Getting Around Town
A beautiful snow had fallen overnight in Lewisville, and I wondered: Just how in the world am I going to get photos along Conrad Road? I wanted so much to photograph the scenic Conrad Road area covered with fresh snow. Yet my little truck was not to be trusted whenever the roads were the slightest bit slick. With no clear answer, I left home on foot — equipped with photo gear — and I headed toward the center of town.
Somewhere along the ever-so-peaceful walk, the answer came to me. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before: Just bum a ride to get to wherever I want to go in Lewisville!
I mean, with two cameras dangling on me, I figured I’d look innocent enough to approaching motorists. And I trusted that I could accurately “size up” my prospective “taxi drivers.” (I was also convinced that kidnappers and other ne’er-do-wells aren’t prone to committing crimes on snowy days!)
I’d just finished photographing around the old Spaugh House (discussed in Oh, What a Beautiful Day), and was making my way toward Shallowford Square when I saw “The Tank” coming my way. It was a Hummer — the really big version.
Unexpectedly, the driver of the Hummer, Greg Aaron, brought it to a commanding halt in the middle of the snow-covered road, lowered his window and hollered: “Have you gotten some good shots?” “Yeah, I think so,” I replied. We talked a moment or two about camera gear, and then Greg said the magic words: “I’m headed to Conrad Road to take pictures.”
Before I knew it, I had “volunteered” to go with Greg to Conrad Road! Now, I’m usually not the pushy type — but when it comes to getting good shots, my middle name is “Assertiveness.” Thankfully, Greg is a nice guy, plus he’s a bona fide photo enthusiast who photographs as much as his schedule permits.
A Popular Spot
Of course, Greg and I weren’t the only ones heading to Conrad Road that morning. Numerous vehicles were stopping here and there along the most popular stretch, and folks were stepping out to take pictures of the lovely snowscape.
The everyday beauty of the Conrad Road area is always remarkable to behold. But when covered with snow, its beauty is gloriously magnified. Thanks to Greg Aaron’s hospitality, I was able to capture some of Conrad Road’s snow-covered splendor on a fine, and most memorable, winter morning.
If you’d like to see a few more snow-scene photos of the day, please visit the Conrad Road photo gallery.
Remember young Ralphie Parker in the movie, A Christmas Story? All he wanted for Christmas was a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. The problem was that none of the adults in his life wanted him to have one — not even Santa.
Despite all odds, did Ralphie get his wish? If you’d like to see for yourself, just set aside an evening to drive by the home of John and Barbara Huffman at 1010 Conrad Road in Lewisville and take a look at their lit-up front yard.
With the help of their grandsons, Andrew and Ivan, the Huffmans have set up a very creative multi-scene display of some of the more memorable moments of A Christmas Story. This is the Huffmans’ third year at this, and they’re already thinking of three or four additional scenes they may introduce next Christmas. Wow — it’ll only get better!
If you’d like to see some photos of the Huffmans’ depictions of Ralphie and key moments of A Christmas Story — including more of the famous lamp shown above — just click to visit the Huffman Decorations photo gallery.
One of the most serene areas of Forsyth County is found along Conrad Road in Lewisville. Scenes of the beautiful maple-lined section that stretches for about a mile can sometimes leave one breathless.
Traveling from Shallowford Road, you’ll first encounter the younger section of maples. Though full and stately, the younger maples are merely the prelude to a grander experience.
At about the half-way point, the scene dramatically changes. The sky disappears from sight as you pass under a natural canopy created by much older, taller and heftier maples. Although the speed limit is 55 mph, I’ll tend to slow down considerably to enjoy traveling through the tunnel of trees. For a few moments, my internal world seems to slow down, too.
With very little light penetrating from above, the light that does find its way into that blissful world predominantly comes in from the sides. And it’s the side light — in the mornings and evenings — that creates some delightful scenes.
If you’ve never driven along Conrad Road in Lewisville, treat yourself to an enjoyable excursion some sunny morning or evening. I think you’ll see why this area is so beloved.
Paint or Pixels?
Can you tell I like to paint? As you can see in this rendering of a scene on Conrad Road in Lewisville, I have a tendency to want to modify photos a lot. I try to be judicious and restrained when it seems appropriate, but it’s hard not to go all out!
Maybe that’s because I used to paint with acrylics in high school. It’s been a long time, though, since I picked up actual brushes and squeezed paint onto a palette. Now, I use Photoshop to paint digitally.
Some folks, understandably, will prefer working with the real thing — mixing the paint and feeling the brush move against canvas. I think that’s wonderful. I certainly don’t think going digital is the answer for everyone. What’s important, from an artistic perspective, is utilizing whatever medium allows one to work most creatively.
As a photographer, I didn’t start out with digital. I can still vividly recall developing my first roll of black-and-white film and then subsequently watching my first print come to life in developer solution in the darkroom.
Honestly, I don’t miss all the chemicals and the cleanup. I also don’t miss trying for hours to get just the right tones throughout a fine art black-and-white print — “dodging” here and “burning” there. While there was a degree of science involved in creating prints, there were still so many variables that came into play which were hard to predict or control: chemical temperature, exposure time, development time, humidity, paper type and age.
From Drudgery to Freedom
When it came to producing fine art prints, I slogged through many hours in the darkroom, striving for the “perfect” print. Sometimes I was so rewarded, but other times I had to accept that “almost perfect” was all the time or expense I could afford.
But now — now the beautiful world of digital has set me free, artistically speaking. I don’t have to bother with chemicals, and I don’t have mounting expenses for repeated attempts to achieve my perfect image.
Plus, although time is still a factor, it’s not drudgery for me to work at the computer for long periods, trying one thing or another. I appreciate the fact that I no longer have to be hunched over a developer tray in a smelly darkroom, hoping — praying — that this print will be what I envisioned. Yes, I’m thankful those days are behind me, and that digital technology is sufficiently refined at this point in my life so that I can fully explore its capabilities and can achieve the results I envision.
What About You?
So what kind of photography do you enjoy most? Realism, impressionism, abstract or something else? Are you a digital photographer or a film photographer?
What is it that thrills you about photography? Please share your thoughts.