My photo
... is a freelance photographer working in Middle Georgia

Monday, December 17, 2012

Foggy Morning In The Valley

We woke up in Fort Valley to quite a bit of fog. I had intended on shooting the Christmas lights downtown
and had not gotten around to it yet.  Decided a bit of fog could make some cool images.
I took along the 15-30mm zoom and my 28mm, not sure what I wanted to do.

The first three are shot with the really wide 15mm. For what I wanted in these images it was just right. I wanted a wide scene and the perspective in the top two with the strong diagonal lines.  Also used the 15 to get the nutcracker large in the frame while still keeping some environment.

The bottom shot is with the 28. The 15 really puts a lot of distance between the foreground and background objects. In the top three images, that was a good thing. In the bottom photo I wanted to keep the nutcracker fairly close to the tree so the 28 worked better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Smell of Smoke in The Morning

Gary Harmon called and told me about a fire here in Fort Valley yesterday morning.  A local cabinet shop was on fire.  I grabbed my cameras, kissed Deborah and told her I would be back in a little while, not knowing if I would find a photo or not.

I have not "chased" any firetrucks in a while.  I got in my truck and the old sense of anticipation returned.  Would this be a big one?  Flames and smoke make for good photos.  Would it be over before I arrived?  You tend to get caught up in the excitement of the moment, hoping for a good photo, not thinking that someones home or business in in danger of destruction, firefighters are risking their lives.

Covering breaking news in a small town is different than in a place the size of Macon or even Warner Robins.  You get to know, and are known by a lot of the cops and firefighters, so you are aware of their presence on occasions like this. Not so much with the people involved in the fire, wreck or what ever the event you are focused on.  You just concentrate on the images, isolated by your camera.

This one was different. Hilton Smith, owner of the burning business is someone I see regularly.
Every Thursday morning he and his buddies sit right next to my friend Greg and me at breakfast.  Often see him around town as well.  

As photojournalists, we are capturing slices of life. These are moments in time, some good, some not so good.  But each one is a part of someones existence, not just another photograph.  We know that, and try to temper our excitement. Be respectful yet still do our jobs.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Its Always Been There......

I don't know why my mind and eyes work the way they do.  The way I sometimes see things I just have to photograph. Driving down a road for the first time, and suddenly there it is, just gotta stop and take a picture.
That I understand.  But why do I drive down a road that I have traveled weekly, for a part of my like almost daily, and see something that just jumps out a me.  It has been there forever, but this particular point in time, it's a Kodak Moment.

This happened to me today.  Was coming back from Warner Robins, and decided to drive down Housers Mill Road. Nice overcast sky making some killer light and I saw this tractor sitting  in a field.  I have seen this tractor many times in the past, even photographed other objects in this field several times.  But today, it was this old International Harvester that caught my eye.  Was it the light, or the grass blowing in the wind?

Don't really know, and most times don't even wonder about stuff like this.  The way God made me. Just pick up the camera and do my thing.  If you spend too much time wondering why, it'll make you crazy.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Touch of Gold

This beautiful tree is in the front yard of my friend and neighbor Col. John Pensyl.  It dominates the street every year. I have intended on shooting it forever, and had not gotten around to doing some pictures.  This year I decided it was time, and had planned on shooting it last week. Got busy with other stuff and never made it.  Then it rained, and I feared that the leaves would all be gone.

I went up Tuesday morning to see what I coud do. I wanted that wonderful sky as an element in the photo so I took the fisheye. Shot it so the drive and the curve of the horizon kinda leads your eye to the tree.  The bottom image was from under the tree looking up. Got as close to the lowest cluster of leaves as the lens would focus.  Hope I did God's beautiful handiwork justice.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Old Coke Building Comes Down

We are getting a New Wendys in our little town.  We have not been over run with new businesses
lately, so a new employer is a good thing. We have lots of empty buildings around town.  Some, like the one that was on the site chosen for our new Wendys are pretty old, and run down.  Not only in bad shape but loaded with asbestos and sporting other hazards. 

The decision to raze the old building brought quite an uproar from some of the Historically minded folks, this was the old Coca Cola bottling plant. Built in the 1920's or 30's. The approval from Mayor and City Council to allow the new owner to demolish the building and build the new restaurant caused quite a rift in the community. 

Some folks see new jobs coming, while others see the loss of a bit of history. It is a bit of history leaving us, but no one had done anything with the place in many years, not even providing needed upkeep. I can understand both sides of the spat, I love history, but also realize our little community needs new business
and new jobs.  

What really strikes me about all this is that folks can get so upset by something as trivial in the grand scheme of things as an old commercial building.  It was left here vacant after the company decided it was not profitable to keep employing local folks or be part of this community.  I am not sure that I see the historical significance.  

Frankly, I worry more about our less than effective congress and the fact that the folks on Capitol Hill put politics before the welfare of our country. Lets come together over a square burger and send a message to Washington.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Okay, More Flowers.....

I noticed these fuzzy blooms in one of Deborah's hanging baskets this morning.  I came inside to get a camera to shoot them and picked up the D70.  I have found myself doing more with it lately. Anyway, it had the Nikkor 28f2.8 lens on it.  I started to swap it for the Macro zoom and decided to bring both lenses along.

When I walked up to the basket, I noticed the way the back lighting not only illuminated the red fuzzies, but also the leaves in the background.  I thought it might be neat to show some background, so I shot with the 28.  It focuses really close, so I wa able to get the blooms decent size in my frame. The 28 had enough depth of field to keep the background items sharp enough to tell what they are without being too distracting. The 15 would have been too distinct. Anyway, I like the result.

No more flowers for a while.  I have borrowed a Nikon SB 800 from Gary Harmon, and will be playing with it's wireless capabilities. I will write about that next time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Flowers and Flash

The sunflowers from my last post were shot on a cloudy day. As a rule, cloudy days are better for shooting flowers. The bright sun and shadows of a sunny day can sometimes be detrimental to your efforts,  On sunny days I usually use the sun as a back light, showing off the detail in blooms and leaves. Back light can really ad a bit of drama to your images. The photo below shows the use of back lighting.

For the top image I wanted to get the sun in the photo, make it really dramatic. I had brought along my old D70 body for just this photo.  To get the correct exposure for the sun and sky, I had to really crank up my exposure.  The photo was shot at 1/2500 second and f11.  The sky was great, but the flowers in the foreground were way too dark.  There is a fluke in the design of the D70.  The normal top sync speed with a flash is 1/250 second.  Due to the design flaw, you can set the camera to manual, hook up a flash with a sync cord(not having the flash directly on the camera's hot shoe) and shoot at whatever shutter speed you want.

I had the flash on a long cord, and held it to the left of the camera, coming in at an angle. Got the sky, and the big bloom in the foreground is dramatically highlighted.

Flash is a lot more fun when used creatively.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I wanted to shoot some sunflowers this year and had a hard time finding a field. Deborah had been riding one afternoon and told me she had found a field, and by the time I got to them ,they were dead.
Yesterday I was on the way to Columbus to see my Mom, and discovered this huge field in Taylor County.

They were showing their age, but I still managed to get some interesting shots. These are not the only flowers I have done recently. Last week I photographed wild flowers. I had a bright sunny day for them.  Yesterday morning was really overcast when I did the sunflowers.  Later I will shot you some of the wildflowers.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Back On The Sidelines

Okay, I am finally posting again.  It has been almost three months, and I have been busy.  But
not so busy that I have an excuse for not posting.  I will do better. I have a few pictures to share with y'all, and will be back on schedule next week.

Football season is back, and last night was my first time back to the sidelines with the 300f2.8 since my surgery. I have been in the gym regularly, so I ditched the monopod and hand-held last night. No problem.
So much easier to move than with that stick. I convinced myself last year that at my advanced age I should be takin' it easy. Shoulda just hit the weights.

Anyway, last night was Jones County at Warner Robins, a 7pm game start. Ooops, I was late. Walked onto the sidelines just after the kickoff. It had been over 50 years since these teams last played.  A bit of history, if you will.

The Georgia National Fair has kicked off another year. Great photo ops, and check out the photo competition.

See ya next week.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dragging Out An Old Friend

 We have been getting a great deal of traffic at our bird feeders lately. I decided that it was time to revisit
an old friend, my Nikkor 600mm lens.  This thing is a beast, weighing in at over ten pounds for the lens alone.This thing has been around since the mid-70's and is still sharp as a tack.  I have to tripod it, no way I can handle it on a monopod, much less hand hold it. I still have not recovered enough to lug it very far.

It is a two piece unit, the lens and the focus mount. You can swap the lenses from 400 , the 600, an 800 or a 1200mm.  I dragged the lens, a tripod and an F2 around Falcons games for a couple of years. I was much younger.  We will talk more about this heavy but sweet lens later.

For today, enjoy the birds.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Celebrities on Second Street

 I went to Macon this afternoon to meet with Jodi and James Palmer to talk about the next issue of Macon Magazine. One of the things we discussed was the sudden rise in popularity of Macon for a movie site. Two so far this year, with a bit of downtown being transformed.  As shown above, Second Street is now looking like 1940's New York City.

After the meeting I wandered downtown and shot a few photos of the transformation work.  And yes, I was hoping to spot a celebrity or two.

The crew working on Second Street went about their tasks while a lot of home folks watched and took pictures. They were willing to answer questions as they worked, quite good natured about the interruptions.

I had given up on finding a celebrity and was walking back to my truck when I observed a true celeb sitting behind the wall of a downtown sidewalk cafe.  Behind those Foster Grants(actually I think they are Rayban's) calmly munching an apple, Macon's own action star Woody Marshall.  Had to tell him on how suave he looked, Nikon D3 casually tossed on the table.

So, the object of this discourse is simply to remain calm if you are in the downtown area and run across Harrison Ford or some other big name star.  Woody had to remind me to take my lens cap off for this shot.
Get a couple of pictures, and move on. Don't gawk, or make silly comments. Just exhibit some of our natural southern charm.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Preserve Some History

We all have some neat images of our families, great grandparents, grandparents, parents, and if you are old like me, images from another lifetime.  Or so it seems.  Some of our old family photos are truly a bit of history.   Some have scenes that will never be seen again such as the above photo of my grandfather Wesley Warren driving a team of oxen. Have you ever seen an ox? Much less a team of them dragging huge timber out of the woods.

The photo of my other grandfather, Gus Gilleland, shows the fashion of the day.  No well-dressed man would be without his hat. My Big Daddy was no exception. And we ain't talking baseball caps, either. He had his Stetson.  The cat was optional.

The photo below shows my Mom and Dad well before I came along. A slice of the past too good not to be preserved.  We all have boxes of old photos like these, images that are so susceptible to damage and loss. 
And are irreplaceable. 

Take a little time and convert them to digital files. Makes it easy to share one of a kind photos that you and your other family members want a copy of, and also insures that your great grand kids can see where they got their awesome good looks. 

Don't stop with just the pictures.  Record the subjects, location and when the photo was taken. One day someone will really appreciate your efforts.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Evergreen Cemetery

I grabbed a camera yesterday and went out to see what I could find. 
Before leaving home I found several pretty images in the garden, but we can talk about them another time.
I traveled a few back roads without seeing anything that struck my fancy and ended up in Perry. 
I remembered Evergreen Cemetery and decided to wander over for a ride through.
I was not disappointed I went.

 The cemetery is not as large as Rose Hill in Macon, but has its own character. A mix of old and new
stones, with lots of trees and Spanish Moss. I got there around noon with the sun overhead. The light played
nicely  through the trees.


There are quite a few old trees, some like this old cedar with a lot of texture showing. I need to do this more often, just grab a camera and go see what I can find. And I forgot to mention I took along a film camera.
Had one loaded with color print film and decided to shoot a few frames. I will have to show you those after I have the film processed.

Monday, May 21, 2012


My grandfather Wesley Warren, always said, "One thing that's always the same in life is that things are always changing."  What a wise man he was.  Along came 2012 and demonstrated to Deborah and me just how true this can be.  He also said quite frequently that what ever came along, God would get you through it.

The last two years had been really hard financially since my layoff from Tribune Newspapers.  I really needed something to supplement my freelance work.  I knew anything I found probably would not be in a field related to photography.

Deborah's mom, who had dementia and a bunch of other health issues, had lived with us for the last ten years. In January she went into the hospital, then into a nursing home.   A short while later I was blessed with two new jobs. I landed the ultimate part-time job, three days a week at Lowe's. To me, this is like working in a  toy store.

In the middle of this, grandchild number three, sweet little Abby came along.

About the same time, I began working with James and Jodi Palmer at Macon Magazine.   The April/May issue was my first full magazine with the Palmer's. I worked with them for years at the Telegraph Two of the best folks in the world who also happen to be great writers and editors.  The top photo is my first cover for them.

The magazine requires about two weeks of really intense shooting. No problem scheduling my shoots around my time at Lowe's. Everything just moving right along. Then mid-March we lost Deborah's mom. 
Totally unexpected.

In mid-April we were gearing up for the next magazine, four weeks from deadline, and I ended up spending a week in the Med Center of Middle Georgia's Heart Center.  I came home Saturday, April 21, with a brand new defibrillator. Not exactly what I wanted for my 63rd birthday.

My doctor said I could use a camera but no heavy lifting. Deborah volunteered to be my assistant, and we were shooting the next week.  She is awesome, a great help. Setting up lights, handing me cameras and lenses when I need to swap out. Plus she has a great eye.  The photo below was from our first assignment, accompanying a story about horse therapy. 

The final shoot was with  Teen golfer Matthew Beringer.  We shot him the day before our deadline. Quite an adventure this year has been. 

But this is life. Good days mixed with some rough days, that is what its all about. But no matter what comes along, God will get you through it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Did You Do That?

I posted some of my shoot with Elena  on Facebook recently and had a bunch of folks ask how I did the blur effect.  Back in the day, this was accomplished by using the zoom ring on your lens while shooting really slow, or some other pain in the butt method. Today much easier and the results are much more predictable. 

I shot these with the sun in a particular position in the image, and ended up with some really cluttered backgrounds. I tried to edit out the power lines and other junk, but it was taking forever. I decided to try this, and it worked quite well.

I used the Radial Blur filter in Photoshop, the reworked the image using layers and the layer mask. 
You can place the filter over the image for best effect, and then work it to suit your taste.
The bottom photo didn't need background work, but I thought the effect really fit the jumping image.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tis The Season(The Other Season)

Each year I wait for the peach trees to bloom.  For a long time, it was an obligatory shot for the newspaper, then I began to enjoy trying for something a little different. This year I waited for a rainy day, got some clouds and water droplets on the blooms. The delicate colors always photograph better on overcast days. Better results than bright sunny days.  This holds for most flowers.

These did pretty good, but I got some killer dogwood blooms to show you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Love To Shoot Daffodils

One of my favorite flowers is the daffodil. And I love to photograph them.  These poped up in the neighbor's yard.  I have been seeing them for the last two days and decided to grab a shot or two today.
There are three blooms growing up together. Two are close together, one is facing the opposite way and is almost on the ground. Had to do the two together against the sky, got the top image. Did one with the 300 that compressed the two, and had a really soft, dreamy look to it, but liked this one better.

The last two are the one close to the ground. The middle iamge was with the 28mm lens, no fill flash. I like the  boldness that the high contrast gives it, and the way the grass is lighted by the sun.

The bottom is with the 10mm, and I used some fill flash on it. There is no opacity to the petals, and i bit of shadow cast by the overhead flash. The flower and grass are evenly lit in this one. I like the clouds and sun in this picture, the bottom two match the feel of the top one.

 For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.
 From a poem by a poem by William Wordsworth

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just Caught My Eye

Here are two photos, entirely different from each other, that I shot today. The top one was while driving home from Warner Robins this morning. This group of kids on their motorcycles came up behind me and I noticed them in the rear view mirror. Had the D90 with the 15mm on the seat next to me, and had to shoot a frame. 
It made a cool shot.

The bottom image is a Camellia bloom that had fallen from the bush, and was laying amid some brown leaves. 
A small part of the bloom still had its color, the rest a dead brown. I noticed it as I was taking the dogs outside and had to shoot it later. The soft diffused light from the overcast sky really made it pop.  Glad I shot them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Floating Rose

Deborah made a floral arrangement with cut flowers for her Mom's 80th birthday this morning. There was one rose bloom that was stemless. She dropped it in a glass of water. When I saw it, the wheels started turning, dark background, a a strong back light, little more light from above.....

One thing led to another, we swapped the glass for this cool vase, put a black cloth under the vase, added candles and another bloom of some kind and here is my favorite. 

The lights were two on camera strobes used on light stands. The back light had a snoot to focus the light into a tight spot. I made the snoot with the cardboard from a cereal box and duct tape. Honey Nut Cheerios seem to work best, something about the cholesterol. The front light was above and to the left of the camera. 

I had cut some tea olive blooms this morning and decided to see how they looked using the same lighting set up. Not a bad morning's work.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Concrete Plant, Part 1

There is an old concrete plant in Fort Valley. I have thought about doing some photos of it before, actually did a couple of quick shots one day, but was in a hurry and didn't really look the place over.  I took some time yesterday and found a couple of interesting images.

The first thing to catch my eye was this slippery when wet sign that has been overtaken by vines. Not too slippery, I guess. The door below was an obvious target of my 3oomm.  I had three lenses with me and shot some with all three. The 300, my 15-30, and the fish eye. We will look at some more next time. 

We all have places we drive by quite often and think about shooting. Take some time and check them out. Doesn't cost a thing but a little time. And hey, you will have a camera in your had so it sure won't be wasted time.

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