Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mississippi Delta #3

Sharkey County, Mississippi

Flat, open land inspires a minimalist esthetic. I like this kind of landscape, perhaps because it is so different from the rolling hills and mountains that surround me day-to-day. I like the lines and light, the shapes and textures of the Mississippi Delta. Often simple things have the most power to stir our memory.

I like this picture because I remember standing on the side of that dirt road on a late summer afternoon as the rain scented air rustled around me. I can almost smell it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Washington's Birthday - 2013

Charlotte Hall School - St. Mary's County, Maryland 

The story of George Washington and the cherry tree may be a myth fabricated by one of the President's early biographers, but it was handed down to every schoolchild in America for generations. A portrait of George Washington looked down from the front the classroom to remind us of the founding virtues: honesty, duty, selflessness.

Oh, we joked about it when I was a boy. If we got caught doing something wrong, we were fond of saying "I cannot tell a lie, Father. George Washington did it." To a thirteen year old, this riposte was clever and hilarious, but the lesson was not forgotten: "I cannot tell a lie." Great men speak the truth.

Unfortunately we now have few public figures who exemplify these old fashioned virtues, so let us remember George Washington on this, his birthday. He was a great man, and inspired a young nation to greatness.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Winter trees #1

Greene County, Virginia 

Spring training is underway in Florida and Arizona, places warm enough to get outside and toss the ball around even in February. Baseball is a game of tradition and nostalgia.  Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio—the names still echo from summers past.

Baseball and photography grew up together and the history of the game is well documented in pictures. Classic Spring Training Shots is a collection of photographs taken in spring training camps dating back to 1920. Click here to view and don't miss the 1936 shot of Dizzy Dean. It's a classic.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Third Sunday - February 2013

Greene County, Virginia 

Evergreen Church of the Brethren is nestled in the mountains in a rural part of western Greene County. From its hilltop location, the church commands sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Organized in 1894, Evergreen Church the first Brethren congregation in the county.  The stone building was completed in 1896.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Spring Plowing

Warren County, Mississippi 

Yesterday was sunny and mild here in central Virginia and Spring seemed just around the corner, but the forecast calls for snow this weekend. With snow on the ground and a cold wind blowing off the mountain, the promise of Spring will fade and winter will rule once again. That's the way it goes this time of year, but the first day of Spring is just five weeks away.

Be sure to stop by on Sunday for our monthly Third Sunday feature. This month we will be visiting a beautiful old stone church in a quiet mountain setting.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday morning

                                   Skunk Tails 
One evening last week I stepped outside the basement door to find myself face to face with a skunk. I wasn’t surprised; we had been smelling him around the house for a couple of days. The skunk didn’t seem surprised either. He eyed me with indifference, secure in the knowledge that if I didn’t already know about skunk defenses, he could teach me all I needed to know in about three seconds. Not willing to risk having my intentions misunderstood, I retreated inside, and the skunk went on about his business.

Our first encounter with skunks came many years ago shortly after we moved here. On a warm evening in early summer we came home to find a mother skunk occupying the small deck outside our kitchen door. Three baby skunks were busy chasing each other up and down the steps while mom raided the bird feeder. At that time, we came and went through the kitchen door, and a quick search revealed that neither of us had a key to the other door. We would have to get past the skunks.

Skunks are usually quite reluctant to release their foul spray, but with young to protect, I worried that this mom might be trigger happy so I kept my distance. It would be dark soon though and something needed to be done. I grabbed the garden hose. Perhaps I could out-squirt the squirter. Sure enough the mother skunk seemed quite unnerved by the stream of water coming in her direction, and made for the safety of the bushes nearby. The kits however, were delighted by this turn of events, and ran around in the water like children playing in a fire hydrant.

The mother skunk fussed and stamped her feet and when I turned the hose off  the kits reluctantly rejoined mom. She inspected them, lined them up and led them away into the dusk, tails arched over their backs. We never saw them again.

Skunks pretty much come and go as they please. Their only natural predator is the Great Horned Owl, who apparently has little or no sense of smell. We don't have a Great Horned Owl though, so we had to develop our own tricks to keep skunks away from the house. Last week we hung a trouble lights near where the skunk was nesting and scattered moth balls around under the deck. The skunk, and the smell, are now gone.
Apparently skunks don’t like the smell of moth balls. Ironic that.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A winter morning walk #5

Mute Swan in flight - Green County, Virginia

Near the end of our winter morning walk we find ourselves standing on the earthwork dam that forms the lake, listening to to the sound of a mute swan approaching. Swans are strong flyers and their wings make a strange creaking, almost eerie sound that can be heard at quite a distance. (Click here to hear the wing sounds on a short video.)  The swan flies directly overhead and out over the lake, where he circles and makes another pass before disappearing into the fog.

Hope you have enjoyed our walk this week. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading Photography In Place.

The swan circles overhead before flying off to the other end of the lake.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A winter morning walk #3

Greene County, Virginia 

Let's stop here for a moment. If I were a plein air painter, which I am not, I would carry a paintbox and a small easel instead of a camera. Alongside the path, I would clamp a small panel in my easel and, facing the line of trees on the edge of that field, paint a quick study—weeds and trees—with a palette of sienna, umber, green and purple.

If I were a painter, my brush could create sycamore trees where they are needed for light and contrast, but as a photographer, I am pleased that nature provided these sycamores, for without them, there would be no picture.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A winter morning walk #2

Greene County, Virginia 

The woods are a little ragged along here. The undergrowth is heavy and downed trees lay scattered on the forest floor. A few gnawed and pointed stumps suggest the haphazard logging of beavers, but there is no sign of them now.

Sweater and jacket feel good in the damp morning air. The dampness in the woods brings out faded browns and timid oranges and pale greens, winter colors that give off a faint but lovely glow in the heavy air, suggesting a warmth that is still months away.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A winter morning walk #1

Greene County, Virginia 

Let's go for a walk. The morning is foggy and not too cold. The air is still and except for our footsteps on the path all is quiet. Even the geese out on the lake are silent for now, but they are a quarrelsome bunch and unlikely to be quiet for long. When the fog starts to lift, they will  fly off together to spend the morning picking over a nearby farm field. It happens like this: one goose suggests it is time to go with a raspy two note call—hronk-a. Another goose agrees—hronk-a...hronk-a. Soon they all join in and, in a loud, excited hronk-a cacophony, rise from the water in unison. Geese love to fly. The noise is deafening; you can't even hear yourself think.

But it is not a morning for thinking; it is a morning for seeing and listening. The geese are gone now and it is silent once again. Let's see how the woods look on a foggy, winter morning.

Friday, February 1, 2013