Story Behind the Image: “Drive By Shooting”

Going Home

“Drive By Shooting”

Story behind the Image:  Let me say that when this image was first published, one of my dear friends voluntarily suggested a caption that hit the mark and demonstrated his knowledge of how  images like this might be produced.  I was “okay” with it as I knew that my deceased parents would be, too.  They knew Tim.

When Mother was transported by Wells Funeral Home  to be interred, they traveled down Interstate 26 from Waynesville to the Mt. Lebanon Cemetery – the home church cemetery for the the Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cameron, S.C. where she grew up.  My wife and I did not intentionally accompany the hearse but we frequently leap-frogged with the long black Cadillac down the interstate.  It took a little time for Dan Pottinger ( of Wells), who helped us with our family arrangements, to become comfortable with my humor and penchant for creativity.  Whenever the hearse would pass us on the interstate, my wife (K.B.)  and I would say, “There goes Mom!”

The imagery was powerful and I told Dan after the graveside service that we needed to re-create the scene.  This was a request he had never had before, and his reaction was very doubtful.  In honesty he asked,  “do we do the drive-down and graveside ceremony over again?”

Hearse Composite 2So with several months thinking about it and looking at locations, the best choice ended up being the basement garage of the funeral home. Hearse Composite The relational distances could be set up — side to side and front to back, and I had the equipment to re-create the lighting.  The road scene is from Old State Road near the Cemetery.  The scene in the rear view mirror is the flipped image of Old State Road.   The informality of the occasion and our friendship made the production successful.  I learned many things, for one, that funeral directors do not have to go to car-washing school to become credentialled.

In the re-creation, I asked Dan to remove his dark jacket, roll the window down, and rest his white-sleeved arm on the car window ledge.  He whimpered a little, “It is against company policy”.   I looked at him, but then he grinned.

It was as Mother would have wanted it.

“One More!” … at the ‘Ultimate Runner’ competition

Ultimate Runner 2014

Race official, Perry Macheras, informs competition runner, Heather Hugosson, that she has one more lap to run in The Mile component of her race.

The Ultimate Runner which is unlike any other running competition in the United States as we know it was the brainchild of Sandy Wetherhold who 28 years ago devised a competition in which runners competed for time in five events: one mile, 400 meters, 800 meters, and 5K cross country. The race is age-graded.

The Ultimate Runner is produced as one of the annual signature events of Winston-Salem’s Twin City Track Club founded almost at the same year of the original event.

A significant event and image from my life …

Going Home

Going home to Mt. Lebanon, the church cemetery of the Resurrection Lutheran Church

My mother was the only patient in the ICU of Haywood County Regional Medical Center on Wednesday evening, May 9, 2012.  The Unit was eerily quiet, absent of the usual beeping cadence of  monitors, and that of my mother’s – her monitor and I.V.’s disconnected a few hours before.  The sole light burning was the one over the nurses station which cast a diffuse fluorescent glow through their observation window into her private room.  My mother’s  life was slipping away as her still warm hand lay in mine.  She communicated to me the best that she could as I expected she might, “Please take me home!”

I knew what that meant, as she had repeated this phrase several times over to her friends when her mom passed away 25 years earlier in 1987.  “I am bringing her home,” she would tell them.

“Home” for her was Cameron, S.C. – a small town at the headwaters of  the Four Hole Swamp.  I often visited there as a child,  spending more than just a few days with Grandmother Houck, “Aunt Vera”, as was the local naming convention.  Cameron was and still is a comfortable town filled with comfortable people.  Cousins I played with then are  running the family farm now.  The experience of visiting them is like stepping back into an earlier life.

A few things have changed – farming, for one; the century farm is even more amplified in it’s character with bigger machines and fewer laborers;  the century family is bigger than life with everyone-at-the table meals; and the family bible from 1883 is prominently located as a premonition of all good things to come – even me!

This experience has become the basis of my multimedia graduation project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.  Over the next few months, there will be several “rough-cut” screenings, as I massage the story and the technicals.  If you have not been invited, please ask to be as it is a story worth sharing.

The still photographs will become part of a book and an exhibit, entitled “Coming Home to Cotton”.

World’s leading early career photographers and their websites ….

Look3  One of the most prestigious photography festivals in the world ( the Look3 Photography Festival in Charlottesville, VA) has identified their early career leading photographers, and their websites.  What a treat to peruse on a rainy day when you might be seeking some inspiration!

Mark Abramson, USA  |  Alex Arbuckle, USA  |   Evgenia Arbugaeva, Russia  |  Rosanna Bach, USA  | Trent Davis Bailey, USA  |  Andy Bardon, USA   |  Ian Bates, USA  |   Endia Beal, USA  |  Olivia Bee, USA |  Anna Beeke, USA   |  Justin Black, USA  |  Jarrett Christian, USA  |  Lara Ciarabellini, Italy  |  Sonia Louise Davis, USA  |  Ousman Diallo, USA  |  Peter DiCampo, USA  |  Ronan Donovan, USA  |  John Edmonds, USA  |  Mohammed Elshamy, Egypt  |  Ismail Ferdous, Bangladesh  |  Annie Flanagan, USA  |  Ivan Forde, USA  | Kate Fowler, USA  |  Trevor Frost, USA  |  Glenna Gordon, USA  |  Lauren Grabelle, USA  |  Nathaniel Grann, USA |  Bertie Gregory, UK |  Adrienne Grunwald, USA  |  Abbas Hajimohammadi Saniabadi, Iran |  Cynthia Henebry, USA  |  Janna Ireland, USA  |  Ciril Jazbec, Slovenia  |  Shannon Jensen, USA  | Louise Johns, USA  |  Natalie Keyssar, USA   |  Stacy Kranitz, USA  |  Eric Kruszewski, USA  |  Zun Lee, Canada  |  Dan Leung Yu Chung, Hong Kong  |  Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, USA  |  Yuyang Liu, China  |  Olivia Locher, USA  |  Maddie McGarvey, USA  |  Eric Medsker, USA  |  Philip Montgomery, USA  |  Charles Mostoller, USA  | Loubna Mrie, Syria  |  Annalisa Natali Murri, Italy | Jake Naughton, USA  |  Elyor Nematov, Kyrgyzstan | Eva O’Leary, USA  | Dina Oganova, Georgia  |  Novella Oliana, Italy  |  Katie Orlinsky, USA  |  Evan Matthew Ortiz, USA  |  Cheryl-Samantha Owen, Tanzania  |  Pete Pin, USA  |  Tayarisha Poe, USA  |  Alex Potter, USA  |  Agnieszka Rayss, Poland  |  Stephen Reiss, USA  |  Andrew Renneisen, USA  |  Anastasia Rudenko, Russia  |  Manuela Marin Salcedo, USA  |  Shahria Sharmin, Bangladesh  |  Robbie Shone, Austria  |  Pedro Silveira, Brazil  |  Mark Strandquist, USA  |  Ilona Szwarc, USA  |  Edwin J. Torres, USA |  Sumeja Tulic, Bosnia & Herezegovnia  | James Tylor, Australia  |  Alex Welsh, USA  |  Yeong-Ung Yang, USA.

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.