Kentucky Road Trip

The Kentucky River in late April. Nicholasville, Kentucky.  When I was a child we would swing from these trees by a rope and drop into the river.  The swimming hole of my 1960’s youth. It hasn’t really changed in over 50 years.

The thing I’m liking about retirement is not having to work if I don’t want to work.

I’ve been laying up here at home the past few weeks, recovering from a back injury. The downtime has allowed my poor old pulled back muscles to return to functionality. I’ll have a few more days of rest and relaxation before I begin my road trip to Kentucky on April 25th. I seem to generally choose the last week of April to make that trip, when made. Derby Week. Meaning the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby which is held each year on the first Saturday of May.

I’ve finally mustered enough coherent thought this weekend to attempt a blog entry.

The photographic theme will be Kentucky today.

The State Capitol Building in Frankfort , Kentucky.
Thoroughbred Foal in Kentucky Bluegrass.

All of these photos were taken in late April, but in different years.

I’ll be starting my road trip back soon and while I’m on the road I hope to share a photo or two.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Kentucky.

 

My Old Kentucky Home

Thoroughbred horse farms are a common sight in rural Kentucky

As a boy growing up in Kentucky, horses were a common sight. In my youth, we lived near Nicholasville, Kentucky where we had a mule, a pony and beautiful white horse, all running half wild across the 52 acre tobacco farm. I never owned a saddle, we were too poor for such luxuries. I did have an old weathered bridle which I would carry around when I tried to round up the half-wild pony. I chased those animals from one end of the farm to the other.

The horse, I never caught. The mule was too large and dangerous for me to mess with. The pony; Sandy, was manageable for a skinny 12 year old kid. I rode her bare-back, up and down the country roads, visiting my friends and pretending I was living in the age of horses being the primary means of transportation.

The area I grew up in was full of Thoroughbred horse farms, some of which were hosts to Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners. We drove by these farms often. Rich people who had massive bluegrass fields filled with all manner of horses young and old. My grandfather would take me to Churchill Downs from time to time. He was a grizzled old man who loved betting on the horses at one of the most famous race tracks in the world. The memories still fill my head. I can still smell the cigars and the stalls and the leather.

I moved away from Kentucky when I was 17 after joining the Navy but my love of Thoroughbreds never left me.  As an adult, all of my visits to where I grew up involved driving by these Thoroughbred farms which are still a staple of visual life around Lexington. About 12 years ago, I began photographing the Thoroughbreds. Not always a simple task as these animals were often at a distance. Slowly I’ve accumulated a small but nice portfolio of images that have done quite well as stock photos.

The photograph above was taken in 2008 on a farm near Versailles, Kentucky. One of the many farms near the old Kentucky home. The horse is a mare named Emotion Parade, a successful Argentine Thoroughbred that raced in 2005 & 2006, with four wins and one place over a course of 8 races. At the time of this photo, she was living happily in the pasture on a Kentucky Thoroughbred farm as breeding stock.

This year I intend to return to Kentucky in late April to photograph more of these most magnificent horses of Kentucky.

When I return, I’ll share a few photographs.

Taking Care of Business

Photograph of a moose calf
Shiras Moose Calf in the Colorado Rocky Mountains

 

These past few weeks have gone by fast. Mooseville has been serving fresh moose on demand.

Here it is a Saturday morning and I’ve had a few hours to go over the harvest from my recent efforts. The light consistent enough to get some really nice, well lit shots. These days I tend to take an attitude about the harvest, there are only three categories I sort my images by, useless, salable and anything I consider a “work of art.” I’ve taken a handful of photographs I would print and frame, many of the rest will produce. I am quite pleased.

If you’ve ever reheated cold coffee because it tastes better, you may have been a sailor. I can’t work at a computer without coffee and here in the cabin one doesn’t waste water. In the Navy, good coffee was day old coffee, anything older tended to rust your barnacles.

The photography has pretty much wound down now. I’m catching up on rest and visiting with Andy and Debbie. Andy and I grew up together as teenagers, he’s probably one of oldest continuous friends in my life minus family members. I think the base wavelengths of our brains haven’t altered so there is still total familiarity, at least from my perspective. We’ve spent the last two days in the SUV together and rehashed every memory from high school days in Kentucky, among other things. Debbie is from Nashville and a delightful lady. She’s been keeping notes about her travels. It’s a very nice feeling knowing that all seems well with my old friend after so many years of not interacting.

Over the years a lot of my friends had little or no interest in the “high school days.” When I graduated high school, I entered the Navy and began a family. I left Kentucky and most of everyone except family. I went to a couple of reunions, 5 & 10th I believe. Never thought about it after that, it was water under the bridge for me. That was 1975 and the years are adding up. My thinking has matured. People are beginning to drop off. Life wouldn’t be complete without going full circle to tie the whole thing together.

I had a piece of Derby Pie with my coffee for breakfast this morning. A gift from Andy and Debbie. Pies seem to be a reoccurring event in my life. I don’t know how that works but I’ll take it. Derby Pie is a pecan pie type thing infused with Kentucky Bourbon. It’s mostly visible to society around the time of the Kentucky Derby, however, those of us from Louisville consider it to be a food group.

I’ve met the day’s major points. Talked to the wife on the phone, bathed, uploaded stock photos and now writing in the blog. Taking Care of Business is playing on the oldies radio station. Radio, iPhone music and boring streaming television is what’s available for background noise. Radio is the choice this morning. I like to not have to fiddle with other things when I’m trying to concoct a blog post.

Here it is. All 537 or so words. That’s an honest writing effort.

Just as good as reheated coffee.

 

LaPoudre Pass

LaPoudre Pass

I haven’t had much time at a computer lately. An old friend from Kentucky and his lady from Tennessee are visiting with me this week and I’ve been showing them the mountains in Northern Colorado.

Lots of road work, lots of moose, lots of mountains, I’m finally getting a look at some of the images I’ve taken this week.

Here’s a photo taken Thursday morning on LaPoudre Pass, Colorado. It’s a beautiful place.

 

This Time Last Year

Lewis and Clark Bridge on the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky
Lewis and Clark Bridge on the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky

Man, does time fly by?

It was about this time last year when I was visiting my mother and photographing Thoroughbred horses near Midway, Ky. Near the end of my trip, I arranged to meet my older brother in downtown Louisville.

It was a perfect weather day, the city was preparing for the Kentucky Derby as they do each year. Spring was in full swing. I decided to drive downtown along an old familiar route, River Road and photograph all the bridges across the Ohio River from Madison, Indiana to New Albany Indiana.

This particular bridge is the Lewis and Clark Bridge on the Ohio River in near the city of Prospect at a place called Transylvania Beach. This bridge is fairly new. Back in the day I spent many hours on the Ohio River. It was our recreational zone of choice for house boating and water skiing and other odd things.

Remnants of the old boat docks still protrude from the banks of the Ohio as this stretch of Kentucky shore-line was once filled with private boats and docks. Those days are mostly gone now. Floods, fuel costs, and other factors have conspired to change the culture. There was never a bridge here when I frequented the Harrods Creek/Ohio River channels, so seeing this sitting on top of my memory is sorta like having your old home torn down and in it’s place is a parking lot.

As for the other bridges, I managed to get everything done while I traveled along River Road to meet my brother for lunch. We finished up the last bridge together, tromping around in the thickets along the banks of the Ohio River in New Albany, Indiana. It was like we were 12 years old again.

Interestingly, this photo is pretty popular with my stock agencies. I made the right choice to go for them them.

Top Shot

Kentucky Thoroughbred photograph by Gary Gray
Kentucky Thoroughbred

It is no surprise that this image has by far been my best selling stock photo for the month of March. I took this shot on April 27th, 2008, almost 10 years ago to the month. It was Kentucky Derby time then and it’s coming up again on the first Saturday in May.

Horse photos sell if they are good shots of interest and demand and was one of my reasons for going back to Kentucky two weeks before the Derby last year. Get more photos of Kentucky horses at the prime time to get them. I do know a little bit about Kentucky horse country. It was my backyard growing up. If I lived there today, thoroughbred horses would be high on my priority list for photographs.