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.
Category Archives: Landscape
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 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.
Some excellent city planning in Greensboro, NC, coupled with a strong environmental appreciation has made it possible for visitors to walk through a “bog garden” with a diverse amount of natural vegetation and wildlife. It is also a great location to make photos as I did recently. Here are several which I believe capture the essence of the place. Winding through the bog garden on wooden walkways offers great closeup views of natural vegetation.
I found a sleeping owl in a nearby tree, and lots of ducks feeding along water ways that flow throughout the area.
The setting sun helped make interesting patterns on the shallow, wet boggy portion of the garden.
Sometimes non-color versions of original photos look better. In this case I used computer software (Silver Efex Pro) to transform color photos I made of these rugged trees located above 3500 feet in elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Trees have to be hearty at this elevation to survive, given the harsh winters and high winds year around. These trees obviously did not make it, but they look old enough to have given it their best.
Many might wonder why the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina are called the “Blue Ridge.” Look at the first photo and maybe that will answer the question. Haze often obscures some of the views, but it always adds a light blue color. The second image shows a portion of the winding road known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was originally constructed during the Great Depression in the 1930s as a federal government program. These views are near Rocky Knob over 3500 feet in elevation. Rail fencing is very common along the road, as are many parking areas with superb views of the valleys below.
Some want to know what the “best”camera is. I’ve read where many professional photographers say that the “best camera” is the one you have with you at the time it’s needed. Given that most of us today carry smart phones with built-in cameras, and that these devices are as capable as were many high end cameras less than ten years ago, it does indeed prove that statement to be true. Here are some examples I made recently with my new iPhone 5S camera, which I have to say is great. The only thing about using it is that I sort of feel “naked” not having my usual camera in hand, with a bag full of gear hanging on my shoulder. Having just the phone in my pocket made me walk around at first thinking I had forgotten my camera. Anyway, if you have a smart phone camera, give it a try at making more than just the typical birthday photo. Be creative!
I love making photos using a vertical camera orientation, composed so as to lead the viewer’s eye “into” the photo. Here are two examples. What made the one with the fence so special in my mind was the way the sun backlit the overhanging tree, and created some nice shadows along the rail fence line. The second photo I might title, “Down a Lonesome Road.” Both of these were made above 3500 feet elevation in The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
When families operate farms today at elevations above 3000 feet along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina it’s common that old farming structures such as barns remain in use. I made a photograph of this barn years ago and it was obvious to me then that it had been used for a long time and in fact was still being used. While it’s weathered exterior and faded paint has become much more prominent today, it is still being utilized to store hay for the livestock grazing all around. People living here make the most of what they have.