All Kinds of Awesome

I’m usually not a fan of photographing newborns in clothes, no matter how cute the clothes are. A simple blanket or swaddle often works best. And so, when driving to Texas a couple weeks ago to meet Will, my new great nephew, I packed a baby blanket I thought would work well for his pictures.

“Waaaaaa, Waaaaaa, WAAAAAAA!!!!!” cried Will as soon as the blanket came out. This, from the baby who reportedly never cries. A diaper change later and we all knew Lil’ Will wasn’t having any part of baby pictures. Photo attempt #1: Fail. Who’s crying now?

Well, not me, because visiting my sister and her family on our first trip to the T & H Farm just north of Austin was awesome. Some highlights – cool treehouse lunches, homemade pear pie a la mode, dogs, cats, goats & more (oh my!), endless hours of coin toss fun with Sam, neighborly nature walks, backyard archery, Lil’ Bit (the smaller of two longhorn neighbors), and periodic thought provoking questions from 11 year old Zane such as, “Do great meals result more from the recipe or the chef?”

By Sunday, the day before we were to drive back home, I had lost hope of photographing baby Will. Then, suddenly out of nowhere (or maybe from upstairs), my awesome, sleep deprived nephew Thad walked by with Will and hurriedly whispered, “I think maybe we can try to get some quick baby pictures now.” Robyn, my equally awesome niece agreed.

So … I flew to the window with camera and flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but

a miniature baby with eight tiny —Oh wait, TEN tiny toes, dear!

Okay, okay, I’ll stop so you can look at the baby pictures.

I could be a little biased but he’s super cute, right? All cuddly 8 pounds, 14 ounces delivered three weeks early?

You know, after thinking a little more about it, I tend to think Will was right in rejecting the baby blanket. I’ve even grown a little partial to the onesie. Can you guess why?

Yep, the label says it all; he’ll fit right in. One could say the onesie fits him to a T…

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please stay well, swell, and awesome.

http://www.maryricephoto.com

The Corona Virus: Making Sense of it All

News flash: I’m breaking my blog silence with this long overdue, surely much anticipated post …

A little context – On Thursday Gov. Bill Lee announced COVID-19 had spread to Tennessee. Only one man has it. He’s 44, lives in Williamson County (my county), and is staying home. Although his child (children?) attend a local private school, the entire Williamson County public school district responded by closing its doors for two days to do a “deep clean.” Really??

So yesterday afternoon I drove down to Lewisburg, Tennessee to photograph a fast food restaurant and as I was coming home I stopped in the local Walmart to buy some hand sanitizer and soap. That’s reasonable, right? I’d heard Costco had been crazy busy Thursday with people stockpiling supplies & this rural Walmart seemed like a good alternative. It was until the man in front of me at checkout turned around, eyed my soap and shamed me with:

“Oh! I see you’re got some soap there. Uh huh. You’re stocking up to fight the Corona virus. Not me. I’m not doing nothin’ about it. I say bring it on!” (manly big belly laughter follows).

The lady across the aisle then responds:

“Yeah. You know what? My Lysol can [at home] says it fights the Corona virus. Has said that for years. Says so right on the label!”

At this point I try to interject that while her Lysol can may say that, this is the novel Corona Virus – a new strand. It’s like she doesn’t hear me and proceeds to check out anyway. Nevertheless I hear her saying under her breath, “now I do sometimes worry that my children might catch it …” I start to tell her that actually children seem to be resistant but then I, too, fade off. It doesn’t even occur to me to take pictures. It’s just another day at Walmart.

As I’m nearing home about 6:30 I stop in my local Publix to buy some fake ice cream. Soon I realize this typically busy grocery is virtually empty. Only me and a few others are in the store. And, as I start to look around, many of the shelves are also empty. So now I take some phone pictures …

empty shelves for Lysol Wipes

Okay, I get that. Next –

empty shelves for toilet paper

I only get this because a FB repost from a friend in Washington state prepared me. It said “will trade for toilet paper.” Next …

empty shelves for paper towels

Okay, I kind of get this. If the Lysol wipes are out of stock, you spray your favorite cleaner and then wipe with a dry paper towel. Next –

mandarin oranges seem popular

Okay I may get this – it’s the Vitamin C thing. Next …

empty shelves for bottled water

Okay, I don’t get this. At all. Will somebody please explain the run on bottled water? Do people think COVID-19 is going to spread through our water supply??

and then there’s this:

empty shelves for Easter candy

Okay I got this. If we’re hunkering down maybe for the next month or so, by golly at least our kids are going to have a happy Easter! That’s it, right? No??

After I return home I tell Don about my topsy turvy “novel” encounters. You know what he says?

“and all these people vote for President.”

Ahhhhhh

Thanks for following my blog. I’ll be back, sometime, probably …

Fall in the Rockies

A couple weekends ago my sister and I went to Estes Park, Colorado and the Rockies to catch up and enjoy some photography together. I had never ventured west of the Mississippi to photograph fall, but wanted to capture some of those beautiful Aspen I’d often seen in others’ images.

Here’s some of what we saw in Rocky Mountain National Park just a few days before its first snow.


Aside from the picture perfect scenery, the air was cool and crisp and sometimes cold and windy, especially on the Trail Ridge Road. I don’t have any images to show from up there because the 12,000 + foot altitude made that part of the trip brief. Down in the lower elevations we enjoyed seeing the very large racks on the bull elk, although Park Rangers were quick to caution there had been two attacks on tourists in recent weeks so we kept a respectable distance.

I nevertheless got a few pictures of elk. The two below were taken from our car window. These elk were just hanging out on our hotel’s lawn.

All in all it was a great trip – great to finally see fall Aspen trees through my own lens, great to see some of the treasured landscapes preserved by the National Park Service, and great to be connecting again with my sister and Mother Nature.

Thanks for following my blog. I hope you also find time to get out and enjoy this beautiful time of year.

Farm to Table and Beyond

Well, it’s July, it’s hot, and that means it’s time to jump in the pool briar patch. Say whaaaaat? Yes, it’s time to pick some blackberries!

Forget the swimsuit. It’s time to put on your tall leather boots, your best thorn resistant pants, a big brimmed hat, and a long sleeved shirt you don’t mind ripping to shreds or dowsing with your favorite garden variety (no pun intended) chigger repellant. Mix that repellant with a little hard-earned sweat and you’ll be a soggy mess before you know it. You’re in, right?

So Don, bro-in-law Charles and I went to the family farm Saturday to do us some berry picking. Here’s Charles reaching in to pick that one ripe berry.

What a classy style and fine technique. You see, Charles is actually a blackberry pickin’ master. His parents groomed him as a young child for this moment by taking him to the most challenging blackberry patches around. They were filled not only with berries and chiggers but wasps! Oh how he hated those wasps. So here he is in a wasp free zone pickin’ the low hanging fruit.

Well, hmmmm … what are we to do when the berries are plentiful and we come home with more than we thought we would? Give some to others? Check. Ask Don to make some of his could be award-winning blackberry cobbler? Check. Freeze some? Check. Learn how to make preserves and can some? Working on it.

So this morning I woke up in the mood for baking some homemade blackberry muffins and to document this unusual event I decided to also get out my camera. It seemed like a great time for stock photography because who doesn’t need a little yummy in the tummy AND a little extra income on the side?

So here’s stock photo #1. You’re supposed to forget any aforementioned suggestion of DEET and look at this mouth watering bowl of blackberries and think of such sale worthy keywords as “organic,” “healthy” and “antioxidants.”

healthy bowl of antioxidant packed organic blackberries – yum!

Stock photo #2 is in fact a Pinterest wannabe:

Fresh blackberry muffins as easy as 1, 2, 3

Stock photo #3 is pretty much the same scene but shot at a different angle.

Fresh blackberries to be folded into muffin batter

Stock photo #4 is the finished product – homemade muffins on a plate Scott made in kindergarten. Aw …

Blackberry muffins served on a handmade polka dot plate

So what are we baking up next? Well, I think perhaps in honor of that time honored British lawn tennis tourney known as Wimbledon, we’ll be serving up blackberry lemon scones at tea time. You may have to follow me on Instagram @maryricephoto to see if they really pan out.

Thanks for grinnin’ and pickin’ my blog. Happy summer ya’ll.

Go Find a Mockingbird

Would you recognize the sound of a mockingbird if you heard one? I’m not sure I would. It’s the state bird of Tennessee and Mississippi so I’ve seen and heard a lot of them, it’s just I’ve never paid them too much attention. Their gray feathers don’t call out to me the way the brightly colored feathers of a cardinal or blue jay do.

All that changed the other day when walking back to my car after a family photo shoot. When entering the parking lot, I noticed a young mockingbird standing intently on the roof of my car. With camera still in hand, I stopped to photograph it. I liked its soft fluffy feathers and reflection.

Well, soon its mom flew in bringing lunch.

It was fun seeing this play out in front of my camera except I sensed the little fluffy bird was still hungry.

The mom seemed to have gotten the hint and flew away. I then photographed the young bird waiting for its next incoming meal.

At one point it turned and gave me a concerned “Are You My Mother?” look …

Eventually the young bird also flew away and I got in my car and drove home. Today, when editing the family’s photos, I saw the mockingbird images and started thinking.

Initially I thought about To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s character Miss Maudie says this about the birds: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens. don’t nest in corncribs. They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Next I turned to Youtube to watch and hear some mockingbirds. I was soon reminded that mockingbirds actually sing with many voices because they can mimic or “mock” sounds they hear. I heard one mockingbird sound a lot like mourning doves, which was lovely, but that same mockingbird also sounded off like a car alarm, which was, for lack of a better word, alarming. Still, pretty cool.

Well, guess what? May is National Photography Month. To celebrate, I ask you to take some time in the coming weeks to find and photograph your own “mockingbird,” that is, a common subject you often encounter but fail to really notice. In doing so, I think you’ll find a beauty and wonder in your world which you never knew existed or appreciated. That beauty and wonder comes not only from your subject but from deep inside of you. I think, perhaps, it’s what many call the joy of photography.

Thanks for following my blog. Now go find a mockingbird, find lots of them, and celebrate photography this month!

Seduced

Officially I was in Charleston last month to attend a two day photography conference. Unofficially I was there because it makes a nice stop when driving between Tampa, FL & Greenville, SC – where our kids are – and because I’ve been wanting to photograph Charleston’s low country for some time.

First stop was Edisto Beach at sunset. Great afterglow.

Crazy but it was not the most beautiful scene of the day. As I was driving toward the beach during the golden hour, fog and light fell on the low country marshes in an indescribably beautiful way. There was no safe place to pull over to photograph, but the scene is one I’ll never forget.

The next morning I skipped the conference’s keynote address so I could photograph the Angel Tree. Whether 400-500 or 1500 years old (experts disagree), it’s unquestionably a very old and beautiful live oak on Johns Island, just outside of Charleston. Some say it’s the oldest living tree east of the Rockies.

Angel Tree, Johns Island, South Carolina

Its sprawling limbs and gnarly trunk resemble something a movie producer would create, but it comes with a caveat: it’s not photographer friendly. If you want a photograph similar to this, be prepared to spend time in Photoshop removing people and large white signs cautioning visitors not to climb on the tree or sit on its limbs. There are also tripod restrictions. But, despite these obstacles (and some might say protections), it’s still worth a visit. This live oak is Mother Nature at its finest.

Just down the road from the Angel Tree is an Anglican church and cemetery with beautiful camellias and Spanish moss.

Camilla in bloom
Spanish moss in the low country is like Mississippi’s Kudzu – it’s everywhere

When driving over the bridge back to the mainland, there’s a great view of the low country marshes, but again, no place to pull over and photograph. I turned around and found a road leading under the bridge to a boat ramp.

Here’s my first photograph of the marshes. I would like to be in that yellow kayak.

It was in this area that I spent the next half hour or so stalking a blue egret as it hunted its breakfast. Click the Download button below to watch a short animation of this.

I’ve included this image in case you didn’t click download 🙂
and breakfast

There is a unique charm to Charleston’s low country which I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Author Pat Conroy described it this way:

Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina low country is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes. – The Lords of Discipline

Seduced. I can’t think of a better word to describe it. I was seduced by the low country and as a consequence missed the morning session of my conference.

Seduction connotes something powerful and tantalizing, something that keeps pulling you back. Will I attend another conference? Probably. Will I make a greater effort to return and spend more time photographing Charleston’s low country? You bet.

What do you see when you look at the Angel Tree? Know what I see? I see those long outstretched arms motioning me to come back … Will you join me sometime?

Thanks for following my blog.

Instagram: @maryricephoto

What’s new?

So I’ve been considering blog topics for over a month and finally the obvious hit me – blog on “new,” as in, Happy NEW Year!

“New” allows me to show you a broader spectrum of what I photograph and a lot of what I capture is fresh and brand new. That’s both a privilege and exciting. So let’s view some highlights of the “new” I photographed over the last year.

A good starting point is newborn photography:

Fisher’s mom describes him as cuddly – I’d add super sweet and cute

On the commercial side, Nashville is booming. It’s become one of America’s “it” cities, a mecca of what’s new. I was pleased to photograph a large new shopping complex in Bellevue:

One Bellevue Place, Nashville, TN

I also had the pleasure to photograph Nashville’s new (and best) assisted stretching studio:

The Power to Pause
Brentwood, TN

and I photographed new products for a familiar client.

some of Boconi’s new socks and bags

I shot lots of headshots this year to give folks a “new look:”

and I shot this spectacular event which produced new champions:

Saddle Up’s 2018 Country Music Grand Prix

The real winners from this event are the kids who participate in Saddle Up.

What’s new for me in 2019? Well, the year’s just unfolding, but for the art fans amongst you, I recommend two new Nashville photography exhibits.

Running now through the end of March at the Laskey Gallery at Scarritt Bennett is Shifting Perspectives: Images of Hope in Troubled Times. In this exhibit, Sharon Brown Christopher, Sue Henry, Susan Ruach and I share hopeful messages through abstract photography. For more information, please visit http://www.abstractlensnashville.com.

And from February 4 – March 8, you will want to visit the art gallery at Nashville State Community College to view SNAP: The Photograph Celebrated. Here’s the promo card for this exhibit which was curated by Beth Gorham (possibly my favorite photography instructor ever).

anyone else experiencing deja vu to a May 13, 2018 blog post?

Thank you for following my blog. I look forward to bringing you more of what’s new in the coming new year!



Who spiked my punch?

It’s December 22nd, and I’m still buying and wrapping presents and trying to find the stockings to hang by the chimney with care.

I feel a little like this:

possibly the home of Clark Griswold’s other cousin?

There’s so much going on, just where do you focus?

And after periods of trying to whittle down my holiday to-do list, I … crash. Sort of like this:

Christmas afternoon 2009: Rex, at 14 weeks old, was a Christmas present

Only today it’s me instead of Betsy on the couch, and Rex now wears an ugly Christmas sweater. It’s the only thing he’ll wear. Ever.

When things get a little out of sorts for me, I often look to nature and/or photographs I took in New Mexico, particularly those showing the seasonal migration of sandhill cranes to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

In doing that this week, something occurred to me. I’ve never shown you images of these amazing birds in flight! And I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of them!

So here’s one of my favorite bird-in-flight images.

seasonal migration of Sandhill Cranes to New Mexico

Do you know what’s so great about this photograph? It’s that the birds separated out for me. That’s what you want when photographing flying birds. You don’t want them to overlap. Well, there’s that and a pleasing flight pattern. It really can be quite challenging …

Well, I really should get back to my to-do list. Thank you for following my blog.

Oh, and I almost forgot, from me and all those gentle giants out there in New Mexico, Season’s Greetings everyone!!!

Better than Fall Color?

Like a lot of folks and especially photographers, I spent much of the last four weeks chasing fall color. It started in mid-October when my sister and I took a weekend trip to Damascus, Virginia. Here’s what we found right across the state border in our home state of Tennessee:

fall scenic of stream at Backbone Rock State Recreation Area, Stream Valley, Tennessee

But guess what? Fall color wasn’t the highlight of the weekend. The highlights came the next day.

What can cause more excitement than fall color? Snow! Yes! Our Sunday morning adventure began with snow. Granted, we had to drive to the top of White Top Mountain (that’s really the name), but here’s some of what we saw:

Admittedly, not a blizzard, but for this Nashville girl escaping 80 degree temperatures, it was way cool (in fact, really cold). Certainly an exciting and invigorating way to start the day.

We next visited Grayson Highlands State Park and just a short hike down the Appalachian Trail we found THE highlight of the weekend – wild horses.   Needless to say, I love wild horses. They’re so beautiful and free. I think the last time I saw some was several years ago on a trip to Wyoming.

Okay, so these horses weren’t running wildly with wind blowing freely through their manes like you see in the movies, but …

here are a series of images, shown in chronological order, that are very tender and sweet. It started with this:

and then this happened: 

Dam and foal #2
Dam and foal #3
Dam and foal #4
Dam and foal #5
Dam and foal #6

Now how many weekends have you found beautiful fall color, been surprised by the first snow of the season, found wild horses on the Appalachian Trail, and a foal nursing from her mother? Whatever you may think of the images, it was all pretty awesome.

I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to spend this “fall color” weekend with my sister and to share it now with you. 

So here’s a thought – as we move from Thanksgiving to Black Friday and beyond, should you get a little overwhelmed by it all, you might think about these images. Why? Because they might help you keep things in perspective.

No matter the deal you may land on the internet, the best things in life are actually … free. Better yet: “the best things in life aren’t things.” – Nancy Whitfield

Thank you for following my blog.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Don’s AMAZING farm photographs

Every time Don goes out to the farm he comes back with stories of things he saw or did that day. Sometimes, similar to an eight year old boy coming home with a prized turtle found in a creek, he brings home souvenirs such as deer skulls, nests, or snake skins. Recently his prized possessions have been photographs.

The common thread in Don’s images is a “wow” effect. I think if his current farmer gig were to ever end, he could perhaps get a job with Ripley’s Believe It or Not. See if you don’t agree.

So we’ll start with two of the images he got from his game or trail camera this week.

Animal #1

MTC_Camera

That’s a bobcat. In daylight.  I’d be happier knowing its home was the San Diego Zoo.

Animals #2 & 3

MTC_Cameraare just deer; HOWEVER, that buck is kind of big and the interaction between the two is pretty sweet.

So now some of Don’s cell phone photos …

Scene #1

That’s grass Don’s been mowing – the kind you probably have in your yard except about five feet taller.

Farm Grass Cutting 2018 (2).jpg

Animal #4

Farm mule snake

That’s about a 5-6 foot snake. So you know how this blog is named “photographs in need of explanation?” Here’s what you need to know about this snake. It fell out of Don’s four wheeler from the dash onto his legs when putting the key in the ignition. Can you even imagine? You’re in your vehicle and a snake like that falls on your legs? I get creeped out even thinking about it.

Animals #5

Farm bee swarm (3)

This is a bee swarm. I actually saw this also. It was about ten yards away from some bee hives. It’s a little hard to tell from this photo, but the swarm is about 1 1/2 feet long and 3-4 inches deep. There were several bees flying in and out when we were there. Fortunately, neither of us got stung.

So that’s the buzz for this week’s post of Don’s AMAZING farm photos. We’ve learned they make great cocktail party conversation.

Thanks for following my blog and thanks, Don, for sharing your photographs this week.

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