Everything Will Change in the Blink of an Eye – so take a picture of it

The lot next door to my home has been wooded for as long as I have lived in this house, going on 16 years now. In all of those years I have photographed the birds in its trees, met bobcats from afar, and watched squirrels come scurrying into my yard from their homes every morning. It brought me a lot of joy to listen to the sounds of nature right outside my home, considering just a few blocks away is the loud city.

If you’ve been following my blog and reading my posts, you know that because of my health I am more often than not stuck at home and am often limited to my back yard as a place to take pictures and test out my cameras. You may also know if you are following my instagram, that most of the pictures I take are of the birds and trees right from my yard.

hawks
Nikon F Photomic FTn with Kodak Gold 200
Hawks watching the trees being knocked down

Since America is in the middle of another real estate boom, there has been land being cleared, homes and buildings going up everywhere. It is all very reminiscent of the time right before the recession in 2008. We had the same kind of boom in construction that ended with piles of wood being abandoned and lots left empty along with many construction workers being out of a job. Hopefully this boom won’t end with the same outcome, but I also hope we don’t end up losing too much wildlife as a result.

vulture
Nikon F Photomic FTn Kodak Gold 200

The peace and quiet I have enjoyed for so long all came to an end a few weeks ago when I saw the SOLD sign outside the lot next door. My stomach sank. I had only hoped they would take a long time before they started building, but they didn’t. One morning I went outside for a walk to find this giant log hauler parked in front of the lot. Later cops showed up I think because it was parked near a curve in the road, and much later it was moved.

Canon TX
Eastman Double X 5222 Film
Canon TX
Eastman Double X 5222 Film
Canon TX
Eastman Double X 5222 Film

The next day this tractor appeared in its place. Then I knew it was only a matter of time, and I had to start taking my last photographs while I still could.

Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
The tallest tree towering over my house

It all happened very quickly. Very early one morning I was woken up by the loud sounds of the tractor crunching over the smaller palms and bushes. I wanted to capture every branch, and every tree before they were carried off. Luckily, I had a few different cameras already loaded. I always have several different cameras with different focal lengths loaded at one time.

tractor
The Tractor made me think of a Monster devouring its lunch

I ran outside and started shooting as much as I could before the tractor tore them down. It was a very dramatic experience to witness. These once very large, old trees were now being pushed over, shook, and crushed with sounds of cracking that sounded like bones breaking. Trees that once grew together for decades would now die together within hours.

Giant Trees
Canon T6i
Oak Trees
These trees towered over my home for over 15 years

As you can imagine I had an emotional attachment to these trees. The experience was very dramatic for me, so you will have to bear with my dramatic descriptions. I couldn’t help feeling this way as I watched it happening in front of me.

The egrets came with the tractor as if it was their everyday job too. They were brave, flying in next to the scoop and standing inches from the tires before it rolled on. They reminded me of the birds that sit on the backs of gators or rhinos hoping to catch fish while symbiotically living on another living animal.

They would run up to the claw and grab snakes and lizards impaled on the teeth. They ate well that day.

A once tall palm being pushed over. It looked like a ribcage

At first I figured the guy was just going to clean up the bushes and weeds around the tall trees and then a larger tractor would come later to maybe saw down the gigantic trees. I had no idea how they were going to manage such tall trees in between two houses without them falling on us.

Canon T6i
Canon T6i
These trees looked like the legs of a giant
Canon T6i

I gasped when he started to nudge the giants with his tractor until they fell over with a ground shaking crash.

Tractor tearing down a palm tree
Canon T6i

Trees often represent life, and stability. It was both awe inspiring and gut wrenching to see them being torn down by this metal man made machine, and tossed around like sticks.

Canon T6i
Fallen Trees being dragged out
Canon T6i
Tractor Crunching a Palm in half
Canon T6i

By the late afternoon I was still in shock that this small tractor had managed to clear the entire lot of giant trees all by itself in one day. After the guy left I went around to get some shots of the lot from the front.

Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Kodak Ultramax 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Kodak Ultramax 400
The Roots of the Giants
Canon TX Kodak Double 5222
Roots of trees
The Roots
Canon T6i
Hawk
A RedShouldered Hawk sitting on the uprooted tree
Canon T6i
Sany Tractor

The only thing remaining on the lot was the giant carcasses of the once tall trees and a pile of crushed palms.

Palm Tree
Palm Tree Crushed
Canon T6i
Argus C3
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
Nikon F
Kodak Tri-X 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
Palm Tree Roots
A Pile of Palms
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Fallen Palm Trees
Kodak Retina IIIs
Ilford XP2 400
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Kodak Ultramax 400

The guy left one tree that thankfully is on the part of the land that belongs to the city. I am so grateful for that because I often photograph this tree because it is where the hawks perch. They flew in to see what happened to their home.

Red Shouldered Hawks
Nikon F
Kodak Gold 200
You can see the hawk on the lower right branch
Canon T6i
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400

Later that night I looked at the trees lying there in the dark lot next door. It was very eerie. They reminded me of sleeping giants, and that is what I called them after that.

Nikon F
Kodak Tri-X 400

The next day someone else came back with his very young son and some workers to break up the tall trees into pieces. I decided to use my Canon TX which was loaded with some Lomography Lady Grey I was trying out for the first time. It ended up fitting the subject perfectly to look like an old, 1940’s monster movie.

Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey

I watched in horror as he picked up the carcass of each tree, raised it high in the air, and then dropped them to the ground to help crack them in half.

Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey
Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey

Then he would lift them back up slightly and hold it about 2 feet in the air while his young son came over with a chainsaw and sawed off the bottom half where the roots once fed life into the tree.

Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey
Young boy chainsawing the roots off the tree
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey

Next he violently shook the roots free of any dirt before tossing it into a pile. The sawed off log then was carried over to a separate pile awaiting the log hauler to come take them away the next day.

Kodak Retina IIIs
Ilford XP2

This guy was pretty nasty. I could hear him screaming at his workers, and at one point he stopped the tractor and screamed at me in my yard, “What you takin’ my picture for!!” I yelled back that I wasn’t taking his picture, I was photographing the trees, but he ignored me. I felt pretty bad being scolded, and went inside. I guess I shouldn’t have let him get to me, but I wasn’t expecting that. I just really hate the way people seem to be particularly nasty these days.

Like a rose on a grave this branch dangled on the wire above the torn down lot
The lone standing tree
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400

The Bright Side

At the end of the day, there is nothing I can do about any of this. I couldn’t stop them from taking down those trees. I can’t stop them from building this house. Change is the only thing you can bet on in life, and there is nothing I can do about all of these changes that are taking place. I can however, control how I react to these changes. What I can do is see the bright side.

The literal bright side after all of this is the beautiful new view that has been revealed to me.

Sunset across from my backyard

When the lot next door was covered in those beautiful trees, it was also blocking my view to the sunset.

Hawk on top of the trees on a cloudy day

I now have this beautiful view to enjoy and photograph as well as the one tree they left behind that the hawks perch on especially for me to take their picture. Although I do know this too will be temporary because once the house is built I probably will lose that view too, it is these small blessings that keeps life going. These small happinesses are what we should all grasp hold of and never take for granted because in the blink of an eye it will all change.

My Top 19 of 2019 – End of Year Blog

This year has been a tough one. It’s been full of very big ups and very big downs for me. I can’t say I am too sad for it to end. I lost three very special family members in death. I spent two weeks in the hospital with a flare up so severe doctors could not get it under control. I then came home to find out I couldn’t walk.

It may have been one of the most challenging years of my life, but from pain and struggle, you can bet there will almost always be a blessing in disguise. From pain and sickness I often tend to express myself artistically because I just don’t know how else to process everything I am going through. In this case, this year I have been processing a lot of sickness and death. As the year draws to a close, and I go through my photos from the year, I have discovered that I have expressed these struggles through my photos.

The following are my personal favorite 19 film photos of 2019. This first photo is of my cat Midnight taken with my Canon TX on Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400 back in September. I can remember how happy I felt when this roll came back from the lab and I actually got the exposures correct.

This next picture is of my other cat Jasmine. Now this pic may seem simple if you don’t know the context, but for me it is special because at this point in October, I was stuck in my bed and you can faintly see the legs of my commode behind her. It is an embarrassing reality that for a while my legs were so bad I couldn’t even make it to my bathroom.

I took this picture while lying in my bed holding my Canon TX wishing I could be outside taking pictures like everyone else. I was so happy when it came back clear and exposed correctly. I was making progress in my photography despite my limitations.

This succulent plant is another one I shot a lot of since being confined to my house. Looking back at all the shots Ive taken of this plant, I can clearly see the progression in my knowledge of exposure.

If you follow me on instagram or Facebook, you have probably seen the many photos I have taken of these Pine trees. When I first started taking film photos again, I was confined to the yard and these trees in the distance were my favorite subjects to practice on. Each morning I would get up early (the prednisone I am on often didn’t let me sleep late), and I would go right outside to see what bird was up on top of the pine that day.

This picture was taken on my first outing since coming home from the hospital. I was in my wheelchair at a vinyl records store. I was just so happy to be out, and I can remember that feeling when I look at this picture.

These next two pictures taken again with my Canon TX on Kodak Gold 200 (my favorite combo then), are special to me because they were taken the first time I was able to walk down the block since coming home and discovering I could barely walk. My insurance gave me a very hard time about getting physical therapy for months. I only just recently was approved. Until then I had taken it into my own hands and slowly made progress walking around taking pictures in my house, then my yard, then finally in my neighborhood.

When I first came home I couldn’t even walk out of my front door and stand for more than a couple minutes before I had to go back in the bed because of the pain. Slowly I made progress and was able to go down the block where I took these pictures in my neighbors yard.

I took this picture after a doctors appointment, and it was the first time I had ever taken a camera with me to the doc. I suffer from severe anxiety from PTSD, especially before appointments. I realized bringing my camera with me was almost like having a support animal. I look forward to the pictures I will take afterwards and it has helped me get through these tough times.

I soon started to notice I like taking pictures of cemeteries and churches which I’ve found stems from the deaths I’m dealing with and the recent detachment from a religion and former beliefs I have been struggling with. It was all coming out in the photos I was taking.

As I kept progressing I started to find more places around my doctors offices that I never noticed before.

Fujica ST801
Rolleiflex Automat

Making videos for my YouTube channel also became a motivation. These two pictures I took recently in Tradition, Florida. You can see more from that day in my blog here and my videos here. I got to use cameras I never thought I would ever use. A medium format Mamiya 645 Pro, an Argus Argoflex Seventy-Five, and a Nikon F.

Nikon F Ildord Ortho Plus 80
Nikon F Ildord Ortho Plus 80
Argus Argoflex Seventy Five
Kodak Portra 400
Argus Argoflex Seventy-Five
Ilford XP2 400

This photo is one of my favorites. There isn’t any sentimental reason behind it. It was taken on my first roll of Fujicolor 400H, and I just love the colors.

The final picture of my 19 of 2019 is one I took of this ornament that I got to represent the memory of my Aunt Frances this Christmas. I had hoped she would make it to the holidays so we could celebrate them together, but she grew tired and she let go just before thanksgiving.

Thats my favorite 19 of 2019. I still have a long way to go with my health. I am not entirely away from my wheelchair yet, and I am still in a lot of pain. There are still a lot of variables with the new medication I am on and hoping it will finally put me into remission. Until then, I have found something to keep me going, and keep me fighting.

As this year comes to an end, I want to thank you all for your continuous support of this blog. I hope I have inspired someone to push their limitations, and I hope I can keep doing so in 2020. I have a lot more planned for this blog and for my YouTube channel. If you haven’t yet, please head over there and subscribe so you will know when I post my videos. Until next year, I wish you all a happy and healthy year to come.