The People of Charleston

29 11 2012

Those of you who have been playing along for a while will know this is an unusual post for me. In my photos I try to characterize and present something you’ve seen in a way you’ve never looked at it in before. That’s why those of you who know my style and my purpose will be surprised to see a post full of faces.

I was walking throughout the streets taking in everything. The buildings, the colors, the emotions of the city. I could sense the rich culture and beauty of a place who knew it held a special place in history. The entire city radiated purpose and contentment. I realized quickly that this came from more than architecture and craft, this came straight from the people of Charleston, so I began photographing them. 

 

Have you ever been walking around with your camera only to me by dozens of people asking you to take their picture for no apparent reason? You start out, “I don’t work for the newspaper,” they don’t care. “I’m actually just here on vacation.” They still don’t care. “Listen, I’m just out taking pictures for fun.” “Perfect, this is my best side.” *smiles* There was a point in my career that this seemed an inconvenience. Maybe I was just there to get a shot of the quarterback throwing a long pass. I was just looking for a building with ivy growing up the side. This little human interaction somehow seemed like an inconvenience. Thankfully, I grew past that. There is nothing more rewarding than being appreciated and being valued. When someone asks you to take a picture of them for no apparent reason, it’s because they have placed value on you taking a picture of them. It means something, it’s an opportunity you should never take for granted. These folks were just chilling out, probably on a lunch break. One of them hollered, “Hey, check out this picture right here” then smiled broadly. It’s an off the cuff snap shot that captures a bit of the city, and I loved it.

Sometimes you don’t get asked, you just have to go for it. Most people, especially people who’ve worked hard on something like this car, love having a picture taken of them. Now you’re telling someone else you value them, you value something they’ve created, or who they are. Everyone likes feeling famous now and then.

This shot took all day. I asked every basket weaver I saw if I could take a picture. Most of them seemed to be in witness protection or hiding from the law because they said no. This lady here said sure. I think this shot really captures a bit of who Charleston is. Artisans. Crafts people. Creative folks doing what they know how to do to make a living.

This may be my favorite picture from the set. These guys were just chilling on the dock doing their thing. I asked if I could take a picture and all three of them lit up and enthusiastically said yes. By the time I had the camera up to my eye, they were suppressing grins and playing it cool for all of you fine folks at home.

This shot is just a little reminder that no matter where you go in America, or the world really, you’re gonna get a variety. Everything from hand made clothes to a pair of blue kicks and bright yellow polo shirts. I love this town.

This is the last of the Charleston photos. I’ll be back when I have something new. You guys are wonderful, thanks for coming back and reading me even though I’m scattered. Have a great day, God Bless. -Arley

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The Heart of Charleston

20 11 2012

I’ve been looking through my last few posts and I’ve realized they’re pretty cheesy. Spirit, motion, paths… I wanted to bring this one back down to earth and talk about the “Heart of Charleston.”

Yep, I guess I’m pure cheese.

I put all the pictures up and started to write the blog entry. Then I went through all the pictures a few times and couldn’t put any words to it. I hope the story told by the photos comes through to all of you the same way it does to me. I hope you enjoyed it.

 

 





The Colors of Charleston

31 10 2012

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Charleston, SC. This is a bustling waterfront city in my home state with a fantastic market and tons of little shops scattered around.  Like many modern artisans, the folks selling there goods in the market are super funny about people taking pictures. Frankly, as many of you know, if you’ve got it in public we can snap it, in fact here’s a great article about that, but I don’t like to step on peoples toes so I tell them who I am, a bit about the blog, and they usually let me take a few snaps. Frankly, if they don’t appreciate a little publicity, I’d just as soon not give it to them. :O

I’m staying true to the title and with this first post I’m sharing the most colorful pictures from my visit. I like this shot because despite many of the pieces being similar, the colors help them to contrast each other really well. The background got a bit washed out but because the foreground held up so well and stayed so vivid, I actually like what it adds to the shot.

You all know I like to get low and close. The patterns on the handles of these swords worked really well for this shot.

A classic bed and breakfast on meeting street. Less color than the trinkets but a pink building downtown deserves a photo.

The wire keeping this sign from being stolen really makes this one. It’s simple but the sign really has a lot of character. I’m learning that for the sake of photography, my taste finds that most subjects get better with age.

I love the hand painted items in the market. There’s something special about walking through tables full of things not made in factories but on front porches instead.

I hate to send you off to wikipedia instead of another blog but here’s a link you should click. These glasses depict an actual place in Charleston called “Rainbow Row.” Here’s an excerpt from wiki: “After the Civil War, this area of Charleston devolved into near slum conditions. In the early 1900s, Dorothy Porcher Legge purchased a section of these houses numbering 99 through 101 East Bay and began to renovate them. She chose to paint these houses pink based on a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Other owners and future owners followed suit, creating the “rainbow” of pastel colors present today. The coloring of the houses helped keep the houses cool inside as well as give the area its name.”

The final shot and one of my favorites from the day is this beautiful spread of scarves. After years of shooting complex shots and intricate arrangements I’m still amazed by how simplicity masters every art form.

I shared today’s post of an ocean front town on purpose. Many people have faced hardship in recent days thanks to mother nature. If you would like to donate to help Hurricane Sandy victims, here’s the Red Cross relief page.

Thanks for visiting and reading the blog. I’ve missed our regular interactions but life has been pulling me in every direction lately. Have a wonderful week and God Bless!





The Spirit of Old Indian

20 08 2012

We are now on the final post of the Old Indian series. While I worked at camp we participated in a tradition that started in the earliest days of the camp and will be continued for many years to come. I’ll close this series the only way the feels right, with “Scout Vespers.”

Softly falls the light of day,
As our campfire fades away.


Silently each Scout should ask,
“Have I done my daily task?


Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?


Have I done and have I dared,
Everything to Be Prepared?”

 

This post is dedicated to a great Scouter and a friend, Dale F Moseley. You will always be missed and remembered fondly. You embodied the Scout Oath and Law and were an inspiration for all those you served.

May the great Scoutmaster of all Scouts be with us until we meet again.

 





The Nature of Old Indian

17 08 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many things I love. The practice of photography being high on the list. Most of you also know I’m a Christian though I consider myself a bit more liberal than many. I love all people and insight into the lifestyle of another person is fascinating.

We are fundamentally all the same. Made of the same stuff, function the same way. I can relate and empathize because I can visualize myself in your shoes. There is a world though that mortal man cannot fully comprehend. A life so subtle we may not even register it as such. Today I’m going back to my roots with a post more reminiscent of my early blogging style. With no further ado, I present the nature of Old Indian.

The shallow depth of field combined with the fairly neutral background strongly draws your eye to the flower. The petals were really interesting to me, the way every other one was so wilted. I left the image a hair underexposed to emphasis the somber mood. Capturing a generally very bright and cheerful subject in a somber light gives the viewer a deeper sense of emotion than simply making a happy thing look happy or a sad thing look sad.

In stark contrast to the previous picture I left this mushroom a little on the bright side. For me, the shallow depth of field draws my eyes from right to left (foreground to background.) This gives my brain just enough time to tell itself it’s looking at a rotting log before it happens upon the subject, the mushroom. Normally a mushroom doesn’t scream life but in contrast to a rotting log, it’s a bright and cheerful spot in this image.

 

This is a very subtle image. Sometimes there just aren’t enough words too describe the simplest images.

The touch of man. Not so pronounced as a lumber corporation clear cutting a beautiful forest but perhaps more touching in a way. I heard it said that a single death is a tragedy and a thousand deaths is a statistic. I don’t consider myself a hippie by any means and I know wood is a foundation of our society but it’s still important to take a moment to appreciate the things we take from nature. When we stop recognizing we live symbiotically with the world around us we will destroy it completely.

 

Windswept. I maintained a shallow depth of field to blur out the dull distracting background. I sacrificed a lot of the flowers but I’ve learned when shooting nature, one-thing in focus is usually better than everything in focus.

The complexity here is beautiful. Hundreds of tiny splinters of wood lacing in every direction. Nature does modern art far better than we ever will.

I hope you enjoyed the post today. I love hearing from you so leave me a comment and I’ll try to respond. Follow the blog to keep up with the goings on and there are links for my Twitter and Facebook somewhere around here :)

Thanks for reading and God Bless, -Arley

 

 

 





The Motion of Old Indian

16 08 2012

A simple fun exercise is to play around with the settings on your camera and see what happens. The better educated you become, the more often “what happens” will be really cool. If you aren’t familiar with terms like “shutter speed” or “f/stop” a legend in the photography world wrote a post about it here.

Yeah, just kidding, that was my post.

A word to the wise. If you’re using a slideshow, the Word Press Reader Feature may not be teasing a potential follower with your beautiful photos.

Anyways, one fun thing to do is decreasing your “shutter speed.” This means instead of trying to freeze action, you are allowing anything that moves to become blurry. This isn’t a great idea with people or pets, but it can turn out pretty nifty if you’re shooting cars at dusk or running water like I was here.

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The gallery thing is something I haven’t tried before so let me know what you think of it. The trick to long exposures is knowing what to adjust. Shutter speed is a fraction (oh no, fractions!) So 1/2500th of a second is very fast. That means the shutter only stays open for that long. This doesn’t let much light in so you shoot at a reasonably low f/stop, I used 3.5. (again, if this is greek check out my tutorials on f/stop and exposure speed.) When I dial that down to 1/40th of a second and 1/10th, we start getting a lot of light. The image would have been completely whited out if I hadn’t decreased the aperture size to f/16. (I cheat a bit and let auto ISO do some of the work for me.)

What you end up with is a smooth and silky flow of water that you wouldn’t be able to visualize with the naked eye. This was my first go at this so the pictures aren’t incredible but it was a lot of fun to do. I fully intend to try a few follow up trips to play around with this more. In the meantime here’s a top ten list with some of the best I’ve ever seen.

Environmental Graffiti

I love to hear from you. Let me know what you liked and didn’t like in today’s post in the comment below. Thanks for stopping by and God Bless You!





The Paths of Old Indian

15 08 2012

Wow, things have been hectic. Here’s a mini update of my life… I recently joined a Rotary club and they are keeping me pretty busy working on their website. If you aren’t familiar they are an incredible service organization and working with them has been an enriching experience. I’ve been on the road a lot, Summer always gets me itching for a road trip. Just got back from a great visit with my sister.

Basically, life has been pretty crazy. I wish I could be more active here but if you’ve read “What Shootabout is All About” you know this is a place for me to vent a little and relax. If I try to do that every day it turns into another “I have to get this done” so with no regret I’m promising that even if my posts are less often, I will do my best to make them high quality and personal, I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing anything less with you.

You may notice a few ads on the site now. This is mostly being done out of curiosity. I ran them for a while with them hidden from WordPress Users, an awesome feature, I’m giving them a trial run right now. For those of you who are interested I may try to write a post slightly more about what that experience is like. By the same token, I don’t want to lose anyone over this because you guys are a lot more important to me than a few dollars so let me know your honest opinions, I have pretty thick skin.

Camp Old Indian is a beautiful expanse of land nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I spent a week every summer for several years as a camper and in 2007 and 2008 I spent 2 months there as a Staff Member. This place holds my heart in a special way so instead of the usual technical tips I’m going to share a short narrative about one of the most spectacular experiences of my life. Quite honestly the story and the pictures stand by themselves and don’t fit together except for they both happened in the same camp. If you don’t feel like reading I won’t be offended, the story is more for myself, something I wanted to know was out there for someone who needs it to find it one day.

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In the Summer of 2008 I met someone who would change the way I looked at myself and others. I was no stranger to hardship. After 9 years of being home schooled, public high school ate me alive. I didn’t make friends quickly and the crowd I did get “in” with were outcasts themselves. My extra curricular was the Boy Scouts. The program pulled me out of my shell but it was a rough trip. My fellow scouts came from varied backgrounds but all were rough southerners who liked a good fist fight as much as the next guy. At 16, I was taking pictures and writing poetry, you can imagine the road to acceptance came with a few bruises.

Camp Old Indian was a place to be reinvented each Summer. The staff were amazing. Most of them tended to be on the nerdy side and even the “tough guys” had a hipster edge. These were my people, so I got a job there the first Summer I was able.

I finished my lifeguard training and set up shop on the waterfront. I spent most of my time at the upper lake teaching rowing but I came down to first lake to teach a learn to swim class for an hour every day.

I saw a young man sitting in the back with one of his leaders, eyes cast down and fully dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. I finished my introduction and sent the kids to get their buddy tags so we could go out on the dock. The leader called me over and introduced Isaac to me. Isaac had Autism. The leader, his father, let me know he didn’t expect much but he appreciated anything I could do.

I spoke with Nate who offered to take the rest of my class so I could work with Isaac. While the rest of the boys shuffled into the waist deep water, I sat on the steps and asked Isaac about the video games he liked.

He eagerly explained the finer point of Zelda, Mario and Donkey Kong, all the while  taking special care not to look at the water. After nearly 45 minutes I asked him if he’d ever swam. He told me he’d fallen into a pool once but that was the only time. I knew I had my work cut out for me but after an hour of talking I was Isaac’s friend and he trusted me.

The next day I sat at Isaac’s table in the dining hall. We talked about Baseball, like most sports I knew next to nothing so he was excited to explain the rules and what the different players do. I spoke to a few other leaders in Isaac’s troop and found out he had been talking about me. It meant a lot to know I was touching him simply by being attentive.

We walked down to the waterfront and I told Isaac I wanted to get in the water. After a bit of gentle convincing he agreed to sit on the dock while I waded. He looked a little nervous, still wearing shorts and a t-shirt but he agreed to leave his socks and shoes behind. We talked about fishing, yet another topic I have limited knowledge on. I made a big show of grabbing something under the dock and covered it in my hand. He became more and more curious as I peered into my clasped hands and to his delight, I revealed a sleek brown frog. I had him now.

The next day he arrived in a swim suit. He nervously stood at the top of the steps as a beckoned him into the shallow water. He eventually slipped in and after a few minutes was prowling the edge of the dock catching frogs and eagerly bringing them to me to examine. I released one into the water and showed Isaac how it swam. With the help of a body board, Isaac learned the frog kick.

On our final day after a brief frog hunt we moved to the other side of the dock where the water was up around his shoulders. He eventually was able to abandon the body board and use his arms and legs to pull himself through the water for short stretches. His face was filled with pure joy. A completely different boy than the one that joined my class Monday.

I spent the rest of the Summer thinking about Isaac. What brought him into the water. I realized it was me. It didn’t have to be me specifically but it was. He needed someone to believe in him, someone to encourage him, someone to teach him; and it was me. I was honored and profoundly impacted by this experience. The challenges I had to overcome were put into perspective. The most important “path” you can choose in life is to help others. Not for what you can get out of it, but because of what you have to give.

Thanks for bearing with me. I know this post is both longer and very different from my usual but it’s something I wanted to share. In the near future I have some more shots from Old Indian to share with a very exciting look at long exposure photography of a waterfall. :)

Thanks for stopping by and God Bless You!








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