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Looking For Fall (Without Falling Over) Part One

So (until now, anyway) I skipped over what I did over the summer.

That's because, in a lot of ways, this summer felt like a "lost weekend" of sorts, trying to find my photographic "voice" again after a period of real uncertainty in my work. Simply put (and I alluded to this briefly in my previous blog) I got a lot more "no's" than "yeses" over the late spring and summer months. A lot of my work got passed up, and income I thought would be there wasn't.

Yet when that happens and the doubts start to creep in (as they surely did, and often) it's absolutely necessary to press on, learn from the experience, and by all means, don't give up.

Is that enough clichés for ya?

Seriously, though, when it comes to real life and the desire to leave some kind of positive mark out there, those clichés aren't clichés any more. I had no choice but to stick with the program and follow those well worn words of wisdom.

I learned one thing right away through the ordeal - I was trying to be something I really wasn't. In my quest for any sort of income, I was angling to be this outdoorsy, hiking photographer when I am nothing of the sort. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a good hike every now and then, and I have had some great images come from those hikes; but if you've followed my work for any length of time, you know that I've downplayed my hiking skills, almost to a fault. I can hold my own on the trails most of the time, but hiking is most certainly not the best place where I shine.

The open road however, is. It's the source of this whole "solitary traveler" thing.

So I went back to square one to rediscover those roots over the summer; and here is a photographic synopsis of that period, in part one of a two part blog:

First, a trip in June that found me staying in (of all places) Gastonia, NC overnight. I spent most of my totally improvised trip on old US Highway 70 from Old Fort to Hickory, then down US 221 to Gastonia. Along the way, I captured whatever interesting things I saw, like this old sock mill in Glen Alpine:

I awoke the next morning excitedly traveling new paths, until I somehow ended up in South Carolina; shooting images of the Campbell Covered Bridge in Landrum, with this image of the bridge being featured later in a regional publication:

I also spent some time on beautiful Lake Lure, arriving in time to catch some lovely reflections on the lake:

And of course, what would a summer be without an impromptu trip to Charleston - a place I carefully avoided in spring (to keep from repeating myself). I spent an evening on the Atlantic coast, carefully avoiding the sharp barnacles on the rocks to catch an evening long exposure of waves crashing over the jetties on Folly Beach:

I took the back roads the next day to make a stop at the popular Sheldon Church ruins near the coast:

Only to stumble upon another discovery as I made my way back home - Lake Murray near Columbia, with a thunderstorm rumbling off in the distance:

From there, it was finding a new twist on an old overlook near home, with sunlight reflecting off rainfall:

To a different look for a familiar place - a wide angle view of Bald River Falls in Tennessee:

By late August, I had taken on some new work that involved photography and travel, just from a different (and not so scenic) place - but it helped pay the bills, regardless of the tedium involved. When I was finished with that work, I found time to break away and find beauty, especially in upstate South Carolina. First, at Caesar's Head State Park:

And then at the Fred Symmes Chapel, also known as "Pretty Place" Chapel. It was here that I found the inspiration I desperately needed to carry on with my work:

As I set up to shoot, I kept hearing a rather disturbing noise in the distance, one that I could not place immediately. I kept firing away, thinking the noise was perhaps a bear foraging for food. Every time I walked away from my camera to look, the noise stopped. So I went back and kept on shooting.

Eventually, I saw nut shells falling from a tree above, falling right in front of the cross in the above photo. It was then that I looked up and saw the culprit behind the noise: a mischievous squirrel, munching away.

It was only moments before that that I saw one of the plaques at the chapel, with a not so thinly veiled message, and perhaps that's why I was led here. It was a Bible verse from the book of Matthew, chapter 6:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

So a squirrel is not a bird; yet the spirit of those verses still applied here. God was feeding this noisy little critter, while I was stressing and worrying away about how this whole photography thing was going to work out.

And that experience set the stage for what was to come as the autumn months approached.

I'll be going in depth in part two of this blog, so stay tuned.........

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