Small towns around us in SW Virginia are putting up their Christmas and other holiday decorations, as they always do near Thanksgiving. I know each year I always think to myself that many people put their Christmas decorations out too early. But then when I think about the fact that the Christmas holiday is only a month away, I understand. In our case at home, I finished up our outside decorations today — early for me. But considering that last year at this time I was in Duke University Medical Hospital recovering from a bone marrow transplant, and could not do much decorating just before Christmas when I returned home, I am thankful to the good Lord for the ability to decorate and celebrate the season this year. These photos were made in Stuart, Virginia.
There is no question that good lighting can make a photo special, even when it’s a simple subject. Here are two examples, one man-made and one natural (sunlight). I really like the simple nature of our back porch light on a rainy evening. So much warmth. The sunlight was reflected in a special way on “weed” type plant I saw in a field late one afternoon. It made the weed stand out in a special way. See the light when you make photos!
Fieldale Virginia near our home was once a vibrant, prosperous community, and today it still is, but in a far different way. In 1916 Marshall Field who started the famous department store in Chicago purchased the site which was previously Waller’s Ford and built Fieldcrest Mills which became one of the largest textile companies in the region. The intent was to have a direct, quality supply of textiles for the department store. Over the years the Fieldcrest brand become one of the most respected in the United States, however economics and other factors eventually led to the decline of the textile industry in the south. There is today a large amount of pride in the accomplishments of those who worked for decades in Fieldale; and to celebrate that history, residents annually conduct a weekend long festival. For me, it’s a treasure trove of photographic images, several of which I have included here.
How many remember gasoline filling stations when regular gas was 18 cents per gallon? Thanks to an antique dealer near where we live, an original Shell Oil station has been renovated, with lots of red and yellow colors all over. Original pumps and other items are set up as they once were, and the only thing missing is people driving through filling up, while having their oil checked, windshields cleaned, and tires filled with air all at no charge except for that related to the amount of gas used. This all made for some interesting photo opportunities for me recently. Enjoy what I saw that day.
I like to make photos when the sun is in front of me, or off to one side, and my subjects in between are “backlit.” This is not simple to do, because first we were all taught when younger not to look directly at the sun, but when you position yourself such that you are in a shady spot, and the direct sunlight is reduced, you can get some nice results, especially with trees as the main subject. If your camera allows you to adjust your lens aperture, close the lens down (higher aperture number such as f22) and you will get a “sparkle” effect. Here are three examples I made recently.
There is a small-medium size Baptist Church located near our home, adjacent to a main 4-lane highway, that has a uniqueness to it that really makes it stand out. The members of the congregation decided a few years ago to erect a very large, corrugated metal, approximately 100 foot high white cross, adjacent to the church buildings. You may never see those buildings as you drive by, but you will certainly see the cross, and for many people that can be inspiring. Yesterday on a nice sunny day, with some fall vegetation colors still present, I decided to go visit the church and make some special photos so you all can see what I see all the time.
I made these two images with my iPhone 5s camera last week. In essence they were “targets of opportunity” because I did not have my main camera (Panasonic Lumix GX7) with me at the time. It was after I imported them for processing that I noticed a good comparison — man-made patterns and patterns in nature. Both make interesting photographic subjects. Takes a bit of luck at times — such as with the metal foot bridge — which had the sun shining exactly right to show the shadows on the decking of the bridge.
Making photos of colored pencils was not something I would have thought about on my own. But when I saw an article about a photographer who on an inclement weather day, decided to seek something original to photograph. His work making photos of colored pencils resulted and when I looked at his images I decided to give it a shot, and fortunately my wife Barb had a box of said pencils in her fully-stocked “craft” room. So, here’s what resulted. No where near as good as the photos I saw in the article, but fine by me — because it was all just for fun.
Making photographs of old but still operating farms located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has been and remains one of my favorite activities. One challenge I face when doing this is to try to find interesting compositions that tell a story, and in that regard it’s often difficult to do so with only one photograph. The first thing that caught my eye when I approached this white farm house nestled in a grove of trees at the top of a slight hill was the bright green tree standing out in contrast with the rest of the vegetation. But when I looked away from the house to the left, to the valley just below the hill from where it sat, I began to think about what living in that house was like today, but more about it would have been like living there years ago.
At the bottom of the hill was a small pond, with three farm out-buildings located nearby. And jutting out on that small pond was a wooden dock, where I am sure many people young and old once sat seeking to catch that elusive big fish that always found a way to remain free. I could visualize sitting on that dock as the setting sun went behind mountain ridges off in the distance, hearing my mother shout from the back door of our home on the hill, to come for supper … NOW! But before leaving the fun I was having trying to catch that fish, I would have pulled my hook in, re-baited it with a fresh worm, tossed my line into the pond just one more time, praying for success. Coming home late to supper, but with a freshly caught fish in hand, might forestall any scolding I might have otherwise received. Even today, the pond looked so inviting to me that I had to walk around seeking different photographic perspectives. As I drove away, I kept thinking that living in this old farm would have been a joyful experience for me while growing up. And, I was thankful for finding the place, and for my camera for recording the scenes that made me feel that way.