I was surprised that a couple of you noticed when I changed my WordPress avatar recently. I really liked my old avatar. I thought it made me look tough — tougher than I am, really. Here it is, almost as big as life.
There’s a story behind that avatar. My sons and I were out on our 2013 Spring Break tour of Route 66, and we’d reached the ghost town of Spencer, Missouri. It’s on a great 1928 concrete segment of the road, just beyond a metal truss bridge. A restored gas station stands there. I wrote about it here.
I wasn’t sure I was going to remember exactly where this was, so I whipped out my iPhone to take a shot, which would grab geolocation. But my phone was set to video mode on the front camera. I shot two seconds of myself before I figured it out. I was not amused.
I paused the video at a good moment, took a screen shot, converted it to black and white, cropped it, and there it was: my new avatar. I used it on Facebook, too, and when it went live it got a huge positive response. So I kept it for a long time.
There’s also a story about why I dropped it. Recently I was in an email conversation with a well-known blogger whom I have followed for years. To make a long story short, she said that my avatar’s mean look didn’t jibe with the personality I showed when I commented on her posts. So I switched to my current avatar photo. “Much better,” she said.
Since I’ve waded into the pool of self-indulgence in this post, I might as well swim out all the way. Here are all the photos I’ve used as avatars here at Down the Road.
This photo is from when the blog was new: 2007. I still rocked my long hair then. My older son, then in the fourth grade, asked me to go along on a school field trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He took this shot of me with my camera. What you see in my eyes is me enjoying my son.
I took this unintentional selfie at the Mecum Spring Classic old-car auction in 2009. I’d never heard of the Mecum before, but had won tickets in a radio-station contest. I’ve gone every year since. This Oldsmobile was black, but when I squatted to capture this badge, the finish acted as a mirror.
My friend Alice gave me an Olympus OM-1 that had belonged to her father. When I shot a test roll with it, I took this intentional selfie in my car’s side mirror.
I had loaded Kodak E100G slide film into my Kodak Monitor, an old folding camera with a wonderful lens. Its shutter is fussy. You have to press the button firmly, and even then it doesn’t always fire. Once when it didn’t fire, I looked down into the lens — and then the shutter fired in delayed reaction, giving me this. So glad it’s not in focus so you can’t really see into my nose.
Finally, here’s the photo from which I took my current avatar. Margaret and I were on a photo walk through the huge, awesome Crown Hill Cemetery here in Indianapolis during the autumn of 2014. I was carrying my Nikon N2000 and she was using one of my film cameras, too, probably my Minolta XG 1.
I’m a pretty serious fellow and I don’t smile easily. But I smile all the time when I’m with Margaret.