Rural East Texas – A Photographic Journey

Driving up and down the roads of rural East Texas is a very enjoyable and satisfying experience. At times, I am so enthralled by the beautiful landscape that I am shocked I haven’t flipped my car and truly become one with the land.

 

Barns always grab my attention, and we’ve got a lot of barns in East Texas. I love how the bright blanket of yellow flowers takes over the land. This rural landscape is located on US 259 in between Nacogdoches and a small town called Mt. Enterprise.

The Hardwood Barn is located on the left as you approach Mt. Enterprise. I think it’s used as an auction house. It’s fun to watch the surrounding landscape change throughout the seasons.

I found this rickety little barn on a quiet winding backroad.

I love how old rusty farm equipment looks . . . It’s soooo country. These old tractors are located near Mt. Enterprise on US 259.

Here’s the final image of our journey through rural East Texas. I like how the cacti in the foreground frame the blue tractor in the distance. A large vicious dog was barking at me the whole time, so I shot this picture from the safety of my car.

Cool Spider and Snake Pictures

First off, I’m freaked out by spiders and I imagine them scurrying up my arms . . . but, I think their webs are interesting. And when I see a snake my heart beats so fast, my adrenaline kicks into high gear, and I’m outa’ there.

I feel so alive in those moments.

And even though I imagine snakes slithering up my leg and eating me alive, I am completely fascinated by these age old beguilers.

Spider

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I noticed this spider web glistening in the morning sunlight. The wind was really strong, so I used a faster shutter speed than metered, which resulted in a pretty dark picture.

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I used auto correct for this picture and I thought the background lost too much of the darkness that allowed the spider to pop. Also, The highlights and the green at the top were a little brighter than I liked.

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So, I tried again doing the work manually. I brightened up the exposure slightly around the edges which resulted in a more balanced contrast between the light and the dark. The differences between these pictures are small, but I wanted to include both.

I really like how the lens flares and the rainbow colors turned out.

Snake

Later in the afternoon, my dog Sunny was barking wildly. I checked it out but I didn’t see anything. When we got back from our walk she went right back to the same spot and that’s when I saw it.

The snake looked more brown when I was running away from it.

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He’s actually blue with a yellow belly. How cool is that? I can’t tell what kind it is though. I’ve narrowed it down to three possibilities:

  • Blue Indigo
  • Yellow Bellied Blue Racer
  • Yellow Bellied Water Snake

If anyone can identify this snake, I’m all ears.

Fight or Flight . . . Flight!

Even though she’s an amazing snake killer, I got Sunny in the house and I went back outside to try and get a picture. I like to think me and snakes have come to terms with each other. Because this one let me take his picture and then he was gone.

I love that I got the opportunity to photograph and to experience the snake, without being in any danger.  What’s cool about this picture is the tree limb right in front of the snake mimics the bend in his body. They’re amazing at camouflage.

I wonder if I was staring right at him before when I checked, but he was hiding . . .

 

Quick Pics 18-27 – A Fishing Trip

Welcome to my 4th installment of Quick Pics coming straight to you from the backroads of East Texas. I was headed to go fishing with my family friends, and what I like most about these pictures is how they show that we were truly just enjoying the moment. That feeling of letting the cool breeze hit your face while riding down the beautiful road with people you care about.

Quick Pic 18 – Juxtapose

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I love how the leaves take over the ground and the trees.

 

Camera Setting: Cross Process

I named this photo Juxtapose, because the lines created by the trees, fence, and the frame of the window are running perpendicular to each other, which creates an interesting and balanced image.

Juxtapose: to place (different things) side by side (as to compare them or contrast them or to create an interesting effect)

When I’m taking pictures from inside the car, I like to sometimes include the car to let the viewer know where I’m shooting from. In this case, the car helps :

  • to frame the image
  • to mimic the lines of the fence
  • and to add more horizontal lines, which juxtapose to the vertical lines

Quick Pic 19 – Down Country Roads

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Camera Setting: Normal

I was really wanting to take pictures but there wasn’t anything grabbing my interest. So, I was just playing around with the zoom and snapped this blurry view of the road winding in front of us.

Quick Pic 20 – Memories, Old and New

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Camera Setting: I don’t remember and I can’t tell . . . My guess is Cross Process.

Still playing with the zoom, I managed to capture a bright burst of sunlight over my friend’s shoulder. She was wearing a Blake Shelton concert shirt and telling a story about when she was a kid and her parent’s would take them down these backroads picking buckets and buckets of blackberries.

Quick Pic 21 – Which Way Should We Go?

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Camera Setting: Cross Process

We weren’t catching any fish at Lake Nac, so we got back in the truck and drove around looking for a better spot. When I snapped this pic, we were trying to decide if we should go left or right. I love the way the sun is shining on the ground in the distance.

Quick Pic 22 and 23 – Untitled

Camera Setting: Toy Camera

The wind was too strong here so we just circled the parking lot and left. I liked how the sun was glistening off the water and the ramp.

Quick Pic 24 – A Church

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Camera Setting: Cross Process

We have 100’s of historical churches in this area. We also have 100’s of historical cemeteries . . . many of them were the subjects of photo projects I did in college. At the time, I thought about doing a series on churches, but I guess I never got around to it.

I didn’t like how the image looked when my camera was horizontal so I tilted it quickly and snapped. I think it’s a pretty cool pic.

Quick Pic 25 – Ugh, Teenagers

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Camera Setting: Cross Process

I was mostly taking pictures on the right side, so I shoved my camera in front of my friend on my left, and he thought it’d be a good idea to try and block my lens with his hand.

Quick Pic 26 – Untitled

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Camera Setting: I can’t tell if this is Cross Process, or the Miniature Effect.

I took this while we were crossing a tiny bridge. I really like how the reflection of the trees look, and the blurriness around the edges. I love this picture. It’s my favorite quick pic of the day.

Quick Pic 27 – Fallen Tree

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Camera Setting: Normal

I noticed this scene when we went down this road the first time but the 70 mph speed limit was too fast for me. We headed back down this road, and this time I had my camera ready. I thought I missed it again until I was looking at the pics on my laptop.

I’ve seen a lot of fallen tree scenes like this all over, and I think it would look better if I used a DSLR and got out and got closer. Quick pic didn’t do this scene justice but I was happy that I did capture it, when I thought that I didn’t.

Sooo . . . Did We Catch Any Fish??

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Not a “quick Pic”

Camera Setting: Cross Process

We finally found a good looking spot under a bridge where we caught one large blue catfish and a couple of small fish that we threw back.We laughed so hard trying to walk on the slippery mud.

I had a couple of pictures that are left untitled . . . I just couldn’t think of a good name. Anyone out there good at naming photos? If anyone thinks of something, I’d love to hear your ideas.

I hope you enjoyed these quick pics as much as I enjoyed taking them.

 

A Walk through the Woods

I walk through the woods a lot. Always fun and an incredible workout, by the end of the walk I’m gasping for air, dehydrated, and every muscle in my body feels alive. My last walk was with a few of the kids in my neighborhood. Every year when the weather warms up they’re begging me “Can you take us through the woods???”

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How did I become the Woods Excursion Guide? It’s Ok . . . I love it. I took this photo with the toy camera setting on my point and shoot.

About 7 years ago we got a new neighbor who wasn’t too friendly. He put up a gate with a no trespassing sign and threatened to “put down” the dogs that were running free. It was crazy. We all stood up for the dogs and eventually the gate and sign came down. It is a public road after all.

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Now, without fear of being shot, we have access to the pond and a bunch of woods again. When I was a kid, my friend Chase was the person who dug this pond. It was bigger and much cleaner. It’s trashed and toxic now.  Hmm, could make a good location for a horror or end of the world flick.

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We walked the trail around the pond which was lined with bamboo. While we were immersed in discussion about Koala bears, one of the boys managed to scare everyone with the old “SNAKE!” routine.

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The woods are so interesting. I like seeing the changes in the environment as it transitions from winter to spring. The leaves on the ground are crunchy and so pale and bland looking.

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We came across this beetle which spurred a discussion about beetles and their behavior and their grossness. And of course there’s always someone who touches it. The same person who tries to scare people by yelling “SNAKE” in a crowded woods.

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Does anybody watch Ninja Warrior? I love that show. It always makes me want to get out and get better at traversing obstacles, and the woods is a perfect playground for that. Plenty of places for climbing, jumping, running, balancing, and so much more.  I took a break from climbing up a steep incline to take a quick pic of this dog loving the walk as much . . . if not more than we were.

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Years ago I told everyone these were alien spacecraft. The story has stuck. My imagination is always vivid, but there’s just something about the woods that makes my imagination go wild. I took this picture with my toy camera setting. It works pretty good as a digital lomo pic.

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this picture was taken earlier on the walk, there’s my dog, Sunny

The sun was beginning to set and the excursion was finally coming to an end. I was glad, cuz I was so beat. Sometimes I can’t believe there is so much variety just in one area of my neighborhood. I know your area has tons of variety too. Grab your camera and have fun exploring it with your family and friends.

These Are Not Clouds

Yesterday when I took my dog for a walk, I decided not to bring my camera. I figured I’ve been taking enough pictures lately and I should just focus on the walk. It never fails though. Whenever I don’t bring my camera, I end up wishing I did. Within five minutes I saw something I wanted to photograph, so I ran back to my house to grab my camera.

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2 planes

A whole bunch of planes were high up in the sky filling the blue expanse with whatever that is . . . they resemble clouds, but they’re definitely NOT clouds. After the wind moves these “clouds” all around, they sometimes create interesting formations.

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When I looked up to take the picture I noticed a rainbow. I thought it looked pretty cool with the sun shining behind the tree so I went picture crazy.

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Just two more . . .

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I love the simplicity of this last picture. I finally quit shooting the “clouds” and focused on the walk like I had originally planned. Sunny, my dog, was probably thinking FINALLY!

ce ne sont pas des nuages

After I named this blog post, I was reminded of the surrealist painter Rene Magritte, who painted, “The Treachery of Images.” It’s not a pipe but it’s actually a painting of a pipe. He was going for a play on words and images.

My pictures are not of clouds, but of some weird substance masquerading as clouds. How do you say, “These are not clouds,” in French?:

ce ne sont pas des nuages

rm this is not a pipe

 

The Olympus Trip 35

So I took a little trip into my attic for something and like most people I’ve got a lot of stuff. My peripheral vision took over, and I got completely distracted by an old forgotten box.

In college, I was blessed with a bunch of film cameras and darkroom equipment that I got from the father of a family friend. I used a couple of the cameras at the time, but I haven’t looked at the stuff since then.

A Cult Classic 1967-1984

Immediately, I grabbed the sturdy looking metal one. I did a google search on the Olympus Trip and found a ba-jillion hits. So, you know what to do if you wanna learn more in – depth info about this wildly popular vintage point and shoot.

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Posed with Vintage Samsonite Luggage

It’s British, and it’s an easy vacation camera, originally made for people to take with them on their holiday trips. The camera grew in popularity in the 1970’s after the popular British photographer, David Bailey, starred in an advertisement.

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Elevated with a quality Zuiko Lens, and equipped with automatic and dependable controls, this compact camera is “so simple anyone can use it.” That’s good cuz I’ve been stuck in the digital world and haven’t shot film in about 7 years.

Locked and Loaded

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I hit up my local super center for film. From their very limited selection I bought the 4 pack of 35mm Fuji Film. I guess I’m not the only person stuck in digital. Who still shoots on film anyway, right?? (Lot’s of people!) I love digital, but film has a unique and rich quality that should never be forgotten.

The camera seems to be in good condition, except for a bit of grime that might’ve had some foam or something, which could possibly cause a light leak. All of the mechanical parts run smoothly and the film was very easy to load. Now all that’s left to do is start shooting. I’ll just shoot one roll for now and get it developed and we’ll see what this baby can do.

If Cameras Could Talk

You might want to search through your attic, or the attics of some old people. (Well, make sure you know these old people first, don’t just scope ‘em out and wait for them to head to senior night at the Bingo Hall.) Check out garage sales, and vintage stores on the Internet.

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Old cameras often come with an interesting history and can open up creativity. You never know what cool cameras are waiting to be found and what strange Trip they’re waiting to take you on.

And don’t forget to let me know about it . . .

Red Morning Pictures

I was headed to the kitchen this morning when I saw a red glow shining through the windows. I grabbed my point and shoot camera and headed outside hoping I was quick enough to capture the red hue before it went away.

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Light changes quickly so I only managed to get one decent picture. It was a tad bit redder when I first saw it, but that’s still pretty red. I wonder what kind of particles were in the atmosphere to cause that color.

Lo-Fi Time

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For this picture I activated my “toy camera” setting and it gave me the option of choosing a warm, neutral, or cool tint . . . I went with warm. The warm glow in the sky was pretty much gone by this point, but maybe that filter helped some. I positioned my camera at my hip and snapped the picture.

I like how it turned out. I like all the vertical lines created by the trees in the background, and the variety of diagonal lines created by the yucca plants and that stick in the foreground.

LOMO Rules Followed

So, is it LOMO? I followed rules 1-3 that are specific to all photography, and I wont list them. Rules 8-10 also didn’t really apply cuz I didn’t worry about what I shot which means I obeyed them. I am focusing on the Golden Rules though, so I guess I broke Rule 10 a bit. Aside from them, I’ll focus on the following Golden Rules of Lomography:

4. Yes, I tried the shot from the hip. The composition turned out pretty interesting.

5. Approach the subject as close as possible. The sharp pointy ends of the yucca got me so I definitely obeyed this rule.

6. Don’t think. Done.

7. Be fast. And done.

Pics Before Coffee

My coffee was ready for me when I was done shooting. I love the feeling of productivity and creativity before I even get coffee into my system. Makes the coffee that much more enjoyable.

 

Shooting with the Dynamic Monochromatic Filter

I love walking through the woods near my house. Yesterday was sunny and warm so I decided to see if I could find something to take pictures of using the Dynamic Chromatic filter on my point and shoot camera.

Texture

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Texture can be an interesting subject to focus on. Remember those baby books that have the different textures you can touch that are soft, rough, smooth, bumpy, cracked, etc? You can find an endless variety of textures in the woods. I really like the different types of bark and weird knobs and growths that show up on trees. Regardless of the environment you’re shooting in, see how you can get creative with texture.

Light

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Since photography is drawing with light it’s very important to pay careful attention to your lighting. Spend time getting to know light. Learn about color temperature and pay attention to where the sun is and what kind of photos you can get at different times of the day. You might also enjoy reading books for inspiration and a deeper understanding. Start with Science for the Curious Photographer.

Aperture

One thing I like to play around with is my depth of field. If you’re new to photography you should definitely get familiar with aperture. It controls blurriness and the amount of light that enters your camera.

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photographypro.com

I had fun shooting with the Dynamic Chromatic filter. I hope you get out there and experiment with your filters and with texture, light, and aperture. Have fun shooting.

 

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 1-6

At times, when I’m chillin with my friend (let’s call him Speedy), who doesn’t like to stop, I am forced to take pictures while going 70 mph down the road. One day Speedy absolutely refused to stop and I missed so many picture opportunities. I could have gotten very discouraged and frustrated . . .  but that didn’t sound like fun so I decided to challenge myself and see what kind of snapshots I can come up with.

I like to embrace the freedom and possibilities of stepping out of my comfort zone, or challenging any lingering, pre-conceived ideas about the process of making “art” especially with photography. Many artists and non – artists have asked the question: Can a snapshot really be considered art? Hmm . . . 

Quick Pic 1: Wooden Fence, B&W

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Before 

 

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After

I’ve taken many pictures on this road and something always grabs my attention. I managed to get Speedy to stop for this one, but only while he turned the car around. I’m not crazy about this quick pic, but I chose to include it because there’s just something about it.

Quick Pic 2: Shadow of a Tall Tree

I had a few minutes to shoot this one because Speedy had a quick stop to make. The sun was pretty high and casting this huge tree shadow. I didn’t like the warmer image on the left, so I tried to be inspired by cross processing, and made it a little bluer.

Quick Pic 3: Objects in Mirrors, b&w

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Before

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After

I like that baby mirror in the corner, and including the camera and photographer can be fun sometimes. Especially with that pinky up for balance purposes. I also thought it was more interesting in b&w.

Quick Pic 4: Blurry Trees

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I like the angle, the blurriness, and the way the sun is glowing. Reminds me of a picture taken on a toy camera.

Quick Pic 5: Birds on the Power Lines at the Gas Station

In one of my b&w film classes, I remember being very captivated by a guy who did a series of birds on power lines. It’s hard to remember all of his thoughts behind his photographs, but his series was in the back of my mind when I took this quick pic.   

Quick Pic 6: Xmas Light Pic the Speedy Way

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I was ruthlessly picking on Speedy by this point and taking pictures of everything as the world zoomed on by. This one reminds me of the red and blue blur . . . y’know, Clark Kent on Smallville . . . aka Superman.

Cows Butting Heads at Sunrise

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First cow picture taken

In the early days of my exploration of photography, I was 7, visiting family in Texas where these strange creatures called cows were everywhere. I was living in the Mojave Desert in Southern California at the time where cows weren’t so common, so they definitely had my attention. Everyone was confused and weirded out that I was wasting the film in my disposable camera on boring things like cows. “What is she taking pictures of?” they would all ask in bewilderment.

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Well, I am still taking pictures of boring cows. But, they aren’t that boring. Once they notice that I’m there, they quit what they’re doing and all of a sudden 20 cows are staring at me and walking quickly towards me. Each time this happens, I immediately have a flashback of the time I was fishing with my dad on his family farm for the first time, and I turned around and saw a herd of cows appear out of nowhere and start coming at me. I totally freaked out, while my dad was totally chill. “It’s ok, they’re just looking for food.”

That’s what I was afraid of . . . they’re ready to get back at me for all those delicious cheeseburgers I’ve enjoyed. 

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Lately we’ve been having some psychedelic colored sunrises so I got up bright and early hoping to get something interesting. I stopped at a ranch on the picturesque farm road I drive down daily. I was sorta bummed out that the sunset colors weren’t as cool looking as the previous mornings when I didn’t have time to stop.

As the sun was rising, I noticed cows were grazing in the distance and then I spotted 2 cows butting heads. I love when I get the opportunity to see animals behaving in their environment.

 

 

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If I could have gotten inside the fence and gotten closer I could have included the sunset and gotten some better detail of the cows and the water. I wasn’t about to trespass though, so I had to take the pictures from really far away.

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