Southeast US

Two months have passed since the last post. Pretty sad, isn’t it? But life sometimes gets that way…

In three separate trips since late November, I’ve been through North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida (three times), Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. I’m am so glad to be sitting at home in front of my own computer.

But it’s not all bad. I’ve managed to reacquaint myself with some old friends and see family that I haven’t seen in years.

I’m just tired of the travel. But at least through travel we’ve been able to enjoy some wonderful sights.

Saint Mark’s Light
Sentinels

Broken

St Marks Light

Shuttered

And one of the most interesting things that I had the pleasure of experiencing on each of the trips through Florida are the amazing pine trees. Straight and tall, perfect for lumber.

Solo Pine

A couple of days after Christmas, we were able to visit what has been, for many years, our most favorite town in the southeastern United States – Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was a pleasure to see the town lit up for the holidays, just as it has always been. Especially after spending the day driving across southern Mississippi and Louisiana, where we got to see the effects of Hurricane Katrina, fifteen months on.

Lit Convergence

Impressionistic Reflection

I hope the new year is finding you in good health and good spirit.

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Vintage glass and the Political Pains in the Ass

Gotta love thrift stores. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Or in my case, one person just didn’t know what they had.

$15

That’s a Canon A-1 35mm SLR with Data Back A, a Speedlight 199A and Canon FD 28/2.8, Canon FD 35-70/4 and Vivitar 70-210/3.5. Plus a bag and a few accessories, all for $15! Definitely a steal. Running a roll of B&W through it to see how well it works.

Market price for everything, based on its condition, adds up to over $500. Not too shabby, eh? Of course, finding someone who would willingly shell out over $500 for all would be difficult, but it’s nice to know that there are still steals to be had out there.

Only 2+ days left until we no longer have to listen to the political ads for another year. Whoo hoo. They are all thieves and liars. It amazes me how much people get wrapped up in the lies and lying liars, regardless of their party affiliation.

I think I’ll go buy some meth and get a massage from a gay prostitute now

If Clapton is God, that makes Jonny Lang Jesus

I love live music. Especially good live music, even though I have been known to suffer through some questionable acts to enjoy the talent of one of the band members.

Suffering was not the issue this past weekend. We drove down to Nashville to see Jonny Lang play at the historic Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry for over 30 years.

Absolutely incredible performance.

Several of the ladies in the audience were more interested in his flexing muscles and eyes, but they really added to the atmosphere. If you’ve never been to the Ryman, it’s a cozy theater, where none of the 1298 seats is no more than 100 feet from the stage. The seats are church pews, very fitting for the hallowed hall. The flooring is all wood, which makes for a rocking time when everyone’s stamping their feet, both on the main floor and up on the balcony.

When we bought the tickets, they were adamant that no cameras be brought into the auditorium. Wouldn’t you know it, right before the show they announce that we can take pictures from our seats. Aaaarrrgghhhhh! All of the cameras were at home.

The boy can wail on a guitar, with incredible feeling, flow and technique. He has truly mastered his art. It was a pleasure to watch. Especially when he got giddy after he discovered that he had blown his amp. Ooops.

If you get a chance to see him play, you must.

My other project has kept me very busy. If you aren’t sure about what that project is, look at the pictures here. That project has kept me so busy that I’ve actually managed to miss the peak of fall color here, which is, hands down, my most favorite part of the year. But with a lull in the project, we got out for a look just down the road.
Running of the Bull, KY style
Falling Autumn

It was cloudy, cold, wet and windy. Great lighting conditions for photography, but not so good for standing out in. I was thinking about the conditions and how it couldn’t possibly get any worse, except for a good hard rain. I got what I “wished for”.

Falling Road

Get out there and enjoy the show, whether it be manmade or natural.

p.s.  If you are scratching your head at the title of the blog, read this.

Marriage of Miss Jessica Vinson and Captain Robert Partain

We had the pleasure on Saturday of visiting a re-enactment of an 1850’s-era wedding. The wedding was between Miss Jessica Vinson, daughter of a farmer, and Captain Robert Partain, who commands a riverboat.

The event was an all day affair, starting at 10am with the preparations all the way through 4pm with the send off of the couple. All was done in period dress and was meant to educate the public on the lifestyles and technology of the period. Incredibly well done.

Although the entire event was quite interesting, one man grasped my attention. He was a photographer, practicing the art of collodion (wet plate) photography, which was state of the art in the 1850’s. Even now, the details and tonality that he was able to achieve on tin plate and glass rivals what we can do on computer. In many instances, surpasses what we can do.

Some samples:

Wet Plate Stop Bath

Wet Plate Amber

Wet Plate

Wet Plate Apothecary

In the bottom photo, the subject of the photo was a lovely young lady who had no problem bouncing in and out of character to answer our questions as well as discuss events, whether they be current or current in 1850. The photographer ended up taking two pictures of her. This was the first, which she wasn’t pleased with since there was so much grass at the bottom of the image. The second, which she liked more, was technically inferior in our eyes. He offered to let her choose, but I never did hear which one she picked.

Even more amazing, the photographer was charging only $40 for the image that the subject took home. Even if it meant five sittings to get it right. And let me assure you, five sittings would be quite arduous for the subject.

After the wedding, we drove up the road, watched the sun set and were serenaded by elk bugling in the forest. Perfect.

Stealing. Stealing. Stealing in the name of the Lord.

What’s the title have to do with anything?

Not a damn thing. It’s just a line stuck in my head from a great song by a great DJ. Gary Clail’s his name and if you get a chance, give him a listen. He was a DJ when folks didn’t think of DJ’s. He was pushing beats 15-20 years ago, when the only DJ’s that anyone knew where the guys that backed the Rap (soon to be R&B) performers. The line has stuck with me since 1990 or so, when he screamed that line through a megaphone into the mic.

I’ve been quite busy with other projects lately, hence the lack of photos. Here’s my biggest project, a 1964 Chevrolet 1/2-ton Fleetside pickup truck:

New Toy #1

New Toy #2

It’s basically a love affair with an older woman. She’s 42 years old and needs lots of TLC. The easy stuff was taken care of right away, like buffing out those ugly rust stains, which was easy. It has since progressed to reworking her heart (carburetor) and her knees (shocks).

I do love the fact that my lovely wife has yet to get jealous. At least outwardly.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we aren’t in Tokyo anymore

It looks like it was the wrong time to get my blog rolling, what with a move halfway around the world rapidly approaching. But I had my reasons.

A lot has transpired in the past few months, but I won’t bore you with the details.

My frustrations with DeviantArt grow by the day. For a long time it has become apparent that the business decisions that are being made to run the site are made in a vacuum, with no concern for the paying customers of the site. And when feedback is given, it’s brushed aside or ignored completely. That’s definitely not a business that I can continue to support financially.

Any more than returning to a restaurant where the manager spits in your food before serving it. And when you point out that fact to him, he does it again.

But enough of that.

Our last full weekend in Tokyo and I got the shot that I really wanted to get the few years that I was there:

 

Umbrella Procession

I was extremely lucky to get this shot. Right in the middle of Meiji Shrine in downtown Tokyo. The crowd parted perfectly to let this wedding procession through. I happened to be in the right spot at the right time. I can’t wait to get a print of it on my wall.

It was always fun to sit in the shrine and wait for the weddings. This time, I lucked out and got up close to get shots like this of a bride in her traditional kimono:

New Bride - Old Wood

 

Golden Tabi

Imagine my surprise when she started whispering, in English, to her gaijin husband. She was complaining that she couldn’t possibly smile any more and that the sweat was pouring down her back. She was surprised when I laughed.

Just a few short days later, we were on a plane back to the United States. Not what we wanted, but we have to go where the work is. On our way back we stopped overnight in Seattle. Great city, from what we could see during our brief stay.

 

Purple Needle

We were amazed by the synergistic architecture of the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project, as well as the grooves laid down by the street performers just a block away from the Pike Place Fish Market:

 

Feel the Groove

After a short 20 hours in Seattle, we were on the plane again to our destination, which looks nothing like Tokyo, with clean air, blue skies and trees:

 

Not in Tokyo

The culture shock was pretty intense. It had been a couple of years since we had been back to the US and we honestly hadn’t missed it. We were quite comfortable and content in Japan. But we’ve slowly made the transition and are getting used to our surroundings.

We even got back into old routines, including spending last night wondering how long the tornado warnings would continue.

We must be over the rainbow.

Buddhism, Drunks and Mediums

A day with friends who introduced us to a relative, who happened to be a Buddhist monk who ran the family temple. The temple had passed from generation to generation for at least 400 years. It was a wonderful experience to be able to roam around the grounds and see the entire temple, including behind the scenes. Not something a gaijin normally gets to experience.

A few views through my eye:

 

Paperweights

Shoji Beads

Prayer Beads
Riding the trains in Tokyo is always an experience. On our way to the temple, I had the “pleasure” of sitting next to a stone-cold passed out drunk. Now, this isn’t the first time for this in Tokyo, but it was 12:30 in the afternoon! We figure he had been on the train for hours, riding back and forth from end to end. But the beauty of Japan is that he’s safe, although a few times I thought he’d throw up. In that case, he’d be out the door on his ear at the next stop.

That night, catching the last train is also quite the experience. Trains stop running here in Tokyo from about 1am until 4:30 am. So if you are going out for the night, you have two choices: start early and catch the last train, which is very crowded and full of tired drunk people, or start late and catch the first train, which is very crowded and full of tired drunk people. See, it’s an easy choice.

There are always great street scenes to find when walking around town before rushing to the station. Ginza at night is an cacophony of sound and barrage of light, but there are small islands of beauty:

 

Fan Sale

In Ginza, palm readers set up card tables along the main street to make some money telling fortunes. But not every one is on top of the game:

 

Sleeping Medium

We realized after I snapped this shot that she was sleeping. Definitely not doing her part to attract any customers.

That’s about the extent of my patience with the WordPress html limitations. It’ll take some time to get used to, but I will and will be able to post some more.