Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fun Photo Editing Program

Recently the weekends - my prime time to go out and take snapshots - have gotten away from me. Things to do before my trip back to Ohio the middle of October and house cleaning before the contractors come to fix the water damage to the living room wall from the roof leak upstairs (Jane over at Small but Charming, I feel your pain . . .).

But I read about a fun program that can be installed on PC's that allow you to fool with all sorts of cool filters like the ones that come with Instagram for your iPhone. It's called Camera Bag 2 and it's really, really inexpensive.

I've been having fun with it in between fits of clothes drawer purging, glass polishing, dusting and CD burning to my iTunes library before they get thrown in the garbage.

Here's an example using a snapshot I took at the meadow down the street from me:

Update: Here's a link to the original photo from last year so you can see the difference:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Barn Quilts, Randolph County, North Carolina

 A look at some of the barn quilts in northeast Randolph County, just a half hour south of Greensboro. Not as large and elaborate as the ones up in the mountains, but wonderful to search out and see.

This is called Tobacco Leaf, although the surrounding fields were empty of tobacco plants.

I wanted to call this Compass Rose, but the creator of the quilt labels it Providence Grove Star. It was put up by the Future Farmers of America at Providence Grove High School where this barn belongs.

And this is called Four Dancing Tulips, which I can see in the quilt. This is on a newish log cabin that from the road appeared to be used as a studio for the house next door. There are tons of potters in the area, so perhaps they are using it for that.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Aurora, Spencer, Virginia

What I was looking for on our Sunday drive was a house called Aurora located just off US Highway 58 in Patrick County, Virginia. While looking for interesting houses up in Virginia (which is just an hour north of Greensboro), I found that Virginia's Department of Historic Sites had listed all the buildings that had acquired National Historic Register status along with photos and the nominating documents.

Aurora interested me as it was the home built by Thomas Jefferson Penn, who founded a tobacco manufacturing company that ultimately became American Tobacco (Lucky Strikes, anyone?). It was also a very rare example of the Italian Villa style as shown in Andrew Jackson Downing's style book The Architecture of Country Houses (1850). In fact, if you go to the article about Downing in Wikipedia, you will find Aurora under the heading of Architectural Influence, which may help explain why this is considered such a gem.

I didn't hold out much hope for the condition of the house. First, it is fairly distant from good sized towns and located in a county where unemployment has reached more than 15% due to the loss of textile and furniture manufacturing jobs. And the photo that was included in the nomination form in 1991 showed a house that was in terrible need of work with the front porch half-rotted away from the house. A real money pit if ever there was one.

Another photo from when Aurora was up for sale back a few years ago, also showed a house in disrepair with the bushes and landscaping in terrible need of a gardener's shears.

But I had read on the Internet, that an immigrant from El Salvador had bought Aurora and was in the process of fixing it up. So onward we drove on the back roads until we found this:

Oh, and Aurora has always been pink and that gave it it's nickname - The Pink House.

What a wonderful restoration job a Central American immigrant to the United States has done to a house that truly typifies American architecture of the mid-1800's.

Also, if you would like to read more about Aurora and it's history and that of the Penn family, click here to read the nominating document to the National Register of Historic Places.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Along the Back Roads of Virginia

I thought that I would be able to get out and about this summer and take tons of snapshots and write about the things I saw in my travels.

But first the weather conspired against me with record temperatures above 105F with humidity to match. Even in an air conditioned car you'll still get the effect of the sun through the windows and you hardly want to get out into the stifling heat to get the best snapshot. Then my friend, TB, whose car we use (as she has air conditioning and mine gave up the ghost last summer) came down with an illness that put her out of action for more than six weeks.

So, I was left to my own devices, trying to take pictures of the birds in the garden, roses that were struggling back to life and thinking what I could take that was sort of interesting here in Greensboro. Which came down to not much - some interesting storm clouds while standing in a church parking lot.

And, yes, I would like some cheese with this whine.

But, TB is back and raring to go and off we went this Sunday on back roads up in Virginia to hunt down an 1830's Gothic Revival house on the National Register of Historic Places.

I bought a GPS and we decided to try it out to find this house (Actually the house is very easy to find; right off a well-traveled highway, but that is not a very interesting way to go).  This snapshot is taken along Deshazo Mill Road where both sides of the road was full of tall yellow flowers. I first thought, Goldenrod, but stopped and took a closer look.

 Verbesina alternifolia
Definitely not goldenrod. Did a little research on the Internet and found that this is a member of the Aster family and is called Yellow Ironweed or Wingstem. Along with Tickseed, a member of the Coreopsis family, we saw this for miles along the sides of the roads in Virginia.