Clear Days

During the winter months, it is much more common to have clear days along the elevations of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina, than it is during the summer when haze often obscures distant views. My object this day was to primarily make some landscape photos that depicted the farming nature of the region. These are views that most tourists and others often take for granted, in favor of stopping along designated overlook parking areas where most photos are taken. I learned a while back in my photography hobby that it is often better to look for other scenes than just the typical “post card” variety so sought after by others.

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One Man’s Junk, Another Man’s Treasure

I often try to see items as they might appear in black and white when I make photos, and some of those items quite frankly might be considered by some as “junk.” But to me they become treasures when I look at the compositions that result. This is the great benefit of photography today. One can “create” with a simple or complex camera. Here are several recent examples I made.

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Christmas in the House

One thing is for sure, when December arrives my creative wife Barb starts to unpack the inside Christmas decorations she places around the house. Outside decorations, limited as they are, have become my job, along with hauling up the artificial Christmas tree upon which the lights sometimes work, sometimes not. Anyway, this Christmas season I thought it might be nice to share some of these treasures we have accumulated over the years. Many of the decorations were purchased when we were stationed with the Army in West Germany during the 1980s. Each are carefully packed away when the holidays are over, waiting for next year when they will again be displayed for all to enjoy. Merry Christmas!

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Faces at Christmas

Looking in various merchant store-front windows the other day I focused on “faces” on miniature figures I saw. Each represents a part of the Christmas season (especially the first one) and I felt when combined together here, they might make for an interesting series of photos. The key to making such images through glass, is to have sufficient natural light so that a flash is not needed. In these cases, the setting sun provided al that I needed. I hope this sets you in a holiday mood!

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Selective Shadows

When the sun starts to lower in the sky during the late afternoon ome can often see some interesting patterns and colors with shadows that really make for some interesting photographs. As I go out with my camera, I often take several topical photos (for example interesting shadows) so that I can later group them into a brief photo essay that focuses on that specific criteria. It’s all about “seeing” things that many people may miss. Be creative!

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Architectural Focus

Martinsville, Virginia where we live is not a large city today, but it was not too long ago when it was an economic engine for the Commonwealth. A center for furniture manufacturing such as at Basset, Stanley, American, and Hooker. Textile plants of Tultex, Sara Lee, Fieldcrest, and others were all around the region. There were other large industries also in this area as well. Today, this is not so, and while the Uptown portion of the city is not as vibrant as it once was, there remain numerous architectural sights that can be most pleasing, especially when viewed through a camera lens. This short series of photos I made recently begins with the original Henry County Courthouse built in the early 20th Century. It’s been replaced by a large and very modern facility some distance away, but at Christmastime, the old building looks as good as it ever did. The other photos I made are close-ups of portions of the city’s center, which I hope you enjoy.

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Christmas Cactus

Two weeks early, but close enough to Christmas to begin blooming a bit at a time. By Christmas Day it will be in full bloom. These flowers are some of the most beautiful to me, mainly because of their bright color and translucent petals with differing shapes. The plant is one-year old. It replaced one which was at least ten years old and it bloomed annually, but not necessarily at Christmastime. The new one is on a perfect schedule.

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Main Street Stuart

I love small towns. Especially those that have found ways to remain economically sound in terms maintaining a vibrant city shopping center. Main Street in Stuart, Virginia, located in the high foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on a busy Saturday, is a perfect example. Visiting the town with my wife one weekend, I wandered around making photos of various things I saw, while she shopped for materials with which to make more of her wonderful quilts. Nothing special about any of these photos but I believe they give one a sense of the welcoming nature of the town.

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Seeing Patterns and Design

Over time I have developed a “photographic habit” of always looking for patterns, textures, design and simple objects which I think might make for an interesting composition. The key is to be able to focus in and compose a scene in the camera’s viewfinder that shows something special and perhaps interesting. I think the first photo below shows best what I am talking about. This was the entrance to a store front, but by focusing in on just a small part of the entrance way where I could frame several different colors and patterns, I got something different. The second photo is a perspective view of the front windows to a Mexican restaurant, with a brightly painted stucco front. The last one with the birds is simply the result seeing a large decorative design on one wall of a deli we were eating lunch in one day, and focusing in on just a small portion of the artwork design. This is all about having fun with your camera, but doing so with a purpose.

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Christmas is Near

Small towns around us in SW Virginia are putting up their Christmas and other holiday decorations, as they always do near Thanksgiving. I know each year I always think to myself that many people put their Christmas decorations out too early. But then when I think about the fact that the Christmas holiday is only a month away, I understand. In our case at home, I finished up our outside decorations today — early for me. But considering that last year at this time I was in Duke University Medical Hospital recovering from a bone marrow transplant, and could not do much decorating just before Christmas when I returned home, I am thankful to the good Lord for the ability to decorate and celebrate the season this year. These photos were made in Stuart, Virginia.

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