Sunday, December 26, 2010

big snow coming, family time, internet use at the Lady Killigrew

blog #13   
      I hope everyone has been having some winter happiness!  This is being written from Massachusetts, where there was hardly any snow, unlike Kentucky where we were having plenty of the stuff.  However, a true New England nor'easter is now upon us, so things are in better balance....
      What strikes me today to comment on is a problem that is not really a problem in the big scale of things.  How does a photographer handle taking a simple snapshot that is not anything marvelous photographically but could be shared with a friend or family – and what if such a noteworthy but so-so photograph were to get out and seen by someone who’d say “so she thinks she’s a photographer?!?!”  I haven’t talked about this with other professional photographers but would be interested in how they handle this reality.  Needless to say, I do share all kinds of photos, if I feel someone else would enjoy them, even ones that are not “my personal best,” all the while repeating to myself what a friend once said: “life is short and getting shorter.”  I have even done it on this blog.  But -- true confession -- I hesitate every time before I do it.

dry spell


       As for today’s photos, they are two of my favorites from 2010, one on our place, and one of our granddaughter.  So, until next week, in Kentucky by then, and I'm looking forward to 2011 with its cantankerous Congress, strange weather and days getting longer, even ones with snow!  May we all not falter in our efforts for a better, kinder world.   Ann

Sunday, December 19, 2010


blog #12
     Don't wanna share snow photos -- which are hard to get right anyway.  Could show just Cold or simply Slippery.  No fair posting a beach photo.  Really want something that celebrates simplicity and the wonder of this season.  
     These thoughts have given me the idea of posting a group photo from a year ago -- of friends and families during our annual White Elephant party, which includes a multi-generational discussion of a monetary gift to a non-profit we agree on.  I have found that it helps such a photo if the photographer is not afraid to make a fool of herself, both with some verbal repartee and/or by standing on a chair or some such thing.  
      We tried later to figure out if there was a way to Photoshop two late arrivals plus me into the image.  At least for me, everyone knows I was there!  Duh!  Also, I could have done the using-a-remote thing, BUT, with that many people, I get better overall results by cheering them on from behind the camera.  

       Actually, I am really opposed to changing any part of the record of any such event.  I love that here all four generations of us are randomly mixed and matched.  This year, schedules interfere with gathering so many of us together, so I want to say again that as a photographer and as a group member, I am forever grateful to each person there for your cooperation and tolerance last year!  This photo makes me happy.
     I hope everyone reading this is having a safe and sane holiday season with some simple time reserved for being with loved ones.  All best wishes -- Ann

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a moment of reflection

post #11  (written the day after 12-11-10!)
     As the days grow shorter, I feel more connected to the other people who are part of my life.  It is a time to be grateful that we humans can care for one another, and one way is by honoring the beauty of small things.  I am fortunate to be able to work with art every day (having this blog to share my art is still a wonder to me) so that is what I am relying on as I try to acknowledge the hard reality some of you are facing.
Peggy's asters
      Thus these two simple September flower photos are especially for friends and family, far and near, who are recently dealing with acute health issues, ones I know about as well as ones I don't.  Bravo to each of you for taking on the hard work every day of getting better. I hope you are finding some blossoms and tenderness along with the many, many difficult bits. 

garden corner

Sunday, December 5, 2010

too many words last time

post #10
     So this week it's bullets all the way!  
  • First, I have always meant to recommend Google Reader as a way to keep up with whatever blogs you follow.  Remember, if I could figure out how to set it up, anyone else can as well.  Google Reader makes blog reading easier, i.e. less time consuming and more fun.
story line
  • Struggles with computers, printers, schlepping equipment around, making money by photography, etc., are less fun. 
Appalachian autumn
  • True confession:  I am not Photoshop inclined.  I use Adobe Elements for resizing and occasional cropping and cleaning up, and I am slowly learning Lightroom.  So far that has mostly been enough, though this approach could change as I go along.  In any case, I'll always prefer trying to get it right at the moment I take the photo. 
that same day, nearby
  • I appreciate the comments I have received on my posts!  If I don't let you know that directly, it is either because I am trying to be very disciplined about my work (see bullet #2 above) or because I don't have your email address, which doesn't appear with the comment.  If you decide to comment, just click on Comments at the end of the post.  Then, when you are asked to choose an identity and don't have one of the accounts, just use Anonymous.
  • Thanks again for sharing this blog with me, Ann

Kentucky cliff

Sunday, November 28, 2010

seeing more than you thought you would

post #9
      Thanksgiving weekend, our first chilly weather, a funeral visitation for Cobern Fannin whose garage/gas station has kept various vehicles of ours going for years and years -- all these changes make me think of a reality that photography has helped me be aware of, that change is a large part of the work I do.  In an earlier post I wrote of the importance of Being There.  And of Never Knowing What Might be Important.  Now I add Look for Whatever (which includes Celebrate chance and change and Appreciate people you meet.) 

       One way to share my fascination with the unexpected is to show two pairs of photos, each having one more intentional effort and a second one close by, but I wouldn't have seen it had I not been trying for the first one.  Pair #1 happened on Labor Day ten years ago, early in my photo career.  I was applying for a grant and decided I'd use all seven photos required by choosing from multiple photos on a single day of shooting.  I think I was trying to point out that I could take more than one good photo in a day!  My neighbor Larry's barn nearby was filled with newly hung tobacco, so I took some slides of that, using a tripod.  While there, I happened to look at the other side of the barn door, and saw the tendril!  Who knew!  I love this quieter photo, and I loved discovering it was there.  So, for several reasons, I remain grateful for that partial grant I did receive from the Kentucky Arts Council . 
hanging to cure


       Pair #2 happened this fall.  For a week I passed by these bales of hay lined up, sometimes in sun, sometimes in shade.  Last year I had filmed my neighbor Herman as he mowed those hillsides and made his bales, but I didn't see any lined up the way they were this year.  I had to wait for morning light, so I took the photo, now a digital one, the day my husband and I were driving to Lexington.  (Where I live, the term neighbor isn't limited to next door.)  By the time we noticed a section of the hillsides that had not yet been cut for hay, I was in a hurry, taking only a few shots.  I've made note cards out of both images, shown here with their card titles.

over hill, over bales

fall field
   Two different views of same places, three paragraphs when I've promised only two per post, thus, "four" the moment, thanks as always, Ann

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A good photo doesn't mean a pretty picture.

post #8
       I probably would have chosen to be a photojournalist had I been able to conceive of doing such a thing when I was younger.  It is kind of what I do now, but I couldn't earn a living in photojournalism at this stage of my life.  
       Still, my brain works by stories and connections.  I live where there are rural traditions and four seasons and a rich natural environment.  There is always something changing that literally catches my eye.  
       But sometimes the wrong kind of change can happen.
       In the spirit of how we each need to stand up for a saner world, I am sharing my photo of one of the 470 disappeared mountains in Appalachia, flattened due to the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining.

     I took this from the front seat of a four-seater airplane, leaving from the Hazard, Kentucky, airport.  (Being a photographer has benefits:  I got to sit up front!)  In the back seat were my friends, writers Ed McClanahan and Mary Ann Taylor-Hall who helped prop open the window so my image could be clearer.  I should have taken even more such photos, but I knew that ace news photographer David Stephenson had been taking some as well that day.  However, it later turned out his images were entirely the property of his newspaper.  The best site for learning more about MTR is here; take a moment to look at their multi-media selections.  Very cool stuff about something tragic, ugly, and selfishly short-sighted.

      This is not a pretty picture, in both senses. Well executed perhaps but not pretty.  (Doesn't sell either well either, partly because who wants to be reminded that this is happening.)  
       The second photo, hanging fern, is from our woods, taken a few days ago, an image to celebrate the richness and diversity of the forests in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, in the Appalachian mountains, a region that is itself a national treasure. 

        Thanks for reading...and for, in return, reducing your other electricity usage, to help save a mountain.      Ann

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pieces of a photo life

post #7 --  Today, some notes about this and that...
             This:  Had a wonderful visit Wednesday morning -- from "my" pileated woodpecker.  This time he came even closer to the house, exploring the aged apple tree just outside our living room window, near where I happened to be sitting briefly before getting ready to leave to run some errands.   He didn't seem to mind my using my camera from inside while he carried out his intense hunt for bugs.  Yum yum.  It is never optimal to take photos through glass, but sometimes the light angle does allow acceptable snaps. 
Several photos were a blur of moving head hammering.
Why the raised feathers?? Anyone? Squirrel alert??
       That:  Last Sunday I drove a couple of hours to Rockcastle County for a gathering of the Kentucky Women Photographers Network.   Over a dozen of us members met face to face for a change, mostly to discuss where next to put our energies.  I marvel how no one in this interest group is fascinated by the exact same aspect of photography.  We have done some group exhibits across the state, and we share all kinds of info on our Yahoo listserv, but we realize there are even more ways we could be supporting each other.  I share here one of the photos I retrieved that day after the return of our most recent traveling exhibit. 

       I am making a portfolio of my neighbors at work, and this image shows Sandy, Junie and Dorsie stripping the tobacco from the last crop of it they'll grow.  They are tolerant, patient friends -- I was standing on their work bench!  I am tall, but not that tall.

    a final note:  Yesterday was the annual art show run by MAGI in Morehead.  I entered the rooster Big Wheel photo (see post #5) in its large size version and actually received a monetary award! This was a much appreciated surprise. A lot of volunteers who care about art make the day possible. I thank every one of them, and thanks to you for reading this -- Ann

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Of course the American People want the new health care!

post #6
       At least this American people does.  I am not happy to hear my senator tell the world that the American people want to repeal health care!  Many of us "people" disagree with him but you would never hear him admit that.  He won't even give it a chance.  Well, I guess I need to confess that as of Tuesday, despite a change, Kentucky still has TWO senators who are myopic and short-sighted and, in my opinion, not very democratic.
     So, to pass beyond dealing with the unappealing, I thought I'd share an unexpected photo, one I never anticipated or even hoped for.  It's "my" pileated woodpecker whom we often hear but rarely see so close to the house.  Plus usually these large birds stay on the hidden side of a tree.  This time when one visited, I was sitting inside near the glass door of our deck, and I looked out!  My camera was nearby, with the 300mm zoom lens on it, my favorite, all by chance.  I was then able to slide the door open a bit without scaring the big bird away.  Took the photo and got it sharp.  All this still amazes me.  The photo here is cropped, to get the feeling of being even closer than 15 feet away, but to me each piece of this process is a gift.  To share.
      At this point, it is only fair to show an earlier photo from that day.  I call it A Pileated Woodpecker Checks Out the Local Rain Gauge.  This informal shot does give a better idea of the size of these charmers. 
      Enjoy your own miracles, and thanks for visiting my blog, Ann

Sunday, October 31, 2010

If redbuds are hard to photograph, try chickens and roosters!

big wheel
post #5
     Before Thanksgiving gets any closer, with all its dead turkeys, I'd like to share three of my favorite poultry photos, with gratitude for those unplanned moments when a hen doesn't move her head -- or a rooster stands still.  I haven't pulled off a good wild turkey photo so far....but I keep trying.  We do raise a dozen or so chickens, totally for all the kitchen scraps composting they do and for their fresh eggs.  (We have mostly Ameraucanas, whose eggs have a blueish shell.  Easter eggs all year long!)  The roosters I photograph belong to other people, so thank you, Donnie, down the ridge, and Peg, in McCreary County.  Predawn crowing is not for me and we do NOT keep roosters.
     Sometimes I am led to explain that the color of an eggshell has no bearing on the egg inside, and the same goes for human beings.

     I haven't yet mentioned in this blog that I make and sell photo note cards.  Each one features an actual photo double-taped on hand folded colored paper, each card titled and signed by me.  Thinking up titles is a kick.  Sometimes I just stick to giving information about the image, but other times I play around with words.  Occasionally I get stuck, but then I enjoy the excuse for brainstorming with my word wizard friend, poet George Ella Lyon

    But there is only one word for this coming Tuesday: VOTE!
rooster pride

my best side....

Monday, October 25, 2010

going back to that redbud photo

post #4
      I have been meaning to tell more about the photo in blog #1, "redbud screen" -- why did I take that photo in that place at that time, when most days when I pass there it looks beautiful but in a usual way.  In case I ever wanted to share what that place looks like on an ordinary day with my ordinary eyes, I decided I'd stop sometime and take a follow-up photo to show what image I'd have had if I had stopped looking that first day before using what I call my curious eyes.   

     To start I have to confess two things.  First, that I find it hard to take a good picture of redbuds.  They are stunning early spring signs of hope, pink blooms appearing directly on each smooth gray branch, but they can mimic clutter even when I aim to portray their uniqueness.  I keep searching for some way to see them that expresses my feeling for them.  Second, that I had taken a photo of this house before and shared the photo with the family who lives there. I felt sure they wouldn't mind me and my camera on their place again.  

    While on the way back from town one April day, I happened to notice a small patch of pink out of the corner of my eye.  I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of my car, walked down to those common but gorgeous redbuds -- on a small tree, disguising itself as a bush. At first, I took what is shown here. Then I went even closer, and got "redbud screen".  That evening, thanks to digital, I could see I had a photo I loved.  So, when two or three days later I passed by there again, I decided it was time to take the photo shown below.  The buds were already being taken over by leaves.  One can never have too many reminders about how quickly some things change in the natural world.   And how getting closer can work magic.

Travel with camera.   
Shoot now.  
Don't wait.  
Get close.  
Be curious.  
Be grateful.  

Sunday, October 17, 2010

nuts on the ground, but also in the air and water?

post #3
     Here's what's in the woods that made me laugh: I suddenly made a connection between the larger than usual amount of nuts under foot (acorns! hickory nuts! black walnuts!) and this year's strange elections! The crunch is everywhere. What saddens me, in addition to candidates who are unqualified and narrow of vision, is that there are so many potential voters swayed by ads (money!) and anger (radio shows!), who end up reacting rather than considering.  Also, the short memory span of too many citizens could be compared to squirrels, who bury nuts without being able to remember later where they are. For one thing, we Americans definitely need more than a short year and a half to get back on track following the thoughtless and severe damage from those eight years of unbridled short-sighted greed.

      Then today my son reminded me of the expression "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes".  Yes, luck might work, but, really, shouldn't we each be putting our best effort and thinking skills toward improving the future for our children? Maybe tending to democracy is like taking the kind of photo I love to do. The viewing angle is usually not the first obvious one, the light changes, and the camera has to be in working order.  But at the same time you have to grab the occasion because it won't necessarily present itself again. This work takes practice, and it takes making mistakes and trying again. I believe in sticking with one's vision of what could be, photographically and otherwise, and in hoping and learning as the way opens. In any case, doing that sure does make a better photo....

     Here's to valuing our brains and our hearts -- Ann

(The forest photo was taken two days ago; the last two black walnuts photo was taken this evening, from the bedroom window; they may fall tonight, or wait until our first hard frost.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

very dry in our woods

post #2
      During a walk in our woods yesterday, with visiting friends, I was so struck by how dry the ground is that I decided to take a photo of our first waterfall -- we claim three -- to share today. This gives me a chance to include a second image from the same place, taken last spring during wetter times. I remember using my knees as a tripod. After all, one of the reasons for doing this blog is to talk about 1) the importance of Being There and 2) how impossible it is to know what might prove interesting at some point. 
        Ever since last week I have been thinking about a well-known quote from the street photographer Elliott Erwitt: "Photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them."

      So more on this next week! Good looking to you all and thanks for visiting, Ann

dry falls

spring falls

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Welcome loyal friends, coast to coast family, and unsuspecting fans!

post #1!!
      Today I join the millions who blog.  However, believe it or not, I am really excited to do so. My plan and my hope is to share my photos, one by one, and also to give vent to my inner sassy. This effort is designed to happen but once a week, let's say every Monday.  This will at least be a way to let people know I am alive and well, since I am tardy correspondent.  With a photo or two, a paragraph or two, I can send out signs of life from this hollow in the eastern Kentucky hills. It's going to take me a while this way to create a sense of my place, but today's photo does show a lot. I call it "redbud screen." Taken this spring in the 'hood, the image celebrates a beginning, which this blog definitely is for me.

      Inquiring minds might want to know: I have a new workplace/gallery on a nearby side road called Sideway, thus the name of this blog. So here's to one post down, another next week, and to very good journeys for you all -- Ann