Catoctin in Autumn

A mountain park an hour away from northern Virginia. Shenandoah National Park is a very busy place in mid to late October. A similar view of trees (without the vistas that you see in Shenandoah) can make for a relaxing few hours enjoying the beauty of fall.

Still Not Handel – Water Music II

Another Saturday, another walk at Huntley Meadows. This time, on the larger wetland area, the water reflected the yellow flowers on the opposite shore while barely perceptible breeze distorted the mirrored image almost imperceptibly. I waited for a duck, a goose, anything to swim in the middle of the scene while in the corner of my eye I was watching two shorebirds on the same opposite shore. After a while, I started thinking about impressionist paintings, namely the water lilies of Monet. Handel will have to wait.

Channeling Renoir (and Manet)

One can keep going to the garden and take the same kind of pictures. Overviews of flowerbeds with a wide angle lens. Macro photographs of bees. And you can come up with some incredible pictures. Here’s the deal, whatever you do. The most important thing that you can do to make a good picture is understand light. That’s it. Photography, after all, captures light reflected from objects. Or light emanating from light sources. Direct lighting. Diffused lighting. Specular lighting. Harsh. Soft. Color temperature. The angle of light in the scene. Background, side, foreground lighting. Light is always there, in every picture that you take. You might as well learn to work with it.

What does this little blurb have to do with these pictures? Well, you can use a combination of diffused lighting and strong back lighting to create pictures that evoke the feel of an impressionist painting. Are these pictures the next van Gogh, Renoir or Manet painting that takes the world by storm. No. Though when I look at them, I feel the beauty that they saw, and know there is still much to be learned. About flowers. About light. About art. About life.

And what lens did I use for these photographs? Not a macro lens. Not a wide angle lens. I was looking for birds, you see, and I saw flowers instead. Yes, that incredible Sony 200-600mm lens.

Thank You, Brandon Sanderson!

For giving us such great books to fill our minds (and hearts) with wonder. For the words that provide inspiration every day:

“The most important words a man can say are, “I will do better.” These are not the most important words any man can say. I am a man, and they are what I needed to say.

The ancient code of the Knights Radiant says “journey before destination.” Some may call it a simple platitude, but it is far more. A journey will have pain and failure. It is not only the steps forward that we must accept. It is the stumbles. The trials. The knowledge that we will fail. That we will hurt those around us.

But if we stop, if we accept the person we are when we fall, the journey ends. That failure becomes our destination. To love the journey is to accept no such end. I have found, through painful experience, that the most important step a person can take is always the next one.

Lotus Flowers

Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia is a beautiful sanctuary near Wolf Trap Farm Park (itself a wonderful performance venue). It was closed for several months due to the pandemic, but has since opened to the public. A great place for a walk, with gently rolling trails, three small ponds, flowers in the spring and summer months.