Roadside Pictures

It was a cloudy day in the D.C. suburbs.  We are getting some badly needed rain.  And, I had to make a short trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia.  So I drive westward on Interstate 66.  The clouds were hanging low as I approached the highlands of Shenandoah National Park.  A little past the exit to the park, the sun peeked through the clouds.  The low lying clouds, the fall colors highlighted by diffused sunlight – it was beautiful.  So what kind of photography can you come up with while taking pictures from the side of a highway?

There’s only one way to find out.  Slowing down from seventy miles per hour, I stopped by the roadside and glanced across the lanes of the interstate.  Nestled in what looked like a small nook by the mountain was a house surrounded by saturated trees sporting saturated autumn colors.  Out came the camera.  One click.  Another click.  Another click.

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It was time to go back to the highway and head westward towards Interstate 81.  The traffic remained relatively light as I reached the junction to I81.  Heading south towards Harrisonburg, the sun was beginning to set towards a horizon barely clear of clouds.  In some spots.  I saw a silo, the sun was setting behind some clouds, and I slowed down again to take more pictures from the highway.

DSC05101_sDSC05103_sAfter ten minutes in Harrisonburg, it was time to go back towards the D.C. suburbs.  It was getting dark rather rapidly, but in the rear view mirror I spied upon a bright red sunset.  The sun was nearly gone as I headed towards an exit at I81 and stopped by a gas station.  Through some barren trees, towards Interstate 81, I saw the last vestiges of light.

DSC03048_sWho knew that a gas station would be a good place to be to watch the sun set?  Photography is incredibly rewarding.  Images are waiting to be taken at almost every moment.  Just keep your eyes open and your mind free.  The pictures will be there for the taking.

Seven Yards, Seventy Degrees

In photography, you pre visualize the images that you want to take.  If a location is nearby and familiar to you, you have probably taken dozens of pictures, each one slightly different, each one a variation of an idea that you want to execute.  I was drinking my morning coffee and walking around the coffee shop, something that I have done a hundred times before.  The modern building across the shop is fairly colorful.  Yellow and red highlights against the brown brickwork and panels.  I brought my camera to take the picture that I envisioned.

DSC05025_sIt turns out, however, that a minute earlier, I took the picture of shadows falling on the walkway and the walls of the building.  A lady with a suitcase fortuitously walked into the scene.  It wasn’t the picture I was planning to take.  It was the picture that presented itself to me.  And, even with all the colorful trimming on the upper part of the building, this picture full of shadows and light looks better in black and white.

Seven yards and seventy degrees.  From one spot, to the other, with the lens pointing in a different angle.  What the GPS will hardly notice, your eye certainly will.  Photography, like life, thrives in the unexpected.

Wet and Wonderful

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon in early September.  I’ve become quite keen on macro photography lately, and with the intermittent nature of the showers, it was time to explore the flowers at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, Virginia.  Raindrops are beautiful when viewed closely, especially when the world around them is refracted and reflected in unpredictable ways.

The garden was not as quiet as I thought it would be.  On the Atrium at the garden, a wedding reception was getting under way.  My first thought was – well, I wonder what kind of wedding pictures the photographer will be able to take.  With a heavy overcast and the rain fairly steady, the wedding party wasn’t spending a lot of time in the beautiful garden.  Sometimes, the best laid plans are thrown asunder by water droplets from the sky.  Still.  A wedding is a celebration, after all.  I suppose wedding photographers will have contingency plans for times like this.  I am glad I am taking pictures of flowers, raindrops, and dew laden plants and not have to worry about pleasing clients on their wedding day.  I wish the newlyweds joy and happiness in their new life.  And may their special day be captured in a special way.

Back to the garden.  The overcast skies made the colors of the flowers really pop out.  It was a feast for the eyes.  The colors!

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Orange, yellow, pinks, purple, red hues, deeply saturated.  The flowers, holding the moisture in their petals. Insects, weighed down by the moisture, slowly drying themselves out in the open air.  Each droplet beckoned to be photograph.  I felt like a bee, moving from flower, to flower, getting ever closer, looking at a familiar world made even more beautiful by the transient beading of water from the sky.

Closer.  Closer still.  Until the world around the flowers can be seen reflected in the droplets that hang precariously on a ledge.  In an instant, a droplet would separate itself from a leaf, from a petal, the reflection rendered so beautifully being pulled down by the invisible force of gravity.  A drip here, a drip there.  Beading, elongating, falling.  Focus.  Focus.  Images go in and out of focus as the lens points excitedly to yet another seemingly frozen moment of time.  Click.  Click. Click.  Each drop a picture.  Each drop a memory.  Nature paused and I was transfixed.

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