Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Every year the Worcester Wreath Company delivers about 10,000 wreaths to Arlington National Cemetery as part of their Wreaths Across America project.   I always try to make it a point to visit Arlington at this special time of the year.   Taking time to photograph this remarkable place is my small way of trying to honor the sacrifice of our fallen heroes. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Golden Triangle

This past October while shooting Elakala Falls at Blackwater Falls State Park I noticed this great reflection in the waterfall each morning. It was just this one spot that reflected the color of the leaves above. My friend Greg Daily and I spent the better part of two mornings shooting this incredible reflection. The water flow from the falls would vary slightly and the shape of the triangle would change as a result. I think I have at least 50 pictures of this one subject, but at the same time I would love to go back and shoot it again because I’m still thinking that a better shot eluded me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lunch Time

This past weekend Bill Gercken and I rode up to Baltimore to meet Karen Messick.  We started the day at Second Chance.  More on Second Chance in the future.   After shooting a couple of hours we headed over to Fells Point, did a little shooting, and had a great lunch in one of the local bars.  We stumbled on the lunch counter above on our way back to the car.  It is also the first picture I have processed with NIK HDR Effects. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snow Geese Migration

For the last 3 years I have traveled to Bombay Hook NWR with my friend Greg Daily. The shot above was from my first year and it was also the best year. For some reason there hasn’t been as many snow geese the last 2 years. We see some, but that first year was something special. This year we arrived and much to our disappointment did not see any. Sure there were other birds, but unless you borrow the zoom lens from the Hubble Space Telescope, they are just too far away to get good photos. The thing that makes snow geese special is the mass migration. With a reasonable lens you can usually get some great pictures.

This year I asked around and soon found out there were perhaps a thousand or so birds at Prime Hook NWR. So we hopped back in the vehicle and drove an hour south. We waited for 2 hours, the light was great but they were just sitting there on the water and out of reach. Finally they all took off in mass and looped around the pond and then landed. The show was over. We got a few shots, but not the show we were hoping for.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A New Favorite

Yesterday I joined a couple of friends to shoot Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.  I had never been in downtown Richmond before and at first glance found it an interesting place to shoot.  My favorite for the day is a shot that I got on my Droid and further processed on the iPad.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I’m not sure how this happened.  It certainly wasn’t planned, but with the exception of going to Longwood to photograph the Blue Poppies earlier this year, a whole season went by without spending any time doing flower photography. I will have to make sure I don’t repeat this mistake next year!  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Expo Wrap Up

I hope most people who read my last Blog post decided to checkout the Nature Visions Expo. I think this was possibly our best year ever. Certainly the staff at the Hylton Center went above and beyond. I spent most of the weekend in the Theatre, but did manage to slip out a few times to visit with friends and buy a couple new toys. The lectures were great and all the speakers did a fantastic job. I really appreciate the complements I received from everyone.

In case you missed the Event, Molly and Mary from Awake the Light kicked the day off on Saturday, they were followed by Tony Sweet.  Tony wowed the crowd as always. After lunch John Barclay treated the crowd to his Dream, Believe, Create lecture, and finishing up the first day was Charles Glatzer who in my humble opinion is easily one of the best wildlife photographers out there. We had a nice reception on Saturday evening and then Bob Krist delivered an outstanding Keynote Lecture on Saturday evening.

On Sunday Morning Karen Messick came to my rescue as a last minute replacement for Charles Needle. Charles was under the weather and unable to travel. He was missed for sure, but Karen did a great job stepping in at the last minute. Ian Plant treated the crowd to some of his latest images, including a few from Patagonia. As always Ian wowed the crowd. Local favorite Josh Taylor followed Ian, Josh gave a lecture on Garden Photography. Saving one of the best for last, Corey Hilz closed out the event on Sunday.

We also had 4 workshops during the weekend. I did not get a chance to drop in on the workshops, but I'm told they were a success. It was really nice to hear many of the professional photographers complement our fellow club members on the quality of their work. We had over 300 juried images on display during the weekend. I was fortunate enough to have 3 of mine juried into the event.

The feedback from our vendors was tremendous. They loved the people and the venue. The Expo was over a year in planning, but the change in venue was a success. It was an honor to be part of the team of people who put it all together.
The Hylton Center is a beautiful location. Every chance I got I was shooting the place with my Droid. In hindsight I wish I had brought a tripod and DSLR. At John Barclay's suggestion I converted the Blog image to Black and White. I like it in color and black and white. Fell free to let me know which one you prefer.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Nature Visions

For the past year I have been a board member for the Mid-Atlantic Nature Photography Expo. This event was formerly known as the Meadowlark Photo Expo. The Expo is a non-profit volunteer organization and it takes a considerable amount of planning and preparation to make it happen every year. Having outgrown Meadowlark Gardens, we are moving the event this year to the Hylton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the George Mason University in Manassas, VA. We have lined up a great group of inspirational speakers: Bob Krist will be delivering the Keynote Address on Saturday night. For the first time ever, we will be holding workshops and factory reps will be on hand to answer your questions and demo the latest gear.

Full details are available on the Expo’s web site. This year’s event should be our best ever!! Please make plans to attend and tell your friends!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cell Phone Photography

Last summer I met Harry Sandler in Iceland and watched with amazement the incredible work he was able to create with his iPhone.

I’m sure many serious photographers don’t take seriously the change in our universe that is being presented by cell phone cameras. I’m not ready to put my Nikon gear up for sale, nor do I envision that ever happening. The fact is that the cell phone cameras have their limitations. But at the same time I think the cell phone camera has the possibility to liberate you and allow the potential to free your creativity. David duChemin has a saying, “gear is good, vision is better”. I love my Nikon gear, but the gear is what enables me to capture my vision, it does not create the vision.

Here is a list of the current apps that I’m using on my Droid for photography. Camera Zoom FX, Photoshop Express, UniquePic, Photo Effect Oil, Photo Enhance and Foxy Editor.

I have been using my Droid to shoot and post pictures to Twitter. If you want to see some of my phone creations you will need to friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

I shot the photo above in Culpeper, VA about a week ago. It is a picture of the right fender of a beautifully restored Buick Roadmaster.

By the way, I wrote the draft for this blog on my Droid Incredible while rocking to Pandora. Try doing that with your DSLR.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall is upon us

My favorite season for photography is here but looks a little disappointing. The leaves in this part of Virginia pretty much lack color. Fall conditions are looking a little better in West Virginia. I still have a couple shoots planned between now and the end of the month, hopefully I will find better conditions.

The shot above was taken last year. It is the eastern side of Old Rag Mountain on the edge of the Shenandoah National Park.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Herndon Skatepark

The town of Herndon,Va recently opened a skatepark. Since it was close to home I thought I would check it out. Sure enough it did not disappoint.

Click here for a small gallery

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Unicorn

During our trip we frequently yelled STOP. This was one of those times. We had finished shooting after a very long day on the road, were riding along and I don’t remember if I yelled stop or someone else did. But everyone was in agreement that there was something special about this little peak. Gudmundur told us that the peak is called the Unicorn. Someone yelled out that it looked like something out of the Harry Potter novels. As far as I was concerned there was something magical about this one and I could have spent a couple of hours hiking and working the scene. Unfortunately we had stopped only for a minute or so when several other people drove up and needed to pass our bus. The road was so narrow that the other cars had to back down the road and we were on the other side of the mountain before we could let them pass. I guess timing is everything because prior to stopping we had not seen anyone else on the road for at least an hour. But I think we stopped at this one at just the right time nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Focus on Nature Rocks

This past July I spent a week in Iceland with Tony Sweet and Focus on Nature. I had known for a couple years that Tony was planning on doing a workshop in Iceland and I was interested, but at the same time unsure because Iceland is not an inexpensive place to visit. Late last summer Tony announced the workshop was scheduled and with the encouragement of my wife I decided to take the plunge. I figured you only live once and I would consider this a “once in a lifetime trip”, but no longer, I fully plan to go back!

Focus on Nature is a personal project of Einar Erlendsson. The company is small but the service and attention to detail is world class. Einar has a saying, “there are no problems, only solutions”. I can attest that this is a true statement. During the workshop there were a number of requests and Einar made every one of them happen.

The general premise of the workshop is you get to shoot and learn from a world class photographer and the locals handle all of the details. That includes getting you to the right place at the right time.

The workshop started with a meeting on Sunday afternoon. We got to know each other and present examples of our work so Tony could understand our abilities. After introductions we had a presentation from a local meteorologist who provided a very accurate estimate of the weather we could expect. Until that meeting the route the workshop would take was not planned. Einar wants you to have the best possible experience and this is just one of the steps he takes to ensure a successful workshop. During the week Einar checked in with the meteorologist to keep us heading in the best possible direction. We met our guide for the week, Gudmundur Ingolfsson. We called him “GuMay”. In addition to telling us the history of the many places we were visiting, he also had a great sense of humor. We traveled in a large 4 wheel drive bus that easily took us everywhere we wanted to go including crossing several rivers. GuMay traveled with us in the bus. Einar either traveled with us or in advance to pave the way.

After our first meeting in the afternoon Einar took us out to dinner in Reykjavik, and we could not have had a better group of people. I have never laughed so hard in my life. After dinner the entire group was fast friends and it only got better as the week progressed.

Siggi was our driver for the week. Einar says he is the best driver and I have no reason to doubt it. He seemed to know every back road in the country.

With one exception, I was always the first one off the bus and one of the last to return. One afternoon I returned to the bus to discover that lunch had been finished and Siggi was putting everything away. I figured that was ok, after all missing one meal was not going to kill me. Next thing I know Gumay was pulling everything back out so I could eat.

I could go on and on. I had high expectations, after all this was an expensive trip. The experience easily exceeded my expectations!

By the end of the workshop you are part of Einar’s family. If you have any desire to photograph Iceland I recommend Einar and his company!! Tony is scheduled to lead a workshop again next year. Drop Einar an e-mail and get signed up!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Incredible Iceland!!

This past July I spent a week in Iceland with Tony Sweet and Focus on Nature. At this point I think most of my friends have given up on seeing my pictures. It is not that I have not wanted to show them, but it has taken almost 2 months to go over the couple thousand images that resulted from this magnificent trip. I’ll detail the workshop experience in my next blog but for this post I just want to concentrate on the landscape.

The interesting thing about Iceland is that the landscape changes with the terrain. The mountains, colors, clouds, lava fields, volcanoes, waterfalls, blue lagoons, farms, horses, and glaciers were all beyond my wildest expectations. One unexpected experience was our ability to shoot anywhere. We stopped at a power plant one morning looking for a bathroom and before I knew it we were getting a tour of the control room. I can not imagine that happening here in America. It seems that the Icelandic people rely on their common sense. If you get too close to the edge of the cliff you fall over, no warning signs or ropes. I love this approach to life.

I think perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself so I’ll try and start from the beginning. I waited too long to purchase my tickets and had to fly first class on the way over. What a bummer, hanging out in the first class lounge and enjoying all of the other little niceties and I think I’m spoiled. The flight was great. The only bad part was I could not see the thunderstorm that was happening on the opposite side of the plane. That would have been cool to try and shoot.

The first day on the road we arrived at a geothermal power plant. Behind some of these facilities were giant blue pools of water. The salt residue from the geothermal process made for great leading lines to work into my compositions. The next day we headed out for a very long and bumpy ride through the mountains. The landscape was forever changing. Sometimes it looked like the surface of the moon, other times it was lush and green. The volcanic landscape is like nothing I have ever seen. At times I found it very challenging to shoot and other times I could hardly contain my excitement about the grandeur in front of me.

The volcano that made news earlier this year has died down. I did get to see it, but from a bit of a distance. There was a little steam emanating from the top, but it was otherwise quite. The ash was a different story. In some places with each step I would kick up a little cloud of ash.

One night we stayed in a town called Skaftfell, in a hotel located at the base of a glacier. After dinner Tony and I headed out to shoot the glacier and stayed until midnight so we could shoot sunset. We went back to the hotel and crashed for 2 hours and then got up to shoot sunrise at the Glacier Lagoon. What a place, there are huge chunks of glacial ice that break off and head out to sea. Some of the chunks get washed up on a nearby beach and make for great subject material.

The only disappointing part of the trip was that there were no night skies, a little bit of twilight between midnight and 2 a.m. was as dark as it gets. I had hoped to lightpaint the glacier ice, but it does not get dark enough in July to do so.

At the end of the workshop I asked our driver how long it would take him to show me everything worth photographing in Iceland. I was expecting him to say 3 months, instead he told me 3 years. I suspect he is correct.

If it were not for the expense and the need to return home, I would have loved to stay another week!

Click here for a gallery.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Behind Bars Once More

This past August I joined several friends from the Warrenton-Manassas Camera Club to shoot the old West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV. The Penitentiary has a very old and interesting history. It is currently open during the day for tours. I called a couple years ago and asked about taking photos during the day and was told that was fine as long as I could keep up with the tour group. There was no way that was going to work. After shooting the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum last year during a ghost hunt, I decided that Moundsville would make an interesting subject this year.

Here is how it works. You enter the prison at 8:00 pm, get an orientation, and then tour the facility. After returning from the tour they order pizza and then set you loose to begin your ghost hunt. The group size is limited to 50 people. We rarely had any type of issue with our photographs interfering with the ghost hunters. Some time after midnight we were in an interior hallway with a bat. The bat would fly back and forth sometimes just a few inches over our heads. Needless to say we finished up pretty quick and moved on to another area.

While I really enjoy this type of lightpainting, I find it to be a huge challenge. Lightpainting the great outdoors is much easier. In an interior space your light is reflected and not always in a manner I like. But like anything else, with work I suspect I will be able to improve my process.

Click here for a gallery

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Different Type of Sunset

My first little adventure after I returned home from Iceland was assisting my friend Cory Hilz with a class on lightpainting and star trails. The class was held on the grounds of the Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville, VA. Before the actual class started everyone worked on their own thing. I found the light beams from the setting sun created these incredible lines on the sides of some steel tanks. Whenever I shoot at night with Corey he is always the last one to turn off his camera. I let my camera run for 3 hours and headed home sometime after 2:00am. If my memory serves me correctly, Corey stayed out until 3:00 or 4:00am. I’m guessing the only reason he called it quits was that his camera battery died.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thunder Over The Blue Ridge

This past Saturday Greg Daily and I rode out to Martinsburg, WV to see the Thunderbirds. It was a beautiful day, but the light seemed a little on the harsh side for my taste. Of course that is something well beyond my control. The air show was small compared to some of the ones closer to home, with fewer acts flying, but it was still well worth attending. It was also quite windy and as a result the Army’s Golden Knights had to cancel their jump.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Icelandic Panoramas

I feel like I have been off the Blog for weeks. I have been busy working, shooting, and also editing pictures from Iceland. I hope to have a gallery up sometime soon. In the meantime, I wanted to post the above panorama and tell a little of the technical story behind the shot. For starters the stitched shot is 123 megapixels. The original tiff file is almost 800 megabytes. A couple years ago I purchased a used 28mm Perspective Control Lens. This is a manual lens, no auto anything. Nikon does not make this lens anymore and I was lucky enough to get a good deal on a used one. For shooting panoramas, a few things during the capture will lead to better results during stitching. I used a Pano Head and Nodal Plate from Really Right Stuff. I know some of the software programs are really good at stitching, but using this setup is worth the time and effort. The 28 PC lens allows you to adjust your perspective either up or down without moving the camera. If you level your camera when shooting panoramas you will often have a level horizon right through the middle of your shot. By adjusting the vertical perspective of the lens you have more latitude to compose your shot.

In the shot above I added another step. I adjusted the perspective down so I could see the bottom of the canyon, no sky was visible. I took the shot and then rotated the barrel of the lens 180 degrees and then took a shot that was mostly sky; moved the pano head about 15 degrees and repeated the process until I had covered the canyon end to end. This was my first attempt to create a double layer panorama. Usually I shoot my panos with the camera mounted vertically and then combine 8 or 9 shots to create the pano. In the scene above I was not able to capture the vertical range I was looking for without this technique.

The picture was taken on our second day in the field. We were traveling through an area known as the highlands in the southern part of the island. The picture below was taken a couple hours after the shot above. The terrain seemed to change around every corner. It was a magnificent day!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Icelandic Horses

Truthfully I have never gotten that excited about horses, that is until now. During my trip to Iceland I was able to photograph these magnificent animals several times. In doing so I wondered why the attraction. I suspect it comes down to two things, their long manes often cover their eyes and when they run they seem to hold their heads with pride. In the photo above, we had just pulled into a camping area for lunch and someone noticed a herd of horses running by. I grabbed my camera and started shooting. I had no time to consider shutter speed or any other camera settings. It turned out that their faces were a bit on the soft side, so Tony suggested I apply a texture layer for a different type of effect. I think the resulting image works quite well.

I’m still going through the ton of images from Iceland I hope to have a gallery up in a couple weeks.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Industrial Iceland

I just returned home from an incredible trip to Iceland with Tony Sweet and Focus on Nature. It is going to take some time to process all the images and get a detailed blog posting up in regard to the trip. Suffice to say that the trip exceeded my wildest expectations! This was shot on our first day in the field. We had just finished shooting the water behind the Blue Lagoon Spa and there were red pipes everywhere. I learned one rule a long time ago, if it’s red, shoot it!

Click here for a small image gallery.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Another Night under the Stars

A couple weeks ago I hiked Old Rag again to shoot Star Trails with friends Greg, Alan, Tweety, Cindy, and Nick. When it comes to this type of photography, Old Rag is hard to beat. The amount of light pollution is tolerable and there is plenty of room at the summit to set up different compositions. It is also a very challenging and rewarding hike. I posted a video of our evening on my YouTube Page. I’m always looking for other locations to shoot Star Trails in Shenandoah, I know of at least 3 other choice locations, but light pollution from the Shenandoah Valley is a deal killer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back Behind Bars

Once again, I had the rare opportunity to photograph inside the walls of the old Lorton Prison. The deal was the same as before, I’m part of a VIP tour and allowed to shoot while they discuss architecture and planning. While I have always regarded this as a unique opportunity and one that I’m grateful for having, these trips are not photo tours. I don’t get to wait for the light to change. Thirty minutes into the trip I was not feeling the magic. Everything I was seeing seemed to be things that I have seen and shot before, so I switched over to my Lensbaby and decided to shoot exclusively with that one lens. It worked. I started seeing and shooting things like it was my first visit all over again.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I like to do a fair amount of planning and pre-visualization in regard to my photography, but sometimes you have to throw all of that out the window and just react to what is in front of you. This past Friday my friend Tweety and I were heading over to McKee-Beshers to shoot sunflowers. I have shot this field several times in the past and this year I was in the mood to try something different. While stopping in Poolesville we noticed a new skateboard park and the kids were really hitting it hard!! We looked at each other and instantly decided this was the place to be and spent the next 2 hours shooting the kids. This brought back many memories; I rode a skateboard when I was teenager, but my talents were far less than most of these guys. We kept shooting until it got dark and my flash ran out of batteries. A return trip is a must!!

Click here for a gallery

Click here for Tweety's Gallery

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Last Friday night I took the White’s Ferry across the Potomac. I was a Boy Scout the first time I rode the ferry and not much has changed since then. For some reason I find riding the ferry to be a very relaxing and enjoyable experience. While the ferry shortens the trip from Virginia to Maryland, I think I would take the ferry if it was out of the way. I have also thought over the years about a way to shoot the ferry at night. I have never come up with a plan, but last night I shot the above picture handheld out the window of my truck. The focus is a little soft, perhaps I’ll go back sometime and reshoot the scene.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summit Point

A few weeks ago my friend Jack Nevitt put together a daytrip to Summit Point Raceway. Many years ago I used to shoot drag racing but the style of racing at Summit Point was new to me. While I was excited about going, it took most of the day for me to get into it. I saw shots that I wanted to do, but for reasons of safety and access they were not possible, at least without special arrangements and certainly not on a race day. I know I need practice and with practice I should be able to achieve better results. Going back is on the To Do list.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Weekend in the Woods

The last post was the first introduction to my recent camping trip with some friends from the Manassas-Warrenton Camera Club. First I must digress; my friend Greg Daily has asked me several times to go camping and I always said no, indicating that my Boy Scout days were behind me. After our “Scouting Trip from Hell” I decided that camping had to be much better than spending the night stuck in the snow. A few weeks ago we finally had the camping trip for our camera club.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the first night we shot star trails and arrived back in camp around 2:00am. I got about an hour sleep before realizing that I had not planned properly and nearly froze to death. So I jumped in my truck and cranked the heat and of course this woke up half the group. So with little sleep we then headed out for an uneventful sunrise at 5:00am. I also found out that I’m not good at sitting around and doing nothing. So during the day I did a little scouting around Staunton and the surrounding countryside. On Saturday night we tried to shoot sunset at Reddish Knob but the top of the mountain was in the clouds. Fortunately about halfway down the mountain we found a nice spot to shoot. Sunday morning we did some more shooting on our way out and then it was time to return home. Overall a very nice trip, I look forward to camping again sometime.

Click here for gallery

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Night Under the Stars

A few weeks ago I went camping with some members of my camera club. One of the main purposes was to do night photography. At first that looked doubtful, late evening the skies turned cloudy, but soon after dark we started seeing stars in the sky. We jumped in our vehicles and drove up the mountain to a spot that we had scouted a few months ago. The shot above was the one that I had planned to do, but things do not always go according to the plan. The clear sky only lasted a little over an hour. I usually like to shoot at least 2 hours worth of stars, providing me with nice long trails, but the clouds were a slight disappointment. The other issue that I did not expect was the effect that fire flies would have on my shot. The compiled images had a number of bright yellow orbs. I just had to laugh but also had to reduce the number of shots that I used to make the final image.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Rocks!!!

I would have to say without a doubt that shooting at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was the best day of photography I have had this year. Spending so much time there and getting to know some of the staff was great. These folks are trying to save a national treasure. If you have any interest in this type of photography you must make time for visiting Weston, WV. Be sure and check their website because these tours are only offered a couple of times a year.

Click here for a gallery.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Killer Weekend


Last weekend I joined friends Tweety, Bill Gercken, Jeff Johnson, and Jack Nevitt at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) in Weston, WV. I shot here last year during an overnight “ghost tour” and had so much fun! This year they have started offering photography tours during the daytime and I knew I had to sign up. I know there are lots of photographers that enjoy shooting old buildings that are in a state of decay. The problem is that most of these buildings are off limits, at least from a legal standpoint. Shooting at TALA offers you a way to do this type of shooting in a legal and fun manner and you are helping them preserve a treasure. I’ll post a gallery from the Asylum next time. I still have a lot of shots left to process.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Start Of A Very Productive Day

I love old buildings with signs painted on the bricks. This past weekend I was in West Virginia waiting to do some shooting and noticed this old hardware store nearby. I snapped a couple of quick shots before getting busy with the main reason for being in West Virginia.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rolling Thunder

For the last few years I have shot the riders leaving Patriot Harley Davidson here in Fairfax. It is a very large group numbering well over 1,000 riders at my best guess. It takes about 30 minutes for everyone to ride by and shooting this group is always lots of fun. This morning I met up with friends Greg Daily and Jack Nevitt to shoot along Nutley Street in Fairfax. This year Jack and I decided to head downtown and shoot the group in D.C. Let’s just say I won’t make that mistake again. The biggest issue was the crowd in D.C. lacked some basic courtesy to their fellow man. We set up on Constitution Avenue with 7 lanes of traffic. As soon as the riders started driving by, the crowd immediately moved 3 lanes out into the street. At first this seemed to work since the motorcycles were riding down the center of the road 2 wide. For the next hour the police went up and down trying to get the crowd back up on the curb, but within minutes everyone was back out into the street. Then some people would cross the street, causing the riders to have to stop their procession. Add to that people jumping in front of us while we were taking pictures. After a little over an hour we had enough of this madness and decided to head back home.

With so many riders traveling across the country to ride in this amazing event, I’m sad that the locals could not have shown more courtesy and respect to our visitors.

Click here for a gallery

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thanks and Remembrance

Yesterday I decided to make a quick trip to Arlington National Cemetery. Every year on Memorial Day weekend an American Flag is placed on each headstone. In the past I have tried to shoot this with mixed success. The cemetery opens at 8:00 am, a full 2 hours after sunrise. This time of year the light tends to be harsh and does not lend to my style of photography. With clouds forecasted for the rest of the day, I headed over in the afternoon to shoot for a couple of hours. Arlington is large enough that you really can’t cover the entire grounds in one trip. Originally the plan was to use the diffused light of the cloudy day and keep the sky out of my shots, that’s how I did most of my shots but I really liked this one. I spent most of my time in Section 60. This is the section where our soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are being buried.

Typically when I shoot I’m in a different frame of mind. not always seeing the object in front of me for what it is, but for the composition and graphic nature of the shot that I’m working to compose. Today I found myself often stopping to pause and think about the better men than myself who were buried below me, taking note of the families and loved ones who are visiting and trying not to intrude on what might be a very private and personal time for them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jones Run Falls

This past weekend I wanted to get out and do some hiking with Duke my Labrador Retriever. The weather forecast was for cloudy skies so I decided to hike to Jones Run Falls. Jones Run is located in the southern end of the park and it has been about 25 years since I last visited and photographed this waterfall. Before heading out I referenced a couple of my trail guides. One of the guides suggested this was not a good waterfall to photograph. The last time I was there I thought it was a nice waterfall, so I decided to hike down to the falls and give it a try. I was pleased to find the falls in great condition and in my opinion quite photogenic. The only bad thing was that it started raining while I was shooting the falls and kept raining the entire trip back up the mountain.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dusk at the Car Farm

In order to start light painting the landscape it has to be close to dark. Otherwise you will not get the long exposures that you need to run around and paint with a flashlight. Typically my light painting exposures range from 10 to 30 seconds. So what to do after the sun sets but before the stars come out? The answer is Flash! Flash photos taken at dusk also have a unique look. The shot above is 3 different flash exposures blended into one shot. The really cool thing about using flash at dusk is since you are exposing for the flash, the remaining landscape is shot at several stops underexposed. This will sometimes lend color in the sky that you would not normally recognize.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Midnight at the Car Farm

I had a free night so I decided to work on my light paintings from my recent trip to a favorite location I affectionately call the “car farm”. I love light painting and have had pretty good success in the past, but I’m working on taking it to what I consider the next level. Doing this involves a bit more time and planning. I try and imagine the final shot and then figure out how to light it. The shot above is a combination of 6 different exposures. Overall I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Quick Trip

Last weekend I got together with a couple friends to shoot a favorite location. I was hoping to do some light painting and star trails. I had the lensbaby attached to my camera when it came out of the bag so I walked around shooting with the lensbaby soft focus. The shot above is one of my favorites from the afternoon.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Great Falls

I’m digging into the archives for this post. Usually I like the blog to reflect my current efforts, but I have been too busy to get out and shoot lately. The shot above was taken at Great Falls 2 summers ago. While Great Falls has some nice and safe observation decks, to get the really good shots you need to get close to the water. This is not without risk. I try to be careful, balancing my desire to keep my camera and my body out of the water. Make no mistake, falling into the water at Great Falls could very likely be fatal and I know of a pro photographer that lost a Nikon D300 and tripod to this river.

Considering the danger, it is amazing how many people push their luck. The evening that I took the shot there were 3 young men who were standing on the rocks to the left of the waterfall, perhaps 3 feet from the edge, just to have their picture taken. While you can’t tell from this shot, getting to that spot is fairly difficult. If you decide to go to Great Falls, be sure to bring along a little caution and common sense to temper the fun you will have shooting in this unique location.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another Quick Trip

The original plan was to shoot sunset at Great Falls this past Friday evening. By the time we got ready to head out, the skies had darkened and rain started to fall. A quick check of some satellite imagery showed little chance of a break in the clouds before sunset, so we switched to plan B, get up early and head to Great Falls for sunrise. Upon arrival the clouds were looking promising, but the spectacular sunrise never materialized, as it often does not. There was a brief moment captured in the shot above, but otherwise the light was unremarkable.

It was still good to get out…

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blue Bells

The truth be told, I’m really too busy to grab my camera and go shooting. After putting in an 8 hour day on Saturday doing some home remodeling, I got up on Sunday at 5:00 to meet up with friends Bill Gercken and Karen Rexrode from Manassas Warrenton Camera Club for a Blue Bell shoot. This time of year the bank of Bull Run Creek is covered with Blue Bells. I shot for about an hour and a half then packed it in and headed
back home to resume work on my project.

The Blog picture was shot with the Lensbaby Composer and the Soft Focus Optic. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite lenses for doing close ups of flowers. I also used my Nikon R1C1 handheld to provide a little side light.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Arrives

Last Saturday Greg Daily and I took a quick trip to Arlington Cemetery. I’m almost too busy with other projects to get out and shoot spring flowers this year. Also, my main Gitzo tripod had to be returned to Bogen Imaging for the 3rd time in 3 years to have one of the legs re-glued to the base. The last time it was repaired, they handled it on a professional rush basis and I had it back in a little over a week. We are going on 3 weeks this time and I’m having trouble getting a completion date. I not trying to complain, but my backup tripod will not get closer than 15 inches or so from the ground and that puts me at a disadvantage when trying to shoot flowers.

Back to Arlington Cemetery. This town is full of monuments and memorials but I find Arlington to be the most compelling. The light and the texture of the sky was a bit disappointing, but I can usually find something to shoot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Scouting Trip from Hell

For quite some time my friend Greg Daily has been trying to get me to go camping with him. While I admit this could have its benefits in regard to being near your sunrise locations, I need the modern creature comforts that I have become accustomed to. So for a couple years every time the subject comes up I say “not interested”.

Last weekend started out quite normally. I got together with friends Greg Daily and Bill Gercken. Greg plans to lead a field trip for the Manassas-Warrenton Camera Club to the George Washington National Forest later this summer. In preparation we decided to spend the day scouting various locations including campsites. It was a beautiful day and the temperature was about 70 degrees. We found 2 promising locations to return to for light painting against the starlit sky before heading home. So far so good…

Then we decided to check out one more spot. We started heading down a forest service road that follows the ridgeline to Reddish Knob. Remember what I said about it being 70 degrees? It turns out this area had 10 feet of snow this past winter. Greg drives a Mountaineer with all wheel drive. We started encountering a little snow on the road about 8 miles in. All told we were about 30 miles from civilization. A little snow soon turned into a significant amount of snow. Seconds after Greg questioned if we should proceed, his Mountaineer stopped dead in its tracks. We lost our ground clearance and the snow pack was icy. We spent the next 4 hours trying to dig the Mountaineer free with the most rudimentary of tools. We were only able to move the vehicle forward a few feet and could not get traction to get back up the mountain. By this time it became very clear we were not going home from our day trip.

I checked my phone and had little to no signal. But I found a nearby tree that seemed to act as a signal booster. As long as I stood next to the tree I was able to place calls, at least for a minute or two before the call would drop. I called home to explain our situation and my wife got busy working the phone. The Forest Service turned her down since we were not officially lost, just stuck in the middle of nowhere. They suggested she call a towing company. Most turned her down because of the distance or amount of snow. She called just about everyone she could find in 4 counties and late Sunday morning found Bowers Towing in Sugar Grove, WV. These guys were the best!!! Once they heard we had been stranded on the mountain overnight they promised to come at once.

Our first choice was to be towed out. Hiking out would have meant leaving lots of gear behind. None of us were in favor of this option, but staying another night was not an option either. If we had to hike out, I had family standing by to pick us up within a couple miles, but there were 4 to 5 foot snow drifts between them and us.

Greg was a lifesaver. When it became clear we were not getting out, he promptly started a campfire, started melting snow for water and had packed a blanket and towels that helped keep us warm. Bill’s positive attitude really helped keep my anxiety level in check. Sleep was minimal for all of us. With 3 guys who snore means that no one really gets to sleep.

The Blog image was taken early in the day. After getting stranded I was in no mood to be creative. So no light painting or star trails on this trip.

The surprising thing is that I’m actually considering going camping sometime, if I plan for it has got to be better than this trip.

Monday, March 22, 2010

One More

This past weekend I finished an adventure that I can’t wait to blog about, but before doing so I wanted to post another favorite from my recent trip to Longwood Gardens.  It is a 10 shot multiple exposure close up of a hibiscus bloom taken with a Lensbaby with the soft focus optic.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Blue Poppies

Last weekend my friend Greg Daily and I went to Longwood Gardens. This was not our first opportunity; we had others but have been holding out for the Himalayan Blue Poppies. Longwood displays these rare poppies for just a couple weeks in March every year. This year was a little disappointing. The poppies were in 2 large planters and were positioned in such a way that it was hard to get a colorful background.

I understand that additional poppies are scheduled to be planted this week, but I doubt that I will be going back. My tripod broke during this trip, the 3rd time in 3 years and I had to send it out for repairs.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Between Seasons

Winter seems to be winding down and I’m noticing my tulips are starting to peek above the soil. At this point I doubt I will get to shoot more ice. The picture above was taken during my January trip to White Oak Canyon. We shot on a cloudless day and as the sun started shining into the canyon, the light created some great warm reflections in the water.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shenandoah River Bank

Here is another shot from my recent scouting trip with Greg Daily. When I took the shot I was visualizing a much different scene than the one in front of me. It was mid-day, cloudy and fairly bright but in my mind I saw a much different scene. I achieved my vision in post processing. I want to be clear, I did not fix it with software, I enhanced it with software. I occasionally hear people suggest that when the scene is not quite right they can later fix it. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought and neither do any of the serious Pros that I’m fortunate enough to call my friends.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tried and True

Last weekend Greg Daily and I spent the day scouting the countryside. This little adventure also took us close to an old favorite, a place I like to call the “Car Farm”. With an hour or so of good light remaining we suited up for the snow. Several days had passed since the snow fell, so there were lots of animal tracks on the snow. Considering this I decided to focus a bit more on details and I stumbled on the situation shown above. The snow had started to slide off the roof of the car and was interesting to see. Shooting this straight on did not provide much of a picture. However, positioning my camera against the car window and under the sheet of snow provided a much more interesting viewpoint and hopefully a more dramatic photograph.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Scouting in the Snow

My area of the country was recently the recipient of about 30 inches of snow. That pretty much brings the region to a halt. After digging out my thoughts turned to where I could shoot the snow in all its beauty. Of course the day job got in the way of getting a prompt start on this little adventure. My friend Greg Daily and I decided to scout the Virginia countryside yesterday. We found this nice red barn and after stopping we noticed a couple of horses walking around. Overall it was a day with lots of driving and little picture taking, but with the picture above I still consider the day a success.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Last weekend I got together with friends John Barclay, Doug Dinkle, Tony Sweet, JustBob, Stan Silverman, Sara Howell, and Karen Messick to shoot Fonthill Castle in Doylestown, PA. It was a great day of shooting with friends. The only bad part was that it took Sara and me 7 hours to drive up in the snow. It seemed the highway departments were ill prepared for a few inches of snow. Luckily we had planned to drive up the day before rather than leave home in the wee hours of the morning, so it worked out just fine.

Shooting here was a special opportunity since interior photography is normally not allowed. The first trip felt like a warm up. I think a 2nd trip will be necessary to really capture the essence of the place.

Click here for more info on Fonthill and the Mercer Museum.

Click here for a small gallery from the shoot.