We’re getting ready for a return to Hilton Head in a few weeks, so for some inspiration I decided to work on some of the files from our last visit in February. These are a few more of the “blurry” photos that always seem so popular.
Unless I get really motivated, it’s unlikely that I’ll do much of this type of shooting in late May, especially in the mornings. Sunrise is a relatively inhospitable 6:19am, which means I would need to be up and on the beach by 5:15am. And that is made unlikely by a sunset time of 8:20pm that tends to interfere with cocktail time and usually makes for a late dinner. I am on vacation, after all! 😉
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.
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.
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.
The railroad branched out from Branchville to Orangeburg in 1840, and Branchville became the first railroad junction in the world.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Kathy & I visited Hilton Head Island, SC last week, one of our favorite getaway destinations. I got lucky with the sunset on the evening of our visit to Harbor Town and thought it wouldn’t be a bad view for my desktop for a while. Enjoy!
We live in an age of absolutes. We have political parties who won’t support another party’s position just because it isn’t theirs, even when it is right. If we choose to not support a given cause then we are considered to be against it, even though we might be generous contributors to some other cause. When we drive it seems we are either rushing down the road like we’re on our way to a fire, or sitting at a traffic light checking the messages on our phones that came since the last red light.
Our Subaru came with a gauge on the dashboard that gives a visual reference as to whether we are “using gas” or “saving gas.” “Using gas” goes all the way to the 6:00, or “minus” position, while “saving gas” goes to the 12:00 or “plus position. When I am driving down a level road at a reasonable speed, the needle is horizontal at the 9:00 position, which in goldilocks terms means “just right” territory. But the scale between all the way “plus” and all the way “minus” is a continuum. When we first bought the car I became fixated on that gauge, mostly because I was surprised at how often it was pegged to the “minus” position and how seldom it hovered in “plus” territory. Sometimes the gauge just has to go into the Minus zone, like when pulling away from a traffic light, merging onto a freeway or going up a hill. But other than that, I have adjusted how I use the accelerator in order to keep that needle from “hitting bottom” any more than necessary.
This will sound silly, but in many ways that gauge has literally changed my life. That visual reference has taught me that the gas pedal is a control, and not an on/off switch.
My son Kevin has a term for people who pay attention to things and people around us. He calls us “observers.” I like that term because it is descriptive but not a label. Being an observer is both a blessing and a curse. Being an observer lets us experience things around us that other people overlook, for all the various reasons that people overlook things. Being an observer also makes us see all the things that people do that make us angry. One of the things I observe is how often people appear to live their lives either “off” or “on.” And for me that often manifests itself in how people drive.
I see that little needle as an analogy for the way I live my life, and I guess I project it on others as I imagine them running around with their personal needles pegged on Minus. This feeling is especially prevalent on my drive to work in the morning, as we move from one stop light to the next, all of us ending up in the same place, just in a somewhat different order. Some people race to get to the light sooner, and just have to wait longer for it to change. Others roll up to the light just as it is getting ready to change, but it’s the same cars each time. I guess in many ways I’m playing the role of the tortoise vs. the hare, but I learned long ago that no one gives out prizes for being the first person into the office in the morning. And they don’t serve cocktails to those who are still in the office at 6:00. When I leave for the day, I do so with the confidence that it will be there when I get back. Right where I left it the day before. It’s funny how that works.
So where did the title come from? I was thinking about the fact that people seem to know only two settings on their cars – “go” and “stop.” I was thinking about the fact that I can choose how hard to press the gas pedal – that it is a control that allows me to add gas gradually instead of just mashing it to the floor, instead of an off/on switch with only two settings. And I choose to live my life somewhere between the Plus and Minus settings. Sometimes it’s OK to peg the needle one way or the other, but things seem to run more smoothly when I keep the needle in the middle. And I guess I just find myself happier when my personal needle spends more time on the Plus side of the scale than the Minus.
Kathy & I headed to Charleston, SC over the Labor Day weekend to attend the Lowcountry Jazz Festival there. When I was packing up my photo gear I didn’t know if I would be permitted to take a camera to the concerts, so at the last minute I pulled out my Fuji X-10 and decided to toss it in the bag.
I hadn’t been using the Fuji in a while, in fact I’ve been on a “use the best camera all the time” kick and haven’t been carrying a point & shoot camera at all. And I have never been happy with the way Lightroom processes the RAW files I’ve gotten out of the Fuji, so I had sort of abandoned it.
I have read a lot of comments about how good Fuji’s JPEG processing is, so I set the camera up to shoot high quality JPEGs. And although I could have taken the “big camera” to the concerts I decided to just take the Fuji. In fact that was the only camera I used all weekend. We went out and did some touristy stuff and the X-10 did the job.
It did a pretty good job all in all, especially considering that it is several years old. The concert photos were taken at ISO 1600 or 3200 and came out pretty good for a small sensor. I decided to post these with no processing at all. A few are a little on the dark side, but that is mostly due to the fact that I was using negative exposure compensation at the concerts and kept forgetting to reset it when I went outside!
I’m pretty impressed with the results from this camera. In fact, based on a lot of things I have been reading lately, I’ve just about decided to try out one of their newer offerings as a possible eventual replacement for the full frame beast that I’ve been carrying. It’s tough to beat the files I’m getting from the 5D, but with results like these from a several-year-old point & shoot, I think I owe it to myself to at least rent a newer model and see how I like it. No surprise that we have some upcoming travel plans 😉 , so I may need to check out the options.
Back to the real abstracty stuff for September! Last month’s calendar photo was a little too literal to fit the “abstract” theme, but I like it and it works.
I really like this month’s photo for the pastel colors and the soft edge of the waterline against the sand. It fits into my idea of a quiet evening, which is one of the things I like best about being at the beach.
One of the cars I frequently see in our neighborhood has a sticker on the back that says “Salt Life.” I’ve seen it in other places too, but never really knew what it was all about. Remember that I live a sheltered life, with no advertising and stuff, so bear with me. The other day going to work I followed an SUV that was sporting a “Salt Life” spare tire cover. Finally getting the better of my curiosity, I turned to The Google to see what this was all about.
So as it turns out, Salt Life is a company that sells stuff that says Salt Life on it. According to their website, they are “an authentic, aspirational and lifestyle brand that embraces those who love the ocean and everything associated with living the “Salt Life”.” So in other words, according to the cynic in me (me, cynical? 🙂 ), they sell stuff to people who are too busy living some other “authentic aspirational lifestyle” to actually go to the beach and enjoy “everything associated with” being at the ocean. It’s a fantastic business model – get people to pay for the privilege of advertising your brand. One of the oldest models in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m good with it. I ain’t judging. But the whole idea strikes me as kind of shallow. I mean, if we really aspire to living at the beach, then we need to get our a$$ to the beach. Don’t just buy stuff that makes other people think you went to the beach. Besides, the real beach people can tell.
Kathy & I attended a fantastic concert last evening by guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. For those who aren’t familiar, look him up and check out some of his recordings or videos. Regarded by many as the greatest living guitarist on the planet, his resume includes over 20 record albums and two Grammys. The dude can play!
Today, I got an e-mail from the concert promoters thanking us for attending and wanting to make sure we were aware of another acoustic guitar player that would be performing there soon and hoping we would attend. I’m sure he’s an excellent guitar player and I am fully aware that everyone needs to start somewhere. But this guy’s claim to fame, at least according to the promoters, is that he has received “over 20 million views collectively for his Youtube videos.”
That’s a lot of views, certainly. But I’d love to ask, “so what else has he done?” I suppose I’m missing the point, but it’s pretty amazing to me that someone’s Youtube videos qualifies him as a successful musician and one worth paying money to hear. I suppose we might decide to go, but at least I know I can see his videos to help me make the decision.
Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett recently posted on their blog that they had decided and agreed (it was Samantha’s idea and Darwin decided to go along) to a June 30 deadline to either process their unprocessed files or delete them. Delete as in gone. Forever. Their reasoning is that having so many unprocessed images was limiting their creativity by creating “clutter” and that Samantha “CAN’T STAND the idea of going out to shoot with hundreds of images just waiting for me back home.” Samantha had 89+ folders and Darwin nearly 200 folders dating back to 2005. Rather than me copy and paste their comments, you need to read the several (so far) posts on the subject to get the whole idea.
In their posts they refer to the concept of Minimalism, which is one that Kathy & I have been exploring lately. Part of the goal of downsizing to our new home was to rid ourselves of physical “clutter” that we had been making space to store and making time to think about. There’s nothing like facing the prospect of moving all that “stuff” to make one wonder how much of it is really necessary. And parsing all of it down to just the essentials for living in an apartment for 6 months really made us think about how much of that stuff would ultimately survive the move. Suffice it to say that we’re glad to have a Goodwill store close by.
I’ve never given all that much thought to my digital backlog. I have a very well thought out method for sorting, categorizing and rating my photos so I always know the status of a given image based on the Pick status, color label and star rating. Having unprocessed files doesn’t bother me. In fact, I will sometimes go back into the archives and see an image that, for one reason or another, I missed or passed over the first time or two through the folder. I’ve reasoned that as long as I have captioned and keyworded my photos, if I ever needed to process one I would, and if I never did? No big deal.
For a while I felt like I needed to have a goal of processing every single one of my “Picks.” And I actually have processed many of my files from the early digital days, starting around 2004. What I have done, though, is when I’ve gone through and made my Picks I remove the non-Picks from the Lightroom catalog while leaving them on my hard drive. I have nearly 32,000 images in my Lightroom catalog, but many multiples of that number reside on my hard drive. It’s not that I think all of those “rejects” might be valuable as much as I figure with as cheap as hard drives are there isn’t a lot of point in deleting them.
So I’m not judging anyone else’s decisions or their workflow, but I’m pretty comfortable with my “system” and it doesn’t bother me to have unprocessed photos. But it was obviously something they considered to be important, and more power to them. Not all “clutter” is visible, and if something is hampering their creativity, addressing it in the way that works for them is the right approach. I’ll be interested to see how they did come June 30.