“The Blue Ridge in Summer”

I was going through some of my photographs recently of The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia that I made during a Mid-June trip. I found these two images of a very beautiful, humid, and stormy summer day in the mountains!

The clouds were dark and heavy as was the air all around. The kind of  air with humidity that gives layers of haze in the distance, and feels thick to breathe.

The forests were full of trees and were a lush green from previous rains, giving beautiful contrasts of colors in both greens and blues!

I’m looking forward to heading back to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Shenandoah National Park sometime this spring or summer. There’s always an ever changing landscape there just waiting for me around the bend!

"Storm on Blue" Gorgeous clouds in the Blue Ridge Mountains during a summer storm.
“Storm on Blue”
Gorgeous clouds in the Blue Ridge Mountains during a summer storm.

“Lookin Over the Blues”

Great news: Our snow has finally totally melted here!

I spent each day of this last week checking one particular spot to see if any crocus had popped up yet. I was thrilled to see one purple crocus yesterday. I think my excitement got the best of me. I have been going out several times a day to check on its progress, and just enjoy the simple beauty.

Now I’m talking about spring, and crocus. You might even expect I’d put up one of the many images I took of that one flower, but no, that’s not what today is all about.

I was looking back through some images from last spring. Early May to be exact. This one looked like the view I’d like to be seeing right now.

When I go to Shenandoah National Park I make sure to hike out to different locations especially to waterfalls. Sometimes though I just want to enjoy a leisurely drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains and stop at the easily accessible and wonderful overlooks along Skyline Drive.

One thing that I have appreciated ever since I was a child, was the look of the lovely stone walls that line many areas of the park.

I seem to have a special love of stone in general. Cobblestone streets, and buildings. The stones along Lake Superior and the walls they have built with them. Historical architecture built with many types of stone. You name it. I love it all!

In this simple scene below, I place just as much importance on the wall as I do the wondrous scene beyond it. Each stone carefully placed by hand, enhancing the natural beauty of Skyline Drive. Not only for looks, but for safety reasons as well.

So the next time you’re in Shenandoah National Park, look not only to the mountains, valleys and clouds. Look also to these walls which were originally built during the depression era. Walls that are at each of the 75 overlooks on the drive, as well as along much of the mountain sides!

As far as the park goes; Did you know that in 1939 the entrance fee for a car was 25 cents? Times sure have changed, and of course 25 cents went a lot further back then than it does now.

Times have changed but beauty still remains, and I thank those men that worked so hard, so long ago to make this place what is is today!

"Lookin Over the Blues"
“Lookin Over the Blues”

“Through Shadow Woods”

As we slowly approach spring. I have begun to process some images from last spring that I hadn’t had the chance to get around to.

This image is from Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. In this particular area the trees are tall and straight. The sunlight streams through, leaving areas of shadow and either filtered light in summer when the trees are full, or bright light in spring when leaves are just starting their re-growth.

There is one area on Skyline Drive in this section of trees that has a small place to be able to pull over, get out and walk the trails, to feel the immense height and stunning beauty of the forest.

I never tire of this place, gazing at its grandeur, inhaling the scent of the earth, relishing the warmth of the sun as it rains down, and enjoying the shade when summer heat comes.

I took many images of the trees themselves, some while gazing straight up, some using a wide angle lens to get in as much of the scene as possible.

For this image I got down in the middle of the road, hearing nothing but silence all around me. No cars coming in any direction. I felt the beauty of the road within the woods. I embraced the shadows and light. I could feel how it must feel to be an automobile passing through this greatness. What a beautiful feeling that is!

I passed through this special place at least 10 times last spring, and each time I marveled at its wonders, and never tired of seeing it again and again!

I can only imagine what it would be like to experience this in autumn, with colors of every hue! For now I shall save that for another day, and another time. Instead I will enjoy the pure green beauty of spring. One that has yet to come to most of us. Elusive this year, but in the end I’m sure it will arrive.

I hope you can get a sense of the feelings that I described here! Enjoy your piece of spring!! 🙂

"Through Shadow Woods"
“Through Shadow Woods”

“My Special Farewell to 2013”

As the year is drawing to a complete close, I have been reflecting on many things that happened during 2013. I know in my last post I already gave you my 10 favorite, best, or best selling images of the year.

Now I’d like to share with you a few images from this past spring that have special meaning to me. As a lot of you know. I lost my father in May. It came without much notice, and I was not able to get to him in time before he passed away. I was driving from where I live, to the hospital he was in, in another state. The news reached me when I was halfway there.

I didn’t stop driving, in fact I might have driven even faster, with lots of tears a long the way. One thing I do feel good about is that I was able to have the chance to be with him in his hospital room for a short while after he had already passed away. Many of our family members gathered around my father, as we reflected upon his life, the lives he brought together and the gifts that he gave to the world.

He was a nature lover of the purist kind, he was someone who gave me my love of all the beauty out there, and how to enjoy and capture it. He never went anywhere without his camera in hand, which was something I learned very early on.

These next few images here were taken in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A favorite place of his. A place where we were able to spend a lot of time together, and that we both have a special connection to.

 "Dark Skies Leaving" Late afternoon sunlight coming in as a thunderstorm pushes out across the mountains.
“Dark Skies Leaving”
Late afternoon sunlight coming in as a thunderstorm pushes out across the mountains.
 "Rainbow on the Ridge" A beautiful rainbow formed over the mountains as the storm passed!!
“Rainbow on the Ridge”
A beautiful rainbow formed over the mountains as the storm passed!!
  "Depth of Time" A final goodbye, an ending. The sun had set on this day, and on my father's life.  Beautiful clouds and fog moved in quickly as it got darker. I stayed there watching until I could see no more.
“Depth of Time”
A final goodbye, an ending. The sun had set on this day, and on my father’s life.
Beautiful clouds and fog moved in quickly as it got darker. I stayed there watching until I could see no more.

This year was one of great loss, but also of great wonder, depth, and blessings.

I wish you all the very best in this coming year, as we all travel along in this journey of life together!!

~ Peace ~

“Dogwood Curtain” 2

“Dogwood Curtain” 2

-Dogwood Curtain-  mono 2

A day of pink
Of blossoms fair.

Wind blows gently
Petals flare.

Distant thoughts
My soul to share.

Far off bench
Anyone there?

A day in spring
The world is new.

Among the blossoms
I’ll be with you.

~~ Rachel Cohen~~

“Time Well Spent”

When I think of time spent out in nature, to me it’s time well spent. On one of my visits into Shenandoah National Park. I stopped at the Dickey Ridge Visitors Center.

It was really quiet. There had been storms and fog, in and out of the area that day, so there weren’t many people there. The ones that were there had a lovely scenic vista and relative peace and quiet!

This view caught my eye, I really wanted to get the bench into the scene. I waited to see if I would be able to capture it without anyone there, but that didn’t happen during my short time at Dickey Ridge. I needed to move on down the road to some trails that were calling my name! 🙂 I decided to capture this scene with one person sitting enjoying a bite to eat, taking in the fresh mountain air, and scenic view. Another person off to the side readied herself to take some photos without feeling hurried by other people, just taking it all in.

I rarely include people in my images, but in this instance I’m really glad that I did. They add a dimension to the photo that makes it more complete.

As we head into the last stretches of summer, into the fall season. I find myself still processing images from springtime.

So enjoy spring in my images now, and summer outdoors while it’s still here. For soon I shall be posting lots of autumn wonder, and fall foliage!! 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend ahead to all!!

-Time Well Spent-

“Flowers and Stone”

Flowers and stone
Spring dreams

Tumbled boulders
Timeless past

Season’s renewal
Wildflowers sprout

Perhaps unnoticed
Perchance to be seen

I have noticed
I have climbed

Life ever changing
Reaching new heights

Flowers and stone
Of God’s Gifts
We do delight

by Rachel Cohen

“We Smile”

As you’ll see in a minute I am again referencing a song from way back in the early 1970’s sung by The Carpenters.
As soon as I saw this rainbow image while getting ready to process it in Lightroom, the words “We smile” came to my mind. When that happened, well the song “We’ve Only Just Begun”popped into my head. From there all the thoughts of new beginnings and the beauty of new beginnings came out.

Spring is a season of re-birth, new growth, and new beginnings. A time to embrace life, enjoy nature, nurture nature, and more importantly nurture ourselves both in body and spirit.

Here in the Blue Ridge Mountains spring is a wonderful time of year, and being able to see a rainbow after a big spring storm gives the sense of newness, fresh start, and pure beauty.

Read the lyrics to the song below the image. If you remember them from the 1970’s then feel free to rejoice!! 🙂 If they’re new to you, then think about them, and enjoy them with the beauty of this image!! 🙂

~~ We Smile~~

-We Smile-

“We’ve Only Just Begun” by The Carpenters

We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
We’ve only begun

Before the risin’ sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run
And yes, we’ve just begun

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day, together

And when the evening comes, “we smile”
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day, together, together

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun

“The Last Goodbye”

On a recent visit to Shenandoah National Park, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I had really wanted the ability to get a sunset before leaving the area. The weather hadn’t been cooperating for most of the time I was there. I had one day of lovely weather, but was busy and couldn’t be in the mountains. After that it rained cats and dogs for a few days, and In addition to that, the mountains were socked in with a thick heavy fog.
On my last day there, I decided to head up into the mountains one more time, even though it was raining in Winchester and Front Royal, plus the mountains were still having quite a bit of fog.
I drove quite a ways in and amazingly started to see some clearing happening. I even got to see a rainbow, which made me pretty happy, which I’ll explain in a minute.
During the time of sunset, I captured many images, but this one has to be the most colorful of the group! Not the best, but the most brilliant.
I call it “The Last Goodbye” for two reasons. One is that it was my last day there, and had to head out of town early the next morning.
The other reason was a much more import one. My whole reason for being in the area to begin with.
My father had passed away, just a few days before this was taken. He suffered a series of massive heart attacks. While I was in the area I got some time to myself and spent it in the Blue Ridge.
On my last night there I went up into the mountains to what was his favorite spot, so that I could say a quiet goodbye, and hopefully catch a sunset. What I got was more than I had hoped for.
I was blessed with clearing skies, a rainbow, and a vibrant sunset.
That was my very Last Goodbye to a wonderful man who during his lifetime had taught me the love and respect of nature, and the the pure joy of photographing that beauty!!

Blue Ridge Sunset
Blue Ridge Sunset

“Lower Dark Hollow”

Last summer, the summer of 2012, in what I call the “year of the Drought”. Many of the places I visited related to water, were so different than they were in years before!
This image is from Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park. I started at the top of the trail of course, and expected to be met with the sound of rushing water as I went further down and the trail came closer to the falls. What I encountered instead was more like a slow pour, lightly and gently coming down the mountain and over the rocks.
I had hoped to take many images of the upper part of the falls, and the whole falls from the bottom. Well that’s not quite what happened.
First as I mentioned there was very little water compared to usual, and second, there were at least 40 people gathered around the lower falls to capture whatever was there. It was a mad house LOL!
So here is what will remain in my mind forever the lower part of Dark Hollow Falls with very little water, in the “Year of the Drought”!

Dark Hollow Falls
Dark Hollow Falls