Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dude, Where's my Cow?

It’s not everyday that you see a man walking his buffalo along main street. But that’s exactly what I saw as I was driving through Bandera, TX, on my to the Dixie Dude Ranch.

After I saw Len “Buffalo” Early and his 15-month-old Buffalo Lakota, I careened into the first available parking space and jumped from my car. I’m not sure it had stopped yet as I grabbed my camera from the trunk. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning and this was a truly a gift.

Turns out it’s not that unusual to find Early and Lakota out on a Saturday afternoon. They’re hired guns in the town of Bandera, known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”

Every Saturday the Frontier Times Museum sponsors “Cowboys on Main,” where real cowboys greet visitors to the little town about an hour northwest of San Antonio.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


What do you do with half a mile of cable, a few trees and an entrepreneurial spirit? You build what’s called a zipline on the side of Purgatory Mountain outside Asheboro, NC.

Years ago, Buddy Hammer marveled as he watched on National Geographic as scientists used ziplines to study the Amazon Rainforest. That was almost twenty years ago.

Buddy waited for retirement and for his children to graduate college. With plenty of free time, he decided to give that little pet project of his a try. Thus was born Richland Creek Zip Line.

Richland Creek Zip Line is one of the stories I shot for the Images of Asheboro/Randolph County, North Carolina magazine.

The bell tower above First Baptist Church.

The evening sun hits the Confederate Monument in front of the old Randolph County Courthouse.

A visitor to the Zimmerman Vineyard in Trinity, NC, takes a rope swing for a spin. Norm and Leslie Zimmerman started their winery on an old farm and recently opened a wine tasting room.

One of the elephants that has been moved to the Watani Grasslands Reserve at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.

A worker in one of the framing rooms at Klaussner Home Furnishings manufacturing plant in Asheboro, NC. The company employs about 3000 workers and is headquartered in Asheboro.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Paris in Under Two Hours

I recently had a big dilemma. I had a shoot in Paris and had to get there and back in a day.

Since the Concorde fleet was retired in 2003, I had to find the next fastest vehicle: a 2008 Chrysler Town and Country minivan. With it’s speed and sleek aerodynamic fuselage, I was able to make the trip from Texarkana to Paris in about an hour and forty-five minutes. And no tickets to boot.

I was in Texarkana working on the Business Images of the Ark-Tex Region magazine for the Ark-Tex Council of Governments and spent about four days exploring the counties that make up the area.

And believe it or not, there really is a replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, TX, with a cowboy hat on top.

The Titus County Courthouse in Mt. Pleasant, TX.

Angela Clark RN and Joe Stringfellow RN monitor a patient at Paris Regional Medical Center's new cath lab in Paris, TX.

The Methodist Church in Ben Franklin, TX, was erected in 1898. Settled in 1835, the community got its post office in 1853 and by 1884, its population reached 200.

A view from under the Titus County Heritage Bell Tower in downtown Mt. Pleasant, TX.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Through Fields of Marsh

Marshfield, Wisconsin, is one of those out of the way towns that you would most likely pass by without stopping. But once you’re there, you may never leave.

I got to visit Marshfield about a month ago. I was there working on the Images of Marshfield magazine.

As I scoped out the town, I noticed these steel sculptures scattered throughout and did a little research. They were created by retired attorney Clyde Wynia. He’ll tell you he’s an “amateur paleontologist” who has managed “to excavate and recreate as best as possible the now extinct creatures that inhabited the large McMillan Marsh near Marshfield, Wisconsin during the Iron Age.”

In reality Wynia creates his sculptures from scrap metal that he finds or is brought to him. He “leases” his fossils for a period of 99 years at his field research facility called Jurustic Park.

Nancy and Clyde Wynia stand in front of the Hobbit House at Jurustic Park outside Marshfield, WI.

Calvary Bible Church

Painter Victoria Montoya Mesa works in her studio at the Chestnut Avenue Center for the Arts.

A windmill at the Hamus Nature Preserve and Recreation Area.

Andrea Mahnke, right, works with a subject in Interaction Lab of the Biomedical Informatics Research Center housed in the Laird Center for Medical Research in Marshfield, WI. The Laird Center for Medical Research, a world-class medical research and education facility, is named after health care advocate, former statesman and US Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird.

Early morning frost turns to water on a feather at Wildwood Park and Zoo.

John Twiggs is one of the instructors at the Karuna Yoga Studio in Marshfield, WI. The studio uses geothermal energy to heat the studio.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Roller Coaster of a Finish

The Valero Texas Open golf tournament didn’t have the star power like some PGA Tour events. Tiger and Phil weren't there. Ernie and Vijay were nowhere to be seen. But with a lot players trying to move up the money list and secure their tour cards, it definitely had all the excitement.

On the final day, just about everyone on the course had a shot at winning the tournament. Some faltered early, while others made their runs late only to fall short in the end.

With the leader board changing names fast enough to make you dizzy, I managed to walk at least twenty holes while only seeing about seven.

After following leaders Rory Sabbatini and Zach Johnson for a couple of holes, I dropped off to catch the first contender of the day. I picked him up on 16 and followed him as he finished his round. By the time he had finished, another contender had emerged. It was back to 16 to pick up the new leader.

This cycle must have gone on for at least half a dozen golfers.

Whispers soon began to make their way around the course. It was that one word that any golf photographer dreads: Playoff. It's the equivalent of a four letter word with photographers. And like Forrest Gump said: “Momma always says, Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, so is a playoff in golf.

In some tournaments, it’s a sudden death playoff. Worst case scenario is an 18 hole playoff starting Monday morning, which is fine and dandy unless your deadline is Monday morning and your flight is scheduled to leave at 7am.

Luckily, in the end, Zach Johnson managed to prevail and got to hoist the trophy over his head and try on a new pair of cowboy boots.

And I got to make my flight home on time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Elizabeth's City

Elizabeth City sits on the Intracoastal Waterway, where the Pasquotank River opens up into the Albemarle Sound in Northeastern North Carolina.

As one of the best small cities in the country, Elizabeth City has attracted residents from all over the world, including artist Tunde Afolayan. Afolayan has called Elizabeth City home for over six years and teaches art in the community. A mural created by Afolayan and some of his students hangs in the W.C. Witherspoon Memorial Library.

The city is home to five Coast Guard commands: Support Center Elizabeth City, Air Station Elizabeth City, Aircraft Repair and Supply Center, Aviation Technical Training Center and the National Strike Force Coordination Center. Nearly two thousand people are employed there.

Over the years, Elizabeth City has come to be known as the "Harbor of Hospitality" for its location and because the city allows boaters to use the city-owned moorings free of charge for 48 hours. But most importantly, because two gentleman, Fred Fearing and Joe Kramer, started greeting boaters as they arrived in the city with roses back in 1983. The two quickly become known as the "Rose Buddies." 

Today, the city still greets visitors with a rose and also hosts a wine and cheese party when five or more boats are docked at one time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Long-Term, Long Distance Relationship

Nine years ago this month, Karin Calloway and I started working on a weekly food column for Viking. Karin was, and still is, the food columnist for The Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, GA. I was a staff photographer at the paper.

After a few years, I left Augusta to work in Columbia, SC. Karin and I kept working together. I'd make the hour long drive every few weeks to Augusta for shoots.

After a few more years, I left Columbia and moved to the Atlanta area. Still, Karin and I kept working together. By then it had become a two hour drive each way for the food shoots.

I stayed in Atlanta for just over two years before I decided to make my way to Nashville, TN. It was six hours from Nashville to Augusta. It felt like I was halfway across the country. But still, Karin and I made it work. We'd schedule our shoots far enough in advance that if I couldn't make it for a month or two, we still wouldn't miss our deadlines.

Now I'm in Raleigh, NC. I'm only four and a half hours from Augusta now. Not quite a world away, but getting closer.

Over these nine years, Karin could have easily left me for another photographer. The same guys I worked with at the paper are still there in Augusta. Each of them is talented enough to do what I do. But Karin's stuck with me. And for that I'm thankful. (I just think she doesn't want to train someone new.)

We've also been fortunate to have a great client. Viking has been with us all nine years. And what a fun nine years it's been.

(Just for the record, I've put at least 250,000 miles on every car I've ever owned.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Q-Tour, Part I

Growing up in North Carolina, I have had the good fortune of eating some of the best barbecue in these here parts.

I'll start by telling you that I am pretty biased. The best barbecue in the world comes from a place called Stamey's in Greensboro, NC. 

This is the barbecue I grew up with. I can remember one summer I spent with my grandparents. My grandfather would take me to Stamey's almost daily. We'd either get our barbecue to go or we'd just belly up to the counter and eat it right there. It was the best. And still is.

I know, them's fight'n words. But, before you get all bent out of shape, I also believe in having an open mind. 

For me, barbecue isn't all about taste. It's also about the memories and I'll never forget those days with my grandfather.

Now, back to being open-minded.

I have had the good fortune to travel a little in the great state of North Carolina here of late. And some of those travels have taken me down barbecue road a little ways. This is a road I love to travel and hope it has no end.

About a month ago, I was in Roanoke Rapids working on a magazine for Journal Communications called Images of the Roanoke Valley.

The story took my on a miniature barbecue tour of the area. I got to visit Ralph's Barbecue in Weldon, NC, Lynch's Barbecue and Grill in Hollister, NC, and Whitaker's Barbecue in Scotland Neck, NC.

But my most interesting barbecue trip thus far was a few months ago when I had the good fortune of spending some time in Kinston, NC, home of King's barbecue. (This is one of those times when being open-minded is key.) King's is home of the "Pig in a Pup." It's barbecue served inside an enormous hushpuppy, the size of a small hoagie roll.

This is by far the most peculiar barbecue creation I have come across to date. And, to be honest, it's not half bad.

As I crisscross the state over the next few months, I plan on getting my fill of barbecue. But, no matter whose barbecue it is, it will always remind me of the times spent with my grandfather on a stool at Stamey's.