daveheinzel.com  Since 2000

Blog Archive

One year with RUN.

This is the story of how I came to develop my own running app. I'll dip into the weeds of iOS development, cloud servers, GPS nuances and user interface design. Ultimately, I hope to answer this question: can a sole developer, who is a novice runner, in his free time develop a running app that, for himself, is far better than any of the available running apps currently available? Read More →

Out West with the family

I scheduled a week-long vacation in early June. I wasn't planning on going anywhere -- I just had too many vacation days to carry over into July. There were a lot of projects around the house I was looking forward to catching up on. But somehow Hannah and I decided instead to load up the entire family and every single thing we could physically fit into the van and drive west. Read More →


I'm happy to share 'Emily,' a short film I made in 2018 starring Stella Cole and Mary Young. It's a little weird and a little intense, and I'm really proud of what we all made. I didn't touch this for months until tonight, but after a few last edits, it's done. Read More →

Making the tiny room

There were five people ahead of me at the fabric table line in Joann Fabrics. All were women in their 50s-60s. More started stacking up behind me, all holding various bolts of fabric. My mind wandered to what sorts of projects they were all working on, then to the bolts I was carrying. Was the off-white linen too sheer? Was the teal too teal? Read More →

Building a tiny chair

In the midst of building a tiny room for a photo shoot, it became apparent that I needed an anchor piece of furniture. After a good deal of internet research, procrastination and then more internet research, I found myself making a one-third scale mid-century modern chair. Read More →

Studio portraits

Most of my creative time in 2018 was focused on filmmaking. After wrapping up a film that was emotionally exhausting, I wanted to get back into the studio and shoot some portraits. Read More →

Office portraits

I've unintentionally taken a long break from studio photography. I had some free time last night and decided to get back into it, shooting a new profile pic in my office. Read More →

After Emily

My latest short film, Emily, premiered ten days ago at the Studio. It was a fun night with a packed house that also heard Arlin's new album played in its entirety. The night was over before it seemed like it started, and another premiere night was behind me. Read More →

Fall colors

The fall colors are in full bloom, so I took the camera along for a walk this morning with Hannah, Martin and Finn. First stop was coffee at Free Press, then we walked around Washington Park. The colors were gorgeous. The wind put everything into motion. The dog was, as usual, an embarrassment. But it was a beautiful fall Sunday, and I was able to grab a few photos. Read More →

Four national parks

On my recent trip out west, I visited four national parks: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Arches, Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes. It was my first visit to all except Arches. Read More →

Pawnee Pass

Last week I set out on a solo trip for the West. On the agenda: hiking, camping and working. My first hike was at Pawnee Pass. An old friend introduced me to this trail years ago, and the altitude got to me before I could even reach the timber line. I had to turn around. I've been wanting to revisit it ever since. Read More →

The office window

After I renovated the basement and built my new office, one remaining detail was to install a covering for the new window. This particular window presented a couple unique challenges. The window itself tilts open, projecting far past the plane of the inside trim (ruling out any sort of normal blinds). And I wanted something that could lock, preventing (or at least slowing down) any potential break-ins. Read More →

An evening walk with Martin

Martin and I took a little walk in Washington Park tonight. It was hot, and we were both sweaty and tired. But I brought along the camera and snapped a few photos anyway. It's been awhile since I've taken photos for fun, and it was great to look through a lens again. Read More →

The new office

When Martin hit the six months mark, we had to evict him from our bedroom. Instead of putting Ethan and Mia in the same room or putting Martin with one of them, the only logical room available was my office. So as it goes, I was voted off the island. And I needed a new space. Read More →

Stills from Emily

I recently wrapped production on a new short film, Emily. The project came about while Stella and I were texting about her demo reel, and before I knew it, we had decided to shoot a whole new film over her spring break. Read More →

Another short film

Yesterday I wrapped shooting for a new short film, Emily. I'll blog more about it later, but for now I'll just share some photos from filming. I am usually so focused when filming that I neglect taking behind-the-scenes photos or video, but fortunately I got a few clips this time. Read More →


My driver's license says I weigh 200 pounds. This has been a joke most of my adult life, as I have hovered around the low 230s for almost two decades. It's a comfortable weight for a computer-bound, 6'3" guy. Not obese, but soft. Plenty of padding for the Midwestern winters. Read More →


Last September, DSI approached me about making a video for their 25th Anniversary dinner in January of this year. Martin had just come home from the hospital, January seemed a million miles away and I had no projects on my plate at the time. So I said yes. Read More →

Martin Joel Heinzel

I've been wanting to write this blog for almost three months now, but things move a little slowly when there's a newborn in the house. But with the year coming to a close, and with a rare moment this morning where I'm not tending to the baby, it's time. Read More →

35mm film scans

This summer I got back into shooting and developing black and white film. It's one of my first loves, and it's still such a blast (and challenge). There are only 36 (or so) photos per roll, you can't instantly review photos, it's time-consuming and (somewhat) costly to develop, and it takes forever to digitize the negatives. So it forces to me to consider each photo carefully. Read More →

Shelly Island

I've been at the Outer Banks in North Carolina all week for the annual Pike beach vacation. My camera and drone came along for the ride, but so far they have remained on the floor of my bedroom. I've been trying to actually rest on a vacation (for once). Read More →

Stella Cole portraits

A couple weeks ago, I had a nice photo session at The Studio with Stella Cole. I'd been editing video all summer, and it was nice to leave behind the video camera and shoot stills. My goal for the session was simplicity. Portraits, black and white, one or two lights. Plain backgrounds. Just try and focus on the subject. Read More →

An ode to Wm. Van's

Tim is on the way. Or so I hear, from the group of three white, middle-aged businessmen sitting nearby. Tim has the latest report, and he's on the way. Judging from the disinterested expression on the face of the man in the orange shirt on the receiving end of this pitch, Tim better hurry. Read More →

Two months without Facebook

It's been about two months since I deactivated my Facebook account. That's an entire summer with no viable outlet to share my beach bod selfies. It's been a long two months. Read More →

40.15 Miles

On the Fourth of July, I woke up early and headed out on a bike ride. I wasn't sure where I was going, but I brought along the camera just in case. And as per usual, I underestimated how far I would ride, and thus brought along only one bottle of water and no food or cash. Read More →

Self-driving cars

I wrote a whole blog about flying cars: why I think we’ll have them, how it won’t happen in our lifetime and how it’ll dramatically change the world as we’ll know it. But flying cars will be the second of two major transformations in personal transportation, so it makes sense to start with the first: self-driving cars. Read More →

Out West with Mia

Every now and then I like to do something special with the kids, one-on-one. It started by taking them each to Chicago when they were younger. It was fascinating to see how each of them took in the city in their own way. Last summer, I took Ethan to Washington D.C. for the first time. This summer it was Mia's turn for a vacation, and I took her out West to introduce her to the mountains and the desert. Read More →

The Coffee Table

I've finally finished a project I started last year: a coffee table of my own design, made from scratch out of local wood that I harvested myself using a table saw. Read More →

My Best Photos of 2015

When a new year rolls around, I always intend to go through the previous year's photos and choose my favorites. I always fail. Read More →

One year with the WRX

On August 8, 2014, I traded in the Honda Accord I had driven for six years. It was a good car. Reliable, but boring. Read More →

OBX 2015

Another summer vacation to the Outer Banks is in the books. This year we rented a cottage large enough for the whole family. I left my DSLR at home, but I snapped a handful of photos with my iPhone along the way. Read More →

214 E. Spruce

Think about some of your earliest memories. You were a child. Maybe you were with family. Maybe siblings. Your perspective on the world was completely different. The memories are fuzzy. You remember some details, but others are gone. You're not even sure if it's a real memory or was fabricated from stories you've heard. Read More →

One Hundred and Seven

June 18th, 2014, 1:13 a.m. Incoming call from my brother, 10 minutes in duration. “Randy, Mom’s not doing well -- Dad couldn’t wake her up -- We called 911 -- The paramedics just got here.” Read More →

Washington, D.C.

Last week, I went back to Washington, D.C. for the first time since I was a kid. It was one of many stops my family made during a summer sightseeing trip in a borrowed van that introduced us to many New England destinations. My memories from the trip are fuzzy, but I remember seeing the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, some war memorials and possibly the Constitution. I hastily photographed the highlights on my hot pink 35mm Concord 806. Read More →

A Day Outside

After every Midwestern winter comes a brief solace, where warm air pushes out the cold, the last snow pile sinks into the ground and we all stammer squinty-eyed out of our caves and into the sun. This weekend was that for us in Illinois. Read More →

Springfield squares

The beauty of a Midwest winter is subtle. It can be hard to look past salt-stained streets and the colorless landscape to find something remarkable. Read More →

The one about Apple

Apple computers have been at the center of my productivity for most of my life. I started with BASIC on an Apple IIe in the early 80s. In the 90s, I studied graphic design and got my start in website development. Since 2000, my livelihood has been linked directly to my Macs: programming, design, photography and filmmaking. Read More →

Heading West Again

Follow along as I travel from Springfield, Illinois, to Las Vegas, Nevada. I'll be stopping at Arches and Zion National Parks and anywhere else along the way that looks cool. I'll be posting periodic updates until I return home on November 4, 2014. Read More →

Bunk beds

For the past two years, my kids have been sleeping on mattresses on the floor. I've looked for bed frames many times, but I always get stuck in a loop. The problem is that cheap bed frames are flimsy and poorly-designed, and expensive options are sturdy but usually over-designed. I've been looking for beds that are sturdy, simple and moderately affordable. Read More →

I miss you, Mom.

I fell into a seat in the ICU waiting room, where my family had taken residence for the past fourteen hours. I had just said goodbye to my mother. I broke down. Read More →

Goodbye, District 186

I started working in District 186 in 2005 as the Communications Assistant. In the nine years since, my role has expanded to include website design & development, graphic design, video and photography. I started and ran the Student Film Club for four years, I've worked with many teachers on projects large and small and have grown immensely, both personally and professionally. Read More →

Making Beer Dude

In 2004, I was working as a freelance graphic designer and website developer. I had just learned PHP, and I needed a good project to help me learn ActionScript - the programming language used in Flash. I developed a simple game idea that was inspired by some of my favorite early computer games. The game's hero was Beer Dude, a down-on-his luck everyman just trying to make it through the day without being hassled by The Man. Read More →

Dear Mia

We went to Chicago yesterday, just the two of us. You haven't been there since you were too young to remember. I was so excited to see the city through your curious eyes. Read More →

A Sunday hike

On Sunday, I took the kids up to Lincoln for some light hiking at Edward Madigan State Park. The weather was perfect. We're in that small window of time before bugs (i.e., spiders) and undergrowth make it difficult to traverse the forest. Read More →

Making a career

The past several weeks have been a blur of resumes, cover letters, meetings, phone calls, waves of hope and despair. Every now and then I surface to take stock of what I know for certain so that I can calm down a bit and focus on the little things. Read More →

Dave for hire

At this point it's public knowledge that my position as Website Developer for Springfield Public Schools has been eliminated from next year's budget. This means that as of July 1, I am unemployed. Read More →

Adobe Garamond Pro

The space between an uppercase 'T' and a lowercase 'o.' The way that a truly italicized font is not simply slanted. The difference between kerning and tracking. Read More →

The house

I will soon be moving out of the apartment and into a rental house. It's a bittersweet move, but a necessary one. In 2012, when I was looking for an apartment downtown, the only one that I liked was at the upper end of my budget. I knew this would make it hard to save up and eventually buy a house, but it was a unique time in my life, and it felt like one of those "seize the moment" kind of things. Read More →

Urban sledding

Last Sunday, the kids and I set out to find some good sledding spots downtown. We weren't quite sure what we'd find, but we had lots of energy, warm weather (relatively speaking) and plenty of sleds. Read More →

The point is at the end

Take just a moment to think about all of the absolutely amazing achievements of the human race over the past couple hundred years. As a species, we’re on fire. Read More →

Living in downtown Springfield

My lease is up at the end of the month, and I’ll be moving out of my apartment. I’ve been here for a year and a half, and I’ve learned to both love and hate living in downtown Springfield. Read More →

Final day at the Sea Caves

Monday was our last day visiting the Apostle Islands Sea Caves, and it started at 6 a.m. with a wind chill of about twenty-five degrees below zero. Fortunately by this time, I had figured out what worked and what needed improvement with my outfit. I layered up, doubled up on hand warmers and packed a single camera and one flash. Read More →

Day two at the Sea Caves

Sunday was a cold day. Clay and I set out for the Apostle Islands Sea Caves at 8 A.M. after getting a full night's rest. I only had two cameras with me - no bag or tripod. This made walking a bit easier, but it also helped me focus on simple photos rather than getting out the lights and losing too much time at any one spot. Read More →

Apostle Islands Sea Caves

This morning I left for a photo trip with my friend Clay. He heard about some ice caves that are normally only accessible by boat that you can now hike to over a frozen Lake Superior. Sounded like a fun and totally safe adventure, so here we are. Day one is complete. Read More →

Play practice

This week I've spent a few nights at the Hoogland Center for the Arts watching Mia rehearse for Lanphier High School’s production of Willy Wonka. She’s an Oompa Loompa. It opens Friday. Read More →


It's Tuesday night, a beautiful snowfall is blanketing the city and school has been cancelled for Wednesday. It's almost midnight. I'm tired and need to go to work in the morning, but I'm restless. Read More →

Weekend of the fort

There are few staples of childhood more universal than a good fort. Candy is one, followed closely by cheap plastic toys. And let's not forget about being bullied by your older siblings. But when you're a child, there's nothing quite like enjoying all of these things inside the sanctity of your very own fort. Read More →

Daddy jacket

Girls have always been a mystery to me, and now that I have a small one of my own walking around the house, I understand them even less. The roller-coaster of emotions. The glitter. The way their smiles can somehow make everything ok again. Read More →

Hello, World.

"Why would you want to do that?" seems to be the most popular response when telling friends that I'm starting a new blog. It's not unlike the response you'd expect from showing your grandma your new face tattoo. Read More →


i like coffee. i like to wake up at four-thirty a.m. while the rest of the world is still nestled in dreams and blackness and oceanic depths. Read More →

The Newsroom

And so the weekend comes to an end, and the lights outside are doubled by their reflection in the rain, giving credibility to the illusion that I live in a bigger city. My unrest makes it difficult to focus, so I procrastinate. And so I blog. Read More →

Waking up

Opening my eyes, I saw some batteries scattered on the pavement. They were Duracell AA's. I wondered where they came from. Something about a bike. They must have come from the headlight on my bike. And why was I on the ground? I must have had an accident, and that's what broke the headlight, scattering its batteries on the ground. Read More →

Show & Tell

Today I launched a web series experiment, Show & Tell with Ethan & Mia. It will be a series of videos where Ethan and Mia show you what they're interested in and tell you about all kinds of stuff. Read More →


Less than a week ago, I decided that I am going to learn how to create iOS apps (that run on iPhones and iPads). I've wanted to make apps for years, but the learning curve is steep. Knowing where to start was difficult, but I was determined to learn. In the few days that followed, I used resources from every corner of the internet to get over the hump. I've created a few simple apps and am on my way to more complicated projects. Hopefully this will culminate with the ability to create apps for my job and for fun. Read More →