Linda Benzon Photography: Blog http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Linda Benzon lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:51:00 GMT Mon, 19 Jun 2017 18:51:00 GMT http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/img/s/v-5/u109834318-o447779179-50.jpg Linda Benzon Photography: Blog http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog 105 120 J. R. the Woodcarver http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2017/6/j-r-the-wood-carver Pennsylvania Art of the State is a prestigious state-wide competition that in 2017 celebrated 50 years of bringing recognition to artists from throughout the state. It was such a privilege to have one of my photographs, "J. R. the Woodcarver" accepted to this exhibit. And then it was an incredible honor for the photograph to be awarded Third Place Photography! Today I learned that someone purchased this piece. This may be the pinnacle of my photography "career" so I thought it was worth a blog post....

J.R. the WoodcarverJ.R. the WoodcarverFirst Place Photography, Carlisle Arts Learning Center Members Exhibit, 2017.<br/> Third Place Photo 2017 Pennsylvania Art of the State.

There is an interesting story behind this photo. In February 2016, my husband and I fulfilled a dream by chartering a sailboat and exploring the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas. We had read about Little Farmer's Cay, a small island with a fishing village of about 60 residents, most of them descendants of a freed slave and her children in the 1800's... and about a woodcarver named J. R. Tinker. After sailing to the island and reaching land by tender, we had to walk a good way up a dirt road until we reached his humble home and woodworking shack. J. R. was delightful! We talked a while, and he told us that he was 62 years old, a great-grandfather, and for over 50 years a carver of wooden replicas of native animals. I had in mind before we went there that I would like to ask if I could take his portrait. While my husband paid for the owl that we chose, I walked outside the shack to prepare to photograph J. R. framed in the doorway as he exited. Lighting didn't suit for that, but he immediately sat down to engrave his name in the bottom of our owl, and gave me a perfect opportunity to take a photograph. I took one. Then he smiled and I took another. The first is better- so real. I called J. R. to tell him about the award this photograph has earned, and he is thrilled. Apparently he is showing the print that I mailed to him earlier to everyone who comes on the island, so he (and I) are now quite famous on Little Farmer's Cay! This is what photography is all about for me- a vehicle to connect me to fascinating people and places.

Below is a link to more information about Art of the State and images of the pieces accepted to the 2017 exhibit.

Art of the State 2017

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lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) Bahamas Benzon Exumas J. R. Little Farmer's Cay woodcarver http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2017/6/j-r-the-wood-carver Mon, 19 Jun 2017 14:46:52 GMT
Hesitation http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2014/2/hesitation

 

All forms of art involve capturing a moment in time, but especially in the case of photography, the moment in time can never be duplicated exactly. So why do I sometimes hesitate when I see a scene like this? Fortunately, I did not this time. I saw the disconnected young men in the foreground and then the engaged posture of the older men beyond. What could have been just a snapshot immediately evolved into a story, perhaps a commentary. One shutter click later, I was noticed by the four men. Though they smiled and seemed pleased that I was photographing them, the moment and the story had ended. As an artist, I want my work to have meaning that stands the test of time. So, once again I resolve not to hesitate!

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lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) Carlisle Helena's Chocolate Cafe conversation hesitation photography reflection window http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2014/2/hesitation Thu, 06 Feb 2014 16:09:27 GMT
A Farm in Four Seasons http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/11/a-farm-in-four-seasons-2012-2013

In June, 2012, I knocked on a farmhouse door in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to ask for permission to photograph a recently harvested hay field. Little did I know then that over the course of a year I would return many times to the Hawkins family’s property to photograph life on their farm. And little did I know that Bob and Doris and their family would become valued friends.

Midway through the year I was invited to exhibit my work at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center. This was my first solo exhibit, and I learned so much from hundreds of hours spent bringing photographs together to tell a meaningful story in an artistic fashion. Narrowing down a couple thousand images to a few dozen was quite a task. Perhaps some day I will publish a book with more photographs and a bit of the knowledge I gained from many long conversations and participation in everything from birthing cows to spreading manure!

The photographs selected for the exhibit appear chronologically in the slideshow, beginning with summer (including a collection on the birth of a calf) and ending with spring. Following are the comments that appeared in the exhibit brochure to describe each seasonal collection. Additional comments about each photograph are accessible through the website gallery.

Summer

Lazy days of summer. . . not on a farm! Bob and Doris’s work begins with the 5:30 alarm and continues until supper is served at 9:00 or later at night. Morning and evening milking and feeding (including bottle-feeding young calves), chopping hay, harvesting corn and soybeans, mucking stalls, maintaining equipment, ordering supplies, growing and preserving food for the family, and doing custom fieldwork for other farmers, are just a few of the items on the to-do list.  Their children, Joel and Joann, have their own families but are an integral part of the farm. Neighboring farmers pitch in too, especially when weather is threatening to ruin a crop. On Sundays, milking and feeding the cows are the only chores, but otherwise there is little down time. A week-long vacation-- never. But there are few complaints. Farming has been part of both Doris and Bob’s families for generations, and (most days) they would not trade it for anything.

A Calf is Born

Breeding cows is an essential part of the dairy farm operation. A cow that is not breeding once a year and producing milk is a financial drain. Calves are called heifers when they are first bred at a little over two years of age (with the help of the resident bull or by artificial insemination performed by Joann). After nine months’ gestation, normally a calf is born without any assistance from the farmer. On the hot July morning when Doris called to say that Mona was likely to give birth soon, I was warned that this could be a difficult birth because the calf was turned in the mother’s womb. No problem. Like an expectant grandmother, I changed clothes, packed my bag, and raced to the farm.

Bob made several attempts to move the unborn calf into position before calling Dr. Don Sunday for assistance.  Soon Dr. Don, Bob, and farmhand Matt were giving their all to ensure a safe delivery for Mona and her calf. Mona was quiet and cooperative, except for deciding to stand up just before delivery. My contribution, besides photographing and keeping my stomach in check, was to stroke Mona’s head and say a few words that I hoped would be comforting to a cow. I could relate, on some level.

About an hour after the vet’s arrival, the calf was born and all was well. The three men left Mona to care for her newborn and went on to other chores. I eagerly accepted the invitation to stay a while in the quiet barn with mother and baby and onlooking cows. Having delivered her first calf, Mona’s status changed from “heifer" to “cow." For five milkings, Mona’s milk is used exclusively for the newborn. After that, the normal routine resumes and the life cycle repeats.

Autumn

Autumn is commonly known as harvest season, and for the Hawkins family it means long days of up to 20 hours of chopping and storing hay and corn. Joel is largely responsible for “custom work”- harvesting other farmers’ fields. This year’s frequent rains extended the work into December, even requiring Bob and Joel to eat their Thanksgiving dinners in the field. Meanwhile Doris sells hundreds of pumpkins grown by another farmer. The extra income comes in handy, but Doris especially enjoys visiting with families who return year after year.


Winter

The pace does slow some in winter, but not by much. Supper may be as early as 8:00. Farm repairs (including new barn roofs) and a machinery repair side-business keep the men occupied.  Joel and Matt are trained mechanics who are very much at home in the clutter of equipment and inventory that have accumulated for decades. Outside, the fields are quiet and the cows are enjoying the preferred cold weather. Inside, Doris spends the days catching up on housework and paperwork for reports and taxes. And everyone enjoys having a bit more family time.

Spring

Many people are eager for spring to arrive, but farmers are especially so. Before the workload gets intense, Bob and fellow farmers enjoy the annual State Plowing Contest held at his brother-in-law Jay’s farm. Strict rules and friendly competition blend well with plenty of laughter and grilled donuts. Meanwhile, the minute the ground is thawed and dry enough for tractors, the sequence of real field work begins: spread 400,000 gallons of manure, plow their 200 acres (plus 2000 acres of custom work for others), plant corn and soybeans, and pray for good weather. Before long, the corn has sprouted, and the wheat and barley seeds planted last autumn are transformed to amber waves of grain. Doris plants the kitchen garden and hopes for a good harvest for summer meals and next winter’s spaghetti sauce. Everyone does his part as the cows are bred, fed, milked and cared for in the continuous cycle of life on a family dairy farm.

 

This exhibit was presented in sincere gratitude to Bob and Doris Hawkins and their family. A special thank you also to John Wright for top-notch printing service and countless hours of mentorship, and to Cathy Stone, gallery director, for inviting me to present this exhibit and walking me through every step.

 

 

 

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lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) Carlisle Linda Benzon barn birth of calf calf cornfield cow dairy farm farm goat hay hayfield kitten laundry manure spreader milking pumpkin silo snow tractor http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/11/a-farm-in-four-seasons-2012-2013 Tue, 12 Nov 2013 19:40:01 GMT
93 and Going Strong http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/7/93-and-going-strong I visited Mr. Tritt's small sharpening shop a few years back when my hair-cutting scissors were in desperate need of his services.  Yesterday, dull scissors in hand, I walked the three blocks from my home to his tidy white-shingled house graced by a small flower-filled yard. A series of hand-printed cardboard signs directed me first to the shop out back,  then back to his house where I had started. I opened the chain-link fence gate leading to the side door and followed the instructions posted there: "Please ring bell." I remembered that Mr. Tritt was hard of hearing, so I rang a bit longer than I normally would. Without delay a smiling man in red suspenders answered the door. He welcomed me inside, warned me about his hearing problem, and asked me if I was in a hurry for the scissors. I had just given my husband a haircut, so I was not. "Then they'll be ready by noon tomorrow." Good enough! He handed me a piece of scrap paper and asked me write my name and phone number. We smiled and said our farewells.

This morning (two hours before the appointed time) I was taking my walk (camera in hand as usual) and took the chance that the scissors were ready. Actually, my guess is that they were ready an hour or less after I dropped them off. Following the same sequence of signs and receiving the same large-grinned welcome from Mr. Tritt, he led me on the short path back to his shop to retrieve the scissors. The door was opened, and I felt like I was stepping into a time capsule. A photographer's delight. Did I gasp audibly? The shop was packed full but as neat as the printing on all the signs. Walls, shelves and floor were covered with tools, old photographs, parts drawers, more signs- orderly chaos. I asked Mr. Tritt if he minded if I took photos of his shop, and perhaps of him too. His smile and the sweep of his arm invited me to go right ahead. I took very few actually, and listened intently as Mr. Tritt answered my many questions. His sharpening business started about 11 years ago. He repairs scissors, knives, lawn mower blades and the like. Before that he had a fire extinguisher business for 29 years, with four employees who worked in that same little shop. I think I was able to pick out four stools and work areas. Some garages out back were used to store inventory, but they're rented out now. Mr. Tritt spent a lot of his time then visiting hospitals and businesses in the area to train them in fire safety procedures. "Did you notice the fetting sign?" he asked. Fetting? I had noticed several "fettling" signs and assumed it was another one of those English words that isn't pronounced the way it looks. I never heard of the word and told him so. He remarked that most people haven't, which is why he has the definition written out on each of the signs: trim, clean, adjust, shape- put in working order. I had to ask about the pronunciation. "Oh, that's the way I say it. Not sure if it's right or not."

When his wife Ann died, Mr. Clair decided to sell the fire extinguisher business, and it continues to thrive. I suggested that he had laid a good foundation which has helped the new owners succeed. He smiled and nodded, a little embarrassed by the compliment. As I quickly counted back from age 93, I realized that there must have been at least one more career in his past, and sure enough, there were two. For 29 years, Mr. Tritt worked for the Navy Depot in Mechanicsburg, and before that he served four years in the U.S. Navy. "I did my four years, and then that was done," he remarked. I had already recognized him in the photograph of the young man in uniform, and in another near it showing a somewhat older man in a business suit. Same friendly eyes.

I asked if he had children. "Oh yes, five of them. They all look after me." Do they live nearby? "Pretty much. The furthest is in Boiling Springs," (6 miles away). We both chuckled at that, and he pointed to a photo on a clipboard hanging on a rusty nail almost at floor level. "That's my family. Go ahead and take it off there so you can look at it." I met his wife, alongside his two sons and three daughters (all retired and doing well). He wasn't sure whether he had eight or nine grandchildren- hard to keep count. I asked about his training for all these careers, and he was proud to say he was one of 11 or 12 in the first class to graduate from the "Industrial Program" at Carlisle High School. I asked if he graduated at the top of the class. "Nowhere near," and again a big smile.

Though I sensed I could have stayed and talked a good while longer without imposing on him, I pulled out my wallet and looked at the bill that was next to my scissors on the worn workbench: "1-sissors (sic) 5", subtotal 2.25, tax .15, total 2.40". Amazing. It brought tears to my eyes. I thanked him and assured him I would be back with more scissors and knives, and perhaps a printed photograph or two as well. He seemed very happy to hear that, and looked me straight in the eye as he held out his hand to shake mine before I headed out the door. I can't wait to visit again. Once again, photography has opened doors for me that I never could have anticipated.

P.S. I just looked up "fettling" and found this: "Fettling is a word that is used in several different senses. Most of the uses of the word relate to cleaning, polishing, and maintaining systems so that they will be functional or will remain functional. . . . People may suggest that objects in disrepair just need 'a bit of fettling' to be set to rights." I'm thinking that I could probably stand a little fettling myself now and then. How about you?

 

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lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) Carlisle Mr. Tritt fettling photography repair shop sharpening service http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/7/93-and-going-strong Wed, 24 Jul 2013 18:37:58 GMT
It Never Hurts to Ask http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/6/the-rewards-of-respecting-others-in-photography

The historic town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is a feast for a photographer's eyes. My downtown neighborhood is one of my favorite places to photograph everything from people on the street to architectural detail. In fact, I get so overwhelmed at times with all the potential subjects that I recently decided to zero in on interesting porches. And there are plenty of them.

A couple weeks ago I took my new travel camera out to practice with it and came across a very unique porch. Actually, what was unique was the occupant of that porch.  As is my habit, I rang the doorbell to ask permission to take photographs. There was no answer, so I only took photographs from the sidewalk. As is also my habit, I later printed and matted a 5x7 of my favorite image and delivered it, along with a thank you note. No one was home so I didn't meet the owner that day either.

This morning I returned to the porch with my "good" camera and rang the doorbell for a third time. Kathy (with a "K", nickname for Katharine with an "a") answered the door. She seemed delighted to meet me, thanked me profusely for the photo I gave her, and enthusiastically invited me to photograph her porch anytime. I asked many questions about the "Fish Lady" and the antique sleigh. The female porch visitor is actually the third one. The first was stolen (and wasn't the thief surprised when he/she discovered that it had no legs!); the second just didn't have the right look and was returned; but the third fits the bill even though she has no hands under those fishing gloves.

The sleigh has an interesting story too. Kathy's father bought it for her many years ago for $30 at an auction on Route 34 in Carlisle. A little while back someone offered Kathy $500 for it, but that wasn't enough to make her part with the special lady. I'm glad I didn't wait too long to return to this porch, because the fish props will soon be replaced by a floral display. And when the flowers fade, Dr. Suess will make an appearance. Kathy collects hats and has lots of ideas for future porch visitors.

Kathy had to get dressed for a meeting but urged me to meet her in the backyard before I left. I wasn't surprised to see a little piece of paradise, a relaxing natural landscape with layers of shrubs and flowers accented here and there with whimsical frogs and old galoshes. A small fish pond teamed with bright-orange koi, but they could not compete with the busy brood of chickens in the tidy coop nearby. Kathy's grandson recently built this for her, along with a shed where the hens roost and lay their eggs. Nine hens of nearly as many varieties and colors seemed quite content to eat the fresh grass clippings that lined the coop. Kathy gets the grass from her neighbor who owns a landscaping business.  Another young neighbor is caring for the animals for her 4-H project and is doing a great job.

By now nearly an hour had passed, and both of us needed to get on with our day. Kathy graciously offered me some of those grass-fed eggs with their bright orange yolks, and I accepted of course. (Omelets for dinner tonight!) I promised to return and was given an enthusiastic okay to photograph Kathy with her chickens the next time. There will be more to say later on that I'm sure. But  my point in sharing this story is that I have found, time and time again, that when I go the extra mile to respect people's privacy and property, I am almost always rewarded with experiences (and photographs) that far exceed whatever I could have "snatched" along the way. I'm not making judgements about taking photographs without asking permission. I do it all the time in public, and it is perfectly acceptable. I'm just saying that taking extra steps and extra time can enlarge and enrich our experience. It never hurts to ask....

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lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) Carlisle ask photography porch respect http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/6/the-rewards-of-respecting-others-in-photography Wed, 12 Jun 2013 16:30:06 GMT
Did you SEE that? http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/5/did-you-see-that  

Lately I've been thinking about what it is that makes me love photography so much. Besides it being a wonderful outlet for my creative side (and a welcome distraction from accounting or housework), just what is it that makes me want to grab my camera and go, every day?

The answer came to me this morning as I was doing some macro photography in our backyard. Our Dwarf Columbine was on my list of things I'd like to photograph someday. Today's schedule was full, but when I gazed outside and saw the soft light and lack of wind, I decided bank reconciliations and laundry could wait. I put a 20mm extension tube and 50mm lens on my camera and headed out.

The Columbine is an understated, fragile flower that is easily overlooked or trampled in the wild. The blooms don't last long once the hotter May days arrive. Our plant was purchased at Kings Gap State Park a few years ago and was carefully transplanted just a few weeks ago during a garden overhaul. It was doing very nicely and was poised for having its portrait taken.

Macro photography is harder than it looks. To give some perspective, the flower in this image is about one and a half inches long, and the spider's body is about one-quarter of an inch long. There's little room for error, and it usually involves getting down and dirty to achieve a good point of view. And then there are all those things in the background that need to be "composed out" of the frame.  With all of this in mind, I explored the little plant from various angles and took a number of photographs.

And then it happened. Through the viewfinder of my camera I saw a tiny spider jump onto the flower. My heart raced (yeah, these little things are very exciting to photographers), and my brain went into overdrive knowing that I might have only a few seconds to figure out the best way to capture this moment. Words formed in my mind and silently exclaimed, "Did you SEE that?!"

That's what photography is all about to me. Did you see how soft the light was this morning? Did you see that subtle pink bloom that might be around for only a few days? Did you see the spider scale the blossom, leaving a trail of silk behind him? Did you see the white seed resting on the unopened bud? Photography freezes moments in time that can never be duplicated. For both the photographer and the viewer, the "frozen" image compels you to stop and think and feel something.

Whether I'm photographing a majestic landscape, a weathered fisherman, or a fragile flower, my desire is to help you and me really see the world in which we live. It's so easy to miss a lot in our fast-paced, jam-packed lives. I've answered my question for now. The art of photography has helped me to really see my world, and that is what drives my passion every day.

 

 

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lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) Carlisle Columbine flower photography spider http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/5/did-you-see-that Wed, 15 May 2013 23:09:17 GMT
Photography Revisited (and better the second time around) http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/3/photography-revisited-and-better-the-second-time-around

It's been almost two years since the photography bug hit, and there's been no turning back. What started out as a stint as a high school yearbook photographer decades ago and then took a back seat to raising a family, has become a passionate pursuit. The learning curve has been steep. But  seeing a finished image that portrays what my eye envisioned and that is appreciated by others, makes photography extremely rewarding.

This website has been set up in response to requests from family, friends and strangers who want to see more of my work. I thank each one of you for that encouragement. It truly makes me aspire to do even better things in the days to come.

 

 

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lindabenzon@gmail.com (Linda Benzon Photography) http://www.lindabenzonphotography.com/blog/2013/3/photography-revisited-and-better-the-second-time-around Thu, 14 Mar 2013 18:58:23 GMT