Farming on The Mountain

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.

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Peaceful Blue Ridge Mountain Valley

There is no place (for me anyway) that offers as much peace of mind and enjoyment of spirit than going “up on the mountain” by car, driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia. Over the years I have driven and hiked miles and miles of this region, although today my legs and body are not as supporting as they once were to the hiking activity. What I enjoy the most today is making photographs of what I see. The region’s history is of great interest to me, so whenever I see remnants of past farming, or farms today still operating utilizing decades old structures, I get excited and stop to make as many photos as I think are needed to give others the same feelings I had at they time I clicked the shutter.

The farm scene shown here in two views is of one of my favorite Blue Ridge valley locations, with an old farm still being utilized today, backed by rounded ridges above 3500 feet in elevation. It takes a lot of determination to live and farm up on the mountain today, considering it’s a long drive to the nearest town, and that doing so in winter is even more daunting. For the next couple if weeks I will be posting more photos of this region which I made recently. I hope you will enjoy seeing what I saw.

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Where’s the Color?

So far this year around SW Virginia the Fall vegetation colors are not as spectacular as they have been in prior years. Maybe it’s still a bit early, but the weather experts around here report that the windy and wet weather we have been having for the past several weeks is not helping. One of my favorite photographic vistas is adjacent to the Army Corps of Engineers Visitor’s Center which overlooks Philpott Lake, a Corps managed reservoir which is a very popular recreational area for people from all over the United States. The photo I made last weekend on a very clear day shows the lower elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background, with a portion of the 100-mile shoreline lake spreading out below. This area is perhaps one of the most scenic areas around our home and thus a popular place for me to visit. I intend to travel up to higher elevations this coming weekend to see what I can find. In the meantime, enjoy this view.

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War Planes Close Up

This is the last of three posts made in order, that summarize some of the aspects of three World War Two war planes I recently photographed while attending an exhibition at the Blue Ridge Airport near our home. A P-51 Mustang fighter, B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a B-24 Liberator bomber are traveling around the United States together to provide opportunities for visitors to pay respects to all those who fought, were wounded or died in planes like these during the campaigns in Europe and the Pacific. What follows are several close-up images I made of each of these planes, composed and developed in a way to provide visual interest, as well as to show their size and power.

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One Veteran and his War Plane

Per my last post, I wrote about recently spending time in the midst of several World War II veterans, and photographing three of the vintage but still flying planes in which they fought and risked their lives for the defense of our country. Heroes all. Three WWII vintage war planes flew into the Blue Ridge Airport near our home last week, and I visited on two days to make photos and to learn more about this period of our history.

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While I was looking into the plexiglass windshield on the nose of a B-24 Liberator bomber, a man standing behind me asked if I knew what it was I was seeing inside. I said I thought it was the once very highly classified Norden Bombsight, and he told me I was correct, but would I like to learn more. For the next few minutes he told me he had been the pilot on a B-24 like this one, flying in the Pacific Theater of the war, and later spent time in the Army of Occupation in Japan after the fighting was over. He told me he was later that day going to fly the B-24 we were standing next to, during its trip from the Blue Ridge Airport to South Carolina for the next planned exhibition location. He also told me he had built his own helicopter from scratch recently, and showed me some photos of his work which he carried in his wallet. He said he had wanted to fly from when he was a young boy, and had never lost that passion. I asked him what it was going to be like when he sat in the pilot’s seat again, and he replied that it would be as if he had never left it. Such was the impact the war had on him.

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The B-24 on display has the names painted on its side of hundreds of veterans who had flown in or were related in some way to the plane. Also, the same “fighting logo drawing” as used during the war had been repainted in bright colors on the side of the plane’s nose. In sum, the bomber looked powerful not only in its size and the number of machine guns all around, but what it carried inside.

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The plane’s significance really hit me when I crawled under to look inside the bombay doors, where I saw three (dummy) 500-pound bombs which signified the main purpose of the bomber; one with the words, “To Hitler from the Mighty 8th Air Force” painted on its side. I felt as if I had been transplanted back in time.

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I thanked the veteran I had met, and told him I very much appreciated his service to our country. With that, he was met by others like me who wanted to talk with him. In closing, I note that the 8th Air Force suffered half of the Army Air Force casualties during the Second World War in all theaters of operation, with 26,000 airman alone killed in the battle for Europe. To them, this photo series is dedicated.

Heroes of World War II

We are fortunate this week in having three famous World War II era war planes pay a visit to the Blue Ridge Airport near our home, part of a multi-city tour across the United States, to pay tribute to not only those who flew so bravely in these icons of American air power, but also to those who built them, maintained them and worked hard after the war to preserve this proud part of our history. I was present when the three planes arrived overhead and landed, and had my camera going the entire time. First to arrive was a P-51 fighter which was VERY difficult to photography when passing overhead because it was FAST. Second to fly over and land was a B-17, which was the main bomber carrying the war to Germany and Japan ground targets. Last was a B-24 bomber which often flew side-by-side with B-17s. I plan to return to the airport where these planes are open to the public so I can get some close-up images. So, this will be a multi-part photo series. To open this series, I offer the following.

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Getting Close

Moving in close to your subject often results in some nice photos. Had I not done so with these two photos, I might have missed the bumblebee in the center of the flower, as well as the silky spiderweb, covered with early morning dew. I wondered if the ole spider was looking out at me from inside its hole … but I didn’t want to get “that” close to see if that was so.

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Orange Colors

If orange is your favorite color then the month of October in the U.S. is a great time for you. The pumpkin crop around where we live in SW Virginia looks pretty good so far. When those selling these add some other object such as this old wagon, the scene resulting is a perfect one for some photography.

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Views of Autumn Creek Vineyard

Here are two photos of a portion of Autumn Creek Vineyard, located near Madison, NC. It’s a small but scenic vineyard, and very nicely kept. I am not sure how much wine they sell and have never tasted any from there. My main mission the day I went there was to make some photos versus “tasting.” I always suggest taking both vertical and horizontal photos when there are “leading lines” in a photo. Here, the planted vines lead your eye to the building in the center. Most people tend to use only horizontal orientation and in my view that’s a mistake. You can compare the two orientations here to se which you prefer. Always consider leading lines when making landscape photos.

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