Signs and Superstitions

Wreck Hwy 51 near Lutesville 07-07-1967This motorcycle wreck on Hwy 51 near Lutesville in July 1967 didn’t make the paper. It might have been because the wreck was at the edge of our circulation area or it might have been that the wreck wasn’t all that serious.

The main reason, though, is that I didn’t have the rights lens or the right skills yet to make a good piece of “sign” art.

Elements needed to be closer

Wreck Hwy 51 near Lutesville 07-07-1967

Unfortunately, the “Prepare to Meet Thy God” sign was just too small to be read.

This might have been the start of my superstitions and hunches. When I moved to Florida, lots and lots of cars had “Arrive Alive” bumper stickers on them. I shot so many of those things on wrecks they became cliches. I refused to put one on my car because that was just tempting fate.

I did a number of stories about houses that burned down on the day the homeowner brought home a smoke alarm, but held off installing it. I made it a point to ALWAYS put up the smoke alarm with fresh batteries as soon as it hit the door. I didn’t want some photographer doing that story about me.

Hunches and feelings

I also paid attention to “feelings” and hunches. I can think of a couple of times when I started to walk into a hot spot news scene only to turn back to grab my body armor out of the trunk. I never needed it, but I could see myself in a hospital bed wearing all kinds of tubes and wires telling a reporter, “I had this hunch…..” That vision was the convincer.

I pushed the envelope in a lot of situations, but never when I had that bad feeling alarm bell ringing. Well, ALMOST never. I guess you can get away with a certain number of false alarms.

Turtles on the Beach

Sunset Jupiter Island 08-30-2013_5484Friend Anne and I embarked on our first bike ride of the summer. She needed to use up a gift card, so she got a new set of handlebar grips and a new (super bright) taillight. We had a bunch of time to kill before temps fell below the melting point, so we drove to the north end of Jupiter Island where we hung out at the beach.

Here’s an example of how critical timing is. When we pulled up, the golden setting sun lit up this sea grass like it was on fire. In the two or three minutes it took me to secure my bike and get to the right angle, the sun dipped below the dune line and the magic leaked out of the photo. This is why you can’t hesitate. You have to shoot it as soon as you can see it. Conditions can change in seconds.

Close, but not quite

Sunset Jupiter Island 08-30-2013_5494This gives you an idea of how the sun hit the grass, but it’s not exactly what I wanted.

Where’s the guy with the camera?

Sunset Jupiter Island 08-30-2013_55636I was just about to pull out when Anne heard someone say, “Where’s the guy with the camera? The turtles are hatching.” She had never seen that, so she rushed down, leaving me to lock up the bikes.

This was the last of the batch. A little girl named him “Flippy,” because he flipped over every time he hit a deep footprint or rut on his way from the nest to the ocean. When he got to the water’s edge, he got smacked around by a couple of waves. After the water receded, he sat with his belly on the wet sand, waving his flippers in a swimming motion for all he was worth.

This was my last look at him before another wave snatched him up. I like the way he looks so tiny.

The orange bathing suit

Sunset Jupiter Island 08-30-2013_5541

Anne, who supplements her freelance income by dog sitting, noticed the dog right away. My eye was drawn to the orange suit because it reminded me of a day on that same beach when I was enjoying the shade with a bunch of elderly (OK, MY age) women. A young woman in an even more abbreviated orange suit sauntered by.

I turned to my companions and said, “I sure wish I had a bike jersey made out of that material because it obviously catches the eye of everybody on the beach. The only comfort we oldtimers can take is the knowledge that girl is NEVER gonna look that good again. She hit her peak two minutes ago and it’s all downhill from here.”

The women didn’t applaud my observation, but I got some satisfied nods.

Equal time

Sunset Jupiter Island 08-30-2013_5553When we got to the top of the dune, I was getting the Sexist Pig evil eye from Anne. I showed her this frame to prove that I leave no age group unrecorded.

This is Anne’s sunset

Sunset Jupiter Island 08-30-2013_5558

She insisted on going down an east-west side street right at sunset. I’m glad I followed her. They don’t get much better than this.

As always, you can click on the photos to make them larger.


Blue Moon, Clouds, Lightning

Blue Moon and sunset from S Palm Beach 08-20-2013

I noticed the moon was big when I was unloading the van last night. Wife Lila pointed out that tonight was the Night of the Blue Moon and suggested we go to a nice place on the beach for dinner and to watch it come up.

Just like when I shot the full moon over Tower Rock last month, the cloud show at sunset was arguably better than the moon. Click on the photos to make them larger.

One minute the clouds were white.

Then the sky caught fire

Blue Moon and sunset from S Palm Beach 08-20-2013In a matter of seconds, it was like someone had touched off a massive brush fire in the sky.

The sky got angrier

Blue Moon and sunset from S Palm Beach 08-20-2013Just before all the color disappeared, the sky got angrier.

The moon made a brief appearance

Blue Moon and sunset from S Palm Beach 08-20-2013I was chomping away at my dinner when the server came over and pointed up at the sky. According to my handy-dandy Moon Phase program, it wasn’t supposed to rise out of the ocean for another 12 minutes or so, so it caught me by surprise.

It made a brief appearance, then was eaten by the clouds, giving me an excuse to turn back to my food.

Here comes the storm

Blue Moon and sunset from S Palm Beach 08-20-2013A heavy thunderboomer was off the coast moving to shore. I kept trying to get a good lightning shot, but most of the flashes were well to the north of us. This was the best I could come up with. It didn’t begin to compare with this video I shot of a storm out to sea.

So, it wasn’t a GREAT night for full moon pictures, but it was a fun evening. The company was good, at least.

Altenburg Full Moon

Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum full moon 07-22-2013I spent the day roaming around in small coal mining towns I last saw in the early 1970s. It’s funny how I would catch a glimpse of the side of a building and recognize it immediately, then pass through a whole town without a flicker

Athens Historical Society Museum curator Jessica Cyders and I met with some members of the Little Cities of Black Diamonds to see what mutual interests we might have. I photographed the architecture in town of Shawnee in 1969 for an independent study course. It felt good to see so many buildings still standing. Some are a bit wobbly, but I don’t stand so straight these days, either.

Lutheran Heritage Center

The photo above isn’t from Shawnee. It is the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg taken under the full moon. I described all kinds of technical machinations for shooting Tower Rock the other night. This is decidedly low-tech. I shot it out my car window. The shutter speed was slow enough that I had to turn off the motor to get it anywhere near sharp.

The moon provided some nice backlighting, but the right side of the building was a trifle dark. I moved car slightly so the headlights hit it. It would have been a little more evenly lit if I had aimed the car a little more to the left.  I used that technique when I was doing a story on an old homeless guy who sold pencils on the street. I spotted him asleep on a dark park bench. Once I got the angle I wanted, I radioed another photographer to drive over and light him up.

Trinity Lutheran Church

Trinity Lutheran Church Altenburg full moon 07-22-2013I was was headed to drop Gerard Fiehler off at his house when we decided to see how the moon looked on the Trinity Lutheran Church. I thought a street light made the building look ugly and was turning around when I shot the photo of the center. While I was doing that, Gerard got out of the car to see if he could find an angle where we could get the moon without seeing the street light.

His diligence paid off. It’s not a great shot, but it’s pretty good for a situation I was going to blow off.