I'm participating in a project with a group of photography friends. We're working through David Duchemin's book The Visual Toolbox. The chapter we read this week was about isolating your subject and removing anything distracting from the image.
I went down by the river with my 50mm and my 75-300mm telephoto lens. I was looking for ways to isolate the subject that drew my attention by using these lens and my position. So many times what we find interesting gets lost in the clutter around it. For instance, in the picture above, in the upper right corner you can see a faint reflection. The reflection is of crews that are working on a bridge from the water. There was a tugboat running around, cranes, and workmen. By changing my position and using the telephoto lens I was able to avoid the cluttered background.
A telephoto lens also comes in handy when you spot things you just can't get close to like the cable above. The image below is of a cool mist area and splash pad. I wasn't able to get very close without getting my camera wet, so the telephoto was perfect.
I discovered as I walked around with my telephoto lens that I was looking up more and looking in the distance. I'm a person that looks right where I walk, so this was a new experience. The only time I really concentrate on looking up is when I'm around historical buildings. I'm fascinated with older architecture.
Check out these balloons that were hanging in a window on about the fifth floor. If I would have even seen them, I could never have gotten this shot with my 50mm lens.
One thing is for sure. The next time I'm out taking pictures of historical buildings, I'll be taking my telephoto lens with me to help me capture the details.
This tall sculpture, Touch The Skycreated by Jane DeDecker, has three children on top of a stump. It is right in the busy River Market district. No matter which way you turn there's something in the background causing clutter. There were buildings, the river market, an amphitheater, traffic, and people. Since it's a tall sculpture I was able to zoom in and capture the child's face looking upward and the hands reaching for the sky. There's just something that touched me about the sculpture. I wonder, is she expressing joy, praise, or asking for help?
I've never been one to carry extra lens. I don't like the extra baggage, but I do see the benefits and I will be taking my telephoto lens with me on more of my wanderings.
In my last post I talked about wandering around the downtown area of Benton, Arkansas. I mentioned that I had met three very kind people. They each saw me and my camera and asked "do you like to photograph old things?" That's my favorite question.
The first young man noticed me as I was taking a picture of one of the letters on his business sign. Remember I was looking for unique letters of the alphabet.He said that he owned the barber shop and thought I might like to see inside because he not only cuts hair, but he collects sports memorabilia, old signs from around town, and vintage barber equipment. He was very proud of his barber chairs. The one below is called a Presidential Chair from around 1959. This type of barber chair was popular in the Kennedy era. He even uses an antique cash register.
All four of his barber chairs are antiques. The barber chairs below are from 1905 to 1930. The pole in the window is from 1940's.
I'm pretty sure my grandsons would love to get their hair cut here and look at all the sports memorabilia. Isn't this a fancy place to prop your feet while you're getting your hair cut?
The second man noticed me as I stepped in the open bay door of his auto repair shop. I was taking a picture of a neon sign. He invited me in and told me all about the vintage signs hanging in his shop.
As I was leaving he asked if I'd like to see some old tools. In a small room at the front of his shop he has quite a collection of antique tools, oil cans, repair books, and car parts.
He also mentioned his wife owned the building next door which was being restored. He told me I was welcome to go in and look around. The walls were brick with nice arched windows in the rear, but it was the ceiling tiles that caught my attention. They were installed in 1908.
He told me to be sure and go around the back of the building to enter the basement. It used to be a mortuary, now it's used for storage. The building sits on sloped ground. The top floor is at street level and the slope causes the basement that can be entered from the rear parking lot. I loved the arched doors that led to the basement. I could tell why this would have made a good place for a mortuary in days without air conditioning. It was very cool even though it was hot and humid outside.
I was headed home when I remembered that in a nearby neighborhood were several large crepe myrtle trees. I wanted to see if they were in full bloom, which they weren't, but I took a few pictures anyway. As I was taking pictures this very sweet lady came outside of her home and talked to me. She showed me her black walnut trees and her beautiful oak leaf hydrangeas in her side yard. I asked her if she knew how old the crepe myrtle trees were. Her answer was no, but if I'd come inside with her she had a newspaper article about them. I hesitated, but she insisted. I think she was very lonely and just needed someone to talk to. The article said that the trees were planted as part of a city beautification project in 1927. We talked a few minutes about her family history in Benton. She was genuinely grateful that I had visited with her. I know it wasn't the safest thing I've ever done, but my instincts led me to a very nice visit.
I'm still so amazed every time I'm out with my camera. It seems to lead me on fun adventures. I'm looking forward for cooler weather to arrive. I'm ready for more wanderings and more adventures. I will have a photo buddy to go on adventures with now, my sister. She retired a few weeks ago. So look out Arkansas we'll be out and about with our cameras.
What do you do when you have a cooler morning and you can think of no destination to take your camera? It needs to be a close destination, because the coolness will quickly turn to extreme heat. Well, I just got in the car and started driving. I thought of one place as I headed west that might work, but upon arrival I changed my mind. Knee high weeds and a man working on a lawnmower didn't seem promising for peace and quiet. Now what? Intuition kicked in and I drove to the small town center surrounding the county courthouse. I've been there many times. I've posted about it here; the small downtown area of Benton, Arkansas. I try to keep my priorities straight and you can't take great pictures on an empty stomach, so I stopped by McDonald's for a chicken and biscuit sandwich and headed to a small park where I sat, listened to the quiet waterfall, and thought about what to do. What was there for me today in this small town? I remembered a recent post by my good friend Kelly who went searching for the letters of the alphabet in shapes around her neighborhood. Her finds were fascinating. I changed it up a little and looked for the compete alphabet in the signage around town. A couple of letters weren't so easy to find. I did it though I found every letter.
A lot of thought goes into signs. They communicate a message about a business, a product, or a road. Signs are our way of passing along information. I found signs embedded in concrete. One near a memorial and the other in the sidewalk. There are several quotes in the sidewalks around the county courthouse.
I saw signs I've never see before. Walking completely around the downtown blocks and alleys put me on streets I've never traveled or I traveled to fast to look at the signs.
I saw signs that have been there so long they're almost hidden.
There were old faded signs.
Metal signs, vintage signs, hand-lettered signs, and even a sign that was signed.
A sign with missing letters.
On many of the signs I saw ampersands. Ampersands seem to be quite popular right now in home decor. I'm not sure why. I'm always behind when it comes to what's new, cool and in!!
It was really quite fun looking at the different signs, their fonts, and typeface. It was a new look at an old city and it led to three different encounters with the kind people of Benton. You know how I love vintage things. Well, these people showed me places that delighted me. I'll be back with the next chapter in this saga.
Each morning as soon as my eyes open my mind and heart are immediately consumed with grief from the loss of my mother and the overwhelming problems of caring for a father with Alzheimer's. Each morning I have a choice. Do I follow this pathway of sorrow and worry or do I take a different path? This morning I chose to smile. I chose to not begin my day with worries. I chose a different path, a fragile one, but I chose to look for joys and to be content. My daughter sent me a lovely card this week. She included the verse Isaiah 41:10.
"So do not fear; for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
I'm putting this card by my bedside and when I open my eyes I will read this verse and know I am not alone. It's been a rough month. So many things to take care of while we're grieving. My heart will never stop grieving and the problems will not go away, but I'm beginning to realize that I have the strength to deal with it all. There's another thing that makes me smile today. It's you! It's knowing that I have such amazing and special friends who care and who pray for me. I am so grateful to have you in my life. We may never "see" one another, but that's doesn't matter. I know you're there. Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog and in your emails, for your thoughts, and especially for your prayers. They have been a comfort to me and have helped me through the past month. I hope this morning that you choose to smile and that you find joy in your day. Love to you all.