I'm a hybrid photo hobbyist. By that I mean - photography is my hobby and that I use digital and film.
For digital, I use a Nikon D850. For film, I use a Canon A-1, send my film off to Photolab for development, and scan my negatives with an Epson V550 Photo. I adjust with Photoshop and Picasa on Dell Computers.
I've been serious about photography since 1985. I think I'm pretty good or, at least, technically proficient. I'm a purist. Too many adjustments or additions to an image begin to look like graphic art and not photography to me.
I learned in Black-and-White and you'll see that I still prefer it.
I like cold and contrasty black and white images. I like my color photos to look natural. I do not like the low-saturation photos so prevalent in today's "professional" photography. Stop It!
My favorite photographic subjects are my people, those folks that I love and appreciate.
Izmir Turkey, December 1985
During my first tour of Turkey, I left very pregnant Kady back in Birmingham to have E. She flew there for three months during that summer with both kids in tow. She's a hero.
She returned, alone, after Christmas. That was a great time.
I took the opportunity to photograph her, some of the best photography I have ever done.
Photo Days with my granddaughter, ES
I try to spend as much time with my ES as I can. She's super intelligent, with a near photographic memory, and into science like I am.
One of her first questions for me was, "Why do we see the moon, sometimes at night, and sometimes in the day?" I used three balls of different sizes to explain and she got it. She was six.
Not long after, she corrected me when I said I thought Mercury would be the hottest planet. She knew it was Venus.
Right now, she wants to be an Automotive Engineer, building flying cars. I just took her to a car museum and she loved it. Her questions were spot on. Looking at a roadster she wanted to know how the suspension and steering worked.
I enjoy taking her photographs and she enjoys posing. She knows what she wants and must approve every shot.
Photos with my Daughter-in-Law, KS
Maryland, May 2023
This was a hip shot, taken of my daughter-in-law at my grandaughter's second birthday. I sat next to her, leaned back, and took the shot.
I think it is the best photo that I've taken of her; the hat makes it.
Everyone wore hats that day. The theme was "Off To The Races" and everyone was supposed to dress up as if attending a premier horse race.
Photos with my granddaughter, SGM
This baby and I are great collaborators. She is usually ready anytime Granddaddy wants to take photos, as long as she gets to review each shot and then push all of the buttons on the camera.
She's a cutie, with a great personality, a mischievous sense of humor, and the happiest baby I have ever seen. She is always in motion, which makes most of my photos blurry, but every once in a while, I get a jewel.
What I've learned is to get down to her level and let her see what she looks like after a few photos. She's learning to sit still and look in the lens.
When she's had enough of my camera and me, she gives me an emphatic "All Done!" This also means, "Let me have a go with that camera."
This was taken with my Pixel Phone
On My Walks
Holly Mead, Virginia, 2023
My walks are great for my mental well-being, especially in the fall. The trees in this area of Virginia go all out showing their colors in October. This is the time to change my walks from the sidewalks for distance, to wooded paths for thinking all of the deep thoughts.
And the photos.
Nikon D-850, Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm @ 50mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO 400, RAW
Izmir, Turkiye, Spring 1985
Photos tell stories. They remind you. They become a part of your history.
This photo is a great memory.
When I arrived in Turkey, my room was on the backside of the hotel, with windows facing the inner city. On the mountain was a huge illuminated castle. There were millions of small twinkling lights below it - reds, greens, yellows, blues, and whites. It looked like Christmas. I thought, “What a Magical Place This Is.”
What “looked like Christmas” on my first night were the homes of thousands of poor Turk people, living in poorly constructed houses and shacks, some thrown up overnight. It was the definition of lean living.
On that mountain were some of the nicest people that I have ever met.
When I am telling anyone about my travels in Turkey, I tell the story of this walk.
I took this on the walk up to the castle. I love it because it reminds me of that wonderful day, the nice folks I met, and that sometimes things may not be what they seem.
I've had two opportunities to photograph this young lady, once for her Dad's birthday and again in Charleston when I stopped over on my way to Parris Island.
She was the one person in the Cadet Counseling Office who I trusted and who "got" VMI. It was a sad day when she left to continue her education.
We met when I followed the VMI Hockey Team; she was dating one of the coaches. We began sitting together at games. She has shot trap and skeet with me, watched the last season of Lost when the Lost Boys graduated, and meets me for sushi whenever our paths cross.
She, faithfully, stays in touch, the only person from my VMI days who does.
I hope to see her and to take her photograph again, soon.
Bess in her Element
The Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, Summer 2007
This was my 2005 Mustang. I set up this photo, my camera on a tripod, and told my daughter what I wanted, She pressed the shutter; I'm driving.
Perfect. Photo by CE Neel and her dad.
I bought Bess off the lot at Town and Country Ford in Bessemer, Alabama. I drove her for seventeen years and enjoyed every minute. She was a legend; the car that saved American Muscle, Roush 05-0477.
I miss this car.
That Old Truck
I learned a lesson on this day - when walking somewhere new, take your camera. I ran across this old workhorse while walking a new path close to my neighborhood. All I had with me was my cell phone.
Luckily, the path and the truck were close enough to go back that afternoon. I've been back many times.
Photos with my young friend, Ryan
McKethan Park, Lexington, Virginia, October 2014
This Dress Needs Photos
And . . . that's how this happened. I got a text and a photo saying, "This dress needs photos."
I left work immediately, grabbed my camera, and met her at a park. I'm not stupid.
The dress and the girl did, indeed, need photos
Charlottesville, Virginia, Spring 2018
When I told my wife how I saw this shot going, she told me it would look "contrived."
Ryan joined me at the Charlottesville Mall and I took my new cameras, one of her favorite books, The Lords of Discipline, and a coffee mug. I bought her a coffee, found the perfect spot, and began shooting.
I shot in Ilford FP-4, Kodak Portra, and in digital set on Monochrome and Color. We got a lot of great shots, but this is my favorite of the day.
It does not look contrived; you can see this same scene every day in C'ville, only the girl probably won't be as beautiful.
"Beauty and femininity are ageless and can't be contrived." ~ Marilyn Monroe
When I lived in Lexington, this was one of the places where I took everyone. I've taken the Trap and Skeet Team, my Mother and Mother-in-law, and visiting friends.
When I found out that one of my Cadets had never been off post for any reason other than her Water Polo trips, I told her to meet me on Sunday morning with her camera. This was our first stop.
I love bridges. I'll stop in the middle of the damn road for a good Bridge.
By far, the most beautiful and unique covered bridge in Virginia is the Humpback Bridge, at Exit 10, off I-64 West, just before West Virginia. It is also the oldest. The wayside there is the perfect place to picnic. It is well worth the stop and is only seconds off the Interstate.
Rave at Close of Day
Trees have recently become a favorite photo subject for me. I think because I'm aging and I envy their longevity. I really love this old tree, photographed on a Clay Target range in Kentucky. Though struck by lightning, damaged by winds, and suffering from what looks like heart disease, it just won't give up. It looks as if it is flipping off the elements as it grows new limbs to fight another day.
"old age should burn and rave at close of day." ~ Dylan Thomas
The White Oak at the Airport
Emmanuel Church Oak
Izmir, Turkiye, Winter 1985
I took Bob and Ellen to a little site that I found deep in the city. I spotted it from the castle, found it on my city map, and walked right to it. It turned out to be the old Agora
I took them back a few weeks later. The place is beautiful. The ruins include a long stand of columns that is a must-see. You can see them through the arch in this photo.
This was the first and only place I visited during my third tour before I was deployed to Kosovo. Thanks, NATO.
Considering the Lillies
Manhattan, Kansas, 2021
I spent the Spring after shoulder surgery in Manhattan Kansas, puppy-sitting, doing physical therapy, and hiking in the Prairie.
At first glance, the Prairie looks like a never-ending sea of green and brown, but if you look deeper into the tall grass, you'll see small flecks of color. These little flowers (and Cooper) kept me from going bonkers that Spring.
"...yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." ~ Matthew 6:29 NASV
A Thousand Miles from Nowhere
I have taken more photos of this young lady than anyone else. She refers to me as "My Photographer" on her social media.
This was to be a Marine headed home from war photo, but my model forgot her uniform.
DJ showed up in jeans and heels, which is always a good look. I added Kady's classic Samsonite. I had this place in mind for weeks and stopped by the week before to get permission to be there at night.
The classic location, the rail depot light, and the pretty lady worked together nicely.
Her Photographer was a bit of a klutz, but it all worked out.
Kady and I went to the Botanical Garden of the Piedmont (not much, really) but there's a nice wildflower garden. We met a Certified Master Naturalist there for a Butterfly Walk. She was smart and friendly but there weren't many butterflies.
I've been back, alone, and had much better success.
Charlottesville also has a little Bog Garden, which is fun. I enjoy going there, but it seems devoid of wildlife.
The best place for butterflies in this town is the Ivy Creek Foundation Butterfly Garden. The butterflies love that place. So do every other sort of pollinator.
I am on a big nature kick.
Steel-blue Cricket Hunter
Back Off, Camera Boy!
American Painted Lady
Geiger Methodist Church, Geiger Alabama.
On rare occasions, Kady says, "There is a place I want to go see." This is my signal that we're going on a day-long photo trip. Her trips are the best and she finds some interesting things to see and photograph. Many times her target is an old church.
I like churches too, so I thought it a good idea to include this shot of my family church in the little town where my dad and his brothers and sisters grew up.
I took it on a trip to Geiger with my little brother and mom-in-law back in the early 90s. It was one of the last days I would see Don and, now, Sylvia has gone, too. If you look closely, Don is under the tree.
Wren in Church
Hudson Trail, Manhattan Kansas
Cooper and I were out walking. I took a quick photo of this little birdhouse and we kept moving. It wasn't until I reviewed the photos that I took that week that I noticed the little house Wren checking me out.
The Boats of Kaynirpinar
The Boats of Foca
I took these two shots sixteen years, 109 miles, and a leap in technology apart. The first was when Kady, the kids, and I went on a trip to a summer house in Kaynarpinar in 1985. Sounds nice, doesn't it? It was miserable. I used my Canon AE-1 Program with TX 400.
The next photo, I took at Foca in 2001, on a day trip with friends. I used a Sony DSC-S50, my first Digital. I drank and swam all day, ate great seafood, and rode a bus back to Izmir that night. It was a much better time that I wish I could have shared with Kim and the Kids.
The Regimental Drummer
New Market, Virginia
I shot this as a much larger photo. Back home, after the day shooting, I realized how powerful this could be, cropped to show just the drummer boy.
I think it illustrates the weariness and sadness in all soldiers.
I took these at New Market Battlefield during a reenactment. It reminds me of Stonewall Jackson's last words - "Let us pass over the river and rest under the shade or the trees."
I should take more horse photos.
Summer in Summer
While Kady's niece was living with her grandparents, I got her to sit for me. She was about twenty-two at the time.
It was a very bright Alabama summer day and the light coming in the window was far too harsh. I underexposed.
I was never able to make anything out of the negatives in my darkroom, but kept the negatives.
I found the negatives not long ago, scanned them one at a time to give me the best file from which to work, and then worked on them in Photoshop.
Never give up on those old negatives!
As much as I love Charlottesville, I'll have to say that it is filled with a load of nincompoops.
The only Southern monument remaining in this town is the one in the UVA Cemetery.
I spent the better part of a day photographing all of the monuments in the city before they were removed.
I better go take a photo of Jefferson and Homer. Thomas owned slaves so he can no longer be celebrated and Homer . . . well, he's an old white man, so he has to go too.
Nothing calls for black-and-white photography like a good old piece of farm equipment.
I found this old rake while walking through the woods. I took it in color and converted it to black and white.
Now, I set my camera on monochrome when something needs B&W. Somedays, I'll start out with it set that way, to remind myself of the first days when I had one camera loaded with Tri-X or Plus-X.
Lately, Mushrooms have caught my eye.
It started as I began researching Psilocybes. When I began looking for them, I realized that there are Mushrooms EVERYWHERE, you just have to look and they make interesting photos!
I'm terrible at Identifying these but I can't walk by one without taking its photo.
I shot this with my camera set on "Vivid."
Before the Storm
The Keys. June 2018
The Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower was built in 1929 to control the mosquitos in the lower Keys. The bats initially housed there flew away, never to return.
Oh Well. Nice Try.
I photographed it just three months before it was destroyed by Hurricane Irma, on 10 September 2017. We stopped by on a whim as we headed to a restaurant to eat, a lucky happenstance.
It was in pretty sad shape when we were there, with loads of trash, graffiti, and in sore need of repair.
It has been on the National Registry of Historical Places since 1982, but I haven't heard if it will be rebuilt. The pelicans and I think it should be but the bats and locals don't seem to care.
By Now, it is probably too late.
The Girls of Son Yazim, Izmir, Turkiye, 2001
During my last Turkish Summer, I met and photographed three of the sweetest and most beautiful women I have ever met. Sevda and Berna ran Divas Ajans and Gülümser was just finishing college and beginning her teaching career. They became great friends and adopted me, including me in work, family, and friend activities.
I took many of my best portraits of them. That wasn't difficult. Saying Goodbye was.
Highway 11, North of Lexington, Virginia
For years, every time Kady and I drove past this old barn we'd say, "We need to stop and photo that."
One day, headed north from Lexington on Highway 11, I pulled over, grabbed my camera, and walked up the hill to take a few shots. Kady waited in the car. My fun was short-lived; the land owned shooed me away with a few not-so-kind words.
Photography in Rockbridge County Virginia is always an adventure.
One day, I think I'll print this and put a copy in his mailbox to show there are no hard feelings.
Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
I'm a Southern Railways kid. My dad was the Supervisor of Communications. We rode the train a lot when I was growing up. Nothing relaxes me like the sound of a train whistle in the distance.
I enjoy visiting train museums and old train stations and have been known to pull off the road to get a good shot of a passing train.
Southern Serves The South!
I studied Ancient History in school, which is, I assume, the reason this column has such a hold on me. I found it on a side street off of the theater at Ephesus, still leaning on the rubble from an earthquake, probably the one in 262CE.
Excavators wisely left this beauty sitting as they found it.