Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Finding a new direction for the new year..

As the year 2011 is coming to a close, I'm thankful that 2012 is giving me the chance to go in another direction..the one I have traveled this year has only taken me in a circle.

We will start with a new job..a new challenge! I always loved a challenge..unless it involves a very steep hill with a waterfall on the top. I'm leaving behind almost two years of knowledge, but in leaving it behind, my only regret is the people who have become my everyday friends. Some are only a familiar face, while some know of my shortcomings and of my strengths. These will probably see a tear in my eye as I leave them, but I hope they will remain in my life as I move on.

Then there is my photography..I try to learn something new everyday. There are websites that teach you tips and tricks to use the lens of your camera to show the world a whole new perspective. The underside of a mushroom, the backside of a horse that is usually viewed from the front..maybe a broken side mirror of an old, rusty car with the reflection of a blue,sunny sky in it. When we pick up a camera to shoot, we see the same thing with or without the viewfinder. We take photographs to present our view to someone else. We draw the attention of another person with another point of view. We can present our point without a single word. Photography is an amazing language, and it needs no interpreter. I will continue to learn to share this language with anyone who chooses to listen..

This has been a year of low times and good times..it has been full of friends and quiet to the point of dismal. I have pushed myself to explore both situations and relationships..some of which have flourished, and some which have stalled at the starting gate. Being alone with yourself is what so many people yearn for, until they are there. I am thankful for the family and friends that always seem to show their love at just the right times..this year will be better, my horoscope says so....

I've watched sunrises and sunsets, watched the birds on the water, longed for the sound of an ocean wave, and climbed mountaintops. Next year I will see more of what nature has to offer, and search out the seldom seen miracles that God has given us. I will make new friends and keep the old. As my children grow up, they grow farther away from home, but closer to my heart. They will accomplish great things, and realize their dreams.

In the coming year I will touch an ocean wave and photograph the foam it leaves behind. I will climb a mountain top, and stand in awe of another waterfall. And I will attempt to make every day count, learning something new every day - and I will be happy...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Looking for Happily Ever After - Part the Second

Now where was I? Oh, yeah, looking for my new "relationship" in the land far, far away! The search was interesting, as I had to look no farther than the front gate of the kingdom.

This fine looking young man smiled as I walked by. I turned my head for a moment, and saw that he smiled at everyone..

Maybe I needed to step up in age to an older gentlemen. So I took a look at this one -

After careful consideration, I decided I need a man with common interests. Though in the real world, I will watch a good UFC showdown, I needed to find someone who could cook, travel, fish, and take long walks. Then there was the music..I decided to look for a guy in the band!

Though these were both lovely gentlemen, I continued to look for that special man. It was then that I spotted my King! So handsome he was, I was taken aback for a moment..

A beautiful man, but I decided against this option, too. I would have to attend all those state dinners, with wild game that I didn't like to eat. And the clothes were hot and heavy..I'm a "double denim" kinda girl! And he had much better hair than I!

And then I found one like I'd already had..this was definitely not an option!

The horseman were interesting, but all they wanted to do was stick each other with a "lance". All that fighting, and very brave~ but I had made a decision - none of them! Alone still, but able to go to my photography clinic on Saturday without asking permission! So, for today, I am still living "happily Ever After".

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Looking for Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there was a castle..well, not SO far away, because I got there in three hours, but not in Dayton, TN either. The castle was white, with twin towers and a curved stair. At the top, in the window - Taylor Swift singing a song..nah, just another visitor. Anyway, arriving in my new location, I scoped out the opportunities - jobs, relationships, modes of transportation. First, I moved into my new home.

Then for the job hunt. Not a lot of options are available, but there was a nice bunch of girls that said I could go to work with them. They called themselves wenches, but I had too many teeth to work in their laundry business.

Then I could join the group of falconers, wear a nice hat, and perform in front of lots of people. But the gloves you have to wear are unattractive, and I'm not real fond of having big birds flying over my head! So though they are fun to watch, not so much fun to be.

I could sell bling to the consumers, maybe work for that really cute guy in the corner booth. I took a picture of him so I could remember those dreamy eyes if he closed up shop and moved away.

Or maybe I could open a hat shop, because EVERYONE wears a hat of some kind..I even have a good inventory to start with - see?

I finally decided just to become the queen of the castle, a lady in a long dress that squeezed the heck out of you, but made you look really skinny...

(to be continued..stay tuned for my preview of eligible bachelors I met while looking for Prince Charming)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Being a part of a dream - observing through the lens

When you wake up in the morning with a plan, you never know what will happen. You have a time, a place, and an itinerary... then you wait for the results.

Sunday morning was one of those days. Scheduling completed, phone calls made, equipment ready - out the door! I attended a Lady Mocs girls softball game at Frost Park. Loved music that played on the loud speakers. With an overcast sky, I was able to shoot some really good action shots from my spot behind third base. No brightness issues..overexposure was not going to happen..ballgame over, next stop. The Chattanooga Choo-choo for an engagement shoot with friends from Cookeville. Timing was perfect, the sun was peeking out, and I had already scoped out the spots I wanted to shoot from. Perfection! Great couple to work with, they were funny, and in love!

It was then that fate stepped in..not necessarily for the three of us. I had seen a young couple sitting in the gazebo, talking quietly, sitting closely.. the gentleman called out to me as we walked by, asking if I would shoot a couple of pictures of them. Of course, I agreed - I just love "LOVE"! So I got them to stand together, holding each other, and shot a few photos. And then, he said, "I have a photographer, and I have witnesses..no better time than this!" And all of a sudden......

I dropped to my knees and started shooting! No time for concern in a blown out overcast sky - I was so in the moment! And she said yes, and they hugged, and I wanted to cry, just because I was able to be a part of their future! I was the one that got to capture the moment..and I realized why I love the camera..it allows you to be a part of someone's life, part of God's nature, and in doing so it makes you feel good. Copngratulations, you two!

Scott, Lynn, Anthony, and Yolnique - old friends and our new friends!

Then it was time for a trip downtown. A trip to a local restaurant, and over my shoulder I see an amazing miracle..a little girl, so tiny, sleeping on the shoulder of someone who loves her so. And of course, being interested in capturing everything I see, I ask to photograph her. Her mom and dad agreed, and this is what we got..

After finishing up the day with a walk through Coolidge Park, I headed home with a good feeling inside..I had a beautiful day, good friends, new friends, miracles, surprises..and most of all, I was lucky to be part of a dream..through the lens..I'm living my dreams.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Five Senses

The strangest thing happened to me today. I was laying in my lounge chair in the yard, reading "The Notebook" for the third or fourth time. As always, the songbirds were flying around over the trees. I saw a crow coming toward me, flying low..everything was quiet..and for the first time in my memory, I heard the sound of his (or her) wings flapping as it flew over. It was amazing! Freedom means a lot, and there was a sound to it! Wow, how amazing!

Saturday, while out shooting with a friend, we spotted a bald eagle sitting on the top of a dead tree next to Watts Bar Lake. We watched as the majestic bird rose above the trees and over the ridge. No sound, but the sight was amazing!

To see a beautiful flower, to touch the soft petals, to smell the fragrance is putting many of these senses together. The taste of a wonderful new dish you have never tasted - the way it smells as you put the fork in your mouth..

And then there is the sound of nature, and the flapping of wings!

Behind the camera the senses are amplified. Taking the photo as you see it allows you hear the waterfalls, the animals, the car or motorcycle. It allows you to smell the flowers, taste the food, or touch the fuzzy baby chick that stopped to pose. And with your eyes, you see the world in a different way.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2011 so far..

The year started as any other..I watched the ball drop on "New Year's Rockin' Eve", thinking how bad Dick Clark looked, but how brave he was to go on air with something that was his passion.

This year has already had some ups and downs. I was honored to have one of my photos chosen to be displayed in one of the restaurants at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. I go to work there every day, with great co-workers, great bosses, and super customers. My children are achieving their dreams and making great grades in school. My grandaughter is growing up healthy and happy! She is a true blessing!

I went to two funerals. One was for my great-nephew, who was such a blessing through the eleven years of his life. One was for his grandmother. She was waiting for him in Heaven. His mother lost two of her precious family members within a few weeks of each other. I see her remaining strong and going on. I love her strength.

I have hiked the mountains, and the sidewalks to follow my passion. I have lost people I love, not to death, but to other things in their life that were more important than me. It has taught me to be okay by myself. I find myself thinking about them quite often, and hoping that sometimes they might think about me, too.

Friends are chosen family. I choose my friends to be my sisters, my brothers, long lost people who come into my life to let me know that I am not alone. Friends are people you can confide in, question your judgement with, and listen to when they have suggestions to make you better.

Spring is here..I've watched it rain today, and I can almost see the grass growing. I have grown a little inside already this year. I have learned a little more about myself and considered the mistakes I have made in the past. I am hoping by summer to have come up with solutions to the questions I still have.

I am going to travel this year, see things that I have driven past and paid no attention to. I'm going to the beach, exploring my mountains, and finding a horizon that goes on forever through the lens of my camera. I intend to push myself to a happier place..

It will be a good year!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

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Just a thought for the day

To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature.  Most persons do not see the sun.  At least they have a very superficial seeing.  The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child.  The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Dream has begun!

Today I was notified that one of my photos will be featured in the Paint Shop Cafe' at Chattanooga's Volkswagen Plant.  After entering an employee contest that was to show my interpretation of "Green City, Green Plant, Green Car", I chose this photo for several reasons. 

Looking through hundreds of photos (remember that luck photographer phase) I came upon the folder with the photos that were taken at the Enterprise Nature Park right after our January 10 snow.  I thought about the feelings that I had while hiking through the woods, looking for the deer that had left their footprints in the snow.  The sun was shining, the trees stood tall in their canopies over the snow, and it was just darn peaceful.
Then I thought about where I was.  Not 1/2 mile from me was Interstate 75, traveling from our North to our South, and is the busiest highway in our area.  Over the hill, and visible from the trailhead was Chattanooga's new Volkswagen plant, which would soon produce hundreds of thousands of cars and provide hundreds of jobs for Chattanooga.  I stood still in this place.  There was a dry creek bed, which will have water running as the spring rains start.  The trees, one of our greatest resources, were standing tall and straight. And the sun, our best source of energy, was shining brightly through the trees.  And the best part of all?  There wasn't a single sound that could be heard..it was "a quiet green".

"A Quiet Green"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Passing of "Lick"

Today was a beautiful day for photos..though I was feeling very lazy, and decided not to get far from home.  My pug had a litter of pups 9 weeks ago, and I thought I'd let them stay out and play in the den today. 

The three boys, Billy, Lick, and Bubba have been growing quickly in the past few weeks.  Lick was aptly named because every time you picked him up, he immediately began licking your face until you just had to put him down.  He  liked toes, too, and never failed to find the closest ones.  They were all eating and drinking on their own, and had started on their potty training.

Later this afternoon, Lick was a little sleepier than the others, and I picked him up to hold him.  He immediately had a seizure.  Two more in the next few minutes led me to start looking for answers on the internet.  His shots were up to date, deworming was done, and everything seemed to be fine.  Then he gasped for breath and died in my arms.  I buried him in my garden, where my beloved pets have been laid before him.

His brothers haven't missed him yet.  So I sit and shed tears for the great dog he was growing up to be.  No answers, no reasons that I can give.  Mother Nature can be cruel, but she takes care of the little ones..

Rest in Peace, little Lick, we will all miss you.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hurry Springtime and the impending Valentine's Day

The month of February begins with cold wind, dreary skies, and hearts and candy boxes scattered throughout the aisles of Wal-Mart and Walgreen's everywhere.  Valentine's Day was always a day of roses and sweets in our house when I was a child.  Dad always made sure every woman (and/or little girl with excited eyes) was gifted on this special day of love.  Though we thought this day was special, it only went along with the other 364  days that were scattered with love.

After the Valentine's Day retail scurry is over, Easter eggs and the Easter bunny are our focus.  Easter means springtime, resurrection, new beginnings, and a gift from God. The weather begins to warm, and winter is over. 

This year, because there is no one special in  my life for the ceremonies of Valentine's Day, I'll overlook it. I'll show my children how much I love them, get my granddaughter a cute stuffed animal, and buy my Mom roses,  just as I have every year since my father passed away.  There will be no need to scour the card aisle for that special romantic card.  I can skip it this year.  Last year I bought a card, but Valentine's  Day was cancelled because of snow. 

This year, I will look forward to Easter, scan the skies for the first robin in the yard, and the sunrise service.  Spring will be welcomed after the cold of winter.  The breezes will be warm, and the sun will shine. And then there are the flowers!  I will once again be somewhat of a "luck photographer", simply because one little flower can render a hundred angles for a photographer.

For those of you who have a special Valentine, don't forget to show the love every day of the year. For those who don't, Spring is just around the corner! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Luck Photographer

When I read this  particular article, I knew what I was when I started this digital adventure.  I would stop by the road, see something that I wanted to shoot, and take lots of pictures, hoping for the best.  I was stuck on auto, afraid to change any of the settings on my camera.  I was shooting only JPEG, fighting all advice to shoot my photos in RAW.  My reasoning behind this was that I had purchased a camera that had a great brain, so I could get great pictures..no matter what.

I knew about composition, I was aware of the rule of thirds, and I understood that lighting was what it was all about.  I had one goal in mind with my new camera - I wanted the perfect waterfall shot!  Once I had accomplished "misty water", I would be accomplished!  I could take the world by storm, and hang my photos on every wall in my house, garnering compliments from all who stopped by. 

I won't say it was a dare, but it was the closest thing to it that got me off the AUTO mode.  I knew in order to shoot the perfect photo, I would have to not only go to the Manual mode, but carry that silly tripod through the woods.  I practiced and practiced on little waves, fountains, anything that I could find.  A trip to the beach gave me waves to slow down..still not quite right, but I did use the tripod, and decided it was okay to be seen in public with all of the gear.  That week in Florida and up the East coast I shot almost a thousand pictures, but I was pleased with quite a few.  I was learning more about composition..leading the eye through the scene. 

Enter Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tn.  The water was low, so the falls weren't racing as fast as I would like them to. I got some good shots from the base of the smaller cascades, but still not the one I wanted.  A few hikes later, I got a great shot in Tellico, TN, of a friend at Conasauga Falls..then I took myself on a trip last week.  I found the perfect  setting, the perfect falls..the sky wasn't great, but I was able to NOT use the sky in some photos..

Cumberland Trail - Heiss Mountain Trailhead

I walked around and around, set up my tripod, and there it was...my perfect waterfall.  I shot it in JPEG and RAW, set my aperture and shutter speed, and shot not twenty, but  three shots at this angle.  I took a chance that my planning would get the photo I wanted. 

And yes, eventually I could Photoshop another sky in here, but I don't think the waterfall could be any purer, nor the water any mistier.  And I couldn't be any happier to realize that the "Luck Photographer" was learning a little something about how to start taking pictures on purpose.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Moments that take your breath away


Click on the link- listen to the song..every time I get in the car this song comes on the radio.  I sing along, and I listen to the words.  And the more I listen, the more I realize that there is a message in this song for me.  It's telling me to look around, to hug my kids, to take a walk, to breathe deep.  Most of all it's telling me to slow down and appreciate all that is around me.

When I was a kid, there were lots of days when I rode my horse to this pond.  It's on our farm, and it has been neglected, no longer needed by livestock.  On my 54th birthday, I left my house and walked over to the pond.  After sitting for a while, shooting some pictures, and walking off into the woods for a few minutes, I came back to this spot.  It reminded me how simple this pleasure used to be for me, and that it still was.  It didn't look like it did back then, but it  brought all the thoughts and memories back..

I was with my daughter when my granddaughter was born, and I was with my father when he died.   Both moments won't be forgotten.  I was at all of my children's band concerts, ball games, cried at all the graduations, kindergarten to high school,  and went to as many field trips as I could..I wouldn't trade these moments for anything..slow down, love your friends and family, and remember the times that took your breath away.

Monday, January 31, 2011

My First Day

Let me introduce myself to you!  My name is Susan Jones.  I live in Southeast Tennessee, in the great United States of America.  I am a mom to three beautiful grown-up girls, and live with a boxer, a pug, and a yorkie.  I am also a grandmother, and am looking forward to big hugs from this wonderful little girl!

I am starting this because I have a lot of things in my head and my heart that need to be shared.  There are days when I keep to myself, and days when I want to be in the middle of a crowd.  Today is a by myself day.  Once I left work, all I wanted to do is shut the door and think about the coming of spring! 

I am an amateur photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician - but most of all a dreamer! Yes, I know that everything is either black or white, but somewhere in between is the grey that makes all things possible. I never give up on a dream, but I have put many of them into a box to save for another day.

I find pleasure in nature and it's amazing changes.  Friends are the best thing you can give yourself, and enemies give you someone to talk about when you are upset..friends close and enemies closer?  Not so much, I'd just as soon keep the enemies away!

Yesterday in Tennessee was a beautiful day!  I took a drive and found both beauty and ugliness in the same location.  I chose to capture the beauty, and ignore the ugly.  I know spring will make it all right again.

The first picture was taken on part of the Cumberland Trail.  This trail winds through parts of Tennessee, and encompasses some hiking trails that were already established. Some new portions have been added, and more will be. More information is available on these hiking trails at http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/.  This link shows not only the topo maps and directions to the trailheads, but gives a comprehensive step by step to the miles and sights along the way.  BUCKET LIST  - to travel to at least one section a month for photography (in decent weather, as I hate the cold!) Hope you enjoy the photos, and I will leave you with this..

 Find an aim in life before you run out of ammunition.  ~ Arnold Glasow