Before moving from Virginia to Wyoming’s Wind River country in 1997, and the move to Colorado in 2008, I spent almost forty years documenting the vanishing people and landscapes of the Appalachians. Mine is a poetic and classic view of rural America, and I portray the land in a traditional and representational genre. Each of my museum-quality images is a projection of my artistry and my vision of the world. The spring of 2005 represented a major turning point in my life. I printed my last silver sulfide image. Far from being a sad moment for me, I have headed off in another direction using the latest in digital technology. Now at age 83, I am off on a new and exciting adventure. I now think Pixels rather than Silver Particles. But my view of the world around me has not changed. I am still inspired by the gentle, the noble and dignified, and the beautiful unfolding of life as I see it.
This is one of several old grist mills I documented during my early years as an artist. This one was located just west of Harrisonburg, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley.
Mr Turner was still actively operating the old mill at the time and I eventually lost track of him and his hobby. I checked with the local paper in that area several years ago to learn whether the mill was still there but no one could provide me with any information. I assume that it became history a few years following my visit.
First goal of the game. = Radford University versus NC State. = I have never considered myself to be a sports photographer, but I did capture a few decent images during my term at RU.
This was a big game and highly touted. Little RU taking on one of the top teams in the country. I won't say who won, but RU made the first score of the game and the crowd went wild. I had my camera set up on a tripod overlooking the arena and although I certainly did not expect what happened next, my finger pressed the shutter release real quick. I dislike motor drives, but I did make several rapid exposures and this is the one I liked best. Normally it is the first exposure that nails the image you anticipate. You will see more of this on my blog. = This was the decisive moment and I was ready.
To view a larger size image, click with left button
EARLY SETTLERS GRAVE SITE NEAR SOUTH PASS CITY, WY
When Henry Reedall struck pay dirt in 1867, one of the most god-forsaken areas in the country suddenly sprang into a boomtown. The mere mention of the word gold did crazy things to people and hordes of outsiders descended on South Pass from the nearby Oregon Trail. They all had dreams of getting rich quick, but only a few of the lucky ones were successful.
It only took three years for the town to go from boom to bust. South Pass City became a ghost town almost overnight.
One noteworthy historical fact emerged from this rough and ready frontier town. A saloonkeeper by the name of William Bright wrote and introduced a woman’s suffrage bill. The bill passed and the Governor signed it into history in December 1869. Wyoming became the first territory to allow women to vote and hold office. Esther Morris, a resident of South Pass City, was appointed justice of the peace in February 1870 making her the nation’s first female judge. She tried twenty-six cases.
There are still a few die-hard miners and prospectors who are either panning or digging for the illusive mother lode that always lay just beyond their grasp. Just like the ghosts that reportedly inhabit old South Pass City, the yellow gold is also lurking in some remote draw or beyond the next butte. GRAVE SITE ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF SOUTH PASS CITY
A notation on the head stones reads: In memory of Earnest Williams Born in California 1901 Died in Atlantic City 1905 Son of EJ & AP Williams
Ma Belr Born Tuscarora, NV September 1880 Died November 9,1899 Daughter of AP & EJ Williams
To view more of Jack's work click on OLDER POSTS at the bottom of the page.
One of my most enjoyable one-on-one portrait sessions was when I was working for Radford University back in SW Virginia.
It has been my experience that most artists and performers were usually easy to work with and this results in an enjoyable session. In addition, I savored every moment of listening to this well known musician as he played selections from various classical themes
I used two reflector umbrellas for this session with each being placed at different points to provide the lighting I needed.
The only musician I ever had trouble with was Steve Allen and that was because he had requested that any photographs would be made strictly to his specifications. He thought he had a bad side and a good side and from a certain angle, but that is open for debate.
Most of the younger generation probably would not recognize these people but in my day they were top performers. Heck, I still remember listening to Jack Benny on a vacuum tube radio.
To view a larger image of Carlos, left click on the image. To View more imges and stories, click on OLDER POSTS below.
In a much earlier post, I featured an image of locomotive #5 while undergoing a boiler check. It was during that same trip to West Virginia that I was fortunate enough to make an image of #2 taking on water. This locomotive was built in 1928.
As a rule I do not make many fine art images during the course of a day trip, but this outing produced several fine originals.
To view a larger image left click on the water tank.
This old home place for a mountain family no longer exists. Over the years, it has been reduced to a pile of decayed rubble, thanks to the elements.
When this image was made in 1972, it was a perfect example of a historical settler's cabin. The roof was made of split chestnut shingles and the outside structure consisted of hand-hewed logs from the surrounding forest.
From what Cyrus told me, they had built this structure around the turn of the last century and lived in it unti the late sixties before they moved to another nearby cabin. For more information about the mountain people go to my web site at http://www.jeffersfineart.com/ where an article titled, Mountain People is posted.
For a larger image of the Cash cabin, click on the above photograph.
Sherando Barn === This image was the result of previsualizaton and being in the right spot at the right time.
When I lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I was right at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and as you will see, if you follow my blog, I made good use of the subject matter.
I had driven by this old barn many times on my way to and from the mountains. In fact, it was within a half mile of my home. The concept was formulated over a period of time because it was a pretty little shack but the foreground and background were littered with distractions. My feeling was that a good snow would solve my problem, and living so close by, all I would have to do is head down the road during the first snow. And that is exactly how it happened.
This is a case where I used a clear plastic bag over the camera and when the moment was right I would jerk the bag off and make my exposure. I made several exposures just to be on the safe side and this one shows the snow blowing in from the left which is where I figured it would come from. This white stuff completed my concept.
This edition sold out quite fast and was copied by more than one painter. They never seem to learn that photographs are copyrighted and to paint and market the image as their own is against the law and carries a pretty stiff penalty. Toward the end of my blog you will see a good example of a copyright infringement and the painter paid dearly for it after I saw her image published in SOUTHWEST ART MAGAZINE.
This image represents one of my early prints from the old cabin series. It is hard to believe that I made this print thirty-eight years ago, and I had to hike up the side of the mountain from the North Fork of the Tye River with my forty- pound camera pack.
Mountain dwellings such as this have mostly disappeared from the landscape. These two buildings have long since fallen down and the rotted remains have likely been covered with briars and honeysuckle vines.
This was an edition of forty-eight originals and no more remain in my collection.
Winter Wash was made in western Nelson County, VA during a light snowfall.
When I first spotted this scene, I immediately recognized the potential for a nice piece of art. Like all of my original silver prints, this one is chemically toned the old fashioned way, and technically, it would be referred to as a silver sulfide original.
These images should last for hundreds of years if properly cared for.
To view more of Jack's work, click on OLDER POSTS at the bottom of the page.
It was a chilly day in Highland County, VA when I made this image of the ewe and two lambs. You might say that this was an example of anticipation and the decisive moment.
I had my eye on the ewe and even made an exposure, but when a second and third lamb stepped forward, I was ready. I made several exposures, but the best and final image was when the ewe turned toward her left. That was the decisive moment. This has been another public favorite over the years.
For a larger image click on the ewe
When you reach the bottom of the page, click on Older Blogs to continue with my stories and images. jj
I am frequently on the lookout for nature's abstracts, and trees have always been among my favorite subjects.
I drove up to the ten thousand feet level of Grand Mesa last January to get a taste of winter at the higher elevations and I spotted this aspen grove on the way in. It was bitter cold and the breeze did not help matters one bit, but I managed to set up my tripod and camera and this is what I ultimately ended up with.
Click on the image to get a much larger image and you will be able to appreciate the original a little better.
We recently spent a week near Fruita and made a number of visits into the Colorado National Monument.
When we lived in Wyoming, we made numerous visits south and drove by this park on I-70 but never realized what a lovely park this was until just recently. In fact, it reminds us of the area around Moab, UT. There are a vast number of canyons and monuments to explore.
This is but one of many images I made this past week, and these curious looking blobs of sandstone are called the "Coke Furnace." I made this exposure one afternoon following a frontal system which passed over the area. This time of year, the lighting is low, and it worked well for this image.
This image was made right at the tail end of a snow storm and everything was perfectly quiet with no breeze.
I used to drive the back roads of Virginia immediately following a snow storm looking for interesting landscapes; trees were among my favorite subjects.
My camera pack consisted of an old Boy Scout pack frame with a green plastic trash basket strapped to it. There was a badly soiled canvas flap on the top to keep the weather out, and it was held in place by two strips cut from an old inner tube. Nothing fancy. In fact it would appear to many as little more than a throwaway.
Having left the scene and putting a good ten miles between me and the oak tree, I happened to look over my shoulder and lo and behold. I did not spot my camera pack on the back seat. It was only then that I realized that I had left it sitting on the highway directly behind the car.
Have you ever experienced sheer panic? Well, at that moment I did, and after finding a place to turn around, I headed back. There were a couple of turn-offs that I wasn't quite sure of, but the landmarks looked familiar.
To add disgust to frustration, I spotted the tree in the distance and there was a dark speck in the center of the opposite lane. The forty-pound pack was still sitting there, right where I left it and people were simply driving around it. I hate to tell anyone how many thousands of dollars of camera equipment was packed into that old ragged pack. I am still convinced that the appearance of that old ratty old back pack saved my gear. I am also thankful than no one hit it with a car or a truck.
This type of subject matter is not normally my cup of tea, but having driven by this old country store so many times, I could no longer resist. I had to photograph it before it disappeared.
I actually made this image much earlier in the year and just a couple of weeks ago we happened to drive that road and I noted that one of the big advertisements was missing. Moral to this store is: if it feels right the first time, photograph it, or it may disappear. Many a good image has been lost because of procrastination.
Just a few days ago, I drove by this old store and noted that several of the colorful signs are now missing. Go figure... jj May 14 2011 click on image for larger view
We headed into the Colorado high country yesterday to check out the fall color. At nine thousand feet, many of the trees were just beginning to show color, but I thought the trees that were just beginning to lighten up were breathtaking in their own way.
I also made a number of new images with the golden aspens in full color, but this one was my favorite of the lot.
The sky was mostly cloudy with a frontal system moving in and this landscape lended itself to bright lighting rather than direct sunshine.
My wife suggested that I go back today for another session, but the morning paper had a weather prediction that was stating that the high country above 6,500 ft would be receiving eleven inches of snow later on in the day. This is September 23. I will wait until later in the week when the full color presents itself.
Live Oaks and Fog along the coast of Jekyll Island 1991
This was one of our favorite camping areas during the Christmas/New Years Holiday season. A bike trail took us along the Atlantic shoreline and one morning when the fog was rolling in off the ocean, I took my camera pack along. This has always been one of my most memorable images.
When we decided to move west to Wyoming , we sold our home in Virginia and spent the winter on the island. In April of 1997 we headed west.
Yep, this is a far cry from the old lab processing days when I had my hands in the soup and often spent hours making one sepia- toned silver print.
With digital , you are in a totally new world. You no longer think in terms of silver particles; you now think PIXELS. And one must be computer savvy. Above all, you must become a master of many new processes; all related to the world of high tech imagery.
The image you see hanging in the background is a vintage silver print that was made back in the early seventies. This original was made to stand the test of time.
The custom-made canoe paddle to the right was another serious project that I took on back in the seventies. The idea was to come up with a better canoe paddle. This happens to be a double-bladed, multi-laminated design which locks together in the center . I was always thinking of new things to make and the same was true for my camping. My creativity did not stop with photography; that was simply the tip of the iceberg.
Mother Nature provides us with all manner of subjects. The trick is to recognize a potential image and keep it simple. I spotted this concept several weeks before I returned to the site and captured what you see here, but I knew in advance that I had to arrive on the scene about nine AM to take advantage of the bright lighting and shadows. Not only was I provided with a strong abstract design, but the contrast in colors added to the overall presentation.
Returning to a site time and again for the exact lighting I require has been a fairly routine proceedure for me over the decades. But you still to have be ready to capture the totally spontaneous moment as well. Spotting a subject within a subject often takes a lot of practice and patience. jj
This image is from a documentary titled, "The Last of the Old Water Mills." The story appeared in my new book on CD. From the Blue Ridge to the Shenandoah Valley and Beyond. 2011
During the early seventies, I recorded several old mills which were rapidly disappearing from the Blue Ridge Landscape. When I walked into this particular mill, it was as if the old miller had just walked away and left things as they had been during that final day of operation. I called this image, The Last Bag, because that it exactly how I found it.
Someone purchased this mill shortly after I completed my documentary and turned the structure into a unique home, leaving the existing machinery just as I found it. It was a most unique living quarters. It became both a home and a museum.
It was January 20 and the wind was blowing about forty MPH. This makes for difficult photography, but the lighting was bright and I had a heavy tripod and a steady hand.
In a case like this, I covered the camera with a clear plastic bag and allowed the lens to cool down to the point where the snow would bounce off the protective filter without melting. For the actual exposure, I would stand between the camera and the wind and quickly jerk the bag off the camera before making the exposure.
I can recall to this day that it was well below freezing and I was working in my down jacket and a pair of gloves with a slit in the palm to allow me to use my bare fingers briefly before they got too cold to feel the advance handle on the camera. I made a bracket of three exposures and that was it. The image clearly speaks for itself and the shutter speed of about a a quarter of a second was slow enough to blur the snowflakes against the trees.
I am a sucker for fall color and without a doubt, it is my favorite season. This image was made on a cloudy but bright day and the format was 2 1/4 Ektachrome. And, of course, I always used my trusty tripod for such scenics.
This image was made shortly after I documented the oldest operational steam locomotive in the country. It can be viewed on an earlier post. Firing #5 in a snowstorm.
The narrow gauge, gear-driven engine played a key role in the logging industry that dominated the area at one time, and the stairs you see here are part of the old paper mill which processed the logs.
The mill had long since been abandoned when I arrived on the scene and captured this image. Several years after I made this documentary, what was left of the mill burned to the ground. Perhaps this was a good thing because it was to the point of falling in and a fire saved a lot of hard work that would have been required to dismantle the large structure.
I often take a half hour or more to plop down in a relaxing easy chair to watch the evening sun reflecting off the San Juan Mountains to the south.
This particular evening was more special than usual because a large dark cloud mass was moving from the north and the ridge line was starting to light up. Until now, I had been staring at a blank canvas with relaxing thoughts of another kind. I suddenly came out of my own cloud and said WOW!
Normally, I'm not a sunset photographer, but this one had a fine image written all over it. And where was my camera? Packed away in my computer room of course. And where was my tripod? It was still out in the truck awaiting the next field trip. At least I knew where they were and it only took a couple of minutes to set up. This sunset just kept getting better.
I made several exposures as this event came and went, including a couple with the rising moon. I need to wait for a month or two and hope for another cloud mass, because I'd like to have the moon a little closer in to the high peaks, but in from the side a bit more. Beggars cannot be choosy, however, so I will present this one instead. I like it. The odds are slim that all of the same elements will be in place two months from now but who knows. I have beaten the odds many times before.
During the late seventies, I was exhibiting in the D.C. area when an African-American couple spent an extended length of time studying my images of mountain people. Finally, they asked me why I didn’t have any character studies of blacks. About all I could say was that the opportunity had never presented itself, which was true. But during the following year I filled that gap in my collection. I believe it must have been destined to happen. My travels down the byways led me to these individuals quite by chance.
One of my favorites is of Bill Whitlock and his nephew Thomas. The dog got tossed in at the last moment because he was out to get me from the start. He was chained to the corner of his doghouse, and every time he lunged at me the house would move about a foot closer. I was rapidly running out of space. Before I was eaten alive, I asked Thomas to take the snarling dog and wedge it between himself and his uncle in the doorway. The dog actually helped to hinge this image together. However, if you look closely you can see his teeth exposed; this was not a very friendly animal.
I always prefer to document people in their natural environment. Most are more comfortable in their own surroundings, so that choice allows for more relaxed communications. But, at the same time, the background must be taken into account when you are envisioning the finished image in your mind. I try to select a background that supports the portrait rather than one that might detract from it.
Whenever possible, I like to make direct eye contact with my subjects. It is not my style to have them purposely stare off at some imaginary spot in the sky with a blank expression on their faces. It is my personal opinion that direct contact usually makes for a more powerful image. Shields Carter is a good example of the philosophy. He displays the pure dignity of richness of character that I love to capture on film. Regardless of the angle or facial expression, he photographs well.
Carter is shown in the next post. Incidentally, I always allow a half to a full stop extra exposure time when working with darker skin tones. Those tones absorb more light so I make this adjustment to avoid underexposure. It becomes automatic with experience.
We kids used to call him Crazy Francis, but we did not say it in a disrespectful manner. Francis had a way of talking to himself as he walked the country roads almost daily, and you could hear him coming for a quarter of a mile. He became the neighborhood attraction in his own natural sort of way. You see, he always carried this big axe slung over his shoulder and the blade glistened in the sunlight. The local movie theater in Farmville (it was called the Lee) used to run westerns and horror films on Saturday afternoons, and at our ages it was pretty easy to let our minds run wild after one of those Frankenstein or Dracula flicks.
I was riding my old single-speed Sears bike the five miles to home one afternoon about sundown after a real thriller when I ran up on Francis on the back Hampden-Sydney road. He was looking up into the sky and chanting in his normal fashion, axe over his shoulder. I can remember swinging as far to the other side of the road as the ditch would allow, putting as much distance between him and me as possible.
On occasion, in later years, Dad would hire Francis to do some yard work for us. That was when I got to know him a little better. I overcame my fear of his axe and replaced it with awe at how swiftly and efficiently he used it to dismantle a tree or clump of brush. He never wasted a lick.
During the summer of 1980, when I was still seriously involved in my Appalachian documentary, I made a special trip to Prince Edward County to photograph Francis. An administrator from Hampden-Sydney College called and informed me that Francis was still alive and well, and that the College would like to have a framed portrait of him to place in its historical museum. I was living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at the time and realized this might well be the last opportunity I’d have to make a photograph of this local character.
It was one of the most stressful sessions I’ve ever had because I think that even after all the years, and my growth in understanding, I was still a bit apprehensive about facing this man head on with a camera. He did not have his axe over his shoulder on this occasion, and I detected genuine warmth radiating from within. I left feeling much better about an old neighborhood acquaintance from the past. Francis further supported my belief that we all have our own particular ways of connecting with the cosmos.
Francis Randolph died on Friday, January 17,1997. He suffered from no acute illness at the time; he was 83 years old. THE RECORD OF HAMPDEN-SYDNEY COLLEGE, Winter-spring issue, 1997 further states that “Despite students’ running gags to test Randolph’s mental acuity, says one alumnus, class of ’35, Hampden-Sydney’s permanent resident usually got the better of them, whether they knew it or not. “There was this tradition,” he recalls, “for the upperclassmen to tell the freshmen to offer Francis a nickel and a dime, and see which he picked. He always chose the nickel, and the students would laugh uproariously about Francis’s not knowing the value of the coins, just selecting the bigger one. Well, I asked Francis about that one time, and he said, ‘I pick the nickel because if I picked the dime, they’d quit.’”
“He was such a fixture that he seemed almost eternal; not so long ago, an alumnus came to visit his son, now a student at the college. Looking out the window, the father said, ‘That man looks just like someone who used to walk around here when I was a student; Francis the Axeman we called him.’ With a smile the son replied, ‘Dad that is Francis the Axeman.’ And so it was.”
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Called Menhaden Boats, they used to be built of wood and powered by large steam engines. The first diesel came along about 1938. Menhaden means junk fish, not edible. But they are rich in oil and are commercially harvested for fertilizer, cat food and pharmaceutical applications.
In 1925, there were about ten fish processing plants located on Virginia’s Northern Neck, with Reedville being the center of operations. At the time of this writing (1997) there is but one processor remaining.
I made my first trip to Reedville to document these old boats in 1975. The East Hampton was the largest of the grounded wooden boats and for the locals it had become a historical channel marker. The remainder were sunk or grounded along a nearby creek. I worked mostly from a kayak and repeated the trip again in 1978 when the weather was better.
Much of the information I received about menhaden fishing was from Captain Wallace Lewis. He grew up on the boats and later became the captain of the Northumberland. He told me that once when he was a kid, he fell overboard during a trip up the coast to Ocean City, Maryland. Luckily, he didn’t drown. His mates called him the human dynamo because of his tenacious work habits. In the early days, his job was to keep the ship lamps lit. This was well before the days of electricity on fishing boats.
Some time following World War II, converted mine sweepers and spotter planes replaced the wooden fleets. Small metal runabouts pulled the nets and trapped the fish in large groups before they were pumped from the holding nets to the hold of the ship.
I made one last trip back to Northern Neck about the mid-eighties, and all of the wooden boats were gone. Cap’n Wallace said “the state came in and ripped ‘em with a clam sheller.” They were burned during 1983-1984.
For a larger and sharper image, left click on the image above.
This image was made while working for Radford University. Next to fall, winter is my favorite month for photography and everything else relating to the great outdoors.
This was a spontaneous exposure but I saw it coming, and no sooner did I get my camera up, everything fell into place, including three big smiles.
It is easy to make the wrong exposure when working in the snow, because the snow, by itself, will give you a false reading. I automatically go down about one+ f-stop to expose for the darker subjects. In a case like this it is the first exposure that counts. No time for bracketing or multiple exposures.
I have always had a dislike for motor drives because it is too easy to use it as a crutch. If I have time for two or more exposures with a moving subject, I will use my right finger to push the release button however many times it is required to achieve my goal. Again, I think in terms of simplicity and gut feeling. If the scene feels right, make the exposure. And keep your eyes focused on the subject.
This image graced the front cover of VIRGINIA WILDLIFE MAGAZINE shortly after this image was made.
Other than that, it has remained in my 2 1/4 slide file for thirty-two years. I have never considered myself to be a bird photographer, but having made one great image, I called it quits while I was ahead.
As my car snaked around an icy hairpin turn in Virginia’s northwest mountains, my mind was focused on concepts. Terms such as “visualization,” “anticipation” and “decisive moment” spun through my head. I had a spot staked out that needed just the right amount of snow and ice to complete the image I held in my mind. For two years, I had been waiting patiently for the elements to be as near to perfect as possible. This was the day. Six inches of fresh snow, continued flurries and gusts of wind were what I needed to complement the Highland County barn and split-rail chestnut fences that had caught my eye.
Much of my art begins with long-range planning. Lighting and other variable elements are seldom right when I initially spot a potential subject. In my mind’s eye, I sort through the numerous possibilities. Would the image be better on a cloudy day or a sunny one? What time of day and what season would best express my artistic mood? Eventually, I know exactly how I want the finished image to appear in print. Then, when all the elements are perfect, or as near to perfect as possible, I go back to the site to record a happening that may never again appear to me or to anyone else in this form.
Of course, there is also the spontaneous moment—that sense of being in the right spot at the right time and being able to make a quick judgment about capturing that occurrence on film. Many artists encounter a situation such as this. The key is recognizing a decisive moment when it presents itself. A second or two can spell the difference between a successful image and one that is rather ho-hum, or a total loss.
That day in the snow I was heading to my predetermined site when I saw another potential image in the making. This was fresh, unexpected subject matter that demanded a closer look. A group of sheep had begun to make their way, single-file, down a hill near an old barn. I slid to a halt. Grabbing my pack and tripod, I jumped from my car and immediately fell hip-deep into a snow-filled ditch by the side of the road. A glance told me that I had to hurry, as the lead sheep was about to make the turn by the barn.
My next barrier was a four-strand barbed-wire fence. Using my tripod (with my medium-format camera attached) as a hiking stick, I attempted to vault out of the snowdrift and over the fence. Most of me made it. My trousers didn’t. Try as I might, I could not free myself from the fence. In desperation and disgust, with the sheep in near perfect position and my trousers firmly secured on the fence, I lunged forward and jammed my tripod into the snow. Out of my mouth came some colorful language as I tried to focus the camera and read my light meter.
I do not remember exactly what I said that early winter morning, but whatever it was stopped the line of sheep dead in their tracks. One sheep turned and stared right at me for a moment. It was long enough for only a single exposure and then the sheep fled in panic. That split second is what is referred to as the decisive moment. Highland Barn, the image I was initially pursuing, would have to wait until another day.
I spent a couple of days on a converted mine sweeper in order to complete this part of the Chesapeake Portfolio. This was one hot and sweaty place to live and work during mid-August 1975.
This image was taken from a Kodachrome transparency and transferred to a 4 x 5 sheet of Kodalith high contrast film and then converted back to a positive image which you see here. It adds an abstract touch to what was otherwise a rather drab image.
These were menhaden fishermen and the fish were used commercially for oils and dog food; among other things. At the time, the fish were referred to as "junk fish." This is just another reason why sport fishing has rapidly disappeared from the Bay. You set the nets for one fish, but you also catch a lot of other species as well. Many go to waste.
I watched a special on National Geographic a couple of weeks ago and during the course of the documentary, it was said that "Planet earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth." We, as a species, are rapidly destroying, the natural resources including a large percentage of all living creatures and plants. It is sad to watch such destruction.
I headed for the high country to the east of us and the purpose was to take in some of the scenic views. Of course I had my camera and the trusty ultra-light fishing gear.
The White Horse just sorta unfolded before my eyes. I anticipated what was to take place. The setting was beautiful and there were several horses feeding in the background, including one white stallion that stood out above the rest.
My first few images included all four or five horses, but the white one just told me to wait and anticipate what would happened next. My dog Jake could not resist the temptation to cool off so there was a slight splash as he jumped into the water to take a good soak. Meanwhile, my camera and tripod were set up and waiting for the next move. At this point, the horses began to move away from the clearing leaving the white all alone. I waited for the remainder to go behind the trees to the left and then made my exposures of the White Horse.
I not only came home with several nice images, but a large enough trout to add to our dinner menu. It was a great day in the Cimarron Range of SW Colorado.
Wyoming was nice, but there is wall to wall scenery here on the west slope. If you need a break from stunning mountain scenery, you can go about the same distance and be in any number of spectacular canyons. Plus, the desert is wide open for a variety of scenic vistas, rock scapes and flora. There is no end to great outdoor vistas in this part of the world.
Tomorrow I am heading for the high country to try my skill at trout fishing. The streams and lakes are endless with one bubbly brook after another. Of course, my trusty camera will be with me, as will our dog Jake. You haven't met Jake yet, but he will show up shortly in one of my images. He loves the outdoors every bit as much as I do. He is half border collie and healer and full of energy. Sharp as a tack also.
I'm not that well known for my color images, but I made quite a few over the decades. Many have been used in Annual Reports and magazines for covers and filler images.
Just recently, I scanned close to two hundred of my best 2 1/4 transparencies before they deterrorated, and many of them turned out better than the former originals, thanks to some minor adjustments in color. These are now filed away on discs for future use.
Within the past three years my collection of digital images has increased enormously and I now have quite a collecton of fall color from the high country of Colorado and Wyoming, plus many more from the canyon country of Colorado and Utah. I tell people that I am just having fun doing what I enjoy. These are also available for stock art as Hi Res jpegs or tif. Fact is, SuperStock has several hundred of my color and a healty list of Black & White on file.
This is a digital image which was made near our home in Montrose, CO.
I am not into a lot of high-faulting tinkering with digital imagery. My objective has always been to make a proper exposure to start with and then use the same basic processing tools that would correspond with the old-fashioned lab techniques. Simplicity and patience has been the name of the game for me.
I had staked this site out at an earlier date and I was there promptly at nine AM to make my exposure.
Making the transition from film to digital was quite easy for me because I had been working as a fine art B&W artist for the better part of my life. The only difference is that I must now think in terms of pixels rather than silver particles.
I am also enjoying my bout with color and the western landscape.
Left click on the image for a larger and sharper presentation
I introduced you to Rufus earlier on my hike into Cash Hollow, (see article posted on web site, Mountain People), but he managed to become the center of interest in this image quite by chance. This photograph was made along the Appalachian Trail, which parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Waynesboro, VA.
As I pointed out in an earlier chapter, many of my concepts begin with long-range planning. The mood is not always what I might envision on the first outing. This is particularly true when I am dealing with landscapes that require the right touch of lighting to blend with numerous other elements. I might wait for a year or more after spotting a potential concept before all the pieces come together, making it as near to perfect as possible. And, there is always the added variable of spontaneity—being in the right place at the right time and being able to make a quick decision about capturing a particular scene on film.
Dog in Deep Woods is a combination of these principles. This image was on my mental list for a year or more, waiting for just the right amount of snow and fog. When it happened, I had to get there within a half-hour, before any of the snow fell off the twigs or the fog lifted.
My original visualization involved capturing the mood of the forest and the soft carpet of freshly fallen snow. That concept changed dramatically when Rufus jumped out ahead of me on the trail. I yelled at him to stop while struggling to set up my equipment as quickly as I could. Fortunately, in this case I had the tripod, with camera attached, already over my shoulder. He stopped dead in his tracks when I yelled at him and told him to stay. Rufus’ idea of stopping at this point was maybe all of ten seconds, but in that brief time, I was able to make a couple of memorable exposures. This is yet another example of the Decisive Moment. No second chances.
This was my first fine-art image in what would become the Mountain People Portfolio.
A friend and I were hiking a side spur off the Appalachian Trail when we spotted an old abandoned mountain cabin along a small stream. It was as if the folks had just walked away and left everything where it was. I captured quite a number of fine images at this site. One could just imagine the old fellow sitting out on that front porch passing the time of day.
This image always stood out when I displayed my work in a gallery or an invitational show.
I did pick up some trash and re-arranged the shoes slightly but the concept did not change.
Hugh Panel was a mountain man by birth and was raised in the back-woods of the Blue Ridge. In fact, what is left of the cabin in the background was his old home.
Word was getting around that I was roaming the Blue Ridge searching out those few who still remained in their old home sites.
The National Park service moved most of the mountain people out during the mid thirties, to make room for the Blue Ridge Parkway construction which had already begun near Cumberland Knob, North Carolina. Those that lived further back in the hollows and along side ridges remained until old age forced them to move out into the real world.
Hugh had moved in with family members who lived in the Shenandoah Valley, but he never forgot his home place.
I received a call one day from a family member asking about my hikes through the Blue Ridge, and he wanted to know if I would be interested in taking Hugh back to his old boyhood home for a brief visit. I said yes, and to make a longer story short, we did just that. I even loaned Hugh one of my hiking sticks.
Hugh turned out to be a pretty good hiker and this image was made while sitting in front of his old log cabin.
I will never forget the look of excitement on his face when we came within sight of that old place. It was times like this when I truly appreciated what I was doing.