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.

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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.

 

Photographing the White Iris Flower

I sat down near these irises to spend some time looking at them and practice taking better photos. I sat there so long a couple of large birds landed at the top of the trees right in front of me.

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They were squawking loudly but I couldn’t see them. I wanted to, so I got up to try and spot them and of course I startled them. As they flew away I got a glimpse of one that was brown . . . I think it was a hawk. I have a friend who never believes me when I say I saw a hawk, but I’m pretty sure it was one.

I was using my Nikon DSLR with a kit lens and I was shooting in aperture priority. It was around 10 to 11 in the morning, and the light was slowly moving and landing on different parts of the flowers. The shade of the trees acted as a natural diffuser so the sunlight wouldn’t be too harsh on the delicate petals.

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I’ve taken so many pictures of irises since they bloom every year in my yard and all over my neighborhood and I don’t want to get caught up taking the same boring pictures of the same flower, like in the photo below.

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The light is flat, the background is boring and distracting, and I could have gotten closer to focus on a specific part of the flower.

3 Things to Remember When Photographing Flowers

Light – Flowers look better in a flattering, soft, light just like in portraiture. You can use a diffuser to soften the light on a bright day, clouds on an overcast day, or shade from a tree.

Background – Using a shallow depth of field helps to separate the beautiful flower from a potentially distracting background. Always be aware of the area all around your subject and decide if your background will add interest or take away interest.

Get Closer – Unless you’re taking a landscape photo of a field of poppies or bluebonnets, you should practice getting closer to the flower. It will help pull your viewer in closer to the subject and highlight unique details. You could also sprinkle water onto the flower and get close to the droplets and play around with the light.

If you’d like to know more about irises , I found this article at American Meadows interesting. I’d also like to share a video about light metering, by the Angry Photographer. I came across his stuff a while back, and this guy knows his stuff.

 

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

 

What Is The Ghost of Xmas Past?

I don’t have much time to live in the past when I’m living in the moment. Growing up, I hated to watch the older people in my life cry in their beer over the past and whine about how much today sucks. I didn’t understand . . . especially since I was standing right there.

Don’t get me wrong, I love remembering the past. I live in the house my grandpa built. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know him since he died when I was almost 2, but I love hearing my parent’s memories of him. I’m living on his property in the house that he built when my mom was a teenager, so that his family would always have a home. It’s a great way to remember something we don’t have anymore.

Feeling Nostalgic

Most of my memories are vivid because I was living in the moment and actively storing them in my heart and in my memory banks. I wanted to fully experience it right then and always remember it. And I often go back in my mind and re-experience those moments and it’s awesome.

I’ve never actually longed to go back, or felt such a strong sense of loss that I desired a time machine. BUT these past couple of months I have been haunted by strange feelings of nostalgia. It’s not that awesome. Or is it? 

Nostalgia – a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Like when a child becomes a teenager. It’s beautiful to watch and see who they’re becoming, but at the same time I experience loss because I’ll never be able to be with him as a little child anymore.

To be able to hold him and watch him experience everything for the first time. I can go back anytime and experience my vivid memories and photos/videos but now, in the moment that time is gone forever.

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I recently heard from a friend I haven’t seen in 9 years. We’ve known each other for 22 years and she sent me a picture of her wearing these xmas earrings I made for her in the 6th grade. I had completely forgotten about them until I saw them in that pic and they triggered so many memories that I haven’t thought of in a long time. 

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The earrings 

Photos and Memories

It made me wonder about these moments we experience and the effect photography has on them. Some people say that you’re not really living in the moment when you’re so concerned about taking a picture. It’s possible to do both. I’ve managed to photograph moments with my camera and my mind . . . and sometimes photos will trigger memories so strongly that it becomes easier to remember.

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Rd Trip through Louisiana

What about in psychology where studies show that memories aren’t really that accurate? Humans tend to remember the past better than it actually was. Or what about when memories have been tainted by time and discussion?

Maybe that’s why they cry in their beer and long for that old relationship or wish their children were young again. Maybe the changes or lack of changes a person has made, creates a rift in relationships and makes you feel an unreasonable longing for the past.

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Box of Photos

I guess a healthy dose of nostalgia isn’t so bad. The passage of time exists and we gotta embrace it and enjoy it. Like that Doris Day song says, Que Sera Sera, whatever will be will be.

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Disney Version

If we fully embrace the good, the bad, the neutral, the everyday we can experience life in it’s rawest and purest form. How about you . . . are you being haunted by the ghost of xmas past? Maybe it’s not a ghost at all . . . maybe it’s just a little bit of wisdom about life.

Can Snapshots be Art? Quick Pics 13-17

These are the last 5 quick pics that I took while hanging out with Speedy. I’ve had a lot of fun with this concept and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep shooting the Speedy way, even when he’s not around. A lot of my pics were crap and I’ll be deleting them, but I think it’s safe to say that snapshots can definitely be art.

Quick Pic 13: Guy with Untied Boots

We just stopped to eat and I saw this guy with his boots untied . . . he actually looked like he wasn’t completely finished getting dressed.Wow, and up hill too. 🙃

Quick Pic 14: Lady with Bright Orange Kicks

We were sitting at a very long red light when I noticed this lady’s bright orange shoes. I’m torn . . . I kinda like this pic but I also don’t. After I tried a few things, I finally decided to turn down the saturation on everything except their shoes and purses.

Quick Pic 15: Gnarly Tree 

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I like how gnarly the branches are so I included it.

Quick Pic 16: Her Piano Keys 

We stopped at someone’s house and I wandered into this dark room where I found a piano. I shined the light on my phone and snapped a couple of quick pics. I liked this one the best and I played with the split toning in Lightroom.

Quick Pic 17: Fish Tank Dragon

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We ran into this giant Pet Sense to get a new collar for my dog, Sunny. Their selection was pretty sorry for such a huge store, so I didn’t get a collar . . . I did grab this pic in the fish area though. And I played around with the split toning with this one too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my quick pics and I’d love to know your thoughts about snapshots and their place in the art world.