Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Hobby

Another one of my hobbies besides taking photos is geocaching. You use your handheld GPS receiver and go around the world looking for little caches that have been hidden by other geocachers. You can learn more about it at http://www.geocaching.com/, and it is quite entertaining. Anyway, one of the little side things you can do is locate US Geodetic Survey markers. Those are everywhere, and they can sometimes be difficult to find, or at least difficult to get to. I found this one the other day. It is quite close to my house and I'd been meaning to go find it for a while because it is old. It was originally placed on top of Columbiana Mountain in 1887. The original marker was a beer bottle buried in the ground, but it has since been replaced by a more official marker set in concrete. I think the original beer bottle is still buried under the concrete block holding this marker.

This one was fairly easy to find after I'd huffed and puffed up Columbiana Mountain because it had a witness post right beside it. Yeah, I know Columbiana Mountain only has about 200 feet of elevation change from where I parked, but it's still a huff and a puff for me. This witness post is a metal pipe sticking out of the ground about three feet with a sign on it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2 Things Challenge Saturday/Sunday

This week's 2 Things Challenge is Saturday/Sunday. Well, if Saturday is your day, the green dome on the right is for you. It tops TEMPLE EMANU EL on Highland Avenue in the Southside of Birmingham, Alabama. But if Sunday is your day, then perhaps the steeple on the left is for you. It tops South Highlands Presbyterian Church, diagonally across Highland Avenue from the temple. Just a couple of blocks off to the right is Highlands United Methodist Church where I have volunteered with the homeless and made several of my favorite photos. I have to credit my wife with the idea of putting the temple and the church in one photo for this challenge. I thought it was a clever idea.

Fall is Here, Some Places

When I first moved to the Birmingham area 37 years ago, I fell in love with Shades Crest Road. I was a lonely young man in a strange city and the first time I drove down this road was on a rainy evening. It was like driving through the clouds, something you don't get to do very often in Macon, Georgia where I grew up. It seemed to fit my mood. But then when I went down the road in the daylight, there were lots of places where you could get a glimpse of Oxmoor Valley through the trees, or pull over and walk out to the bluff for some wonderful scenery. The valley itself has grown up a lot, and the views from Shades Crest Road are now mostly from somebody's back yard and you can't get to them. But I did find one spot, where if you aren't too afraid of the traffic and heights, you can walk out and lean over the cliff and see some of the old splendor. Just narrow your focus though, because there are plenty of roads, houses and buildings that weren't there 37 years ago.

Golf Course from Shades Mountain
Shades Mountain from Shades Mountain

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Say hello to Herman. I met Herman about 18 months ago when a group of students from my first photography class called Photographing the Magic City were in the Five Points South area of Birmingham taking late afternoon and early evening shots. Herman got interested in what we were doing and was looking over my shoulder at the images I'd captured. We talked briefly that evening. Since we were supposed to do a series on the Magic City from some unique perspective, I decided I'd get Herman to show me around the city and I'd photograph what was important to him. After talking to him one afternoon for a couple of hours, I decided that wasn't going to work out, so I just snapped some pictures of Herman and his friends/acquaintances who were hanging around the fountain. The pictures of Willie and Chuck below were also taken that same afternoon. When we reviewed the photos in class the next week, the teacher really liked some of them and I decided to do my series as portraits of those street people, up close and very personal. Based on the photo of Willie below and my wife's comment, the series was called Somebody's Uncle. I went back an a couple of other afternoons and got some photos of different people in the area. Herman, however, is the icon of the area, and many, many people would know who you were talking about if you referred to Herman from Five Points.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fair Photos- Dismal Leaves

This was my final entry into the Shelby County Fair this year. I entered it into the "Seasonal" category, since I figured fall is a season. I took the photo on an excursion to the Dismals Canyon in Northwest Alabama last fall. When we got to the Dismals Park, it was closed. Rather than waste the drive, I went across the street and took some photos on a creek, a small falls, and leaves in the water. That's why I called it Dismal Leaves. When we got to the fair and looked for my photos to see if I'd won any ribbons, we found all of them except this one. After looking around for a few minutes we figured out why. It had been moved over by itself because not only did it win the Blue Ribbon for first place in the "Seasonal" category, it also had a big Best of Show Ribbon. Boy was I surprised. I did not expect this one to even get a ribbon. I thought some Thanksgiving layout or Christmas photo would win. Again, that's why I'm not the judge.

Dismal Leaves