Tag Archives: shenandoah

Close Call

It’s been a while since we’ve had such a strong hurricane pass so close to us here in Central Florida.  Matthew was a category 4 storm last Wednesday as it approached our east coast and had just roared through Haiti with devastating effects.  Luckily, it veered a little further away and winds were lower than forecast when it hit here.  We had strong rain and winds, power flickers, trees down, and some damage in our area on the North East side of Orlando.  But we were spared most of the dire effects that we worried about.  Friends from New Smyrna Beach stayed with us and they too reported very few problems from the storm, although they lost power for a day.

Anyway, I wasn’t able or even motivated to do any photography last week.  So instead I’ll show you an image that has nothing to do with storms, from our recent trip Shenandoah.

Bearfence Mountain PanoramaBear Fence Mountain Panorama – This is part of the vista from the top of Bearfence Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. It’s one of the few places there where you get a true 360 degree view. This image is a mutli-frame panorama stitched together in Lightroom.

Scrambling up this rock pile on the top of the mountain, I had to acknowledge  that my 64-year-old knees aren’t as good as I thought.  But I did make to the top and the view was awesome.

I hope all of you also came through hurricane Matthew ok.  If not, our thoughts and prayers are with you.  And thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  If possible – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

 

Flowers and Flyers

I hope you don’t mind a few more photos from Virginia.  The wildflowers and butterflies were beautiful, and the birds varied from what we normally see in Central Florida.

Wildflower Chicory bud wildflower. Thanks Charlotte Norton for identifying this for me!

There were butterflies everywhere, probably because wildflowers were everywhere.  We had a marvelous little meadow under the balcony behind our room.  It was fun and relaxing to sit there and watch all the activity.

SwallowtailSwallowtail

Bees and birds were busy too.

Wildflower and BeeWildflower and Bee B&W

We stood in line for the dining room at the lodge one night and the woman in front of us was carrying a large DSLR camera and lens.  She lived close by and had come up to photograph butterflies in Big Meadows.  I said we were enjoying them too, and then we started talking about birds.  I was all excited about the Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches we’d sighted, since we don’t often see them in Florida.  She didn’t seem to care about such common birds – and was much more interested in getting to Florida to see some Spoonbills.  To each their own!

Eastern TowheeEastern Towhee (life bird!) – Thanks Kevin McKinney for the bird ID help!

And one more image to wrap up.  I made all the photos in this post with a micro four-thirds camera and 100 – 400 mm lens (200 – 800 mm equivalent).  I found it very useful for close up photography and even though I had a macro lens with me, I never used it.

Wildflower 3Wildflower 3

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah – Starscapes, Sunsets, Storms, and Falls

Our visit to Shenandoah National Park this year  was extremely enjoyable (mentally not physically!)  relaxing, and cooler than back here in Central Florida (highs there in the 70s).   It was also interesting from a photography perspective and different from last year’s trip.  I did a lot of sunset / night photography and didn’t try very hard to get up early every morning for sunrise.

We were fortunate with seeing conditions on the night we arrived. There were no clouds, and the Milky Way center was above the horizon for about two hours after moon set.  Shenandoah has dark skies and the large cleared meadow near the lodge provides wonderful views all around the compass.  Lynn hadn’t ever really seen the Milky Way before and I’ve never seen it this well.  We were both amazed, and I was also impressed with how much detail my Nikon D800 was able to capture.

Big Meadows Milky Way Big Meadows Milky Way.  Three frame panorama, 24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 2500, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

Lynn is a big fan of meteor showers, and due to a gravity assist from Jupiter, the Perseid was predicted to be spectacular this year.  We set the alarm for 1am the night it was forecast to peak and went out to watch.  The area around Big Meadows was crowded with over a hundred people watching the show, and each overlook had cars parked with more people observing.  It was a good show.  Here’s one of my photos from that morning.

A Persied Meteor and a cloud in front of a portion of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy A Perseid Meteor and a cloud in front of part of the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy – From Old Rag View Overlook on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.  24mm lens, manual focus and exposure, ISO 3200, f/1.8, 20 seconds.

I tried sunset photos on most nights.  The sky wasn’t as dramatic as I’ve seen it in the past, but there were many wildflowers in bloom helping to make up for that.

The end of the dayThe end of the day – Looking out over Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive. The wildflowers were beautiful when we were there.  Two frame composite, manual masking in Photoshop.

And storms also added interest.  We watched this one develop from the balcony outside our room at the lodge.

Shenandoah Storm #1Shenandoah Storm – A storm built up to the west at sunset. As seen from our balcony at Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park.  Multi-frame panorama.

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular places in Shenandoah.  When we drove by on Sunday, the parking area was overflowing with cars.  We waited until the next morning to hike down.  Last year, I didn’t make it to these falls and used one of my  20-year-old photos  to illustrate it.  For some reason, the hike (especially the return up from the falls) is more difficult than it was when I was 20 years younger.  Hmm – I wonder why?  This is from very near the same place, and a horizontal, wider view.  I like this one too.

Dark Hollow Falls Dark Hollow Falls.  14mm equivalent FOV, ISO 100, f/8.0, 1/13 seconds, Olympus hires mode.

We did a bit more hiking this year than last and went on trails we hadn’t tried before.   Rose River Falls and Black Rock Mountain were two new favorites.  Another one we hiked was Pocosin Trail.  It was interesting, although I didn’t like it as much as the others.  Maybe it was because of one sentence in the trail guide:  “Soon the trail flattens.”  It never did!

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Shenandoah wildlife

I wrote this on board the Amtrak Auto Train between Lorton, Virgina and Sanford, Florida. Lynn and I were returning from Ohio where we attended the annual  PITCA convention and Virgina where we spent a week in Shenandoah National Park.  We both enjoy riding this train and we’re grateful for the 900 miles of driving that it spares us.

I made a great many photographs on the trip and haven’t gotten through them yet, so I thought I’d post a few wildlife photos now as a teaser for one or more posts to come.

Stop and smell the flowersStop and smell the flowers – The wild deer in Shenandoah are protected and the ones around Big Meadows are very tolerant of people. We saw this faun feeding with its mother in the field outside our room.

It’s exciting to spot and photograph animals in the wild, some more so than others!  I was farther away from this next one than it looks (I used an 800mm equivalent lens).

Shenandoah RattlesnakeShenandoah Rattlesnake – Lynn spotted this and came and got me so I could photograph it.  It was a surprise to see it moving through the grass outside the Big Meadows Lodge. Some folks called the ranger and he “escorted” it away from the cabins.

Lynn is a really excellent bear spotter too.  She saw three and was always the first to notice them.  This one caused a small “bear jam” along Skyline Drive.

Shenandoah Black BearShenandoah Black Bear – This young bear was wandering near the road. It kept foraging while I made a photo from inside the car. Sorry for the motion blur – it was pretty dark back in the trees.

I’ll definitely post more about this trip.  You  can read one earlier post about Shenandoah here:  http://edrosack.com/2015/09/20/vacation-part-2-shenandoah-national-park/

And you can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them.  I’ll also be adding more from our trip in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Vacation, part 2: Shenandoah National Park

On July 4th, 1936, in the Virginia Blue Ridge mountains along Skyline Drive at Big Meadows, President Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah National Park.  Since that time, people have greatly enjoyed wonderful vistas, beautiful waterfalls, quiet wooded hollows, hiking, wildlife and the night sky.

Shenandoah sunrise at Spitler KnollSunrise at Spitler Knoll

I’ve been to Shenandoah many times.  It’s the first national park I ever visited – too long  ago to admit.  I hiked there with our Boy Scout troop from Bowie, Maryland when I was a very young man .  Hiking’s a major activity at the park – the Appalachian Trail runs along and crosses Skyline Drive in many places.

Appalachian trail viewAppalachian trail view

Lynn and I also took Mike and Mary there when they were younger and we have fond (and scary!) memories of hikes with those two scrambling over rocks and along ridges to be first to see a view.  On one of our visits, we also picnicked with our good friends the Sullivans, and hiked with the kids down to Dark Hollow Falls.

Dark Hollow FallsDark Hollow Falls – A gorgeous waterfall, although crowded at times since it’s one of the closest ones to Skyline Drive.  (Photo from 1996).

To get the most out of your visit, you need an up to date guide-book.  We had one from our previous visits (printed in 1988!), but unfortunately we didn’t realize how out of date it was.  Fires and other events have changed places in the park, sometimes quite dramatically.  Fortunately, we found updated books at the park.  One example of the changes:

Dead eastern hemlock treesDead eastern hemlock trees – Hemlock Springs, Shenandoah National Park. We really enjoyed hiking through large stands of hemlock trees the last time we were there, 20+ years ago.  Now, 95% of the Hemlock trees in Shenandoah have been killed by the hemlock woolly adeligid, an invasive species introduced by humans. 

Weather can vary in the park.  All of our visit was beautiful, but we spent one day completely socked in with heavy rain and visibility of 50 to 100 feet.  I had fun walking around in the fog looking for photos, while Lynn wove a White Oak basket from scratch.

Rain drops in the mistRain drops in the mist

We saw lots of wildlife while we were there.  The deer are all over and not very skittish, since animals are protected in the park.  We also saw 2 black bears – exciting!  I didn’t look too hard for birds, but managed to spot at least one life bird (Dark-eyed Junco).

If you search the web you’ll see things to do in the surrounding area too.   We’ve been to Luray Caverns in the past, although we didn’t have time to explore outside the park this time.

In summary, Shenandoah National Park deserves to be on your bucket list.  If you haven’t been there yet, just go.  If you have been there, you know what I mean.

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and some other photos from our trip in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.