Friday, November 25, 2011

Moonlight Lady of Blount County

In this final implementation from last week's trip through Blount County, I bring you one of that county's residents in her most natural state. I was grateful for how close this momma cow was letting me creep on her without being too bothered by my intrusion during her grazing.

Blount County, Alabama :: Canon Rebel T2i, Tokina 12-24mm f/4 @ 12mm, 1/160s @ f/5.6, ISO 200

Blount County Barn in Disrepair

Blount County, Alabama :: Canon Rebel T2i, EF 50mm f/1.8 II, 1/80s @ f/5.6, ISO 200

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bovine, Barn, and a Misplaced Van in Blount County

I first saw this scene a couple of years ago when I was plotting put-in and take-out points for paddling on the Locust Fork. But at the time, I didn't have a camera with me that would allow me to photograph it as I envisioned. I've had the place on my mind ever since, having returned a couple of time, but never with the conditions being right...until Monday morning.

Canon Rebel T2i, Tamron LD Di 70-300mm @ 70mm, ISO 200 @ f/8, HDR: 1/500s, 1/200s, 1/60s

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How I Caught a Robber OR Moral Turpitude and Tomato Thievery

On a fateful Monday morning in November, I was in my home office preparing for the day ahead, when movement outside the window caught my eye. There was a fellow walking between my house and the vacant house next door. And since that house is for sale I went to the window to spy who my potential neighbor might be. But the grungy guy that I beheld didn't seem a potential suitor for the house; not only that, he had one of my still-green tomatoes in hand. The audacity!

I then went to a window at the front of the house to see what sort of car this fellow drove. None. There was no car in driveway next door. Curiouser and curiouser. My suspicions aroused, I went through the door to the garage, where the garage-door was already up. The grungy fellow in jeans and a plain, white t-shirt was standing at the end of my driveway, peering in, as if to scope the place out. So I stepped back in the house for a moment.

When I came back out, he was walking out from between my house and my other neighbor's house; he then proceeded up the street, walking through people's yards. I decided then that this was odd enough that I ought to call the police, but I didn't want to alarm Anna yet, so I had to be nonchalant in my retrieval of my phone and handgun. Having then gotten those things, I went back outside.

Upon getting the Fultondale Police dispatcher on the phone, I described what and whom I had seen. The dispatcher assured me that she would notify a patrol car, all the while acting like I was completely wasting her time; and how dare I be so brazen! While I was on the phone, the grungy fellow comes running back down the street, and then ducks between my house and the vacant house. Ten minutes later, I still hadn't seen a car. But Anna and I had to take my car to the shop. So off we went.

On the ride home, after dropping off the car, I described to Anna what I had seen. She was alarmed. When we got home, I made Anna wait will I inspected the house. It was fine. I then went out back to check out my house and the vacant house. I then discovered that the glass back door of the vacant house had been smashed. So I called the Fultondale Police for the second time, and described what I had seen. No more impressed than the first go-round, the dispatcher assured me that she would sent a car. Some ten to fifteen minutes later, a patrol car does in fact arrive.

After finishing his cigarette, he went around to the back of the house. A second car arrived, and the officer joined the first around back. Several minutes later, I heard a loud thud, just as a third car arrived. I informed that officer that I had made the call; he asked me to describe the suspect. I did, and he replied, "Is that the same guy as they have in there now?" "He's in there?!" I asked incredulously and unnecessarily. Moments later they brought him out in cuffs and hauled him off.

I expected that I should be lauded as some sort of neighborhood hero. I was not. I did later learn that the reason grungy fellow was running back down the street (while I was on the phone with the Police the first time) was that he had broken into a house up the block, and someone had been home. Learning that information caused me to be all-the-more irritated that it took the Police so long to arrive after the second call, when they had already been in the neighborhood an hour previously.

The story doesn't quite end there. A couple of days later, I was walking between my house and the vacant house, where I discovered a still-green tomato that had a bite taken out of it. I wish it were poisonous.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Introducing the Carolina Anole

The other day, I was walking through the living room and glanced out the window at the shrub/tree/thing that resides there. I noticed in the uppermost leaves there was a lizard hanging out. I have seen dozens of these lizards around the house; one even lived in my office a few weeks, until I realized that Anna would murder me if she saw him roaming about and discerned that I had known of his presence, at which point I ushered him outside (but not without pangs of guilt; it was cold out). 

Nevertheless, I never knew what sorts of lizards these were until some helpful cohorts at helped me ID them: the Carolina Anole (or Green Anole). They eat moths and roaches and other insects. And when the males cause the orange part of their throat to stick out (that part is called the 'dewlap'), they're either trying to appear threatening or attract females.

Canon Rebel T2i, Tamron LD Di 70-300mm @ 300mm, 1/30s @ f/8, ISO 800

Friday, November 18, 2011

Petri 2.8 Color Corrected Super

Having visited a flea market recently, I was fortunate enough to come upon a Petri 2.8 Color Corrected Super. The Petri 2.8 was manufactured Kuribayashi Camera Industry, Inc. in Japan from 1958-61.

It features an Orikkor 45mm f/2.8 lens, with an amber coating; mine also features some sort of oil or dried fluid on one or more of the interior elements (below), but this is not courtesy of the manufacturer. The aperture opens from f/2.8-22, with ten aperture blades. Somehow the camera I bought still has what appears to be the original lens cap, thanks in large part to the leather Petri carry case the camera was in.

The camera also sports a leaf shutter with a max shutter speed of 1/300s; in my copy, the shutter begins to drag a bit from 1/2s-1s, but faster shutter speeds appear to increase incrementally and sound about right.

I have read that the rangefinder on the camera is coupled and provides brightlines for parallax correction, but I can't verify that as of yet. Until the viewfinder (below) receives the attention of some cleaning agents, it has all the utility of glasses on a blind man.

 I've found some disassembly instructions and suggestions, so hopefully, I will be able to clean both the viewfinder and lens and restore this camera to some real functionality. Either way, you'll likely see the results in the not-too-distant future.

But before cleaning the Petri, I wanted to see what it could do in it's present state. All of the below photos were taken at the Cardiff Cemetery in Cardiff, Alabama.

While there's certainly room for improvement, I can't say I was disappointed. In all of these the aperture was set at either f/8 or f/11. I wanted to give myself a large margin of error while I got accustomed to the scale focusing. Those scenes were shot on Kodak Gold 200; with manual exposure, I thought I might need plenty of exposure latitude as well; looks like I did alright.

Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you might have. I strive to make this as informative as possible.

Minox 35 GL Rangefinder and FC 35 Flash

I stopped by America's Thrift Store a couple days ago (the same thrift store from which I picked up my Ninoka nk-700 and Vivitar pn2011), and while sorting through the meager pickings, I came across this cool, compact rangefinder.

Unfortunately, after some testing it appears that the shutter is malfunctioning. It will fire but won't close until the film winding mechanism is activated. The camera requires a PX27 battery, which is difficult to come by, so I used four (4) SR44/357 batteries which are each 1.5v, thus adding up to the necessary 6v. In order to use the SR44's, you have to fashion some sort of insulator around the batteries to as to keep them from shorting out against the sides of the battery compartment.

I really hope to sort out the shutter problems because I was really excited about this camera. Worst case scenario, it's a neat addition to the non-functioning by good looking camera shelf.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Autumn at Elmwood

After dropping Anna off at work yesterday morning, I had some time before I would be able to get into the office, so I did what any normal person would do in that situation on a rainy morning...went to the cemetery. I had driven through Elmwood Cemetery, located in western Birmingham, briefly about five years ago and hadn't been back since. 

Since I wasn't planning on this little side trip, and wasn't in my own vehicle, I didn't have the camera I generally keep in the car. My only photographic device was my iPhone, so I was glad to have already experimented with it at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge on Friday.

Aside from Elmwood being a really old cemetery, and thus having some nifty monuments and tombstones, it also has some really large old trees that are currently holding and shedding some vibrant foliage.

Other posts involving the photographing of cemeteries include: Greenwood Cemetery Vol. I and Vol. II, and Johnson Cemetery in the Sipsey Wilderness.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Atkeson Trail

On my way up to Huntsville on Friday (in order to run the Huntsville Half Marathon the following day), I decided to stop at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge on the Tennessee River, near Decatur, Alabama. I didn't have a great deal of time, so I stopped at the Visitor Center where I found a nice half-mile trail, called the Atkeson Trail. This little hike contained all sorts of flora from bamboo to a bald cypress grove, hackleberry to red oak.

In addition to carrying my Panasonic LX3, I have just acquired an iPhone 4 and wanted to test its abilities. I used the iPhone to take the first two photos below.

And while I was pleased enough with the results I achieved, it certainly can't replace a camera, except in a pinch. Just too many limitations. I did download the ProCamera (which gives you greater control over focus and exposure) and Adobe Photoshop Express (which has some nice little post-processing options), which increased some functionality.

The below photos were the best of the photos taken with the Panasonic LX3, which is quickly approaching the its second anniversary with me. It was my first digital camera, and I have just loved this thing.

Huntsville Half Marathon

In February, I ran my first half marathon, the Mercedes Half Marathon, in Birmingham. In July, I set about looking for the next Half I would run and came across the Huntsville Half Marathon on November 12, which gave me plenty of time to re-train (following a very lazy June) and cooler temps to run in. I then convinced my friend Mark Gouge to run with me; it would be his first Half.

So with each short run, long run and cross training day, D-day drew nigh. And on Friday, I went to the thrift store to pick up throw-away sweatshirts for Mark and myself. I was incredibly fortunate to find these lovely bowl game sweatshirts from 1998 (below).

USC-TCU at the Sun Bowl, and Tennessee-FSU at the Fiesta Bowl
The Huntsville Half is a much smaller race than the Mercedes, with about 950 registered runners. On Friday evening we went to pick up our SWAG bags and numbers.

 Due to the slow nature of our pace, Mark and I elected to start at the very back of the pack. We ended up placing in the mid-600s, meaning we passed about a third of the field. So here's a day, in a slideshow (but for those of you using portable Apple products that don't support Flash, you can find the gallery containing these same photographs: here).

And since finishing was really the highest of priorities for Mark and myself, here's a video of us doing just that.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Weekend, in Photos and Emoticons

Well, first we went to see Needtobreathe at the BAMA Theatre in Tuscaloosa...

...and that made me feel like this: Happy

Then I had to get up the next morning and go take the MPRE...

...but that made me feel like this: rolleyes

After the exam, we left for Tuscaloosa to watch the Alabama-LSU game...

...and the end of that game left me feeling like this: frown

Lyric Theatre

Canon Rebel T2i, EF 50mm f/1.8 II

Panasonic LX3

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Customer

I recently ordered a print from my website. I know it sounds sort of narcissistic, but I felt that I needed to know my product. I host my site through Zenfolio, who has a working relationship with So I ordered, tracked the order and shipping online, and eagerly anticipated getting home on the day it arrived...or perhaps anxiously anticipated.

I was anxious because I've ordered prints from an online entity before only to discover that my mail delivery person has folded and shoved the envelope into the mail box, thus creasing the prints. So I was really pleased to see that my Mpix print arrived in a box, and inside the box were several additional layers and padding and protection. Of equally high quality were the print and paper.

So I encourage you to go to my website and order a print so that you too may be an equally happy customer. (I know; that part really was narcissistic.)

Central Park, New York City

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Citizens Federal Savings Bank in Birmingham

While I was poking about the Pythian Temple, I also went next door to the Citizens Federal Savings Bank building. Citizens Federal Savings Bank was founded by A.G. Gaston in 1957. In addition to housing the bank, this building was notably home to the Booker T. Washington Insurance Company (founded in 1924) and a Birmingham gospel radio station, WAGG. Though it is no longer headquartered in the basement of the Citizens Federal building, WAGG is a 5000-watt station that can still be heard on AM 610.

This (above) is the front of the Citizens Federal Saving Bank/Booker T. Washington building, after its facade was renovated and "improved" from the archaic style of the early part of the century. Originally, there were no balconies, but the windows were pushed back and balconies added with the renovations of the 1960s.

The top floor still houses thousands upon thousands of insurance policies. Did you know a death policy from the early 1960s might pay out as little as $75? You can't get somebody from the house to the funeral home for that amount now.