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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Buffalo Mountain

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In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, there is a landmark which, legend says, was for years a sight seen by young people who were told, “Stay close enough to home where you can see The Buffalo.” By that instruction, parents were referring to Buffalo Mountain, which from afar looks like the “hump” on the back of a Buffalo. Today, the mountain is seen and often photographed from an overlook while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Several years ago, I drove a steep winding rocky road that led to a dead end, at which point I parked my car and hiked a fair distance to the summit of The Buffalo. Standing there on large rock outcrops, I surveyed the beauty of the Blue Ridge, and felt like I’d gone back in time a bit. As such, I wanted to process my recent photo of Buffalo Mountain, taken miles away, to look like a vintage picture.

Paths

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I discovered this nice view while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 15 miles south of Roanoke. What made me look was the winding dirt road that led to a small house, sitting in a location that to me looked like a place I could quickly grow to love, were I to live there. It was a “path” that led my eye to a destination which I could see—the house. Other paths in life may not be so obvious, such as in the photo below.

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Here, the hiking path leads into a deeply wooded area which could contain challenges and obstacles unseen. Still, we usually discount the unseen and enter down paths such as this because we have faith that we’ll be safe regardless. I like this photo composition because of what we can’t see in it. We can imagine, and that’s one thing about photography that means a lot to me.

Different View of Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is a watermill located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, Virginia. It is a tourist attraction mainly for the picturesque views of the mill itself. A short trail around the mill connects historical exhibits about life in rural Virginia. The mill was built in 1910 and over the years its condition deteriorated significantly. It was restored during the early 1940s when the parkway itself was relatively new. Since then it’s been rebuilt several times, including the pond adjacent to the structure. Today, the mill is one of the most photographed and painted attractions along the 469-mile route of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Living (fortunately) less than an hour’s drive away, I can visit the mill when the mood strikes — summer, fall, winter and spring.

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I’ve pretty much photographed the mill from all angles, close up and far away. I decided recently to try my hand with a new wide angle camera lens at the mill, looking for a “new” composition I’d not tried before. The first image above is what I call a “standard tourist composition.” Compare that with my second and third images below which (to me) seem much more interesting, photographically and artistically. As I’ve written before, try to be different and look for photo compositions most people overlook.

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Blue Ridges and the Parkway

Many might wonder why the mountains in Virginia and North Carolina are called the “Blue Ridge.” Look at the first photo and maybe that will answer the question. Haze often obscures some of the views, but it always adds a light blue color. The second image shows a portion of the winding road known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was originally constructed during the Great Depression in the 1930s as a federal government program. These views are near Rocky Knob over 3500 feet in elevation. Rail fencing is very common along the road, as are many parking areas with superb views of the valleys below.

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