A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

The Alley

On Saturday, I participated in the second annual Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk. It’s designed to bring like-minded photo buffs together, to collectively explore their local communities. The event is held all over the world and provides the means for the creation and collection of images all taken on the same day. In some ways, it is reminiscent of the “A Day in the Life” series of books which assigned professional photographers specific subjects to photograph during the same 24-hour period. The best photos were eventually compiled into a book. Most were fairly broad in scope and involved photographers from all over the globe, but later, they became a bit more targeted, with titles like America: 24/7, A Day in the Life – Africa, Australia, Japan, Soviet Union, etc. There was even one done on Alabama.

Most of the fifty participants who came out for the Huntsville photo walk were primarily made up of the North Alabama Flickr Group, better know as the North Alabama Photographer’s Guild. Although I have been a member for some time, I’ll admit that I have not been very active. So, when I showed up sporting a NAPG t-shirt, I was greeted by several quizzical looks. A small contingent even approached me to ask who I was. I told them my name, but that didn’t seem to make much of an impression, so I blurted out “newsman 05″, my Flickr username. ” Oh!”, someone said, “that’s you?” That apparently put lingering suspicions aside and I quickly became accepted as part of the group.

Our team leader told us that we could travel “en masse”, or go it alone. He did encourage everyone to make an effort to meet as many of the other participants as possible since that was the main purpose of the walk. Some did go it alone, but many broke off in groups of two’s and three’s. I went it alone because I have always considered photography a solitary endeavor. I cannot concentrate on my surroundings or focus on potential subject matter when I’m carrying on a conversation with someone. With only two hours to work with, I wanted to cover as much territory as possible.

Although I had worked in downtown Huntsville many years ago, so much had changed, that I actually got lost once or twice. One thing that hadn’t changed much was the building I had worked in as an apprentice architect about 35 years ago. The window of the room I worked in looked out onto an old rundown alley that was littered with a new assortment of empty wine and beer bottles each morning. To me, the view was breathtaking. How I wanted to be out there, on the other side of the glass, taking photos instead of drawing lines all day. This past Saturday, I finally got my chance to explore that old alley. Admittedly, it had been cleaned up from what I remember, but there was still enough of things of interest to focus my camera on. The beer bottles were still there too. These few photos represent a sampling of what I found on my photo walk and in my old alley.

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Belle Meade Meander

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville. For whatever reason, I had never been there before, although I have visited the city perhaps dozens of times. I have visited mansions of that era in cities such as in Natchez, Montgomery, Atlanta and Charleston but for some reason this one escaped my inspection, until last week. The home itself is not one of the stately Georgian columned mansions you might see in other Southern towns. Built in 1853, it began as a fairly modest looking dwelling which was added to and modified through the years. The original occupant was William Giles Harding who inherited the property from his father, and built his sizable fortune by breeding thoroughbred horses until horse racing was finally outlawed in Tennessee in the 20th Century.

Although I did tour the house, photos were not permitted inside, so I was unable to record the three story spiral central staircase or the amazingly high-tech master bath complete with a 270 degree shower spray. Overall, however, I was not that impressed with the interior either. If I had been permitted to take photos, I might have become more inquisitive and discovered some things that were sufficiently noteworthy.

At one time, the plantation encompassed 5400 acres. It is considerably less than that today, but the grounds, where Union and Confederate forces skirmished in the Battle of Nashville, are still quite extensive. In addition to the original cabin, the grounds accommodate a dairy, slave cabin, smokehouse, carriage house and stables. The smokehouse (below left) was built in 1826. Large qualities of pork and beef were were salt cured and smoked as a means of preserving the meat. In one year, 20,000 lbs of meat would be preserved in this manner.

Formal gardens, a winery, a dollhouse, mausoleum and gift shop fill up
most of the remaining property currently open to the public.

Stately old magnolias grace the property.

The picket fence provides the perfect background for
this cluster of daylilies bordering the formal gardens.

A bullet hole is still visible on the front column of the mansion, a reminder of the
Battle of Nashville, which took place partly on the grounds of Belle Meade Plantation.
Door to the wine cellar.

The roots of one of the dozens of magnolia trees.

The enormous carriage house (1892) sheltered the family conveyances, while the second floor provided living quarters for some of the farm’s groomsmen and drivers. The attached stables housed the carriage horses and a hayloft. The loft area (above) seems to be looking out protectively over the grounds of Belle Meade.

July 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment