Being There

Buffalo Mountain from the Blue Ridge Parkway / Digital Photo / Fred First / Floyd County, Virginia<br />” border=”0″ height=”502″ hspace=”10″ vspace=”10″ width=”333″ /></center></a>I’m feeling a bit of grief over taking the path of greatest comfort on Thursday instead of suffering to get the shot. <!-- google_ad_section_start(weight=ignore)-->The place my tripod should have been was the spot from which this image was taken back in October. However, on this particular January day–when I was interviewing the Park District Supervisor nearby–the winds were spitting snow sideways and the chill factor was near zero.</p>
<p>In the distance, even from the Park Service office, you could see several distinct snow squalls in the distance, the soft slant of snow a gunpowder blue against steel gray mountains. Patches of sunlight broke through here and there.</p>
<p>But the wind was so fierce, I could barely open the car door. A tripod would have been useless without a cinder block strapped to the central post.</p>
<p>And yet, I should have driven to the half mile to Saddle Gap overlook and sat in the car and at least watched the weather play out from that high place, even if I couldn’t bring home the imagery in the camera.</p>
<p>I shouldn’t let the technology drive the experience. Sometimes, the higher priority needs to be the being there. No pen. No computer. No camera. Just vision. And imagination. And memory. (Click for larger size picture)<!-- google_ad_section_end --></p>

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Yes, that’s Buffalo Mountain, jutting up above the waves of ridges like a shark fin in the distance I’ve often thought in moments of fancy from that perspective

  2. Thanks, Laura…

    I use Photoshop as my brushes (as a wannabe painter, I suppose) and use different “expressions” depending on the subject matter.

    Nothing fancy: curves and levels on most every image; unsharp mask as needed; dodge or burn for emphasis; filters in combination to bring to the image, as far as possible, not only what I SAW at the point of the photograph, but also what I FELT–or want those who view the image to feel.

    I sometimes use HDR (high dynamic range) measures on single RAW images (like BEING THERE) or multiple low density exposures of the same scene.

    I feel as if I’m just starting up the learning curve for getting the results I want–and that, mostly on the for-the-web images. Getting to the print-ready enlargments for framing or for magazines–or for my dreamed-of future book–is yet another level of knowledge, skill and experience. Miles to go…

  3. I think its a great shot. gives one the feeling of walking out of the forest on to a mountian top. from the darkness into the light. even the sky is full of motion.