Sunday, February 28, 2010

Westover United Methodist Church - Greene County, Virginia

This church was built in 1912 on a hill surrounded by rolling farmland with the Blue Ridge Mountains close on the horizon. The frame building, which cost $1200 to construct, was completed and dedicated in 1913.

The church sanctuary is home to an organ which was donated by Andrew Carnegie, who began donating organs to churches and schools in 1873 and eventually gave away over 8000 organs. The Westover organ was transported by train to Gordonsvillle, Virginia, and was delivered to the church by horse drawn wagon, a distance of about 20 miles.

There is a small cemetery on the church property.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Machine shed 

In this place: Fray's Mountain Road, Albemarle County, Virginia 
Part three -  see part one, part two of this series

The snow is melting and running off the shed roof in a steady stream. After weeks of bitter cold, forty degrees seems almost like spring.

Summer foliage will hide the barn from the road, but now, winter vines and thorn bushes screen the view like a lace curtain. The sky is full of clouds the color of dirty snow, and here and there the sun breaks through, and just a touch of blue. No one is about. The surrounding fields are empty.

It is Saturday afternoon; the chores are all done and everything is quiet. Linger a while before the winter night.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


In this place: Fray's Mountain Road, Albemarle County, Virginia
Part two - see yesterday's post for part one of this series

These photos were all shot with the digital camera, and I initially converted them to black and white. While I was shooting, I was thinking in black and white. But as a group of related pictures, I think that color works best. Also, I like the muted, almost monochromatic winter colors.

Click on photos to enlarge

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barn and Field

In this place: Fray's Mountain Road, Albemarle County, Virginia
Part one

We often edit photos to find that "winning" shot that might become a portfolio candidate or a picture to print and display. But if you think of photography as a process of exploration, the editing goals change. Rather than focus on the winners, we look for a series of shots that tells a story or imparts a sense of place. After all, who would send Lewis and Clark to explore the American West with instructions to bring back only the one or two very best discoveries.

Last Saturday, I spotted this barn and machine shed and stopped to take some pictures. When I got home, I had about 40 exposures. Over the next several days, we will explore this place in a series of photos chosen, not because they are "winners," but because they show what I discovered on a cloudy Saturday afternoon with a camera.
Click on photos to enlarge

Monday, February 22, 2010

Trees and fence-row - Greene County, Virginia

Winter in the field

I stop beside an old fence-row
to watch the winter shadows
   reach across the snow.

Silent, but for a dog's distant bark
and evening birds
rustling in the dark hedge,
    winter in the breast.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church - next to Charlottersville-Albemarle Airport, Virginia 

When I took this photo in April, 2008, I had no idea that the airplane coming in over the church posed a threat to the church building's very existence. The Federal Aviation Administration, under revised runway safety rules, has determined that the church, located at the south end of the runway, is in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport's safety zone, and must be removed.

Sale of the church property and building to the airport was completed last summer and the congregation must move within twelve months. They are building a new church nearby. Unable to meet the criteria for protection as a historic site, the fate of the building is unclear, although it is certain that it must be removed from the property.

Saturday, I drove by the church and took some more pictures. In a few months, photographs and memories may be all that is left of this 135-year-old building.
Click on photos to enlarge. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Early moon on Pantops Mountain, Charlottesville, Virginia

 In 1948, Wright Morris published Home Place, a narrative with each page of text accompanied by a photograph on the facing page. The book was not particularly successful, and there have been few attempts at this form over the years. Wright Morris became successful as both a photographer and a writer and he writes about the two creative disciplines in his book Time Pieces - Photographs, Writing and Memory. (Aperture, 1999)

Dory Adams is a writer and photographer who explores the relationship between pictures and words in her blog In This Light. Each week Dory writes about writers, writing, books and photography. In a recent post titled Photographs as Family Story, for example, she  talks about how family photographs inform and expand the story of  one's family over the years. As lovers of both image and the written word, Dory Adams and Wright Morris would have found plenty to talk about together.

A link to In This Light has been added to the links in the sidebar.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Falling snow, Stanardsville, Virginia

One of the things I find interesting about small towns is how the rural landscape presses right up to the edge of town. This picture was taken less than 100 yards from US 33, the "main drag" through Stanardsville.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do not tell - Charlottesville, Virginia  

Off Topic: 28 in twenty-eight

You may have heard of Solo Photo Book Month (SoFoBoMo) where photographers attempt to photograph, write, design and produce a photo book, start to finish, in one month. Writers have National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and musicians have National Solo Album month (NaSoAlMo) all with the goal of producing a novel or an music album in one month.

Robert Ian Winstin, a composer, conductor and performer based in Portsmouth, Virginia has done something a bit different. Each day in February, Mr Winstin will compose and perform a new piece of music and post the result on his blog 28 in twenty-eight where you can listen to the new work, read about it's creation and even download the sheet music.*

The music for today is "Blues Etude #2" which Mr Winstin describes as a "piece that puts the technical ferocity and demands of a Chopin 'Etude' with the immediately accessible elements of a 'Blues' pattern."

28 in twenty-eight is neither pedantic or pretentious. Visit and enjoy.  It is all great fun

*Yes, I know it is already the middle of the month, but I just found this today. Better late than never?

Click on photo to enlarge

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

 Steam train, signal - Heidelberg, Germany - 1972

 If memory serves, this photo is a companion to this photo; same train, same vantage point but facing the other way as the train roared under the bridge where I was standing.

Scratch the surface of a railroad enthusiast and you are likely to find a photographer. Some railway photographers focus primarily on straightforward "roster shots," documenting locomotives and rolling stock. Some take a broader view and seek to place the railroad in the context of its culture and history. The best work of  photographers such as David Plowden, Jim Shaughnessy, or O. Winston Link transcends the genre and appeals to a wide audience.

The Photographers' Railroad Page presents the work of amateur photographers who tell personal stories of their involvements with photography and railroads. On the 1st and 15th of each month, a new picture is posted along with a brief story written by the photographer. The story might tell of an adventurous day chasing trains, share memories of people and places long past, or describe the experience of a special day with camera and railroad.

The Photographers' Railroad Page is well worth a visit twice a month. Take some time to browse the archive. Visions Shared, by Dory Adams from June 1, 2008, is a good place to start and serves as an excellent introduction to the concept and spirit of the site.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Formerly St. Marks Catholic Church, Gordonsville, Virginia 

St. Mark's Catholic Church is in the process of being transformed into the Gordonsville Branch Library. The Catholic Diocese of Arlington traded Orange County the church and property on Gordonsville's main street for some property owned by the county.  The Gordonsville Friends of the Library have raised nearly $300,000 to convert and expand the church building to house the library. The church sanctuary will be used as a reading room.

These pictures were taken in the fall of 2007 while the fund-raising effort was underway. Construction was started last summer and is expected to be completed soon.

I drove through Gordonsville a couple of weeks ago and from the outside, the construction looks nearly complete. Happily, the original church building and facade facing the main street has been preserved mostly intact while a large addition stretches out to the back of the original building.

It is a little sad when a building is no longer able to fulfill the role for which it was originally built, but if an old church is to be reused, a library seems like a good use of it. And thanks to the library, this old church is not being being torn down to make way for an office building or parking lot.

Sitting in the old sanctuary and reading a good book is an inviting prospect.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guest Photographer: Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a friend with whom I share many interests. And though our interests may coincide, we often take very different approaches. For example, both Jim and I are woodturners. Jim turns beautiful pens from wood and other material. I have never turned a pen, preferring to turn bowls.

As photographers, we share an interest in exploring the remnants of our rural past and the history of the places around us. But again, our approach is very different. My photographs come straight from the camera, with little or no post processing. For Jim, the original photograph is just the starting point for his creative interpretation.

You can see more of Jim's work at his Picasa Gallery.

All photographs copyright ©2009 Jim Thomas. Used with permission. Click on pictures to see them larger.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Robin in snow, Greene County, Virginia

If this fellow is competing for the title of First Robin of Spring, he is much too early and not even first. A large flock of robins showed up unexpectedly around here last week and for several days the trees have been full of them, looking out of place in the snow. I read that robins can fly up to 200 miles in a day. There were no robins in the yard today and I hope they have flown 200 miles away from the bitter cold wind that blows here tonight.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Whatever we have done, Kertész did first." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

On Reading - André Kertész

The recent release of the iPad touched off another round of speculation about the future of the printed book. Will ink and paper give way to glowing pixels? Will groaning bookshelves give way to electronic devices capable of reducing an entire library to a plastic box small enough to fit in purse or briefcase? Will people even read at all.

André Kertész's photo essay, On Reading, is not about books, but about people reading. The earliest photograph shows three small boys sharing a book in Esztergom, Hungary in 1915. The most recent photograph in the book is of a man reading on a New York rooftop in 1970. This slim volume spans over 50 years of Kertesz's career, and each of the 66 photographs is intensely seen, dense with life.

Consider: La Havre, France, 1948. In front of a battered brick building , a lampost stands at a crazy angle in front on a curtained window. The wooden shutters are open. A woman inside, holding a book close to her face, reads in the window light.

Consider: A man and woman at the Medici Fountain, Paris in 1928. The woman hold a briefcase and portfolio on her lap. At first glance, it could be a businessman and his secretary on lunch break. But notice that the woman is touchng him.. Their heads are bent together over a book, and they seem lost in their own world.

Consider: Belleview Forest, Paris, 1931. A woman sits on the ground alone, surrounded by leaf-less trees. Her legs are stretched straight out in front of her and she is reading a newspaper. Beside her on the ground is a folded overcoat, and on top of that, a man's hat. 

Consider: On a small roof-top terrace in Paris, 1963, a man sits alone reading a newspaper. A trellis made of wire forms a canopy over his head, and in flower boxes perched on the very edge of the terrace a vining plant is starting to grow, morning glories perhaps, or beans. It is early spring. The flue thimbles on the surrounding roofs look like flower pots.

This is a small book, one to return to again and again, to linger over. It is a book to be read, although it contains just pictures, no words.

Someday, On Reading will no doubt be available for download to your portable electronic device. And that's fine. But as a lifelong lover of ink and paper, I'll take the printed book, find a quiet corner with good light, and read.
A selection of the photographs in On Reading is available at this web gallery.

On Reading was first published in 1971 and was re-issued by W.W. Norton in 2008. It is still in print and available in bookstores and online. Photography In Place is not affiliated with any book seller and does not profit from sales of this book.

Monday, February 8, 2010

House in falling snow - Stanardsville, Virginia

I took this photo last Friday morning  in the town of Stanardsville while I was out before the storm. There was only a few inches on the ground, but it was snowing heavily. I liked the way the back of this house looked as the snow came down, rendering the scene almost monochromatic.

It snowed all day Friday, and by the time it stopped late in the day on Saturday, we had 18" of snow on the ground.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Woolen Mills Chapel, Charlottesville, Virginia

East of Charlottesville, along the Rivanna River, a community grew up around the Charlottesville Woolen Mills. The company built housing for the workers to live near the factory, and in 1887 contributed a plot of land and $150 for the construction of a chapel. Contruction of the Gothic Style structure began in July, 1887, and was completed by Christmas. In 1908, a Sunday School wing, also funded by the company, was built.

The mill went out of business in the early 1960s, but the chapel still serves the community.

More information about the Woolen Mills Chapel and the historic community surrounding it is available at the Woolen Mills website. Of particular interest is The Woolen Mills Village, 1920, a Snapshot, a tour of the Woolen Mills district with both vintage and contemporary photographs, along with historical information about some of the people who lived and worked in this place.

UPDATE: Bill Emory just let me know that he has posted some photos of the Woolen Mills District taken during the snow storm that hit the Charlottesville area this weekend. Be sure to take a look.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Behind the drugstore - Stanardsville, Virginia

It has been snowing all day. Snow is forecast through tomorrow (Saturday) with accumulations of around 24". After running a few errands in town this morning, I came home and got out the cantankerous old 80-320mm zoom and set up the tripod in the kitchen window to record the activities of the birds in the snow.

Mockingbirds have been coming to the feeder for the past couple of days, a sign of the harsh winter.

We also had an unusual visit from a beautiful yellow-shafted flicker this morning.

And  the cardinals, they live out their lives in this place, summer and winter, good weather and bad. I look out the window everyday and see them. They are part of us.

Click on pictures to see them larger

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Greene County, Virginia

"Contemplating" Medium Format
There was an article in a photography magazine the other day where, once again, a landscape photographer mentioned the "contemplative" nature of using a view camera. On internet forums this is a common refrain among medium format and large format camera owners. People considering a medium format setup often opine that a medium format camera "will force me to slow down and take a more contemplative approach to photography."

If you want to slow down, just slow down. Is there any camera that limits the amount of time you have to take a picture? (Unless the batteries are about to die, but that is a different problem.) If you want your photography to be more contemplative, here's what I suggest; spend more time contemplating the place you wish to photograph. Walk around. Feel the air. Listen to the sounds. Learn something about the history of the place. You don't even need a camera to do that. Then set up the camera and begin to photograph. Take all the time you want between shots. The camera will wait.

There is nothing particularly contemplative about operating a camera. A camera that is slow to operate might slow you down, but it is not going to make you more contemplative.

By the way, the shot at the top of this post was taken on Fuji Neopan Acros 100 with a Mamiya RB67 and 90mm lens. I love using medium format. I love the process of shooting with medium format and the large negative that results. There is something about looking down into the large and bright viewfinder of the RB67 that my 35mm cameras cannot match. But in the end photography happens in the mind and in the eye; cameras are just tools.

Barn and Garden - Criglersville - Madison County, Virginia
"I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Such a variety of subjects, some one always coming to perfection, the failure of one thing repaired by the success of another, and instead of one harvest, a continued one thro' the year. Under a total want of demand except for our family table. I am still devoted to the garden. But tho' an old man, I am but a young gardener." -  Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Willson Peale, Poplar Forest, August 20, 1811

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Greene County, Virginia 

On the Web: Photo Radio

One might think of podcasts as radio programs that can be downloaded and played on a computer or portable MP3 player. As luck would have it, there are podcasts about photography, Photo Radio, if you will. Here are three photography related podcasts that I listen to regularly.

Brooks Jensen is the editor of Lenswork magazine and puts out a regular podcast called On Photography and the Creative Process. These short talks, thoughtful and articulate, cover photographic topics in an average of about five minutes. As a bonus, there are over 550 free archived podcasts on the site and they are well worth the time. I have found these podcasts to be a source of inspiration, instruction, and encouragement.

Jeff Curto's Camera Position also reflects on the creative processes of photography. Camera Position covers a wide range of topics that focus on "the essential qualities of the medium from the point of view of the creative photographer." Jeff Curto teaches photography at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and Camera Position is like an informal, after class chat with a favorite professor.

Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer, and teacher, who produces and hosts The Candid Frame. About every two weeks, he interviews a successful professional photographer, from the well known such as Joel Meyerowitz and Jay Maisel to the up and coming but not so well known. The interviews often focus on the concerns of the professional photographer, but anyone can glean fascinating insights into the creative process of working photographers. Brooks Jensen and Jeff Curto have both been interviewed on The Candid Frame.

Links to these podcasts are included in the sidebar under the new heading Photo Radio.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Greene County, Virginia

Sunday afternoon I took the camera and went for a walk. There was six inches of new snow on the ground and the late afternoon sun was about to dip below the horizon. The snow was like a clean, white sheet of drawing paper to sketch on. This picture was taken with the Pentax K10d before my hands got too cold to work the camera.