My Background in Brief
A longtime civil servant at the federal and state government levels, I’m now free to devote my time to photography, writing, and woodworking. I live in the foothills of Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains with my wife and two cats who believe they are woodworking apprentices.
I’m a self-taught photographer with a 40-year career in stock and illustrative photography. An avid photographer since my teens, I first served as yearbook and newspaper photographer for both my high school and college. My photo files contain well over 100,000 film and digital photos. I have a special love for landscape and wildlife photography, but I’m also fascinated with macrophotography and the creation of intimate landscapes. My photos have appeared in numerous publications world-wide. I authored Creative Composition for Landscape Photography (Amazon) and co-authored with Jeffrey Fleisher Shooting Iron Horses: Photographing Your Model Railroad (Amazon).
I have a passion for expressing myself through the written word, which I pursue with fountain pen in hand. During my career I’ve published well over 150 books, articles and other publications on both popular and technical subjects.
Most notable are a murder mystery novel, The Hero of Gucci Gulch (Amazon); Choosing and Using Handplanes (Amazon); Creative Composition for Landscape Photography (Amazon); and, with Jeffrey Fleisher, Shooting Iron Horses: Photographing Your Model Railroad (Amazon). I also write a monthly review of woodworking books for Highland Woodworking’s Wood News Online.
I have a number of other writing project underway, including books on photography and a sequel to my first murder mystery novel.
I came late to woodworking but have been practicing it now for about a decade. I especially like Chippendale and Queen Anne styles, but I’m also fond of Shaker, Arts & Crafts, and Green & Greene styles. If I had to choose only one of these to concentrate on, I couldn’t do it. They each have something interesting about them.
I’m a deliberate woodworker, which is another way of saying that I’m slow. That’s partly because of the other consuming interests that take up my time. In addition to working in my woodshop, I teach handplaning classes at local Woodcraft stores and write monthly book reviews on woodworking books for Highland Woodworking’s Wood News Online. I’ve written an introductory guide to the selection and use of handplanes entitled Choosing and Using Handplanes (Amazon).
Jeff Fleisher and I operate Shenandoah Tool Works, a company that produces woodworker’s mallets and birdcage awls. I turn the awl handles on a Nova lathe in my home woodshop. An article on how the awls are manufactured is posted to the Shenandoah Tool Works web site.
I mainly build furniture and other items for my home, including a four-poster bed, a sugar chest, a food storage shelf in the Greene & Greene style (featured in an article in Popular Woodworking Magazine), and natural edge coffee tables. I also create craft items, including a variety of boxes, for use both as gifts and for sale.
I find myself drawn toward both positive themes and simplicity in self-expression. Whether through the smooth flow of a curved line on a well-polished piece of furniture, the clean and simple expressiveness of a black and white photograph, or a well-crafted and thoughtful paragraph, I find satisfaction in seeking out ways to illustrate both wholeness and creativity in my work.
The glass, for me, is always more than half filled. The world, in my view, is full of opportunities that present not only challenges but also the chance for creative responses to them. I value creative thought, which I strive to express through the media in which I work— principally photography, writing, and woodworking, but also through cooking and baking.
I have found much satisfaction in coming to an understanding of the Stoic principles of justice, truth, courage and temperance and attempt to apply them, however imperfectly, to my life and work.
I hold a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois-Urbana and studied at several midwestern universities. After a brief stint at college-level teaching, I worked with the Illinois state legislature for several years. This was followed by a nearly three-decade career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where I specialized in rural economic and community development, both as a researcher and a public policy executive. The high points of my career were designing and implementing the rural Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community Program (EZ/EC) and creating the Rural Development Administration as a new agency. During my time with USDA, I also authored dozens of books, articles and monographs on subjects ranging from economic development to anti-poverty policy and computer science applications to public administration.