Monthly Archives: July 2015

And one last time… Butterfly Country

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

Yosemite as you have never experienced…

Here is a group of Butterfly Country cartoons from the ’80s that I call the Golf Series.  Unless I find a few more in storage these are the last of the strip samples that I still have.  Again, these are from a group of cartoons that were considered by several news syndicates…… and from which I received a resounding, fervent and unanimous, “NO!”

As for the game.  Golf, that is.  I once played golf… all the other times I hacked at a small white ball in manners that cannot be categorized as technically “playing” golf.  I am still paying “divot” penalty fees to several courses in the West.  They all agreed to take payments if I would avoid their facilities.  Years ago I gave up the game at the request of… well… everyone that had ever walked the links with me.  I also received a few requests from others that, merely passing afar, took the initiative to contact me anonymously and affirm the need for my disengagement from the activity.  It was for them alone and en mass that I quit… that and the rude, threatening, golf-spike-pinned notes that mysteriously appeared on my front door.

So, here’s my take on the game of golf by way of Vinicent Buckley and Amos Alonzo in Butterfly Country.  The content, events, and personages of these drawings are fiction and in no way reflect actual events currently or in history.  Likewise, the scenes depicted here did not happen to me… No, really.  But, there was that one time at Augusta…

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Drive, click, plan… drive, click, plan!!!

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

…Tips to make your travel pics sing.

by Jim Byous

Calculate, anticipate, concentrate.

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Sunrise plus 30 minutes. Gearin Road near Dahlonega, Georgia.

Mental notes were being jotted down in the back of my noggin’;  light, sky, color, the fall of shadows.  I had traveled down the same roads in North Georgia a number of times over several days.  As is normal on any other trip, at home or on assignment, I am always searching for pictures.  And, I always carry my Galaxy S 5 cell phone to capture scenes that I may want to photograph later with my Nikon. — In some instances, I don’t need the Nikon, but that’s another story.  And no, neither company pays me to mention them. —  Anyway… while traveling  I watch the track of the sun and shadows… if I have time.  Later I retrace my route and when the conditions are right I grab as many images as possible. It’s a bit like harvesting ripe fruit in one outing.  Here’s the first part of my usual game plan.  This series will run throughout the next few blogs here on Southeastern Bound.

1. Find the right locations

If possible scout ahead and plan your route.  On a recent trip, I had passed this ancient mill site,  photo 1, several times on trips to and from the gold mining town of Dahlonega, Georgia.  The old Gilstrap Mill is on the road of the same name a few miles from town.  Each trip the light is high, but the location and composition was natural and easily seen.  The challenge is that the light does not “sing.”  The sky is blue but dull.  If time was tight I probably stop to capture what I could.  In this instance, it is not an issue.  Later in the evening clouds drift over the area.  After a weather check, I make plans for a sweep through the area the next morning.  Clouds should be dotting the sky in the pre-noon hours.

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Photo 1, Sunrise plus 90 minutes.  The old Gilstrap Mill near the gold mining town of Dahlonega, Georgia,

I’m not a morning person but getting great images sometimes requires a sleepy, early-morning, groping walk to the car.  As I drive down the drive the dawn slowly brightened.  As my tires hit the main road the sun’s first rays come over the ridge to the east.  A few blinks-and-yawns later the lighting over the hilly terrain pumps a dose of adrenaline into my system… either that or the coffee finally kicked in.  The day is started.  Great photos seemed to be on every turn.  So many shots, so little time.

Systematically I drive, shooting different locations as the sun slowly crawls above the horizon.  I make sure my route keeps the mill scene within the acceptable time for lighting – the time from sunrise to sunrise-plus-two hours.

As a historian and photographer, this is a primary location on my list.  The building has been partially restored by the owner with the historical integrity intact… a handsome relic that seems to freeze time.   Snuggled in a gap beside a sloping hill, a bend in the road and the briskly-running, oddly-named Wahoo Creek, it represents a time in Georgia when many of the small rivulets in the area were harnessed to grind grain.  It is now one of the few mills still standing.

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Photo 2.  The frame of the Gilstrap Mill water wheel remains in the shadows. The watercourse is now dry and flanked by trees, one decayed to a  stump.

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Sunrise plus 10 minutes.  The intersection of Gearin and Gilstrap Mill Roads, a different angle of the same hill in photos 3a and 3b.

Both history and aesthetics are important to the records that I make.  Too many historical images are simple uninteresting shots, images used for scholarly reports with little concern for artistic qualities of the scene.  I want to record the building but to also create an image that will look great on my – or any – wall, photo 2.  As is true in real estate, in landscape photography the most important thing is location, location, location.  That and light.

Therefore, like finding the right storefront on the right street in the right town, finding the correct picture location can be broken down to within a few feet.  You must find the area, then the site, then the spot, then the square foot that makes the best image in the correct light.  In photos 3 and 4, the difference in showing power lines next to the trees was a matter of moving closer and several feet to the left.

You will notice the straight cut of limbs on the tree to the right of the frames.  This was done by the power company because inches outside the edge of the photo the wires were obvious.  My first position of choice, away from thorns and spine laden plants, was directly below the lines.  Unfortunately, there was no way to get the photo without them showing.  I had to buck up and push into the brush to get this image.

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Sunrise plus 120 minutes, light cloud cover in the east blocking the direct light. The Moon with a Lady Reclining Over the Trees, photo 3a on left, was mildly difficult to capture. Positioning under power lines, guide wires, brush, and a barbed-wire fence required a determined photographer… who carefully watched for snakes.  Taken in at the same stop along Gilstrap Mill Road in another season, photo 3b shows the same trees complete with power lines, wires, brush and fencing for comparison.

Calculate the light for your photos, the angle, the intensity.  Where will the sun move if you wait or come back on another day?  Will clouds enhance the scene?  My most frequent suggestion is “pray for clouds.”  Anticipate which locations you might want to capture at different times.  Will the shadows be better in the morning or in the evening?  Which is the most important scene to catch?  Concentrate.  Consider all of the above conditions, locations, and options.  To grab a memory card or film roll of great shots, plan it out… even if you have to plan on the fly.

Coming soon, More of the Game Plan,  Tips on composition.

© All content copyright J Byous Company 2015 all rights reserved

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The more things change…

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

While going through old clips from the 1980s I came across a couple of editorial cartoons from my newspaper years.  The first was a comment on the drug culture of the era… This brings into mind the old saying that the more things change the more they say the same.

The second was an editorial cartoon that almost got me fired… George Bush (the first) was running for president and was accused of being a “wimp” by opponents.  Being from old-school journalism training, I tried to stay neutral and made fun of both sides.  During the campaign, Bush combated the label of being soft in foreign policy.  The Democrat tag stuck to him right up to the election… that he won.  This ran in the Merced Sun Star, a Central California newspaper.  The General Manager was a staunch Republican.  My editorial cartoon rights were revoked for a couple of months.

Dinosaur extinction

Bush I wimp

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A Chip Off the Old Block?

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

I am not proud of this gritty chip of stone.  Nor am I ashamed of it.  It was, oddly enough, part of an inheritance from my father.  Tucked away in a dresser drawer it had been one of his possessions – a souvenir – that he took from a gravestone in Missouri when I was young.

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A small symbolic sliver of stone from the headstone of outlaw Jesse James.

It is a fragment cracked and split from the headstone of the outlaw, Jesse James. Taking a chip of that stone was the norm at that time in history…  Hell, everybody did it.  Few complained.  And, this small chunk, a fragment of the lower section, was from the second headstone to mark the site.  The rest of the monument had been flaked away by hundreds or even thousands of earlier visitors who had grabbed a rock and splintered off their own piece of notoriety.

The first stone was and is preserved in a museum display after years of chipping history-seekers.  We as Americas… as tourists… have changed.  We understand the need to preserve history – take a picture, leave the artifact… the old National Park slogan, “Take nothing but pictures.  Leave nothing but footprints.”  But, to look back at those who came before us and judging their actions must be weighed with the social and cultural norms of the day.  Our generation and their generation differ in thought, in ideology, and in actions.

Beyond obvious abhorrent and evil actions in history, we cannot effectively judge previous generations.  Bias of the present obscures seeing the reasoning of the past, the old Monday morning quarterback syndrome.  We can say they were wrong and we should strive to do better.  But to judge in hind-sight is akin to being a referee in a sports event in which we have never played.

Getting into the heads of past or future generations is a difficult if not impossible undertaking.  People don’t think the same between cultures, they really don’t think the same in differing centuries.  Two hundred years from now we will be judged on things we now find sacred.  What will they think of us?  What are we doing wrong in their future eyes?

Understanding the mindset of serfs of medieval Europe and their acceptance of social station is a concept that is foreign to most Americans and people of free societies.  People tend to conform to the norms of the day.  They adapt.  They survive.  They tend to settle for what they think is expected of them and get on with living.  That mindset is still prevalent in many cultures.  Singer Ricky Skaggs sang it in his song about don’t-get-above-your-raisin mentality.

So, this simple sliver or limestone is more than a snatched souvenir.  It’s an artifact, a symbol of changing cultures, differing ways of thinking and views on life from generation to generation.

Anybody want to buy a rock?  It has a great story… and, the statute of limitations has run out.


The Missouri home and the third gravestone of Jesse James. Credit: Americasroof, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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Sunsets and Opportunities

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

By Jim Byous

The cliché is that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Sometimes that is true, sometimes that is not-so-true.  Then again, sometimes pictures need words to express the details or the emotion of an event.  And, sometimes pictures create more questions.  Here are a few that do all of the above.

These were shot within a thirty-minute time frame in locations that were about two miles in distance.  Shooting fast and keep moving to change the scene I was able to capture these images at North and South Beach on Tybee Island.  The weather, nature, and God take care of the colors.  Photoshop helps to darken, lighten and intensify what is already there.  If the color is not hidden in the original image, it is hard to make it work.

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The Tybee Lighthouse on Tybee Island, Georgia from North Beach.

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The setting sun moves behind the lens on Tybee LIghthouse.

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Lifeguard stand #16 near the Tybee Pier.

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The last rays of the sun looking from the Tybee Pier toward the pavilion.

Visit our main website at We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.


© J.D. Byous 2018, All rights reserved.

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