Digging the Same Hole Deeper

Country Farmhouse /Digital Photo / Fred First / Appalachian Mountains of Virginia
I quoted an oriental-seeming proverb in Slow Road Home (or made it up, I can’t remember which) that “wise man finding no treasure, does not keep digging in the same hole.” Well, yes. And No.

In this place and time–Goose Creek, here, today, is treasure–of the senses, of personal meaning and belonging; treasure of comfort and beauty, and treasure in the riches of being able to share it with others through words and pictures. I haven’t tired yet of writing about it, or in sharing the minutiae of day by day changes and discoveries in pictures of the same old barn, creeks, valley and woods. I seem inclined to keep on digging.

So any skills or tools I can acquire that help me go deeper in this same small place are welcomed and I hope will be put to good use with the light and time I’m given here.

One such tool, I read about a couple of years ago–an experimental technology that would take many photographs–not just three to five horizons side by side–and stitch them together seamlessly. That program, developed by a couple of young guys from UBC is called Autostitch, and it has recently been released in demo mode for free! Well hot dang Skippy! Often, a single shot of a scene through the lens of a camera is like viewing the Grand Canyon through a soda straw while the eye takes in so much more of the vista. Patching a dozen shots into one: there’s got to be a time and place when this is just what’s needed to best share the experience of being and seeing.

I only had about 30 minutes of light from the time I downloaded the Autostitch panorama software until full shadow, and ran outside with the camera to take six shots; three at the level of the road and house, and three up above of the treetops and forest above the house. This is the product–low res, not wonderful composition, but amazingly seamless and hands-free stitching. Tweaks are possible, and somewhat higher-resolutions as well. But for me, with most of my “finished products” going to the web and not to photopaper, this will be a great tool to help find more treasure in this deep valley.

You can read more about it here.

Addendum: I’m slipping. Missed a perfect opportunity for double entendre/word play by not calling this post “Digging the Same Whole Deeper”. Shucks.

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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. Well, I’m impressed (but you know I have low standards).

    I had been hoping for a photo of the homestead from this angle for some time. It’s as idyllic as I had imagined it would be.

  2. Great pic of the First homestead. My new camera has the autostitch feature and after I see what it does I’m definatly going to start using it.