Archive for May, 2012

The Last Strand

Posted: May 31, 2012 in Florida, HDR, Nikon D90

Here’s the first picture from my Key West trip last week. I’m still processing over a thousand individual pictures, so you’ll have to bear with me (I’m sure there are plenty nice picturesque ocean pictures too) but for the time being this is the one I chose to start off with, so deal with it. It also happens to be the first picture I have posted using my new (to me) Nikon D90. The auto-bracketing feature alone makes it so much more user-friendly to use over my D40.

This shot is of the old Strand movie theatre on Duval Street in Key West, Florida. The movie theatre itself opened in the 20’s and functioned as such until the 80’s when it became a night club, then a Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and finally a Walgreen’s drug store, which it currently is, as shown above. It’s actually a good thing though, since where on earth are you going to be able to buy prescription medication AND tacky T-shirts on Duval Street?

I had to wait for a break in traffic, run out to the middle of the street, compose, and fire off my 3-shot series, to get this final image. But it was so worth it. I took this just as the sun was starting to set (off to the left) and got the lovely splash of pink and blue in the sky that seems to just work perfectly with the neon lights of the Walgreens theatre.  

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Mail Pouch

Posted: May 30, 2012 in HDR, Nikon D40, Ohio

Someone once told me I should publish a photo book consisting entirely of old barns that I’ve found through my photo-trotting. Living in Ohio, I could certainly do that pretty easily, as there are no shortages of old barns to photograph. However, I’m not sure who all would really want to look through a book that only contained barns… Plus, I’m pretty sure my witty comments would run out after about 4 pages, and then it would just be like “On your left, another old barn.”

This particular barn I found one late afternoon in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio, while on my way back to my campsite. It was perched on a dangerous curve, so I had to be pretty careful as I crossed the road to get the optimal shot. I also had to take the picture quickly as the day was drawing to an end, I was hungry, and hot dogs just don’t make themselves.

One item of interest in barn folklore; the barn pictured above is a tobacco barn, and it is painted black (as are most barns in tobacco-growing regions) in order to maintain heat needed to dry the tobacco leaves which are hung in the barn. Other barns are painted red, because the original finishing material, linseed oil (which has an orangish tint), was typically combined with rust to form a reddish color. When paint replaced the old finishing materials, many people stuck with a red color as a tribute to the old finish. Dairy barns were eventually painted white, as many people started to associate them with the color of milk. And you said you weren’t going to learn anything today…

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Posted: May 29, 2012 in Ramblings...

By now, the man known as “Tater” has become somewhat of a legend in his local community. His story is amazing, fantastical (at times), and tragic. I had a chance to sit down with him for a candid interview this week, and he opened up to give us all a glimpse of the “real” Tater.

                Gabriel VanShootenstein Woodcock, was born in 1978 to Theodore & Emily Woodcock, in the rural village of South Hamptonshire in the United Kingdom. His father was a blacksmith who toiled day after day making horseshoes for Milton Bradley; his mother, a seamstress for the local placemat union. Together they scraped by, but were eventually able to afford passage for their only son to the new world aboard a sea-faring vessel named the “Lucky Russet.” It was from this vessel that Tater took his nickname and thus started life afresh.

                While aboard that influential voyage, he identified with a group of Portuguese immigrants, from whom he later developed his personal style and taste for spicy food. Upon setting foot in the new world, he was unfortunately denied work in the local drywall business due to his small stature, and therefore had to say goodbye to his newly acquired confederates. Although, disheartened, he quickly picked himself up and resolved to make something of his life by enrolling in Sebastian’s community college. He was relentless in his approach, and zealous to acquire a technical certificate in Botany. However, realizing that his dreams had been crushed before due to factors he could not control, he also obtained an understudy degree in Quality Control. With the promise of a head greenhouse director position on the horizon, Tater relocated to the Dayton, Ohio area, and although he was not able to secure the position he wanted (due to being beaten out by a man 30 years his senior, and with previous experience), he did find, what he believed to be, temporary employment at a local Calibration lab. Soon his patience paid off as he rose through the ranks of the Quality department and although his hourly wage was not ideal, he actually came to find that he enjoyed his daily labor.

                He had not been idle with investing his time in the company of the ladies either. He was involved in many social events and having a particularly sharp aptitude for footwear, and eyebrow fashion, he found his arm occupied at almost every gathering. Unfortunately, he did not consider that his popularity could also be a target for predators. During one of these social occasions (a camping trip) he was ambushed after a particularly rough night of cheerful exuberance by an unconstrained harlot who threw herself at him with vigor and left him awkwardly confused after their hurried relations.

                Time passed and Tater fell to the vices of his youth and inexperience. He became involved with recreational drugs and a white trash sweetheart. In one such instance, he returned after the close of his 3rd shift job to his companion’s double-wide trailer only to find her sneaking out of the back with another suitor. Even though the new lover was much larger in build than himself; Tater confronted the man, to defend his honor. Even though Tater had the shock of this surprise in his favor, he was still served a vicious right hook to the ear, and fell to the ground; his balance shaken. With superhuman strength he returned from the ground with an earth-shattering uppercut, breaking the gentleman caller’s nose. As the man recoiled in pain, a brutal awareness of future repercussions flashed in Tater’s mind, and he desperately ran to his car. Without looking back he sped away from the scene. After a few blocks he allowed himself to rest easy. This rest was short-lived however, from when out of nowhere slid a pickup truck directly into his path. The distance was far too short for him to dodge the truck or change course and he slammed into the truck with such force that he punctured his front tire. The man’s bloodied visage appeared instantly at Tater’s driver side window, and before he knew it the man had punched out the window, and struck him in his other ear. Tater threw the car into reverse, applied the gas, and sped away again, driving on flattened tires, while frantically calling the police. Before he knew it he found himself in jail.

                He had to remain in jail for a three day period, during which he learned from his previous life lessons and resolved to correct his course in life and return to a normal existence. He found new employment, kicked his drug habit, and eventually found a new love interest. He purchased a house, planted some roots, and even started having children. But the echoes of his previous life were still lurking just below the surface.

                One day, while he and his wife were playing with the kids in the backyard, an unfamiliar face greeted him while leaning on his fence and inquired if he was, in fact, Tater. He responded affirmatively, but was immediately served a summons for a paternity test. He felt this was very odd, due to the fact that he had been married now for 10 years and had only 2 children that he then knew of. The woman who had initiated this paperwork was none other than the camping trip damsel; so he was concerned. The test proved to 99.98% certain that he was, in fact, the father of yet another child. It turns out that this woman had actually been with multiple partners at this time and had eventually hooked one, and gotten married while pregnant. The fiancé believed the child to be his until a time (10 years later) when he discovered his wife had been cheating on him; at which point he began to question the validity of his original assumptions. Through a paternity test he satisfied himself that he was not the father and then denounced his wife and left. This left Tater with a good deal of explaining to do to his own wife, and a handsome child support check to write from then on out.

                The years went on and Tater continued to maintain a somewhat healthy lifestyle. Eventually he had another child and things began to get quite crowded. He also discovered that his two boys may actually have a future in MMA wrestling, as quite a few of his material possessions were destroyed in his boys wake. Eventually the cost and emotional overload pushed Tater to declare his desire to stop having children. His wife however, was not in accord. It was out of his desperation that he succeeded in undergoing a Vasectomy without his wife’s knowledge. His wife however, soon discovered what he had done, and resolved that she might get her way after-all by making extra efforts in the middle-time when it still might be dangerous to have relations. Tater, obviously a man who had proven to break under pressure before, succumbed to his wife’s solicitations, and  eventually found himself to be the father of yet another child.

                And that pretty much sums up this man’s legacy and brings us to the present. It was thus with great interest that I interviewed him. And it is with great anticipation that I present that interview to you today.

Charliesphotoblog: So seriously, how did you get the nickname Tater?

Tater: Ok, you seriously have your facts wrong here. I mean, do you even fact check anything you publish? You need an editor or something… The vessel I came over on was called the “Grubby Russet” gheesh…

Charliesphotoblog: Sorry about that…

Tater: LOL. Seriously, I got that nickname from when I worked at my last job. The guys there seemed to think I looked like Mr. Potato Head. My second day on the job they brought in a potato and put a little uniform on it. I was a victim of constant heckling, which then resulted in obscenities being thrown around with reckless disregard between us. I earned my stripes within a couple of months, and then I was probably the best employee that worked there.

Charliesphotoblog: It’s nice to see you are so modest. But if you only had one word to describe yourself what would it be?

Tater: Unpredictable.

Charliesphotoblog: Why would you say that?

Tater: I have been diagnosed with a rare disease called ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) I don’t think I have ever finished anything, I mean I can be working on the biggest project in the company and the next thing I know I am sitting at Chili’s with no idea how I got there, then when I get back to work I’m on the internet for a few hours. (See? Unpredictable)

Charliesphotoblog: What are your interests?

Tater: Food, Video games, and throwing my weight around the Quality Assurance business.

Charliesphotoblog: If you had a family coat of arms what would be on it?

Tater: It would definitely have a minivan on it somewhere, a capitol ‘B,’ a dollar sign, and a double-wide trailer.

Charliesphotoblog: Speaking of minivan’s, what are you currently driving, and what is your favorite feature?

Tater: I roll a 2000 Dodge Caravan with 245,000 miles on it. My favorite feature is the custom spoiler, for obvious reasons.

Charliesphotoblog: Certain people have made allegations that you currently live in a trailer park. Is that a true statement?

Tater: Well Charlie, I like to refer to these  trailers as “modular homes”. They were brought in on wheels, but they now sit on cinder blocks. I hardly think that dubs them “trailers”

Charliesphotoblog: This has been a little alluded to in my introduction, but how many children do you have?

Tater: 4 at this time that have been confirmed through DNA testing, 1 on the way testing TBD…….

Charliesphotoblog: Wow, so… just wow… Um, okay, so let’s suppose you had an entire day without having to watch the kids, what would you do?

Tater: A perfect day for me would be like 3 hours of just complete silence, and then a large lunch of Thai food.

Charliesphotoblog: If your house were on fire what 5 things would you save?

Tater: Assuming family could be rolled up into one item (if not I’ll sacrifice the wife) I’d take them, plus my cell phone, Prozac, dress shoes (where I hide my money), & my Playstation. LOL

Charliesphotoblog: I’ve noticed that you are quite attached to your cell phone.

Tater: What is your question?

Charliesphotoblog: It’s not a question, I was just making a statement.

Tater: I understand your concern Charlie, and you may be right. I think that my heart may stop beating without my cell phone, I believe it helps me perform my job at the optimal level.

Charliesphotoblog: This is your chance to plug any autobiography you might be coming out with; do you got anything?

Tater: Sure, the release date is TBD, but it’s going to be called “The Tater Times (Memoirs of a broken man).”

Charliesphotoblog: Sounds awesome, I’ll keep on the lookout. And thanks for the time for this glimpse into your life.

Tater: You are quite welcome, I want everyone to understand how awesome it is to be a “plus sized man” in this unforgiving world.

Blown Glass

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Nikon D40, Ohio

One of my own personal little rules in photography is not to take pictures of other people’s artwork. But perhaps that’s a little too broad of a statement, seeing as how I don’t really have a problem taking pictures of buildings, statues, monuments, or things like the blown glass in today’s picture. Maybe it’s more just paintings and photographs now that I think of it. And I think the reason I feel that way is because unlike paintings and photographs, these other forms of art can be represented in numerous ways depending on how they are photographed. For instance, I shot these blown glass pieces from underneath a glass shelf which they were resting on. The light was coming from above the pieces, so it was almost like the glass itself was glowing. But there would have been numerous other ways to capture the same art in a different light that would give the artwork an entirely different feel or appearance. The same could probably be said of a painting on a wall as well, but when you photograph the painting, you are more changing the feel of the atmosphere around the painting (frame, wall, darkness/lightness of the room, etc…) rather than the mood of the painting itself. I could be wrong, but I feel as if the painter or photographer is trying to convey a message in the image versus a three-dimensional piece that is constantly subject to change depending on light, shadow-play, etc…

Today’s picture comes from the Franklin Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio. These pieces are the work of Dale Chihuly, whose magnificent collection hangs in around 28 different states in the U.S. as well as Canada, England, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Angles Between

Posted: May 28, 2012 in HDR, Nikon D40, Ohio

I”ve been away for the past week or so, down in the Florida Keys, so I apologise for missing a day and the sporadic posting of new pics. Hopefully, though, I’ll have some new images from that trip soon to post to the blog. I took over 2,000 pictures, probably about 1,000 in just timelapse frames (which I am hoping to get into in the future). The other 1,000 or so were taken with my new Nikon D90 which I had the pleasure of using for the first time on this trip! Out of these, the majority were 3 picture bracketed shots, so that knocks it down to about three hundred individual shots or so, and out of these maybe 30 percent are winners. I also have about 10 frames or so just of me waiting, paying, and fitting my new palm frond woven hat from a local vagrant vendor.

I have lots of good stories from that trip, and do want to share some with all of you, but for now, you’ll just have to be appeased with the lastest post. This one is another view of the same bridge I posted on April 28th, in Xenia, Ohio. There are so many different angles and opportunities with a bridge like this, and the light spilling in through the wooden beams adds it’s own little dimension of interest.


Posted: May 27, 2012 in Nikon D40, Ontario, Canada

This shot comes from a little lake outside Plevna, Ontario, Canada. If you’ve never heard of Plevna, don’t worry, you’re probably not the only one. In fact, to get to this lake you’ll have to travel about 30-40 minutes away from Plevna on a half-paved, half-dirt road. This is not an HDR image, because I took this picture before I got into HDR photography. Nevertheless, it holds a close place in my heart because it reminds me of my childhood.

My family first started going to this particular spot in Canada when I was ten years old. Back then, the road coming in took more like an hour and was entirely dirt, and just about 1 ¼ lanes wide (for 2 way traffic) just about everywhere. I’ll never forget that first trip though. We stayed in a wooden cabin perched on a peninsula that might as well have been an island. You had to load all your luggage (and food for a week) into wooden flat-bottom boats and motor it across the lake from the parking area. Once there, you opened up all the windows and let the cross-breeze cut through the cabin. There was a hammock, swimming, woods to explore, and all the fishing you ever wanted. In the following years we encountered bats, mice, ferrets, turtles, frogs, snakes, moose, and eagles (half of which have been inside the actual cabin). In short, bliss for an adolescent boy.

This particular shot, though, is the view of the lake as you pull in from the main road. It’s the view I waited for while making the 13 hour trip that would tell me we finally arrived. It’s where we loaded up our boats with our stuff, where we frog hunted in the evening, where we stopped to get night crawlers for the next day’s expedition, where my old dog Petey loved to jump in the water, where we would unload our canoe, and just two years ago where I took my oldest daughter to swim for the first time. Yeah, it’s a little special to me.

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Posted: May 26, 2012 in Nikon D40, Tennessee

These trolley cars were everywhere in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. They would run a circuitous route around the downtown area, much of it through the revitalized section. They don’t cost much to ride (maybe a dollar or something), and have the coolest wood-paneled interior spaces.

The night I took this picture, my wife and I were promised that it was “free trolley night” so we didn’t need to worry about paying. However, that intel was apparently wrong, because the drivers insisted on payment. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but my wife’s best friend (who is from Memphis) decided to argue with the conductor about it. Witnessing a southern argument is interesting… neither party actually broke down and violated any code of conduct, morals, or manners; never shouted or questioned the legitimacy of the other’s birth; but you could tell that just under the surface they were seething mad at each other. Surmise it to say, I was impressed.

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