A great WordPress.com site

Author Archive

Portsmouth Murals: A Different Perspective

PDC_9623 PDC_9624A few evenings ago I took a walk along the Portsmouth Murals. I just purchased a fisheye lens and thought I would experiment with the lens distortion. I like the 3D quality of the lens; it also makes for a cool “snow globe” effect.  The shoe factory buildings stood out and appeared to be coming out of the wall! I stood against the mural with the motorcycle and moved the camera around to create just the right curve; the motorcycle looks like it is coming right off the wall!  I had always enjoyed looking at images taken with a fisheye lens, but never really thought about purchasing one myself.  I have played around with other images using the fisheye; it is definitely something to get used to and will work well on some subjects, but not necessarily on others.

I like the look of the mural images.  Cropping a fisheye image is best done unconstrained; meaning adjust the crop manually vs a fixed dimension.  Thank you for looking and I look forward to sharing more creative images in the near future!

PDC_9625 PDC_9626 PDC_9628 PDC_9630PDC_9634


MidWest BunFest: It’s All About The Bunny! 2015

PDC_8344

MidWest BunFest vendor area

One year ago my daughter adopted two bunnies, Smokey and Shadow.  They are both girl bunnies and had been purchased together.  The family who had them was having difficulty caring for them and were looking for a good home.  Libby had always wanted a bunny, so I thought, why not?  They go well with the rest of our menagerie!

A few months ago heard a squeal come out of the living room; “Mom, mom, I want to go to BunFest!”  Ok, what is BunFest?  The more we read about BunFest the more excited she became.  You can bring your bunnies; they have a spa; they can have a check-up; they can even get glamor shots!  Further research showed that BunFest was in its 5th year!  We must investigate this!

My idea of a “festival” or trade show is usually photography based.  When I enter the vendor area of a photography trade show, I get an adrenaline rush!  I assume rabbit people feel the same way about BunFest!  It was bustling with excitement and stories about how their bunnies were rescued and there was plenty of toys and bunny related trinkets to fill a shopping bag!

There were many rescue organizations represented at BunFest. They had catchy names; DARN (Dayton Area Rabbit Network) and EARS (Erie Area Rabbit Society).

PDC_8295

Erie Area Rabbit Society display

I did not realize there was such a need for rabbit shelters, but I guess rabbits are much like other pets; people purchase them (likely seasonally) and then realize they don’t just take care of themselves and decide to get rid of them.  Rabbits require a lot of care and attention. Our rabbits live in a hutch outside. The hutch requires regular cleaning, the rabbits need toys to keep from being bored, and they need plenty of food, water, and hay.  Indoor bunnies need supervision to keep from chewing on electrical cords (because rabbits love to chew) and other objects that could cause injury to them.  They need cared for, brushing and they require regular exercise.  They can succumb to stress and have a heart attack.  During cold weather we move our rabbits into the heated garage to keep them from freezing.

PDC_8361

I particularly liked her bunny shoes!

PDC_8314

I can’t remember this rabbit’s name, but they had Lucy, Desi, Ethel, and a cat named Fred! They had 4 bunnies with them.

PDC_8346

This is a therapy bunny from F5RS (Frisky Ferrets, Fuzzies & Feathered Friends Rescue and Sanctuary); if she has her hat on, she’s working! http://www.facebook.com/F5RS1

Rabbit people come from all walks of life.  They are passionate about their furry companions.

PDC_8342

Kaycee Jane of Clover Patch Sanctuary in Franklin, Tennesee

PDC_8291



I noticed people gathering a round one of the booths.  There was a vendor who made clothing for rabbits.  She said she made a pattern and picks out different materials for the clothing.  Her website is AnnieElleBunnies.etsy.com. I think they looked adorable!

PDC_8303

Fashionable rabbit attire!

PDC_8298

Dressing the bunny to show off her style!



I stood at one of the tables and watched Andrea Biggs of Breath of Life Illustrations (www.facebook.com/breathoflifeillustrations) sketch bunnies for the crowd.  She worked from photographs that were sent to her phone.  It took her only about 30 minutes to go from  the sketch to a full color rendition of the photograph of an individual’s beloved pet.

PDC_8331

Andrea begins her sketch.

PDC_8328

The rabbit’s features begin to take shape.

PDC_8354

Andrea fills in the colors and the details.

PDC_8355

She shows the finished print to the young customer.


The rabbits could go to the Chillaxazone to stretch their legs and relax and refresh.  There was plenty for a bunny to see and do while at BunFest!

PDC_8364

Curious as to what might be going on!

Bunnies, Bunnies, Everywhere!

PDC_8292
PDC_8317 PDC_8320 PDC_8321 PDC_8310

PDC_8308


Our bunnies, Smokey and Shadow experience BunFest for the first time.  We borrowed a pet stroller from a friend of ours.  Having the stroller was very beneficial to transporting two bunnies around the event.  People would stop to pet them and talk about their bunnies.

PDC_8381

Shadow

PDC_8394

Smokey


BunFest 2015 is an exciting event for rabbit owners.  You can purchase products such as toys, hay, habitats, and treats!  You can go to sessions on how to care for your bunnies and there was even one on how your bunny communicates!  The event is very worth while if you are in the market for a rabbit. For more information, website for BunFest is http://www.midwestbunfest.org


Visit to Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia

For me, cemeteries are fun to explore.  The older the cemetery the better.  As a photographer I look for stories to tell with pictures.  Cemeteries create an atmosphere all of their own.  One of my favorite places to go when I was in college was Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.  When my professor, Father Tepe, suggested I go there to “create” I was shocked…that was until I walked through the gates and began exploring.  The grounds were immaculate, with ponds, bridges, swans, geese, and seasonal flowers…it just came together.  I recently went back to Spring Grove for a photo walk with my camera club.  It is still beautiful and a great place to create!

When I planned my trip to Savannah, Georgia, I had heard so much about Bonaventure Cemetery…from other photographers. “You must go there!”, “No trip to Savannah is complete without a visit to Bonaventure!”  Bonaventure was already on my “list” of places to visit while I was there.  A friend of mine asked me to visit Johnny Mercer’s resting place and photograph it for him.  Since I had planned to go there anyway, why not!

The history of Bonaventure (meaning Good Fortune) is well documented.  Originally it was plantation which included over 600 acres.  The land was acquired by John Mullryne and in 1764 he, his wife and daughter moved to the Bonaventure site along the St. Augustine Creek.  Mr. Mullryne was active in the Georgia political system. Bonaventure remained in the in the Mullryne family until 1864 when it was sold to Savannah hotel owner, Peter Wiltberger. A portion of the acreage was developed into the Evergreen Cemetery Company at Bonaventure for use as a public cemetery. The Bonaventure Historical Society is presently responsible for the protection, preservation, and restoration of 22 gave sites in Bonaventure Cemetery. The cemetery encompasses over 100 acres and is also a city park.

St. Augustine Creek adjacent to Bonaventure

St. Augustine Creek adjacent to Bonaventure

My friend Julie and I drove around and explored a few parks in Savannah; some were in questionable areas of town.  We had to retreat to the car once when we heard a woman yelling and cursing at someone not far from where we were.  We decided that Bonaventure might be a better destination and we were only a few blocks away.  I pulled into the lot and parked the car and went into the office to pick up maps and to find out any details that we might need to know.

When I walked into the office there were 4 women gathered behind a table that had the maps and brochures on it.  They were all dressed in various fashions of goth.  One had pink hair, one with green…the woman who waited on me had black hair, was wearing a black print long sleeved top belted over a short black print skirt, black tights, black shoes.  As I approached her I noticed she appeared older than the other girls, maybe mid to late 40’s. I thought she was dressed a little “young” for her age but her petite stature allowed her to carry it well.  The most striking feature of this woman was her eyes. They were a golden brown.  Remember, I’m at Bonaventure Cemetery, reported to be haunted…

Her first words to me were, “Who are you here to visit?”  I may have chuckled out loud, but then said, “I guess that is one way of looking at it; I’d never thought of that way before.”  She smiled back and said, “Yes, we want you to enjoy your visit and I can make suggestions on those you should visit while you are here.” I dropped a couple of dollars in the tip jar and that stirred a little excitement among the other girls in the room.  “Oh, she made a donation; give her maps and make sure you tell her about Gracie!”

As she spoke, the woman’s eyes would change to a bright gold in color and almost glow.  I turned to look at the lighting in the room thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me.  There was a window behind me so I thought, “Maybe if I move and create a shadow, her eyes will be less distracting.”  I tried to do that several times, casually, as she was telling me about the notables interned at Bonaventure, I could not get past the color of her eyes.  I kept looking closer, they did not appear to be contacts, but her natural eye color. I told her I’d be interested in the Mercer site for sure.  “Oh, you want the historical section!  There are so many to visit there, you will love it!”  The walls of the office were lined with posters of photographs and plot numbers and she pointed them out and gave their history in such detail, just like she was a family member.  She said, “If you get lost or can’t find someone, come back down here and I’ll take you.”

She proceeded to tell me about Little Gracie Watkins whose statue stands in a lone plot.  She died of pneumonia when she was six.  Her family was grief stricken and they ended up moving away. Her parents are buried elsewhere, so Little Gracie is all alone and is reported to appear at times where they used to live as well as in the cemetery.

Entry into Bonaventure Cemetery

Entry into Bonaventure Cemetery


Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

I drove into the cemetery and the moss covered oak trees gave it an ambience that it is difficult to describe in words.  It was almost like you were being transported back in time. The historical section was definitely the right choice.  Most of the time I just walked up and down the pathways looking at the monuments and inscriptions.  Back in the 1800’s people were more poetic and it seems they romanticized death.  The sculptures and monuments were more ornate.  What was striking was the number of people buried in Bonaventure.  We marveled at the closeness of the graves and wondered how they could get so many in one plot?  Many of the graves had fresh flower arrangements on them.  There were other people walking around, but not as many as I would have expected.

Photographing Bonaventure is a difficult challenge.  Many of the photographs have been taken, especially at the more popular monuments.  Finding a new angle or a new perspective is not easy.  Sometimes just being able to document that you’ve been there is where the satisfaction lies.

Plot at Bonaventure

Plot at Bonaventure


One of my favorite statues in Bonaventure is one of a wife of Confederate soldier, Thomas Theus.  According to a search on Thomas Theus, he had requested when he died he be buried in Confederate Gray and named his own pall bears, all Confederate War Veterans.  Eliza Wilhelmina, his wife who preceded him in his death in 1895 is remembered in this monument.  The statue is very delicate and was lovingly carved. The curves and the lines are smooth. She is beautiful!

Note the delicate curves and detail.

Note the delicate curves and detail.


Civil War Soldier's wife at Bonaventure

Confederate Soldier’s wife at Bonaventure

I especially liked the curves in her hands. When you consider the time and detail the sculptors put into these works and the years they’ve withstood the weather, you cannot help but to admire works of art such as these. Plus they are available to view by the general public!  I looked at this statue and imagined what she was thinking about. Was she waiting for her husband to come back from war? The flowing dress, the wreath, her waves in her hair, the stones she is sitting on.  All of the detail and care placed in just one statue.

Close-up of the detail on this sculpture

Close-up of the detail on this sculpture

She must have been a very special lady to be memorialized in this way!


Up the road from Bonaventure was another cemetery, Forest Lawn Cemetery.  It still had character, but the newer monuments and fewer “family plots” gave it a more modern feel. The large moss covered oak trees gave it the “nostalgic” look, but the atmosphere at Forest Lawn was completely different.  At Bonaventure, I felt I had been transported back in time; the old worn marble monuments, the victorian style writing. At Forest Lawn many of the monuments had not received their lovely aged patina from the weather.

Large Oak Tree Forest Lawn Cemetery

Large Oak Tree Forest Lawn Memory Gardens


Forest Lawn Cemetery

Forest Lawn Cemetery

One monument at Forest Lawn caught my eye.  It was one of a girl holding a shell. When I arrived at Forest Lawn, I saw it from a distance and made my way to it.  When I approached there was a young man standing at the grave so I casually walked by standing and taking in my surroundings. Moments later he left and I decided to take a few photographs of the monument as it reminded me of one I saw at Bonaventure.  This girl was older, possibly a teen, where the other girl was much younger . The green moss on the statue punctuated the detail on the face and along the lines of the shell she was holding.  The sun was strong and as I found my way around (all angles), I decided to photograph it in a silhouette. The details the sculptors put into their art is amazing.  There is texture of the clothing, the hair, even the eyes have a “real” appearance to them.

When you compare the two statues (Bonaventure and Forest Lawn) you can see how the family/sculpture gained the inspiration for the one at Forest Lawn.  There are as many similarities as there are differences in the two. “The Girl with the Upturned Shell” is in the Baldwin Family plot at Bonaventure.  I spent much time walking around it, reading the inscription, and studying the detail in the statue.

Girl with shell at Forest Lawn Cemetery

Girl with shell at Forest Lawn Memory Gardens


Girl with shell at Forest Lawn Cemetery

Girl with shell at Forest Lawn Memory Gardens

Clearly this person was loved by her family.  The care in which the statue was crafted gives one a sense of great grief the family must have felt to lost this child.  A loss of a child is tragic.  Our children are supposed to out live us and move forward in life.  They have so much to look forward to.  The inscription on the monument is from Mark 10:15: Verily I say unto you whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child he shall not enter therein. Powerful words on this monument. Even though the monument is not mentioned in the brochure, there are plenty of photographs on the office wall of it.

Girl with shell at Bonaventure

Girl with the upturned shell in the Baldwin Family Plot at Bonaventure


Girl with shell at Bonaventure

Girl with the upturned shell at Bonaventure


Girl with shell at Bonaventure

Girl with the upturned shell at Bonaventure

I wish there was more information available on this monument.  The woman in the office made mention that I should see it…”go to the Baldwin Family Plot and see the girl with the shell, it’s lovely!”

Girl with shell at Bonaventure

Girl with upturned shell at Bonaventure


Mercer Family Plot

One of the notable individuals interred at Bonaventure is lyricist, Johnny Mercer.  I was asked before I embarked on this venture, “if there is time could you please take a few photographs of his grave?”  My friend knows far more about music and writers than I will ever know.  Yes, I’d heard of Johnny Mercer, but I had not really given it much thought to what works he had produced during his short life (he died at age 66 of a brain tumor). While in Savannah, I had seen Moon River, and had driven across the bridge, but it wasn’t until I saw his memorial bench did I make the connection that he had written it.  That was my “duh” moment for the trip!  Andy Williams made “Moon River” his signature song and that was the association I had prior to visiting the Mercer site.

Johnny Mercer family plot

Johnny Mercer family plot


Johnny Mercer family plot

Johnny Mercer family plot

Upon viewing his memorial bench, I realized he had penned many of the lyrics to songs I was familiar with.  How many times have we heard “Hooray for Hollywood”, “Jeepers Creepers”, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”, “That Old Black Magic”, and the list goes on!

Mercer married a show girl named, Ginger Meehan.  They adopted a daughter named Amanda.  When Mercer became ill, he developed a friendship with Barry Manilow. Mercer was quite fond of Manilow’s song “Mandy” because it reminded him of his daughter Amanda. After his death in 1976, Mercer’s wife gave Manilow some of her husband’s unfinished lyrics. In 1984, Manilow had a top 10 Adult Contemporary hit with “When October Goes”; it has since been recorded by notables like Rosemary Clooney and Nancy Wilson.

Mercer received 18 Academy Award Nominations and won 4 for his lyrics for the following songs: “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe” (The Harvey Girls), “In the Cool, Cool, Cool, of the Evening” (Here Comes the Groom), “Moon River” (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), and “Days of Wine and Roses” (Days of Wine and Roses).

Johnny Mercer memorial bench

Johnny Mercer memorial bench

The caricature on his memorial bench is said to be a self portrait.  I spent time documenting the site for my friend. While editing the photographs I noticed a few details I had missed or just plain over-looked while at the grave site. While at the cemetery, I had noticed on Mercer’s grave marker that there was an inscription: “And the Angles Sing”.  I contacted my friend and he confirmed for me that was one of Mercer’s earlier songs.  After I made it home from my trip I caught a glance at another inscription, “Momma Done Tol’ Me” (on his mother’s marker), then I started zooming in on the markers and on each of them were song titles…Why did I not see this before? On Mercer’s wife’s marker is “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”.  His niece is buried there (died 2013), her marker has “Skylark Won’t You Lead Me There”.  The other two I saw were, “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day” and “Dream when the day is thru”.  All very touching and appropriate.

Johnny Mercer and his wife's plot

Johnny Mercer and his wife’s plot

I was curious about the song “And the Angles Sing” so I looked up the lyrics:

We meet, and the angels sing.
The angels sing the sweetest song I ever heard.
You speak, and the angels sing.
Or am I breathing music into every word?
Suddenly, the setting is strange.
I can see water and Moonlight beaming.
Silver waves that break on some undiscovered shore
Suddenly, I see it all change.
Long winter nights with the candles gleaming.
Through it all your face that I adore.
You smile, and the angels sing.
And though it’s just a gentle murmur at the start.
We kiss, and the angels sing.
And leave their music ringing in my heart!

What red-blooded woman would not want to hear these words?  To me, the words are simply poetic.  That was Mercer’s trademark, simplicity. All accounts indicate what he did, he did with such ease.  The beauty of his words left a permanent  inscription on our history of music.

Johnny Mercer family plot

Johnny Mercer family plot


Little Gracie Watkins

My final entry is about Little Gracie Watkins.  Gracie’s burial site is possibly one of the most visited sites in Bonaventure.  Gracie died of pneumonia when she was 6 years old.  Her family had been hired as caretakers of the Pulaski Hotel, one of Savannah’s pre-eminent lodging facilities of its day.  Gracie was reported to have been the self-designated entertainment hostess of the establishment.  She would sing and dance in the lobby for the guests and soon became a “public figure” at the the Pulaski.

After Gracie’s death, her parents, as well as guests at the Pulaski became heartbroken.  Her parents had a photograph that was taken before her death.  She was wearing her Easter best.  They asked John Walz, one of Savannah’s finest sculptors of his time to create her image for her grave.  The sculpture is said to be life-size and has every detail of the dress she wore in the photograph. She sits gracefully next to a tree stump. Her look is pleasant and she has a rose in her hand.  Her eyes have a sullen appearance. I was very moved by the signs of affection visitors left at her grave; little trinkets, coins, etc.  Over the years the cemetery had to erect a fence to protect the monument.  There are rumors of people hearing her laugh, cry, and other unusual activities occurring both Bonaventure and at the former Pulaski Hotel site.

Little Gracie Watkins

Little Gracie Watkins

How do you feel about ghosts and spirits roaming around?  I have mixed feelings, but I do think there are happenings that cannot be explained with simple science or maybe our minds like to play tricks on our eyes.  Gracie is intriguing because after her death her family left and never came back.  She is buried here alone and her parents are buried elsewhere in New England.

The lady in the office shared a story with me that the local children would often come to Gracie’s statue before tests at school and rub her nose for luck.  I thought, I need to go to the side and take a profile picture of the statue to show the wear on her nose.  I leaned into the fence and focused.  I pressed the shutter button on my D800E camera and an odd noise came out of the camera, kind of metallic “click”.  The image was black.  I tried again…same results.  I looked at the statue and said, “Gracie, are you messing with me?”  I then looked at my friend Julie and told her, “My camera is not working”.  She just laughed.  I said, “Seriously, it isn’t working, look!”  I carried my camera out to her and showed her what it was doing.  I tried several troubleshooting attempts and it just wouldn’t work.  Fortunately I had my D700 with me as a back-up “just in case”.

Gracie Watkins Profile

Gracie Watkins Profile; notice how her nose has been rubbed down.

I put my lens on the D700 and walked over to the fence and said, “Ok Gracie, I am going to take this picture.” I took one and figured I shouldn’t tempt fate any longer.  It was getting ready to storm anyway, so I figured it be best to move along.

No cemetery visit is complete without a storm brewing!

No cemetery visit is complete without a storm brewing!

To conclude my “Gracie” story, when I arrived back to my camper, I took my camera out and began checking the settings and giving it a look over.  I depressed the shutter button a couple of times and it began working again…just like normal, and has worked without a flaw since. Was Gracie really being mischievous or did I just have a coincidental malfunction while I was there?  We may never know the answer to that question…


Here are a few additional images from my visit to Bonaventure Cemetery. Enjoy!

Iron gate

Iron gate


Fascinating with the star on it's head

Fascinating with the star on it’s head; note the green patina on the statue. it adds to its beauty!


Urn monument at Bonaventure

Urn monument at Bonaventure


Urn monument

Urn monument


Arch monument at Bonaventure

Arch monument at Bonaventure


Patriotic flowers adorn graves at Bonaventure. This is the only image I could get with the wind blowing. It was still the rest of the time there.

Patriotic flowers adorn graves at Bonaventure. This is the only image I could get with the wind blowing. It was still the rest of the time there.



Creative Trip to Ossabaw Island, Georgia

My friend Julie Thayer and I decided to take a road trip to Savannah, Georgia.  Since we are both a little short on funds we decided to pull my little Towlight camper and stay at the KOA in Richmond Hill, Georgia.  During the short planning stage of our trip I discovered a small island not far from where we were staying called Ossabaw Island.

Ossabaw Island is the 3rd largest barrier island along the state of Georgia.  It has over 26,000 acres of land, beach, and marshland. Dr. Henry Norton Torrey purchased the island in 1924 and built a home there.  The home was a 20,000 square foot Spanish revival house. The family was from Michigan and would winter in Savannah.  When daughter Eleanor (Sandy) was 10, the family’s home burned and they moved to Ossabaw Island.

Sandy and her husband Clifford West established the Ossabaw Foundation in 1961, operating the Ossabaw Island Project and Genesis Project as well as funding scientific research, public use, and educational programming on Ossabaw.

In 1965 Sandy learned about several donkeys needing adoption from a former breeder in South Carolina so she had them brought to the island as pets for her children.  The descendants of those donkeys still inhabit the island.  In 1978, Sandy sold the island to the state of Georgia due to the tax burden of the rising property value of the island. The sale stipulated that Ossabaw Island be declared Georgia’s first heritage preserve–set aside in perpetuity for scientific, educational, and cultural uses only.  Sandy at the age of 102 still lives on Ossabaw Island.

Opportunities to explore an island like this are rare.  The foundation offers few tours and workshops each year.  I was happy to discover that they were offering a tour while we were in the area.  The tour was an educational tour; it was posted as a “creative trip” to Ossabaw.  Many of the passengers on the tour were painters, writers, photographers, and historians.  It was nice to be among those who were there to absorb the beauty and the mystery of the island.

We departed Delegal Marina at the Landings around 9:45 a.m.  Our Captain was Mike Neal of Bull River Cruises.  He, too, was very knowledgable in the history of Ossabaw Island.

The Landings Marina

As we left the marina we drove through the marshlands and along side of the boat we saw dolphins, and a variety of birds.

Waterway out to Ossabaw

Waterway out to Ossabaw

The highlight of the trip out to Ossabaw Island was seeing a momma Osprey and her babies.  In the photograph below you can see only one, but on our return trip we saw 3 babies in the nest.

Momma Osprey and baby

Momma Osprey and baby

A loon surveys his surroundings.

A loon checking out the area

A loon checking out the area

Buoy

Buoy

Out for a ride

Out for a ride

During the ride out to Ossabaw Island, all on board gravitated to the boats railings to capture the image of the dark cloud hanging over this barrier island as we passed.  Many on board commented, “I’m loving this cloud” or “Isn’t that an awesome cloud”.  I’m sure it will be written into a book somewhere or painted into scene on canvas.

A dark cloud.

A dark cloud.

As we progressed, I kept seeing this massive boat in the distance.  It looked like it had wings.  I knew it was too big to be a sailboat (although a schooner came to mind).  As we traveled closer to it, I realized those were nets hanging off of the masts.  It was a large shrimp boat. Captain Mike explained there are not that many shrimp boats any more.  I was very interested in this image…I kept looking at the name of the boat; if it had been Jenny I would have laughed out loud!

Shrimp boat from a distance

Shrimp boat from a distance

As we moved closer to the boat, you could see the hundreds of birds (seagulls, pelicans, and other water birds) flying around the boat vying for position to be ready for “today’s catch” to be cleaned and the “extras” tossed overboard.

Shrimp boat

Shrimp boat

Shrimp boat

Shrimp boat

The birds were lined up on every available space of the shrimp boat.

Birds on a wire!

Birds on a wire!

Pelicans waiting for a treat

Pelicans waiting for a treat

Shrimp boat

Shrimp boat

Shrimp boat

Shrimp boat

Bradley Beach was to be our first destination on Ossabaw Island.  The lush green tropical trees and the high sand dunes were very inviting.  I would have loved to have stayed on the beach longer than 30 minutes though.  The beauty of that area was breathtaking!  The palm trees, sand, driftwood, gave the beach its own character.  The contrast of the colors and the textures were amazing!

A view of the dunes on Bradley Beach

A view of the dunes on Bradley Beach

A boat in the waterway outside of Ossabaw Island.

Boat out on the bay

Boat out on the bay

The large oak tree on Bradley Beach is used for research of the erosion on Ossabaw Island.  It is rapidly eroding. Each year the tree gets closer to the water.

A view of Bradley Beach

A view of Bradley Beach

If Ossabaw Island is “private” what are people doing on the beach?  Robin Gunn of the Ossabaw Foundation explained to us that the laws in the state of Georgia say that all beach front areas are public access.  As long as an individual can transport themselves to and from the island between daylight and dusk they are welcome to use the facilities.

Beach lovers!

Beach lovers!

Look closely…there is a little boy in the oak tree!  See how little everyone looks standing next to it?  Such a beautiful tree!

The mighty oak!

The mighty oak!

The young lady below was on a surf fishing trip.  She managed to land a skate.  She said that was enough for one day; she was going to enjoy the sun!

Surf fishing at Ossabaw

Surf fishing at Ossabaw

I met a charmin lady named Iris.  Her husband is the tall man in the blue shirt.  We were talking about photography and she said she just became interested in it.  We talked about camera clubs and I told her I was the president of the club in Huntington, West Virginia.  Her face lit-up and and she said she was from Winfield, West Virginia and her husband was from a town close to Wheeling on the Ohio side!  We walked and talked for several minutes.  They live in Savannah and this was their first trip to the island.

Iris and Mike posing for a picture

Iris and Mike posing for a picture

The lady standing on the sand dune has a magnificent tattoo on her shoulder…it is of an accordion style camera…it was wonderful! You can see how high the sand dunes are on Ossabaw.

On top of the dunes on Bradley Beach, Ossabaw Island

On top of the dunes on Bradley Beach, Ossabaw Island

The driftwood was beautiful.  These tree roots had great texture.  To photograph them was challenging because they had a sheen to them.

Drift wood roots on Bradley Beach

Drift wood roots on Bradley Beach

Along the beach at Ossabaw

Along the beach at Ossabaw

I decided to climb up on the dunes to get a better view of my surroundings.  I loved this tropical scene!

Tropical scene

Tropical scene

Another view of the oak tree.

Large oak tree on the Ossabaw beach

Large oak tree on the Ossabaw beach

Captain Mike captured a horseshoe crab (they were close to the surface and would pop up out of the water as the waves came in) and showed us what they looked like.  We saw several dead ones on the beach and he said they come in with the tide and often times they do not make it back out and die.  The horseshoe crab is used often in medical research; especially in research involving the human eye. There are no edible parts to a horseshoe crab.

Captain Mike Neal explains the benefits of the horseshoe crab.

Captain Mike Neal explains the benefits of the horseshoe crab.

A view of Sandy’s 20,000 square foot Spanish Revival home is not easy.  It is gated on the island and with the lush growth of trees you can only get a glimpse of it’s span from the water.  The home was built in 1924 and at the time contained the largest plate glass window in the United States. You can barely see it behind a large oak tree on the left. Her family were heirs to the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company. It is the original window. Sandy, at 102, still resides in this home.  It is reportedly in poor repair, but having read quotes by Sandy, she is happy on the island she grew up on and will not leave.  The tour guides shared a quote by Sandy, “I will not pass away; I will die”.  Sandy has a staff of caretakers who see to her needs and provides repairs to her home.  They have been the same family of caregivers for a couple of generations.  They, too, live on the island.

Eleanor Torrey-West estate.

Eleanor Torrey-West estate.

The boat dock at Ossabaw

The boat dock at Ossabaw

After we docked we met at the historical marker on the island.  Robin went over the history of the island.  As for other residents of the island there are staff of the Department of Natural Resources who live there as well.  We were given our boundaries and the trails we could walk.

Our group for the Creative Tour to Ossabaw

Our group for the Creative Tour to Ossabaw

The clubhouse was our meeting place for the day.  We could stow our coolers and other gear while exploring and being “inspired”.  The clubhouse is used for workshops for those spending overnights on the island for research and scientific study.  There are two bunk rooms upstairs and a kitchen, dining room, and living room downstairs.  It would be interesting to participate in a workshop or study.  They have an archeological dig going on as well.  After a long day hiking, it was nice to come and cool off on the porch in a rocker.

Ossabaw club house

Ossabaw club house

When we arrived we had about 30 minutes so we all broke out our lunches.  The donkeys must have a keen sense of smell because we were not even taking our first bites and they rounded the corner of the clubhouse!  We were told not to encourage them, they are like really big dogs.  I was taken in with how close these creatures came to us and how “patient” they were.  A few of the group shared their lunches with them.  I’m used to big dogs and have the strength to ignore them, so they did not get any of my food.  They sure tried to put Dr. Presley on a guilt trip though.  They double teamed him!

Domesticated donkeys

Domesticated donkeys

Domesticated donkeys joining the tour for lunch.

Domesticated donkeys joining the tour for lunch.

Keep a close watch on your food.

Keep a close watch on your food.

Pleaaassse.....share?

Pleaaassse…..share?

Captain Mike was trying to photograph them and they kept moving around. Instead they received attention and a nice pat on the heads.  Mike did his best to keep the donkeys away from us while we ate. You could tell that he, too, has a great love of the island.  He knew much about the wildlife, life on the island, and the history of Ossabaw.  If you are in Savannah, take one of his tours.  He is at Bull River Cruises.

Attempting to photograph the donkeys.

Attempting to photograph the donkeys.

Captain Mike Neal pays attention to the donkeys

Captain Mike Neal pays attention to the donkeys

Domesticated donkey begging

Domesticated donkey begging

While Robin was giving us a lecture on the history of the indigo crop on Ossabaw, I heard a rustle in the palms; it was more like a rumble!  I made my way around to the back side and one of the donkeys was hiding in the palm tree.  A few minutes later it made its escape by charging out during the lecture.  We decided he did not want to learn about indigo!

Donkey in the palms

Donkey in the palms

Indigo is a plant that is harvested to make the blue indigo dye for clothing.  It takes several thousands of bushels to make an indigo ingot. The process is very labor intensive.  From what I understood, the workers would have to fight the biting flies and withstand the high temperatures while working the vats. The longevity of the workers was short due to disease and fatigue.  In the early days of the textile markets the bidding for Ossabaw indigo was high. It was reported to be the best indigo produced in the United States at the time. The indigo crop died out on Ossabaw.  A few years ago, researchers found indigo growing wild on the island.  They were able to genotype it and discovered it was a mutation from the same indigo that originally grew there. They are trying to grow the indigo on the island again.

Robin Gunn discusses indigo processing.

Robin Gunn discusses indigo processing.

One of the historical landmarks of Ossabaw is the presence of tabby shacks.  I had no idea what tabby was until I arrived on the island.  Tabby is an “ancient” form of cement.  It took several attempts for historians to reproduce tabby so it looked like the original.  Tabby is equal amounts of oyster shell, water, and sand.  All have to be void of salt. This is a barrier island and those items have to be void of salt?  The tabby shacks on the island dated back to the 1700’s and at the end of the island there is a shell midden that supposedly was started by the Native Americans who inhabited the island.  The shell midden had been there for hundreds of years so the shells were void of salt.  The sand was acquired from different areas of the island and then the water had to be processed to rid it of the salt.  There are different tributaries that come in to the waterway we traveled.  The waterway is fed by rivers and the ocean. I attempted to go view the shell midden, but the walk became too strenuous and with the heat and ticks everywhere we became discouraged.  One group ahead of us said the pathway became covered in water and they turned back as well.  I realized we were there during high tide so that explained the water.

Captain Mike Neal of Bull river Cruises discusses tabby making.

Captain Mike Neal of Bull River Cruises discusses tabby making.

Looking inside the tabby shack you could see the primitive living arrangements.  At times some of the walls were discolored in the shapes of previously present doors or windows.  Each resident would restructure their “home” to suit their needs. The tabby shacks were built as duplex structures, meaning two families resided in the building.  There was a fireplace in the middle, often shared by both families for cooking and heating.  Dr. Presley told us about a group that had visited Ossabaw a few years back on a “reunion” tour.  He said in the middle of the tabby presentation the group moved into a different room and were saying things like, “this is where I slept” or “here was my brother’s bed”.  He said the entire tour grew quiet as they listened to the group reminiscing about their lives on Ossabaw.  He said during a historical interview the people who lived in the tabby shacks grew up thinking they “owned” the island and that the Torrey-West family were their guests and their jobs were to make them as comfortable as possible.  Talk about a “WOW” moment!  The caretakers lived on the island and kept the property up all year round and the Torrey-West family would come only in the winter to stay.  That was their way of life.

Inside a tabby shack

Inside a tabby shack

Inside a tabby shack

Inside a tabby shack

The day we were there the temperature was in the 90’s and the humidity was at least 90%!  We had, what we thought, plenty of water, bug spray, sunscreen, and our camera gear all ready to capture birds and whatever else we found down the dirt road leading to marshlands.

Tropical paradise

Tropical paradise

Palm tree

Palm tree

Instead we were limited to photographing the lush green trees and moss along the way.  We walked for about 30 minutes and Julie discovered multiple ticks crawling on her and her gear (yes we used bug spray and reapplied a couple of times). I did not see any right away.  There was a group ahead of us, who turned and came back out as well, for the same reasons.  Lots of walking not much to see and an invasion of ticks!

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

Hiking through Ossabaw

Hiking through Ossabaw

Once back to “civilization”, I stowed my gear on the boarding house steps and went to the clubhouse for more water.  I took my water to the boarding house and removed my shoes and socks to let my feet cool! I enjoyed the tranquility of the boarding house porch and listened to the birds singing and watch the painter in front of me work on her creation.  All of a sudden she stopped and laid her canvas down and said, “Well, that ruined my day!  A tick just landed in the middle of my painting!”  She said she could not concentrate now.  I agreed with her that definitely was a “creative killer”.  One of the painters started early.  She did not participate in the indigo talk and began painting the tabby shacks. She worked on them the entire time we were on the island.  She said she would finish it when she returned to the mainland and that she only worked outside.

Ossabaw Artist

Ossabaw Artist

Painter on Ossabaw

Painter on Ossabaw

Ossabaw artist

Ossabaw artist; she will finish her painting once returning to the mainland

The setting for the boarding house was like that out of a romance novel.  I peeped in the windows and the decor was very elegant and very southern.  Again, it would be nice to stay there a while and enjoy the peacefulness of the island…without the ticks of course.

Boarding house

Boarding house

The smokehouse was the oldest tabby structure on the island, dating back to the 1700’s.  It had been built onto several times and remained functional into the 20th century.

Smokehouse door

Smokehouse door

There is a gravel road that runs through Ossabaw.  It is the longest, active, gravel road in the United States.  It is 7 miles long.  The beginning of the road is lined with oak trees.

Road through Ossabaw

Road through Ossabaw

By the time we were ready to leave the donkeys had taken to the field to graze on grass. They gave up hope of a few snacks from the tourists!

Domesticated donkeys

Domesticated donkeys

After a long hot day on Ossabaw, the 1/4 mile walk to the dock was met with mixed feelings.  For the creatives in the bunch we learned a great history lesson about our past.  The writers in the group have plenty of imagery to work with as well as enough information to do character development about life on a tropical island.  I enjoyed hearing the stories and capturing the images. While I would have enjoyed a longer stay, the ticks ruined my excitement and the humidity exhausted me.  Would I go back?  Yes, and I would do things a little different.  I would love to participate in one of the workshops or an archeological dig.  I think that would be very interesting.

Leaving Ossabaw

Leaving Ossabaw

I can understand Sandy’s love for the island.  The solitude and pureness that exists here is something you can only experience on Ossabaw.

Tabby Shack dating from the 1700's on Ossabaw Island.

Tabby Shack dating from the 1700’s on Ossabaw Island. My image from the Creative Tour


Ice and Snow 2015

Last year I accompanied a friend of mine to Florida for a week in January.  The temperature reached the mid 70’s and we celebrated the new year laying on the beach watching fireworks. My arrival home was more of a shock to the system. When we landed in Columbus, Ohio it was snowing and there was about 3″ on the ground already.  I seriously considered going back to Florida this year, but it wasn’t in the cards.

Instead of a trip south a couple of friends and I opted for a winter workshop, hosted by Mountaineer Photo Excursions (http://www.mountaineerphotoexcursions.com/workshops) in Oakland, Maryland and Deep Creek Lake.  We wake up our first morning to catch the sunrise on Deep Creek Lake and it is 3 degrees and 30MPH winds (which is typical).  We dressed, layer after layer of clothing and a ski suit, boots, gloves, hats that we could barely move about! We were sweating before we even left our room! The sunrise was lovely, but we soon found out that our key remotes to our cars no longer functioned and our autofocus and remote shutter releases were useless. A few of us found out the hard way that you cannot blow on your lens or LED screens to get rid of snow or any other debris…it freezes instantly!

Deepcreek sunrise

Sunrise at Deep Creek, Maryland

PDC_7733

Manual auger to drill a hole for fishing

After we had breakfast we, again, faced the cold blast of the lake; this time to watch the ice fishermen.  We trudged out to the closest group we could find. They used either a manual or motorized auger to drill a hole (no larger than 8″ in diameter) in the ice over the lake.

PDC_7783

Measuring the thickness of the ice. One fisherman told us the ice was about a foot thick beneath us…still…we were standing in the middle of a lake!  We found out later that there are many springs that feed the lake and the ice may not be as stable as we think it is!  That was comforting to know…after we had made our way back to shore!

PDC_7766

Snowmobile and “fish tents” dot the lake

PDC_7748

Fish finder camera

They are not permitted to build “fish huts” but instead they have tents.  Another fisherman showed us how he used digital technology by submerging a small camera into the water to find fish.  Inside the tent it was very comfortable; he had a kerosene heater and a chair.  Many of the fishermen pull their equipment out onto the lake on little sleds; others ride snowmobiles out.

PDC_7678

Fishermen make their way out to the lake

Out next stop was to the Circle R Ranch to see a horse drawn sleigh.  The ranch was Amish run and we asked if we could photograph them and they had no problem with us taking pictures of them or their ranch.  The kids had just been given a small handmade sled. It was the kind you had to balance yourself on and sit upright.  The kids had a blast riding on the sled.  They would start at the top of the driveway and go all the way to the end.  The horses were very curious and would nudge us for attention.  Just watching the sleigh coming over the hill was like the Currier & Ives Paintings I remember from the tins of cookies we received at Christmas.

PDC_7933

Pony at Circle R Ranch

PDC_7979-Edit

Horse drawn sleigh coming through the field

PDC_7869-Edit

Frosty ride!

PDC_7829-Edit

Pure joy!

After a much needed “warm-up” and a bite to eat; the group made it’s way to the Swallow Falls State Park.  The falls were partially frozen, but there was enough water flow to capture the silky cascades rolling over the rocks. The stairs down to the falls were frozen and treacherous, but we all made it down safely.  There were families hiking and the kids would sit on their bottoms and slide down the steps!  That was fun to watch, but I’m not that adventurous!

PDC_8073

Muddy River Falls at Swallow Falls State Park, MD

The next morning we gathered in the town of Oakland, Maryland.  The Transportation Museum graciously opened its doors for us to photograph all of the antique cars, buggies, and watercraft.  It was very interesting to see all of the old cars and various modes of transportation in one place.  The highlight of our trip was the old train station that had been completely restored.  It had all of its original woodwork and architectural finishings; the only “new” pieces were 7 panes of stained glass that had to be replaced.  The design was very unusual. Oakland, at one time, had been a very popular resort area with large exclusive hotels. While we were there a train did us the favor of passing by so we could capture the station and the train together.  I was thrilled to capture the scene, but I couldn’t help to think, “Gee, why couldn’t it had been an Norfolk Southern train?” (My dad was a Norfolk Southern employee)

PDC_8288-Edit-Edit

Oakland, Maryland train station

PDC_8207-Edit-Edit

Antique ice skates at the Transportation Museum

Do you think I had enough of the cold?  Apparently not!  This past weekend I ventured up to northern Ohio; the Cleveland area. I did have a purpose for going, though.  I had been given information on a repair shop that serviced my brand of video camera.  I chose this particular weekend because Medina, Ohio has an Ice Festival. Professional ice carvers come from all over to compete in competitions and to show off their craftsmanship.  There was already a foot of snow on the ground and it was COLD!

Friday (February 13, 2015) was the opening of the event.  They have a speed carving competition where the participants are given 20 minutes to create a finished ice sculpture.  Think about it…20 minutes to carve a sculpture out of a block of ice that is about 4′ x 1′ (estimated) and weighs over 200 pounds!  There were several pieces on display around the town square, but I wanted to see the ice carving!

PDC_8911

Aaron Costic carving out his design

PDC_9226

Aaron uses a blow torch to make it crystal clear

PDC_9237

Final seconds on the clock

The competitors were given 2 tools, a chain saw and a die grinder, and those were the only tools they could use for this competition.  It was fascinating to watch how they outlined their pattern with the grinder and then they started cutting out sections with the chain saw.  The would remove large sections, which later they would fuse back on to their design as horns, wings or fins, depending on what their final creation was going to be. The winner of the competition was Aaron Costic of Elegant Ice Creations in Broadview Heights, Ohio (http://www.elegantice.com). I overheard him telling someone how they add color to the sculptures.  They mix up jello and put it in the mold then seal it in with water on the back side of it.  It sets up quick when its added to ice.Mr. Costic has an impressive resume on the website.  He has been in several national (both as a participant and a judge) and world championships as a participant.  He has also participated in the Olympics; in 1998 he won a bronze medal; in 2002 he finished fourth; and in 2006 he won gold!  I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Costic briefly before I left Medina on Sunday.  He is very soft spoken and is easy to talk to.

PDC_9422 PDC_9419

Medina Historic Square is lined with ice sculptures sponsored by various businesses.

The highlight on Friday evening is the lighting of the Fire and Ice Tower.  It is about a 12′ tower of ice with an opening in the middle.  They stack the firewood in the middle of the tower and when it is lit, the fire glows beautifully through the ice.  They allow it to burn until the ice puts the fire out.

PDC_9303

Golden glow

PDC_9338

More wood is added to the fire.

After the fire had reached its final glow, I decided it was time for me to head out. I walked around snapping a few more shots and I noticed a group of people congregated together talking.  They had tripods and various camera equipment and I thought to myself, “A camera club.” I walked over and introduced myself to them and they were from the Erie Shores Photography Club. Mark Nowak, the president was talking about the event and they were deciding on a location for dinner.  He turned and asked me, “Hey, do you want to join us?”  The evening was great!  I met fellow photographers who were out doing what photographers do best…braving the weather to get the picture!  The members from Erie Shores were, Mark, Jay Allen Linder, Julie Mulheren, and Thomas Rak.  We talked about different places we enjoyed shooting and talked about the upcoming Shoot the Hills at Hocking Hills.  Their club has several members who attend the event.  I look forward to running into them this year!

Saturday morning greeted me with snow and subzero temperatures.  I did venture out to meet up with my cousins for lunch.  The drive over to Fairview Park was interesting especially on the snow covered interstate.  I made it there and back without incident!  I had a nice Valentine Day lunch with my cousins Ruth, Kenny, Bruce, and Wendy.

Sunday I made my way home…only to be greeted Monday morning with a history making snow storm in our area!  Why didn’t I go south this year?


JAX Theatre: Hansel & Gretel: The Musical

We all know the Grimm’s fairy tale about Hansel and Gretel; they leave a trail of bread crumbs to find their way out of the forest, only to have the crows eat the crumbs and they stay lost, then happen on a gingerbread house owned by a witch who wants to cook them…

JAX Theatre has it’s own adaptation of this classic tale.  Jordan Nickles is the creative mind behind the characters and the song lyrics in his adaptation of Hansel and Gretel: The Musical.  If you have followed JAX over the last 4 years you have seen Jordan transform himself from a “young Scrooge” to the “elder Scrooge” for A Christmas Carol: The Musical.  For this, we need to start from the beginning.

Christmas Carol 2013 21366

Jordan Nickles

In 2011 JAX Theatre had it’s first production of A Christmas Carol: The Musical.  Nickles portrayed “young Scrooge”, Marley’s ghost, and Ol’ Joe.  Marley and Ol’ Joe required extensive make-up applications and removals between scenes. Jordan designed his own make-up for the parts and applied and removed one character’s features to transform himself into another character.  Jordan brings such energy to his performances and each production is bigger than the previous.  In 2012 and 2013 JAX brought in the talent of RJ Haddy to transform Jordan into the “elder Scrooge”.  (See blog post:https://pamdecampphoto.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=101&action=edit) Other plays produced by JAX Theatre have been Steel Magnolias, Sleepy Hollow, and Alice’s Wonderland.

In 2013, not only did Haddy transform Jordan into Scrooge he applied his creativity to transform actors into Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Marley’s Ghost.

 

Christmas Carol 26611

Standing L to R: Christmas Past (Hannah Noel); Christmas Present (Adam Lucas); Marley’s Ghost (Ethan Lawson); Seated: Scrooge (Jordan Nickles)

 

For the JAX production of Hansel and Gretel: The Musical, RJ Haddy’s talents were called upon again to transform the lovely actress, Eva Martin, into Beatrix the Witch who lures the Hansel and Gretel into her home.

JAX 44917

Eva Martin before her transformation to Beatrix

Eva was thrilled with the opportunity to work with RJ.  During the time in the make-up chair Eva sat very still and RJ was amazed at her patience while he glued, sponge painted, and airbrushed her features on. The process began with Eva having her beautiful locks of hair covered with a bald cap.

PDC_9741sized

RJ & Eva during the bald cap application.

RJ applied a layer of white on Eva’s face.  He used his signature Shadow airbrush to apply the contours and fine details to give her face dimension and depth.

JAX 49657

JAX 49674 RJ adds contours to Eva’s face to give her character dimension and depth.

During the play the Beatrix takes on her own transformation so cracks are painted onto her “skull” and some of Eva’s own hair is pulled through the bald cap to add to the witch’s realistic appearance. After all Beatrix is 900 years old!

JAX 49701

Cracks are added to Beatrix’s skull

A long flowing wig was added to complete the look.

JAX 49744

RJ touches up around the wig so it blends with the rest of the make-up.

JAX 49751

RJ adding highlights to the wig.

When RJ is working he attracts on-lookers.  These are not they typical on-lookers though.  Stacey Morrison and her fiancé Jerod Walker both enjoy crafting sets and experimenting with special effects make-up.  They helped to design and build the set for Hansel and Gretel plus provided make-up design for the ballerina Petra.

JAX 51357

Stacey Morrison, Jerod Walker, Edward Warren watch as RJ transforms Eva into Beatrix.

Below Jerod provides his talent to bring Petra to life.

JAX 51344

JAX 51353 Jerod applies features to Petra (Sami Matthews)

JAX 52084

RJ Haddy and Beatrix (Eva Martin)

Below are scenes from Hansel and Gretel: The Musical.

JAX 51422

Beatrix gives Rosalinde (Baylee Martin) her opinion on Hansel and Gretel’s fate.

JAX 51500

The clan of witches decide the fate of Beatrix. Pictured are: Sami Matthews (Petra); Adam Lucas (Udolf); Ethan Lawson (Admiral Theodoric); Rosalinde (Baylee Martin); Bastian (Micah Simmons); Yvonne (Lana Percell); and Klaus/Felix (Jordan Nickles)

 


Customer Service

Typically when I post a blog I have a series of photographs to talk about, but today I am going to give the folks who do customer service for a living a pat on the back.

We hear so many times how terrible a customer service rep was or negative comments about companies. Sometimes, we, the customer, are as much to blame for the poor interaction on the other end of the phone. I know I’ve had those emotionally charged conversations with reps because the “thing-a-ma-jig” I bought broke after I used it once. There are companies out there who stand by the products they sell. I have three of those type of companies that I want to applaud for providing excellent customer service.

Being a photographer, I take great pride in the equipment I own; however, I, like many photographers pick up things off of eBay and buy from other folks who are up grading their equipment. When I buy from another photographer, I feel comfortable that they’ve cared for the equipment just as I would, especially if you are buying top of the line gear.

The first company I would like to applaud is Manfrotto (or Vitec Group Imaging Division). I love my Manfrotto tripod legs and the various heads I own (324RC2 and 468MGRC0, plus a couple of others). I purchased all of these items used and the 468MGRC0 did not have a user’s manual with it. I have had that head for a couple of years and had not used it because I primarily used that particular tripod for video and I had another tripod for my photography. As my equipment “matured” and became heavier, I figured it was time to start using the 468. For the most part it was very easy to use and to figure out, but I kept having difficulty with the tension and keeping it locked in place. I contacted Vitec/Manfrotto and asked them for assistance for the 468. I love using the on-line request forms so my customer service request was forwarded that way. Within a few hours I received a reply confirming they received my request and within 2 business days I had an electronic version of the user’s manual. I reviewed it and found out very quickly what I was doing wrong. To me this was a problem that was resolved quickly and efficiently. Again, if you are going to invest in equipment, go with quality.

The next company is Crumpler. Crumpler is one of those modern or “hip” companies. I was not familiar with them until I started searching for a computer bag and I became intrigued. Their style is very casual and they make a lot of messenger bag style cases. I then discovered their line of camera bags. They are very modern looking and don’t scream, “Hey, I’m a camera bag”! The names they give their bags are very humorus. I went with a Six Million Dollar Home that I purchased on eBay. It has plenty of pockets and room for what all I want to carry with me. I was tightening the clasp on it the other day and it broke. I was worried about calling for a replacement, since I had purchased it used, but when I called and told the lady what I needed she said, “No, problem, send us a picture of the clasp and we will mail one out to you, no charge”. That is a great way to stand by a product. No questions asked and fast turn around. I took a picture of it with my cell phone and emailed it and my contact information and they replied back right away saying they would send me the tracking information once it is in the mail.

The third company is Apple. I have had a couple of contacts with them during the last couple of months. The first contact was in January when my daughter’s iPhone 4S died…literally, died. I called and explained to them what troubleshooting steps I had already taken and then we attempted a full system reset that lasted for an hour. The lady on the phone, set-up a call back time and they were very prompt with calling back. The gentleman on the phone was courteous and very apologetic about the phone. He explained all of my options on replacement so I elected to mail the phone back to them for inspection and then go from there. I was supposed to remove the SIM card before mailing it back. However, the next morning I realized I had not removed the SIM card. I tried calling the automated line, but all I could get was the tracking information on the phone. I remembered, live chat. I got on my computer, which is a Mac by the way, and signed into the live chat. I reached a person (don’t know if they are young or old) named Jeremy. I explained to him my problem and he said he would see if they could intercept it as it came in and retrieve the SIM card. He asked me to hold a moment. He then came back on and apologized for taking so long and asked me to wait a while longer. I replied, “That’s ok I’ll just hum hold music while I wait”. In just a few moments he replied, “Great, as long as it is late ’90’s synthesized jazz.” I told him, “I love a customer service person with class and a sense of humor.” He fired back, “I’ll let you know if I find one!” I did get my SIM card back, too!

It does not take much to make a customer to feel human, even if it is a live chat or a comment system to request service. Recently, Apple has upgraded many of their software products including their operating system, Aperture (the photography editing software), Pages, Numbers, and Final Cut Pro X. I do a fair amount of video editing and have several videos I’ve put together over the last few years. I had just finished working on video and the new upgrades showed up on my system. I was at a stopping point so I decided to go ahead and upgrade everything. You never know what is going to happen when you upgrade. I had a client in and was going to show her what I had put together for her daughter’s audition video. I had already burned a copy, but for some reason I could not get it to play. I opened up Final Cut Pro and ALL of my projects were gone! I could find them on my hard drive, but I could not access them. All I could do was mutter, “Now, what?”

I contacted Apple, this time through their message board for Final Cut Pro and asked for their help to restore my files. I received an email within a couple of hours with links to their upgrade information FAQ’s. Since I had actually read through a few of them, I kind of knew what I was looking for. I found the topic that pertained to me and went in and followed the instructions and I was back up and running. I replied back to the email, his name was Noah, and I said, “Thanks! That worked! I am so glad I have a Mac”. Noah replied, “Right on- glad that helped.”

I think in this automated world that we’ve created we still desire to be treated as humans. Customer service does not have to be stressful to either party. I know occasionally, I try to have a sense of humor about things, just to break the tension of the moment. We all have the customer service horror stories, but we also need to embrace those positive moments when we feel we’ve made a connection on the human level.


Start Talking Initiative

Ohio Governor John Kasich and First Lady Karen W. Kasich have launched a program to help keep Ohio children safe from the tragedies that result from drugs. Start Talking is a part of a new drug abuse prevention initiative launched January 8 with a focus on ways we can all work to reduce the likelihood of youth drug use before it even starts.  Research shows that youth are up to 50% less likely to use drugs when parents and adults talk with them about substance use and abuse.

The Start Talking initiative hosted a kick off event at Wheelersburg High School in Wheelersburg, Ohio on January 30, 2013.  The Wheelersburg area has had it’s share of “pill mills”.  The larger issue in the area now is heroin addiction.  The goal of Start Talking is to educate and empower our children to talk to adults and to speak up about what they are seeing around them. The program is also designed provide tools to increase the communication between the parents and children. Wheelersburg Local Schools Superintendent Mark Knapp introduced the program and talked about how the school can be pivotal in educating our children on drug abuse and empowering the students to talk to the teachers and coaches if they are aware of a problem.

Image

Mark Knapp, Superintendent of Wheelersburg Local Schools

Wheelersburg Baseball Coach, Michael Estep, reinforced the need to open a dialogue with our children.  He says he uses his Saturday morning sessions before double headers to bring speakers in to talk with the baseball team about a variety of issues.  He feels coaches and teachers are in a good position to provide support and encourage kids to stay off drugs.  In a time when peer pressure is strong, sometimes, just knowing there is an adult, whether it is a teacher, coach, or parent the student can turn to makes all of the difference. 

Image

Coach Michael Estep presents at the Start Talking kick-off initiative.

Among the speakers today were parents who had lost children to drugs.  It is important to realize the majority of drugs are obtained through family and friends.  Think about what you have laying around the house.  When was your last surgery?  Do you still have those pain pills laying around?  Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and other parents could unknowingly contributing to drug abuse to our children.  Take the time to go through your medicine cabinet and clean out medications that could lead to addiction.  

The first speaker, Danielle Smoot, gave an emotional testimonial about how her son died after his first exposure to drugs.  He was seen in the hospital and then when he came home, they put him to bed.  When she went in to check on him he had died in his sleep.  She emphasized that any child could be exposed to drugs at any time.  

Image

 

Danielle Smoot emphasizes that “one time” can lead to a tragic end.

The next speaker was JoAnna Krohn.  Her son had a troubled time with drug addiction.  One night he was having a party and obtained a loaded gun and accidentally shot himself in the head.  After the death of her son, Ms. Krohn founded SOLACE (Surviving Our Loss and Continuing Everyday), an organization to provide to evidence based support and education to children and adolescents on substance and alcohol abuse. SOLACE also organizes support groups to help individuals who have lost a family member to drug abuse or individuals who have someone in their family suffering from drug abuse and addiction.

Image

 

Jo Anna Krohn speaks about the tragic loss of her son, Wesley, while he was under the influence of alcohol and opiates.

Mr. Paul Schoonover gave testimony about his son’s history with drug abuse. His son came to him and told him he had a problem and wanted help.  Mr. Schoonover said that his son completed a drug rehabilitation program and they mistakenly believed he was “cured”.  His son died of a heroin overdose the day after he had completed a drug rehabilitation program.   

 

 

Image

Mr. Schoonover talks about the loss of his son from a heroin overdose.

Representative Terry Johnson who has served the region as the county coroner and as a physician talked about the “heritage” of drug addiction.  Many of the children who fall into the cycle of drug addiction are from families who have had long standing histories of drug abuse…parents, grandparents and so on.  It is a difficult task to break that cycle; they live how they are taught. He said as the coroner he has seen things we would not believe.  Conditions children are raised in down to elder abuse and neglect. Rep. Johnson credits closing the “pill mills” as a first big step to eliminating the availability of drugs.

Image

 

Rep. Terry Johnson shares his experiences as county coroner and seeing first hand the effects of drug abuse in our region.

Portsmouth, Ohio Police Chief, Robert Ware talked about the efforts law enforcement is taking in providing support and education to the schools and to the community.  He also talked about the efforts law enforcement has taken in making arrests and stopping the trafficking coming into the area. Chief Ware, concluded the program with this final quote: “How would you feel if you didn’t take 5 minutes to talk to your kids?” 

Image

 

Portsmouth, Ohio, Police Chief Robert Ware discusses what the police department has been doing to fight the fight against drugs.

Drug usage in this region has been prevalent since I was in school.  You knew who used and who didn’t.  When I first realized there was a problem was when I was walking home from school one afternoon (remember this is the late 1970’s) and I saw a car pull over and one of the students who was a year ahead of me ran over to the car and she was handed a bag of different colored “objects”.  I was so ignorant about drugs at the time that what I saw did not register with me. It wasn’t until later on did I realized I had witnessed a “drug deal”. 

Just because we live in a small town does not mean we are immune to the problems of drug abuse and addiction.  It is very important to talk to our children early on and frequently. I started talking to my daughter about drugs when she was in first grade and I haven’t stopped. I always emphasize to her that just because her friends say something is “ok” does not mean it is.  I’ve always told her no matter what do not get into a car if someone is under the influence of anything or for her to drive herself if she is.  It is always ok to call me for a ride home. Never put yourself or others at risk.  I will not get mad; I will not ask questions.  What she has heard me say over and over is “Never, ever, drink anything, someone else has made, or drink out of a container you did not open yourself, or drink anything you didn’t make yourself.”  

Like Police Chief Ware said, “How would you feel if you didn’t spend 5 minutes talking to your children?”

For more information on the Start Talking Initiative click on:  http://www.starttalking.ohio.gov/About.aspx

Image

 

 


Junior Theatre Festival 2014 Sets a Positive Example

Thank you for making this such a successful post. I am going to reblog and keep it going! Thanks!

Pam DeCamp Photography

Unless you are involved in community theatre or work with children’s theatre programs (or theatre period) you’ve probably never heard of Music Theatre International (MTI) or the Junior Theatre Festival.  MTI was founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) and orchestrator Don Walker (Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof) and is the industry leader in theatrical licensing. In other words, this is who you contact if you want to do a musical that is in their library.  You pay a licensing fee to put on the performance.

The Junior Theatre Festival (JTF) started in 2003 and was created by Nick Manos, who dedicates his time to the planning and expansion of the annual festival, and Timothy Allen McDonald, CEO and founder of iTheatrics. Mr. Manos and Mr. McDonald were inspired by the enthusiasm and excitement of the kids who participate in musical theatre and felt there should be…

View original post 985 more words


Junior Theatre Festival 2014 Sets a Positive Example

Unless you are involved in community theatre or work with children’s theatre programs (or theatre period) you’ve probably never heard of Music Theatre International (MTI) or the Junior Theatre Festival.  MTI was founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser (Guys and Dolls) and orchestrator Don Walker (Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof) and is the industry leader in theatrical licensing. In other words, this is who you contact if you want to do a musical that is in their library.  You pay a licensing fee to put on the performance.

The Junior Theatre Festival (JTF) started in 2003 and was created by Nick Manos, who dedicates his time to the planning and expansion of the annual festival, and Timothy Allen McDonald, CEO and founder of iTheatrics. Mr. Manos and Mr. McDonald were inspired by the enthusiasm and excitement of the kids who participate in musical theatre and felt there should be an arena where the kids could showcase their talents and learn from each other.

The Junior Theatre Festival in 2003 was attended by approximately 650 kids.  In 2014 the participation at this event was over 4,000!  For the statisticians in the group, that is a 515% increase in an 11 year period!  As it is stated in Mr. Manos bio, “the excitement of those kids was palpable and infectious” at this event!

Image

This was the first time I had the pleasure of attending the JTF.  I attended as a photographer for one of our local writers, Joseph Pratt, who wanted to cover the event. One of the adjudicators asked me what I thought of it.  I replied, “In one word, energy!”  There was so much energy the entire weekend.  Not just with the kids, but the workers as well.  All involved with the JTF deserve a big round of applause for all they do.  I felt welcome by all and it was truly a “family” feel.

The CEO of MTI, Freddie Gershon and his wife Myrna were in attendance at all of the events.  They, too, were very cordial and welcomed all of the guests as if they were welcoming them into their own home.  The weekend is non-stop from performances by each of the groups participating in the festival to the finale of Broadway stars performing on stage.

Image

The entire weekend is a very positive and uplifting experience.  Every review the adjudicators gave came across positive and encouraging.  Author, Tim Federle (Five, Six, Seven, Nate!), was one of the adjudicators.  He would go through a routine with the performers and show them how to make it better.  I do not believe I heard any negative comments from the adjudicators.  They were there to educate and show the kids how to improve.  It was very inspiring to see and hear the encouragement the kids received.

Image

During the adjudication process, kids were selected to receive a “golden ticket” which granted them the privilege to audition for the JTF video.  This is a BIG DEAL for the kids.  Out of the 4,000 who attended only 300 received the precious “golden ticket”.  I had the privilege to sit in and photograph the “closed” audition.  It was an awesome experience to see and hear 300 talented kids from 26 states sing in harmony and dance to an impromptu choreographed piece to put their skills to the test.

The group gathered into a room where they were each given a number; then they were split up.  Half went with the choreographers, Steven G. Kennedy, Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, and previous video participant Ben Sears (there was no one in the group who did not know who he was!) and the other half stayed and learned the musical number, “Good Morning” from “Singin’ in the Rain”.

Kennedy kept emphasizing to the kids, “You need to stay focused.  On Broadway you are given 15 mins to learn a routine. The key is focus.”

Image

Image

Image

The poise and professionalism that each of the staff members showed was phenomenal. I cannot recall the last time I was at a conference or convention where the energy and excitement carried through the entire event and even during the “social” time.  The lounge area was buzzing with energy during the after hours time.  The staff and adjudicators were approachable and took the time to engage in conversation and answer questions. Often times they would address me by name (I did not have on a name tag), which is impressive considering the number of people they encountered during the weekend.

The New Works Showcase is an opportunity for theatrical groups to put on a live performance of one of the Junior Theatre shows.  This year’s showcase was presented by Disney Musicals.  To demonstrate the diversity of these groups, you had elementary, middle schools, and community theatre groups showcasing hits like, Legally Blonde, The Musical, Jr., Shrek, The Musical, Jr., Magic Tree House Collection: The Knight at Dawn Kids, 101 Dalmatians Kids, and Mary Poppins.  Each of these groups did an outstanding job!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

The weekend finale was Disney Theatrical Productions, Broadway and Beyond: An Evening With the Stars of Broadway. The show included hit songs from the Disney musicals, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, AIDA, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, and The Little Mermaid.  The performance also introduced the audience to other songs from the productions of NewsiesPeter and the StarcatcherKing David, and Aladdin (which opens on Broadway in March).  The stars of the show were Heidi Blickenstaff (Ursula, of The Little Mermaid); Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins); Merle Dandridge (Aida); Josh Strickland (Tarzan); and Alton Fitzgerald White (Mufasa of The Lion King). Again, the energy in their performances was strong.  They carried the emotion through each verse from humor to sadness.  The expressions in their faces and their body language enhanced performance of each song.

The highlight of the show was when Strickland came into the audience singing “She’s In Love” from The Little Mermaid.  You could hear a collective sigh from the audience and all of the kids came rushing to the front of the stage to get close to him.  He sang to one of the girls in our group from Portsmouth, Ohio. Ironically, it was the same song she sang in the performance the Portsmouth group did for the adjudication process.  How cool is that?

Image

All in all the weekend is a great learning experience for these young actors and actresses.  For me the take away was maintaining a positive attitude and encourage, not discourage these young performers.  The JTF is a positive way for kids to express themselves and to receive inspiration from the pros.  What a great opportunity this is!

Here are a couple more pictures from the Broadway and Beyond performances:

Image

Alton Fitzgerald White and Merle Dandridge

Image

Ashley Brown

Image

Heidi Blickenstaff


Image

Dream Sequence : What Happens to a Dream (When You Wake Up)

Dream Sequence : What Happens to a Dream (When You Wake Up)

As you sleep your subconscious becomes active whether it is a trigger from a stress we are experiencing at the time or an experience that is being played out in a distorted way. There comes that moment, whether a noise, or an aversion to what we are experiencing in the dream causes us to wake-up. Where do those dreams go? Do they disintegrate like flakes of snow hitting the warm pavement? Do they blow into the wind? Or do they simply become a vortex and get pulled into the air like a vapor? The portal fades and closes. Many times if the the dream was pleasant we will ourselves to have it continue, but if it was unpleasant we try to tell ourselves to have a pleasant dream as we drift back off and the cycle starts again.


Image

Dream Sequence: Dream Maker’s Warehouse

Dream Sequence: Dream Maker's Warehouse

You pass through the portal and enter into a large room filled with people. Some you know some you do not know. There are objects, and animals. It is a very busy place. The Dream Maker carefully selects your dream or is being in this room your dream, or does it belong to someone else? You hear a typewriter keeping rhythm with the room swaying back and forth. The room starts to move and fold upon itself. A girl who sits in a chair, does not appear to be aware of the room slipping into itself behind her. A man grabs a young, beautiful woman from behind as if to strangle her, but is this just your imagination playing tricks on you? A cat playfully climbs a column and a horse rides in through a window. Look carefully, the portrait in the background seems to be alive and it is all being captured photographically through a window.


Image

Dream Sequence : The Portal to Dreams

Dream Sequence : The Portal to Dreams

Try to imagine going to sleep at night and being able to enter the world of dreams. You rise up out of bed, only it is your spirit not your physical being; your subconscious drifts and works its way through the dark hall way into the world of a dream. The guarded door opens and the Dream Maker welcomes you to the world. You see stallions galloping over your head. Butterflies greet you. Flowers become living, flowing creatures waving and paving your way into to this magical world. You see your reflections around you. The portal is only the beginning.


The Adventure: Days 7 – 10 (I Think!)

Time flies when you are on vacation time!  We’ve seen much and have put 2800+ miles under our butts!  I think this will go down as a “scouting” trip as there are places I passed that I really need to go back to…yes, need to!

I made it to Douglas Wyoming by gosh!  I will have to say going through Wyoming is akin to going through Kansas.  Mile after mile of field and rock.  We have yet to see a buffalo!  But we continue to say that the buffalo are disguised as cows, rocks and even the occasional tree…at one point I could have swore one was hiding out in an oil well costume!  We’ve had to try to be creative, can’t you tell!  It was a long drive across Wyoming.  We finally made it to Colorado Springs, I believe, on Saturday.

My uncle Max has been a long time Colorado resident.  He lived in Aurora for many years, in an apartment without modern conveniences like a phone.  He always used the pay phone down the hall to make calls.  When he retired he purchased his girlfriend’s brother’s property in Deer Trail, Colorado…he had to have utilities and when he went to connect his phone he was asked when he had a phone last…in the 1950’s when he lived in Illinois!  Fast forward to the present…my uncle Max is 95 years old and his girlfriend Lela is 98.  They live in  assisted living apartments down the hall from one and other.  I was able to spend time with uncle Max.  He is still sharp as a tack mentally and so is Lela.

This is my favorite photo of uncle Max.  He is smiling; I've never photographed him smiling!

This is my favorite photo of uncle Max. He is smiling; I’ve never photographed him smiling!

While in Colorado Springs, my daughter and I went up to the Garden of the Gods and did a few senior photos. I did not feel well that day.  Between the heat and the altitude I think they got the better of me. I always like going to the Garden of the Gods.  I would like to visit it in late spring or fall when it is not so hot out.

Libby laying on top of a rock at Garden of the Gods

Libby laying on top of a rock at Garden of the Gods

Monday was a travel day.  I decided to go half way to Flagstaff Arizona, stopping in Cortez Colorado.  We stopped in Alamosa County in Colorado and payed a visit to the Sand Dunes National Park.  I am so glad I purchased a park pass…it has more than paid for itself!

Sand Dunes National Park in Alamosa County Colorado

Sand Dunes National Park in Alamosa County Colorado

This was the first mountainous area I traveled through pulling the camper.  Traveling Rt 160 while very picturesque, I was not prepared for the 8000 feet in altitude and the ascent and descent that lasted 8 – 10 miles each way!  What goes up must come down you know! I had to watch my temperature gauge as it crept up.  I found if I lifted my foot off the gas it helped a great deal.  It also made me nervous at times when the engine revved to over 5000 RPMs.  I would back off again and still it did fine.  I made it through the mountains…very carefully!  I took it easy on my brakes too!  My car has a “gear down” feature and all you do is push a button and it saves a great deal of braking!  My one friend says I have a “jake brake” on my car. Whatever it is, it works very well!

We traveled on into Flagstaff today, stopping, of course at the Four Corners Monument.

I'm standing in four states at one time! :)

I’m standing in four states at one time! 🙂

On our way to Flagstaff I saw a few interesting rock formations.

Along Rt 160 in Arizona

Along Rt 160 in Arizona

Another formation along Rt 160

Another formation along Rt 160

For supper tonight I decided to use Yelp* to help me pick a place for dinner tonight.  I chose the Crown Railroad Cafe.  After circling the block a couple of times I figured I’d give it a try.  The outside pretty plain except you see the nifty neon Restaurant sign on top of the building.  The restaurant is attached to a Howard Johnson that is being remodeled and there are dumpsters in the parking lot.  I figured what the heck!  Yelp* gave it 4 1/2 stars.  The place was very clean on the inside.  Reminded me of Mel’s Diner on Alice.  It had a model train circling the dinning room along the ceiling.  The waitress recommended the burgers and what a treat!  Loved it!  I can hardly wait to try other local flavors while traveling the area and on the way home via Route 66!

If I was Guy Fieri I'd visit this place.  A real Diner, Drive-in and Dive!  Great Burgers!

If I was Guy Fieri I’d visit this place. A real Diner, Drive-in and Dive! Great Burgers!

Tomorrow is the Grand Canyon.  I think I will travel there in the evening to catch the sunset.  Such pretty colors I saw tonight!

 

 

 

 


The Adventure: South Dakota; Days 4 – 6

It’s been a few days since I’ve written about my trip. I’ve taken a lot of pictures and spend most of my evenings editing and trying to hold my eyes open! By the time I finish going through my photos, I’m ready for bed. My dogs have done very well during the trip and today the saw Mt. Rushmore with us!

During the couple of days at my cousin Bruce’s house we went into Yankton South Dakota and explored a re-creation of the town’s buildings and a nice little museum. I started senior pictures for my daughter and we did a couple at the old railroad area…a memorial to my dad who was a railroader.

Image

Libby and I tried Taco John’s — not a bad little fast food place. We were served in Wendy’s cups so I assume there must be a relationship with them. We went to the riverfront to see the Missouri River. It was so windy. After we got back to the house, Bruce decided to take us for a ride on his Harley. I, personally, am not a motorcycle person. I decided to take the ride and I had a nice time. I just worry about the other people. There is such a disregard at times for motorcycle riders. I had seen a fatal crash as I left for my trip last Friday. I saw the guy laying on the ground…that is all I’ll say.

Image

During our ride we crossed over into Nebraska over the Missouri River. Bruce told me that all the sand came in with a massive flood that hit the area a few years ago.

Image

We then took an evening drive into the country where we were educated in how to spot wild asparagus from the car and how to avoid badgers. We did see a badger and we did gather wild asparagus. No drive in the country is complete without the random deer running across the road in front of you! I spotted it and screamed, then Ruth screamed…we missed it. I took a few photos of trees and old barns. I’ll have to work on them more before posting, but here are a couple I like.

Image

I really like how the tree and the road turned out. This is a typical South Dakota view. Land and more land!

Image

This was an abandoned farm. We walked around and took a few shots of the buildings. As we rounded the one corner, we heard something very large move around in the barn. I did not wish to hang around to see what it was!

We left Tuesday morning on our journey to the Badlands. We arrived there around 7:30 pm mountain time! All I can say is WOW! I was not prepared for what I saw. We stayed at the Badlands KOA. They have a dog park there and the dogs really enjoyed running around in it. We did make a stop at the Corn Palace on our way to the Badlands. We have seen mountain goats, prairie dogs, coyote, and antelope. We keep looking for Bison, but all we have seen are cows…or are they bison in disguise?

Image

This mountain goat was grazing along the side of the road. I was photographing a herd on the side of the mountain and I heard a couple next to me say, “Oh, my!” The told me to turn around and look…it was a couple of feet from them and they were not aware of it even standing there. Libby and I kept our distance but managed to capture several nice shots of it while it grazed.

Image

The prairie dogs were very noisy and skittish!

The mountains here in the Badlands are interesting. I enjoy just driving around and marveling at how they are unique and just so special. The millions of years of erosion to create the spectacular view. I wanted to create a special sunset view with the colors reflecting off of the rocks.

Image

We made the trip up to Wall and saw Wall Drug. We had a buffalo burger…it was a tad on the dry side. It was good, but I’d like to try one again that maybe was prepared differently.

Finally, today we went to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Very awe inspiring.

Image

The Crazy Horse monument has been under construction for over 50 years. It is a massive structure. I will never see it in my lifetime, but I am glad to see the current progress.

Image

Below is what it will look like.

Image

Tomorrow we are off to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I’m not sure that we will make it that far, but I am shooting for Cheyenne Wyoming and then see how I feel. I wish I’d pulled out of here today and parked in Rapid City. It would have put us about an hour and a half into our destination. My daughter is enjoying seeing the sites.

One more parting shot before I close…

Image

Picture yourself here!


The Adventure: Day 3

Today is the 3rd day of my trip out west. I have logged over 900 miles in that time period. I attempted to post my blog last night at the KOA in Newton Iowa, but the WiFi was spotty at best and I kept losing connection to the server. There was not much excitement to report anyway, other than I had heard from my cousin Bruce in South Dakota and he asked me to come visit him. His sister (my cousin) Ruth is also visiting so it will be a mini family reunion!

I left the KOA in Newton at about 10:30 in the morning thinking it would only take 4 – 5 hours to reach Bruce’s. I was hit about 1:30 with a case of the sleepys and had to pull off and rest a few! Then I started to think about all of the things I saw on the way…Bob Feller was born in Van Meter Iowa and there is a museum there. There are other notables we encountered, but Bob Feller stands out to me at the moment.

Remember the “See Ruby Falls” and “See Rock City” signs that dot the landscape down through the Smokies. Well, I kept seeing the “Dutch Windmill at exit 65” sign and had to do it!

ImageMy daughter standing in front of “her size” windmillImageThe “Dutch Windmill”

This was a cute diversion…Wish it had been out in a field somewhere instead of in the middle of Elk Horn, Iowa. It was a nice way to kill a little time and add a distraction to our day.

We also stopped at one of those scenic overlooks. It had a tower you could climb to look out over the vast country. I love the sky here…it is so “big”!

ImageThere are several turbine wind farms scattered across the country side. I do like seeing those; such a nice clean form of energy!

ImageOne final shot…This is from yesterday when we entered Iowa at Davenport. I had taken this on my phone but the one on my camera can give you a great perspective of how beautiful the sky and the land is out here.

ImageThats all for now; I’m going to hang out with family for a couple of days and see the sites around here. Stay tuned!


The Adventure: Day 1 (or Day .5)

Life is an adventure…Life is what we make it…Go for the gusto! We say the clichés, but do we really mean them? I am going to test out those sayings and keep a positive outlook while on my “great trip out west”.

I’ve always wanted to photograph the Grand Canyon, see the Badlands, visit the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, this summer I hope to make it to all of them. To every adventure there is always a beginning.

About 6 years ago I told my daughter I’d take her to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado to do her senior pictures. It is one of those beautiful landmark places I enjoy visiting each time I go to Colorado. The red rock formations are absolutely breath taking! Fast forward to present day.

A week and a half ago I purchased a small, light-weight travel trailer called a Tow Lite…it is a 1994, so I knew it would have a few issues, but over a two week period I figured I could work out all the bugs and have the necessary repairs made to make it “livable”.

The first thing on the agenda was to have the tires checked…it wasn’t going anywhere unless it was safe. All 4 tires were replaced…I took the camper on a “test camp-out” last weekend where I camped for several years and had the “seasoned professionals” give it the once over. I came home with a “new” battery, “new” refrigerator, and a working water heater. The valve was busted in the toilet so I took it to our local dealer for repairs. On my way out to the campground my awning came loose, but the guys locked and tied it for me. I asked them if I should just remove it, but they said since it was locked down it would be fine. I also asked the guys at the RV shop about it and it seemed it would not be an issue.

I had a few other minor repairs and extra add-ons made to make my life easier. I packed my belongings and hit the road.

It takes a little time to get up to speed, but I noticed that once I hit 55 or 60 it rides very smooth. My typical gas mileage of 24 – 25 mpg is now a paltry 15 – 16 mpg….I can deal with it. On the highway it does exceptionally well. I was worried about the turbulence from the semi’s, but It stays in place. I made it to Covington Kentucky…south of Cincinnati Ohio about 5:00pm and of course it was rush hour on a Friday evening and storming, so I decided it was time to enjoy dinner.

We began the last leg of our journey for the day (about 3 more hours) and planned on stopping in Crawfordsville Indiana at the KOA for the night. As I was approaching the 71 – 75 interchange I glanced up into my mirrors and noticed my awning was hanging down! (Insert expletive here). I slowed down and put on my signal so I could get over or off at the exit and find a parking lot to pull off in. Knowing the area well, I took the northbound exit and just as I rounded the curve, the entire awning unfurled, flapping in the breeze! (Insert EXPLETIVE here!)

I pulled off and put on my hazard lights and contemplated my next move. I pulled out my ratchets (Yes, I carry tools!) and started to work on the lock nuts holding it in place. The entire housing the awning “was” connected to had shattered, dry rotted I’m sure, and was hanging by the rope that had it locked into place. I took the lock nuts off the bolts and tried to disconnect the awning from the frame…mind you in the rain, wearing nice clothes and sandals! Many people drove past. I was able to disconnect the one side without an issue, but the other was wedged into place.

I walked over to the car and pulled out my insurance card…thank you Alan Harner for roadside assistance for my RV and was going to make the call when a young man…a very young man pulled up in his little red sports car convertible and asked if I needed help. He would have made my day except for the bulge of smokeless tobacco in his jaw…eew! It was help and he was friendly. He was worried about damaging the awning…”aw shucks!” I told him not to worry about it. He was able to free the other side and he rolled it up, quite neatly for me. We started to load it into the camper and I told him I could raise it up to make it easier.

Being a Hi-Lo Travel Trailer, it raises up. His comment was “that’s nifty!” I secured the rest of the camper and on the road I went again. Being late and dark and having two dogs and my daughter with me, I exercised my rights tonight to spend the night in a Comfort Inn in Crawfordsville Indiana.

We will continue our adventure tomorrow, on to Sioux Falls, South Dakota….I hope!! 🙂

20130601-000057.jpg

20130601-000156.jpg


Before PhotoShop

_PDC1585

On my recent trip to the Antique Mall in Medina, Ohio I happened upon a couple of items and my curiosity got the best of me.  The box and sleeve were marked Spiratone and one was a Vignetar and the other was a Center Sharp Focus.  They were both marked 52mm and I thought out loud, “Those would fit my 50mm lens!”  So for about $23 I purchased both items. Spiratone was a manufacturer of camera accessories from about 1946 to 1990.  Many of the younger photographers have never used or seen these types of filters because Photoshop or other programs can provide these effects.  Photography, back in the day (LOL), was much more, how would I say this, accessory dependent than what we are now.  In the darkroom you would achieve vignetting by cutting piece of paper and shooting your light beam from your enlarger through it.  You dodged and burned using cutouts of the image.  If you were lucky you could purchase filters to give you the star effects and soft focus for portraits (I still have mine!).

Today, I decided to “play” with my newly found items.  I had to experiment with the f/stop settings and found if I kept it mid-range or stopped down all the way the effects were much better.  The Vignetar is adjustable and will give you a smaller or larger vignette.  The Center Sharp Focus had its challenges.  If I shortened my depth of field (smaller f/stop) I had much more blur within the center part of the photograph; it produced shadows and reflections.  If I narrowed my depth of field (higher f/stop) it gave a much better effect.

_PDC1597

_PDC1597 - Version 2

The first photo above (red background) is with the Vignetar and is a straight out of the camera exposure.  The black and white version is the same photo using a blue filter effect in Aperture.  I like how the camera fades into the background with this.  This camera is my old Nikon F2 with the 85mm f/1.8 lens attached (Nikkor).  These were photographed with my Nikon D700 and I used a tripod and I lighted this with white fluorescent lights on a pole lamp. My settings were ISO 200, f/6.3, and shutter 1/15.

_PDC1598

 

The next image was taken with the Center Sharp Focus filter and was straight out of the camera.  You can see the blur effect it made with the background while keeping the center focused. My settings for this were ISO 200, f/6.3, shutter 1/15.

_PDC1608

 

Here is another view of the effect the Center Sharp Focus filter produces; my settings for this photo were ISO 200, f/6.3, shutter 1/13.

_PDC1645

 

My final image is a shot taken with the Vignetar; my settings were ISO 200, f/9, and 1/3 of a second.  I again, used the blue filter in Aperture to convert to the black and white.

I think these are great finds.  I enjoyed shooting with these and they make great effects.  I think they would be a great addition to macro photography to help keep your central focus on your subject.  I am going to keep my eye open for other cool “old” items to use.

Happy Shooting!

 


The Making of Scrooge

Image

I know this is a late update to the Christmas season, but I felt it was worth publishing.  I had a wonderful opportunity to photograph the special effects make-up process of RJ Haddy of RADFX Company in Charleston West, Virginia.  For those of you who are not familiar with RJ’s work, he was a finalist and fan favorite on the SyFy Channel’s second season of Faceoff.  RJ (pictured below) came to Wheelersburg, Ohio to transform Jordan Nickles, a 19 year old actor, in to the elder Ebenezer Scrooge for JAX Theatre presentation of A Christmas Carol: The Musical.

Image

RJ, in the weeks preceding the play, had taken a plaster mold of Jordan’s face so he could design the foam latex mask to apply to Jordan’s face to make him look “old”.  Below is Jordan.

Image

The mask was a 6 piece foam latex prosthetic that was applied one piece at a time and then the “seams” were glued and blended together so it would appear as one piece.  The “mask” moved naturally with Jordan’s facial expressions and was very realistic in appearance.

Image

The next photos show how the mask application progressed.  The entire process took 4 hours to complete. If you want to view the video of the entire process (8 minutes) go to this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2l0BF8ieXc

ImageImage

Veins and age spots were added to make the skin appear more realistic.

 

 

 

 

ImageImage

The following sequence is the application of the hair, eyebrows, and sideburns.

Image

 

Image

I enjoyed, very much, photographing and video taping this process.  RJ is a wonderful to work with. Jordan is a very bright and talented young man and he has made JAX Theatre a wonderful establishment and had brought a variety of cultural experiences to our area. Image

Jordan and RJ posing and showing off the final results.

Image

I have to include one more shot…This is my favorite shot of the two of them.

Image

 

I hope you enjoyed this visual journey of The Making of Scrooge.  This was such a fun assignment that I hated not to share it with everyone.  

Stay tuned for my next adventure!


Memories of dad

“Time heals” they say. It has been a year since my dad passed away. There is not a day that goes by that I think about him. I have moments when I have questions that I know only he could answer. I run into people that I know that he knew, but I can’t remember who they are.

I put together this little photograph to show how I remember my dad.

First is his graduation photo; he graduated from Wheelersburg High School in 1953—I followed 25 years later. His dad laid the cornerstone of the high school I graduated from and he laid the cornerstone my daughter will graduate from in 2014.

Most people remember him wearing this hat to the football games. I still look into the end zone to see if I can see him standing there.

Dad shot many feet of home movies with this camera when I was growing up. It was a constant accessory when we traveled.

There is an NS key ring he passed on to me along with other NS memorabilia in my possession. NS stands for Norfolk Southern for those who are not aware. He worked for Norfolk Western and they merged with Southern.

The gold dollar is among my prized possessions. He had this one made into a necklace for me. Every time I wear it I think of him.

Dad served in the Army and was buried on Veteran’s Day. The shells here are from his 21 gun salute.

The 3 baseballs represent his love for sports. The first toward the back and moving forward is a signed baseball from his Little League team that he coached. The middle one is signed by Ted Kluszewski and was a Father’s Day present from me when I worked for the Reds. He always told a story about seeing him at Union Terminal when he rode the train to Cincinnati. The third one is from 1968, the last season the Reds played at Crosley Field. We rode the train to see the game and dad “caught” a foul ball!

I do not have any Cleveland Browns items…so sorry about that.

O-H-I-O…I would be remiss if I forgot about his favorite team!

Memories of dad surround me on a daily basis. I remember his sense of humor and his love of family. Keep your loved ones in your heart and fill your life with joy!

I miss you dad, but you will always be with me.

20121107-102118.jpg


12 Hours and 3 Friends In New York City: Street Photography

This past weekend a couple of friends and I had the “courage” to take a “red-eye” bus tour to New York City.  The total time for the trip from Portsmouth Ohio is about 14 hours–give or take!  For most of the trip we either slept or talked.  There were those every couple hour breaks when we could purchase a snack or a pillow for our backs!  We spent a total of 12 hours in New York City.  This is my first installment and showcases my street photography.   (more…)


Bicycles

I realized after reading Terrance Jones blog on using bicycles as advertising that I had quite a collection of bicycle photos.  Why are we intrigued with shooting bicycles?  I think it has to do with the shapes and colors they come in. Enjoy the collection I am going to share with you.
Image

The above photo was taken at Shady Trails Family Campground in Hillsboro Ohio.  It sits at the entrance to one of the trails on the property.  It has the colorful silk flowers in the basket on the front and the saddlebags on the back.  It has been a fixture at the campground for as long as I’ve been there (at least 7 years).

Image

These two bikes were on display outside the hardware store on Market Street in Portsmouth Ohio.  The bright colors caught my eye.
Image

The above bike is also located on Market Street in Portsmouth Ohio, in front of the Market Street Cafe.  It is a Huffy and I liked the fact that it was rusted and the wheels are flat!  Not exactly “road ready”.
Image
This bike is suspended above a bicycle shop in Chillicothe Ohio.  It causes images of ET to flow through my mind.
ImageThe above bikes were seen at the Wheelersburg Ohio Flea Market in 2010.  I loved the colors and how the vendor had them lined up at his “booth”.
ImageThis bicycle is located on Second Street in Portsmouth Ohio and is decorated for fall.  I like how people are “re-purposing” these old bikes and using them as decorations.
ImageLast, but not least, this is a bike that is used by the Amish in Bainbridge Ohio.  It was parked outside the produce market there.

I hope you enjoy viewing this photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.  I am sure I will take more pictures of bicycles as time goes on.  It is such a simple yet efficient mode of transportation and it makes for a nice “center piece” for your shop or yard.


Image

Rainbow

20121002-201159.jpg

I was at the bank today and the sun was out and there were nice white fluffy clouds in the sky. I was talking with the customer service assistant and looked out the window and saw this beautiful rainbow. It extended from the river over to roughly Sciotoville. The best I could do at the time was photograph it with my iPhone through the tinted window of the bank. I started to get up and go out to shoot it outside, but it disappeared as quickly as it came. It was colorful and sharp. What a wonderful scene to see today.


Image

Paddle Wheel

20121001-215629.jpg

Today I was pleasantly surprised by seeing this magnificent paddle wheel boat traveling along the Ohio River. I was on my way home from Flatwoods Kentucky traveling west along route 23 toward the Greenup Dam. I had already passed through Greenup when I spotted this beauty. I turned my car around (safely!) and went back to Greenup to find a spot that I could get a clear view of the boat. I circled the courthouse as they were bringing inmates out, thinking, do I really want to be in this area? I tried to find a place to park only to find the parking spaces were reserved for the dignitaries of the courthouse. I finally found a public parking space and parked between two sheriff cruisers! I ran to an opening in the trees overlooking the river just in time to capture a few shots with my iPhone…while standing in the rain! The riverboat did not have a name on the side I saw and I did not see a name on the back. This was a special treat today! I found out today that this is the Queen of the Mississippi. This is her maiden voyage and it is a new paddle wheel boat and she is 4 months old!