Thursday, December 31, 2009
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:
* IPod and Podcasts
* Emails and Texting
* Blackberry or Crackberry
* Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift
* Kenny Chesney
* Snoop Dogg
* Windows Vista
* Smart Phones
* Jon and Kate Plus 8
* The Biggest Loser
* TomKat and Brangelina
* American Idol
* Lindsay Lohann
* Danika Patrick
* Tom Brady and Payton Manning
* Awareness Ribbons and Bracelets
* Reality TV
* Guitar Hero
* Digital Cameras
What a decade - have fun the next ten!!!
Friday, September 11, 2009
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
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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 http://www.gdavidsonphotography.com/. Go to the Fine Art gallery for more information.
2nd Place - When the Bough Breaks by Libby Rowe (a fellow Nashvillian)
3rd Place - Fallen Friend by Amy Bishop
Clouds by Amelia Fletcher
#2 by Luca Tommasini
Support. by Karen Pierce
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
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 Foxsports.com 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
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
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 http://www.fineartsbuilding.tv/home.html
Also, to see more of my work go to http://www.jpgmag.com/. Search Grant Davidson to view my current work online and to vote and make comments about the artwork.