Occasionally I can talk (blackmail/force) Raine and Dude to come with me when I wander about Western Pa. The other day was one of those times, and seemed tailor made for both of them. There is a very small State Park in northern W Virginia called Tomlinson Run. Around here a 'run' is a small stream, or what we from Kansas would call a creek. Why these people can't just use regular English, I have no idea. Well, after having driven past the road to it several hundred times over the years, I finally decided that a scouting expedition needed to be mounted. Since this mainly involved driving around, and in hopes that this would count as a visit when I wanted to return and walk the trails (But Dear.... we've already been there!) Raine and Dude were both happy (more or less) to come along.
The park itself is pretty nice. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere, nothing but small villages for miles around. It's a nice blend of rural community park and out-door areas. They have a small water park and a mini-golf alongside camping, picnic, and wilderness trails. There are also an inordinate amount of trout fisherman working the stream and lake banks for 40 degree weather. (although I did notice that no one tried wading) After driving around the park we stopped to (briefly) get out and check the creek at the entrance to a boy scout campground. The pipe-gate was locked and a small-ish tree had fallen down on the log-barriers on the one side. This offended Dude for some reason, so nothing would do until he had pushed the tree off the barrier. Raine or I would have helped except we were too busy taking photos of this monumental task. After he completed his 'Labor of Hurcules' we walked down to the creek. Despite the fact that it was only in the mid-40's with a light wind, I began to hear complaints about 'arctic conditions', several mentions of 'freezing to death', and 'finding our frozen bodies in the Spring' (despite the fact that the car and several fishermen were in plain view the entire time). David laboriously climbed over the pipe-gate to get to the car, instead of walking around. I thought it was cute, so I asked him to do it again for a picture. He ducked under the gate to the camp-side, then crawled over it again to get to the car-side. There is a certain order to Dudeworld, to get in you go under, to get out you go over, that's just the way things are done.
Sun and Shadows
A couple of weeks later I purchased a new camera, that took me a week to talk myself into buying. OK, Some boring (to some) camera stuff: I learned to take and print pictures in school on a 35mm Pentax K1000, and was given the run of the photo dept and exclusive access to the expensive lenses. I loved it, but once I had to start buying my own camera, film, developer et al, I decided it was a hobby best left on the shelf. When I moved to Pittsburgh Raine had a nice 35mm Minolta XGM rig with several nice lenses (which I added to) but once again, film and developing were too expensive for the amount of pictures I wanted to take. Enter the digital age and the 6.5 Mp Kodak Easyshare Z650. Finally I could take as many pictures as I wanted and all it cost me were batteries (rechargeable) and the time to download. Then the battle of the megapixels. I upgraded to a 12.1 Mp Nikon Coolpix 110, a camera I loved at once. But still missing some of the flexability of an SLR, I recently upgraded to a 14.2 Mp Nikon 3100 DSLR. I immediately wanted to go and take enough pictures to impress a Japanese tourist at Disneyworld. Since it was a GameStop weekend I figured it wouldn't be too difficult to get Dude to come along with me. Actually on GS weekend he has to be pried off me with the jaws of life. So little encouragement was needed to get him to accompany me back to Tomlinson Run Park.
The first trip to TR Park Raine and I had discussed giving David the Kodak to see what he would do with it. Given the opportunity Dude will hang over my shoulder or lean against my arm to watch the screen to see what I am doing. She says it was my idea, but I'm still pretty sure it was hers. I figured the pictures didn't matter, his fascination with technology would give him something to do. At any rate when Dude and I got to the park I uncased the smaller camera, showed him the power switch, lens cover and shutter button, briefly mentioned how to focus ( He was so wrapped up in the camera I'm not sure he heard me) and off we went. Every time I stopped to take a few shots David solemnly removed the lens cover, turned on the camera, pointed it around, and was evidently taking pictures. I'd take my shots, then wait for him. He'd move the camera around, press the shutter then say, ' That's an A+ picture!', then he'd very carefully shut the flash, turn off the camera and replace the lens cover, and we'd move off to the next scenic area. When we'd been out of the car for a while (it was a chilly morning) the 'A+ pictures' turned into 'Yep, that's the shot. We've got to get these pictures back to the Bugle!' I took this as an indication that he wanted to go back to the car (and then to GameStop) and not that he'd actually managed to get a shot of Spiderman. The whole trip I never told David what to shoot, or how to do anything, I turned him loose with the camera, and he was on his own.
After an hour or so, Dude suddenly decided he was a pro and grabbed the strap (around my neck at the time) of my brand-new Nikon DSLR, saying, ' Guess I need a new camera!!' as he tried to snatch it without lifting it over my head. Needless to say, that wasn't happening. I said, 'You may need a new camera, but it ain't this one!' I mean, I love my son, but he's not getting my brand-new camera in the woods. What if he decides to become some sort of feral hermit photographer? He's so skinny he could duck behind a sapling and I couldn't find him. Then were would I be? Hunting for my camer... uh.. I mean kid, out in the woods with no Mac and Cheese to lure him in.
Shadows of Dudes
When we finally got home (after getting Kung-Fu Panda at GS) I told Raine about our adventure (?) and she immediately wanted to see Dude's pics. He had actually taken 47 pictures and the easiest thing to notice that only one of them was blurry. That's better than I managed my first two trips with that very camera. Looking closer we noticed something we really didn't expect. All of his pictures had a definite subject/theme, they were all framed well and used the natural light to good advantage. You could see that none of them were random. Raine almost exploded with pride, and I wasn't far behind her. We scrolled through his pics with jaws dragging the floor. I mean, I was there, seeing the same things but it was just amazing to view that part of the world through Dude's eyes.
BTW All of the pics in this post (other than the one with him in it) are a sample of the very pictures I was talking about. I have to agree with David, these are A+ pictures. I wonder what he'll do once I show him how to use the zoom? Then again, the way he's going I probably don't have to show him.
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