North Carolina Bound

I have not taken a vacation, a real vacation in more than a dozen years.  I carry a pretty heavy schedule majority of the time due to working a full time job and photographing events and concerts thought out the year.  But this year I decided I needed a break, a long two week break in the mountains of North Carolina.  My best friend of almost fifty years lives in a little town called Concord.  So on October 15 I boarded flight 818 and headed north. IMG_1422

It was a very short flight; less than an hour and a half and was uneventful.  We landed on and I made my way across the tarmac to my waiting friend.  I should mention that she too is a Debbie.  When I got off the plane the temperature was cooler, but still warm, however I was in for a surprise.

On Tuesday we took off on a road trip up through the Pisgah National Forest and up through the mountains searching for some color and some waterfalls.  The color was missing from this scenario as North Carolina had longer than normal summer temperatures which was keeping the leaves from changing.  Not to mention two hurricane’s had passed through the area.

Our first stop was a little diner where I enjoyed a nice plate of NC style BBQ, one word; Yum!  Our adventure continued as we drove through the mountains of the Pisgah National Forest and the weather took a turn and it started to rain.  This did not stop our trekking the beaten path to find a waterfall; not only did I find one, but a covered bridge too!  Giant score for me photographically speaking.  The rain was coming down pretty steady but my excitement built as I heard the sound of rushing water and once we arrived the sound became deafening, but in such a wonderful restorative way.IMG_1373North Carolina-3

This next week we stayed close to home and I was able to photograph some local birds and experience a change in temperature.  Then on Saturday our other best friend flew in so we made another road trip into Charlotte to pick her up. Did I mention she too is a Debbie? (North Carolina will never be the same).

 

That weekend we invited a few friends who live in the area over for a gathering, it was great to see them and to meet their families.  So much love in one place……incredible.

On Monday October 22 we three Debbie’s took off on a road trip once again.  We drove up through the Blue Ridge Parkway and I was able to find more color, the temperature had dropped from the upper 70’s to the mid 30’s and settled around 45 degrees.  For this Florida girl it was cold, but the crisp air, sharing time with my best friends and just enjoying the ride and the color seeping through the trees was something I can’t explain in words, only heart can.  We drove up to about 5000 feet, found a lovely little restaunt to have lunch  and then off to find Linville Falls.  We didn’t hike to the top, but I was happy with what we found.  Continuing our drive we found icicles popping out of the side of a mountain.  So we pulled in to a parking area and I hiked back to the area where water was seeping out of the rocks.  My lungs were screaming with the thinner and colder 37 degree air, but it was so beautiful.

I needed this time away, I needed to do some life reflection and to be with my girls who know me so well.  I have not laughed or loved like this in a very long time.  They are amazing; we are amazing to have had this friendship of 50 years that is so deep and unshakeable. The T-shirts Debbie brought us says it all the back has the three D’s and it says “True Friendship Grows Forever”.

I love these girls so much and I was sad to depart.  I will be back…..again.

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A Difficult Time

During the summer I don’t work much, I mean I have my day job, but I don’t get to shoot much and I end up just staying at home trying to come up with things to do.  I don’t do boredom well and tend to retreat into myself.  I miss shooting concerts, I miss shooting events.  I’ve done a few local bands, and I’ve taken on a fairly large project with a small business, but it’s just not the same for me.  In a month I’m heading for a vacation to North Carolina for two full weeks I’ll be in the mountains, breathing fresh clean air and capturing nature at her best, I feel this will be the renewing I need.

I know fall is coming and life will start to get crazy again and I will be in my happy place once more.  Until then… I’ll just keep going.

New Addition of Lens & Pens

Going forward, I will be adding a segment to my blog called Lens & Pens.  It will be photographs and a review of concerts and events I attend.  I have been wanting to take this blog a bit further and now it’s time.  Once I move my blog over to WordPress.org I will become more active and will have a lot more content to add.  Thank you to all who have subscribed, I appreciate each of you and your comments.

Writer’s Cramp or Brain Cramp?

I feel so inspired lately, so many things to write about yet I have a difficult time just putting it all down in the written word. It’s not because I don’t know how to start, or what to write, but the motivation to sit in front of the computer for another forty-five minutes to an hour after I get home from work is not something I want to do.  I’m on the computer all day at work, and when I get home even though I have a brand new shiny computer, it’s the last thing I look forward to.  I remember feeling this way when I worked a day job where I was on the phone all day, I would come home and avoid talking to anyone on the phone; I was burned out from answering questions and putting out fires eight hours a day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the computer, the feel of my fingertips lightly stroking the keyboard, and as a trained typist, I enjoy the physical activity of typing. I enjoy the look of the words on the page, the satisfaction of seeing something I have created being posted for the world to read.

How do I overcome this aversion for my home computer?  I thought getting a new iMac would be the key to my success; nope, it’s not.  What about the prompts I try to write in my Passion Planner each week, that should do the trick, nope it didn’t.  Then what? What do I need to do to bring it all together and get the words jumbled up in my head down into written form?

I have to understand where my head is before I can get my behind in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard:

First, I feel if I’m not editing photos, I’m not being productive, or I get lured away to Facebook land and there goes my focus.  Second I need something to motivate me, something to lure me to log on and start writing. And third, it comes back to the mentality of maybe I’m not good enough to do this; the negative self-talk that undermines my confidence.  Understanding the few things I listed helps me to see what I need to work on to clear my mindset. How-To-Remove-Negative-Thoughts-From-The-Subconscious-Mind

Addressing the first issue is easy; I have to put in my brain that I am being productive when I write, it is part of my overall business of photography.  Next, I need to set a timer and not allow myself anywhere near Facebook until the timer goes off.  The second issue is I just need to stay ahead with some good content, blog my activities and where and when I’ve been photographing, add more reviews of the artists I photograph and the equipment I use.

But it goes much deeper than any of that; My self-talk is not always kind, and when it’s full-on beating me up, the doubt slides in and goes for home base.  A good friend of mine Karen Zeigler wrote a great blog a few days ago titled “Tired of Peeling the Onion? Stop Peeling the Onion, It’s Time to Fry it Up!” (don’t you just love that title?) you can check it out here: http://karenzeigler.com/stop-peeling-the-onion-its-time-to-fry-it-up/

Karen has been a great mentor for me, mostly from a distance, but she knows how to ask those hard questions, the kind that open you up piece by piece and help you get to the meat of the issue.  She has a way of giving me the words I need to hear, even if I don’t want to hear them, and she uses her God given gift of writing to do so.   I’m thankful for strong women like her who push me out of my comfort zone to do the hard stuff; digging deep and releasing what’s been holding me back, “Peeling the Onion”.

Until next time, from behind the lens.

Another Year……Memories

Most of the time I enjoy looking back on my year.  However, this year I slacked, a lot, and I have to make some changes.  I just didn’t get out as much as I normally do.  Even during camping season it seemed it was always interrupted with something I “had” to do.  I wasn’t as intentional as I had been the past few years.  I didn’t create good content for my Facebook page and actually neglected it.  I had something happen that set me off into the “not good enough” thought process, which in turn caused me to  purge a lot of unneeded stress in my social media life. But I would go out and take photos and think, “these are not good, what am I doing trying to create good photos when I can’t do it?”  I really had to shake that mindset; I am my own worst critic.

Life was  disrupted with a move in the middle part of the year and it was during a very stressful time.  I’m still trying to adjust. Then, in September we were hit by one of the largest hurricane’s in recent history. Irma totally upset my world, but I came out a whole lot better than many of my friends did and I can tell you I am most grateful for that blessing.  Yet, the stress was still there and even guilt that so many lost so much and I didn’t.  I can’t explain why it was that way, but it was; again I am so grateful to not have had any damage.

Sometimes life gives you those old lemons and it’s not always easy to make the lemonade.  In fact, I have thrown a lot of lemons away because I just could not bring myself to make them work.  Ever feel like that?

I’m looking forward to a clean start with 2018, I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but I will put a lot more effort into making it an incredible year personally and professionally.

Here’s a look back on what I did accomplish photographically:

 

 

Treasures of Time

This past weekend I briefly took a step back in time.  I attended a reunion of friends from my youth.  As a young girl I attended a Baptist Church and became very active within the youth group.  We had a Pastor who loved the youth as well as his entire congregation and we had a youth leadership team who led us, and encouraged us to grow and to seek Jesus, we had a bond that was unshakable.  Yes, we would argue and fuss at each other, but we truly loved each other and knew how to say those two little words “I’m sorry”    Still today some of my greatest loves have come from this group; my life long best friends, respect for leadership who treated us like their own kids, and a love of the Lord that has grown stronger through time.

I was asked to document the weekend through photographs, which I did with portraits and candid moments, a book will be created from this collection and I look forward to working on that project.

The weekend began on Friday night with an informal gathering, skits, fun, and fellowship, reminiscent from days past. And of course it would not be a Baptist get-together without food, LOTS of food, an entire row of tables full of homemade fare.

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We told stories and shared memories and hugged each other, laughed and ate (did I mention we had lots of food?). One of the event organizers created a beautiful slideshow of those who were once a part of us, but have now graduated to heaven.  I never made it past the second slide before the tears started, even writing about it gets me choked up.

On Saturday evening, we met at a local restaurant in a private room.  Again with stories, laughter, hugs and lots of great food!  We gathered with some who could not attend on Friday and caught up with their life.  The evening ended with a group photograph and singing.  I’m sure the restaurant has never experienced anything like us before.

Sunday we gathered for worship as a group, and were surprised to see our very own Pastor Hammond in attendance.  I cannot say enough about this man. He is gracious and loves the Lord.   We could not wait to see him and talk to him, many of us  ran to greet him before he even sat down.  I was one of those, and he greeted me fondly by the nickname he had bestowed upon me years ago………’Trouble’,  yes, I cried just hearing him call me that. There is a story behind the nickname, someday I will share that story.

As I sat in the service, I really can’t recall what the current minister was speaking on.  My thoughts were encountering past memories, treasures of the mind; and for a time, we were teenagers, Pastor Hammond was up in the pulpit Randy Willett was sitting next to him, Tim Davis was at the Piano and Steve Wright was directing us youth in choir, and for a moment, time briefly stood still.  My heart is still full, and my eyes are still leaking with the thoughts of those I love.  We all experienced this weekend, those treasures in time.

Until we meet again……continue to let your light shine.  “You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

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I’m a Gear Nerd

Being a photographer I have a good collection of gear.  I love gear, new, used, doesn’t matter, if it goes on or near my camera I want it. I have great lenses, extra batteries, things to light up my subjects from the smallest critter to an entire family of people;  I can create beautiful images in natural settings or provide the gear to set up a studio.  Yep, that’s me the gear nerd!  Recently I added to my addiction in the purchase of a new (to me) Canon 70d crop frame camera.  I had the opportunity to purchase another full frame Canon 6d, but opted for the crop frame for several reasons.  First of all, I needed a second body so that I don’t need to change lenses while in the concert pit or at weddings and chance missing the shot, the second reason is because the 70d’s button placement is almost the same as my 6d and lastly because my son shoots with the 70d and as my second for weddings I may need for him to use the second body and he needs to not have to think about where the buttons are and what to control.  I tried it out this past weekend and I like it a lot, the shutter is a bit noisier, but overall the pictures were clean and crisp; I will use silent shutter for events.

My next purchase is an upgraded 50mm.  I currently own the Nifty Fifty which is Canon’s f1.8 5omm lens.  Great little lens, but I need something a bit sharper and faster.  I have looked at the Canon f1.2 and have read, watched videos and compared it to Sigma’s ART series F1.4 50mm.  With a cost difference of about $400 I think I may be going with the Sigma Art Lens.  The reviews are incredible and I’ve even seen a few who pit it against the Canon f1.2.  Stay tuned………..