Matt & Shelly, 3.16.2013

23 03 2013

Michael and I drove to Huntsville, Alabama last weekend to photograph Shelly and Matt’s wedding. The venue was Burritt on the Mountain, overlooking the city. The venue was spectacular, the weather was picture-perfect, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more photogenic or happier couple anywhere! We took advantage of a lovely sunset right after the ceremony to create some portraits of the bride and groom. More photos to come…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


The coolest bathroom hallway EVER

28 05 2011

I shot this photo below of the restroom hallway in Longwood’s new East Conservatory Plaza. It is the largest “living wall” in North America, and was designed by famed British landscape architect Kim Wilkie.

This is the first time I’ve seen a living wall planted with ferns and other greenery (28 plant species and 47,000 plants in total!)—rather than succulents. (I blogged here about the gorgeous living wall of succulents on the facade of the Anthropologie store in Huntsville, Alabama). Watch the video below to see how the project came together and see the Longwood Gardens blog here for more information.

Sunset + (super?)moonrise on the Potomac River

20 03 2011

Michael and I ventured out to the Mount Vernon Parkway before 7:00 p.m. this evening to scout out a good spot to wait for the much-anticipated and much-heralded “Supermoon.” I’m sorry to have to report that I was a tiny bit disappointed. I confess that I was hoping for that end-of-the-world-large-encroaching-orb-could-swallow-us-whole-fodder-for-a-science-fiction-movie effect, but it didn’t happen.

Yes, it was a lovely moon—slightly larger than usual and a bit brighter. I guess I was expecting it to flood the horizon so fully that I would have to take off my Nikkor 80-400 zoom lens and put on the 50mm just to catch it all in my viewfinder. So large that I would hear audible gasps from the neighboring photographers, then perhaps we would spontaneously hold hands and break into song (Kumbaya, perhaps?). Didn’t happen.

The moon I photographed in Huntsville, Alabama a few years ago seemed a whole lot larger and a lumen or two brighter than tonight’s “Supermoon.” You can view that posting here. I was, however, taken in by the sunset’s show earlier.

Hey! Guess what? I was just ready to publish this post and decided to Google this search: “supermoon was disappointing tonight,” just to see if anyone had the same reaction that I did.

I found this on On Saturday night, the moon will arrive at perigee at 19:09 UT (3:09 p.m. Eastern Time). Its distance from the Earth at the moment will be 221,565 miles. But just over three years ago, on Dec. 12, 2008, which was also the night of a full moon, the moon reached perigee at 21:39 UT (4:39 p.m. Eastern Time) at a distance of 221,559 miles, about 6 miles closer than Saturday night’s perigee distance. So it seems Saturday night’s supermoon will actually be just a little less super than the full moon of Dec. 2008. (You can read skywatching columnist Joe Rao’s full article here.)

Why do I find this so interesting? Well, I photographed that moon near the Huntsville Airport in December 12, 2008! So my eyes (and my memory) did remember a more impressive sky that night than tonight. Unlike tonight, I wasn’t even hunting for it—my friend Sue had picked me up from the airport and I asked her to pull over so I could get a few shots of the spectacular moon! Who would have thought that the moon being only six miles closer to the earth would make such a noticeable difference?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

The (not so) Orphaned Images Project: Grandma Hester’s family

15 03 2011

My cousin Larry shared this photo with my father recently, asking him if the subjects were of the Dyer family. Larry’s mother Lorene, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 83, was my father’s last remaining sibling. I remember Aunt Lorene had unusually beautiful eyes—bluish-green with specs of golden brown—sort of like a blue jay’s egg. She was quite striking—my father shared a photo of his sister alongside a letter he wrote to her in 1994 on his blog here.

Before I even read my father’s note to Larry, I picked out which child was possibly my Grandmother Hester (my father’s mother)—the little girl in the lower right corner. I’m confident with his identification. In fact, now that I see Hester’s father, I can see the similarity with my father’s features! Thank you so much, Larry, for sharing this photo with us. I hope I might be able to share more images on this blog in the future.

My father wrote back to Larry:

I believe this is the Pennington family. Hester’s mother (Miss Odie) and father and six of the eight children they produced, including Willie (the oldest, lived well into his nineties), Early, Dalton, Vera, Ellie, Dessie, Hester and Brackston, the youngest. I believe the little girl at lower left is Aunt Dessie and I believe the one at lower right is Hester.

I could be wrong, but I believe the two missing are Vera and Dalton. Vera was long gone before I made the scene. She died young in childbirth, unmarried and unforgiven for having a child out of wedlock. Her son, Marion, was raised by Miss Odie, the matriarch of the family seated at right—my grandmother. That’s probably Brackston in her lap.

Dalton died in the Tuscaloosa hospital for the insane from injuries sustained when another patient wielded a bedpan as a weapon with deadly results. You can read all about it, and get a lesson on rigor mortis, on my blog here.

My Grandma Hester was born April 3, 1897. She and my Grandpa Willis N. Dyer were married 17 years and had seven children: Hattie May (who lived just one day), Jessie May, Eulene (killed by a drunk driver when she was just 12), Larry, Lorene, Dot and Hershel Mike (my father).

In her later years Grandma Hester lived in a cute little Airstream trailer on her son Larry’s 88-acre farm in Vernon, AL. We visited her every summer until I was in my late teens. When my mom, sisters and Aunt Charlie (Larry’s wife) would go into town shopping, I would stay behind with Grandma Hester to keep her company. She tried to teach me how to make lace doilies (tatting—a tedious skill most certainly lost on me ten minutes later) and play the electronic organ (her favorite song to play and sing was Beautiful Dreamer (and I remember the words to that song to this day—Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me, starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee. Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day, lull’d by the moonlight have all pass’d away…). After that lullaby, she would rev things up with a rousing rendition of “That Daring Young Man on Flying Trapeze.” (Yes, I know those lyrics by heart too). I never heard her play anything but these two songs. It’s a good thing she didn’t quit her day job!

She would whisper to me, “Don’t tell the others, but I love you best!” She always made me feel special. Later, during an argument with my younger sister, I blurted out, “Well, Grandma Hester says she loves me best.” To which she replied, “she told me the same thing.” Then my older sister Debbie piped in with the same refrain. I remember turning to my father and asking why Grandma Hester would do such a thing. He said something like, “That’s just what grandmothers are supposed to say.” So much for feeling special.

When I was about 15, I remember overhearing Hester asking my younger sister, “Is it spoonin’ anyone yet?” “It” was a reference to me. “Spoonin'” is a southern term for cuddling or embracing. In a roundabout way, she was asking if I had a boyfriend. I don’t think my sister knew what the term meant anyway (come to think of it, I most likely didn’t know either. I’m sure we had to ask our father what that meant). And for the record, no, I was not spoonin’ anyone. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was in college, in fact. Sorry to disappoint ya, Grandma Hester!

Hester and Willis divorced right before she gave birth to my father. As a result, my father didn’t really know him well and only saw him four times when he was growing up. Early in his life, Willis worked as a trapper to support this family. Later, he sold popcorn and peanuts from a concession stand at a theater in Vernon, Alabama.

My father says, “The first time I saw my dad was at the theater. My uncle took me to a movie and introduced me to my father. I was about eight years old and I remember that sometime during the movie my father came in to see me and I sat in his lap for a bit. I even remember something about the movies we saw—it was a double feature—a b&w western movie with Don (Red) Berry and a detective story starring Chester Morris as “Boston Blackie.” The newsreel included highlights from the (staged) heavyweight world championship fight between Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber,” and Billy Conn, a light heavyweight. Despite the discrepancy in weight, Conn fought a good fight. Not long after that meeting, my father stopped by our house in Columbus, Missippi to take a rag bath in the kitchen and change his clothes in preparation for an appointment nearby. The next time I saw him was in Sulligent, Alabama. He had an old school bus up on blocks, converted with a stove, bed, shelves and cabinets (one of the first recreation vehicles in the country!). He was a traveling preacher and would set up tents and host revivals. The Bank of Sulligent allowed him to park the bus on their property. He sold popcorn, peanuts and candy. In the spring of 1949 I went to Vernon, Alabama to try to get a false birth certificate from the doctor who delivered me. I was only 16 and wanted to go into the military. I had two friends with me and we were hitchhiking down the highway. I saw my father during that trip. It was the last time I saw him alive—three years later, I saw him in his casket.”

Willis N. Dyer died September 2, 1952 at age 65. I recently discovered that he was buried in the Springhill Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Fayette County, Alabama.

In 1941 Hester married John Weathers, whom my father called Papa John. He was a carpenter and cabinetmaker. Papa John was the only grandfather I had ever known (my mother’s father, John McLean, passed away years before I was born). I can only remember three things about Papa John—-he loved to have the house really, really cold (so cold that we kids actually preferred playing in the hot Mississippi heat instead), only wore khaki and offered us soft chunky peppermint sticks whenever we came to visit. There was always a bowl full of the treats next to his recliner. He was part of my father’s life for 28 years and was a tough man to live with, frequently sending him and his sister Dot away whenever he grew tired of them. All the other siblings had long since grown up, moved away and started families of their own. During one summer vacation, my father drove us around and pointed out all the locations where he had lived—a cousin’s house here, an aunt’s house there (some long since demolished and replaced with a gas station or such). He had a simply amazing recall (and still does!) for when, how long, and for what reason he and Dot were banished to a particular place. Eventually, Hester would tell John that she missed her babies and he would let her bring them back home again. I can’t imagine what that would do to a kid! Knowing my father, he probably came to view it as an adventure. My father got his quick wit and gift for telling jokes and stories from his mother.

My father introduced John Weathers to the world in his blog posting, Meet Papa John (not the pizza man), here. John Weathers passed away in 1970 at the age of 77. My grandmother, Hester Pennington Weathers, passed away in November 1980 at the age of 83 in Vernon, Alabama.

Bling bling

29 04 2009

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Wild Columbine

29 04 2009

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), photographed at the Huntsville Botanical Garden—this beautiful perennial, native to the U.S., flowers in spring and is a favorite of moths and butterflies. It grows from a thin, woody rhizome and can be found on rocky ledges, slopes and low woods. The spurs of the petals contain nectaries and are attractive to insects with long proboscises.

From the website,

Aquilegia, from the Latin, aquilinum, “eagle like,” because the spurs suggested the talons of an eagle to Linnaeus; OR, from the Latin word for “water collector,” alluding to the nectar in the spurs of its petals.

canadensis, from the Latin, “of Canada”

Columbine, from the Latin columba, “dove,” the spurred petals perhaps having suggested a ring of doves around a fountain.

    © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.



    28 04 2009

    Yet another case of “I didn’t see that little guy when I was getting this shot.” Look in the center of this Siberian Iris—there’s a tiny green bug staring directly at you! I’m pretty sure this little bug is a Katydid nymph Scudderia. I photographed him/her at the Huntsville Botanical Garden last week.

    Click here to see what one looks like up close and personal in a photograph I shot and posted on my blog last year.

    © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.