Category Archives: Landscape

Where are the People?


It was a beautiful sunny day this Saturday past when I went to Fairy Stone State Park near our home in SW Virginia. It’s a very popular place because of its beautiful lake and surrounding hiking trails. Only non-motor powered water craft such as canoes and kayaks are allowed on the fishing and recreational lake, so it’s usually a relatively quiet location. That is when the swimming area is closed for the season as it was the day I was there. In the summer when it’s fully opened, the noise of joyful kids and others swimming and running about the sandy, man-made beach overwhelms your senses.


As I approached the long boat dock with canoes lined up, I glanced out on the lake to see how many were out there exploring with happy paddlers on board. But, looking about I saw no one on the water; just these canoes lined up.


But when I looked behind on the dock area I saw definite evidence that there were indeed canoeists out there, shoeless and probably a bit wet.


Looking at the lake in front of me again, I saw no canoes on the water. But, that did not mean that they were not out there somewhere, probably in some remote cove looking for whatever nature had to offer them this day. I’ve paddled just about every foot of Fairy Stone Lake during the time we’ve lived here. It’s a wonderful place and the peace in spirit that results from just being there is something I will forever cherish.



Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Landscape, Photo Stories


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The Little Post Office


This is one of my favorite photo locations in Martinsville, Virginia. The “Little Post Office” is on the U.S.Register of Historic Places and is well maintained today. It was built in 1893, and is a small one-story, gable front brick building with a frame rear extension. The exterior and one-room interior of the building are detailed in the Queen Anne style. It was used as a contract post office by star route mail delivery supervisor from 1893 to 1917.


It’s a very photogenic spot, with many close up photo opportunities as can be seen below.




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Posted by on September 17, 2014 in America's Past, Architecture, Close Up, Landscape



A Cloudy, Rainy Day


Martinsville, Virginia near where we live sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are certain locations in the city where I often go to view the surrounding low hills and far away higher ridges. It was a rainy and cloudy day when I decided to go take a look, seeking to capture some of the soft views I hoped to see, in black and white compositions. The view above looks down on a main highway through a portion of the outskirts of the city center. I include that to give you an idea of the relative elevation I was standing when I made the other photos elsewhere.



These two images are what I was looking for. I wish there had been some more fog in the valleys and along the ridges, but these two will do.


And, while I was standing up high, I looked even higher and saw this communication tower, which in high contrast black and white looks pretty neat in my opinion.

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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Black and White, Landscape




These two photographs project two entirely different moods. The first, “bright”, “peaceful” and perhaps “joy.” The second by itself projects “sadness” or to use a slang term “spookiness.” Photographs can tell a story, sometimes without words.



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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Artistic and Creative, Landscape


Around the Mill

There are lots of photo opportunities around Historic Mabry Mill near Meadows of Dan along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Here are some examples I made this summer, while trying to keep clear of all the tourists.








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Getting Down with your Camera


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.

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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Flowers, Landscape



Up on the Mountain

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.





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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Landscape


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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.


Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Landscape



Blue Ridge Beauty


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.

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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Landscape



A Passionate Gardener


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.




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