Morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Virginia-North Carolina border.
Morning is peace. Morning is calm. Morning is a photographer’s favorite time of day. The light, the hues and the early morning mists all combine to make capturing a beautiful image fun and easy.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
And if your spirit
carries within it
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
–A morning poem by Mary Oliver
A Blue Ridge morning. Who could ask for more?
At first glance, the skeptic in all of us would say this shot of the back side Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County, Virginia, has been Photoshopped.
On a cloudy day when the clouds dropped right down to the top of the mountain, the morning light provided the right balance for saturated colors. I shot the image on a Nikon D1H at 200 ISO with the white balance set on tungsten which provided more saturation but that was it.
Photoshop? We don’t need no stinkin’ Photoshop. Well, actually, we do but just not in this case
Smith Mountain Lake, Franklin County, Virginia, early morning.
As development on the lake booms, scenes like this become harder to find. Lakefront homes, restaurants with boat docks, public access ramps all litter the landscape. Of course the farmers who lost their land when the power company flooded the valleys to create the lake to power a hydro-electric dam can argue that the view was never that great anyway. Not when you consider what it costs them.
Can progress and natural beauty coexist? Good question.
The sun sets over the Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob.
I’ve watch the sun set on every continent on this Earth but Blue Ridge sunsets remain my favorite. Sometimes I take the long way home just so I can sit alongside a rode and wait for the sun to dip behind the mountains.
How the old Mountains drip with Sunset
How the Hemlocks burnâ€”
How the Dun Brake is draped in Cinder
By the Wizard Sunâ€”
How the old Steeples hand the Scarlet
Till the Ball is fullâ€”
Have I the lip of the Flamingo
That I dare to tell?
Then, how the Fire ebbs like Billowsâ€”
Touching all the Grass
With a departingâ€”Sapphireâ€”featureâ€”
As a Duchess passedâ€”
How a small Dusk crawls on the Village
Till the Houses blot
And the odd Flambeau, no men carry
Glimmer on the Streetâ€”
How it is Nightâ€”in Nest and Kennelâ€”
And where was the Woodâ€”
Just a Dome of Abyss is Bowing
These are the Visions flitted Guidoâ€”
Domenichino dropped his pencilâ€”
Paralyzed, with Goldâ€”
Mountain streams send fresh water cascading down to the valleys, keeping the water table stable and providing nourishment for grass, crops and animals.
The Blue Ridge is blessed with many such streams which form an arterial network that feeds the body of the mountain range. Water has long been the lifeblood of agricultural communities but is no less important for urban living. Water is such a natural part of our lives that we normally only miss it when it is gone.
But streams also provide unique opportunities for photographers. Capturing the flow of a stream is part luck, part skill and pure chance. Slower shutter speeds blur the flow of water and add to the highlights of color.
This stream feeds into Burks Fork Creek not far from our farm along Buffalo Mountain Road in Floyd County. If it has a name, I’ve never known it nor has anyone who lives nearby.
Fall of last year in Floyd County near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The kind of mountain morning photo that I need to bring back memories of the Blue Ridge while I’m stuck here in Northern Virginia for the move from hell.
This is the time of year when I should be in the mountains shooting, not in a city packing and moving boxes.
Nobody said life was fair and it sure ain’t.
Fall. Autumn. Time of changes. Time of color. Leaves change color and fall (hence the name).
Time for the World Series, a big deal in our home because Amy is from the St. Louis area and a lifelong Cardinals fan. I’d like to see the Red Sox win it all so we don’t discuss the series.
Time for make or break time in NASCAR’s chase for the championship. The stockers visit Martinsville this weekend and the race remains a rare bright spot in a town devastated by the loss of furniture manufacturing jobs.
Time for an election, this season the once-every-four-years battle for the White House. A bitter campaign comes to an end but the election in 2000 taught us that some elections don’t end when the ballots are counted or even recounted. Will this Presidential election be decided in the voting booth or the courtroom? In the fall of 2004, we can only hold our breath and wait.
Muse – 1
Function: verb Inflected Form(s): mused; muse·ing
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French muser to gape, idle, muse, from muse mouth of an animal, from Medieval Latin musus intransitive senses 1 : to become absorbed in thought; especially : to turn something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively 2 archaic : WONDER, MARVEL transitive senses : to think or say reflectively synonym see PONDER – muse·er noun Muse – 2
Function: noun : a state of deep thought or dreamy abstraction Muse – 3
Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin Musa, from Greek Mousa 1 capitalized : any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences 2 : a source of inspiration; especially : a guiding genius 3 : POET
That’s what the dictionary says. What I say is all you have to do is see what I see in the mountains each morning (like the photograph above, taken early one morning just off U.S. 221 outside of Willis) and no further explanation is needed.
(The photo effect of this scene, taken just before sunrise, was achieved by setting the white balance of my digital SLR to "tungsten," which added the blue tint to the photo. I then enhanced the colors in Photoshop)