The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Friday, October 30, 2015

That Day I Was In A Dark Room With A Ghost...

I've seen those photos of 'orbs' and I don't believe they are anything other than dust specks or water vapor briefly highlighted by a flash or natural light creating a tiny bit of bokeh. Maybe they are even the product of a dirty sensor. No one can convince me otherwise about orbs. I've never believed the stories of 'something odd' caught by a camera until I stood, alone, in a dark room in a slowly deteriorating elementary school. I had visited this place before, a couple of times. The condition of the building showed more decline than my last trip there. Once while standing in the auditorium with another photographer, we heard what sounded like footsteps. 

"Did you hear that," I asked her.


And we both headed to the other side of the building, nearer the front door.

I've taken lots of photographs in this structure. Nothing unusual until my last time there -- almost three years ago. I haven't been back.

Two images taken a little over a minute apart. The only change from the first to the second, or so I thought, was to move my tripod back a little to show more of the ceiling and part of a second window.


My shutter speed on both images is 25 seconds, f5.6, ISO 160, and my zoom lens was at its widest at 17mm. As I normally do for a very long exposure, I had the timer on to count down 10 seconds to shoot. I pushed the button and stood back to wait for the shutter to open and then close -- 35 seconds later.

Then, reevaluating the composition, I moved the tripod back a little to reshoot. Same settings the second time, just a little further back in the room. No one else was in the room with me. There were others in the building but they were down the hall in another very dark room working on other images. I did not review my photos in camera until I returned home that evening. 

When I looked at the second image something strange was there -- a streak of light. And this streak was not in a complete straight line. I have no explanation for this anomaly. I wonder what was in that dark room with me that afternoon....


Happy Halloween

Thursday, October 29, 2015

How Deer is Your Morning Walk?

These selections from my Morning Walk series feature the deer that share our space. There are many mornings I take my dogs out for a walk and they get very excited, thrust their noses high in the air and sniff vigorously. I have seen deer strut through my yard. My hosta plants are gone, thank you very much, deer! Telltale tracks line the dirt path through my back woods. 

Much of the cart path trail through Peachtree City is in heavily wooded areas. We may think we own property and live in a certain space where deer feel free to roam and eat our plants. The deer see it another way, this is their space and they feel fortunate that we provide them with such tasty alternatives to the native vegetation.

Cart paths are mainly for the golf carts in Peachtree City. As a walker of the paths, I find this photo particularly 'very PTC' with the deer in the backyard of a home, next to the cart. I was very close and the deer never looked up.

I love poison ivy -- how it trails up a tree with its hairy vines. In the fall, the leaves are such a pretty yellow. 

Such a shy buck -- he would not step out of the trees to show his antlers. The female with him stood very still as he stepped under cover.

This one is in a spot where we frequently see a doe with babies. They stay far back from the path in this open area. This is one of my favorites.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Where the Water Used To Be

One morning, instead of my usual morning walk along the cart paths of Peachtree City, I ventured into the grasses that took advantage of a drained Lake Peachtree. As I walked along the makeshift cart path, disappearing more and more into the overgrowth, spider webs clung to my camera as I held it in front of me, so many webs collected that mosquitoes became entangled. Waist deep in the blades, I heard a splash and for a moment wondered if the rumors of an alligator in Lake Peachtree could be true. 

There is one week left to visit the exhibition of my Morning Walk images at Columbus State University's Rankin Arts Photography Center in Columbus, Georgia. I will be onsite next Saturday morning, packing it up, and would be happy to talk to anyone wishing to drop by.

A sub-series of the exhibit is Where the Water Used To Be -- a look at Lake Peachtree, drained. It has been almost two years since the lake was drained to facilitate dock repairs only to find the dam had serious issues. The resulting quagmire of bureaucratic finger pointing created a slow resolution to any issues -- and the lake is still near the lowest, but filled with vegetation and wildlife. Just this week I arrived at what was once the boat ramp to watch as two young deer frolicked a few hundred feet away, almost hidden in the early morning mist. A blue heron stood by, ankle deep in a small rivulet, searching for any fish to be found. These animals were shielded and felt they had sufficient cover due to the tall grasses surrounding them.


Photos on the blog today are from the selection on exhibit. They show things that used to be underwater. All of these images were taken by me standing where the water used to be.

Work is ongoing to prepare the lake for refilling. In the distance backhoes and excavators can be seen dredging a channel. 

A few of these images were previewed at Peachtree City Library earlier this summer. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mid October

I sat on the deck enjoying cooler evening weather. It became apparent that fall is as busy a time as spring. Sounds from the woods of squirrels dashing among the leaves mixed with the clucking sound of a turkey deep in the trees. I heard another softer cluck nearby and slowly looking around to not startle anything. There on the retaining wall near the deck was a chipmunk. I watched it carefully to see any movement and decide if the sound was coming from it. Just as I heard the noise again, the throat of the chipmunk moved. For a chipmunk to cluck, it is a warning, usually meant that a hawk or other aerial predator is around. I looked up and saw nothing. Looked back and the chipmunk was gone.

My eye wandered to the spider web out past the edge of our yard, near a group of trees in the yard next door. The low sunlight highlighted the 45-degree angle silk strand. It glittered as it wavered in the slight breeze. I wondered how the spider made the transition from one tree to the other, at least a 10-foot span. Then I noticed a completely level strand straight across from the sweet gums to the Leland cypress. Such work for something so small. In the fall, in the mornings, there are many circular webs hanging between power lines as I drive along the roads. Nickel-sized orb spiders sit in the middle as if they are proud of their creation.

Something moved in the pot on the deck. The pot with the dead cherry tomato plant that I could not bring myself to pull out when the heat of the summer was taking its toll. Those handful of tomatoes left on the vine were enjoyed by the chipmunk. Occasionally I found a half-eaten one lying on the deck. It moved again and I could see it this time, a green anole wearing the tarnish of early fall. It walked gingerly along the rim of the pot and then leapt to the deck floor. I watched as it skittered along the boards to the railing near where the chipmunk was earlier. My phone was sitting on the table, so I picked it up and walked toward the anole. I got one or two photos before it disappeared and I decided to retreat to my seat and give it some space to continue on with whatever task it was up to.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rankin Arts Photography Center Artist Talk

March 11, 2015, 7:14

Those attending an artist’s talk come to hear the artist tell them how the work happened and perhaps to glean something to spark their own work. I hope this satisfies you all.

I want to start by saying calling myself an artist sounds a bit pompous to my ears. I take pictures. I don’t put on my Ansel Adams shades and stalk around “making images”. I look, see, and shoot a picture – something that catches my eye. I take pictures for me – things I like. If someone else likes it – that is an extra, but I always say shoot for yourself, don’t worry if everyone else will like it. Because guess what – not everyone will like it. I like to throw ‘art’ in front of photographer if someone asks me what I do so they won’t start telling me about someone they know has a new baby and want to get photos done. I don’t shoot babies or kids, weddings, etc. unless I know you well and like you.

All of these images are titled by date and time shot. It gives the viewer a reference point. As I went back through the photos, I was amazed to see that I had two images from December 26, a year apart.

Everyone wants a formula for a great photo. They ask things like; what camera do you use? What lens? What was your fstop, shutter speed, ISO? Did you use a filter? Did you Photoshop it?
Here are my usual answers:
  • ·      I use whatever camera I have on hand; iPhone, point and shoot, DSLR
  • ·       If I am using the DSLR, I usually use my Canon 50mm 1.4 – I love it. If I need to be closer, I use a Tamron 70-300.
  • ·       I have no idea on shutter speed – I am a depth of field shooter. I go for wide open or close to it on my aperture. For ISO I keep it low to keep colors rich.  As you can tell I don’t like a lot in focus. Sometimes there is nothing in focus. I keep white balance on auto, unless I am looking to throw a little blue in the shot – then I switch it to Tungsten.
  • ·       I always have a UV filter on the camera – even my point and shoots if they have the capability. I hate lens caps – I hate keeping up with them, so I take it off – stuff it in some pocket of some camera bag, never to be seen again and slap a UV filter on the lens to protect it from scratches. I like a polarizing filter. I like sunglasses – I think my camera does too. Every now and then if I really want to slow down the shutter and it is bright – I use a neutral density filter, maybe even stacking it with my circular polarizer.
  • ·       I love my camera, I tolerate my computer. I Photoshop (with Elements) the contrast and levels a little. Most of my editing is conversion to black and white using the Nik Software, Silver Efex. I love that and their Analog Efex. The Where the Water Used To Be shots are all done with my Fuji X20 in color and converted in Analog Efex. Every now and then I get a little crazy, or bored, and will Photoshop the heck out of something – layers, textures, weird colors, you name it. And I usually like it when I am finished. But a steady diet of that makes me cranky. Just like HDR makes me cranky – a very light touch on that is all someone needs, if they need it at all. When I look at a photo and see unnatural lights and darks – I just don’t like it. Now, if you like it – go for it. You are pleasing yourself, not me. Many of these Morning Walk images are processed, some with layers. The photos were processed all on my phone and usually within an hour of taking the shot. It was very responsive to my mood of the morning; shot, processed, saved – done.

Most photographers can learn and practice to shoot technically sound images – getting something tack sharp. Most people can hone the skill of seeing. Moving beyond just shooting something because it is pretty or would make a good photo is another skill worthy of development. Anyone interested in photography should move in this direction. The why? Why shoot it – and the answer isn’t because someone else did and you want the shot or because you saw something similar and liked it.

My photographs come from memory. I spent my childhood walking in the woods with one grandfather and listening to the other talk to me about the sky and the weather. They both worked extensive gardens. I am drawn to water. I love water. The first house I lived in as a baby is now sitting at the bottom of a man-made lake. Perhaps that is why I like the drained lake in Peachtree City so much. Your photographs should come from inside. Look back over your collection of images and think about why you were pulled to take that shot. Develop your why.

Moving from single images to a series can be a difficult leap and some photographers never care to make it. They are content with singles that may have a link or not (truly, they have a link – that ‘why’ again) – certainly developing a series of 20 images or more is not on their radar. It is a good exercise to develop a project, especially a long term project.

A couple of years ago, when I started walking with a group of women getting ready, for of all things, a half marathon; the early morning walks became a type of therapy. We talked and walked enjoying the surroundings and each other. I had my iPhone along to log my miles and times – and bingo, I had a camera. So I started shooting. And they did not wait for me either! If I stopped, I had to run to catch up with them. We walked in the heat, rain, sub-freezing temps. We witnessed the quagmire of Lake Peachtree. I like using quagmire for this for two reasons – one definition is of a boggy place, another definition is of a difficult situation – Lake Peachtree is both! Drained to facilitate dock and edge maintenance, the cracks in the dam elevated it to a bureaucratic mess of finger pointing and who would pay for what. I began to see the beauty of nature – and maybe a little of that old homeplace underwater pushing me to enjoy a drained lake with a damaged damn. Nature reclaimed what was once there, seeds sprouted – native plants and seeds washed from gardens in backyards – flowers and even squash thrived.

March 11, 2015, 6:55

I could not have an exhibition of morning walk photographs without including a few from my favorite place – the beach. These are black and white images framed in German Silver Nielsen metal frames. I like the way they look. Again, water. The images I have here from St. Simons Island’s East Beach were taken on a foggy March morning. At the edge of the ocean the foggy sky, clouds, merged with the ocean. It was magical.

Photography is magical. It allows us to look around and bring home with us scenes that we loved so much we want to keep them forever. We want to show them to others and say, look where I stood. My morning walks with friends are a special time for me. I enjoy it. I have these photos to always remember it and to share with everyone else.

March 11, 2015, 6:26

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