Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Hike, Some History and a Few Good Pics

Drusilla Hall Grave Stone - HDR Image
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Since Halloween is just around the corner, I decided to take a stroll today and go on safari to the old Hall Cemetery, which is located several miles past my father's house on the Middle Ridge of Davis Creek, south of Charleston, West Virginia.

Most of the grave stones have been weathered by time, but some markings are still visible, and a handful of dates go all the way back to the Civil War.

Unlike modern cemeteries, full of plastic flowers and overpriced monolith-like headstones, it has been consumed by the woods and almost forgotten. A more peaceful and quiet setting seldom exists. I couldn't imagine a more appropriate place to be laid to rest.

I've always had a big bone to pick with the "Death Industry" and how they prey upon grieving families. Human beings have been laid to rest for over a hundred thousand years without the help of some slick suited fucker "helping" the family in their time of sorrow. Modern funeral homes are plague upon our soil, and have turned the simple process of a burial into an overpriced, horribly complex process, designed to lighten your wallet and sustain their miserable existence. Anyhow, that's a rant for another day.

My father, Benny Means, has given me quite a bit of history on this site and how the Means Family is tied to several of the people buried here.

This particular grave stone belongs to Drusilla Hall, and is one of the better preserved markers in the cemetery. Drusilla was my great grandfather's aunt.

I was very drawn to Drusilla's grave stone because of the moss growing at the top of the marker, and in all the letters carved in the stone. With the vibrant fall colors, it made for an interesting shot.

Bordom Sometimes Pays Big Dividends

Molly Macro
Molly Macro
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Every once in a while, boredom will set in. It seldom happens due to the hustle and bustle of modern life. But, every now and again, I find myself to lazy to start on yet another project, or continue the one I've been avoiding.

Thankfully, I can use photography as a great excuse. As I was staring at the TV, paying attention to absolutely nothing, I decided to take some shots of one of our family dogs, Molly. She's a Basenji mix from the pound, and one of the most loving dogs I've ever seen. At times, Molly can be very territorial, and downright contrary, but never has a dog ever showed me such caring and attention. By her nature, she's very co-dependent, and a bit of a handful when the mood strikes her.

This evening, Molly was in a fairly calm mood and allowed me to get a few nice portraits and this awesome macro.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Shop Mascot

Rose Chafer Larvae- Cetonia aurata
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

The other day as I was wasting the lunch hour away, my brother Steve pointed out a very odd creature slinking its way from under my chair. This critter was inching his way across the shop floor, and making good time to boot.

At present - or until more intelligent minds intervene - we're identifying this critter as a Rose Chafer. Regardless, we'll see how long we can keep it alive and what it eventually turns into.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I-64 Bridge + Rain + Impatient Idiots = Wreck

I-64 Wreck - Charleston, West Virginia - HDR Image
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

As reliable as the oscillation frequencies of a cesium atomic clock, a drop of rain hit the I-64 Interstate bridge in Charleston, West Virginia on Thursday evening and mass chaos followed.

Wrecks are so common on this bridge, it's borderline comical. This particular section of interstate is rated as on of the worst in the in the United States. No other stretch of road in America has more twists, turns, on-ramps, off-ramps, splits, lane changes, conversions, diversions.... in such a short distance. And all at 70 miles per hour.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Stab at Astrophotography

Moon with Meade LX200 Telescope
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Last night was the first attempt for my brother Steve and I to try our luck with astrophotography. Steve has had a Meade LX200 GPS telescope for several years, but last night was the first time we've actually hooked up a camera to the back of it.

I recently purchased the T-ring and camera adapter to mount my Canon EOS 10D to the scope. It was a fairly simple setup, but was still somewhat problematic due to the fact is was our first spin couple the two together.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the images we were able to get. We've still got a lot to learn (and more equipment to buy) to get some of the long exposure images we so desperately want. Anyhow, it's a good start.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

WV Birds of Prey Photo Workshop

Golden Eagle Eating Quail
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

What a fantastic weekend. I spent Saturday at the 2007 West Virginia Birds of Prey Photography Workshop.

The event was sponsored by Steven Rotsch Photography and Three Rivers Avian Center.

Thanks so much to Steven Rotsch as well as Wendy and Ron Perrone at TRAC for putting on such a great event.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Trip to the Dentist

Bumble Bee on Russian Sage
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

I always love it when a daily (or semi-annual as the case may be) chore turns into a photo shoot. I went to visit my dentist today for a cleaning and was amazed to see that his Russian Sage had fared much better than the ones in my garden this year. And naturally, there were dozens of huge bumble bees swarming over every single plant.

The opportunity to shoot macro doesn't come my way every day, so when it does, I jump all over it. I hope that when I go back next week to get a little more work done there will be some more interesting critters to shoot on the way.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Early Fall Color - HDR Image

Middle Ridge Road - HDR Image
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. Cool weather, less humidity and spectacular color. But this year isn't quite living up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to see this time of year regardless, but due to the dry, hot weather, this years fall colors are far from perfect. Most of the leaves are turning straight to brown and hitting the ground.

Hopefully, next weekends Photo Workshop at Three Rivers Avian Center will lift my spirits.

Friday, October 5, 2007

HDR is so coooool......

Royal Enfield Blue Deluxe - HDR Image
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

I've been wanting to play around with HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging for a long time now, but just haven't bit the bullet and bought the software. Thankfully, a friend of mine gave me some HDR software to play around with and I've been having a blast ever since.

All I can say is that I'm hooked. I can't wait to get out and starting shooting some more pics to turn into HDR delights.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Praying Mantis - Mantis religiosa

Praying Mantis - Mantis religiosa
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

After several days in captivity, this praying mantis celebrated its long overdue release back into the wild with a quick departure through our garden.

After three steering committees, two meetings with PETA and a special session of the West Virginia State Legislature, my daughter Dhania finally conceeded that returning our guest back to the wild was the best decision.

Our predatory guest made his way off into the sunset this afternoon to continue playing his part in the insect kingdom. A tip of my hat goes to this alpha predator. He provided the whole family with a great learning experience and me the opportunity for some fantastic photographs.