Notes to Self

So along with about 5 million other people (give or take), I traveled to the path of totality.  How could I miss something like that?  Many thanks to my friend Brian Clark for motivating me to travel with him and his kids to experience it.  I may not have come away with the best images, but I experienced it.  It was all worth it.  The distance traveled, the traffic, the waiting.  Icing on the cake?  There’s another one in 2024.  I’ll see you there!

In the meantime, here are some notes to my future self so I don’t forget (the beauty of an online journal, right?):

  • Use the same camera to shoot both partial and total (the other camera is a backup)
  • Avoid extenders if at all possible.
  • Get a solar filter for the longest focal length.
  • Practice.  Actually practice.  It may seem silly, but now you know.
  • Take time away from the viewfinder and experience it.
  • A sturdy/hefty tripod ballhead is your best friend.
  • All camera bodies you use need a fully articulating LCD viewfinder.
  • Go ahead and rent that camera body you really wanted to rent this time around – it’ll be worth it.
Mid-day Sunset

The sunset horizon due North during totality.  One of several very specific images from my gallery – those who were there may appreciate them more than others. | More images here.



Put aside your political views/opinions for about 45 minutes each day.  Enjoy the fact that there’s always this to look forward to.


It’s been a while since I shot anything and I know this is a similar composition, but it’s never really the same. | Order a print of this image.

Snow Haiku

I don’t like the cold
The sun looks great in Winter
I want some bacon


I really like the juxtaposition of the cool tones and the warm tones. | Order a print of this image.

Maiden Voyage

Well, So far so good.  I took the new Mavic Pro out for its first flight this morning and was impressed with everything about it.  It’s easy to set up, unassuming and is incredibly easy to fly (as I expected having used DJI products for almost 3 years now).  Its image quality is incredible for as unassuming as it is.  It’s ultra portable and the battery lasts forever.  It doesn’t take the place of my Inspire 1, but is simply another tool in the toolbox for this massive gear head.


Sunrise over Winchester (processed from a single RAW photo). | Order a print of this image.

KOKV 291515Z AUTO 21007KT 10SM CLR 17/07 A3013 RMK A02

Great day to fly – yeah, I’m a geek, so.


The weather finally cooperated with me – just wish the foliage would, too. | Order a print of this image.

Public Speaking

Another fun aerial/drone/UAV/UAS/sUAS workshop tonight at the Blandy Photo Club meeting.  It’s always fun inspiring new people to get into the aerial platform.  It also helps me keep up to date on all the new regulations, which are changing in my favor in a couple of months.  Can’t wait!  😀


Showing off the Inspire 1 to the Blandy Photo Club.


I always love the way the light of the sunset plays with the cloud cover in the opposite direction.


Lots of great texture in the sky last night during the flight demo at the Blandy Photo Club meeting.


Let’s lead with this…

Statistic 01

Just 8 frames later was how quickly I lost the camera.

I now join the ever-increasing number of UAV pilots who’ve crashed their aircraft.  I should make it clear that it was 100% pilot error.  Luckily it did NOT involve any other people, buildings, or vehicles (including aircraft).  I can tell you that it had everything to do with me being rushed in the moment trying to capture the perfect lighting on an incredibly cinematic scene.  And guess what, I got the shot!  I suppose that’s the photographer’s mantra (after “ƒ8 and be there”).

Long story short (here goes) reception officially starts at 7pm:

  1. Took a little longer with the bridal party that I had anticipated (family waiting for pictures at ceremony site). 6:45
  2. Arrive, sprinting, to waiting family. Have to set up aerial platform fast to capture that fading, but awesome, sunset.  6:50
  3. Finish setting it up and ready to fly.  Guests now waiting for dinner.  6:55
  4. Line up shot and start flight.
  5. I continue flight to get more landscape while, at the same time, I begin lining up family shots. 7:05
  6. Last image I see in the display is tree branches
  7. Still have formal family photos to get (including me).
  8. I kinda don’t remember the next hour or two…

My brother and son immediately volunteered to go after it.  We all put our heads together (and our smart phones) to determine its last known position and they went after it.  It was about a kilometer from its ground station and 30 feet up in the tree!  I just didn’t have the altitude to clear the terrain, but it was so close.

Just look at my face – that expression says it all!


This is about 10 minutes after the incident.  Yeah, still not at the reception…


So it’s time to start traveling with the aerial rig.  I’m starting to think that my galleries are getting a little saturated with Winchester images (makes sense, right?).  Anyway, I know this isn’t very far from me, but it’s a start.  I recently shot some aerial footage for the town of Front Royal and, as always, I grabbed some stills while I was up there.  Gonna see if I can snag a Disney panorama while we’re in Florida this year.

Front Royal

It’s been a while since I’ve “framed” one of my images, but this one fits the bill. My goal is to do this up and down the valley with as many towns as possible…a little local traveling. | Order a print of this image.

School Days

My daughter makes it known (daily) that she only has about a week left in school before she’s finished.  She likes stating that she (as a senior) finishes before the rest of the school.  That means I only have 8 more school days of taking her to school.  I’ve been driving her to school for the past couple years.  That’ll be weird to not have to do that anymore.

Hey, it's a aerial shot of a school that's not Handley!    This is Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville, VA.

Hey, it’s an aerial shot of a school that’s not Handley! This is Blue Ridge Middle School in Purcellville, VA.

Kite Fest

It was quite a day to fly a kite today.  Thought I’d check out the FCPRD Kite Festival today in Sherando Park.  A little nerve-wracking to fly it around all those kit strings!

The aerial camera is definitely a people magnet.

The aerial camera is definitely a people magnet.


I know I used that blog title before, but hear me out.

I had a shoot at an undeveloped site today and got pretty excited that I found a place that was big enough to really test the range of the aerial camera.  At one point I determined that I was about 1600 feet away from my launch point.  Pretty cool and I was having a blast (getting some great footage, too).

Tonight I saw the movie American Sniper, which really makes you think about things differently.  Anyway, if you follow the road in the upper middle of the frame (it starts with a left-hand bend) away from the camera to where the open field ends and the forest begins, that’s about the 1,600 feet.  That’s still 4,700 feet short of the longest shot from Chris Kyle, the featured soldier in American Sniper!





What more can I say, it was a great night for shooting.  Oh, and I’ve decided that the GoPro is a keeper.

Oh what a night - to shoot the Handley Bowl. | Order a print of this image.

Oh what a night – to shoot the Handley Bowl. | Order a print of this image.


This morning’s glow was pretty cool.  It completely wrapped around the entire sky.  So many times I’m so focused on the actual sunrise that I forget to do a 180 and check out the other view.  It was tough to pick just one image so here are two.




So I was driving down the interstate highway and got the urge to take this photograph.  So I did.  Its pretty colorful along our section of 81.

Our colorful section of I-81 near mile marker 309.

Our colorful section of I-81 near mile marker 309.


It was such a cold day for a football game.  I know most people would say it was perfect weather for a football game, but not me.  I’ve certainly become a fair-weather person in my “old” age.  But the sunsets are no less spectacular – that’s one reason I could photograph the sunset every day.  Maybe that’ll be my theme for all of next year – what a challenge.



“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine…and a decent camera.”

– Anthony J. D’Angelo

I added the “decent camera” part. 😉  I had planned on launching the aerial camera up here, but forgot the media cards.  So I challenged myself by only taking one lens – the 50mm.

Bears Den Nature Trail

The nature trail at Bears Den in Bluemont, VA.

Read the Signs

Leeches!  Are you reading this, Mom?

Along with all the other posted notifications that appear on the pretty obvious board as you drive into the Todd Lake recreation area in the George Washington National Forest there’s a notification that leeches have been, for a long time, part of the Todd Lake ecosystem.  It makes sense I know.  I realize this now, but kids don’t care.  I never read the signs when I was a kid.  I realize that they’re pretty much harmless, but still, gross.  I didn’t spend a lot of time in the lake, but I know I must have spent some amount of time in it.


Always read the notifications on the posted signs.

Always read the notifications on the posted signs.

Look Up

Take a walk through the forest and look up.  That’s it.

This is what happens with a fisheye lens when all lines in the image point toward the middle of the frame. | Order a print of this image.

If all lines run across the frame toward the center of a fisheye lens the lines end up straight. | Order a print of this image.

Auto Pilot

There’s a feature on the aerial camera that I didn’t think I’d be using, but it came in handy last night.  It’s not really auto pilot, but for a photographer it comes pretty darn close.  The camera can be set to snap a photo every 30 seconds for as long as I want.  So I can concentrate on getting some cool HDR series on the ground while the aerial cam just hovers and snaps away.  I used it last night to shoot an awesome sunset.  I sent it up as the sun was hitting the horizon and just left it there until I was done on the ground.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

Order a print of this image.

This is my go-to spot for awesome sunsets.  I’ve never been disappointed. | Order a print of this image.

And I did promise that I would reveal what last night’s photo actually was.  Here’s a before/after comparison.




The big downside to landscape photography is the incredibly early start times for the day, especially for shooting the sunrise.  On a good day I could be up as early as 3 and as late as 9 that same evening just to shoot the sun.  Am I dedicated or crazy?

I'm pretty excited to be heading into that time of year when the sunrise isn't at some ridiculously early hour of the morning!

I’m pretty excited to be heading into that time of year when the sunrise isn’t at some ridiculously early hour of the morning! | Order a print of this image.