Shooting What You See

Water Street and bridge in rain 04-02-2014The rain was just slacking off when I got out of a meeting Wednesday night, so I decided to take a run downtown to see if there was any wet street art to be made. I saw something promising on Main Street, but couldn’t find a parking spot nearby. I decided to go down Water Street and make another pass at it.

When I got to the intersection with Independence, the stop sign glared back at me. Nothing unusual about that, it’s supposed to reflect light when your headlights hit it at night.

That’s when I saw the reflection of the street sign and the stop sign in the water on the wet street. Fortunately, nobody was behind me, so I put it in back-up and angled into a parking space.

I got out of the car and slogged through the water until I thought I had the right angle.

The picture was gone

I’ve talked before about how you have to shoot as soon as you see a picture: if you don’t the magic might leak out. I figured that’s what had happened here: that in the 30 seconds it took for me to get out of the car, grab the camera and find the angle, maybe enough water had drained from the street to lose the reflection.

That’s when it dawned on me: REFLECTION. What had changed was that my headights were no longer hitting the signs, hence, there was no light to be reflected.

I got back in the car and changed from angle parking to aiming my lights down the street. I didn’t want to block the street, so I was still well off to the side. It was close, but not what I saw the first time.

There are no cars out

Water Street and bridge in rain 04-02-2014That’s when I realized that this is CAPE. There ARE no cars out on a rainy Wednesday night. I positioned my car in the travel lane and fired away. NOW I was seeing what I had seen behind the wheel.

This was one of the situations where the photo probably would have been better if I had gone the HDR route, which takes multiple exposures, then combines them into one frame. There were several reasons why I didn’t do that:

So, why didn’t I use HDR?

  • I don’t use HDR enough to be comfortable to setting the camera in the dark.
  • It required me to drag my tripod out.
  • My tummy was growling.
  • It was still sprinkling. Those last three things violate my Retirement Contract where I don’t (A) Go hungry; (B) Get wet or (C) Lift heavy objects.

 Other night weather photos

I’m a child of the night. I loved roaming the streets and alleys of towns after dark. After every cop in town had stopped my at least once, they tended to leave me alone.

Want to know why most car ads are shot with streets that have been sprayed with water? It makes them look cool. Here are a some of collections of night weather pictures.


Escape from Cape

Emerson Bridge 08-187-2013_8293My escape from Cape didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped. Mother and I were supposed to meet a plumber at her trailer on Kentucky Lake at 11 a.m. to move a shutoff valve to a place where it would be easier for her to get at it. I stayed up late to get the van loaded so we could pull out early.

I carefully activated an existing 8 a.m. alarm on my smartphone to give myself plenty of time to do a sweep of the house for forgotten items and to have coffee and a bowl of cereal. When I heard her moving about, I checked to see how much more time I could doze before having to put my feet on the floor.

My phone read 8:32. Unlike Brad Brune, who operates on Brune Standard Time, I got the a.m. and p.m. part right; I just hadn’t noticed that the alarm was set to go off on MTWTF, and today was S.

Mother elected to leave me behind

I loaded up the car, plugged in my phone and iPad, wrote down my starting mileage and pulled out of the driveway. Two blocks from the house, the Bluetooth display on my GPS said, “Disconnecting.” The phone was doornail dead. I tried artificial respiration, but ended up pulling the battery and doing a cold boot. It came back.

I plugged the charger in. Dead phone. Since the Verizon dealership was within eyesight, I went looking for help. Matt and Kelsey gave it their best shot, but the office was in the middle of a server upgrade, so they were busy handing calls to techs. They essentially did what I had already done, but with better results. I was back on the road again.

Cell towers and “if only”

KY cell tower 08-17-2013 8304As I got close to the trailer, I glanced at this cell tower and thought “if only.” Will, who was half of Will-Vera Camp Ground, approached Dad in the early 70s and said he was considering expanding his park and wanted to know if Dad would like to go in with him because of his construction background. Dad begged off saying he was working hard to wind down the business so he could retire, so the project never got off the ground.

I don’t know if this tower is on the plot Will was considering, but it’s adjacent to the park, so it might have been. I negotiated contracts with two cellular carriers to put cell sites on our newspaper building for somewhere between $6,000 and $8,000 a month if I remember right. This tower would probably have brought in as much money for Will and Dad as a raft of trailers.

Where’s the plumber?

Goodbye 08-17-2013_8331When I got to the lake, Mother was steaming. Not a pretty sight. The plumber wasn’t there, he hadn’t answered his phone and hadn’t returned messages she had left for him. On the off-chance that she had dialed the wrong number, I called one listed in my phone and left VM saying that I was going to have to get on the road, but I would turn on the water so she’d be able to stay the weekend.

About 10 minutes later, the plumber called me, very apologetic. He had every intention of being there at 11, but he had been involved in a car crash that left him with a totaled vehicle, several broken ribs and some other injuries. I allowed as how that might be an acceptable excuse.

I helped her with some odd jobs, then took the obligatory goodbye shot next to a new sign Brother Mark had made, Niece Amy painted and Son Matt hung to replace the original that had gone missing.

About an hour north of Nashville, I stopped at a rest area intending to take a 22-minute nap before pressing on. I had scarcely started settling in when a young security guard approached my window. Wondering what kind of hassle I was going to get, I rolled down the window.

It turned out he was a nice guy who wanted to point out that he thought my driver’s side headlight was burned out. “Geez,” I said. “I just replaced that one in February, and the passenger side one burned out yesterday. Thanks for pointing it out. I carry a spare bulb, so I’ll replace it before it gets dark.”

I jettisoned the idea of a nap, changed the bulb and made Manchester, TN, before calling it a night. Tomorrow will be a better day, right?


On the Road to Florida

Ken and Mary Steinhoff 03-04-2013I had to pull out of Cape on March 4 in order to make it back to West Palm Beach by March 6. As usual, I got a late start. No departure would be complete without taking a final photo before backing out of the driveway.

I think I’m getting better at these photos. Either my arm is getting longer or Mother and I are shrinking in our old age, which makes it possible to get us both in the photo.

Headed across the bridge

Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge 03-04-2013

This is an appropriate bookend to the trip. I posted a photo when Friend Jan made me turn around to get the bridge and the moon in a picture the night we pulled into Cape.

Atlanta skyline and traffic (what else?)

Atlanta skyline and traffic 03-05-2013I left Cape in snow flurries, and woke up in Manchester, Tenn., to rain. By the time I got to Monteagle Pass, the rain had turned into a monsoon and the winds were threatening to blow me across two lanes of traffic. It was hard enough to stay on the road in my Odyssey van. I don’t know how an empty 18-wheeler could have handled it.

I hoped to get an Oink Moo Burger at Dave’s Modern Tavern, but it wasn’t open. A woman in a nearby business recommended an Italian joint just down the road. Their pizza was excellent. Just as I was switching from my eating glasses to my seeing glasses to pay the bill, the left side of the frame came apart and dropped my lens on the carpet. Fortunately, there was a CVS drugstore next door where I could buy a replacement screw. A helpful women at the checkout counter put the screw back in for me since I couldn’t see to do it.

All of this piddling around put me into Atlanta at rush hour. I hadn’t planned to take another photo of a traffic jam in my favorite city, but we were stopped and the skyline was interesting. I think all the cold weather may have caused the lube in the camera mirror mechanism to stiffen up. I had a few frames with dark tops a couple of days ago, and the gremlin struck again here. While I wouldn’t mind some kind of out-of-this-world General Sherman coming down to devour Atlanta, that was simply not happening here.

Crawfish at Bubba Jax

Crawfish at Bubba Jax in Valdosta GA 03-06-2013I get odd cravings on the road. For some reason, I had a hankering for Dairy Queen’s chicken strips with white gravy and a Blizzard for desert. A sign promised at DQ in Valdosta, but I couldn’t spot it. As luck would have it, I opted to make a U-turn into Bubba Jax Crab Shack. It was a nondescript kind of place, but there was a fair number of cars in the lot, so I decided to take a chance. A chalkboard at the entrance said they had a special on crayfish.

I love Cajun forms of crawfish, so I placed an order without asking how they were served. While waiting for my order to arrive, I saw plate after plate of lightly battered fried oysters and onion rings walk by. I was wondering if I had made a mistake.

When the server placed a bunch of red shells in front of me, I was sure I had. “This is embarrassing,” I confessed. “I’ve shucked oysters, peeled shrimp and cracked crabs, but I’ve never tackled crawdads before. How do I attack these beasts?”

She said, “I’m not exactly sure. I know you eat the tails and some folks suck out the insides from the top, but they’re not exactly my thing.”

When she came back, I suggested that she put these on the menu as the Dieter’s Special “because you burn more calories peeling them you gain in consuming the critters.” I got better and faster, but I sure wish I had ordered the oysters. I’m going to put crayfish on the list of things like crunchy rock shrimp I’m going to avoid as being too much work.

Lunch with the grandsons

Elliot Steinhoff 03-07-2013While I was out of town, Grandson Graham turned 2, and Elliot was added to the family on February 4. Parents Adam and Carly asked if I wanted to meet them for lunch at a hamburger joint on March 7. Are you kidding? This was my first glimpse of Elliot. I’d have shot more photos except that he was sound asleep. I learned with Graham that you do NOT want to have a screaming awake baby on your hands. I had forgotten they don’t come with a mute switch.

Graham’s a big boy now

Graham Steinhoff eating hamburger 03-07-2013There’s nothing like having a newborn in the family to make a two-year-old look like a big boy. It’s incredible how much more he’s talking than when I last saw him about six weeks ago. Grandson Malcolm, who is eight, is almost as tall as his grandmother, and looks like he’s going to be asking for the car keys in another week or two.

Graham, even after getting a spit-shine from his mother, is still wearing a significant portion of his lunch. (You can, as always, click on the photos to make them larger.)




Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge

We were hitting East Cape just past sunset on the way back from Kentucky Lake. I couldn’t resist shooting some photos of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge as we approached it.

No, I wasn’t looking through the viewfinder instead of driving. I was resting my camera-holding hand on the top of the steering wheel and blindly pressing the button. Exposure and focus were done by the camera, for the most part, although the last thing I shot before this was set to underexpose 1.3 stops.That was probably a lucky thing because a normal exposure would have been too light.

If you like the photo, I’ll take credit for picking the best frames out of about 60 shots.

Bridge photo gallery

Click on any picture to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. The distant shot is blurry because the camera was set to a slow 200 ISO for a previous shoot in bright sunlight. When I noticed the exposure sounded like it was about two seconds long, I pulled off to the side of the road and told the camera to shift to a more sensitive “film” setting when the shutter speed fell below 1/30 second. The shot above was 1/30 of a second at an ISO of 1100.