To Boldly Go: River-bound


Tripod, rubber boots, two camera bodies, two extra charged batteries, three lenses, speedlight, pocket recorder and a snack: I’m soon off for what promises to be a most interesting day.

The story that will come from the next twelve hours is not something I am at liberty to talk about in specifics pending the completion of the project. Time will come, I trust, when I can send you to a remarkable new site that blends science, geography, conservation and story-telling. And you can read then what I’m pleasantly busy with today.

Frankly, I’m just a little nervous. It’s one thing to take snapshots of bees on bedding plants, another to be responsible for a couple of hundred images (of people and landscapes) avoiding the “Big Oops!” of having the wrong ISO, settings still 3 stops over-exposed from the last shoot, a battery going dead or simply not getting the shots somebody else wants.

I did my first family portrait session back in June and it came out fine, even though with my lack of experience with that sort of thing and the pressure of having a satisfied customer(s), the Photoshop work and record-keeping were much more tedious and angst-inducing work than I’d imagined.

I’m sure today’s project will end up just fine, though there will be no small relief (at some future point after this week’s five days of conference) when I send the images off and am satisfied with the outcome. I do think the journey will be as much reward as the destination. Soon I’ll let you know.

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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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