Twelve faces of pain from the 2014 Winston-Salem Cycling Classic

The purpose of this small documentary project was to capture the facial expressions of a sample group of riders as reflected in their level of physical exertion.  We chose twelve, but one we photographed has a countenance that is complacent and poised — see if you can find her.

Athletes drew from the depths of their physical prowess (and cycling skills) to place and win, or even to finish.

Congratulations to all the competitive athletes who traveled from all over the world to ride in the 2014 Winston-Salem Cycling Classic.

Winston-Salem (NC) shooting location: corner of Cherry and Seventh Streets.  This location was chosen because of a turn at the end of a long 1/4 mile gentle descent (maximum speeds attained here) before negotiating a less-than-90 degree turn going into a moderate uphill.

Camera 1:  Nikon 300S with Nikon AF VR 80-400mm lens. f/5.6 at 400mm.  ISO=1600  Profoto 7b Powerpack with Profoto 7b Flash Head with B-3 balanced for exposure, radio triggered with Pocket Wizzard Plus-II
Camera 2:  Nikon 600 with Nikon AF-S 80-400mm lens.  f/4.5  at 400 mm.  ISO=1600.  Two Nikon SB-910 speed lights remotely triggered by with Pocket Wizzard AC 3 Zone Controller and Flex TT5 wireless platform.

Documentary photographers: Houck and K.B. Medford

Cinemagraph … Winston-Salem Light Project “Artery”


A favorite project of ours in Winston-Salem is soon to end – 2014′s Winston-Salem Light Project – named “The Artery.”

The scene (literally in front of our home on Factory Row) is the Winston-Salem Strollway where industrious and innovative faculty (Norman Coates and others) and students from the UNC School of the Arts have converted the existing city light fixtures into a half-mile of visual dessert  from dusk to dawn.

“Artery” was constructed of 48 custom-made LED lighting fixtures that attach to the existing lamp posts along the Winston-Salem Strollway. Each of the fixtures totaled over seven hundred feet of LEDs, and 10,878 individual LED chips. The units are controlled by a microprocessor which “sees” the area underneath it by means of an infrared sensor. When movement is detected, the microprocessor slowly brightens the unit and changes the color for a period of time creating waves of movement.

K.B Medford uses the Strollway as a route for her bike training at night.


“Chimney Swifts” wins Cape Fear New Music Festival Competition

Cape Fear Eastern Music Festival

Cape Fear New Music Festival

Our image “Chimney Swifts” won the Cape Fear New Music Festival competition at Methodist University where the photographer was challenged to produce select great images which matched musical movements composed by the festival’s guest artists.  This year’s festival, now in it’s second year, was to focus on the interaction between the visual arts and music.   Burk Uzzle, a Life Magazine and Magnum photographer and native of North Carolina judged the entries.  Two other of our images, “Birding at Bonner Bridge” and “Overloaded Circuits”, were runner-ups in the competition.  I am pleased to say that the grand prize award went to Bryce Lankard, a mentor and instructor friend of mine at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.  Way to go, Bryce!

Interstate mirror tree …


I noticed some time ago during my weekly trip to Durham what appeared to be a mirror in a tree.  Today, the weather was good enough to stop, inspect, and photograph.

Someone had in the past lodged a round truck mirror in the split of a growing tree and now it is permanently captured.  The site is I-85, northbound – a hundred yards north of the 166 mile marker between the junction of I-85 / I-40 and the city of Durham.  There was no camera attached; so it is probably not a project of the NSA.

“Swamp Man” Bruce Beerbower …



Bruce Beerbower on the Stephen Foster State Park boardwalk in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Digging fox holes and playing with “army men” is a commonality among guy-kids who live the rest of their lives connected to nature.  Such is the case with Hickory, NC’s Bruce Beerbower who grew up in the mountains of northern West Virginia.

“We cooked everything we caught, and if there was not a place to go camping, my backyard or the backyard of my friends was just fine.”

The reality of getting a job set in as he grew older and his first employment (1976-1979) took him to southern Georgia as an interpretive naturalist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

“The Okefenokee Swamp was my destination on all my days off, and a place I could go to to predictably make my mind and time stand still.”

North Carolina gained a valuable and enthusiastic advocate for the natural environment when he was hired by the Catawba Science Center (Hickory, NC) in 1980 where he has been ever since…

… except when he sneaks away to “The Fe-noke”  National Wildlife Refuge  by leading naturalist expeditions for the Science Center, family, or friends.

My wife and a clutch of our friends were recent beneficiaries of one of his official sneaks, and this rich-experience destination has made our life-list of places to sneak off to again.


“South End Runner” chosen as finalist in Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

South-End-Runner-AMPC - for website


We have been honored to have our documentary photograph “South End Runner”, selected as a finalist in the 11th Annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition.  The category for selection is Blue Ridge Parkway – People on the Parkway.

The image is of an employee at the Pisgah Inn who ran each morning from the Inn to Wagon Road Gap and back at Milepost 412.  He is half-way home.

If you are inclined to vote for “Best in Show”, for all categories – Adventure, Blue Ridge Parkway, Culture, Environment, Flora and Fauna, Landscape; please vote here ….  Voting concludes at 5:00 p.m. on March 28.

Any cash recognition awards to  Houck Medford will be contributed to Outdoor Programs at Appalachian State University.

“Price Park Baptism” … finalist in Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition

Price-Park-Baptism-AMPC - for website

I have been honored to have my documentary photograph “Price Park Baptism”, selected as a finalist in the 11th Annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition.  The category for selection is Culture: imagery depicting the people, their customs, traditions, architecture, and ways of life unique to the Southern Appalachian region.”

Julian Price Memorial Park is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 297)near Blowing Rock, N.C. and is a popular destination for personal,  family, and church activities.

If you are inclined to vote for “Best in Show”, for all categories – Adventure, Blue Ridge Parkway, Culture, Environment, Flora and Fauna, Landscape; please vote here ….  Voting concludes at 5:00 p.m. on March 28.

Any cash recognition awards to  Houck Medford will be contributed to Outdoor Programs at Appalachian State University.

A bidding war on a real cotton mom’s wedding dress …

Wedding Dress-7

When I was growing up, there was a box that I was never allowed to open.  I knew it to be my mom’s wedding dress and that was pretty much that … until now.

My mom passed away in May of 2012, and her instructions to my sister and I in the last days of her life were to “take me home,” with home being where she grew up as a child on a cotton farm  in Cameron, South Carolina.  Our cotton mom is interred in Cameron’s Resurrection Lutheran Church Mt. Lebanon Cemetery.  The cemetery  is actually in a cotton field.

Our reconnection to her family is the basis for the documentary in production,  Cotton Chronicle.

So now as this life chapter draws to a close, our mom’s dress is now on eBay in a bidding war, we know someone will get an extra bit of history to go along with it.


Bates Houck
Wedding Dress-2
Wedding Dress-3
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Wedding Dress-7

Resurrection Lutheran Church - Mt. Lebanon Cemetery

Mildred Houck Medford 1926 - 2012


Cotton mom …

Houck Farms

Cotton  Mom … a still from our documentary-in-progress, Cotton Chronicle ….

Cotton Chronicle is a century family, farm, and industry documentary headlining the changes in cotton production in the last 60 years.  The narrative vehicle for this documentary is the voice of the “last-one-standing” patriarch of a four generation farm family living in the Four Hole Swamp area of low-country South Carolina.  Family members and community will testify to the  family’s farming heritage which is characterized by deep-seated values of faith, succession, and family pride.  Also prominent in the story is the family’s loyalty to John Deere, a manufacturer of farming equipment since 1837.

Analysis of a remarkable photograph …

Jennifer Davis Tarheel Victory

Everything is in context but this photograph is successful.   For those who have not seen it … it was taken by author Jennifer Pharr Davis with her phone on the occasion of the UNC  Tarheels 74 to 66 win over Duke on February 20, 2014.  UNC was down by 7 at the half.

It’s success is  the captured moment of  Brew’s “hold on to my hat” gesture, the confirmation by the image on the TV screen, the inclusive foreground  of Jennifer’s famous feet (Appalachian Trail record holder and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year) the glimpse into their lives by the remaining beers on the dresser (husband Brew likes his brews), and the mystery that their cherished daughter Charley is presumably close-by but out of frame.

Moment, gesture, foreground, life-meaning, and mystery have touched hearts and changed your friends and others from having seen it.

Thank you for sharing, Jennifer.