Fred’s 1st Nature/Photo B&B Weekend April 23!

Showy Orchis, a native orchid

Grab your calendar now: circle the weekend of April 23rd. Got it?

Now, call or email Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast in Rocky Mount, Virginia. 540.483.4616  Book yourself (and your Significant Other) a room (or come solo and enjoy even MORE P&Q.) AND very important: sign up for the nature/photography package.

This trip is primarily but not exclusively for photographers at all levels. I’ll share my personal “eye” on nature both through my photographic vision and technical and aesthetic approach to landscape and nature still-life photography. But I’ll be putting on my naturalist hat, too, and we’ll be keeping a list of wildflowers, edible plants, stream organisms and maybe even identify a few spring warblers along the way.


From the B&B, participants will travel Route 40 to Woolwine where we’ll meet at 10 am. From there, we’ll drive a mile to park  near Rock Castle Creek and take a leisurely photo-shoot walk a level mile or two upstream, enjoying the peak bloom of Virginia Bluebells, several Trillium species and more than a dozen wildflowers backlit by the shining waters of the creek.

Around noon, we’ll head up into the sunshine of the Parkway and enjoy box lunches (provided by Edible Vibes in Rocky Mount) in the vicinity of Saddle Gap, looking out at the vista that carries the eye to the edge of The Commonwealth. We’ll take a wider view, talking about the geology and ecology of this part of the parkway and putting on the wide-angle lens to take in the early leaf-out of the high-elevation forest. We’ll hike into the forest along one of the marked trails, and end the planned program officially at 3 pm.

Thereafter, folks can stay where we find ourselves at 3, or venture into Floyd, or travel down the parkway a few miles to Mabry Mill (lots of photo-ops there!) or over to the crest of Buffalo Mountain (at almost 4000 ft) to catch the late afternoon sun and sunset. Ah, spring. Can you smell it?


After a scrumptious breakfast, we’ll gather in the parlor to view and discuss the photographs we shot on Saturday. I’ll have collected images from all the cameras (or folks can email them from their room later) and we’ll project them for all to see and learn from–both photographically and natural-historically. If folks are interested, I’ll work with some of their straight-from-the-camera images in Photoshop Saturday night so we can see before-and-after versions and different ways to “interpret” the light the camera gives us.

I’ll put all images (of nature, landscapes and of memorable moments of our weekend) up on an online gallery for everyone to view and share with their envious friends who didn’t make the right choice and come join us. There’s always next time–but there will only be ONE Spring, 2010!

Want to know more before you make up your mind? Event limited to first 10 who sign up. Field-trip only status: details pending. PLEASE spread the word!

Fred speaks a bit about nurturing your inner photographer

Fred’s Bio with links to galleries

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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. Wow. I was on the road and not reading your blog last spring. This sounds so good. I hope it was a great success and that you will do it every spring.