More Roan Mountain

Here are a few more shots from Roan Mountain. As incredible as the Rhododendron were, the Flame Azalea were equally impressive! These Azalea were up on Round Bald, just over the hill (always look behind you!) from the sunrise location in the previous post. The Rhododendron were just across the road from the parking lot (shhhhh!). I thought the fence added a particularly nice touch.

Stay tuned for more!

Roan Mountain!

Kathy and I spent this past weekend with some of our CNPA-Charlotte buddies at Roan Mountain, which is on the NC-TN border just north of Bakersville, NC. This was my first time at “The Roan” and it definitely won’t be our last. What an incredible place!

Our primary objective this weekend was to shoot the incredible display of Catawba Rhododendron that Roan Mountain is famous for. But first, I had to try and capture one of the famous sunrises that I have been seeing for years. We set out at 5 am to hike up to Roan Bald, and arrived just as the color was starting to light up the sky. We were rewarded with this wonderful display as the sun rose over the horizon.

I’ve got a number of good shots to post over the next few days but thought I would lead with this Roan Mountain Sunrise!

Motion Blur

Kathy & I spent this past weekend at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina for their annual Nature Photography Weekend. A good time was had by all, there was a lot of photography going on and we heard a number of inspirational speakers.

One technique that seems to be trendy these days is using motion blur to create painterly and abstract images. William Neill has been doing it for a while and I admire his work. Charles Needle was one of the presenters at Grandfather Mountain, and his presentation inspired me to give it a try.

This was my favorite blur image of the weekend. It had gotten breezy, the sunlight was coming in and out of the clouds, and I liked the parallel curves of these two tree trunks. I made this by setting the lens to an aperture of f22, throwing the trees slightly out of focus, and panning vertically for a 6-second exposure. A polarizer helped slow the shutter speed.

It’s not what I usually do, but it was nice to have options when the conditions got less than ideal. And it was nice to be liberated from the tripod and try something new!

Spider Lilies!

To cap off our vacation week, we spent Sunday of Memorial Day weekend with our friends John & Marcia at Landsford Canal State Park in South Carolina. Landsford Canal is home of the largest collection of Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies in the world. They bloom from mid-May to mid-June at this spot along the Catawba River. I had heard about these but never seen them before. What an amazing sight!

This image gives an overview of the shoals and shows just a portion of the thousands of flowers growing at this special place.

Photography-Free Week

We’re spending this week at one of our favorite vacation spots – Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. We’ve been pretty busy and I owed Kathy some Tom-time, so I left the majority of my photo gear at home. Not being one to travel anywhere without some kind of camera however, I have my Canon G9 with me “just in case.” I shot this image of sun dogs from our balcony while we were taking a break from the beach and having lunch. It’s a fun and colorful image and one I thought I would share.

Charlotte Lynx

I’ve been wanting to get some shots of Charlotte’s new light rail, the Lynx, since it went operational in November of last year. I have a number of shots of the Charlotte Trolley cars, and wanted to get some nice images of the Lynx to add to my collection. I purposely waited until spring to get some green on the trees and in the grass. This past Sunday turned out to be a perfect day – clear air, blue sky and some nice clouds.

This shot was taken at the rail crossing at Park Avenue in Charlotte’s South End.

Slow Down to Go Faster (aka Do Less to Do More?)

This is a recurring theme, and one I have played over a number of times, but bear with me. Driving to work this morning I remember thinking, as I was merging into traffic, that sometimes you have to back off a bit in order to get into the fast lane. The lane you are merging into is jammed with people barely going the speed limit. Because the next lane over is doing about the same thing, you can’t get over to the lane where the traffic is actually moving at a reasonable speed and not full of trucks. Instead of jamming on the gas to try to force an opening, it sometimes works better to just keep it a little slow, let the people in the next lane over get past until an opening catches up, then make the move into that lane and eventually into the lane you want to be in. A few miles down the road you have settled in nicely, the people in the other lanes are changing frantically in an attempt to gain a spot or two, and you are right where you knew all along you wanted to be.

This concept has parallels with my photography. Going into this year, I decided to set some pretty serious goals for the business side of my photography. In order to get where I want to be, I had to get certain things done or it was never going to happen. Knowing that I only have so many hours in a week to devote to it, I had to prioritize. I’ve been saying for a long time that what separates me the most from people who do this full time is that (a) they are independently wealthy or (b) they spend a lot more time on the business side of things, which they typically do while I am at my day job trying to earn a living.

Like so many people, when I made the switch to digital about three years ago, I was unprepared for the huge shift in time commitment that would go along with it. The money commitment was hard enough, but the time needed to review, edit, process and catalog images is huge, and I quickly fell behind to the point where I had 20,000 digital images in my collection but no way to know what was any good and where the good ones were or how to find them. By necessity I developed a workflow that I was comfortable with, but that was late last year and I had three years worth of work to catch up on.

I realized that if I kept shooting the number of images I have been shooting since I went digital, there was no possible way I was going to (a) catalog and keyword all my images, (b) expand my submissions of stock images to magazines, (c) update my website, (d) buy a printer and learn how to use it and (e) lots of other nagging things too numerous to mention. After some thinking, I concluded that the best solution was going to be to scale back the amount of shooting I was doing. Less shooting = fewer photos = less time processing = more time for the priorities. With just a few exceptions, I have been limiting my shooting to magazine assignments and places where I have a specific theme or subject I am looking for. While I could certainly stand to have a few hundred more spring images in my inventory, that can wait until next year. In the mean time I have rediscovered last year’s spring images, which in a lot of ways is better than taking new ones, because I already had some good ones and they haven’t cost me anything but time.

The best news is that it is just now the end of April, and I have captioned and keyworded all my images (not to a great level of detail but at least to the point where I can find them), submitted a number of images to new publications, completed an overhaul of my website and purchased a printer. So far I have only managed to crank out a few crappy looking pieces of paper with ink on them, but if that’s how I spend my time the next eight months I might just figure it out. In the mean time I can put a stock submission together in about an hour, process images from an assignment and turn them around in a couple of evenings, and have a few hours a week to pretend I am a normal person. I’m cruising along in the lane I want to be in, waiting for my exit to come up, and when it does, I’ll be back out there in the middle of Cades Cove or somewhere trying to add to my photo collection.

Beats the heck out of being a Photoshop zombie.

Bluebird on Fence

I came across this image while going through some of my work from last year. It was shot in June last year along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia at a place called Groundhog Mountain. Even though it was taken in June I thought it looked springy, so I went ahead and made it up to post.

Random Thoughts

If you walk outside, look at the sky and your first thought is about pulling down the luminance on the blue channel for more contrast, is that a sign you’ve been spending too much time at the computer?

New Website!

My new website went live last week! It was long overdue, as my old site had gotten a bit dated and the photos were almost two years old. I really like the new design, and I am able to update it myself with no programming knowledge. Which is good, because I don’t have any and don’t have the time or inclination to learn.

The new site is easy to use, I can tweak it any time, add new photos, captions and change the colors whenever I want. Check it out:

Photographs and stuff!