Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Creating an Image....

I was recently inspired by the #vantagepoint project by The project asks photographers to share what goes into their creation of an image. The primary thing I look at before selecting gear, lenses, shutter speed, or F-stop is the light.  The light determines everything.  My degree is in photography and as I had a very traditional professor we shot a LOT of film.  And shooting film is all about light.  Where is it, what kind is it, how it affects your particular brand and speed of film, etc.  Everything revolves around light.  I grew up in the 90’s shooting a Petri Penta completely manual 35mm camera that my grandfather purchase in Okinawa, Japan when he was over there in the service.  It had a couple of different lenses and a light meter. He explained how important it was to make sure everything matched and worked together so I wasn’t wasting money and film.   And to this day the first thing I do before I start fiddling with the settings on my camera  or cell phone for that matter is to really asses the light.  When I say that I’m looking at where it’s coming from whether in front or behind and where it hits my subject but I’m also looking at the quality of the light.  Is it the harsh bright light of midday, the soft subtle tones of early morning, or the golden spectacular light of a fall afternoon.  I like to shoot as much I can to have the image I want in the camera.  In school some were good with a camera, some were good in the darkroom, but you really wanted to be good in both places.  It doesn’t matter how great your printing and post production skills are if you start with a shitty initial image.  Sorry to be blunt but there it is.  In the same token if you start with a decent negative but are sloppy handling your chemicals and paper then who cares if you can shoot a perfect image?  No matter what camera you’re using, my Nikon D90 is probably going to be 10 years old this year, observe and appreciate the light you have to work with.  

The other thing I’m adamant about when it comes to my personal shooting is choosing the best aperture or f-stop for the situation.  The smaller the aperture you can use the more detail you will have in your images.  The larger the aperture the shallower your depth of field. Remember that there’s more to photography than automatic and F8.  I shoot the majority of the time in aperture mode. GASP. I know.  How dare I admit I shoot in anything other than manual?  Honestly I can shoot in complete manual but life’s short folks.  Aperture mode allows you to set the aperture and the camera will set the shutter speed.  I can handhold down to a 1/60th of a second and after that I break out the tripod.  This lets me shoot quickly and organically without having to tote a lot of gear and burn a lot of brain cells trying to make sure everything is going to work.  Nothing makes me happier than to go walking in the country with one cross-body bag, camera body, two lenses, and a tripod.  That’s plenty of gear to get the job done and aperture mode lets me do that.  

The last word of wisdom I will impart to you is this.  Always have a camera with you.  Always.  At all times.  Put it in your vehicle and just let it ride.  You never ever know what you’re going to see or run across something that will make the perfect photo.  If you don’t have it with you there’s no way to capture it.  Cell phones are all good and fine and I definitely use those photos on my blog a LOT but there are times I want the fine focus and detail that my larger camera gives me.  Many of my favorite photos were definitely not planned.  I happened to be riding by, observed how the light was falling perfectly, and just wheeled off the road and took the shot.  Sometime we create what we want to see and sometimes the good Lord shows us something gorgeous.  I personally really like the photos that I’m given.  To me a great image isn’t about the gear but how you use the gear and taking advantage of the opportunity.  Not every image is going to be a Eggleston or a Christenberry but there’s no reason that you can’t take appealing pictures of subjects that interest you.           

The image above was taken quickly while I was in rural Noxubee county.  In the spring the evening primrose is one of the first flowers to make its appearance.  It’s one of my favorite wildflowers and I never miss an opportunity to take a few pictures of them every year.  This was taken last year with my Nikon D90 DSL camera and a Nikkor 18-105 mm VR lens.  I shot at 1/1250 of a second at F/4.2 using an ISO of 200.  I also lightly edited the image in Photoshop to bring out the contrast and brighten the image just a little.  It is a prime example of taking advantage of the available light to highlight a very humble subject.  

Don't feel like you have to have a DSL camera to take beautiful images. In looking at the #vantagepoint project I of course had to look at the new camera being produced by which will make it easier than ever to follow the light around you and document what you see.  Their L16 compact camera uses a multiple lens system and fuses those images in the camera to make some stunning photographs.  I can only image how much fun it would be to have all that technology in such a small sleek package.  Whatever you choose to use have fun!  That’s honestly THE most important part of photography and really any art you choose to chase.  Have fun and enjoy.  Thanks again to for inspiring the post today.  I don’t speak about the nuts and bolts of photography very often and if it’s something that you all are interested in I would be glad to write about it some more.  

And if you read all this you definitely deserve a cookie! Hope you are having a great week my lovelies!

Monday, January 30, 2017

They Get The Job Done

Not normal woman's hands but when have I ever pretended to be normal

by Adrian Buckaroogirl

They're torn and cracked, weathered and worn
Ripped and bruised and brown and strong and they may not be
But they get the job done
And they can cut a calf and rope a cow
Set a trap, shoot coyotes, hold the reins, twist wire
They work like a man, even though they look small
My hands may not be your kind of beautiful
Two silver rings and no diamond things
Burnt from cast-iron in the branding fire
Painted up on a Saturday night
They can be pretty good for breaking up a fight
My hands may not be your kind of beautiful
And they can cut a calf and rope a cow
Set a trap, shoot coyotes, hold the reins, twist wire
Sew a patch for a baby boy
They may look small, but they work like a man
My hands may not be your kind of beautiful
Sometimes they fail me when I don't know quite what to do
But they'll never hide they'll never stay or have to hide
They're hard working and always will
They can cut a calf and rope a cow
Set a trap, shoot coyotes, hold the reins, hold a hand, twist wire
They live for God, and they work like a man
My hands may not be your kind of beautiful
Your kind of beautiful
They're torn and cracked
Ripped and bruised and they're
And they get the job done

If you follow me on Facebook you’ve seen me post videos for songs by Adrian Buckaroogirl from time to time.  I think I found her sometime last year and she’s just fantastic.  She sings the best cowboy music, has a phenomenal voice, and writes the better part of her own music.  I just play her videos on YouTube on loop and work all day listening to her gorgeous voice sing about branding and roping and horses and getting your heart broke.  She has some really beautifully written songs full of layered nuance and some are just fun toe tapping beats that help me make it through a day of computer work and grumpy customers.  This song in particular really speaks to me.  Listen to her sing it live HERE. My hands are softer than they’ve ever been in my life since I work in an office full time, but they’re still not the soft normal hands of the girls around me.  My nails are short, unless I’ve been too lazy to cut them.  I own about 6 bottles of nail polish I never use.  They’re scarred across the tops from building fence and playing with dogs.  The palms are still rough and calloused, but not near as much as I would like.  But as Buckaroogirl says, “they may not be your kind of beautiful but they get the job done.”  My hands are my tools and the instrument by which I do the things I'm passionate about and take care of the people I love. That makes them beautiful.  

They also remind me of how I’ve spent the better part of my life doing things and working in worlds that are dominated by men.  I’m an only child so I was momma’s girl and daddy’s sidekick.  I’ve worked cows since I was a little, helped in the hay-field, drove tractors, am a first class clip twister for barbed wire fence, rode and trained some questionable horses, pulled stock in a trailer by myself since I was 16, and skinned my knuckles and knees more times than I can count.   I’ve also lost count of the old men who have peered at me from under their busy brows and hat brims while saying, “Well girls don’t do that.”  My standard reply was and still is, “Well this lady does.”  The world is a difficult place for a woman any time she plays in a field dominated by men.  Any time we place our toes in pools that have for years been dominated by men we are bound to make some waves.  Selling insurance on a daily basis is a fine balancing act between exasperation and outright indignation.  It’s super fun when you tell someone something they don’t want to hear and you’re met with, “I want to talk to a manager.”  AKA I want to talk to a MAN.  

It’s the south.  

So what do you do when you’re faced with the unfairness of life as a woman in a male dominated world?  You call upon your grace, dignity, and the tools the good Lord gave you.  You also work ten times as hard as the man beside you.  Good things come to those who get out there and hustle.  It’s not fair but I’ve yet to find anywhere in the Bible that says that life if fair.  It’s the way it is.  It’s been like that since the dawn of creation and maybe someday we’ll all be on equal footing.  Until then keep on hustling girl.  Keep on busting those knuckles open.  Keep on working like a man.  Keep on showing the world that you’re damn good at what you do.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Stories of the South - Old Montpelier Baptist Church

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

The area I grew up in was settled prior to the Civil War. Our little community Cairo was settled along one of the earliest roads in the county along with Palo Alto, Palestine, Tibbee, and Siloam.  I’ve talked about the history of the county in a couple of other posts HERE  and HERE.  This area saw settlements as early as the 1830s after the succession of the native people due to the treaties with the Choctaw and Chickasaw.  I discussed the Indian treaties a good bit in this post HERE.  

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

The areas of Montpelier, Palestine, Cairo, and Siloam were on the farm to market road that farmers traveled from the western part of the county to get to market in West Point.  It’s all bottom land crisscrossed with creeks and drainage ditches that I cannot imagine having to get a team of mules and wagons across so it was important to have places along the way to sleep and rest your team as getting to town could take two or three days.  Right down the road from our house was an antebellum home owned by the Thompson family that was known to travelers as the “lighthouse.”  The home was three stories tall and in the evening a lantern was lit in a window in the top story so that travelers would know they had reached Sand Creek and would have a safe place to camp for the night before going on to West Point in the morning.  Very few of the structures from the early settlement of the county are left as many little towns were built around business that haven’t existed since before the first world war, but there are a few buildings scattered here and there.  One building that dates from the 1870s and is the Old Montpelier Church located on Old Montpelier Road also known as the Starkville to Houston Road.  

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

It’s built in a design that is seen all over the south.  A simple design that made use of materials that were readily available in the area at the time of construction.  This church has been abandoned for years and according to my dad it’s been abandoned since before they moved here in the mid 1960s.  The day I stopped to photograph this it was hot as all get out and since I’m scared of snakes I didn’t dare get too terribly close unless I could see my feet.  

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

The only thing about this part of the world is there is very little written down.  I found one little mention in a Clay County history book and one other mention in a report submitted to the Mississippi Department of Archives, you can read that HERE.  So I’ll put out a plea to my readers, if you have any info on this church please email me at  I would love to document a little more of the building’s history so it’s not lost but I’m afraid all the first hand knowledge is gone.  So prove me wrong gentle readers.  I’d love to know some really good stories about this church.  

Old Montpelier Baptist Church Hickory Ridge Studio

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A little tiny preview....

For the purpose of keeping myself accountable I thought I might share what the cover for my ebook cookbook is looking like right now….

I’m in the middle of editing text and tweaking things here and there in the writing.  Each recipe will be sort of like how my newspaper articles read but will not be so date specific as they are each week for the column.  If that makes sense.  

The layout is going to be very simple and minimal so if you do want to print it then you can without wasting a lot of ink.  I’m trying not to nitpick this to death or get overwhelmed by the many, many, MANY choices to host and distribute the ebook either.  Which is hard. Right now I'm looking at as they seem to have the easiest and simplest and hosting method and if anyone is interested in an honest to goodness print copy then they can do that as well. If anyone has any other companies for me to look at I'm happy and thankful for the suggestions.

I guess I'm going to do this. I'm going to actually publish a book of sorts.  

Also if you would be interested in proof reading after I go through it a few more times shoot me an email at

Later my lovelies!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Southern Snow

We had some ice and snow Friday the 7th and there were a few patches left come Sunday morning. 
Cooksville United Methodist Church graveyard 
See some other posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.


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