Old Buildings: Great Character

I love old buildings, they have such great character.  Being the history nerd that I am, I would love to know who lived in the house which is located on a farm.  Was the house big inside? Was there a family? But until I know the facts, I can only guess at these abandoned places in Michigan. I know farmers by land to plant crops. If old houses or other buildings are on they land, they usually go to ruin.

The buildings seem full of despair; they were once grand homes or barns.  Now, they are falling apart in deterioration.

Abandoned barn in Gratiot County, Michigan
Abandoned barn in Gratiot County, Michigan

Just a Country Ride

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” ― Robert Lynd

One of my favorite past times is driving around my local country side especially on these cold Michigan winter days.  I took off this morning to look for a Snowy Owl. My mother rode along which made the time more fun.  We laughed about the birds that I failed to photograph.  The morning was fun. I did not come across the Snowy Owl today.  I saw the beautiful owl the other day.  Of course, I did not have my camera with me at the time.

Today, I came across several different birds. I will admit there were a couple of birds that I could not identify.  My mom and I spent some time this afternoon trying to narrow down the identity of the birds. I could identify the woodpeckers, Bald Eagles and the little Sparrows.




Two Bald Eagles out in the field.  I wish I could have gotten a closer photo.






The sparrows that hang out in front of my house.

The two birds I questioned because I could not get a clear photo.  I am hoping the birds are out again tomorrow.  So, I can try to get a better picture. I think the one is a immature Bald Eagle.  The other bird is a Northern Harrier also known as a Marsh Hawk.

Sometimes, just a country ride is all that you need to find inspiration in nature.

Vintage Military Photos

Sorting through old black and white negatives is time consuming.  But when come across certain images, the whole process is extremely rewarding. I thought I would share a few of the military photos that I have been making into digital prints.  The negatives are old and wore; the prints are as best as I can do with what I have to work with.


I honestly cannot tell you if they are going to see or coming in this photo.  There are more negatives from this estate sale.  I am hoping to come across more photos of the ship and the scene.

On a Train?

I absolutely love this photo.  I have no way of known what is actually being said between the couple.  But I would like to think, he just asked her to marry him.


These two women are in a lot of the photos.  I am not 100% sure, but I think they are nurses. They look like they were with a group who were on a leave.  The two woman appear in various photos that also have landscape photos in the negatives.

Working on a Plane

These three gentleman look like they were working on a plane.  Or perhaps, they are just talking.

If there is anyone who can see any details in these photos, that may help in the research.  I would love input.  I am curious as usual.

Zehnder’s Snowfest

Unplugging yourself from the computer and other electronic gadgets can make a world of difference.  Yesterday, I was restless; cabin fever kicking in.  For the first time, I attended the Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth, Michigan.   The Snowfest was interesting.

The streets were lined with small ice carvings.  The main ice craving was in an awning, the scene was of a kitchen. The details were amazing from the flipping of the eggs in the pan to the fan up in the window.  I loved the creativity and art work

.Ice sculpture 2


The snow carvings were line up down in two different areas.  Unfortunately some of the snow sculptures cracked or fell due to the above freezing weather on Saturday.  But I was still able to view some of the fantastic work.  You can definitely tell a lot of time and effort goes into creating and designing these snow sculptures.

This one received 1st place.
This one received 1st place.

I stopped and witnessed an ice sculpture come to life. The two ladies worked really hard to get the ice sculpture done in a certain time frame.  The details are incredible.

Ice carving competition.
Ice carving competition.

The streets were lined with people who were happy to get out and walk around despite of the cold weather.  I did visit a couple of shops.  I am going to have to go back when the weather is warmer.  I would like to spend an entire afternoon exploring all that Frankenmuth has to offer.  I had not been to the town in numerous years.  I would like to take in the sights and appreciate the local history.

There were several horse drawn wagons going down the Main Street. Beautiful sight.
There were several horse drawn wagons going down the Main Street. Beautiful sight.




The Face of the Lady in the Black Coat

For the last couple of weeks, I have been working on this particular set of photos that I purchased from an estate sale last summer. The photo work is time consuming because the images are being taking off from old slides which means I have to scan each one. Then, apply any corrections or repairs to the digital image.

I have not been able to identify any particular landmark or state (or even which country) these photos were original snapped.  So far, the photos have shown a warm climate with palm trees and beaches.  Many of these photos also had a woman in a black coat.  The lady always had her back turned or the photo was completely blurred. So, I could not really see who was in these photos….until today.  Thankfully, the lady in the black coat and traveling companion had their photo snapped by a sign.

The sign gave me more information than any of all the previous photos so far.  The ladies had their picture taking at the Castillo de San Marcos which is a U.S. National Monument on the shore of Matanzas Bay in St. Augustine, Florida.  The sign reads:

U.S. Department of the Interior-National Park Service

Castillo de San Marcos

National Monument

The Spanish fort, begun in 1672, stood firm against English attacks and helped Spain to hold Florida for many years. During the American Revolution it was a British stronghold.

 Later it become a U.S. Military prison.

Open daily 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Admission 25¢

Children Under 12 Free

The fort definitely has a long standing history; I love the fact that admission was a quarter. I have been to fort here in Michigan; the cost is definitely more than a quarter.  I am not saying the forts or monuments are not worth the costs, I am just pointing out the difference in pricing.

If I were to make assumptions about this photo, I would guess the photo was taking in the late 1960’s to early 70’s.  I base this opinion on the fact that I took the photo from a slide. The women were most likely traveling with their husbands or as part of tour group.  I am hoping as I make my way through the rest of these slides, I can find more details.  The sets I am currently working on have more of the fort (I am assuming) plus other tourist type photos.  Who knows perhaps someday, someone will recognize one these ladies and be able to tell me their story.


Squirrel Appreciation Day

Today, January 21, 2015 is Squirrel Appreciation Day.  I enjoy unofficial holiday that involve nature and wildlife.  Squirrels can be viewed almost any time of year here in Michigan. Being surrounded by woods, I get the view the nut burying little creatures all the time.

Michigan has a variety of squirrels. The Fox Squirrels, Gray Squirrel, Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels.  Under the squirrel category for Michigan are the Eastern Chipmunk, Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel and the Woodchuck.  Even though I never really considered the Woodchuck to be a squirrel but I can see why he is in this category.


I usually come in contact with the little Red Squirrel.  The little scampering tree creature seems to “voice” his opinion every time I enter the woods.  As I am trying to photograph a bird or a landscape scene, the Red Squirrel will chatter at me.  The chattering is a way to alert the rest of the woodland creatures, there is an intruder.  The Red Squirrel shaking his tail at me will scamper up and down the tree.  Squirrels use their tails to distract predators.

I often have squirrels at my bird feeder which is why I put out extra corn cobs just for them. Many people will try to make elaborate obstacle courses to keep the squirrels away from the seeds.  In my experience, the squirrels figure out a way to bypass everything and eat the seeds.  So, I just add extra for them to eat during the wintry months.


Of course, this squirrel looks like he has visited the feeder a lot.

*Note about the featured image.  The squirrel is hiding from my cat behind my wicker chair on my front porch.  The cat had no interest in the squirrel, but he walked unto the porch causing the squirrel to take shelter.  I could hear the squirrel chattering loudly.  So, I grabbed my camera to go and investigate. Once I ushered my cat through the front door, the squirrel went back to the feeder.

Hotel Federal?

How did you spend your Sunday?  I spent most of mine working on some photos and catching up on some content writing for a couple of clients. At least I am a head of the deadlines. I think one of the reasons why I like working on this particular batch of photos is the area looks so warm.  I mean don’t get me wrong, we actually had a nice day here for winter in Michigan.

But the 28˚F is nothing like these recent photos from slides which feature palm trees, flamingos and sandy beaches.  I even had a dream last night I was standing in the ocean allowing the water wash over my sandals.  Perhaps I have been starring at these photos too much later.

Anyways, I thought I would share the one with the businesses in the background.  Perhaps someone will recognize the spot.  The hotel reads Home, Hotel Federal.  I could not find any verifiable information on the hotel.  The two stores that I could make out in the background are the Sweet & Blossum Florist and Coin Laundry.  Neither of these stores provide significant amount of detail for research.  But, I will keep digging to see what information I can find.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Vintage Photos: A Moment Caught in Time

I work a lot with old photos, negatives and slides. I am also beginning to learn the techniques to scan old 8mm and 16mm film reels. I find all of them to be fascinating as a way of capturing a moment in time.  A historical moment for families, friends and loved ones to look back upon with great memories which is why I often refer to my work as finding lost memories; a moment caught in time for future viewers. The photos go back decades.

So, where do I find my photos?  Honestly? Everywhere, I have purchased them at estate, garage and yard sales.  I have acquired some through auctions.  I have had numerous negatives just given to me.  People come across them in attics and old drawers.  They have no use for them.  So they pass them on to me which I am extremely grateful.

For those who do give me negatives or slides, I make a digital copy disc in return.  Perhaps, they have a family member who can recognize a person or place in one of the photos that I work on.  I work with old photos as a way to relax.  I know that sounds crazy, but I enjoy the process of bringing an old photo to life after numerous years of being idle.

You can check out some of my recent work at:   http://thephotogypsy.zenfolio.com/vintagecandids

A Photo From the Past

The cold, winter Michigan days have kept me indoors.  I do not mind the snow but when the temperatures are -11˚F, I tend to retreat indoors by my fireplace.  I am happy to see the temperatures finally getting above 20˚F.  Of course the warmer temperatures will mean snow.  But I can handle snow, in fact I like to go and take photos of the fresh, fallen snow on the trees and creek bank.

So, I have been spending more time working on photos and researching the areas, I think they may be derived.  In the last set of slides that I purchased from an estate sale, I have noticed a woman in a black coat in most of the photos.  I am assuming she is traveling with companion.  I wish I knew who she was, what her story is, or why she took the trip. Perhaps, one of these times someone will recognize a person in one of my photos and I will be able to learn the story.

I do know the last batch of photos was taking in a warm climate.  I am thinking in the Florida area.  One of my friends suggested the one photo resembles Daytona Beach. The photos with businesses in the background do not have any recognizable landmarks.  One of the clearer businesses is called Sweet & Blossum Florist.

Even though, I researched the business, I still did not come up with any answers.  So, I am going to try and find a historical society in Florida just to ask if they have heard of the business.  I will let everyone know where my efforts lead.

Winter Has Arrived


I was playing around with some software.  Winter has definitely arrived in Mid-Michigan.  The temps are so cold…below zero with the high of the day being 9 degrees and a wind chill of minuse 24.  Brrr!  I haven’t been able to get out and take many photos.  It’s a little too cold for me.

Hope everyone is having a great week so far…..