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.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Relative Theory?

Larch Tree Bonsai, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

To me, this bonsai tree is Lilliputian in size, barely 2 feet tall. It is a larch tree, shining in its golden autumnal hues. It can grow up to 150 feet tall in the wild. But even at its most towering height, it is a dwarf compared to the gargantuan size of a mountain.

However, compared to an ant this bonsai tree is a large larch. Yet as tiny as an ant is, it is a Goliath compared to a microscopic organism.

Everything is relative. Even my distant cousin, Billy Joe Bob Roy Boy Junior III, the hillbilly moonshiner, 
is relative... to me... 
though I wish he wasn't.

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.
A day that is filled with relatives...
Happy Thanksgiving!
(Happiness being a relative term, of course.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Reflection in Abandoned Quarry, near Micaville, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

This mirror-like reflection in an abandoned stone quarry reminds me of a Rorschach inkblot test. If you rotate the image 90 degrees to the left (if you are right brained), or 90 degrees to the right (if you are left brained), you might see something resembling the famous painting by El Gecko called "Flight of the Duck-billed Platypuses".

Or, maybe not.

You might see something altogether different.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Riotous Color

Traffic Sign and Colored Ribbons, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok
(click image for larger view)

Above a busy city street, the back of a traffic sign stretches across the image against a backdrop of riotous color... the decorative facade of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center. Whoever conceived the adornment of this edifice must have felt a heightened sense of hoopla upon its completion.

Oddly enough, the Grand Canyon has never been adorned in such a manner. Why no one has ever thought to do so... baffles me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Horse Sense

Horse Carriage and Dock Street Theatre, French Quarter, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

If you come to Charleston, it might make sense to catch one of the horse carriage tours through the Historic District. They are fun and informative, and a practical way to see the city if you want take it slow and easy... little effort is needed on your part. My preferred way to sightsee in Charleston is walking, even if it takes more energy. Charleston is one of those places that is better sampled up close, where you can enjoy the details you see along a leisurely stroll, going at your own pace. But however you tour, do not, I repeat, do not use a pogo stick as your mode of transportation. That would make no sense at all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saints Alive!

Statues and Papal Coat of Arms, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City, Italy  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia Slide Film)

Sunday Masses at the Vatican are impressive to see in person. The large crowds that gather in the square in front of Saint Peter's Basilica are surrounded by a colonnade of travertine stone, which hugs the faithful like the "maternal arms of Mother Church", according to its famous designer Bernini. The project was commissioned by Pope Alexander VII, Pontifex Maximus, in the year 1658.

Atop the colonnade are rows of statues representing various saints. In this image a few of them are suffused by the light of a setting sun, which seems to bring the old stone sculptures to life.

(I am trying out a new blogger template this weekend, for a change of pace. I will return to my normal one on Monday.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Old Black Pine

Black or Pitch Pine, Licklog Ridge Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok
(click image for larger view)

This old pine, which perches at the edge of an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway, is a landmark at this spot. Who knows how old it is... several hundred years is my guess. It has probably stood here since the era when only the Catawba Indians inhabited these mountains and valleys. Clearly it has seen its best days. Yet old Methuselah will likely stand sentinel for a decade or more, even if only as a shell of its vigorous prime.

Undoubtedly it has witnessed untold changes over its lifetime, more than we humans will know. In essence, this old pine is symbolic of the Appalachians, some of the oldest mountains on earth. Like these ancient enduring ranges, this old black pine practices patience and resilience, even in the twilight of its existence.

(This weekend I am trying out a new blog template. 
Tell me what you think. If it works well, I'll use it again next weekend.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Light Entertainment

Crazy Lady Woodcarving, Oregon  © Doug Hickok

To continue from yesterday's post, which noted this blog's one year anniversary, I wanted to revisit several of my early posts. These are what I would call "light entertainments" rather than pure photography posts. I have put in links to 10 of them. My hope is to put a silly grin on your face going into the weekend.

Thou Art Like A Stoic
The Shocking Truth About Yuccas
Pythagoras and the Geometry of Gas
Tahiti in Hiding
"Mad Mountain" Haystack vs. the "Killer" Needles
The King of Early B-Boy
The Sultans of Swat
The Eyes Have It
Ode to a Classic
Pan and His Delicious Cakes


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dedicated to You

Tropical Flowers and Shutter, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

This week marks the first anniversary of Doug's Photo Blog. When I began it last year, I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew little about blogging. But I needed a spark, a way to have some fun with my photography. Since I had so many images to share, both slides from the archives and new digital photos, a blog seemed like a promising idea. Later, the idea improved when Becky, my lovely wife, joined the process of creating posts, adding a more exciting dimension to the fun (she is the Editor in Chief of my blog, and of many other things in my life).

What photo blogging has become is pure delight... not only because of the joy of sharing my photos with you, or the satisfaction of writing serious and informative (and often silly and disinformative) posts... but mostly because of you, all of you... friends who drop by for a visit.

One delightfully surprising aspect of blogging is how much I have learned from you. I am constantly amazed by the diversity of your styles, talents, imaginations, techniques and subjects. I believe my photography has improved because of you. And perhaps more importantly, Becky and I enjoy the variety of your personalities.

 Overall, what we have come to realize most about this blogging adventure is how much we enjoy your company. You are the driving force behind our blog.

So, since my eyes are attracted so readily to bright hues, I saved this picture, one of my more colorful images, to dedicate to all of you... our BBF's (best blogger friends). It is a small, humble thing... flowers from Charleston. I know, it is not a million dollars or a palace on the Riviera, or a box of rich chocolates, but nonetheless, it is from the heart.
Thank You Everyone!
(Please stay tuned... tomorrow I will have another offering).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Uncommon

Detail of Handicap Parking Symbol, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

One day something will catch your eye a certain way, even if you have seen it a million times. One day the common will become uncommon. Some little detail will jump out at you. Perhaps it will be a color, or the way the light is shining. I have walked over these handicap parking symbols in every parking lot in town it seems. But on this day, in this parking lot, I became intrigued with the color and texture of paint on asphalt. It had just rained, so maybe it was the way the water saturated the hues that caught my eye... I grabbed my camera and shot it.

But discovering that uncommon moment doesn't have to be in photography. It could be in anything. It could be the long sought solution to a problem you have struggled to solve... or it could be that you finally understand the punch line to a joke a friend told you weeks ago... or maybe one day you realize you like, really like, the taste of dry lima beans. And now you want to munch them by the handful.
Whatever your uncommon discovery...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Orange Car, Burnsville, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

This brightly colored car mimics the colorful autumn leaves that blaze in the Black Mountains, seen in the previous week's posts. I think it was the French philosopher Descartes who said,
"I drive a flashy orange car,
 therefore I exist."

Monday, November 14, 2011


Snowcapped Mount Mitchell and Late Autumn Color, Blue Ridge Parkway,
North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

The Blue Ridge Parkway twists and turns for 469 miles, stretching along the Appalachian Mountains from Virginia to North Carolina. Beautiful views from this scenic road are seen just about anywhere, but one of my favorite areas is near the high peaks of the Black Mountains. From here you have wonderful vistas of Mount Mitchell and its forested slopes. On our recent trip here, snow had fallen overnight on top of Mount Mitchell, revealing on the next day a grizzled looking mountain, worthy of its venerable age. The rocks of this tallest peak in the Eastern U.S. are estimated to be a billion years old! 

Well, shoot a bug! That's as old as my tattered pair of ancient hiking boots!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gods of the Mountains

Mt. Celo at Dusk, Black Mountains, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

From ancient times, gods have been known to dwell on mountains. In Greece, Zeus and the twelve principle gods of Greek mythology inhabited Mount Olympus. Vulcan was associated with the fire of volcanos, where he made his thunderbolts. In Hindu and Buddhist cosmology, Lord Brahma is said to sit atop the scared mountain of Mount Meru, where he resides at the center of the universe. In Maori legend, the mountain being, Taranaki, retreated to New Zealand after losing a mighty battle between other mountains, and became known as the volcano Mount Taranaki. During spectacular sunsets, he is thought to be showing-off.

In this image, the gods of Mt. Celo appear to have gathered at sunset for a cook out. They are roasting marsh mellows over a camp fire, and eating s'mores.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two Cows

Cows on a Mountain Pasture, Burnsville, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

There are about 1.3 billion cows in the world.

Here are two.

Friday, November 11, 2011

All Natural

Ice in Trees, near Mt. Mitchell, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

In yesterday's post I mentioned an overnight snowfall on the Black Mountains. Even though most of it had melted by next day, pockets of snow and ice remained on the protected north side of the range. This image may look like a black and white photograph with artificial coloring in the sky, but this is the actual scene shot in color (click on the picture for a larger view). In the iced over trees, you can actually see hints of the red fall foliage.

... no artificial coloring, no high fructose corn syrup, no red dye #2, no preservatives, no artificial sweeteners, no perfumes...
Just plain old photography.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Something About Mt. Celo

Mt. Celo and Pasture, Black Mountains, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

This view from the back porch of the cabin we visited shows the slope of a mountain pasture, and in the distance, Mt. Celo. An overnight storm left a dusting of snow on its peak and down its sides, but it melted in the warmth of the next day. Mt. Celo lies at the north end of a range of peaks called the Black Mountains, the foremost peak in this chain being Mt. Mitchell, the tallest peak in the Eastern U.S.

The Black Mountains are 
probably so called because of the dark coniferous forests that cover them. Another likely explanation for their name is that they are virtually impossible to see on black moonless nights, which would explain why so many folks bump into them at night. A third possible explanation is that early settlers in this area were all color blind. There is a forth and fifth explanation as well, but I can not remember them at the moment...  however, you might.

Also, if you recall from your American history lessons, Mt. Celo is tragically never mentioned... probably because it was too dark to see.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Beginnings of the Conservation Movement?

Entwined Trees along the Appalachian Trail, Spruce/Fir Forest, Roan Highlands, 
Boarder of Tennessee and North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

The First Tree Huggers

(Click on image for larger view)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Quilt of Color

Autumn view from Green Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

I realize at this point, pictures of fall colors have become cliche. They are everywhere, made at some point by everyone. And deservedly so. But, please indulge me for a little while longer because on a recent getaway to the mountains of North Carolina, we found much of autumn's beauty still remaining. I must confess, as much as we like Charleston, our hearts are in the wild mountains of Appalachia.

To reach this point above the Catawba River Valley, we had to hike 10.5 miles over rough terrain, then travel switchbacks on plodding mules for another 5.8713452567 miles. Along the way we also rode on the backs of llamas,
 camels and ostriches. The ostriches were not too happy about that, I can tell you... they were in such a cantankerous mood! I would have preferred emus. They are much more genial in temperament, but none were at hand. To arrive at our final destination, at this overlook, I carried Becky on my back, then she carried me on her shoulders (Little John and Friar Tuck were there too). In all it took us 3.60236541 days. 

Just teasing.
Actually it took us 
only 20.50000000009 minutes to drive to this overlook, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 
in a raging blizzard...
of autumn leaves.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Charleston National Ad Campaign

Stock images of Doug's are featured in the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
 National Ad Campaign Media Kit

As you probably know, the field of commercial photography is extremely competitive. The Charleston market, although small, is no exception. There is a plethora of highly talented photographers working in the area. Some use Charleston as a base of operation while working in larger markets, like New York City or Atlanta. And since the Charleston metro area was recently ranked the number one brain-gain region in the U.S. over the last decade, fresh talent enters the market yearly.

This is why I am fortunate, very fortunate, that the style and content of my photography has earned a small niche in the Charleston market, primarily selling photo stock of the area. If you have a moment, you can check out a link to my stock photography website in the sidebar of this blog. Today's post illustrates the images selected for use in the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) national ad campaign.

The good news this month for the CVB and the rest of Charleston is that the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Magazine's 2011 Reader's Choice Travel Award selected Charleston as the top rated travel destination in the United States. Reasons for the selection included the growth of its nationally recognized restaurants, hotels and resorts, the world renown arts scene (see Spoleto Festival USA), the area's abundant history, the charming ambience of the historic district, and the city's noted Southern hospitality.

I hope you have a chance to visit Charleston one day. Spring (late March - early April) and Fall (October) are the prime times to visit. If you do travel here, you might see me wondering around the city, still searching for that quintessential Charleston shot.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Twilight in the French Quarter

Saint Philip's Church, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Although New Orleans has the most famous French Quarter in the U.S., Charleston's is also one of distinction. Antebellum churches, theaters, cobblestone streets, colonial houses and art galleries all make a memorable experience. Taking one of the ghost tours at twilight adds another dimension to the experience. Many tours begin right here in front of Saint Philip's Church by the ornate cemetery fence. You might be able to imagine walking in the shadows of the French Quarter at night past the glow of hissing gas lanterns, beneath the full moon, listening to stories of spirits from old Charleston.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Roadside Fence in Fog, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Snowcapped Peak, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia Slide Film)

Early Morning, Ponte Sant'Angelo and Castle Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy  © Doug Hickok
(Velvia Slide Film)

Art Deco Clock and Facade, Union Terminal, Cincinnati, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

Bass Harbor Marsh in Summer, Acadia National Park, Maine  © Doug Hickok

Walkway, Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina  © Doug Hickok

A glimpse of places you have visited over the years...
 for some reminiscing. Most we've visited together, others apart, but all are great memories of wonderful wanderings!

Have a memorable, wondrous day!

Friday, November 4, 2011

F is for Foreground

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

F is for foreground. Focus on a nice foreground detail to add full depth to your photograph. This works fabulous with wide-angle lenses and high numbered f-stops.

F is also for Ford trucks, which seem to last forever.

And finally, F is for Friday. Hurray for Friday!
Friday is for dancing the flamenco on the hood of your old truck, car or F-15 fighter jet.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

750 Years!

Looking Down Florianska Street Toward Saint Mary's Basilica,
Krakow, Poland  © Doug Hickok

When we were in the Old Town of Krakow a few summers ago, the beautiful and charming city was in a celebratory mood. For good reason too. The city was commemorating the 750th anniversary of its medieval incorporation (and Charlestonians think Charleston is old!) Banners and other decorations were out in glorious display. I chose to show these colorful banners with an iconic landmark of the city in the background, the gothic Basilica of Saint Mary's. Concerts and other live entertainment were held in the city square, including, ironically, a youthful group of break dancers.

Color Notes for those confused by yesterday's post:
The primary colors of light are red, blue and green.
The secondary colors of light are yellow, cyan, and magenta.
("Must know info" for light technicians in the theater.)
The primary colors of pigment are red, blue, and yellow.
The secondary colors of pigment are green, orange, and violet.
("Must know info" for painters.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On Second Thought...

Metal Door and Vines, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok


Rusty Metal Door, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok


Cobblestone Street at Night, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok


... a dose of secondary colors.

  See this post for primaries

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