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!

Guest Content from Cosy Travels of the Viking and his Kitten

27 01 2012

First off, I want to thank all of you for helping me reignite my passion for photography. Last Tuesday when I started this, I was excited about digging back in to doing “walkabout” photography. Now I’m borderline obsessed. I’ve spent the last several days responding to hundreds of comments and looking through the countless blogs of everyone who has liked, commented or posted and I have seen some beautiful work.

Many of you know in addition to freelance photography and this blog I work a full time day job. Especially with the short days we have right now this has cut into my camera time so I decided to entertain the idea of sharing some work from my followers. I made a note in a blog post that anyone interested in sharing should email me. I was contacted by a Danish organ player (The Viking) and a language teacher from Belgium (Kitten.)

They explained that they’re not professional photographers but they travel and take pictures at interesting locations off the beaten path. They got their fill of the crowds and the noise of popular destinations before they met through Facebook. It started out as a partner to travel interesting locations but it “blossomed into something more beautiful.” Here’s them talking about some of their work.

We visit Denmark regularly. We like to go to places that we already know and like to photograph them in different seasons and weather conditions, in color and in black and white. Most of all, we like to explore the coastline which is more than 5.000 kilometers long, always looking for a pretty bay or a small island. During our last visit in the Christmas vacation, friends and family suggested we go to Thuro, which is in the south of Fyn (the central island of Denmark). It’s a small island, that attracts tourists mainly because of its beaches. There are no cultural highlights here, but the nature is so beautiful! We immediately fell in love with the place.

You have to drive through a wood before you reach the beach (which is often the case in Denmark) and then you have a beautiful view on Fyn and some other very small islands. We liked the peace and quiet. I took the pictures in black and white, because the weather was so grey, and I thought it suited the atmosphere better. At the other side of the island, I wanted to take pictures of the platform and the sea. The dog showed up from nowhere and was very willing to pose for the picture.

On the other hand, we like to explore Belgium as well, since this is the new home country of The Viking. During our last trip to Louvain, I mentioned that some parts of the town are actually on the World Heritage List of Unesco! And we immediately came up with the idea of exploring the lesser known places of this list. Because that’s the focus of our travels: off the beaten track destinations!

The last picture is one of my favorites on their blog. It was taken in Slovenia, one of the many fantastic locations they have shared. I strongly encourage you to check out more of their work over at Cosy Travels.

I know today’s post was a little different so let me know if you liked it! I’ll be sharing pictures from my next shootabout Saturday or Sunday depending on how productive I am over the weekend 🙂

Also, shoutout to Quotidian Hudson. Robert shared me with his followers and I always appreciate when someone thinks highly enough of my blog to do that. If you get a chance you should stop by and let him know Arley says thank you. His blog has some Amazing photos of the Hudson River and he shares links to some of the greatest photographers of our generation every now and then 😉

Thank you all for stopping by, God Bless and don’t forget to…

The Railroad Tracks

18 01 2012

The inspiration for these pictures came a week ago when I went by Bi-Lo to get a Bottle of Soda before a date. When I walked in, I noticed a couple wearing tattered coats and backpacks walking toward the building. They sat down on the sidewalk as I was walking in the door. When I left they were still sitting there. They were probably in their mid twenties, she was holding two cats and he had a lanky dog curled up in his lap.

What really stood out about them though is that they didn’t try to hit me up for a change. I walked to my car and got in but I was caught up on this couple so I walked back up to them. I asked if they were hungry, they were of course, so I told them if they were okay leaving the pets tied up with the bags, I’d buy them a couple of hot sandwiches at NY Piza and Pasta next door.

They accepted eagerly and told me about their lives and travels. They mostly hitch hiked but they also hopped trains. They were making their way to Florida where her mother lived to try to get a job and enough spending money to go back on the road.

I decided to start my first shootabout on the tracks. I wanted a few pictures with a vintage feel since the concept of trains stirs up memories of the early railroad days. When I saw the RC Cola can, I couldn’t pass it up. I shot a few angles and a few exposures but I settled on the straight on shot and let it get a little bit dark to convey a rustic and dark mood contrasted by the white lettering.

Getting down close to the tracks for a few shots was a lot of fun. I used a 60mm macro lens and set a low f-stop so only a short stretch of the track would be in focus. I also wanted to focus on the bolts and slats on the side since they were more visually interesting the plain metal flat on top of the track.

I was down low on the tracks when I heard a train coming. It was quickly in sight and I didn’t have time to switch lenses. I would’ve liked to use a wide lens and capture a long stretch of the train but I settled on making do with what I had. I settled in 10 or 15 ft from the track, squatted down on the ground and started shooting the interesting cars on the train. I liked the above shot because you can see a couple of similar cars and even a bit of graffiti.

Finally on my way back to my car I was drown to the upright gates. I framed up a shot with the sky in the background and got in as tight on the sign as I could while still seeing at least one of the lights.

Overall, the location turned out to be a lot of fun. I ended up going to a few more spots that day too though so check back for new posts. You can follow the blog or just keep up with me on Twitter to see when new shoots go up. Remember to share with your friends on Facebook if you like what you see. If you go on your own shootabout, send me pictures and/or a short story so I can share it with the rest of you. Until next time, God Bless and happy shooting!