Tuesday, December 24, 2013

More From Sunday Night

Joseph's Dream, Waynesville, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  (Matthew 1:18-21)

Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sometimes We All Need A Little Help

Mother's Helper, Waynesville, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I can't believe how busy I've been since Thanksgiving - hardly any time for photos! Finally, I got to shoot some during two Christmas programs at church on Sunday.

Our church pianist occasionally enlists the help of her son to turn pages on the music, on what I guess are the more complicated pieces. I shot several of their teamwork on this song; this one seemed to best capture the concentration of both of them. I made it a toned B&W and used a light colored vignette to obscure distractions in the background.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Late, but not really.

Late Season Tree, Canton, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

We finally put up our Christmas tree last night. Yeah, I know, most folks would say we're really late, but we've always done it with the kids, and this is the first Christmas for us without at least one of our two daughters living at home. We wanted to wait until Courtney got home from college for Christmas break because it just wouldn't be the same putting up the tree without one of the girls helping. Heather, who is living in Lenoir now, won't be able to come home until Christmas Eve.

I remember when my grandmother stopped putting up a Christmas tree because of her age, and because she always came to our house for Christmas anyway. It saddened me when she told me that it was too much trouble for her any more. She had a tiny Christmas tree that sat on one of her end tables; I think seeing that little tree made it even sadder. Eventually my own mother went the "tiny tree on the end table" route because a big tree was too much for her after my dad died.

I'm dreading the day when putting up a Christmas tree will be too much for me too handle. I hope that day is a long way off. Decorating the tree with the family is too much a part of Christmas for me, and the season wouldn't be the same with only a tiny tree on the end table. So I hope I'll always have a Christmas tree in my living room, no matter how long I have to wait for someone to help us decorate it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good Enough

My Yard In Winter, Canton, NC  - 2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I'm not one of those guys who is fanatical about lawn care. I like my yard to look neat, but hey, I have other things to do. I keep my yard mowed in the summer; I rake the leaves (most of them, anyway) in the fall. That's about as fastidious as I get about it.

So right now you'll find a few leaves left in my yard, and they'll probably still be there when I crank up the lawn mower for the first time next spring. The yard doesn't look too bad does it?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Frosty Mornings

Frost Patterns, Canton, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

We haven't gotten much in the way of snow yet this winter, but frost on the windows of my truck is a common occurrence in the morning. I had time to photograph this pattern one morning before I started scraping before leaving for work.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Little Snow

Old Hampton Store, Linville, NC  -  2011
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

While driving back from Boone one snowy day two winters ago, I stopped by the Old Hampton Store in Linville. The store was closed - maybe they went home early because of the weather. I got what I really wanted anyway, a nice photo of the store in the lightly falling snow.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgivings Past

Holiday Chefs, Boone, NC  -  2011
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

This is a photo from Heather's first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her college apartment two years ago. (Hey, photography is supposed to be fun, right?)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Two Years Later

No "artsy" photo today, just a snapshot of a family milestone. It was two years ago that we finally got my Mother moved out of Louisiana up to the Knoxville area where she would be closer to me, my brother, and my sister. She was 81 at the time, in declining health, and we wanted her closer where we could help her if she needed us. We also wanted to remove her from the almost yearly problem of hurricane evacuations. So after years of cajoling after Katrina, we finally got her to move the week before Thanksgiving 2011.

Mom only got to spend two nights in her new rented house in Tennessee before my sister had to take her to the hospital with breathing problems. She spent most of the next six weeks in the hospital before she went to receive hospice care at my brother's house in Georgia. She died on February 3, 2012.

Moving Day, Metairie, LA  -  2011
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Two years after we moved her to Tennessee, we finally have gotten her house sold. The closing will be Wednesday, giving us something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Trying to maintain and sell an empty house from over 600 miles away has been a nightmare; a rather expensive nightmare. Although we didn't get the asking price we were originally hoping for, we are all glad that this ordeal is finally over. We're all thankful for that!

As relieved as I am to get this house sold, there is a part of me that is a little melancholy about seeing it go. This is the house I grew up in from age three until I left for college, and even a short time after that. I have memories of Thanksgivings, Christmases, and other family gatherings in that house that now seems too small for all the people we had visiting. I'm glad that although the house will have new occupants, I get to keep the memories with me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Remnants of Fall

Untitled, Haywood County, NC  - 2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

The predominant colors in the area forests now are various shades of brown as the Fall color show is over for this year. However, if you keep your eyes open, you can still find a splash of color on some individual trees. These colorful stragglers won't last much longer, and soon even the browns will be replaced by gray until next Spring.

This morning's post raised an issue that I have to deal with every few months or so - coming up with a title for a photo. I wonder who started that tradition? Sometimes a title springs readily to mind. Other times it seems I can't think of anything that is not worn out or a cliche'. Even "Untitled" is over used, but it's the lazy man's out on days like today when I'm just not feeling very imaginative.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I usually hate delays, but . . .

As I was driving into Marshall to make a delivery yesterday, I noticed many fire and police vehicles lining the highway into town, and American flags displayed along the roadside. There were also groups of people here and there lining the roadway. Remembering that Veterans Day is Monday, I thought I might be about to run into some kind of veterans parade. "Cr*p! That's all I need is to get hung up behind a parade!", I thought as I rushed on to my next stop.

My delivery was at a Family Dollar Store across the street from Madison High School. I noticed scores of students lining the hill above the road, many holding American flags. I asked my customer if there was a parade coming, and how much time did I have to get out before it came by. I learned it wasn't a parade but an approaching funeral procession.

A soldier from Marshall, SPC Jason Carlisle Shelton, had been killed in a training exercise in Germany last month. Shelton was a 2009 graduate of Madison High, and joined the Army in 2012. His funeral was Friday, and the town was turning out to pay their respects.

Madison High students pay their respects to a former classmate

Jason Shelton was only 22 when his life ended serving his country. Like any young man his age, I'm sure he had plans for the future - things he wanted to do, places he wanted to visit, goals he wanted to accomplish. In an instant it was all over. As I considered the full life I've been blessed with, the inconvenience of a delay for a funeral procession didn't seem like such a big deal. I took off my cap and proudly joined the people of Madison county on the side of the highway to pay my respects to a fallen hero. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Local law enforcement rendered a salute as the funeral procession passed

Friday, November 8, 2013


Fall Canopy, Macon County, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I'm still going through some of the photos I made two weeks ago. I guess I'm trying to hang on to Fall for as long as I can.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Traffic Is Really Bad!

Traffic, Haywood County, NC  -  2006
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Ever feel like you've been stuck in traffic forever?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fall Abstracts

Red And Yellow, Swain County, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Sweeping vistas of Fall foliage are nice, but I also like to zoom in on smaller, more detailed portions of the colorful forests. You can look for patterns and abstracts by concentrating on tighter shots. I found this single maple with red leaves surrounded by other maples and ashes with yellow leaves along a portion of Wayah Road in Swain county. I thought the contrast was pretty with the rough, grey tree trunks in the foreground. Sometimes I just scan back and forth in my viewfinder until I see a pattern that works.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To Crop, Or Not to Crop?

As in any field of artistic endeavor, in photography there are several different kinds of "Purists". They, alone, are the self-proclaimed protectors of the art form, deciding what should and should not be done. A few years back, the film purists were the most vocal, boldly proclaiming the supposed superiority of film photography over upstart digital. The film snobs have mostly been silenced now, the overwhelming majority becoming digital converts. Another small sub-set of the Purists are those who say you should never crop a photo. According to these experts, if you know what you are doing, you will always frame your composition perfectly at the time of exposure, and print full-frame. To that I say, well, er, being a family friendly blog, I won't say it.

Do I crop my photos? Yes, and often extensively! I offer up today's photo as an example. Sunday afternoon I did a family portrait session with some friends. We did it outdoors, taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the remaining Fall foliage. We tried some photos of the children playing in the fallen leaves. As always happens with action photos, it's more misses than hits. The photo below is one of the misses.

Original, non-cropped version

The exposure is a little off, there is an elbow protruding into the frame from the right, and a brother cut off on the left. At first glance, a definite cull. But wait, look at the little girl's expression - pure joy as she plays with her big brothers in the leaves! I can work with that! Enter the crop tool!

By cropping out all the offending details, and focusing attention on the little girl's joyous expression, we have a winner. To better deal with the tricky exposure situation (bright sunshine and dark shade), I converted it to a toned B&W and softened the contrast. I went with a square format because I just like square sometimes. The photo below is the finished product.

Allie Grace, Clyde, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Should I have cropped? I'll let you decide.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Grand Finale

The explosive colors I saw in the Nantahala gorge on Wednesday were already beginning to fade by the time I got back there Saturday morning, but I managed to find a few that were still in their Fall prime. With all the wind we've been having, I'm afraid the show is about over for this year. It was a late developing Fall, but when it finally got going, it proved to be another winner! (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Bit Too Hasty

Maple Aglow, Swain County, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

In an earlier post, I commented that this Fall's colors weren't as spectacular as in some recent years. I may have spoken too soon. The Nantahala gorge is on fire right now! The colors are spectacular, and I'm hoping to find time this weekend to to spend some time in that area before all the leaves blow away. I guess I still need to learn to just be patient!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Not All Are Equal

The Showoff, Haywood County, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

As with people, some leaves just stand out in a crowd! As we get into the latter stages of the Fall leaf season, the yellows and golds of early Fall are transitioning into the oranges and reds that really make the trees beautiful! If you live in the southern Appalachian mountains, now is the time to take a drive and enjoy the views. I've been blessed to be able to enjoy the colorful forests down in the Murphy and Hayesville areas for the past two days while at work. Nothing better than getting paid to enjoy the show!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Color Junkie

Fall Reflection 14, Avery County, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I'm reveling in the color now because the local forests are about at peak color. I don't think this Fall has been as spectacular as some in recent years, but right now it's a pretty good show, and I'm enjoying my yearly fix. This photo was made a little over a week ago in Avery county when the color was good up there. Yesterday I was much further south in Cherokee and Macon counties, and the color is looking good there now. Enjoy it while you can because with the wind we've been getting, the show will be over soon!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Random Shots

On a quick errand to Asheville yesterday, I couldn't resist stopping for a few minutes in the Prichard Park area just to see what was going on. As some of you know, I'm a frustrated street photographer. I admire the work of others, but I'm very shy about snapping pictures of strangers on the street. Maybe one day I'll get over it. Until then, I guess I'll continue to make my timid attempts. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Unabashed Copy Cat

Imitation is supposedly the highest form of flattery. One thing I find fun to do is to try to emulate the style of an artist whose work I admire. I have been fascinated for quite some time by the work of New York artist Jessica Jenny. Her photos have a warmth and texture that make them look more like paintings, while still retaining the qualities of a photograph. I know basically what she's doing, but I can't quite figure out exactly how she's doing it. Trying to replicate her "look" is both fun and challenging, although sometimes a little frustrating. The photo below is probably the closest I've come to a satisfactory result. (The "Straight out of the camera" version is at the bottom.) It was fun trying, and I'm encouraged enough with this one to keep experimenting.

Fawn Lake Shoreline, DuPont State Forest, NC  -  2013
(Click on image to enlarge.)

Fawn Lake Shoreline "Straight out of the camera"

Friday, October 25, 2013

More From DSF

My only regret about visiting DuPont State Forest was that I hadn't visited before yesterday. I was really impressed with how the trails were maintained, and access to the falls was made so most people in half-way decent shape could get to them. There were great trails for hikers and mountain bikers, and now I'm looking forward to warmer weather when I can go back and explore on my bike. There is really much here for outdoors lovers of all ages and skill levels. Here's some more photos from yesterday's visit. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Covered Bridge Over Little River

Fallen Maple Leaf

Fall On Little River

Hooker Falls 2

Final Resting Place

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pilgrimage To DuPont

For several years I've been wanting to visit DuPont State Forest, south of Brevard. It seemed like every time I planned to go down there something prevented me from being able to go. Today I finally made the trip.

I had twin objectives of photographing some waterfalls, and also some Fall foliage. I knew the leaf situation would be a crap shoot with the weird Fall we're having, but I was sure I could get some good waterfall shots if I got there early enough. You have to get to the falls before the full sun starts hitting it or the highlights will blow out. No detail in the water makes for a dull photo. Since Joe Tourist doesn't like to roll out of bed before 8:00 am or so, I figured arriving at sunrise would give me time to avoid the crowds and get the right light.

Happiness is arriving at the Hooker Falls parking area and finding it completely empty! In fact, I didn't see a single soul until after 9:00 am. I had everything all to myself for the first 2 1/2 hours of my visit. I'm not anti-social, but having to remove the guy with the loud Hawaiian shirt from a waterfall photo with software can get tedious.

Hooker Falls

I made it to three different falls before the sun started getting too high. The first was Hooker Falls above. Next was Triple Falls, pictured below. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Triple Falls

The last one I got to was High Falls. This one was tough because I was almost shooting directly into the sun. This one would be better photographed in the late afternoon. At the top of the photo, you can see part of a covered bridge that crosses the river just above the falls.

High Falls

The Fall color in the DuPont area was actually a little better than where I live in Haywood County. Better, but not great. There were some pretty trees here and there, but the wind of the last couple of days is taking its toll quickly. I found some of the most colorful leaves already on the ground.

Multi-colored Maple Leaf

After rushing a bit to get to the three falls, I slowed down to my usual unhurried pace for the rest of the hike. I've learned to go slow and see what's there to see. I found the two leaves below because I was going slow enough to notice them. I didn't "pose" these two leaves, they are just as I found them.


The last shot is just to show my two daughters that the old man survived his hike unscathed. A few years ago I slipped on a wet rock face, landed on my butt, and almost slid down into the abyss. Heather grabbed my backpack and slowed me down enough for me to get stopped before I became another hiking statistic. Oh yeah, Courtney would want me to mention that she saved the tripod I jettisoned when I fell. Anyway, one mishap and they tried to get me to promise not to hike by myself after they left for college. Sorry, girls, Dad has to get out into the woods once in a while to maintain his sanity; sometimes I have to do it solo. I'll be careful.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It Keeps Getting Harder

Backlit Leaf, Jackson County, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enter.)

On my first trip out this week looking for Fall pictures I discovered two things. First, the woods are still very green. Secondly, as I discovered last Fall, I'm finding it harder and harder to make photos that don't feel and look like ones I've already made. I see a colorful tree, and every composition I consider makes me think, "I've already done something like that." It's frustrating and challenging at the same time. It means I'll be coming home with fewer photos, but hopefully, more interesting ones.We'll see.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Clearing the Decks

I'm going to post all the photos I have from last Saturday's Battle of Warm Springs re-enactment at one time. I usually spread this many photos out over a few days, but I'm clearing the decks for the Fall photos I hope to be making the rest of this week. (Click on photos to enlarge.)