Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Underground

Last Saturday morning a few friends and I drove up to Philadelphia. This was my second trip this summer and it yielded some good results. The first stop was an area we refer to as the Graffiti Underground. This is an incredible location and the quality of some of the graffiti was the best I have seen. I think the underground is actually the underside of old railroad bridges. The area is so old and it is obvious it has been many years since the area was in use. An additional enhancement in the area is an active playground for paintball games. The splash of small bits of color makes a great location even better.

Click here for a gallery

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scott Kelby's World Wide Photo Walk

This past Saturday Bill Gercken and I participated in the World Wide Photo Walk. This was a collection of photo walks that took place on the same day all over the world. I chose Fredericksburg, VA. I had heard the Old Town section of the city was quite nice and having never been there it seemed like a good reason to go. It turned out to be a very productive day. The walk started at 10am so Bill and I arrived early to check out an industrial part of town that I had heard about. This side trip was well worth our time, having found among other things an old tank farm. The walk was scheduled for 2 hours, but Bill and I took 3 hours to complete the walk and lost track of the group. Perhaps it was our tripods that slowed us down. I think we were the only people out of about 25 that had them.

The Blog picture was my favorite of the day. At the end of the walk we ventured up to the train station and noticed the interesting graphics of the white lines on the road below. I instantly setup my shot and waited for the right vehicle to drive under. It turned out to be a very long wait. It never occurred to me before that moment that most new cars today are very boring, at least from above their shapes and colors are nothing to get excited about. I was starting to wish for a red Corvette or something equally exciting. I was about ready to give up but Bill suggested I wait because he saw a red truck heading our direction. The bonus was the 3 kayaks in the back! I hit the shutter as the truck entered the intersection and stopped clicking as it went under the bridge. The photo above is my favorite.

Click here for an image gallery from Saturday morning.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chasing Clouds

Some days the best picture is up. Clouds can be an important part of a landscape shot. The evening that I shot the blog picture was one of those days. I really had no plans to go out that evening, but the clouds were just too good to stay home. If you have ever driven on the road to Old Rag Mountain you will find this landscape familiar. I had noticed this barn several times over the years, but without the right sky it is not a compelling photograph. On the night I shot this picture I was chasing cloud scenes throughout Madison County, thinking this might be a good night I drove over to Rappahannock County to get this shot.

I have also posted a gallery on Flickr of some recent landscape shots with prominent clouds.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dealing with the unexpected

I don’t know about you, but I often find that I have a pre-visualization of what I am hoping to capture when I head out into the field to photograph. As my skills have progressed this approach has changed. If I’m visiting a known location a certain amount of planning is appropriate. What direction does the sun rise or set, am I looking for a certain type of light, etc? I know some photographers who insist on very detailed planning while others prefer to live in the moment. I think that currently I do a bit of both.

Case in point. Last weekend I went to Graves Mountain Lodge to watch the fireworks. I have been to this area before because it is very close to White Oak Canyon, but I had never seen the fireworks show. I was envisioning a nice silhouetted outline of the mountains to contrast with the fireworks. That is what I imagined, however, that was not the vantage point available. So rather than waste any time looking for a shot that was not available, I decided to try the abstract approach and concentrate on capturing shape and color. I used a variety of techniques but zooming seemed to yield the best results.

I try to approach a scene looking for what is “right” and not what is “wrong”. After that I just get in the moment and stop thinking and start going with the flow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Elevation 3,291

This past Saturday I hiked Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park. Old Rag is a very popular hike with good reason. The hike is strenuous, challenging, and offers perhaps the best vista in the park. I have hiked Old Rag many times, but that was over 20 years ago. I have been trying to get in a little better physical shape so I could attempt this hike. The only downside was that my hiking buddy Duke could not join me this time. Dogs are not permitted on this trail. We were both a little disappointed when I left home on Saturday morning. After a 2 ½ hour hike up the mountain I finally made it to the summit. It was much better than I remember. The arrangement of boulders and rocks on the summit makes for great photo composition material.

Since it was mid-day I shot mostly Infrared and a little HDR. I also shot some Panoramas with a 28mm perspective adjustment lens. I bought this lens last year, but have not used it often. The lens allows you to adjust the perspective higher or lower after leveling the camera. I’m not sure why, but stitching these images is a little more involved and often requires me to do the layout by hand. The blog picture is made from 20 different exposures.

I was also scouting the site for a possible location for Star Trails. I say possible, because of the necessary variables, clear night, good weather, etc. I’m not interested in sitting at the top of Old Rag in February.

It was a great hike and nice to return after so many years. I’m hoping to return soon, if only for the exercise.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Recently I was asked by a friend to photograph his father’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. While I have walked the grounds at Arlington many times and have even attended a few funerals, photographing a funeral is a first for me. Photographing a military funeral is a special event. I can not help but feel a huge amount of pride in my country and respect for the soldiers who carry out this solemn duty on a daily basis. Their dedication, precision, and compassion are evident.