Thursday, November 29, 2012

Finding 20 year old 4x5 Transparencies!

Back in the early 90's, I almost always kept a 4x5 camera in the car whenever I traveled.  I can't tell you how many times I hiked it over trails to catch the light over a scene at dusk, or in the early morning.  It wasn't a fancy Zone V field camera was a an old Cambo studio camera with one very heavy Gitzo tripod. Every once in a today...I run across some transparencies or negatives that I never got around to scanning until now.  Spent the better part of the afternoon scanning these images taken during the production of the North Carolina 4th Grade textbook.  Obviously, the Nantahala River is at the top followed by several scenes unidentified by location with the exception of the Whitewater Falls in the southwestern part of the state.   My favorite is actually the guys sitting around at the gas station...cigarette butts everywhere, but not paying much attention to some young guy setting up a huge camera in front of them.  That's one I think I'm going to have to print really big!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our character is defined by how we live our life.

There is much talk that this country is becoming more and more polarized...I think it may have a lot to do with Facebook and it's ability to rant and rave without impunity.   Here I see more and more rhetoric hurled at both sides with little respect for opposing opinion and plenty of posting, reposting of ridiculous, insulting, and negative rants.  I have no desire to enter into political discussions with friends on Facebook where supposed facts and insults are tossed around like hot potatoes.  The world will not end if Obama is elected, nor will the world end if Romney is elected.  In fact no matter who is elected, next week will be better, because all this rhetoric will hopefully abate.

We tend to surround ourselves with friends with like minds and political persuasions, yet can't seem to enter into reasonable debate without throwing insults around.  About 10 years ago I participated in an online debate that evolved into a political discussion.  It dissolved into my friend throwing extreme insults my way that completely not only ended our discussion, but ended our friendship.  That's why I don't enter into online debates anymore and rarely into political discussions.  I completely respect one's right to further their own political cause, but not at the expense or disrespect of other individuals.
The minute insults are thrown, then all credibility to their cause is lost.

Part of the problem is that we just don't listen to each other.  We listen to sound bites provided by media  sympathetic to our own agenda.  As a result, we tend not to listen to what is really being said.  We are shocked and outraged at what we perceive as the complete ignorance of the other side.  The internet is an amazing thing, but instead of allowing us to educate ourselves beyond our own belief system, we have moved home to work and only visit sites that support our own belief system.  We are actually becoming more and more isolated individually and more polarized as a result.

 I will make my choice hoping my candidate can accomplish something positive but I will deal with whatever the majority chooses.  I'm sure there will be negative consequences no matter who is elected, but also positive consequences no matter who is elected.  One issue should not elect a President, nor defeat one.  My vote counts, but if my vote goes to a losing candidate, I'll move on and live my life the best way I know how.  Being a positive person helps a lot.  Negativity has no room in my life or on my facebook page.  I encourage all of you to look at this election in a positive way and no matter who wins (or loses), not project your negativity my way or to anyone else for that matter.  Have a great week.

And... I used this photograph because Todd inspired me that day.  After falling towards the beginning of a Cyclocross race, his bike was unridable.  Rules state you can't change your bike until the pitstop so Todd threw his bike on his shoulder and proceeded to run in cleats 1/2 mile at least to the pitstop assuring that he would probably finish last in the race.  However, instead of quitting, Todd finished despite the setback.  No matter what setback you and your party think you have will go on.

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 NC State Fair

Gail & Grant Simons have been operating their Root Beer Truck & Stall for 50 plus years, 26 years in the same location at the NC State Fair.  "We don't know what's going to happen to the stall once we can't do this anymore... It's really a 24/7 kind of job.  We have loyal customers that keep coming back (and) a big part of doing this is talking to old friends that we've made."  The root beer float that I had was fabulous and at only $3.00 a bargain at the fair.  ©2012 Simon Griffiths Photography

The blacksmith shop at the fair always draws a crowd.  These guys obviously enjoy the age old tradition of hitting steel with a hammer.

"Are you the media?...I'm not supposed to talk to the media."  Officer Woodruff had been working all night guarding the entrance to the Jim Graham Building.  I had just come through the doors from teh other way as a side door had been open and unguarded.  Woodruff has been working the fair for 15 years and was glad for the biscuit that someone had brought him.
Eva Hord has been working the stand that offers square ice cream in a double cone "since before my grandson was born...and he's 31 now."  The actual stand which fits into a duffle bag has seen operation since the fair started back up after World War II.  "I know I shouldn't be sitting...but I need to when I can."
Marc Dobson..."The original One Man Band" plays fairs and events all up and down the east coast.  A shoe-in for America's Got Talent, Marc went through 19 iterations of his drum kit before arriving with this one.  Weighing 30 pounds, Dobson puts his entire body into his performance with guitar, drums, harmonica, and singing so his sets don't last more than a few songs.  Interjecting humor into his act... a common refrain: "Why are you leaving? I didn't leave when you showed up!!"    I took enough pictures for him to guilt me into sending him some by his giving me a DVD of his performances.  Expecting perhaps a little less, they were actually very well done despite the various settings and found myself really enjoying his music of standards.  His best line though was on his DVD commentary.  "When adults see me, they wonder how I do that?...When kids see me, they wonder how they can do that!"  Great lesson for adults.

Monday, October 15, 2012

1st Place, NC State Fair Arts and Photography

The last time I won 1st place at the NC State Fair was 1986.  A photograph of the "Aleta" mailboat which traveled back and forth to Ocracoke, NC.  This year I have been out shooting scenes of North Carolina again, traveling the back roads more often, meeting people along the way and hopefully making good photographs.   This image was taken a couple of months ago at the Jim Hunt Horse Complex out by the NC State Fairgrounds.  A horse show was going on and I had hoped that my 13 year old daughter would be interested in going out there with me.  Not interested in watching (just riding) I went by myself and came across this scene where a traveling photographer and her husband photographed horses and their owners.  I was taken by the elaborate setup staged just adjacent to the practice ring.  She would take the pictures while her husband distracted the horses with his kiddy pony.  I saw the final image in my mind right away and only got a few images off before the scene was gone.  I would be interested to se the photograph that they produced at the same time.  Maybe I'll head out to the fair and see if they are out there.  I'm sure they would probably do a print trade.  :)   The money can't be that great, but they had a camper and trailer and my impression was that they lived on the road a lot.  Likely no kids.  I think if you don't have much competition in this kind of venture, then you are likely to be able to make a living...albeit sparse.  Any competition however, and it would probably be a hard life.  
Obviously it's exciting to win first place in anything, and I'm glad that this photograph won as I had switched a previous image out at the last minute because my gut told me that this photo was a winner.
You have to go with your gut.  Lesson learned....again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I had been on the greenway trail in the morning and saw the crew working on the Raleigh sewer lines.  I had tried to get out earlier in the day, but didn't manage a visit until the afternoon.  Ricky was waiting for the concrete truck to arrive.  It's always a pleasure to meet and photograph new people.  Next trip I might have to get down into the hole...except I had better get a hepatitis shot first.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Demolition Boy

When I saw the house being torn down, I knew the card I wanted to make.  All I needed was a small stocky kid with a great smile.  Little did I know that he lived 4 doors down.  I had never met him until a week before we shot this image.  I was saddened by the loss of some old houses here in Five Points.  In their place will be high dollar multi-family condos.  That's Ok.  Nothing stays the same and nothing lasts forever.  If someone is going to risk replacing what were old and dilapidated buildings with fancy condos, more power to them.  I hope it succeeds.  I'm sure it will for somebody.  In the meantime, I have another greeting card to add to the collection.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The road less traveled. Photo Journal: September 9th, 2012

Leaving Atlantic Beach in the 70's, it seemed like the best way to travel was up Highway 50 through Benson and Newton Grove, NC.   As many of that era remember, I have memories of driving through Benson on a Sunday afternoon and having to go over one street to get through town due to all the cars full of teenagers "cruising" until the gas ran out.  It seems like we are all in such a hurry to get where we are going these days that we no longer look around us to see what's off the highway.  Now the quickest way to the beach is down Interstate 40 or along the boring Highway 70.  Kids spend their time listening to iPods, playing video games or watching movies.   I suspect that most kids have no idea where they are heading or what the view is like outside the window.
Leaving New Bern this weekend after completing my 9th MSBike 150, I decided I would take the slower route and drive up Highway 55 from Kinston across to Mt. Olive, Newton Grove, up through Benson and then home.  My primary objective was to visit a pond house sitting just off the road north of Benson.  I had photographed it 20 plus years ago and decided it was worth a followup.  I didn't know it was going to become an afternoon adventure.

My first stop was at a car show just outside of Kinston.  It was definitely not the kind of car show I was used to.  Monster trucks next to lowriders with bass speakers that shook the ground.  Like I've learned over the years, people are just people...just with different backgrounds and interests, but for the most part are social animals.  I enjoy walking up to strangers and asking about what they do and who they are.  More often than not they enjoy my taking their photograph.
I stopped near Newton Grove and photographed a Midget League All stars game between Johnston County and Chatham County...the first game of the fall season.  It still had the feel of summer with parents and others taking the game very seriously keeping track of stats on scoresheets with at least 4 or 5 coaches on a side.  The kids were good too, especially those on the Johnston County team who were up 11-1 when I left in the 3rd inning.

I stopped for a snack at a small convenience store.  The girl behind the counter was as nice as she could be.  I explained to her that I had been photographing people that work hard for a living and she immediately said..."Well, that would be me."    Up the road I came across a wonderful farm house, the kind of house that we all would love to own one day.  Small road lined by trees up to the side of the house...pastures full of goats and chickens surrounding one side and the perfect wrap-around porch.  I always wonder what people are saying when they see me approach.  I'm sure they are wondering what I'm selling.   Actually I'm selling myself.  The honest approach is always the best and more often than not I leave with new friends...and sometimes like this trip...a mason jar.  I figured I'd be able run my car with it if I ran out of gas because it sure wasn't pickles.
Further up the road I saw Marissa testing out a new horse her father purchased up in Amish country.  Buying, training, and selling horses was her fathers business.  Marissa didn't say much except "Yes sir" or "No sir".  Didn't even hesitate to allow me to photograph her, putting the horse exactly where this stranger asked her.  As soon as she was done though...she was gone.  Off to do chores I imagine.  Her father came out talking on the phone.  No nonsense, but quickly assessed I wasn't a threat... almost ignored me as I drove off he back on the phone...a polite but almost dismissive wave as I drove away.

It wasn't too far up the road I had a scare.  Two horses, fully saddled galloped across the road.  They were missing their riders.  If I had been going a little faster and hadn't seen them I'm almost afraid to know what might have happened.   I almost stopped and the horses also turned to look at me...then they continued to run across the lawns of a small roadside neighborhood.  About 1/4 mile up the road I saw a man running.  Figuring he owned the horses I slowed and motioned him to get in.  This stranger jumped into the car without hesitation.  Turns out he didn't know who owned the horses, but was concerned about their running across the highway.  I took him down the side road and drove right up to where the horses stood.  Warren jumped out and cautiously approached, but without success as they again bolted.  He showed patience though and as I watched from the car he was able to mount the less skiddish one and take them back towards the highway.   I drove around and saw what I thought was perhaps his family and the owners, but they pointed to way off in the distance two loan walkers coming out of the fields.   I drove the 1/2 mile and met the husband and wife who were also in training on a new horse.  It had thrown the husband and after she tried to calm the horse down, they both bolted.  They jumped in and I reunited them with Warren and their horses by their house which sat right on the highway.   It must have been a long walk as both downed big drinks before heading back out to continue the training.  Warren who was a friend of the family around the corner walked back to the house where I met several sweet children.  Obviously this was the adventure of the week.

20 years ago, I had photographed this little house from the roadway.  The shot on the left was taken with my 4x5, the one on the right trying to get the same position.  Didn't quite get the feel I wanted, but had a better opportunity to meet someone really cool.   I had looked up the current owner through Johnston County tax records and saw where she lived.  Knocking on the door, Miss Sally stayed behind the storm door.  Suspicious of strangers, she was taken back by the photograph that I showed her...a portrait of the little house her daddy built just about the time he passed away.  I gave her the print which surprised her since no one had ever given her anything before.  She quickly warmed up to me.
  I had been chased out by a bull back then and I come to find out it was "Big Mac" that chased me.  Miss Sally inherited the land and she went about making it a little oasis for her to read, host her garden club, and share with family and friends.  Retired from the NC revenue department, Miss Sally had a heart attack last year.  Although my surgery did not involve a heart attack, we were able to talk about blood pressure and medicine and I offered to take her blood pressure.  She was delighted and it was fine...actually less than mine was at the time.  I said I would come back...perhaps bring my biker friends stop and have a great rest stop.  Miss Sally loved the idea and offered to get food for us.  I'll definitely be back.

We miss a lot when we drive up the highway for 4 hours.  Getting back quickly to do what?  Cut the grass? Watch TV? Get on Facebook?.   Yes, I do all those things.  I blog, FB, watch TV.  But I think I'll be spending a little more time stopping to smell the roses.  I know it's cliche', but in the course of about 5 hours, only 2-1/2 hours longer than I would have had I just driven home, I met some incredibly nice people...rescued some horses, chatted about baseball, football, chickens, more horses, renovations, cars, work, life, and still had time to make some pictures.  Not a bad day.  I rode 50 miles on my bike in the morning as well.  If every day could be like that....
Now...when to figure out what's in that mason jar?  :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oak Island Light

Labor day weekend, my daughter and I headed down to Oak Island, North Carolina to get one more beach trip in before fall activities make it harder to get away.  It's not like we go to the beach that often. This was the third trip this year and is probably all I need as far as sitting on the beach goes.  As long as I have a book, I'm pretty happy.   Two of my goals this weekend was to capture the new moon in some way which obviously I did with the last image, but I've seen this so many times it's not as interesting as I would like.  The second goal was to photograph the Oak Island light, a lighthouse which isn't as attractive as many of the other lighthouses along the NC coast.    When I arrived on Friday night I took a walk out to the beach and was astounded as to how bright it was under the full moon.  The fourth photograph in the series shows the result of a self portrait taken at about 10:30pm in full moonlight.  The 30 second exposure allowed the stars to come in and if one looks closely, you can see the slight movement of the stars.
The lighthouse was shot on Sunday night.   No brilliant sunset that night, but an interesting sky none the less.  The sunset was shot on Saturday night right after dinner.  It had been cloudy, so we were eating dinner at the time.   I then looked out the window and saw the orange ball dipping down on the pier.  I rushed to get the camera and was able to catch just a few frames before it dipped below the horizon.  I don't shoot many sunsets.  I prefer to watch and enjoy them, but also I tend to look in the other direction to see what the intense light is doing.
The pelican was one of the first images of the weekend and I was so captivated by this image, that I spent the next 2 days trying to get a better one, without success.  That's the way it goes sometimes.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cycle Logic...and the dog.

Ed has been selling bikes in his Hillsborough location since 1980 but started it out of a small house in 1974.  Attending NC State to study aerospace engineering, he got obsessed with bikes and as a consequence has been working with them ever since.  Besides selling, fixing, and building bikes...he also flies gliders and is a pilot instructor, playing with Tesla coils in his spare time.  Mike (in glasses) retired in 2007 and now not only builds frames but does repair work holding down the fort when Ed needs an extra day off now and then.
If you need a bike and personal service go check out Cycle Logic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The guys at Five Points Service - Work Series(con.)

Richard, Tommy, Lee, and Casey have been working on my cars for years.  What used to be a Phillips 66 station as long as I can remember, the Five Points landmark in Raleigh doesn't offer gas anymore.  The more I shoot pictures like this, the more I want to do.  I get inspired by people that really work for a living...much like "Dirty Jobs".   I'm making an effort right now to document the people and environment right in front of me.  Too often we see photographs taken by photographers of incredible locations around the world.   I would love to travel more, but the restraints of life haven't allowed for it lately.  So I shoot the people and places I know best.  Right here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Aleta: The Ocracoke mail boat.

All day today I have been scanning ancient negatives from my vault...a collection that easily exceeds 1/2 million negatives and transparencies going back to my college days in the early 80's up until I made the switch to digital along with everyone else.   I found this picture today.   Taken in the summer of 1985...not a month before I met my wife Leta.  As you can see on the dock...the name stands out.  I had not noticed this image before.  Later that day I was out on the dock and photographed the bow of a boat, the name of which was the ALETA.   After I met Leta I thought it was a interesting coincidence...enough so that I made her a print.  I entered the photograph in the NC State Fair competition that October and it took first place in Photography.
Years later we were visiting Ocracoke to attend a wedding of some neighbors of ours.  Invited to a outdoor reception, Leta and I weren't sure if we were also invited to the rehearsal dinner.  Holding back until the last moment we were ushered inside and invited to find ourselves a seat.  There were only two seats left at a table of what we thought at that time was a "younger" crowd.   Obviously the question comes up with "how did you two meet?".  After relating the story of the photograph, meeting, and photo contest, one of our dinner companions dropped her jaw and pointed to the mantle behind us.
Directly behind our heads was a carved model of the ALETA along with an old postcard showing the boat in it's original use as the Ocracoke mail boat.
When trying to come up with a middle name for my daughter, ALETA seemed the obvious choice.
Back in 85 when I took the original photographs, the ALETA was just a fishing boat with a sleeping captain aboard.  He appeared to be sleeping off a hangover.   I don't know what ever became of the ALETA.   If anyone about dropping me a line.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tree Workers

A Trees of Carolina crew was making a lot of noise this morning so I headed out to see what was going on.  I thought it a good opportunity to photograph more for my worker series.  A nice break from scanning 30 year old negatives.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Sometimes one has to just grab the camera go next door to the neighbors house.  They know I'm a photographer so are patient with me.  Some enjoy just keeping up with the yard work and then there are those that create a magical playground for their children.  And then of course there are some neighbors that we don't talk to that much.  Isn't that the way it is.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Chicken Portfolio - Followup

Our chickens are now approximately 9 weeks old and are now in a gated community in our backyard.  I can't say they are the perfect models because they don't always do what I want them to do, but they at least don't run away from the camera.  It's really just a matter of waiting for the right moment.

The first photos of the series were taken of our Red Star (Nemo) at a few days old.  The hand model was my daughter.  The fourth photograph shows a progression of Nemo over the 9 weeks.  It was an interesting project to photograph them flying, but unfortunately Gillian clipped their wings this week so no flying photos.

Hopefully at 25 weeks or so we will have fresh eggs.