Fall has always been one of my favorite seasons. Not even I can say for sure whether it’s my favorite, because I really like Spring, too.
I’ve been busy with my new job. All is going well, but meeting and getting accustomed to new co-workers and learning new stuff is mentally exhausting. By the time evening rolls around during the week — my days have been FLYing! — I’m mentally spent.
We’ve been spending our Saturdays helping my MIL consolidate her belongings in preparation for her impending move into a lovely apartment facility in Perry Hall, Maryland (just northeast of Baltimore). Luckily Mike’s siblings and in-laws have been pitching-in, too.
There’s plenty of stuff I need to do around our house, but I decided to put it off in favor of enjoying the lovely Fall scenery in Virginia.
I like exploring back roads far more than Hubby does. My bike is much smaller and better-suited for the dirt-and-gravel roads sometimes encountered in this region. My bike probably weighs about half as much as his does, the weight is more-evenly distributed (lower), and it has a skinnier profile, so it’s easy for me to stop and park in the grass along a road without having to worry about hindering traffic and/or getting sideswiped.
It really has been lovely. I thought y’all might enjoy some of the images I captured over the last few weeks.
How cool is that lichen-covered boulder? It was about the size of a rectangular bale of hay, only it wasn’t rectangular. Oh, it was in a creek, too.
This is not the first abandoned chimney I’ve seen, with no trace of its former building in view. I’d love to know the story of that place. It would be a lovely spot for a tiny cabin.
I hope you’ve all been able to enjoy Fall, too. Today is the day the clocks “fall back,” so it’ll be getting dark here in a couple of hours. I need to get back to catching up on my chores.
Thanks for stopping by.
Oh, wait. One more thing. This post was written entirely on my new MacBook Air — work-issued — which I am still getting used to. The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll be an Apple convert.
I’ve known for a while. There have been signs. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been so absent from my regular online haunts, like reading blogs and publishing stuff on my own blog.
I honestly don’t even want to THINK about getting a new computer. I hate having to make decisions about technology, because truly informed decisions take lots of reading, and lots of thought.
And, as soon as you mention needing a new techy thing or other, everyone wants to share advice and opinions. To me, all of that is even MORE overwhelming. Because what is good or works for one person may not be good or work for me.
The latest “sign” is that the network adapter stopped working. So I can’t connect to our home network or the biggest network of all, the Internet. It can probably be fixed. But why bother when I know the thing needs to be replaced. It’s time, really. I have been in denial for MONTHS.
Anyhoo… to change the subject, look at this pretty sunrise.
I am a visual person. I really , really love all the colors in nature (like sunrises and sunsets). I’m not usually up early enough to see sunrises and, if I were, I wouldn’t be able to see much of it from my house because I don’t have a very good view of the eastern or western sky.
Recently, due to the oppressive Mid-Atlantic heat and humidity, and the fact that I work from home so have nothing to really force me out of the house, I’d been feeling rather house-bound. Like a cabin fever sort of thing. I got outside, but only in the evenings when walking the dogs. Not only did that feel hot and uncomfortable, it was also LOUD because of the stupid cicadas. They’ve been quite loud and quite incessant for WEEKS. If you’ve never had to live with the darn things and don’t know what I mean, make sure your sound is turned on then follow this link.
So I decided to head to the beach for a few days. Hubby hates the beach and I really wanted to swim in the ocean one more time before beach season ends. I am a remote employee, so I just moved my office and altered my hours for a couple of days. I worked in the early morning and late afternoon/evenings and had midday to hang out on the beach.
It was a refreshing and much-needed break.
While there, since I had to get up early to work anyway, I made sure to enjoy sunrise from the beach. I mean, I had to sit somewhere to drink that all-important morning coffee, right?
I don’t take pictures just for the sake of taking a lot of pictures. I take pictures trying to capture — and share — the beauty (and other stuff) that I see.
I’m always saying, you can’t just take an occasional snapshot here and there and expect to have a bunch of great photos on hand. You have to take a lot of pictures in order to capture a few good ones.
Anyone can push a shutter and capture a moment. I throw away/delete a lot more images than I share. I think most good photographers do. That’s another key to being good, knowing when you have created/captured something that’s not so good. If it’s not good or it’s even really bad, DON’T SHARE IT.
I actually captured quite a few decent sunrise pics, but I think the one I shared above is my favorite.
If you’d like to see some of the “bloopers” watch the video I embedded below. There’s sound, so you may want to adjust your volume before pressing play.
I hope to make more-frequent appearances once I have procured a new personal computer.
I have met some really cool people since moving to Virginia in 2011. It’s hard to believe it has already been five years! Well, not officially five until September 30/October 1, but that’s close enough. Sometimes it still feels so new…
But, back to me having met COOL people. One of the interesting localish ladies I’ve befriended is Connie Stevens Hilker. Some of you may remember her from this 2014 post of mine. According to the bio on Connie’s blog…
…I started Hartwood Roses, an educational rose garden in Virginia that specializes in rare and unusual antique roses. I know a lot about roses, old houses, carpentry and remodeling, and am an expert day dreamer. You will often find me working in the garden, planning a home project, building something, or hanging out in a cemetery …all of this has come in handy as my husband and I restore our historic home (built in 1848) renovate the outbuildings, and design the gardens.
She loves animals, too. She’s a supporter of dog rescue. She paints furniture. She’s just a really fun gal. And she’s married to a guy named, Steve, an artist who also seems like a cool chap. Here’s a recent pic of the two of them from Connie’s blog…
Aren’t they a cute couple? They’re grandparents, too.
Now for the point of this post… Connie and Steve hosted an open house/walking garden tour this past May. It’s an annual thing, I think. After seeing all of their preparations online, I thought it would be fun to go.
There was a map and everything. If you click on any of the images in this post, a larger version will open so you can see details.
I hadn’t told Connie I was coming. She was a little surprised to see me, but I think Steve was more surprised to see this granny pull into his yard on a motorcycle. I hadn’t met Steve before that day. Of course, I felt like I knew him to some degree through Connie and her social media posts.
It’s a big yard with a lot of different gardens and planting areas.
That’s an overview of the property. Isn’t it delightful?
Now for a bunch of pictures of their gorgeous roses.
I’m a visual person. I love color, shapes, patterns, angles, etc. And I really love seeing a pretty sky. And interesting clouds. Heck, I even like a completely empty sky when it’s that amazing, intense blue you usually get after a huge storm has passed. You know, since the storm has almost completely scrubbed the atmosphere of moisture.
As I’m looking at these pics, I see my CMOS sensor needs to be cleaned again. Sigh… Maybe no one else notices or even knows what that means? LOL.
That picture doesn’t do the sky justice. The spot of intense color was neat to see. Those instances of color are very fleeting, so I had to work fast, and I didn’t capture it very well.
I had to darken the final image, using PhotoShop, to make the intense color appear in the photo. Now the picture just looks too blue to me. I decided I’d share it anyway.
I love how the short contrail/flat-and-skinny cloud toward the top, center part of the frame is lit up.
I get very excited when I see the sky lit up, and I usually start clicking away at the shutter button, trying hard to capture the color appropriately or at least in a way that’s pleasing to the eye. The problem is, I don’t always remember to make sure the horizon is flat.
Since I’ve mentioned that on here, I figured I’d give you an example.
The second shot is passable, but it’s still not perfect. I can’t remember if I was trying to capture a flat horizon with that shot, or if I just got lucky.
Below is an edited version of the same, passable shot.
See how much better?
Is it me, or do the clouds look like a goose in flight?
I went to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge yesterday with hopes of seeing big flocks of Snow Geese. I’ve been thinking about visiting that place since October, when I failed to see Snow Geese during my visit to Chincoteague. It’s a three-hour drive from my house, though. Sometimes it’s hard for me to justify — to myself — investing an entire day just to go see a bunch of birds.
So, when I learned of a dog transport passing through this area, I figured I could multi-task again. I could help transport the dog AND drive to Blackwater.
Originally, I was supposed to take Ellie from Warrenton to the other side of DC. But I figured if I carried her to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the folks on the NJ end might appreciate traversing ruralish highways instead of Interstate 95.
I was right. 🙂
So, after handing Ellie off to her foster parents in Queenstown, MD, I drove about another hour to Blackwater.
It was around 3:00 when I got there, and there wasn’t a whole lot of daylight remaining.
Unfortunately, there were few Snow Geese to be found. I did get lots of other cool pics, though, and quite a few crappy ones.
Before I share my captures, I will say this… I am no bird photographer. I take pictures of birds, but I don’t have the right equipment, i.e., a big-ass, expensive zoom lens and industrial-strength tripod, to capture technically good bird photos. I just take snapshots.
I also have to say that it was very windy and cold there yesterday. Temps hovered around 40 degrees F (about 4.5 C), but the wind made it feel much colder. The wind also wreaked havoc on my focus. Using a zoom lens requires a tripod and/or a very steady hand. Although I had taken the tripod along, I didn’t bother setting it up because of said wind.
The first set of pics was taken with my point-and-shoot camera.
Blackwater — a tidal wetland — is a pretty place.
I really like my captures of this pattern in the ice. I’d hoped the folks at the visitors’ center could explain how it was created, but they were equally intrigued.
My point-and-shoot — a Canon G16 — is a higher-end camera, and it has pretty good zoom capabilities, but digital zoom is only good if the light is bright and the camera is very still. Remember, it was windy. And daylight was fading fast during my visit.
The pics shared below were all taken with my DSLR camera, equipped with a zoom lens.
I like how you can also see the bird’s feet in the second picture.
I saw quite a few herons yesterday.
This guy (or gal?) was kind enough to land right in front of my car.
I stopped at the visitors’ center for a potty break, to warm up, and to ask about the Snow Geese. I was starting to think they’d all flown north already (Blackwater is one of several over-wintering spots for them on the East Coast).
That’s where I captured this eagle shot, which I posted to FB with the caption, “Got really close to an eagle! That’s a phone pic, no filter.”
Of course, the prankster in me left a few important details out of that caption. It was a real, but dead, stuffed, and mounted, eagle in an exhibit.
The volunteers at the visitors’ center told me the Snow Geese were spending their day in nearby fields, off-refuge, eating. While there was still sufficient light, I set out to see the elusive Snow Geese.
After observing them for a bit, I drove back to the refuge, hoping maybe they’d return before dark.
Note, I did NOT say Canadian Geese. They’re CANADA Geese, people, not Canadian Geese. That’s one of my pet peeves when people talk about birds.
If you look at a larger version of this image (just click on the picture) you’ll see that its neck feathers were blowing in the wind.
I captured quite a few nice sunset shots, which I’ll share in a separate post.
The Snow Geese did return to the refuge, but not until after sunset. I DID capture a few shots with the point-and-shoot, but they were blurry.
The pics I captured during my previous visit are better. The first image shown below is a good pic from my visit in 2011, when I still had a separate moto blog.
It’s really pretty amazing to see — and hear! — hundreds of geese in flight. I guess if you like that sorta thing.
Thanks to the alarm on my phone, I was able to get out of bed before sunrise on Saturday. I never use an electronic alarm at home, I have two canine alarms.
Neptune was just as lovely in the morning light as I thought he would be. I’d figured the sky would make a nice backdrop for him.
I took several shots, naturally. The one below would be my favorite if it weren’t for the playground equipment in the lower left-hand corner. If you want a closer look, just click on any of these images and a bigger version will open.
As for the sunrise, I captured a bunch of sunrise images, too. Not every frame I captured is worthy of sharing.
None of my followers come to mind when I say this… people who routinely share every single frame they capture make me crazy.
It was quite cloudy that morning (Saturday, November 7). Clouds can be good and bad. Too many, and the sunlight is obscured. I like some clouds because I think it makes the sky more interesting.
I don’t always edit (aka PhotoShop) my pics beyond re-sizing before posting. With sunrises/sunsets over water or some other flat horizon, I usually have to. Because no matter how hard I try, I can almost never get the horizon level enough.
I mention editing, because it’s easy to make a good picture look better with image editing software, as shown below, using the same image as shown above, adjusted for light.
Sometimes, I’ll adjust for composition, too. Below is the same image again, cropped so the sun is in the right third of the frame and the reflection of the sun on the water is in the lower right-hand quadrant.
Why am I telling you this? So you’ll understand that when I say an image is straight out of camera or SOC, it means I think I and my camera have captured it perfectly. That’s not an easy feat.
The horizon isn’t horribly slanted, but it’s slanted enough that I notice.
Leveling makes a difference, doesn’t it? (Sorry if I have just cursed you with the needing to have a level-horizon thing.)
There’s a lot to think about when trying to get a good picture — composition, light, focus, level horizon, etc. — and leveling the horizon is the one I forget and/or fail at most often.
When using an automatic camera, the point at which you focus will determine the amount of light captured in your shot.
The wider focus in the above shot made the camera let in just enough light to capture the foreground detail, but still leave some blue in the sky.
In the images immediately above and below this paragraph, zooming in/focusing on the brightness of the sun meant the camera let less light in, which is why everything else is darker.
Achieving just the right balance takes practice and experimentation, too. The angle of the light is also important.
That shot would have been nicer with a slightly darker sky, but then you wouldn’t have been able to see my footprints in the sand. I can use PhotoShop to darken the sky a bit if I want.
All of the images shared thus far were captured on my point-and-shoot, i.e., automatic, camera. It has a variety of manual options, but I have yet to learn how to use them. I can be a lazy photographer at times.
The next few images were captured with my digital SLR camera (interchangeable lenses, easier-to-use manual settings, manual focus, etc.).
Playing with the light settings and using manual focus let me capture those wispy little clouds in front of the dark, background clouds.
In the SOC version, you can’t really see the sun’s rays like you can (subtly) in the below version, which I adjusted slightly for light.
Not surprisingly to me, I captured more shots worth sharing with the point-and-shoot than I did with the SLR. I’m out of practice. It takes thought to get the right light settings on that thing, and I am very rusty.
All of the pics would have been better had I thought about using the tripod. I did say I can be a lazy photographer…
I could’ve stayed longer to watch as the sky continued to change and capture more images, but I knew I’d gotten a few good ones. AND I had things to do.
It’s hard to pic a favorite, isn’t it?
Next up, some fun images captured in and around Virginia Beach.