I've made several trips to Virginia to visit family. After several years I finally made it to Great Dismal Swamp. It's either been closed due to hunting season or the weather had been bad. When the day started I was concerned the light was going to be harsh, the sky was crystal clear in the morning. As we drove toward the swamp though I noticed some wispy clouds starting to form and my anticipation increased. As a few of the photos below show, I was not disappointed. We did not see a lot of insect activity yet, spring has been very very slow to arrive. The trees were just starting to awaken. Never fear though, I did (with some help) find a couple of smaller critters to get photos of. We also saw plenty of turtles some water foul, and an otter.
On a recent trip to Virginia, Keri and I were able to view the Photographs Take Time exhibit. There are some photos you see in books or on the internet that resonate and prompt you to seek out more from the artist. Then you see the prints. Granted not all of these were originals. Some were reproductions, others were presented as they were originally presented. The Pirreli calendar pages as an example. It's still worth seeing them as they were intended. Below are a few highlights for me, starting with a print by Alexey Titarenko. We also saw prints by Alfred Stieglitz, Harry Callahan, William Christenberry, Chris McCaw, and some truly wonderful prints by Henry Peach Robinson that were composite shots from multiple negatives made in the late 1800's (those were incredible).
My girlfriend owns a restaurant (Ivy Wild Sewanee) in Tennessee that has an amazing farm to table menu. She had a special New Year Eve event with a multi course meal served to a select group of guests. She asked if I could take a few photos of the food and prep which I gladly did (Free Meal). I'm not a food photographer, but I did enjoy bouncing around a live kitchen while the action was happening. It's a creative environment and that always tickles my brain.
Here is the menu and the photos I took over the course of the evening will follow.
Orange Blossom Cotton Candy Cocktail
Voga Italia Sparkling Rosé Pinot Grigio
Lemon Fennel Glass
Basil Pop Rocks
Locally Raised Certified Hereford Beef Tenderloin
Blistered Tomato Butter
Salted Whisky Caramel Brioche Bread Pudding
Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
I recently got a chance to run down to the National Gallery for an afternoon while on a trip to attend a wedding in Maryland. I took a few pics, but these three seem to share a theme.
I try to visit this state park at least once a year. When the clouds are nice and the light is good the overlook is always a good view even if it isn't always photographic. Add to that a pretty easy hike down to a good waterfall with decent flow and not many people it is a no brainer. If I'm feeling pretty good or not short on time it is a reasonable climb to another cascade just up stream too. I didn't make it there as I'm still not adjusted to the time change, but that also meant I had a shot at a sunset on the way home.
Really, I mean well. I just can't seem to get a posting routine down. I've been in a bit a of a creative rut of late as well. I do have an idea brewing for a themed show of my photographs. There are a couple of venues I could submit to for a show and feel like that is something I should strive for next year. It's also time to start culling my submissions for juried shows coming up in Knoxville. I have done well in Knoxville and am hoping to continue that trend.
In the mean time, here are the best results from a creative spurt this weekend.
Oh yeah, and what would a photo outing be without a nice fat orbweaver doing her thing?
A couple of years ago I basically stuck a pin in a map and headed up to Short Springs Natural Area in Tennessee from Huntsville. That lead to me taking what so far has been my best photo of a waterfall to date.
I was already near there so took a friend to the trails to check things out since the weather was really great this past weekend. I was not the only one with this idea as there were quite a few folks wandering the trails and the waterfall areas. I opted for plants and animals instead.
The bloom and growth continues. This year has really been a good one.
This time of year if the weather cooperates then my yard bursts with various blooms of fungus. It has been a pretty exceptional crop this year.
I spent last week working at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Our group stayed in Gulfport which is further east, so a quick trip to New Orleans was not possible. I started searching for possible places to visit on the drive back to Huntsville Friday and settled on Fort Morgan. I'm sure I've seen shots from here before so wanted to try my hand at some interiors and I new I could find some rust as well. The weather was not great, so exterior shots were not that interesting, but I also did not have a full day to explore the place either.
Based on my shots I did get, it warrants a return trip.
One of my favorite hikes and waterfalls of my trip to Iceland in October of 2016. The series of falls is Gjáin just a short hike from Stöng, ruins of a Viking era longhouse. It was a rough drive over some pretty rocky roads, but very worth it. Sadly we got there late enough in the day that the head lamps left in the 4x4 were missed and we had to bail before full sunset. This is one of those places I could have spent a whole day exploring and setting up shots.
I really fall back on these when not much else is available to shoot while I'm out walking the trails around home. The shapes and textures can't be beat.
I'm still sorting out how I want to collect my thoughts on Iceland. That doesn't mean I am not getting out with the camera here in the states when I can. We are having a very strange fall season this year. I went for a hike in Tennessee hoping to see some fall color and did get a little taste of it, however the exceptionally dry and warm weather has the leaves pretty hard to predict and catch.
It was a great day for hike, a little warm, but really a good day. Stone Door is a trail in the Savage Gulf Natural Area near Beersheba Springs, TN. The parking lot was full and there were lots of scouts and some adults working on their rope skills. As I walked back out after hanging out for a bit a wedding party was making their way in for a ceremony. I felt kind of bad for the bride hiking a mile in to get married in her dress in mid 80's weather.
One bonus to the weather being warmer though. The spiders are holding on a bit longer this year.
Last week I made my first trip to Europe, specifically Iceland. The plane ticket was a Christmas gift from my sister and the trip was our first real vacation together. Just the two of us. We had a BLAST.
October is considered off season and the weather was not ideal, however we enjoyed the trip and time together. I plan to do a more detailed post soon, but wanted to get something up and get the ball rolling with a couple of images.
I've never been much of a gardener or landscaper. My backyard is rough at best, however a couple of years ago I had 3 of the oak trees taken down. I cut them up myself and turned the logs into some beds for vegetables and flowers. These have worked quite well and while the yard is still shaded, some things have grown well.
Fall is finally starting to make it presence known, so the insect visitors are getting less frequent. Yesterday was a slightly cooler day over night and it seemed to spark a last flurry of activity from the bees and wasps.
It was a glorious day for clouds here in Alabama this Sunday. I had every intention of shooting some time lapse frames however my gear had other ideas.
Fortunately there were also some nice light summer subjects for me to point the macro lens at. It can be challenging this time of year, often you will find plants struggling to get one last burst of life in before going dormant for the winter. The bugs are also at the end of their life cycle. Butterflies and dragonflies have battle scars on their wings. Spiders are laying egg sacks and giving up their lives. However patience and flexibility can get a photographer through the challenges.
I'm not overly morbid or anything, I like the living animals, plants and people just fine. It's just that most people just pass by a husk of an insect or plant. Shiver when they see a bone or skull. Cringe when they see a line of ants or flies working over a dead bug or animal.
That is renewal going on there. Plants renew via seeds and for seeds to work at least part of the parent plant has to die. It's a darned good thing animals don't work that way, Well sometimes I wonder if we wouldn't be better off if people did work that way, but lets not get into politics here. There is plenty of that crap in the media already.
I am a bit conflicted about this shot. On one hand I am really disappointed that the focus was not right on the tip of the abdomen of the paper wasp. On the other hand, it sort of looks like it is RIGHT in your face, so close you can't focus on it.
So from an artistic point of view it is kind of dramatic. From a technical point of view, it is weak. I can always use the excuse is was standing about 1 foot away from an active wasp nest too.
I'm drawn to structures. Large and small. Natural and artificial. New and old.
I feel like I want to start a series of posts on this topic. My first post used an image I created sitting on a park bench while waiting for jury duty to get started for the day. The wood had aged and oxidized nicely. The grain was really popping out.
I'm thinking the posts will all be black and white. I'm not going to limit the camera I use. Whatever I have with me at the time is the way to go.
This shot is a detail / zoom in on one of the tests stands I can see from my office on Redstone Arsenal / Marshall Space Flight Center. The Saturn V Dynamic Test Stand was used in 1966-67 for ground vibration testing of the Saturn V launch vehicle and the Apollo spacecraft. Completion of this program was the final step prior to the launch of Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission. In 1972-73 the stand was used for tests involving the Skylab Space Station; and in 1978-79 for ground vibration testing of the complete Space Shuttle vehicle.