Perhaps as self-compensation for not shooting as much as I’d like to do, it seems that I have been loading up on Fuji lenses. Every time I think I’m done I decide to buy “just one more.” And I’m perhaps just a little embarrassed to say that I am now up to 8. Yikes! I just recently I sprung for the 35mm 1.4 lens. Going a little bit counter to conventional thought (who, me?), I considered the newer and slightly less costly f2 version in favor of the somewhat dated but still quite worthy older model. I put it through some initial paces on a quick walk around town this past weekend. So far I must say I’m impressed and happy with the purchase.
Kathy & I like to get out of town on weekends, especially taking advantage of some long holiday weekends to stretch our meager PTO (Paid Time Off) allotment. We did just that over July 4th, visiting (most of) our friends in Belhaven and Washington, NC. The towns were dressed up in their patriotic best, and we even managed to take in a parade. I’m saving the parade photos for another post and possibly even my SoFoBoMo project, but here are a few random photos from the weekend.
With temperatures in the mid to upper 90s here in Charlotte we’ll be taking off again this weekend. The mountains are calling, as they say…. 🙂
My photo buddy Paul Lester and I got together earlier this month for an impromptu photo walk. We don’t do this often enough, but when we do it’s a real blast. There’s nothing like wandering around with a camera to exercise the creative muscles a bit.
While there are meetup groups and photowalks staged and sponsored by “celebrity” photographers, those are often large group activities. Paul & I are alike in that too many people makes it more of a cat herding competition than a photography activity. I’d say that 4-5 people would be the max for me.
Paul lives on the south end of the county and I am at the north end. We met for breakfast down his way then drove to the light rail station for a ride into town. We ended up disembarking in South End, which is a neighborhood 1-2 miles south of “Uptown” then walked the rest of the way. After a few hours of wandering we boarded the train for the ride back to our respective cars.
Paul has already posted an article about our walk on his own blog, and it’s always interesting to see what he saw and compare it to what I saw. I’m purposely leaving out photos that are from the same places as Paul’s, although I certainly have a few that look at lot like his! Instead I’m showing some photos that are things that he may have seen but that he hasn’t posted (yet!).
We don’t get to do it as often as we might like, but Kathy & I enjoy taking day trips to places that are just an hour or two from home. We visited West Jefferson, NC a few weeks ago for the first time in several years, having previously visited to photograph the town for a magazine assignment.
West Jefferson is a nice mountain town, just busy enough to not be considered “sleepy,” but not as zoo-crazy as a place like Boone or Blowing Rock. Needless to say, that was one of the things we remembered about West Jefferson, and was one of the reasons we wanted to go back.
One of the notable things about West Jefferson is all of the murals on the sides of the buildings. The scenes are varied, but generally reflect the history of the town or are some kind of artistic or humanitarian expression. There are a number of interesting shops and art galleries, and even a photography gallery.
I naturally had my camera with me, and while many of my photos would not be considered “Chamber of Commerce” shots, I had fun finding the things I like to find and capturing them with my camera.
We found it an interesting place to spend the day, and ended up coming home via the Blue Ridge Parkway which crosses nearby. It was a nice place to visit and one we hope to return to again soon.
Trying to get better at just posting pictures when I don’t have a lot of words. Whew….!
Some random photos from around Western NC a few weekends ago.
Public Art in Waynesville, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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!
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).
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.
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!
Kathy & I spent an extended Labor Day weekend visiting eastern North Carolina, generally the towns of Belhaven and Washington, NC. We’ve become friends with Andy & Karen Fisher who own Belhaven Water Street Bed & Breakfast in Belhaven, and we like to get out there a couple of times a year. We checked our records when we got home and realized that we’ve been going to Belhaven and staying at this B&B since 2007. And I like to joke that, even though we are friends with Andy & Karen they still charge us to stay there! Of course I am completely joking – it is worth every penny, plus I think she does give us a discount.
Other friends James & Yvonne McKelvey operate Wine & Words…& Gourmet in Washington. Just like it sounds, they operate a wine store with used books & music plus yummy food items. We make the trek to Washington a few times a year because James specializes in good wine at good prices. Our palates are very similar and we can count on his recommendations being spot-on. It’s a long way to go for wine, but it’s just another excellent reason to head out that way.
Another reason I love to visit the Belhaven area is that I have a number of favorite photo spots. I’m a firm believer in re-visiting places, and there are a number of places in the area that we visit every time we are there. This time, I had some new equipment to try out, and what better place to try new equipment than a place I have come to know and love?
We usually spend at least part of a day walking around downtown Belhaven and Washington, and this year was no exception. While much of the scenery doesn’t seem to change much, every so often I come across something new and interesting. And sometimes just the change in light and shadow creates something I haven’t seen before.
Another place we like to visit is Swan Quarter. While known to most people as the place to catch the ferry to Ocracoke, we’ve come to know it as a place with interesting fishing boats. About the only time we visit the ferry terminal is to use the restroom, because there aren’t a lot of alternatives in that area! Swan Quarter is home to Hobo Seafood, and a number of boats dock there. There seems to be something new every time we visit.
Another place we enjoy returning to is Englehard. It is home to several fish houses and has a fairly good size harbor with a lot of boats. It is often a good spot in the late afternoon, but this time we were there closer to mid-day. Fortunately it was a day with good clouds, so with good timing I was able to make some photos I am happy with.
Something new for us on this adventure was a visit to Aurora & Oriental, across the Pamlico River from Bath & Belhaven and accessible by road or ferry. We took the 30-minute ferry ride over and back. It is a fun way to travel and a nice break from driving. Plus the ferry itself always has a few photo ops! While we were there we came across RE Mayo Seafood in Hobucken, NC and another batch of fishing boats. We had lunch in Oriental and spent a little time exploring, but decided that we needed to head there for a whole day when we had more time. So it is on the list for a return visit!
I’ll write later about my thoughts on the Fuji X-T1, but suffice it to say that I am very happy with this little camera and have no regrets at all about making the switch. I’m still learning the ins and outs but every time I use it I feel like I’m working with an old friend.
I had a conversation recently with my favorite bartender Brian about different versions of cocktails. I had asked him to make me a Negroni, because I had never had one before and I knew that “his” version would be a good example of what the drink was “supposed” to taste like. Brian likes to tweak ingredients and often makes his own. The classic Negroni is made with one part gin, one part vermouth rosso (red, semi-sweet), and one part Campari. Pretty basic, and if you made one with just the bargain basement variety of ingredients, you’ll get the classic cocktail. But add in Uncle Val’s Gin, Carpano Antico Vermouth, Aperol instead of Campari, and you kick it up a few notches. Brian’s comment to me was that when making a cocktail, if you didn’t start with good ingredients it didn’t matter what you did but just wouldn’t get a good drink.
I think a good photograph also needs to start with good ingredients. You can’t take a boring photograph and turn it in to something amazing using only software. I recently read a caption on Facebook that had me shaking my head:
“I processed the five image HDR via Photomatix Pro with deghosting, double tone-mapping, and a Photograph subset. Final editing in Nikon Capture NX2. This was a tricky situation as I was at the site at high noon when there was so much contrast and haze in the sky. I also did a Black & White subset adjustment to the final image as well.”
What that tells me is “I was there at the wrong time of day, the light was terrible but I took a photograph anyway, hoping I could turn it into something interesting in software.” What that tells me is that it was time to find something more interesting to shoot, or else go have some lunch.
Sorry, just a bit of a rant, but I had a really good bartender story and this seemed like a good way to tell it. Oh, and I also have a few new photos to share. Enjoy!