The Wall Between Life and Death

This seems like an appropriate photo to revive a moribund photo blog. I’ve done little in the way of processing or posting photos lately, but I have gathered some new material. Last November I visited New Orleans for a few days, and found myself visually captivated by the city; it was absolutely extraordinary. I aspire to convey some small part of that grandeur through my photography.

My first stop as I walked through the Garden District was Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the oldest of the city-run cemeteries and the setting for many scenes in vampire novels and the like. What struck me the most as I walked through it were these wall vaults that form part of the perimeter – we’re so used to treading through graveyards unimpeded that it’s striking to see tombs stacked up in a barrier. But perhaps that’s as it should be; I liked the metaphorical symbolism of this wall of the dead, and even the grassy no-man’s-land that precedes it. As I understand it, these vaults were occasionally used to store bodies until they could be moved to a more permanent resting place, or in some cases the remains were pushed to the back of the vault (falling into a receptacle below) in order for a new occupant to be interred. So it seems these vaults were often a transitory place even for the deceased, which befits their status as the boundary in this graveyard between the city of the living and the city of the dead.


Reedville Fireworks

Reedville is a beautiful little town in the “Northern Neck” area of Virginia, right on the Chesapeake. Every year they have a fireworks display for the 4th of July that’s financed by the race fees they collect from a 5K run that takes place the following morning. As you can see, the contributions are definitely put to good use and we were doubly lucky that a friend of ours had such a scenic place from which to view the pyrotechnics.

The Curious Deer

The power had been out for over 24 hours, and without my usual electronic distractions I was feeling rather bored and restless. I grabbed my Filsons and my Nikon and headed out the door. Walking through the woods in the snow has always been one of my favorite parts of winter, and fortunately my corner of suburbia is adjacent to a decent stretch of forest. As I made my way through the treeline I noticed there were deer prints everywhere. I followed the tracks as long as I could, taking some iPhone panos along the way.

An hour later I spotted about seven of them from a distance. They quickly sprinted off through the trees and it was amazing to see how nimbly and quietly they moved through the snow. It dawned on me that since I was trudging along in heavy boots I had little chance of catching up to them, let alone having them hold still long enough for a photo. However, after another half hour of hiking I somehow managed to stumble onto them once again, and was startled to find them grazing only a stone’s throw away. I froze; they froze; and I just kept thinking don’t mess this up as I slowly brought my camera to bear and started shooting.

It was only a few seconds before they all turned tail and bolted. All except for one. This last deer ignored the herd as they bounded away, and turned towards me to observe this new stranger in the forest. I snapped this photo as we stared at each other for a long moment, our mutual curiosity hanging between us.

407R at Dusk & Whelen Aviation

A few months ago I went out to Dulles Airport to shoot some photos for use in Whelen Aviation’s 2011 Lighting Catalog, which is now available online as a PDF. This shot (one of my favorites) ended up on page 9, along with a few more of my images on pages 41, 54, and 55. I have some other photos from this shoot that I’ll post later on, most likely to my other photoblog on Tumblr. Overall the project was a fun creative challenge, and many thanks to Whelen for featuring my work!

Last Light at Lakeport

Photo walks can be frustrating. The problem is that I generally know when I’ve gotten something good, but can’t be sure that I haven’t gotten anything usable until after I look through the photos at home. Hence my typical response to the mid-walk question of “Did you get anything?” is “I don’t know yet.” It’s hard to feel productive when you’ve walked around for hours and aren’t sure you’ve even got a single frame you want to show the world. And besides, walking is such a slow way to cover ground when you’re just out randomly looking for things to shoot. I much prefer biking.

As you can see from the beginning of this post by Trey Ratcliff, things often don’t work out despite perfect preparation. But as photographers, we can’t control the world, only where we are in it and when. We just have to show up, know how to use our gear, and hope for the best. It’s the process that’s important; probability will take care of the rest. Or so I like to think.

This was taken at the end of a photo walk around a few lakes in Reston. I remember walking into this scene and saying something to the effect of “Ohhhhh yeah… this’ll work.” The air was very still and the water was reflecting perfectly. A very peaceful and serene moment, and I was glad to be there for it with my camera.

(Click the photo to view it large on black)