Friday, March 30, 2012

Currituck BBQ Company

Barco, North Carolina 

Next week we will be looking at pictures from my recent trip to North Carolina. The Outer Banks is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the mid-east, but we spent our days on the mainland exploring  the swamps and wetlands of coastal North Carolina. It is beautiful there in the early spring.

Thanks for reading Photography In Place, and I hope that you will visit next week.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vanishing Landscape

Madison County, Virginia 

Barns and other rural buildings will someday disappear. Each year more and more fall into neglect and eventually will collapse or be torn down. But many of these old buildings remain. Within a few miles of where I live dozens of farm buildings and barns still stand as icons of a rural past.

Drive-in theaters also once dotted the landscape but they are rapidly disappearing and, unlike barns, may be gone completely within a very few years.  According to Carl Weese, the necessity of upgrading to expensive digital projectors may be the death knell for most if not all of the remaining drive-ins, and he is determined to record as much of this important part of our cultural history as he can before the last theater closes its gates.

Carl has traveled extensively east of the Mississippi to document the theaters, working in large format black and white. Now, with the demise of so many theaters imminent, Carl is planning an extended trip to the west to photograph the remaining theaters and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund his trip. In addition to an excellent introduction to this project on the Kickstarter page (including a video), Carl has more information on his Working Pictures blog, and Mike Johnston had a nice write-up on The Online Photographer yesterday.

If you are of a certain age, you will most likely have fond memories of starlight nights with a speaker hanging on the window and the white screen backed by a dark line of trees. Supporting Carl's work is a good way to help preserve the memory of this unique American institution.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Early Blooming Dogwood

Dismal Swamp State Park - South Mills, North Carolina 

Last week I had the opportunity to spend four days in coastal North Carolina, roaming south as far as Swan Quarter and north to the Great Dismal Swamp at the Virginia/North Carolina border. The weather was warm and sunny, and spring was well underway so that I had to keep reminding myself that it is March and not May.

By Sunday afternoon  the weather had cooled some and it was raining off and on. The photo above is the very last shot of the trip, taken near the Great Dismal Swamp as I was on my way home. I will be posting more pictures from this North Carolina trip next week.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March Farmland

Greene County, Virginia

"A March morning is only a drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese. I once knew an educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa, who told me that she had never heard or seen the geese that twice a year proclaim the revolving seasons to her well-insulated roof. Is education possibly a process of trading awareness for things of lesser worth? The goose who trades his is soon a pile of feathers."
from A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold,  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March Geese

Greene County, Virginia 

"One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.

"A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed. But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no easy chance for retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges."
from A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First day of Spring, 2012

Greene County, Virginia 

Winter was a mild mannered old man this year. Can't say he will be missed, but he brought us no big snow storms to shovel, no bitter cold winds or frozen pipes. He did not linger, but gave way to Spring with good grace.

I am getting to be an old man myself; let me be like this year's old man winter. Let me not inconvenience anyone, or overstay my welcome. Let me do no harm to tender things. Let me be mild mannered and, please God, not too cold.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Third Sunday - March 2012

Mt. Zion Church - Marksville, Virginia 

A simple white sign by the side of a back road pointed down a country lane to Mt Zion Church. The church was not visible from the road, but a long driveway led through the trees to the top of a knoll, and there sat the church, surrounded by farmland. To the east, beyond the cemetery the Blue Ridge Mountains were shrouded in clouds.

I walked through the gates of the cemetery. Sunlight broke through the clouds and played over the fields where cows grazed. I stood for a long time at the pasture fence watching the cows and the clouds over the mountains. An old hymn tune began to run around in my head, and I recognized it as one of my Mother's favorites. I looked back up at the church building and thought about spring Sundays many years ago, standing beside her and singing the closing hymn, just waiting to be released into the golden sunshine.

The view of the Shenandoah Valley from behind Mt. Zion Church

Friday, March 16, 2012

American Goldfinch

Carduelis tristis

When I first saw this picture, the caption "Hoppin' Mad" immediately came to mind. But of course the bird is not stamping his feet in anger, the camera just caught him as he changed position on the branch.

It is tempting to impute human emotions and motives to wild animals. Movies, television shows and advertisements often depict animals as cute little humanoids. Walt Disney started it all and now we are surrounded by talking ducks and dancing penguins and adorable lizards selling insurance. Some of this is imaginative and fun, but as we become more and more distant from the natural world, we run the risk of missing out on the nourishing enjoyment of learning about nature through direct contact and observation. We miss out on the beauty of things as they are.There is more of interest and more beauty in the goldfinch outside the kitchen window, than there is in all the singing lions and dancing birds that the entertainment industry can conjure up.

I watched this goldfinch for several minutes. Alert for predators, he turned back and forth several times with a motion too sudden and quick to be seen with the eye, but a lucky snap of the shutter caught him mid-air as he hopped and spun around. Maybe he can dance after all.

 Thanks for reading Photography In Place. This week is Third Sunday, so stop by on Sunday for a visit to a church in the Shenandoah Valley.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Small Barn

Madison County, Virginia

My mother used to call scenes like this "homey looking." She grew up in country that looked very much like this and the places that we know as children seem to be permanently imprinted on us.  I stopped along the road to take this picture and thought how she would have enjoyed seeing this place. I guess we all carry around an image of home somewhere in the back of our hearts along with the memory of those we loved.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

E.J. Lavino & Co. Steam Locomotive #34

Lynchburg, Virginia 

This 0-6-0 tank engine was built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1923. It was acquired by E.J. Lavino in 1946. The locomotive was displayed for many years at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, but I understand that it has been acquired by the Roanoke Chapter of the the National Railway Historical Society and moved. For a 1990 photograph of #34 when it was on display at the VMT, see here.

E.J. Lavino and Co. operated a blast furnace in Lynchburg producing ferro-manganese and this picture was taken at that Lynchburg plant. The company also operated a blast furnace in Pennsylvania, and the locomotive was moved there in November of 1949, which dates this picture to 1946-49. For pictures of what is left of the plant in Lynchburg, visit the Steel Industry Forum.

This is the last of the prints by an unidentified photographer that I came across in a Richmond book shop back in December. The other four may be seen at the following links:

Detail of engine

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

The last of winter

While sitting in traffic near Ruckersville - Greene County, Virginia

Snow started falling in the early morning hours of March 5th. When I left for work, there was about an inch on the ground, but conditions deteriorated rapidly and by the time I got to Ruckersville, traffic was at a crawl on the slick, untreated road. It was snowing hard and accumulating fast and my commute, which normally takes twenty-five minutes, lasted over two hours.

By mid morning some areas in the county had nearly ten inches of snow on the ground, but by early afternoon the roads were clear and by the end of the day the snow was mostly gone. By the end of the week, temperatures were reaching into the low seventies.

That's the way these things go in March, when spring is just around the corner and old man winter is on his way out.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sunday Afternoon in Madison County - #6

Madison County, Virginia

This picture is a companion to the picture from last Friday, taken just a few minutes earlier. Our Sunday afternoon in Madison County is drawing to a close. Next week we have a bird picture, a couple of color landscapes, and the last, and perhaps most unusual print from the group of railroad pictures that I found in a bin at the Richmond Book Shop in December. Hope you will stop by for a visit.

Thanks for reading Photography in Place. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sunday Afternoon in Madison County - #5

Locust Dale - Madison County, Virginia 

Recommended Reading

Marion Post Wolcott  worked for the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and produced a wonderful collection of black and white photographs recording the people and places of the US during the depression. But Wolcott also did some color work that gives an unusual glimpse into a time that is most often defined by black and white photography. Tom Clark's Beyond the Pale blog has a nice collection of color photographs by Marion Post Wolcott along with a short article about her work during those years. Take a look here.

✎ I first came across the work of Louisiana-based photographer Jenny Ellerbe in Lenswork Extended 89. Her web page has a nice sample of her excellent black and white work. Recently she has undertaken a project to photograph ancient Indian burial mounds, and is blogging about it here. Occasionally a really good photograph gets stuck in my head, and I have several of Ellerbe's pictures in my mental gallery. Recommended.

✎ Recently I have been enjoying the posts of a fellow Virginia blogger at Revrunner. I like photography, and I like reading; Revrunner is about both. I have added a permanent link to Revrunner in the sidebar.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sunday Afternoon in Madison County - #3

Oak Park - Madison County, Virginia 

"It takes the passage of time before an image of a commonplace subject can be assessed. The great difficulty of what I attempt is seeing beyond the moment; the everydayness of life gets in the way of the eternal. I contemplate how this photograph will be seen in the future when the subject matter no longer endures. Taking a picture is, indeed, stopping the world."  George Tice
 from Urban Landscapes by George Tice, W.W. Norton, 2002

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday Afternoon in Madison County - #2

Oak Park Post Office - Madison County, Virginia 

Oak Park was my first stop on a sunny Sunday afternoon drive around Madison County. I was on a country road surrounded by open farmland when I came across this old store and post office.

Around the turn of the century, this was known as Lacy's Store. In the past, it was common for the post office to be located inside a store, and in 1928, the Oak Park post office moved into Lacy's Store. The building burned in 1935 and was rebuilt on the original foundation.

In Arcadia Publishing Images of America series book Madison County (2011) there is a picture of the original Lacy's Store from around 1900.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sunday Afternoon in Madison County - #1

Wolftown, Virginia 

Last Sunday afternoon was clear and warm, a foretaste of Spring was in the air and I decided to drive around Madison County and enjoy the nice weather. As I was headed home just before the sun set over the Blue Ridge, I came up behind an old Chevy pick-up truck from the 1950s, and for a moment was transported to an earlier time. There are places in Madison County that still seem to reflect what rural  life was like fifty or sixty years ago.

Join me next week on Photography In Place for a Sunday Afternoon in Madison County.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nikon P7000 - User report

Geranium - The Nikon P7000 excels at macro shots like this, partly because of the depth of field made possible by the small sensor.

Last summer I replaced my 8 year old Nikon 4300 point and shoot, which had started to act flaky, with a  Nikon P7000. Of course by now the P7000 is old news, having been replaced by the P7100, but the newer camera is mostly the same, with a few enhancements including an articulated display.

The P7000 was not meant to replace my DSLR, but I have found that I am using the smaller camera much more than I expected, and have posted many of the results from this camera on Photography In Place. If you are interested in a fairly technical discussion of my experience with this camera, keep reading.