Sunburst Over Broke Leg Falls

While I have been showing photos of scenes that will not look the same in West Liberty since the March 2nd tornado, I thought I would include this shot of Broke Leg Falls.

I went to Broke Leg Falls in Menifee County, Kentucky last summer to get a waterfall shot to add to my portfolio.  Everyone who photographs nature always has some good waterfall shots.  Good waterfall photos are not technically hard to produce if you have a tripod and compose your shot well, and let’s face it they look really nice.

Asking a photographer to produce a waterfall photo is like asking a drummer to play “Wipeout”.   When I was going to dances as a preteen and teen, everyone would request “Wipeout” and cease all activity and gather ’round to hear the band play this amazing rhythmic masterpiece. If the drummer pulled it off, then he was forever implanted in the minds of those gathered as an accomplished percussionist.

Now I am not saying those of you who will see this photo will think of me as an accomplished photographer…but I can play “Wipeout” on the dashboard of my car while driving 75 on the interstate.

Anyway, I set up my tripod at this spot since I could see the setting sun and I thought it would add something to the shot. I set my f-stop at f/22 because this gives a good starburst effect and you can shoot at a slow speed to give the waterfall the blurr effect everyone likes.

I remember going to Broke Leg Falls with my parents’ Sunday School class for picnics when I was young and I thought it was a magical place. The kids would run all over and our parents seemed oblivious as to where we were.  We would show up in time to eat…go off exploring again and show up when it was time to leave. I had my 23 year-old daughter and her boyfriend with me and I was always aware of where they were every second while I was taking pictures.

When questioning my dad about the seemingly lack of oversight from his generation on us kids when we were somewhere like Broke Leg Falls, he would always say, “I thought you had enough sense to stay on the paths and not go over the falls.”

I saw Broke Leg Falls a few months after the tornado.  I knew it was going to be devastating and I could not bring myself to go and see.  When I did finally get the nerve to go, I was very saddened at the sight, like seeing that aged rock star at the Super Bowl halftime show.  I don’t know how you can tear up a waterfall, but that is what happened.  I left with the feeling that another piece of my childhood will never be seen again.

If you like this photo, you may see others here.

West Liberty Methodist Church

I will never forget running up to Main Street after the tornado went through and seeing the steeple of the Methodist Church sitting in the middle of Route 7.  I know there are some images of this terrible event that will forever stay with me and that sight will surely be one of those images.

The West Liberty Methodist Church has always been a focal point of our town, with its beautiful steeple and white brick contrasting the blue sky.  This was the picture I wanted to capture  when I took this photo.  Now because of the numerous power lines that were in front of the building on the corner of Prestonsburg and Main, it made getting a good shot of the church building very difficult.  Not until I bought a 7 mm fish-eye lens was I able to photograph the church building by standing inside the power lines.  If you notice, I still had the shadows on the front of the building.  The afternoon light shining on the building gave a better definition of the white brick.  I like the black and white because it showed more contrast with the dark blue sky.

When I was in my pre-teen and teenage years, going to church was important.  I had many friends that went to the Methodist Church and I went to the Christian Church just up the street.  When we were old enough to venture out on our own, we would have a quick assemblage between Sunday School and “church” at Don’s Restaurant located conveniently between the two churches. This was about as close to rival gangs as there were growing up in West Liberty in the sixties and Don’s was our turf battle.  I would get a cherry coke at the fountain and a box of Luden’s cherry cough drops to get me through the next service.  On some occasions I would be late for church due to an intense philosophical discussion with my rival friends on the differences of our two theologies.   The dogma we usually argued about was which minister could get us out in time to get the good booths at Don’s for our afternoon meal.   We, at the Christian Church usually lost that battle for we were always watching the Methodists eat first and head out the door with that “I-told-you-so” condescending smirk across their gravy-stained faces.  As you can tell, I am still dealing with some issues from my past.

I will miss standing on the south end of Main Street and looking down the street and seeing the white-bricked Methodist Church building with its steeple rising  majestically against a blue sky.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Gentle Shepherd

I have always loved the big stained glass windows in the West Liberty Christian Church.  I have tried many times to capture a good photo of this particular window.  In the summer when we would have choir practice in the late afternoon before sunset when the sun would be low in the sky, this window which faces west would glow at this time of the day.  It was a beautiful sight. 

I wanted to take a photo during the glow time in the late afternoon when it was the most radiant.  Unfortunately, this is also the most difficult time to photograph a stained glass window.  The exposure is very hard to get right because so much of the detail of the window will be “washed out”  in the bright light coming through the window. You just can’t follow the metering system in the camera.  Because of digital imaging, I don’t have to shoot up two rolls of film and still be disappointed because I did not get what I wanted. After numerous shots, I finally got something I could live with.

We lost our 102-year old building to the tornado that came through West Liberty earlier this year and with it went the three large stained glass windows. These windows brought me much comfort from the time I was a child til my inner child was housed in a 55-year old body.

I know in my Christian faith we are not supposed to have images of God and I know those images of Jesus in the windows did not look like the real Jesus of Nazareth, however they helped me meditate at times on who Jesus really is.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ and at times that is a very difficult thing for me and at other times it is so simple.  The difference in these times is my willingness to follow the Shepherd and hear His voice.  Usually I am the one lamb in the thicket or the crevice baa-ing for help, because I have gone off on my own looking for that greener pasture.

The Gentle Shepherd depicted in this window is forever calling me to follow Him.  I hope I can always answer that call.

If you like this photo you can see more here.

Can’t Wait for a Peanut Butter Shake…

For those few of you who will read this blog, please forgive my indulgence into my past and please forgive my somewhat public therapy sessions on the proverbial couch as I work through the difficulty of dealing with post-tornado stress and depression.

This is a photo of the Freezer Fresh in West Liberty, KY.  I took this shot one summer night.  I wanted a night shot to get the movement of cars driving around the small dairy building.  I sent my two children to the window for an order after I  set my tripod up across the street.  I set my camera up for a long exposure and hoped my kids didn’t move too much.

The Freezer Fresh was built and opened by my dad in 1957.  It had been a popular hang-out in our town for over fifty years, that is before the tornado, or as the people of Haiti refer to the devastating earthquake simply as “the event”.

As I made my way down Prestonsburg Street that fateful night on March 2, 2012, one of the sights that affected me the most was seeing the Freezer Fresh in ruins, with the ice cream machine oozing water…seemingly gasping its last breath.  My son walked over to turn it off as if to put it out of its misery.

For me, the Freezer Fresh was a kid’s greatest treasure. Since my dad was the owner,  I could go and get free ice creams and shakes and big wheels and brown derbys and sundaes and hot dogs and barbeques.  For those few years of my childhood I was Caligula of the dairy products, spending my summers in a lactose indulged haze and I did not care who knew it.

My kingdom of that summer dairy world  came to an end one fateful night when I saw two gentlemen in my family room talking to my dad.  I later learned that he had sold the Freezer Fresh to those two fine men that I had known all of my life and suddenly, I was jealous of their kids who happened to be good friends of mine.  My rule was over, forced from my throne, chocolate dripping from the corners of my mouth, in a state of depression  that lasted til the day I finally passed my driver’s test and went to the Freezer Fresh with a sparse amount of change in my pocket and experienced something I had only read about…sweet freedom.

I pulled my dad’s Plymouth Valiant   into the Freezer Fresh parking lot and ordered me something, I don’t even remember, but I know it spoiled my supper. It began a time of revelry into burning gas mixed with  hot dogs smothered with chili and slaw, a combination of biofuels that kept me going well into college.

The Freezer Fresh has had four owners since 1957, all of them wonderful people. They have seen teenagers come and go, starting out their working careers and professions slogging dairy products and double-deckers across the small linoleum counters. They have seen loves develop into marriages, Road Runners peeling out, a few fights, and a lot of smiles.

The Freezer Fresh is going to open again soon…the glorious kingdom returns.  PEANUT BUTTER SHAKES FOR EVERYONE!!!!!!

If you like this photo, there are more of my photos here.

And They’re Off…

This is my first blog.

I felt like this photo was a good start, because it symbolized a beginning, the beginning of a rebirth for our community after devastation.

The West Liberty Kiwanis Club celebrates July 4th on Main Street, a tradition that has occurred longer than I can remember.  This particular celebration was very special. It was the first event held on Main Street since a horrifying tornado hammered us on March 2nd of this year. The tornado virtually destroyed all of Main Street and the rest of the business district.  My office was one of the buildings destroyed.  There were many homes and residences destroyed and people were displaced.  There were six very good people killed in the rural areas of our county.

West Liberty was settled close to two hundred years ago but now it seems that we will have a new beginning.  This photo somehow to me represents that beginning.

The photo was shot at the start of the race with a Canon EOS 40D and a Vivitar 7mm fish-eye lens.  I wanted to capture the start of the race with a blur to show motion, so I set my shutter speed at 1/30th of a second and aperture of f-22.  The shot was hand-held above my head to give the elevated perspective.  I wanted a view of Main Street and the crowd with the start of the race.

The people had a wonderful time and it was one of the best 4th of July celebrations that we have had.  I hope West Liberty can recover and surpass its past.

If you liked this image, there’s more here.

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