It feels so good

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… to be back.  Back to taking photographs, back to creating new works, and back, sitting right here on a Sunday morning, sharing it all with you!  Oh wait, it’s Monday, Labor Day.  Still, I can’t think of a better way to spend this extra day off 🙂

This summer’s road trip was just what was needed to break a persisting photographic slump…  From PA to GA and back again.  First stop, Blacksburg, VA, where, nestled in a little valley was the first of many barns we would see…  Fortunately, this one was in a place where I could actually hit the brakes, turn the car around, and go get the shot.

The main reason for this road trip, my nieces wedding in Ball Ground, GA, a little town not far from Atlanta…  Navigating Atlanta’s mega highways and traffic didn’t leave much time for picture taking; just getting to the venue was a feat, and in the nick of time.  We did return to Ball Ground the next morning, where I found some roadside treasures and we strolled a beautiful botanical garden; and I can’t wait to get to those photos!

Next Asheville, NC.  If you haven’t been, is a must! Artsy, fun, colorful and vibrant…  Oh, side note, did you know Asheville has the most breweries per capita in the U.S.?  Let’s just say you might want to pace yourself…

And did I mention colorful? My tour guide/husband did an amazing job at getting us off the beaten path and finding some of Asheville’s hidden treasures.


And it wouldn’t have been much of a road trip if we didn’t hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway… with all it’s winding roads and breathtaking views.

The final destination on this amazing road trip, Harrisonburg, VA and Harper’s Ferry, W. VA… historic sites and National Parks, natural wonders and some not so natural wonders.



Once home… and over these last few weeks, I haven’t stopped.  More photo destinations and so many ideas, I can’t keep them all straight.  And, oh, it feels so good!


Stellar Weekend

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There are many reasons I love this hobby of mine.  On the top of that list is that there’s always something new to learn… something to explore.  Once a year, in September, we visit a little valley in the mountains of central Pennsylvania.  It’s a weekend filled with long walks and paddling around a pond during the day, and sitting around the bonfire and star gazing at night.  Oh, and of course, spending time with the family ~priceless!   I have been documenting this weekend for over 16 years and as my technical skills grow, so do my photo projects/challenges… from macro to light painting to family portraits.  So this year, with the help of some new gear, I wanted to take on universe.

This is what I learned about astro/night photography.  1) It really helps to be prepared.  Um, should have thought of this before I got to the land of no cell service.   With what little cell service there was, I was able to Google “how to photograph star trails,” and got some very basic settings.  2) Patience.  I’m not sure why I thought 4 minute exposure would be enough (it’s not) to capture good trails.  The above shot is 15 minutes.  I’m guessing 30 might have done it… but I was running out of patience, standing in the dark, just outside the woods, alone, where I am sure creepy things await (at least, that’s what was going through my head as the timer seemed to take forever). 3)  There’s a lot more light out there than you think.  I always thought this would be the perfect place to do night photography, the center of Pennsylvania, where there’s nothing around for miles.  Maybe that’s just what it feels like given the rustic setting, but in reality State College is only about 30 min to the North and Huntington, another college town, is just to the South.  Of course they are not metropolises by any stretch, but apparently big (and bright) enough for the camera to capture their light on the horizons. 4) Wait for the world to go to sleep.  This may have worked better had the cabin lights been turned off, the bonfire burned out… (neither of which I could see from where I stood, but the camera could) and the towns in the distance dimming some of their lights too. But, I’m not a night owl…

The Unexpected

Moving on from the star trails, when I turned around, I saw the cabin light had lit of row of trees.  It was like “light painting” without all the work.  So I took some shots based on a nighttime landscaping setting I found by DPS.   Satisfied after a quick check on the display, I packed it in for the night.  While enjoying the bonfire and reviewing my images more closely, I got one heck of a surprise! I actually captured the Milky Way (you know, like in those Nat Geo kind of shots).  I could see it looking straight up overhead; it just didn’t occur to me that it reached across the sky… and I never dreamed it would turn up in the shot.

So there you have it.  With a little guidance on the post-processing, I have my first ever shot of the Milky Way.  Okay, so maybe there are some way, way more amazing photographs of this amazing astronomical wonder out there, but there are none quite like this one… because this one is mine.

I can’t wait to see what next year’s stellar weekend brings,

Just another Sunday…

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… for some maybe.  But not for me.  I got up at 4:30 a.m. this very chilly past Sunday morning to travel 2+ hours to see my first Spartan Race.   First, I guess you might be asking, what’s a Spartan Race?  Well, it’s a marathon of sorts (give or take) depending on whether it’s a Super, a Beast, an Ultra Beast, a Hurricane Heat, well,  with names like those you get the idea… with 25, 30 or 60+ obstacles respectively.    Second question … why?  Because I am my son’s biggest fan, of course 🙂   He has participated in a few of these races dotted across the U.S. and I wanted see firstspartan1 hand what it is about these Spartan races that attracts him and so many people of all ages, male & female, from all walks of life to get up before the sun, on a Sunday, and run in such grueling (and muddy) race.

This, as you may have already guessed, is not your  run of the mill race… this is OCR.spartan6  A mountain usually reserved for skiers is the setting with obstacles such as crawling under rows of barbed-wire, taking on the “rig” (although I’m still not sure exactly what that is, but it doesn’t sound like fun to me), carrying a 75+ pound bucket of stone up the mountain and back down, only to then have to pull yourself up and across the monkey bars, then climb a rope, all before jumping into a muddy pit of water where the only way out is under the wall in front of you, and finally, if all has gone well, jumping the fire pit… and those are just the few obstacles I could see (except for the rig & barbed wire).   Sounds like fun, right?  spartan8 Well, there must be some part of it that is fun; otherwise, one would think that putting yourself through all of that just once would be more than enough.  But, like my son, apparently once is not enough… These are die-hard circuit racers and athletes who train in their spare time to return to take on these Spartan races again and again, sometimes to beat a time, sometimes to support the team or a new racer, and sometimes, well, I guess, just because it is fun.
spartan3As a spectator, there is a lot of waiting, but with the beautiful fall color as a backdrop and so many photo ops, it was worth the wait to see my son and his #phillyspartans emerge from the trees (in one piece).   I even had some of my own obstacles to contend with… like staying out of the way of athletes on a mission and maneuvering through the slippery thick mud that was everywhere…just praying I did not drop a lens cap in it, get my feet stuck in it,  or worst case scenario slip and land on my backside.  Photographically, this was one of the more interesting events I have photographed in quite some time.   It brought out something in people that I don’t see very often in more traditional event settings.  There were no smiles for the camera here.


An expression of determination or an expression that this obstacle is about to get the best of her?

Here, emotions are very raw and changed in a second, from triumph over the obstacle just completed to dread when looking at the next section ahead…


It only seems logical to put this obstacle immediately following the 75+ pound bucket carry, right?  And to think my arms were tired just carrying my camera around all day 😛

to determination when finishing that 29th burpee (30 is the penalty for not completing an obstacle and every obstacle has a “burpee zone”) and knowing you have just one more to go before moving on…


to rejuvenation when you lift your head out of the murky waters… and see the finish line just ahead!


10+ miles, 28 obstacles and he’s still got the strength to push himself to jump the highest.

The only emotion I don’t think I ever really saw was defeat, as every racer I watched and cheered on seemed to know giving up was NOT an option…

All ready looking forward to next Sunday… and sleeping in 😉

Until next time,