Author: Mike Rengel

August and Everything After


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The past is a terrible place to live. But occasionally, it’s heartening to visit. Once in a while, our past self sends our present self a message in a bottle. A year ago, over 25 years after it was written, with only the snippets of lyrics hidden in the background of the cover and a few live attempts 15 years ago to go on, Adam Duritz and co. finally finished and released the long lost title track to Counting Crows’ “August & Everything After”. I dug it out again yesterday, on a long, meandering pandemic walk in the neighborhood. It was a windy day, with high, puffy cotton ball clouds buffering a blue sky, that fit the lovely strings and woodwinds of the song, of Duritz’s bittersweet walk of a lyric.

I said I’m sorry to Maria
For the cold-hearted thing that I have done
I’ve said I’m sorry by now, at least once
To just about everyone
She says, “I have forgotten what I’m supposed to do today”
And it slips my mind what I’m supposed to say
We’re getting older and older and older and older
And always a little further out of the way
You look into her eyes
And it’s more than your heart will allow
In August and everything after
You get a little less than you expected, somehow

And it got me listening to “August”, the album, again. It’s been one of my favorite records for almost 25 years. It’s romantic, poetic and searching…more than a little bit lost but bursting with big hearted loves and losses. It seems timeless, in the same way Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” and “Moondance” do. “August” has always felt like a puzzle piece that fell out of my chest at birth, caromed under the couch and that as a teenager, I finally found and matched with my heart. It was a mainstay on the tape deck on countless late night drives around Cape in college; I still dig it out anytime I need to feel a little less alone. Listening to it through so many stages of my life has been like an ongoing correspondence with a distant, intimate friend, one that ages like a fine red wine. “August” is endless joy to sing along with and still never fails to elicit a tear and a wistful smile.

I will walk along these hillsides
In the summer ‘neath the sunshine
I am feathered by the moonlight
Change, change, change.

Developing my negatives.


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I can trace my lifelong passion for photography back to two things. One, my aunt had several Joel Meyerowitz prints in her house when I was growing up. His use of light, and penchant for capturing the spirit inherent in the mundane, stirred something in me. Second, when I was maybe 8 years old, my parents gave me a cheap 110 film camera. One of those long, flat rectangular ones. I started taking pictures whenever I could, and whenever I could convince my folks to buy me more film, or save up my allowance / lawn mowing money to get more myself. I took pictures of family vacations (I even made a little travelogue photojournal in a scrapbook of a trip to Southern California when I was 11), I took pictures of my dog and my cats, I took pictures of baseball stadiums, of people, of whatever I happened to encounter.

From there, it was on to a basic 35mm film camera in college. If you went to SEMO with me, you probably remember me sticking a camera in your face in the dorms, on road trips, at parties, and wherever we went. I was fascinated with nascent digital photography around the turn of the 21st century. I remember buying a truly terrible, sub-webcam grade digicam one summer home from college. Maybe a year later, I saved up and bought my first proper digital camera. In early 2005, I bought a trusty Olympus that really helped me better capture the shots I was starting to see with the eye I was trying to develop. After moving to Northern California, and taking pictures every day as I explored and learned about my adopted home, I moved back to St. Louis, and a year later bought a Nikon DSLR. A few years after that, I got an iPhone. While the quality was still not enough to replace the Nikon as my everyday camera, it was a boon in helping me always be in a position to capture a shot as I encountered it.

With the iPhone 6, I started doing most of my photography with my phone. The iPhone X I acquired in 2018 really takes that another leap forward. I still go back to my Nikon from time to time, and I keep pondering getting a new, modern, high powered DSLR, especially one with Bluetooth/Wifi that will interact with where I keep my photos on the internets.

This is my long winded way of saying I’ve been taking pictures for a very long time. For 15 years, I’ve been working consistently and incrementally practicing and improving my eye and compositions. I still have a long way to go. But this is an attempt to have an official “home base” for the pictures that I take, and a place to occasionally write about the stories, moods, emotions, thoughts and adventures behind the photos. It’s also a way to keep me accountable, and driven, as I strive to never stop trying to be a better photographer.

So welcome. I hope you find something to enjoy, and I hope this is a window into a world you’ll want to come back and visit from time to time.