Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Up To His Running Boards

This old Ford's been on the farm a long time, but now he's up to his running boards in oak and ash leaves.

Looks like he was a proud vehicle in his day, but now his days are gone and he just sits, rusts, and mildews.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

2 Things Challenge Young/Old

I like to enter the 2 Things Challenge when I can. The challenge for this week is Young/Old.

I decided to use photos of people I actually know.

This is Mason, my grandson who was born last spring and is now almost six months old. In this photo he is YOUNG, actually only about 4 hours old.

And this is Mayme, the oldest person I know, and she is a real card. She had probably just told me a joke, or some story about something that happened in Columbiana in the 1930's. She will be 103 in December and is still doing well. She was really only a spry 101 when I took this photo.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

When Autumn Falls So Hard

As summer wanes and autumn falls it reminds me of the line in Simon and Garfunkel's song, "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" which says:

When you're down and out,
When you're on the street,
When evening falls so hard,
I will comfort you.

Except I'm thinking autumn falling instead of evening.

The flowers on the Butterfly Bush have begun to dry up and fall off, and even the poor old butterfly, so beautiful all summer, has begun to show the signs of his age. His wings are tattered and torn, or even missing, but still he searches on for that sweet nectar that will get him through yet one more day. And I can sympathize with him a little. At what point do I reach the autumn of my life? I have probably passed the 3/4 mark, and my chin has begun to sag embarrasingly in photos of myself (until I get them into photoshop), but I do still have all my limbs, and I do still want to get up every morning to see what's coming today.

Enough for the melancholy, how 'bout them Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2 Things Challenge Hot/Wheels

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Hot/Wheels.

At a Cruise-In (lots of WHEELS) in Columbiana, Alabama in July (HOT) I spotted these restored and revved up (HOT) cars (WHEELS), a Chevy and a Ford both painted almost exactly the same HOT color. I guess the Mustang owner had a little paint left over, so he's working on other Mustangs, including a little Hot Wheels version and some that look like they may be radio control models. Hot!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Grasshopper and Confederate Rose

The plant is a Confederate Rose. It's an interesting plant that blooms in the late summer or early fall. The blooms come out white, and then quickly turn red for one day before they are gone. This one had not bloomed yet when I took the photo, but the leaves were being consumed by this rather large grasshopper. I didn't kill him or run him off because there seemed to be plenty of leaves for him and the plant, but he stayed around for several days. Get a load of those drumsticks! I remember seeing these guys by the hundreds when I was growing up in Georgia, and they are probably still there, but I just don't spend nearly as much time roaming around grassy fields as I did then.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

2 Things Challenge Apple/Eye

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Apple/Eye. My step-daughter posed for me for a class I took last year, and I called this photo "Brown Eyed Girl." Since she was holding an apple, and this is one of my favorite photos of her, I thought it appropriate for this challenge.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two Things Challenge - Road/Arch

Road = Abandoned stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Breezewood, great place for a hike
Arch = Roof of two mile stretch of tunnel through the mountain, scary black hike except the ends
Others = My stepdaughter, my neice, my grandneice, and their dogs, marching off into the fall foliage a couple of years ago; priceless

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No Vacancy

From Eeyore's Ramblins
These shiny butted bumblebees (or possibly carpenter bees, I'm not positive) were just swarming all around the balloon flowers. I was right in the middle of them, but they paid no attention to me. Good thing, too. I remember trying to catch them as a child when they would go down inside a deep flower and I would grab the end of the flower and close it up. Actually I only think I did that ONCE! Now the only thing I try to capture is their image.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cruise In

From Eeyore's Ramblins
Every third Saturday night, at least during the summer, owners of antique and restored vehicles gather in a parking lot in Columbiana, Alabama, and sit around admiring each other's vehicles and swapping tales. I wandered around a couple of weeks ago and tried to get some photos of shiny stuff (there was plenty of it around). This was the engine in a restored Corvette.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Just Hanging Around at Lay Lake

Like Dusty said on his blog the other day, these guys are incredibly hyperactive and difficult to catch. This one had staked out this twig as his home base (at least for a few minutes) and was using it as his lookout position to guard his little corner of the lake. When any other dragonfly, or mosquito hawk as I grew up calling them, came near, he would dart at them, chase them away, and return to his perch. Since he routinely landed near the same spot, I set up the tripod, focussed on that spot, and waited with the shutter release cable in my hand. He would land and I would trip off several shots. Until that afternoon I really did not know there are so many different kinds of dragonflies, many sizes, and colors, but all the same basic helicopter shape. And all very adept at changing directions abruptly in mid-air.

2 Things Challenge Star/Appeal

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Star/Appeal. I have enjoyed taking some photos of the night sky, so I guess you could say it "appeals" to me, and this cluster particularly appeals to me. It is Pleiades, otherwise known as the "Seven Sisters." It is one of the nearest star clusters to earth, and it's been around a while. I even remember it from when I was a child. The thing is, we used to think of it as the Little Dipper. It is not the Little Dipper, but we were kids and didn't know any better. Neither did our parents. I was almost disappointed a few years ago when I got a star book and looked it up. But then I thought the real names, Pleiades, and Seven Sisters, were just as appealing as Little Dipper would have been. Now I look for it it the winter sky whenever I'm outside, in the country, away from the city lights. Fortunately this one is bright enough to be seen even through some of the light pollution.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Green Eyed Hibiscus

This giant Hibiscus was just in a pot on our patio, but if you get close enough, it looks like eyes to me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

2 Things Challenge Yellow/Brick

The 2 Things Challenge for this week is Yellow/Brick. Everybody's first thought has to be something to do with the Wizard of Oz and the yellow brick road. Mine was too, but look as I might, I could not find a yellow brick road. Then I got to thinking about this. My daughter had her first baby on April 21, a bouncing baby boy. Well about a month later she got a hankering. You ever had a hankering. You get something on your mind and you've just got to have it. When Memorial Day rolled around, she had been cooped up in the house basically since February (bed rest before and taking care of Mason after), and she was anxious to get out of town; husband, baby, and all. Getting out of town was one thing, but her real hankering was for dry rubbed ribs. There are plenty of very good barbeque places around central Alabama, but none are really famous for their dry rubbed ribs. Tennessee is the place to go. So on Memorial Day we loaded up the SUV with Gramps, Grammy, Momma, Daddy, Mason, stroller, diaper bag, and of course the camera, and off we go to Chattanooga to Sticky Fingers Restaurant for some of their self proclaimed famous dry rub barbequed ribs. The trip was a real treat, and the barbeque really was very good. While we were eating, I spotted this ad, painted on the building across the alley from the restaurant, and I thought the red and green (and YELLOW) made a nice composition. If you look closely (click on the photo for a much better image), there are some yellow bricks in there, or at least yellow and green bricks. The flower is a magnolia. Can't get much more southern than barbeque, Coca-Cola, and magnolias.

2 Things Challenge Yellow/Brick
Sticky Fingers Coke Sign, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2 Things Challenge Rusty/Shiny

The 2 Things Challenge this week is Rusty/Shiny. I've done a couple of things with this challenge.

First is a set of train tracks near my house in Wilsonville, Alabama. These tracks are used on a daily basis to haul coal to the nearby power plant. Even though the sides of the rails and the spikes holding them down are very rusty, the tops of the rails are polished shiny smooth by the constant wear of heavy rail cars. The boot? The boot is in fact why I took this photo in the first place, and I'm sure there is a story there, I just have no idea what it is. That's the kind of thing I make up my own story for. What are your ideas?

Next are a pair of bolts and nuts. The rusty set is from an old railroad car essentially abandoned and donated to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum in Calera, Alabama, not far from my home. I believe the museum is gradually trying to restore some of the old engines and various freight and passenger cars. When I was there though, this car and its rusty bolt were just sitting there, gradually doing their part to increase the entropy of the universe, silent as to its history and not telling its story to anyone.

Now this shiny bolt has a different history. It is not a new bolt. It was already old and itself abandoned in 1967 when I recognized it as stainless steel and rescued it from the scrap pile at the paper mill in Macon, Georgia, where I worked summers while attending Georgia Tech. With the permission of my supervisor I requisitioned a stainless steel nut to fit the old bolt and took it home where I polished off all the old grime and grease and created a shiny paper weight for my desk. This thing has been with me ever since, usually just sitting on my desk, but occasionally letting me take it for a spin as I contemplated some tough problem at work, or just needed to relax for a minute or two. I know its story, or at least most of it, and I do believe it knows mine.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

2 Things Challenge Work/Play

This week's 2 Things Challenge is Work/Play. Well everyone will probably come up with cute ideas for this one, but I immediately thought of this.

Workplay is an entertainment complex in downtown Birmingham, one which I have never been in, but when I saw the challenge this week, and I knew Virginia would be in Paris and probably would not shoot this, I had to do it.

This is the sign on the corner of the building. I don't get to downtown Birmingham very often, and the day I did I was in a hurry, so I did not get any shots of the inside.

This is the sign in front of the entrance to Workplay. I like their color scheme, and maybe someday I'll get inside for a concert or film.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Photography class 2

Here are the other two images that were selected from the class on Alternative Lighting. This first one is Kristina's son, Mason, who fell asleep on her shoulder in a very interesting pose when he was only about 3 days old. The photo used only window light which gave it a soft and dreamy feeeling, enhanced by the black and white image.

This is Tina's cat. The lighting here was window light supplemented by an off camera flash. This was made difficult because cats do not listen to instructions very well and I had to position the flash, hold the cat's attention with a laser toy, and hold the camera in focus with a very narrow macro depth of field all at the same time. Came out well, however.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photography class

I'm just now finishing up a photography class at Samford After Sundown on Alternative Lighting. It is basically on photographing things in the dark, using alternative lighting such as window light, car lights, flashlights, etc. to get the desired effect. It's been fun, even if some of the photos used only things like off camera flashes. I'm going to post a few of what I consider my best from the class.

For this shot I tried to get the exposure for the moon right and then use a flash to fill in the tree which would have normally been just a black silhouette. The wierd clouds came because it was a rather long exposure and the clouds were moving by, thus appearing streaked on the image. I wound up having to lighten the image to get the leaves bright enough, and that blew out the moon, so I had to combine two images and merge in a moon with a lower exposure than the tree. This was almost the unanimous pick of the class as the best one I took for the course. Others to follow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2 Things Challenge Foot/Step

The 2 Things Challenge for this week is Foot/Step. A while back I was photographing some of the street people who frequent and hang out around the 5 Points South Area of Birmingham. The Highlands United Methodist Church, situated immediately next to the fountain, hosts a Hospitality Hour six mornings a week for these people during which they provide some form of breakfast, mail service, clothing assistance, and laundry service. It was mid afternoon when I spotted this gentleman sleeping on the front steps of the church. I know the first part of the challenge is "Foot" but I seldom see any feet except my own or my wife's, unless they are clad in some form of shoe. So I settled for "shoe" as the representation of foot, bright yellow shoe that is, and the concrete step on which he sleeps will do for the other half of the challenge. I took a little liberty with the background of the photo and added a spin blur to represent what I think the gentleman was probably feeling in his head as he lay there.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Columbiana's Cowboy Parade

Near the end of February, Columbiana, Alabama hosted its first "Cowboy Parade." People rode their horses or drove their donkey driven wagons through town in a unique parade. A pretty large crowd (for Columbiana anyway) turned out to see the parade and other attractions, or maybe they came for the free chili. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and very comfortable temperatures for wandering around to see roping demonstrations, herding dogs, and a staged wild west bank roberry. A good time was had by all.

The best view in town for the parade was had by these two little fellows. "I see horses!" I'm afraid tree climbing is becoming a lost art in America, even amongst the little boys.

The most interesting thing to me about the whole day was watching the blacksmiths fashion horseshoes from steel. Here the fire heats the steel red hot.

It took a few tries, but I actually caught the sparks flying. Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

Monday, March 16, 2009

2 Things Challenge Window/View

Okay, this is an old photo, but I thought it appropriate for the 2 Things Challenge this week, Window/View. I took this to use as a part of a Powerpoint presentation I gave at my retirement reception a couple of years ago. This is the infamous US Highway 280 southeast of Birmingham. My office was near here and I usually had to sit in this traffic every afternoon on the way home. The traffic can be horrible, so people sometimes even wait in their offices until 6:00 pm to let this mess thin out. It's been a problem for years, and all the politicians love to talk about how somebody needs to do something to solve this mess, but nothing EVER seems to happen except further development, and more congestion. Now they are talking about building another elevated version of this road down the median and making it more of a toll expressway to downtown. I'm not holding my breath, I just try to avoid this road in rush hour. I usually can since I am now retired.

Back to the retirement Powerpoint. I included pictures and lists of things I would miss after my retirement, all appropriately mushy and sentimental, but this photo went into the section of things I would NOT miss after my retirement. Would you miss it?

US 280

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2 Things Challenge Shiny/Dull

I like to try to find one image that encompasses both sides of the 2 Things Challenge, so this week I offer up the shiny eye of a dull donkey. I don't know if donkeys are really dull (can mean dumb around here) but they surely are stubborn.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2 Things Challenge – Paper/Plastic

The challenge this week is Paper/Plastic. My past entries have been basically a photographic entry. This one has photos also, but since there are no real rules to this thing, I decided to write a mini essay on the topic to go along with them.

These are two of the bagpersons (can’t really call them bagboys anymore since they aren’t always boys) at our local Piggly Wiggly here in the small town of Columbiana, Alabama.

What’s the connection to Paper/Plastic? These are the only people I know who still say it that way, “Paper/plastic?”

In 1964 when I was 16 years old and working at the local Colonial grocery store in Macon, Georgia, there was never a question of paper or plastic. It was paper. I’m pretty sure plastic had been invented back then, but it was not nearly as prevalent as today and all grocery bags were definitely paper. Bagging the groceries in such a way that the customers, most of whom were women, could get the groceries from their cars to their kitchens without straining a muscle or ripping a bag and spilling all the contents in the trunk or over the sidewalk was something of an art form. We bagboys prided ourselves on doing a good job of it. We even carried the groceries to the cars for the customers. When I moved up to working in the produce department, it was still paper. For instance, potatoes came in fifty pound paper sacks and the produce workers would have to break them down into five pound and ten pound paper bags, individually weighed and stapled closed. You couldn't see the actual potatoes you were buying, you just had to trust that I hadn't put any rotten ones in there. Customers would pick out their other produce and we would weigh it, put it in a paper bag, staple it shut, and write the cost on the bag. The cashier usually had no idea what she (and they were all female back then) was ringing up, just what the cost was. I remember circling the price if the item was especially crushable, like tomatoes or bananas.

Later in my life, and I do believe it was perhaps a decade or more later, the little plastic bags began to show up in grocery stores where I lived in Birmingham, Alabama. I presume they began to appear in the rest of the country, maybe even the world, about the same time. This was the first time I ever heard the question, “Paper or plastic?” I developed a rather flip answer. I would say, “Paper, we can grow more trees but we can’t make any more dinosaurs.” Even though I was an engineer who really did have concerns about over population and over consumption of natural resources, especially energy producing ones like oil, I actually think my answer was more because I liked the paper bags better. When you loaded them into the trunk of the car they didn’t just collapse into a little puddle and let your groceries roll all over the place as you drove home. The paper bags would actually stand up and lean against each other. You might actually arrive home and not have to re-bag all your groceries to get them from the car to the kitchen.

As time marched on, the question migrated from, “Paper or plastic?” to, “Plastic okay?” I think this must have been because the plastic bags had become so much cheaper that even though they still gave the customer the choice, the expected choice had become plastic. I hung on to my desire for paper bags for a while, but eventually I gave in and just responded, “Whatever.” Now, they don’t even ask, except maybe out here in our small little town and our historical little Piggly Wiggly. They just start bagging your groceries in plastic bags and if you want paper ones, you have to catch the bagboy/girl and ask for paper before they get started. If you shop at Wal Mart, though, and I’m sure many other stores, there is not even a choice. Heck, there’s not even a bagboy at most grocery stores anymore, and if there is one, he’s jumping around trying to handle five or six cashiers simultaneously (Publix and Piggly Wiggly being the local exceptions). Even at Wal Mart where the cashier does the bagging, we still have to load them into the buggy ourselves to get them out to the car.

At Wal Mart and some other stores you do have the option of purchasing and re-using the little cloth bags. There are no paper bags, however. The cloth bags are probably a good idea, environmentally anyway, but when my wife and I do go to Wal Mart to buy groceries, it usually takes between twenty and forty of the little plastic bags to pack all the groceries. Who wants to haul twenty cloth bags into the store to carry your groceries out? They would probably stop you on the way in to put a little return label on each and every one of your twenty cloth bags to ensure that you had not just picked them up and not paid for them yet.

Enough of my ranting, but I think I’m about to change my answer back to, “Paper, we can grow more trees but we can’t make anymore dinosaurs.”
Do they even make the plastic ones from oil anymore?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Frosty Moring in Shelby County

It was a frosty morning in Shelby County today. I was up early and had to scrape the windshield to see as I left the house. I spotted some beautiful things on the way back about an hour later and rushed to get my camera. As I lay on the driveway beside the road for this first shot, people stopped and asked if I was alright. They were afraid I'd slipped on the frosty stuff and hurt myself. No, I laid down there on purpose, no other way to get this macro. The things we do for the shot, huh?

Frosty Morning in Shelby

These geese did not mind the cold, but I did. I don't think I'll be out Friday when it's supposed to be 17 degrees F.

Canada Geese Enjoy a Chilly Shelby County Morning

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2 Things Challenge - Partial Whole

This week's 2 Things Challenge is Partial/Whole. Since tonight is the night of the full moon that is the largest and brightest full moon of 2009, I thought I would show the moon in both the "Partial" and the "Whole" condition. This is something we'll never see, but hey, that's all right.

No, this full moon picture was NOT taken tonight in Birmingham, Alabama. The best full moon of the year and it is completely overcast, foggy, raining, and in general yucky tonight, so I used a couple of older photos.

2 Things Challenge