Winter at Mabry Mill

image copyright Fred First

“Did you come east on the Parkway to get here?” asked a booktable visitor yesterday at the winery. “There’s ice on Mabry Mill pond” she said, herself a photographer, and, seeing my photo-notecards, she knew I’d want to know such a thing.

So, as smile-weary as I was after four long hours of the last of four such days, when four o’clock came, I cleared the table of my dog-and-pony-show paraphenalia in two trips out to the car, and headed west toward Meadows of Dan and Mabry Mill, a few parkway miles away.

The beauty of a visit to Maybury Mill in December is that there’s nobody there but me. And a few ducks. If you click on the image above it will take you to a larger image on Flickr; this is actually a (poorly done) merging of three different images: a normal exposure, 2 1/2 stops underexposed, and one that is 2 1/2 stops over exposed. This is a rudimentary first attempt at what is called HDR photography. High Dynamic Range is a technique available to digital photographers to take advantage of the computer’s ability to create an image where both the highlights and shadows are optimally exposed. The three images were slightly out of register, even though I used a tripod, so this image is a little blurry, and the difference between the shadows and highlights was probably not significant enough on this image to do justice to the technique. More not-quite examples sure to come on FFF in coming months!

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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. What a stunning affect, Fred. I love this time of year on the Parkway when you can really experience the “anatomy” of the land.

  2. Fred,
    Seems I can’t drag myself away from FFF right at the moment. It is wonderful to wander around such places as the Parkway and Mountains at “off season” times of year. I love that feeling!

    Finding vicariously following your SLOW ROAD HOME Odyssey to be fascinating …. good luck to you!

    Great hearing about the evolving photo techniques as well. I want to get further into that myself. Which camera are you using these days? Still the same one you had last year?

    Steve (Dubai)

  3. The “large version” reminds me of the black and white photos taken by my father that my mother then colorized with some sort of oil paints. It’s a beautiful photo! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. We went by the mill araound 10 AM yesterday on the way to church in Willis and the ice was even more spectacular. Much of it had melted by the time we returned home around 2 PM. Of course I didn’t have my camera and if I would have I could never have achieved near the quality of your picture. Sorry I didn’t know you were at the winery or we would have come by.