Archive for May 2012
Yesterday Shirlee and I made our annual road trip to place flowers on the graves of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. We go from our home in Holton to Newaygo where her dad and mom are buried, then to Woodland where her dad’s family is, on to the south side of Nashville where her mom’s side are and finally to Charlotte where my mom, her parents and my dad’s grandparents have been laid to rest. It was a trip of a little over 300 miles. And at our age it was a bit tiring.
We stopped in the little town of Stanton for lunch and discovered a neat restaurant, Morning Lori Diner and Bakery. Not only was the food good, but the atmosphere was something out of a time past.
The restaurant is part of the Hotel Montcalm which was built in the 1860′s and has been restored authentically to its original decor and furnished with antiques. There is an antique store and the Morning Lori restaurant downstairs, where breakfast is served also contains antiques. All room rates include a full breakfast. Check them out at here.
And to top it off there was an interesting sunset as we drove by the turnout high above the Muskegon river as you drive into Newaygo on M82 from Howard City. (Called the High Rollaway by the locals.) What a great end to a wonderful day!
Back at the beginning of winter, 2009, a little black kitten showed up on our back deck eating cat food that had been left out for the opossum that often came for a snack. The little kitten seemed to be living under the deck and would scoot back down whenever I appeared. However, over time, he became a little more friendly and finally one evening he let me pick him up and bring him into the house. He ran and hid for a day or two, but came out and became fast friends with Sox, one of our cats. They would lay together in an office chair, play together and enjoy life. Tash stayed inside until it got warm outside, then he asked to go out and we didn’t see him again until the next winter when he showed up again. This time he only spent a month or two in the house before he asked to go out. Last winter he never showed up at all, at least as far as we could see. I’d try calling him with no results. One of the neighbors said they had seen him, or at least they thought it was him. Then came this morning.
Duke (the black lab) and I were walking down the two-track towards the trail that leads back into the woods. As we approached the start of the trail I saw this cat sitting in the road up ahead. He stayed there long enough for me to get a couple of fuzzy shots (440mm at 250 sec). I thought is was the brown cat that has been coming to feed for the past couple of months. They both have a white blaze on the chest. Duke got a little excited and even though he was on the leash, the cat ran into the woods before we could get to close.
When I got home I showed the pic to Shirlee on the TV and the first thing she said was, “That’s TASH! See the white mustache under his nose.” And of course she was right. He has bulked up and still has some of his winter coat, but Tash it was. It was great to know he was still alive and making the woods his home. Hopefully we’ll meet again soon. I’ll keep you posted!
A month or so ago the guys that own one of the 40 ares that make up what I call Acker Woods decided they needed some cedar for a building project. So like any good West Michigan family that owns some woods they decided to cut down a few of their trees. Why go to the lumber yard when you own a woods, right?
One of the trees that met their chain saw was this one. It was on the main trail and I don’t know how many shots I have taken of it over the years I have been walking the trail. I will miss it, but it will provide a great hiding place for the rabbits and other small citizens of the woods.
My wife Shirlee wrote this and posted it on her Facebook page this afternoon and I thought it was something I’d like to share with all of those who follow this blog. Here it is:
ON BEING A MOTHER – It’s the hardest job in the world, – nothing else is so all-encompassing in your life – frustrating and scary, but at the same time, fulfilling and satisfying. Back in 1964 when I was 8-1/2 months pregnant with my first child, full of hope and impatient for the baby to arrive, as I was leaving the store one day, a little old lady walked up to me and asked, “Is this your first?” When I beamed proudly and said yes, she said, “Oh my dear, enjoy this time before your little one comes, because it is the only time for the rest of your entire life that you will NOT be a Mother.” I did not understand what she meant back then, but I certainly do now – you never stop caring or worrying about your babies, no matter what their age, and then the grandchildren come along, and the great grandchildren, more babies to love and be concerned for — it never ends — nor would I want it to.
The photo is of her beloved dog, Dutchess, who passed away at the age of 13 in September of 2006. The photo was taken shortly before she passed in her sleep, surrounded by those who she loved and loved her.
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. ~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Martin Luther
Yesterday I had a chance to go walking in the woods without the dogs. I wanted to see if the nearby swamp, which I call Hidden Pond, had very much water in it after the recent rains. After making several photographs of the swamp I decided to walk back to the house by way of what last year was a corn field. I was struck by the way the clouds, dark with what looked like possible rain, but trimmed on the top with white, danced across the sky as though they were late to an important appointment.
While this shot looked good in color with the clouds framed against a dark blue sky, I liked it better in black and white. To me, it has more impact and conveys the way I felt when I clicked the shutter.
It’s been a rainy few days here in the Acker Woods, but at least it has been warmer than it was a week or two ago. When it rains we do shorter dog walks as we try not to let them get soaked. So, I haven’t been doing a lot of shooting as trying to hold a camera in a plastic bag in one hand and a leash attached to an 85lb (or larger) black lab in the other hand doesn’t work very good!
I got the new issue of Shutterbug the other day. The new issue features a number of articled on the various processing options that are available for today’s digital photographers. Things sure have come a long way from those black and white darkroom days. And for the most part that is a good thing for most of us. Especially if we do not have the space or the time for a wet darkroom.
In his editorial editor, George Schaub,talks about the reason that many of us stuck to the processing and printing of black and white back in the day because of our desire to influence the outcome of our photographs. And for me that was true. We adjusted exposure to suit the lighting conditions and the subject when making the photograph, we decided what developing times should be to produce a proper negative and then we dodged and burned and manipulated the print during the printing process. And none of that was reversible. If we blew the film processing the shot was gone forever. It wasn’t so bad during the printing stage as we could make countless of prints to get the one we wanted. It was time-consuming, sometimes painful, but we did it because we loved it.
Today there are software programs that can duplicate all of those steps and have even added some new ones. With the advent of being able to shoot in raw we can save that original image and make adjustments that can be reversed as necessary without losing that valuable original image.
To me, one of the neat things is the number of software packages and Photoshop plug-ins that are available to process that color ram image into a stunning black and white image. And to me, that’s where my heart is at.
“If I could talk, what would I say about my life over all these years. Would I tell you about when I was built all those years ago, the family that lived here, the laughing children, the storms I withstood? What would I say? Would I tell you about being used as just a storage shed and then being abandoned, not being used at all? Would I tell you about the feeling of loss when no longer did I hear the sounds of my human companions? What would I say?”
Another shot from the archives. It was taken in 2005 on our pre-Memorial Day visit to the Woodland Cemetery where Shirlee’s Grandparents are buried. I noticed this old building on the other side of the road so after we had placed the flowers on the graves I asked Shirlee to pull over so I could take a couple of photos of this interesting building. I am glad I did, as when we were back a few years later the building had been torn down. One of those “shoot it now, don’t wait” moments.
As I sat on a neighbors dock watching the sunset tonight I noticed its reflection in the lake. When I first went down to photograph the lake it was calm and the reflections were totally lifelike. However, after about a half-hour a breeze began to blow and the ripple effect made the reflections distorted and not quite so lifelike. That got me thinking about me, both as a person and as a photographer.
Everyone casts a shadow or a reflection. People see us not only as we are, but something more than this visual image gives them an impression, rightly or wrongly, of who or what we are. Is my reflection like the one when the lake was calm, or has it been distorted by the winds of adversity that blow in my life. Am I able to stay calm and project that calmness even when things aren’t going all that good? And what about my photography? What does it reflect?
I would hope that people see the passion, the thought and the love of nature that goes into each image I set before them. Not only in the subject matter, but in the mood it reflects. I want the mood or reflection to be one that is not distorted by sloppy workmanship. I would like the image to reflect my desire to present something that speaks to the viewer clearly and invokes in them a positive response.
Does each image I produce fill that goal? I’m sorry to say probably not. But as I press forward with my photography I am striving to make each image a little better than the one before. That’s my goal.