Monday, May 26, 2008

A Second Stab at Perfection

Tree Swallow
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Yesterday I took several photos of this Tree Swallow, but was very disappointed with the results. The lighting was much hotter on Sunday with nary a cloud in the sky, and to make things worse, this side of the box was back lit.

I managed to pull a little photoshop magic on yesterday's pics, but was still disheartened at the results. The Tree Swallow's back feathers are a beautiful blue-green that glints in the sun. The colors of yesterday's images were more like play dough colored poop. So, I took another trip to Nelle Chilton's pond today with high hopes of getting a better shot.

Thankfully, the sky was overcast and the lighting was considerably more forgiving. The box was still back lit, but a small amount of fill flash helped to highlight the subject and make a more desirable image.

Also in my favor was the fact that the Tree Swallow is a highly skilled flier that is very playful and inquisitive. It doesn't dally, but did linger long enough for me to get this shot and a handful of others.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

Dragon Fly
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

I spent yet another afternoon at Nelle Chilton's pond. I was so taken by yesterday's photo session that my brother Steve and I decided to take a stroll and snap off a few more shots today as well.

Birds of a Feather

Blackbird Nest
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Well, there may not be any feathers yet - more like fuzz at this point. But, very soon these little guys will be sailing around the skies at Nelle Chilton's farm on Middle Ridge of Davis Creek.

I spent most of Saturday afternoon doing laps around her pond taking pictures and getting carried away with the vast amounts of life that are attracted by a source of water.

I think that one of these days when I'm lucky enough to have a little slice of heaven away from the urban jungle, I'm going to have to have a pond as well.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Lazy Afternoon by the Pond

Frog in Chilton Pond
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

The sun was out and warm temps abound. Seldom can the weather be any nicer. I spent most of the day stumbling around taking pictures, and spent a good part at Nelle Chilton's pond.

It's amazing the variety of life a small source of water can attract. Frogs swim lazily around while all manner of insect swarm in, on or about the area. Two Blackbird nests were at water's edge, while momma and papa bird squawked overhead.

Let's hope the next couple of days holds similar success for both weather and pictures.

More Cicadas

Originally uploaded by Jason Means

If these little fellas were locusts instead of cicadas, I would almost believe something Biblical was about to happen.

Hordes of cicadas are popping out all over our area, with undoubtedly more to come. It's a shame they only come out every seventeen years, because they are a load of fun to photograph.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Creepy... But Way Cool

Originally uploaded by Jason Means

On Saturday afternoon I noticed a lot more of the cicadas climbing out of their 17 year slumber, and had the opportunity to really shoot them in much more detail.

A Different Perspective

John McCain Supporter in Saint Albans, West Virginia
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

At the John McCain meet-n-greet in Saint Albans, most of his supporters were decked out in this seasons most fashionable Real Tree Camouflage apparel. This particular gentleman even had his copy of John McCain's best selling book, "Faith of our Fathers", stuffed in his pants to complete his ensemble.

While I was snapping off a few pics, I heard an interesting conversation going on behind me. A couple of national news reporters were snickering and shaking their heads in regards to our camo clad McCain clan.

At first, I took a bit of offense - because I was wearing camouflage too. Nothing as expensive and modern as Real Tree mind you. My tastes are... how should I put it... cheaper. I purchase tons of foreign military surplus uniforms and camouflage apparel from the Sportsman's Guide - not just because they're cool - but because they're dirt cheap. They make excellent work clothes, and - if I hadn't already mentioned it - THEY'RE CHEAP.

Anyhow, as I continued to listen in, one of them further explained his point of view. He stated that in America, we're used to seeing camo clad folks stirring about, and think nothing of it because we recognize them as avid hunters, or just folks who like to blend in (no pun intended) to the Appalachian scene.

But, when we're looked at from afar, foreigners see something entirely different. They see something malevolent and mischievous. They see, and think... para-military and/or guerrilla forces. Stealthy factions that work outside or alongside our government.

After that statement, I was stunned. Never had I thought such a thing, but when viewed from a different perspective, he was exactly correct.

I was just about to give the out-of-towner a little piece of my mind, but in hindsight, I was glad I just continued to listen and take pictures. Photography is a powerful tool of observation, and this time it helped me pick up a little more than I normally do.

Guns, Archery, Fishing - Salvation is Free

John McCain in Saint Albans, West Virginia
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

In recent weeks, the political climate of West Virginia has been on fire. With visits from all three major players in the presidential race, the Mountain State has been a hotbed for political news on the national level - which has been both good - and bad.

John McCain, hot on the heels of West Virginia's Primary, lost no time in heading to the streets for a meet-n-greet in Saint Albans, which I affectionately refer to as Saint Albania, due to it's rather simple inhabitants - and the fact that it's the meth capitol of the free world.

I was a little bit bummed when I heard that the grip-n-grin at Saint Albans Gun and Archery was a closed affair. Only a select handful of people were allowed to have a little one-on-one time with the Senator in front of the shop, and even fewer were allowed in the store while he spoke with the owner, and shopped for.... cat fish lures.

Cue the banjo music please.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the sign in front of the building reads: Guns, Archery, Fishing - Salvation is Free.

I shit you not. While inside he purchased several items for... cat fishing - while dressed in suit and tie, with his lovely wife in tow. A more serene picture could not be imagined.

My only real wish though would have been that he purchase some camo (Real Tree of course) to wear. Then, he would have stealthily blended with the local populous, so much so that his arrival - and departure - would have went unnoticed.

I'm not a huge McCain fan. I respect him for his years of military and political service, but.... 100 more years in Iraq! Give me a fucking break. No amount of money, leverage, begging, bartering, war, etc. will ever bring peace to the Middle East.

Anyhow, after a few brief minutes, the spectacle was gone. McCain and his zoot suit entourage waded past the simple people of West Virginia on his way to an NRA convention in Kentucky.

Seldom have I gotten so worked up on the political scene, but seldom has our great nation been is such shitty shape. I look forward to this upcoming election year, with just a little bit more optimism as each day roles by.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow

Barack Obama in Charleston, West Virginia
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Well, I'm glad that Tuesday, May 13th 2008, a day that will live in infamy, has came and past. West Virginia's primary was yesterday, and the dust is finally settling on what was a very heated Democratic presidential race.

I am a Ron Paul supporter to the bone, but naturally I did throw in a vote yesterday to Barack Obama, because he needs all the help he can get in this backwards-ass state.

Naturally, the white, God fearing people of West Virginia would have nothing to do with a Negro for president, so they voted for their only alternative, Hillary Clinton. I personally don't consider Hillary Clinton more than a protest vote on the part of most here in the Mountain State, because come November, most will back McCain.

Oh how I wish I lived someplace more progressive, more.... normal. Oh how I long for something more than the elderly hillbilly welfare madness that is day-to-day West Virginia. I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, some I regret more deeply than others, but not leaving West Virginia - and staying the hell away has been one of my biggest regrets to date.

There was once a fork in the road, and I have obviously taken the wrong path. My only hope now is that the road winds back around, and that maybe, just maybe, I can have another opportunity to take the other path.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Sheriff is Near.... The Sheriff is Near...

Barack Obama in Charleston, West Virginia
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

It never ceases to amaze me how many parallels there are between one of my favorite candidates, Barack Obama, and my all time favorite movie - Blazing Saddles.

For those of you unfamiliar with this Mel Brooks cult classic, I highly recommend it for your viewing pleasure. In short, it's about a hick town that's being fleeced by a shady land baron, Hedley Lamar. To further his cause and get rid of the town folk, he sends Sherriff Bart, a savvy black urbanite "that's darker than any Indian" and so infuriates the town's people that his shear presence makes them hostile. As Bart slowly wins the hearts and minds of the town's folk, he becomes their greatest hope in saving the town.

Barack Obama reminds me so much of Sheriff Bart, willing to win over West Virginians with savvy and kindness, rather than slinging muck like his opponent. I so hope this Democratic race will be over soon so Obama's efforts can be fully focused on beating John McCain in November.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Those Big Red Eyes

Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Once again the Cicadas have returned. I haven't heard any of them yet, but came across this fella after he was blown from his tree into my dad's field.

He was marvelously photogenic, and I believe he would have probably posed for me all day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Male Black Widow Spider

Male Black Widow Spider
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

After work today I rolled out to my folks house to unwind and snap a few pics. Little did I realize that I would find such an interesting subject.

I've came across several female black widow spiders over the years, but this is the first male I've ever seen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Norton Combat, Atlas and Commando

Norton Combat, Atlas and Commando
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

We decided to roll a few of our Brit bikes outside today and snap off a few shots for some upcoming ads.

Thursday, May 1, 2008