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Photography

New American Gothic: Lewis Acres

Nicole and Mark Lewis of Lewis Acres. Centerville, TN

Nicole and Mark Lewis of Lewis Acres. Centerville, TN

Nicole and Mark Lewis were the initial inspiration for the New American Gothic series. They had posted a selfie with their rooster, Fricassee, that made me laugh so hard, I knew I had to photograph them and THAT ROOSTER!  We had such a fun time on this shoot, I loved having Mark’s mom on hand to assist. The only direction that I give the farmers, is that I want them to hold something that represents them and/or their farm and I’m looking for a few pops of red in the photo. Other than those two requests, I don’t “style” their outfits.  I may help them chose “this shirt or that shirt” “this prop or that prop” and spread out a wrinkle or brush off a chicken feather, but I want the photos to reflect their personalities (and the personalities of their animals). When Nicole asked if she should put a Bow-tie on Fricassee, I cracked up, because Nicole is known to have a thing about bow-ties (just ask Junior, the cat.) 

Nicole and Mark are a creative duo with a flock of chickens, a heard of cats, and a livestock guardian dog named Earline, who I witnessed playing with the chickens like they were puppies. Earline and Fricassee take their protector jobs seriously, sounding an alarm when a predator approaches, allowing the chickens to take cover.   I love the way that Nicole described the dog barking and the rooster cackling, “The whole show is quite impressive when you see it working all together…one of the many fascinating things that humans have lost touch with – the instincts and natural functions the Mother has built into its inherent structure.” This level of protection allows the chickens to be pasture raised, inspiring their slogan…happy hens lay healthy eggs.

The eggs from their happy hens of Lewis Acres are sold at The Centerville Marketplace and Centerville’s Farmers Market at River Park.

Like all of the farmers featured in this series, the talents extend beyond the borders of the farm. Nicole is a graphic designer and decoupage queen with an eye for style.  Her business Fondue Vintage Homewares specializes in switch-plate covers and lampshades covered in vintage wallpaper.  I’m only slightly jealous of her awesome collection of vintage wallpaper. You can see and purchase some of her creations on her Etsy store.  Mark plays the guitar, brews beer (with their homegrown hops), cooks a mean cornbread and wrangles chickens in addition to his day job at The Ranch, a world class recovery and rehab facility in Hickman County TN.

 

Prints from the New American Gothic Series will be on display at Toyzini Gallery (Stop #15) on the Arts & Ag Tour of Hickman County, May 27-28.  More info on the tour can be found at the Arts & Ag Website.

Photo of two farmers, American Gothic Style

Lizzie Wright and Jesse Higginbotham of Sugar Camp Farm. Bon Aqua, TN

Tallahassee May, Kipp Krusa and Sawyer of Turnbull Creek Farm

Tallahassee May, Kipp Krusa and Sawyer of Turnbull Creek Farm

New American Gothic: Sugar Camp Farm

Photo of two farmers, American Gothic Style

Lizzie Wright and Jesse Higginbotham of Sugar Camp Farm. Bon Aqua, TN

Sugar Camp Farm, Bon Aqua, TN, is this week’s featured American Gothic farmer photo.  Jesse Higginbotham and Lizzie Wright were great sports to take a break to pose for pictures on a hot August day, during their first summer of farming at Sugar Camp Farm.   The couple married in October of 2014, bought 78 acres and a flock of 21 sheep in January of the following year.  With a commitment to each other, and to a full-time farm life, they started a market garden in spring of 2015 and have been working hard to grow their farm.  In 2016, they began to offer CSA shares and are currently growing for 27 families, in addition to selling at the Richland Park Farmers Market every Saturday  morning.  

With a background in landscape design and management intensive grazing, Jesse has a deep understanding of the impact of overgrazing.  Together, they have committed to a style of grazing management that means more work for them, but is better for the land, the animals and for the people who later enjoy the meat on their dinner table. The animals are moved every 1-4 days to ensure that they get the healthiest grass without overgrazing the land, they do this with a series of portable solar-powered electric fences.  The pastured lamb meat can be purchased directly from them by pre-ordering before the meat is processed in the spring or at the farmers market.  Lizzie’s background includes a Master’s Degree in Forestry from the University of Missouri, specializing in forest ecology and management, which may explain why you’re likely to find her traipsing through the woodlands to forage for edibles. You can rest assured that she will never be guilty of over harvesting or doing anything to harm the health of the forest or the land.   The vegetables are all grown using biodynamic and organic methods.  All of this sounds like a lot of work?  It is, and they’ve been fortunate to get some great farm helpers.  Jesse’s dad, Tony, helps out at least once a week, and they’ve hosted a handful of farm interns, volunteers and “wwoofers.”  WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a network of organic farms that agree to provide room and board to folks in exchange for help on the farm.  

Lizzie is also a talented singer and musician, and they have committed to providing opportunities for others to enjoy music on their beautiful farm.  They’ve hosted a series of House Concerts which have brought a wide variety of music to Hickman County, such as Curt Oren, Dana T, Dubb Nubb and Helen Vaskevitch. Join them this Friday, May 13th at 6pm for their first outdoor show and potluck of the season featuring Googolplexia and Matt from Bunnygrunt and on May 22nd for their annual May Day celebration and outdoor farm concert. You can learn more about them at SugarCampFarmTN.com  on Facebook or on Instagram.

 

New American Gothic

Tallahassee May, Kipp Krusa and Sawyer of Turnbull Creek Farm

Tallahassee May, Kipp Krusa and Sawyer of Turnbull Creek Farm, Tennessee

In honor of Earth Day, April 22, I would like to honor one of the stewards of our earth and release the first in a new series of photos, New American Gothic.

Tallahassee May has been farming with her husband, Kipp Krusa, and their son, Sawyer on 7 acres west of Nashville since 2003.  Their farm, Turnbull Creek, specializes in cut flowers and fresh produce, naturally grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  As co-owner of Fresh Harvest, an online farmers market, she provides vegetables and flowers from Turnbull Creek as well as meats, cheeses, eggs and an assortment of other goodies from local farms that fit the criteria of being sustainably grown, raised or produced.

The talent in family doesn’t stop with Tallahassee.  Kipp Krusa is a master luthier, building beautiful custom guitars, like the one he is holding in the photo.  Sawyer is just an awesome kid; smart, funny, kind and a budding drummer.  When I asked him to hold a tool that he would use in the garden, the only option was the flame weeder, because what 14-year-old boy doesn’t love to “play” with fire in a Mom approved way?

The New American Gothic photo series has been a fun way for me to highlight some of the sustainable farmers in Middle TN.  Stay tuned for more, this is just the beginning of what I hope to be a long-term project.  Really, it just a good excuse for me to visit other farms and hang out with cool farmers.

Prints from the series will be on display at Toyzini Gallery during the Arts and Ag Tour Memorial Day Weekend.

Photography Tips for Taking Pictures in the Snow

Snow is falling as my Basic Photography students are working on their first shooting assignment.  As I walked around the farm this morning to take pictures, I kept thinking about tips I wish I could share with them.

Photography Tip #1: Watch for the light!  As with all photography, interesting light can make any scene more interesting, a snowy, icy scene can be magical when the light shines just right!

 

Magic light on a snowy icy morning (Emily Naff)

Magic light on a snowy icy morning.

One of the first things to understand about shooting in the snow (or sand) is that your light meter will not necessarily give you the best exposure. If you notice your snow looks gray or dingy, you may want to slightly over expose the shot… not too much or you’ll lose important detail.  I usually find that 1/3 to 1/2 of a stop over exposure does the trick.

 

 

 (Emily Naff)

Look for contrast.  White or bright subjects will stand out more against a dark background.

These icy branches stand out against the dark background of the pine and cedar trees. (Emily Naff)

These icy branches stand out against the dark background of the pine and cedar trees.

Know that in the shade, you might might start to encounter a blue color shift.  Adjust your white balance settings if you don’t want it, or use it for creative effect

Zooming in for a tight shot allowed for a simple composition and contrast of the switchgrass and snow against the dark background. (Emily Naff)

Zooming in for a tight shot allowed for a simple composition and contrast of the switchgrass and snow against the dark background.

Use Manual Focus for more control.  Auto focus lenses are looking for areas of contrast to focus on. When the snow is falling it might have difficulty knowing what you want to focus on.  If you focus on the background, the snow flakes might not show up.  If you want the snow flakes to be sharp, switch to manual focus and pick a point closer to your camera to focus on.

In autofocus mode, the camera kept trying to focus on the trees in the background. Switching to manual mode allowed control of focus to make the falling snow sharp and to blur the trees in the background. (Emily Naff)

In autofocus mode, the camera kept trying to focus on the trees in the background. Switching to manual mode allowed control of focus to make the falling snow sharp and to blur the trees in the background.

Experiment with different shutter speeds.  Do you want to stop the falling snow, or have a little blur from the movement of the snow.  What shutter speed you want will depend on how fast the snow is falling.  Try a few different shutter speeds until you gee the desired effect… just remember to use a tripod or avoid shutter speeds that are too slow to hand hold. Really slow shutter speeds will make the falling snow disappear.

Snow covered pine branches against the backdrop of a hardwood forest. (Emily Naff)

Snow covered pine branches against the backdrop of vertical lines created by the hardwood forest in the distance.

Get on Board for the PhotoSlam

Rail Runner Train from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, New Mexico (Emily Naff)

Ready to Board the Rail Runner Train from Santa Fe to Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

Saturday night (Nov 14) at the Main Street Gallery in East Nashville will be an event to remember.  Photography show meets Poetry Slam = #Bam a PhotoSLAM!.

Photographers of all levels are invited to participate in the community event organized by Sheila Turner Projects and SNAP (Society of Nashville Artistic Photographers)

It’s also the last chance to see the Travelogue Show of printed images by the Photo Girls!  Wendy Whittemore, Stacey Irvin, Amanda McAdams, Kay Ramming, Laura Carpenter, Emily Naff and Honorary PG, Nick Dantona have traveled the globe, and have some amazing images on display.

See the write up in Nashville ARTS Magazine for more information.


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