This photo “won” Best in Show

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This Fall I decided to sponsor a contest to determine which photo, among several entries I expected to receive, was “Best in Show.” There was one rule to this contest. Only one candidate could submit photos, and that person had to be me. You might wonder if the contest was rigged, and it most definitely was. While I made many photos of changing colors on trees and other vegetation during October and November this year, I was not at all happy with what I accumulated. Hues were generally too flat, too few or totally missing. Like “reds.” But, being a dedicated photo enthusiast I boldly went forth week after week to try to find that “perfect composition” I could look at and say something like “wow.” Alas, it was not to be. Compared to the spectacular compositions I was fortunate to find last year, Fall 2017 was a disappointment. I had about given up, but one day I decided to give it one more shot. And, I was rewarded. This image captures for me the “look” I was seeking. The contrasting colors and lighting in the farm scene made me smile. So much so that when it was entered into my “contest” it won. I was shocked when I was notified my photo had been so selected. You just never know what will happen. Well, maybe we do know in a one-person photo contest.

Finally, some color in the Blue Ridge

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I made this photo two days ago, from the overlook of Philpott Lake at the Army Corps of Engineers Visitor’s Center. It was a clear day, mid morning. I used my iPhone 7 Plus camera. The lake is a favorite of mine, and I’ve paddled canoes and kayaks along it’s 100 miles of shoreline. Colors are not as vibrant this year as I’ve seen them, but it’s not bad … at all.  As you can see below.

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Trains don’t stop here anymore

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I’ve written many times that I love trains and most things associated with them. Especially old depots such as this one in Madison, NC. Trains still use the adjacent tracks, and that’s good. It’s just that they don’t stop here anymore. When I visit such locations I like to imagine what it was like living here during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s in America when passenger and freight trains were the main mode of transportation, and many small cities and towns like Madison were serviced daily. When I was a young boy I recall traveling about on passenger trains with my parents, going from city-to-city. It was exciting, albeit a bit daunting, to have to walk along a passenger and baggage platform that ran in between train depot tracks, where massive locomotives sat waiting to depart. The steam engines hissed and rumbled above me as we walked along. But I began to relax as we boarded our train, with a friendly uniformed Conductor helping me climb the steep steps into our assigned car. I always had a window seat with my face plastered to the glass most of the time, peering out at passing sights. These are memories I’ll never forget. I guess that’s why I like making photos at places like this old depot.

Madison’s Dry Goods Country Store

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We live about fifteen driving minutes away from Madison, NC. The small town of about 2000 is located in the Piedmont Region of Virginia and North Carolina, and its downtown business district is a favorite place for me to visit. Always with my camera. In that regard I offer up Madison’s Dry Goods Country Store.  I love visiting and shopping in stores like this, and believe me I’ve been in many. The unique thing about here is the friendly atmosphere, and quality clothing and other goods sold, at reasonable prices. Here are some photos I made to give you a taste. If you are in Rockingham County NC,  I encourage you to visit Madison, as I did this past week, leaving with a just purchased nice flannel shirt and fleece vest. I’m ready for winter now!

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What a difference …

This year’s Fall colors in the mountains of SW Virginia and North Carolina hardly compare (to me at least) to what I saw exactly one year ago. I know this to be a fair comparison because I saw photos our daughter just made around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina where I was a year ago. This year’s colors seem far less vibrant and generally dull. Why this is the case I can only speculate and I won’t. I’ll just show two photos I made last year near Grandfather Mountain. What a difference one year makes. I certainly hope better views lie ahead for us this year because I’ll definitely be out looking.

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In Between

It’s what I’m calling an “in between season” when our daytime temperatures suggest it’s still Summer, while our eyes tell us it’s Fall. So far this year, tree colors are not what I’d expect for mid October. Certainly not what I saw a year ago, but maybe things will improve as October moves on and temperatures cool off, especially at night. I’m fine with it overall. Having a camera with me all the time (iPhone, Fujifilm or Panasonic) makes it easy to document what I see. The following made this week off the front porch of our home.

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I’ve seen it … I’ve been there

Long term changes in global weather patterns is a popular topic of discussion today. First, this isn’t some liberal rant about “climate change.” I’m not smart enough to understand whether or not it’s all man-made, whether it’s a natural effect, or whether it’s a combination of both. I do know how it’s affecting those who live in the Bering Sea region and Alaska because I’ve been there (five times since 1999) and seen it first hand. In 2009, for example, my wife and I spent two weeks exploring via small cruise ship the remote Bering Sea region from Kodiak Island, to Dutch Harbor to Eastern Siberia in Russia. It was, to say the least, a trip of a lifetime.

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This is Savoonga, the only town on St. Lawrence Island, located in the northern region of the Bering Sea, and as far as I’m concerned the most remote town in the United States. Below is the U.S. Post Office, Zip Code 99769.

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Below are photos of a few of the Native Americans who live in Savoonga. They were “dressed up” and welcoming of our visit. They shared native foods with us. They also gathered with us in the high school gymnasium to share their joy in song and dance. These are proud and very wise people.

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While there we learned how much these Americans depend on finding and gathering enough sea life annually, as a primary food source. There was a small General Store that sold basic subsistance items, but each was relatively expensive given the need to bring supplies in via air and boat from the Alaska mainland. Seal and Whale meat was hanging in various locations throughout the town, drying to make it less prone to spoiling.

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We were told how it has become increasingly difficult over the past several years to find enough whales, walruses, seals and other sea life to sucessfully hunt. For example, a single whale, captured and killed using harpoon and small outboard motor boats, might result in enough food for 100 people, for one year. Do the math to figure out how many whales must be found to feed a town of 700. Warming ocean water, the hunters said, seems to be the main cause of the reduced numbers of their usual and traditional prey. These are subsistence hunters. They waste nothing and take only what they need.

Another sight I’ve seen since 1999 is relatively rapid glacial melting, again caused by unusually warm temperatures. On our first visit to Portage Glacier south of Anchorage, for example, it was possible to see the glacier face on Portage Lake from the Visitor’s Center. In August 2017 I was there again at the Visitor’s Center, and the glacier had retreated so far back into adjacent mountains, one had to take a lengthy boat ride to see the face. I saw the same thing in Prince William Sound (August 2017 photo below). While many glaciers there are most impressive by their size, I note that they were much more impressive the first time I saw them.

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I recall when it was impossible for us to get as close to this glacier as we did this past August. That was because glacier ice clogged the bay almost to the point where I made this photo. I submit that warming temperatures are causing this.

Maybe we’re now going through another “cycle” that earth has experienced many times before. Large climate swings back and forth that may take decades to document. However, I’m weary of listening to and reading theories by so-called experts, and politically motivated bloggers who’ve never been there to see first hand what’s going on. I submit my “facts” observed over almost twenty years of “being there” are worth much more when discussing this situation. Blaming someone or some “thing” does little to help the Native Americans that live in these remote regions.

Dogwoods in Color

It’s that time of year again. Our neighborhood thankfully has lots of Dogwood trees (first and second photo) and others that “get their color” early in the fall. It helps having good light (sun rise) when you make a photo of trees and leaves. Backlighting is also really nice as in the second image. Dogwoods are one of my favorites. Very colorful in the spring and equally so in the fall.

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