Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Barbershop Quartet...of photos.

While visiting Clayton, NC looking from my friend Sam Robertson, the WWII ball turret gunner, I decided to take a walk down Main Street.  I enjoy these opportunities to just meet and chat with people and more often than not, I am enriched by the experience.   I was telling my wife last night that sometimes in order to create these opportunities, the very first thing you have to do is to open the door.  It's becoming somewhat of my mantra these days.  Doors don't always open by themselves, sometimes you have to turn the handle yourself and push.  In fact, the best opportunities are usually those doors that you open yourself rather than waiting for someone else to open one for you.  I decided to open the door of Kirby's Precision Cuts right around the corner from Robertson's Mule Company.  Bill Kirby was trimming the beard of Darrick Muldrow and obviously I got the suspicious look one always gets when one enters an environment with a camera in hand.  Bill warmed up to me quickly though and told me he had been cutting hair there for 13 years...spending his entire life in Clayton.   After leaving and walking up the street, I came across another barber shop run by Donna Tyler.  She was cutting the hair of Corbin Deans on his first birthday...his very first haircut.  He slept through the first few trims then he opened his eyes and just couldn't stop staring at that strange photographer.   "KB" came in during this.  He had been hoping that Donna was around so he could get his hair and beard trimmed.  Talk soon turned to who was dating who...the typical chatter you might expect in such a place.  I left so they could go into more detail without a stranger around.  Another block found Glen's Barber and Style Shop, the largest space dedicated to the craft.  Inside Mark Felton was trimming Christopher Reynolds, while Marcus Agnew waited on a customer.  I felt a little guilty not getting a haircut at one of these places, but I wouldn't have any hair left nor money in my wallet had I allowed them all to trim my quickly becoming scarce topcoat.
None of these opportunities would have availed themselves to me though had I not turned the handle and opened the door.  I have a friend in public relations that told me her little secret is that she is very shy around people and couldn't do what I do.  She's wrong of course.  It's all about just opening the door.  What follows is an adventure.

Sam Robertson - WWII B17 Ball Turret gunner.

Got a chance to hang out with Sam Robertson yesterday morning. He's the soon to be 97 year old former ball turret gunner from a B17 during WWII. That's Haywood Fellows standing next to him. "Mr Robertson and I...we have an understanding." he said. Mr Robertson graduated from Duke in 1939 and went to work for Liggett before getting drafted as an "old man" in 1943. Training as a pilot he almost crashed his biplane on his first solo flight, but due to the fact that there were too many pilots and navigators he became a gunner...because those jobs were available.

I first met Sam while riding my bicycle with a friend on Memorial Day.  We headed to our favorite destination in Clayton, NC...the local coffee shop.  While we were there a gentleman told us we should head across the street to Robertson Mule Company to see all the old wagons, carts, and tractors that Sam had collected and restored.  Sam was very willing to share his stories about his 20 missions over Europe ...the last two of which were humanitarian food drops into Holland where starvation claimed the lives of over 18000 people in the winter of 1945/46.  To this day, the people of Holland still talk about Sam's flights and the food drops that probably saved many lives.   Sam remembers the message in flowers shown below and I with the help of a high school friend whose brother lives in Holland obtained a copy of the picture that memorializes their gratitude.  Sam appreciated the print I made him.  I could have stayed all day listening to his stories, but at least I got a chance to hear some of them.  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wilmington Street Painting.

I recently finished this painting of Wilmington Street in downtown Raleigh.  I had ventured out one day in the rain and captured some really nice street scenes which you can check out here.  I am often crossing the line between painting and photography these days and I wanted to paint something that I had visualized from the get go.  This seemed to fit that criteria.  Of course it needed an element in the foreground, so I asked my neighbors to walk across our street in front of their house a few times.  I was lucky enough to get some rain at the time as well so it became a realistic scene.   I still have a long way to go, but definitely inspired by the process.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Washington Monument reopens for visitors.

Last week the Washington Monument reopened for visitors after an earthquake in 2011 caused more than 150 cracks in the structure.  I remember feeling the quake even here in Raleigh 250 miles to the south.  My daughter recognized it immediately.  "Earthquake!!!" she yelled.  I thought it to be just a large truck that went by the house.   Back in 2012, the family went up to DC to see my wife's sister and do a little sightseeing.  I had forgotten about the scaffolding that was being built up around the monument, but fortunately a fog bank rolled in early one morning and I was able to capture the monument without seeing any of the scaffold that was already halfway up the structure.  Made for a nice image.

The Rialto Theater

Leta and I ventured out last week to see The Grand Budapest Hotel at The Rialto Theater in Raleigh.  It's Raleigh's last grand old movie theater and is just a short 5 minute walk from the house.  The movie itself was extremely wacky and probably just another excuse for actors to get together and have a party.  Apparently George Clooney had a very brief cameo.   The bottom photograph I printed and donated to the Underwood Elementary School silent auction next week.  My daughter attended underwood for 7 years.  The print looked really good matted and framed.  I've started including a newspaper (N&O) sealed inside all my prints.  I try to get a newspaper that was taken on the same day or at least week that I shot the image, however, sometimes I just have to settle for when I printed the photograph as I often wait weeks or months before I get around to playing with an image.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Local Barn

Just across the road from where my daughter takes riding lessons is another private horse farm.  You can see the stable/home in the distance.  This old barn sits at the corner of the property and is used sometimes on weekends and other occasions as some kind of farmers market, although I haven't ever stopped in to find out what they sell.  I shot this image last year while waiting for the lessons to be over.  More and more I'm looking for photographs that trick the eye into thinking it might be a painting.  Now if I can just do it the other way around, I might actually have something.   Either way, the journey is fun.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Portrait of Tu Youyou

Reference: Wikipedia: Tu Youyou (Chinese屠呦呦; born 30 December 1930), is a Chinese medical scientist, pharmaceutical chemist, and educator. She won the 2011 Lasker Award in Clinical Medicine for discovering artemisinin (also known as Qinghaosu) and dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria, which saved millions of lives. The discovery of artemisinin and its treatment of malaria is regarded as a significant breakthrough of tropical medicine in 20th Century and health improvement for people of tropical developing countries in South Asia, Africa, and South America.  Photographed by Simon Griffiths in Cary, NC for New Scientist Magazine.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Whiteside Mountain, Cashiers, NC

I have been yearning for some unpolluted night-time sky recently.  As I live close to downtown Raleigh, it's difficult to see, let alone capture the number of stars that are right above our heads.  Whiteside mountain sits between Cashiers and Highlands, NC.  Whiteside Cove offers a magnificent view of the rocky face.  Venturing out with a flashlight after 10pm this past weekend, I hiked to this barn and made this image.   The crescent moon had already set, so the only illumination comes from the night sky.