This was one of those trips where I was intent on making miles and not photos. My sojourn in Florida was a little longer than anticipated, and I was supposed to pick up Curator Jessica in Louisville on May 22 so we could collaborate with Carla Jordan on some photo exhibits for the Jackson Cape County History Center and the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum.
The sun was starting to hide as I was on the downhill side of I-24 heading into Chattanooga. I had logged a little over 500 miles for the day, and needed to push on another hour or so to put me withing striking distance of Louisville the next day.
I liked the way the sunlight was glinting off the median divider and trees, but there was an 18-wheeler woofing on my tail, so I didn’t have time to do more than wave and push the button without messing with exposures or framing.
I had the pleasure of roaming Illinois, Kentucky and a chunk of the Missouri Bootheel with Ace Taylor, the 13-year-old nephew of museum director Carla Jordan. Carla mentioned that Ace was interested in photography and was good company, so invited him to hit the road Thursday.
It’s never good to waste a perfectly good seat, so Carla’s ready-to-ramble mother, Carolyn Taylor, filled it. I have the feeling that she may become like Mother was: jingle the keys and she’s ready to go.
I tried to think of a photo-rich environment where taking good pictures would be like shooting fish in a barrel.
It turned out to happen, almost literally. When we got to the spillway at the southeast end of Horseshoe Lake, we saw hundreds of minnow-size fish frolicking in the overflow. We couldn’t tell if they were trying to fight the current to get upstream into the lake or if they were beings swept out of it. A couple of fishermen said they were baby carp. It’s worth clicking on it to make it larger. Maybe someone can tell us if the fishermen were right.
The kid has a good eye
I got my first camera at 12. Ace is so far ahead of where I was at his age that there is no comparison. I didn’t point out any particular shot to him. I would give him a little background about why the location was interesting from a geologic or historical perspective, then I’d look around and Ace was already scoping out angles and getting busy.
Experimenting with framing
Ace wasn’t a plain old point-and-shoot photographer. He experimented with shooting through things and with the relationships of shapes. He also had a good grasp of depth of field and the relationship between lens settings and shutter speeds. He tried using slower shutter speeds when shooting the fish photo so the water movement would show up, then he switched to higher speeds to freeze the fish. All of this without a word of advice from me.
In fact, I tried to capture the jumping fish in a video, but Ace aced me hands-down with his still shot.
Not afraid to get in the middle of it
I told him that photographers have a responsibility to document the world around them for future generations. He took a dramatic photo of a machine eating one of my favorite old buildings in Cairo.
“You realize,” I told him, “that you have taken the last photograph of that building that anyone will ever see. If you come back tomorrow, it’ll be gone, and the opportunity to document it will never be there again.”
[Note to Ace’s Mom: he was very cautious. He was careful to step in areas clear of nails and glass, and I always made sure he wasn’t any place where he was in danger.]
A deliberate shooter
The kid wasn’t a pray and spray shooter. After he took a photo, he would study it to see if he had captured what he was looking for or if he should take another crack at it.
A quiet kid
I don’t know that I’ve ever met any boy that age who was so quiet and soft-spoken. When he DID talk, he had something to say. I liked that.
The next day, he was helping Carla at the History Center in Jackson, so we didn’t roam around. I stopped by the center to give him a polarizing filter that I discovered had a small scratch. It probably won’t make any difference, but I’m persnickety about that kind of thing.
We talked gear and techniques, then I watched him wander around the room checking out how the filter would eliminate reflections. I give him credit for understanding when you DON’T want to use it.
“I WANTED the reflections in the water in the picture of the cypress trees, so I wouldn’t use it there, would I?” he asked.
You nailed it, kid.
If he continues at the pace he’s on, he won’t have to talk: he can let his camera and photos speak for him.
Ace Taylor’s work
Here’s a selection of what Ace photographed in roughly six hours (including 150 miles of driving). Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around.
Keep in mind while you are looking at these pictures that Ace Taylor is 13 years old.
I know I did a story about the monthly “pickin'” at Jackson’s Cape County History Center recently, but I was there again Saturday night and couldn’t help shooting more pictures. It’s officially promoted as a “Traditional Music Night,” but everybody just calls it a “pickin'” where anybody with a musical instrument can sit down and play away. Miscues, false starts and forgotten lyrics add to the fun.
The first performance I attended had maybe a dozen or so people singing, toe tapping and clapping with the musicians. Attendance Saturday night was just under the number where the Fire Marshall might get interested. (Director Carla Jordan is working on that problem.)
Gary R. Lucy exhibit still up
The panels for the Gary R. Lucy exhibit took up the center portion of the room, but there was plenty of seating around the edges. If you haven’t been in to see the exhibit, it’ll be up until April 10.
Doc – a Leap Year baby
Carla’s husband Steve Jordan – better know as “Doc” – looks on while Carla sings a song with a confusing chorus that most of us were afraid to join in on because we weren’t sure what would come out if our tongues got tangled. He was born on February 29, the same date as the bass player, so they are going to be carded for a long, long time.
History Center photo gallery
Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around the gallery. Toe-tapping is allowed, but mouse clicks work better.
Friend Carla Jordan mentioned the trees in the Jackson City Park had been wrapped with lights. I said I had seen workers building an archway over the bridge that crosses Hubble Creek earlier in the week.
When I went into the park from the south side like I usually do, intending on getting to the other side by going across the low-water crossing, the path was blocked because all the rain had turned it into a medium-water crossing. You’ll need to go in from the north if this rain keeps up.
There were a lot of displays along the roadway, much like you see in North County Park, but they weren’t lighted. I don’t know if that’ll come later or not.
Jackson Park photo gallery
Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move around. By the way, read the plea below. Y’all owe me big time for this. It’s been cold and rainy the past two days. I got my feet soaked and my ears cold taking these photos. There’s a nasty rumor that this is what winter in Missouri is like. Heated seats or not, my van might get pointed back to Florida before spring if that’s the case.
It’s that time of year again
Everybody is getting all excited about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Overspend Wednesday (I made that one up), so I’m going to join the din. I hate to keep harping on this, but my mailbox is full or ads and teases, so it must work.
If you are going to shop Amazon anyway, please go to my blog and click on the big red ‘Click Here’ button at the top left of the page (or, this one). That’ll take you directly to Amazon with a code embedded. If you buy something, I’ll make from four to seven percent of your purchase price without it costing you anything.
Think of it as being your painless Christmas present to me.