Toomer’s Drugs and the Streets of Auburn


Toomer's Corner in AuburnToomer's Corner in Auburn

Toomer’s Corner in Auburn

This week I finally had a few spare minutes to get downtown to take some street shots. I’ve been wanting to practice up on my black and white technique and revisit street photography for a long time but just never made time to do it. Auburn is generally a fantastic place for street photography for several reasons; people are super friendly (almost overly so which also has it’s challenges in shooting), there is almost always something going on that makes for interesting subjects (especially during football season), and it’s a small condensed area so you can cover a lot of ground by foot quickly.

This time I purposely picked an afternoon when the streets were basically empty to try out some different compositional ideas without getting in someone’s way. Obviously it’s a little difficult to get some good contextual street photography action without anyone really being in town, but I felt a few images worked in this set. I am continually amazed at the intricacies of black and white photography and I love how complex it is after spending decades shooting only in color. Retraining the brain to think in black and white, learning to see in black and white; it’s all so much more than taking a color image and hitting the black and white button in Lightroom. It’s a whole other world out there as they say, and something I’m looking forward to learning in great detail over the next several years.


College Street PhoneCollege Street Phone

College Street Phone


Walking TalkingWalking Talking

Walking Talking


Strolling HeatStrolling Heat

Strolling Heat


Walking the DogWalking the Dog

Walking the Dog

The Streets of Auburn, Part 1

Toomer's Corner in Auburn

The famous Toomer’s Corner Drugstore in Auburn in the summer

This week I finally had a few spare minutes to get downtown to take some street shots. I’ve been wanting to practice up on my black and white technique and revisit street photography for a long time but just never made time to do it. Auburn is generally a fantastic place for street photography for several reasons; people are super friendly (almost overly so which also has it’s challenges in shooting), there is almost always something going on that makes for interesting subjects (especially during football season), and it’s a small condensed area so you can cover a lot of ground by foot quickly.

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Don’t Include Power Lines in Your Photography


Power Line SunrisePower Line Sunrise

Power Line Sunrise

Since January I’ve spent a good bit of time reading and re-reading all of Eric Kim’s books on street photography. There is so much practical real world advise in each one of his books that they are probably the few collection of books I’ve read multiple times. While we share different philosophies on life, we both share a love of photography, and it seems, a driving desire to continue to learn and improve. One of the reasons I continued to read and follow Eric Kim’s work over the years is he has completely changed and rearranged how I think about photography.

He’s made me re-think how I view my own personal photography, what’s acceptable as a quality image and what’s not, and even what equipment is actually truly needed. All those rules I spent years learning, like “don’t include power lines in your photography” it will ruin the shot, were disseminated by Kim’s books. I think I was 10 years into photography before I actually realized it was ok to include people in the images (my main teacher and book learning early on was 100% nature photography).

When you have been doing something, like practicing photography for 25 years, you don’t often come across new ways of thinking about the art, so it’s been a super refreshing experience so far this year. The ideas below came straight out of one of his books, The Street Photography Project Manual, which I was able to read because of his vision on open source information.


Abandon Gas StationAbandon Gas Station

Abandon Gas Station

On a practical level I updated all the pages and theme design on my site to lend itself better to telling a story through photography, and I’m going to focus most of my time on this site on photography, but all the content from the past 10 plus years will remain. What I gained from Kim’s books that was always lacking in my personal walk with photography were the projects, the completed stories, the collection of images that actually completes something.

I’ve wanted to write a photography book of some kind for years. At this point I have 25 years of experience with close to 500,000 images, and practically countless stories within those images. It took a lot to get me to the point of reading Kim’s Project Manual but that’s what finally pushed me to take a serious look at working on deeper projects. And that’s what I’ve started to do here.


Rotting Door Rural Decay Structure 2.100Rotting Door Rural Decay Structure 2.100

Rotting Door Rural Decay Structure 2.100

I’ve created a section called “projects” which will contain ongoing images from a few different projects like the Faith Project, the Decay Project, the Street Project, and one I just started I’m calling My Street Project. The My Street Project is something I picked up from Kim to just shoot where you are, and while I love the classic “street photography” I don’t live anywhere near a busy street, in fact the opposite. So I’m going to spend about a year documenting the “street” I do live on, even though right now all I can see is trash and grass. But like I said, my view of what’s artistic and photographic has changed significantly.

So, if you are interested in following along with my projects, they won’t be posted here on my blog so people don’t get bombarded by images they may or may not enjoy. They will be posted on my Projects Portfolio which you can get to from the link or the main navigation at the top. A personal thanks to Eric Kim for the inspiration, and if you are looking to add a new book to your collection that probably isn’t one you might have come across before, I would highly recommend Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography, a collection of 66 essays and some of the finest writing on the art and philosophy of photography.

Don’t Include Power Lines in Your Photography

Power Line Sunrise

Power lines run all over the place in rural Alabama, no such thing as underground lines.

Since January I’ve spent a good bit of time reading and re-reading all of Eric Kim’s books on street photography. There is so much practical real world advise in each one of his books that they are probably the few collection of books I’ve read multiple times. While we share different philosophies on life, we both share a love of photography, and it seems, a driving desire to continue to learn and improve. One of the reasons I continued to read and follow Eric Kim’s work over the years is he has completely changed and rearranged how I think about photography.

He’s made me re-think how I view my own personal photography, what’s acceptable as a quality image and what’s not, and even what equipment is actually truly needed. All those rules I spent years learning, like “don’t include power lines in your photography” it will ruin the shot, were disseminated by Kim’s books. I think I was 10 years into photography before I actually realized it was ok to include people in the images (my main teacher and book learning early on was 100% nature photography).

When you have been doing something, like practicing photography for 25 years, you don’t often come across new ways of thinking about the art, so it’s been a super refreshing experience so far this year. The ideas below came straight out of one of his books, The Street Photography Project Manual, which I was able to read because of his vision on open source information.

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The Rush of Life


Overlooking an Atlanta FreewayOverlooking an Atlanta Freeway

Overlooking an Atlanta Freeway

Last week I took about 5,000 images of so many different aspect of life in downtown Atlanta. This one still stands out to me as a metaphor to the pace of life we lead today, This was one of the only times I can remember over the week when the interstate wasn’t bumper to bumper and crawling. I think I have enough traffic and freeway images now to do a photo essay on Atlanta traffic, but that would just be depressing. In this case, we were serving the homeless that lived underneath the freeway bridges where the pace of life is ironically slow.

Graflex Speed Graphic Medium Format Film Camera


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

If you study the history of photography from it’s first shot through today’s almost incalculable iterations, you will see the art form takes on an enormous range of artistic expressions. I’m actually proud to say I started off in the age of film photography. I know what it’s like to have to be super intentional about the exposure, about getting it right the first or second time because film cost a fortune, and getting it developed cost even more. I also know what it’s like to take a photo and not see the results for a week or more (that was probably the worst part about shooting film back in the day), which made improving as a photographer a slower, more intentional process. Looking back at all that film I shot, I know it helped me tremendously when it comes to shooting in today’s digital world.

My grandad was a photographer as well, and he of course also did all of his work in film, but it wasn’t the 35mm film I grew up shooting, it was a medium format, 4×5 film, and still popular 220 film roll that he used. The one 4×5 negative I still have of his is this self-portrait, taken with the very camera showcased in this post. It was taken back in the 1970’s (when you kept cameras for more than a year or two), back in a time when these were called “self-portraits” not selfies.

I was given his camera a few years ago and took it back out over the weekend. I’m always contemplating giving film a go again, until of course you consider medium format film now is like $40 for 10 sheets it’s hard to pull the trigger. So instead I took it for a spin and made it the subject instead of the shooter. Maybe one day I’ll splurge and shoot some film through this camera, but for now, it’s such a great looking classic view at a little piece of photographic history.


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens


Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 LensGraflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens


Flash for Graflex Honeywell StrobonarFlash for Graflex Honeywell Strobonar

Flash for Graflex Honeywell Strobonar


Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film RollersGraflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers

Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers


Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film RollersGraflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers

Graflex Speed Graphic 220 Film Rollers


Alpex Light Meter for Graflex Speed GraphicAlpex Light Meter for Graflex Speed Graphic

Alpex Light Meter for Graflex Speed Graphic


Graflex Speed Graphic Camera CaseGraflex Speed Graphic Camera Case

Graflex Speed Graphic Camera Case

Back Woods Rural Decay Exploration


Rural Decay Structure 1.166Rural Decay Structure 1.166

Rural Decay Structure 1.166

Perhaps a little known fact about me is I really love the unique beauty of urban decay. In the south, as is the case virtually all over the world, you see abandon buildings, houses, and various different structures that are being reclaimed by nature. You’ve heard of “urban decay photography,” sometimes referred to as urban exploration, urbex, or UE, which is the exploration of those various places, but you rarely hear of “rural decay” exploration. Probably because most people don’t live in the rural backwoods of wherever, they live in the city.

For those of us who do spend most of our days in the rural south, little abandon houses, barns, sheds, and all kinds of structures are literally everywhere. Sometimes you have to look pretty hard because they have been completely reclaimed by the trees like the first image above. Barely visible from the road, it was probably once a small house sitting on the road on the way to town. Today it’s being consumed by the land.

The ones below is one that is more well kept in a family cemetery adjacent to our property. I’ve taken this little house for years now and always seem to be able to keep capturing something new about it. I love the stories they tell, the history they’ve seen. Below is a collection of what I refer to as “Structure 1.100,” which is just the number I give it in my catalog so I know which is which. The one above had some kind of not-so-happy-animal guarding it so interior images will have to wait for another day. Next time you drive to work count how many of these types of structures you see, I bet you would be surprised.


Rural Decay Structure 1.100Rural Decay Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.100


Rural Decay Structure 1.100Rural Decay Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.100


Rural Decay Structure 1.100Rural Decay Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.100


Rural Decay Structure 1.100Rural Decay Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.100


Rural Decay Structure 1.100Rural Decay Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Exploration, Structure 1.100

Rural Decay Structure 1.166

Abandon one room house in the woods on a rainy day

Perhaps a little known fact about me is I really love the unique beauty of urban decay. In the south, as is the case virtually all over the world, you see abandon buildings, houses, and various different structures that are being reclaimed by nature. You’ve heard of “urban decay photography,” sometimes referred to as urban exploration, urbex, or UE, which is the exploration of those various places, but you rarely hear of “rural decay” exploration. Probably because most people don’t live in the rural backwoods of wherever, they live in the city.

For those of us who do spend most of our days in the rural south, little abandon houses, barns, sheds, and all kinds of structures are literally everywhere. Sometimes you have to look pretty hard because they have been completely reclaimed by the trees like the first image above. Barely visible from the road, it was probably once a small house sitting on the road on the way to town. Today it’s being consumed by the land.

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Setting Up Field Astrophotography

Telescope Setup at Twilight

Setting up the telescope for lunal viewing as the sun sets

The clear summer skies are upon us it seems, so my nephew and I setup for some viewing and photography last night. For more of a how-to-tutorial I should at some point talk equipment and setup but I’ll save that for another day. The skies were clear last night but the atmospheric conditions were not the best for planetary astrophotography, so we stuck with “night shots” and the Milky Way.

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Photography at Southern Museum of Flight

Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display

Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display

I finally made it over to the Southern Museum of Flight. I have lived, worked, and traveled around Birmingham for the better part of my life, but had never been over to this particular museum, even when I worked at the Birmingham Airport. On Saturday I had some uncommitted time in Birmingham and I decided to head over towards the airport to check it out. I wasn’t real sure how much there would be there to see, but I was pleasantly surprised and I had basically complete access to shoot throughout the museum. I love aviation museums (the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is probably my favorite, thought I haven’t been to the Smithsonian yet). There is a civil aviation side (hanger) and a military aviation side, each with unique displays.

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