The other day I went to back up some files and discovered that my external hard drive was dead. Over eight years of photos, records and documents were on there and no matter what I tried I couldn’t get them back.
I’ve been told it might be possible to recover the data for a hundred or two hundred dollars but I’m not rushing out to do that. After struggling with it for a couple of days I put the thing in a drawer and decided to let it go for now.
Criss Jami said: “We are often taught to look for the beauty in all things, so in finding it, the layman asks the philosopher while the philosopher asks the photographer.”
Note to self: read less philosophy and get a new hard drive, maybe two.
So I’m driving around early this morning thinking about the big questions in life: Is a pumpkin a gourd, and just how do you spell gourd? Between that and the meaning of the new Taylor Swift song my mind was reeling.
Then I saw two Amish kids setting up a farm stand. They had some big Turk’s Turbans which look like pumpkins but are actually squash, and all kinds of gourds for sale. I stopped to take a quick photo while these kids talked my ear off about everything from corn to camel’s milk.
It turns out that pumpkins, squash and gourds are members of the same family but they are actually all squash. As for the correct spelling, the Amish seem to think that gourds are spelled ghourds, unless this only applies to mini ghourds.
Later I read more about Taylor’s new song and decided I couldn’t care less, but the important thing is that fall is coming and these mini gourds (ghourds) are only five for a dollar. The turbans were $3 each so I passed, but I may go back because I could be the first kid on my block to have one.
When I was a kid I had a lemonade stand, but here in Lancaster County the Amish kids set up a stand selling horseshoes. I see them occasionally on the back roads but most of the time the shoes are just painted or rusty.
This entrepreneur goes a few steps further to attract the tourist crowd. He offers horseshoes with a picture for $3.50, with a flower for $2.00, plain for $1.50 or rusty for a buck. This one has a picture, it’s painted and has flowers so its a bargain at any price.
The pictures are mostly of horses but some have scenes like covered bridges or life on the farm. I can’t imagine where they get the images because they don’t have cameras, cell phones, computers or printers. I guess they cut them out of a secret magazine that only the Amish subscribe to.
These horseshoes may or may not be lucky for you, but with the thousands of tourists that crave unique souvenirs these kids can afford to buy a brand new scooter or whatever Amish kids spend their money on. I think the horses should get a cut but maybe they’re happy just to get a new pair of shoes.
I was standing by the water thinking of nothing in particular when a guy pulls up and asks me if I saw a white duck. I said no, why? And he said: I’m looking for him. At that point I knew it would be just another ordinary day in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The rest of the morning was spent in a fog, literally, only now my thoughts went from thinking of nothing to thinking of nothingness. I waited over an hour for the sun to come out and took a few photos of nothing.
I was about to leave with nothing when I thought of something Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in Being and Nothingness: “It is therefore senseless to think of complaining since nothing foreign has decided what we feel, what we live, or what we are.”
Note to self: don’t buy that book and think of complaining that it’s too hard to understand. My uncle warned me about that almost forty years ago.
This is Big Amos, the Barefoot Amish Giant and he stands at the Hershey Farm Restaurant in Strasburg, Pennsylvania misleading tourists and locals that know nothing about the Amish culture.
The definition of a stereotype is a widely held and oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing, and like all stereotypes this is as wrong as wearing a straw hat backwards.
First of all Amos is fifteen feet tall, very few Amish men are that size except for a few on the big, big farms where they spend most of their time making giant chairs and scaring the cows.
Amos also stands there and smiles while you take his photo, which does not happen in real life. Some Amish men will let you photograph them but they look at you like they know you stole their chickens but can’t prove it.
This kind of misinformation only confuses tourists who expect all Amish men to look like this and leads to disappointment when they discover that the average farmer is normal sized and wears shoes or boots (very important around well fed horses).
It’s been said that ignorance is bliss, which brings to mind the story of the Amish farmer and the tourist. Pay attention because there’s a moral in there somewhere.
A tourist stopped in at the farm where old Elmer Yoder was busy pumping water with his hand pump. “Where’s route forty?” the tourist asked. Elmer ignored him, continuing to draw water. “Where’s route forty?” the tourist now shouted. Old Elmer continued filling his bucket. “Are you ignorant or deaf?” the tourist shouted next. “Both,” Elmer said, finally turning around. “But at least I’m not lost.”
Dead Center is Deadly says photographer Rick Sammon, referring to obeying the rules of composition. He strongly (obviously) suggests you don’t put objects in the center of the frame because it’s boring, and because there are so many other ways to do it.
Its might seem simple enough to find a young sunflower in her prime and take a photo, but even though the light is fading fast you should consider these rules of composition: the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, the rule of odds, negative space, filling the frame, balance, leading lines and symmetry.
Maybe take one shot using each rule, then mix and match until it either gets too bright, too dark, it rains or you get kicked out of wherever you are. Then take the RAW files home and edit them according to the rules of editing: white balance, exposure, noise reduction, etc, etc, etc.
I’ve heard rumors in back alleys and pool halls that there are people who take photos with their compact camera or phone and upload them as shot, but I’m sure they’re just rumors. Of course this is not fight club and breaking the rules will not result in a beating. Unless Rick Sammon sees your photos, then you’re in trouble.
These cute and cuddly birds hang out at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland. The dam is home to hundreds of bald eagles although the peak season to see them is in the dead of winter. Every year photographers come from all over the United States to justify spending ten thousand dollars or more on a lens.
At this time of year a few die hard photographers still go there but the eagles are few and far between the scores of vultures that are there for lunch. They are actually turkey vultures but instead of turkey they like to eat cars. They also eat trucks and SUVs, but you have to park in the right place.
As you head into the parking lot bear right and park near the hiking trail, then simply leave for an hour or so. These angry birds will eat anything made of rubber from your windshield wipers to your bumper. They also tend to regurgitate as they eat as well as badly scratching all painted surfaces, which you may later decide is a problem.
These beautiful, majestic creatures are only doing what large angry rubber eating birds do, so don’t take it personally. Some people cover their vehicle with a tarp or two which only challenges them to eat through it. Your insurance will probably cover the damage but you will have to pay the deductible.
Alternatives are hiking somewhere else and/or feeding smaller birds such as ducks. Lititz, P.A. has been voted America’s coolest small town and in Lititz Springs Park they definitely have the friendliest ducks I’ve ever seen. Not only is feeding them allowed but there are machines filled with duck food. Park wherever you like, they prefer eating actual food to eating your vehicle.