Providence and Bird Poop

•June 29, 2019 • Leave a Comment

We went to Rome, the Georgia variant, for a wedding. Lovely town. Home of Ellen Axson Wilson, wife and First Lady of President Woodrow Wilson. I have not been here in years.

True to form, I woke up before 6 AM. I found the fitness room, but thought better of it, and instead decided to take a sunrise walk.

There is a very nice walk across the Etowah River. It flows through the town.

As the sun was just peaking above the horizon, there were hundreds of sparrows flying above the river darting back and forth catching bugs. They flew close by, some just a few feet from me. Their mouths were open the entire time receiving what was freely theirs to get.

Some called, maybe to others in the group. They put on an impressive show of Providential care.

Just as soon as the sun was fully up, most of the birds were gone, except for the proverbial late risers who I suppose did not get the worm, or the bug in this case.

And to make sure I did not take this moment of illumination too seriously, yep I got pooped on by some dang bird. My daughter tells me that a bird pooping on you is good luck.

The Circus

•June 26, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Circuses are ages old. They have been grotesque, like Roman circuses. They have been more or less civilized. Lately they have been sanitized for the age of sensitivity. Animal rights, a litigious culture, the Internet, video games, blame the demise of the circus on what you will, but the popularity is largely gone.

Florida State University has its Flying High Circus which is acrobatic. They have a circus camp. If you are in Georgia you can see them at Callaway Gardens Friday, May 31, 2019, to Friday, July 19, 2019. If you have not seen it before you should.

We all know about Cirque du Soleil . Again, if you have never seen it, you should.

The most well known example I am referring to is Ringling Brothers, which closed the tent after 146 years. So very sad.

I am presenting here a photo essay; the smelly, sketchy circus that travels town to town. The Traveling Circus. In 2017 there were 19 remaining circuses using animals. The photographs are from different ones I experienced for several years, taking my kids during the day, then returning at night. They are from what I hope is the “real circus” of elephants, and acrobats, and clowns, and people shot out of canons, with carnies, and rigged “games of skill.”

During the day the kids and parents come and enjoy the rides. But at night. Ah, night time at the circus. Enjoy the darkness and creepiness.

They are also following Ringling Brothers’ path.

Recovering Time

•June 23, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Two creative expressions grabbed hold of me when I was about ten years old. The first was photography. The second was music. I’ll talk about music later.

I learned black and white photography and darkroom at Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama during the Apollo program. Then when I got “serious” I learned Zone photography method from Fred Picker and Ansel Adams books. I was an obsessive practitioner.

Fast forward decades later. Weddings, family, landscapes, the details of nature, gallery showings, the art scene, working for a couple of studios part time, and I ended up with over 10,000 negatives and slides, and over 25,000 digital images.

I can no longer put off trying to organize my passion. If I don’t do it, my kids will just give up in frustration and toss everything in the trash. Perhaps that is the best solution, but maybe they would like to see some of the old photos.

Of the photographic voyeur it is said they have no memories, only images. All collected at an average 1/60 second shutter speed, the sum total of a life in photography spans only a few seconds. That is what I learned. I find myself now intentionally leaving my camera at home. Experiencing life and having memories while I still can is more important than recording it. But the acquisitive passion remains. I can’t help the habit.

Now I’m in the process of editing, organizing, and scanning photographs.

Good film scanners are expensive. The ones with a modest price tag do not offer the resolution I think I need. I came up with another method; use my high resolution digital camera to “scan” slides and negatives.

The ingredients: Nikon D7500, 24mp camera, a macro lens, bubble level, remote switch, copy stand, light box or iPad with a lightbox app. ISO as low as it goes, f5.6, aperture priority, RAW (most good digital cameras have the capability), and a piece of 5×7 glass to hold the negatives and slides flat.

Here is a photograph of the setup.

Adjust the lens and focusing to use as much of the camera’s resolution as you can.

I have a piece of software that installed the codex for several Raw formats including Nikon NEF and Canon CR, so I can view large thumbnails in Windows 10 File Explore. Indispensable.

I open the captured image in Photoshop Elements. It has a very nice processing window for RAW format. I can do almost all adjustments, cropping, and sharpening. Then I open the image in the regular editor and save it as a tiff or jpeg, depending on how I want to use it later.

Be aware the the iPad and lightbox app may introduce Moire artifacts, that a constant light source does not. Depends on your camera. They are a pain to remove.

Have fun. If you don’t want to fool with it, contact me for my rates.

I Went for a Walk

•June 18, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Sweetwater Creek State Park is located on the west side of Atlanta. I frequently go walking there, but I had not been to the north side of the creek and the new bridge. It’s about a mile or so from the renovated visitor center, and a fairly easy walk down, a little more strenuous on the return.

The project started in 2005. There’s still work going on.

The water always flows in the creek. Heavy rains will send it roaring down the shoals and cascades.

They built a new bridge that connects the east and west banks. The creek is unusual because it flows due east for a long stretch, so maybe this is the north bank to south bank. I need a compass next time, and my apologies for the inaccuracy.

The old bridge had fallen years ago and it took several years for the Department of Natural Resources to get funding, and complete the project. The new bridge is nicely done.

Sweetwater Creek renovation has gotten awards. The new visitor center has a nice museum showing a model of the factory, Civil War weapons and uniforms, and samples of the textiles manufactured there before Union soldiers from Sherman’s army razed the factory and town and exiled the citizens of New Manchester to Northern internment camps. “War is hell,” as the general used to say. Bless his heart. .

My dad said he played in the creek and the on the old bridge when he was a kid.

I did not take it down to the factory, but I bet the view is nice. Next time.

A Gallery

•June 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Random stuff.

I am currently editing over 10,000 negatives, slides, and prints. They represent a lifetime of photography. Below, I displayed some easy selections. More difficult will be the family images, if I decide to share them. Not sure I’ll publish any of them, for obvious reasons. We live in a fallen world. People have forgotten their imago dei.

Black and white. The photos are ones that for some reason got me down deep at some level.

I’ll publish more in other posts. I’m working on getting my photography business back up to speed. The last few years have been pretty intense and I had to put it on the back burner. Now I have some time, I hope, to spin it up again. I got a lot of things going on at the same time, experimenting with different formats and presentations.

Check out my photo site.

Enjoy. They are all copyrighted by me over many years.

Sweetwater Creek. Rocks and stream.
Sweetwater Creek. Stump.
Wilmington, NC. Benches
Rocks, Waves, and Shore Birds
Walk Along the Shore
Another Event - Gymnast

Let’s See

•June 14, 2019 • Leave a Comment

What shall I talk about first? How about the image in the header? It is an extreme crop of one of my own. My wife calls them “abstract”. What it “is” is part of a rusty bolt holding a metal washer to a board. The color is enhanced. It sort of reminds me of the photographs sent back from Mars that we have seen recently, or maybe of some earthly desert landscape. One time I scared myself. I had taken a photo of some birch tree bark and saw a face in it. Now I would just cut the tree down and sell the bark, face and all, on eBay.

I tried to be Ansel Adams for about 5 years. I walked about the mountains. I set up my 2 1/4 camera in the very same spots in Yosemite where he set his own tripod. I had a 4×5 view camera and I used sheet film. I made large format black and white images, and small 4×5 inch contact prints. I actually had gallery shows, not just one. Now that will inflate your ego way out of proportion to your ability. One gallery show and you start writing blogs and pontificating on politics, or what is or is not moral. Is my ascot in place?

One day while hiking to a waterfall here in Georgia, I came across a gully with a stream flowing at the bottom. There was a single log across the gully, which someone thoughtfully placed there as a bridge.  There was no other way to cross it that was visible to me. 

I have thought of the person who placed the log across the gully. Why one log? It was a trail in a forest. Could you not find another log?

There comes a time when your faith meets reality, and those things you thought you believed are tested. I was carrying a load of about 30 to 40 pounds of photography equipment, including my precious 4×5 view camera. I could not toss it across the gully – it was too far. I could not climb down into the gully and back out – it was too deep and steep. I could not heel-to-toe across the log carrying it all.  I dared not cross the log with my equipment on my back. There was no one there to help.

I came to the spot unprepared, and I had to turn back. I also had diarrhea; just pure joy in the woods. My life was changed in those moments of failure and cramps! I lost my religion.

I did not photograph the falls that day. I spent the remainder of the day, slowly walking back to my car, cramping up several times along the way. Shortly after, I sold the view camera and all the paraphernalia, and 35mm became my artistic tool.  Now it’s digital, the lighter the better. What a relief. Big cameras are darn heavy. I changed my photography style. I never set up in Ansel’s tripod holes again. I don’t have to be Ansel Adams.

I have also discovered that the most important photographs I ever took or will take are not landscapes but of people I love.

Let’s Start Over

•August 5, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I started this Blog ten years ago and I went nowhere with it, and obviously it went nowhere.  So now that I have entered the phase of life where I have some time to devote to writing, maybe I can get it going for real.

Writing.  When I entered Georgia Tech in the fall of 1967, I did not realize how much I live in the left brain and how naturally non-technical I was then.  I made A’s in high school, near perfect record, so there was no warning.  I also did well at the finest engineering and science school in the world.  But you know what kept me from flunking out the first quarter?  Writing.  English. Composition. Every engineer’s bane, but my blessing.  I loved The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.  A’s across all the writing and composition courses, while my chemistry, calculus, engineering graphics were all suffering.  That should have been a clue, but I was an 18 year old dweeb, dumb as a stump, and I had visions of being an astronaut.

So now I write.  I am compelled to write.  I hardly care if I have an audience.  If only a couple people read this and enjoy it, then great.

You have been invited into this space to enjoy conversation. I hope It will be like word association, or maybe more like a game of Scrabble. A word or thought may lead to another. I may hit on any topic.

Some opinions I earned through experience and expertise.  Those include a long career in technology, and even longer time in music and photography.  I have learned a lot in my spiritual growth as well. Frankly, my convictions seem bigoted to many. I don’t apologize for Jesus. He apologizes for me, his fumbling, bumbling brother. About other things, I just have some obtuse, unrefined opinion.  The story I write may not have a “point.”  Things may not end well, or even cleanly.

I’ll try not to be a kook.  I am arrogant, mis-informed, and opinionated. but I genuinely like people.

The biggest risk of all is “What if no one reads it?” Oh well, that’s the breaks.

So, let me start over.