This morning I was out in the park, doing a solo photo walk. I was enjoying the cool temps, somewhere in the mid or even lower 50 degree range, a nice breeze blowing. When the sun started coming up and shining through trees, a song popped in my head, Easy by Lionel Richie. I wanted to be easy like Sunday morning, too … and for a time, I was. It was a beautiful morning. Now that fall is here, there will be many, many more of these morning photo walks.
I’ve marked this as one of my favorites. There’s no telling when a particular photo will speak to me, but this one does because it has an association with it that I formed, while taking the shot, one of several from different angles. It was early, 6:35 AM by the timestamp, the sun still below the horizon. I was out on the beach, alone, enjoying the sound of the surf. I could see this sign in the distance, but I couldn’t read it. I got closer: Keep off rocks. Caution: Stay back 150 feet.
I thought that it would make a good photographic subject, so I framed it up and began taking pictures. This particular one, an 8 second exposure. Suddenly, there was a connection with the word “Caution”. I thought of growing up, having my mother, and other well-meaning adults, telling me to be careful, not to get hurt, not really wanting me to take chances. Sometimes I heeded them, sometimes not.
There are those times, though, when I want to do something, but then I hesitate, cautious for no apparent reason. Sometime I overcome that fear, other times, I don’t. Sometimes, I’m willing to ignore the caution sign, do whatever it is, other times, not so much. Then, I look at my son, Tony, who seems not to know of the word caution – it’s brought him many experiences, though. I’m sure that he’s richer for them.
In about 1 month, I head back to Mexico. This time, to stay with a Mexican family that I’ve never met, for a week. Also, to take Spanish classes during that week, too. Both arranged through Habla Hispana, a language school in San Miguel. This, to me, is a small step out onto the rocks, ignoring the caution sign.
No. I’m not talking about my Spanish. It is still difficult! I’m talking about camera sensors. I was looking back through some of my shots that I took in 2006, this being one of them. I noticed, when viewed on the screen, full sized, that this photo has quite a bit of digital noise in it and looked a bit muddy in the shadows. I looked at the ISO, expecting to see something fairly high, like 800. I was rather surprised to see that it was taken at ISO 100, with the Minolta DiMage A1. Imagine that. Now, I have cameras with even smaller sensors that would take a less noisy photo at ISO 1600! My Nikon D700 could probably go all the way up to 6400!
I’m quite happy about the advances. Thinking of that, that would probably be the only reason that I might go for an upgrade, one day. I’m not really interested in more pixels, I don’t think, but better sensors are always welcomed.
Hiking. I had my own definition. For me, it meant a brief, or perhaps not so brief, walk in the woods with gently rolling hills, chipmunks dancing about on the ‘forest’ floor, birds chirping, no backpack, no special shoes required and, perhaps as a bonus, a burbling creek nearby to add a great soundtrack.
Vanessa, well, she has her own version of a day hike. I learned, in small measure what it was. But first, I’m a city slicker. When I walk, I walk on flat ground to the sounds of car horns, having to be careful how I cross the street. I meet other walkers/runners who are familiar to me. Vanessa, and her dog (who I am now pretty sure, after our hike, is mixed with mountain goat!), well their idea of a nice hike involves trails that are rated as strenuous, crossing of creeks, climbing up and walking/sliding down trails that are at angles that I never have seen in my usual walks, nor that I tend to seek out. If I see such a hill, I’m usually looking for away around it, not over it.
On Sunday morning we went to a place that she’s wanted to show me for quite a while, Lost Cove. It is somewhere out yonder, near Linville, NC. We drove for a bit on the Blue Ridge Parkway, then made a right turn, headed down a gravel road. Down, down, down we went, until we got to the bottom, a dead end – the trail head. I thought: How nice. It was quite beautiful. An arrow pointed to the trailhead. We started walking. Within a few hundred feet, if that far, the trail canted down to the left and we had to cross some wet rocks with a little bit of moss on them, just to make it tricky. Up next, an incline, with wet rocks and all manner of tree roots jutting here and there. Good for grabbing on to or tripping over, whichever you prefer. We met a group of backpackers on their way out and one of them asked: How far is the parking lot? We told them that it was just a little ways to go. They were happy … later, I understood why!
As we crossed streams here and there, I was quite impressed with the beauty, remoteness, and challenge of this particular hike. Vanessa, part billy goat, was loving every minute of it. I, though I was enjoying it, was starting to sweat and attract more than my fair share of insects. However, too bad for them, they were drowning in my sweat as they attempted a water landing on my forehead and neck. Eventually, we came to a stream, the trickiest part of the hike, she said. This was a fairly fast moving, but shallow stream. What made it tricky was that you could barely see where to place your feet in the stream because of the movement of the water. Also, there was moss all over the rocks, potentially slippery. She and Geordi, the mountain goat dog made it across. I contemplated my steps. I handed Vanessa my iPhone, just in case I ended up ‘sitting’ in the water. LOL – I made it across without incident. Onward we went. Up, up, up, and up a little more.
Waterfalls! Yes. Waterfalls – I mean the sweat was now pouring off of my head, neck, arms. I was no longer worried about bugs. They didn’t stand a chance! Eventually, we got to the ‘swimmin’ holes – a couple of places where the water has formed fairly deep pools of water. We decided to go for a swim. The water, my best guess was about 60 degrees, perhaps less – so it was brief swim! After our swim, we dried ourselves then found a nice place to lie on the rocks, have a bite to eat, and soak in the sun like reptiles! Ssssssssssssensational!
On the way back, Vanessa indicated that she wanted to ‘feel the burn’ a bit. I told her to go for it. I was already feelin’ the burn and had been for quite a while. I’m a flatlander! She waited for me down the trail, not to far ahead, as I came lumbering along. BTW, I did all of this is some Timberland walking sandals. I don’t recommend it. I have a blister on my big toe, left foot. It came from the constant rubbing of water, wet sand, etc, during the hike.
I will return, this time with a good camera, my Olympus OM-D (lightweight), and a lightweight tripod. It was a great outing, one that I would not have done by myself. I’m glad that she introduced me to it! I was pretty tired on Monday and needed a little extra sleep.
If you’ve ever given any thoughts to becoming an entomologist, but became frustrated because your trips to the great outdoors never seemed to yield neither the quantity nor variety of insects that you desire … Fear no more. I will teach you, in this blog post, how to attract all manner of insects right to your backdoor. It won’t cost much, perhaps a trip to your favorite garden center and the purchase of a few plants. It could be good for you macro photographers, too! Good, cheap models!
This summer, Farmer Paul (Oh, how I wish that I had a pair of overalls to take a picture in!) grew tomatoes, jalepeño peppers, cayenne peppers, habeñero peppers, basil, sage, and rosemary – all without the aid of pesticides AND, surprisingly, I was able to eat a bit of my harvest as well. I’ve attracted aphids, as you can see in this shot. Also, some really cool looking, voraciously hungry caterpillars with a voracious appetite for habeñero peppers – as a matter of fact, one of them took out about 6 or 8 of them in 1 night. It killed the whole plant – that caterpillar and his buddies met with death, quickly. I thought about the photographic possibilities AFTER their deaths. Ooops.
They were disguised, blending in perfectly with the plant and looking like so many pepper flower blossoms – yes, complete with petals on their backs. Nature is very, very clever. It took me a while to spot them. I’ve not tasted those peppers yet. I have sampled and enjoyed the jalepeños and cayenne peppers.
The only plant that seems to have survived attack is the rosemary, one of my favorites. The sage, not so bad either. The first crop of tomatoes, quite good. Nice, large, healthy. The second coming of the tomatoes yielded much smaller ones. The birds and the insects seemed to really like these, so I didn’t get many of those.
Just remember, if you want those bugs, I’ve got the answers! I’m about ready to prepare for winter crops, lettuce, spinach, etc, cool weather veggies. Hopefully there will be fewer insects, but if not, I guess there’s always photography!
In general, mornings are reserved for walking. It’s the best time for me. It’s cool outside and there aren’t many people around. Also, should I decide to extend my walk, I need not worry about it getting dark. I do little photography while walking because I need to either be walking or shooting, but not both. They just don’t go together. I miss photographing in the morning. It’s my favorite time, to be sure.
This morning, though, I felt like foregoing the walk in favor of some photography. So, off McDowell Nature Preserve I went. It was a pleasant hour, or so, listening the honks of geese rather than the honks of the car horns on South Tryon Street.