Thursday, December 31, 2009

Where'd It Go?

Are you kidding me? This is the last day of 2009 and another decade to boot? Where'd it go? I mean I know I was right here the whole time but I just can't imagine where the time went and how it went so quickly! Seems like just a few months ago that Beth and I were chasing our son Daniel around the mid-state watching his high school band competitions and football and soccer games - now he's graduated from college and married! That'll get your attention...

I started thinking about this just a few days ago and it just doesn't seem that it's possible we've just watched another year come and go much less the entire decade. I know it's very cliche' but I honestly don't know where the time went.

It has been a busy year and the Davidson home has been on the go a lot this entire year. Beth and I started a new hobby as many of you know, that being motorcycling. We both have our own bikes now and we spent as much time as we could learning to ride and ride well. We had a blast but the bikes have been put away for several weeks now because of the colder weather. Can't wait 'til spring.

I've been traveling quite a bit especially to Tampa, Florida where I've been involved in our company's purchase of a new property that we'll be moving in to on January 4th. Can't say that going to Tampa in December and January is all that bad, in fact I've been trying to figure out how to keep a winter office there.

Let's see, what else, we got ourselves a new president, the first African American president, who took office this year and we certainly felt the crunch of one of the greatest economic crises in our nations history over the past year and several months. These are just a couple of the big events from this past year but there are so many things to reflect on from the past year and decade so I thought that I'd just list some of them to jog your memory. I hope that you enjoy the memories but moreover I hope you enjoy all that the future holds - Happy New Year in 2010!!

* November 2000 hanging chad debacle from the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore

* January 2009 crash landing of a US Airways jet into the Hudson River in New York

* February 2003 - Space shuttle Columbia explodes over Tyler, Texas upon returning to Earth from a 16 day space mission

* September 11, 2001 - Terrorist attack killing nearly 3,000 American civilians

* July 2000 - Air France Concord crashed killing all 109 on board

* August 2005 - Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans and surrounding areas

* June 2004 marked the passing of former President Ronald Reagan

* March 2005 - Michael Jackson goes on trial, wearing pajamas, for alleged child molestation charges

* June 2009 - Michael Jackson's passing

* August 2007 - Michael Vick is convicted and goes to prison for his role in bank-rolling a dog fighting ring

*April 2003 - Saddam Hussein's statue is fallen in by soldiers in Baghdad

* December 2004 - The Indian Ocean tsunami claims over 200,000 Indonesian people in the deadliest tsunami in modern history

* August 2007 - Bridge collapse over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota

* April 2005 - Passing of Pope John Paul II

* January 2000 - December 2009 - California wildfires, the never ending battle

* April 2007 - At least 30 students were murdered when a gunman began randomly shooting inside a building on the campus of Virginia Tech University

* December 2008 - The fall of financier Bernie Madoff begins upon his confession of stealing billions from investors in an elaborate Ponzi scheme

* April 2003 - Hong Kong takes serious precautions after more than 100 people die from a SARS epidemic, an acute respiratory syndrome

* July 2009 - Sonia Sotomayor is sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Judge

* August 2007 - Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's all-time home run record - 756

* April 2009 - Chrysler Corporation announces bankruptcy

* November 2009 - Tiger Woods fall from grace begins among allegations of marital indiscretions and womanizing

* 2003 - Year of the Mini Cooper

Other interesting things and/or people from the past decade include:

* YouTube

* IPod and Podcasts

* MySpace

* Facebook

* Twitter

* Emails and Texting

* Sexting

* Blackberry or Crackberry

* Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift

* Kenny Chesney

* Snoop Dogg

* Steroids

* Windows Vista

* Smart Phones

* Jon and Kate Plus 8

* The Biggest Loser

* TomKat and Brangelina

* Survivor

* American Idol

* Lindsay Lohann

* Danika Patrick

* Tom Brady and Payton Manning

* Awareness Ribbons and Bracelets

* E-Books


* Reality TV

* Guitar Hero

* Wii

* Digital Cameras

What a decade - have fun the next ten!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11...

Eight years ago today beginning at 9:03am our country experienced the worst attack ever carried out on American soil against innocent civilians during our nations 233 year history.

I remember being in my office when someone first said a plane had crashed into a building in New York. At that time I didn't even know it was one of the twin towers. What a horrible accident I thought. Moments later I heard it was a major commercial jetliner and it had hit the World Trade Center south tower.

I remember several of us in the office scrambling to hook up a small twelve inch color television set desperately trying to see if we could find out what had gone wrong. Within minutes we were watching with disbelief and sadness. As we watched the ensuing fire spread in the building from the first airplane a second plane entered the picture and within a split second had impacted the second tower creating a firebomb like nothing I had ever seen. At that very second I realized we were not seeing an accident but were witnessing some sort of terrible attack.

I remember the news reports as they started pouring in from various sources from everywhere with speculations, accusations and questions of why. Then the inevitable reports from the third and forth jetliner attacks surfaced. The third attack was on The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and then the forth, a diverted attack which resulted in a crash in a field in Shaksville, Pennsylvania thanks to several of the heroic passengers and flight crew as it was supposedly heading toward Washington, DC, presumably to target our nations capital.

I remember my utter disbelief of what I was seeing play out before my eyes.

I remember the image of seeing people jump to their deaths to avoid the shear pain and torture of being burned alive.

I remember seeing the people on the streets below as they scattered and ran in terror trying to avoid being maimed, mutilated and killed from falling debris.

I remember the thickening of my emotions and the tears as they began to swell up in my eyes. How could this happen, I thought, and why would anyone want to kill and hurt so many innocent people?

I remember watching until I was sick to my stomach and finally couldn't watch anymore.

I remember leaving the office early and having a feeling of such emptiness. It was painful to see such a horrific event and I wondered if it was safe to be or go anywhere. Where would the next attack take place and when?

I remember watching the sky, waiting for a plane to fly by and wondered where it might be going. It wasn't long that the sky became empty as a nationwide grounding of all air traffic was put into place.

I remember later in the day the eerie silence of the sky and knew that on that day, September 11, 2001 would be a day I'd remember the rest of my life.

In all, on that fateful day, 2977 civilians (not including the 19 hijackers) lost their lives including 411 emergency responders from firefighters to police and EMT workers. Another 6,291 were victims of injury.

In the hours and days that followed we learned that the attacks were the master-mind of Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. He had plotted, along with other high ranking Al-Qaeda leaders, for several years to fulfill these vicious attacks on Americans. In the Koran it is interpreted as saying "slay the pagans wherever ye find them" and in Osama's mind all Americans are pagans. Osama bin Laden's radical beliefs were consumed with hurting and killing as many Americans as possible. He said, "it is the duty of every Muslim to kill Americans anywhere".

As we know, bin Laden is an extremist and that is certainly not the belief of all Muslims. In fact shortly after the attacks Muslim nationals from all over the world denounced the attacks and stepped up to offer whatever means possible to help in the recovery of victims and aid the injured throughout the aftermath.

Today, eight years later, the American spirit and desire to be free as a nation remains solid and constant. Our flag has never flown higher or more proud. Our soldiers and troops are still fighting, giving their own lives, to ensure that we as Americans can be free and that we can live daily without fear. We are a giving country and a land of opportunity. At no time in our history have we resolved to submit to threats and terror nor shall we start today. We are a peace loving country and have and always will continue to stand as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nashville's Biltmore?

I like big houses. They're interesting. They make you think "what if". The story behind a big home is usually pretty facinating when you start learning how it came to be. If you're like me then you'd understand the interest. Some people just view the home as a big guady structure and accuse the owner of simply show-boating the family fortune. That may be true but what was the reasoning behind the home; there's probably a really good story.

Nashville and the surrounding areas of middle Tennessee, most notably, Williamson County, is home to several enormous residential dwellings. Over the years I've enjoyed scoping out some of these properties and even visiting some of the newer ones during the construction phase when you can walk through the home and get a chance to see how the other half lives. Some of them are without a doubt guady but doesn't it make you want to know more about it? We recently learned about the Alan Jackson estate, Sweetbriar (photo above), on Moran Road being listed for sale; 19,000 square feet, 125 acres, a boathouse with rather large private lake and a few other modest necessities along with a $38 million price tag and it could be yours. Good luck with the light bill payment! Go to for a virtual tour.

Most all of us know about Alan Jackson and his march of fame in the music industry but what about all those others? It just makes you wonder.

A friend of mine in the construction industry recently tipped me off to a project taking place on Hillsboro Road at the intersection of Sneed Road just outside of Nashville in Williamson County. It seems that back in 2004 a 207 acre tract of prime land was bought at this location by a couple of local Tennessee entrepreneurs, Preston Ingram, chairman and founder of AIM Healthcare Services and private investor Scott Sohr, for the smooth pricetag of $2.3 million. The two partners had amassed over $200 million worth of land options by the early spring of 2005 in hopes of capitalizing in the booming development of homesites in the hot middle Tennessee housing market. As we know the market took a nosedive and the hot home sales quickly simmered as developers watched land values slide and their portfolios shrink. For Ingram and Sohr, however, it seems they were able to foresee the future of the housing market and were able to dump the Hillsboro tract of land for a cool $9.2 million profit back in 2007 just prior to the housing crash. Enter Todd Wagner.

Records show that the transaction of the land sale went to a trust in Palm Harbor, Florida called Remington PH Trust. While I don't know anything about Remington, I do know that the trust is linked to Todd Wagner. Wagner is the longtime business partner of Mark Cuban, controversial owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban and Wagner both University of Indiana alums partnered up in 1995 to begin a venture called AudioNet which broadcast live sporting events and radio stations over the internet. In 1998 they changed the name of the company to and took the company public. The venture proved to be sucessful, so much so that it got the attention of a little company with a funny name called Yahoo! Yahoo! bought the business during the boom of the .com era and made Cuban and Wagner instant billionaires, $5.7 billion to be exact. Wagner stayed on with Yahoo! for a few more years before resigning to persue other entertainment ventures. Today Wagner is heavily involved in the movie and TV industry with his company 2929 Entertainment.

So, what's all this got to do with big houses you may ask. Well, it seems that Mr. Wagner has begun developing the property on Hillsboro Road. No, he won't be trying to develop and sell homes to the Nashville's rich and famous. Instead Mr. Wagner is in the works of designing and building his own home on the property. Recent insider sources are reporting that Wagner intends to build an estate that more than quadruples the size of Alan Jackson's simple dwelling. That's right, you could very well soon see Google satelite images of a home that rivals that of the one in Asheville, North Carolina known as Biltmore. My sources indicate that the home plans have been estimated from anywhere between 85,000 to 130,000 square feet (that is not a typo). Now granted, Biltmore is said to be 175,000 square feet but does it really mater? (Photo to the right shows the front entrance to the Hillsboro Road property at the entersection of Sneed Road. A guard can be seen in the photo as well as around the clock 24 hours a day)

I can't help but wonder why Wagner has chosen this area for his dream home site. Could it be that we could soon have a new professional sports team owner in town? The question is entertaining and has validity. At one time Mr. Wagner had serious interest in purchasing the NHL's Dallas Stars. That deal never developed but with the state of the current Nashville Predators organization it could offer Wagner a quick deal letting the current local owners group off the hook for what seems like a never ending uphill battle in ticket sales and attendance. With Wagner's buddy Cuban not far away for sports team owner advice, you could reason that it could just be the ticket for the Nashville Predators franchise in hopes of a fresh step toward financial success. But let's not stop there. Could you even foresee a scenario where Wagner might be interested in taking our fair city to new heights with a proposed professional baseball or basketball team? Or how about this for conversation - could he be positioning himself as future owner of the Tennessee Titans? Probably not but it's not an outrageous question. Let's face it, Bud Adams is a bit long in the tooth and who knows if one of his daughters will want to carry the torch or not.

After Wagner graduated from Indiana he obtained a law degree from the University of Virginia and moved on to Dallas, Texas where he became a CPA. He has deep roots in Texas and has been involved in organizing charity events in the Dallas area that involve the likes of Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner, as well as several players from the squad. He has been associated with several people involved in the Dallas Cowboy organization over the years and can certainly be considered more than just a casual fan. With longtime friend Cuban's involvement with sports team ownership I think it makes reasonable sense that Wagner could be looking to engage himself in that line of work as well.

Realistically, the Predators gig seems that it would be the most appealing and available venture for an aspiring local sports team owner. Who knows, perhaps Wagner has ambitions to become the next big country music star. Probably not but his deep pockets will allow him to play and frolic around Middle Tennessee for as long as wishes. Only time will tell, just as only time will tell just how big the house on Hillsboro will become.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paducah Photo 09 Exhibit

Thanks to everyone wishing me luck in the PaducahPhoto09 contest and exhibit. From the galleries point of view the exhibit was a huge success. The opening night reception was packed with artists and art enthusiasts. I was impressed with the gallery and the work that had gone in to putting the show together. Exhibits of this size and nature are always a challange to produce so, my hats off to Michael Crouse, the gallery director, as well as his staff for a job well done.

I am sad to say that that I did not place but I was pleased nonetheless to have been selected as one of the 70 exhibits from 685 entries accross the country. The juror, Antonio Martinez, an art professor at Southern Illinois University, chose six photos overall, three places and three honorable mentions. I'm posting the winners for you to see and you can decide for yourself how you like them. Frankly, I'm still biased toward my photos, especially Three Trees and Seven Horses, but it's the jurors decision and what strikes him in deciding the winners. Again, I was proud to be a part of it.

The show will continue through August 29th. If you are in Paducah and have an extra moment stop by to see the exhibit. You'll have a chance to see some wonderful photography and show your support to the Yeiser Art Center. The gallery is located in the historic Market House on lower Broadway just a block from the river. Maybe next year we'll have better luck!

By the way, don't forget you can always order a giclee print of any of my fine art prints by going to my website Go to the Fine Art gallery for more information.

The winners...

1st Place - After the Water by Charity Valentine

2nd Place - When the Bough Breaks by Libby Rowe (a fellow Nashvillian)

3rd Place - Fallen Friend by Amy Bishop

Honorable Mentions

Clouds by Amelia Fletcher

#2 by Luca Tommasini

Support. by Karen Pierce

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Famous words from a famous Tennessean, Ms. Minnie Pearl.

What a fabulous day it was to jump on the Harley and head down the great Natchez Trace Parkway. With sunny skies over our heads and the wind in our face Beth and I set out to do a little exploring and indulging in some terrific Tennessee jewels along this grand road once known as the Devil's Backbone. The Natchez Trace Parkway which starts in Pasquo, Tennessee is within just a few miles of our home and makes it way 444 miles down to Natchez, Mississippi.

The 8,000 year old trail began to see modern day travelers in the 1700 - 1800's during a time of war between new settlers to the area and the native Indians that hunted the land, not to mention bandits that would seize the moment to raid and rob travelers along the trail. The trail was so unruly that wise travelers would often team up together and even traveled with postal workers that used the trail as a delivery route. Today, the All American Road trail is a beautiful byway of scenic farmlands, hiking trails and historic landmarks; safety in numbers not necessary.

Just a few miles down the Trace was our first stop in a little village known as Leiper's Fork. Settled in the 1790's by early pioneering families from North Carolina and Virginia, Leiper's Fork is today known as the only historic village on the Tennessee portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway. It is home to some of the most beautiful rolling hills of farmland in the Middle Tennessee area.

Beth and I went to the little town for one purpose - lunch. We pulled into a parking spot in front of Puckett's Grocery and Restaurant along with seven or eight other bikes. Obviously, this was a good choice. When we walked inside we stepped back in time a few years. The old market is dead set against the ways of modern restaurants. With grocery options in the back of the store and an assortment of makeshift tables and chairs, none of which matched, in the front of the store we knew we had found a source of good country cooking. A made to order grill was awaiting for our selection. Beth had a thick hamburger with garden fresh toppings and I had the home-style hot ham and cheese. Needless to say this was not your typical Burger King nor Arbys, neither of which could come close to the tasty sandwiches that filled our appetites.

After a good lunch we hit the Trace again heading several miles on down the road before making a rest stop at the old Captain John Gordon House. Captain Gordon was a famed Indian fighter commissioned by the government in the late 1700's to acquire land from the Indians. For his efforts he was given over 600 acres of land on the Natchez Trace trail along the Duck River. This was prime land perfect for agriculture and trading posts. The Gordon home was built in 1818 and was said to be one of the finest all brick homes of it's time but unfortunately the captain only spent one year in the house before succumbing to pneumonia and dying in 1819.

Just about 100 - 150 yards from the Gordon House is Highway 50 to Centerville, Tennessee. We decided to jump onto 50 all the way in to Centerville where we could catch Highway 100 back toward home. Not being familiar with Centerville we took in the scenery along the way. Much to our surprise, upon our arrival to Centerville we came across a sign to a winery that we had been told about just the night before, naturally we decided to check it out. What a hidden jewel out in the country!

Grinder's Switch Winery was nothing like what we expected but was everything you would hope for. A quaint little cabin in the woods in a primitive setting would not be what you'd expect in a typical winery but that's just what the the proprietors Joe and Gail Chessor had in mind when they opened the business a few years ago. Beth asked Joe how he got into wine making and when his wife gave him that look he just said it was a long story. After talking to him for a while it was obvious that it was his love of good wine that must have started it all which was lucky for us because we were able to take home a wonderful award winning Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Chessor's vineyard and aged from Tennessee white oak.

Just before leaving, the Chessor's urged us to visit Minnie Pearl who had recently taken up residence in the side yard gazebo of the winery. You may have heard of the now famous Minnie Pearl statue dispute that had been covered by national media outlets several months ago but if not here's the scoop. A sculpture of the Grinder's Switch native was commissioned back in 2004 for about $150,000. The money was donated by an anonymous citizen with one restriction; she had to remain on the downtown square in Centerville. The city government said no problem, as they had hoped to see some additional tourists come to town to see the great Grand Ole Opry star. All was fine until a few years later when construction around the town square required that Ms. Minnie needed to be moved. After much hostile debate, the sculpture, commissioned by Bill Rains, was shipped down to a hotel in Linden, Tennessee for a short visit in the lobby. There is no connection to Linden other than the hotel management thought it would be nice to offer Minnie a place to stay while the city leaders in Centerville worked out their differences.

In the end I'm really not sure who had finally had enough, but one day out of the blue Joe got a call and was asked if he wanted Minnie to oversee his establishment. Joe said absolutely, afterall, what a better fit for his Grinder's Switch Winery; and the rest, as they say, is history. She's quite a sight and I'm glad we got a chance to visit with her.

After grabbing a few photos of the winery and Beth with Minnie we took off with another close by stop in mind. Just a couple of miles down the road from the winery was it's namesake, Grinder's Switch, Tennessee. Not knowing what to expect we traveled down an old unmarked two lane country road until we reached some railroad tracks. Just off to the left of the tracks was an old abandoned train depot and a simple little sign that read Grinder's Switch 1940. Apparently, back in the day, the area was a bustling spot for shipping and became famous thanks to the fictional tales of Minnie Pearl.

Once we finished our visit in Grinder's Switch we were back on the road again heading down Highway 100 with one more stop in mind before heading to the house. Just as we completed our full circle back to the head of the Natchez Trace we stopped for dinner at the world famous Loveless Cafe. Even though it was clearly early evening breakfast was the choice of our appetite's desire. You just can't beat those homemade preserves served up with the secret recipe biscuits that the Loveless is known for. If you've never been there or it's been a while since you were there, then it's time to go back.

Since shutting down the motel operations back in the mid 80's the business has expanded not only the restaurant but several shops including the Hams and Jams retail and mailorder shop. Recently, the new owners added a huge event barn behind the restaurant for special events and entertainment. Some of the shops include unique gifts and arts as well as a high-end bicycle shop. $25 later plus tip, Beth and I headed to the house catching the beginning of a rain storm a couple of miles before we rolled back into our driveway. We were a little wet but it was well worth the trip on the bike.

All in all it would be hard to beat such a great day but I can assure you, we will try.

To learn more about some of the places we visited in my blog go to the following websites.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Very Long Week

Wow, what a week it's been for us here in Music City and I'm talking about the entire city. At the time of this writing it's been a week to the very hour that we first learned of the former NFL Titans quarterback Steve McNair's shooting death on July 4th. That'll go down in history as a very sad day for all of Nashville.

Throughout the week there's been non-stop news coverage of Steve's death and all the speculation, condemnation and ridiculous accusational rumors that go along with it. Quite honestly, it's become somewhat numbing.

McNair's family laid him to rest just a few hours ago near his hometown in Mount Olive, Mississippi. Hopefully, along with that the city of Nashville can begin to close this chapter of sadness and move on. Certainly, with no disrespect to the family, it's time that we need to talk about something else. We need to rejuvenate our senses and put a foot forward in the healing process but unfortunately I can't do that until I first express my own anger and displeasure with one particular incident that took place Friday afternoon regarding the McNair murder/suicide.

I'm a fairly regular listener to a local radio station here in Nashville that's primarily dedicated to sports coverage 24 hours a day. That's alot of sports. So much so that the station has to pick up programming from national syndicated shows during different time slots in order to fill the required daily coverage. One of those shows is the Jim Rome Show which is broadcast live from Los Angeles. Rome is known for his unusual but "hip" delivery. He's also known for taking a lot of vacation time. He says he "takes a lot of vacation time because he gets a lot of vacation time". I guess I would too.

Rome took a week of vacation this past week and had several different guest hosts sitting in for him, one of which is a sports columnist named Jason Whitlock. Whitlock, a Kansas City Star and columnist is known for his controversial opinions and has his share of critics. I personally have never cared for his work and yesterday he more than solidified that for me as well as most anyone within earshot of Nashville that was effected by the Steve McNair situation. Even those who haven't followed the murder/suicide probably were uncomfortable if they were listening to Whittlock's commentary on Friday afternoon.

During the second hour radio segment Whitlock did a commentary on McNair being a bad husband and father. By all accounts we know that Steve loved his family especially his four boys. Just before the end of the segment Whitlock, who boasts of being unapologetic, brought in an "unexpected guest" that was suppose to be a former assistant coach to Steve McNair during his days at Alcorn State. The guest went into a question and answer session with Whitlock and told about fictitious events regarding McNair's "legendary tail chasing" days at Alcorn State. The segment was obviously a parody but it was done in such poor taste and total disregard to the respect of the McNair family who hadn't yet even had a chance to bury Steve. It was disgusting. Certainly, I don't condone what Steve did in his personal affairs but at the same time I can't imagine anyone using their public status as a platform of criticism in such a poor illmannered taste and then laugh it off. I only hope that Steve's family didn't catch wind of Whitlock's garbage attempt at humor.

The question I have is do we have such little regard for one's life or the great things that someone has done for so many simply be degraded like Whitlock did to McNair in a single moment and that it's OK do that without any backlash? I hope not. Our local radio station made a public apology to the McNair family and to the City of Nashville as well as made complaints to the program directors of the Jim Rome Show. It'll be interesting to see what angle the show takes in regard to Whitlock's outlandish remarks. I'll be tuning in Monday to see what Jim Rome says. I think he's a very professional reporter and will be disappointed that his show was used in such a sick manner Friday afternoon. We'll wait and see. Until then, it's my hope that we can remember what number 9 did on the field and his tireless efforts to help people less fortunate in the community. That's the Steve McNair that we want to remember.

Rest in peace Steve.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Photos Accepted for Exhibition

I'm really excited to report to you that I've had a couple of landscape photographs accepted for judging and exhibition at the Yeiser Art Center in Paducah, Kentucky. The show runs from July 18 through August 29. The competition, called PaducahPhoto09, has been in existence for 34 years and has attracted participants from all over the country. This years entries have been narrowed down to about 40 photographers.

The two pieces that I was honored to show were ironically both shot in Kentucky on a couple of different trips to Lexington. My personal favorite of the two accepted is titled "Three Trees and Seven Horses". As the title suggests this was originally a simple shot of some horses gathered around some trees on a nice December day this past winter. The shot was originally produced in color and had some remarkable clouds cast across a particularly blue sky that afternoon. I had drawn the attention of the horses when I first arrived. Once they were satisfied that I had nothing for them to eat they again began their casual grazing on the hillside. As quiet I as was the shutter of my camera got the attention of one horse. You can see him staring back at me in the photo above. He raised his head just above the horse in front of him and watched me intently while the others seemed disinterested. After about a half dozen shots I slipped back into my vehicle and drove away satisfied with the photos that I had made.

It was a several days later when I began processing the shots of the horses. I didn't like what I was seeing. Even though I had been fairly pleased with the shots I was making at the time for some reason it wasn't translating the same way as I had originally thought. Disgusted, I filed the images away.

In early March while working on some other images I revisited the horse photos. I decided to experiment with some color enhancements which also failed in satisfying my hopes for the photo. As a last ditch option I decided to produce the image in black and white. Upon first look I thought the shot had improved somewhat but I was still a little disappointed in the results.

I remembered a trick that John Lucas, a former employer, showed me years ago when I worked at The Crittenden Press in Marion, Kentucky. I was a rookie photographer in high school back then and was learning the trade from the ground up spending a lot of time in the darkroom. John introduced me to a photo chemical called Farmers Reducer. When processing a B/W print in this chemical it would essentially make parts of the image disappear creating a high contrast effect. Obviously, since I strictly shoot digital now-a-days there is no chemical darkroom and no Farmers Reducer. Instead, today, I use the the digital darkroom which in this case allowed me to not only convert from color to black and white but to also pull a very high contrast image out of my original color shot much similar to the old days of using the Farmers Reducer. I immediately fell in love with the image. Thanks for the tip John.

After some additional work cropping and adding a nice black stroke line around the image I gave it a title, "The Gathering Spot". I never really liked that name and as a result about 4-5 weeks later as I was looking at the image again it hit me as I was counting the number of horses in the photo. For some reason Lincoln's opening to the Gettysburg Address came to mind, "Four score and seven years ago...". Naturally, from that came "Three Trees and Seven Horses", possibly a bit of a stretch but Lincoln was born in Kentucky; work with me here, it's a left brain thing.

The second selection of my accepted photos is called "Kentucky Snow Farm", another play on words usually reserved for the phrase "Kentucky horse farm" as there are so many farms around the Lexington area that raise horses instead of plants and vegetables. On this day there were no horses, plants or vegetables, just snow.

My good friend and co-worker Mike Coster and I were heading over to our office in Lexington and got caught in a heavy snow fall, so heavy in fact that there was a limited sight distance while driving even with the windshield wipers on. Just a few miles from our office we decided to pull into the Keeneland Race Track area where I wanted to make a picture of the Keeneland clock while snow was falling on it. As we were leaving I saw a beautiful farm house across from Keeneland but didn't think I could get a good clear shot because of the dense snow fall. I was also disappointed that there were also no horses out and about; they had apparently made a good decision to stay out of the mess. I made the shot anyway and we left.

Upon returning to Nashville a couple of days later I pulled the image up and began processing it. I was right, the image was not very clear. I decided to once again ditch the color information in the file and turned it into a standard black and white image. This allowed me once again to begin manipulating the contrast levels which I did to the point of really bringing out the black detail of the house, trees and fence. I decided that I would really focus the image around the house as the anchor and use the lines of the fence and trees to balance the image. After experimenting with a few different crop positions and adding a black stroke line I decided to go with the panorama image you see to the right.

If you have a chance to be in the Paducah area stop by the art center and take a look at the originals. Below is a link for more information.

Wish me luck!!


Monday, July 6, 2009

I've Arrived, but First Things First

Well, hello everyone. What appears as true is true, I've arrived at the world of blogging. So here I am and here we go but first things first; why am I here?

Many people had suggested to me that I needed a blog. Why I wondered? Could it really be that my thoughts and ideas are so compelling that I need to publish them? Who exactly would want to read it and more over why would they care? I'm still not sure I completely understand but I do have a better understanding of what it's all about. Yes, I'll be the first to admit that it's pretty easy to get wrapped up into what someone has written, even when it's just an ongoing, endless and sometimes senseless ramble. See, you're into it now. I think I've got you. Read on.

Alright, so I've started a blog. What's next? It's got to have a name they said. Okay, that should be easy, let's see, what'll I call it? Grant's Blog? No, too simple. Grant Davidson Speaks!? Naah, again, who cares? Hmmm. How about 5th Floor? Yeah, 5th Floor; it's catchy, somewhat compelling and it sounds sophisticated. Great, 5th Floor it is!

What, you question me as to why I might choose such a name. You're right, I don't work on the 5th Floor, my house certainly doesn't have a 5th Floor and no, the 5th Floor is not the place of my favorite coffee house (I don't even drink the stuff)...alright you got me; it's a shameless plug for the title to one of my newest fine art photography prints. Catchy though, isn't it?

And so it goes, 5th Floor it shall be!

Now that I have sufficiently etched the name somewhere within your brain let me tell you a little story of how the print came to be.

My wife Beth and I took a trip to Chicago last fall, October to be exact, just a week prior to the presidential election. We went primarily to see the theatrical production of Wicked and to just explore the area. I had been to the Windy City but only for meetings so I'd never really had a chance to experience the city itself. Wow, it was fantastic. The fall weather was gorgeous and as you can imagine the city was beginning to anticipate a post-election party like no one had ever seen. The city was at a spectacular season ending peak!

With camera in hand Beth and I set out to see as much as possible in a four day whirl-wind adventure. She was the tour guide and had a great plan in place. My job was to keep up and pay attention. One of the things on our agenda was to see some of the great artwork that Chicago is known for. We visited the famed Chicago Art Institute and saw everything from primitive sculptures to post modern paintings and even saw Grant Wood's original "American Gothic" portrait of the old farmer with his pitchfork and unmarried daughter; priceless.

From there we ventured across Michigan Avenue to visit a much less conspicuous but historical structure known as the Fine Arts Building. The Romanesque design building was the original showroom for the Studebaker company's wagon carriages in 1895 but was soon transformed into an artist's retreat in 1898. Home to more than 160 artists some of the famed former tenants include sculptor Lorado Taft who some of you western Kentucky folks may recognize as the the artist of the Chief Paduke statue in Paducah, Ky. The building was also once the studio homes to L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz and to Frank Loyd Wright, one of Americas greatest residential design architects. Wrights office on the 10th floor of the building offered inspiring views of Lake Michigan as well as reminders of the harsh winter ahead.

Being the only people in the building that looked like tourists, a gracious gentlemen suggested to Beth and I that we take the elevator up to the top floor and then walk back down in order to see some of the buildings wonderful offerings. What a treat. We stepped onto the elevator, a hand operated elevator, and was asked by the operator of nearly 60 years if we were going to the top, we obviously looked like tourists. We said yes and he went to work immediately shutting the brass accordion style doors behind us, and off we went. It was amusing and so interesting at the same time watching this man working the pulley system to lift us to our final stop. While on the 10th floor we saw some wonderful murals by a few of the original tenants who enjoyed success and studies all over the world. Needless to say I was inspired. I couldn't help but to be sucked into the very corners of the building breathing in the history and enjoying the awe of this great institute.

I had my camera working taking pictures to later reminisce but also to capture something intriguing. I knew there was something about the old nostalgic building that I could use but hadn't figured out what just yet. As we descended down the old stairway making stops on each floor it finally hit me halfway down that the stairway itself was such a important part of the building that I wanted to capture it and show it in an interesting way. If the stairway could talk it could have told countless stories of some of the great artists that had made their daily walk up and down the old decorative slate steps while steadying each step by holding on to the endless wooden oak handrail supported by ornate spindles for the entire trip. At the bottom flight of each step to the next floor the stairs spilled out onto a golden cream colored marble floor and balancing each floor was an old primitive looking bench much like a church pew. The combination of all these elements were perfect. I just had to get the right angle.

Beth had walked on down to the floor below me as I surveyed the options for my shot. I decided to stay on the 5th floor and shoot downward toward the most bottom portion of the staircase. Since I didn't have a view camera to correct lens distortion I decided to close down my lens as much as possible to maintain a sharp image from top to bottom. Lighting in the building was dim and cast an eerie shadow across the stairs from the corridor on each floor. Without a tripod I had to steady myself and hope for an image that remained in good focus. I held my breath for the split second required on the exposure and got the shot.

After some post-processing work I decided on a square format to match the shape of the stairwell. What you see to the right is the final image. Note how the square format in conjuction with the angle of the stairs give a false perseption of distortion to the image format. It looks good as it is but to see it in it's intended larger size is what I'm most proud of. I hope you enjoyed the story and the picture now known as 5th Floor.

Come back often as I hope to blog about a lot of things including more photography, Harley-Davidson adventures and just cool stuff in general. Comment as you wish, I'd love to hear from you and your thoughts.


To see more about the Chicago Fine Arts Building go to

Also, to see more of my work go to Search Grant Davidson to view my current work online and to vote and make comments about the artwork.