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Always the last Saturday in April!

The Thoroughbreds and Jockeys clear the Fences

The annual event is located on the 260 acre Brooklandwood Farm in Mineral Springs, NC, just south of Charlotte.  The steeplechase is produced by the non-profit organization, the Charlotte Steeplechase Association.  Since 1995, people have enjoyed the sport and socializing at the Queen’s Cup.  Second only to the Thoroughbreds and Jockeys are the ladies and their hats plus spreads of food and beverage dotting the rails of the track itself.

The Ladies, The Hats, The Food

A great way to spend a Saturday in late April, where the weather in Charlotte is usually warm and the flowers are abloom, the scenery is first class. All of the pics in this blog are from the 2012 Queens Cup held Saturday, April 28th., there was still a chill in the air and the skies were overcast but the excitement, racing and hospitality of the day were the same as always.  The horses are Thoroughbreds just like the flat race horses but they also must have the ability to jump the fences of the Steeplechase.  Many of the horses actually begin their racing careers in flat racing and continue as Steeplechasers.

Most of the information contained in this blog came from the website http://www.queenscup.org.  Visit the website for detailed information about steeplechase racing and next years race.   More images from the day can be seen on the website http://www.erniekale.com.

A bit of history:  Steeplechase Racing is a product of Ireland with its roots coming from fox hunting. History has it that the initial recorded race was between Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake in County Cork, Ireland in 1752.  The 4-1/2 mile race began at St. John’s Church, Buttevant  and ended at St. Mary’s Church in Doneraile.  The race between church steeples gave the race its name.  The steeplechase race spread from Ireland through England and finally to the US in the 1830’s around Washington, DC.  The Maryland Hunt Cup first ran in 1894 and is currently the oldest running steeplechase run in the US.  The first race in the Charlotte area was held November, 1995.

More images from the 2012 Queen’s Cup Steeplechase:

See you next year at the Queen’s Cup – the last Saturday in April!

 

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"Double Gabled House"

One of my favorite photography past times are road trips, for the sole purpose to photograph interesting, unique, beautiful sights along the way.  These road trips (aka Photo Safaris) are normally in the Southeast: North or South Carolina and Virginia. Most of the photos in my website, http://www.erniekale.com, galleries are from these trips.  My friend and photography partner, Lew Brown, is usually along.  He and I will drive at least 500 miles on one of these outings and have driven just short of 1000 miles in a 4-1/2 day trip.  We typically begin with sunrise shots and end up eating dinner around 10:00PM after shots of the sunset.  Each of us will have 700 to 2000 images depending on the number of days.  Our photo opportunities run the gambit from old home sites, abandon cars and equipment to landscapes, seascapes and urbanscapes.  A few of the images are included in this blog to illustrate the range.  Along the way we talk to local residents of the area and often we actually meet the owners to obtain, first of all, permission to take the picture and secondly the history and local color of the scene.  I cannot tell the stories and history in my photography website galleries but I hear each story as I view the images.  I wish the viewers of the galleries could hear the history as it was told to us, it adds such richness to the image.  Often it is difficult to determine which is more important to the senses, the image or the accompanying stories and colorful history.  I view my galleries often, as the individual images bring my memory to life as I remember the telling of the history and the feeling of being there with all of my senses alive, the sights around the actual image, the feel of the air, the smells, the sounds.  Most of all it brings back the memories of sharing the moment with my photography friends.  Not just the moment the image was snapped, but the memory of the time together, our conversations as we meandered through the back country of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Winter Migration, Low Country, SC

Edenton, NC "From the Porch"

"What's in Store", St Helena Island, SC

One of my favorite stories and image comes from a five day trip in early December, 2011.  Our intent was to travel the back roads from Chapel Hill, NC to Manteo and then on to the Outer Banks (OBX).  One of our major stops was to be Lake Mattamuskeet in eastern North Carolina.  The closest town to the Lake with a motel was Engelhart, NC.  Our interests in the Lake included Tundra Swan, sunrises and sunsets over the Lake.  We never saw Swans in the numbers we were looking for.  The sunrises and sunsets were OK but the town and surrounding farmlands proved to be quite the find.  Engelhart’s reason for being has diminished over the years but I would guess from our observations, shrimping and farming are two of the major income producers.  Several of my favorite shrimp boat images come from here. Oh! but my favorite is the “Doubled Gabled House”, both the image and the story.  As the story was told to us, the house was built just outside of Engelhart and if we followed a certain road out of town we could not miss the double gables.  A gentleman built the house for a favorite female friend in the late 1800’s.  As the story goes, she actually never moved into the house and to this day no one has ever lived in the house.  The house sites in a large cultivated field with the field surrounding the house on all sides.  We had to walk through the field to get to the house for our photographs.  The house will remain since the house is proof positive that there is a homestead there.  If the house were removed the land could be declared as wetlands and taken out of cultivation.

As seen in the image the house is in total disrepair, the roof has mostly caved in, the window glass is missing and for the most part the shudders have been torn away by the winds.  Parts of the shudders do remain on the front windows.  I believe the house was originally white with red trim.  In the gallery, “Abstracts/Surreals”, I have included a shot of the front porch that shows some remains of the red trim.  Knowing the story, the house has a rich beauty to me, I will be saddened to hear the house no longer exist.  I am mesmerized by the image.

Lake Mattamaskeet Sunset

Chapel of Ease, St Helena, SC

Ashe County, NC  Barn

I would hope that as you view the galleries and the individual images you will feel a sense of what I felt when I took them.  My desire is that one of my images will bring alive your senses and maybe a pleasant memory of past times and put a smile on your face.

Some of my favorites scenes are landscapes, both mountain and coastal.  In many of the landscapes, I include something man has left behind.  I refer to these as man’s footprints he has left on the environment as he passes through.  I enjoy recording these footprints which are quickly disappearing from our landscape.  The footprints in the photos at one time were a vibrant part of the times, today they may be a shell of what they once were but, in their own way, beautiful and tomorrow they may be gone.  Each image is a snapshot in time of the history of that particular landscape.  As I travel, I am always looking for these images, these “voices of the past”.  It helps me view the present in a much different way.  I hope it does the same for you.

“Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time…”    Beth Smith

A Disappearing Coastal Icon

When your mind’s eye pictures the Carolina coast, odds are there is a shrimp trawler on the horizon.  For me the shrimp boat is as much an icon of the Carolina coast as fishing piers, colorful umbrellas, children playing in the sand, warm breezes, tidal marshes and Spanish moss hanging from the palmetto trees.  Shrimping is part of the coastal culture, a family business. It is who you are and what you know and do, a way of life passed down from generation to generation since the 1920’s.  During WW II, the government actually confiscated portions of the shrimper’s catch for the war efforts.

Like many US industries and occupations, shrimping faces similar challenges.  “Making ends meet grows harder every year.”  Younger generations are finding more and more concerns in maintaining the family business.  South Carolina commercial trawling licenses numbered approximately 350 in 2009 down from 915 in 2000 while the coastal population has increased nearly 60% since 1980.  Due to this coastal development, shrimp dock owners are selling their waterfront properties for development.  Shrimpers are competing with recreational boaters for dock space and dockage fees.  Shrimp prices have declined for the shrimpers due to low cost imported and farm-raised shrimp.  Fuel costs have soared.  “Who wants to buy a shrimp boat and what bank will lend the money.”

I do not want these images to disappear from the Carolina coast.  As the bumper sticker says, “Friends don’t let friends buy imported, farm raised shrimp”.  I enjoy the coast and the shrimp trawlers that are part of the coastal scene.  My growing gallery entitled “Shrimp Boats” is a constant reminder to me to support the Carolina shrimpers and try to always buy local shrimp.  They just taste better.

Brown Pelicans

In the month of July, I participated in two seabird sanctuary tours with Eric Horan, a professional photographer and master naturalist from Beaufort, SC,

843-524-3037 http://www.facebook.com/WildlifePhotoSafaris or http://lowcountryphototours.blogspot.com/.

On two separate trips we visited Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary and Tomkins Island Seabird Rookery.  Actually the only way to view the birds is by boat as no one is allowed on either of the two islands.  Eric uses a 17 – 19 foot Carolina Skiff, which is perfect for the purpose.  Being a professional photographer, he is intent on positioning the boat to provide the best possible light.  As a naturalist, he is quick to point out each species and their expected actions.

Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary’s 215 acres were established to protect nesting habitat for seabirds and shorebirds.  The island is located at the mouth of the North Edisto River in Charleston County, SC.  Some of the nesting birds include oystercatchers, black skimmers, brown pelicans, royal terns, laughing gulls, snowy egrets, great egrets and several shorebirds.

White Pelican @ lift off

We witnessed thousands of nesting birds during the three hour visit.  It was absolutely breathtaking to observe all of the action in such a small area as the Deveaux rookery.  My favorite images from Deveaux include a black skimmer feeding and laughing gulls attempting to take food from each other.

Tomkins Island is a five acre island constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the mouth of the Savannah River near Hilton Head Island, SC.  Annually there are more than 7000 pairs of nesting seabirds and shorebirds including brown pelicans, white pelicans, oystercatchers, black skimmers, egrets and ibis.

The day was a bit windier than the day at Deveaux but the bird action was fabulous, equal to the day at Deveaux.  During the trip we also spent time exploring the Calibogue Sound where shrimp boats were working.  The oyster bank, which is beautiful, is one of the largest in the area.  My favorite images from the trip included a white pelican at lift off, brown pelicans landing on an exposed tree root system and a Calibogue Sound MarshScape.

More images are available in the “Sea & Shorebird” gallery on my photography website http://www.erniekale.com.  I would be honored if you signed by Guestbook.

Ernie

 

Dry Falls near Highlands, NC

I spent several days in early June in the mountains of Western North Carolina chasing waterfalls with good friend and fellow amateur photographer Lew Brown.  The first stop was Saluda, NC for a cup of coffee and a few warm up images of the historic downtown.  Then it was on to our first waterfalls, Pearsons Falls, just a few minutes outside of Saluda.  The Tryon Garden Club manages Pearsons which opens at 10:00 AM.  While we waited for the gates to open, we tested our slow shutter speeds for silky waters on Colt’s Creek which crosses Pearsons Falls Road and also supplies water for the falls.  The Cascading Pearsons Falls, approximately 75 feet high, is rated an 8 on a beauty scale of 1 to 10 in Kevin Adams’ North Carolina Waterfalls.  The trail to the falls runs along Colt’s Creek and is easily accessible.  An excellent beginning to our waterfalls chase.

The second falls on our list was Rainbow Falls near Lake Toxaway.  We were in for an awakening, both rude and awesome.  The trail began from the parking area of Gorges State Park and followed the Horsepasture River and a tough 1.5 miles later ended at the falls located in the Nantahala National Forest.  Kevin Adams rates the 125 foot vertical cascade as a 10, the beauty, setting and size of the falls certainly deserves the rating.  It gets my highest “awesome” rating of the trip.  The falls has a couple of excellent viewing areas.  The trail provides a view from mid-falls and is a good place to photograph the falls.  There is a small vertical trail from the mid view trail to the bottom of the falls.  My friend Lew made the trip down, I watched.  We spent approximately 3 hours here with more than half hiking the trail to and from the falls. AWESOME waterfalls!

Most of our days were spent in and around Highlands and Cashiers, NC.  We actually stayed in Dillard, GA, 18 miles south of Highlands.  Just outside Highlands is Bridal Veil Falls, a 40 foot free fall that can be viewed from the roadside.  Actually the old Highway #64 goes behind the falls and provides access to drive a car behind the falls.

Our final falls of the trip was Dry Falls, a free fall and cascades at the bottom for a total of 65 feet located just down the road from Bridal Veil.  Kevin Adams rates the falls and eight and the trail difficulty a four.  Steps lead from the parking area to the base of the falls were a hand railed walkway leads under the falls and around to the other side.  Photo opps are available as you descend the steps plus from the walkway on both sides of the falls.  The falls are great fun for a photographer as there are so many image opportunities.  It is hard to get your fill of all the views.  The walkway can be seen in the photo above.

In addition to the falls, there were plenty of photo opportunities of urban and rural mountain life as we drove 580 miles round trip.  On the last morning we left Dillard, GA at 4:30 AM to catch sunrise from Wayah Bald, a 5,385 foot high bald mountain outside of Franklin, NC. Again an incredible sight with the sun coming up over the fog covered valleys.

Images of the falls, mountain life and sunrise can be seen on my photography website http://www.erniekale.com.  Photos of the trip are in the Galleries entitled “Recent Images, North Carolina Waterfalls”, “Mountain Magic” and “Voices from the Past”.  I would be honored if you signed my website guestbook.

Two of my ongoing photography projects are “Windows” and “Voices from the Past.”  There are separate galleries on my website for each one.  I continually add images to these two galleries as I run across appropriate photo opportunities.

View of Florence, Italy from the San Marco Museum

In the “Windows” gallery are shots of windows that I consider special or unusual – from one of three perspectives.  Some windows are special due to the actual window itself.  The window has a special intrigue, just the shear photographic beauty of the window.  Others are special as you look through them to the inside.  The view reveals the character of the people living there.  Why have the owners elected to share this view with the outside world?  I wonder for what reason.  What does it tell you about the owner?  Thirdly windows can be special because of the view from the inside looking out.  The window reveals to the insider what is going on outside.  Is the window there to provide light or to provide a special view?  Included is one of my favorite “windows,” a view which includes the Duomo in Florence, Italy through a window in the San Marco Museum.  The museum had previously been a monastery.  Initially the view was from inside the monastery looking out to view the church.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

In the “Voices from the Past“gallery are shots of artifacts, products of human conception whose time of usefulness has pasted although it continues to remain on nature’s landscape, at least for now.  These will ultimately, permanently disappear from our view.  They have a significant

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

beauty even thought they are a shell of their past existence.  Even in their diminished state their beauty shows as they act as a reminder of our past, never to be forgotten.  I have included two of my favorite shots of the Old Sheldon Church located between Yemassee and Beaufort, SC.  The history of the church mirrors the conflicts of our country.  The church was built between 1745 and 1755 and organized by William Bull whose Newberry Plantation bordered the church property.  The church was burned in May, 1779 during the Revolutionary War by General Prevost’s British troops.  The church was rebuilt in 1826 only to be burned again in January, 1865 by Sherman’s 15th Corps under General John Logan.  The church was never rebuilt but continues to stand as a protected monument.  The Greek Revival style church ruins and the lovely grounds are spectacularly beautiful and peaceful.  The site continues to be used for weddings, picnics and visits by vacationers in the area.

These images are also part of their respective galleries as part of Ernie Kale Photography website.  Please visit my website, http://www.erniekale.com, and leave a comment in the Guest book.

Yellowstone Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

Welcome to my brand new blog built to document my photography experiences.  Along the way I plan to provide a taste of the locations visited, a random thought or two describing my impressions and most certainly a couple of my favorite images of the area visited.  The blog is meant to be my travel and discovery journal to refresh my remembrances – a reminder of past photography destinations, be it local, regional or of a greater scope.  The included images are to bring back the emotional feel of the location.  I have included the image of Yellowstone Falls as one of my favorite waterfalls to visit in North Carolina. I remember this particular image well.  It was taken during a one day outing with Richard Bernabe shooting waterfalls in the North Carolina mountains.  I have been back several times, the feeling is always the same.   I would be honored if you provided feedback and comments, also if you have any special locations you would recommend please share.