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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Farming in the Virginia Mountains

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Farming above 3000 feet can’t be easy. Living in an environment with rocky soils, harsh weather and relative remoteness in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, hearth folk have thrived for hundreds of years. I love driving along ridge lines and through winding valleys, capturing what I see with my cameras. These images were made last month and reflect the unique beauty of it all.

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Outdoors in Greensboro

Greensboro, NC is but a brief drive from where we live in Virginia. It’s a great place to visit and to shop. I call it a “little big town” because it’s relatively easy to find your way around. There’s one place I’ve been to many times when I want to find some nice photo opportunities: The Tanger Family Bicentennial Garden, with adjacent Bog Garden. If I were to show some of the images I made to a stranger of Greensboro, they’d probably be surprised such natural beauty is located in a major city like this. Here are some very recent photos I made.

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Another Reason

We’ve lived in Martinsville-Henry County Virginia for over 15 years. That’s pretty special, considering our 28-year career in the Army when we moved on average every 2-3 years. I love living where we do now, retired fully and enjoying it all the best we can, considering age and health concerns. My cameras help keep me focused (no pun) on what’s around me. This photo essay is about a very nice (and relative new) attraction in Martinsville. Another reason why we love living here.

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The items in the display represent many facets of the diversity of people and activities in Henry County … textiles, furniture, music, faith, farming, recreation, etc. The display shows a high level of creativity in how those items are presented. Thanks to all who designed and put together this creative artwork, and to those officials and others who made its public display possible. It’s great!

Exploring in Alaska

I’m no expert by any means when it comes to locations to visit in Alaska. However, I have been there five times since 1999 (most recently last month) and I’ve seen quite a lot of territory via air, sea and land transportation. I’ve traveled on 1-2 week small ship organized tours, organized land tours; and most recently on my own, unencumbered by departure schedules and limited time to devote to any single destination. We simply flew to Anchorage, rented a car and off we went exploring. Here’s a tip if you decide such an option is for you. Definitely drive about an hour north from Anchorage and visit the Historic Independence Gold Mine. I don’t believe it’s on most organized tour itineraries, and that’s what made it so special to me. The photos below are what we saw, spending a leisurely half-day walking around over marked trails, easy and less so. That afternoon we drove up the winding Hatcher Pass road to Summit Lake (another incredible destination not on your typical organized tour). I’ll post photos from there in a future blog post.

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Landscape Clouds and Lighting

Here are a few examples of just how nice mountain landscape photos look when they were made with puffy clouds overhead and sunlight filtering through. These were made last week at about 4000 feet elevation at mile marker 169, on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. Fujifilm X100T.  PS: It won’t be much longer before the colors are going to change. I’ll be there.

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Mountain Market

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It’s the time of year here in SW Virginia when mountain area markets display outside all kinds of produce and other items that tempt visitors to grab their wallets and buy. Like the five-foot high, painted metal roosters above. What I’d do with one is a good question, but it’s still interesting. And no, I didn’t buy one. Fresh-picked peaches, apples and other farm produce fill baskets outside the market. It’s one of my favorite places to visit during the spring, summer and fall seasons. The locally-made, hand-sized Fried Apple Pies sold there are a great treat.

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It’s not always location

I’m a believer in a trusted fact of photography that says being in high value photo locations, such as National Parks or popular tourist destinations, should generally provide great photo opportunities. For me recently it was a week-long trip to Alaska, when weather conditions were perfect. I’ve been posting some of the images I made up there here on my blog. However, I have to say that great photo opportunities exist just about anywhere one goes, if we take the time to look. Like this image.

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Last Saturday my wife and I went on a “road trip” to the Blue Ridge Mountains near where we live in SW Virginia. It was a bit cool and windy, but the lighting and puffy clouds were just right for me. On the one hand I traveled thousands of miles to see wonderful photo ops in Alaska, while on the other I know they exist within an hour of where we live. The key is looking and finding.

The Magpie

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I’ve only seen Magpies in Alaska. Like crows, which I am very familiar with, they are not at all shy of us humans. Inquisitive birds. As I was getting into our parked rental car high up in mountainous terrain north of Anchorage, this bird landed on the car adjacent and watched me. A few years ago at the same location, I watched two Magpies harass a Fox that was trying to get near one of their small chicks huddled in a sheltered spot. The Fox gave up, being chased away by the swooping pair. The one on the car was not so hostile. To me at least. I’m pretty sure he was just looking for a hand-out of a tasty snack. Too bad for the beggar I don’t believe in feeding birds or any other critter in nature. I prefer to look and marvel at what i”m seeing.

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When to be Thankful

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There have been many times over the years when I’m presented with a view in front of me that makes me say, “Wow!” Last month while in Alaska, we took a five-hour high-speed boat cruise in Prince William Sound, with its beautiful glaciers. When we departed Whittier, the weather wasn’t good. The best part of it was that it wasn’t raining, but low clouds, fog, and generally dark conditions made me think I’d have to change my photo focus to closer up views versus far away. But, having been to Prince William Sound several times before, I was prepared for whatever the weather gave us. When I spotted a brightening in the sky far away, I thought maybe our luck might change. And it did. The sun started to pop out and what I saw made me really thankful.

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