Old Guy Photography

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It May Have Seemed Like A Good Idea …

Vulture-1It may have seemed like a good idea at the time … to lay out in the middle of the back-forty, appearing to be dead, for the sake of taking photographs of Black Vultures when they came down to investigate a potential meal. Well … it did seem a logical way to get the large birds down close enough to get in the “Awesome” detail capture range. They did have the habit of flying in circles high above the reach of a 300mm lens.

And, if they actually landed, I mean actually landed, I would be able to obtain a series of the much vaulted up-close-and-personal photographs. The possible frames, baring the possibility of extremely numerous physical injuries requiring hospitalization visited upon myself, would be unbelievable.

Or …it seemed to be a logical train of thought, in the same vein, to use the same lying in wait technique to take unusual photographs of small birds getting their sunflower seeds directly from the source. Two purposes achieved for the price of one.

Well . . . so much for logic . . .

It would seem that lying out in the back-forty looking dead only attracts the attention of my Sweetheart, and the local city police or County Sheriffs Deputies. This is especially true if someone calls in and reports you lying dead and being a public eyesore or annoyance. This is not a desirable thing to strive for or accidentally accomplish. There is not a abundance of what you would call “Sense Of Humor” with those type of public officials who answer such calls.

All-in-all …  it boils down to be another instance of pushing outward the boundaries of self- humiliation and severe public embarrassment.

So, for me at this time, there is an “unattainable” photograph. That in a way is a good thing to know. You need to know your boundaries and limitations. And, experience has just taught me that a logical train of thought can, and will given the opportunity, often lead you astray. It will happen. This is especially true when you see the world in frames and few obstacles cannot be climbed or overcome.

l guess my dear Sweetheart was right all along when she expressed stern concerns about my back forty shooting schedule. And . . . I suppose that one of these days I will have to listen closer to her advice. She has that common sense gift that women have and I haven’t, despite my efforts, been able to get my hands on … but … just down the road …

Next Week … Something Interesting or something current …


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Guest Blogger … Cousin Gene … Riding The Trail …

Here it is the 11th of November, 2014, and along comes Guest Bloggist Edition #3. Riding the Trail

One of my favorite activities, for enjoyment and exercise, is riding my bicycle. I am more of a recreational rider as oppose to serious riding. I do not go for long rides, on the road, as some people may. When riding, I wear comfortable shorts, my shoes of choice (New Balance), and a bright-colored shirt of some type. That gives the drivers that I encounter an easier target. I have on a bike helmet, bike gloves, sunglasses, and a generous helping of sun block. Water is a must, so it comes along. My bike has 21 speeds, of which I use about six of them. It is a hybrid, rather a cross between off-road and road bikes.

Cousin Gene

Cousin Gene

When I ride around my neighborhood, it is usually for an hour. I take a few laps around the neighborhood circle (just under two-mile per lap) and then finish the hour riding around the various paths. My neighborhood connects with two others to form a ?village.? Each of the three neighborhoods has its own path system, so I will ride around all three to complete my hour.

But my favorite location to pedal is the Indian Head Rail Trail. An old federal government railroad line was given to the county and, lo and behold, it became a hiker/biker trail! I don?t agree with a lot of things this county government does, but this trail is absolutely wonderful! The county done good!!!!

The trail is 13 mile long, running from the town from whence came its name, to White Plains. The trail, asphalt all the way, eight feet wide, crosses seven county and state roads, and four town roads in Indian Head. It is basically level, but there are some grades one must bike. At least it is not uphill in both directions!

The trail passes through some swampy areas, some woods, some countryside, some housing, and passes by a private shooting range. I have seen boy deer, girl deer, baby deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, hawks, turtles, snakes, and even a Bald Eagle or two. I have also seen other bikers, joggers, walkers, men, women, boys, girls, and children. I try to always say hello to them when I pass. Most people reply back, but some don?t. I usually see the county employees that maintain the trail. They do a great job!! I will say something to them, given the chance, because of the job they do. (I hope that other people do also.)

When the weather breaks, in April or May, I start my summer-riding-on-the-trail program. I try to ride twice a week, usually Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday. No way could I ride every day! I like to start early, to avoid the heat of the day. So I start my ride between 7:30 and 8:00 am. Two and a half hours later, I am done. My first rides of the season are tough, but I get use to it. Good workout, it is. I avoid the trail like the plague on weekends and holidays, due to the human congestion. I usually finish my summer-riding-on-the-trail program in September.

I live closer to the White Plains end, so I load my bike up on the bike rack, mounted on my truck, and off I go. Five minutes later, I park in a small lot at the 11 mile marker. I unload my bike, put two partially frozen water bottles in the frozen water bottle holders on the bike, place my fanny pack on my lower back (containing ID, keys, snack, wireless cellular communication device, and other stuff). My helmet is placed upon my head, along with sunglasses (if not sunny, I would wear some clear safety glasses), gloves on my hands, lock the truck and off I go!

I first head toward the trail?s end at the thirteen mile marker. On the way there, I pass a farm, some houses, and two swampy areas. On occasion, I may see some wildlife. They don?t hang around if spooked! There is a very large parking lot at the trail?s end, as well as restrooms, water fountains, benches, and an old train caboose, sitting on a short length of railroad tracks. This is also the most congested area (humans, that is) of the entire trail. I make a u-turn and head for Indian Head, 13 mile away.

I usually make pretty good time (the grades are mostly downhill) and the human traffic is sparse. Sometime you may see some wildlife or not. But the ride is enjoyable. I make it to the Trail Head in about an hour and 15-20 minutes. The last ½ mile is the steepest of the entire trail. But I manage to do it without stopping. At the end, I take a break, usually in the nearby tree-shaded parking lot of the Indian Head United Methodist Church. I have a snack from my fanny pack, and finish the water from the first partially frozen water bottle. After a few minutes of standing or walking around, eating and drinking, I get ready to head back.

I have only eleven miles riding back, so it only takes about an hour. I get to see the other side of the sites I saw riding to Indian Head. It usually looks the same. Around the two-mile marker, there is a great view of Mattawoman Creek. If the tide is in, the creek is wide, covering the lily pads. If no high tide, the creek is still big enough for boaters to sail or to fish. Sometimes, a fisherman is along the bank, which was re-enforced for the railroad track. Along the trail, the county has placed benches, which have been donated by various groups and usually dedicated to someone.

My ride gets kind of tough from Mile Markers 8 to 11. The grade, although slight, is basically uphill! And there are two long straight stretches, which seem to take forever to ride. (Not really, but it seems that way.) So, after 26 mile, I finish my ride. I stop at my truck, dismount, get the water bottle, and walk around a couple of minutes. I will load my bike, open my truck, and store the gear I had used, and head home. For some reason that escapes me, and even though the drive back is the same distance, it takes a little longer to drive home. But I know that waiting for me back in my refrigerator, is a Mountain Dew!

Next Week … Something Interesting or something current …


Old Guy Musings … A Veteran Remembers …

It has been nearly fifty years since I took the oath and entered into the service of our country. This was service in the form of four years in the US Navy. It was 1965 and the Marines and Army were drafting to fill their ranks. There was a war going on and with the draft board nibbling on my heels, I followed the tradition of my father and volunteered. He served in the Navy and was stationed on Guam during the second world war. He was a Yeoman and had to contend with Japanese soldiers coming down out of the mountains and getting in the chow lines.

U.S.S Saratoga CVA-60

U.S.S Saratoga CVA-60

I landed at catapult one on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Saratoga. I found myself under a jet air plane loaded with bombs, rockets, and napalm ready to be launched down the flight deck and into the air. It was one of the most dangerous places to be serving in the Navy.

I was a young man unafraid of the dark or any obstacle placed in my path. Like a few special young men of the era … I was of that select group who would live forever.

I served four years on the flight deck in the steam catapults … was hurt only once during a night launch, and was considered by the younger members of the cat-crew …  the Old Man at the sterling age of twenty-one. Young, brash and fearless … I didn’t have a fearful thought or regret.

Nearly fifty years ago … time marches along. During the time since I left the Navy, I have seldom talked about my time in the service.

Only in the last few years have I given those long four years much thought. Flashbacks now haunt me from time to time along with the standard assortment of colorful nightmares.  I once glanced at a demonstration television at a big box store when I noticed they were playing a HD tape of flight deck operations. I had to turn and walk away. It placed me right back on that flight deck so realistically that I could smell the jet exhaust.

I am proud of my service to my country. Many during the sixties ran away or failed to serve. I have not suffered any physical or mental related to my service. It was all a duty to perform upholding a family tradition of honorable service. The flashbacks and nightmares, I will have to deal with in order of appearance and hope they do not become more troubling. The infrequent bouts of depression that visit me are pain medication related.

To all who have served and are serving our country, I salute you and wish you God’s Speed.


Next Week … Something Interesting or something current …