Action and Beauty Along a River

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Some photographers say that “lighting” is key to making a photo special. This one and the one below proves that, to me at least. Made these at Western North Carolina’s Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City. These rapids are a small part of the Olympic-level kayak and canoe training and championship event site.

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And then there’s the bottom-feeding duck. Funny watching him bob up and down.

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Nantahala Waters

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The Nantahala River flowing through the Nantahala National Forest in Western North Carolina is home to the Nantahala Outdoor Center.The 500-acre adventure center offers (among many other activities) kayaking, canoeing and whitewater rafting. In sum, it’s a great place to visit. In my day, I spent many hours kayaking and canoeing but never on river rapids such as this. Now, I enjoy it through my camera lens and images thus created. When the river water is high, as it was recently during my visit, the rushing river waters create spectacular views. Enjoy what I saw.

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Landscapes in January

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In SW Virginia at this time of year, it may seem a challenge to find colorful landscape photo compositions, given the primary yellow-brown colored vegetation and often overcast skies. However, I’ll take that challenge on any day. It just makes me look harder. And, as you can see here, I did find some worthy photo opportunities. Not great, mind you, but definitely colorful.

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A Blue Ridge Discovery

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I’m thankful living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where in an hour’s drive I can be standing where I made this photo.  If you’re wondering why they are called “Blue Ridge” mountains this image might help. It’s all about the haze on the horizon, some natural some manmade. Today, I’m just a “looker”a short walk away from my car parked off the road, with camera in hand, clicking away. But, there was a time still fresh in my memory when I’d park my car, toss a daypack on and head right down the middle of this location, following marked trails, to experience the joy of discovery. In these high mountains above 3000 feet, hidden in  hollows, there is remarkably well preserved evidence left by those hearty folk who once lived in the wilderness.

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I’d like to say I hiked to this rustic old cabin on a hillside but I didn’t. I spotted it in the woods as I was driving along a narrow mountain road. But, it fits my story, so bear with me. When I discover places like this, either on foot or via car, I always take a few minutes to wonder who lived there and when. I can easily visualize a hound dog barking at me if  I wandered too close. I can see an old woman sitting in the open front door waving at me to come share a cup of coffee, or a biscuit left over from breakfast. It’s easy to get caught up with these type thoughts. In today’s world, many of our poorest city folk live better than did those in remote Blue Ridge Mountain valleys. Every day back then must have been a struggle.  Hunting game from sunrise to sunset, miles away from home. Finding and gathering scarce wild edible plants. Carrying water from nearby streams, and chopping seemingly endless amounts of firewood. So, when I find a place like this I’m thankful for the many blessings we have today.  Still, it would have been an experience I’d love to have had, living in the wilderness back then. Actually, via books I read every day, and through the lens of my camera, I do live that way … in my mind. That’s pretty special.

Trees for Me

Trees are all around most of us. I’ve never lived in regions where they are few, and I doubt I’d like it there if I had. Yesterday while driving back home, I saw an area on a side road where lots of tall pine trees were growing, all about the same age it seemed, by their similar appearance. I lived in West Germany for several years during the 80s and saw many pine forests like this, all carefully maintained, with open areas between trees. I absolutely loved walking there. I remembered Darmstadt and Karlsruhe when I made this photo.

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While out in the woods on another day recently, I saw the tree below that apparently was home to some small critter, perhaps a Chipmunk. I loved the color of the soft green moss growing around its base. Like I wrote in the title, “trees are for me.”

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A Winter Stream

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It’s not always possible in SW Virginia to see a sparkling and fully flowing stream in mid-winter, because normally it might be encased in ice and covered with snow. But, this year is unusual in that regard, as I sit here typing this entry, with predicted temperatures in the low 60s, versus normal being in the 40s. The aspect of this small stream that caught my eye were the colors all around, especially the dark blue hues in the above. The green vegetation is Rhododendron if you’re interested in such, and is an evergreen seen in many locations in SW Virginia, along with it’s “twin” Mountain Laurel. Why not get out and about and discover beauty in your area.

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Wind on the Water

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I was out making photos this week at a rather sheltered spot on a very windy day, and decided on a whim while driving home, to make a quick stop at a favorite photo location of mine near home: the overlook at the Philpott Lake Visitor’s Center near Bassett, Virginia. When I got there this is what I saw. Strong, steady winds with gusts I estimated to be above 50 mph had whipped up whitecaps on the water’s surface, and it was almost turquoise in color. I guess a combination of dark clouds with shades of blue sky in between made it look that way. Gusty winds coming down slope off distant Blue Ridge Mountains blew my hat off (I caught it) and made it very difficult to hold my camera steady. Life is never boring when opportunities exist to see such beauty in nature. I’m sure glad I followed my instinct to stop by the lake on my way home. Here’s more of what I saw that day.

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Closed for the Winter

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A very popular location in SW Virginia at which to enjoy yourself is Fairy Stone State Park, with it’s swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing lake, plus many amenities designed especially for younger children. Now, it’s closed for the winter. Heavy rains have muddied the normally clear blue, spring-fed water, while fallen leaves and other debris have cluttered usually clean, white sandy beaches.

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During warm summer days, there would be rental kayaks and canoes lined up along this shoreline, with fees being paid in the shed in the background. A different summer scene would be present below, with more rental boats lined up.

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Fishing in the lake, both from shore (below) and on the water, is very popular; however, in the midst of winter, the lake is mostly deserted. Pedal boats are currently stored under picnic shelters, waiting to again be put in the water in just a few more months.

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Also sitting idle are gymnastic facilities designed for young children. I’ve been there in the midst of summer and this specific place is packed with shouting, suntanned kids, while nearby parents watch happily.

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Distinct contrasts between seasons in many locations all across northern regions of America may appear rather sad and drab when not snow-covered. I don’t look at it that way at all. It’s just a promise of what lies ahead.