Friday, July 29, 2011

W.H. Snowden - Currituck, North Carolina 

This past week, I have been thinking about the relationship between color and black and white photography.  In many ways, black and white photographs have defined the past for us. From the Civil War through the 1950s, black and white was the "color" of history. For example, our visual experience of World War II is mostly based on black and white photography so that color photos like these taken during the London blitz seem a little strange.

The black and white photo above was taken in 2010 on a rainy Sunday afternoon with my Pentax MX camera loaded with Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cow in the yard - Lydia, Virginia 

When I stopped along the road to take a picture of this abandoned house halfway up the mountain in Lydia, Virginia, several cows and calves came down to the fence to see what I was doing. These were shot in July, 2010 with the Pentax MX on Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Days end - Pennsylvania - 1973

To the best of my recollection, this photo was taken around 1973. I was just out of the Army, home after a tour of duty in Germany and working for a local bi-monthly magazine. This picture ran on the cover of that magazine; the first picture I ever had published. It has always been a favorite of mine.

I don't remember much about the circumstances surrounding this shot, but I do remember developing the film on my knees in the bathroom of our small apartment, the trays in the bath-tub and the enlarger balanced on the toilet seat.

Things were simpler then, but not always easier.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Window and Chair - North Carolina - 1975 

This picture was taken around 1975 on a trip to visit my aunt and uncle in North Carolina. I found this old house in a field near their house.  ( See here for a picture of the exterior.) The broken chair reminds me of the ladder-back chairs in my grandparent's house which may be why I took the picture. That, and the empty expanse of unpainted wall sheltering a forgotten history.

This week, for a change, we are going to be looking at black and white photos from the "archive." Although I do sometimes convert digital photos to black and white, the pictures for this week were all shot on film. This one was shot on Kodak Plus-X.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Piney Point Lighthouse - St Mary's County, Maryland 

Piney Point Lighthouse was built in 1835. Located 14 miles from the Chesapeake Bay, the diminutive lighthouse guided Potomac river mariners until it was decommissioned in 1964. Today, it is part of the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park.

The lighthouse is only 35 feet tall, not much taller than the adjacent light-keeper's dwelling. The small building on the right was used for oil storage. The house is vacant now, but plans are underway to furnish it and open it to the public.

For more information about Piney Point Lighthouse visit Lighthouse Friends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rip-rap on St. Clements Island 

River Scenes
The first settlers from England arrived on St. Clement's Island in 1634 to establish the Maryland Colony. At that time, the island was over 400 acres, but over the centuries the river has washed away all but about 40 acres. Stone rip-rap now surrounds the island in an attempt to halt further erosion.

It is not everyday that one sees a stern-wheeler on the Potomac, or anywhere else for that matter. Several years ago I photographed the Vivian Hannah docked  in Machodoc Creek in King George County, Virginia, so I was happy to chance upon her underway on the Potomac. The 125 foot paddle boat came to Virginia from New Orleans, and is available for charter.

A chart reading error Saturday afternoon took us about ten miles out of the way and past this ruin on Island Creek, on Saint George Island, Maryland. We were looking for the Piney Point Lighthouse and got directions from a couple of men at a dock just up the creek from here. Tomorrow I will be posting pictures from the Piney Point Lighthouse and hope you will visit.  Thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blackistone Lighthouse - St Clement's Island, Maryland 

The Blackistone Lighthouse was built on St.Clement's Island in 1851. The lighthouse and keeper's dwelling are integrated in one structure, with six rooms, a basement, the round light tower rising through the middle and a large, covered front porch looking out on the Potomac River.

The original lighthouse was decommissioned in 1932 and the structure was destroyed by fire in 1956. The reconstructed lighthouse stands near the location of the 1851 structure and was built according to the original architectural plans for the building.

We docked at the island early Saturday morning. When we arrived the lighthouse was locked, but soon volunteers arrived and opened up the building. The rooms of the dwelling are unfurnished and we could walk freely through the building from the cistern in the basement, to the cupola of the lighthouse (there is no lamp) which is reached by circular stairs, and a steep vertical ladder. From the tower, the island and the surrounding Potomac stretched into the distance, lovely in the morning sun.

For more information, take a look at LighthouseFriends and  the Blackistone Lighthouse blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cobb Island, Maryland 

This weekend I made a trip down the Potomac River. We spent Saturday night on Cobb Island, which is on the Maryland side of the river, not far from the Chesapeake Bay.

This week we will be looking at photos from the trip, including two historic lighthouses.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

C&O Passenger Depot -Clifton Forge, Virginia 

The Passenger Depot and JD cabin are both reconstructions built to C&O standard architectural drawings of the period. The finishing touches were still being added to the passenger depot the day I was there. In fact, I had to wait for the painters to take down scaffolding before I could take the picture above.

Related Links
The Great American Stations website has an interesting history of the original station at Clifton Forge here.

C&O 614,  a 4-6-4 J class steam locomotive arrived in Clifton Forge in the evening of the day I was there. I was not able to wait, but did manage to catch a glimpse of 614 on my way home as it passed though the small town of Goshen, Virginia. Photos and story here.

For an update on locomotive 614, along with an excellent video/slideshow made during a night shoot of the locomotive in Clifton Forge, go here.

Glenn, over on Riff's Photography Journal, has a nice shot of a vintage C&O passenger train on the tracks along with a brief history of "Chessie" the cat here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gadsby's Tavern - C&O Railway Heritage Center - Clifton Forge, Virginia 

You leave the Pennsylvania Station 'bout a quarter to four
Read a magazine and then you're in Baltimore
Dinner in the diner
Nothing could be finer
Than to have your ham an' eggs in Carolina*

I have never eaten in the dining car of a train and now it is too late. I regret that. Of course there are excursion trains that serve dinner on-board, but riding an excursion is not the same thing. No, it is not the same thing at all as riding the train with salesman going to the next city, husbands on their way home, families on vacation. The passengers may be lonely or bored, or excited to be going someplace new, or in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I imagine sitting at a table in the diner, surrounded by other travelers, alone with a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. People come and go and the world slips by the window. I'll be home in the morning, but not in time for breakfast.


In 1932, the C&O inaugurated the George Washington as its flagship passenger train with service between Newport News, Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio. Three dining cars built in 1922 were refurbished for the George Washington. Gadsby's Tavern is the only car that survived. The C&O Historical Society owns the car and has restored it to its original 1932 appearance

For a moment as I stood in the door of this old dining car, I could imagine what it might be like to eat dinner here with the sound of the rails beneath my feet. I expected a porter to come through the door on the other end of the car. But I was all alone and the car was still and silent, a ghost of railroading's past.

*Chattanooga Choo Choo - Mack Gordon/HarryWarren

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

C&O Freight Depot - Clifton Forge, Virginia 

This C&O Freight Depot was built in 1895. Through the middle of the 20th century, LTC, "less than car-load" freight was handled by railroads serving towns throughout the country. By about 1960, most of this freight business had been taken away from the railroads by trucks, and freight depots fell into disuse.

On one side of the depot, sidings held incoming boxcars. The shipments were unloaded on the freight platform, and transferred to the platform on the opposite side of the building to be picked up by truck or wagon and delivered to their final destination.

The Freight Depot at Clifton Forge now houses the Heritage Center's gift shop and museum displays.

The safety bulletin pictured above (click on picture to enlarge) is posted on the side of the depot and reads: "Watch Your Step!  8 Killed and 2221 Injured in 1924 Stepping or Tripping on Coal, Boards, Stone, Rubbish or other Loose Material."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Heritage Center - Clifton Forge, Virginia 

Early in May, I visited the C&O Railway Heritage Center at Clifton Forge, Virginia. Clifton Forge is in the mountains of western Virginia, and was once an important rail center. The C&O Historical Society is headquartered in Clifton Forge, and displays artifacts from the C&O including rolling stock, the original freight house and reconstructions of the passenger station and switching tower.

This week we will be looking at photos from my visit to Clifton Forge, and telling a little about the history of the town.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Along the back roads of Greene County, Virginia

Construction of the Interstate Highway system started in 1956. Eisenhower was President, America was in the first blush of post-war prosperity, and Americans took to the roads. High speed, controlled access divided highways began to replace the old routes that were built in the first half of the 20th century. Perhaps the most famous of these old routes was Route 66.

For a great history of the old numbered highway system, check out U.S. Highways: From US1 to (US830). 
"One of the goals of this site is to show where these highways go and have gone. Maybe you will recall road trips from your past, or be inspired to take another one. Maybe you will learn a little more about the historic routes you travel. Recall those twisty old two-lane roads, neon lined motels, and a time when most gas stations had service bays instead of food marts."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Roadside attraction - Great Smoky Mountains - 1951

In 1951, my mother and father and I, along with my aunt and uncle set out on a road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. Memories of that trip, hazy impressions really, are among the earliest memories that I have, conjured in part by a handful of snapshots of the trip that came down to me from my aunt.

Interstate highways are a marvelously efficient way to get to where you are going, but you don't see much while sealed in an air-conditioned car, surrounded by trucks at 70 miles-per-hour. 

Before Interstate highways traveling was as much a part of the adventure of a road trip as arriving at a destination. Sometimes, the road was the destination. Progress was slow, but there was plenty to see along the two lane roads lined with small towns and roadside attractions, otherwise known as tourist traps.

In 1951 we loved tourist traps, and were in no hurry. There was no telling what might turn up just down the road a bit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Yesterday morning I walked outside with the camera. I do that quite often, and over the years have taken thousands of photographs in my yard. It would be the work of a lifetime to document the  individual species of plants and animals that live on this small plot of land, for observation arouses curiosity. What will this plant look like on this Monday morning, the sky pale with clouds and rain in the air? What changes are wrought by weather and the seasons, by cultivation and by neglect? What grows old? What's new?

It is all utterly commonplace. And I never get tired of looking.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011