Blue Ridge MusePhotography Archive » Blue Ridge Muse News, views and musings from Southwestern Virginia Fri, 01 Aug 2014 11:58:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Street music on a Friday night Sat, 12 Jul 2014 08:20:51 +0000 071114streetmusic1

A beautiful summer Friday night and music for free on the streets of Floyd.  It doesn’t get any better than this.


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Jammin’ on a Friday night Mon, 28 Apr 2014 00:31:16 +0000 042514jam1

042514jam2Yes, the Friday Night Jamboree next door in the Country Store is the “name” event on Friday nights and the music on the streets is an attention getter once the weather warms up and the rain stay away, the the crew of regulars who gather at the Floyd Barber Shop on Friday evenings provide a free and good show of bluegrass and old time music for those who drop by.

Whether it’s Janet Turner on the autoharp and other regulars who pick and sing, it’s a show worth catching and something to see and listen to.

It you don’t drop by once in a while, you’re missing a weekly jam session that is worth catching.


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From film to digital Sun, 17 Nov 2013 06:41:14 +0000 A Yashica Mat

A Yashica Mat

My career as a photographer started at age 12 in Farmville, VA, when I sold a photo of the Ku Klux Klan meeting in the woods of Prince Edward County.

That photo was taken with a Yashica Mat, a poor’s man’s Rolliflex twin-lens reflex camera that used rolls of 120mm film that allowed 12 exposures a roll.  My photo that night, taken from a concealed spot in the woods, was published in Look Magazine.

A few years later, after my adopted family of my mom, a stepfather, two step sisters, a step brother, a half sister and a half brother moved to Floyd County, I became the student photographer at the then-new Floyd County High School and started using the school’s 4×5 Crown Graphic.  The 4×5, the “press camera” of the time, used film packs that contained 12 exposures of sheet film.

After school, I worked for The Floyd Press as a reporter-photographer and continued to use my Yashica Mat.

After graduation from Floyd County High School, I moved on to a full-time job at The Roanoke Times and bought my first 35mm camera:  a Nikon F with three lenses:  A 50mm “normal” lens, a 200mm telephoto and a 28mm wide angle.  I used that camera throughout my four years at the Times and when I moved on to a paper in Illinois in 1969.  Shooting photos revolved around 36-exposure rolls of film, mostly Tri-X Pan black and white.

For the next 39 years, I used Nikons, moving up to an F2, then an F3, an F4 and, finally, an F5 with lenses using automatic focus.

In 1999, the Nikon went digital with the D1 and I switched to that format, which captured photos on a compact flash card.  The D1 and later the D2 served many assignments over the next few years both in the United States and abroad.   The digital cards provided much higher capacity in shooting, holding hundreds of images from a single session.

In 2004, after leaving Washington and returning home to Floyd County, I switched from Nikons to Canons because Nikon had lagged in digital development.  Assignments were covered with EOS MarkIIs and a variety of lenses.  Image sensors improved, with the “action” camera providing 8 megapixels and the “detail” camera shooting at a then whopping 16 megapixels.

In 2008, Canon revolutionized the digital single-lens-reflex (DSLR) world with the 5D Mark II, a full-frame digital camera with a 21.1 megapixel sensor and the ability to shoot both incredible high-resolution still photos and high definition video in 1080p.  Canon developed the camera at the request of The Associated Presss, who wanted to give photographers video capability.  But the camera also caught the fancy of the independent film community and became the tool of choice for a new wave of filmmakers.

Any gave me one for Christmas in 2008.  At the time I was shooting HD video with a Sony Z1U but it ended up on the shelf as the Canon got more and more work.  With a 32GB compact flash card, I could shoot hours of video and thousands of images and still have space left over.

Memory cards for modern digital cameras.

Memory cards for modern digital cameras.

I had also started using an SHDC card — smaller at about the size of a postage stamp — in my EOS MKIII cameras for sports photography.   The MKIIIs had dual slots for both CF and SHDC cards, which provided both redundancy and space.  For video news shots, my Panasonic HMC-30 ENG shoulder-mount camcorder captured HD video on the smaller cards as well.

The 5D MKII‘s successor, the MKIII, added the dual-card capability along with improved video performance from an even higher-resolution sensor and much improved high ISO performance for low-light shooting and my gear of choice now is a 7D and a 5D MKIII equipped with a 24-70 mm f/2.8 and a 70-200f/2.8 zoom.  The two cameras and two lenses provid coverage for 95 percent of my shooting needs for a still or a video assignment.

And the 32 GB cards used in both cameras provide space for more than 2000 photos or two plus hours of high definition video at an assignment — a far cry from the days of 12-exposure 120 or 36-exposure 35mm film.

But while the media for capturing still and video have reduced in size while offering more capacity, the equipment to store edit and archive all those images and footage has multiplied.  At last count, the hard drives for my Mac add up to 24 terabytes of storage — and I’m running low on space.

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When music brings young and old together Mon, 11 Nov 2013 11:20:45 +0000 111113gravelroad1Young and old mixed in the Sunday Jam at the Floyd Country Store after the Veterans Day Parade when Gravel Road joined the regulars at the music session to close out the event.

Such events are a unique part of the music scene in Floyd — a time when age doesn’t matter but the music does.


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The Wednesday Night Jamboree? Thu, 17 Oct 2013 13:02:37 +0000 101713jamboreefilmingThe Floyd Country Store was hopping Wednesday night with music and dancers.

A Wednesday night Jamboree?

Not quite.  It was filming for the movie, Geographically Desirable, current on location in Floyd.

The extras commissioned for the film learned that movie making is a time-consuming affair with multiples takes and attention to detail.

Even though, many of the extras said they were having fun.

The images here are still frame captures from the film I’m working on to show the filming of the movie.



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Lights, camera, action in Floyd Wed, 16 Oct 2013 09:59:19 +0000 101613film2

For the second year in a row, a theatrical film is being shot in Floyd.

Location shooting for Geographically Desirable is underway on the streets and in places like Oddfellas and The Floyd Country Store this week.

While Tueday night’s shooting at Oddfellas dealt with a couple at a table, the County Store will be recreating the Friday Night Jamboree with a lot of extras Wednesday night.

Interestingly, the cameramen for the film are using the same Canon DSLRs that I use for shooting news photos, news video and documentaries.


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Hillsville on Labor Day weekend: The Mother of all gun shows and flea markets Tue, 03 Sep 2013 10:54:42 +0000 fleamarket4For 46 years now the Carroll County Gun Show and Flea Market has reigned as the big show on Labor Day in Southwestern Virginia, bringing crowds that estimates say easily top 100,000 to Hillsville, a town of 2,6oo on normal days.

Started by Veterans of Foreign Wars Grover King Post 1115 as a fundraiser to replace the post’s roof that collapsed in an ice storm in 1967, the annual event has grown into a mega-attraction that clogs roads with traffic, brings much-needed income to a poor rural area and provides residents a chance to turn lots at their homes into parking areas and spots for vendors that offer antiques, junk, knickknacks and food ranging from funnel cakes to turkey legs to full meals.

“Ir’s a happening, that’s for sure,” says North Carolinian Garland, who sells signs and amusement items at the show each year.

The show puts Hillsville Police Chief Greg Bolen patrolling on a bicycle, the best way to wind through the traffic that clogs the town where three U.S. highways — 221, 58 and 52 — converge and where can take a hour or more to inch along the two-mile stretch of 221 and 58 that passes through the middle of the collection of vendor booths and food tents.

Inside the VFW Hall, crowds look at guns, antique coins and collector athletic cards.  One vendor said most attendees were looking for .22 and 9mm ammo — both in short supply at gun shows and at gun stores around the country.

Sales, most vendors said, were brisk.

While wind and rain from a storm that roared through on Saturday sent patrons scrambling and vendor trying down flapping tents and loose items, the crowds returned when the skies cleared.

“It always rains at least one day during the flea market,” said Annie Hallway of South Carolina.  “Some years are worse than other.”

But the flea market survives and the crowds keep coming.

And the roof replacement that spawned the event 46 years ago.

It was replaced and paid for — many times over.


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Good music, good times at Wildwood Farms Sun, 01 Sep 2013 13:13:40 +0000 The Compton brothers from Willis.

The Compton brothers from Willis.

Good time Saturday night enjoying the music of The Comptons from the stage of the Wildwood Farms General Store on U.S. 221 south of Floyd.

Wildwood puts on a free concert every Saturday night from 7-9 p.m. where fans listen to bluegrass and gospel music  from area groups.

Yes, there’s a dance floor in front of the stage for flat footing.

I’d heard about the music at Wildwood but hadn’t had a chance to get there before this Saturday evening.  It won’t be my last visit and a video will follow later today on the music.


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Family Day in the Park Sun, 25 Aug 2013 13:22:08 +0000 082513jubilee2The Floyd Town Jubilee closed out its summer season Saturday with the Family Day in the Park event that was postponed from the previous weekend because of rain.

Face painting, hollering contests, games and — of course — music filled the afternoon.

The weather cooperated with a sunny day along with temperatures cooler than the usual August heat.

Sbot some video as well and will post it once edited.  More photos also in this week’s Floyd Press.


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The fog of morning Tue, 20 Aug 2013 11:09:30 +0000 082013fog2Morning fog in Floyd County after three days of rain.  Is better weather on the way?  That depends on who you talk to.


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