Sunday, November 29, 2009

THEN AND NOW: Turkey Point Lighthouse, MD

When living in Chestertown, MD, I was fifty miles from the Turkey point State park where the Turkey Point lighthouse has stood since 1833. It takes a walk of about two miles through woodlands and fields once used for farming. Is is actually a pleasant walk and not too strenuous. I have made this trip a few times to view the Chesapeake from an elevated bluff upon which this tower still sits.

This light is only 35 feet tall, but it is built on a one hundred-foot bluff. Thus it is one of the highest lights on the bay, 129 feet above mean high water. It was built from the same plans as that of Concord Point Lighthouse in Havre De Grace, only the stairs to the lantern are different. The stair treads at Turkey Point are made of cast iron, while they are stone in Concord Point.

Although Turkey Point had a number of lady keepers, Fannie Salter was the one most frequently written about. Her tenure extended from the death of her husband in 1925 to her retirement in 1947. At the time of her husband’s death the lighthouse service did not allow women to be full-time keepers. It took a petitioning of and grant from President Calvin Coolidge to obtain her appointment. Until the light was electrified in 1942, Ms. Salter carried oil to the lantern four times each night and rang the fog bell by hand on many nights when the automatic mechanism became inoperative.

The image on the bottom is one I made in the late 90's and not much has changed there since. The copy of the old postcard on top is a different matter. The card is from the 1940's and makes mention of Frannie Salter still being there. The inscription on the card reads;

“Week ago Sunday, we had a launch ride down river ( ) to this point, which is just where it goes into the bay also where the Susquehanna joins it on to Harve de Grace, MD. This light has a woman keeper on a bluff up from the bay. Pretty comfortable looking."

There is no indication as to who wrote the card but the place looks much as it did in the early years. I have two friends who had relatives who either worked at the light or farmed the surrounding farm and who confirm the authenticity of this scene.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The 28th day of the 11th month of the year of the OP

We woke up to 33 degree weather this morning. Bright and cool here in South Carolina, fortunately with no ice or snow. And that's a good thing with no problems getting around. But a bad thing in as much no chance for neat snow/ice photo ops.

So back to the archives.

The bottom photo is an image showing just the forces of nature when a large body of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay, freezes. Normally this beach is placid and full of swimmers, well at least in the summer. When the bay freezes over large chunks of ice move with the tides/current and form a bulldozing effect around the edges of the bay. It is really quite a huge site to see. All the ice berg like formations moving from the upper reaches of the Susquehanna River south. This view is directly out from Betterton beach, MD over what at one time was the dock portrayed in the top photo.

Betterton Beach, Maryland was at one time, in the thirties, forties, and fifties, of the 1900's, a summer destination for day trippers and vacationers from Baltimore and other points around the Chesapeake. The top photo is a copy of Betterton from an old postcard of the 1950's. There was a dance hall on the end of the dock which we teenagers would frequent, but never get into any trouble.

Back then, transportation around the bay was primarily by water and large cruise ships took vacationers from Virginia Beach north to Havre De Grace and most points in between. The second photo is an archival shot of the docks at Light and Pratt Street in Baltimore where the cruise ships can be seen at port.
Thousands would debark for days or week long vacations at such spots as Betterton and Tolchester Beach. Some can be seen on the third photo down, embarking from Tolchester, where we as kids would spend hours wandering around the old amusement park.
We would take my boat and water ski from Rock Hall all the way to Tolchester, some seven miles, spend the day and then ski back. It's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves in that little 14' boat. But teenagers are invincible, don't ya know?

Friday, November 27, 2009

BLACK FRIDAY 2009 Or the 27th day of the 11th month

The turkey has gobbled his last gobble!

Naps were taken!

Leftovers are waiting for this afternoon's delight.

I am sure there will be football to be had on the telly somewhere!

I went on the Riverwalk for what turned into a "Wild goose chase".

I was told and saw the pictures of a family of five otters who have taken up residence on the upper stretch of the river at the northern end of the Riverwalk. Of course, I thought that the mere fact of my presence would make them materialize. Not so and we all know nothing in life is easy. So I will have to go back every day until they show or I get bored with that particular walk.

In the meantime, I have to appreciate my Wild goose, who was right where the otters should have been. Maybe the goose ate the otters? Don't think so but could be the other way around.

Happy post turkey day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The 25th day of the 11th month of the year of the OP


I photographed this bird in Maryland a few years back, and yes it is a wild turkey which did not at that time make it to the oven.

I recall the first wild turkey I ever saw. It was during college a hundred eighty years ago in central Pennsylvania.

I was actually hunting for them, with a turkey call, shotgun, camo, the whole nine yards.
The first day out in the woods I actually called up a young bird or "Jake" as they are called. Missed him completely. Had no idea what I was doing or even what a turkey even sounded like, but I kept scratching the box used to imitate the critters. As I recall I even had a fleeting glimpse of a bobcat. Neat! Only one of those I have ever seen in the wild.

The second day out I called and called, using the sexiest turkey talk I could muster. I talked to one bird halfway up the side of a mountain for over an hour....he never moved.

So, like any decent deer stalker I donned my coonskin cap (camo) and started to sneak up the mountain ---calling intermittently. Cautiously from rock to rock, tree to tree, I went. I discovered in the mountains of Pennsylvania, if you jump quietly from rock to rock you make no noise underfoot. You just have to check the wind to make sure your scent doesn't go in the direction of the critter being snuck up upon, and go slow so your motion is not detected.

Finally, within about thirty yards of the other calling bird I thought --- I've got this guy beat and a shot at a sizable gobbler was just ahead. Get out the cranberry sauce. Poking my head around a coonskin covered head remember. Great camo!

And there before me was a turkey covered in hunter's orange calling his head off. I had been talking and stalking another hunter and he me for over an hour and half.

I slowly slunk away, leaving no evidence of my presence, inexperience, or humiliation, and went to the super market to complete my Thanksgiving hunt!
I have had much better luck with these critters after putting the gun down and taking up the camera. But my deer stalker days had taught me just how to get close to my subjects and there is really more to it than just going into the woods and pretending to be a bushel of apples.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The 24th day of the 11th month of the year of the OP


On my last trip north, I decided to shot some on the northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania border.

I was looking for something rural and unique to those areas where buildings were built with field stone and of course wood.
The bottom photo is a simple old and falling apart "Corn Crib". For the uninitiated this is where the farmer would store the ears of corn for the season. Drawing upon the crop as needed throughout the long winters. It was open enough to allow drying after harvest and rain or snow storms.

The next photo up from the bottom is just a corner where as a small child, one could hide, and conjure all kinds of games. Often a cottontail rabbit could be found in the tall grasses between and alongside the barns. If I ran too fast between these structures, my feet would tangle in the long grasses and a fall would be imminent.

The next is just a red Pennsylvania barn. Unfortunately the color is just a bit off, but that's the way they painted it. The stone wall around the outside reminds me of the one on which I walked at my grandparents farm in southern PA. That story is an earlier entry on the blog.
Finally, at the top is an old covered bridge in Chads Ford, Pa. I am not really sure why I am so found of these structures and you generally don't have the room to photograph them correctly, but they are symbols of things gone by.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The 22nd day of the 11th month of the year of the OP


Both dogs belong to my Son and Daughter-in-law!

One's a big dog.........The chocolate Lab!----Chessie

The other doesn't understand that he will never grow up to be a big dog...........but thinks he will.

The other is called Bella.........a male dog with a female name............WHO KNEW?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

21st day of the 11th month of the year of the OP


I went fishing with my next door neighbor yesterday and we caught nothing, but thankyou, thankyou Phillip.

Absolutely nothing on Lake Murray where there are all kinds of fish.
Shows to go ya, just how good we are!

Temperatures were in the seventies, very light breeze, all the colors in the trees which are now turning down here in South Carolina.

I am certainly glad our daily bread doesn't depend upon our angling abilities. We saw a number of large mouth bass, and some of pretty good size but they were obviously not thrilled by our offerings.

I did get the "Money Shot" of this great blue heron.
We were pulling into a small cove where the wind was nil, the water flat, and all kinds of signs which simply said "FISH".
Sure, lotsa fish but no bites. The heron was standing like a statue in the back of the cove and as my neighbor took the boat slowly to the back, I knew the bird would take flight. These birds look awkward at best most of the time, but you can get some pretty artistic shots of them depending upon weather, light, and location.
A flight shot, for me, has always been hard to get and keep the eye sharp. We did it yesterday and here's the proof. I didn't even have to crop the image, getting him in the right one third of the frame. Must be getting better. Thanks Mr. long legs of the water's edge.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The 20th day of the 11th month of the year of the OP


As you my faithful and enlightened readers are aware I have been travelling for a show at Easton, MD and a shoot in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

To report on the economics of the art world, as narrowly defined by the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, I am happy to report that sales have held their own in this year of business woe. It is really a mixed bag. But just as the price of gold has soared this past year, evidently high end art is being sought as either a good investment or hedge against something still coming. Inflation, deflation, or just grumpy stuff! My problem is that I should have doubled or tripled my prices (already high) and then I would have done allot better. At least I made expenses, saw the kids/grand kids, and got some new photo stock. I did sell out of the tree frog and have to make more prints to fill orders.

He was the subject of an article in the local newspaper on Friday and Saturday.


I drove about 1,700 miles and the old green beast crossed over the 300,000 mile mark as I passed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Some milestone. Good ole For E'plorer just keeps pickin em up n put em down. All she's needed was a new transmission around the 200,000 mark and soon this 1991 will qualify as an antique, just like her owner. I've got to get something newer, but will probably keep the ford for shows, fix her up, and save her for the antique market.

The bottom photo is my booth at the show. I was on center stage with two other photographers. I guess because I was the senior citizen, I deserved the respect for having shown there for the past twenty years. Either that or I was the unpaid entertainment for the whole bunch. The top photo is of the frog who is becoming a rock star in his own right. He did outsell any other single image at the show. More to come about the shoot.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The 8th day of the 11th month of the year of the OP


So far this year I have been to a Blue "Grass" Festival and now this!

The Collard "Greens" Festival.

Look out Al Gore here I come!

Yesterday, was the "Collard Greens" Festival in Gascon, South Carolina, population 1390 souls in 2003. That information came from E Really! Do a google search, it's right there.

The Collard green is commercially cultivated for its thick, slightly bitter edible leaves. They are available year-round, but many people believe that they are tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, after the first frost. Thus, I guess the timing for this little festival, cause we had frost warnings the last two mornings. For real!

We were there to peddle the community spirit of joining a local "Cert" organization. That's Community Emergency Response Team, which is a locally trained team to be at a community disaster even before the 911 people get there and to assist them when they do. Really worthwhile training and a fun thing to do.

Our crack team of amateur professionals did get eight potential members to fill out applications, which I understand is a pretty good performance or track record. You can see one of our enthusiastic members pitching a prospect in the bottom photo. He was selling this young lady on the benefits of community participation, but I don't think she was buying.

Having been at more outdoor shows than I care to remember, the sights and sounds were so familiar to me.

There was of course the amateur belly dancing crowd balancing swords on their heads --------- Bless their little hearts. (second from the bottom)

The Willy Nelson look alike contest. (third from the bottom)

And the monster truck display where little children were chased by the truck all over the place. Fortunately, the kids got away. (second photo down)

But the best was eating ice cream. This little girls shows us all just how to do it! (top photo).

I think that I have convinced a few of our team, that the financial benefits of staging our own festival would outweigh all that have gone before. My idea would create such local and even multi-state interest that the entry fees for booths alone would make us all rich overnight.
We could call it the "Mid-south, Deep south, up North Moonshine Festival". Sorry Al, has nothing to do with global warming.............more like internal warming. Think about it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The fifth day of the eleventh month of the year of the OP


I have spoken of the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine Florida as a place in the early spring to photograph long leg wading birds.

This is one of them, the tri-colored or Louisiana heron.

Like most of these wading birds, they are wary and cannot be approached easily. A friend of mine always employed the "Don't make eye contact stalk", convinced that if she didn't look at the bird it would not fly away. Well, that's sorta like believing a congressman/woman is going to do as he/she promised as soon as you turn your back. Chances are good it ain't gone to happen.

Most tack sharp and close images of these types of birds, that you see in magazines and books, probably came from this location. From early March through May the board walk area is littered with photographers of all calibers and I would guess that hundreds of thousands of images are made here each year. Their website will keep you abreast of the progress of the bird's entire procedure from mating, nest building, to getting the little ones in flight. Fascinating place.

I have found two circumstances where one can approach these birds and capture some decent photos with a middle length lens. This one was with a 200 mm lens and obviously I was right down his throat.

The first set-up is when they are feeding and their mind is intent upon snatching some poor critter just under the surface of the water. These birds are fast. But when their attention is diverted, one can get closer, eye contact not withstanding.

The other set-up is when they are in a rookery and mating. Then they are totally distracted and one can get really close. I have had immature birds walk along the railing and peck on the lens as I was taking pictures.

Of course we men knew this all along. Food and sex can do all kinds of crazy things to critter behavior.

The bottom photo is of the rookery at the Alligator Farm and the top is of a Louisiana heron who will now, at least in spirit, make the trip from Florida to the Waterfowl Festival in Maryland.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The 3rd day of the 11th month of the year of the OP


Probably not, but a few mountains in Tennessee in the Great Smokie National Park.

Breathtaking place where we should take our children and grandchildren just to stand in awe.

I made this image two falls ago and it has been "tweeked" to enhance the shadows and colors but it is pretty much as I saw it that day.

I will be taking this piece among others to the Easton Waterfowl in Maryland for a show the 13Th, 14Th, and 15Th of this month. I hope that some of you might join us. It is fun and some of the best wildlife artists in the country will be showing. Plan on two days to see everything from all the artistic disciplines, including painting, carving, sculpture, and of course photography.

The photographers will be located in the Talbot County Historical Society building where we have been for the past 19+ years. It is on the second floor but there is an elevator for the weary. At last count there will be thirteen photographers, all with some pretty fine work. Here for fun is a partial list of some of their websites.

Of course if you go to the festival website, all the people who are showing are listed and most of them have websites. So if you like to spend a day just oooogling at wildlife art, these pages are pretty cool.
I just noticed that this is the 39Th year of the festival and it dawned on me that I have been there for 19. Wow, how did I get so old. But I like to think that I have gotten better in my profession over those years. Only the Ka-Ching at the end of the day will tell.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Only two months left in the year of the OP


Like in most other parts of the east coast, the leaves are turning or have turned and fall is fast coming upon us.

These leaves fell here in last night's bit of rain. Nothing like in Philadelphia where the World Series was delayed. Or in Tennessee where the Vols destroyed the Gamecocks of USC. But we did get some overnight.
Taking photographs in or after a rain always dramatically expands the color saturation of the photos. Another of the reasons that I prefer to photograph in nasty or inclement weather.

It started to drizzle again before I finished my couple miles of walk and I am happy to report that all the Little People of the Kudzu all seemed to be happy. Heard them scampering about laughing and chattering about last night's haul of stolen candy. So I guess they are now firmly ensconced in their castles for another year.