Wandering around Atlanta

Today was a wandering day…had to go to the airport this morning to drop off my son, so I figured since I had to take the day off, I might as well put it to good use! First I headed to Cartersville to see the abandoned airplane (G-159 Gulfstream). It is covered in graffiti inside and out. There are still seats in tact albeit mismatched seats. It has been in the elements for over 15 years and you can tell! It is absolutely fabulous though as I love to photograph things that are in decay.

This was my only intended spot to explore today, but quickly found more things nearby. After I explored the airplane, I headed to High Shoals Falls. Today, surprisingly it seemed just like a trickle, and we’ve had a decent amount of rain recently. I have seen photos where much more water is flowing over the edge.

There is a small parking area and cemetery there at the trail head. You can also hike up to the top of the waterfall.

I drove through Kennesaw Mountain on my way to Sope Creek Mill Ruins. It was a short half mile hike in. I had read that due to tree growth you couldn’t really photograph the ruins, but the way I hiked in I had no problems. The ruins were surprisingly not fenced in and were not defaced. Hopefully this beauty will be able to be enjoyed for quite a lot longer. There were quite a few families hiking in to play in the river and were already quite a few splashing around when I got there.

I headed back south after Sope Creek…the clouds were so beautiful, so I stopped at Jackson Street Bridge to get a skyline shot with the phenomenal sky! It did not disappoint.

A short day walking wise…only about 2.5 miles total, but saw quite a bit. Was a successful wandering day!

Live, Love, Explore!

XOXO

-S

Live a little deeper! Explore everywhere.

Any reason to travel and I am all on board. I have my life list, which shows my must see locations and must do activities, but actually, I am happy to travel anywhere to explore. I even believe strongly in exploring local. No matter where you are, make sure to see something new. It is easy to capture something extraordinary, but the key to true joy is finding something extraordinary in all the things that seem ordinary.

My husband is a volleyball coach and had a tournament in Villa Rica, Georgia (about 2 ½ hours from home). So we decided to get a room at a Bed & Breakfast for two nights and have the whole weekend to explore the surrounding areas. Well at least I got to explore Saturday while he was coaching.

We booked the Marie Antoinette Room at Maison Papillon (Butterfly House) in Villa Rica, Georgia.

We got off work early and headed North. Traffic was pretty light thank and we arrived at the B&B about 4 pm. Karen was our host and she was so nice. She offered breakfast to us for Saturday, but with our early start, we didn’t want to bother her. We settled in and decided on a dinner spot. Wine was definitely on the agenda, so that was our deciding factor. We have been participating in dry January and decide it was time to have some wine.

There were quite a few restaurants that I had scoped out, such as an unassuming authentic Mexican restaurant in a Mexican grocery store named La Chiquita and a burger shack called Jerry’s Gourmet Burgers. Remember Villa Rica is a pretty small town, so there are mostly low profile restaurants. I did however find, Gabe’s Downtown, a creole restaurant and Chat and Choo, LLC, a restaurant known for their southern cuisine (but only open for breakfast and lunch). I normally look for a farm to table restaurant wherever I travel, but didn’t have much luck in Villa Rica. I did however find ONE farm to table!! It is called The Southern Table; upon more research I found that it had permanently been closed. Their Facebook page did though lead me to another restaurant, The Otherside Steakhouse at Uncorked on Main. This one sounded right up my alley. With wine on the agenda, we headed to check out Uncorked on Main.

The Otherside Steakhouse at Uncorked on Main is located at 129B Main St, Villa Rica, Georgia 30180. They serve local wines (as you would imagine with the “uncorked” in the title) and local craft beers. I had two wine tastings with dinner. We had pimento cheese fritters for an appetizer that were delicious!

We were up and at em’ early Saturday. I took my husband to the tournament and then I headed out to explore. I arrived at Sweetwater Creek State Park just in time to see the sunrise. I love any sunrise for that promise of a new day.

Sweetwater Creek State Park is located at 1750 Mount Vernon Rd, Lithia Springs Georgia 30122. It was about a 20 minute drive from the Volleyball venue. It is only minutes west of Atlanta, Georgia.

The park has 2,549 acres with a 215 acre lake. It has over 15 miles in trails; if you love to hike and check out nature, this is a nice place to get out of the city and go. The park, just like all Georgia State Parks has a $5 parking fee.

The main reason I went to Sweetwater was to see and photograph the mill ruins. To get to the mill ruins, I had to hike the Red Trail (History Trail). I followed the Red Trail half mile down to the ruins of the New Manchester Manufacturing Company, a textile mill that burned during the Civil War. The mill is a five story building that is alongside the Sweetwater Creek. When I say creek, I use it because that’s the title; believe you me though it is more like a river.

The ruins are surrounded by a large chain link fence, but luckily I carried my GoPro and my Nikon with me. I was able to put the GoPro up to the fence and it has a wide enough lens to capture the mill in one image. I was glad I thought to put the GoPro in my pocket.

After I explored around the ruins, I continued about a half mile on the Red Trail to head to check out the rapids on Sweetwater Creek.

The Red Trail is one mile each way. The beginning of the trail was very easy; the first half mile was mostly flat to get to the mill. However when I made my way for the last half mile, it was quite rocky and more strenuous with some slippery rocks and set of steps to climb. But the beauty you see along the creek makes the hike all worth it.

Now I had to get back to the van. On the way back, I listened to some music and reflected on life and enjoyed my “me time”. I took my time; all in all I spent about 3 hours on the trails. But it was the best 3 hours spent in a while.

I drove through the country on the way back into Villa Rica. I did a little shopping in downtown; purchased a beautiful sweater, pantsuit and set of vases. I also found a mural that I had seen a photo of the day before at Uncorked. I was really surprised that they had maintained the mural for so many years.

I headed back to the tournament and like normal, I got to downloading and editing a few photos for Instagram while I had downtime. I love my WiFi features on my cameras. All four of my digital cameras have that capability. For me, always being on the go, I need that instant gratification of the perfect edit and Instagram post.

My hubby’s team ended up staying late and in the volleyball world staying late is always a good thing, for the team at least! By the end though, we were tired and starved!

We headed to Gabe’s Downtown for dinner. Gabe’s Downtown is located at 104 W Montgomery St, Villa Rica, Georgia 30180. The food and service were phenomenal. This restaurant will definitely make my recommended restaurant list! We had poutine for our appetizer; it had so much flavor. I had the pork nachos and my husband had the ribeye for our meals. We were both fat, dumb and happy when we left!

Sunday morning, we woke up leisurely and grabbed some Starbucks. We took a different route home, so I could photograph one more place on the way home. Starr’s Mill has been on my list of things to photograph for a while now.

Starr’s Mill is located at 115 Waterfall Way, Fayetteville, Georgia 30215. The property that became Starr’s Mill was owned by Hananiah Gilcoat who built the first mill here before his death in 1825. This site, on Whitewater Creek, was less than a mile from the boundary between Creek Indian lands and the State of Georgia. Hilliard Starr, who owned the mill from 1866 until 1879, gave the site its current name. After the first two log structures burned, William T. Glower built the current building in 1907. This mill operated until 1959, using a water-powered turbine, instead of a wheel, to grind corn and operate a sawmill. The Starr’s Mill site also included a cotton gin and a dynamo that produced electricity for nearby Senoia.⁣

The clouds were so beautiful and the flowing water and the red mill really photographed well. I love to find places that have been taken care of throughout the years!

This weekend was perfect for me. I was able to spend time with my husband, spend some me time, explore some new places and photograph them, dine at some new restaurants and do a little wine tasting. There is definitely more to life and everyday I strive to find a little piece.

XOXO

-S

New plan for 2020

For 2020, I am taking my photography down quite a different path. I have been photographing families and sports sessions for about 10 years. I enjoy a great portrait, as much as anyone, but my joy just wasn’t there any longer. I really enjoy shooting landscape and still life. I will still be a food photographer and the voice behind the Pond on social media. I will also still offer my one-on-one mentoring session. I will be focused more on my travel locations, enjoying my almost empty nest, and just embracing what I truly love; travel, food and my family! I will be offering art prints of my favorites from my travels. If you see anything you’d like to see displayed proudly in your home or business, please let me know!

XOXO

-S

North Georgia Exploration

What do you do when you have a long weekend?  Well this long weekend, I rented a tiny house in Clayton Georgia and headed north to get a sneak peek of the fall colors.  I do think it was a little early for the full leaf changing, but when I get an extra day off of work I take full advantage of it.

Before we could hit the road Saturday, Perry played in Region Tournament…We had to leave before it even ended, we headed to Atlanta to drop Baylee off at the airport to head to meet up for her cruise…we dropped her and headed north east to get to our weekend getaway started.

We rented Little Red Roof, a brand new tiny house in Clayton Georgia. They have some specific house rules, like no shoes worn in the house, which just tickles my fancy. We are a shoeless house, so it makes me happy to see like-minded folks. I know it may seem silly to some, but my OCD just cannot stand the idea of shoes/germs on my floors and wearing down my wood finish and carpet…Our hosts were Andrea and Curtis. Their tiny house, was just perfect in every way. House listing

Up to $55 off your rental

Dinner Saturday night was at Universal Joint in Clayton. They are know for burgers and live music. While I’m not huge on loud music, I do love a good burger, so decided to check it out.

So it hasn’t rained in over a month in Georgia and guess what 80% chance of rain on Sunday…the day to hike Tallulah Gorge. So we let the anti-rain dance to commensurate. Hoping and praying for the best weather.

Rain dance didn’t work and it poured off and on until after noon or so. We had a quick breakfast and figured we’d drive up to Black Rock Mountain State Park and see what we could with the fog and rain. Rain stopped for a little while and we were able to get some photos of the fog in the mountains.

I wanted to check out Minnehaha Falls, but wanted to do it when the sun wasn’t too high, the cloudy skies were perfect so I could get the right exposure that I wanted on the water…a nice motion in the water as it falls over the rocks.  The hike to Minnehaha is only .2 miles, so it is very doable.  It is located off of Bear Gap Rd near Lake Rabun.  You depart the trailhead at the green diamond and number 147. The drive there was beautiful around Lake Rabun…all the houses and two story boat docks were phenomenal.

So the big thing I wanted to see was Tallulah Gorge.  Tallulah Gorge is one of the 7 natural wonders in the state. It is a must see! There are multiple trails there, but with my back, I had to just listen to my body and see what it could do as the day went on.  If you want to hike the gorge floor, you MUST get a permit.  

There are only 100 given out every day, so you need to arrive early!  My plan was to hike the easier hikes and see how I felt. Today though there were no permits given out because of the inclimate weather.

The easiest of the all is the Shortline Trail. It is 3 miles, but is paved.  This trail can be accessed from Terrora Circle Road.

Then next up is the Inspiration Loop Trail. It is 1.5 miles round trip; it is mulched with exposed rocks. This trail is accessed on the Interpretive Center Road.

The North and South Rim Trails are 3 miles total and take about 2 hours to hike. It is a mulched trail with exposed rocks.

The North Rim is accessed behind the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline and stairs. The trail has six scenic overlooks

1. Inspiration Point is the best southern view into the gorge.  Gorge depth is 900+ feet

2.View of Oceana Falls with Bridal Veil Falls at the far end of the gorge

3.View of L’Eau d’Or (pronounced Ladore) Falls, top of Tempesta Falls, and Hawthorne Cascade and Pool.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

4.View of L’Eau d’Or Falls, Hawthorne Pool and remains of Water compressor plant used in building the Dam

5.Good view of Tallulah Falls Dam (completed in 1913) and upper portions of the Gorge

6.View of upper gorge and southern view to Hawthorne Pool and Overlooks 2 and 3. Gorge depth is 250 feet

The South Rim Trail is accessed opposite side of the gorge from the Interpretive Center.  It is approximately ¾ mile one way with some incline.  The trail has five scenic overlooks

1. View of Hawthorne Pool, North Rim Trails overlooks 2 and 3, top of Tempesta Falls and down Gorge to Hurricane Falls.  Gorge depth is 350 feet

2.View of Hawthorne Pool, Tempesta Falls and Pool.  Gorge depth is 400 feet.

3.View of Hurricane Falls and Pool, Devil’s Pulpit outcrop below, and the interpretive center across the gorge.  Gorge depth is 500 feet

4.View of Hurricane Falls, Oceana Falls, Caledonia Cascade and North Rim overlook one. Gorge is 650 feet

5.View of Celedonia Cascade and the Wallenda north tower area.  Bluff to far right is approximately 1000 feet high.

I really wanted to go to the suspension bridge in Hurricane Falls Trail Loop…but had no idea if I could make it.  The Hurricane Falls Trail Loop has 1,099 stairs to the gorge floor…to get to the suspension bridge isn’t all the way down though. This is the trail you take to get to the gorge trail…and need a permit to go on the gorge floor.

Honestly I’m not even sure which trail we did…we did the stairs all the way down to hurricane falls and some of North Rim trail…my legs were jello and I was super thirsty. There are fountains along the trail, but are not functioning so make sure you bring water with you.

After our hike, we hit Goats on the Roof for some homemade ice cream…it was pretty good and servings were HUGE!

For dinner, yes I planned ahead.  I always look for Farm to Table restaurants before I travel anywhere.  The last thing I want to do is eat subpar food.  I made reservations at Fortify Kitchen and Bar in Clayton for 7:30pm.  Hoping that would give us enough time to see what we wanted to see and get back and showered and dressed for dinner. We had the special shrimp lettuce wraps for our appetizer and I had the pork chop and hubby had the lamb. Both were large portions and very tasty.

Monday morning we woke up and had to check out of the house by 10 a.m.

We had two little friends that looked to have be dumped by someone the day before. They even hopped in the van while we were loading it up…had to scoot them out and then we were on our way. Our host had no idea where they came from.

There is so much to see here, that really a few days isn’t enough to do it all, but if you know me, you know I will squeeze in everything I can.

I could not have come all this way and not visited a winery…after check out it was breakfast at the Dillard House. It is family style dining. You get a TON of food, my favorite was the cinnamon roll!  The Dillard House has been family owned since 1917.  They served locally sourced items and have won multiple awards in the Southern Living Magazine.  The views from the Dillard House were beautiful mountain views.  They are a full service resort…They also offers horseback riding and stables where you can visit their animals.  While there will be no horseback riding for me…I did enjoy visiting their beautiful grounds and animals.  

After breakfast and a visit of the grounds at the Dillard House, we were headed to Tiger Mountain Vineyards at 2592 Old Highway 41 in Tiger Georgia. But they were not open…so we changed our plans.

We went back to Black Rock Mountain State Park to the lookouts to get some more photos. It was very different without all the fog from yesterday!

After that we headed to 12 Spies Winery for a little wine tasting. We did the 10 tastes for $15 and hubby and I split it. My favorite was the sangria…it’s a blend of 5 different wines. The grounds were really pretty too.

After a little wine tasting and exploring, it was time to hit the road to make our trip home.

As we were driving down 441 I saw a sign for a tallulah gorge lookout…so we detoured to check it out. It was pretty but really not worth the detour as there were a lot of power lines in the view. There was a cute little store to buy souvenirs and local goods.

As we got closer to home, we were ready for dinner, so we stopped in Macon. We ate at Ocmulgee Brewpub. I had the Juliette Burger and this burger has moved up to my number one burger of all times. It is topped with a friend green tomato, bacon, onion, lettuce on a freshly baked bun…has a special sauce too! It won the best burger in 2018 and I know why!!

We are home and showered, ready for my next adventure…

Tomorrow morning…another adventure if you want to call it that-L5/S1 injections again…last round before nerve ablation.

XOXO

-S

Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk

Today photowalks took place all over the world. It is free, but they ask you to donate to The Springs of hope Kenya Orphanage, an organization that feeds, houses, educates, and empowers young orphans so they can grow up not just to survive but succeed. I led the photowalk in Macon, Georgia. I had a longer walk planned, but with this being my first walk I’ve ever led, I overestimated how long we could walk. With 17 people and each having their own photographic ideas, it took quite a while to walk even a mile. After our walk, we hit up Oliver’s Corner Bistro in Macon for brunch.

Street photography is one of my favorites, so today was really nice! Hanging out with 16 other like minded people was great.

If you would like to check this out in the future here is the link Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk

XOXO

-S

ICM Photography

I have been hearing about ICM in a few photography groups I am in and couldn’t figure out what they meant…so I put my trust in google and looked it up.  ICM is Intentional Camera Movement.  I have tried this method before, but didn’t realize it had a name.  ICM is when you intentionally move your camera while the shutter is open for a creative or artistic effect.  You can move your camera or zoom in or out on your lens for different effects.  You need to use a long exposure, so you will need a ND filter or take the photo when the sun is not bright.  Ensure your ISO is as low as it will go and your aperture stopped down as low as well (higher f stop number).

These are a few photo I took of a tree in my backyard.

Happy shooting

XOXO

-S

Destinee’s Senior Session

We have known Destinee and her family for years! She has played volleyball with both of the girls and my husband has coached her some too. She is really sweet and soft spoken. Her mama and daddy have a heart of gold too! So glad to take her senior photos today! These are just a few of my favorites! Class of 2020, Houston County High School, Warner Robins, Georgia.

XOXO

-S

Top 5 Photographer Apps & Software

My top 5 apps & software suites that I use and love the most.

1. Tailwind. As a blogger and photographer, I need to keep my audience engaged on Instagram and Pinterest…but who has the time to post at the best times for the most engagement? Not me. I work full time, have a few side gigs, have 2 girls that play volleyball, so I follow them around 3-4 days a week…As I start winding down about one evening during the week, I schedule my Instagram and Pinterest posts for the week. Easy peasy.

2. Shootproof. I use shootproof for all my contracts, invoicing and galleries for my clients to download their photos or order prints. It is so simple and there’s no more worries about delivering final photos. Upload them and you’re done.

3. Adobe Suite. I use Lightroom 95% of the time for editing on my Mac. It is so easy to cull through your images, keep them organized and do batch editing. If I need heavier editing, I will use Photoshop, but honestly I don’t use it very much, so even through I have taken a ton of classes on it, I don’t use it so I lose it. Each time I use it, I feel like I have to learn a lot over and over; it is a very powerful tool though. I also use Lightroom, Photoshop Express and Photoshop Fix on my phone for quick phone edits.

4. Nikon WMU. My camera has WiFi capability, so I can use the Nikon WMU app to upload photos directly from my camera to my phone. If you upload individually you don’t lose any quality, so it’s nice to use when traveling to keep your blog and/or social media accounts current. Also while sitting at volleyball tournaments, between matches, sometimes I’ll do quick edits to blast out for parents to see.

5. StoryChic. Who wants a story that stands out? Well StoryChic will allow you to design sweet layouts to use in your Instagram and Facebook stories!

These are my 5 faves right now!

XOXO

-S

Steel Wool & Photography

You’re probably thinking how do steel wool and photography go together? Did you know steel wool was flammable? Perfect for long exposures and light painting.

For this project you will need a steel whisk with hole in the end to attach chain, chain, fine steel wool and a lighter. You will also need a camera that you can use in manual mode and a tripod.

Insert the steel wool into the whisk. Make sure to fluff out the steel wool for best results. Once you have it in place…it’s time to set up the camera.

I set my camera to a 10 second exposure, f 7.1 and ISO of 160. I put my camera on the tripod and had my husband stand in front of me. You also need to shoot in manual focus as well, as your camera will not be able to focus in the dark. I set my lens at infinity. It must be really dark for this to work the best.

I had been waiting for a day where it was really wet (it rained a lot today), in order to be safe as possible. Sparks do fly everywhere, so do not be close to anything that is flammable or could easily ignite. The ground was very wet, so I felt the safest to try this technique tonight.

My hubby was the one who spun the steel wool…he did have some moments where sparks hit him and it was uncomfortable. I would recommend long pants, long sleeves and even a hat to shield your head if your spinning the whisk filled with steel wool.

Each photo used an entire steel wool pad, so they burn out in about 15-20 seconds. The first photo was shot at 120mm and the second was shot at 24mm on a full frame camera.

120mm, 10 sec, f 7.1, ISO 160

24mm, 10 sec, f 7.1, ISO 160

Happy shooting!

XOXO

-S

Atlanta Skyline

Who has wondered where to go to get the amazing Atlanta skyline photos?  I kept trying to find the infamous bridge, but kept going right under it and never was able to get back there when I was around.

Yesterday, I had to pick up my daughter from the airport.  I took leave for the afternoon from work and grabbed my camera.  My plan was to go to Jackson Street Bridge to take a photo, as long as traffic headed north was reasonable and then head to the airport to get Baylee.

When I got to the airport exit, I had plenty of time, so detoured and headed to Jackson Street Bridge.  Surprisingly with a few tips from some google searches, it was very easy to find.

I had read there was no parking there…while there is no parking on the bridge, there is street parking on both sides (north and south) of the bridge (near some housing there is 1 hour parking & near the MLK Library).  I was alone, so I drove around to find the best parking, so I would have to walk the least with all my gear in tow.  I parked just north of Jackson St Bridge in the 1 hour parking.

If you’re headed north on I-75 into downtown Atlanta, get off at Exit 248B. Turn right on Auburn Ave NE and then left on Jackson Street NE.  The MLK museum is on the right before you cross over the bridge.  There is street parking there.  Then the 1 hour parking is past the bridge.

I went in the middle of the day, so parking was not an issue, but I could imagine at sunset time, the parking will be a little harder to find.  I do plan on going back with all my gear and taking some light trail images at night…but with hubby with me for that one.

Did you know this is where Walking Dead season one, motorcycle ride off was filmed. I am not a Walking Dead fan, but still found this interesting.

Here are a few images that I captured.

XOXO
-S

Krog Street

If you’re ever in Atlanta with a few hours to kill, head to Krog Street Market and then walk down about .3 miles to see the Krog Street Tunnel. We had to pick up family at the airport at 6:20 then another group at 9:40 so in between we headed over to check it out. We had dinner at Watchman’s Seafood in Krog Street Market. I had the fried grouper sandwich and it was really good. We thought about food hopping and trying from 3-4 vendors, but we decided on a comfortable seat while we ate instead. There are a ton of tasty looking items, that I’d like to go back and try another time. There is sushi, fried hot chicken, ice cream, sandwiches, beer and wines, pastries, pizza, and noodle dishes…and I’m sure I’m missing some. It’s a nice place to go especially if you have picky eaters…everyone can eat something they like.

After we ate, we walked down Krog Street to the tunnel. I wouldn’t say it is a beautiful work of art like a lot of Atlanta murals, but it is ever changing and evolving. In fact there were graffiti artists there painting when we were walking though. It is beautiful in its own way. There were a lot of runners, bikers and people on scooters…and honestly I was scared that it was going to be stinky, dark and scary in the tunnel. The tunnel is light and pleasant to walk through and view. I enjoyed photographing in the tunnel. Make sure you have a wide angle lens to be able to get some shots from one side of the tunnel to the other. Here are some of my photos.

This image was captured with my Ricoh Theta.

Hope you take a little trip to explore Krog Street. Let me know what you think.

XOXO

-S

Day Trip to Old Car City USA

Today, we took a day trip to Old Car City USA in White, Georgia.  Old Car City was founded in 1931 as a used car dealer, turned car & parts junkyard, and lastly mother nature turned it into two ton flower pots and photographers paradise.  There are seven miles of trails with over 4,000 cars and 40 acres to see.  Here are some of my favorites from the day.

To get ready to go, make sure you wear closed toed shoes, as there are a lot of rusty things lying around.  Also wear bug spray, as it is heavily wooded.  I forgot to put on bug spray today, but had a few buzzing around wishing I had.  It is very shaded in most parts, so sunscreen is probably optional. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.

Old Car City really is a site to see.  If you are ever near Atlanta, think about heading a little further north to White and checking it out!

Afterwards, we headed to Rome, GA to eat at one of our favorite places.  We were going to explore some of Rome too, but the rain beat us and we retreated to the car and headed home.