The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Monday, October 29, 2007

To see photos from field shoots

Here is a link to the page at my website with a few photos from recent club shoots -- there are some from Oakland Cemetery and Fowler Auto Parts.

Fowler's Auto Parts

Fowler's Auto Parts in Griffin is a hidden treasure of photographic opportunities.

Last Saturday the Fayette Photo Club met at Mr. Fowler's place. It was easy to find but you would never think from the highway that there is an auto junkyard of this size behind the white fence. When I arrived my first thought was where do I park? There is not a specific parking space except for those taken up by vehicles that will never move again (unless a tow truck is involved). There are rows and rows of these vehicles.

I am not good with years of cars but I can tell you I can't remember the last time I saw a Biscayne motoring down the highway. I saw a Biscayne Saturday but it wasn't motoring anywhere and did not look like it had been for quite a while. One car without and engine or much of a front end at all had written on the windshield (1945 Sudan).

What ever that is?? Sedan maybe?? There were old rusted cars from the 1960's and earlier and newer cars mixed together in rows. There was a Pacer there I had not seen a Pacer since the last time I watched the movie "Wayne's World." The rust spots spots?? some cars were nothing but rust and the cracked windows were interesting subjects to photograph.

The auto names were also interesting to me. I have one photo of the model name "Chevelle" with the last "E" hanging off at an angle. The rust design behind the name makes it interesting too. I brought along my gold reflector and made use of it a couple times.

We arrived at 3 p.m. and the sun was very bright. There was not a cloud is a brilliant blue sky. Saturday was definitely a day for the polarizing filter and lens hood. Even with the lens hood I shielded the lens with my hand a few times to prevent flare.

Some of the auto names and other features I was interested in were in a shadow compared to other parts of the vehicle in bright sun. I set the camera on the tripod clicked on the timer and stepped away with the reflector to shine a little "gold glow" on the spot I wanted highlighted in the photo.

All of the photos that day were taken in color the colors of the rusty cars and bright chrome were very photographic. I always take photos in color but then change them to black and white with my photo-editing software. The photos of the junk cars are just as interesting in black and white as they are in color. I can't decide with some of the photos if I like them better in color or not. An afternoon spent at Fowler's could give you an opportunity to complete a study of photos of cracked windows/windshields, flat tires, rust, old (and new) auto names --- you name it!

The "junkyard dog" was a friendly, blue-eyed, tail wagger. Not long after we arrived I was standing at the top of a row of cars setting up the camera for a long view shot of all the cars down that row. Off in the distance I see something running toward me.

As I am pressing the shutter button I notice it is a dog this dog is in two of my photos running toward me. All of those wild stories of junkyard dogs come flooding to my mind. This one is wagging his (or her I did not check) tail so much I hold on to the tripod and pet the dog on the head. Satisfied with sniffing me and getting a head pat the dog moved on to the next person.

I did not see the dog much again that afternoon but while wandering through the field I noticed by the souvenirs left behind something else lived there something larger than the dog.

After I negligently placed a tripod leg in a fire ant mound, it was one of those can I take the photo faster than those critters can hike up the leg to get to me I forgot about what had left those other mounds. I forgot until I heard a sound that made me think of Jurassic Park you know that sound like one of the dinosaurs is out of the pen? Well, this velociraptor turned out to be a shiny black cow.

As I stood out in the field of cars I watched the cow mosey along looking around in a very la-de-da sort of way.

One of the photo club members was out of town last Saturday. She was sorry that she was going to miss this outing. I told her when she returned that I would go with her to Fowler's so she could wander about and take interesting photos of vehicles that have not seen a road for years.

Now that I have been I think I have a couple ideas of things I really want to focus on the next trip there.

I might even take the junkyard dog a treat.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Zinnias, Skippers, and the Drought

I can't remember the last time I watered the flowers in the yard – I know it has been quite a while.  The water restrictions and the drought really threw a wrench in the garden this year.  We have been doing the bucket in the shower thing for a while now and we are getting quite a bit of water to keep some plants watered – the ferns on the front porch, new pansies, etc.  I bought this wonderful ginger lily at a local place (Turnipseed).  I could not wait for August for it to bloom.  Well, at this point I am happy it is still green. The zinnias I planted from seeds last spring are almost taller than I am and blooming like crazy.  I am so surprised and how well they are coping.  At the beginning of summer, I had some flowers in pots on the deck.  The deck gets afternoon sun – all afternoon – until the sun goes down.  It gets hot on the deck – I mean hot – like melt you flip flops hot.  So, my flowers in pots on the deck kind of baked and died and since I figured the drought was around for a while I did not buy any replacements.  What do you think I see – BLOOMING – from one of the pots? (a pot that held crispy remnants of marigolds)  A hot pink zinnia!!!  All I can think is it is a happy volunteer and I am pleased to see it.


Zinnias come in many varieties.  One example of a zinnia is the typical single petal – meaning just one row of the "ray flowers" making up the outside edge of the whole flower.  A few blogs ago I mentioned the kind of flower a zinnia is – a composite flower.  A composite, remember, has ray flowers and those in the center area are called disc flowers – two types of flowers in one bloom!  Here is a link to show photos of various types of zinnia blooms  I am not promoting purchase from this website – I chose it because it shows the many varieties on one page.  The variety called "State Fair" on this page looks similar to those I grew from seeds in my yard this summer.  The "Profusion Cherry" looks like the volunteer plants in the pot on my deck.  You know, I remember seeing those plants growing in the pot – thinking I needed to pull up those weeds before they went to seed.  Well, since they turned out to be such cute zinnias, I am glad I did not pull them up!  I really thought they were volunteer petunias – I have those appear occasionally in pots and in the back yard.  The info on the State Fair plants say that they grow 36 inches – s ome of mine are at least 48 inches tall or more.  The zinnias have handled the heat and drought much better than my butterfly bushes (which are known to tolerate heat and drought well).


The butterflies love the zinnias.  Daily I see three or more Gulf Fritillaries flying around them.  Another butterfly I see often in the backyard – all summer long – is the Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus).  Here is a link to see a photo of a Fiery Skipper  Sometimes you can spot them just sunning on a leaf – they will spread their wings and be very still.  They are fast and zip around from bloom to bloom.  When they fly by me in the garden I can hear their wings beating – it has a slight semblance to the sound you get from clipping a playing card to a bike wheel – only not quite as loud.   Another type of skipper I have seen in my yard frequently – and I saw one at Lowe's a couple weeks ago – is the Long-Tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus).  This skipper looks like it sounds – it has a long tail.  Actually, the wings form what appears to be a tail.  These little skippers don't look all that pretty; they appear brownish, until you see one in the sun and then the iridescent blue-green qualities of their body and wings.  These are slightly larger than the Fiery Skipper.  Here is a great link to see the Long-Tailed Skipper and its beautiful blue/green color


Another creature to look for on the zinnias is the crab spider – they will live on the bloom and their body color will match the bloom for camouflage.   Next year – since I have been so impressed with the performance of the zinnias – I will plant more seeds!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Ribbons, Leaves, and Pink Lemonade

The results of the photo contest at the fair are in. This is the third year that I have entered photos in the contest. The first two years I brought home two ribbons each year (a first, third, fifth and sixth). This year I brought home four ribbons (two thirds, a fifth and sixth). It is interesting when I look back at these and realize that out of eight ribbons over three years, only one has been for a color photo. This analysis would make someone think I am pretty good at color, but way better at black and white. I have never thought that I was any better at one or the other. I do like black and white photography quite a bit. Maybe I will concentrate on it more.

This makes me think more about the photos I took at Oakland Cemetery a couple weeks ago. I could not decide if I preferred a shot in color or black and white and some the black and white versions of my shots did win out hands down.

This is not a great time of year to not be "into" color though. The leaves are about to hit their peak for the season. This year is certainly not one of the best, but the colors I am seeing from the woods are enticing to say the least.

I have been watching the sumac at the edge of the woods in our yard. The leaves are turning that vibrant crimson color. In my yard I have many Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) shrubs growing at the edge of the wooded area. The foliage is pretty in summer when i t is green, but in the fall it turns a beautiful red.

The other variety common to this area is Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina). Sumac is part of the cashew family, yes, those delicious little nuts! Let's not confuse this Sumac with Poison Sumac. Native Americans used the fruit of Sumacs (Staghorn and Smooth) to make a pink lemonade of sorts. The fruit is collected, soaked and washed in cold water; this liquid is strained and sweetened to make the drink. No, I have not tried it.

Native Americans also have used the leaves and berries of the Smooth and Staghorn sumac mixed with tobacco as a smoking mixture. Sumac provides a tannin that will produce white or light-colored leather that is soft and supple. The roots of the Smooth Sumac yield a yellow dye.

I have some beautiful fall photos of the Sumac in my yard, the red leaves against the bright blue fall sky, a very striking photo. Hopefully I will get some others in the next couple weeks. I plan to take some at home and at the Line Creek Nature Area in Peachtree City, and any place else I spy some decent colored leaves. One way to really make the sky brilliant blue with the leaf color is to use a circular polarizing filter. Not only does the filter enhance the sky color, it will help with any glare on the leaves. Cutting the glare on the leaves gives you a more vibrant photo. Another good filter for fall is a warming filter, this enhances the warm tones of the leaves, that filter makes the orange pop.

I am also seeing glimpses of bright yellow in the trees that are still green. This is a wild grape vine turning color. I have been told that the leaves of the wild muscadines do not turn yellow, so I am not sure what kind these are.

There are many state parks in Georgia to go see the colors of fall. The website for the park info is On the homepage at the top is "Leaf Watch 2007." Check out that link to see what is happening in the state parks as far as color. The state parks tab at the top of the page will take you to a listing of all in the state, info on each park along with a map and directions to them. The predictions for fall color have been dismal since we are in the grip of one of the worst droughts in years, decades. But I am hopeful, especially when I see those red sumac and golden grape leaves, there is something out there to see and photograph.

Side note: "Where did pink lemonade come from?" In my poking around for info for this blog, I found info on pink lemonade. One, or twelve, websites I visited about sumac likened the Native American drink to pink lemonade. Think about it --- are there any pink lemons? Wikipedia gives an interesting account to some 17 year old named Billie in the late 1800's. He was preparing a large batch of lemonade and a pair of red tights fell into the water by accident, giving the pinkish hue. The circus was opening, the crowd had already arrived, so no time left to make a fresh batch. I don't know about that story and who would want to drink lemonade that had tights soaking in it? I actually found a notice from the September 18, 1912 edition of the New York Times:


The death of Henry E. Allott will be mourned by the boys of the older generation. For he was the man whose red-coated cinnamon candies, dropped in a tub of lemonade, thereafter made the pink beverage popular wherever the traveling animals and chariots, the steam calliope, the band, the horseback ladies and funny clowns driving donkey wagons would draw up in front of the big tent after a parade. P. T. Barnum's show could not have evolved to the greatest show on earth without Henry E. Allott's pink lemonade."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Trip to the National Archives

A couple weeks ago I attended a meeting at the National Archives southeast location near the campus of Clayton State University in Morrow.  The archives is home to many photographs and documents that are of interest to historians and genealogists.  After this visit (for a non-related topic) I contacted the archives using the link at their website.  The website had genealogy workshop information and I was interested in what was coming up – like I have time to do anything else!  When I emailed I also mentioned my photography skills, website, and asked if they were intereste d in having any photography workshops.  This email led to a meeting, and more.  The archives is hosting a holiday shopping day on Wednesday, November 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  The shopping day will include many items – books, preservation supplies, copies of documents and more.  There will be a demo of 'ordering online' – an online feature for ordering reproductions of National Archives microfilm and other records.

The southeast region location is home to 24 million World War I draft cards.  Here is a link to some famous names found in that collection: 

In this list you will find Louis Armstrong, Ty Cobb, Douglas Fairbanks, Oscar Hammerstein, Duncan Hines, Harry Houdini, JC Penney, Babe Ruth and more.  Clicking on a link (the name) will show an image of the actual draft card, front and back.  The card for Harry Handcuff Houdini (yes it says his middle name is Handcuff) shows his occupation as an "actor manager film factory."  He was living in New York City and working in Hoboken, New Jersey.  His wife is named Beatrice Houdini – no interesting middle name for her.  Handcuff, as his friends would call him (no – not true – but it is funny), had blue eyes, black hair and was of medium height and build.  A very interesting thing to note that is written on his card – especially from someone known to get out of handcuffs, straight jackets and other types of confinement – he had a weak left hand.  Sinclair Lewis had to have a second card prepared for him – it seemed typed up by his publisher.  Mr. Lewis had red hair, gray eyes, and was a member of the Socialist Party (this part is not on the card, I just happen to know it).  Knowing his political affiliation it makes me wonder what had been on the first draft card and why it had to be replaced.  Oh, and Babe Ruth – his place of employment was Fenway Park and he listed his build as medium – ummm, I think I would have put him in the stout category – but maybe in June of 1917 he was still a medium.

There is an interesting exhibit of photos at the archives right now through November 17.  This exhibit is titled "The Great Nation Will Endure":  Photographs of the Great Depression.  The exhibit contains over 150 images taken between 1935 and 1942.  Some of the photographers on display are Dorothea Lange, Jack Delano, Gordon Parks, and Marion Post Wolcott.  As I toured this exhibit with Mary Tomlin, Public Programs Specialist, we talked about the despair seen on the faces of the people in the photos, their clothing, unclean conditions and how thin they were.  She led me to the one photo showing a person smiling.  It was a man, shirtless, sitting, and smiling at the camera.  A fresh tattoo on his arm showed his Social Security Number. 

On November 28, the shopping day, I will have a short workshop on how to make your Christmas Tree a "Family Tree."  For the past 6 years my Christmas Tree has been decorated with photos of family only.  The first year it was a big job – collecting the photos I wanted to use, scanning or photographing them to get them on the computer, sizing and printing to fit all the little frames I kept buying at Hobby Lobby – whew!  Now, each year I usually add a few photos as I find and collect more.  I think some of the oldest photos on the tree may be of my husband's great, great grandparents (the grandfather in the photo was an officer in the Civil War).  Another old photo is one of my great, great grandfathers –&n bsp;he received a land grant for service during the War of 1812.  The photos show family members, home places, and reunions all the way up to my children with their cousins at a rehearsal dinner a couple years ago.  I have the photos numbered on the back and a hand-written list of who is in what photo and what year it was taken (some of those years are very approximate).  When I met with Mary at the archives building last week – she had a great idea of adding photos of documents to the tree as well.  I found online the World War I draft cards for a couple ancestors and the World War II cards for others – those may be some of the first documents I add to my tree. 

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Yip Yip Yip -- a Coyote!


This morning I woke up to the sound of coyotes yipping – and it did not sound like it was that far away.  Rosebud (our Australian Shepherd) sat up and peeped at me in the not-so-dark bedroom.  She seemed send me a telepathic message of "I'm not going out there!"  The only thing I could think about when I heard them, so close, was the little dog that lives across the street from us – outside – tied to a dog house.  I plan to make a point to talk to the owners.  We lived in California for a while – the coyotes out there would walk down the neighborhood streets.  They would take pets from yards in the blink of an eye.  I also saw a bobcat and a mountain lion while I lived out there – in Orange County – a highly populated area.  The mountain lion I spotted was sitting on a hillside, watching a park where kids were playing and my son's Little League baseball team was having a practice.  A few years ago I heard a news story about a woman attacked by a mountain lion and killed at a park where I would hike with my family and Cub Scouts.  The park was located behind the Ralph's grocery store where I shopped!  Wildlife is out there – everywhere – and you need to be on the lookout.


I am not one of these people that move to a more rural area – or even suburban these days – and wish to banish all the wildlife that poses a threat.  When you move to an area – you need to understand – the wildlife was there first.  It is not just the plants and trees that make an area what it is – it is the life that is there.  I toss out old salad stuff and apples to the rabbits that live in the woods behind my house.  The same rabbits that I watched eat my liriope and Indian Hawthorn one winter.  We bought netting to cover the new shrubs to try to save them.  The rabbits then leaned onto the netting to get to the leaves!  So we bo ught rabbit pellets at the local feed store – that helped a little – but I think they preferred the plants to the pellets.  The next summer – the netting we bought to keep the rabbits out of the bushes caught a snake on the patio.  One day when I was checking the chemicals in the hot tub – and I was walking all around it – I spotted a snake tangled in netting – very close to my foot.  Actually I thought the snake was dead.  It had been very hot and I figured the snake had been tangled and without water so long it had died.  So I came into the house – left it where it was – to wait for my husband to get home from golf so he could deal with it.  When he got home I took him to the patio to show him and the snake had moved and then it continued to move.  Most people would have not tried to save the snake.  But my husband did.  He spent most of the afternoon cutting the snake loose from the huge tangled mess that it was.  As he got closer and closer to the head – I got more and more nervous.  How to cut the head free without having that thing bite his hand?  When there was not much besides the tangle at the head left I convinced him to wait while I called animal control.  Thank goodness they are close – and were not busy.  The animal control officer was able to come over to help.  She had a clamp-arm-kind-of-thing t hat she held the snake's head with while my husband finished clipping the last bits of the netting from around the neck (does a snake have a neck??).  As soon as the snake was free it made for my pond!  Before it could get to the pond the animal control officer grabbed it with the clamp and walked it down to the woods – away from my pond and backyard area.  I knew it would come back at some time – so when I am out in the backyard – I am always on the lookout for it.  Are you ever in the yard and smell that cucumber scent?  That smell always makes me think a snake is nearby.   A couple weeks ago I saw a large snake that looked very familiar in the yard.  I wondered if it was the same one. 


A couple years after we moved here – and my husband was out of town – I was walking through the house at about 11 p.m. turning off lights and getting ready for bed.  The kids had already gone to bed hours before this.  As I approached the kitchen I saw one of my daughter's rubber snakes lying in the floor in front of the refrigerator.  (She always had a snake around – and when we visited museums or zoos she always had to get a new snake as a souvenir)  I walked toward the snake and then I realized the head was up off of the floor.  None of her snakes were like that.  Then it flicked its tongue!  I reached for the phone to call a neig hbor who lived across the street.  Thank goodness they were up.  She sent her husband over to help me out.  While I was on the phone with her I watched the snake slide behind the basket I have beside the refrigerator.  When my neighbor arrived he asked me where was the snake and my broom and dustpan.  I handed the broom and dustpan to him and then I cautiously moved the basket.  I kept hoping the snake would not go under or behind the refrigerator.  It did not.  He swept the snake into the dustpan and headed for the front door – I ran ahead and opened it for him.  He tossed the snake out into the yard.  I thanked him – and then he walked, barefoot, down through the yard where he had tossed the snake minutes before. 


Living where I do there are times when I have to deal with nature.  (Don't ask about the time the mouse had babies in the basement.  Our wonderful cat brought a couple upstairs to "play" with – she even let one loose under the Christmas tree!)  I would not want to kill off everything around me that caused a problem for me at some time.  The plants and animals make this place what it is.  A few days ago I was driving to the grocery store – I had to stop to let three turkeys cross the road (sometimes I have to stop while the deer cross in front of me).  As I drove on down the road a little farther, I saw a box turtle almost at the edge.  If the turtle had been just beginning its crossing of the road – I would have stopped and help it along.  I hate to see them hit by a car.  The lizards that sneak into the house, the rabbits that eat my plants, or the swallows that build those muddy nests under my deck and make a mess on the patio – they all have a place and a purpose.  The coyotes have a place and a purpose as well – they do help balance the wildlife in an area.  Coyotes have a great knack to adapt to new surroundings.  The geographic range for the coyote spans the entire North American continent from Alaska down to Central America.  They are here and people need to deal with them.  For the most part, they are shy and timid.  If you suspect coyotes in your area – do not allow pets to roam free.  Take your pets in at night since this is the time of day that coyotes hunt.  If the pet has to remain outside – keep it inside of a fence.  Don't leave pet food out all the time. 


Now photo news – I have added a page to my website showing a few of the photos I took at Oakland last weekend.  One of the club members let me know that I have some ribbons on my photos at the Georgia National Fair – I don't have details yet on what placed what.  Later this week I will be meeting with someone at the National Archives to discuss the possibility of me doing a workshop or two for them.  How cool is that?


And – personally – we are about to begin a LARGE renovation project at our home – it involves two floors and many rooms and – well – I think I need to buy that large economy-size bottle of Tylenol!  Wish us luck!

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