Tag Archives: sunlight

The Fire Trees of Dawsonville

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I am not an early morning riser by any stretch of the imagination. I rather despise early mornings. So, when I find something that delights me in the early morning I consider it a bonus. For some reason that I’ve tried to block from my memory, I was up early one winter morning after it had rained the night before. I took the dog with me and we went for a little jaunt down the road in front of our house.

As we headed west, my eyes saw the scene you see in today’s post. I didn’t have my camera with me as I’d not anticipated opening my eyes on the walk if at all possible, but I did open them long enough to see the scene and knew I had to shoot it. I pulled out my cell phone and shot today’s photo. The sun was rising from behind me and it lit up the tops of the trees to the west. It looked almost as if the trees were on fire. Perhaps if you come visit us some time and are crazy enough to get up of a morning, you might see them, too!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1864, at Poison Spring, Arkansas, Confederate soldiers under the command of General Samuel Maxey captured a Union forage train and slaughtered black troops escorting the expedition.

The Battle of Poison Spring was part of broad Union offensive in the region of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. General Nathaniel Banks had led a Yankee force through Louisiana in March and April, but a defeat in northwestern Louisiana at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8 sent Banks in retreat. Union forces nearby in Arkansas were moving towards Banks’ projected thrust into Texas with the intention of securing southwestern Arkansas for the Federals.

Union General Frederick Steele occupied Camden, Arkansas, on April 15. Two days later, he sent Colonel John Williams and 1,100 of his 14,000-man force to gather 5,000 bushels of corn discovered west of Camden. The force arrived to find that Confederate marauders had destroyed half of the store, but the Yankees loaded the rest into some 200 wagons and prepared to return to Camden. On the way back Maxey and 3,600 Confederates intercepted them. Maxey placed General John Marmaduke in charge of the attack that ensued. Williams positioned part of his force, the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry, between the wagon train and the Confederate lines. The regiment was the first black unit in the army, comprised primarily of ex-slaves.

The determined soldiers of the 1st Kansas stopped the first two Rebel attacks, but they were running low on ammunition. A third assault overwhelmed the Kansans, and the rout was on. Williams gathered the remnants of his force and retreated from the abandoned wagons. More than 300 Yankee troops were killed, wounded, or captured, while the Confederates lost just 13 killed and 81 wounded. The Rebels’ treatment of black troops was harsh. No black troops were captured, and those left wounded on the battlefield were brutally killed, scalped, and stripped. The Washington Telegraph, the major Confederate newspaper in Arkansas, justified the atrocity by declaring “We cannot treat Negroes taken in arms as prisoners of war without a destruction of social system for which we contend.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in Texas, cowboy boots are exempt from sales tax, but hiking boots are not.

A New Day

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There is something special about a new day. It is so full of possibilities! It starts out fresh, like a clean sheet of paper, and we get to decide to a large extent what we will draw on it.

Yesterday morning I took the dog for her walk and had the camera and as I was coming back up the hill, the sun was breaking through the top of the trees (mostly Georgia pines). It was one of those moments when the rays are shooting through the air like an arrow, trying to chase the darkness away for another 12 hours or so. I’ve often wanted to get a shot on a foggy morning in a redwood forest as the sun starts to break through but have never been in the right spot at the right time.  I keep hoping.  Some day it will happen.

Technically, this is an HDR image, and a badly developed one at that. But it did show the sunlight breaking through the tops of the trees to the right upper portion of the scene.

What did you draw today?

ON THIS DAY IN  HISTORY:  in 1902 the famous photographer Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco. Adams’ dramatic black and white images of Yosemite and the West are some of the most widely recognized and admired photographs of the 20th century.

Ansel Adams discovered his love of photography and the West during a family trip to Yosemite when he was 14 years old. He made his first photographs of the dramatic Yosemite Valley during that trip, and he returned to photograph the park every year thereafter for the rest of his life.

Adams had a tremendous passion and talent for photography, though it remained only a hobby for many years. From childhood, Adams had studied piano, and as a young man he embarked on a promising career as a concert pianist. It was only when he was in his late 20s that Adams decided to abandon music and make a career out of photography instead, choosing to make the West the focus of his work. During the next 20 years, Adams’ distinctive treatment of the western landscape won him a dedicated following, especially in California. Today his portraits of the Yosemite Valley and images of Saguaro cacti under an Arizona moon are so familiar as to almost be visual cliches.

Adams deliberately used his photos to inspire a semi-religious reverence for the natural world that he hoped would encourage more Americans to protect and preserve wilderness. A lifelong member of the Sierra Club, Adams provided images for many of the club’s early publications.

Besides being a brilliant artist, Adams was also a technical innovator and a teacher. Along with several other photographers, Adams founded “Group f/64,” which was dedicated to promoting deep-focus photography and the use of “straight” images free from darkroom trickery. He created a number of innovative photographic techniques that he introduced to the general public through a series of books and an annual workshop in Yosemite.

In recognition of his lifelong efforts supporting the national park system, Mt. Ansel Adams in Yosemite was named in his honor shortly after he died in 1984.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The birth of Earth’s moon is singularly important because it stabilizes Earth’s tilt. Without the moon, Earth would still have wild changes in climate and be uninhabitable. The stabilizing tug of the moon tempers Earth, resulting in the minor tip that causes summer and winter seasons.