Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday morning

"Getting up too early is a vice habitual in horned owls, stars, geese, and freight trains. Some hunters acquire it from geese, and some coffee pots from hunters. It is strange that of all the multitude of creatures who must rise in the morning at some time, only these few should have discovered the most pleasant and least useful time for doing it."
-Aldo Leopold in Sand County Almanac - Oxford 1949

Early rising

I have never been an early riser, but they say that as one gets older the need for sleep decreases. That may be true, for as the years pass, I seem to be rising earlier and earlier. Perhaps I need less sleep now, but most likely I get up early because it is too uncomfortable to stay in bed longer. Around daybreak, I wake up and my back hurts, my arm has gone to sleep, my legs ache and, unable to go back to sleep, I just get up. Somewhat reluctantly, I have discovered the pleasures of early rising.

Yesterday morning I got up early. Rain had fallen during the night and fog had settled around the lake. I drank my tea, stared out the kitchen window and watched cardinals and sparrows mysteriously materialize at the feeder and then vanish in the fog. A good morning to be outside. As I stepped out into the yard I disturbed a flight of doves who were sleeping in the locust tree in front of the house. They did not like being startled from their roost so early. I could not see them in the fog, but I heard the annoyed beating of their wings.  After the doves flew away, the morning was quiet.

Birds sing constantly during the spring and summer, wooing mates, defending territory and rejoicing at being alive during the sunny and warm days. In high summer, mockingbirds sing outside our bedroom window all night long. But come September birds go about their business in silence, except for the geese, who, not unlike some people, are always ready with a garrulous opinion regardless of the season or time of day.

Down by the lake, the leaves were starting to turn colors and many were falling, revealing distances that only a few weeks ago were hidden behind a wall of green. I stood at the edge of the lake in the damp morning and peered into the fog. The trees on the far bank were vague shapes with a hint of autumn color. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a chorus of tree frogs filling the morning with a song as repetitious as the seasons.

Cold nights will silence the frogs soon enough, and winter is just around the corner. But the sound of the frogs reminds me that spring will come, and once again birds, rising early, will fill the world with song.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Somerset #5

Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party - 2012 - Orange County, Virginia

In addition to shooting B&W film with the Pentax MX, I also I made this very brief video with the Nikon P7000. Even though I have had the P7000 for well over a year, this is the first time that I have used it to record video so I didn't have too much of an idea of what I was doing.

The machine you see at the beginning is an excelsior machine shaving wood into excelsior, which was a common packing material before bubble-wrap and foam "peanuts." There it a brief shot of a helper shoveling the excelsior into a pile at the end of the machine. The next shot shows a steam powered tractor running a threshing machine. There are a couple of other brief shots of tractors operating. The video is just over a minute long, but I think it will give you a bit of an idea of what the day was like.

Thanks so much for reading Photography In Place. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you back here next week.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Somerset #4

Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party - 2012 - Orange County, Virginia 

The blacksmith played a crucial role in the rural economy well into the 20th century. This modern day smith was forging old railroad spikes into knives, but in the days before interchangeable parts and easy access to needed hardware, the blacksmith was often called on to make simple parts to repair tractors and other farm machinery.

A few minutes rest in the woodpile

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Somerset #3

 Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party - 2012 - Orange County, Virginia 

The focus of this event is clearly the large steam-powered tractors, but this year I tried to record some of the other areas of interest. For more on steam, see here and here

The car pictured above is a 1932 Ford Coupe--the "little deuce coupe" that was a favorite of hot rodders in the fifties and sixties.

A contemplative moment on an early gasoline powered tractor. McCormick-Deering was not a manufacturer, but a line of tractors made by International Harvester.

Photos taken with a Pentax MX camera loaded with Fuji Acros 100 black and white film.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Somerset #2

Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party - 2012 - Orange County, Virginia 

The Farmall Cub was introduced in 1947. The smallest tractor in the International Harvester line, it was designed for the small farmer and may be the most popular tractor in history.

There was no want of variety at the show. This "Fire Department" vehicle appears to have been pieced together from spare parts.

Photos taken with a Pentax MX camera loaded with Fuji Acros 100 black and white film.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Somerset #1

Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party - 2012 - Orange County, Virginia

I spent a pleasant Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago photographing the 36th Annual Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party and we will be featuring some of the photos from the show this week.

The steam tractor in this picture was being used to run the sawmill by a flat belt driven by the pulley just above the rear wheel. In addition to working the fields, it was common for these tractors to provide power to other types of machinery on the farm.

This photo taken with a Pentax MX camera loaded with Fuji Acros 100 black and white film.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Afternoon farmland

Green Springs Historic District - Louisa County, Virginia 

This is the last picture for now from Green Springs, but I hope to be able to do some more photography there this fall and winter.

Next week, pictures from the Thirty-Sixth Annual Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party, all in black and white. Hope you will stop by for a visit, and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Small house and barn

Green Springs Historic District - Louisa County, Virginia

"Green Springs' collection of rural-type buildings is important not only on an individual structure basis, but as a group in a related historic, social and scenic context. Unlike so may other areas of Virginia, Green Springs never suffered depression or serious war damage. As a result, its structures have always been well-maintained, rarely needing major restoration or repair. The rolling farmlands, as well, have been continuously cultivated and kept up, preserving a neat, pastoral setting for the buildings. The neighborhood thus survives as a uniquely distinct rural district containing outstanding examples of architecture preserved in their original context. Green Springs is a compact and gently civilized countryside where the land has been enhanced rather than despoiled by the presence of man."
National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form - Feb 20, 1973

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Green Springs barn

Green Springs Historic District - Louisa County, Virginia

The Green Springs National Historic Landmark District is comprised of 14,000 acres in Louisa County, Virginia. Although the land is privately owned, the National Park Service manages this unique area through easements designed to help preserve the 19th century rural character of the farmland and vernacular architecture.

There are no Park Service facilities, trails or interpretative signage. Driving through the District on the winding dirt roads is like a trip to the rural past and it is easy to imagine life on a farm 100 years ago.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Third Sunday - September 2012

Mt. Eden M.B. Church - Issaquena County, Mississippi 

A light rain was falling when I stopped to photograph this small church in the Mississippi Delta. The simple wooden building sits in a grove of trees surrounded by open fields. Services are held on the third Sunday. The sign over the entrance reads "The doors of the church are open, come in and praise the Lord."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Railroad Photography

Brookhaven, Mississippi 

Above is the set-up shot. Nice huh? All I need is a south-bound freight train rolling by that lovely old Brookhaven station for a great train picture. So I waited.  I had no idea how long I would have to wait, but I wanted the perfect shot that was dancing in my head. I wait some more. A headlight down the track! I get in position, but the locomotive in the distance stops, and then backs up; just a yard engine switching cars.

I wait some more. Finally I see a headlight in the distance and I see ditch lights so I know this is not a switch engine. The crossing guards sound off, and in just a few seconds the train is on me, moving right through downtown Brookhaven at about 60 mph.  I  got off about five frames as the engine roared by.

In the excitement though, I panned on the fast moving locomotive, completely forgetting about the station, so instead of a nice shot of the locomotive passing the brick station, I have an very ordinary shot of a train passing, well, me

Perhaps in your imagination you can put the locomotive below into the picture of the old brick station with the nice clouds. That's all I can do after waiting two hours. By then, rain was approaching so I packed up my camera and headed back to the car forming dark thoughts about the vagaries of railroad photography. Maybe next time.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Boiled Peanuts

Brookhaven, Mississippi 

A couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon walking around the town of Brookhaven, Mississippi. I have been there several times before (see here, here, here and here).

This picture was taken on the road leading south out of town, with a storm brewing. I am guessing that this was some kind of drive-in restaurant at one time. The "Boiled Peanuts" sign looks fresh though, so perhaps you can still buy peanuts if you come at the right time.

Friday, September 7, 2012

In the Mississippi Delta 4

 Sharkey County, Mississippi 

Today is the last of the Delta pictures for now, but next week we will still be in Mississippi with a visit to the town of Brookhaven. Hope you will stop by and take a look. Have a great weekend, and as always, thanks for reading Photography In Place.

A faint rainbow in the east follows me as I drive south back to Vicksburg

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In the Mississippi Delta 3

Sharkey County, Mississippi

I live in the mountains. Well, not up in the mountains; I live at the foot of the Blue Ridge, but the Skyline Drive is only nine miles from my house so I think I can reasonably claim to live in the mountains.

In the flat farmland of the Mississippi Delta or the North Carolina coastal plains my eye can stretch to the far horizon to a view so different from what I see everyday at home where the western horizon, the top of the Blue Ridge, is only nine miles away and I am surrounded by hills.

If I had the time, I would happily drive from Vicksburg to Memphis taking in the distance and the green and brown fields and the far horizon. Cotton, corn and beans. But on this Saturday afternoon in August, I had only four hours and I didn't even want to stop to take pictures. I just wanted to keep driving into the flat distance.

I made it as far as Rolling Fork and it was time to turn around. By the time I was near Vicksburg again, the skies had closed in and it was raining hard. And the landscape changed and became more familiar as I crossed the Yazoo river and left the Delta. They don't call Vicksburg the hill city for nothing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In the Mississippi Delta 2

Sharkey County, Mississippi - "Green Bayou" looking north

Just off Highway 61 a few miles south of Rolling Fork I stopped on a one lane bridge . The water under the bridge was bright green, perhaps from some type of algae. Is it like this all year, or does the water turn green only under certain conditions?

 I don't know the correct name for this stream that winds through Sharkey county from north to south. I called it "Green Bayou."
Sharkey County, Mississippi - "Green Bayou" looking south

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In the Mississippi Delta

Issaguena County, Mississippi 

One Saturday afternoon last month during our visit to Vicksburg, I drove up into the Delta. It was raining but the sun was still shining through the clouds in the west, and the fields were vivid in the rain-washed sunlight.

The Mississippi Delta extends north from Vicksburg to Memphis, bounded on the east by the Yazoo River and on the west by the Mississippi. It is fertile, flat farmland that reminds me of the coastal plains of North Carolina.  For some reason this type of landscape is very appealing to me, and I hope to spend some more time exploring the Delta the next time I am in Mississippi.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Virginia Figs

Greene County, Virginia

A couple of years ago my wife planted a fig tree in the front yard. I had never seen figs growing here in central Virginia, but the tree survived, and last summer produced the first small crop of figs, maybe two dozen or so. This summer, the tree has been loaded with figs, and we have had all the figs we could use and some to give away.

We were away for a week toward the end of August and when we returned many ripe figs had fallen to the ground and fruit flies swarmed on the rotting mess. There are still a few green figs on the branches, but the harvest is mostly done for this year and soon it will be time to remove the bird netting and mulch around the base of the tree to protect against this winter's cold northwest breezes. A pan of ripe figs is a lovely thing.