Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography: Blog http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog en-us (C) Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography (Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) Thu, 13 Feb 2014 14:40:00 GMT Thu, 13 Feb 2014 14:40:00 GMT http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/img/s/v-5/u744342119-o174213282-50.jpg Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography: Blog http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog 80 120 Your Angels Will Go Free http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2012/7/your-angels-will-go-free Your Angels Shall Go FreeYour Angels Shall Go FreeNight time over the Los Angeles basin from atop Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains.

This long exposure, high dynamic range photograph I took of the Los Angeles basin made me sing within my mind the song “Los Angeles” by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Peter Bradley Adams:

Oh, Los Angeles, we leave you now
at the setting of your skies,
and as we  leave the comfort of your ground,
with your angels we will fly.

Well,  you carried us on broken dreams,
like a mother does her sons.
We were scattered ‘cross your dirty streets,
we were dying one by one.

And you  held us in your city lights,
when our eyes had lost the stars.
And we made  our peace with lonely nights,
and you healed our broken hearts.

Well,  they say the Big One’s gonna come,
and you will fall into the sea.
But we will know then that your work is done,
and your angels will go free.

And your angels will go free.
And your angels will go free.
And your  angels will go free.

~Lyrics of “Los Angeles” sung by Peter Bradley Adams

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2012/7/your-angels-will-go-free Sat, 14 Jul 2012 23:55:00 GMT
The Rock http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2012/7/the-rock I San Gabriel SunsetSan Gabriel SunsetSunset over the Los Angeles basin from atop Mount Wilson in the Sam Gabriel Mountains. n my twenties I lived in the Pasadena, California in the Los Angeles basin while I was in college and a short time after. I first arrived there after a flight from my rather rural upbringing in West Virginia. I was wide-eyed and instantly fell in love with the beauty, weather, and energy that was possessed by the Los Angeles area. No other city could have been more different from what I ever known previously in my life. I recall the very first thing that caught my attention — that being an incredibly tall palm tree gently waving in the breezy southern California sun.

I was fascinated with so many things about the Los Angeles, such as the lush plant and tree growth, majestic mountains, beautiful ocean, and most of which, the incredible mediterranean and art deco architecture that is found so predominantly there. Not to mention the cultural and artistic opportunities to absorb into my mind. Even the earthquakes, including the 5.9 magnitude quake of Whittier – a few miles north of Pasadena and the 4.9 magnitude earthquake of 1988 with its epicenter located directly under Pasadena, fascinated me more than they did concern me.

Regardless of how beautiful and fascinating Los Angeles was to me, there were times that I had to get back to my roots and run away from the never-ending-motion of the city. Often, I would drive high into the Angeles National Forest area of the San Gabriel mountains eventually arriving atop Mount Wilson. The only thing more magical to me than the Los Angeles area at that time was the view of the Los Angeles area from atop Mount Wilson. High above Pasadena, Mount Wilson watches over the entire Los Angeles area — above the clouds, above the noise, and even above the smog.

Mount Wilson is home to the Mount Wilson observatory, known as the astronomical center of Southern California. I’d park at the observatory and then by foot follow a long dirt path down the stop of the mountain to a very special spot. I know others may be aware and even visit this spot, but in my mind, this spot was my rock. The rock protrudes from the side of the mountain out over the city giving an absolutely perfect vantage point of the entire metropolitan area. It was also just big enough to fit comfortably two seated people. I would sit on the rock and stare at the magnificent sight – usually around sunset and into nightfall.

From that height, you can easily see the notorious Los Angeles freeways, but you can’t see the traffic. You can see the heat rising from the city’s floor, but you can’t hear any of the city’s noise. And often times there were days that, from the city, you couldn’t see the San Gabriel’s at all due to the smog, but even on the smoggiest of days the city looked beautiful from the rock.

The rock was a spiritual place for me. It was impossible for me to be there for any length of time and quickly fall into such calming and healing meditation. From the rock I could look out over the city I loved, yet turn around and see forest and nature — those things I had to leave behind in West Virginia. It was a place of balancing. I literally had both that I loved — an energetic and beautiful city as well as the rugged beauty of nature and no noise to speak of. It was so silent on my rock that I could often hear my own mind turn, or so it seemed.

On that rock I cried tears of joy, I cried tears of pain. On that rock I meditated, and I also emptied my mind. On that rock I laughed, and I also pleaded. On that rock I reminisced about my past, and plotted my future. On that rock I have loved and I have hated. On that rock I was me. On that rock I was really me.

The first person I chose to share the rock with was my mother who flew to California to visit me. This, too, was her first time in California as well as a city this big. I couldn’t imagine anyone else better to share this with than my Mother. Afterall, she is the most influential person in my life and taught me how to rise above and see the sky. I drove to the top of the mountain and we began the easy hike down the trail to the rock. Once we arrived, I jumped off of the small ledge down to the top of the rock about 3 feet below. I turned around to help her down to join me and instead of a face of excitement, I saw a face of dread, no, terror. I was able to coax her down after some time, but it was a bit short-lived as she just wasn’t comfortable. She and I climbed up off of the rock and focused our watch on the beauty below. It wasn’t until sometime later that I learned from her that she wasn’t scared for herself on that rock — she was scared for me. That’s my mother — more concerned for her children (even as adults like I was at that time) than she is herself. Despite the fear issue, the visit to the rock was a most wonderful moment that I have never forgotten. She being there with me made the rock even more magical and special to me.

Eventually I left Los Angeles for other opportunities, and despite my deep love for the city, I strangely wouldn’t return for nearly 20 years. Through the years I would take my mind back to the rock in hopes I can feel some of the mind and heart calming it so generously gave to me. I knew that one day I would have another special person to take to the rock. That day finally came when I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles and Las Vegas with my partner, Jim. Within only a few hours of arriving in Los Angeles, we drove to Pasadena, checked into the hotel, and made the drive up Angeles Crest Highway to Mount Wilson. We arrived just before sunset and while he was hesitant to make that small jump down onto the rock — just as my Mom was so many years ago — he did. The view was breathtaking and as the sun began to set, it became even more spectacular. Much was said on the rock, much was unsaid. It was just … perfect and a feeling of completeness overcame me.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2012/7/the-rock Fri, 06 Jul 2012 23:55:00 GMT
Facebook Page http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2012/6/facebook-page Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography Facebook PageKenneth Alan Lewis Photography Facebook Page Recently I found some extra energy (and time) to make a presence on facebook. You can find my new facebook page here: Feel free to drop by and “like” my page. Click on the photo above or go to www.facebook.com/KennethAlanLewisPhotography

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2012/6/facebook-page Tue, 05 Jun 2012 23:55:00 GMT
Almost Heaven, In West Virginia http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/12/almost-heaven-in-west-virginia Appalachia SolitudeAppalachia SolitudeA lonely tree in the midst of very heavy fog at Dolly Sods in West Virginia. A recent visit to Dolly Sods in West Virginia was particularly incredible. Aside from its usual beauty, this particular day was amazingly foggy with fog so dense on top of the mountain that visibility was less than about ten feet through the windshield. Knowing I had to take advantage of this diffuse fog, I parked along the side of the road and walked out into the wet and soggy cranberry bogs to see what I could find. Within a short distance I found this tree — seemingly all alone, shrouded in heavy white fog. I made some gut-feeling adjustments to my camera settings and began shooting.

After taking a few shots I found myself standing inches deep in the wet bog simply staring at this tree. The silence around me was deafening. Nothing moved, nothing made sound. It was simply me and that tree. The fog was so thick and heavy that I could feel it on my arms as I tried to “hold” the fog in my hands — I could even feel it enter my lungs with each breath I took. An overwhelming sense of peace overtook me — one that I had never experienced before in my life. Dolly Sods is a magical wilderness on any given day, but on this particular day, I felt as if I was standing in “proverbial” heaven, walking in the clouds.

As for the photograph, not all of my gut-feeling settings were the best. And I found that shooting in such incredibly thick fog is more difficult than I thought it would be. In developing this photograph, I increased both the exposure and brightness to whiten the fog, bumped up the blacks to make the tree more visible, added some semi-heavy noise reduction, and lightened up the corners with light vignetting. What is left is an image that looks more like a charcoal drawing rather than an actual photograph.

I wasn’t particularly excited about all the adjustments I had to do to make this photograph “work” — at least “work” for my eyes, but in the end, it certainly conveys more appropriately what I saw in person — and even moreso — how I felt in the moment. It was simply magical.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/12/almost-heaven-in-west-virginia Wed, 14 Dec 2011 00:45:00 GMT
Stalactites at Smoke Hole http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/12/stalactites-at-smoke-hole Raining StalactitesRaining StalactitesStalactites in Smoke Hole Caverns, Grant County, West Virginia, USA Surprisingly, we were allowed camera and flashes while in Smoke Hole Caverns located in Grant County, West Virginia. So brother-in-law and I strapped our respective cameras around our necks and entered excited about the possibilities to do some underground photography. Quickly I realized that it was going to be more difficult than I had hoped as a tripod and flash diffuser would have also been nice to have in the cave as well. Actually, it would have been nice to have a couple or three soft boxes and the caves free of tourists. But as it is so often, it was what it was. Some decent photographs were obtained — I particularly liked this photo of some “soda straw” stalactites, especially when viewed large. You can really see just how fragile these stalactites actually are. Other photos were taken — and many uploaded to flickr — but in so many cases, the lighting was too harsh, not enough, and the impact of many subjects in the photos is lost due to a lack of scale reference.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/12/stalactites-at-smoke-hole Wed, 07 Dec 2011 00:38:00 GMT
Personal Prophecy Found http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/11/personal-prophecy-found I'll Be Back Cancer FreeI'll Be Back Cancer FreeThis personal message of hope was found written on a low steel beam of the Fayette Station Bridge over the New River in West Virginia. It made me smile as I stood and looked around seeing the amazing beauty that surrounds this bridge. I hope this person gets to see this message - and the amazing view - again ... cancer free! If one will stop and take notice, there can be tremendous power found in beauty — in particular, natural beauty. As I stood upon the Fayetteville Station Bridge that crosses over the New River Gorge National River, I couldn’t help but to feel quite small in comparison to the steep mountains on either side of me, the rushing of the river below me, and the small slice of sky that was wedged between the mountains above me. At the same time, I felt empowered by this beauty. I was excited, energized, and felt a random surge of confidence. Down the river, the view was (this) view.

As I began to head back to my truck, I began reading the various bits of graffiti left by so many visitors before me written on the lower steel portions of the bridge. Lot’s of “who loves who” and “I was here on such and such date” type things. Thankfully nothing vulgar or obscene — maybe the surroundings impacted others enough to prevent them from writing such things, who knows. But one bit of writing stood out to me  — it in itself was powerful beauty to me. It was a personal prophecy scribbled rather emphatically on the steel that read “I’ll Be Back Cancer Free!”

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/11/personal-prophecy-found Tue, 01 Nov 2011 23:16:00 GMT
Lunatic Asylum & Photographic Processing http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/10/lunatic-asylum-photographic-processing Trans-Allegheny Lunatic AsylumTrans-Allegheny Lunatic AsylumThe Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, also known as the Weston State Hospital, is located in Weston, West Virginia. It was constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. During the recent fall color trip to West Virginia, a stop had to be made at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia. I had seen this old hospital on various television shows including Ghost Hunters. The timing of the visit wasn’t great as it was during the harshest sunlight part of the day not to mention, the grounds was getting “made over” for the upcoming Halloween ghost tour season. In order to keep kitschy Halloween decor, party tents, and stage loudspeakers out of the shot I had to get creative with shooting angles. To compensate for the harsh lighting, I played with the black and white settings and came up with this photo you see here. I suppose the perspective and processing lends a ghoulish, Halloween feel to the photo. It is what it is. Sometimes all you can do is some gratuitous processing to make a photo interesting enough to look at.

As for the Asylum, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, also known as the Weston State Hospital,was constructed between 1858 and 1881, is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America, and is purportedly the second largest in the world, next to the Kremlin. The original hospital, designed to house 250 souls, was open to patients in 1864 and reached its peak in the 1950′s with 2,400 patients in overcrowded and generally poor conditions. The history of this facility can be found (here).

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/10/lunatic-asylum-photographic-processing Wed, 19 Oct 2011 23:00:00 GMT
The Old Dead Tree http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/9/the-old-dead-tree The Old Dead Tree 1The Old Dead Tree 1 There are always things upon one looks back and considers very grounding in their life. These are the things that prove to be constant, unmoving, unchanging — sort of like those good, dear friends that despite the passing of so many years, once you are with them again, it’s as if no time has passed at all.

I have been visiting the same campground along Lake Limestone in central Texas for over a decade. It’s been a wonderful place for mental decompression, a rallying point for friends, a fertile ground for jawing existential issues of life, and a place that one can drink wine and beer, eat well, and pass out till morning — and start all over again.

At the far end of this campground is a small wooden dock along a quiet field at the lake’s shore. I found myself from that very first visit, often sitting on this dock, staring out across the lake enjoying the silence — usually with my doberman “son” Beauregard sitting next to me. All the noise of the camping revelers, all the angst of self-employment, all the hectic pace of the city quickly faded away allowing my mind to just think — or not at all think.

From this heat-cracked dock, one cannot miss the tall, prominent tree that breaks the surface of the lake’s water and reaches up toward the sky. The irony is that while this tree appears strong and powerful, it’s dead — and has been quite dead for longer than the decade I have visited it. Somehow its lifeless, weathered and sun-bleached trunk and limbs seem to be even more empowered by its death. Without living leaves it doesn’t sway in the wind, without sap coursing through its veins it’s more rigid — as if it is made of rock rather than wood.

Year after year, the tree remains virtually unchanged — seemingly frozen in time. Such is not the case for me, its eduring admirer over the years. The Old Dead Tree has watched me grow older, it watched my young doberman, Beauregard, run to his heart’s content in the adjacent field, it watched a large group of friends that once accompanied me to the campground dwindle to only a few die-hard camp-goers, it has listened to my thoughts of bliss and worry, it watched Beauregard run his last time in the field before that horrible August that Beau departed this thing called life,  and it watched me bring Beau back to the campground for his last visit in his final resting box. This same tree also watched as a new doberman puppy, Titus, got bowled over by his elder brother Bentley while playing in that same field a few months later.

The campground isn’t quite the same any more. Fewer people visit, the lake is now non-existent due to horrible summer droughts over the past few years in Texas, and as friends grow older, camping just doesn’t seem quite as relaxing as it once did. I don’t go at all as often as I once did either.

Last weekend I was struck by the fact that the Old Dead Tree no longer was surrounded by water, but instead it rose from a dry, cracked, brushy field. I also noticed that the tree had an out-of-place flower arrangement around its upper trunk. A cascade of sunflowers hung from the Old Dead Tree’s neck. It now seemed more like a memorial to me than a dear old friend. For the first time the Old Dead Tree seemed … well, actually dead.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/9/the-old-dead-tree Fri, 23 Sep 2011 22:53:00 GMT
Gresham House, A Galveston Survivor http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/9/gresham-house-a-galveston-survivor Bishop's Palace / Gresham HouseBishop's Palace / Gresham HouseThe front entrance of Gresham House (aka Bishop's Palace), Galveston, Texas. Recently I read the book “Isaac's Stormby one of my favorite historical authors, Erik Larson. It tells the story of the worst deadliest weather disaster in American history — the infamous Galveston Hurricane of 1900. While in Houston over the weekend, I traveled once again to Galveston. As I stopped at both a cemetery and various architectural spots on the island, I couldn’t help but to reflect upon the book and the stories of people whose lives were violently changed forever by this storm. Over eight thousand people died in the storm — a figure more than twice that of the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and the Great San Francisco Earthquake

Still standing over a century later, however, are some of the more substantially built homes and buildings such as this one, the Gresham House (also known as Bishop’s Palace). This grand home, now listed as a National Historic Landmark at the national level of significance in the area of architecture, sits at the corner of Broadway & 14th streets. It was built from 1887 to 1892 for Virginia-born Colonel Walter Quintin Gresham and his family. Gresham, in addition to participation in political offices, was a successful attorney and entrepreneur, who founded the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad. Architectural historians list this structure as one of the most significant of Victorian residences in the country.

Aiming my camera up toward this imposing structure, I was struck by its beauty and obvious strength. My mind raced with created images of this home protecting the lives of its inhabitants — and what it must have been like to come out of this home to the devastation and carnage left in the wake of the Great Storm the following morning. You can see the house standing in the middle of the storm’s devastation in a historic photo (here).

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/9/gresham-house-a-galveston-survivor Tue, 13 Sep 2011 21:38:00 GMT
History Unbeknownst to Me http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/9/history-unbeknownst-to-me View at McCormick FarmView at McCormick FarmView from McCormick Farm in Steeles Tavern, Augusta County, Virginia. The more I travel through my home state and surrounding states, I am finding that it is hard to stand anywhere and not be on or near a location of some historic significance. So many have gone before us, so many years have passed, so many things have happened.

After spending the night with friends in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, I headed south on Interstate 81. The view from the road was simply incredible and I couldn’t take the taunting of nature any longer. I took the nearest exit, drove about a quarter-mile down the road, and stopped the car near the entrance to a random farm. I noticed that the sign said McCormick Farm and there was another sign near it that said something about Virginia Tech.

It wasn’t until today when trying to locate this photo on a geo-map on my flickr page that I learned more about this location. According to Virginia Tech’s website, “In 1831 Cyrus McCormick invented the first reaper that revolutionized the world of agriculture.  Blacksmith’s shop, gristmill, museum and scenic site at the McCormick Farm, Walnut Grove. The 634-acre farm, now known as the Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Research and Extension Center, is part of Virginia Tech University.”

As the popular rhetorical question goes: “who knew?” … I certainly didn’t. But I am glad I do now. This tidbit of information brought to you by a random stop for a quick photograph of clouds.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/9/history-unbeknownst-to-me Tue, 06 Sep 2011 22:12:00 GMT
Dirt, Sweat, and Creosote http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/dirt-sweat-and-creosote Durgon Railroad 1Durgon Railroad 1Railroad through Durgon, West Virginia, USA Since posting this particular photo of the railroad tracks in Durgon, West Virginia on my flickr site, I have had several comments from fellow photographers and viewers regarding the point of view/perspective that I used in the shot. As one person commented, I too have seen quite a few “typical” railroad shots of rails converging at the horizon. Sure it’s a typical shot, but for me it was also about the mountains in the background and those fantastic clouds. To emphasize these other elements, I wanted to get a low point of view. Admittedly, I was too lazy (and too hot) to walk back to the car to get my tripod in order to get the camera down to just inches above the ground. So instead, already sweaty, I laid down on the railroad ties and gravel to get this shot. Sure, dirt mixed with sweat on my shirt, and the smell of tar and creosote lingered on my chest for many miles afterwards. But you know, I think the shot was worth it — and the smell of creosote will have a lasting impression on my memory of this small section of railroad in Hardy County.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/dirt-sweat-and-creosote Mon, 29 Aug 2011 21:38:00 GMT
Big Red Sally, A Childhood Memory http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/big-red-sally-a-childhood-memory Big Red TruckBig Red Truck Sally was her name. I called her “Big Red” which led to Big Red Sally. It was on my first adventure with my grandfather that I learned her name as her engine roared toward the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. A few years later, I found myself in Big Red Sally almost each weekend lending a hand, to whatever degree an 11-year old can, to my grandfather as he used her to haul his freshly fallen timber from the area where he logged to the mill across the Ohio River in Marietta. In my youthful eye, she looked huge, powerful, intimidating. I recall her rocking and groaning as my grandfather would “toss” another log onto her with his Allis-Chalmers frontloader bulldozer with me riding shotgun atop the large battery compartment of the bulldozer. I watched everything my grandfather did to make that bulldozer go where he needed it to on the steep hills of West Virginia – eventually driving and operating the track-driven dozer myself at only twelve years of age. The oddly wonderful smell of starter fluid spray mixed with freshly ignited diesel fuel still “burns” deep in my memory.

Learning to drive the bulldozer was one thing — learning to drive Big Red Sally was an entirely different experience.

My grandfather always pushed me to learn to do things, to ignore fear, and to remain in control of situations where others may bail out at even the first sign of potential danger. Maybe World War II followed by the Korean War engrained that within him, maybe it was something else. All I know is that remaining calm in difficult situations is one thing that, when I do successfully, I attribute to him. At any rate, I was 12 and he decided that I should learn to drive Big Red Sally. Keep in mind that at that age, I didn’t even know how to drive a car, let alone a large flatbed style logging truck with no power brakes, a clutch that I could barely touch with my toes, a manual stick-shift transmission, and no power steering.

And so the lesson began easily enough. I got Sally rolling toward the field harvested of its corn, made a wide sweeping turn, stood up on the clutch pedal to shift to a higher gear, and sat back down as she gained speed. She had spring-cushioned seats — and I recall looking over as my grandfather bounced up and down in the seat, holding tightly to a handle just forward of the door. He had a big smile on his face. This was one of those moments that my otherwise gruffish grandfather displayed a proud happiness.

We rounded the second bend in the cornfield and headed toward the barn — Sally gaining momentum to make it up the grade along side the old barn that still showed some evidence that it had once been stained red, a beautiful dark blood red. As we neared the top of the grade, I lifted up my scrawny, skinny body to initiate the attempt to turn her big wheels from behind her large flat steering wheel (again, no power steering). As we careened around the corner, the look of fear written all over my face matched the similar look my grandfather had written on his face, although his was one of both fear and “oh right!” It was obvious that he had forgotten that he had parked his bulldozer near the other side of the barn — and Big Red Sally with this 12 year old skinny kid behind her wheel was headed straight for the dozer’s back end. All I really remember was his emphatic yelling to “turn the wheel” and “brake, brake, brake!”. It was all a blur of panic and Allis Chalmers yellow.

After rear-ending the bulldozer, I very shakingly climbed down out of Big Red Sally who was now releasing hot stream out of her radiator. As we stood there looking at the union of Sally’s front end and the bulldozer’s back end, my grandfather — agitated and angry — looked at me with his piercing steel grey eyes and said ”you really should have pulled that steering wheel harder or jumped on that brake pedal sooner” … followed seconds later by that smirkish smile that indicated that somehow he was still proud, and even humored, by the situation.

From that day forward, Big Red Sally had a dent down the front of her otherwise flat face.

It was on my recent trip home that I traveled out to the old homestead of my late grandfather, his younger brother still living there. I was surprised to see Big Red Sally still parked there — obviously decommissioned long before my grandfather was “decommissioned”. There she sat, amongst the weeds in the humid grasses along Big Grave Creek in West Virginia. Big Red Sally is showing her original colors now, the blue that my grandfather had painted over years ago after he got her as the paint peels off in the weather and corrosion. She doesn’t look nearly as huge, powerful, nor intimidating as she once did for me. Her clean interior now succumbing to deterioration and damage from the environment. It was good to see her again — sort of a bittersweet homecoming to what once was. And when I saw the dent down the front of her face, I was filled with both memories of dread and happiness. I couldn’t help remembering my grandfather standing there gruffly scolding me all the while smiling with pride. I often wonder if he never even attempted to repair her damaged face as a reminder to him of the moment … or maybe to remind me of the moment.

While in Houston a couple of days ago, I was introduced to an older, accomplished Houston artist at a gallery showing. He said he had just returned from a trip back to his home in Romania. When asked how it was, the general gist of his response was that while it was nice to be back and see his home town and family, it was rather sad to see things age and deteriorate — or to be replaced altogether with something entirely different and more modern. He said that at least he has his memories of what it was like back in the day.

I wasn’t sure if I would even keep the photographs of Big Red Sally — let alone if I would post them publicly. But as I stood there and listened to this artist briefly mention how his memories help keep his past alive, I immediately thought of my reunion with Big Red Sally and those experience with my grandfather. What angst ridden, yet wonderful times those were. It makes my heart glad.

Here are two other photos of Sally:

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/big-red-sally-a-childhood-memory Sun, 28 Aug 2011 21:39:00 GMT
Tobacco Chewin’ Nostalgia http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/tobacco-chewin-nostalgia Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco BarnChew Mail Pouch Tobacco BarnBarn near Durgon, West Virginia, USA Those barns and old buildings in Appalachia and surrounding areas painted with “Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco” advertisements have long caught my eye. Traveling through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio as much as we did when I was a child, I recall always taking note of these painted ads. Maybe it was the vibrant gold color they used for some of the lettering, maybe it was the no-nonsense typeface, or maybe it was simply how old the ad was — in some cases the ad could barely be read as the barn had begun it’s slow architectural demise toward mother earth years before.

So while the tobacco ad usually catches my eye, in this case the beautiful red color of the barn — as if stained by blood itself — caught my eye along US Route 220 in Durgon, Hardy County, West Virginia long before I noticed the ad. Sometimes these photo ops occur so fast along the road that a person’s sister can nearly suffer whiplash as the photography obsessed brother whips a ninety degree turn from paved rural highway onto loose gravel country roads with little to, well, no warning. For that I am sorry, Bridgett.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/tobacco-chewin-nostalgia Sat, 27 Aug 2011 21:38:00 GMT
Black Water Falls Experience http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/black-water-falls-experience Black Water Falls 1Black Water Falls 1Blackwater Falls in Blackwater Falls State Park near Davis, West Virginia, USA A few weeks ago my sister and I visited Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. I was excited to visit the falls as I had not seen them since I was about eight years of age. I had braced myself for disappointment assuming that the falls wouldn’t be quite as grand as I had remembered them to be. Wonderfully, I was wrong — they were indeed just as grand as I remembered. My sister and I stood near the top of the long boardwalk that leads down toward the base of the falls. I noticed the cool, beautiful water of Blackwater River twisting through the valley as it headed toward the large outcropping of black rocks where the water than takes a 57′ plunge over the falls and into the river below. We had arrived early in the morning and were the only two souls at the falls.

After walking to the lowest portion of the boardwalk, I shot a few more photographs and then we stood, silently staring at the beauty before us. There is something to be said about the powerful effect of negative ions on a person. The longer we stood there, the happier I became. Calm, peaceful. As the thunderous water fell over the falls and churned into the river below, a wonderful cool mist filled the area. The smell was wonderful and it felt magical on my face.

I shot both single exposure black and white photos of the falls as well as a few bracketed exposures for HDR photos.

Blackwater Falls 3Blackwater Falls 3Blackwater Falls in Blackwater Falls State Park near Davis, West Virginia, USA Blackwater Falls 2Blackwater Falls 2Blackwater Falls in Blackwater Falls State Park near Davis, West Virginia, USA

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/8/black-water-falls-experience Thu, 25 Aug 2011 21:38:00 GMT
Lady & The Sky - Duality in Presentation http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/7/lady-the-sky---duality-in-presentation Skyward (B&W)Skyward (B&W)One of the art deco statues along the esplanade at Fair Park, Dallas, Texas. Determining which I prefer — color versus duotone/black & white — is an ongoing struggle for me artistically. I find myself falling into cycles of shooting one style over the other, only to have that cycle reverse later. Honestly, I find beauty in both forms – and in many cases one form may be much more appropriate for creating a particular mood.

Take this photograph for example. I shot the original version of this photograph in full color – and was quite happy with how the wonderful clouds contrasted with the vivid blue skies that were seen that day here in Dallas. While working on re-constructing my website’s portfolio section, I converted the color version of this photo to black & white. The result is what you see here. What was once a tranquil photograph of lovely colors became an image for me of brewing angst. Clouds transformed before my eyes from soothing calm to impending doom as if they were painted onto the sky by the brush of an incensed deity. Her once innocent countenance is now a face more daunting, a smile that is now more of a sinister looking smirk. You can compare yourself by looking at the original photograph:

Skyward (Color)Skyward (Color)One of the art deco statues along the esplanade at Fair Park, Dallas, Texas.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/7/lady-the-sky---duality-in-presentation Thu, 28 Jul 2011 20:44:00 GMT
The Little Things http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/7/the-little-things Red Banded LeafhopperRed Banded LeafhopperA macro shot of a Red-Banded Leafhopper. One of the things that I love most about photography is the ability to capture the smallest of detail in so many things - including sometimes the most mundane of objects. As a child I grew up in rural, country area. I remember on many occasions while hiking the local woods laying down on the forest floor and staring at the life otherwise unseen. Moving of a fallen branch, the brushing away of leaves, peeking into a crevices of a tree trunk can all reveal a tiny world if you will just get down and up close enough to see it.  For most of these explorations I am left with only fantastic images in my mind – and while that is a wonderful thing, sadly, I cannot share the experience with others.

It is for this reason that I believe I have a fond attraction to macro photography.

Take this photo for example. Earlier this year, I added a new macro lens to my gear and was walking around my back yard searching for things to shoot with the new lens. My first inclination was to shoot the leaf of a potato vine that as hanging out of a tall cast iron urn. Once I got close, I noticed a tiny bug on the leaf. The bug’s size was so small that I thought it would serve well as a macro model. The little critter was so docile, that he allowed me to measure him with my architect’s scale. He measured just under 1/4 of an inch in length and about 1/16th of an inch wide. I took a few shots and returned to my studio to begin downloading the images from my camera for developing. What I saw was utterly surprising.

This miniscule, bland, rather ugly little bug to my naked eye became a spectacular little specimen with brilliant tropical colors and striking contoured markings – even its body shape and “construction” was absolutely fascinating to me.

Since posting this photograph on my flickr page, one of my viewers emailed me to tell me that what I had captured with the lens was a Red-banded Leafhopper a.k.a. Candy Striped Leafhopper (graphocephala coccinea). He wasn’t much of a hopper, thank goodness, but he certainly did like that leaf.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/7/the-little-things Fri, 08 Jul 2011 20:44:00 GMT
Hearts of Palm http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/7/hearts-of-palm  

Hearts of Palm SaladHearts of Palm Salad I am an admitted foodie and with that comes the love to cook. One aspect of cooking that I particularly enjoy is trying to recreate a dish that I was served at a restaurant – or at least using it as inspiration for one of my own culinary creations. While vacationing this summer in Cancun located within the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, I had a salad at the resort’s steakhouse that consisted of sliced hearts of palm served within a cone-shaped vessel made of toasted parmesan cheese. The delicate, slight grassy flavor of the palm paired well with the nutty flavor of the cheese.

After returning home, I recreated this salad with my own twist. I added minced shallots to the sliced hearts of palm, and marinated both in a Brazilian chimichurri sauce. After re-chilling the salad, I served them in baskets of melted parmesan cheese.

I was impressed with the overall look of the salad, so I decided to photograph one of the servings. I was pleased with the detail in the cheese baskets and the small flakes in the chimichurri sauce.

The renovation of my kitchen to include black subway tiles for the backsplash has really turned out to be a great decision – at least photographically. I like the dark neutral background color that I am now getting in some of my food shots. This really help the focus to be on the food instead of the otherwise distracting surroundings in the kitchen. The addition of under-counter halogen lights have also added some nice top light to the photograph giving much better dimension.

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(Kenneth Alan Lewis Photography) http://www.kennethalanlewis.com/blog/2011/7/hearts-of-palm Wed, 06 Jul 2011 20:15:00 GMT