My SoFoBoMo Book is Done!

I participated in this year’s Solo Photo Book Month project, a group event where a bunch of photographers all make solo photo books start to finish, in 31 days, at more or less the same time. The idea of SoFoBoMo is to make the photos, write any needed text, layout the book, and produce a PDF image of the book, all in 31 days. The book portion of my effort fell a little outside that 31 day window, but I felt it was important to do a good job while still getting it done by June 30. I made it.

The theme for my entry took a number of turns, as I was originally planning to shoot a series of photos out of my office window, using light and architectural details to make a series of interesting pictures. Since I don’t have a job there any more I didn’t think the building security folks would be too keen on letting me in there to take pictures, so I decided to do a series of photos using my W.T. Duck plush doll in various locations during our travels this spring. Due partly to yucky weather at the beach and a strong reluctance to the idea carrying around a stuffed animal and taking it’s picture in public locations (not that it stops some people!) I didn’t get the inspiration I felt I needed to do a credible job on that project. I finally decided to just make a book of favorite images from my various photo trips from mid-May to mid-June. It’s what I do and what I am most passionate about, and I think the final result shows that.

The electronic version is available for free download here and there is a hard copy available for purchase from Lulu here.

More Roan Mountain

I shot some traditional landscape stuff but also played around with motion blur while I was there and came up with this image that I feel captures the softness of the early light and the drama of the surrounding landscape.

Aliens on Roan Mountain!

Kathy & I spent last weekend with a bunch of CNPA folks at Roan Mountain, Tennessee. The rhododendron there were not quite at peak, although they were amazing at Craggy Gardens, just down the road on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The display there was the best I have seen in years. I’ll be posting some more images from that trip in a few days as I get them processed.

Sunrise on Round Bald is one of the highlights of a trip to Roan Mountain with or without the rhododendron, and this year’s sunrise morning did not disappoint. While we were there, however, I came across this other-worldly looking creature. I didn’t find the mother ship, but I’m certain that beings not from this planet had also come to Roan to experience the beauty of this wonderful place.

Actually, this is CNPA member and Charlotte chapter co-coordinator Edgar Payne in his hunting attire, out to shoot the bald with the rest of us!

The Great One (Buried Treasure 5)

As Kathy and I prepare to head off to Roan Mountain, TN for the weekend to (hopefully) shoot some Catawba Rhododendron, I thought I’d share another Buried Treasure.

This is an image of Mount McKinley (aka Denali – The Great One) from Stony Hill Overlook in Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska. This is the best view we had of the mountain during our stay there. I like this image because of the lines and layers of the foreground terrain, and the mysterious shrouding of the mountain by the clouds that surround it.

Buried Treasure 4

If there’s such a thing as a Tom Dills Signature Image (and I believe there is!) it’s a scene with dramatic light and lots of sunbeams. I’m still back in the time machine in 2005, but now I’m up to August!

This sunrise image was taken along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Green Mountain Overlook, near MP 301. The view is of the upper Yadkin Valley and the town of Lenoir. It’s a favorite summertime sunrise spot of mine!

Fuzzy Logic

I’ve been playing around with camera movement to create impressionistic images for a while now and have had a fair amount of success with water as my subject. I’ve been less successful in getting results I was happy with on land. This past weekend I finally made some images that are more successful. It’s a great way to make pictures when it is windy!

I also had an instance where I had camera movement of a different kind, when my tripod started to sink into a rotted log during a 2-second exposure. That result was much less successful!

This image was taken from Flat Rock, on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain.

A Busy Month

Kathy & I spent this past weekend at Grandfather Mountain, attending their annual Nature Photography Weekend. This weekend traditionally kicks off what promises to be a busy month for us. We like to spend our June weekends chasing the Catawba Rhododendron, which were just starting to pop at Grandfather this weekend but were in full bloom in many other places along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In two weeks we head for Roan Mountain, which straddles the North Carolina and Tennessee borders and is renowned for its display of rhododendron and azalea.

The festivities at Grandfather Mountain included presentations by such luminaries as Tony Sweet, Gregory Georges, Jim Clark and Pam Barbour. There is also a photo contest held as part of the weekend, and it is always interesting to see what other people saw that I didn’t.

Always on the lookout for a unique vantage point for sunrise, fellow CNPA member and Photo Buddy Don Brown and I went out Saturday morning and hiked to Flat Rock, on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of Grandfather Mountain. We were treated to an hour of dramatic side-lit cloud formations streaming over the top of the mountain before and after sunrise. I’ll post a few images in a slideshow once I am able to get some processing done. In the mean time here is one of my favorites, a view of Grandfather Mountain from Flat Rock, accented by the blooming Catawba Rhododendron.


I admit that I’m pretty much a loner. I have a few good friends that really are friends, but I’m not an outgoing social person. I generally don’t go for self-promotion and keep well away from the limelight. It’s a good way to be, because it suits my temperament and personality. But it’s not a good trait for someone looking for a job or trying to market their photography. This blog is a good outlet for me, because it lets me write my thoughts and feelings, brag a little about my accomplishments and showcase my photography and writing skills. I know a number of people ready it, and I hope more people read it, because I feel like I have something useful to share.

In this post I bragged a bit about the fact that I had photos published in three different magazines in one month (May). That’s a huge accomplishment for me and one I am very proud of, given that I’ve only been doing this for a relatively short time. It’s a big deal to me to be able to share my photography, to have my work published and appreciated by my peers, and especially to have my work included with work of those who I look up to. Many people have accomplished much more than me, but many more haven’t come close to what I’ve done. Often that’s because that’s not their style so they haven’t tried. That’s OK, because everyone gets to do their own thing.

Recently several of my nature photography buddies had photos published in Our State Magazine (June issue), and one of my other buddies posted about it on the CNPA message boards. It’s great and they should be proud, but I found myself thinking, somewhat selfishly, “what about me?” Isn’t that silly? I go out of my way to not call attention to myself then get my shorts in a knot when someone doesn’t notice.

I think the lesson for me in this is that I need to work hard to be noticed without being annoying. I need to work hard to not be invisible.

The photo is from Silver Lake on Ocracoke Island, taken on our trip there in 2005.

To The Beach!

Kathy & I are off on our annual jaunt to Hilton Head Island, SC for a week of rest and relaxation, with perhaps a little photography thrown in. I’ll probably work on some of my wave motion inventory, and perhaps add to my collection of sand patterns. I may also try to get some stock shots of some of the more touristy places on the island. Don’t expect to see an uptick in posts though, because for me a vacation is NOT time sitting in front of the computer. I’ll get back to work when I get home.

This photo is another recently uncovered treasure from a different beach. This was taken on the Outer Banks near the old Coast Guard station at Oregon Inlet.

Branching Out, and Buried Treasure 3

I spent most of Saturday helping out at The Light Factory’s annual Shoot Out. It was the 20th such event and is a Big Deal. A number of professional photographers donate their time to do portrait sessions for individuals and families, and the customers range from singles, to singles with kids, singles with pets, to full-blown family shoots. There was even an “After Dark” Shoot Out that I’m sure had some interesting subject matter.

I had a blast assisting Nanine Hartzenbusch, one of my ‘buds” and a veteran photographer with roots in photojournalism who is making a go at being a kids and families shooter. Nanine is not used to working with an assistant and I’ve not done much (any?) assisting so neither of us had any expectations or preconceptions. We were a perfect pairing! I helped set up lights, move them around, help get the kids posed and – probably the most important job of all – got to use an assortment of squeeky toys and other gimmicks to help get the attention of cranky toddlers and with any luck help to turn a “reject” into a “keeper.” At least I hope so! It was hard work! The Saturday session only lasted a half day, but when I got home I was whooped!

Anyway, the experience underscored for me the importance of learning new things in order to grow as a photographer, as an artist and as a person. It is a rewarding experience to help make special memories for families, especially when it also helps support a local organization that does a lot of good in the community. I like the idea of being an assistant, and think I may make a go at trying to do some more of that work for other photographers. Eventually I might even get good enough to get paid for it, but in the mean time I’m thrilled to have a chance to gain some knowledge and experience doing something I really enjoy. Even if I don’t pick up a camera I think the exercise of looking and seeing other photographers in action will help me grow my own vision.

The photo is another one from the archives. From June 2005, the image was taken just after sunset from the parking area of the Craggy Gardens visitor center along the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Asheville. The various peaks around Craggy Gardens are usually the best places to be, but the parking lot is a pretty decent sunset spot during the summer months. This image underscores the importance of sticking around well after the sun has set, especially when there are clouds around. Sunset itself was pretty nice, but these high whispy clouds lit up big time just after sunset.

Photographs and stuff!