Sunday, September 30, 2012

last day of September, 2012

post #105, some mish mash amid the variety of daily life:

        First I want to add a thought to my mild but sincere plea last week for all of us citizens to use our treasured brains and not be bought by advertisements.  Besides the obvious crie de coeur for everyone to vote this year, I also hope it was clearly implied that we need a lot more women in the US Senate.  As for that big leadership job up for grabs, give me someone who THINKS, who is well informed (like in "reads a lot" and "enjoys complex ideas"), and who is willing to take sensible risks on our behalf.  I am not talking perfection here, but I am really curious what President Obama could do in a second term now that he has learned the ropes!!  What an unnecessary shame that many Americans haven't yet gotten past the color of his skin.

White is hard to get right in a photo, so I am happy here.  But when it comes to skin, color is just a random cover for our amazing human bodies.

         This weekend I have been a small part of the 42nd annual SORGHUM FESTIVAL in West Liberty. The making of sorghum molasses is demonstrated in the city park.  The town still shows the ravages of the tornado I wrote about in the spring, here.  But the festival is a tradition and, this year, an affirmation of community spirit.   Here are several photos I took -- using my Panasonic Lumix during Friday's rain, my iPhone and my Canon on Saturday afternoon and this Sunday evening, during the closing up.  I wasn't able to be there during the parade yesterday.  The dexterity that went into the planning to fit everything in  -- between construction and rubble -- is truly amazing.  Bravo, West Liberty!!

From behind, on the left, the never unfinished and now condemned new justice center, the old courthouse and the bank.
The bank on the back left, the food vendors and stage area, and the tent cover for Main Street, with booths for artists and crafters.

The stage, in use, and, again, the totally destroyed bank, even though it is not yet demolished.

the other side of Main Street, new buildings in progress, holes still remaining in the block.

Art is an essential part of the recovery.  This banner shows that same side of Main Street above as it used to look or could look after additional rebuilding? 

       Oh, and I had a routine colonoscopy last week.  As I waited in the OR to receive my napping meds, I was totally aware of how expensive this procedure would be without insurance.  There were those monitoring machines, and two nurses and a doctor and the support staff that prepared me and asked questions about my health history and took my vital signs, etc.  (And I didn't even get to see that little camera the doctor uses -- which would put my gear to shame, I am sure.)  I was distinctly aware how privileged I was not to have to go through this while also worrying about how to pay for it.  It's truly distressing that not everyone has insurance yet to undergo this checkup that is so widely recommended to be done every ten years.  All went well for me, by the way, though that news is not why I have chosen to share that particular day's main event.  

     So, as October begins, and the leaves here begin to turn, we found something unusual last week -- unexpected redbuds.  Usually they show their pink early in the spring.  Go figure.  The branch had been trimmed, and then photographed.  More on fall next week!



Sunday, September 23, 2012

What?? No politics yet??

post #104: weaving recent photos with recent musings
        This blog is about Appalachia and Photography, but I am interested in other things as well -- including politics.  And memory.  And the right I have as a human being to be in charge of what happens to my body, which includes a perfectly fine if imperfect brain.   
        I didn't design this blog to share my opinions, but in this season of loud voices, I want at least to be clear this one time that I care deeply about the future of our country during this important election coming up.
        So here is last week's "looking earnest" photo:

       I believe in voting, yet along with that I want us all to celebrate our brain, by using it, by thinking for one's self, and by trusting ourselves to be able to figure out how advertising, for example, is not telling us truths.  In fact, an ad is designed instead to influence how we think.   (My father worked as an advertising man, so my siblings and I have thought about this subject for a very long time.)  I for one don't like it when someone tries to buy my brain.  I think we could gain more by listening and learning:

        I get the impression that many voters have very short memories.  Somehow outrageous statements and behaviors and beliefs become forgivable or forgotten, even though leadership skills are nowhere in evidence.  How terrifying if some of the folks coming up with these statements, behaviors and beliefs were the only ones in charge!  Scary!  The US Senators in my own state of Kentucky are already scary enough. 
        This next photo shows a very loud voice, and it is not winning me over!

a guinea hen, from the rooftop

        There are many things I care about in my leaders.  For one, he or she needs to get it that the arts are extremely important, both as a part of public education and in all of our lives.  Singing ourselves, seeing colors, making things with our hands, dancing, acting, writing, listening are all part of what makes us human.  They even help us learn more and learn it better.
         The next two photos are "just" weeds, but with my photography I saw them more closely.  It encourages my soul to be able to share them here:

ironweed, goldenrod

         And, as I have not been able to resist mentioning in earlier posts, I believe in keeping our sights on the health of the world.  NO MORE MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING.  How shortsighted to grasp at a short term quick fix that creates ugly, needless deep wounds.  I don't understand why we can't rethink the choices we are making.  (I'm back to that brain thing.)  Why not take longer views, whether because of acknowledging climate change or challenging the role greed plays or whatever.  Focus instead on our human community and its connection to the earth. 
         I am grateful, for example, that President Obama is so far willing to ask more questions about such projects as the Keystone XL pipeline project.
        I know, too many words in this season of words.  So I end with one last photo, of a creature who is neither Democrat nor Republican, who's one of millions counting on each of us to celebrate our brains by using them.  Fearlessly. 


Sunday, September 16, 2012

recent fun with the iPhone

post #103
     A summer catch-up day, before fall's impending start.
  • I am in the process of getting my golden day photo printed in preparation for the exhibit it will be in, sending it out into the world beyond the blog.
  • I am currently attending the SCBWI/Midsouth conference, in Nashville (Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators).  One of the members from this region is Ruta Sepetys, who wrote the best selling book Between Shades of Gray (which is not the same as Fifty Shades of Gray) about the Lithuanians put into concentration camps by Stalin.  The topic is grim, but the book is riveting and so well written. Here is my photo yesterday when she received a prize.  I apologize to be showing such a fuzzy photo of someone who is extremely sharp:

       I want to share a few other recent iPhone photos, since it does happen that sometimes that is the only camera I have with me...

Best sign seen this summer....


Best barn mural with a turkey, by Tami Booher! (correction made 10/5)

Best unexpected discovery, at the Elliott County Nursing and Rehab Center, a mural painted  by Jo Ann Butts:

Best recent photo of someone taking a photo of a photo....

      This last photo was taken in Lexington, at the Central Library, from an exhibit by five members of the Kentucky Women's Photography Network, documenting the Manchester Street area of the city.  This man had lived in the area for 30 years, and he seemed thrilled to have discovered the exhibit, as was I.  

     I hope everyone can have actual fun sometimes by taking photos!        

Sunday, September 9, 2012

an evening outing

      We live near a lake built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1968.  Occasionally we manage to get out on the lake in the early evening, with my camera, in our small boat with a quiet trolling motor.  Sometimes we see a lot of birds, maybe a beaver, some deer, and a few Canada geese.  We usually always see kingfishers and at least one blue heron. The quiet is always wonderful in that beautiful place.
      Monday night it was just a blue heron in flight and nothing else, except one other boat -- until we spotted a green heron, who turned out to be pretty unconcerned about us. 
      I promised at the end of last week's post to have mostly photos this week, so here are enough to tell the story of our evening.  It is a happiness to make photos while on the lake, even if conditions rarely allow for perfect photos.  I thank my husband for making these outings possible -- he is our boat guru.

various cliff views, all along the way

We saw a black hornet come out of the "eye" of its nest high on a cliffside.

       Now for the green heron, which is smaller than the blue, and which typically creeps along the edge of the water, looking for food.  My husband saw this before I did.  I was sure it was going to fly away, so I took the first photo in a rush -- the heron blends in pretty well.  However, it didn't go away!  The next two photos show it almost posing for us as we came quietly closer and closer. 

A lovely log was really lying in grass this green.

Much to my regret, only the cardinal flower is in focus in this photo,

yet this dead tree is wonderfully in focus.  Go figure.  Our boat is usually in motion.

Finally, this blue heron greeted us as we returned to the launching area.

        Here's to celebrating our natural world.  I hope you can feel some of the peace we experienced.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

still here and learning after 100 posts

post #101
       I don't know how it sounds to you visitors to this blog, but to me it is amazing that I have enjoyed doing this blog for 100 weeks.  So far.  I am tempted to take on a fresh look soon, but not if it changes everything I have already done.  The way things work for me, I will have my questions answered by good fortune, pretty soon, so just know I may surprise us all before too long.  In the meantime, I have a children's picture book manuscript to freshen up, before the SCBWI conference I signed up to go to in Nashville in mid-September, a photo to prepare for an upcoming exhibit and videos about the photo workhorse program Lightroom to view and learn from.  I have already put the family reunion photos together and made a gallery of them to share online.  Between my sister and me, there were enough photos.  I am glad of that because not everyone who wanted to come was able to get to Maine last weekend, so they now at least have the photos.
       I returned home last night.  Yea!  Then today I drove the four miles to my gallery building and noticed lots of cars in front of a house that is usually empty.  Everyone seemed to be gathered on the front porch, where several people were taking a turn making a photo that didn't have them in it.  I felt sure someone in the crowd would know who I was, so I couldn't resist returning there to ask if they would want me to take their group photo -- and email it to one of them to distribute. I forgot to ask them if they would want it on my blog, so even though I did take the photo, I am not publishing it or any other such photo without permission. 

      In preparation for the exhibit submission I wrote about two weeks ago, I decided to write about an image to figure out why I wanted it to be one of the five I could submit.  My writers group found this interesting, so I am sharing the photo today and some of what I wrote.  Again, please remember this particular effort is mostly about process, not perfection.  Here is the photo I used:  

from my notes: This valley is a place I return to over and over.  So is it love of this place that draws me to this photo, or is it the lines, the textures, the curves, the color, and the way the elements work together to make the whole?  Does the love show?
     There are things I do like about this particular photo.
  • the triangular hint of the dirt road I am standing on.  I did this on purpose to include the textures of the road and the mowed edge.
  • the field itself, going downhill, lightly strewn with hay rounds, the large one up close, smaller ones farther away and everywhere. 
  • The house and the barn seem to be cupped by the hillsides and the length of the land, framed by the thin roads on either edge of the image.
  • I feel the recent presence of people and the tractor, now gone, soon to return to pick up the rounds and move them.  It is not a place where what is there today will be there tomorrow.
  • I even like the long loop of the three wires swooping in the electricity.  I could take the wires out -- even I who don't Photoshop much -- could do something that simple, but it tells part of the story of that place.  Story is important to me. 
  • The color works this time.  Often photos made at this time of day look washed out.  It is encouraging to me that I am breaking the rules of nature photography and getting away with it.  
  •  I feel layers are rolling across the image like a storm, like time, like memory.  The sky too has strips and puffs, echoing the fields below.
   There is more, but you get the idea. I continued to think about those wires, however. Eventually I realized that since it wasn't clear enough what they were there for, they could easily be a distraction.  I decided after all it would be better to take them out.  I do not admit this easily.  I am conflicted about doing my kind of witness and changing anything that I show.  It is hard for me to agree to do it.  Here is the "cleaned up" version, the one I submitted:

      Any thoughts?  Next week I promise more  photos than words....