Extracting One Last Sip

Always striving for ways to unplug, I jumped at the chance for us to take a short “fall break” camping trip up to north Georgia at the end of September. It wasn’t very fall-like; the temps hovered near 93 most of the day and the leaves were a crispy green, struggling to hang on. Nature was past her bloom, waiting with anticipation like a paratrooper standing at the edge of an open cargo door.

“You’re almost done!” I wanted to scream as I layered on another coat of deodorant. “We’re almost done,” the weatherman had said before we left. “Cooler temperatures by the weekend.”

This was Monday.

Sweat condensed at my brow.

Somehow, two boys joined us for this trip. It was a hard sell. The creek up there was running low. The bugs were over-abundant. The humidity at 100%. Night time temperatures in the upper 60’s.

“We’ll burn a fire,” I suggested, realizing the idiocy of it as it rolled off the tongue. Eyes rolled.

“Okay. We’ll do a photo walk,” I offered next. “Bring the 80D.”

Teenagers think that carrying a big camera and lens suggests that you are actually somebody important that can take quality photos. I didn’t want to burst their bubble. Basically, when you carry a big camera, there is an expectation that you can actually take pictures. You’ve got to keep the camera equipment scaled back so you don’t let people down. “Oh!” They’ll say. “That’s nice, but his eye’s out of focus.” Or, “Great composition, but her face is blown out.”

So, to avoid all that, we bring out the big guns to practice when the crowds are far away. A North Georgia campsite would be a safe place.

Nature, on her last leg, was our first subject. Drooping flower heads and leaves riddled with holes caught our attention. Squatting down in the creek to shoot water cascading over muddy rocks cooled the buns a little.

Then, “Mom, take some sick shots of me holding the camera.” So, we did that for awhile.

The woods provided some shade and little relief from the heat. Maybe this was bearable, just slightly.

No tick bites.

One more sweaty meal at the picnic table and it was time to vacate the site.

Was this a fun trip? Kind of. It was really just a media, homework, laundry and dish washing break. Yet, being unplugged gave us pause to notice the workings of late season bees on shriveled flowers, extracting one last sip of summer. We were doing the same with cameras and a tent, capturing one more outdoor adventure. Tomorrow would be October.

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Why Did the Chickens Cross the Road?

Well, that’d be to get their picture taken!

Boredom and heat have been known to drive many a sweating person to do things out of the ordinary. Some people pant and complain. Others go mad. But, a few are driven to do featherbrained projects for sheer frivolity. Recently, we fell into the later group. With temperatures soaring into the upper 90’s for months, the lawn baked crispy brown and the elephant ears drooping with exhaustion, we were ready to fly the coop. All the outdoor subjects were scorched from the intense sun and heat. Summer has been on us like a chicken on a June bug.

chicken portraiture

My dad was in town with his camera and we were pecking around for a photo project. Capturing water droplets on the weary elephant ear plants was a bust. That’s when we took inspiration from the chicken coop, as we often do. At least chickens don’t turn brown and shrivel up in the hot September sun. They do pant though. Sultry chickens, in their element, remind us that we aren’t alone struggling against heat and dirt.

Somehow, we managed to set up the dark side of the reflector disk and attempt chicken portraits, just like your typical back-to-school pictures in the fall. It took a little wrangling and a few attempts to get the gals to hold still. Plus, they were a little stinky. But, eventually, we found a way to set them on a black fabric-covered block and capture a few in-focus profile and side angle shots. In the end, the hens calmed for a few seconds and I took a couple of head shots. It was a riot experimenting with poses and back drops. Gabe even brought his green screen.

Alas! These chickens didn’t have to cross the road to get their photos taken. They just needed to perch and hold still.

What’s Been Going On?

Its been a hot, crazy time of back-to-school. That’s what! Here we are after 6 pm on October 2nd and the temperature is still 93 degrees ! But, Lord have mercy, nobody’s cancelling all the activities. The show must go on: Marching band, baseball, photo competitions, cousins and grandparent visits, scouts, baptisms, 4 birthdays and somewhere in there, school. That’s why you haven’t heard from me in weeks. I’ve missed you and I’ve missed writing! Here is a little of what’s been going on these last six weeks.

105 degrees! That is the temperature the concrete bleachers were on August 16th for our first home game. The NMME Eagles marched on. This was a night of firsts: 1. Adjusting the hat so that it wouldn’t wiggle off during the performance. 2. cutting holes in the white gloves so he could finger his instrument and 3. performing in front of an actual audience! Camp was over. Now it was time to rock. I was so proud of all the musicians. They looked and sounded fantastic, especially for a first ever field show.

The day before Gabe’s 13th birthday, we connected with cousins for a time of urban naturalism. Believe it or not, these photos were taken deep in urban Atlanta on Tanyard Creek. The cool rocks and ankle deep waters were a respite on another hot August day. Frogs, fish and plenty of trash keep the youngsters busy while the mamas caught up on family affairs. Rule for the day: Keep your head out of the water. Just to make sure, we finished off the bottle of hand sanitizer just after we loaded back into the truck.

My dad popped into town mid-September and brought his camera.

“Hunter is playing tonight. Want to come along and we’ll take some night action photos?” I asked him.

“What time do we leave?” he said.

We got out there and I was looking everywhere for Hunter. He usually plays mid outfield. It was a dark night, but a gorgeous moon was rising in the east. After a few more minutes wondering where he could be and looking at all the players’ faces, I heard, “Good pitch, Naz!” There, on the pitcher’s mound, right in front of us, was my boy.

Dad laughed. “We are such goobers!” I said.

By late September, and a birthday under his belt, playing in the stands was no big deal. He’s a pro now. Nothing new here!

Now you know some of what’s been going on.

I bet you’ve been just as busy.

Check in tomorrow for a photabulous (that’s a brand new word I just made) post on a silly project we’ve been working on.

See you soon.