If you’ve followed my posts for a while, you’ll maybe remember Joe. Joe, in his late-60s, has always bicycled his way around Williamson County, Texas from his home in Taylor. Some of us wondered if Joe had a home to go to. This evening, on an extremely-frigid Central Texas night in Taylor, with temperatures below 32, I spotted him, biking along with a couple of bottled waters in his basket. I’m happy to report that Joe indeed does have a place to go in from the elements. It’s very small. While I took a photo of that, too, it won’t be posted here. Joe’s home is his home, not ours. This is the last photo for 2017.
There’s a little cove I pass by on my daily walks in Taylor. Gathered there most mornings are a group of egrets. This cove is near, but not at, Murphy Park, where a rookery is home to many avian beauties. When I’ve returned with my camera to photograph them, however, they become extremely camera-shy, taking flight at the drop of a feather, doing their own little bird boogie. The photos presented here don’t do their aerial ballets justice, but we do what we can. Happy 2018, friends.
While I’ve always loved fog (and mist, its cousin) wherever we have lived, this area of Central Texas, specifically East and North Williamson County, seems to be tailor-made for it. As the new year approaches, things are slow for my work. That’s really okay since I’ve been battling an awful cold for almost a week. Sometimes it’s good to taper off. But I am what I am … obsessed. Mmm? Maybe persistent, or focused would be better words? Anyway, this morning, when I looked outside, there was that sweet mistiness in the air. Even though I wasn’t in top form, off I went in search of a few things. All of these are within about 20 minutes of our Taylor home. The opening photo, I think, may be my favorite. I’ll let you ponder that though. The two that follow are of the same metal barn. I couldn’t decide which I liked best. One image included not for its foggy mood was the gigantic metal rooster photographed recently. This morning, that rooster had three friends. At first glance, I thought the “friends” were mannequins. But then they moved … just a little. They were enamored with this big old chicken. Most are presented in color, but some are produced as black and white. This type of subject matter often lends itself to gray tonalities. Like the last image of those two rode-hard old tractors. It wasn’t nearly as workable in color. Anyway, that’s it for tonight, folks!
Before moving to Taylor, Texas in 2009, I hadn’t given much consideration to cypress trees. Each day, I appreciate them a little more. These photos were taken at Bull Branch Park tonight. The opening photo frames a Waxing Gibbous moon, 87% visible. It was cloudy this evening, but the moon peeked out from time to time. If we get a break in the clouds, the first day of the new year is supposed to give us a full moon. The moon is presented in the opening photo. The others are just simple renditions of those wonderful trees.
A few days ago, I posted photos from Austin’s East 6th Street, but the many new connections I have might not know my history with this corridor, a short 3-4 block area running east of Capitol Avenue downtown. 44 years ago, there were people hanging out on the street, many of them blue-collar types catching a city bus to or from work. And there were many obviously down on their luck, due to mental health and/or substance abuse issues. But beyond that, many folks just liked to pass their time there. The view I had a few days back was really quite sad. The area has gentrified, becoming a go-to haven for music clubs, but there are far more people in pain there now than back in the day. At least, that’s my impression. I’m presenting a few images tonight from 1973. Again, this is to connect new friends with how this little thing began so many years ago.
The past couple of days on the Blackland Prairie have been a bit chilly (for us), but also pretty misty-looking. Last evening I wandered around on the back roads of East Williamson County, Texas. There’s a little color in some, while others, like the first and last images, work so much better in black and white because they demonstrate the starkness, and yes, the appeal, of where I live. I did toss in a barn in both color and b/w, but I’m leaning toward color on that one. It’s good to have the option though.
This is one of my go-to barns near Taylor. You’ll see it from time to time. I am thankful for the kindness the barn’s owner showed in allowing me to come on his property for this series. These were taken Christmas evening and also include the barn’s close neighbor, a shack once used by farm hands. Because a tree is overwhelming the shack’s front facade right now, tonight’s version, presented in black and white, was from the side. Also included are both color and b/w versions of the barn’s resident 1963 Chevy Impala. I think the b/w does it for me here. The final two shots? Those are my feet after a romp in the field, obviously just tilled. Even with those rubber boots, I was in pretty deep! The suction came close to glueing me there! The Blackland Prairie has some of the richest soil on the planet, but it can be a sticky thing.
Earlier on this Christmas evening, I took a drive to the west to see who might be out and about. In Jonah, in a pristine field adorned with a nice canopy of clouds and blue sky, was Gus, enjoying his evening. Beyond that grove of trees, but not visible here, is the San Gabriel River. I pass by here often and have seen Gus a few times, but didn’t get the right visual feel. It happens that Gus is an older gentleman, about 25-years-old. He also has just one useable eye, but he can scope out the right grass on which to munch. It was cold, but dry today. Tuesday and Wednesday, however, that cold may be joined by rain. When that happens, Gus takes up residence in the barn. He’s got a good daddy, Gus does.
If you’ve followed any of my work, you may know that in 1973, while a student at UT-Austin, I spent copious amounts of time documenting what I saw along Austin’s East 6th Street. In December 2016, for the first time in a whole bunch of years, I returned with my cameras. It seemed like a good thing to do this year, too. Because black and white strips things down to essentials, I’m sticking with it this time, too. In the early 70s, East 6th had its share of people facing tough times, but it was also a street where I saw many blue collar types, too. Back then, they caught a bus there. These days, buses still run, but not on gentrified East 6th. These photos were taken during a visit on Saturday afternoon. As in 1973, I tried to be respectful and open. My sense is that there are far more homeless people along this now-upscale corridor, a haven for out-of-towners who like to club-hop. One young man, Lee, in his early 40s, especially got my attention because he was a photographer at his high school back in Pennsylvania. We chatted for a while. He knows his stuff. I wish him well. In fact, I wish all of them well …. Mark, playing his homemade drums for tips, the poor lady trying to sleep, but moved along by a kind, but firm policeman, the lady from Ohio, moving over as Segways whizz by, Doc, looking for just two dollars so he can buy another beer, Slim, openly smoking his joint, and Sergio, who has a home, but at 67, and missing both lower legs because of diabetes, gets by pretty slowly on his prosthetic legs and cane. Even the lady in the last photo, smiling while flipping me off. Life can be hard, particularly at this time of the year. None of us know what some of our fellow humans are going through. Be kind, friends … all year long.
There are times when I think I could’ve been a vampire. The time beyond daylight is, to me anyway, magical Photos posted tonight were taken earlier this evening, at a family cemetery in Norman’s Crossing, Texas. This little session didn’t even begin until well past sundown. At first, I cheaped out, cranked up the ISO a bit and hand-held the camera. What nonsense. If you’re going to do something, for pity’s sake, do it right. I meandered to the car, got the tripod, and went at it again. Honestly? You can take shortcuts on images that will only show up in cyberspace, but if you ever decide to make a print, it’s best to have something that holds its own. Anyway, I love this little place, situated on a farm-to-market road not far from Hutto, not far from Taylor, either. The plot of land beyond stretches forever on this piece of the Blackland Prairie. Of what’s seen here, my favorite is the last one … less blue, perhaps, but more stars. Deep in the heart of Texas.