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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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!