Old Mill Park Swinging Bridge

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I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from West Liberty in Morgan County in eastern Kentucky in the United States of America on the North American continent of the planet Earth in the Solar System of the Milky Way Galaxy in the Universe of God’s Realm.   I don’t know how to use Google Earth or my car’s system for navigation, so I thought I would locate where I lived by actual words.

I wanted to use a picture that depicts serenity.   I like to think of Christmas as a peaceful and serene time in our lives.   In the midst of all that is Christmas in our society, there are usually a few moments of peace and serenity that can be found if we look for them.   I hope you find them this Christmas.

I took this photo a few years ago.   This swinging bridge was in West Liberty at the Old Mill Park.   It spanned the Licking River.  Unfortunately, it was one of the things lost in our town to the tornado in 2012.

I originally started to use this picture and use the bridge as a metaphor (or simile…I don’t the difference).  I was going to explain, in tired, overused terms how we are crossing the bridge in  various stages of our lives.  But as often happens when I couldn’t continue with what I started, I jumped off.

I love Christmas time but lately it seems more involved than I would like it to be.   As I was doing my pre-Christmas rant this morning in our kitchen, my lovely wife  happened to be in a direct line of spewn verbage that blew her hair back as if she sat too close to a space launch .   When she could again find enough replaced oxygen in the room to speak, she calmly asked, “Problem?”

I always enter into the Christmas season remembering my times as a wee lad.   I assume as most of you as well.   In my Beaver Cleaver- sort- of- fogged -recollection, Christmas was a wonderful time.   I wonder if my parents and grandparents were stressed with the responsibility of trying to make sure everyone in the family would have a wonderful experience.   I wonder if my rant this morning in the kitchen was any different from a million other rants by a million other parents and grandparents.

My wife has a wonderful way of dealing with the stresses of life.   After varying stages of worry from Defcon 5 to Defcon 1 (yes this is the correct sequence, I looked it up), she just takes care of it and I don’t ask questions.   I, on the other hand, start at Defcon 3 and stay there in a paralyzing cauldron of what-ifs until my lovely wife rips the key from my trembling fingers and pushes the launch button.

I have a wonderful family and I really enjoy spending time with them.    Like all families, as we grow things become more complicated.   Our children and their families amass other obligations  and soon they will have their own pre-Christmas rants.     We are all part of God’s family.   As His family has grown, look at how complicated it has become.

Somehow, I think He handles it a little better than I do.

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

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Remembering Park Drive-In

image_1-1Today I am feeling a little nostalgic…

I don’t know if looking at this photo made me nostalgic or nostalgia came  so I looked at this picture.   Either way today I am thinking about the past.

I took this photo of the Park Drive-In.   It  seems like only a few years ago.   It sat outside of Maysville, KY on a hilltop on Route 11 before descending into town.   I would pass by this old drive-in on my weekly commutes between Highland Heights and West Liberty.   It seems like only a few years ago but in reality it was taken about twenty years ago.   I liked the Peter Bogdonavich-Last Picture Show kind of effect it had when I developed it.   (Yes it was actually shot on Tri-X film and developed and printed in my dark room, before being reborn into the digital world).

I never saw a movie here but every time I drove by and saw the remains, I would think about all of the teenagers and adults that enjoyed an evening at the drive-in and how it was another part of my generation’s past that was slowly slipping away.  And I would always think about going to our drive-in  outside of West Liberty.

At one time West Liberty actually had two drive-in theaters.   We had the West Liberty Drive-In and the Morgan Drive-In.   The funny thing is, there is not much flat land in our area that wasn’t used for farming, so these drive-ins were located in bottom land of the Licking River.   More times than not, my movie experience included watching the last half of the movie through a thick fog.   If you factor in trying to hear through bad window speakers, my movie experience is not too different now.

My dad always told me that listening to that loud Gary Puckett music would make me go deaf.

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

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.

Tree in Fog

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It was a dark night, such as the one pictured above.   Three irresponsible college males with a less-than-thought-out notion, conceived about ten minutes previous to the odyssey, set out on their trek.

Their destination was Amburgey Rock, a ledge atop Clack Mountain outside of Morehead, KY.   Their goal was to take night photos of the town of Morehead.

As you may have guessed, I was one of these adventurous lads.   The other photographer was a friend of mine.   We both worked in the Morehead State University Public Relations Department as student photographers.   We were freshmen at the time and living in Alumni Tower.

All well-planned expeditions seem to have a capable driver or guide…we had neither.   Our “capable” driver was  a friend, worldly and well-traveled, who was bored one mid-week evening.   To us,  a capable driver meant someone with a working automobile.   Our driver’s price…a night out of his dorm room.   He assured us his VW Bug would be able to traverse the terrain of the rain-soaked off-roads of Rowan County.

The next hurdle was to actually get some photography equipment.

Naturally, we assumed the university would have no problem with us borrowing $2,000 worth of their best equipment to take out into the wilds. We were so confident, we didn’t even ask.  So at about ten o’clock in the black of night, we were off…

Our trip was uneventful until we encountered a rather large mud hole about a half-mile from Amburgey Rock.   Our driver navigated this with some difficulty.   But with the will of Washington and his men forging the Delaware, we made it across.  Our driver assured us that this would not be a problem on our way out, since he already figured out the best way to get through this potential snare.

After about an hour on the ledge, taking what we thought would be Pulitzer-winning shots and reveling in the thrill of the hunt, we decided to return to the reality of our college lives and 8:00 AM classes.   We loaded up our, excuse me, the university’s equipment, thankful that we didn’t drop any of it off the one hundred-foot cliff, and headed back to Morehead.

We shortly encountered the large mud hole again.   There was no trepidation since our driver knew how to steer his car around the large muddy obstacle.

There was trepidation, however, when he thought the best away around this was to speed through the center and part it like the Red Sea.

After about an hour of pushing and pulling, we were able to free the car from the quagmire.   Unfortunately, the only way we could free it was to push the Bug back out of the mud hole where we would have to re-navigate it.   We scavenged the area and found some boards and rocks.   We placed them in the mud so he would have a dry path to drive across.

This brilliant plan was predicated on only one thing, the driver had to actually drive across the makeshift bridge we built…he missed.

After another hour of pulling and pushing on a car that was buried deeper in the mud than the previous hour, we decided it was useless.   We grabbed our, er the university’s equipment, and headed out on foot.   We felt that the car was as secure as Excalibur stuck in the stone.  It was after midnight and we had a five or six-mile hike ahead of us.

As we entered Morehead from Clearfield, a city policeman stopped us.    I’m sure we looked a little suspicious at 2:00 AM, covered in mud and carrying bags of camera equipment, walking along the road.   He inquired as to our situation and we were happy to regale him with our saga.

Finally, he said ,”College boys, huh?”.   Then he drove off into the night without offering us a ride for the final two miles of our journey.

I don’t recall being in attendance for the 8:00 AM roll call.

I took this picture of one of the trees in the Old Mill Park in West Liberty one foggy night.   It gives an eerie effect.

Night photography is very cool but takes a little more effort.   You need a tripod, a flashlight to see the settings and a camera with the ability to shoot long exposures, and as always… a capable driver.

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

Common Buckeye Butterfly on Ironweed

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It is hard to look manly prancing through a meadow, net in hand, chasing a butterfly as I did as a student at Morehead State University.   Don’t think this was a daily occurrence, as it only happened once when we were trying to collect specimens for our insect collections in Invertebrate Zoology class.

I was reminded of this two summers ago when I was chasing this common buckeye butterfly through a field of ironweed in a beautiful area of Morgan County, Kentucky called Woodsbend.   Except it was less prancing and more hobbling.   Carrying a camera instead of a net was probably not any more manly looking either.

The order of butterflies and moths is called lepidoptera.   This is the only order I remember from that class and only because our professor told us that butterflies burst out of their cocoons and “lepid” up off the ground.   Apparently there is an advantage to having a PhD.

This particular butterfly must have sucked down the nectar from a flower that was doused with the fifth can of Red Bull some teen-ager could not finish due to his sudden tachycardia.   I chased it for thirty minutes before it lit on this ironweed plant.

In this part of eastern Kentucky, fields of ironweed indicate that summer is about over and fall is coming.   Ironweed plants are difficult to photograph.   The true color is hard to capture.   It takes a dimmer overcast day to capture the true deep purple of the blooms.

Photographing butterflies, on the other hand, just takes someone who is in denial about their ability to maneuver strappingly through a meadow.

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

Faculty Recessional at Graduation

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I have been emancipated from the financial vise of undergraduate education…free at last!

I have written my last tuition check, my last apartment rent check, my last food dispensing check, my last parking ticket reimbursement, and my last college calamity check.

My two children are now college graduates.  At this moment, I am glad we never had a third child.

My daughter and son graduated from Morehead State University in Morehead, KY.  This is a beautiful small school in the hills of eastern Kentucky.  It is a state school and public university, one of the top public universities in the south.  I am honored to have both of my kids to now be alumni of the same school as their dear old dad.

Morehead State was close enough to where I live in West Liberty that I could go over and take them out to lunch or dinner on numerous occasions.  College students are always up for a free meal.  More importantly, it gave me a chance to spend some valuable time with my two favorite young adults and also spend a little time back on the college campus that I remember so fondly.

This is a picture of my son’s graduation from Morehead State.   He can be seen in the picture…he’s the good-looking one.  My mom and dad are also in the photo and that means a lot to me.

I was always drawn to the color and pageantry of the college commencement…this doesn’t mean that I want to attend them every year.   I love the multi-colored robes the faculty wear.

At my daughter’s graduation last year, I tried to get a shot of the movement of the faculty during their recession.  I did not have a tripod, so I could not get a good shot of what I wanted.  This time I grabbed my tripod and we sat in the same spot behind the stage.  I was pretty happy with the result.

The faculty always seem to be in a hurry when they leave the ceremony.  I always wondered what would happen if one of them tripped, would it look like a massive pile-up on the Autobahn?  I assume they want  to start their vacations by getting out of there as soon as possible.  Much like my wife and I are now in a hurry to jettison the extra money we will have to spend on ourselves if we can recover from paying for seven years of undergraduate expenses.

So to all of us who graduated our offspring this year…congratulations to us.  Let’s hope they can get a job so they can buy us a meal.  I will order lobster at market price.  Before the check comes, I will be moving out of the restaurant faster than this faculty.

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.