Sunrises are Overrated

Sunset looking west from Staples plaza 07-20-2016I’ve seen two sunrises this week. I pulled two all-nighters editing pictures and sending them off to be printed. The sunrises were spectacularly reddish, or, that might have just been what they looked like through my bloodshot eyes.

What brought about this horrible flashback to my high school and college days? The Cape County History Center in Jackson is going to exhibit pictures from my coming of age years. I underestimated how long it was going to take to get the pictures done because they had already been scanned.

What I had forgotten

What I had forgotten was that I really didn’t know what I was doing when I first started digitizing the film. After doing the digital darkroom work and getting rid of all the flaws, I should have saved them as a Photoshop file. Instead, I output them for the web. That’s great if you are only going to look at it on a computer screen, but the image falls apart if you want to enlarge it.

That meant that I had to go back to the original scan and touch up 100 to 1000 scratches, dust spots and flaws per picture. Doing that once is a pain. Doing it a second time is agonizingly, boringly frustrating.

Anyway, Carla Jordan and I are going to be hanging the show Friday afternoon and night. With any kind of luck, it’ll be ready for folks to see Saturday afternoon. More info to come.

That’s not a sunrise

This isn’t a sunrise, by the way. I had to go to Staples to pick up some ink for my printer Wednesday evening. When I walked out of the store, I was blown away by the way Man and Mother Nature were having a color competition.

Racin’ Nightfall into ‘nooga

I-24 Chattanooga TN 05-21-2016This 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.

You can click the photo to make it larger.

Through Ace Taylor’s Eyes

DSC_0448I 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

Ace Taylor - Thebes RR bridge 03-17-2016_5951I 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 Taylor - Thebes Courthouse 03-17-2016_5954Ace 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

Ace Taylor 03-17-2016 Cairo_6098I 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

Ace Taylor - Horsehoe Lake 03-17-2016_5989The 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

Ace Taylor - Horsehoe Lake 03-17-2016_5987I 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.

 

Another Jackson Pickin’

Cape County History Center Pickin' 02-17-2016I 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

Cape County History Center Pickin' 02-17-2016The 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

Cape County History Center Pickin' 02-17-2016Carla’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.