Thursday, February 28, 2013

In KC, it's the 114th annual American Royal ...

Many years ago, I lived and worked in Kansas City, Missouri.

That's home to the American Royal, a gigantic 2-week long super fantastic Horse Show.

So pardon me if I stumble when talking about our local Royal American on Morrison Drive.

I'm easily confused.

One features thoroughbreds and the other stages interesting musical groups passing through town, playing on an elevated stage in a carefully decorated "dive."

The ownership just was jostled for the local "joint" so not sure what - if any - changes to expect.

The sound man at  "The Royal" also controls the lighting. I have to pay attention to his color shifts when taking photos.

He often goes through a Blue Period.

This is the Appleseed Collective who hail from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

They drew a good crowd a few weeks ago on a windy rainy night. I like bands that feature a mandolin AND washboard.

Do yourself a favor and click on the link to hear what I mean.

Just a few nights ago, I was back again to listen to a band that had started as a busking street jug and roots band out in Eugene, Oregon.

They now are based in Asheville and came to Charleston to bring us a fun evening of street corner-style stomping & swinging.

And lots of jump and jive.

Woody Pines is the leader of the band and lead singer, with Bram Riddlebarger on mandolin and a "suitcase" drum set

The upright bassist is Tim Peacock.

The group performed with a combination of vaudeville, Roaring 20s and fast-paced showmanship.

I was surprised more people didn't get up and dance to some of the swing numbers.

The kind of toe-tapping music that makes you glad to be alive and glad to be there.

Reminded me of quite a few evenings spent watching and enjoying the Two Man Gentleman Band.

Especially Tim Peacock, the bass player and his antics.

Looking around the room, I saw I was not the only one following the action on stage.

Seated at the bar, and moving his foot to the beat, was Fuller Condon, aka "The Councilman."

Mr. Condon, the bass-playing half of the TMGB (Two Man Gentleman Band), last year moved to Folly Beach.

So, spotting him at a local music venue - without his bass or his kazoo - probably is not that unusual.

I'm sure I'll see him again.

On stage and off.

(Please click on the photos for more details.)

Shows on a weekday seem to have a different pace.

Actually, they do. They end earlier in the evening.

It's a school night and work - for some - comes early the next day.

Being retired is good.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

The "Eyes" Have It...

America's Best called to say my new glasses were in.

I had had an eye exam last week to continue my shopping with them.

The doctor said my prescription had not changed much.

I go in about every two years to have my eyes checked and to get new glasses. Two pair.

 Somehow more than 4 years had gone by since I last went there.

When you get to be my age, it seems all the doctors say the same thing "Your _______ is/are fine, about what you'd expect for someone your age."

I had spent a while choosing eyeglass frames after the exam. Felt a little uneasy. Not sure why?

Long ago I had learned that "2 pair for $69" COULD happen but - with bifocal lenses - the cost jumps up.

Choosing glass or plastic lenses, tinting, transition lenses,  no-line bifocals, etc. move the actual cost  higher and higher.

 But the eye exam is free.

My cat prefers stylish reading glasses.

Cats can see in the dark. I sometimes have trouble reading, even by a bright lamp.

When that starts to happen, I think about getting new glasses.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

It becomes difficult when you want to use Photoshop on a photo taken with a fisheye lens effect.

Better put on my new glasses.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Hey, Down In Front!

So you're at this music venue listening to some really good music.

 Mudcat Dedeck is playing terrific Gospel and Blues.

I had enjoyed Mud several years ago in Atlanta at The Northside Tavern.

People are dancing and moving all around.

Then this guy plants himself in front of you as he talks with a friend.

They converse back and forth for quite a while.

It must have been YEARS since they last saw each other. Lots of catching up to do.

His other buddy is up ahead of him but not blocking my view.

I'm pretty sure they came in together. With several others. Bikes parked out front.

I decided I could shift a little to my right and keep taking pictures. That's what I did.

The next night I was back at the same venue for a different group The Nick Moss Band (formerly & The Flip Flops.)

Thought I would move in closer and shoot my photos from the side this time.

The place was packed so getting a good angle was a challenge. All the lighting is from above so performers wearing hats create a shadow. Be patient and wait for the proper moment.

Nobody stood still in front of me this night.

Michael Ledbetter, playing on the other guitar, made some beautiful sounds.

These two work smoothly together. The whole band was a solid unit.

This would have been the 23rd annual Lowcountry Blues Bash, presented by Gary Erwin, aka Shrimp City Slim.

Gary announced recently that he was not staging a two-week event this year so Home Team stepped in to provide our needed dose of the Blues. The name Fest replaced Bash.

Long-time supporters of the Blues, they used both the West Ashley and their Sullivan's Island BBQ places as music venues to help fill the gap.

The finale was to bring in Big Bill Morganfield on the final Sunday.

The son of legend Muddy Waters always presents a powerful experience so I plan to be there.

Up front if at all possible.

(Click on the photos for more details).

The concept of a "listening room" for music has not caught on here in Charleston.

Performers have to hope their fans outnumber people who come just to chat - loudly.

It's nice when that does happen.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

48-Hours...Just 2 days...

My Photo Group just finished a 48-Hour Challenge.

A list of 20 specific song tittles, ranging from the 1920s to 2010, was posted at 7:00 am Saturday.

We had to take pictures that interpreted each title before the contest ended at 7:00 am this morning.

A distinct call for creativity.

And good camera work.

I checked and the rules allowed for manipulating the images with Photoshop or other tools.

That last comment allowed me to use a
shot of a bloodhound (the song was 1956 "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley) and add some of my features to it.

Those who know me should recognize my glasses, and bushy eyebrows that have been added to the dog's face.

The shot at the top was for the song "I Want Candy" a one-hit wonder in 1982 by the band Bow Wow Wow.

My last chance at getting a listed song title in under the wire happened at a Blues show last night at Home Team BBQ on Sullivan's Island.

Big Bill Morganfield (talented son the Blues legend Muddy Waters) was channeling his daddy's sound and I mixed in a shift in color.

This gave me "Purple Haze" though it was not related to the 1967 Jimi Hendrix Experience classic.

Hey RULES are mainly just suggestions..right?

Saw a few fellow members of the Photo Group Sunday night at Home Team and noted they had cameras with them.

Saturday morning, the first day,  I was up early to get started with the Challenge.

Had my camera with me when I stepped out on the front porch to pick up the paper.

Even Mr. Rogers would agree it was a "Beautiful Day" in my neighborhood.

That was the name of the 2000 album by U-2.

The link takes you to the title track that runs just under 5 minutes.

The song entitled "God Bless America" was introduced and  forever linked to her in 1939 by Kate Smith. People felt we were about to be part of WWII.

The link shows scenes of Ms. Smith on her popular national radio show as she sings the musical prayer for the first time.

It's a scene from a movie that depicts average Americans in their daily life - usually standing near a radio.

The internet, iPads and Wi-Fi were decades away and a prisoner in Sing Sing prison would have needed a lot of clout to have had a cell phone. (See what I did there? Used "cell" + phone to make a reference to now.)

"Yes Sir, That's My Baby" was written back in 1925. 

The link shows how that 88-year old song was used at a beauty pageant.

My photo interpretation goes back to the actual baby "baby."

I'm sure my Great-Great-Grandparents would probably have agreed with my visual version.

Even while listening to Eddie Cantor's dulcet-toned rendering.

Did not get a chance to go snap a CARTA  bench but saw I had a miniature British double-decker souvenir.

It would help me illustrate "Bus Stop", the 1966 hit by the British Invasion group The Hollies.

As I explained to the photo group, I placed the 5" long metal metal replica on a fluffy white towel and had the snow "coming down like talcum powder."

Quite literally.

 The cat was very impressed.

Take a moment and click on the link to the Photography Group to see hundreds of pictures covering this list of 20 songs. That total will increase because the deadline to upload is later this evening.

It was a fun, creative venture and, because nobody had to travel to a certain or particular place as a group, all 315 members could participate.

The variety I've seen so far is fantastic. How would YOU have pictured some of the song prompts?

Email me your version.

At this point, hits on this blog from around the world,  just turned 98,957. I expect to pass 100,000 very soon. Thanks for stopping by.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

No 'Ritas? No cerveza?

Chipotle FINALLY came to Charleston May 15. 2012.

Well, North Charleston.

On Rivers Avenue at Ashley Phosphate Road

The first day crowds were just that ...CROWDS.

This shot was taken at 9 pm, shortly before closing on Day One.

People like their huge burritos.

As I got closer to being served and was scanning the overhead menu, I saw a white sign taped over the margaritas and beer prices.

It said the liquor license was pending. I had a Coke instead.

I was in the area yesterday and stopped to maybe have a late lunch.

Oops. the license was still pending? Nine months later?

I chatted with the manager who said "We will not be serving alcohol here."

He added they were within 500 yards of a church and the law was pretty clear.

No 'ritas. Nada.

"So, it looks like somebody goofed in picking the site, " I stated.

He responded that the church WAS 500 yards away but, before they opened, it added a gym and that made it only 300 yards from the new eatery.

I have had fine food - and a beer - at the Chipotle in Columbia and Charlotte and looked forward to doing that here. There even was talk of another one opening in Mt. Pleasant but apparently that fell through.

Wonder if this is the only one  in the chain that does NOT serve alcohol?

To clarify, I did use Photoshop to remove light poles and wires, etc. to make the photo less cluttered and the church more visible.

The Manager said he could see it clearly.

Every day.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

To be fair, this is not really a bar so the lack of booze probably does not hurt the food operation that much.

It just struck me as an odd situation.

And a challenge for my Photoshop skills.

Compare the two images.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Oh Boy..a Photo Scavenger Hunt.

My Photography Group decided to repeat a Scavenger Hunt we did last year.

Were they excited?

You bet.

Was the weather great?

Yes, it was Second Sunday on King Street.

We, however, worked down at the bottom of King.

Started around 2 Meeting Street.

At the gazebo in White Point Gardens.

Six teams took off with a lengthy list of objects, situations and people to capture on film.

Er, I mean, digitally.

Not that there's anything wrong with film.

One of the rules this year was each team was handed a small mascot that HAD to be included in the picture.

This way the 5-6 photographers stick together instead of darting off in all directions.

It promoted "teamwork."

The above photo was specific "Team jumps up at the same time, with ALL feet in the air." 

No problem...after a few attempts.

We found a "Car with a parking ticket" on a Sunday afternoon.

The boot on the wheel was a bonus.

Well, for US, not so much for the car owner.

That danged Fisheye lens effect captured this odd shot of cobblestones.

The Team Leader Dee pointed out that the mascot was not included in the picture.

She also reminded me that cobblestones were NOT on the list of targets.

I ran to catch up with the team.

We were looking for a "Car with an Iowa license tag," 
which we didn't find. 

Two other teams did. as well as a Canadian plate to match "An out of the country license tag."

The Market was an easy place to snap "a stranger with a beard," 

"a pig" 

and "a person eating a pecan praline."

We all took a Charleston Sweet break at this point. 

We learned that quite a few teams wearing our distinctive red "Hello, my name is" name tags had found the praline paradise.

Familiar sounding, but hard to remember where, my team never did find "A yellow car in front of a yellow house."
Other teams did which starts to explain why my team did not win any prizes.

I had seen a picture of that house and car recently. 

Once I had owned a 1959 Triumph TR-3 British sports car that had the same canvas "side curtains."

But my car doors had opened the normal way.

The time ran out for the searches and we gathered near the Market at Tommy Condon's Irish Pub.

They had been alerted that a hungry - and thirsty - crowd of 30-40 photographers would begin arriving around 5 pm.

We were pretty obvious, even without the name tags.

Tripods, bulging camera bags and a competitive spirit announced our arrival.

We spread out and almost filled the entire outside upper deck.

Tally sheets were turned in as groups discussed their successes and the few failures to find an object.

Scores were being recorded.

People handed cameras around with images glowing on the back. 

The wonder of digital photography.

We all had stories of talking uniformed Citadel cadets into cooperating.

They were cool with that.

One even held the small doll-like mascot.

Strangers smile easily while munching a praline.

Several teams  - including mine - found "A stranger who looks like a member of your team." Sort of eerie actually.

Dee announced the 3rd Place winner. Smiling faces at one long table.

The 2nd Place team gave themselves a round of applause. We all joined in.

The 1st Place team won by many points. More clapping and back-slapping.

Most had heard of Scavenger Hunts but very few had ever actually done one.

"Hey, let's do this every year," was a comment I heard around the room.

The food started arriving and that caught our attention. As well it should.

Did you know that the menu there lists Guinness as an appetizer?

I had seen an Irish bar in New York that labeled Guinness as "Soup of the Day."

Our Group meets on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at the Carolina Ice Palace in North Charleston.

Go to this link to see the pictures uploaded from the Sunday Quest.

(Click on the pictures for more detail.)

Yes, the Fisheye loomed again.

Better get used to it.

I have given up. Sigh.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

And now for something different...with cars.

This is a type of shot called "Panorama."

A very wide shot that can be made easily in modern cameras.

Panning from left to right, snap a view, then another to the right, with a little overlap.

Then you "stitch" them together into one shot. Unfortunately, this was done many years ago.

I just taped two photos together.

Very LOW tech.

More recently, I realized NOT having a garage is bad sometimes.

As when hail is predicted.

I enjoy my deck upstairs and downstairs.

(The hail did not materialize. Whew.)

Some will have noticed my heavy use lately of a Fisheye Lens effect.

Maybe even OVER use.

I will try to get through this posting without doing that.

These cars are an example of the Tilt-Shift effect.

A narrow band will be in sharp focus while
either side is diffused. Or at the top and bottom.

Then, crank up the contrast and color saturation.

The usual result looks like miniatures.

Tiny models of real cars, er, I mean subjects.

I looked but can't find any other Tilt-Shift examples
that show cars.

But, here's a shot looking down from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Too bad there's no cars in the scene.

But...there's no Fisheye lens shots either.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Had to dip into my files to resist showing more fisheye lens shots.

That effect is addictive.

I'm hooked.

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