Photos in The Atlantic!

On December 13, 2020, The released an online photo collection entitled, Virginia: Images of the Old Dominion. The article contains 33 photos taken at various picturesque locations in Virginia and three of those photos were mine. Virginia has had a special place in my heart since first visiting as a child in the mid-seventies. Later, in the US Navy, I would live there on and off for three years or so in the Virginia Beach area and another year at Fort Belvoir just south of Alexandria, Virginia (probably my favorite city in the US). I have many friends in VA and will always visit there and am looking forward to my next trip there!

In The Atlantic’s list and coming in at number 22 is Boush Street, taken in Norfolk at the USS Wisconsin. Number 24 is Mount Vernon, the was taken on our first day living at Fort Belvoir. My kids and I were out driving and I turned my head to look through a break in the forest and there was George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon with sheep grazing! Finally, at 30 is Summer at the Palace taken in front of the Governor’s Palace at Colonial Williamsburg, this is THE place that got me hooked on Virginia as a child in the seventies. As a completely nutty history geek, I could not be happier! As anyone who know me can tell you, I’m never happier than when my little photography and history worlds collide. It doesn’t matter if it’s where and when my photos get used or when I’m out shooting, in this case they collided hard. Living on Fort Belvoir for one year of my life was the absolute best one year of my photographic life, and yes, I miss it.

While 2020 was not the best of years for anyone, I’m hopeful that 2021 will be much better. Happy New Year to all of you following my blog!

About this…

Photo: Dirty Glass

Location: Norfolk, VA

Date: June 30, 2016

Camera & Lens: Canon 6D and 24-105mm lens

About This ¬†Photo: ¬†This is about Wisky, Wisky is not a typo, yes it’s without the H. ¬†Wisky, not the bourbon kind, this is Wisky, the Navy kind. ¬†Wisky was the nickname of the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), a WWII era battleship that, like her three mighty sister ships, America couldn’t seem to do without. ¬†She was originally¬†Wiskycommissioned in 1944 near the end of the Second World War but would be¬†recommissioned two more times and decommissioned a total of three times! ¬†This beautiful ship, and piece of history, now sits in Norfolk, VA. ¬†Back in 2016, I was going to one of my bestest bud’s retirement from the US Navy and decided to turn it in to a photo trip. ¬†Having lived in Norfolk a couple of times, it originally wasn’t my cup of tea but over the years it really grew on me. ¬†Going there just for a ceremony was cool, but turning it in to something much more could be even better. ¬†Besides Wisky, the plan was to get some shots at Williamsburg, Jamestown, and¬†some rural shots as well. ¬†Shooting well-documented sites and objects in a new way is¬†Centeredalways a challenge, sometimes I’ll research before leaving just to see what NOT to shoot. ¬†Upon arriving at BB-64 in Norfolk, I set up right in front of the battleship and tossing the rule of thirds out the window, shot straight down the middle of the bow to get this BW shot called Wisky. ¬†With the clouds behind BB64, no wind with calm waters to reflect, and no tourists at this given time, I took quite a few shots like this. ¬†While I tried adhering to the rule of thirds, it just didn’t speak to me on this occasion ¬†Shooting to the left would leave out the apartments and shooting to the right would miss out on the museum that houses the warship. ¬†It felt to me like both of those aspects needed to be included. ¬†Another photo, the similar color shot called Centered, came out decent and I really like both shots. ¬†Confident that I got what I wanted, I wanted to find other angles and include items located there as well such as statues and park benches. ¬†Checked all those off the list!

After shooting plenty in the immediate vicinity of the ship, I noticed a parking garage across the street and wanted to see if I could get up high and have a look. ¬†There was an elevator, why not take it? ¬†Well… ¬†it’s what I call the Chizek Luck. ¬†Here’s a summary of the Chizek Luck; almost any time that I’m fortunate, like being the guy who gets in the shortest line at the grocery store, it’s usually followed by having the “closed” sign go up with the person in front of me. ¬†Sure, the cashier is always sorry, tells me how bad they feel, but I understand the Chizek Luck well. ¬†Heck, even my 7 & 10 year old daughters picked up on my luck. ¬†If I were to take that elevator to the top, somebody, somewhere, would tell me about some missed opportunity or show me their award winning photo THEY got by taking the stairs in that building… ¬†Deciding to hoof it up five or six floors, I came around the corner on about the third floor and was looking at Wisky through a dirty window in the stairwell. ¬†I’m honestly not sure why, but something inside said, “shoot it” and up I went to the top. ¬†I reached the roof of the parking garage, forgetting about the window shot, and went to work with the intended shoot. ¬†Both of the below photos were taken from the garage, on the left is Norfolk (B&W) and on the right is Anchor Up. ¬†While I like both of these photos, it’s Dirty Glass, the photo taken in the stairwell that hangs in my little office. ¬†After returning from the Virginia trip and beginning to work on the photos, I noticed this window photo, it clicked with me. ¬†Maybe it’s because my usual luck didn’t hold true or because of the little voice inside that said “shoot it” had compelled me to listen. ¬†This was a spontaneous shot that just worked, the angle of the ship, the light and shadows, even the dirt on the window make it cool. ¬†Anyway, I love this shot and it gets looks when my Navy friends come over, and for me, that’s the best part.

 

Hampton Roads

StopsLast summer one of my best friends retired from the US Navy after a long and distinguished career. ¬†His retirement ceremony was held near¬†Norfolk, Virginia, a place I used to live years ago. ¬†To say Norfolk is a Navy town is like saying there’s a little bit of ocean near San Diego. ¬†When I lived in Virginia Beach¬†I wasn’t in to photography, I played music back then, but I was in to history. ¬†As a result, I regretted those years without a camera, chalk that up to “what were you thinking?” ¬†Two things I knew about the Hampton Roads¬†area and my trip was that there would be¬†many¬†sights to see and that I’d be meeting up with numerous friends living there. ¬†I also knew¬†I’d be up late and waking early to shoot the places I wanted. ¬†There was¬†so much to see that I couldn’t possibly squeeze everything in to just a few days. ¬†Online research was necessary to find what I wanted to see, prioritize them, and have back-up plans for each day and site. ¬†In the Norfolk are there were a number of things that could prevent me from getting to where I wanted to shoot; the¬†Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel¬†and closures, traffic, meeting up with friends, weather, and the possibility of sights actually being closed were all things to consider. ¬†One place in Virginia Beach¬†that seemed an interesting place¬†to shoot was the Ferry Plantation House, a former slave plantation, where¬†this photo on the right, called Stops, was taken.

Spokes

Given the¬†many places I wanted to shoot, only one would happen rain or shine and I’d need to allot an entire day, Colonial Williamsburg. ¬†One of the really cool things about Colonial Williamsburg is that if you just want to shoot outside, it’s totally FREE! ¬†That’s right, FREE as in you pay nada, zero zero point zero zero! ¬†That was exactly what I wanted because I had no intention of shooting indoors with¬†so many cool buildings, streets, and residents walking about in period clothing. ¬†If it rained, I’d get wet and that was just fine because anybody who knows me will tell you that I love shooting in just about any weather, except sunny. ¬†The photo at the top of this blog, Riders, was taken¬†in Colonial Williamsburg and is not an uncommon scene if you visit. ¬†To the left is Spokes, a revolutionary war era canon sitting behind the¬†Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse. ¬†Williamsburg is littered with colonial items that make for interesting¬†photographs. ¬†The best thing about shooting outdoors is that you won’t be trying to shoot around tourists. ¬†Had I paid to go inside the historic building, I would have been filing through buildings on one of the many tours hoping to get decent pics with indoor lighting. ¬†I could go back to Williamsburg and spend another day shooting completely different subjects. ¬†Yes, it’s that cool.

FiremakerThere were another three locations that I wanted to¬†shoot and they were all close to each other; Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, and the Yorktown Battlefield¬†where the British surrendered to George Washington ending the American Revolution. ¬†One thing to consider about a Jamestown visit is that there is a considerable difference between Historic Jamestowne and Jamestown Settlement. ¬†If you want to visit the true¬†Jamestowne site, the historic location of the British colony and where archeologists are actively digging to this day, this is¬†Historic Jamestowne. ¬†This is where the history actually happened and an incredible place. ¬†However, the other location, Jamestown Settlement, is a living museum nearby that is a reconstruction of the historic colony; these are completely different. ¬†The good news is that they are only about ten minutes apart and you’ll pass by Jamestown Settlement on the way to Historic Jamestowne. ¬†The photo above at right, Firemaker, portrays a Native American woman tending to a fire and was taken at Jamestown Settlement.

The USS Wisconsin (BB-64), a World War Two era battleship is the centerpiece of Norfolk’s maritime science center called the Nauticus. ¬†It sits in the heart of the city and makes for great photos, especially if you climb the stairs fo the parking garage across the street!
Here I was able to capture three completely different images from the same location. ¬†The photos on the left (Anchor Up) and the in the middle (Norfolk) were taken from the exact same location but with different lenses. ¬†The photo on the right (Dirty Glass) was taken walking up to the roof of the garage. Country Road¬†The nice thing about the Norfolk area is that there is so much to see that I actually found thing to shoot on the way to thing I PLANNED to shoot! ¬†One of those times is in the photo at right,¬†Country Road, taken one afternoon while driving to one of my destinations when¬†shooting rural areas was part of my back-up plan¬†if I got caught north of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel during a closure.¬† Guess what? ¬†The tunnel closed because of an accident and I had a plan! ¬†Virginia has some of the most beautiful countrysides if you get off the trail a little bit. ¬†Sometime in the future I’d like to just drive Virginia’s countryside searching out places like this, no agenda, just drive and see what’s out there.

In the end, the weather held out and everything went mostly as planned, even enacting my back-up plan proved great for photos! ¬†On the left below is the Royal Palace at Williamsburg which seems like it could be straight out of England and on the right is the Cape Henry lighthouse (1792) located in Virginia Beach. ¬†Returning to Norfolk with my family is now a priority, not just for visiting friends but getting our girls out and to have some fun seeing incredible American History. ¬†If you like history, you need to check out the Hampton Roads area, there is so much to see! ¬†I’m thankful that my parents had¬†me traveling when I was a kid and it stuck, hopefully the same will happen with my kids and they’ll appreciate the history of our country!