Friday, January 30, 2015

Ice on the rocks

Shenandoah National Park 

Cascades of ice are a common feature along the Skyline Drive in winter. This picture was taken in late November during the first of the cold weather. Now the upper elevations of the Blue Ridge are covered with snow.

Stay warm and have a great weekend. Thanks for reading Photography In Place.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Geese on ice

Greene County, Virginia 

A couple of days ago I walked down to the lake to see what the geese were up to. We have been hearing them in the evening arguing about whatever it is that geese argue about. Maybe they are not arguing, but they honk as loud as they can and all at the same time, like Democrats and Republicans discussing politics on TV. You can't make heads or tales of it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Botanical #25

Common mullein 

Sunday afternoon I went out in the yard to find a mid-winter subject for the Botanicals series. In the bare and brown garden the soft, hairy leaves of a small mullein (Verbascum thapsus) plant stood out. Mullein is a weed and it will be rooted out this spring, but in the middle of January, it is a welcome spot of green.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Greene County, Virginia 

Last week Mike Johnston sparked quite a discussion on The Online Photographer concerning "scenic" photography. (Read it here and here.) Mike says:

"Scenic photography sometimes seems to me to refer to itself more than it does to the actual places photographed. It's almost like the places themselves are no longer experienced for what they are, but are reduced to their status as photo opportunities."

Many questions were raised. What is the distinction between scenic photography (what I call calendar photography), and landscape photography. What information can and should a photo convey? How important is context?  What is the role of beauty, and is beauty alone enough to make a "good" photo?  How about the the emotion of the photographer when the picture was made? Can that feeling be passed on to the viewer?

This past Friday morning I went down to the dam that forms the small lake where I live. I stood on the dam and my eyes followed the recently graded spillway past the trees and into the farm beyond. Went back home and got the camera. The picture is not particularly beautiful in a "scenic" way, and is unlikely to end up on any glossy calendar page. But it is a place familiar to me, a place close to home that I saw with fresh eyes that morning in the pale winter sunlight.

Like most photographers, I attempt my share of "calendar shots," but the photos that please me and keep me wanting to photograph are the ones that capture something that I can't quite articulate, and that perhaps no one else sees.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015


Currituck County, North Carolina 

 As we left the dock and followed the creek into the swamp, signs of the modern world quickly faded away. It is a place unchanged for decades. But in this area of North Carolina, civilization is never very far away. A road passes through the swamp, and from the water, a road sign seems out of place. But it tells us we are almost back to the dock; our day in the swamp is drawing to a close.

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Duck boxes

Currituck, North Carolina 

These duck boxes, intended for wood ducks (aix sponsa), have seen better days. Wood duck ducklings leave the nest and drop into the water the day after they are hatched and although the mother duck calls to them and stays close, the ducklings can swim and find their own food.

Duck boxes have been a key element in the conservation of this species. Before the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty, the population of wood ducks was gravely endangered. Regulation of market hunting, habitat protection and the proliferation of artificial nesting boxes brought the wood duck from the brink of extinction to what is today a healthy population.

As we approached these duck boxes in the inflatable boar, the air was filled with hundreds of ducks. Flight after flight rose into the air and disappeared into the swamp. A few blurry pictures of distant ducks on the wing was all I could manage; these dilapidated nesting boxes were the best I could do duck-wise.

(Read here about wood ducks on the Scuppernong river from a 2011 swamp trip.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Cypress swamp

Currituck, North Carolina 

In the past several years, I have made more than a dozen trips to the cypress swamps of eastern North Carolina. It is a rich and varied environment where it is possible to find quiet and solitude in a setting seemingly untouched by the modern world. Early December 2014 again found me exploring the swamps in a small inflatable boat. Join me this week for photographs taken on Cowells Creek in Currituck County.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Appomattox Court House

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia

The original Court House for Appomattox County was built in 1846 and destroyed by fire in 1892. On the day of the General Lee's surrender, the Court House was closed (it was Palm Sunday) and did not figure in the events that took place as the war ended. The Court House was reconstructed in 1964 and today serves as the visitor center for the park.

After the Court House burned in 1892, the county seat was moved to nearby Appomattox Depot. The modern town of Appomattox grew up around the railroad, and the village where the Civil War ended was mostly abandoned until 1935, when the National Park was established and the restoration of Appomattox Court House began.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lafayette Meeks

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park - Virginia 

Francis Meeks was a storekeeper, druggist and postmaster in the small village of Appomattox Court House at the beginning of the Civil War. His son, Lafayette, died from typhoid fever while serving in the Second VA Cavalry His single gravestone lies in an open field west of the village. The stone reads:

In Memory Of
Lafayette W. Meeks
Son of
Fransis and Maria Meeks,
Born March 2, 1843;
And died in defence of his country October 4th, 1861
at Fairfax C.H. House, Va.

He was a member of the Appomattox Rangers, in 
which company he served faithfully in the battles
 Bull Run and Manassas

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

McLean House

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park 

This photograph of the McLean house was taken from the top of the nearby hill where a small Confederate cemetery holds the graves of eighteen Confederate soldiers and one Union soldier, killed on April 8th and 9th, just before Lee and Grant met in the McLean house to end the war.

The McLean house was dismantled in 1893 with the intention of moving it to Washington D.C. as a war museum. The plans fell through and the piles of brick and lumber were left to rot. In the 1940s, the National Park Service reconstructed the house on it original foundation.

McLean House - 1865  
This photograph, taken by Timothy O'Sullivan, shows the McLean House as it appeared in April, 1865. The family of the house's owner, Wilmer McLean, are seated on the steps. (Photo - Library of Congress)

Monday, January 5, 2015


Appomattox Court House National Historic Park - Appomattox County, Virginia 

Welcome back. Hope you enjoyed the Holidays and are ready for the new year. Today begins the sixth year of Photography In Place, and I want to start by thanking everyone who has visited and commented over the years.  As in the past, we will publish a new post every weekday morning at 7:00 with weekend posts every now and again.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the surrender of Robert E. Lee to Ulysses Grant and the end of  America's Civil War. The surrender took place in the village of Appomattox Court House on April 9th, 1865.

Last November, I spent three days in Appomattox County photographing in the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park and surrounding areas. For the next few days, we will be exploring this historic site. Hope you will join us.

Thursday, January 1, 2015