Roanoke County | Virginia
Almost a year ago, I found myself in Roanoke County, Virginia, which is in the random place of America, which is over the water and far far away. This year I have headed back in search of photographing the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway, New York, Washington and much much more.
After my trip to the US last year, I was lucky to be following up with a trip this year also. I spoke to to my very good friend and fine art photographer Sam Krisch and over a couple of weeks we set about planning out our little road trip and landscape adventure. As most people know, I am mostly a “people” based photographer, staying into the realms of landscapes and other genres from time to time, so this trip was a a chance to really break the mould, head out into the wide world and get some shooting done. Since this is the first blog of many regarding this trip, we shall be brief and not jump into to much camera geekyness. On the return home from this trip I do hope to have a enough new wonderful content for a new book and to create the much needed Fine Art section on my website.
About five days before writing this blog my trip had started with a short cab ride to Coombe Abbey which is a stunning building just north of Coventry. Iit seemed like the perfect place to spend the day before my flights began from Birmingham airport the following day
Paul Mckelvie saved the day as normal when I forgot my memory cards at home and rescued me by dropping them to me. Chloe-Jasmine and I had a wonderful dinner, enjoyed the stunning building and attempted settled in for the night. 5.30 our alarms sounded, the taxi had arrived and at 9:30 the joint forces of Chloe-Jasmine and KLM had me en-route to Holland for a quick change of planes before what was a most pleasant plane ride to Washington Dulles Airport. On the way over there was lots of time to get some funky photos out the window of the plane. I did ask to open the open to get a better shot, but the staff politely declined.
About to board at Amsterdam – Shot on the Fuji
For this trip I have decided on a two camera set up. As this is a mostly a landscape trip, the D800 was just about the most sensible camera. I had thought about the Pentax 645d, but the size of the camera was a bit too large when looking at overall flight limits and overall usability. I was happy to hear that Sigma UK had very kindly arranged via Sigma USA for the use of some of the rather amazing glass they have. (Both Sam and I love the 120-300mm 2.8 APO lens). Sigma did save the day as bringing the heavier lenses over from the UK would of been a hassle with the extra weight for the flights, so thank you very much Sigma !! The second camera being used on the trip is the infamous Fuji Film X-Pro 1. It is just the most perfect camera to have on a trip like this. Sam is using the Canon 5d Mark 3 and a couple of other of the pro Canons along side his trusty iPhone.
Here is my generic airplane window photograph – Shot on the D800
The plan is to spend a few days in Virginia, drive to Washington, then up to New York and fly home again. Hopefully seeing many amazing sites and meeting wonderful people along the way.
With this being only the second trip to the US, there was and is still a tremendous fascination with all things new and different. In the UK we tend to think of American food to be pretty bad, but the actual reality is that the food is pretty amazing, it is just that they give you so much of it. Yes, there is the major chain stores selling cheap awful food and Spray-on cheese, but, there no one forces people to choose it. The food in the restaurants and dinners has never be less than amazing, different I might add, but full of life and flavour. A highlight for breakfast has to be The Roanoker which serves up just the most amazing country ham and gravy.
This trip for me was and is about trying unearth a little more of America than I did last year and trying to bring that through into the photographs on the trip. It seems the Fuji is the most wonderful camera for trying to capture the flavour of Virginia. One notable moment was in a supply store in a town called Floyd. An American country band fiddled away to entertain a few folk who sat on tables and chairs set out at the back of the store. Maybe this is something Tesco’s should look at doing in the UK. The feeling of community is wonderful in pretty much all of Roanoke country from what I have seen and will be interesting to note the differences as we travel north.
The band playing in Floyd – Shot on the Fuji
To get back on point, Sam and I are here to take photos and plan out our Photographic adventure. While I was getting over my jetlag and waiting on some more kit to arrive from Think Tank Photo for the trip. We did explore some of the local area. We went to see Sam’s artwork on display at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke. Sam Krisch’s work from Iceland and Antarctica is currently on display at an installation at the Taubman Museum, Roanoke, VA entitled “State Of The Art: Virginia Crossroads.”
This image, “Dissolving Monument,” was captured on the coast of Iceland on a black sand, volcanic beach. It is a six image stitch that has been carefully processed to match the stark beauty and mysterious mood of the day. The adjacent cliffs have been carved out over eons by the tides, leaving only the imposing majesty of the mesa-like monolithic rock.
Roanoke itself is quite a lovely place with a nice character and feel. While walking about the town with the X-Pro at hand I caught maybe one of my favorite snaps of the trip so far. Many of the adverts are painted on the walls, very much in a old fashion style. One such advert was for Coca Cola, as I was about to take the shot the Coke truck just parks up next to the sign and I got this delightful shot.
One of the main reasons I was super excited to be coming to Virginia was the stunning sunsets that I did not have time to capture last year. Sam and I will no doubt endever to capture as many of them this year as we can. It should be worth a note that all the photos on this blog , but the very first panorama of the Blue Ridge Parkway are edited and uploaded via an app called Pixlr-o-Matic. I am just loving the combination of shooting on the Fuji and editing direct on the Tablet and uploading. Trying to work out a fast and effective work flow for the road was pretty simple. The X- Pro for the every day lifestyle shots and the D800 for the big shots.
The very stunning and iconic landscape of the Blue Ridge Parkway was one of the many great reasons to start this trip in Virginia. As you can see, it is has some of the most amazing views and truly an area of outstanding natural beauty. This photo was a stitch of 7 photos all shot on the Nikon D800 using the 70 -200mm Sigma 2.8 lense. Photoshop CS6 was used to create the photograph. One of the areas I feel my work lack is a real sense of proper photography when it comes to landscapes, so this is a real challenge for me.
Over the next few weeks, there shall be a few more blogs and many more photos to come. please do add your e-mail to the blog to subscribe, below is a full gallery of the photos so far. For more info on the trip do follow me on Twitter and Facebook, also do check out Sam Krisch’s website