Onion Photography

Onion Texture

SHREK: For your information, there’s a lot more to ogres than people think.

DONKEY: Example?

SHREK: Example? Okay. Uh… ogres are like onions.

DONKEY: They stink?

SHREK: Yes. No!

DONKEY: Oh, they make you cry?


DONKEY: Oh, you leave them out in the sun, they get all brown and start sprouting little white hairs.

SHREK: No! Layers! Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.

DONKEY: Oh… you both have layers… You know, not everybody like onions. Cakes! Everybody likes cakes. Cakes have layers.

SHREK: I don’t care what everyone likes. Ogres are not like cakes… You dunce, irritating, miniature beast of burden. Ogres are like onions. End of story. Bye bye. See ya later…

OK, you may be wondering what Shrek has to do with photography. Actually, it’s more about layers – specifically, layers in Photoshop.

I had been working with layers ever since my friend Duck Hunter showed me the technique. The process can add interest, texture, and even change the mood of a photograph. The process is simple enough…

1. Open a photograph in Photoshop or your image editor of choice.

Calhoun Creek Bridge HDR 2

2. Find an interesting texture, such as the ever-popular “Pollution” texture from Jerry Jones, , AKA Ghostbones, AKA SkeletalMess


3. Resize the texture to match the base photograph, then copy it into a layer on top of the base. Change the blend mode of the texture layer from “normal” to “overlay”…

Calhoun Creek Bridge HDR with Texture

…and the result is an image that combines aspects of both layers. You can change the opacity of the upper texture layer to increase or decrease the effect. Continue reading “Onion Photography”

Weekend Update

Been a crazy, crazy week, both at work and at home. There hasn’t been much time to paddle, take photos, or chase down fire towers or old schools. Here’s a brief rundown… Work Our computer shipments have started to arrive. We’ve ordered far less than we usually do, but there were still pains. Our normally … Continue reading Weekend Update

Old School Charm

Old Shiloh School Textured

Perhaps it’s that I’m the son of a school principal, and had run of the various schools that I attended growing up. Perhaps it was the many reunions and covered dish suppers our family attended in various country community centers. Perhaps it was even because I spent college summers working maintenance – painting and waxing all of the schools in our district. It might, in some small part, have something to do with my own long career as an educator. Whatever the reason, I’ve always had a fascination with school architecture. Just about any school can be interesting, but what catches my attention most are the old wooden framed country schools.

Driving through the country these are easy to spot. The architecture is distinctive. The buildings tend to be squarish with hipped roofs. If it’s got an old bell tower, all the better.

Wheeland SchoolFish SchoolGowensville School HDR

Well, OK, they don’t all have to be white frame. There are some cool old brick schools, too.

Recently I was doing some research on the South Carolina State Archives website. There is a marvelous collection of photographs of old schools taken between 1935-1950 for insurance purposes.

Browsing this collection got me thinking about these old schools. They are great subjects for photography, and an excellent symbol of a bygone time. I wanted to see if I could find more of these old schools, and that meant making a list of potential targets using Google Earth. Continue reading “Old School Charm”

More Saluda Lake

Saluda Lake Dam Panorama

Having never been on Saluda Lake before this summer, I’ve now paddled it three times in four weeks.  I’m actually surprised at how it’s become a nice quick paddling destination for when we want to get out on the water.

Friday Alan and I headed out and launched from Saluda Landing at the end of Motor Boat Club Road.  Once again we paid the steep access fee for our two little kayaks.  The more I think about this, the more I realize what a rip-off this is for kayakers.  Motor boats can launch for $8, but kayaks and canoes are $5 each.  A motor boat usually can carry more than one person, so it works out to be a better deal.

Again, we had the annoyance of having to paddle south to avoid the silted-in portion of the lake.  This time, though, we kept paddling south, out toward the main portion of the lake.  This would be new territory for us. Continue reading “More Saluda Lake”

Korean BBQ

Laura had an evening meeting, so I was on my own for dinner. You know what that means – time to explore the local cuisine. In this case, it was hardly local in origin. I decided to try the Korean BBQ place just off of Woodruff Road.  No catchy name here – just “Tasty Korean … Continue reading Korean BBQ

Loss of a Landmark

Someone who reads this website recently sent me a message via Facebook that was a bit disheartening. It seems that the South Carolina Forestry Commission is selling several of its lookout towers to the highest bidder.  These include the Kelly Tower in Union County, the Silverton Tower near Jackson, SC, the Edgefield Tower, the Riverside … Continue reading Loss of a Landmark

Lazy Saturday on the Edisto

Heading down the Edisto

It was a second Saturday, which can only mean one thing – another outing with the guys from Lowcountry Unfiltered. This time our target was once again the Edisto River. This was to be our “beer commercial” float, full of rope swings, mayhem, and general goofing off. And, that pretty much sums up the day.

For this trip we were doing a familiar stretch. The plan was to put in at Mars Old Field Landing, but this time we would paddle past Givhens Ferry State Park and take out at Messervy Landing, adding another three miles to our trek.

Edisto River paddling map - July 10, 2010

Continue reading “Lazy Saturday on the Edisto”

Archeology and History Resources for South Carolina

Poole Home Textured

Our recent photo trek through Laurens County raised lots of questions for me. I had seen places about which I wanted to learn more. There were the questions about name origins – Ghost Creek Road and Dead Man’s Curve in particular. I wanted to know if there were documented incidents that led to these names. I also wanted to know more about the spring we found on Bramlett Road – what rallies were held here, etc.

Of course, I first turned to online resources to see what I could find. A simple Google search didn’t reveal much initially. In fact, I was getting a bit discouraged. I even turned to Facebook, and was able to get some anecdotal answers, but nothing documented.

I still haven’t found the answers to these questions, but I did find some great reference materials. First up are the ones I’ve mentioned here before – SC DISCUS (requires login), SCIWAY.net, and the new South Carolina Digital Archive. All of these have excellent primary source materials, or links to those materials. Continue reading “Archeology and History Resources for South Carolina”

Laurens County Photo Trek

I had Monday off as part of the 4th of July weekend. My brother, Houston, and my sister, Glynda, also had the day available, so we decided to go on another photo exploration. This time our target was our old stomping grounds around Laurens, South Carolina.

Houston had some specific locations he wanted to see if we could find. Most of these were in the old Long Branch area, but we knew we would get sidetracked in route. I picked up Glynda and Houston at the family home in Gray Court. Armed with GPS, maps, and more cameras than we had passengers, we set out.

We actually didn’t get very far. At the south end of Gray Court is the historic farm area that the Gray Court-Owings Historical Society has put together. Glynda and Houston weren’t aware of this place, so we spent a good bit of time looking at the old cabins and farm implements and taking pictures of these.

Continue reading “Laurens County Photo Trek”

Saluda Lake, Take Two

Saluda River

When Alan and I came out to Lake Saluda last week, I wasn’t feeling so hot. Well, actually, I was too hot – heat exhaustion plus a fever of over 100. Couple that with the fact that we missed the channel we were supposed to be taking, and it wasn’t an ideal trip. So, when Dave Freeland called and wanted a close paddling venue that would be good for his 13 year old son, Zach, I suggest heading back to Saluda.

We made our way back down Motor Boat Club Road to Saluda Landing. Personally, I would love to find some other access point. These guys charge per boat, so to launch our three kayaks was $15. I don’t mind paying a parking fee, but the per boat fee is a bit steep. However, they have a monopoly on lake access, and they know it.

Zach and DaveZach Launches

We paddled out, then southward to avoid the silted spit, then turned upstream. This time we hugged the right channel toward the river, rather than being tempted by the more open water of the west arm of the lake. Continue reading “Saluda Lake, Take Two”