“I love weddings and model shoots! Especially when I am watching an event unfold. This particular day was very exciting two shooters using the fountain and light to create beautiful pictures. Meanwhile…I just shoot them.”
For years I shot both, but lately my focus has changed and so has my income! Both kinds of assignment work can be lucrative. But…that is a whole different topic for now.
I like to watch light and people. When asked about my photography my elevator line is ” I prefer to shoot everyday life, unseen and anonymous.”
It was late spring and last year and I took a trip to Savannah, Georgia. If you have never experienced this beautiful city and it’s many little parks, I recommend a visit.
Forsyth Park is the largest of the parks inside one of the city’s grid of town squares. I believe this is the best and prettiest of the Savannah parks. No wonder every photographer and model photographer shoots in front of the fountain. It was installed in July of 1858 by James, Beebe & Co’s from a “Catalogue of Ornamental Iron Work”, in 1855. Poughkeepsie, NY., has a similar fountain on Little Market Street, that fact, I learned by reading about the maker of the Savannah fountain and the history of the Savannah parks.
It was 8:27 A.M., I was sitting in my car waiting to go into my 8:30 appointment, parked on a side street under a huge oak tree.
There was a familiar sound; I had heard it before-the squalling and crying of an animal. I looked up from my steering wheel and could see the feathers or fur dropping down from the tree. My eyes immediately locked on the hawk and could see he had something in his talons. A second hawk joined him on the tree branch and as nature goes a scuffle ensued and the first bird of prey flew away with a squirrel in his hands. I sat there fumbling for my camera- this was a job for a long lens not an iPhone. I have witnessed this three times in my life. Every time the story is the same, the cry from the prey and the enormous bird flying away with four little legs moving about in capture right over my head.
I am not a bird photographer for a reason, patience and preparedness are not my strong suits. I look for the light and follow my instincts. I am not quick on the draw and never know when I may see something – like a bird in a tree. However, if a particular kind of light draws me to a subject – an investigation begins and I usually get a shot.
Every picture tells a story; very seldom do I tell it- letting the photo stand alone. Now after three instances, two in the same exact place, this image beckons me to tell how it came about. See hawk below.
I was walking along a paved railroad path looking for something to shoot. There were a few old abandoned buildings across a field of tall weeds and to my right an area of wetlands. For some reason most of my walks end up near wetlands or swamps. I heard the sound of a bird call, could not see anything in the trees but knew there was something around. The sun was at 3 o’clock and there was a berry bush spreading polka dots or light all around and the feeling from the dots was interesting. Following the dots not far above- there he sat on the lowest branch, a hawk hiding among the camouflage of speckled light cast from the berries.
With my Canon G15 around my neck I took aim and with the longest lens possible I got in a few clicks before he flew away. Now, I am not the typical photographer who owns every lens for every situation. Lightweight equipment is preferable and the essential tool this camera has is optical stabilization- absolutely necessary because it helps prevent blurry pictures especially in low light using the high optical zoom.
This image was recently sold to a man for reference purposes, so that his tattoo artist could put the Red Tailed hawk on his back. It’s funny, the reasons why people buy my photographs.
Stay tuned by goal is to track down Bob and see if his hawk tattoo is ready for a photo shoot.
My daughter asked me just last week “do you believe in Soul Mates? because I think I met someone who is mine.” I said “sure, but I have not met anyone who fits that criteria in many years.” I think if I could have one hour over a coffee with artist Mary Fahl I may feel differently answering that question.
Saturday night at TCAN, the Natick Center for the Arts, we attended a concert by a female vocalists unknown to us. My husband said he looked her up on Youtube and she reminded him of Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention, an English folk rock band.
Since I loved Sandy’s voice, our friends and I went to hear this incredible artist, singer, songwriter and guitarist perform. The show opened with reverb (which I really like) and a beautiful blond women belting out a song with her extremely tonal vocals almost a baritone sound. Her performance was outstanding and amazing actually, how just one small person can fill such a large sized room. Her former years as the lead singer in a group called, October Project, gave her that experience. Who is this women? Why have we never seen her perform? We were told from the director that we were seeing a rare performance by now soloist Mary Fahl, what a treat.
As I stand in a very long line to buy her rendition of “from the dark side of the moon”, I think about my course “Creating Creative Content” with @Alyson B Stanfield, comparing this artist to techniques learned during my summer class. Talent a given, this women was applying the general principles we were discussing, selling her material, and building an audience through her story telling abilities. Now I wanted to know even more about her fascinating life, retold in song, and gathering a following by being a genuine person. I was sold I wanted to be her friend, soul mate, even become a groupie. The question remains how do I apply these principles to my photography.
http://www.natickarts.org/performance/mary-fahl-formerly-october-project , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4esPTfgFlyQ , http://www.natickarts.org/, http://alwaysgail.com/
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged alwaysgail.com, Alyson B Stanfield, artbizcontent, artist, CD, class, Creating Creative Content, dark side of the moon, English folk rock band, Fairport Convention, lead singer, Mary Fahl, October Project, performance, reflections, Sandy Denny, singer, songwriter, soul mates, summer, TCAN
I must admit I did not find this on my own, it was sent to my email. It is so beautiful that I have to share it. Click the link to see them at the Farmer’s Almanac.
|Frost flowers are found in Ozark Mountains, also called Ozark Plateau,heavily forested group of highlands in the south-central United States,
extending southwestward from St. Louis, Mo, to the Arkansas River .
A frost flower is a name commonly given to a condition in which thin layers
of ice are extruded from long-stemmed plants in autumn or early winter.
The thin layers of ice are often formed into exquisite patterns that curl into
“petals” that resemble flowers.
I went to the Farmer’s Almanac and here is the link to these incredible formations, take a look.
Posted in artistic, fall
Tagged beautiful, botanical, delicate, exquisite ice, extrusion, frost, frost flower, ice, lace, nature, outdoors
It has been a long time coming. Night photography needs guidance and a wonderfully enthusiastic teacher. The equipment necessary is a tripod, wide angle lens, DSLR camera, intervalometer, and the very important accessory the FLASHLIGHT! This month, I finally participated in an after dark “soiree” with the most wonderful group of night shooters in Boston. Two groups exist in the area, Night Photographers and the Greater Boston Night Photographers. My first trip was a 2 hour drive to Portland Maine’s Head Lighthouse. Getting excited to shoot- I drove up early to see the location in the light. I know it is one of the most photographed Lighthouse’s in the Northeast- but closing in on the setting sun hour and the exiting of the dark storm clouds in the sky- led to the most gorgeous light on the building that every photographer hopes to capture. The ocean was crashing against the waves just like in a Winslow Homer painting. I said as I raced to the waters edge to catch the light “I am actually in a painting”.
The following weekend was a trip to the Quincy Quarries. This time I was more prepared, black clothing from head to foot, good hiking boots for the uneven footing surfaces and six different flashlights to navigate in the dark and use to light up the rocks once the dark skies appear. I was in “graffiti heaven”, the drained Quarry is a cavern of many huge rocks littered with words, not just stupid things that kids write to protest whatever, but actually graphics that made sense. Looking at them under the moon lit sky made them so much more interesting. The sky was mostly cloudy but as it cleared little stars arrived and looking up- the leafless trees made for perfect silhouettes in front of the hazy moon.
Artist Open Studios is open this weekend May 3rd and May 4th in Needham, MA. Saturday and Sunday. Get the map from our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Needham-Open-Studios-May-3-4-2014/300109708419
Anyone living in the area please come and take a look at my new work. I will share my excitement for night shooting. I’ve printed the strange Quarry shots on beautiful handmade paper, Portland’s Head Light shots are printed on Epson’s Fine Art watercolor paper, and the night shots of our State House clock tower and night fountain are printed on fabric made into dresses. Come to: Gorse Mill Studios, 31 Thorpe Road, Studio 210, elevator building.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged alwaysgail photography, custom wearables, DSLR camera, Epson watercolor paper, flashlights, graffiti, handmade paper, hazy sky, MA Artist Open Studios 2014, moon, Needham, night photography, ocean, Portland Head Lighthouse, Quincy Quarry, rocks, silhouettes, Soiree, stars, texture, Winslow Homer painting
Not so long ago, I saw an NBC news story written about a former journalist from Kentucky by the name of Dan Price who had chosen to leave his wife and children to “live on the fringe of society” or as the article written by Nona Willis Aronowitz puts it “intentionally poor”. His actions were sparked by a book written by Harlan Hubbard called Payne Hollow who was an artist, writer, and musician among other things. The story caught my eye in the first paragraph, because I once, many years ago, met and photographed Harlan Hubbard at his simple cabin home in Kentucky. Dan Price’s life seems to be inspired by Harlan’s life- both kept journals and lived off the proceeds from a rental property. Dan’s choice to live on $5,000 a year in a hobbit hole seems to have sparked quite a lot of controversy in todays media world. Here is the link to the story with over 800 replies to the writers story. I skimmed most of them to see if anyone commented on Harlan’s life and the book he wrote. After all- that was the inspiration for Dan’s life change. I was blown away by all the people responding to the story. Mostly responses on how Dan could do that. I wanted to find others who cared about Harlan’s life. If one takes the time to read Payne Hollow you will find that Harlan was a completely different kind of guy than Dan is. He met is wife late in life and the two of them chose to live life on the edge and without possessions. There actions were made together with mutual derived vitality. I don’t believe they chose poverty at all. In fact, they were quite cultured and rich in experiences.
It was October of 1986 when I was escorted down the back roads of Kentucky along the Ohio River. My friend wouldn’t tell me who we going to visit, I was only told, you are going to love this guy. After a few hours drive south from Covington, KY (my home town) we stopped along a forested highway and walked some distance through the woods before we first spotted the wooden out house- it was nicer than my own tenement bathroom on Mott Street in NYC. The day was a crisp clear day and the leaves hadn’t really changed yet but there was a chill in the air. As we approached Harlan’s house my friend announced that he had brought a friend from NYC who wanted to see how he lived. I was amazed and somewhat frightened by the thought of this old guy living so far away from hospitals, doctors, a grocery, and neighbors. He had a guy visit him regularly who brought him necessities in a small boat. I heard he was his caretaker and friend. I already knew that his wife Anna had passed away but did not know it was one year prior. This soon became apparent when Harlan sat down next to her tombstone which read 1986. It was at that point that Harlan gave me his life story in one afternoon.
They were a really happy couple living off the land, raising goats, and farming along the Ohio river. They had come to their lifestyle in midlife after being Shantyboaters and living on the river for over five years. Anna had been a librarian and played the cello. Their boat and small shack “was a marvel of neatness and comfort- bare and without ornament”
Harlan died the following year after our meeting- It was at the end of his wonderful journey through life.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged $5, 000 a year, Anna, artist, blogger, cello musician, Dan Price, farming, goats, Harlan Hubbard, Nona Willis Aronowitz, Ohio River, Payne Hollow, poverty, Shantyboat, writer
Earlier this fall I revisited our town forest with the hopes of running into Jim the depot train master. I asked him if he wanted to tell his story about The Depot at Martini Junction and the G scale railroad he built in the woods. Jim’s depot is not just a miniature RXR station but it is a fantasy land for children and adults alike. I discovered the junction many years ago on cross country ski’s and have revisited the depot in many seasons. I have not yet had a martini there. Jim would like as many Geocaching enthusiast as possible to visit his site.
“Chances are that not many of you have ever gone for a walk in a public forest and found a model railway just sitting there. Some twelve years ago I thought it would be neat if I could make my own trail which would connect with woods roads and walking paths into the town forest which abuts our property. In the process of working on the trail I came across a small brook which seemed to cry out for a little dam that would create a small waterfall. Of course, there would need to be a bench nearby so that one could sit and listen to the waterfall. The work on the trail continued but more and more the focus fell on the sitting area which soon acquired two more benches because, although my background had been in engineering, my calculations as to how many people could sit on the bench width-wise proved to be faulty as the original intent was to be able to sit four people for cocktails. A small table was added as well as a bird feeder and bird bath and I thought we were done. Then the train came.
That Christmas my daughter bought a New Bright set for her tree and invited me to come over and take a look. This was my first exposure to “big” trains and plastic track and it occurred to me that this could be taken outside to good effect. I found that more track and turnouts could be had and we were on our way. Because of natural elevation changes at the site the obvious construction technique would be to build a trestle to run between the sitting area and the waterfall, which was about 80 feet. My idea was to have the line start at the bench, loop around at the waterfall and make another loop after passing back through the bench complex. The railway is raised between one foot and four feet for most of its length except for a small part of the bench loop which comes to grade. The bench over the track was converted to a tunnel with doors so that the locomotive and tender could be stored and locked. The upper section of the bench provides storage for a boxcar, caboose and tools. Some time later I came across Scientific Toys radio-controlled trains and with some modifications have been running these for about eight years. Modifications included substituting New Bright trucks fitted with Scientific Toys couplers and plating the cars with coffee stirrers. The pond and waterfall became a seasonal water feature with the addition of a sluiceway and waterwheel.
Shortly after the trains started running I established a Geocache and Letter Box site co-located at Martini Junction. The geocache is called “The Depot” and the letterbox is named “The Birdhouse Letterbox. The Depot at Martini Junction includes a diner, freight platform and a maintenance office. Both the geocache and letterbox have proven to be popular attracting an estimated 1500 visitors to date many of whom had never seen a G scale railroad before. People find the railway in a number of ways by using the Geocaching site with coordinates and a GPS device, the Letterboxing site which provides clues to the location, local media accounts, word-of-mouth and of course lots of folks just come upon it by chance. The railway is about a 15 minute walk thru woodlands from the nearest road access and miniature bird houses function as trail markers. Most visitors never get to see the train. We don’t have an operating schedule and only run the train if we’re their and someone stops buy. The run itself is simply a trip out to the waterfall and back again and takes only a few minutes. The batteries seem to last quite a long time if we limit repeat performances.
This unique opportunity to work in a public space has been very special to me and I hope to be able to continue my effort. Just the other day a young boy who was visiting asked if I was the one who donated the railroad and though I hadn’t thought of it as a donation maybe that’s what it really is. It surely has been a great joy to me and I’m certain if has been fun for lots of others. We’ve found our way onto Google Earth and You Tube through unsolicited submissions and the results of “googling” Martini Junction fills a page”.
Jim Metcalf, Needham, MA
Posted in Model railroads
Tagged bench, bridge, brook, cocktails, dam, G scale, geocaching, GPS, Letter Boxing, Martini Junction, radio controlled, RXR, The Depot, town forest, toy, train, trestle, tunnel, walking, waterfall