Category Archives: life

“Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.”…

“Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.” ~ Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978)

#compassion #quoteoftheday #concern #socialism #weakness #huberthhumphrey #unfortunate

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“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963)

seabirds, gliding the coast

seabirds, gliding the coast

Each day rolls from one day to the next, no shortage of things that could be done but lacking the time to get everything done.  Striving to improve, trying to grow, remembering to move in the positive.  So much talk about conformity on the news each day by people that are also trying to limit personal growth, trying to make us all just cogs in the machine.

Stay free, be positive, help others, and continue to grow.

colored glass in the window

colored glass in the window

“Multiply”  from the album titled “Multiply” by Jamie Lidell:

the monkey basket

“Life moves pretty fast.  You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ~ Ferris Bueller

The Monkey Basket

The Monkey Basket

To some degree I guess it’s nearing the middle of the summer.  Something about July 4th has been a placeholder for my yearly clock for a long time.  Judy Ellington invited me to join the celebration in Helena, AL.  Having grown up in a small town, her invitation gave me an opportunity to touch base with those roots.  There are a lot of ways to describe the mood and pace of the day.  Friendly, relaxed, positive, and diverse are words that convey the overall sense of the day.

“The Monkey Basket” is Judy’s shop in Helena.  Any attempt I could make to describe it would ultimately fall short.  On the sidewalk, outside “The Monkey Basket” were chairs where I sat for part of the afternoon, simply enjoying the day and people watching.  Forget about politics for a minute, forget about the news media, forget about all of the things that are challenging the United States and the rest of the world.  Underneath the headlong rush into tomorrow that permeates almost every aspect of American life, there are people that are doing their best to earn a living, raise families, and trying not to get lost in the process.  Admittedly some are trading living in the present for constantly looking ahead.

As I sat in a chair on the sidewalk, camera in my lap, I could have photographed the day.  Cameras often cause people to behave differently.  It was nice to sit, talk, and watch the afternoon pass by and turn into the evening.  The vast majority of people that passed by where I was sitting didn’t know me at all but almost every person had a smile and a polite greeting for me.  Summer in a small town has a rhythm and a scent.  In my limited understanding of the brain, scents are powerful markers and triggers for memories.  There were food smells, the smell of hot asphalt, and the smell of sweaty people (it was a hot afternoon in Alabama).

Independence Day, fireworks display, Helena, AL 7/3/2010

Independence Day, fireworks display, Helena, AL 7/3/2010

My primary objective as a photographer on Saturday was to try and capture some of the magic of the fireworks display.  For the most part, I think I came away with some nice photographs of the fireworks in Helena.  Some of the photographs are in my Fireworks gallery.  You can see a photo of the front door of “The Monkey Basket” in my Signs gallery (it’s also featured at the beginning of this post).  Before you say it, I know it’s a skimpy gallery at the moment.  More photographs of signs will be added, so relax.

Sometimes I like the cover version of a song better than the original.  The following link is a cover of “Crazy” originally recorded by Gnarls Barkley but covered here by Shawn Colvin.  It’s a beautiful acoustic version of the song.  Take a few minutes and listen to it.

YouTube link:

every day is earth day

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

On Thursday morning, I will be driving to Cherokee, NC to attend a NANPA Spring Regional Event.  The location is in the Great Smoky Mountains.  From the advance material for the event, the photo tours will be in a variety of locations and elevations.  A change of scenery will be good for both my spirit and my photography.  The views will be spectacular whether I am at the higher elevations or in the lush valleys with beautiful flowing streams.

It would be easy to go into descriptions of those areas, but that’s what I hope to do with the photographs from the trip.  My challenge is going to be to take the time to “see” what is around me and try to capture the beauty with the camera.  Taking a lot of photos is a solid practice but being selective about what to shoot is key.  Some basic guidelines I try to follow on every shoot include:

  1. Be aware of what is in the frame, many great shots can be ruined by an object that wasn’t noticed
  2. Look for interesting perspectives, don’t shoot everything from a standing position, don’t hesitate to sit on the ground or move about to find an interesting perspective
  3. Pay attention to the edges of the frame, sure you can crop later but try to avoid taking photos without regard for the edges because you can crop later, recompose the shot if possible
  4. Notice the separation of objects in the frame, sometimes a step to one side or another, or changing your angle can make all the difference in how the objects in the shot relate to each other
  5. Bracket each shot, what you see with your eye and what the camera records are often not the same
  6. Shoot a scene in a variety of aperture settings, variances in depth of field can be subtle but very important to nail the shot you want
  7. Remember you are painting with light, bright and dark areas can present some difficult exposure issues, be prepared to make adjustments if possible, in some cases you might need to note a location and shoot it at a different time of day
  8. Be considerate, if you are with a group, don’t hog a great spot or obscure the view of others around you, polite goes a long way
  9. Have fun, your feelings are transferred to your images, take time to find the “wow” and shoot that

Note to self: The above list is for you to remember, don’t get out there and just start snapping away.

The short list above is probably included in recommended practices in many photography articles and publications.  Every now and then, I need to remind myself about the basics.  Is the above list all encompassing?  Of course not, I hit some high spots.  Photography as an art involves paying attention to detail.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed in a new location and forget the basics.  It’s also easy to become so comfortable with a location and forget the basics.

reflection of spring at Turkey Creek

reflection of spring at Turkey Creek

In the shameless promotion section of this post, some of my work at Gerry Daniel Photography was fortunate enough to have a feature that was shown on “Wake Up Alabama” this morning.  My sincere thanks to Rick Jackson for creating the feature, to the team at “Wake Up Alabama” for the air time, and to CBS 42, the local CBS affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama for allowing Rick to produce the segment.  It was filmed at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, a land tract that is part of Alabama’s Forever Wild Program.  There are a number of these beautiful natural areas that have been designated as “Forever Wild” and there is a list of others that are being considered.  Alabama has an amazing variety of terrain, wildlife, plant life, and unique ecosystems.  We have abundant waterways throughout Alabama.  Keeping the waterways fresh and clean is an ongoing effort by a lot of dedicated people throughout Alabama.  Other photographs from Turkey Creek can be seen in the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve gallery.

Let’s go with something that has a good rhythm. The song is “Tightrope” by Yeasayer from the album “Dark Was the Night” which was released in February 2009, features a variety of artists, and will benefit the Red Hot Organization – an international charity dedicated to raising funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS.


“Don’t confuse fame with success. Madonna is one, Helen Keller is the other” ~ Erma Bombeck

Stagnation is overly harsh and doesn’t accurately describe my recent struggles with photography.  Restless and confined are probably closer to what I have been feeling.  If you add my usual amount of self-criticism, throw in a number of loose ends as I try to learn how to get my photography off the ground,  the cascading effect presents a challenge.  No doubt, I will find myself in this spot a number of times if I want to keep evolving as a person and an artist.

Reader: “Thanks for sharing, Gerry.  That was so touching, informative, and inspiring.”

Me: “Relax, I could have written that opening paragraph a lot of different ways.  It’s my blog, I get to do the setup.”

Reader: “Yeah well, I’m the reader and that whole stall thing you do where you fill space on the blog post makes my butt tired.”

Me: “Your butt’s always tired.”

through the windows

through the windows

Yesterday afternoon, I took some steps to change my regular, obsessive, structured process of shooting.  Wait for it…I shot everything hand held, no tripod, no cable release, no mirror in lock-up mode, and not preset bracketing.  Take that!  I was out there, totally winging it, walking the edge of the razor.  I know what you’re thinking, “What a rebel.  Did crowds gather to watch the wildness of that activity?”

All I can say is that you can expect more renegade shooting.  Deal with it.

Nature photography will always be important for me and will always be part of my work.  As I have been going through the redesign project for Gerry Daniel Photography, Gerry Daniel Photography Blog, and my Twitter account (renegade_photog), I am moving towards a broader description of my work.  The sites are being redesigned through the services of photoKandy and the project is going very well.  Branding, a professional site design, and SEO (search engine optimization) are important elements to any business and the new design will go a long way towards helping me in those areas.

textures, shapes, and wrinkles

textures, shapes, and wrinkles

The song for this post is titled “Fame” from the album titled “The Clarence Greenwood Recordings” by Citizen Cope.  If you are someone that enjoys a good song with good lyrics, this one could be for you.  If not, then it’s for me because I like it, a lot.  I am not now and may never be famous, fame isn’t really a goal.  The song deals more with the factors in our society (America in particular) that focus on fame.

son’s gonna rise

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” ~Confucius (551-479 BC)

It’s easy to get caught up in the details and a lot of time can be consumed by details.  Monday morning was the last time I took a photograph.  Luckily, I took quite a few so I have some images that have been waiting for me.

baby blues

baby blues

Work continues on the face lift for my online sites.  Photography is like any other business, you have to adapt, you need to be sure you have a solid foundation, and you need a plan for where you are going.  If you don’t plan for change, the chance of survival becomes more difficult.

Editor’s note: In another life, in another job, it was not unusual for someone to note that I often state the obvious.  I plead guilty but to state the obvious, you have to at least be able to see the obvious, that aspect is lost on a lot of people.

This is a song that I like a lot from an artist that I enjoy.  The title of the song is “Son’s Gonna Rise” from the album titles “The Clarence Greenwood Recordings” by Citizen Cope.  He has a little help on the song by a guitarist that you may have heard, a guy named Carlos Santana.  I’m trying to bridge the gap between the more current music and some of the older music (Trixie, I heard you).

secret meeting

Trees Against the Winter Sky

Trees Against the Winter Sky

So many things swirling around, on the edge of beginning this run with my dream of doing something creative and meaningful for a career/job/life, the days are full of details.  They say the devil’s in the details, but if he’s any kind of manager, he has his minions dealing with the details.  People that know me and/or have been around me in a workplace environment know that I hate meetings.  Like a lot of things, I am sure they are well intentioned but that doesn’t make them necessarily productive.  Over the course of my professional life, which covers a lot of years (don’t try to add them up), the number of productive meetings I have attended would be a tiny fraction of the total number of meetings.

If you asked people and they were honest with you, I think they would feel pretty much the same way about meetings.  They fall into what people regard as a necessary evil, some might argue they are an unnecessary evil.  I just view them as generally evil.

Nice little rant Gerry but what does this have to do with photography?

It may or may not have something to do with photography but since the blog gives me a forum for my thoughts, I may veer off onto tangents.  It keeps things interesting, at least for me.

As I post photographs from Gerry Daniel Photography to the Smug Mug Daily Community, I have an idea that some people haven’t connected the guy that posted for a couple of years as “Dream Hat” and now the guy that is posting as me (Gerry Daniel).  If they have made the connection, maybe they just are not finding some of my more recent work very compelling.  For the record, I post to the Daily Photo Community because I enjoy the activity, not for recognition.

That last paragraph was more of a sidebar, you know, stream of consciousness and all.

One of the cool things about being a new company and a company that is basically small.  It’s pretty much me but with input from some great people in my life which I love and appreciate.  The month of January was jam packed with activity and February is following suit.  Just this week, I sent my first newsletter email.  The response has been very positive and I am excited about options that it will add to being able to connect with people that are interested in keeping up with this wild ride.  There is a subscription form on Gerry Daniel Photography and if you go to the home page there is a link to the subscription form and all that is required is an email address, the other fields are optional.  It is called “Insight Newsletter” and if you have suggestions on a better names, please send them to me (let’s keep the suggestions clean, this is a business after all).  So if you are not subscribed, please go to my site and register/sign-up.

There is a group of conservation focused photographers in Alabama that are getting organized to help use our photography to promote important efforts to preserve and protect some of the beautiful natural areas throughout Alabama.  It’s my understanding that the group is currently working on their recently launched Forever Wild Campaign  Its photographers are building a visual database of the Forever Wild properties across Alabama in order to provide powerful photographic tools to enhance the efforts of conservation organizations in support of the Forever Wild Program.

I am looking for places to exhibit my work both to have it seen by more people and also to give me an opportunity to sell some of my photographs.  If you have some connections and/or can get me in touch with people that could help me make that happen, I would appreciate it.  In terms of location, I am open to having options in various parts of the United States, I am not limited to the Birmingham, Al area.

Thanks to everyone that subscribes to my blog, I am continuing to try and do everything I can to increase my subscriber base.  As always, if you can recommend me to others, I would appreciate it.  The same goes for my fledgling newsletter.

Secret meeting is a reference to the meetings I have had over the past couple of months with various people to talk about my plans and get valuable input on my efforts.  It’s also a reference to….wait for it….the song for the post.  The song “Secret Meeting” is from the album “Alligator” by The National.  Go ahead, listen to it, you need a break and good music will make you feel better.

Thanks for the love and support.

More From the Incident at Turkey Creek, What You Didn’t Know

In the interest of giving you a more complete account of my untimely and unplanned dip into Turkey Creek, I will share some additional details.  This post picks up the story as I am making my way out of the creek and onto the bank beside the creek.

My clothing at the time consisted of a t-shirt, a pair of jeans, wool socks, hiking boots, a jacket, and a baseball cap.  The t-shirt and the baseball cap were both souvenirs of my trip to Santa Fe in February 2009 to attend a week-long workshop taught by Eddie Soloway at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  Allow me to pause here to offer my personal endorsement of both the school, the workshop, and Eddie Soloway.  As a bonus, in our workshop, Eddie was assisted by a talented photographer named Jenny Trest.  The workshop was probably by far the best thing I have ever done for me and my photography.  Hopefully I will have an opportunity to attend another workshop there in the future.

So I am out of the creek, soaked to the bone, but never lost the baseball cap.  That part is important for a couple of reasons.  The baseball cap was covering a head of crazy hair that had yet to see a morning shower (yep, morning hair) and the fact that the cap was still on my head meant that I hadn’t banged my noggin into the rocks in the creek during the rescue of the camera equipment.  For a couple of minutes, I just stood there, breathing hard from the exertion and trying to compose myself.

The area where I had planned to be shooting was a fairly short hike down one end of a well marked trail created by Eagle Scouts.  For the people not familiar with the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Scouts are the top echelon of the organization.  They have more skills, patches, badges, etc, and do some very meaningful community service across the United States.  Personally I was not a Boy Scout, I like to say that I was more of a girl scout but not affiliated with the official Girl Scouts of America.  Before anyone gets all bent out of shape, this would have been a period of time when I was in roughly grades 7-12.  To cover the more current time frame, I am not talking about the adult me.  The adult me would be an admirer of women, not that it has any relation to this story but sometimes you get bonus information if you read.

As I stand on the trail, dripping, calming my breathing and my heart rate, as you would expect, one of the first things I dis was look around to see if anyone witnessed what had to be a pretty funny scene of me trying to rescue the camera equipment.  Luckily my unfortunate event ended safely and unobserved, so my dignity was mostly intact.  My camera bag was beside the trail and had escaped the incident entirely.  With the strap of the bag over my shoulder and the camera equipment in my hands, I began the walk of shame back to my car.  Trailing me along the walk was creek water dripping from my clothing and my camera equipment as I trudged back towards the road and the place where my car was parked.

For the people that have had an opportunity to be with me in a situation like this, a situation where I am upset, frustrated, a little angry at myself (OK, a lot angry at myself) not once did I say use any profanity.  Looking back, my only explanation is that the situation exceeded the profanity threshold and I was just silent.  Along the way up the trail, I pass by a happy lady with her point and shoot camera.  She is smiling and snapping away at the beauty that is Turkey Creek.  As I got closer to her, I imagined I would have to exchange some type of pleasantries with her, but she either didn’t notice me or could sense that there was a lot of bad energy walking with me.  If I had been a cartoon, there would have probably been a little swirl of smoke above my head.

Finally I make it off the trail, up the hill, and across the road to the parking lot where my car is parked.  In my pocket is my car keys attached to the remote to unlock the doors and open the trunk.  For the British in the crowd, I believe that what we call the trunk and the hood in the US is sometimes referred to the boot and the bonnet in the UK.  The remote, although soaked, works like a charm.  The trunk opens and I begin to forage.  The ugly truth about my trunk is that is is not neatly organized.  It isn’t organized at all, it is more like a lump of objects scrambled in a somewhat chaotic fashion, but the first little section is basically clean and separated from the chaos by a net.  The clear space is required for groceries when I shop for food and other necessities of life.

Among the contents of the trunk are a pair of jeans, assorted t-shirts, sweatshirts, a beach towel, an old frayed towel (which I call an accident towel), and a pair of running shoes.  There were no socks, no underwear, and no spare belt but at that point I have the essentials.

There is one other vehicle in the parking lot, it is the standard “soccer Mom” van.  As I arrive at the car, the sliding doors on both sides of the van open.  The van is empty but the opening doors signaled the return of the family from the creek.  Typical family, a man, a woman, and three kids (all elementary school age).  Like an eclipse, I didn’t look directly at the van or the approaching family, I caught them in my peripheral vision.  Since we are the only two vehicle there, there is no question that they saw me standing at the rear of my car, looking into the trunk, dripping water on the ground.  The make and model of the van were undetermined, I couldn’t tell you if there were soccer balls on the rear window with the names of the kids.  It was full eclipse mode, no looking at the van.

The jeans were pulled to the edge of the trunk, the t-shirt happened to be a environmentally friendly clay dyed garment with a drawing of the earth and surrounded by “Every Day Is Earth Day” printed on the front and the t-shirt color was a soft, light green for those of you that need details.  The family is getting to the van, lots of happy chatter and they are ignoring the dripping wet man standing by the open trunk of his car.  My feet are wet and I remove the hiking boots, pour the water from them, then remove the wool socks, and squeeze the excess water from them.  It was at that point that I became keenly aware that the parking lot was covered with gravel.  Keenly aware because my cold, wet, bare feet were being assaulted by the sharp edges of the gravel.

Slowly I walk around to the passenger door on the driver’s side of my car and open it.  The idea was to take my time to walk carefully on the gravel and to allow the family time to load into the van and be on their merry way.  I take the accident towel, fold it several times for maximum absorbency to protect the fabric on the car seat and sit down.  I change into the dry t-shirt, slowly of course, again partially to allow more time for the family to leave but partly because wet clothing sticks to your body.  With the t-shirt changed, the top half of my body is dry (remember I had the beach towel).  The careful reader has already figured out my problem and the reason I wanted the family to leave.  At some point I am going to need to change out of the wet jeans and boxer shorts to put on the dry jeans (no underwear,
will have to go commando).

The last thing I need at this point is to be accused of indecent exposure by some family out enjoying the nature preserve on a Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving.  So I wait…and I wait.  Who are these people and why does it take them so long to get in the van, buckle up and leave?  Only snatches of their conversation was audible, but I heard something about something being left by the creek and heard the Dad say he would go get it.  It wasn’t a large distance to cover, the man could have been there and back in a matter of minutes.  This day wasn’t going that way, so they only way I can describe the slowness of the man’s walk to get the item left at the creek and return to the van is to use the grocery store example.  Sometimes, you will be in line at the checkout, there will be an issue with an item in the group of things the person ahead of you is purchasing (maybe there is no bar code, maybe the package is damaged, whatever).  The person at the register will enlist one of the other employees hanging out at the end of the checkout line (sometimes the bagger, sometimes just an employee talking and wasting time) to go determine the price or get a replacement item.  My experience has been that the person assigned to go on the mission shifts into a slow motion walk that is almost impossible to achieve in normal life.  They almost occupy a slightly dimension where time is moving at a different speed.

Sitting on the edge of my back seat, I wasn’t timing the man on his trip, but I can tell you it was a very slow walk.  Maybe he needed a moment to himself, maybe he needed to gather his thoughts before being confined to the van with the rest of his crowd.  Finally he returns and I think I am now home free.  He will get into the driver seat, the doors will shut, he will start the engine and they will be on their way.  No, I was wrong.  As he gets back to the van, I hear the Mom ask if anyone needs to go potty.  Thankfully nobody needed to go potty, but there was a process of elimination as each child is questioned individually about their need to go potty.  Yeah, it took a long time.  Items retrieved from the creek?  Check.  Nobody needs to go potty?  Check.  For reasons I can’t begin to understand or explain, nobody was buckled in their seats and ready to go.  So now we go through the process of situating everyone in the van and securing them to their seats.  Did I mention that these people were slow?

Finally, mercifully, the van doors close, the engine starts, and they pull out of the parking lot.  As soon as they are out of sight, I close the door on my car, unbuckle my jeans, unzip them and take them off along with the boxers.  Remember, it takes longer with wet clothing, it sticks to your body.  Now I am in the danger zone, pants down to my ankles, about to pull them over my feet, I will be exposed and naked from the waist down.  Not a problem, the parking lot is empty, I am alone.  Just as I slip the pants leg off of one foot, I hear a vehicle.  This is the point of non return, I have to continue.  Another van pulls into the parking lot, politely leaving one car space between the vehicles.  It’s a guy and his dog which he immediately lets bound from the car, no leash.  My options are limited, I am committed to the change, I am contorted in the back seat as I get the other pants leg off my other foot and put on the dry jeans.  The guy in the van is putting the leash on his dog but I can feel him glancing my way and wondering what I am doing in the back seat of my car alone.  Still in eclipse mode, I don’t look at him, I finish changing, put on the running shoes, move to the driver’s seat and make my getaway.

Funny scene?  No doubt about it.  Maybe one of the funniest scenes I have been in for years.  Life is full of moments, that’s what you hang onto, what you remember.  It is why I love photography, capturing moments.  Until Nikon resolves the issue with my camera, the experience wasn’t a loss.  Underwear and socks will now be added to the chaos in my trunk.  It also gives me time to devise a better way to change clothes if there is ever a next time.

Enjoy the moments, it’s what life is about.