Blue Ridge Store

This restored General Store and ESSO filing station is a popular place to visit, for those with photography in mind. There are others like it where we live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. I give great credit and thanks to those who maintain them with “period” signs and fresh paint. If you find one like it where you live, go get it!

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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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.

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.

High Up in North Carolina

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So, this post will be the last of some very special Fall 2016 photos I made while moving about Western North Carolina. There are many others on my computer, waiting, but it’s time for me to move on to other subjects, reluctant as I am to do so. Being above 6000 feet elevation, on a clear day, with perfect colors is what made it. For once everything “photographic” came together for me this Fall. Thanks to the Good Lord for guiding me along.

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