July 4th on Kentucky Lake, Cypress Bay

Just returning from a weekend "back home" in Paris, TN.  We were at Cypress Bay Resort on Kentucky Lake spending time with family and I had a chance to catch some "pre-4th of July" fireworks over the water.  The dock I was standing on was floating (which meant it was also moving) so long exposure was kind of a challenge.  I was able to get a couple of shots and wanted to share this one.  Hope everyone has had a great 4th of July!

Cypress Bay on Kentucky Lake, July 4, 2016

April

This was another case where I ended up taking a picture of my wife April that we didn't really even plan.  Every time I want to "test" something, she happens to be there and she happens to be a good enough sport about it to allow me to do it.  Although, most of the time, there was no prep, no making sure everything was right, no picking out clothes, etc.  She just happens to be the way she happens to be.  There are a few pictures of her in my portfolio and honestly, most of them started that exact same way.   This particular day, I had a few minutes and decided to just get the camera out and play around a bit.  She was sitting near a window looking out and I thought I would test out a few shots of her.   I was actually testing using a flash to exaggerate the light coming through the window but eventually, I scrapped the flash and just went with what turned out to be really awesome light coming through that window all on it's own.  I couldn't help it, I had to post this.  It's one of my favorite pictures of her yet.

A picture that I missed the first time - Times Square, New York, NY

I rarely go back and look through pictures I did a while back but during the trip to New York last year, I took a TON of pictures so every once in a while I go back and look at some that I may have passed over initially and something may catch my eye that I didn't see before.  I found this photo that I had overlooked and just for fun started playing around with it.  After spending some time with this one I believe I'd have to say it ranks in with my favorites from that trip.  

Times Square, New York, NY


Neyland Stadium - University of Tennessee

I have been wanting to take a picture of Neyland Stadium for some time now and being in Knoxville for the past several weeks (months) gave me a chance to take a couple of stabs at it.  After finding a good spot to take it, I made several trips down there and came back with a few that were "okay".  On this particular evening, I knew we were going to have a really nice sunset so I headed down for one more try at it.  I was really pleased with this one.  

I know a lot of you UT fans will appreciate it.

New York City, April, 2014

I had my first trip to New York City back in April of this year.  It was an incredible experience.  Of course, I had a list of things that I had to photograph in the few days that I was there so, with a LOT of research and preparing, we were able to get most of it in.  Here are a few shots from that trip.

Shot of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from Dumbo Park, Brooklyn.  This one was taken at about Midnight which was an experience in itself.  After taking several pictures, we walked back across the bridge into Manhattan and rode the subway back up to Midtown.   Honestly, I was a little nervous about getting on the Subway at 2:00am with a shoulder full of camera gear but it was fine.  We actually felt safe most of the time we were there.

Panoramic shot of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn.  Freedom Tower is standing in the center of this picture.

This is a shot of Manhattan taken from Ellis Island

Empire State Building from the top of the Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock).

Midtown from the top of the Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock).  I was really wanting to get this after it had gotten completely dark but as luck would have it, the night we went, the wind got so strong up there that they shut everything down about the time the sun was going away and made everyone go back inside the building for fear that someone was going to get blown off.  I have to admit, I held my jacket up once (like you do when you are putting your arms through it) and just about turned into a kite.   Anyway, this was the closest I could get to a "night" shot of the lights.

Statue of Liberty.  (The sky was a little grey and drab that day... so I took some "liberty" here.


Grundy Forest

I had a chance to get out this weekend with a couple of friends to take some pictures.  We went to Grundy Forest, which is part of Cumberland State Park.  This was an unbelievable place a little over an hour from Murfreesboro, not far from Monteagle near Tracy City.  I had no idea it was there.  We didn't have to do much more than walk out on the hiking trail before we were taking pictures of the water rolling across the rocks.  I'll definitely be going back to this one when I have more time.  

When you live in Tennessee, there's no telling what might be just down the road from you.

Duck Pond Farms

I went back though some pictures today and pulled out one that I had taken while I was at Duck Pond Farms in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee for Austin and Reah's wedding rehearsal.  I was walking around the property earlier that day trying out a wide angle lens that I hadn't used before.  I saw this boat that had been pulled out of the pond onto the bank and thought it would make a great foreground for a picture of the pond.  The sky was amazing that day and since the water was really calm, I thought it made a great picture.  Coincidently, the wedding was the next day at the same location and apparently, this is the sky you get the day before a LOT of rain rolls in.

Rock Island Falls

April and I decided to take a trip up to Rock Island State Park yesterday.  Rock Island is just a little over an hour drive from Murfreesboro and has some great waterfalls but for whatever reason, I had never been there before.  So, with 64 degrees in the forecast, I thought it would be a great chance to go check it out.  I set up to take some pictures of Twin Falls (which is a huge waterfall that pours out of  the side of a rock wall and cascades 80 feet down into the Caney Fork River).   While I was setting up the tripod, there was a guy in a Kayak coming down the river.  I had just enough time to change lenses, move to a position closer to the water, and catch a couple of shots when he came by.  We'll definitely be going back this year to get some "fall foliage" pictures of the falls but I was lucky to catch this one while we were there.

Twin Falls, Rock Island State Park, Tennessee

Stones River National Battlefield

On December 29th, I caught one of a variety of programs that the Stones River National Battlefield was having here in Murfreesboro for their 151st Anniversary.  I happened to be there during a musket and cannon demonstration where Rangers shared stories of the fight that took place 151 years ago.  The battlefield is a wonderful place to visit here in town.  It is about 570 acres of land where the Battle of Stones River was fought, 20 acres of which is now the Stones River Cemetery which, according to their website, has over 6,000 soldiers buried there.  For more information, visit their website, drop in at the visitor's center on Old Nashville Highway, or look them up on Facebook at Stones River National Battlefield.

Here is a sample of pictures I took that day.  (Click the photo to enlarge)

New Year's Day - First Sunrise

I got a call from a friend saying that a few photographers were getting together and meeting in Nashville downtown on New Year's Day to take some sunrise photos.   I thought the idea of taking some pictures of the first sun of 2014 that hit the Nashville skyline would be pretty cool so I decided to tag along.  As anyone around middle Tennessee knows, New Years day was a crisp 25 degrees or so and getting up at 3am sounded better the night before than it did at 2:55am that morning.  I did make it down there and although it was literally freezing, I had a great time and met some great people.   Here are a few of the shots from that trip.  Hope you all have a Happy New Year!

(Click on the images to see larger)

A view of the Korean Veterans Bridge in Nashville, TN  January 1, 2014

This is a shot of LP Field, Tennessee Titan's stadium from the pedestrian bridge in Nashville, TN  January 1, 2014


This is a shot of the Nashville Skyline from the pedestrian bridge.  Nashville, TN  January 1, 2014

Downtown Murfreesboro

I went downtown the other night to play around with some long exposures and some HDR shots.  Since I was going specifically to do some night shots, I left the house thinking I would just get there as it was starting to get dark.  I was really not looking for a sunset picture at all.  So, I got down there a little early and the sun was setting.  There was an unbelievable sky that evening and it was going away quickly.  I hopped out of the car, threw the tripod up quickly and set up the camera as fast as I could to see if I could at least capture that sky before it was gone.  Again, I was not planning this at all so the composition is not all that great really, nothing really going on in the picture but WOW, what a sky!  The other couple of images are just shots I took that I thought were kind of interesting.  

(Click on the images to see them larger)

Sunset Downtown Murfreesboro, Tennessee

HDR image of the Court House, Downtown Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Another HDR image of the Court House, Downtown Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Fall Creek Falls

My wife, April, and I had a chance to get out on the bike this past weekend hoping to find some fall colors.  I knew we had already missed the peak of the colors by about a weekend but we thought we would give it a shot anyway and see what we could find.  We decided to ride up to Fall Creek Falls.  Even though the trees had already turned to more of the orange/rust colors, it was still a beautiful ride.  When we arrived, I was a bit surprised to see that there was not as much water running off the falls but we decided to hike the trail anyway.  The picture below is of, what I call, the "main falls".  It actually drops a LONG way to the bottom but I decided to zoom into it and get a close up of the water just as it was beginning the long journey to the bottom.   Anyway, it was a great chance for April and I to get out, enjoy a little bit of fall weather, take a little road trip, get the camera out of the bag, and enjoy some time together.  

Fall Creek Falls State Park, November 3, 2013

A Tennessee Original

Every October, the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue Competition is held in Lynchburg, Tennessee (just south of our home in Murfreesboro).  You may also hear it referred to as "The Jack", and it's considered the Super Bowl of Barbecue competitions.  For the past three years, I have had the honor and privilege of being invited to be one of their judges.  In 2011, I had a chance to meet Jeff Arnett, the 7th Master Distiller at Jack Daniel's and he was kind enough to sign one of the bottles for me.

So, today, I thought I might take the camera and try my hand at some product shots.  I thought it would be a great time to get out the bottle that I had kept put up and shoot some photos of it.   

Semi-technical ramblings:  I experimented with several different things but I ended up with a 24x24 softbox with a Nikon SB700 speedlight mounted to the back of it.  I triggered that with a couple of Pocket Wizards.  The light was directly over the bottle at a 45 degree angle so that I would not light up the background any more than I had to.  I raised the shutter speed to drop the ambient light and then took a small pen light and propped it up behind the bottle to shoot a little light into it from behind.  I took a few different exposures of the bottle and then in photoshop, I masked the bottle from the lighter shot over the top of the background from the darker shot.  The picture below was the result. 

And by the way, I guess this is what happens when someone that's into photography sits at home alone with a bottle of Jack Daniel's. 

 

Jack Daniel's bottle signed by Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller #7, in October 2011.  (Photo taken September 2013)

Beautiful... but deadly!

Okay, first lesson.  When you travel, and you want to go out and take some pictures to commemorate the trip, maybe even capture something worth hanging on the wall, it's well worth it to take someone along that knows the area and what to watch out for.   

Earlier this year, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to Barbados.  We were only there a few days and I wanted to make sure that I left with some good images of the island.  I didn't just want pictures of the resort.  I wanted to venture out and make sure I saw as much as I could about this island while we were there.  We arranged to have someone there locally drive us around.  His name was Orville, and he had lived on the island his whole life.  He asked first what I wanted to see.  Now, I had done a LOT of web scouring for every image I could find of Barbados so that I would be armed with knowledge of what there was to take pictures of.  So when he asked that question, I proudly expounded all of my great knowledge of the "photo worthy" spots on the island.  I was waiting for his response, as I was certain he would be impressed, when he said "So, sounds like you really only know a little bit about the island.  Why don't I just take you to some places that I know about".   I'm good with that!  So, off we went.

Okay, I'm off topic already.  So, one of the first places we stopped, ended up being one of the most memorable of the whole trip.  Not just because of the picture, but because of what was in it that I didn't even realize at the time.  Every time we got to a location, we would stop the car and I would immediately pop out with camera in hand while April would stay in the car and let Orville tell us all about the place.  While I was taking the picture.  I overheard Orville talking about the tree and the fact that there was red paint on it.  They marked them so that people would know not to touch them.  Which I thought was pretty odd but apparently, they were "poisonous".  This was a conversation I just sort of overheard going on behind me but I was more concerned with capturing what I thought was a great shot of the water sort of framed up with this beautiful tree.  I didn't even notice the red paint on the tree until later.

Now after we returned home from the trip, I had actually had this picture printed and framed and hanging in our living room.  April was randomly googling some things on her phone one morning and remembered Orville's story about the tree and decided to look it up.  It turns out that this is one of the most dangerous trees in the world!  It's a beautiful tree, normally with oval shaped glossy leaves, and makes a small apple like fruit that is sweet smelling.  Looks obviously can be very deceiving.  This tree is so poisonous that if you touch it, it will burn your skin.  If you stand under it when it rains, every drop of rain will blister you.  If you burn the wood and leaves, and smoke gets in your eyes, you will likely be blinded permanently.  Needless to say, eating that little apple would be fatal.

Beauty is an odd thing.  One of the most beautiful images I've taken, is a picture of one of the deadliest trees on the planet.   

Oh, and one last point.  If you are going to Barbados, get out and take some pictures.  There are a lot of beautiful things there.  Just don't touch the trees with red paint and um, don't wear camouflage (that's a whole other story).

Here is the picture of the tree.  If you look closely, you can see the large band of red paint on the right hand side of the tree.

 

Here is another image or two from that trip.  These are not quite as "dangerous". 

Waves on the rocks at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion Resort.

Old Fishing boats on the shore.

Mushroom shaped rocks on the beach at Bathsheba

Bathsheba

 This was Orville, talking to one of the locals selling shells on the sidewalk while we were stopped.

This was Orville, talking to one of the locals selling shells on the sidewalk while we were stopped.

Morgan Lewis Windmill.  One of the last wind powered sugar mills in the Caribbean that is still operational.

A strange little house on a rock (that's about the best I can do on this one).  Orville seemed to think it was built years ago for the surfers to have a place to change.

Starting the blogging experience

This is a test to see how a blog post is going to look on this website.  I've never really been one to "blog" about things but I thought I would just start capturing some things here that interest me, some of the photo stuff that I have going on, and maybe post some pictures here that I want to share but not necessarily "portfolio" images.  So, check back here often and I'll try to share a few things and hopefully, you'll find a few of them interesting.  

With that said, here is a picture that I took of the downtown Nashville skyline at night a few months ago.  This is an HDR image made up of 3 long exposures.  The lights of the Nashville Skyline shining on the Cumberland river really make this picture for me.  I'm looking forward to returning at some point and trying a high resolution panoramic view of the city.  I'll share more on that one later.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Jeff