Saturday, December 31, 2011


Fountain of the Moor, Piazza Navona, Rome, Italy  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia slide film)

The word for the day is humdinger. It is an informal noun meaning an excellent person or thing. Its origin is American English slang from around 1905, derived from the words hummer or dinger (perhaps a beautiful woman). The following are a few possible usages...

An art critic from the Ozark hills once described La Fontana del Moro by Della Porta as "a humdinger example of early Baroque sculpture".

That fashion dive Medusa had one humdinger of a hairdo.

After winning the tiddlywinks tournament, Roger rewarded himself with a real humdinger of a hamburger, stacked high with dozens of pickles chopped into tiny chips (hence the invention of picklelywinks).

Some spin-off words might include humdingerthon, which may refer to a spectacular, long-lasting event... as well as the rowdier version of the word, humdingerpalooza.

So twist and shout, and toot your horns... have a New Year's celebration that is one big humdingerpalooza!

Friday, December 30, 2011


Abandoned Gas Station, Elizabethtown, Ohio  © Doug Hickok
(Click on image for larger view)

Decay may delay your stay with a warm ray from the late day.

It has been a long time since I made my last Favorite Photographer Friday post, so I would like to end 2011 with an introduction to the work of photographer Stephen Wilkes. He is a fine art and commercial photographer who's projects include focusing his camera on abandoned settings like Ellis Island and Bethlehem Steel.

I hope you have a great weekend, and a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cutting Edge

Medical University of SC Parking Garage, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

A thin edged corner of this modernistic building slices through blue sky, proving that parking garage architecture does not have to be dull.

I hope to get caught-up with everyone over the next few days. I very much appreciate your visits and comments during my absence.
Thank you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Door on Storage Shed, Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

There is a lovely hued door beneath all the soot and scratches... a Cinderella just waiting to be revealed. Perhaps there is a little bit of Cinderella in all of us...
 if given the chance.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Night in Shining Fountain

Pineapple Fountain, Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok
(Click on image for larger view)

The darkness of night enhances this fountain aglow with lights.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Warm for the Holidays

Christmas Wreaths, Old Church Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia slide film)

We have had warm weather leading up to Christmas in previous years, but this year may be the longest stretch of warm days yet. As I mentioned in a previous post, we have had an extended Indian Summer this year, dating back to October. It has been so mild that Spring flowering plants are blooming. We have a forsythia bush sprouting yellow blossoms in our yard at the moment. And autumn leaves still hang on trees.

So, as we begin the season of the Twelve Days of Christmas, we will relish these mild days of December... that is, until Old Man Winter finally arrives.

Hope everyone continues to have a wonderful holiday season.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Charleston!

Giant Christmas Tree and Saint Matthew's Church, Marion Square, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia Slide Film)

Our warmest wishes to everyone on this special day!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Delivery Man

Santa Claus, Helen, Georgia  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia Slide Film)

Climbing up the side of a Christmas store in Helen, Georgia, Santa is either looking for his lost reindeer and sleigh, or scouting for the best delivery route to make his deliveries tonight. Either way, this delivery man will soon be making a stop near you.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ahoy Mrs. Judy!

Shrimp Boat, Shem Creek, Mt. Pleasant, SC  © Doug Hickok
(Click on image for larger view)

I found this "Mrs. Judy" at the Shem Creek shrimp boat docks, and thought it perfect for a post dedicated to someone special.

You see, ours is the original Mrs. Judy, a one of a kind gal.

So thanks Judy, for all you do for us!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peace and Goodwill

Mini Van with Bumper Stickers, King Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok
(Click on image for larger view)

A Bumper Crop of Bumper Stickers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bridge Wednesday - Port

Ravenel Bridge, Mt. Pleasant, SC  © Doug Hickok

Graceful and imposing, the Ravenel Bridge stretches across the Cooper River, offering easy passage by foot or auto. Framed beneath the bridge's span are two container ship cranes, part of the Port of Charleston where thousands of tons of cargo pass each year.

Perhaps one of your holiday gifts passed through this port...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Ironwork Scroll on Railing and Red Door, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Charleston has an abundance of ornamental ironwork. The scroll is a very common ironwork motif. The origin of the word derives from a 13th century Anglo-French word that refers to "a roll of parchment" (for example, the Dead Sea scrolls).

This spiral shape is simple and graceful, and is commonly found in nature... as in sea shells, flower blossoms, fern fiddleheads, eddies in rivers, swirls in clouds, crop circles, and in the whipped cream atop cappuccinos. Yum!

Well perhaps the last few were a stretch, but you get the idea.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Still Dawn

Kiawah River and Cloud Reflections, John's Island, SC  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia slide film)

When conditions are just right, when the high tide is at its peak and the air is perfectly calm, the still waters of tidal creeks and rivers become mirrors of the dawn sky.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saint Stephen's Lion

Lion Head Door Knocker, Saint Stephen's Basilica, Budapest, Hungary  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia slide film)

Saint Stephen's Basilica was built in the neo-Classical style in 1905 and is the tallest building in Budapest. As with the tallest church in Charleston (Saint Matthew's Lutheran Church, 255 feet.), city regulations state no building in Budapest shall be taller than Saint Stephen's (315 feet). This door knocker shows beautifully ornate metal work, and a rather docile looking lion head awaiting your entry.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sage Advice for the Road

Lines in Road, Auburn, Alabama  © Doug Hickok
(Click on image for larger view)

Some roads take you to some places.
Other roads take you to other places.
In the end, you end up someplace.

                                             - Doug -

(Every other weekend I try on this new template to show a better overview of my blog. Please enjoy a browse or two.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Crab Traps on Boat Dock, James Island, SC  © Doug Hickok

To make their daily catch, fishermen are awake before the crack of dawn (as well as some photographers) and out on the water plying their trade. In the blue light of dawn, fishing boats have pulled out from the dock, but left behind is a stack of extra crab traps used for nabbing blue crab. The large net overhead deters pelicans and gulls from mobbing the deck. 

Hope you're able to nab a good weekend, even if you aren't fishing for crabs.

Photo Note: Here are some ideas for photography gifts this holiday season.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sparkling Wishes

Bernini's Fountain in Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City, Italy  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia slide film)

Today I felt the need to post something happy... something bright, sunny, and sparkling... something endearingly Italian! Whenever I think of our visits to Italy, I think warm thoughts. So a Bernini fountain in Saint Peter's square, splashing in joyful sunlight, serves the purpose.
I hope you enjoy this refreshing photo as much as I do.
Have a sparkling day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mediterranean Color

Palmetto Shadow and Shutters, Aiken-Rhett House, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

This could easily be a scene from Italy or southern Spain. The light, color and palm tree shadow have the look of the Mediterranean. Yet it is here, in Charleston. There are times and places where Charleston has hints of an old world appearance, an old world charm. This was one of the first impressions I had when we first moved here from the Midwest.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Charleston Shutters

Shutters, Tradd Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

As you stroll along the narrow streets and alleyways of old Charleston, you will notice most residential windows come adorned with a functioning pair of shutters. For a city that can be exposed to heavy weather from the sea... tropical storms and hurricanes... having shutters that quickly close to protect windows is a benefit. Shutters are usually made of timber and painted an assortment of colors pre-approved by the Board of Architectural Review (BAR).

But one shutters to think what would happen if an unapproved color was ever used... say, neon pink polka dots over a dayglow green background. Egads!

(If you click on the link above and "Launch Color Visualizer", you can paint the town red... or any color you prefer!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Misty Monday - Fog Bank at Sea

Fog Bank off the Coast of Oregon  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia slide film)

An ominous bank of sea fog moves over the ocean in late afternoon, casting a dark impenetrable shadow above the horizon. The moods of the sea fascinate me... and so do stories about the sea.

My favorite story about the sea was one of the first novels I ever read as a teen in Ohio... Hemingway's Old Man and The Sea. It made such an impression on me that it led me to a love of great literature, and yarns about the sea. Other favorites of mine include Treasure Island, Moby Dick, A High Wind in Jamaica, The Dark Frigate, Voyage of the Narwal, The Perfect Storm, The Wreckers, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, and Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists.
Hummm... maybe that's why I moved close to the sea...

Do you have any sea story favorites?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Journey to Trust

Old Barn, Road to Trust, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok
(Click on image for larger view)
Bear Country, Road to Trust, near Walnut, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok
Autumn Color, Road to Trust, Appalachian Medley By-Way, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

French Broad River, Road to Trust, Hot Springs, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Rushing Waters, French Broad River, Road to Trust, Hot Springs, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Hillsides Ablaze with Fall Foliage, Road to Trust, near Walnut, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Old Red Caboose, Road to Trust, Hot Springs, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Road Cut and Pine Trees, Road to Trust, near Spring Creek, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Sugar Maple Leaf, Road to Trust, near Spring Creek, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Farm House and Barns, Road to Trust, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Saint Jude's Chapel of Hope, Trust, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Stain Glass Window, Saint Jude's Chapel of Hope, Trust, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Back in the autumn of early November, we took a road trip to a little community called Trust in the western mountains of North Carolina.

These pictures show a bit of what we saw along the way.

When we finally reached Trust, we found a little chapel at the crossroads.
The story of this chapel is remarkable.

It was built by a cancer survivor who dedicated it to St. Jude.
(Saint Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.)
The cancer patient went through intensive treatment, but her prospects seemed so grim and the side effects so ravaging that she stopped therapy. Instead, she put her trust in a higher power and turned to prayer. Remarkably her cancer vanished. 

On a plaque outside the chapel is a quote... 

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help".

The chapel is peaceful and full of heart and hope.

We trust you enjoyed the ride along with us. Come with us next time as we venture along the Appalachian Trail and find snow.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Detail of Painted Cart, Old Depot, Lewisburg, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Today's post is brought to you by the word gander. It is a noun that means a male goose (derived from the Old English which dates before the year 1000). Used informally it means a quick look (of more modern origin). For example, "Take a gander at this painted wagon... it reminds me of the colors on Christmas wrapping paper".

Interestingly, according to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable the word gander-mooning describes the "aimless meanderings of the gander when the goose is sitting".

As you might expect, I have derived a few new words and phrases of my own... 

Get your gander on - to strut your stuff in front of the hens in the goose pen.

You've been ganderized - somebody has been looking at you rather intently.

gandermonium - when the goose pen gate is left open and hundreds of ganders are running amok in the farmyard.

Carpe Ganderum - seize the gander... and maybe have him for dinner.  Bon Gander!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Quoddy Head

East Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada  © Doug Hickok

MaesTro, your music is an inspiration and a beacon to those who listen. Wish we could be at your concert tonight, but 1,723 miles is a bit far for us to drive...
even for a stellar night out.

Break a leg!
(But not really because it's difficult to move furniture that way.)

P.S. If the woman in orange looks familiar to you, it is because she is!

Hope you and everyone else in the whole world has a great weekend!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Dreamt...

Cherubs and Car Keys, Portland, Oregon  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia Slide Film)

... I wandered in a city of blue. I felt lost and bewildered as I journeyed through a labyrinth of concrete and brick. I was like the allegorical traveler in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress searching for truth and meaning in a strange world. Then I looked-up and saw angels... cherubs like those in a Raphael painting. They began shooting arrows at me... not arrows of love... but car keys.

I was quickly impaled by what seemed like hundreds of keys. Yet I felt no pain. I felt only delight... as though I was the ecstatic subject of a Bernini sculpture. As I became a pin cushion of keys, lovely ultra-luxury cars began appearing all around me.

I plucked a key off of me, I tried it in the nearest 
car. It fit perfectly. "The car", you may ask, "what was it?" A bright red Maserati! Yes! No kidding! I took the sleek machine for a spin around the block, feeling the wind in my hair and a rush of excitement in my toes. I tried keys in other cars too. They all fit! Ode to Joy! Say no more! Say no more!

I drove Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, 
Bugattis, Bentleys, Aston Martins (which came with martinis shaken, not stirred), a fire truck, a bakery truck (ummm, pastries!), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.... the list went on and on.

my wonderful dream quickly turned Kafkaesque as I found myself metamorphosed into a Saturday Night Live Killer Bee, crammed inside a 1970's Ford Pinto.

Alas, such stuff as dreams are made...

Lucky you. All of this surreal absurdity simply because of a photo I made years ago in Portland, which inspired this Borges-like ficciones.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Night of the Living Kayaks

Kayaks at Night, Shem Creek, Mount Pleasant, SC  © Doug Hickok  
(Velvia slide film)

Renting kayaks for paddling tidal creeks and coastal marshes is a popular outdoor activity around Charleston. Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant offers docks for people to moor their commercial and recreational boats, as well as a place to rent colorful kayaks. Shem Creek is also a "hot spot" for photography. By day it is a delightful place to observe picturesque fishing vessels, but by night it can be throughly magical.

The colors of these kayaks glow in the dying light of twilight,  seemingly bringing them to life. This time lapse photograph shot on film captures a red streak of light made by a motor boat as it passed in front of the kayaks. Lights reflected in the creek create patterns that remind me of a row of candles on a birthday cake.

If today is anyone's birthday...
Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On the Edge

Cypress Swamp, Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

The Lowcountry is on the edge of two seasons... fall is almost over and winter is almost here. We are at the in-between time when one day there is a hint of frost in the air, yet the next day it is a balmy 75 degrees, like it was here today.

But when you are on the edge, in that transition zone... where fall meets winter and land meets water... something special is sure to happen. In this image at Magnolia Garden's cypress swamp, you can see the transition from fall to winter taking place. The cypress trees have lost their needles, revealing their bare limbs draped heavily with Spanish Moss, while another tree basks in the glow of autumn gold. All of this is reflected in the still waters of the swamp, which acts as a mirror to the world around it...
on the edge between reality and fantasy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Red Monday

Johnson Row, Queen Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Monday is back to action day. Monday is get your blood moving again day. Monday is a red day. So what better stimulant do you need than a vibrantly red photograph to wake you up, and stir you to action. Well, maybe a strong cup of coffee or espresso will do too.

These Queen Street row houses in the French Quarter of Charleston date from the early 1800's. From here it is a short stroll to the Dock Street Theatre, art galleries, restaurants and historic churches. These houses are flying flags of the state of South Carolina, and an early American flag of 15 stars that dates from 1795. Displaying flags from Charleston's various historic periods is common for homeowners downtown.

If you are interested, #24 Queen Street is for sale... it is listed for just over 2 million dollars. This includes a pleasant garden in back with a nice koi pond too.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Charm in Krakow

Main Market Square, Old Town, Krakow, Poland  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia Slide Film)

One of the most charming places we experienced in Europe was the historic square of Old Town Krakow at twilight. With the beautiful church of Saint Mary's as a back drop, the vast open area was alive with people savoring the warm summer evening. Young couples enjoyed each other's company surrounded by the romantic glow of street lights, carriages clip-clopped around the square, and restaurants hummed with customers relishing dinner in the evening air... sigh... a place and time which, now, seems so long ago.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Impression of a Sunset I

Sunset Over the Ashley River, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

This setting sun over the Ashley River was photographed with my camera lens aperture set wide open and de-focused all the way toward the macro setting. This technique is quite the opposite of the traditional way of shooting sunsets, with focus and aperture set for maximum clarity and depth of field.

Although I realize this kind of stylized experimental photography is not for everyone, it was a good exercise for encouraging me to think outside the box...
but not outside my lunch box. I usually like what's inside my leather smiley faced Gucci lunch box.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Blue Ridge Mountains from Roan Highlands, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok
(click on image for larger view)

Now I take you from lowlands to highlands... yesterday's post was about cypress swamps in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Today's post is about ridge tops in the
 Appalachian Highlands. This is a view we had while hiking a stretch of the Appalachian Trail (AT) a few weeks ago. It looks towards the layered undulating curves of the Blue Ridge Mountains, aptly named as you can see in this image. The blue hues are caused by trees which release a chemical compound called isoprene which creates a bluish haze over the densely forested slopes.

Our vantage point is from a wide open area atop the Roan Highlands. These areas are called "balds" and the Roan Highlands have the largest ones in the Appalachians. Balds are wide grassy fields that cover ridge tops, and the strange part of it is that very few trees want to grow there. Surprisingly, naturalists are not positive what causes them. I will post some pictures of the balds (but not my bald spot) over the next week or so.

We have been up in the high mountains at night, when the kids were young, and have seen all the stars and constellations visible at such a lofty and expansive elevation. I imagine a meteor shower in particular 
would be awe inspiring to see... we were so close to the sky that it seemed like we could just reach up and grab a shooting star right out of the pitch black heavens.

Hope you have an awe inspiring moment of your own this weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Indian Summer

A Century Old Bridge and Azaleas, Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok
(click for larger view)
Row of Bald Cypress Trees and Cypress Knees, Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Coleus Plant, Magnolia Gardens, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

This past November was uncommonly warm for the Lowcountry. On a recent stroll at Magnolia Gardens, we discovered evidence of the Indian Summer-like weather... azaleas in bloom! This was unusual. These showy ornamental shrubs typically flower in the springtime here in Charleston. But they were apparently fooled 
into blossoming a second time by the string of 70 degree temperature days.

Magnolia Gardens and Plantation is one of four old southern plantations near Charleston open to visitors. It features a sprawling informal English-style garden centered around a natural Cypress swamp. Bald cypress trees thrive in the humid wetlands of the coastal plain, their vast network of shallow roots often growing above water to form what are called "cypress knees".

Some of the larger types of wildlife seen in this and nearby habitats are American alligators, North American river otters, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Anhingas, Wood Ducks and Short Spectacled Photographers.

(We were able to enjoy the afternoon at the gardens because our friends, 
Sean and Kristin, were married here... Congratulations!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Traffic Jam and Chocolate

Ravenel Bridge Towers and Cables, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

A question that I asked myself one day recently was... how should I pass the time while sitting in a rush hour traffic jam on the tall Ravenel Bridge?

Call my buddy Harry Sasquatch to ask him how his big hairy feet are surviving the snow?

(Eat a Winnie-the-Pooh shaped chocolate.)

 Recite Melville's
Moby Dick in its entirety from memory? "Call me Ishmael..." Ok, that's all I can remember... and traffic still isn't moving.

(Eat a Tigger shaped chocolate.)

Pull out my Stradivarius and play me some wicked Paganini riffs?

(Eat a Piglet shaped chocolate.)

Work out Einstein's mathematical formula for Energy... backwards, while patting my head with one hand and rubbing my stomach with the other?

(Eat an Eeyore shaped chocolate. Ugh, I ate too much. I feel sick.)

No, wait, I know, take a picture of the bridge with my trusty

Super Kinetic Hyper Reactor Hue Extractor!
Zippo Zappo Gong!
 (That's the sound of the shutter.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Baroque Puns?

Dragon Fountain, near Vatican City, Italy  © Doug Hickok 
(Velvia Slide Film)

The baroque fountains of Rome are well known to travelers of Italy. Some of the most famous ones are the Trevi Fountain, and the Four Rivers Fountain in the Piazza Navona.

There are numerous others, but some of my favorites are the smaller, less conspicuous ones, like this intricately detailed dragon fountain near the Vatican. The ornamentation looks baroque in style to me. Yet, if you look closely, a missing head from the fowl figure (the result of foul play?) indicates something is broke on this baroque fountain. I hope the faulty stonework did not cause the sculptor to loose his commission... and go broke. Hopefully a financial settlement was made between the artist and his patron... unless of course the whole deal broke off... before the dawn of a new day broke over the city. In which case the baroque artist's ego would be broke for eternity.

(Ok... enough with the forced puns for this weak post... 

unless you force me to post enough puns for a week... ok?)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Misty Monday - Craggy Shores

Craggy Rocks, Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada  © Doug Hickok

As the mists of sea fog roll in and out along this rocky shoreline, a weakening sun, reflected in a tide pool, tries to break through thick layers of clouds. These slippery, craggy rocks are the backbone of Campobello Island and make for tricky beach walking, if you dare. The rocks consist mostly of quartzite, a very hard and compact metamorphic rock, which was once sandstone but transformed after millions of years of intense geologic pressure and heating.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Around Town Sounds

Gate Scroll and Saint Michael's Church, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Framed by the scrolls of an ornate iron gate, Saint Michael's Church stands prominently aglow at dusk. Charleston has more than its share of beautiful historic churches, which is why it has traditionally called itself the "Holy City". Church bells 
ringing throughout the city is as common a sound as the clip clop of horse hoofs when you walk around town.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

For Kat

Red Bicycle, Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

This post is dedicated to bicycle lovers everywhere, especially in Auburn, Alabama. (Wink, wink, Kat!) It doesn't matter how old you are, or what generation you are from... almost everyone loves a bike ride.

So get your life blood pumping, let the wind caress your face, savor the sights, sounds and scenery, and ring your little bell...

Enjoy a bicycle ride this weekend,
and sing along with Queen.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Primary Abstract

Detail of a Painted Metal Sculpture, Riverfront Park, Old Navy Base,
North Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

The primary colors of pigment come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes you can find them in the most expected places, like in a public park, on a vividly painted metal sculpture.

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