Category Archives: Photo Journal

Procrastination: Putting off today what you can do tomorrow

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Or can you?

Yesterday, I walked around the ponds, headphones on, water bottle slung over one shoulder, step tracker clipped on my shirt. I was out for exercise.

That did not stop my roaming eye. As I walked up the powerline right of way, I saw another purple flower—a Maypop blossom! (Some people may call them passion flowers.) These vines grow wild in these parts. After they bloom, they bear fruit. I’ve heard you can eat the fruit, but I never did. When I was a child, I played with Maypops, using sticks to make animals out of them.

When I saw the flower, I was excited! But I was midway through my second lap, and I did not want to interrupt the momentum of the walk. I did not go back for the camera.

I lost the opportunity to take the photo of the purple passion flower//Maypop blossom. Surely, it will be in bloom tomorrow. . . . .

Well, here is what is looks like today.

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It is beginning to close.  It’s a strange-looking thing at this stage.  The good news is, that while I was taking this photo, I saw that there are a few more buds that haven’t opened yet. I will be watching these so that I can get the picture.  And I will be watching for the fruit, too. I may even make a Maypop animal!

Here are some other things I saw along the walk around the pond today.

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Roses in the backyard

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Wild blackberries beginning to ripen

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An interesting bent tree

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The grand oaks that line one side of the dam between “Herbert’s” pond and Gramps’s pond.

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Mushrooms, moss, and fallen leaves—an interesting combination of textures. (No, I did not stage this.)

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Red trumpet vines.

All I have to do is keep my eyes open.

By the way, I’m not exactly upset with myself that I didn’t go back and take a picture yesterday. I carry the memory.

History—Past and Present and What It Might Say about Our Future

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I haven’t been “philosophical” on my blog in a long, long time. But I have some thoughts today.

I spent the weekend in Bennetts Point with Mama and my brother and sister. We went expressly for the program sponsored by the community association about the new historical marker put up at the boat landing at the Frank Baldwin Bridge. The marker honors the Engagement at Chapman’s Fort when five Union soldiers received the Medal of Honor for rescuing hundreds of soldiers when their vessel, the Boston,  sank. I won’t go into the whole history, but here is the gist:

In May 1863, the Union vessel, The Boston, sailed up the Ashepoo River to take out the trestle for the Charleston-Savannah Railroad in order to cripple the Southern troops and the South in general. Southern troops managed to keep the Boston from reaching the bridge. While on the trip, the Boston became lodged on in the marsh. At one point, an order was given to destroy the vessel. Five Union soldiers helped rescue hundreds of black Union soldiers. The rescuers were white.

Now, that may not be a big deal, but this monument is a BIG DEAL. First, it recognizes a Civil War battle that took place in the South. Second, it honors an engagement in which the Confederate forces were (sort of, thanks to the grounding the Union vessel) successful in preventing the Union forces from destroying a vital portion of the railroad. Third, the marker honors five UNION soldiers who received the Medal of Honor for their acts of bravery. These men did not care about the color of the skin of the men in the regiment. Those men needed saving. Period.

 

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I’m processing all this in the context of recent events in New Orleans where Confederate monuments have been removed. We cannot change history. The Civil War, the War between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression—however you want to name it—happened. That fact can’t be changed by anyone. There were brave men on both sides of the line; there were Southerners who were opposed to slavery but fought to protect their land. There were unscrupulous men who fought only to kill another human being. There were cowards on both sides as well. We can’t rewrite history or change the facts.

What we can do, though, is try to understand what happened. We have to learn what really happened. We have to see things through the other side’s eyes, whoever that other side is.

What I appreciate about this marker is that it honors Medal of Honor winners. It presents a more balanced view of this engagement. The Bennetts Point community should be proud of it.untitled-26

Picture Spring

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What does spring look like in your part of the Northern Hemisphere? I have to be careful because I have friends in various social media groups who live in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s winter there.

Today is a kind of stormy looking day. I do hear a bit of thunder now and again, but so far, the day is just cloudy. The jasmine has bloomed, as have the blackberries. I see the honeysuckle, though. My roses are blooming as well. The trumpet vine is not as colorful as it was two weeks ago. Everything is green.

It sounds kind of funny to start a Picture Spring project in May, but that’s going to be my focus this month in my personal photography. I want to look more closely at what spring looks like here in my corner of the world.

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I will be doing some of my own prompts while I take on this project, but I will also be following Tracey Clark’s Picture Spring class. I have taken Tracey’s classes before when she taught through Big Picture Classes, and she is inspiring. I am looking forward to starting on May 15.

It has been hard to get out to photography this past month. It has been incredibly busy as we had Aaron’s wedding on April 1. I still have to go through the CDs of pictures they sent me and choose the ones I want to use in an album so I can show my beautiful daughter and handsome son. Then, no sooner than I get home from the wedding, I get sick with bronchitis and sinusitis. I am still coughing, and having some issues, so getting out with the camera to walk has not been easy.

Hopefully, May will be better. I will go out and start to photograph spring. And, of course, I will mess around with Photoshop and Topaz and the various textures and overlays that I’ve accumulated. It will be a time to create more art.

I will also be putting together a new course on Teachable.com that combines writing and photography. Look for more information about it in the coming weeks.

While I Was Not Looking

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THIS happened:

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Things started blooming.

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I have “prided” myself on being observant, of seeing the world, but somehow, all of this happened, and I didn’t notice.

I’ll blame it on

getting ready for Aaron and Sherry’s beautiful wedding on April 1.

going back to work and writing lesson plans and grading papers on March 20.

being “busy.”

getting ready for Easter.

coming down with bronchitis and sinusitis.

You get the idea. I have a million and one excused for allowing all this beauty to go unnoticed. Yet, there it is. I noticed it Saturday, the first day I went out of the house for a reason other than necessity. I saw the white bloom of the blackberries, but I didn’t have the camera. I noticed it.

On my way back to the house (coughing, short of breath, thanks to the bronchitis), I saw the yellow and red of the trumpet vines (or whatever they are). I noticed it.

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And the red Knockout roses are in bloom.

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I noticed it.

This morning, I went out with the camera, and I noticed other things—holly berries, wildflowers, dandelions, even some honeysuckle. It’s all there.

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And today, I noticed it.

What did you notice today?

He Said, She Said

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I posted some pictures of “spring” that I received during my walk through the Dreher Island State Park on Thursday. Folks, it’s FEBRUARY, and I was wearing a short sleeved T-shirt. Temperatures are almost 80 degrees! It was gorgeous. My “fan club” appreciated them; I received a few “likes” and “Loves” and “Wows” and a couple of comments. And then, there was this:

You are an artist, lady.

This comment came from a colleague with whom I had taught for quite a few years. He taught chemistry and physics, and, interestingly enough, he has degrees in theology as well. And he said, “you are an artist.”

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My first response was (in my head), “Boy, do I have you fooled!” My written response was, “Well, thank you. It’s a passion.”

Like so many others I know, I have trouble accepting that label: “you are an artist.” I tend to compare my work to the work of other photographers, both amateur and professional, friends in-person, and friends on-line; and I feel that I come up short.

Last night, I stepped back a bit. I looked at the images I created. I thought a bit about what art is. And here is what I’m thinking this morning, at the edge of a weekend. Art is the way we share our vision of the world. For some, that sharing comes through painting or sculpture or sketching and drawing, through cooking and recipes, through musical compositions or performance, through writing poetry or novels or essays or nonfiction or drama; through acting, through designing and building—I’ve discovered there is an art to hammering a nail straight into a board! (I don’t have that art.)

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I choose to see beauty in the world, and my photographs receive that beauty. I, like so many, can get caught up in the “big picture”—the sight of that majestic pine that has stood in place for years and years and years; the expanse of water where it meets the horizon, a whole field of sunflowers or grain. . . . But then there are the details, that cluster of “baby pine cones” (did you know they are pink?), the end of the stamen covered with thick yellow pollen standing out like spider legs, the amazing depth of blue sky, white clouds rimmed with gray (for contrast!).

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I suppose I am an artist. I have “the art of seeing” and receiving those images reminds me that there is beauty everywhere.

“Traveling” Light

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In the first chapter of The Soul of a Pilgrim, Christine Valters Paintner recommends that the pilgrim travel light. I’m not sure you’d call a walk through Dreher Island State Park a pilgrimage, per se, but I tend to travel light when I do walk through the park. Today was no exception. My only “baggage” was my Canon 7D with the battery grip and the very lightweight Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Sweet 35 optic installed. I did carry my cell phone and car keys as well. No camera bags, no other lenses. Just those items.

One of the challenges I give myself when I walk with the camera is to limit my gear to what I can carry on the camera and/or in my pockets. There’s a reason for that, really. I have to figure out other ways to get the images I want. With a zoom lens, I can stand at a distance and use the lens to capture the image, but with a fixed, or prime, lens, I have to move. I have to step closer or farther away. I have to change my position physically rather than rely on the camera and lens to do the work for me. The results can be better as a result.

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The Lensbaby optics add still another challenge. The Lensbaby is fully manual—manual focus, manual settings. And it’s a soft-focus lens as well as a tilting lens. The sweet spot of focus is not necessarily in the dead center of the lens. It takes a bit of practice to get acceptable results from the Lensbaby system. I deleted quite a few  images before I was satisfied.

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One of the things I especially enjoy about the Lensbaby system is that it sometimes yields results I didn’t quite expect. By shifting the lens to the extremes, the results can be abstract. At least the results are not quite realistic.

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The credit card commercial asks, “What’s in your wallet?” I’m asking today, “What’s in your kit?”

Being Open and Trying Senething Different

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Yesterday, I came home with new nail polish. Today I have blue fingernails! The ladies at the chiropractic clinic loved them! (My children will probably accuse me going through another “midlife crisis.”

But that’s not the only thing I am trying that is different from my “norm.” Kim Manley Ort’s call to adventure #5 in her book Adventures in Seeing also calls me to try something different. I took a few minutes—after I filled the bird feeders—to take a short photo walk around the pond.  We’ve had some rain this week, and the back side of the ponds gets rather wet and muddy, so I curtailed my usual distance. Kim’s challenge was to photograph a subject that not my usual or to do something different. Usually, I leave the camera in the standard picture style and make the images in color, but today, I changed the setting monochrome and tried black and white photography.

The experience was—different. I did a lot of “chimping,” looking at the LED screen after each shot. I tried to figure out what I was (or was not) doing, whether the images were worth keeping. I have some “studying” to do. The first lesson I learned today is that even though I set the camera to make images in black and white, and the images show up as black and white on the camera’s LED screen, they are imported into Lightroom in full color! I learned after a bit of research that the camera records all data when set to receive the images in RAW format. Had I used JPEG, they would have important as black and white. Soooooo, that means I have to convert each image (again) to black and white.

(And I’m not upset because while I was making the pictures, I wondered if I could process them to show hints of color. The answer is YES.)

I also realized that it is harder to see in “black and white” than in color. My more successful images had a wider range of contrasts and texture than my least successful.

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This last is my favorite of these three.

I will keep working with this idea of being open to something new, even blue nail polish!