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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Down South

There are some photos which (for those having lived in the southern regions of the United States) might be recognized as being taken “down south.” My first photo involves a question. Why do old bank buildings look basically the same down south? Sadly, they no longer have the purpose they once did.

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If you’re familiar with the Piedmont Regions of Virginia and North Carolina, you will recognize tobacco plants growing, soon to take over fields like this one. This crop is far less prevalent than it once was. That’s a good thing for many, not so much for others who make their living on the farm. Some of you may have labored picking tobacco leafs, which I understand was very hot and dirty work.

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And then there are the numerous ponds and small marshy areas in the south. In their own way they are very beautiful with their vibrant colors at this time of year.

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And lastly, it’s not hard to find old log-crib type farm structures down south, if you look for them. When I make photos of them, I like to look for a different view. Like this one.

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A Train in Henry, Virginia

Henry, Virginia is really just a name and Zip Code, more than it is a small settlement, town or city. In fact, one of its few main remaining buildings is not much more than a great photo opportunity. The main draw for me are the train tracks that pass close by to that building, and the manner in which the vacant tracks pass into the distance, giving some nice perspective views. That was my mission the day I visited recently, to photograph the tracks with some interesting perspective views. As I was standing in the middle of the tracks with my camera in hand, I heard in the distance the soulful sound of an oncoming train, as it passed by distant road crossings I could not see. I was excited because this meant I’d be able to get a close up photo of the Norfolk Southern train engines as they passed by me, standing a safe distance of course. It was a very long coal train and since I was headed in the direction of the side of the tracks I was on, I decided to drive on with some nice photos. Before I left, however, I snapped an image of the town’s historic building. I have a lot of photos of that building which I’ve taken over the years. Henry, though very small, is one of my favorite locations in the Blue Ridge region.

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Martinsville in Black and White

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Living here, I visit Uptown Martinsville frequently looking for photo opportunities. I decided to focus on compositions I felt would look good in black and white. Here are several examples. Note: Most digital cameras today allow one to set the camera in “black and white mode.” I don’t do that, preferring instead to download the image first to my computer, and then use processing software (Adobe Lightroom) to convert the color image to black and white non-destructivly, so that I can keep the color version original in tact. Of course, you need post processing software, but Lightroom is just one of many, some very low cost. It’s all about being creative.

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