Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fabyan Owlet

Nap Time
Over the years, Geneva has been the nesting ground for a pair of Great Horned Owls. For a few years, these owls would show up in late winter and nest in a pine tree right in front of Courthouse. Given the easy accessibility, the owlet (or owlets) became celebrities with hordes of fans coming every day to watch them grow. The last time I remember seeing these birds was in 2008. If I recall correctly, the owlet fell from the nest and had to be taken to a raptor rescue center and the parents never again returned to this locations.
It wasn’t until this year that I’ve once again heard of the owls nesting in Geneva. Except this time they have moved to a forest preserve. The nest is built inside hole in a dead tree which (I was told) the city was trying to remove.  Viewing the owlet is a lot easier on this location but it appears that for some people this isn’t good enough as they were caught trying to stack picnic tables 3 high to take a closer view. The forest preserve district has responded by fencing the area around the tree.
The owlet already has some of its feathers and it is expected that in the next few days it will start perching on a branch outside its home. Hopefully, it will do this carefully and not fall to the ground as one of its predecessors.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weathering the Elements

Middle Prong of the Little River
It has been raining on and off since last weekend and today has been the worst. Between the wind blowing the rain and the puddles of water all over, it is hard to keep dry. To complete the experience, there is lightning and thunder. Hopefully April showers will bring May flowers…If not flowers at least the rain should help make up for last summer’s drought.
During our stay in the Smokies the first day was bright and clear but by noon the second day, clouds were moving in and in late afternoon rain, started pouring down. The plans for sunset were scrapped and we almost returned to the cabin. However, as we were driving around, we could see light fog descending on the mountains. Between the rain and the light fog, many of the scenes I had photographed earlier took new life. With the help of my wife and daughter I was able to spend some time revisiting locations and photographing under the elements. Even with their help, it was difficult keeping the camera and lens dry, without their help this would have been impossible.
Since the light faded early, we got back on time for dinner at the Lil’ Cuban CafĂ©, a little treasure in Townsend. The helpers considered this dinner fair payment for all their effort in the last few hours.
The Help

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cades Cove Churches

Road to Primitive Baptist Church
Many people visit Cades Cove frequent encounters with wildlife or for the beautiful views of the meadows and mountains. But along the road there are also a number of historical buildings that deserve to be visited and explored. Amongst these buildings are three churches, each one approaching or over 100 years.

Before the churches were established, people had to travel through the Smoky Mountains to attend Sunday meetings in Millers and Wears Cove or campground revivals in Tuckaleechee Cove (Townsend - about 7 miles away). Churches were built in Cades Cove before schools and became social centers.

Primitive Baptist Church
The Cades Cove Baptist Church (later known as the Primitive Baptist Church) was established in June 16, 1827. The church met in members’ cabins until a meeting house made out of logs was built in 1832. The current building was constructed in 1887. This was the first church established in Cades Cove and remained the dominant religious and political force in Cades Cove.
Methodist Church
Methodists were active in Cades Cove back in the 1820s. They built their first meeting house (a log structure with a fire pit and dirt floors) in 1840. It wasn’t until 1902 that the current building was constructed (built in 115 days for $115). The building has two front doors to allow men and women to enter and sit on different sides of the building (although this custom may not have been practiced in Cades Cove).
Missionary Baptist Church
In the 1839 the Cades Cove Baptist Church split over biblical interpretation and thirteen members of the Cades Cove Baptist Church established the Missionary Baptist Church. The original Baptist church, to differentiate itself from the other Baptist believes, was renamed in 1841 to the Primitive Baptist Church.

The Missionary Baptist Church congregation initially met in members home or in one of the other two church buildings in the cove. The Missionary Baptist church first building was constructed in 1894; the current one is from 1915 and sits about a quarter of a mile from the original church.

A fourth church (formed after the Methodist church divided) also had a presence in Cades Cove but its meeting place no longer exists.
Primitive Baptist Church as seen from cemetery
The churches and nearby cemeteries are open to the public so make sure on your visit to take a stroll and see a part of the history of the area.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

House Cleaning

To keep or not to keep, that is the question...
According to Lightroom, my catalog has almost 60000 images. This includes family pictures my wife or I have taken, pictures that we have bought from our vacations (think cruises) and of course, the nature and landscape images accumulated from my trips. For safety, I use multiple drives to protect against equipment malfunction but this doesn't safeguard my images from more catastrophic situations such as a small fire. So for better reliability I decided to start using the cloud but as you might imagine, uploading 60K large raw images consumes a lot of bandwidth and at the current upload rate, the software indicates that it will take over 40 days to complete the upload.
In order to expedite the process I've decided to revisit my catalog and delete any images that I deem not worthy. In talking with other photographers, I've heard that space is cheap and images should never be deleted but do I really need 5 copies of one composition or multiple images that were just taken for future reference? For me the answer is no so I’m slowly reviewing and cleaning as I go along.
The interesting thing about this exercise is that images are falling into one of four buckets:
  • Images that I have processed and like. These are the easy one.
  • Images that I didn't like and never processed. This was the main target of the house cleaning exercise. I may keep one or two of these images for reference but for the most part these images will be gone.
  • Images that I have processed and not longer like. Many years ago one of the instructors who taught me the basics of Photoshop recommended that after photographing you put the images aside for a few days before reviewing and processing them. This takes away some of the emotional attachment. Once you review the images and select the ones you like, process them, print them and hang them on a wall. See how you feel about those images on the wall after a few days. If you still like them, keep them, otherwise toss them. I certainly don't print my images but I do upload them and insert them into a slideshow or galleries which I frequently review and in several occasions images have been taken down after a few days.
  • Images that I like but never processed. Perhaps I put these aside for time constraints and forgot about them or simply they were not appealing at that point in time. These are (or have the potential to be) the diamonds in the rough and I have found a few of these.
So what started as a simple exercise of deleting images has morphed into an audit of my catalog. Given the expanded scope, I don’t expect to be done any time soon. The takeaway is that I should be more proactive and manage my images as early as possible…Now back to catalog…another 51999 images to go…