Continuing with my latest roll of HP5 Plus 400, here are a few shots from the latter part of this past Winter. These shots were taken in the Tennessee cities of Columbia, Spring Hill, Williamsport and Nashville. I’m not fond of cold weather, but I will brave the cold if it means capturing some cool shots, pun intended. I will even tackle hazardous driving conditions if I have the right vehicle. We didn’t have much snowfall this past winter compared to the last year. However, I did manage to get out during the last snow just before it melted to grab a few landscape shots. On one occasion, the cold weather affected the mechanics of my equipment, more on that later.
You could say that this first shot was over a year in the making. I visited this church about a year ago with my wife. It was not a good time to shoot, so we just toured the grounds. I made a mental note about where I wanted to set up my tripod. I even mentioned to my wife that I would love to get a black and white shot of the church on a snowy day. When the snow came, I remembered the old Zion Presbyterian Church. The composition I envisioned is below.
Here are some interesting facts about the church from the Maury County Historical Society.
Zion Presbyterian is the oldest church in Maury County. It has been functioning since 1807 when it was established by pioneers from South Carolina, some of whom arrived in neighboring Williamson County in the years before the treaty with the Cherokee Nation opened the territory south of the Harpeth Hills to settlement. Some 20 families joined together to purchase 5,120 acres from the descendants of General Nathaniel Greene, the Revolutionary War officer who had been granted 25,000 acres of choice land just south of Duck River by the government of North Carolina. The pioneer Zion families were from the Kingstree Presbyterian Church in Williamsburg District, S.C., and most of them arrived in Tennessee in August 1807 with their church already formally organized. Even Reverend James W. Stephenson, their pastor in South Carolina soon joined the immigrants. Within a week of their arrival, even before they started providing shelters for their own families, the men of the colony erected a simple log cabin which served as their House of Worship until 1813 when a more permanent brick structure was built. In 1847, that building was demolished and the present sanctuary was built. One feature of the sanctuary was the balcony that was provided so that the slaves of the community could participate in divine services.
As was the custom of the epoch, the pews of Zion Church were assigned to individuals or families. Although the custom has changed through the years, some of the pews are still occupied by eighth or ninth generations of the same family. The church has grown through the years; new rooms were built for Sunday School classes; and a pipe organ, the first of its kind in the region, was added. From the very first, the Zion Church provided for its young and for its dead. Even while the colonists were clearing their land and planting their first crops, the need for a cemetery arose. One of the elders of the group, Mr. Robert Frierson, died in Williamson County. His last request was that he be laid to rest in the new land he had come to Tennessee to inhabit. Thus, in June 1808 his remains were transported to Zion and buried near the newly constructed church. This was to be the first of many hundreds of burials in the cemetery that almost surrounds Zion Church. Zion Presbyterian Cemetery is one of the most beautiful and interesting graveyards in Maury County. “Few cemeteries in the state, or even in the nation, have as large a percentage of Revolutionary War (7), War of 1812 (10) and Civil War (55) veterans. Since this congregation was largely made up of relatively prosperous Presbyterian land owners, few graves in Zion Cemetery have gone unmarked. This fact is unusual in an area inhabited, as this one was, by pioneers.” (Fred L. Hawkins, MAURY COUNTY TENNESSEE CEMETERIES, p. 652.)
The Zion community soon felt the need for a school for their young people. By 1838, a school was started by James E. Stephenson, and a building erected near Zion Church. It was named for Dr. James W. Stephenson, first pastor of the Church. This school was to produce many of the professional and political leaders of Maury County and for Tennessee over the following generations. Although the old academy ceased to function several years ago, Zion Christian School has been reopened. It has grown to become one of the largest private, religious schools in the county. Within the past few years, the curriculum has been enlarged to include grades K through 12 as a result new facilities have been constructed.
Zion Church and its small museum containing a number of interesting relics, artifacts and documents related to the church’s history are shown to the public on certain programmed occasions or by special arrangement with the church’s staff.
I made one more shot before I left. I went for the common shot you see quiet often of this church.
I left the church to head to another church, St. John’s Episcopal Church. However, I did not make it. A scene grabbed my attention as I drove down the road. I couldn’t whip the car around because the back roads were still treacherous in spots, so I had to drive until I found a safe place to turn around. When I did make it back to my subject, I had to park some distance away and walk back to the area I wanted to photograph. That day was one of the coldest days of this past Winter. It took me a while to warmup from being outside at the Zion Church. When I was ready to brave the cold again, I grabbed my gear and started the short trek to my next photograph.
Not only was my drive treacherous on this stretch of road, but my trek was dangerous as well. Walking in the ditch proved to be safer than the street. When I got to the open field, my hands were already starting to freeze so I wasted no time finding my composition. There was something about this abandoned house surrounded by trees setting in an open snow covered field that begged to be photographed.
I often fantasize about how scenes like this may have been back in the day. Who lived in that house? Why was it abandoned? How has it survived demolition? These are just a few questions that come to mind. I may have to use my historical society connections to dig further.
I mentioned earlier that the cold started to affect my equipment. My normal operation for landscapes and most tripod captures is as follows: find composition without tripod, erect tripod and mount camera, level the camera, focus, meter for exposure, dial in exposure, move the mirror up, unlock shutter release, fire shutter. It’s the “mirror up” mechanism that gave me a scare. After taking the shot, I hit the lever to release the mirror back to its normal position. When I took another look through the viewfinder, I could not see anything. The mirror did not release. I flipped the mirror up lever a few times. The mirror started to drop a little, but it did not retract fully. The only thing I could figure was that the low temperatures were causing this to happen. My intuition was correct. After thawing out myself and my gear at home, the mirror up function started to operate as it should. I breathed a sigh of relief. My only other worry was that the cold somehow affected the shutter to throw off my exposure. Luckily that did not happen.
Before the snow was completely gone, I decided to grab a shot of the Slave Cabin at the Rippavilla Plantation a few days after visiting the Zion Church. The sun was setting and I was losing light fast so I quickly captured the shot below.
For more information about this cabin, read my post titled “1 Bedroom, No Bath, Sleeps 8.” That post talks about a magazine article featuring my photos of this cabin. The actual article was written by my wife. The photos in the article were shot on Kodak Portra 400 and then converted to black and white. As I left Rippavilla, I noticed the fountain in the courtyard was frozen. The best light of the day was already gone, so I came back in the morning just as the sun was rising.
The next two shots were taken with the temperatures above freezing. The first is another picture from one of my favorite recreational areas, Williamsport Lakes.
There’s usually not a lot stirring in the Winter months, but sometimes, that’s what I like about it. My final shot was not my main target for a cool morning in January. I went to Centennial Park to do some documentary photography on the Silent Inauguration. Before the crowed came together, I set up the Mamiya for a shot of the Parthenon.
The crowd slowly came together after I tore down my gear. I put on my documentary hat and grabbed my OM1. You can read about that post and see those photos here. I have 4 more photos to share from this role, but I’m going to wait to publish them with some 35mm shots that carry the same theme. I hope to have those 35mm rolls processes soon. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
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