PHOTO GALLERY AND BLOG
Images taken on Feb 17, Feb 18, Feb 22, 2016 photography by Mark D. McKinley - Lexington, KY
"PIANO IN THE PINES"
(February 17, 2016) PREFACE - I drove to Jacobson Park one morning to photograph a piano I had heard about. It seemed like an ideal subject to feature in my "Off The Cuff" photography series. On that morning I didn't know a friend of mine was involved in what has become a topic of mystery and intrique amongst local photographers. A week later the piano was featured in a local news story. Days later lines began to form at the site where the piano sat in the mature pine grove. People photographed the piano with their cell phones, SLRs and point & shoots cameras. Selfies and portraits were taken next to [and on] the piano. Carefully composed scenic shots were taken. People began bringing props to add an original flair to their images. The inanimate object had become a local celebrity.
A few days after I photographed the piano photographer David H. McRae etold me how the piano got there. McRae, musician Greg Finger and his wife, and a male friend had met at Jacobson Park one afternoon in January. The piano was delivered to the city park in pickup truck. McRae and the other two males unloaded the 850 pound piano from the truck at the exact spot it has set for over a month now. They joked amongst themselves at the time about just leaving the piano there. It didn't take long for inclement weather to arrive and delay removal of the piano.
BLOG - After seeing a couple shots of the piano on Facebook a couple of weeks earlier, I decided to drive out to Jacobson Park and photograph the mystery piano that was sitting in a large pine tree grove. I considered the lone piano as art - an unusual element sitting beneath the large canopy of pine trees. During the past few weeks the piano has become a conversation piece due to more people spotting it in the park.
The first morning I visited the piano a fairly dense fog hovered through the park. I parked close the grove near the edge of the paved roadway - walked several feet back looking for a place I could cross a shallow ditch without wading through standing water. Remnants from a recent snowfall covered the ground and portions of the upright piano. The setting was surreal - a photographers' dream. Dressed in blue jeans, an insulated shirt and a warm jacket, I endured the cold temperature fairly well - my extremities were the only parts that posed a problem. After several minutes in the cold air with a camera my hands became extremely cold. I had left my warm gloves in the car since operating camera controls is nearly impossible wearing winter gloves. Crisp manual focusing became a challenge as my hands got colder. I walked back to the car two times that morning to warm my hands. Since that morning I've researched specialty gloves made for cold weather photography. Several brands are available that feature fold-back finger tip and thumb covers.
On the second morning I arrived at the park to document the piano, I met three people walking in the pine grove with their dogs. There were five dogs walking in the pack, each one a different breed, size and color. Observing from a distance it became obvious the dogs were well kept, good temperament, social canines. The dogs were unleashed, yet they never wandered far from their owners. Most impressive, the owners also picked up after their well disciplined pack. I enjoyed witnessing their morning trek through the pines as I photographed the piano.
The fog wasn't as dense that morning so expectations of what I might capture changed a bit. My number one objective was to simply document the piano ... sitting amongst the pines. Art. Quietly posed. Without fanfare. For anyone to experience. It grabbed me as a spectator.
After photographing the piano I returned to my car and drove toward the other end of the pine grove. I parked near two vehicles that might have belonged to the three dog walkers. They were nearby at that moment so I asked if I could meet them. A friendly reply came in the form of, "Come on up and join us!"
The trio of one woman and two men were pleasant folks. As I walked the incline toward them, their dogs started running toward me. I didn't have a chance! I was out numbered - five dogs against one of me. The dogs circled around me sniffing, the border collie jumped up on me. I started talking to the dogs and loved on them. After a couple of minutes the dogs began to spread out and wander around closer to their owners. All of them except for the small black curly haired one. It continued to stand near my feet and never moved. The dog never raised his head. He just stood there staring at my lower legs. The other dogs had walked away. Not the short black curly haired dog. He stood there without movement.
Stretching my arms outward and upward, I looked toward the dog owners ... laughing, I asked, "What does he want?"
The woman immediately replied, "He wants you to throw his ball!"
When I lean closer to the little dog, sure enough, he was holding a tennis ball in his mouth. I gingerly took the ball from his mouth and tossed through the woods. The small black curly haired dog retrieve it and carried it back to me, dropping the tennis ball at my feet. The two of us repeated the maneuver three more times.
Watching the two of us from a distance, the trio of walkers said, "You're welcome to walk with us!"
I walked with them for a few minutes. My hands, frigid at that point, still carrying a camera. Conversing with my new found friends was fun. One of the gentleman mentioned that a mysterious man occasionally plays the piano during the night.
I replied, "Is that right?"
I was about to suggest that the mystery man's image would not appear on film when the man laughed and said, "Not really!"
We shared more than a few laughs during our brief encounter. It was an enjoyable morning that would never have happened had Greg Finger and his promotion crew not left that piano sitting in the pine grove at Jacobson Park.
Another photographer friend mentioned the piano at Jacobson Park on Facebook yesterday. He had stumbled onto it two days ago and shared the fact it was sitting there with other photography friends. It was later that evening when pieces of the puzzle fell into place and I discovered a friend of mine and the Greg Finger Band were the reason behind the mystery.
(C) 2016 Mark D. McKinley