Now you now why I let THE BOSS drive Godzilla.
Continuing a look back at what I’ve managed to capture during the past 2 years, sunrises and sunsets. The beach scene is of Chic’s Beach, the neighborhood where I grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The rest were shot in and around Wythe County, Virginia where we live now. As with yesterday’s post, click on the thumbs in the gallery below to views full size images.
In February of 2009 I was looking for something to occupy my time after being forced into early retirement by a bad fall at home. Accustomed to 60+ hour work weeks the sudden inactivity was driving me out of what was left of my mind. I had dabbled with photography when I was younger and my daughter had a Kodak point & shoot she wasn’t using so I did a web search for amateur photography, found tons of information, tutorials and several people willing to take me under their wing. The rest is….well, you know.
A great many of those people were blogging on Windows Live Spaces and before I knew it I was, too. Then the shutter bug had me in its grasp and I was drooling over photo supply catalogs. Two years ago this week I had finally saved enough for a Canon DSLR and I was posting 2 or 3 blogs a day, not just photo blogs, either. I had found an online family, some of whom were just as deranged as me….some even more…and when I didn’t have my eye glued to a view finder I was running rampant on the web. I was also still drooling over those photo supply catalogs.
Now I have a never ending list of new gear I just have to have and a growing collection of camera bags that never seem to be large enough to hold the gear I already have for very long. At least I have finally learned to save up for what I want instead of just breaking out the credit cards. I wonder how much a good mule to haul my gear around is gonna cost.
As I said, it’s been 2 years since I started shooting with decent equipment. The recent heat wave we’ve been “enjoying” has kept me in the house for health reasons so today, as I was moving my May photos from the laptop to the portable hard drive, I thought it might be fun to post some of what I consider to be my better shots. I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them. If you would prefer to view a larger image of any frame just click on the thumb below the slide show.
I was all set to shoot the super moon last night, camera sensor and all lenses cleaned, tripod out of the truck and a close eye on the eastern horizon.
However, Mother Nature decided to throw me a curve and provide some overcast for the big event.
Using my longest lens I managed to capture a few frames but they’re nowhere near as good as I had hoped for.
Oh well, we’ll have another super moon in 2029. I hope I still remember how to use the camera when I’m 74 years old.
As one weather system was moving out, and the next has yet to arrive, today was actually sort of pleasant. There were even blue spots between some of the clouds and that bright thing in the sky was visible now and then.
Budget constraints have put a damper on my roaming around the countryside lately but I filed our income taxes yesterday and was pleased to discover that will soon be a thing of the past……..for a while, at least. That horrible bellowing you no doubt heard yesterday afternoon was me wringing an incredible amount of money out of Uncle Sam, far more in fact that I could believe possible. So much so that I would like to take this opportunity to remind friends and family that smoking is no longer allowed in federal prisons so, rather that cartons of cigarettes I would ask that donations be made to my canteen fund should I find myself a guest of the government for a few years.
Anyway, Buddy is still learning how to read a map so that explains the roundabout path I followed on the way to pick THE BOSS up from work this afternoon.
He really blew it when he told me to take a right on Main Street instead of a left.
Actually I think he just wanted to get a look at these critters in full sunlight. There’s something different about them but I don’t know what it is. Well, actually I do; both the cows and the bulls have horns and they’re shaped differently.
Then there was this thing. Damned if I know what it is or was but it’s probably pretty old.
By this time Buddy found his place on the map. Heading back towards town we got a decent look at Reed Creek thanks to the bare trees.The old bridge in the background has been posted against trespassing and it looks like an excellent place to break a leg. Guess I’ll have to go back and get a few more shots of it from a better angle. Maybe if I bet Walter a bottle of vodka that he can’t jump it on his motorcycle I can get some great action shots. He’ll never make it across with me shooting at him. I might even use the camera for a few shots..
I’ve heard trains using this line, seen trains stopped on either side of the crossing and even seen a rail maintenance crew driving a modified truck along this line but, despite using this crossing at least a couple of hundred times I’ve never had to wait for a train to go by. This is why I feel comfortable stopping right in the middle of the crossing and firing off a few frames. Now that I’ve said that I’ll probably never get across again without waiting for a train!
The weather has been cold and damp for the past couple of days keeping me close to home……and my meds, heating pad and Bertha, my La-Z-Boy recliner.
Today the sun rising over the mountains was a welcome sight so I took the long way home after dropping THE BOSS off at work.
You sometimes see the oddest things as the beams of sunlight cut through the mist and the trees.
Buddy didn’t know what to make of this critter! I love the way this guy’s coat gleams in the morning sun.
“What you lookin’ at?” The expression on Buddy’s face when he saw this said “What kind of dog is that?”
I need to start carrying my ladder on the roof rack of the truck. Apparently whoever owns this land thinks camels and llamas can jump like deer because that fence is at least 8 feet high! Even standing on the running board I still had to shoot through the chain link.
There are usually several horses in this field but they weren’t around this morning. Neither was that HUGE whitetail buck I’ve spotted on several occasions. That deer sure is camera shy!
The way the morning sun colors the rising fog and the trees along either side of the creek is deceptive. It’s really chilly out there, especially with the howling winds bringing the next blast of Arctic air down upon us. At least we’re not getting buried in snow the way most of the country is…..so far. Winter ain’t over yet!
Cloudy skies, fog most of the day, washed out light….not the best for shooting but I’m not complaining because that fog is the result of warmer temperatures. The ice and snow around my parking space is nearly all melted away making the likelihood of my falling on my butt a little more remote.
Just a few random shots ……….and thoughts……. today from the trip to town to pick up THE BOSS this afternoon.
“I’m tellin’ ya, Maude that pond was right here yesterday! I even way pointed it on my GPS so I could find my way back!”
“These goose suits were a brilliant idea, Simon! They don’t have a clue it was us that turned the pond into a giant ice cube! Your freeze ray works great!”
You’re right……it is leaning but it’s also still in use.
Not just an old farm building. This one contains a modern pumping station for the town water supply. Even though I doubt this was ever more than a humble shed I love that the town tries to preserve as much history as possible. Too many places don’t.
Our elevation above sea level and harsh winter weather sometimes produce some interesting sights, among them trees permanently bent by the winds coming over the ridges.
Sometimes the effect is subtle and only noticed when other objects are nearby.
In other areas it’s more pronounced.
Even the fence posts take on a life of their own as the rocky soil and the effects of frost heave cause them to dance and weave across the landscape.
The nor’easter that brought blizzard conditions to much of the East Coast and buried Mom’s part of the state in more than a foot of snow was much easier on us but we still got our share of winter weather. Strong winds overnight and about 6 inches of powdery snow produced white out conditions at times and drifting snow kept the plow operators busy.
All that has changed now and, while it is still unusually cold for this early in the season, we have clear, sunny skies and the world looks fresh and clean.
These are a few of the shots I got while out running errands this afternoon.
The Wytheville water tower can be seen outlined against the far ridges in this frame, shot through the windshield while returning to town from the gun shop out of Rte. 21.
Note to self: When field stripping Laura’s target pistol for cleaning never, ever, ever hit the slide release while removing the barrel assembly!
Another shot, from a different angle along Barrett’s Mill Road, with the water tower silhouetted against the ridges.
The white scar on the ridge in the distance is a clear cut for high tension power lines.
Some enjoy the snow more than others. Buddy is a real snow dog. When he’s not romping or rolling in the snow he likes to stick his snout in it and run along like that until his head is completely covered! My biggest challenge has been trying to stop laughing long enough to get photos of his antics.
Random shots from around town, some edited and others straight out of the camera.
Just a few shots from my morning.
Downtown Wytheville at 7:00 AM
The world famous Wythe Office Supply Giant Pencil.
On the way home
We still have a little autumn color, both natural and man made.
The drifting clouds and moon visible at 2:00 PM made for some interesting shots.
The view from the parking lot captured while Sam was doing some “lawn care”.
I thought the swirl in the clouds called for a black and white treatment.
The view from another parking lot while THE BOSS was making the car payment. “Objects in rear view mirror are closer than they appear.”
By request, Laura’s dinner of steamed snow crab legs. That platter was stacked full when she sat down.She is a lean, mean crab eating machine. What is not shown is the plate of steamed shrimp her mother had to help her eat while the crab legs were cooking. I also made a pot of Shrimp Creole that will be just fine for lunch tomorrow.
Oh, did I mention we discovered that Sam is a fiend for shellfish? Frankie gave him half a shrimp which he wolfed down. When she gave him the other half he dropped it on the floor…..until she moved to pick it up at which point she nearly lost a few fingers. Not only did he practically inhale that jumbo shrimp, when Laura gave him a taste of crab he tried to climb into her lap!
Some of the fall color I captured this afternoon once the rain moved out.
These first two are where Petunia Road cuts through Pine Ridge where we live.
The image below is Sand Mountain seen from Calhoun Street in town.
The following images were shot through our bedroom window this afternoon as Sam, Frankie and I were watching the feathered gluttons swarm Burd Town.
I’ll be posting more burd photos from today on my other blog, Virginia Through My Lens.
Part 3 in the continuing saga of how I ended up in the dog house.
While on my “short trip to shoot a few photos” yesterday I eventually looked through the windshield, instead of the view finder, and there before me was a stretch of road that looked vaguely familiar.
There were wonderful fall colors on both sides so I continued rolling along, stopping wherever the mood grabbed me and shooting pictures of everything within camera range.
The haze had almost completely vanished by now and the deep blue sky was breathtaking.
The high, puffy clouds provided the perfect contrast between the deep blue above and the fields below.
Rounding the next curve in the road I found this sign and knew exactly where I was. I had stumbled upon Raven Cliff on a previous exploration but had arrived here by a different route this time.
Now that I knew exactly where I was I turned my mind once again to capturing as much of the fall color as possible. This was the beginning of my problems.
Murphy’s law states that whatever can go wrong will. Today Murphy was riding in Sam’s seat.
Murphy ain’t much of a navigator. At least Sam marks trees so he won’t get lost.
What will Rocket man discover next?
Is that smoke coming out of Frankie’s ears?
Why is she holding a cast iron frying pan?
To find out you’ll need to read Part 4 which can be found on my Blogger page, Virginia Through My Lens.
Click the link if you dare.
Today the girls (my wife Frankie and our daughter, Laura) got together and were so busy jabbering that I was able to escape from custody. Sadly, my co-pilot and navigator, Sam the Wonder Dog, was undergoing flea removal procedures and had to remain behind. This was to prove unfortunate as you will find out if you follow this series of blogs.
Yes, that’s correct…….a series of blogs. I shot enough frames this afternoon to write at least 6 posts and I have decided to publish 2 a day, one to each of my blog pages.
This is part 1.
Part 2 will be published on my Blogger page, Virginia Through My Lens.
When I left home today I had no clear destination in mind so I just wandered down West Lee Highway looking for something interesting to shoot. I soon found myself at Rural Retreat Lake.
I can’t think of anything to say that could possibly compare to the volumes spoken by the scenes that greeted me so I’ll stop typing.
I first discovered this old barn last year when I was out wandering with my daughter’s Kodak Easy Share shortly after deciding to take up photography as a hobby. While I fully expect to find it fallen into a heap some day it hasn’t done so yet! They built ‘em sturdy back in the day.
Leaving the lake for home, the long way around of course, I found autumn’s colors seemingly twice as bright as yesterday everywhere I looked.
The mountains on the horizon seemed brighter with each turn.
There were also old buildings around every corner. This proved to be the start of my troubles. When I finally wandered over to Grayson Turnpike I turned left towards home but a couple of miles along something caught my eye and ………….
Sorry. You’ll need to follow this link to read the next installment. I’ll give you a hint. THE BOSS (my darling bride) is not pleased with me this evening!
Click here for the next chapter of today’s adventure.
Go ahead…..I dare you to click the link!
The plan for today was to load the family into my trusty SUV, Godzilla, and drive down to Independence, Virginia for the Fall Foliage Festival and Outhouse Olympics. That was the plan. Just as in combat, no plan survives the first shot. Today proved that rule out but we still managed to have a good time.
Our route took us through the Jefferson National Forest on Highway 21. Most of the trip involved crossing Mt. Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. On top of Mt. Rogers there is a man made overlook on Comer’s Rock. Laura had never been up there and Frankie hadn’t been there since childhood so we planned to make a stop there on the way south.
Turning off Highway 21 we followed Comer’s Rock Rd. 4 miles to the top of the mountain. We were treated to a riot of autumn colors the entire way.
Once at the top we parked the truck and began the climb up the rough hewn rock steps to the observation platform atop the rock itself. Halfway up Frankie realized that she hadn’t recovered as much as she thought from the bug she’s been battling. Laura walked her mother back down to Godzilla and Sam went along to protect Mama from bears. BEARS???? Yes bears….black bears. On a couple of previous visits to the overlook I found bear sign, scat and tracks, and we actually saw a bear running up the side of the mountain once. This is one of the reasons the .357 magnum on my hip was loaded with big game rounds……just in case.
I can certainly understand how the exertion brought about Frankie’s relapse. By the time I made it to the platform I was huffing and puffing…….puffing on my rescue inhaler, that is, as I felt the onset of a bronchial asthma attack. Laura was panting for breath as well but that was mostly due to having climbed nearly to the top before we called her back down to help her mom back to the truck, then jogging back up those steps to catch up with her father before he tripped and fell off the mountain.
As you can see in the two frames above, the view from the top is spectacular. Even with the layer of haze today we could see at least 15 or 20 miles!
Returning to the truck we decided to forego the festivities in Independence and head for home. Frankie said she thought she would be okay if we wanted to take the long way home so we continued along Comer’s Rock Rd., descending the other side of the mountain.
This route took us along a peaceful country road running along the general path of Elk Creek. Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches and livestock grazing in the fields on both sides gave us plenty of reasons to stop and shoot a few frames here and there.
In many places the road meandered through patches of forest and the smells drifting in the windows were glorious. Sam spent most of the trip with his head stretched out the window as far as he could reach.
The fall colors on the hillsides are just reaching their peak. I hope to get back this way again in a few days, with Laura driving this time, so that I can shoot a few hundred more frames without worrying about wrapping Godzilla around a boulder.
It seemed that every time I took my eyes off the road there was another gorgeous copse of trees, interesting building or landscape just begging to be photographed.
Some of the buildings along the road were obviously abandoned and in various stages of decay while others, though obviously old, were well maintained and still in use.
We only passed half a dozen cars and trucks while covering at least 25 miles along this road, making it easy and safe for me to just stop, frame a shot and fire off a few frames whenever something special caught my eye. Sam also let us know when he needed to get out and “mark a few trees”. Between the two, I stopped a lot!
I’ll close with a final shot of the scenery in the Elk Creek valley but today’s trip was only half done with this scene. The remainder of the trip will be covered in a blog on my other page, Virginia Through My Lens. I hope you’ll click through. It’ll be worth your time……..I promise.
Today’s gorgeous weather had me out wandering the back roads, camera in my lap as I drove. While Autumn colors are beginning to show here and there, the color wasn’t all that drew my attention.
Some of the old buildings are still put to use, such as the old barn above that serves as improvised cover for a flock of sheep.
Others, like the shed above, are simple testament to the workmanship of the carpenters who put them up as they continue to endure Nature’s ravages. This shed is missing it’s windows, doors and most of one wall but has yet to begin to lean towards it’s weak side.
Many farms have modern homes on the same property as what must have surely been the original homestead. While there’s no way of knowing how long this house has been abandoned, electrical service lines and a modern looking electric meter are are evidence of fairly recent habitation.
For a different perspective on this afternoon’s trip visit my other blog page, Virginia Through My Lens.
We’re getting the full weather gamut today.
On the way to town strong winds aloft were driving the clouds across the sky and their shadows were dancing across the ridges.
On the return trip we sat in the sun on one ridge and watched lines of showers marching through the valley before us.
Seeing the way autumn colors spread across the area is interesting. The leaves on the south facing side of some trees haven’t begun to change…….
………..while those on the opposite side have.
The weather forecast is calling for gorgeous fall weather this weekend, sunny and mild with light winds, which will work out just fine for us. Frankie and Laura both have Saturday off and we’re planning a family trip to do some leaf peeping in at least one of the nearby state parks as well as the Jefferson National Forest. I can’t wait to see what we capture with all three of us shooting.
A cold front moved in overnight bringing much cooler temperatures and rain. Though the rain is badly needed this may be a case of too much of a good thing before all is said and done. Forecasters are calling for as much as 5 to 6 inches before we see the sun again midweek.
Even with the low ceiling, reduced visibility, drifting fog and passing rain showers the autumn colors are still visible on the north facing slopes.
It won’t be long before the foliage is at peak color and I’ll be spending a lot more time roaming with Sam and enjoying the milder weather.
Today was mostly a scouting trip. I’ll be back to shoot this abandoned home on Swallow Hollow Road a dew more times as the leaves change and fall away revealing more of the building.
Even the golden rod seemed more vivid in the rain.
Summer’s last gasp has produced hot, hazy and humid weather today. The air is thick, making it difficult for me to breathe, and shooting conditions poor so I thought I would recycle some of my favorite shots from last year. I think these images are far more eloquent than I could ever be so I’ll let them speak for themselves.
Our visitors have returned to the flatlands so it’s time to get back to our normal routine. Things are looking up today. My Mp3 player, which mysteriously died while we were way out in the boonies Sunday, just as mysteriously returned to life today. We usually wander so far back in the valleys and hollows that the radio is useless. With the Mp3 player connected to an FM transmitter Sam and I can have an uninterrupted serenade no matter where we wander.
As you can see, Sam is once more serving in his role as co-pilot, navigator and partner in crime. That filthy windshield is a good indicator of how dry our weather has been lately. Godzilla will be headed to the car wash tomorrow to get those miles and miles of country road washed away.
A last gasp of summer heat and humidity will keep me indoors for the rest of today but an approaching cold front is promising cooler temperatures towards the end of the week. Time to break out my maps, photo diary and travel planner. Once the fall air moves in Sam and I will be out and about again, doing our level best to capture the splendor that is autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Frankie had the day off so I got to sleep in for a change. When I finally did crawl out of bed my brother called to say that he and his girlfriend were leaving Charlottesville and headed this way. While I waited I cleaned my camera and lenses and took a few test shots to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.
This turkey vulture riding the thermals over our ridge made a good test subject.
It’s amazing how graceful these huge birds can be. They average a 5 to 6 foot wingspan.
Once the travelers arrived and got settled in their motel room it was time for a little sightseeing.
My brother wants to do some camping in our neck of the woods next spring so I’ll be showing him around a few of the local state parks while he’s in town. This afternoon we went to Foster Falls State Park on the New River.
We even ran across a small flock of Canada geese wading in the shallows.
Tomorrow we’re off for a couple of other state park camp grounds as well as some high vantage points to shoot some long vistas. Them flatlanders is gonna need a nap by the time they finish following me around.
In response the leaves are beginning to lose their vibrant green.
Fall is just around the corner and I’ve been out scouting for future photo trips.
I missed the geese taking flight but still enjoyed the break of a new day.
With the official start of Autumn still over a week away, the leaves on some of the trees have already begun to change. These are on the maple outside our bedroom window.
Rainfall this year has been near normal so I’m hoping for another spectacular display of color. My camera will really be getting a workout in the weeks to come!