Thursday, September 29, 2011

Early Fall

As I start to write this blog I’m struggling a bit with the title.   This is a picture that took a little bit of effort to obtain.   But first I digress.   This past weekend I had marked my calendar to shoot star trails.  But as the weekend approached the possibility of having clear skies seemed doubtful.  So after canceling the planned trip to shoot star trails, I  noticed that the weather forecast called for fog in the Shenandoah area.   Time to switch to plan B.  I decided to get up early to be in the Shenandoah for first light and hopefully lots of fog.  The fog was everywhere but so was the rain.   I had decided to hike into the upper falls of White Oak Canyon.  I typically like to start my hikes going up rather than down.  That helps prevent biting off more elevation than I’m able to handle.   We parked at Skyline Drive and started hiking down in the rain and fog.  By we, I mean Duke and me.   Duke is my Labrador Retriever.  Originally I was going to leave him at home this time, but at the last minute he was giving me a really sad look and I gave in.  I’m glad I had him since I only saw a total of 3 people on the trails, but the downside is I came home with a wet and muddy dog and had to give him a bath.          

I really did not take that many pictures, but I’m really pleased with the few that I have.  I’m also happy that my pack and clothes are waterproof because it sure was a wet day.   With regard to the elevation, I made it back up the mountain just fine but I’m also glad the hike was not any longer or steeper.   Driving and hiking through Shenandoah I noticed some yellow leaves and leaves were starting to fall, but in the photo above is the only place that I noticed brilliant red maple leaves and must say I’m surprised they are turning so soon.  Perhaps fall will be early this year, but more important to me, I wish for much more of this brilliant color. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I recently spent a little time in Chincoteague. The highlight of the trip was spending 2 nights shooting the moonrise on the beach.  Besides being eaten alive by mosquitoes, it was a pretty good trip with lots of variety.    On my return home I find that most of my photo friends recommend going in November and now I understand why.   

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pax River Air Show

This year like most years I shoot an air show.  This year the show was located at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station over Labor Day Weekend and the star attraction was the Blue Angels.   When shooting an air show there  are small details, like the color of the sky, that can make a huge difference in the quality of your shots. This year the sky was barely blue with a hint of overcast, not exactly optimal but better than a cloudy day.  I have experienced that as well.  

Spending most of my time shooting objects that don’t move, shooting an air show can be a challenge.  The speeds of the planes can average over 400 mph and occasionally Mach 0.9.  At that speed the sound starts to trail the aircraft.  As in every type of photography composition matters.  It takes a combination of luck and effort to get the shot.   In general there are few keepers and lots of throwaways.   With some maneuvers I just put down the camera,  knowing they might not make good pictures but are a thrill to watch just the same. 

All things  considered an air show is a huge amount of fun.  Our Military puts a lot of effort into providing a safe and entertaining experience.   I for one am grateful for the experience, but more importantly I am grateful for their service to our country! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Storm Over the Valley

A couple of months ago I spent the evening sitting on top of the mountain called Big Schloss located west of Woodstock, Va.  Our objective for the evening was to shoot star trails.  While we were waiting for it to get dark enough to shoot star trails a thunderstorm was happening to the east.  In this area of the country storms generally move from the west to east so in this case I was not really concerned with being among the highest objects in the area.

Since I don’t have a shutter release that trips when it senses a lightning strike.   I would hold the shutter open for a few seconds and repeat.  The image about is a composite of 4 different shots. 

Regarding  star trails, that did not work out.  About 15 minutes after we set up another storm started approaching from the west and we felt it best to get off the mountain before it arrived. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

What to do


This year, just like the past several years,  I headed over to Potomac Maryland to shoot sunflowers.  But this year I found it somewhat difficult.  One reason I suspect was that I spent half my time talking with other photographers and spreading the word about Nature Visions!  Perhaps that kept me from finding my groove.   I suspect the other reason was that having shot this location several times I just did not see much new to shoot.  I don’t  care to duplicate my prior efforts and each time I shoot I generally try to find a new perspective or something different.   When all else fails I reach for the Lensbaby, in this case the Fisheye delivered some shots I had not taken before.