Friday, June 28, 2013

Rise of the Super Moon - Augusta, Georgia

The night of June 23 I had marked on my calendar of weeks!  With the summer solstice and a few other contributing factors, that night the moon was full and closest as it would be to Earth for the year of 2013.  With all the anticipation, I was checking the weather starting the week before and as the day got closer I feared the dreaded Georgia night rain more and more.  Luckily it didn't rain, however the week chalked full of rain before made the humidity almost unbearable!  Unbearable in the sense that you can not see a mile because the haze is so dense that is.  That was my bad luck at the beginning of the night, but my erratic sleep pattern thanks to my graveyard shift was in my favor to being awake very early in the morning.  That is when I was able to get my payload of great shots of the Super Moon!  The image to the left was taken basically from the driveway of my house just before I made my way to the downtown area on the morning of the 24th.  I like the sliver of a cloud barely breaking across the face of the moon while the boughs frame in the earthly satellite.  My two holy sites of choice were the Sacred Heart (formerly Catholic Church) and the Trinity Greek Orthodox church in downtown area with their symbolic domes and steeples of Augusta.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Simply Farmlife - Northwestern South Carolina

Winding through the Sumter National Forest I felt at home with the pastures with calves bounding about and fields of grain and corn dotting the landscape.  The dangerous thought also crossed my mind as I saw a few "For Sale" signs on a few acres of farmland such as the one with the red barn which is also where I caught a glimpse at some wild turkeys!  

Navigating Nantahala - Western North Carolina

I heard of the beauty of this place from a few people that I had met around Georgia but really didn't think too much of it being they seemed to talk it up to something that I thought could not be true.  Sure enough, I was wrong!  Leaving from the quaint town of Franklin at the crack of down bound for Highlands, I discovered some of the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen in my life, after those of Glacier/Avalanche Lake and Yosemite of course!   Although, scaling down steep slopes composed of pine needles and soft mountain soil after a heavy rain can make for some near death encounters!  (Voice of experience speaking!)  If the conditions allow, getting a view from the bottom of these falls is more than worth it, just be careful!

The Waterfalls: top row, left to right: Cullasaja Falls, above then from the bottom; Dry Falls from the bottom.  Middle row, left is Dry Falls, on the right is one of the tiers of Glenn Falls. Below, left and middle is Bridal Veil Falls, and on the right is another tier of Glenn Falls near the small mountain town of Highlands, North Carolina.

Smokies Sunset - Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Hiking Hyatt Ridge - Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

Made the morning hike along the Hyatt Ridge trail to the top of the Benton MacKaye Trail over Memorial Day weekend and I could not have asked for a better photo experience with my new lens!  The Benton MacKaye trail basically parallels the Appalachian trail through the Great Smoky Mountain forest if that gives you any perspective to the trail!  

Pictured below are a few fun shots that I snapped along the way!  The bird is a pretty easy one to identify but the butterfly in the middle might take you a second or two to find!  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Asheville Alive - Asheville, North Carolina

I have yet to go to Asheville and not see the streets of the downtown buzzing with people walking about as numerous musicians, magicians and more breathe a vibrant sense of life into the Blue Ridge mountain air.  One can never go wrong with Asheville for a weekend get away for great food, culture and a genuine great time!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monument to the Men of the CSA - Stone Mountain, Georgia

After more than half a century of work, the carving of the Confederate Memorial was started in 1916 and was said to be completed in March of 1972 by the final group of sculptors.   The original plan by the United Daughters of the Confederacy called for a high bust of General Lee on the 800 foot north face of the mountain.  Quoted by the first sculptor to work on the relief on their plan for the bust would be like "a postage stamp on a barn door."  That man was Gutzon Borglum that made that statement and Stone Mountain was the project that led him to do his greatest work: Mount Rushmore.  The massive carving of the Three Gentlemen measuring 90 feet tall and 190 feet wide was completed by another great American sculptor, Walker Hancock.  After completion, the low relief carving of Jefferson Davis, General Robert Lee, and Stonewall Jackson is the largest bas-relief or low relief carving in the world on one of the single largest pieces of granite in the world.

Around the Mountain - Stone Mountain, Georgia

After living in the state of Georgia for two years, I finally made my way to Stone Mountain State Park and Memorial.  First and foremost, I was glad that I had my new telephoto lens for this trip being I could really "reach out and grab" great shots such as the downtown Atlanta skyline and more people shots while not looking somewhat creepy.

Not knowing much about the mountain and park itself, I simply followed my GPS to a gate, paid my dues and went on my merry way to the nearest parking spot.  Once there, I took a gander at the map and read up on my options as far as maneuvering the trails and noticed that there was trail to the top of the mountain but was rated "somewhat difficult".  Being I was on a time limit I wanted to see the monument more than anything so I just began following the mass of people that I thought would lead me there.  About 20 minutes in to walking along a slight incline of a trail, I pause for a few skyline shots when I hear "I think we are almost to the top."  I immediately pull out that map and realize I am on the trail to the top and laugh.  I guess if you compare this path to a level sidewalk then it could be slightly difficult!  For the rest of the hike I laughed to myself as I was blowing past people on the way to the top of this challenging trek, supposedly.  

I love how this shot turned out and so far have had a great response from friends on them as well!  Great thing about professional photographers passing their wisdom onto me over time!

Hot-lanta Heights - Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia State Capitol - Atlanta, Georiga

Following the Reconstruction Era, the question once again came to the State of Georgia about it's seat of government: Return to Milledgeville or plant new roots in the prospering city of Atlanta?  Calling upon the citizens of Georgia, the vote tallied up with two-thirds in favor of Atlanta as the new home to the statehouse in December of 1877.  One of the four stipulations placed by the state legislature were executed and those were "the cost of construction should not exceed one million dollars".  The rest were "completed by January 1, 1889" which was only overstretched until March 20, 1889, "built of Georgia material" but after realizing the quarries of the state were not adequate, and "built by the terms of the board of commissioners" which I will spare you those details!  Interesting enough, the remaining amount of that $1,000,000 was a mere $118.40 - talk about cutting it close!   Built with a combination of Renaissance and Classical Revival styles, the new legislative hall crown a small rise which overlooked the growing industrial city of Atlanta at the time with her bright golden dome but now accents the forefront of the jungle of skyscrapers.  Under the Dome in the rotunda are portraits of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Oglethorpe and Lafayette, which are the only artifacts in this capitol remaining from the old capitol in Milledgeville.  Looking westward atop the cupola is Miss Freedom, carved out of Georgia marble, same as the cornerstone that marked the beginning of the construction.