Archive for the animals Category

Daddy’s leaving

Posted in animals, Diary, Harlan on October 17, 2007 by lenscapremoved

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Photos and story by Brad Luttrell
Willis “Dean” Wilson pats her husband, Clyde, on the head in their home in Ages, Ky. Clyde had been dying from an aggressive cancer, but outlived his doctor’s expectations of a week by nearly a month.

Talking to Clyde Wilson wasn’t like starring death in the face, unless you knew he was dying. But everyone did.

Despite being told there was no hope for him after doctors found he had an aggressive cancer, Clyde, 69, didn’t seem to be bothered by anything. Clyde’s character remained compassionate, kind and never cowardly or weak. He was still talking, having fun with his dog, Boots, and enjoying the company of those who visited him.

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Clyde would put peppermints in his shirt pocket for his dog, Boots, to find. Boots would run up Clyde’s legs, ascend his arm and mount on his shoulder to dig for the hidden piece of candy.

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Clyde’s dog Boots, a chihuahua, was Clyde’s favorite type of dog. Clyde and Dean bragged about how smart Boots was, and were always eager to show of his intelligence by hiding candy in Clyde’s pocket, which Boots could not only find, but unwrap. Clyde’s nephew, Alex Rigney, placed a stuffed chihuahua in Clyde’s casket before his visitation.

Friends and family would come visit and they would ask him, sitting in his chair by the door, if he was in any kind of pain. “Yeah,” is all Clyde would say. He said complaining about it didn’t make the pain go away. His only protest from the pain was that he stayed in his chair by the door. It was the least painful way to sit, he said.

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Janie Luttrell, right, and her daughter Megan, visit their uncle Clyde on Sept. 23, a week and a half before he died.

Clyde, a retired coal miner, had been with his wife, Willis “Dean” Wilson, for 50 years. In a small house on Peach Tree Street in Ages, Ky, the two lived a quiet lifestyle together. They attended a small, country church just across the road and by the river, where Clyde, or Daddy as Dean always called him, served his faith for over 12 years.

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Clyde’s niece, Janie, comes to visit him and Dean in their small, dark home on the hill in Ages, Ky.

When others may have been tempted to give up on God and stay home, Clyde was still worshiping by the river. At Clyde’s funeral, his preacher, Brother Kellis Greer, recalled to a packed building, seeing Clyde coming into the church with a feeding tube hanging from his face. Clyde was as dedicated as one can imaginably be.

“Seeing that packed church really showed you how good Clyde was to us kids,” Clyde’s niece, Janie Luttrell, said. “I can’t remember Clyde ever being anything but nice to us.”

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Atop of the living room television, near the front door, a loaded pistol sits next to glass figurines of angels and a dying Jesus Christ. Dean said the pistol was for protection in case someone broke in to try and steal Clyde’s pain medications.

Clyde and Dean were the two you can’t imagine without the other. Hand in hand, they were a living unit together. Dean tended to Clyde in his sickness, feeding him only a half of a spoonful of ice cream, which could be as much as he would eat for days. As Clyde sat in his chair, Dean would tell you about how well he was doing, in comparison to how poorly the doctors expected him to do.

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Dean and Clyde loved to show friends and family how smart Boots is.

But now, Dean is not with Clyde, and Clyde is with the only other person he knew more intimately than Dean, Jesus Christ. Dean must cope without her best friend, Daddy. The house that ever so small house on Ages’ hill is now bigger than she ever imagined. Even amongst all the glass whatnots and figurines, years of belongings stacked throughout and even Boots, there isn’t enough there to keep the house from feeling empty.

On the day of his funeral, family and friends packed into that small church house by the river. Some were laughing as they met up with old friends. Others crying as they looked to the casket in the front, where Clyde would last be seen. With an unusually thin face and small stuffed dog by his waist, he looked as though he were waiting. The lid of the casket displayed four doves flying, one away from the rest. “Going Home,” was stitched under the lone dove.

When the time came, the funeral began and songs praised God and spoke of when they “would see you again.” Preachers, who were also friends, spoke of Clyde, but spoke more attentively to those in attendance. Clyde was already in a better place. There wasn’t much anyone could do for him. Making an example of Clyde’s life and dedication to his faith, a message was given to those in attendance that day. Instead of a mourning, within the four walls of the tiny church sounded more like a revival.

Which is exactly what Clyde wanted.

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Why not?

Posted in animals on August 6, 2007 by lenscapremoved

This used to be cool?

The road trip within a road trip

Posted in animals, California, camping, Hess, road trip, Sequoia, Smiley, Snappers, Yosemite on July 5, 2007 by lenscapremoved

Blogger note: After looking through how many pictures I’ve actually taken over the past few days, I’ve decided that this wont be so much the whole story as it will be just to show you my best from Yosemite and a bit about Sequoia. There will be another post about Yosemite and Death Valley later.

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All of my photojournalism friends who are looking at this are thinking, “Where is the runner wearing the red sweatshirt kicking up dirt while having perfect separation and framing with the trees?” To them I would say the only runner that came through wouldn’t put on the red sweatshirt I carry with me for such situations and threatened to call park services if I didn’t stop trying to convince him to change clothes and buy photos from Pictures with Purpose. This photo was taken around 7 am so he was the only one.
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Keith and I were walking back to the car when he saw this picture. The blue bird that was there before flew as soon as he tried to take it. It was a nice photo and as we started walking again I saw it just in time to shoot this and completely steal Keith’s idea. I told him about it after I got a few good frames off and skipped a few rocks across the water to scare off any wildlife that might be thinking about stopping on this stump in nice light.

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Elliott told me he would switch to Canon if he couldn’t push over General Sherman, one of the largest living organisms in the world. Here he is in action after hopping a fence no more than 50 yards from a park ranger. With a little spring in his step I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he proved no match for the beast which weighs in at around 2,000 tons. After seeing how easily I overexposed these snappers, he said the deal was off and he was sticking to Nikon.

What kind of tourist would we be if we didn’t break the rules? We managed to go through three National Parks for three nights and only pay for one campsite and avoid any daytime fees for trails or parking. Since we all have a National Parks Pass we can avoid the silly 20 dollar entrance fee every time we pass a park gate. Also, we may have a few unique souvenirs in the trunk of the Volvo.

Most of my souvenirs from this trip will be my photos. I found a deal today where I can have a photo book made with all of my photos up to 100 pages for a flat rate of 20 bucks (Becky, I’m not sure if you can get this same deal but if you want to check it out click here). I think this will be the best way to show people how my trip was rather than to have to whip out a laptop, load up the 10,528 photos plus however many more I shoot, then go through the tagged ones in Photo Mechanic and wonder if they’re able to see the screen right, if I’m showing them too much or too little and if they know what they’re looking at. With a book I can do my own captions and just throw it on the table and say have at it.

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Remember the post We make a scene? I had about 15 tourist standing behind me while I was over the edge and off the paved path shooting this photo. A few were starring, wondering what in the heck I could be shooting pictures of. Others just kind of stopped, glanced and walked on. I guess I stood out about as badly as this tree.

This picture of this pine tree will be one of my favorites in the book. While it may not seem like much, I really worked this frame a lot, taking 99 pictures of this one tree. Trying combinations of different exposures, compositions and focal lengths I think I finally found this frame. It’s simple, quick and beautiful. This is a sunset at Glacier Point in Yosemite.

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Sunrise in Yosemite. Taken from inside the valley.

To most tourists it doesn’t matter what time of day you see something. Most people plan around how hot it will be during mid-day or try to wake up early enough to cover their planned territory. While I’m not saying you can’t shoot good pictures at mid-day or at any time of the day, the best time to shoot landscape pictures is at sunrise and sunset. This means waking up early, which sucks when you spent the night on rocks or a stump. Clouds really make or break these pictures too (so important that Elliott wanted to leave Yosemite early because the lack of clouds). Unfortunately, we didn’t see one the entire time and haven’t seen but a few in about a month.

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Note to my photo friends: Yes I know I have an intersection with the branch and mountain. Its not perfect. If you’re looking for perfection and bliss click here.

When you don’t have clouds you have to work around it by either cutting out more of the sky, using its emptiness to your advantage or filling it with something else. For this picture, I picked tree branches. I’m not crazy about this frame, but I thought it helped show why clouds are important. I could have found a better foreground if I already had clouds bursting up over this mountain.  
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Sunest at glacier point provided incredible light and one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen. I really like the second one and feel like the light hits that top left rock formation like a castle in the distance and gives the picture a surreal feeling. I hope I have a few good pictures to show for it. If not I figure I can just buy some post cards and scan them into my computer to claim and brag about.

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From left to right: knee socks rolled down with apparent golf shoes, two different colors of denim on one body, rolled jeans with Hush Puppies, fanny pack and socks so high, thick and strong they can be used as a pocket and a Sari with nursing shoes.

 Like I’ve said, people are the by far the most interesting animal in the world to watch. If you want to get as many random people together as possible, or at least as many interesting characters, you should once again whip our your atlas and find the closest National Park to you. The photo above makes me smile every time I see it because it perfectly represents who we’re around at all time: total strangers. People who are leading totally different lives are in this one place to see a few of nature’s most impressive (and convenient) features.

I’m sure the person with the fanny pack was carrying a cell phone in there with all of their loved ones and friends names in it. Some of them may have their own ring tone. Maybe the guy with the shoes that look like they should have golf tread on them really is a golfer. Maybe he’s the best at his country club. I have another photo of the lady in the sari posing with a loved one for a frozen moment together that may end up on his or her work desk, in their vehicle or wallet. It’s such a heavy feeling to think about how everyone is seeing the same sights, making similar memories and yet never really acknowledging each other or sharing it with anyone around them.

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The wide shot of the valley is pretty, but this girl in her red sweater sitting next to this single tree was really beautiful. She was just taking in the view and not paying any attention to me standing about 30 yards or less behind her taking this photo. Sometimes though, the people are a part of the view.

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The view is divine but the massive crowd is more exciting. If you don’t like to take pictures you can at least appreciate the strange conversations you can tune in on. Look out for a blog about using your cameras to pick up dates (no this isn’t about Elliott or any of the rest of us).

After so many people gather at these places, the real feature, the land, isn’t the only spectacle anymore. The four of us have shot almost as many photos of the tourist as we have of these natural masterpieces. In some of my photos I want people I don’t know in them. It kind of seems like the opposite of what makes sense, but if you think about it that’s all part of being somewhere like this. Everyone is there for the same reason. It’s all about experiencing something so eminent and beautiful it needed to be a part of your life. All to be able to say you’ve been there. Together, not individually, people have made these world wide wonders just a bit more interesting, at least to those of us have zoomed out for the wide shot.


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Seen better days

Posted in animals, California, Oak View, Ventura on June 14, 2007 by lenscapremoved

We shouldn’t have been so courageous and foolish.

From the second we stepped outside and saw the same thick fog from last night still lingering, we should have went back to our rooms and fallen back asleep. Instead, we piled into the car, stacked camera equipment into our rental vehicle and decided to head to Oak View to see if the fog was just in Ventura.

“Do you think this fog makes it through the mountains to Ojai?” asked Elliott.

“I don’t know. I guess we’ll see,” I said.

It does. No worries. The light was flat and there was no sign of a sun rise. We pulled a u-turn, which is becoming infamous for our trips. We can’t go out without taking at least two or three u-turns. This u-turn led us back to the pier to take our chances with the fog as we had last night.

The same thick fog that made for interesting pictures around the pier last night was now just strangling any hope of good light and keeping us from finding anything to shoot. We walked down the pier and shot a few pictures of the homeless sleeping with their fishing poles and bikes resting near their make-shift beds. They’re not impressive pictures, but I guess they tell the story of the area.

There were dolphins swimming about a hundred yards or less from the pier. But without a longer lens I wasn’t going to be able to get anything good. I tried a few times to catch the dolphins jumping but it turns out that’s really really hard to do. The best shot I got wasn’t any better than tourist Joe could have taken with his point and shoot. A fin breaking a small wave before a tiny spout of air sounds through the top of the dolphin’s body. It made me appreciate the shot of the great white eating the seal on Planet Earth a lot more. But then again, they did spend two months trying to get that shot. Three minutes and five frames left me with nothing to brag about. But I’m OK with that.

Basically I’m saying we woke up earlier and got worse pictures. I think the next time we walk out the door at 5:30 and see fog we’ll head right back to bed. Unless that’s what we’re looking for.  

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Catch me up

Posted in animals on June 4, 2007 by lenscapremoved

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Apparently people are reading since we’re averaging 300 hits a day with our best day at 670. As a photographer, and student of Dave, I know the eye feeds first. So here you go. Critique, compliment and question. I like hearing from you guys. Thanks for reading and keep checking to see what we get into on the 101.

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Day to day

Posted in animals, camping, Hess, Matthews, Snappers, wyoming on June 1, 2007 by lenscapremoved

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            It’s now day three in Yellowstone. We’ve all been saying that this place is like Jurassic Park. This place has so many features and changes in landscapes that you can’t believe it’s all going on here in this same location. When we’re driving I feel like any minute I’m going to pop around a corner and see an ancient creature mauling a van full of tourists.           

           Yesterday we went through tall mountains covered in pines, tall jagged rocks, flat plains, treeless plateaus, rocky desert areas and then into the are where we spent the night in a cabin, Mammoth Springs. The volcanic activity here will blow your mind. It doesn’t seem possible for all this to be going on in one place. The more I see the more it all seems fake, and too good to be true. I’m starting to feel like I’m in a theme park.

            I didn’t post yesterday because the only place there is wireless is outside of the park in Montana. This is where we’ll be headed in a few hours after Ed and Elliott wake up and we pack the car.

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            The past few days have been amazing. I love photojournalism and know that’s what I want to do, but being able to make beautiful pictures like we’ve done the past two nights has really rejuvenated my spirits and made me fall in love with photography all over again. In nature there is no battle to represent anything evenly or fairly. It’s up to you and how you see it, and its fun to get to make pictures of what I appreciate about this place.

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             But sometimes it’s easy to get lost in what is going on and forget about watching out for number one. We’ve all made some dumb decisions here in the park while shooting because you just get so wrapped up in making a good picture that you put everything behind getting your frame just right. With the engaging reminder that nature is an awe-inspiring subject I also got a counteractive memento, and possibly a little keepsake.

             We’ve been dying to see bears and moose. Yesterday we were driving down this curvy road, all watching for bear too and I saw one up in the woods. We pulled over immediately and ran to the spot (first dumb move: running in the general direction of a wild bear). We were about 50 yards from the black bear sat on a log across a ravine and up the mountain.            

              Everyone starts working the scene and moving to different angles. Within three or four minutes there were at least 7 cars parking into the hill and in the road, people were lobbing themselves into traffic to see something they hadn’t even identified yet. The bear is looking pretty upset with us and started moving away. I lost my shot and knew where I first started shooting him would be a better position. I turned and quickly stepped in that direction, not realizing that the ground I was walking on wasn’t the side of the road but small broken pieces of pavement. The old road was busted up on the edge and when my right foot hit down into the unfixed rock I slid.           

              I tried to catch myself but it was no use. I had to hold my camera up to keep it from being hit, which failed. My lens hood got a very small chip. My elbow is scraped a little but my knee is pretty bad. The sharp pavement cut my knee deep in seven places, one big enough to fit my pinky finger down into.              

              I looked up to see a tour bus, a park ranger’s truck and an additional 3-4 cars, all of which knew I had just bit it pretty hard. I was waiting to feel embarrassed but it never came. After a guy in a truck asked me if I was OK, I turned and shot about 4 more photos before walking to the car.             Once I started cleaning myself off I realized I had made a big whoops. My leg is missing a good size piece below my knee. Thanks to the homemade survival kit my mother made me (thanks mom) and the shop towels I brought just to have, I was able to do some immediate work on it, but not too much.

            I was going to go to a clinic just to get it cleaned but they told me I had to see a doctor, and I didn’t want to wait over an hour when I could dump peroxide on it myself and eventually get all the dirt out. If it starts to look bad I plan to go back, but for now I’m just going to keep cleaning it a few times a day and keeping it wrapped up. If it scars it will make for a nice souvenir of the first time I saw a wild black bear and a reminder to think a little beyond the camera lens next time.

            We’ve been driving around at night because it’s the best time to see animals graze. Just in Yellowstone we’ve seen bull elk, bull deer, pronghorns, buffalo (these guys are everywhere…I could do a whole blog about our experience with them), coyotes, bald eagles, golden eagles, black bear, grizzly bear and its cub, pelicans, the biggest crows you have ever seen, and pikas (they’re like squirrels minus the big tail). The only thing I really want to see now is a bull moose.

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             We had planned on getting up at 5 and driving out for sunrise today and yesterday. But it’s so nice to have a bed we end up sleeping through the alarm for an hour or three. I’m sure we’ll do that when we camp though. There’s no alarm like a biting 27 degrees on your face.                         We’ll be camping here for the next two or three nights and then we’re off to Oregon. We’re going to drive through and then start our way down the coast. The camping trip is halfway over. It was a week ago that we left  Lexington.

            Last night when we were driving through the woods coming back to our cabin, I was thinking about the scene we had just shot and got a weird feeling. We watched the sun go down behind a mountain which rested against a plain where a herd of 75 -100 buffalo were preparing to bed down. After seeing something like that it’s hard to think about any other place. About halfway back I told Ed and Elliott I felt like I was never going to see Kentucky again. I’m not trying to take away from Kentucky’s pretty landscapes with the horses and rolling mountains. It’s just we’ve seen so much in the past week that it all feels surreal and like it’s not going to stop.              

           I’m sure it will stop and that’s the part that makes me appreciate all of this. Right now I’m off to shower for the last time for a few days and then who knows. It’s all day to day, but I may see the last one creeping up faster than I would like.

A few more photos:

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Snappers by Ed Matthews

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Snappers by Elliott Hess and a random hostess

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