The Paths of Old Indian

15 08 2012

Wow, things have been hectic. Here’s a mini update of my life… I recently joined a Rotary club and they are keeping me pretty busy working on their website. If you aren’t familiar they are an incredible service organization and working with them has been an enriching experience. I’ve been on the road a lot, Summer always gets me itching for a road trip. Just got back from a great visit with my sister.

Basically, life has been pretty crazy. I wish I could be more active here but if you’ve read “What Shootabout is All About” you know this is a place for me to vent a little and relax. If I try to do that every day it turns into another “I have to get this done” so with no regret I’m promising that even if my posts are less often, I will do my best to make them high quality and personal, I wouldn’t be comfortable sharing anything less with you.

You may notice a few ads on the site now. This is mostly being done out of curiosity. I ran them for a while with them hidden from WordPress Users, an awesome feature, I’m giving them a trial run right now. For those of you who are interested I may try to write a post slightly more about what that experience is like. By the same token, I don’t want to lose anyone over this because you guys are a lot more important to me than a few dollars so let me know your honest opinions, I have pretty thick skin.

Camp Old Indian is a beautiful expanse of land nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I spent a week every summer for several years as a camper and in 2007 and 2008 I spent 2 months there as a Staff Member. This place holds my heart in a special way so instead of the usual technical tips I’m going to share a short narrative about one of the most spectacular experiences of my life. Quite honestly the story and the pictures stand by themselves and don’t fit together except for they both happened in the same camp. If you don’t feel like reading I won’t be offended, the story is more for myself, something I wanted to know was out there for someone who needs it to find it one day.


In the Summer of 2008 I met someone who would change the way I looked at myself and others. I was no stranger to hardship. After 9 years of being home schooled, public high school ate me alive. I didn’t make friends quickly and the crowd I did get “in” with were outcasts themselves. My extra curricular was the Boy Scouts. The program pulled me out of my shell but it was a rough trip. My fellow scouts came from varied backgrounds but all were rough southerners who liked a good fist fight as much as the next guy. At 16, I was taking pictures and writing poetry, you can imagine the road to acceptance came with a few bruises.

Camp Old Indian was a place to be reinvented each Summer. The staff were amazing. Most of them tended to be on the nerdy side and even the “tough guys” had a hipster edge. These were my people, so I got a job there the first Summer I was able.

I finished my lifeguard training and set up shop on the waterfront. I spent most of my time at the upper lake teaching rowing but I came down to first lake to teach a learn to swim class for an hour every day.

I saw a young man sitting in the back with one of his leaders, eyes cast down and fully dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. I finished my introduction and sent the kids to get their buddy tags so we could go out on the dock. The leader called me over and introduced Isaac to me. Isaac had Autism. The leader, his father, let me know he didn’t expect much but he appreciated anything I could do.

I spoke with Nate who offered to take the rest of my class so I could work with Isaac. While the rest of the boys shuffled into the waist deep water, I sat on the steps and asked Isaac about the video games he liked.

He eagerly explained the finer point of Zelda, Mario and Donkey Kong, all the while  taking special care not to look at the water. After nearly 45 minutes I asked him if he’d ever swam. He told me he’d fallen into a pool once but that was the only time. I knew I had my work cut out for me but after an hour of talking I was Isaac’s friend and he trusted me.

The next day I sat at Isaac’s table in the dining hall. We talked about Baseball, like most sports I knew next to nothing so he was excited to explain the rules and what the different players do. I spoke to a few other leaders in Isaac’s troop and found out he had been talking about me. It meant a lot to know I was touching him simply by being attentive.

We walked down to the waterfront and I told Isaac I wanted to get in the water. After a bit of gentle convincing he agreed to sit on the dock while I waded. He looked a little nervous, still wearing shorts and a t-shirt but he agreed to leave his socks and shoes behind. We talked about fishing, yet another topic I have limited knowledge on. I made a big show of grabbing something under the dock and covered it in my hand. He became more and more curious as I peered into my clasped hands and to his delight, I revealed a sleek brown frog. I had him now.

The next day he arrived in a swim suit. He nervously stood at the top of the steps as a beckoned him into the shallow water. He eventually slipped in and after a few minutes was prowling the edge of the dock catching frogs and eagerly bringing them to me to examine. I released one into the water and showed Isaac how it swam. With the help of a body board, Isaac learned the frog kick.

On our final day after a brief frog hunt we moved to the other side of the dock where the water was up around his shoulders. He eventually was able to abandon the body board and use his arms and legs to pull himself through the water for short stretches. His face was filled with pure joy. A completely different boy than the one that joined my class Monday.

I spent the rest of the Summer thinking about Isaac. What brought him into the water. I realized it was me. It didn’t have to be me specifically but it was. He needed someone to believe in him, someone to encourage him, someone to teach him; and it was me. I was honored and profoundly impacted by this experience. The challenges I had to overcome were put into perspective. The most important “path” you can choose in life is to help others. Not for what you can get out of it, but because of what you have to give.

Thanks for bearing with me. I know this post is both longer and very different from my usual but it’s something I wanted to share. In the near future I have some more shots from Old Indian to share with a very exciting look at long exposure photography of a waterfall. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and God Bless You!


Art in Construction

22 05 2012

I’ve always found construction beautiful. Not only because my father is in the building materials industry and it kept the lights on, but also because it is fascinating to see the way things come together under the surface. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a construction crew working on a new concessions stand for the football field beside portable row. My most striking observation of the afternoon was simply that for something new to be built, something old had to be torn down.

Breaking Down the Old Stand

I felt like I was getting back to my roots doing such editorial styled work. (I started out in photography taking pictures for a local web based news paper.) What I really like about this image is the variety of color. I liked the way the grey of the old building is contrasted by the red saw horse, the blue trash can, the yellow backhoe and the green trees. The image only appealed more after I took a second look at it on my computer.

Tools of the Trade

I knew as soon as I saw this saw I wanted to get close and low. If you know what you’re looking at, the outlines of the grey portables in the background are distinguishable. I really like the variety of background colors between the teeth of the saw. The rust adds a little character to the blade. Modern can be beautiful but it just doesn’t speak to you the same way age does. I focused on the uppermost part of the blade to draw your eyes up to the brightest part of the image. This shot is almost therapeutic for me, it’s a relaxing picture to let your eyes wander over.

The King of Construction

This dapper fellow reluctantly gave me a smile. He was introduced to me only as the king of construction. This is a fairly straightforward snapshot. A picture like this leans more heavily on the subject and their level of mystique than it does on composition or any other typical photography rules. My only advice for capturing this sort of shot is be ready, and be friendly. Street pictures of people are tricky, not just because you have to have timing and an interesting subject, but also because you have to be careful not to make anyone angry. If you’re a photographer in America, you legally have the right to take a picture of almost anyone or anything in a public place, but that doesn’t stop a big burly guy from taking a swing at you (and your camera.) I’ve found though that nearly every questioning glare, is easily diffused with a smile. 🙂

Thats it for today, I have laundry to finish and lots of blogs to catch up with. I hope you enjoyed todays entry and I would love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. First time visitor? Don’t forget to follow the blog to keep up with new posts via email notification. Social links for Facebook and Twitter are up there somewhere. If you want to help me out, tell your friends about the blog. Stumble, tweet, press me, the whole nine yards. The more the merrier. 🙂

Thanks for visiting and God Bless!

Old Fences, Bridges, and Stumps. Star Fort Part 2

8 02 2012

I’m going to pick up here where the last post left off. A ways further down the path I decided I wanted to shoot the fence line. It had a really nice symmetry to it. At first I stood a ways back and focused on the building so I could see the entire fence line but it didn’t feel like a picture of anything in particular. One of the things I like to think about when I’m shooting is “what is my subject here?” Not all pictures have to have a single subject. Sometimes you have enough good in a picture it can just be appreciated as a whole. But a great way to make a picture more interesting is to draw attention to one interesting part of the image by getting in close and let everything else be supporting elements.

In this shot I put the focus squarely on the end of the closest fence slat. The texture had nice variety and the overall color really helped make the mood of the image a bit more rustic. Variety and non-uniformity are two great features of old and rustic architecture that don’t come naturally any more. When you do see it in modern architecture, it looks forced. A big focus of today’s post is going to be mood and color. Pay close attention to the next two pictures, I’m going to be telling you a little bit about white balance.

The above and below shots are the same subject, same time of day and nearly identical settings except for the white balance. White balance is the way your camera tries to make whites appear white regardless of the light source. When it affects the “white balance” the full color spectrum follows suit though. The trick is that while the human eye can adapt to different light sources nearly perfectly, the camera again falls a bit short. In the top picture, the camera tried to push some blue tones in to offset the rust which it thought was appearing reddish because of the light source. For me, the rust is a major part of this picture so I really didn’t like when my camera turned this rusty steel bridge support into a modern blueish grey.

For me, artistry is more important than accuracy, so I play around with features like white balance until I see what I want in my images. I went into the shooting menu on my camera and found the white balance setting panel. I switched to “cloudy” which was mostly true and pushed the selector a notch or two to the left to warm the image up. That made these two nearly identical images have two entirely different feels.

Under The Bridge

Beside The Bridge

Once I got across the bridge (and out from under it) I shot a few snaps of an old rotted stump. This is an example of what I was talking about before of a decent picture that has no real hero. A little perspective change and I could have brought the focus in tight on the clover, or a small patch of bark and changed the whole feel of this image. I still like it, but it could have been better. It’s important to look at your pictures and try to figure out how you could have improved them. It’s frustrating to catch yourself doing something wrong (or at least not perfect) but the fact is we all still have lots of room to grow. Not to get too Biblical on you but Paul once called himself the worst of sinners. He was a great man but he recognized his short comings and realized that since he knew better, he should be better.

My goal is to learn more so I’ll know better more often and will eventually improve the areas in photography I’m still weaker in. My hope is that some will learn from my mistakes and others will teach me new ways to improve with every post. Thank you for stopping by. It’s great to hear from all of and I really look forward to your comments on my blog and your posts on your own. Don’t forget to follow the blog and like the Facebook if you haven’t done so already. If you twitter, @96arley is my name and I love to hear from all of you on there too. All that social stuff’s in the sidebar up top. Have a great day and God Bless!

Stoney Point Grocery

23 01 2012

I was driving home from lunch with a friend and I passed a small white building I’ve driven by a few dozen times, though not since I started this blog. It really jumped out at me so I pulled into the lot across the street and got my gear ready. This is what I started this blog for, to get me back to the point where I find inspiration in the things I see every day.

This old store has always caught my eye in passing but I haven’t stopped long enough to really appreciate it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Honorable Mentions For This Week (Railroad)

21 01 2012

I took a lot a photos that I didn’t upload in the course of this week. The first location, and possibly the most productive was definitely the railroad tracks. I got a lot of great images but I didn’t manage to get them all up in that first post. I still wanted to share a few of them here so I’m going to go with a simple gallery post. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my other posts from this week and enjoy!

Read the rest of this entry »

Around The Loading Dock (2)

19 01 2012

This is kind of a continuation of the previous post. Once I got done on the loading dock I noticed some really cool things going on in the nearby area so I walked around a bit and took a few more snaps. I’ll start with the back of the civic center right beside the ramp.

( I edited this one a bit 😛 ) I didn’t actually fall in love with this shot when I first took it. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock Presbyterian Church

18 01 2012

Rock Presbyterian church is an old church in my town. It’s not far off the main highway and it has a sign just off the main road. I’d never actually seen the church though so I decided it would be a great stop for my shootabout. Read the rest of this entry »