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

More New Year Stuff

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

As a rule I generally consider New Year’s “resolutions” per se to be a bunch of b.s. They mostly just give people something to talk about and to post on Facebook, and unfortunately are quickly forgotten. But I do think there is a lot of value to periodically evaluating our goals to determine if we are spending our time, money and energy toward things that truly allow us to meet those goals, or if the current of peer pressure and advertising has steered us off course. On a long journey, mid-course corrections are always necessary.

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

My friend John frequently talks about our “currency.” The idea is that in addition to money, and perhaps more so, we spend time and energy on everything we do. That is our currency, and we only have so much of each. Often we trade one form of currency for another, such as buying prepared food instead of cooking our own, or having someone mow our lawn or clean our house instead of doing it ourselves. I enjoy washing my car, but I seldom do it myself, because (a) that makes it rain 😉 , and (b) having a clean car isn’t that important to me so I’d rather spend my currency on things that give me more pleasure.

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

The best example of currency is how we trade a large amount of our time and energy to our employers in exchange for the money we need to do everything else we do. As our lives and careers progress, the relative value of all our currency changes. Early on we are anxious to accumulate as much money and as many things as we can, and are willing to trade a large amount of time and energy to obtain it. Later on we find that raising kids, buying houses and saving for college uses more of all of our resources – time, money and energy. Ultimately, we start looking forward to (hopefully) having enough money that we can find something else to do with our time so that, even if it does pay in money, it pays in something more. Like personal satisfaction or fulfillment.

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

So that’s a way-too-long way of saying that, while I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, I do often take the time to reflect on all aspects of my life to make sure that the way I spend my currency is allowing me to most effectively meet the goals that are most meaningful to me. And since this is a photography blog and not a philosophy blog (for now!), let’s wrap up by talking about photography.

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

When it comes to photography, my two primary themes are that (1) I love to photograph things to capture my view of the world, and (2) I love to share that view of the world with people to enjoy and appreciate it. Mostly I accomplish that through my blog, although I do happily accept money, and have a number of ways for people to purchase my work.

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

So in reflecting on where I am today and where I want to be tomorrow, I’ve some up with a list of things that I want to concentrate on this coming year. Essentially those come down to three things. First, I want to get better at taking my camera with me more. I wrote a few weeks ago how I tended to talk myself out of taking my camera with me, so that is something I had already identified and had started working on. Second, I intend to post more frequently on my blog. It may be just a picture or two with few words, but more frequent sharing often results in a more open dialog with those who take the time to read and comment. That means a lot to me and I would like to encourage more of that exchange. Third, I intend to do a better job of keeping my website up to date with my best and most recent photographs. I don’t do photography to pay the mortgage, but I do manage the business side of things in a professional way, and keeping up the website is the most public way to do that.

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

So there you go. Yesterday morning I had to go into town for a haircut. I decided to take my camera with me, got there about 20 minutes early and spent those minutes taking the long way from my parking spot to the barbershop. That also accomplished the goal of walking more, so I got two for the price of one on that currency!

Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina
Random photos from downtown Charlotte, North Carolina

My New Year Celebration

Sunflower-painted building at Slickrock Road and US 64 near Bat Cave, North Carolina
Sunflower-painted building at Slickrock Road and US 64 near Bat Cave, North Carolina

This year Kathy & I had an opportunity to do something a little different for New Year’s Eve. Certainly different than most people we know, although most people who know us would thing that it made perfect sense. As many of you know we are on Baby Watch these days, as Grandson #1 is due at any time. We want to be ready to assume our roles as soon as it’s time, so we so we haven’t been making any advance plans.

"Most Photographed View in the Smokies" Vacant building along SR 19 between Maggie Valley and Soco Gap, North Carolina
“Most Photographed View in the Smokies” Vacant building along SR 19 between Maggie Valley and Soco Gap, North Carolina
"This Indian Needs Your Business" Vacant building along SR 19 between Maggie Valley and Soco Gap, North Carolina
“This Indian Needs Your Business” Vacant building along SR 19 between Maggie Valley and Soco Gap, North Carolina

Daughter-In-Law Kristin had a doctor visit on Wednesday, and baby Edison didn’t seem to be in any hurry, so we decided to look at options for a New Year’s Eve celebration. As it happened everything sort of fell into place. I found out that I would be excused from work early on New Year’s Eve, our favorite Waynesville restaurant, which had been booked solid for a week or more, suddenly had an available reservation, so I grabbed it. We got a room at the little motel we like to visit there and made plans for a last minute getaway. We’ve had lots of practice and were packed in minutes!

"The Shack Dish Barn Factory Outlet" Vacant building along SR 19 between Maggie Valley and Soco Gap, North Carolina
“The Shack Dish Barn Factory Outlet” Vacant building along SR 19 between Maggie Valley and Soco Gap, North Carolina

We had a nice dinner then drove to a couple of our favorite overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The sky wasn’t real clear but we got above a dense layer of fog and were able to see some lights in the towns below and plenty of stars above.  We had taken along a bottle of bubbly but decided not to drink it then drive back down through the muck.  I had my camera along but decided that trying to learn night photography would probably ruin the moment and stayed in the car where it was warm. 😉 We made our way down through the fog and were back to our room shortly after 11. I remember hearing some noisemakers at midnight but that was about it.

Out of Order
Out of Order

We had a leisurely drive on New Year’s Day, and I stopped along the way to make a few photographs. Nothing spectacular or probably portfolio-worth, but it was a nice way to spend the day. We are now back on duty as Grandparents In Waiting, and waiting patiently!

Sunflower-painted building at Slickrock Road and US 64 near Bat Cave, North Carolina
Sunflower-painted building at Slickrock Road and US 64 near Bat Cave, North Carolina

Making The Effort

Riding the Charlotte Trolley
Riding the Charlotte Trolley

I often have the best of intentions about carrying my camera with me and making photographs when we’re just out doing random stuff. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but way too often I talk myself out of taking my camera along, figuring that either I won’t see anything worth shooting, I won’t have time it will be a hassle or it will make me “conspicuous.”

A long-time Charlotte tradition, Leonard Bearstein’s Animatronic Symphony Orchestra at Founder's Hall
A long-time Charlotte tradition, Leonard Bearstein’s Animatronic Symphony Orchestra at Founder’s Hall
A long-time Charlotte tradition, Leonard Bearstein’s Animatronic Symphony Orchestra at Founder's Hall
A long-time Charlotte tradition, Leonard Bearstein’s Animatronic Symphony Orchestra at Founder’s Hall

Last Saturday night Kathy & I had planned a bit of an adventure, parking in uptown Charlotte, walking around a bit then taking the trolley out to the Elizabeth neighborhood for dinner and a concert. I went back and forth all afternoon about my camera, talking myself into and then out of it a number of times. Yes, self-inflicted angst is one of my specialties!

Christmas tree made of recycled bottles, outside the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte
Christmas tree made of recycled bottles, outside the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte
Random Charlotte street shots
Random Charlotte street shots

At some point in the afternoon I read one of Monte’s recent posts about Christmas in Old Town Fort Collins, and it gave me the resolve I need to say “darn it, I’m taking my camera!” I knew it wouldn’t be a problem anywhere, but just to be safe I figured out how to keep it out of the way at dinner and took one of my smaller lenses so it wouldn’t be too hard to carry (or hide, if I felt like I needed to).

Random Charlotte street shots
Random Charlotte street shots
Christmas lights in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina
Christmas lights in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

As it turned out, we had a booth in the restaurant with plenty of room to put the camera on the seat next to me. One unnecessary worry out of the way. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem at the concert because it was at a church and not a big arena with metal detectors and security Nazis. Second problem solved! The only (relatively minor) glitch came when we found out that the trolley had broken down, and along with it our ride back into town! Fortunately it was only about a mile. We could have gotten an Uber, but it made for a nice, but chilly, walk.

Waiting to ride the trolley, Charlotte, North Carolina
Waiting to ride the trolley, Charlotte, North Carolina

All it all it was no big deal. I didn’t get any really great photos, but that wasn’t the point. It was more about the practice, and the point was just to get out with the camera. Hopefully I’ve learned a lesson that taking my camera along isn’t that big of a deal most of the time, and that I can spend more time making photographs and less time making excuses!

A Choral Christmas

“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.” ~ Janice Maeditere
“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.” ~ Janice Maeditere

Kathy & I celebrated the Christmas season by attending a choral concert by the Singers of Renaissance, a Charlotte based choir.  Christmas music is part of what makes the season special for us, and a choral concert in a beautiful church with a lovely organ brought back a whole smorgasbord of memories.

One of the most amazing things (other than the music) is that I didn’t see a single cell phone during the concert.  A very rare thing anywhere these days, even in church.  I was carrying my camera and took just two pictures during the performance, but since I was sitting in the back row I didn’t feel too conspicuous.

Christmas 2015 Wallpaper

Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina
Sunrise along the waterfront in Belhaven, North Carolina

I was looking at my desktop the other day, and realized that I wanted something “Christmas-y” instead of the one I had been using.  I thought I had used this image before as a wallpaper, but as it turns out I never did.  So here you go!

Believe it or not, this photo was taken back in January 2010 in Belhaven, NC. I included it on my paper calendar for that year, and it was such a hit in town that the woman who owns the house and dock where this photo was taken bought calendars to give out to her friends!  As a Thank You I took her a print of this photo.  Hopefully she is enjoying that print.  And she gave me her permission to photograph from this dock whenever I’m in town, which I try to do whenever we are in Belhaven.  The tree isn’t there any more, but it’s a great place for sunrise at certain times of the year.  I think we’re due for a return visit!

Kathy & I want to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2016!

In For The Night – A New Wallpaper

"In For The Night" From the beach at Four Seasons Resort, Nevis West Indies
“In For The Night” From the beach at Four Seasons Resort, Nevis West Indies

My computer wallpaper was getting a little stale so I decided it was time for a change.  That, along with a little nudge from a co-worker (lookin’ at you, Carlin! 😉 )

I took this photograph on our recent visit to Nevis.  Kathy & I were walking on the beach one evening just before sunset, and I saw these four sailboats anchored offshore.  The clouds in the background vaguely suggest a coming storm, but there was some nice color in the sky and there didn’t appear to be much in the way of actual storms around.  The Rules of Photography might dictate that three boats would be more appealing, but the spacing of these four boats seemed just right to me.

The thought that went through my mind when I saw this scene was “All Tucked In,” but since there were people out and about on the decks I decided that wasn’t quite accurate.  I imagined that they had just finished up with a day of sailing and were ready to settle in for the evening, or perhaps come ashore and visit one of the nearby beach bars for dinner.

Kathy & I have done day trips on these catamarans and always felt that it would be fun to take an extended journey on one.  But we never seem to find a few more couples willing to share, so we haven’t been.  Any takers? :)

Photographs and stuff!