Let me just begin by saying that I’ve wanted to have 2 dogs from the very beginning…. When we bought Pita (our 3-year-old fawn boxer), I lobbied for getting two. Every time we see dogs for sale, I try to get my wife over to pet them (and hopefully get all gooey so she’ll get one).
Finally, this past weekend my dreams came true! We saw some boxers for sale, so my wife and I decided to go play with them. When we pulled up, we found that half the little was completely white – which isn’t very common. They were selling at a good price, and since my wife really likes white puppies we ended up getting one!
Her name is Daisy because my wife’s favorite flowers are daisies, and they come in white.
Today I mowed the yard and the dogs were outside with me. I was a little worried about mowing with this new puppy. She always seems to walk in front of us or between our legs, so I wasn’t sure how cautious she would be around a lawn mower. At one point I experienced a moment of panic when I looked around and didn’t see her anywhere. I discovered that she was actually following right behind me! Up and down the rows we went, and she rarely lagged behind more than a foot or so.
We really enjoyed mowing the yard together, but I learned one thing about having an all-white dog…
…it’s tough to get the grass stains out!
Thursday evening I got a phone call saying that in the morning I was to drive down to Georgia to take photos of our crews cleaning up the train tracks in the aftermath of a tornado. We have trucks equipped with tree cutting claws that can ride along the rail.
When I arrived (after a 4-hour drive), the crews told me about how the tornado had destroyed the middle school and the high school in the town, and many homes were completely destroyed. I was surprised that, with so many mountains in the surrounding area, a tornado could stay on the ground for so long. In fact, you could see on the mountainside the path that the tornado had made. Thank God this didn’t happen during school hours!
Events like this remind us of how powerless we really are. Is there any place where we can truly be out of harm’s way?
This past weekend we actually got to stay at home and do some work around the house. I wanted to get a jump on planting some grass in the back yard, so we went up to Southern States to pick out some tough grass (we got Kentucky 31).
It happens to be “Chick Days” at Southern States (and Tractor Supply Company) so they had a trough full of little fluffy chicks. They also had a trough of ducklings! Super cute… So tonight we decided that we would get 2 ducklings. They are a type of mallard, but my wife was hoping for a white duck. So we stopped by Tractor Supply Company where they sell pekin ducks, which are white, and picked up a third. So the pekin duckling is my wife’s LuLu, while the mallards (Darla and Ducky – named by my niece) are for me. We’re not actually sure of the gender yet, so that should be a fun surprise.
This was kindof an impulsive decision, but apparently ducks are pretty low-maintenance. They’re fairly self-sufficient as long as you make sure there’s food and a bunch of water somewhere.
When we got them home, we set up the heat lamp. It makes a nice soft light (since it’s so close), so I decided to take some photos with my Tiffen macro +4 lens attachment. I think the macro really emphasizes their cute/fluffy-ness. This is going to be fun!
Today I am a proud new owner of a Browning BPS 12 gauge pump shotgun. I’ve been wanting to get a shotgun for a couple years now, but it had just in the back of my mind. It wasn’t an impulse buy, but this weekend seemed like the perfect time to get it. My wife was hosting a baby shower at our house, so we had some friends come in from out of town. The guys were planning to go shooting while the women-folk had the party. One of those guys was my good friend Brad Fitzpatrick. Brad is a genius when it comes to firearms. I figured he could help me make a smart buy before we went out to shoot clay pigeons in the afternoon.
So this morning Brad and I hopped in the car, picked up or friend Dan, and headed up to Evans Firearms in Lexington, KY. I knew that I wanted a pump action, and I wanted a nice wood stock. After we looked around a bit we noticed that Evans actually has a pretty great selection of used shotguns. First I asked to see one of the Remingtons, and the guy handed me an 870. I like how they eject the shell out of the side, but the only wood finish I like from Remington is on the Wingmasters. They didn’t have any used, and they’re probably a bit out of my price range anyway. Then I asked to see the Browning. I hadn’t noticed before, but when he pulled it from the rack I saw that it had a really neat inlay design on either side. On the left are two pheasants, and on the right are three ducks. Very pretty. After being reassured by Brad that it was indeed a great gun, I decided to buy it.
We took it home and disassembled it to clean it. Brad looked down the barrel and, I believe his words were, “This is literally the most disgusting barrel I have ever seen.” But we cleaned out the dust and grime, and it sparkled like new. Brad guessed that its first owner had never fired it.
When we went out in the afternoon to shoot I really fell in love with it. It’s a lot more fun to shoot with your own gun instead of borrowing one. And I’ve never shot better! This will be a fun new hobby.
I posted this photo in the “Photo of the Day” section of a forum that I occasionally contribute to. Someone asked me a question there that got me thinking…
“Your photos are gorgeous. Just curious how do you travel so much? Seems like you have photos from every corner of the globe. I was just curious, not trying to be nosy. :)”
Thanks! You’re not being nosy at all. I think I take (and make) opportunities to travel because I want that to be something about who I am. I want to be someone who travels and takes photographs. I do get to travel some for work. The Wetlands photo above was taken when I went down to Mississippi to take photos of the railroad reconstruction after Hurricanes Gustav & Ike in 2008 (I work for a railroad service company in Kentucky). I went to Africa last summer because I have a friend who’s a freelance author for hunting magazines. He said he was going on a safari and invited my wife and I to go. We had to save up for a whole year and it was expensive, but it was worth it. I wish that I was a good photographer back when I visited Nicaragua, Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, and Paraguay. I have very few photos from those places, and they’re not that good either!
But I firmly believe that traveling to places far away from home can help you understand your own local world so much better. You learn that things aren’t the same everywhere. Some things are better in other places, and that helps you find ways to improve and contribute to your environment. Some things are much worse in other places, and that helps you really appreciate how good you’ve got it. I’ve found that it’s mostly the latter.
I wish everyone would explore a little more. Often when I hear people getting up in arms about various topics, I find myself thinking, “If you only knew what it’s like in _______, you wouldn’t be talking like this.” But why should they care if they’ve never been there? I’m not trying to “toot my own horn” saying that I’m so much more worldly and wise than everyone else, but exploration really does change your perspective.
My wife’s braided hibiscus bloomed this morning. What a beautiful plant! It stands about 3 or 4 feet tall and the trunks are braided together. The first day of bloom being the best for photos, I decided to equip my camera with the Lensbaby Composer. We got this a couple years ago, and haven’t really used it much. Mostly because it’s extremely difficult to use. It requires a lot of trial-and-error shooting, and weeding through a bunch of bad photos on the computer.
The idea of the Lensbaby is that you can tilt the lens, making only a selected area of the photo possible to be focused on. The hard part is figuring out which part of the frame can be focused, and then manually focusing on that part – pretty tough. But it’s Saturday, so I had the time! The other unique thing about the Lensbaby is that the aperture is changed by dropping a magnetic ring into the front. If you want a higher f-stop you must remove the ring, and put in a thicker ring.
Today my boss pointed out to me that a robin had made its little bird’s nest on the door to our train (a non-working train that’s just for show). And I’m not talking up high on the door, but in the window sill, right by the knob! What this bird was thinking, I dunno. To me, this seemed like a rare opportunity to take photos of the inside of a bird’s nest without having to climb a tree.
I am so amazed by birds’ ability to put together these sturdy little nests. Especially since they have no hands! I do have hands, but I still don’t think I could make a nest as perfectly as these tiny fellas! It looks so cozy in there… I want to curl up with them.
This weekend my talented journalist friend Brad Fitzpatrick and his wife came to visit us. Brad has a couple new articles in the works, and was in need of some photos. On Saturday we drove up to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital where they specialize in podiatry for horses. We met veterinarian Vernon Dryden who was kind enough to let us tag along on a couple house calls to some nearby thoroughbred horse farms. It was so interesting to see him treating the hooves/feet of these horses.
Today we went out into the country and took some shots of a Howa rifle that Brad will be writing about in this coming year’s Gun Digest Annual Edition. We positioned the gun on some rocks in a stream, and I stood out in the water with my tripod to get some prolonged exposures. It’s fun to play in the water!
I absolutely love it when I’m just goofing around and somehow a cool photo happens. Here I am, sitting at my desk experimenting with Lightroom 3 Beta 2. I was toying with the tethered shooting feature, and I just clicked the shutter release button within the application and the camera went off in my hand. That’s nothing new, right? But it came out with a pretty cool photo (at least, I think so)! It’s ISO 1600 on a little Rebel XTi. You can see that the noise reduction in the new version is going to be AMAZING. Click Here to see the full-size image. I can’t wait for the full version of LR3 to come out!
When I start a project or do a photo shoot, I am always so anxious to get to the point of final presentation. I just can’t wait to take whatever I’m working on and hold it up to the world and say “Check this out!” I figured everybody was this way, but I see something different in my Dad.
Dad’s creative expression is pottery. He started doing it while he was in college, and he has picked it back up here in the past decade. His purpose isn’t to have a finished work of art, but to have the experience of making it. I think he gets most enjoyment out of starting with a formless lump of clay, turning it on a wheel and creating a form out of nothing. For a pastor (or any Christian), the metaphor goes so deep – from the beliefs of creationism, to the idea of the guiding hand of a loving God molding us into the people we should be. I think for Dad, spinning a pot is one way that he meditates – like a personal devotion time.
Dad’s pots, jars, mugs, etc have wonderful shape and texture, but when you look closely you may see some rough edges. I used to think, “Why doesn’t he smooth those bumps out?” but now, that added character is part of why I love his work. And doesn’t that make the metaphor complete – slightly flawed; with the fingerprint of the Creator?
I once suggested to him that he try to sell some of his pots and make a nice little profit (his house is FULL of these pots, and he gives them away like candy). But he shrugged it off and said, “Nah… I just like making them.” I guess if he started to sell them, it would change his purpose.
“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)