The term “getting down” was, when I was a much younger man, common slang used to reflect perhaps wild and excessive celebration or other actions by individuals or a group which might be pressing the boundaries of polite or decent behavior. Today, I’m no longer interested in wild or excessive behavior, so when I say “getting down” I am referring to lowering my body closer to the ground. Unfortunately, when I make photos and wish to lower my angle of view my body has a very difficult time “getting down” to the desired level, creaky knee joints and all. But, fortunately I have a camera with a rotating, swivel LCD screen that allows me to simply bend over, hold my camera down to knee level and then rotate the screen to horizontal. Look what I can achieve. I really like this photo and I hope you do too.
Category Archives: Landscape
I am very fortunate to live as close as I do to the Blue Ridge Mountain chain of peaks and valleys. It’s a scenic and historic area, full of sights that make one smile. I visit there frequently, always with my camera, and when I depart for lower elevations at home I say a word of thanks for what I have seen and experienced that day. Enjoy these scenes.
I discovered this nice view while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 15 miles south of Roanoke. What made me look was the winding dirt road that led to a small house, sitting in a location that to me looked like a place I could quickly grow to love, were I to live there. It was a “path” that led my eye to a destination which I could see—the house. Other paths in life may not be so obvious, such as in the photo below.
Here, the hiking path leads into a deeply wooded area which could contain challenges and obstacles unseen. Still, we usually discount the unseen and enter down paths such as this because we have faith that we’ll be safe regardless. I like this photo composition because of what we can’t see in it. We can imagine, and that’s one thing about photography that means a lot to me.
I have been to Smart Look Recreational Area along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia many times (Milepost 154, elevation 2500 feet) and this view is one which I always am drawn to. I wanted to position myself far enough away from the historic log cabin, using a wide angle lens on my camera, so that the fence would bring the viewers eye into the composition with the mountain skyline in the background. I think the scene would make a nice painting.
I’m always looking for scenes with “leading lines” to point to the prime focus in an image, in this case the nice tree. The fence leads your eye to the tree, and when it’s all backed up by “puffy” clouds, the picture becomes even better.
And lastly, when using a wide angle camera lens, I like to get down close to something in the foreground that catches the eye, and then allows one to look further into the image. In this case the large stone which someone placed on the fence railings served my purpose. Why the stone was put there in the first place is a mystery to me and that makes it all the more interesting. So, in summery, beauty in nature is where you find it, if you’ll just look.
It’s not a big backyard garden, and it’s certainly not one free of spring and summertime challenges; but, it’s unique in that it is the focus of our neighbor Al’s passionate work many days during the planting, growing and harvesting seasons. Al has taught high school Algebra and other math related subjects for almost 40 years in Virginia and North Carolina, so during the summer he has lots of time to spend with his garden, and fishing when the mood strikes. He’s from near Richmond, Virginia and is a Hokie (Graduate of Virginia Tech). His wife Nancy holds a degree from the University of Virginia. We could not have a nicer couple as our next door neighbors.
This is Al–bit dirty and sweaty but that’s the way is is with a dedicated backyard gardener. Several years ago he asked me if we had any problem with him plowing up a portion of his yard adjacent to ours in order to make a garden. He said he was concerned that drainage might be a problem when it rained hard. Having spent my professional career in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers I assured Al it would not be a problem. He said “his” garden would be “our” garden in relation to being able to share a portion of the summertime harvest of such things as tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, beans, squash, lettuce, potatoes and mostly Blueberries which grow profusely in a row of large bushes along one side of the garden nearest our house. I helped him and his son put up the wire fence and posts around the garden, in order to keep the local deer herd and other pesky critters from sharing the bounty.
Al’s not afraid to experiment, such as with his grape arbor shown below. He has grapes galore as you can see here, but soon he’ll begin a battle with birds to see who can get the ripe ones first. Same deal with the blueberries. Squirrels are an especially happy customer of Al’s backyard garden.
Besides being passionate about his garden, he spends a lot of time with other handyman backyard yard projects. His bird bath and flower arrangement looks great and he maintains several Blue Bird houses around his yard that are annual home to several loyal residents. Blue Birds can do wonders keeping insect pests under control.
I have to admit to chuckling from time to time during the summer as I watch Al battle weeds, critters, the heat and humidity, plus the need to pick and eat all he grows. I tried my hand several years in our backyard growing simple vegetables, but it did not take long for me to realize that I did not have the same level of “green-thumbness” Al has. Besides, I reasoned, Al offered to share his harvest and on his own could not eat all that was ready to pick. So, Al came over to our yard and helped me remove the fence I had placed around my garden, and I turned it all happily into grass. As I mentioned earlier, we could hardly find better next door neighbors than Al and Nancy. Sitting on my back porch from July through August, with Al’s Blueberries on my morning cereal is one benefit of that arrangement.
Visiting the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Southwest Virginia is always a great photo opportunity, except on those days when it seems like every elementary school kid within a 50-mile radius is there on a field trip. It was pretty much me alone the day I was there recently, and that’s what I like :-) One feels transported back in time while there.
As the many shades of green in spring take over from the yellows and browns of winter, many places such as the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia are waiting for those with cameras and those without, to appreciate better the beauty that’s all around us. Here are two examples of what saw recently in that regard.