A Reflection … Art in Itself

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While I was out and about earlier this month, I saw this creative and somewhat humorous metal and glass sculpture and stopped to make a photo or two. But what I didn’t’ see at first was reflected in a window on an adjacent building. The origin scene was framed perfectly by the white window border and after walking back and forth a bit to get the right angle of view, I made the photo below.

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The window glass with blemishes added to my original image I thought. A lesson I learned long ago is that one should always look around when making photos, not being focused ONLY on the main object. In this case it was the window reflection I saw while walking around. I’m glad I dd. Last point. Too many photographers try to emulate a “typical tourist photo” they might have seen online, or elsewhere. Try for something different. That’s what creative photography is all about.

Early Spring?

Daffodils are beginning to pop out of the ground, thanks to an unseasonably warm month. Each year we seem to be getting more days in February when temperatures are above 60. Low 50s is normal in Southern Virginia where we live. It won’t be long before the bright yellow blooms will fill various spots in our flower beds. And then, they will be gone in a month or so, going dormant for another year.

And then there are the Pansies, which were planted in late Fall and made it through much below normal temperatures during January. High teens. Snowfall and ice included. These guys are about the most tolerant flowers I’ve grown. I’ve seen their flowers sticking out brightly as the snow melts around them. They add a lot of “color joy” outside our back porch. Now don’t misunderstand, I’m no gardening expert. We have a yard service company that plants the Pansies each Fall, and then replace them with warmer weather flowers in March-April. Many of the Daffodils were planted 16 years ago before we moved into our home. I did transplant some to spread their beauty around the house. But, I do maintain the flowers once planted. And aren’t the colors vibrant?

Floyd Virginia – Part 2

If you like Bluegrass music, an Americana atmosphere, artistic endeavors at work and friendly folks, then I suggest you consider visiting Floyd. Obviously you have to live reasonably close. If that applies, you most definitely ought to go to the Floyd Country Store. It’s a wonderful place to step back in time. Live Blue Grass music, food stuffs of various sorts, assorted gifts and souvenirs and fun await.

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My most recent visit was on a Saturday, and there was live music in the store, something I’d not expected, so it was a surprise. I hung around listening and looking for a souvenir ball cap to buy I (I’m a “hat nut”) plus I made a short video to show my family when I returned home.

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I always enjoy making photos of various items sold in the store. Like this old fashioned candy display below. People were lined up, filling paper bags and purchasing their candy goods at very reasonable cost.

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So, this has been just a sample showing what one might experience in Floyd. In Part 3 of this three-part series, I’ll show you some of the “artistic” activities ongoing there. Stand by.

Blue Birds Misc

First, I have to say that making photos of Blue Birds isn’t easy. They flit around very fast, and when using a 200mm lens like I was, the critters aren’t always in perfect focus. I did the best I could, however, and overall I’m happy. Here’s a gallery to see what I saw. (I note that the very early buds on the trees now, and the warmer weather insects below the trees on the ground, are attracting one of my favorite birds. Our neighbors have bird houses for them, so they are always around. Unfortunately my long lens camera isn’t. I kinda got lucky here.)

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Floyd Virginia – Part 1

Floyd County Virginia, and the town that holds that name, provide for me an opportunity to see how rural America once was, and to explore various sights and sounds that are unique. In short, I love it. Over the next few posts I’ll share what I saw recently. For those living reasonably nearby in Virginia or North Carolina, the drive itself (along VA Route 8, or the Blue Ridge Parkway) is a worthwhile trip. Photo opportunities abound. Especially in Spring when Apple trees are in bloom. If that’s not possible, I’m here to show you what’s there.

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The Floyd County Court House sits at the center of the town. History is alive there in many ways. It’s a very popular place to visit because of that, and on many weekends the town center is full of happy visitors, enjoying where they are.

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A dusting of snow had fallen the day prior to my visit, and when I saw this “Christmas Season” composition outside the town’s historic hardware store, I immediately focused and clicked the shutter on the camera I was carrying (iPhone 7 Plus).

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The building at the right (upstairs) has a really nice coffee shop. There were many folks going up and down the stairs, but I waited until none were seen. (I prefer photos without people in many cases. This was one.)

Below are just two of the interesting shops that are located in the town. The name “Republic of Floyd” derives from a group of artisans and small business people who have called Floyd their home. The shop sells perhaps one of the largest variety of craft beers I’ve seen.

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Backyard Barns

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We live in a moderately “rural” part of SW Virginia, very near my second most favorite state, North Carolina, and one common sight I see all over both states down here are backyard storage buildings, I’m calling them “barns.” People do a lot of yard and garden work and for that a suitable place to store tools and such is required. Here are two just up the street from our house. I really like the red one best. Just because. Here’s a close up.

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A Favorite View

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There’s a spot along Virginia Route 8 between Stuart and Floyd that I have traveled for many years, on my way to seek out photo opportunities. The best time to go is whenever I feel like it.  Except when there’s snow or freezing weather about. The road travels down a gentle slope passing by Apple trees which are part of a small farmer’s orchard. During the spring when Apple trees are in bloom, and with puffy clouds over the Blue Ridge  in the background, it’s a wonderful scene. I had a nice clear day yesterday on my way to Floyd, and was thus able to capture once again a favorite view.

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Making Old Buildings New

My prior post was about the decline of American industry and the remnants of associated buildings left behind. I saw lots of “beauty” in that regard, and decided while making those photos to take a look at how local community developers and elected officials have decided to improve on that situation. I recently began following a blog written by a couple living in Greensboro, NC who live in a renovated textile plant in that city, which is attracting many young people like them. I decided to take a look closer to home here in Martinsville, VA and what follows is what I saw recently.

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For years I drove by a somewhat rundown brick building that once was home to the Martinsville Novelty Company. What’s a “novelty” you ask. Good question and certainly not something we see anymore with that title. Wikipedia defines this as “A novelty item is an object which is specifically designed to serve no practical purpose, and is sold for its uniqueness, humor, or simply as something new.” I remember as a kid seeing ads in comic books that touted many “novelties” each of which captured my attention. Anyway, I digress. Several years ago a developer purchased the building and turned it into a very nice apartment complex with lots of amenities. The adjacent parking lot was crowded the day I visited to make this photo. Success number one!

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Success number two. The historic Henry Hotel sat for years in the center of Martinsville, and served its purpose well. Then it closed years ago. Recently another developer gave the building a new chance in life. Martinsville’s Historic Henry Hotel is now The Henry, a 25-unit downtown loft complex. Small businesses were attracted and that has helped put a bit more vibrancy into the city, previously impacted by closures of many local major industries.

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Lastly, and perhaps most significant is what has happened to the main production facility for Tultex, Inc located here in Martinsville. The city was once referred to as “the sweatshirt capital of the world”, due to Tultex’s production of athletic and other popular lines of clothing. Then along came China to compete, and “boom” Tultex and many companies like it shuttered their facilities. The loss of jobs had a obvious significant impact on Martinsville, but left behind was a very large multi-story brick building. That changed due to forward-looking and wise action on the part of many people. A portion of the plant has been converted to office space with large meeting/conference facilities, that have over the past several years, added a lot to the community. Here’s what it looks like today in its new life.

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I’m proud to have been witness to the transformation processes related to each of the three examples I cited above. I already mentioned one such success in Greensboro, plus I’m aware of many other examples elsewhere in North Carolina and Virginia. It makes me proud to see what’s happening. We Americans are indeed adaptable.