Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Unfounded Prejudice

Box Pew, Charleston, SC  -  2012
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I had seen pictures of box pews in old New England churches, and just assumed it was the way snooty Yankees kept other people from sitting in "their" pew on Sunday morning. But I was wrong. That's what usually happens when you form opinions without really looking into the situation.

On our first visit to Charleston, I was very surprised to find the same box pews in almost all the old churches there. Surely gracious southerners wouldn't be so territorial in church as the folks up in Boston or Providence! Then I learned the real reason for box pews, and it turned out to be a really practical one.

Before the days of central heating, these large, old churches could be very drafty in the colder winter months. The box pew was designed merely to cut down on drafts - nothing more sinister than that. See what you can learn if you just ask?

On our last trip to Charleston, we attended an evening service on Easter Sunday at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, a church with box pews. By this time I knew what box pews were all about, but I was still a little hesitant to just plop down anywhere. I was assured by an usher that anywhere we chose to sit would be fine. After choosing a pew, Theresa, Courtney, and I were soon joined by two young women as our pew and the church began to fill up. That reassured me that we weren't in the favorite pew of some old Charleston family that had been using that particular pew since the 1830s. Old notions sometimes die hard.

Monday, February 24, 2014

When I should have been outdoors . . .

Porch And Palm, Charleston, SC  -  2012
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

We finally got a weekend with some spring-like weather, and I spent most of it sick in bed. I'm feeling better this morning (on a work day, of course) and hoping next weekend is a repeat so I can get out and enjoy it. In the mean time, I'll console myself with pictures of springs past, like the one above.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thoughts Turning To Spring And Charleston

The temperatures were almost spring-like yesterday, and my thoughts were on the things I want to do once the weather warms up for good. The last two springs we spent some time in Charleston, SC, and I'd love to do that again this year. However, some necessary repairs and upkeep on the house will probably lasso my time and budget enough to keep us home this year. Until I can get back to Charleston again, I'll still have my photos from past trips to help keep the memories alive.

Ravenel Bridge, Charleston, SC  -  2012
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

After The Snow

After the big snow had mostly cleared out of our area, I got the itch to get out of the house and take a drive around. There were a couple of barns I wanted to check out if the roads were passable. The roads weren't bad, just a little slushy in spots. However, with the snow pushed to the shoulders by the plows, the shoulders were a no mans land for someone in a two wheel drive pick-up. With no safe place to pull over and park, I had to resort to shooting from the window of my truck, to the consternation of some folks behind me a couple of times. They'll get over it. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Barn In Snow, Waynesville, NC  -  2014

Departing Storm, Waynesville, NC  -  2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

An Early Morning Walk In The Snow

Nine inches of snow fell at my house yesterday and last night. That was enough to get a call from my supervisor at work to tell me, "We're closed again, go back to bed." Instead of going back to bed, I decided to take a walk with my camera down the street towards Meadowbrook School and see what there was to see. I found some otherwise mundane subject matter that took on a whole new look when placed against a backdrop of snow. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

I decided not to title any of these - that's too much like work, and these were just for fun.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Cure For Cabin Fever

Finally, a Sunday afternoon with blue skies and mild temperatures! I just had to get outdoors, even if just for a little while. I decided to take a short drive down to the arch bridge on Hwy. 215. It would give me a chance to stretch my legs, see if I still remembered how to operate my camera, and try a new water filtration gizmo my daughters gave me for Christmas.

Arch Bridge, Highway 215, Haywood County, NC  -  2014
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

After arriving at the bridge, I scrambled down the rocks to the river. Unlike my last time rock hopping, I was properly equipped to have both hands free for climbing. Down at river level, there were several huge boulders to provide a stable base for my tripod. After getting a few shots of the fall beneath the bridge, I started experimenting with my water filter.

My daughters gave me a Sawyer Squeeze water filter to give me safe water to drink while hiking or backpacking. It is able to filter out the nasties like giardia that can put a miserable end to an otherwise enjoyable weekend in the outdoors. With .10 micron pores in the filter, it can even filter out bacteria! I was quickly able to purify a liter of ice cold mountain water for a refreshing drink before returning to the truck.

Old Man Winter is forecast to make another return tomorrow, so I was thankful to be able to get out for a few hours and relieve some of my cabin fever. Spring can't get here fast enough for me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cleaning Up The Dirty 1950s

How It All Began, New Orleans, LA  -  1957
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I spent some time cleaning up this photo from my parents' wedding in April of 1957. The photo is from their wedding album and was in really good shape. Except for the dust spots!

One big disadvantage of film (in my opinion) is that it's almost impossible to keep the negatives clean. The most minute bits of dust on the negative show up as tiny white or black spots in the print. They have to be painstakingly spotted by the printmaker, a process that is tedious and takes much skill. Done poorly, the print can look even worse than it did with just the dust spots. Doing spotting on a print restoration with the computer is just as tedious, but mistakes can be quickly corrected. With digital photos, I never have to worry about this problem.

After spotting, I increased the contrast that had been somewhat washed out from the 1950s era flashbulb that I'm sure had my Mom and Dad seeing a different kind of spot. I think next I'll have a print made to display in our home. I wish I knew which photographer to credit, but I don't know who he was.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Say Uncle

Dreaming Of Spring, Charleston, SC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

One of the things I like about living in western North Carolina is being able to enjoy four seasons, as opposed to the one and half we had in Louisiana. The summers here have some hot days, but nothing like New Orleans summers. Spring and fall are wonderful, and the winters are usually not too severe. Overall, it's a very livable mix.

However, by this time in February I've usually had enough of old man winter's visit, and this year is certainly no exception. We've had some brutal weather since Christmas, with very few pleasant days thrown in. The past two winters being unusually mild spoiled us, I think, making this season's cold even harder to take. I've had enough; I'm more than ready for spring.

More winter weather is in the forecast for this weekend, but I'm checking the yard daily now for the first crocus to pop up. Some consider these early bloomers to be but a tease, but I consider them hope that winter will finally begin to slink away.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


In describing my varied photographic interests in yesterday's post, I left out an important category: musicians! The streets and festivals of the western North Carolina mountains serve up an almost infinite variety of musical styles to entertain any musical taste. And most are as interesting to look at as they are to listen to. Here are some of my favorites. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No Specialty

Fire Engine Red, Cherokee, NC  -  2006
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I once read that every photographer should have a specialty, a kind of photography that they are known for. The example they gave was Ansel Adams being known for his landscape photography. Adams also did some portraits, and for a lengthy portion of his life made his living doing commercial product photos, but landscapes are what people think of first when they hear the name Ansel Adams.

Do I have a specialty? I don't think so. Portraits are the only thing I've ever made much money doing, but I probably enjoy nature photography just as much. I've also tried my hand at still life, and street photography, and I've enjoyed those too. The few opportunities I've had to try car photography were both challenging and fun, and I'm sure I'd like to do some more of that. Photographing Civil War re-enactments is a relatively new thing for me that's filled with its own brand of excitement. Documentary photography in the vein of Walker Evans is another area I've explored, but I don't think that would qualify as a specialty for me as it did for Evans.

So I came to the conclusion that I don't really need a "specialty". As a hobbiest, I can do what I want, when I want. The term amateur originally referred to one who did something for the pleasure of doing it. That's me. I enjoy trying all different kinds of photography. I guess that's what keeps me interested - there is always something new to try. There are new techniques to examine, new subjects to explore, and new ways to see the same subjects I've done before. I never get bored with photography because no shot is ever exactly the same.