Following the storm earlier this week, the weather conditions have produced some spectacular sunrise and sunsets in Floyd County.  This one was shot near Sandy Flats Road and tweaked in Photoshop.

More fall colors

Fall colors of The Saddle, as viewed from Rocky Knob overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Fall colors

Fall colors were sporadic this year because of the jumps between hot and cold and the on-again, off-again rainfall.

In low-lying areas, trees remain green while the leaves are all but gone in the high elevations.

Weird year.

The last gasp appears to be this weekend as some effects from Hurricane Sandy will hit the area late Sunday or early Monday.

A three-day jury trial in Floyd earlier this week kept me indoors when I could have been out capturing the final colors of the reason.

But  managed to catch these on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way back from a photo shoot near Buchanan Friday.

Places of Floyd: Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is the most photographed location on the Blue Ridge Parkway and among the top 10 most photographed locales in the United States.

Longtime smokers remember the mill as the backdrop for Salem cigarettes television ads before an act of Congress banned tobacco advertizing on the public airwaves.  Images of Mabry Mill appeared in seven issues of Life magazine and graced the cover of National Geographic.  Ansel Adams photographed the mill for one of his famous black and white images.

So its hard to get a fresh angle of the iconic location on the Parkway at the fringes of Floyd County near Meadows of Dan.  In fact, both Patrick and Floyd counties claim the Mill as their own but while parts of the mill’s grounds are in Patrick the structure itself is in Floyd.

I’ve photographed the mill for a half century, shooting my first images of it as a high school student in 1962 but haven’t ventured there for a while.  These shots come from a wet afternoon after showers cleared the attraction of its usual crowd of tourists.

The Mill and the Parkway play an important role in Floyd County’s economy.  Floyd County is home to more miles of the Parkway than any other county in Virginia. A number of county residents work for the National Park Service, either as a ranger or in other roles.

Visitors to the Mill and travelers along the stretch of asphalt that runs from Waynesboro at the Southern terminus of the Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park to the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina often venture off the Parkway to eat at local restaurants and shop with area merchants.

The National Park Service estimates that millions travel the Parkway by car, motorhome, motorcycle and bicycle each year. Although traffic has declined in recent years because of the economy and changing vacation habits of visitors, it still ranks as the “most visited unit” of the National Park system.

I’ve traveled the full length of the Parkway at least a dozen times in my life, sometimes by car but more often by motorcycle. It’s a tradition I hope will continue for as long as possible.



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Portrait of Floyd: See it and make up your own mind

(Courtesy of Jacksonville Center)

The “Portrait of Floyd exhibit currently running at The Jacksonville Center has generated more discussion in the community than most shows that run at the old dairy barn on Virginia Route 8 just south of Floyd.

The Center departed from its usual practice of using the Hayloft Gallery for shows featuring local artists and brought in North Carolina arts consultant David J. Brown — former assistant director at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke — to “curate” a project that it hoped would bring more widespread attention to the operation.

Brown recruited Norfolk-based photographer Glen McClure to shoot portraits of people from and visiting Floyd to create a black-and-white photography show called “Portrait of Floyd.”  The Center recruited sponsors to help fund the show, including a $15 book of selected images from the show.

The result: 76 images, large and small, that overflows the Hayloft Gallery and fills the hallways and stairwell of the Center.

McClure is an accomplished portrait photographer with a strong reputation.  His photos, taken over two days spent in Floyd, include those who wandered by on Friday nights and a selected group of others like musician and instrument builder Arthur Connor and local businessman and former Supervisor David Ingram.

The display has brought mixed reviews:  Some like it, some say it’s too dark, proving the old adage that art is indeed in the eye of the beholder.

McClure’s work is good but I have two problems with the project:  I’m not sure that two days in Floyd is enough to capture a true portrait and I wish The Jacksonville Center had considered using the county’s excellent stable of portrait photographers like Jeri Rogers, Chelsa Yoder and Ladonna Cherrell Yearout-Patton.

But that’s just my opinion — nothing more, nothing less.  I originally wrote a stronger piece about the show but pulled it after taking a second look.

The Jacksonville Center is free to do whatever it wants and resident of and visitors to Floyd are free to see the show and express their opinion.  I think the show is worth seeing and urge folks to visit the Hayloft Gallery and make up their own minds.

The show runs through Nov. 24.

(Updated on Oct. 19 and again on October 25, 2012)

(WRITERS NOTE:  Some of the comments below were posted in response to an earlier, more strident version of this article)

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Jamboree shots

Couple of images from Friday night’s Jamboree in Floyd.

Peek-a-blue moon

The Blue Moon of 2012 peeks through the trees as it rises over the football stadium of Floyd County High School Friday night during the Buffaloes’ pasting of Galax, 33-14.

Back light

The setting sun provides a back light to attendees at the 2012 high school football season kickoff game between Floyd County’s Buffaloes and Christiansburg’s Blue Demons Friday night.

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Shooting politicians for a living

Mark Warner’s town meeting in Floyd: July 2005

One of the side benefits of my profession is that I get to shoot politicians for a living.

With a camera, of course.

Of all the photos I’ve shot of politicians around the world over the years, my two favorites were taken right here in Floyd and both involved former governor and now Senator Mark Warner.

In July 200, then Gov. Warner came to Floyd to hold a town meeting at the Floyd Country Store. The faces of four occupants of the front row — Floyd town council member Mike Patton and supervisors Jerry Boothe, Kerry Whitlock and David Ingram — told the story more than the 850 words that I wrote for The Floyd Press.

In November 2007, when Tim Kaine ran to follow Warner as Governor, they both came back to the Country Store on a Friday night and jammed with the Jugbusters on stage during the Jamboree.  Kaine is a fair harmonica player but the general conclusion after the performance of the Waner-Kaine duo was that they should never be let near stringed instruments again.

Kaine is running for Senator this year, which makes us wonder if he and Warner will make a return visit before November’s election.

Mark Warner and Tim Kaine at the Friday Night Jamboree: November 2007


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Hark! What sunlight through yonder cloud shines

The sun peeks through after Monday’s rainstorms that soaked much of Floyd County and Southwestern Virginia. Taken from U.S. 221 at Bent Mountain.