This was a very productive trek that wasn't even designed as a trek. Every year Toni and I celebrate our anniversary by going to the mountains and staying in a cabin just like we did for our honeymoon in 2011. This was our third anniversary, and now the second time that we stayed at this cozy little cabin just outside of West Jefferson, NC. An interesting factoid, in the years that we have been married, I was only an active photographer for the first year. I did a little photography on our honeymoon, but for the anniversaries that followed, I wasn't interested in photography in the least. Fast forward to this year....with my photography entering back into our lives, Toni suggested that I bring along the camera for this trip. While that wasn't going to be my main focus, I could hardly disagree with the logic. It was going to be like old times again!
I figured that we would get out and do a little bit with the camera, but I wasn't really expecting much in the way of trekking on this trip. Plus, I was a lens down since my 70-200mm telephoto was still at Canon being worked on. It actually was being shipped back while we were gone, and arrived at the house a couple of days before our return. Without that lens, I was restricted to only two lenses, which fortunately were my two most used lenses for landscape work. I took everything and figured if I could get a picture or two I would see that as gravy on what was sure to be a most enjoyable trip with Toni.
The weather forecast was all over the place for our stay there. We were looking at clear days, cloudy days, cold days, REALLY cold days, and some snow days to boot. This should be exciting! We arrived at our secluded cabin right on time on Saturday the 18th. We got in and got settled in for the afternoon and evening. I wasn't really thinking much about photography, but had noticed that there was snow on the ground, and being located in Winston Salem, I knew that snow pictures were few and far between for me normally. I figured that my best bet would be to get up early in the morning and do some exploring on foot around the neighborhood which was far from developed.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
The alarm rang very early, and I just wasn't quite ready to get up. The dark sky looked totally overcast which was going to kill my only idea for a photograph (a shot looking up at the cabin from the road below). I decided to roll over and go back to sleep. That was an easy decision since Toni wasn't interested in going out in the snow with me that early in the morning. Try as I might, I was not able to get back to sleep, so I went ahead and got up to go explore a little bit.
It wasn't until I got home and started to fine tune the white balance that I was able to see the image as I remembered it. The color intensifying polarizer did exactly what I wanted it to do. The sky now popped with warm tones against a blue background. Thanks to the graduated ND filter, the snow was still properly exposed, and what I had captured was actually the tail end of a colorful sunrise which was ever so faint in the sky at the time of capture.
I continued to walk around for a bit and found a handful of other subjects to capture. They were not all that exciting though, and ultimately they got cut and left in the recycle bin on the computer. I was having a hard time getting inspired. After about an hour, I headed back to the cabin. Before I went inside though, I walked around to see what views I had from the deck. While they were not my customary views, I did see some moderate potential, and for the moment, the sky was looking pretty good.
|Bird's Eye View|
With those images taken, it was time to get back in the cabin and warm up. I had shot quite a bit of "film" for my short walk. I knew that most of it would be throw away images, but I was pretty happy that I was able to get out and give it a try. I figured that was going to be it for the day, and was ready to settle down to enjoy some relaxation time with Toni.
While we ate breakfast she suggested that we go out for a little while and see what was around us. Her main reason was a little more utilitarian than that though...she had run out of Chap Stick and needed to get some more (it was an emergency!). She pushed me to take my camera gear and I reluctantly agreed with her. I figured we might run into something interesting, and I would hate to miss out on a good picture.
|Solidarity in B&W|
|A Gentle Breeze|
After that composition, I decided to call it quits. I pretty much numb from head to toe at that point, and was having a very hard time manipulating the camera. I loaded everything back up and Toni and I started back towards town. she was hungry so we stopped for lunch in Jefferson. While we were eating, she suggested that we continue down the road that the McDonald's was on in search of more to photograph. She is so cool, and so supportive! We set out for an unknown destination. I could see a lot of barns along the road, but none of them yelled out to me with the current lighting. Then I caught something out of the corner of my eye. Could it be? Was it what I thought it was? Is it even possible? Yes....it was a group of old buildings along the side of the road complete with barns, homes, and a small stream! It was cluttered, and bunched together, but the cool factor of it being on the side of a mountain was too hard to pass up. Toni even gave it a 60% thumbs up. I pulled into a church which was beside the driveway leading into the "compound".
|Window to the Past|
|Divided We Fall|
|Abandoned Project in B&W|
|The Reality of Time|
|Hillside Barn in B&W|
Monday, January 20, 2014
I was tickled to say the least at what I had captured the day before. I would have been happy if I didn't pull the camera out another time while we were in the cabin. Monday, we had plans to go into Boone and do some shopping. Toni suggested that I bring the camera. I figured that it wouldn't hurt to do just that...just in case. We made the short trip into Boone, and ultimately Blowing Rock to get some shopping done. We had a great time, and we finished a couple of hours before sunset. That was enough time to work on some pictures before dinner time. I had seen a barn on the way up that I had wanted to photograph before, but had never given it a try. The problem with this barn is that there are all sorts of buildings all around it that really make for a difficult composition unless you want to include stores, commercial buildings, or a brick house in the frame. However, I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a try. I scoped it out quickly and decided that I could work a composition that included the trees in order to block some of the surrounding clutter.
|Framed in B&W|
|In the Shadows|
When the barn was done, it was time to head back to West Jefferson to get some dinner and get back to the cabin for some more relaxing. I might have just photographed one location today, but I was pretty sure I had a few good images from my short time there.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Toni and I awoke to what we were expecting to be a snowy day. Instead, there was no signs of snow at all. Oh well, we were planning on staying around the cabin anyway after a couple of days of driving around. We had a lazy breakfast and watched some television as it was starting to flurry outside. Before long, the snow was starting to stick and the sky was starting to do interesting things. Still wanting to photograph the cabin we were in, I felt that this was my chance. After we had about 2-3 inches on the ground, I grabbed my gear and went out in the driveway. Because it was still snowing, I had to act quick since I was using a 2-stop soft edge ND-Grad filter to keep the sky at bay and show the delicate colors I was seeing. Every second I had the camera set up, I was getting more snow falling on the filter. I had to make a concentrated effort to keep it shielded, and to keep any snow wiped off.
|Winter Storm Approaching|
That pretty much sums up the photographic end of my anniversary trip. Toni and I had a great time, and we can't wait to get back there soon! Thanks for reading all the gritty details of how my images came to be this week, and I hope that you enjoyed them!