Along Block Street

Town & Country

Recently, David traded in all his Canon camera gear and with the trade-in money, he bought a Nikon D850. Where the Canon set up made a little more sense to him, it was more logical to go Nikon because of all the Nikon lenses and gear that I have in my kit. Also, David isn’t a big fan of reading camera manuals and understands things better by being shown how to do something with the camera.

That’s where I come in. I am one of those people that likes to sit down with the manual in one hand and the camera in the other hand and go step-by-step down the menu options, clicking on the buttons and rotating the dials just to see what they do and how I can program them best to use them to my advantage. My reasoning is that I have this expensive piece of equipment, a little computer sitting in my lap, so I best make the most of it. So, I read the manuals and then explain everything the best I can to David, hand “talk” included.

The D850 is an amazing camera. I can take a picture with it, upload it to Lightroom and barely have to adjust the image, except for a few minor tweaks. Usually just clicking on the “Camera Profile” tab in the top right corner in the “Develop” module will do the trick. (Incidentally, that’s a marvelous little feature to customize on your camera if you don’t already know about it. In Nikon speak, I have all my cameras set to “Picture Control Standard”. When I click on the profile tab during editing, Lightroom applies that same profile to my picture so then the image becomes what I saw on the back of my camera, more or less. I shoot RAW and the little thumbnail on the camera’s LCD screen is JPEG, so there’s just a slight difference in appearance, but I can then tweak what I need to and move on to the next image. For all you Canon shooters it’s called “Picture Style”.). The D850 is sharp, renders colors beautifully and, like I said above, barely needs any re-touching, which is how I like to edit. I’m not a big fan of, what I call, “Instagram-y” images, the pictures where the shadows are pulled way up to make it look vintage and faded or the “film” look which is huge right now. I like my photos to look clean, colorful and rich, just as I saw the scene in front of me.

Like I said, I’m kinda a camera nerd.

Image overlay applied in camera.

Last Saturday we finally had a day free of obligations and decided to try out the D850 around Fayetteville. I brought my D5 and flash because I’m always wanting to get more experience using flash outside. The sky was overcast when we set out, so throwing the speed light in my bag made sense.

We first tackled the entertainment district of Fayetteville with its large colorful murals adorning the walls of apartment buildings and restaurants. There’s a wonderful bridge just west of the district which leads up to the university. The bridge was built in 1901 and is a popular spot for portraits, so naturally I had David pose for me so I could get his photo.

We meandered about taking pictures of various things, stopping for lunch and deciding to head down to Boxley Valley to see if we could see any of the elk that live there. I was a little doubtful that we would, seeing that it was the middle of the day, but David reminded me that by the time we got there, it would be close to evening, so why not?

We weren’t disappointed. When we got there, there was a pretty good size herd of elk grazing in one of the cow pastures, with the bull elk sporting a massive pair of antlers. We stayed for a good 45 minutes, taking turns with my camera photographing and marveling at the animals. When we finally decided to pack up and head back home, the sun was well on her way to setting, her lovely light spilling over the valley, highlighting the farm animals and barns along the highway, casting soft, quiet golden light over the world.


Scenes From a Bike Festival

David and I spent Saturday afternoon in Bentonville attending the inaugural Oz Trails Off Road Bike Festival. The festival took over the town square and featured three different distance races: 25, 35 or 50-ish miles each. Racers from all over the country descended upon Bentonville to compete and to celebrate all things mountain bike. There were vendor tents with brightly colored tops touting their brand, food trucks, dogs, small kids, friends gathered together re-hashing their races that they had participated in, beer gardens, BMX stuntmen flying high against the blue sky, music, announcers calling out the racers as they crossed the finish line, caked in mud, happy and relieved exhaustion written across their faces.

Afterwards, David and I stopped at a local coffee shop for a coffee shake, which was quite possibly life changing. I finished up David’s, who said it tasted too “coffee-y” for him.

As if there were such a thing.

It was a beautiful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Beale Street

Dave and I spent the weekend in Memphis, Tennessee this past weekend so I could attend a photography conference. I learned a lot, met some Facebook friends in the flesh and finally got to visit Graceland, a lifelong dream of mine.

Whenever David and I would make the long trek from northern Virginia down to Arkansas to visit his folks, we'd always drive through Memphis and I would invariably start begging him to make a stop at Graceland. It didn't matter that we had Meghan in the back seat, then later Joe. Every time we'd cross the state line into Tennessee, I'd begin chanting, "Graceland! Graceland! Graceland!" He'd never stop, but would always promise me that one day he'd take me. Well, he lived up to his word some 30 years later, but that adventure will be told at a later date.

Right now, I've got Beale Street to show you, Beale Street that was alight with the setting sun, small crowds of tourists (the big crowds would come later that night), music being played on every street corner, musical notes set in the sidewalk with the names of some of my musical heroes: Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, BB King, and of course, The King of Rock 'n' Roll himself, Elvis.  The bars were hopping, people were stopping to take pictures, sweat was flying off the acrobat that was doing flips and jumps down the middle of the street . . . what an amazing, historic and magical street Beale Street is.