Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rural Sanctuary

Joppa Baptist Church, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

There was a time in the 19th century when the Kentucky hills, in the area that is now Mammoth Cave National Park, were populated by several scattered communities of settlers. Many had small churches like this for sanctuary on Sundays. Although the original church of 1862 no longer exists, this simple country church was built around 1900. A church such as this often served as a center for community activities as well. Country churches in this region typically had two entrance doors, one for men and one for women. Many a God-fearing soul has walked the creaky wooden floors past the pews shown here. The communities have gradually disappeared, but this little church and the cemetery next to it survive and are still used occasionally for special gatherings. Surrounding the church are miles of dense woodlands that conceal what lies beneath.

Located under this church is the largest cave system in the world. 390 miles of caves have been explored so far. Only about 10 miles  are open to the public, who can see the caverns on guided tours. We didn't have enough time to join one of these tours while on our road trip, but later this week I will show you the sink hole we hiked to. 

Because, really, what IS a vacation without a visit to the local sink hole?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ludlow Avenue Walkabout

Bulletin Board, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Red Car and White Van, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Design of Overhang Underside, Wine Room, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Blue Door, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Storefront Facade, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Dress Shop, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Window (??)  Boxes and Brick, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Facade of Esquire Theater, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok
Esquire Theater Lamp Post, Ludlow Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Not far from the University of Cincinnati campus is a cool, colorful, trendy little area along Ludlow Avenue centered around the Esquire Theater. This is an art house movie theater where we were fortunate to see Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Toulouse Lautrec, Auguste Rodin, and others, all in a movie called Midnight in Paris. This is a Woody Allen film I think you would really enjoy. My daughter has a short article about it on her book blog.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Is Big Brother Watching You?

Ticket Center, Union Terminal, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Although this giant "eye" looks Orwellian, it is not 1984. It is 2011, and what you see is not Big Brother watching you, but the interior of an art deco era train station. Except these days it is featured as a museum complex. Tickets are still sold for trains to Chicago or Montreal, but are also available for trips back in time to
 exhibits about the Jurassic period, ancient Egypt and the early settlement of Cincinnati along the Ohio River.

So don't be paranoid. You are not being watched.
You are free to do as you wish.

But wherever you go, whatever you do, and whomever you speak to,
keep an eye out for those hidden security cameras.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Retirement Home

Two Old Cars, Danny's Classic Cars, Elko, South Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Side Kicks

Old Dodge, Danny's Classic Cars, Elko, South Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Beauty Queen

Old, Old Car, Danny's Classic Cars, Elko, South Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Er... well... some of us just age better than others.

(Quick note: This post was inspired by a fellow blogger. When Becky and I drove past Danny's Classic Cars in Elko during our recent road trip, I was so excited seeing old cars, really old cars, that I simply HAD to stop and grab a few shots. If you would like to see some truly artful photography of old classic cars, please take a moment to see Otto Kitchen's work.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Paradox of Perspective

Looking Up at a Street Lamp and Old Enquirer Building, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

We journey through life perceiving our world mostly from "ground level". Opinions, beliefs, values and philosophies... our individual world view... are all based on this typical perspective.

View of Downtown and Ohio River Valley from Carew Tower, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

But, from a drastically opposite perspective, our world looks completely different. Perhaps it is pleasant, or perhaps it is unsettling compared to what we are accustomed to or comfortable with. Call this new perspective an epiphany, a revelation, the light bulb over your head lighting-up, or simply another person's opposing world view. Regardless, the view expands our horizons.

Though both of these world views are radically different, both are true, valid, and exist simultaneously.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Young Couple, Paris Bakery, Auburn, Alabama  © Doug Hickok

Occasionally I scold myself for not having my camera ready, not thinking spontaneously enough, or not refining a composition a step or two further. My style of taking photos can be euphemistically described as "slow" or "meditative". What's more, you could say, the reason I don't shoot much fast action photography is because I excel at the "indecisive moment".

Nevertheless, with this impromptu image of my daughter and her boyfriend, made on our recent trip to Auburn, I was better prepared for spontaneity. Instead of making a straight forward portrait of the two sitting together, I made a quick refined image, framing only their mirrored shoulders and their green hues. I think this photo illustrates nicely the nonchalance of the moment.

Being prepared with a heightened sense of awareness enabled me to seize the opportunity as it occurred.

Now, if only I could be this prepared for the unexpected in other aspects of my life... like remembering to keep rolls of duct tape in my pockets in case my flip flops broke, or my tie ripped, or most dreaded of all, in case the bridge of my glasses snapped in two. Words of advice for preparation... duct tape, never leave home without it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Misty Monday - Cool Mountain Air

Mists in the Balsam Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Mists in the mountains, Mother Nature's natural air conditioning, are a sure way to alleviate the heat of midsummer. On our recent road trip, we drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway, through its highest elevation, near Richland Balsam mountain (6410 ft.), where we encountered lowering clouds of cooling mist and rain. These mists enveloped the ridges of the spruce-fir forest, moving in and out of the trees like apparitions. The sight of these ancient mountains shrouded by clouds never ceases to amaze me, to leave me in awe of an event seemingly as timeless as the earth itself. The refreshment from the sweltering heat was so invigorating that it lifted our spirits. We danced a jig, ate some granola bars, and called it a good moment to be alive.

My daughter was kind enough to hold an umbrella over my head while I snapped this image of fog in the firs.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Got Kitsch?

Yard Ornaments, Augusta, Georgia  © Doug Hickok

For those wonderful people who visit my blog routinely, you probably know that at times I have a fondness for the odd and quirky. So it is not surprising that I find kitschy stuff fun to photograph, wherever I can find it. On our recent road trip, we found an abundance of kitschiness, especially in the South. The place pictured above sells yard ornaments, but Jesus and hubcaps displayed together is somehow so ridiculous that it defies explanation. Not to mention throwing in Botticelli's Venus, seahorses, a few totems, a gargoyle, and the Georgia Bulldog. Who thinks of this stuff?

Anyway, I am wondering if you have any place odd or quirky near where you live? Or, is kitsch mostly a regional American phenomenon? If you've ever been to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, you'll know what I mean. While driving through these two mega-kitschy tourist traps, we witnessed a giant sinking Titanic, an upside down southern mansion, the Lumberjack Feud dinner & show, dinosaur putt-putt golf, and the list goes on and on... I mean really, who thinks of this stuff?

So tell me, if you please, about your odd or quirky places.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Ascent

The Ascent, Covington, Kentucky  © Doug Hickok

Charleston has plenty of charming 18th and 19th century architecture, but little in the way of contemporary cutting-edge architecture. That is why I get so excited when visiting large cities, like we did on our road trip to Cincinnati and Atlanta. Metropolises like these have modern structures featuring innovative designs appealing to artful photography, especially abstract photography. Pictured above is a portion of The Ascent, across the river from Cincinnati, an ultra-modern luxury condominium that curves sharply into the sky. It was designed by renown architect Daniel Libeskind, who is also master planner of the new World Trade Center in New York City. Although the overcast sky was less than ideal for a comprehensive view, the soft smooth lighting was prime for detail shots.

Not incidentally, The Ascent could be a metaphor for the ascent of civilization, which can be, in part, attributed to man's ability to master and expand on the art of building the abode.

To see a complete view of The Ascent, see this link.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How Green is the Valley

Tree and Corn Field, near Elizabethtown, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

In the far southwest corner of Ohio, near the border of Indiana, is the Miami River floodplain, a fertile valley with land ideal for farming. Because of plentiful early season rainfall and flooding by river waters laden with nutrients, many corn crops are tall and healthy. The corn field in this image will do particularly well, as it is protected by the dryad in this spreading tree. 

This year, the valley is lush green with the promise of rich and rewarding harvests.

Leia recommends listening to this as we view this photo.
Thanks Leia!

Hope your weekend is rich with rewards.
And lush green.

And protected by tree nymphs.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Amsterdam in Alabama

Patrons at the Amsterdam Cafe, Auburn, Alabama  © Doug Hickok

You know the global village is for real when you can visit Amsterdam in Alabama for a bite to eat. We spent our lunch one day at the Amsterdam Cafe in the small college town of Auburn, where we enjoyed some delicious food. I ordered a Dutch specialty from the menu... pizza... well, not because it is Dutch, but because I like pizza.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we saw Vincent Van Gogh in Alabama. This is where we saw him...
Vincent Van Gogh Self-Portraits, Amsterdam Cafe, Auburn, Alabama  © Doug Hickok

Little did I know Van Gogh was such a big fan of Auburn football. I know Auburn won the college football national championship this year, but still, I envisioned Vincent more of a Tour de France guy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Moor You Look, The Moor You See

Fox Theater, Atlanta, Georgia  © Doug Hickok

On our road trip, we saw Hemingway and Dali in Ohio, Van Gogh in Alabama, a knight in shining armor in Kentucky, and the sinking Titanic in Tennessee, so it is not too surprising that we saw a Moorish mosque in Georgia. In fact, this is the famous Fox Theater of Atlanta. Conceived as a Shriner's temple in the 1920's, the Fabulous Fox was ultimately fashioned into a renown movie palace, which thrived through the 1930's and 40's. In recent decades, it has served as a performing arts venue, and the center piece of the surrounding historic district. If you look closely you will notice the beautiful ornate detailing of the facade and arcade, reminiscent of Moorish architecture.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mountain Tunnel

Mountain Tunnel, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, our road trip was a long one, going 1900 miles in 9 days through 7 states. Our purpose was to visit family and friends. Luckily I was able to grab some photography along the way too. All I can say is thank goodness for the 3 C's... cruise control, coffee and companionship.

We visited two large metropolitan cities, a few small towns, some very rural areas, and a couple of National Parks. One leg of the trip was spent on the Blue Ridge Parkway, driving through the high ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. Years ago many tunnels were blasted through mountain sides to complete the scenic road. This image was made going through one of the tunnels.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mysterious Monday - Man in the Window

Self-portrait, East Battery Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

A man disguised as a reflection was seen in the window of a mansion early this morning in Charleston. Eye witnesses told varying accounts of how a shadowy figure suddenly appeared as a reflection in the front door window of an antebellum mansion on the Battery. The reflection seemed to be operating a camera on a tripod, photographing either the mansion or a sunrise opposite the mansion, depending on your point of view. Authorities called to the scene had little success convincing the mysterious man to step out of the window. The mansion's owner was visibly perturbed that the impertinent intruder would not promptly leave his property.

After many hot debates and wild gesticulations, it was decided to bring in a local window washer. Efforts to squeegee away the man's image failed, compounding the angst of the authorities and owner. Subsequently, wizards, necromancers, conjurors, and illusionists, adorned in their assorted hats and robes, all attempted to make the recalcitrant reflection magically disappear, but to no avail.

Next up, Alice in Wonderland, along with the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat, will try passing through the looking glass of the mansion door to remove the intruder forcibly.

Officials report that a colorful capture is anticipated.

P.S.  We have been on a long road trip for the past nine days. Along the way, I shot a collection of fun pictures that I'm excited about sharing with you. I'll catch-up with everyone this week. Thank you very much for all your visits!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Jesuit Church in Krakow

Church of the Holiest Heart of Jesus, Krakow, Poland  © Doug Hickok

This Jesuit church and monastery complex was nearly completed when World War I broke out. It was finally finished after the fighting in 1921, not long after the rebirth of the Polish Republic. These two towers display neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic styles, as well as noticeable coatings of neo-patina from exposure to the elements. We walked past this church several times during our excursions into the historic center of Krakow. Until then, I'd never seen a Jesuit monastery.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Tree Trunk and Printed Canvas Backdrop, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

You might think this scene looks a little unusual. Something is not quite right. Well, that's because the flowery meadow with blue sky and cloud is actually a canvas mural on a fence around a construction site. The only real bit of nature is the tree trunk in front.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Light for Light's Sake

Early Morning, Art Gallery Door, Chalmers Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

When I'm roaming around downtown Charleston in the early morning, there are many times I simply follow the light. By that I mean, I pick an area of the city to photograph, and wherever the golden light falls, that's where I shoot. In many instances, I'm just photographing the light for the sake of it's pure beauty. And that's because, the beauty of light can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Here's wishing you a weekend filled with extraordinary light.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Throwback Thursday - End of an Era

Cafe Sign, King Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Many years before the gentrification of the King Street shopping district, there were small mom-and-pop cafes along the street. This image shows a creative cursive script painted on the window of one of these establishments. It is no longer there, having been replaced by a high end designer shop or expensive restaurant.

(This image was made on Fujichrome Velvia 50 color slide film)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Creatures Among Us - Part Three

Red Doors, American Theatre, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok


(Hey Yoshi, this reminds me of you!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Evening at the Marina

Ashley River Marina, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

I think it would be pretty cool to live in a sailboat or yacht as some people do. Charleston has plenty of places to dock your boat and enjoy the serenity of an evening on the waters of the city.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Misty Monday - Purple Overpass

Dawn, James Island Connector, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

The James Island Connector is a bridge that links Charleston with one of the neighboring sea islands. This image was made on slide film a few years back, at a time when I was push processing chromes one stop for added punch. Photo buyers in Charleston seem to like my images for their strong hues, so I often strive for that pop of color. A draw back of push processing is added grain in the image, as you can see in this misty twilight scene along the Ashley River.

More importantly...
Happy 21st Birthday Adam Cade Gabriel ! !

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shadow and Symbolism

Gate Shadow, Saint John's Lutheran Church, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

In late afternoon, the shadow of this church's ironwork gate is cast upon the red doors and tiled porch. Many Episcopal and Lutheran churches paint their doors red as a symbol of sanctuary, both physical and spiritual. The color is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, the blood of Christ and the Passion. You can go to just about any town or city in the USA and find a church with red painted doors.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Proud to be #2!

Carriage Tour, Longitude Lane and East Bay Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Travel and Leisure magazine recently rated Charleston the # 2 travel destination in the United States and Canada, just behind New York City. Congratulations Charleston. Whoopee!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Raster Pattern

Chair Shadow on Shell Pavement, Freshfields, John's Island, SC  © Doug Hickok

"A raster is usually a very fine-grained and always strict order principle on a surface. As a special category of pattern, it is not generally a design element - unless it is used as an artistic means to evenly mark a surface."

This quote is from Harald Mante, my Favorite Photographer Friday selection. This German photographer has had the strongest influence on the way I see images. He is a highly regarded teacher of photography, and his book  The Photograph, Composition and Design  is the best one I know of for demonstrating the art of visual design.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

For Book Lovers

Construction Site Fence, College of Charleston Library, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

For all of you who love books, our lovely and talented daughter recently started a book blog, chelseareadsbooks. She has a B.A. in English with a concentration in Fiction Writing and is a true blue book lover. I think you will enjoy her posts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Morning Marsh Magic

Sunrise over a Tidal Marsh, Kiawah Island, SC   © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

The sun breaks through early morning clouds to illuminate a marsh at high tide. On many mornings during summer, warm humid air along the coast creates clouds that build above the horizon. Sometimes it rains, sometimes not. But the moisture is so thick you could slice it with an oyster shucking knife.

Quick take: If you like adventure photography, take a moment to peak at
Jimmy Chin's work. It's amazing.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Keep Your Hair On

Wig Shop, Savannah, Georgia  © Doug Hickok

One of the first rules of thumb when going out in public is to keep your hair on. Keeping your hair on makes a positive first impression as well as a chic fashion statement. Wearing your hair with a color coordinated pair of shoes or maybe an Armani suit will please your family and friends, and even your pet cockatoo.

Keeping your hair on also builds self-confidence and a general sense of well being. You can tell your friends, "I have the pleasure of wearing my hair today." If you say this frequently enough, it will soon become a popular catch phrase, applicable to many social situations. You can even use this phrase as a form of greeting... "Hello, I have the pleasure of wearing my hair today, and you?" You may repeat this useful greeting to the police, for instance, after being pulled over for a traffic violation.

Keeping your hair on is especially important to remember when riding fast roller coasters at the amusement park, or when leaping off tall cliffs while strapped into a parachute. To keep your hair on during these extreme situations, just place a hand on top of your head, and hold on firmly to your hair. It doesn't have to be your own hand either. Anyone's hand will do.

If you don't have hair, or are rapidly loosing your hair like me, simply proceed to a wig shop. They can assist with a variety of designer styles and colors. If you prefer a 60's
psychedelic look, they can assist with this as well.

So, remember to keep your hair on. It is the sensible thing to do. Have a nice day. And may your hair always be with you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday USA

Two Story Flag, King Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

As a nation the United States is 235 years old today.
Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

San Marco Sunday - Dream World

Basilica de San Marco, Venice, Italy  © Doug Hickok

By day Venice is a riotous carnival of tactile delights,
where day light seeks to illuminate every color and form.
But by night, Venice is a muted dream world of ancient vintage,
where imagination seeks to illuminate every shape and shadow.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Eye Level Clouds

Near Summit of Mount Mitchell, Mount Mitchell State Park, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Near the top of Mount Mitchell, in the Appalachian Mountains, a view past the trees shows a summer evening thundercloud building in the sky. At this elevation (6684 ft), you seem as tall as the clouds. Mount Mitchell is the highest elevation in the eastern US. In July the average high temperature is about 68 degrees, making it a refreshing spot to cool off in the heat of summer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Time and Place to Relax

Mansion Courtyard, Meeting Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Here is hoping you can relax and have some fun this weekend.

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