The Shallowford Bridge – Crossing the Toccoa River in Fannin County, Georgia and more than 100 years old, built in 1918, the bridge forms part of the Benton MacKaye Trail. It is 175 feet long and 11 feet wide and a drive across is is a time capsule to the past. The name comes from the ‘shallow ford’ a few 100 yards up stream from the current bridge, that because it was shallow enough, allowed travelers to cross the river. Of note – in the pre-1918 era, you would cross over on an angle up stream or down stream when fording the river to lessen the effect of the current on your wagon or horse. It is not recommended that you try this in your car.
The lighting of the bridge this year is to commemorate the 100 years since its construction and to raise awareness. The goal is to keep the bridge for foot traffic as opposed to taking it down when the proposed new bridge is built in the near future.
There are many old bridges in Fannin County, each of whose history bares witness to the the distant past. Some of these bridges are no longer used, yet they still stand as sentinels to what once was. You can find them if you pay close attention. In fact, a road trip through Fannin County in search of these old bridges makes for a pleasant drive on a Sunday afternoon. They all need to be preserved and embraced as part of the heritage of this county.
These images were made shortly after the lighting of this historic bridge. Many people have asked how they might get a copy of the images so I have made for 16″x24″ Canvas Prints in commemoration of the event available for $75.00.
I do not sell my work, so I have arranged that 100% of the proceeds from the sale of these prints will be donated to Feed Fannin, the volunteer organization working to educate and encourage the North Georgia community towards self-sufficiency while providing food for those in need.
The prints are available at the Iron Bridge General Store & Cafe, located directly across from Shallowford Bridge at 8436 Aska Rd, Blue Ridge, GA 30513. (Hours: 8:00a.m. to 500 p.m Tues-Thur; Friday & Saturday 8-7pm; Sunday 8-3; Closed Monday). Click Here for a map.
Sunset as seen from St. Joe Peninsula State Park – October 4, 2018. Nikon D850 image.
I have been working on a large video project for an advertising agency located in South Florida and their Texas furniture retailer client. The project is for a massive 62 foot wide by 6 1/2 foot tall video display within the retailer’s mattress showrooms.
The concept is to capture 2 minute long video ‘moments of zen’ – scenes that exude a feeling of peace and quiet in a meditative way. As a result, I have been shooting these videos all around the Southeastern United States.
The videos are technically complex in that it requires the stitching together of three 4k width videos in order to achieve the 8640×1080 dimensions, which are actually wider than an 8k video. I have been using several different cameras to capture video for this project, one of which is the Nikon D850.
One of the requests was to capture some pristine, unspoiled sugar-sand beaches of which the panhandle of Florida is known for. I pre-scouted several locations along the ‘forgotten coast’ and settled in on the area around Apalachicola, FL. specifically St. George Island and St. Joseph Peninsula. I pre-scouted St. Joseph Peninsula State Park specifically knowing it had a westerly facing beach which ideally would give me the ball of the sun setting directly on the Gulf of Mexico horizon as well a a side-lit beach scene.
I had been trying to go to the Florida Panhandle through most of September, 2018 but the weather conditions were always awful with heavy afternoon thunderstorms through much of the month.
Finally, the first week of October looked promising weather-wise, so I drove over from my Ocala home on Thursday October 4th arriving on St. George Island’s beaches in the early afternoon. Getting to this part of the Florida Panhandle is a very picturesque drive along US98, which is right next to the Gulf for a good part of the drive.
After getting several good video captures on St. George Island, I traveled west through Apalachicola and onto St. Joseph Peninsula – at the very end is the state park. I timed things so I would arrive a few hours before sunset and talked to the park ranger who advised that if I didn’t mind a little adventure, he recommended the primitive camping area at the end of the park’s paved road.
I drove to this area and hiked the approximate 1/2 mile trail over the magnificent 35+ foot dunes arriving on a pristine and empty beach. The sunset was going to be spectacular – without a cloud in the sky. I watched the sun set and experienced the green flash effect that sometimes occurs right as the ball of the sun disappears beneath the horizon.
The green flash is the result of looking at the sun through a greater and greater thickness of atmosphere as you look lower and lower in the sky. Water vapor in the atmosphere absorbs the yellow and orange colors in white sunlight, and air molecules scatter the violet light. That leaves the red and blue-green light to travel directly toward you. Near the horizon, the sun’s light is highly bent or refracted. It’s as though there are two suns – a red one and a blue-green one – partially covering each other. The red one is always closest to the horizon, so when it sets or before it rises, you see only the blue-green disk – the green flash.
Afterwards, I was treated to a beautiful twilight as I walked back over the dunes. Post sunset there were crepuscular rays – a streak of light that seems to radiate from the sun shortly before or after sunset when sunlight shines through a break in the clouds or a notch in the horizon line and illuminates atmospheric haze or dust particles.
That night, I arrived back at my hotel in Apalachicola and noticed on the weather that a potential storm was brewing off the Yucatan Peninsula, a common occurrence in the fall. The projected path was for the tropical storm to move north into the Gulf where it was predicted to intensify.
This was to become Hurricane Michael.
The next morning (October 5th) I went back onto St. Joseph Peninsula and captured some additional footage of the pristine beaches, then headed home. I was thinking as I left that I wanted to come back to this place – these were some of the most beautiful beaches I had ever seen in the State of Florida.
As we now know, this storm became a monster category 4 in intensity – striking the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday, October 10th, 2018. St. Joseph Peninsula was literally cut in half by this monster storm. The beach I photographed the sunset from was completely inundated by a 12+ foot storm surge. The video below shows the unbelievable result with the areas I photographed the sunset from just to the left of frame.
US Highway 98, the road I drove back on, didn’t fair to well either – here is what it looked like right after the storm. The NOAA has an emergency response imagery website where they take satellite images right after the storm to compare to what things where like before the storm. https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/
It will take years for this region to recover from the effects of this hurricane. I am hoping to return there sometime in the near future to try and photograph the beaches from the same vantage points I had five days before the storm.
In March, 1994 I was in Calgary, Alberta Canada shooting a television commercial for Office Depot , this was part of their “Takin’ Care of Business” campaign. I had shot most of Office Depot’s television commercials since they were a small chain with just three stores.
We were shooting in and around the Calgary Saddledome covering the Calgary Stampede. The campaign was biographical, telling the stories of people of interesting businesses, showing them in their working environment Takin’ Care of Business.
When I travel for production, I always bring my still cameras, sometimes it would be a Wisner 4×5 technical view camera in a 45 pound backpack. Though this time it was a Mamaya RB-67 6x7cm medium format camera. Nowadays I tend to travel with a Nikon D8000 and bunch of lenses.
On this particular day, we had several of members of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation who participate in the Stampede events as actors in the commercial. One of them was Chief Leo Pretty Young Man. Leo was very active in the Indian Village at the Stampede and at the time a Blackfoot chief.
After our lunch break, I asked Leo if I could take a few minutes and photograph him and he was very happy to do so. We went into an empty conference room with a large window that flooded the space in soft daylight and in about ten minutes, I captured these shots.
As he posed for the images, he told me the story of how he was involved in the celebration in 1977 of the centennial of the First Nations Treaty No. 7. Wearing his buckskin outfit and headdress,he helped induct Prince Charles as an honorary member and chief of the tribe with the name Red Crow.
Chief Leo Pretty Young Man passed on a couple of years after these images where taken. He was instrumental in the development of Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park located on the Bow River east of Calgary, which opened in 2007, long after his death. This is where throughout most of the history of the Blackfoot people, they were able to safely cross the river on the Old North Trail. It is also the infamous site of the signing in 1877 of Treaty No. 7, where with little choice in the matter, the chiefs agreed to “cede, release, surrender, and yield up to the Government of Canada for Her Majesty the Queen (Victoria) and her successors for ever, all their rights, titles and privileges whatsoever” to southern Alberta. http://www.blackfootcrossing.ca/index.html
The snowfall started at around 4 in the morning. I know this because I went back and viewed the web camera we have mounted outside our deck that looks down on Stanley Creek. At around 4 AM the deck was empty, by 9 AM we had about four inches. It was the sticky thick kind of snow and it went on all day. By dark, we had about 8 inches total. Snowfall in the North Georgia mountains is fickle. Most winters you get a few light dustings and maybe one or two large snowfalls. These larger snow events stop everything as the roads become impossible to navigate.
360 degree image of our log home and Stanley Creek below
This would be an adventure, Though we had snow all day and power the entire time, the next morning the power went out at 9:10 AM and would not come back on for 55 hours. The inside of the cabin cooled through the second day to around 47 degrees Fahrenheit. The water inside the house slowed to a trickle as the electric pump on our well provides the water pressure for the house. We finally got out on the third day, and moved to a hotel in town until we got our power back.
Twin Firs, Snow; 2017
Throughout the first day, I made still photographs, 360 degree images and a video of our creek with the the large clumps of snow falling down from the twin 125 foot plus fir trees that are centered by our cabin.
The video was meant to be a 15 minute meditation video of the snow falling with the sound of the flowing creek below. What was unexpected was the regular unleashing of clumps of snow from the treetops above which fell with a calming ‘whoosh’ sound. For the best effect, play the video below full screen on your device – and breath deep.
Technical details: For the video I used a small 4k Sony camera that I could cover with a plastic bag. I later edited the piece on my Avid Media Composer. I have come to love the Ricoh Theta 360 degree camera. It fits in your pocket and is great while traveling to quickly capture special images.
We had another incredible trip to the US Southwest in October experiencing many great new sights and revisiting a couple of ones we had been to before.
One memorable location was Horseshoe Bend, which is a horseshoe-shaped feature on the Colorado River about five miles south of Glen Canyon Dam near the town of Page, Arizona.
This location is one of the most photographed areas in Arizona, and is well-known by photographers across the world. At this point in the age of photography, it is hard to capture something new at this place, but it is definitely worth the visit.
We had planned to go here from the start of our Southwestern trip and wanted to have opportunities to photograph it at sunset as well as late-morning light. Arriving about an hour before sunset, we had to circle the dusty parking lot several times, proudly collecting layers of dust on our car like a badge of honor, amidst a throng of dusty vehicles and people.
Following the ‘herd’ to Horseshoe Bend
From the parking lot, it was a true madhouse swarm of people hiking, running, and limping up and down the trail to the canyons edge. All ages, nationalities, shapes and sizes of folk, along with all varieties of their kids running all about, as well as their dogs who also came in all shapes and sizes. The sun was on its way to setting, so everyone was in a hurry to see where the heck it was going.
All lined up at the edge
It bares mentioning at this point, that most all of the kids and dogs were not on leashes. You approach the overlook by hiking a mostly sandy 3/4 mile trail to the edge, which is a shear drop of 1000 feet to the river below – without any guardrails! I got to the edge, which was lined with people, including lots of other photographers who had staked their claim to the edge with their tripods. It was crazy to see all the kids and animals running around unattended so close to a shear 1000 foot drop.
1000 foot drop is not for the faint of heart
Now a word about heights – I have a touch of vertigo, but my wife is so scared of heights she was actually in Vertigo. At Horseshoe Bend, she couldn’t get any closer than the parking lot 3/4 of a mile away – actually, I made that up – she was able to tolerate leaning over to look from about twenty feet from the edge. She had been a trooper thru much of the trip to the ‘Grand Canyon’ region – which, translates from Native American to, ‘Many vantage points to look down into large hole from great height’.
Here’s my GoPro Image
My goal was to get a good black and white image and also something in color using my GoPro, which has a lens so wide angle, it sometimes seems you actually can see ‘behind’ the camera. I made my images by holding my Nikon over the head of the guy sitting next to his tripod with his feet dangling over the edge. My GoPro color shot was made the same way using a selfie stick fully extended over the heads of the ‘edge people’. The closest I could get was four or five feet from the edge, which was close enough for me!
I must say the ‘no guardrail’ thing is probably going to change soon. There is new construction going on that will probably make it safer. In an attempt to limit the amount of people getting uncomfortably close to a thousand foot free-fall, they are designing a viewing platform on the edge to accommodate the masses. Also, to disclaim, fortunately no one fell over the edge and no animals or children where injured in the making of these images. I just wonder how often that does happen!
As a Florida native, I have been witness to launches for as long as I can remember. There have been times when I would be driving home from the studio I owned in Northern Miami being on I-95 in the Fort Lauderdale area and would be looking to the north to see a streak of light in the distance. In this case, the distance was 200 miles north!
When the launch something into orbit, depending on the need of the launch, the rocket can track northeast or southeast. I actually have stood in the backyard of the house we owned in Davie, FL and seen the shuttle launch trails.
Over the years, I have made trips up to the cape to view launches. With the Space Shuttle program coming to an end in 2011, I tried to make it to as many launches as I could. There are several great vantage points to see launches from, and people will line the beaches and causeways in and around the cape.
My favorite location now is of of SR3 (Courtney Parkway N) north of the cape and south of New Smyrna Beach. There is a drawbridge over a cut that allows access to the Indian River. From there you are about 8 miles north of pads 39A & B.
The first time I went to this site was May 11, 2009 for the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis for STS-125. This mission was the last mission to the Hubble Space telescope.
Atlantis launched again on November 16, 2009 for STS-129 which was a mission to the International Space Station.
On February 24, 2011 the Shuttle Discovery was launched with six astronauts on STS-133, again to the International Space station. These were the best images I have gotten of the shuttle. It was a late afternoon launch so the sun really lit up the orbiter as it headed into space. Also, it was winter in Florida, so the atmosphere is low in humidity with crisp blue skies.
Finally, Space X’s dragon spacecraft is seen here heading to the International Space Station on June 3, 2017. Soon, Dragon 2 will take astronauts there again.
Foxfire is the term for bioluminescence of some species of fungi or moss on the surface of wood. This is not to be confused with Firefox, the web browser a lot of us use, which has no bioluminescence at all. It was called in the past ‘fairy fire’ as it was a magical unexplained source of light in the forest.
A day-long heavy rain fell in the mountains of North Carolina as Winter was trying to decide it was time for Spring, and in that day’s twilight, the trees seemed to glow with ‘fairy fire’. It was quite remarkable and permeated the forest. As I stood admiring this phenomena, I pre-visualized a black and white image that was lit by this glow.
The photograph was made with a medium format Mamaya RB67.
Foxfire is also a group founded in 1966 to preserve and develop the public’s appreciation for Southern Appalachian culture – it’s history, people, and traditions – through artifacts, oral history, and programs that interpret, document and celebrate the region – it is located in the Northern Georgia mountains in Mountain City, which is about an hour east from my log cabin in Blue Ridge, GA.https://www.foxfire.org/
Often when I am traveling, I will see something that will make for a compelling image but the conditions are not quite right. I have developed a habit of filing the potential photo opportunities into my iPhone for a possible return in the future. Shiprock was one of these. I have been though this area many times, but the light was never quite right for the images I wanted to make of this remarkable landmark.
The Shiprock volcanic geological formation is located in Four Corners, NM. The peak is about 1700 feet (482 meters) above the surrounding plains, though originally the structure was 2500-3000 feet (750-1000 meters) in height. Erosion has left us with what we see today, which is the frozen lava core of the volcanic structure. Also interesting are the wings or ‘dikes’ that radiate to the south of the central peak which are also volcanic rock frozen in time.
The Navajo call this formation Tsé Bitʼaʼí, “rock with wings” or “winged rock”. It has deep cultural significance to the Navajo people. Since these images were made in 2012, all areas of the formation are off limits to the general public. Though I have heard you can photograph the structure from three miles away, which is approximately where I made these images from.
27 million year old geological ‘wings’ of frozen lava
I knew I wanted to photograph this structure in the late afternoon as the sun was setting. That day I travelled from Kenab, UT and spent some time shooting in Monument Valley timing myself to arrive here about two hours before sunset.
Thunderstorms building to the east
As I arrived at Shiprock, thunderstorms began to build on the open plains to the east and they were moving towards where I was. This could be either really good, or really bad. Turns out it was really good. The thunderstorms pushed some interesting clouds westward which in turn were being lit by the sun as it set.
Cloud formations pushed in by the approaching thunderstorms
After the sun set, the storms moved in and I was pelted with hail and heavy rains on my way to Farmington, NM for the night. BTW, when in Farmington, I highly recommend the Three Rivers Restaurant and Brewery, which was the perfect way I ended this remarkable photographic day.
I first became aware of Stony Point, NC in 1993 on a drive from Charlotte to Banner Elk. Old NC90 winds northwest on the way to US321. You parallel the train tracks past sleepy hamlets from a bygone era.
On my first trip through this small town in northwest North Carolina in 1993, I was startled to find this ghost of Jim Crow still visible on an abandoned brick building. It appeared that the place had once housed an upholstery company and a used car business. Though the signs on this building were all faded, and the building had experienced a fire in it’s past that had collapsed part of it, yet it still stood as testament.
Shocking in 1993 to still see signs like this in the south, I pulled over in the late afternoon and got out of my car to set up my medium format camera. The surroundings were completely empty. Though I had the feeling of eyes peering out from curtains in the nearby houses. I have been chased off of places before by irate property owners so my guard was up, as well as the hairs on the back of my neck as I quickly made this single image.
Flash forward twelve years later to 2005 and I am traveling near Stony Point and decided to see if the building still stands. Surprisingly it was. But this terrible reminder of history was finally demolished in late 2008. Good riddance.