Nemacolin Resort

The last stop from my October Vacation is Nemacolin Resort outside of Pittsburgh.

My wife and I went here for our honeymoon 8 years ago, and it's truly a wonderful place.

It's a bit pricey, so we didn't stay here this time around.  Essentially, my Dad and Brother were nice enough to wait on me while I ran around the resort snapping some pics.

(3 Exposures at F11, ISO 100, 10mm)

(3 Exposures at F11, ISO 100, 10mm)

(3 Exposures at F11, ISO 100, 10mm)

(3 Exposures at F11, ISO 100, 10mm)





They offer food and the bartenders can mix a drink, but trust me....the only thing that you want to have at this place is a beer.

It's not the cleanest bar, but the beers are cold, the atmosphere is nice, and there's character to spare!

(5 Exposures at F9, ISO 100, 22mm)



Spooky House

I can't help but think of Norman Bates whenever I see this house.

I only wish that I had better skies, or more interesting clouds for even more drama.

(5 exposures at F9, ISO 100, 12mm)

After I got about 5 shots of this house, a guy drove up and kicked me off the property.

Maybe I should have picked my day more carefully to get good clouds.  Since he asked me to leave, it might be a little ballsy of me to go back on a better day.  Maybe I'll have to buy a disguise!





On a day that was pretty wet and rainy, I left the house to get some photos with a couple of good locations in mind, hoping that the rain would stop, and perhaps let some sun peek through.

Well, the clouds were really grey, boring, and smeared.  The whole sky was just a uniform grey.  Both locations were just no good.  I did take some shots at these locations, but they all went into the trash.

So on the way back to the house, feeling a little defeated, I looked over to the right and saw this guy....

(3 shots at F11, ISO 100, 55mm)

I have no idea what this thing is, besides a unique bull.  I remember that this property always has some kind of exotic animals, and this guy above is no exception.  He made my day, as I was able to compose a nice interesting photo and not worry about the boring sky.

I'll head back to those other locations on a better day, when there's some dramatic clouds.  Perhaps around sunset....stay tuned.



Flight 93 Memorial and Falling Water

Part five of my vacation takes us to two locations.  First is the Flight 93 Memorial, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water.

If you are ever in this area east of Pittsburgh, I recommend stopping at each.  They are in decent proximity to each other.

(ISO 100, 17mm, F11, 1/60 sec)

The names of all of the victims involved in the crash are on this wall below.  This wall follows the flight path of the crash.
(ISO 100, 18mm, F11, 1/50 sec)

Below is the exact site of the Flight 93 crash. The crater was filled in and this rock was placed there. Only family of the victims are allowed within about 250 feet of the location. You can see small stones that family have placed on the rock along with flags.
(ISO 640, 300mm, F5.6, 1/400 sec)

The memorial is still under construction and development.  When we visited, there was plenty to see and appreciate, but the final plans look pretty amazing.  Click here to read more about what the completed memorial will be.

And then we made our way to Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water.  Since we came there on a whim, we did not get a reservation to see the interior, so all of my photos are of the exterior.

(ISO 100, 39mm, F11, .076 sec)

(ISO 100, 22mm, F11, 1/25 sec)

Here is a stream not far from the house.

(ISO 400, 22mm, F11, .033 sec)

And a walkway not far from the house...
(ISO 100, 22mm, F11, .401 sec)

Thanks for looking!



Blue Ridge Parkway

Part four of my vacation takes us to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I can't recommend traveling along this stretch of road high enough.

We planned our trip during the middle of October, hoping for some great foliage, and we were not disappointed.

(ISO 100, 10mm, F11, Three Exposures)

(ISO 250, 10mm, F11, Three Exposures)

(ISO 100, 10mm, F11, Three Exposures)

(ISO 100, 10mm, F11, Three Exposures)

(ISO 100, 10mm, F11, Three Exposures)

(ISO 100, 22mm, F11, Three Exposures)

(ISO 125, 53mm, F11, Three Exposures)

Thanks for looking!



Part Three of my vacation takes us to Monticello.

(ISO 100, 22mm, F11, .006 sec)

There's a lot of history here.  I learned a lot about Jefferson than I had previously not known.  Very interesting guy.  I recommend a visit and tour of the estate.

Unfortunately, photos of the interior are not permitted, so my shots will be limited to the exterior.

(ISO 100, 22mm, F11, .125 sec)

(ISO 125, 13mm, F11, .025 sec)

Here is the garden on the right, and the vineyard on the left....

(ISO 100, 22mm, F11, .006 sec)




Luray Caverns

Part Two of my vacation takes us to Luray Caverns in Luray, Virginia.

Luray Caverns is a system of caves within Limestone.

Towards the entrance.....
(ISO 3200, 10mm, F11, 3 Exposures)

Saracen's Tent....
(ISO 400, 10mm, F3.5, 3 Exposures)

The Double Column.....
(ISO 400, 10mm, F3.5, 3 Exposures)

The two photos below are of Dream Lake.  Dream lake is a natural spring that exists within the caverns.  It forms a pretty shallow pool.  Since it is largely undisturbed, it acts like a mirror.  It also looks very very deep or even never-ending, even though it's only about 20" at it's deepest.
In both photos below, there are no stalagmites.  Only stalactites.  The "stalagmites" that you see towards the bottom of each photo is actually a reflection of the stalactites.  Notice the symmetry?

(ISO 400, 22mm, F4.5, 3 Exposures)

(ISO 400, 22mm, F4.5, 3 Exposures)
I don't remember what this formation was called, but I found it interesting, as it looks like an old man with a beard.
(ISO 400, 10mm, F3.5, 3 Exposures)

If you are even in this area of Virginia, I highly recommend stopping at Luray.  
If you are a photographer, a tripod is a must.  It's very dark even though they have the caves lit.  Some of these HDR exposures in the caves were 15-20 secs to get the overexposed version.  I really recommend hanging towards the back of the tour group.  My group had 40 people, and the only way to get good shots was to shoot after everyone had started to move to the next location.  Otherwise, I would have either had people in my shots, or I would have bugged everyone to get out of my shot, which is not a good idea.  After everyone clears out, shoot fast!  The lights are on a timer, and after the group leaves, the lights will shut off.  This only happened once to me.  Not only did it ruin my shot, but it's also a little dangerous.  Obviously, you can't see anything when those lights go off, so tripping would be pretty easy!


Skyline Drive, Shenandoah Valley

I just returned from a great vacation with my Dad and Brother.  We took my Dad's motorhome across Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

We visited a lot of great locations for photos.  Skyline Drive, Luray Caves, Monticello, Blue Ridge Parkway, Flight 93 Memorial, Falling Water, and Nemacolin.

You can imagine that I have a heck of a lot of photos.  I'll start this blog post with pics of the Shenandoah Valley, and then over the next couple of weeks, I'll post the other locations.

So here are some photos from the Shenandoah Valley, Skyline Drive.

(ISO 100, 20mm, F11, .0166 sec)

(ISO 100, 22mm, F11, .125 sec)

(ISO 100, 10mm, F11, .005 sec)

(ISO 100, 10mm, F11, .008 sec)

(ISO 100, 10mm, F11, .062 sec)

Thanks for looking!



The Sky Can Change Quickly!

About a week and a half ago, we had four or five days of nearly constant rain.  Sometimes the sun would peek out, but generally, we just has lots and lots of rainy boring weather.

While this was going on, we had absolutely phenomenal clouds coming and going, but not much sun getting through to really make them look great.  I don't mind gloomy and dark clouds (they do make for some great photos), but I really wanted some sun with these clouds. 

During one of the days where the rain had stopped and the clouds were still around, I left the house close to sunset trying to capture these clouds along with the sun, and I think that caught a good shot.

I saw a pretty decent formation of clouds, and then the sun started to peek out a little bit, so I started setting up my camera.

The final result is below, and I was kind of lucky.  When I started setting up for the shot, it was a decent looking scene, but not spectacular.  I almost went back to the car to keep scouting.

In a very short time, the sun lowered just enough to go behind the low clouds without penetrating, making them look very dark and gloomy.  But the sun wasn't low enough yet to do the same to those high clouds.

The result was pretty amazing and the whole scene opened up as shown below very fast.  It looked really neat to have both dark and gloomy clouds along with clouds that were very well illuminated in the same frame.  And then those beams of light started to also spray upwards right about when I was ready to shoot!

This moment only lasted about 30 seconds.  It didn't take very long for this scene to completely change as the clouds moved and the sun set.  It's really amazing how scenes like this can exist for such a short time period.

(ISO 100, 24mm, f10, 1/100 sec)

Thanks for looking!




I was going through my portfolio, and realized that I had a decent amount of photos of children that I'm pretty proud of.

I thought that I'd share....these are either of my son or his cousins. 

(ISO 800, 55mm, f5.6, 1/40 sec)

(ISO 320, 50mm, f2.2, 1/80 sec)
My wife took this one!

(ISO 1250, 250mm, f5.6, 1/4000 sec)

(ISO 125, 50mm, f2, 1/800 sec)

(ISO 100, 50mm, f1.8, 1/200 sec)




Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom

During the summer, we took a trip with my Brother-in-law's family to the Blossom Music Center to watch the Cleveland Orchestra.

Before the concert, we picked up some pizza and had dinner under a shelter thankfully, since it had started to rain pretty hard.  We enjoyed our pizza for a while, and I managed to get this shot of my son chowing down....

((ISO 100, 50mm, f1.8, 1/200 sec)

The rain thankfully stopped prior to the performance.  Once it stopped, some pretty amazing clouds came out, and I got this shot of the orchestra warming up under the pavilion.

(ISO 100, 18mm, f2.5, .03 sec)

 The orchestra performed a Beethoven Piano Concerto.  I apologize, as I forget which one.

(ISO 100, 115mm, f4.5, 1/8 sec)

My son couldn't resist conducting....
(ISO 100, 50mm, f1.8, 1/60 sec)

The kids didn't have what it took to last the entire concert, but we still had a great time!



Cedar Point's Starlight Experience

Cedar Point's Starlight Experience is an evening lighted walkway.

When the park starts to get dark, some pretty amazing opportunities for photos open up within the walkway.

This is one of the entrances with the Millennium Force in the background.
(ISO 2000, 10mm, f3.5, .03 sec)

View from the other side.
(ISO 3200, 18mm, f3.5, .1 sec)

This building houses a laser light show.  It's currently putting out those neat snowflakes on the ground.
(ISO 3200, 17mm, f4, .07 sec)

This is the woodcarver.  He creates all the hand-carved carousel animals while you watch.
(ISO 3200, 18mm, f3.5, .06 sec)

These photos were taken about 3-4 weeks ago.  We're hoping to get back to the park tonight, but it's been raining all day yesterday and today...we'll see.