Sweet Gum in Late Autumn Sun

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To quote that noted  philosopher George Costanza as he left a message on Jerry’s answering machine,  “This is George, I got nothing.”

I wish I could say I had writer’s block, but that would imply that I was a writer.   So let’s just say, ” I got nothing.”

One good thing about having a photo blog is that you can still post a picture and that is what I am doing today.   I really liked this photo I took in my yard, but I don’t have much to add.

This is a sweet gum in my side yard.    A few days ago I just noticed how the late afternoon sun was shining through the leaves as I came home from work.    Usually I am cursing this tree about this time of year because it drops so many leaves in my yard and I have to take care of them.   I don’t rake leaves anymore, I mulch them with the mower.  I do love the smell of the seed pods as they are crushed by the mower.   It is a very fresh aroma amid  the storm of ground leaves blowing in my face.   It is a little hidden pleasure in the midst of a job I don’t enjoy.   It is one of the smells I have always associated with fall.   It’s funny how God gives us a little moment if we look for them to let us know what He has done.

I feel sorry for those poor slobs who live on the southern beaches or who have to endure that horrible southern California climate.   They don’t get to experience what we get in the latter parts of October.   I love the changes in the leaves to the vibrant colors.   God gives us a wonderful blessing before we enter into the doldrums of winter.

I always try to get out and take some fall foliage photos.   The problem with this is it usually  coincides with deer hunting season.   You can imagine my trepidation to go out into the woods in my best beige and white jacket and khaki pants.

I waited too late this year to get out in the woods.   The day before I was able to go, we had a hard rain with some sort of steroid induced zephyr.   The result was trees that looked like Daffy Duck after getting in the way of Elmer Fudd.

So after getting this shot of the gum tree leaves in the setting sun, I counted this as a foliage shot and I was content.   I hope you like it as much as I do.

Looky there, 445 words.  Does that still count as writer’s block?  I guess it does if it isn’t very interesting.  (That makes 463).

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

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Sunset in Harbor Town

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Big Surf Daddy went home for a week for a much needed break.   He was mentally and emotionally spent from the daily decision making of trying-to-make-people-happy-so-they-will-come-back-to-see-him-again part of his life.

My alter ego started surfacing weeks ago as I watched my watch play tricks on my already-vacationing mind.   It seemed like my watch was moving fast during the nine to five, laughing at me while I was chasing the carrot and trying to stay on schedule so I wouldn’t have to make those with appointments wait more than usual (see above description).   At the same time my watch would then seem to drag to an infinitely slow pace as the days would progress from sunrises to sunsets,  a paradox that would baffle John Cameron Swayze.

There was also a small matter of marrying off my only daughter two weeks previous to this trip to the sea.    During this time I felt like I was part of an emotional lab experiment, going from beaker to beaker and tube to tube while some malcontented, discontented lab assistant interjected another stimuli to see what would happen to the poor sap.    Would this photo of his daughter in pig tails dissolve his current state of stability?    Would a tincture of remembrance of her twirling in her dress cause him to combust into a depressed bawling plume of purple smoke?    Would a smidgeon of recollection of him holding her in his arms and wiping away tears suddenly make him go to goo?

As it turned out, my daughter had a lovely wedding and married a man who will be a wonderful, loving husband.   She was very happy on her wedding day and that kept me from submerging myself in the punch bowl until I saw a bright light.

After the wedding, Big Surf Daddy took over.   There is no memory of the two weeks after the wedding and before the departure to the beach, only a vast chasm filled with ocean breezes that extended from ear to ear.

Big Surf Daddy is at home on the beach.   He and Mrs. Big Surf headed to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.   Big Surf knew this trip to the beach would be special, because it was the first time he and his lovely bride of twenty-eight years would be at the sandy shore alone since before they had children twenty-five years ago.

There was a slight miscalculation in the anticipation of setting records on the bliss-o-meter…

Having the kids at the beach evidently was a big part of the beach experience for Big Surf and his lovely mate.  Big Surf only waded out into the waves on one occasion, to do a seapee.  He still found some shark’s teeth and went for walks with his lovely missus.  He read a book and took some naps.  But it wasn’t the same.

I took this photo of the harbor in Harbor Town on Hilton Head Island at sunset. You can see the light  in the lighthouse.  I thought it made a compelling picture.

There was one benefit to not having the kids with us at the beach…HALF-PRICE SEAFOOD!!!!!!!!!!!

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Cupola at Sunset

image_1As a photographer, what happens when your worlds collide?

I am talking about your photographer world and your loving husband world.  It’s the age-old  case, the classic moral dilemma, the situation ethic, the ego vs. super ego, good angel on the right shoulder and demon on the left.  What is a photographer to do when faced with this paradox that could end all of humanity (or at least his humanity)?

My wife and I were driving through  the University of Kentucky’s campus in Lexington, KY last evening.   There had been a storm that had just passed through and the sunset  that followed was beautiful and there was dramatic lighting all over town.   So in photographer world, there is a great need to park the car and start taking pictures of something… anything… in this lighting.

Unfortunately, we were road- weary from a long drive and wanting to get home.   We had to make a stop in Lexington to drop off some precious cargo and we had just started back on the road.  In the loving husband world, we were trying to get home to watch a) the recorded seven-hour US Open golf championship or b) the newest episode of “Madmen”.   Both were equally important  but not exactly in the same order for each occupant of this automobile.

Now I have had much experience in the past in dealing with these emotional- erupting,cosmic calamities.  I am usually able to avoid them by focusing my telescope on the beautiful heavenly body sitting in the passenger seat and gauging the path of her orbit.   It usually has to do with the level of gamma rays emanating from a face-melting stare that gives me a clue as to whether I should stop for that photo.

I am sure photographers have been faced with this unfortunate situation since the dawn of man, when Og would stop the family mammoth on their way to the in-laws for Thanksgiving and chisel out a beautiful sunset on the ol’  Kodak Kodastone.

One particular world-colliding event my wife and I survived had been on a trip to California.   We were driving on the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway on a sun-bathed day.   We were heading to San Francisco.  My loving radiant wife was a few months pregnant with our first child and had that other-worldly glow.   We came upon a Winnebago that was moving at the speed of my ability to determine changes in my wife’s mood.

With some deft driving skills I passed the mammoth-like vehicle on the curvy road…only to find a spot to pull off for a once-in-a-lifetime photo.   As I was putting my camera back in the bag, my heart sank as I saw that Winnebago drive slowly by.   My wife had a loving, eye-rolling smirk…so cute.

Again I found myself behind this slow moving behemoth and after drafting him for about ten miles at about ten miles per hour, I finally made a move reminiscent of James Bond on an Italian mountain road.   I waited until I knew I had put enough curvy black top between me and the Winnebago and pulled over for another once-in-a-lifetime photo.   Much to my surprise, the Winnebago went lumbering by.  My wife had lost the smirk… and the eye roll.   Now it was just eyes without the roll.

I swore to my wife I would make this good and maneuvered my powerful four-cylinder rental around this bliss-killing  sloth a third time.   When I pulled off to take another once-in-a-lifetime photo, I did not have to see my wife’s expression…I knew.   She said something about Shirley MacLaine not having as many once-in-a-lifetime photos.   Meanwhile there went the Winnebago….and there went my wife’s glow.

I took this shot yesterday of the cupola atop the Lexington Theological Seminary.   I only tweaked the contrast and exposure during editing.  The colors are natural.  My wife was supportive because she was already asleep.

This is not a once-in-a-lifetime shot.  I am not allowed to take anymore of those.

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

Silhouetted Saints

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While the world is focused on the conclave in the Vatican in anticipation of the next pope, I thought I would get as much mileage as I could out of my photos from Rome.    I have over 1500 photos…………… I can wait out the Cardinals.

This is a shot of the statues atop the colonnade surrounding the piazza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza San Pietro.

There are ninety-six statues of saints and martyrs, designed by Bernini, that stand above the colonnade.   These statues are, left to right,  St. Leo the Great, St. Alexander of Alexandria, and St. Ignatius.   They have peered down on the parishioners and pilgrims for over five hundred years.

When my wife and I were in  the Vatican, it was late afternoon and the sun was behind the massive structure.    I could not get a good photo of the front of the church so I reverted to my old standby of silhouettes…making lemonade when you have lemons…putting on my big boy pants…sucking it up…walking it off…”stop crying Nancy”, sorry just remembering some comforting words from the past when things did not go as planned.

As I have mentioned in previous writings, my wife is of the Catholic faith and I am not.   This has led to some interesting conversation over the years, usually ending with me asking too many “why” questions and she questioning my motives and rolling her eyes and muttering under her breath as she leaves the room.

By and large, we have handled this difference in our faiths pretty well over twenty-seven years of marriage.    We mainly focus on what we have in common and that is a shared belief that Jesus is Lord and He died for the sins of all mankind and He rose again.   However it has led to some moments of entertainment for her before I learned the details of the Catholic Mass, such as the time I decided to take communion for the first time one Sunday morning at a Mass in Dallas.   I was unaware of the protocol during this beloved part of the Mass.   Evidently you are to respond, “Amen”, when the priest offers, “The body of Christ”.    My lovely wife left out this little nugget of information as we were waiting in line to receive communion.

When I approached the priest, he offered me the host and said, “The body of Christ”.    I stared at the host, then up at the priest, then back to the host, then back up to the priest wondering why this was taking so long.    As my wife turned and walked away, I felt my life-line slowly leaving my desperate clutches.    I was like that astronaut who, after deciding to skip the spacewalk class, found himself  adrift in space, wondering why he never asked a few more questions.

At this point, I realized that I was to respond.   Panic set in for I had NO IDEA what to say.    Before I could verbalize something that would make it even more obvious of the “NC” at the altar, (that is” non-catholic” for those of you who don’t have my extensive knowledge of the Catholic faith), the priest had mercy on a troubled soul and handed me the host, probably thinking he was being presented with one who was not in control of all of his faculties.

This led to a rather lengthy discussion between Mr. NC and Mrs. C on the ride home.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Taking Liberty Road Curve

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I saw the speedometer needle shimmy past the 100 mile per hour indicator. The landscape was blurring past like some angry impressionistic painting. I was so excited.

I was about eight or nine years old and was riding in a tan Pontiac GTO going up “new” Index Hill. That was not very difficult for the muscle cars of the sixties. Many of these cars were gone by the time I was old enough to drive and I remembered them fondly as they circled and peeled out of the Freezer Fresh drive-in. I circled in a 1965 two-toned (aqua/bondo) Corvair. I could not peel out.

This was the first time I had ever gone over 100 miles per hour in a car.

When the driver let my brother and me out of the car at our house, I told the driver in pre-adolescent lingo how impressed I was with his fine automobile and his daring driving skills. I also told him what every teenager would love to hear after cradling someone’s precious children in a land rocket speeding merrily along the road, “I’m going to tell my mother about this ride.”

Now the driver was not to keen about this certain revelation and informed me that my mom would probably not be too interested in the details of this little afternoon drive. He must have made an impression on me because, to this day, I have never told her.

I took this picture one late summer evening on Liberty Road, outside of West Liberty, KY. I wanted to get a sunset photo as it set over a field of wild flowers. The sky was not cooperating so I sat there for a few minutes and watched a few cars taking this curve.

I got my tripod out and climbed on top of my Ford Escape. I always like slow timed exposure photos and started photographing cars as they took this curve. I like the above shot. It shows the stream of the headlights along with the subtle reflection on the guard rails and road. I also got a little of the color of the sky.

As I look at this photo, I think of all those teen-age drivers that had the thrill of driving those muscle cars and how fast they took this curve. I wonder if they ever told their moms.

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

Fading Sun over Morgan County


Now don’t think the title of this photo has any hidden meaning, not another depressing innuendo about the tornado.   I thought it was a pretty picture.

I took this shot from a ridge on a farm in Grassy Creek in Morgan County, KY.   I had my daughter with me.   It was at the end of summer last year.   It was a good evening.

The late summer makes for some good sunsets due to the humidity that settles in the hills of eastern Kentucky.   To me, there seems to be more color.  I liked this sunset because you could follow the sun as the big ball fell slowly to the horizon and I waited until it got close to the tree covered hills.   It was a bonus for me that it started to hide behind the clouds.

It is scenes like this, serene and quiet, that I like about photography.  I like that you can capture a moment of your life and remember how you felt at that same moment.   I guess one could paint the scene, but I think the mood may change a few times over the time required to paint the picture.   Anyway, I like these scenes of eastern Kentucky.

In some small way, I always wanted to  promote the beauty of our part of a beautiful state.  So many scenes like this come our way every day.  Whether we are driving along the Mountain Parkway or on a rural road, hunting in the woods, fishing in a small farm pond, cutting a field of hay in the summer, or just an evening with your daughter to watch a sunset, eastern Kentucky has some wonderful opportunities to view God’s creation.

Just for the record, I don’t hunt.  I don’t think it is wrong, but me with a gun in my hand in an uncontrolled environment would not be good for said environment or for whoever did not value their life enough to be chaperoning me.  Also for the record, I have never cut hay in a field…usually way too hot.

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