Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorite Photograph of 2012

I know this may seem like an odd choice since it's really just so much fungus, but I'm pretty sure after doing a quick perusal of my photographs on the website that this photograph of bracket fungus from Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, Alabama, is my favorite of 2012. If you had a favorite post or photograph of mine from 2012, please feel free to share.

Orange Bracket Fungus at Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, Alabama

Friday, December 28, 2012

Stucco and Spanish Windows, Birmingham

Stucco and Spanish Windows, Downtown Birmingham, Alabam

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spanish Flavored Architecture, Birmingham

Spanish Flavored Architecture in Downtown Birmingham, Alabama

Monday, December 24, 2012

Unfortunate Plight of the Stink Bug

The stink bug was suddenly buffeted (repeatedly) with the stark and unforgiving reality that the defense mechanisms with which God had endowed it were of no consequence to this casual and indiscriminate predator/diner.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Back from the Lens Doctor: EF 24-105 L

A while back, while photographing the Republic Steel East Thomas Plant and Wade Sand and Gravel in Birmingham, I had the misfortune of dropping my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L lens from about should height and it landing lens first in the hard-pack road; actually, it wasn't even "dropping" it so much as it was the quick release plate disengaging from the tripod while it was slung over my shoulder and allowing gravity to do her worst. She did.

I began to notice in subsequent outings that the photos taken with the lens just weren't sharp. And the problem didn't improve regardless of focal length, aperture, or use of Image Stabilization. But in the words of the immortal GI Joe, "Knowing is only half the battle." The real issue was, what was I going to do about it. After a couple months of deliberation, I sent the lens off to Canon's repair center in Virginia. And they sent me quite the estimate; they could repair it for about a third of what I paid for it, which was not insubstantial. So rather than having an uber-expensive paperweight I ponied up the rubles. 

Upon the lens' return about 10 days later, I discovered, and I'm pretty certain about this, the lens now takes sharper photographs than when I first purchased it (used). And I learned a couple of valuable lessons through this experience:
  • Buying used is not always the best alternative, even when you save several hundred dollars up front. If I had purchased the lens new, it would have still been under warranty when I dropped it and the repairs would have been covered by Canon; thus I came out about even in this thing.
  • Don't rely on the quick release plate to stay mounted to the tripod. Take that extra couple of seconds to sling that camera over your shoulder or use the wrist strap.
  • Canon's repair service has a really quick turnaround time, but I hope not to use again in the near future.
The subject of my first test shots was the closest cuddly thing at hand.

Darby wants to play ball. I want to test out my newly repaired lens.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Showing Signs of Wear at 2408, Birmingham

Showing Signs of Wear at 2408, Birmingham

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pine Tree Plantation in Blount County, Alabama

Pine Tree Plantation, Blount County, Alabama :: November 2012 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shrugging off Autumn's Shroud in Guntersville

Giving Way to Winter, Lake Guntersville, Guntersville, Alabama
Autumn is faithfully giving way to Winter on the banks of Lake Guntersville on the Tennessee River, in Guntersville, Alabama.

On a recent work-related trip to Guntersville, I paused long enough to notice that the seasons are continuing to shift, and the trees are shrugging off their autumn shrouds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Autumn Landscape in Walker County, Alabama

Pond in Walker County in an Autumn Landscape

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Highly Dynamic Pond in Walker County, Alabama

There was a lot of color and contrast in this scene that I really wanted to bring out. And with the clouds being so bright and the foliage being significantly darker, the best way to go seemed to be multi-exposure bracketing that is often known as HDR. 

This is one of several photographs made on a visit to Marion County. All this driving around the state for work-related purposes, really seems to be working in my photographic favor.

Pond with Autumn Foliage and a Cloudy Sky in early November, Walker County, Alabama

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Coyote Crossing in Blount County, Alabama

As I drove through Blount County on my way to a meeting in Guntersville, Alabama, I spotted these three coyotes trotting mischievously away from an adjacent field housing a herd of cattle. There was no visible evidence that they had done anything disruptive, but they're coyotes and mischief is in their genetic makeup. Besides they appeared to be the most well-found coyotes I've ever seen.

Trio of Coyotes Crossing a Field in Rural Blount County, Alabama

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hazy White Hibiscus on Stouts Road, Fultondale

White Hibiscus along the Roadside on Stouts Road, Fultondale, Alabama

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Roadside Hibiscus, Fultondale, Alabama

Roadside Fuchsia Hibiscus, Fultondale, Alabama
Throughout the Southeast, back in late summer (which seems so very long ago now that late fall's cold temperatures and dreary landscapes have set in), the area was awash with all varieties of crayola-like flora, including any number of hibiscus.

In September, this fuchsia-flavored hibiscus was growing along historic Stouts Road in Fultondale, Alabama.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Inaugural Tacky Christmas Run in Cullman, Alabama

Bright colors were popping on Saturday morning, December 1, 2012, at the inaugural Tacky Christmas Run, in downtown Cullman, Alabama. Everyone from Santa to Elves to Who's from Whoville to tutu-laden runners put in appearance at this race. To put it mildly, it looked very much like Christmas kitsch threw up all over itself - but then again, that was the point.

Inaugural Tacky Christmas Run, Cullman, Alabama :: December 1, 2012
Some fifty run participated in the 5K, which kicked off at 8am in ideal weather. Despite it being the race's first year, it was well organized, with Cullman police blocking intersections, encouraging volunteers stationed along they way to point runners in the right direction (including the Easter Bunny in Christmas Decor - below), water stations, on-site paramedics, and free food (from Chick-Fil-A and Logans, among others) at the end of the race.

The Easter Bunny Cheers Runners
The race was dubbed "Feet on a Mission!" by its organizers who are using the proceeds from this and other fundraising enterprises in their continual mission to aid the Sonrise Baby Home in Uganda, Africa. The orgnizers, among whom are two nurses from Children's Hospital of Alabama and who attend Cullman's Desperation Church, will be visiting the Sonrise Baby Home in the near future.

Following the 5K was the One Mile Fun Run, which had about twenty-five participants, the majority of whom were children. In fact, kids placed first through third in the Fun Run.

So if this time next year, you're looking for a good, little race run by good people for a good cause, I encourage you to seek out what will hopefully be the Second Annual Tacky Christmas Run in Cullman, Alabama. And don't forget to seek out your most appalling Christmas garb.

Young Caleb Heis bests both his Dad, Andy, and the Easter Bunny to Win the One Mile Fun Run

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foggy Panoramic Vista in Jefferson County, Alabama

Foggy Panoramic Vista near Brookside, Jefferson County, Alabama

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Foggy Hillsides near Brookside, Alabama

Foggy Hillsides near Brookside, Alabama, in early November
   As I began the drive toward Marion County in early November, keeping in mind my goal of photographing something along the way, I got on Corridor X and was almost immediately brought to a halt.
     The rising sun was streaming into the fog-laden valleys to my right, bringing into view a scene that "picturesque" only falteringly begins to describe.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fog-Laden Valleys in Western Jefferson County

Foggy Valleys near Brookside, Jefferson County, Alabama :: Canon T2i, EF 24-105 f/4 L

Monday, November 26, 2012

Darby Does Not Love Her Party Hat

Darby turned a year old on October 24, 2012, so we had a little birthday celebration for her, which included this party hat. She protested wear quite vigorously, and even treats had very little effect in persuading her to wear it. She found much more utility in attempting to eat the hat. Nevertheless, it was a good party, and she has made our lives a little brighter (albeit inestimably more stressful) over the past year.

Darby does not love her Birthday Party Hat, not at all :: October 24, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

YouTube's Instagram-like Video Editor Features

It's getting ever more difficult for casual video-makers to justify purchasing video software when there's so much freeware floating about. But even more than that, YouTube has made available a video editor that has options, similar in effect to those made available by apps like Instagram. It requires very little technical knowledge (though moderately more technical settings are available) and only desire to find a pleasing aesthetic, and almost instantly ("almost" in that it takes a couple of minutes [depending on the length and files size of the video] for the changes to take place and be viewable), you have a video with a little, or alot, more pop and pizzazz than you had before and likely would have had at all.

The above video was shot with my Canon T2i and EF 24-105 f/4 L, and is more-or-less straight out of the camera. The video below was altered using YouTube's enhancement features, including: "Stabilize", "Auto-Fix", and lomo-like color and vignetting changes. Enhancements can be chosen that are as subtle or outlandish as you like. Although there are significant limitations as to what's available, for the casual user, it will be more than enough.

Tranquil Scene at Newfound Creek, below Baines Dam, in Gardendale, Alabama

Saturday, November 24, 2012

At the Fultondale Bark Park with Darby

It's been a while since we've had a Darby update on the blog, so I thought it was time again. Darby's life took a significant change a couple of months ago, when I began my new job. Gone were the days of endlessly lounging about the house with Dad, and daily trips to the park. Instead she now suffers through her weekdays mostly alone. Of course, the alternative was that she starve to death without me having an income. Nevertheless she has survived, and on weekends and holidays, we still get to make those trips to the park. And she is no less rambunctious for having turned a year old last month.

At the Fultondale Bark Park with Darby

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gardendale's Inaugural Turkey Trot

On a crisp Thanksgiving morning in Gardendale, Alabama, a group of thirty runners congregated in the Gardendale Civic Center parking lot to partake in the inaugural Gardendale Turkey Trot. With no t-shirts or medals, no bibs or cheering masses, these runners met merely for the fellowship and the love of their sport. The effort was coordinated by Gardendale's David Crockett, who also got Donut Joe's to provide some post-run treats, that almost certainly replaced all the calories we had just burned.

Perhaps this Turkey Trot will grow in future years to include many of the runners in Gardendale and Fultondale. Or maybe it will remain a smallish group. Regardless, all of the runners expressed their interest in it becoming a regular part of their Thanksgiving traditions.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pit Run Vista, Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham

And finally, this is my favorite from the Wade Sand and Gravel Series, because among all of the photographs this one most reminds me of the seeping vistas of the Rocky Mountains. This is also the conclusion of the series as we move on to other things.

Pit Run Vistas at Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham, Alabama

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Return to the Badlands, Wade Sand and Gravel

A Return to the Pit Run Badlands of Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham, Alabama

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Delineated Gravel Dunes, Wade Sand and Gravel

Drawing a Line in the Sand, Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham, Alabama

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weather-Beaten Mountains, Wade Sand and Gravel

This is the continuation of a series of photographs from pit run and gravel dunes at Wade Sand and Gravel in Birmingham, but which more closely resemble the roughest terrain of the Badlands or Rockies, or the windblown dunes of New Mexico and Utah. I love the photos of themselves, but am allthemore a fan because of their deception.

Mountains of Pit Run at Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham, Alabama

Monday, November 12, 2012

Colorful Characters at Jefferson County Courthouse

Colorful Characters at the Jefferson County Courthouse, Birmingham, Alabama :: iPhone4s

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cast of Characters at the Courthouse, Birmingham

Waiting in Line for Tags :: Jefferson County Courthouse, Birmingham, Alabama :: iPhone4s

Friday, November 9, 2012

All Quiet on the Republican Front

Marion County Republican Party Headquarters, Hamilton, Alabama
Early on Wednesday, as the day was just beginning, and shops and corner cafes were first opening their days, the city of Hamilton, Alabama, began to bustle. But one building, across the street from the front doors of the courthouse, seemed particularly desolate, despite its banners and patriotic  signs. An air of disappointment emanated from the place, not but a few hours removed from concession.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Canyon Walls, Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham

This is the continuation of a series of photographs from pit run and gravel dunes at Wade Sand and Gravel in Birmingham, but which more closely resemble the roughest terrain of the Badlands or Rockies, or the windblown dunes of New Mexico and Utah. I love the photos of themselves, but am allthemore a fan because of their deception.

Canyon Walls made Pit Run at Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham, Alabama

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pit Run at Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham

This photograph will serve as the commencement of a series of photographs from pit run and gravel dunes at Wade Sand and Gravel in Birmingham, but which more closely resemble the roughest terrain of the Badlands or Rockies, or the windblown dunes of New Mexico and Utah. I love the photos of themselves, but am allthemore a fan because of their deception.

Reminiscent of the Badlands at Wade Sand and Gravel, Birmingham, Alabama

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Upcoming Photography and Blog Related Goal

As it turns out, my new job has really negatively affected my leisure time. My opportunities to photograph and subsequently contribute to this blog that I (and hopefully, you) have enjoyed for the last couple of years has been significantly inhibited. So it's time to reassess and establish new goals.

With my associate position at Webster Henry, it seems that I am going to have plenty of opportunities to traverse the State in order to attend hearings, depositions, client meetings, and things of that ilk. So my new goal is to take at least one worthwhile photograph on each of these trips. While my opportunities to photograph may be more limited, hopefully, this in-state travel will enable me to broaden the scope of the State of Alabama that is shared on this blog.

To test out my resolve and hold myself accountable, I'll share with you that this week, I have trips planned to both Millry and Hamilton, Alabama. So if anyone knows of things I should be looking for on the way down/over from Birmingham, I'm all ears.

Found on the way to Columbiana, Shelby County, Alabama

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Golden Hour at the Jefferson County Courthouse

Awaiting the Opening of the Courthouse Doors on a Crisp November Morning
Jefferson County Courthouse, Birmingham, Alabama :: iPhone 4s

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Multi-Flavored Autumn Reflection, Shelby County

Autumn Foliage, Reflection in a Pond in Shelby County, Alabama

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Sun Also Rises

I used to think that Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises was curiously titled. But then I began to think about what I wanted to say about this photograph, and the book's title came to mind, though I won't begin to suggest that the meaning I derived from the title is what Hemingway had in mind too.

We lead busy lives. From the time we get up, we have a routine. We get ourselves ready for work or school and then help our loved ones get ready for work or school. We feed ourselves and our pets. We turn on televisions or radios to discern if the world has changed significantly while we slept,. There is no good news. Then we clamber into our vehicles and dash into traffic in anticipation of a day that will be all too similar to the days that surrounded it.

But the Sun also rises, and in the midst of our daily scramble and toil, we shouldn't fail to note the beauty and small wonders that are ever within our purview. 

October Morning Sunrise, Fultondale, Alabama :: iPhone 4s

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blue Spiderwort at Black Creek

Blue Spiderwort at Black Creek, Fultondale Children's Park, Fultondale, Alabama
Canon Rebel T2i, Tokina AT-X 35mm, 1/160s @ f/5.6, ISO 400
The Blue Spiderwort (Commelina coelestis) is a hardy perennial that will grow in temperate to tropical climates. It prefers sunlight or partial shade. The Blue Spiderwort can easily be domesticated to pots and flower gardens. 

This flower earned its name because some see it as resembling a spider. It is also nicknamed "Widow's Tears" because the petals dry up and close by noon.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Morning Glory and Leaves at Black Creek

White Morning Glory and Leaves, Fultondale Children's Park, Alabama
Canon Rebel T2i, Tokina AT-X 35mm, 1/60s @ f/8, ISO 400
Morning Glory at Black Creek, Fultondale, Alabama

White morning glories grow readily along the banks of Black Creek. They are particularly evident among the rocks at Fultondale Children's Park in Fultondale, Alabama.

More than one thousand species of flower make up what are known as morning glories. As indicated by its  name, the morning glory is at full bloom early in the day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Red Spider Lilies at Black Creek, Fultondale

Red Spider Lilies at Black Creek, Fultondale, Alabama

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Clouded Yellow Butterfly on a Purple Morning Glory

Clouded Yellow Butterfly on a Purple Morning Glory, Black Creek, Fultondale
Canon Rebel T2i, EF 50mm f/1.8, 1/320s @ f/5.6, ISO 100
Although the Clouded Yellow Butterfly can be seen any year, the Clouded Yellows are prone to mass migrations, which occasions can be known "Clouded Yellow Years."

  Fun Fact about the Morning Glory: In parts of Southeast Asia, the morning glory is known as "Water Spinach," so if you're ever in a pinch for some leafy greens, relief may be close at hand.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Morning Glory on the Vine at Black Creek, Fultondale

Morning Glory on the Vine, Black Creek, Fultondale Children's Park, Alabama
Canon Rebel T2i, Tokina AT-X 35mm, 1/25s @ f/16, ISO 400

Monday, October 8, 2012

Photograph for CASA's "Through the Lens" Event

A couple of week's ago, I posted about an exhibition I was involved with through Alabama CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) (here), at which the exhibits,which portrayed individual's stories, would take the attendees on a "A Journey through Foster Care". I was assigned the story of a young adult who had aged out of the foster care system.

Once foster children reach the age of majority, they can no long be in foster care. Upon reading my charge's story,  I recognized the solitude that must envelop those who are in foster care and eventually must age out. With natural families who have either deserted them or been found unfit or otherwise wanting, these young people are compelled to face both life's challenges, joys, and sorrows without either a proper foundation or support system. 

Capturing that experience in a photograph seemed a daunting task, and after having made a number of attempts that I deemed unsuccessful, I finally settled on depicting the foster mother walking away. There is nothing sinister or malicious in her actions; her abandonment is not something that can be helped. It is merely a consequence of the broken state of things. 

A special thanks to Tyler Dooley, proprietor of Farmhouse Fabrications, for serving as my model and his willingness to stand in for many of the failed efforts involved in this project.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Generation Band at Youthquake 2012, Cullman

Generation Band, which is the worship band at Desperation Church in Cullman, Alabama, has just released a new album, Desperation Church Live 2012, which can be downloaded free here.

But mind you, Generation Band isn't just your average praise-and-worship band; they're much more talented and passionate. And Desperation Church isn't just your average church congregation; they're much more vivacious and passionate.

If you think this is something you're ready to experience, Generation Band will be opening for Switchfoot at Youthquake 2012 in Cullman, tomorrow Saturday, October 6, 2012.

Generation Band from Desperation Church, Cullman, Alabama

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jet Pep Has Lost a Step, Morris, Alabama

Jet Pep Service Station at Morris, Alabama
When this Jet Pep was last operational I don't know, but I do know for a certainty that it is slowly being reclaimed by Nature.
   Each subsequent spring and summer bring the foliage a little further out. Creeping ever closer, it cracks and chews up the asphalt, wrapping its leafy tendrils around this old service station that sits in unused and unassuming disrepair.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blooming Goldenrod a Catalyst for Bee Activity

Bee Pollinating Goldenrod :: Photographed with iPhone 4s
The recent blooming of goldenrod has brought about an autumn resurgence of bee activity. This will likely be the bee's last big food drive before settling in for the long winter months.

While on a walk with Darby, I photographed this bee, who was buzzing from plant to plant, along with dozens of her brethren. I took this photo with my iPhone 4s, which has better close-focus ability than I would have suspected.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Panorama Mode with iOS 6 Update on iPhones

If you're not an adventuresome iPhone user, you may not have discovered that with the iOS 6 software update on the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5, you now have a new camera mode with the iPhone Camera app. Under "Options" at the top of the screen, there is a "Panorama" choice. The camera operates by taking numerous photographs and automatically stitching them together.

Clicking on this will bring up a screen which directs you to pan the camera from left-to-right and provides an arrow that assists you in keeping the camera level. As can be seen in the photo to the right the Panorama mode opens with a prescribed length, though that can be shortened by tapping the camera icon at the bottom of the screen for a second time. Using the Panorama mode will create an image that is approximately 8" x 30" at 240 dpi, which is a good large size for printing.

Below is a photograph I took the Alabama-Ole Miss football game on Saturday night. The Million Dollar Band was on the field at half-time. They were more-or-less stationary during this sequence, which was good because moving subjects do not yield positive results in Panorama mode.

Panorama Mode on iPhone 4s :: Alabama-Ole Miss and Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa

Friday, September 28, 2012

Autumn Coral Encore Azalea, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Autumn Coral Encore Azalea at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Autumn Coral Encore Azalea at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, Alabama.

The most popular of azalea varieties, the Encore Azalea is a three season flower that blossoms is spring, summer, and autumn. 

Azaleas are hardy, forgiving, and easy to grow. They are sometimes referred to as the "Royalty of the Garden."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pink Giant Hibiscus, Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Pink Giant Hibiscus flower at Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Pink Giant Hibiscus flower at Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, Alabama.

The exotic-looking hibiscus has long been one of my favorite flowers. The giant hibiscus is a hardy plant that grows on a large bush. It blossoms from summer through the first frost, and the blooms can grow to as large as one foot in diameter. The deep red eye spreads outward in a starburst to a pink or white petals.