Looking back on some old photos…

3 minute read

January 29, 2019, 1:32 PM

Recently, Elyse and I were coming home from Frederick on a night with a very bright full moon.  The discussion turned towards how it was moonlight that was making everything so bright.  I was no stranger to this concept, and remembered a set of photos that I shot on July 31, 2004.  There, I was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia near Rockfish Gap, shooting photos after work using Big Mavica with the tripod, under a full moon.  It was late at night, but the photos might have almost led you to think otherwise:

I remember being amazed at the time about how much the sky, under that eight-second exposure, looked like daytime. That was moonlight.  It was after midnight.  I was amazed that the camera managed to capture a blue sky.  The only giveaways are the shadows on the foreground objects (though the leaves are clearly green in the second photo), and the many lights on the ground below.  I suppose that I learned a lot from these photos.  I learned that the sky is always blue, even if it’s too dark for us to see it.

I also learned that you never know what you’re going to get when you ramp up the exposure settings on your camera.  I experimented a lot with my tripod back in these days, and I was willing to be surprised by the results.  It’s been a long time since I just fiddled around with my camera’s exposure settings and sat back to see what I got.  I suppose that Intentionally Overexposed from 2017 fits that mold, though that was more about repairing a trip after I drove more than two hours to southern Maryland for a sunrise that got clouded out, though I did like the result.

Meanwhile, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one thing that I miss from when I lived in Virginia.  It was a good way to unwind after a day of dealing with all of the nonsense that came with working at Walmart.  I would go up there and hit a few overlooks, and just stand there looking out over the valley below, and just being alone with my thoughts.  It was kind of nice.  I would start at Rockfish Gap and go down to about Raven’s Roost or so, and then I would either turn around and go back home via Rockfish Gap, or I would go the back way home, which would take me through Sherando.  I did, however, eventually learn to skip the first overlook entirely.  Being a stone’s throw away from the main entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, it tended to attract undesirables, and was somewhat trashier than others.  Nothing drove that point home more than one time in 2006 when I was parked there and sitting on the tailgate of the Sable, alone with my thoughts, and a man approached me and propositioned me for sex.  No thank you.  I’m pretty sure that he turned tail and left pretty quickly after that, and I did as well.  But when I went further down on the Parkway, I never had any problems, plus, being further from I-64, it was quieter.

In any case, I always liked this group of photos for what I captured in them, even if the quality meant that they weren’t good enough to use them for anything at the time.  There was no photo feature on the website at that time, and this didn’t even get any mention in the Journal.  I have plenty of old stuff that I’ve never published for whatever reason, and some of it may be worth discussing in the future, now that time has passed.