Sunday, September 29, 2013

This & That, Odds and Ends...

My track record of taking pictures of Boeing 787s is not great.

You may recall my last venture had a security guard inform me I could NOT take any pictures

He also curtly told me that I had to leave their "campus" immediately.

But, hey, I was born in Charleston.

I've been here longer than they have.

A few days ago I was driving by and could not resist another try.

I mean, there were 7 colorful birds parked on the tarmac.

The 42nd Scottish Games & Highland Gathering was held again last week but I didn't go this year.

I have a cousin who lives in Camden and Leslie usually is welcoming visitors, sitting in her ROSS Clan booth.

This year she couldn't make it so I didn't go either.

Feel better soon "Cuz."

Two years ago her son Patrick brought his two-handed sword to the booth. It's heavier than I thought.

Don't think I'd last long in a battle wielding that brute.

Maybe two swings and I'd be pooped.

A boyhood friend and his wife just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

I was so pleased to be invited to join the family for dinner and cake.

It was a fun evening, seeing a few people I had not seen in years and taking some pictures which I sent along.

I believe I was the only person there with a "real" camera, surrounded by a bevy of cellphones that also could take photos.

My camera is not able to make phone calls.

As I was leaving, I noticed the transportation that had been supplied for the happy couple.

Yes, I added this shot to some others I sent them as a thank you and congratulations.

Took an out-of-town guest around to see the sights and drove into the Citadel for the first time in a few years.

Saw a giant version of "The Ring" as it is described.

Not a trick shot with my camera, this replica is about the size of a large SUV.

In fact, it dwarfs several cars in the background.

Would be hard to explain losing or misplacing one that size.

My visitor also was in search for some special flavored pipe tobacco.

The first three shops did not have what he sought but The Smoking Lamp, on King Street next to the Francis Marion Hotel, was the Mother Lode.

While he was shopping, I had my camera out and asked some cadets if I could snap a few pictures.

The gentleman with the pipe already going said he didn't mind.

He produced a LOT of smoke for me.

The shop Manager looked up to see what was going on. She smiled when she saw the smoker - and me with my camera.

We wandered on down King Street and I bought the t-shirt I had seen in the window of University Books while walking by during Second Sunday.

As they had my name on it.

A friend asked if I had had it custom made but I said Chucktown was available in at least one store.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by for a mixture of pictures taken but not posted.

I'm going to wear the t-shirt to my college reunion in San Diego.

Wonder how many West Coasters will recognize the palmetto and crescent moon - our S.C. logo?

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Morning of Table Top Photography...

I often talk about the 21st Century Photography Group that I formed almost six years ago.

I also belong to the Lowcountry Photo Club.

Today Doug DeLong, its founder, set up a series of props and devices so we could experiment with set-ups.

What a fun and interesting morning spent among fellow photographers.

And some lady photographers.

Doug brough small canisters of water-soluble paints and encouraged us to mix 'em, make them run, hit them with blasts of air and have as much fun as kids with finger paints. So, we did.

Andy Reilly set up wine glasses filled with water and hung colored poster board on the wall behind.

We saw how, optically, the red and blue was transposed when seen through the prism of the glasses.

(I'm an English major so my science and physics terminology may be jumbled but the colors switched sides.)

The Photo Club had done this exercise before but it was a first - and enthralling - time for me and my non-SLR camera.

Around the large room in the Community Center in North Charleston - a block off Park Circle - people were snapping pictures of water drops at 1/2000 of a second, being creative with Halloween and Christmas decorations and using a light table to illuminate objects from below.

I used the occasion to experiment with using a flash off my camera.

It was triggered by the built-in small flash on my Canon sx260.

By adjusting the settings, I could make my camera flash be the main (key) light or, making it weaker, use the unattached flash as the key light.

The extra flash has been used by me in the past and the results were not good. It overpowered and just washed out all details.

Today, I became more comfortable using it as the key or as a fill light.

It helped that 12 others could make suggestions, hold a light for me or attach it to some of the stands that were scattered around the room.

Yes, I used a skeleton hand as a prop for the shot of Andy, my patient friend from Scotland.

A large aquarium was being used to catch the splash as a plastic ice cube and other objects were dropped.

Many times the camera caught the cube just before it entered the water.

Or, a split second later, AFTER it had hit the surface and was headed to the bottom.

I suggested it be dropped slower.

Well, gravity won that exchange and more drops were tried.

A few minutes later, success was made by a fist being pounded down into the tank and the camera recorded the bubbles attached around the fist descending.

They were able to slow the hand because gravity did not control the speed now.

I kept wandering back to the holiday props provided for the Table Top morning.

A cooperative Jeff Duke gave an appropriate reaction to a spooky ghost hand hovering near him.

As I said, it was a repeat of a successful photo set-up day.

I applaud Doug who has a trailer to haul these props, tripods, background stands, strobe lights, soft boxes and even an IV bag.

It would dispense drips of water to be shot making forms when they splashed in a pan.

As I was leaving, I saw a North Charleston Fire Station was next door. It had a statue of a black & white Dalmatian out front so I stopped to take a picture.

A fireman happened to step out and waved.

I went over to thank them for having the iconic statue.

He smiled when I said "the only thing missing is the fire truck rolling out the door."

"We're leaving for a routine run in a minute or two if you have time to stick around."

 Well, yes, I did and they did and I like the shot.

It never hurts to ask, I have found.

You never know.

(Click on the photo for more details.)

The station is on Jenkins Street if you want to go see the fire crew doggy mascot.

Thanks for spending a Saturday with me.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Can I have some Alabama shakes, please?"

No, not a kind of milk shake.

The musical group Alabama Shakes played here a few nights ago.

They formed in 2009 in Athens, Alabama.

I had not heard of them but they were the musical guests on Saturday Night Live Feb 18, 2013 so they have quite a following.

The PAC (Performing Arts Center) was not completely sold out.

There might have been 5 or 6 empty seats.

Brittany "Diamond" Howard is the vocalist and she plays a mean guitar.

This American rock band was in the shadows most of the night, due to the decision to have a bright follow spot that stayed on her.

I was seated up front - and my 20x zoom let me "move" even closer - so I was involved and enjoyed her singing  "Hold On," "Always Right," "You Ain't Alone" and "Hang Loose."

What an emotional delivery. She channeled gritty Janis Joplin from when Janis fronted Big Brother & The Holding Company in the 60s.
"Diamond" Howard  showed traces of Gospel, rock and roll, roots music and more with deep anguish and feelings.

The link above to the band's appearance on SNL is preceded by a commercial that you can't skip.

Well, my "high tech" level can't figure out how to fast forward through it.

Click it and see if you can get past the ad.

The delightful sound bite is worth it either way.

This is a talented young lady and an excellent band.

While I had not heard of her, or them, before I am a big fan now.

Check out the link.

Too bad you weren't at the PAC Thursday night.

Or, maybe you were among the 2,000 lucky people there.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Following live music and concerts has become even nicer now that everyone has a (phone) camera.

Takes a lot of pressure off me from well-meaning Security working at venues.

We indeed live in an interesting age.

Thanks for tuning in.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013


I recently posted shots from a Steely Dan concert.

Here's one I missed with the Melodica.

Tonight I am going back to that same venue.

The Alabama Shakes will play the PAC (Performing Arts Center.)

Tonight probably will NOT be a funky visit to the 1970s.

The video clip is "Hold On" by the Shakes and I look forward to seeing them this evening.

There was a stretch last week of three musical days in a row - evenings actually - but, I'm rested now and ready for some more.

First...the bad news at the Pour House on Maybank Highway.

Ladies, now you'll never get to see the murals that were painted on the walls in the Mens room.

They are gone.

The easily-impressed vegetables are no longer staring.

In shock or surprise.

Or envy.

The more upscale restaurant (LOT)  required a less whimsical approach to bathroom decor.

The good mural news can be seen all around (outside) the Pour House, which just concluded its Third Annual artists competition.

This portion of a mural on the back of the building is NOT the first place winner.

I self-titled this piece as "Playing Mantis," but I was not one of the judges.

The actual winner is on the outside wall of the kitchen - way too dark to see at night.

Glad to see none of last year's winners was covered up.

If they do this again, they're gonna have to add more walls. Or erect more fences.

Inside, one of the nights, was a very small crowd for a brother and sister act from Florida.

Counting the band, there probably were more people on stage than in the club.

Hey, it happens.

Booking acts must be a very hard thing to do and difficult to be 100% on target.

The band's fans/following (or lack thereof), the night of the week, what else is going on around town and, even the weather.

All of these factors have to be considered.

But, as always, the sound set up was excellent.
Crowds were no problem for the CD-release party of the Acoustic Syndicate.

The Rooftop Garden is their first new CD in 7 years and eagerly accepted.

It's always jam-packed when they come to town and play the PoHo.

Because I have photographed them often, this time I focused on one of the harmonizing lead singer cousins, Steve McMurray.

Being close - and zooming in even closer - I share a crisp  view of his fuzzy chin whiskers.
Stopping one night at the Royal American, we saw Blair Crimmins and The Hookers crammed onto a very small stage.

There actually were two openers that night: the Flat Foot Floozies and Double Trash or Tricks or Tramps in its name.

Went well with "The Hookers."

Six people on stage was a wonder of space control.

Behind Blair and the horn section was a double bass player and a drummer with a complete set up.
Back at the Pour House, I saw the Dirty Bourbon River Band from New Orleans again.

I had enjoyed this jumping band back in May so I was prepared for the drum solo toward the end.

Drumming on a keg should be part of the act for every band.

Yes, it was an empty keg.

(Click on the photo for more details.)

It was a week of seeing new acts as well an an old, old re-visited act from the 70s.

Good sounds and lots of fun.

Keg tossing is different from Keg Drumming.

Both use empties.

And, ladies, here's another look at the men's restroom at the Pour House.

How it used to look.

An ear of corn* should never be that happy.

Or waving.

I never waved back.

Thanks for stopping by.

Support live music.

*Or, is it a banana?

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Monday, September 16, 2013

They loved "Steely" and they loved "Dan"...

At the Performing Art Center (PAC) last night, it was a rewarding romp through the 70s with Steely Dan.

And 11 others in the band on stage.

A sold out house - as expected - and most of this audience knew all the words to the songs.

I knew quite a few myself...but I DON'T sing.

This blog started out in 2006 as my memories of the 50s and 60s.

The high point decade for this band is very familiar to me.

By the time the 2 1/2 hour show ended, these people were on their feet shouting "One more song!"

Donald Fagen, keyboard and vocals, also popped up from behind his keys to break out his Melodica.

Yes, I had to look it up. Hit the link.

I had seen one several times before but wasn't clear on what it is named.

The other half of the team who founded this group is Walter Becker on guitar.

He also is the teller of droll stories from the good old days, back before Colorado and other states legalized medical and not-so-medical marijuana.

The history of Steely Dan involves these two as a constant while 40-50 other musicians have joined, played, partied and moved on.

Stability through numbers (two).

"Rikki, Don't Lose That Number."

People have questioned the origin of the band's name and it finally was marked TRUE by

The name came from a William S. Burroughs book called Naked Lunch.

The complete name - in the book - was Steely Dan III from Yokohama.

(Another band that has played in Charleston is Toad The Wet Sprocket whose name came from a Monty Python routine.)

I almost sang along with Reelin' In The Years from the Can't Buy A Thrill album, but held back.

Instead I concentrated on taking some pictures.

A friendly security guard right down front said it was OK to take pictures - without flash of course.

And short 10 second or so videos would be all right.

A young lady sitting in the front row was pretty obvious as she shot long, long, footage of the band.

The security fellow talked to her several times and finally she got the message.

Front row is not the best place to flaunt the rules.

After a lively and energetic encore, Charleston was saluted and thanked by Donald Fagen.

Hey, we're known as a singin' polite city.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Driving home from the PAC at a few minutes after 11, I realized that the previous two nights I was at venues where the band didn't even start until that time.


Where do these musicians get all that energy?

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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Walk a mile in THESE shoes...

It's not only Sunday, it's Second Sunday so that means walkin' on King Street.

On the sidewalk.

On the street.

In and out of stores.

Buy a pair of shoes at the booth for the Ronald McDonald House.

A couple of visitors from Israel are on a tour of the United States and hit King Street.

"I asked them if I could buy a pair and I promised to take pictures of them in Israel, " said the proud new owner.

They flew into New York, did Washington, D.C. and The Smokies, now Charleston then off to the West Coast.

He'll stand out in the crowd, that's for sure.

Everybody who has a dog was out on King Street today.

Did not see even one cat-on-a-leash. Go figure.

I asked this lady if I could take a picture of her doggie and she said "Sure. Think I will too."

Her husband added "I'll take a shot of you taking a picture of her taking a picture of the dog."

A baker's dozen members of my Photography Group were strung out along the street.

I told them I had brought bright red stick-on name tags but Kevin, host for today, said "Uh, Chuck, we're supposed to be low key and blend in to explore street photography."

He was right of course.

We were gathered by the Francis Marion Hotel to begin our photo trek.

I tucked the badges back into my pocket. And took mine off as well.

Some stealthy Ninja!

I caught up with several members across the street from a fine violin player. We all were focused on him, trying to get blurred passersby.

I do "blurred" almost as well as I do soft focus. Sometimes on purpose.

Saw this "Lion in wait" in a shop window.

My intent was to keep him sharp and slightly blur the other objects so he would stand out.

I'm pleased with what my Canon sx260HS can do.

(I also used some plug-in software to do a controlled blurring effect. Shh. That's a secret.)

Whoever was in charge of the weather did a fine job. A few clouds kept the temps down, the humidity was lower and there was a nice breeze.

Saw a Labrador patiently waiting as his owner picked up a slice of pizza. Well, drooling actually. The dog, not the owner.

Passed a gallery with its doors wide open and inviting.

A really colorful image caught my eye and I stepped in.

Turns out, it was not one of the paintings - the back garden was in full sunlight as seen through another open door.

Wrap that one up, I'll hang it on my living room wall.

Quite a few galleries were open and people milled around inside.

Vendors on the street offered hot dogs, Paolo's Gelatos and popsicles as well as sit down meals served curbside.

A very nice day to be out and about in my historic hometown.

Couldn't wait to get outta here when I was a teenager but so glad I came back home about 20 years ago.

Lots of dining and shopping going on so the idea of blocking off the main street and letting pedestrians roam is a good one.

Serving meals outside adds delicious and spicy aromas all along King Street.

I'm reminded it's probably time to have a bite to eat.

I had suggested that the members might want to regroup after an afternoon of stealth activity.

I headed through the strollers to meet them on Beaufain Street at LEAF.

Passed shoppers who were discussing how their day had gone.

Hey, shop in moderation. Have a cold beer.

(Click on the photo for more details.)

I saw a cameraman from Channel 2 who was covering the day and I mentioned my small camera was a LOT lighter than the rig he was toting.

As we chatted he asked if I would go on camera to give my thoughts on the resumption of football season.

Well, I'm awfully shy but he started the camera, focused and held the microphone near me as I said "It's great to have football back. I can watch all the action on my 60-inch wide screen tv."

Be interviewed in moderation.

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