Monthly Archives: August 2014

Personal Post – Vacation 2014

Holy smokes would you look at that view! I cannot get enough of it!

(Seriously, is that not amazing?)



This past week, we took a vacation.  A much needed, well deserved vacation. We headed out to the southwest part of Virginia. We stopped along the way in one of my favorite towns (Blacksburg, VA!) and wandered through there. Then we finished our drive out to Pearisburg. Trust me when I say this: Pearisburg is TINY! There really isn’t much in the way of anything in the town. However, we stayed at an amazing bed and breakfast, Inn at Riverbend. If you’re looking for a quiet get away in a relaxing setting, you really must go there. Seriously, this is the view we woke up to every morning. Is that not awesome?


While most people typically go to relax on vacation, we vacation a bit differently. We planned hikes along trails we thought might have amazing views. Boy, did we make a great choice for us. The first night we were there, we ventured out to find this neat little covered bridge in Newport.



Our first full day, we hiked the Hanging Rock (veloci)Raptor Observatory in West Virginia. From the B&B, we took some back roads through Jefferson National Forest. Along the hour or so drive, we saw deer every which way we looked. We saw bucks with big horns and doe with their fawn following.  The drive was amazing in itself – it’s like we were almost like Snow White with all the wild critters we saw. Once you make it the parking lot, it’s a mile hike up to the observatory. Trust me, it’s well worth the hike. Here’s the view!




The observatory hasn’t always been an observatory. In fact, it used to be a fire watch tower. So if you ever venture out this way, make sure you take the Fire Tower trail :-)





Along the hike up and down the mountain, we ran into some interesting rock formations, a few critters (millipedes, worms, snakes, etc.), and some neat vegetative growths. My personal favorite it this: the tree face. Do you see it?


We spent quite a bit of time checking of the view. After we finished and started to head back down, we ran into more critters. These deer were more than willing to let us snap a few pictures of them as long as we didn’t get too close.



We drove back to VA and found ourselves hunting for Mill Creek Falls in the town of Narrows in Giles County. After looking for it and nearly giving up, we finally found it. Compared to our first and last hikes, this isn’t one that we were overly impressed with. It was a nice hike, but the falls were disappointing to us. However, we certainly enjoyed ourselves. (It might be something worth checking out if you’re not ready to tackle the Cascades!)

One of my favorite times of day is sunrise and sunset. The colors, the calm, the beauty that you see a these times is just awe inspiring. We only stayed two nights and the first morning we got up and were greeted with fog. It was neat to see the fog just hanging there like you could almost reach out and touch it. But it certainly made it hard to capture a sunrise.


I tried again the next day. I woke up at 6:20 and peeked out the window. No fog! That’s a plus. So I stepped out on the deck from the bedroom and waited patiently with camera in hand. Let me just tell you that I am so glad I tried again because it was definitely worth it. The sun coming up over the mountains was spectacular.




I mean, look at that! This view looks like something I could have only dreamed about! And I saw it, in real life and captured this amazing view. Good morning New River Valley!


We wrapped out morning at the B&B, said our goodbyes to our wonderful hosts, and headed on our way to venture back home. Before we left, we had two more stops to make. The Cascades (featuring a two mile hike up to the amazing falls and back) and Mountain Lake (the resort that is featured heavily in the movie Dirty Dancing).  If you haven’t had the pleasure of hiking the Cascades, you don’t know what you’re missing. Since I went to Virginia Tech, I had the pleasure of experiencing this beautiful hike multiple times. This was Billy’s second. We typically take the lower trail up to the falls. It’s a “harder” hike with rocks to climb across and over, debris that has fallen in the way, and sometimes wet ground that can get a wee bit slippery. On our way back down, we typically take the upper trail as there are some neat rock formations that we like to stop and check out. Along the way up, we usually stop and snap a few pictures of the water rushing down over rocks. It’s really quite a view to behold.



Look at this waterfall. It may not be as awe inspiring as Niagara Falls, but it certainly is something to brag about in Virginia :-)


Mountain Lake was made famous by the movie Dirty Dancing. Quite a few of the scenes from the movie (when everyone drives up and parks in front of the hotel, when Baby tells her dad he’s disappointed her in the gazebo, the water lift scene, and most of the dining room scenes) were filmed here. Sadly, the lake is dry. Bone dry. Where there used to be a massive lake of water, there is now a massive hole with grass and other vegetation growing. There is some evidence that points to a shift in the ground which created a crack and all the water drained from there. It still is a neat place to check out especially if you’re a fan of the movie. When you come back down the mountain, make sure you stop at the pull off and check out the valley below you. Trust me, it is a view you don’t want to miss.

All in all, our vacation was spectacular and we both highly recommend it to everyone! If nothing else, you’ll get to see some amazing views of the New River while taking in some quiet time.

2nd Shooting with Common Spark Media

Second shooting is quite fantastic. It gives someone just starting out a way to get experience shooting weddings or it can give an experienced person a break from having to be the main shooter all the time. It also enables you to see how someone else works, how they set up their photos, and how they manage the hiccups throughout the day.

I had the honor and pleasure of second shooting with the amazing Bud Johnson of Common Spark Media. His talent is amazing an unique. His personality is incredible – he puts everyone at ease, makes everyone laugh, and can even get a smile out of the toughest crowd. The way he works is awesome – he’s efficient and takes control without being pushy or bossy. He can command a situation with such ease. I’m telling you, the enthusiasm he exudes is incredibly contagious and just lifts everyone’s spirits. His confidence is evident the second the door opens and he meets the bride. Combining his enthusiasm and confidence you get someone who can get people excited and comfortable in front of the camera and truly develop those real smiles and captures those special moments.

In addition to enjoying the time I spent working with Bud, he also took time to answer so many of my questions. Our drive down to Norfolk was so informative I wish I had a tape recorder to remember everything he told me. He took time throughout the day and even answered more on our way back. It was truly one of the best experiences I have had thus far in my short lived photography career.

I can’t wait to share all these images with you to see the awesomeness of this wedding. I told Bud the worst part of second shooting for him was the wait to be able to post my pictures on my Facebook page!  For now, you can have sneak peek of my few favorite images with more to come soon! (And seriously, check out Common Spark Media’s Facebook page (and become a fan!).

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Candace and Nick – Married!

I met Nick 3 years ago when he first came to work with me at my other job (engineer). We quickly became fast friends. Since then, he and Candace have become our friends and people we enjoy dinner with from time to time (when our schedules allow).

A few months ago, Nick and Candace got engaged. They were planning a 2015 wedding to give themselves time to plan. Well, as we all know, life happens. And that very fact occurred with them.

Nick and I were in a meeting and he stayed over a bit while I was wrapping up a conversation with another colleague of ours. He waited patiently for us to wrap things up. Once we had a minute, he pulled out his phone to show me something. His statement to me was “We figured out why Candace wasn’t feeling well last weekend for the cookout.” Next thing I know, he’s showing me an ultrasound of their baby!

Needless to say, Candace and Nick made the decision to have a civil ceremony this past Saturday in Henrico at the courthouse. It was lovely taking place along the Pocoahontas Bridge and overlooking two fountains behind them. Candace’s mom and brother were there as were Nick’s parents and his two brothers. I had the honor of being a witness and their photographer.

A very special congratulations to my friends on their marriage and their sweet bundle of joy due this January! I can’t wait to see your beautiful family grow!

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