Time Flies

Reflection at LaBella Pizza, Washington, North Carolina
Reflection at LaBella Pizza, Washington, North Carolina

Kathy & I took a quick jaunt over Easter to visit some of our friends in Belhaven and Washington, NC.  It was a quick trip and we didn’t see everyone, but we did manage to buy some wine from our favorite Wine Guy, and I was able to take a few photos.  We’re planning a return in July and will be sure to look up the rest (SN).

Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina

A couple of weeks ago I was able to take advantage of a “clearance” sale on the Fuji E-X2 and picked one up as a backup to my X-T1.  I don’t do a lot of events, but when I do I know it is prudent to have a spare camera, just in case.  Adorama had the E-X2 body and the wonderful 18-55 zoom lens on sale for what amounted to $200 for the body.  As much as I would love to have an X-Pro 2, and as aware as I am that the X-T2 is right around the corner, I have placed a self-imposed moratorium on the upgrade cycle and am planning to stand firm for a while.  But I still don’t have all the lenses, so…. 😉

Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina

So here is a little sampler of photos taken with my “backup” kit.  No slouch for sure, especially with a nice lens.  Looking forward to using it some more.

Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Bath, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina
Springtime in Belhaven, North Carolina

Branchville, SC Train Station

Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina

One of the things I love to do when we travel is seek out old railroad stations.  They are especially prevalent in rural areas of North and South Carolina, and I have found them in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, as well.

Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina

One of the stations we pass by on a regular basis is the station in Branchville, SC.  It’s on one of the “slow-cuts” we like to take when we are headed to Hilton Head and want to get off the freeway.  I’ve taken pictures there before, and have been particularly interested in the old freight depot that sits across the tracks.  It is in pretty sad shape, but a few years ago was given a new roof, and while I don’t know for sure I am hopeful that some funding will find its way there to complete the restoration.  Both buildings are beautiful and reflect the good old days of American railroading.

Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina

According to one of the signs there, Branchville was on the first commercial railway, from Charleston to Hamburg, SC.  Construction began in Charleston in 1829 and was completed to Hamburg in 1833.  The distance was 136 miles and at the time was the longest railroad in the world and twice as long as any in the United States.

Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina

The railroad branched out from Branchville to Orangeburg in 1840, and Branchville became the first railroad junction in the world.

Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina

The Branchville Depot was built in 1877 and featured a dining room there trains would stop for breakfast and dinner.  It claims the distinction of having had three former US Presidents dine there: President William McKinley, President Theodore Roosevelt and President Howard Taft.

Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina

The depot today is a symbol of Branchville’s rich railroad history and contains Branchville’s Railroad Shrine and Museum and a restaurant.  It seems that we have never been there when either was open, but at some point I will be sure to get inside and look around.

Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina
Train station in Branchville, South Carolina

It’s Just Beachy

Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

We’ve been home a week now, but Kathy & I recently spent a week on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.  It’s one of our favorite getaway destinations any time of year.  It was a little early in the season and we knew we ran the risk of cold weather, but we needed to get away.  So we went, it was nice and now we’re counting down to the next adventure.  In the meantime, there are photos!

Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

The beach is one of the few places that calls my name so irresistibly that I have no problem hauling myself out of bed before sunrise. Because I don’t have to get in the car and drive anywhere, I can stumble out of the bed, dress, grab my gear and be out to the beach in about 15 minutes.

Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

One of my favorite things is taking advantage of the low light and great color to make motion blur photos.  They have become a bit of a “signature” for me, and interestingly the motion blur abstracts are the photos that have sold best recently.

Sunset on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunset on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

This is a mix of a few blurry and sharp photos from our week at the beach.  I’ve got a lot more work to do but was overdue for a post, so here it is!

Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunset on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunset on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Pictures of people taking pictures of the sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Pictures of people taking pictures of the sunrise on the beach, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Storage & Clutter

Classic Boats at the Lake Norman Classic Boat Show, Queens Landing, Mooresville, NC
Classic Boats at the Lake Norman Classic Boat Show, Queens Landing, Mooresville, NC

Few things get on my nerves more than clutter. A messy desk, a disorganized garage, an overloaded closet – those are things that just drive me crazy. Now I’m not the most organized person in the world – Kathy would probably suggest that my head is probably the least organized thing on the planet, but that’s another post! But I can’t stand to make room for stuff I don’t use. Or worse, have to have extra storage for stuff because I’ve run out of room for all that stuff I don’t need.

Sunrise from Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC
Sunrise from Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC
Sunrise from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Green Mountain Overlook near Boone, NC
Sunrise from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Green Mountain Overlook near Boone, NC

When I started in digital photography, I applied this desire for order to my workflow. I have a very structured, well-organized and repeatable method for keeping track of my files and backing them up. That way I always know where I stand on my organization, editing and processing. Part of that workflow has been that I never delete files. I remove unused files from my Lightroom catalog but leave them on my hard drive, with the idea that storage is cheap and that it was better to have them than to delete them.

Liberty Bell and independence Hall, Independence Square, Philadelphia, PA
Liberty Bell and independence Hall, Independence Square, Philadelphia, PA
May 2005 Photo Class with Emilie Knight in Uptown Charlotte
May 2005 Photo Class with Emilie Knight in Uptown Charlotte

I currently store all my photos on a 2TB hard drive in my computer. That is not much by many peoples’ standards, but because I don’t create huge files in Photoshop and don’t have a 50 megapixel camera, I figured that 2TB would last me a long time.  Lately I’ve approached the limit on those drives, and knew that it was probably time to do something about it. I started looking at upgrading to larger drives, but while storage is relatively inexpensive, I have a total of 4 drives, two internal drives (main+backup) plus two external drives (onsite+offsite). I haven’t yet sprung for cloud storage. I don’t completely trust it and would never use it as my only backup, so as long as I need to have physical backups anyway, I didn’t think there was much point in also having cloud backup. Plus, there are lenses…. 😉

Sunset at Hatteras Harbor Marina, Hatteras Village, NC
Sunset at Hatteras Harbor Marina, Hatteras Village, NC
Sunset from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Sunset from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Sunset, Woolyback Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Sunset, Woolyback Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

One of the things I started thinking about was that there are a bunch of files on those hard drives that are no longer in my Lightroom catalog, files that I’ve already decided aren’t worth keeping and that I could get rid of. I have no idea how many, because by looking at the files in Finder there isn’t any really good way of telling which files are in the Lightroom catalog and which ones are not. I originally toyed with the idea of just exporting the existing catalog to a new drive, or erasing one of the existing drives for the purpose. But part of me wanted to look at those old files “one last time” to make sure I wasn’t getting rid of any hidden treasures. So as long as I wanted to be able to do that I came up with what I think is a workable solution.

Fog Rising from the Bay, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Fog Rising from the Bay, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
White Pass & Yukon Scenic Railway, Skagway, Alaska
White Pass & Yukon Scenic Railway, Skagway, Alaska

What I have done is to use Lightroom’s Import function to “re-import” all those files into the Lightroom catalog. They are already in folders – the same folders that all of the “keepers” are in, so all I have to do is import them in their current position. I started about a week ago and have been importing them a year at a time. By going year-by-year, and folder-by-folder within each year, I’m keeping it at a manageable amount and am not moving or deleting files until I’ve looked at them. In the event that I come across files I want to keep – and I’ve found a few – it is very easy to put them aside so they don’t get lost.

Old Barn near Lake Junaluska, NC
Old Barn near Lake Junaluska, NC

I’ve gotten through 2004-2008 so far – admittedly not heavy years filewise since I had just started in digital and was still shooting some film. I forgot to track the number of files and amount of storage for the first two years, but am keeping track now and should be able to have a pretty good estimate when I’m done. Right now between 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008 it looks like I’m at about 23,000 files deleted and about 236GB freed up. The folders seem to be getting bigger the farther I go, so it will be interesting to see how those numbers increase as I continue.

February 2005 trip to Amelia Island, Florida
February 2005 trip to Amelia Island, Florida

This is pretty geeky stuff and I can’t imagine anyone reading this post will care about more detail, but if anyone wants additional detail I’ll be happy to answer questions or emails. But it won’t bother me if no one asks! In the meantime I’ve thrown in some photos from 2005 for your viewing pleasure. It seems I photographed a lot of sunrises and sunsets back then!

The Bucket List Thing

"These Three Ships" Bridgetown, Barbados. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
“These Three Ships” Bridgetown, Barbados. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas

Kathy & I recently attended a travel show in Charlotte, hoping to get some ideas for places we’d like to go. As is inevitable at these events, someone along the line asked the question, “so what’s on your Bucket List? It’s a common question, and has gotten to be a bit cliché, but for the most part is simply used as a conversation starter. I don’t take offense at the question, but do tend to bristle a bit whenever I hear it. Let me explain.

San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
Street in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Street in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned from my photography is that we can’t go everywhere or do everything – we can only do so much. We’re never going to see everything there is to see. There is always a “better” sunrise or sunset happening somewhere else. And traveling to exotic destinations does not guaranty good photographs. Not that there aren’t a lot of good reasons to travel to beautiful locations. My approach has become to travel to places I am interested in, take my camera and make photographs wherever I happen to be. Traveling to a place specifically to take photographs, more often than not, results in looking for preconceived or iconic photos, at the expense of seeing things through my unique eyes and vision.

San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
San Juan, Puerto Rico. November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas

One of my favorite ways to travel is to rough out a route, then look to see what else there is to do along the way. When I get to a T in the road, it is not unusual for me to go left when my directions tell me to go right. I’ve found a lot of interesting things – and interesting photographs – by going the “wrong” way. It’s nothing for us to be driving down a country road, see a sign for something or other and say, “let’s check it out.” We do and it is often a worthwhile diversion.

View of Nelsons Dockyard and English Harbor, Antigua
View of Nelsons Dockyard and English Harbor, Antigua
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas

I try to avoid falling into what I have heard referred to as “get-there-itis.” That’s what happens when we are so focused on the route or the destination that we don’t take time to enjoy the journey. If we never stray from the highway, we never see that fish processing plant at the end of the dead-end road or stop at a waterfall that isn’t on the map. And that’s why I don’t like the idea of a Bucket List in the way I suspect a lot of people look at it. The problem becomes when we look too far ahead or focus too much on the list itself to the exclusion of other choices. We also run the danger of over-planning, and don’t leave time for serendipity.

Weekend in Charleston, October 2004
Weekend in Charleston, October 2004
Weekend in Charleston, October 2004
Weekend in Charleston, October 2004

There are obviously unlimited ways to consider a bucket list, and that obviously makes a difference when it comes to what it means. If we think of it as a list of places we’d like to consider going, but use it more as a guide in case we lose our memory before the money runs out, then yeah, that is probably OK. But taken to the extreme, if it becomes an “ohmygawdIjusthavetodoallthesethingsbeforeIdieormylifewillbeafailure” list, then it becomes – in my opinion – little more than a list of potential disappointments, for those things we don’t get to do, or because of things we pass by because we are too determined to cross off one more thing.

Weekend in Charleston, October 2004
Weekend in Charleston, October 2004
Weekend in Charleston, October 2004
Weekend in Charleston, October 2004

There are obviously a lot of places I would like to go and things that I would like to do. I even have a list! But there really isn’t anyplace I feel like I need to get to in order to be satisfied. I’ve wanted to go to Colorado since I was a kid, and finally got there last year. I’d probably love Hawaii, but as Kathy & I were reminiscing about our recent visit to Nevis – admittedly a “Bucket List-worthy” destination in its own right – we wondered just how much “better” Hawaii might be? Different, certainly. It’s hard to say, and we might get to find out someday. I’d like to go to several places in Europe, but if I don’t get there that will be OK.

November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas

Our son Kevin leaves today for a week in Peru, and I am quite envious. Is Peru on my “Bucket List?” No, but when he talks about the things he is going to do there, it sounds like a place I’d like to go. Somehow I had just never considered it. Will I add it to my list? Quite possibly. But more likely I will channel my thoughts to answer the question of “so, what is MY Peru?” What place would I love to go that I haven’t thought of? I’m not sure, and when I find it I hope there is a flight or a ship to take me there!

November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas

I find that I can be perfectly happy making the best of anywhere I am. Whether that is Waynesville or Belhaven, North Carolina, Key West or Fort Collins, those places are special to me also. Many of my best memories and favorite photographs are from places that wouldn’t be on too many Bucket Lists. But I get the most satisfaction from experiences and not from places. And I think my photographs reflect that, too.

October 2004 Trip to GSMNP
October 2004 Trip to GSMNP

Baby Pictures!

Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16

Many of my readers are also friends on Facebook, so they have already heard this news.  For the others, Kathy & I became grandparents for the first time on January 19!  Edison Scott Dills was born to our son Scott and his wife Kristin.

I haven’t yet had a lot of opportunity to take pictures with my camera – I have A LOT of pictures that I’ve taken with my phone!  This past weekend I had my camera and got a few shots I like.  Many of them are blurry and out of focus – tells me I need a faster and closer focusing lens!  Hey, any excuse is a good one!

For anyone interested, I have been keeping and updating a gallery on Google Photos of pictures taken with my phone.  Feel free to take a look!

Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16
Edison Scott Dills 1/19/16

From The Archives – 2004

Unfortunate Background, Charleston, South Carolina This is one of my favorite "candid" shots of all time, just because I love the ironic juxtaposition of the stop sign behind the just-married couple. I might have also called this "Too Late."
Unfortunate Background, Charleston, South Carolina. This is one of my favorite “candid” shots of all time, just because I love the ironic juxtaposition of the stop sign behind the just-married couple. I might have also called this “Too Late.”

I recently had reason to go back through my files for a project I am working on to free up some storage space on my hard drives.  A (very) few may find that subject interesting, so I’ll try to include that in a future post, once the idea is more thoroughly developed.  In the meantime, I excavated some long-forgotten photos in my Lightroom catalog, dating back to my very first digitally-originated photos from my Canon G5, which I acquired in late 2004.

The G5 was the camera that convinced me to make the move from film to digital.  Even though it was a measly 5 megapixel point & shoot, the fact that I could get some pretty darned nice photos from it without having to scan film was the clincher.  I was shooting medium format film at the time, and while I loved the images and the overall aesthetic of MF, being able to skip the scanning step was incredibly freeing.  Of course we now spend that time in Lightroom or Photoshop, but we didn’t realize that at the time!

I’ll try to post photos from subsequent years as I go, but for now this is a blast from my (photo) past.  Nothing extraordinary, but a whole lot of fun!

Career in Sanitation, Anyone? Charleston, South Carolina
Career in Sanitation, Anyone? Charleston, South Carolina
View from our Verandah, Charleston, South Carolina
View from our Verandah, Charleston, South Carolina
Paint Samples, Charleston, South Carolina
Paint Samples, Charleston, South Carolina
Blue Door and Yellow Building in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Blue Door and Yellow Building in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
Beer Shop in Antigua
Beer Shop in Antigua
Palm Trees at Andromeda Gardens, Barbados
Palm Trees at Andromeda Gardens, Barbados
Rainbow over the harbor in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Rainbow over the harbor in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
October 2004 Trip to GSMNP
October 2004 Trip to GSMNP
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Catedrál de San Juan Bautista, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Catedrál de San Juan Bautista, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Ben & Jerry's, San Juan Puerto Rico
Ben & Jerry’s, San Juan Puerto Rico
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas
November 2004 Cruise on Serenade of the Seas

Wallpaper for January

Sunset on the golf course at The Four Seasons Resort, Nevis West Indies
Sunset on the golf course at The Four Seasons Resort, Nevis West Indies

I needed something new and tropical for my desktop.  This is a photo taken on our recent visit to Nevis.  It’s processed a bit more aggressively than I usually do it, but I think the result is pretty representative of a beautiful location.

This was taken at sunset on the second tee of the Robert Trent Jones II golf course at the Four Seasons.  That’s a guy who designs golf courses, and a big name among golfers, for those who might not know!

Color or Black & White?

Color-BW-2

I mentioned in an earlier post about how I struggle between color photos and black & white photos.  While the black & white versions are OK, I tend to see and feel in color so the color versions of my photos often win out over the black & white versions.  Here are some sets of images from that same post, along with their counterparts.  I’d love to hear some feedback on the pros and cons.  I know that ultimately my photos need to reflect my voice, but I also know that I have lived a pretty sheltered existence when it comes to my experience with black & white photography.

Color-BW-5 Color-BW-4 Color-BW-3 Color-BW-1

Photographs and stuff!