Saturday, November 19, 2016


Abandoned, Bethel, NC  -  2009
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

With digital image editing, I can make new photos even when I don't have time to get out with my camera. I made this photo of an abandoned pick-up truck back in 2009, and "reworked" it this morning into something very different than the out-of-the-camera original.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

This Is Asheville

Questionable Advice, Asheville, NC  - 2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

When you're in Asheville, you usually don't have to look to long to find a situation like this. The woman on the left is a fortune teller or psychic (allegedly). Note the tools of her trade on the table in the foreground. The street is her office. The woman on the right is seeking her advice, although while I was there, she was doing most of the talking. I was about ten feet away, sitting on another bench facing them, with my camera on my lap. I kept looking around, and occasionally looked at my watch to give the impression that I was waiting to meet someone, oblivious to their presence and conversation.

So with the camera on my lap, I tried to capture this interesting scene. With not being able to look at the LCD on the back of the camera, it was very difficult to frame my subjects. There were many, many misses! But with a small, silent camera I was able to make enough exposures to get one decent one without either woman being aware. (Gee, you think a psychic would have known!)

Is this type of surreptitious photography a little creepy? Well, in the 1950s Walker Evans made portraits of New Yorkers on the subway with a camera hidden inside his coat. Many of those photos wound up in an exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. So I would say, "No, it's not creepy, it's documentation; in some cases, maybe even art." Legally, the answer is also no. The courts have ruled that people in public spaces can have no expectation of privacy. In other words, they're fair game as long as they're in a public space, and the photographer remains on public space while he makes the photo. Besides, it's a fun way to kill a little time on an October afternoon.

Monday, October 24, 2016

People Watching

The Crossing, Asheville, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I love to people watch. Last week while I was off from work, I spent an afternoon roaming around downtown Asheville with my camera, people watching. I made this photo sitting on a bench at the corner of Biltmore and Patton, one of the busiest intersections in Asheville. There was a constant flow of people heading in every direction. Each cycle of the traffic light brought a new group crossing the street, each with their own plans and destinations. It's some of the most interesting entertainment available at any price.

My little Lumix camera is perfect for this kind of photography. When I used to shoot street photography with a big, black DSLR with a big, black lens, it was like waving a red flag every time I raised it to my eye. It was almost impossible to remain inconspicuous and get natural looking photos. Now with a little camera, no one pays attention. I'm just some old guy, probably a tourist, taking snapshots with his little "point and shoot" camera. They can remain in their thoughts while I get my photo.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pulling Back The Curtain

Toto Reveals Oz

Over the years of posting on this blog I think I have been very open about the fact that, "Yes, I manipulate." The photos you see posted here are never straight out of the camera. There is always some, and in some cases extensive post-processing. I think it was photographer Alain Briot who once said, "You don't see what I saw, you see what I want you to see", or something like that. Is that being dishonest or deceptive? I don't think so. Artists through the ages have always given us their view, which is often a little different than straight reality. Photojournalists and insurance photographers have an obligation to be real; I don't. 

I have caught this magical landscape, and it is the enchantment of it that I am so
 keen to render. Of course, many people will protest that it is quite unreal, but that is just too bad.
                                                                                                                -  Claude Monet

Tell 'em, Claude!

So today, I will do something I seldom do, show a "straight out of the camera" photo. Then I'll give you a peak behind the curtain and reveal a little about how I got to the finished version. I think you'll agree that straight from the camera, this photo is a yawner and needs some help: 

Original, unedited version

The fall colors are just beginning to show in this forest, but it's mostly still green with some pale yellows starting to show. In 4-5 days it could be really pretty, but I can't wait that long. Today, this shot needs some tweaking.

Into the digital darkroom we go. First, a little tighter crop. Then I adjust the exposure, and bump up the contrast a bit. Now to do something about those colors, or rather, lack of it. In a program called Virtual Photographer, I was able to punch up the reds and oranges to give what it might look like in a few days. The trick is not to get carried away so the photo doesn't look like a bad LSD trip. Real? No. Realistic? That's what I'm shooting for. And 10 - 15 minutes later I end up with a much more interesting photo, I hope.

Highway 221 View, Burke County, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Color Where you Can Find It

Fall Ferns, Avery County, NC  - 2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

We're still mostly green at the lower elevations, but a little higher up we're starting to see some color. These ferns have evidently already had a visit from Jack Frost, and have lost their lush green color earlier than most of the trees in their neighborhood.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ready For The Show To Begin

Transition, Clyde, NC  -  2006
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

As I wrote in a previous post, it looks like the fall color show will be a little late this year. Don't worry, however, it's coming! There are splashes of color - a tree here, a branch there. There's enough to give we who love fall some encouragement that we won't have to wait too much longer.

Because I love fall, I always take the 3rd week of October off from work to enjoy the beauty of our mountains. We're still quite a way from peak, but I think there will be enough color next week to keep me and my camera busy. The transition has already begun!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Shifting Moods

Ferns On Stone Wall, Haywood County, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Autumn is usually associated with color photography for obvious reasons. In my area, we had an extremely warm September, and only in the last week or so have we begun to experience more fall-like temperatures. Our trees are still mostly green, with only a hint of color here and there. The fall leaf show is still a couple of weeks away.

Maybe that's why I've been in more of a black and white mood lately. I know the explosion of color is soon to come, and maybe, subconsciously, I don't want to burn out on color too early. When I saw these very green ferns growing out of a stone wall, I immediately started thinking of how this shot would look in black and white. Don't ask me why. Earlier in the summer I probably would have been thinking color. Who can explain our moods?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

I'm Proud

Determination, Bethel, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

My oldest daughter, Heather, ran in her first half marathon yesterday morning. She just got interested in running again less than a year ago, so I was a little surprised that she was ready to take on an event like this so soon. "13.1 miles over hilly terrain! Is she nuts?"

The weather Saturday morning was cool and rainy. On top of that, Heather was beginning to experience the symptoms of a head cold. It would have been easy for her to find an excuse to bail out and attempt this another time, but Heather was determined to compete and finish the event. And she did. She finished with a time of 2:10:09. I was proud of her determination, and impressed with her athletic accomplishment.

Of course, I brought my camera to the race. I got some of the standard shots before, during, and after the event, but I wanted to create something more than just a snapshot of Heather running. I wanted to depict her determination, her resolve to complete the course. I chose to work with this one of her running alone, continuing on, fueled by her own tenacity. Yeah, you could say I'm a proud Dad.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Out Of Ideas

Untitled, Shining Rock Wilderness, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Once again, I got hung up on a title. On most of the photos I post, a title seems to suggest itself fairly quickly. On a few, like the photo above, nothing usable comes to mind. The few titles that did pop into my head seemed trite or corny; I'd rather just leave it untitled. Who decreed that a photo had to have a title anyway?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Learning New Software

Scales of Justice, Sylva, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I'm playing around with a new piece of software I found for doing B&W conversions, Black and White Projects 3.0 by Franzis. I have been frustrated by the fact that quite a few pieces of software that I've used for years, and come to love, won't work in Windows 10, or with Elements 14. An older version of Silver Efex Pro is one that I could no longer use, to my dismay and frustration. This new software will hopefully fill a gap in my photo editing arsenal, albeit with an initially steep learning curve. It normally sells for $129, but it was offered for one day on Giveaway Of the Day at my favorite price, FREE! So I'm back to school with software once again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

You Can't Make It Up

Balancing Act, Asheville, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

When I head to downtown Asheville, I never know what I'm going to see. That's why it's a good idea to carry a camera at all times. You just can't predict, or plan on scenes like this.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sin Tiempo. Almost.

Street Scene, Asheville, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Several years ago, I discovered a series of photos by photographer Michael Crouser which he called sin tiempo, which means "without time". He looks for scenes devoid of obvious evidences of a particular era of time. The street scene above almost qualifies. Except for the obviously modern car in the bottom left corner, this photo could have been made any time from the mid 1920s to today.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Open Window

Open Window, Asheville, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

A window at a mosque? No, a window in a downtown Asheville parking garage. Minimalist subjects are all around if you look for them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back To The Beginning

Caboose Handrail, Bryson City, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

About a year or so ago, I decided to give up on the idea of trying to use my photography as a way to make a little extra money. It was a very freeing decision. I still like shooting portraits, but I only do it on my terms and timing now. I found that I had tired of trying to give a customer what they wanted, when often it conflicted with my vision. I also stopped shooting scenics and nature photos with an eye toward "what someone might want to hang in their home or office". Now I just shoot what I like. I find I'm having more fun from my photography just doing it for my own personal enjoyment.

The photo above is a good example of my re-found approach. I don't think it would have much marketability as a stock photo, and I doubt anyone would want a print of it hanging in their den or living room. But I like it. The contrasting colors, and the shapes both caught my eye, so, click! After I got it up on my computer screen, I still liked it. If anyone else likes it, that's fine. If they roll their eyes, that's fine too. The main thing is that I'm back to the reason I bought my first camera way back in 1982: because I thought it would be fun!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Church In The Apple Orchard

Cornerstone Fellowship Church, Waynesville, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Well, it's not exactly in an apple orchard, but right next to one.

I had been wanting to get a picture of my church from the vantage point of the apple orchard next door. It's a nice building, but it's not exactly an architectural marvel. I thought the foreground of apple trees would give the somewhat plain metal building a little distinction. Apple picking has started, so I figured yesterday evening would be my last opportunity to get the photo I wanted before all the apples got picked. Fortunately, the weather cooperated, and I was able to get my photo.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Need For Quiet

One of my favorite Christian authors is A. W. Tozer. If ever there was a modern day prophet, I think Tozer would qualify. Tozer died in 1963, but his essays read like they were written last week. They are that timeless. After reading his essay, We Must Be Still To Know, I was inspired to match this verse from Isaiah with one of my photos. The need for times of stillness and quiet has never been more necessary than it is in our world today. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What I learned about steam locomotives

Backing Across The Trestle, Bryson City, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

A huge disappointment yesterday: After waiting about an hour for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad's steam locomotive to return to Bryson City, I had to settle for a picture of it being pulled backwards by a diesel-electric locomotive. The GSMR makes a "there and back" run to Nantahala. When it reaches the end of the line, the locomotive must uncouple, move on a parallel track to the other end of the train, re-couple, and then pull it back the opposite direction to Bryson City. Diesel-electric locomotives can pull backwards and forwards with equal ease and speed. Steam locomotives, which must remain coupled to its coal tender car, can only pull forward. To get around this problem, GSMR pulls one way under steam power, and then returns the other direction pulled by a diesel-electric locomotive.

So the photo I got was the steam locomotive being towed backwards across the trestle (note the direction of the flags). A decent photo, but not the one I imagined beforehand. There were no clouds of billowing smoke and steam like I had hoped for. To get the photo I want, I'll have to wait for another day and catch the train on its outbound leg.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Distant Relation?

Waiting For A Customer, Canton, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I made this photo of a food vendor at the Canton Labor Day Festival yesterday afternoon. After I got the photo up on my computer screen, I had the feeling that I had seen it before. Not the person, but the photo. Had I subconsciously copied a photo I had seen previously?

Then it hit me. My photo had reminded me of the famous photo, Migrant Mother, made by Dorthea Lange in 1936. There were some similarities of hand placement and expression. The two women even look like they could be related.

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, CA  -  1936
Photo by Dorthea Lange

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Banjo Picker

Banjo Picker, Cowee, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I'm still posting photos I made two weeks ago. The heat seems to be moderating a bit, so hopefully I'll be getting out with my camera more often than I have over the summer months. I'm just not much of a summer time person.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

Classic Cars

American Made, Cowee, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016


1931 Ford Model A Truck, Cowee, NC  -  2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

When photographing cars I have learned to go for detail shots to avoid distracting backgrounds. Seldom do I find a vehicle situated with an appropriate background that not only doesn't distract, but also adds to the look of the photo. So I frame tight, like on the cute little rear end of this A Model pick-up. Check out those shapely fenders!

Friday, August 12, 2016


Maple In Front Of The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC  -  2011
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I made this photo in April, 2011, so this tree is a little bigger now. The bright green of the new spring leaves against the rusty metal facade is what caught my eye that day. The colors are almost exact opposites on the color wheel. I thought the contrast of textures was interesting too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I can dream, can't I?

Fall On The Parkway, Avery County, NC  -  2010
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

I know we've still got several weeks of summer heat to go, but I've already got Fall on my mind. I'm lusting after that first morning when I step outside, and the humidity is down, and the temperature is in the 50s. Yes, my favorite season is when the air is filled with colorful leaves and footballs!

Friday, July 22, 2016

My Favorite Wild Flower

Turk's Cap Lily With Butterfly, Haywood County, NC  -  2010
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

With the abundance of wild flowers in the region where I live, it's hard to pick an absolute favorite. Stick a gun to my head, and I'll say the Turk's Cap Lily gets the nod. I happened to find this sample with a butterfly on it along the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2010. Sometimes you just end up at the right place at the right time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

And More Wall Art

Some more spray paint murals from the old Day Warehouses in Asheville. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Different Perspective

Up Against It, Asheville, NC  -   2016
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

One of the most photographed objects in Asheville is the British double-decker bus that serves as the residence of Double D's Coffee and Desserts. I wanted something a little different than the standard postcard shot from across the street, so I came up with this.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

More Wall Art

Whenever I visit the warehouses on Riverside Drive in Asheville, I'm always amazed at the new art I find. There's some real talent on display here, and a considerable investment in spray paint too! The scale, colors, and detail of these paintings (graffiti is not an adequate description) impresses me every time I visit. Here's a few more from Sunday afternoon's visit. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

By the way, all of the photos in yesterday's and today's post were made with my little Lumix point and shoot camera. You don't need a big, expensive camera to get good quality photos! I have really enjoyed doing my exploring with a camera that fits in my shirt pocket, and can still produce results like this in good light. I don't miss lugging around my DSLR at all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Crocodile Dundee introduced the term walkabout to the American lexicon back in 1986. The Urban Dictionary describes a walkabout in their interesting style:

Background: Australian. Given to us by Crocodile Dundee: A spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one's choosing in an effort to satisfy one's itchy feet, a need to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, that space over the horizon ... yes ... something like that ... you can't quite touch it, so you have to go find it, because it's, you know, it's there ... Or maybe it feels good to go walking around ... wink: Yeah. It's a WALKABOUT.

That's what I need occasionally, a walkabout with my camera. It may be in the wilderness of our mountains, or the wilderness of Asheville. Last Sunday I chose Asheville, and I went to see what there was to see. I went first to the abandoned warehouses on Riverside Drive to see what the graffiti artists have been up to. Then I roamed around downtown for a bit. Here is some of what I found. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sidewalk Serenade

Sidewalk Serenade, Asheville, NC  -  2106
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

A street musician plays for donations on Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville.