of remembrance. This IS how the internet was before blogs became a thing. This is how it was before Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. It was a thing of beauty and total freedom. Much like the Wild West, without the guns.:)

I relished and languished in this space of time. The whole idea that I could create something…anything, and someone in Japan or California could read, see, or listen and enjoy my creation, was just amazing to me. I’ve never created strictly out of a desire for money or fame. It was always with the ideal, first and foremost in my mind, of providing enjoyment and pleasure to others. In the early days, I freely shared and most of my creations are still free to this day. I do not do this because ANY of it is crap. I do this with the knowledge that one should never hide their light under a canopy.

I am not sure at what point things changed. To pin-point a moment in time would be a ludicrous and ignorant thing to attempt. I will say that by the time social media set in, that it had begun to take shape. The internet became a place of screaming. Everyone was yelling, “Hey, look at me!” and nobody was listening anymore. Followers, subscribers, page views, etc. became more important, than taking a moment of time, to make a real connection to others.

Now I can certainly get how these things might matter to a content creator. We spend so much time offline creating these things we share, that when we do get back online, a little feedback is important. One needs to know if what we created is good or total crap. I certainly get that. But, what of the normal people? The ones just on the internet to communicate. How this behavior of screaming and not listening to others, can be validated, is beyond me. I would never in REAL LIFE(RL) expect to make friends, just by talking and never listening. I cannot see how anyone would ever think, this is the way to meet and make friends. Yet, this seems to be the normal behavior of everyone on the internet now.

It is true that the creative people, the content makers, figured this out first. That sharing our creations with others on the internet is simply a waste of time. Sure, there is always going to be a few people who do stop to listen, to read, to immerse themselves in another’s creation. However, in the search for more visitors, more followers, more subscribers; we lose our chances at true friendship and happiness, at every turn. Life is not about being the most popular. It is about being the best person you can be. If more people would simply leave behind this childish, high school notion of popularity, then the internet could once more be what it once was…a happy place.

Currently, that is not the case and sadly, some of us have begun to see that this trend may not end for many years to come, if ever. There is a quiet and slow movement going on, by a large portion of the creators out there. It currently is an underground movement but will certainly gain momentum over time. This movement is to step back away from the digital world. To walk away from the time consuming, energy wasting, humiliation that digital sharing has become.

We want to share our creations but we have found that nobody wants to see them. Ok, that is a misnomer. They might indeed want to partake in the experience, but do not see it as a means of improving their popularity. Let’s face it, people generally, are a bit selfish. They will almost always and with few exceptions, do what is best for themselves first. It is human nature and part of that good ole’ survival instinct, we have all heard so much about. Hate to tell you though…this is really kinda taking it too far. It really won’t kill you to click that share button, lol!

At any rate, I saw this coming and posted about it nearly 3 years ago. (Yeah, you really should subscribe and read this blog.) I have been slowly pulling myself away from the digital world over the course of the last few years. I stopped uploading music 3 years ago, I stopped writing novels more than 2 yrs. ago. And lastly, once I have uploaded the remaining processed photos I have, my uploads of creative photos will diminish greatly.

I am not the only one doing this. There is a trend currently taking place all across the world called “Digital Detox”. This is not a term I created. This is the term for the ongoing trend of leaving behind all things digital. I stated years ago that more creative types would see the non-sense that the internet has become, and now my words have proven true. But how did I see this coming? I’m certainly not a genius, as some would have you believe. It does not take much more than common sense to figure out some things in life. You can only kick a dog so many times before it bites you. This is common sense and practical knowledge. You ignored the content creators for too long and now they color in adult coloring books, avoiding the plague, that is the internet.

In the end you have created a reality where creative people will no longer share with you. You have turned away some of the most creative minds on the planet, and ultimately, you have limited your own experiences. I am not saying this to be mean, or as a “I told you so” type of thing. I’m simply stating what has become reality and will be even more so, as time goes on.

It is a really depressing for many to have seen the internet go from a truly positive and enlightening experience, to a morose and disgusting hunt for popularity, page visits, and likes. The thought that humans have allowed themselves to become robots, just pressing buttons, instead of spiritual entities freely expressing and sharing experiences, is just so beyond saddening. It simply leaves a black spot in my heart that can never be diminished.

Certainly, there is always the hope that people will change, right? There is a reason it is called hope. Hope is the unfounded belief in something that is not reality. But it is better than the seeing the truth for some, and oftentimes it is the only thing keeping us alive. Hold onto hope if you must. I will instead face the truth head on and deal with the reality it presents me. If the only thing to fear, is fear itself, then the truth should never be feared. The truths in life are meant to be seen. They give us true strength to make correct decisions for our lives.

I miss the internet of old and one day desire, that it once again becomes all it was meant to be. Until that day comes, if ever, you will find me, at my kitchen table, coloring on blank pages. Penciling out what dreams I see in my heart.

JB