Winter Sunset – 2021 Black and White Throwback

Black and White, nature, Photography Work, travel

“Black and white can transform a scene into something magical.” – Rob Sheppard

What a year this has been? Somethings from 2020 seem like they are never ending, but there have been some major improvements in the last year. The year started for me with the continued frustration of teaching of Zoom. I am a fifth grade teacher in Uptown Charlotte. Teaching over Zoom was one of the most frustrating things of my teaching career. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, teaching over Zoom was never successful. Some students do okay with it, but there is not replacing the in classroom experience. Now I am trying to help students recover from all of the learning disruptions from last school year, and many of them are doing quite well. Most kids are happy to be back in school. In fact, from what my students parents tell me, their kids wake up excited to go to school every morning. While being back isn’t 100% normal yet, everyone still has to wear a mask everyday, and there is some social distancing in the classroom. However, it is still way better than last year.

I took these photos last winter when we traveled for Fripp Island to stay with family during the holidays. Fripp Island is located off the coast of South Carolina near Beaufort. It is a pretty awesome island. Tons of wildlife (even in winter), beautiful beaches, and it wasn’t too crowded. I took this photo over at the southern tip of the island. The sunset was perfect that evening. One thing I love about this shot in black and white is how you can see the details at where the light is surrounding the house with mist around it. This is one of my favorite photos I took last year. I try to take advantage when I am near a large body of water. I have seen and captured some of the best sunsets and sunrises there.

A Long Three Miles – 2021 Black and White Throwback

Black and White, nature, north carolina, North Carolina Mountains, Photography Work, travel

“No man was ever wise by chance.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

If I compare 2021 to 2020 it was a way better year. I am no longer teaching over Zoom, I was able to travel more this year, and I took more photos than ever. Over Thanksgiving I decided to look at some old photos I took over the course of this last year, and reflect on all of the good memories I have had.

I took these shots when we visited Catawba Falls last spring. When I looked up about this place online it said it only was only a mile and a half to get to the falls. When I saw that I didn’t think it was that bad because I normally walk almost 8 miles a day at work anyways. I didn’t realize there was a difference between a mile teaching and a mile in the mountains. It was 1 mile and a half straight uphill. As we were walking up, my wife and daughter decided they had enough, and turned around and went back to the car. My son and I kept going. When we did arrive, we were able to enjoy this beautiful view and take it in for a moment.

Below you can check out the color version of these photos.

When Charlotte Was Pink – The Best of 2021

Black and White, Charlotte, N.C, nature, north carolina, Photography Work

“The most beautiful things are not associated with money; they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.” – Alek Wek

Looking back on 2021, I clearly can see it was a way better year than 2020. It didn’t really take much for it to be better. This school year is already going better this year than last year. Last year I was attempting to teach 5th graders through Zoom. I thought I would like it, but in the end it was one of the worst ways to teach ever. Teaching in person is way better, and really there is no substitute for it. I was able to go on two big camping trips this year. One thing I really enjoyed about this year was I was able to see more of Charlotte than I was in previous years. I rode my bicycle all over town, taking different photos of everything I saw, and seeing more of the city I have called home for the last ten years. Sure 2021 wasn’t perfect, but for me it was way better than 2020.

This month I decided to take some time and reflect on all the great photos and moments from this year. I feel like I am a way better photographer this year, than I was in years past. A lot of that has to do with practice. I took more pictures in last year than I have every before. While I am highlighting some photos from last year, I decided to play around with some black and white post work. While color photography allows you to be absorbed by the vibrant colors of as scene, black and white brings out the details of a photo. Also, for reason sometimes when movies have a flashback they do it in black and white for some reason. I guess that is because back in the day all we had was black and white, and it gives you that feel that you are back in the day.

I took these photos last spring when every tree in Charlotte was blooming. The city was filled with pink flowers every where. With all of the trees blooming, the landscape and scenes give fall a run for its money. There is so much color, and it is so vibrant while it covers almost every small tree in Charlotte. Every bike ride was an adventure in seeing every part of town in a new way. I took my camera out of my bag every few minutes because there was so much beauty to capture. I cannot wait until next spring, and see how the trees look then.

Below I have the links for all of my previous posts that have featured some of the beautiful shots I took in Uptown last spring.


Wandering Around

nature, north carolina, North Carolina Mountains, Photography Work, travel

“Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock

When ever my family and I visit a new place, one of my favorite things to do is to just explore the area. I take my camera of out my bag, and snap of shot of ever great view I see. I try to look for as many different angles of where I am at as possible. I look for various spots and paths to see which location will give me my best view. Sometimes I find a spot that turns out to be the best view in the entire place, and other times it doesn’t really do much. I have found that the lighting in one area is way better than the lighting in another. I have found out that some times the best views are the unlikely ones. Typically when visiting a popular spot, people gather at one location in order to get as close as possible, but sometimes you find the best spot when are further back because you can actually capture the entire scene. The trick then is making sure there are no people in your shot. That can make things complicated. Sometimes you can remove people during post work, but it can also distort the scene. The safest bet is to try to get the best view possible without anyone else in it. Some locations this can be difficult, but there are some obscure spots out there with amazing views and low crowds.

I took these shots near McGalliard Falls. McGalliard Falls is located near Valdese, North Carolina. It is not too far from I-40 near Boone, North Carolina. It was an unexpected find for us. We just finished apple picking near by, and had some time to do some exploring. We Googled where the nearest waterfall is, and this is what we found. The falls are only a short walk away from the parking lot, and it has some pretty awesome views. I went as far down down stream as I could to see check out what I could see. There was some wonderful to see even beyond the falls. I was just walking around the stream looking for some different views.

The slide show below will take you to make other posts about McGalliard Falls. It’s a small space with some great views.

New Toy in the Park

Charlotte, N.C, nature, north carolina, Photography Work

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. – Mary Engelbreit

The best day to take photos outside are typically unplanned. It feels like the days I plan to go the weather doesn’t cooperate like I would want it to. It is usually cloudy with very little sunlight. Then days were I just head out and see what happens tends to be the best days to go. Last Saturday, I decided to ride for a little bit on my bicycle, and the weather was perfect. It was cool and sunny.

For my birthday my wife bought me this crystal photography ball. I had seen several cool post with them, but I had never used one before. I took it with me when I went out a few weekends ago, and it took some pretty cool shots. Since the weather was perfect that day I took full advantage of the great views.

I never thought I would enjoy using a crystal photography ball. When I first saw people using them on Instagram, I thought it was unusual to use one. I really didn’t think I would enjoy using it. When my wife bought it for me for my birthday, I was surprised. I really wasn’t expecting anything like this from her. When I tried it out at Marshall Park in Charlotte, I was surprised at the results. It was already a beautiful day outside, and I had already taken some amazing landscape shots of the part. The lighting was perfect, the leaves had changed into a rainbow of orange, brown and red, the reflection on the water was a perfect mirror of the scene, and the temperature was perfect. I put the crystal ball down at a few different spots to see what I could capture. I took the photos at several different angles, and I used my regular lens and my macro lens to get the best effect possible. I took some great shots, but it does take some time to the post work for these in order to bring out the best of these photos. It took some time, but it was totally worth it. I can’t wait until I find another great spot to take some shots using this crystal ball.

Using the crystal ball really gave me an opportunity to expand my photography skills. You really don’t know how something will turn out until you try it.

Worth the Walk

nature, Northeast Georgia, Photography Work, travel

“A waterfall is concerned only with being itself, not with doing something it considers waterfall-like.”
– Vernon Howard

Finding a great waterfall can be tricky. Some are super easy to get to. Others, you have to either hike forever, drive off road, or wonder forever in order to find it. However, there are some waterfalls out there that are easy to get to and have spectacular views. Two that are easy to get to are Toccoa Falls and Anna Ruby Falls. Toccoa Falls is located near the town of Toccoa, GA. You park just about at the base of the falls, and you only have to pay a small fee in order to get through the gate. Toccoa Falls College is also my Alma Mater, and I get to go to the falls for free. I guess that is the least they can do since I paid several thousand dollars in tuition. You can check out the posts I did about Toccoa Falls below.

The other waterfall that is easy to get to is Anna Ruby Falls. It is located near Helen, Georgia. Helen is a fun German theme town in the North Georgia mountains. My family and I have visited Helen several times through out the years. My wife and I visited there dozens of times while we were dating. We have taken the kids camping there a few times as well. We always have a great time checking out the shops and having delicious German food.

The walk to the falls is not to bad. The road is paved. The best part is the entire walk up is an amazing view. I had my camera out the entire time taking pictures of everything I saw. My family started to get a little annoyed with me because I was taking forever to get to the top. The view at the top is incredible. It is hard to capture all of the falls at once. Hopefully these photos will give you a sense of how amazing of a scene this is.

Fall by the Tracks

Charlotte, N.C, nature, north carolina, Photography Work

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

In the last year I have seen more of Charlotte than I saw in the previous ten years I have lived here. I have seen parts of town that I didn’t know existed until recently. My goal to explore Charlotte start in summer of 2020. The gyms were still closed, and I needed some way to get exercise in during the week. I took my old bicycle out of the shed, and started riding it. Eventually I bought myself a nicer bike, and was able to go further each time. I have been able to see some pretty cool places in Charlotte. Sometimes I find them just by picking a direction and going.

I found this spot just by finding a greenway and rolling. This shot was taken near Uptown Charlotte. One day I was riding near Bank of America Stadium, and I found this path near by. I rode by it and found Seversville Park. It a bit of a ride to this location. I have to ride to Uptown Charlotte and then head towards the park. I found this spot last year just riding my bike down the greenway to see what I can find. This spot is only about a mile from Uptown Charlotte, but you can’t tell at all that you are that close. That’s because of all of the trees. With all of the trees in Charlotte, you get this feel that you are not in the city at all. It is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of living in a larger city. Getting here isn’t too bad from Uptown because it is downhill. Going back is the trick because it is going straight up. It’s about a mile back uphill before you get on more flatter ground. That’s why they call it “Uptown.” You have to go uphill to get their.

The Season Is Coming

Charlotte, N.C, north carolina, Photography Work, travel

When it comes to Christmas decorating and listening to Christmas music, I am one of those people who do not start until after Thanksgiving. My wife on the other hand has everything up and ready by November 2nd. I like waiting to start the Christmas season because I really like Thanksgiving. To me it is such a low hustle holiday and easy holiday. You have only two expectations, cooking and eating. With Christmas you have gifts, Easter you have other events, and other holidays there are typically more responsibilities. With Thanksgiving, to do it right you have to make sure you have a good turkey on the table with other great sides. Every year I prepare a fried turkey. It is delicious. It only takes about an hour to cook an entire turkey from start to finish. This year I am going to smoke a turkey to. I bought a pellet grill last summer, and I want to see how well it can do a turkey.

I took this photo two years ago at @carowinds . It is a theme park close to our house. They decorate the park every year at Christmas. We are heading there for the first time this Saturday. It should be a fun experience. It might be a little early for Christmas lights for me, but it still should be a fun time getting in the holiday mood.

It’s Fall in Charlotte

Charlotte, N.C, nature, north carolina, Photography Work

‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. ‘ Not was or the future. – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

I saw someone post the other day about how fall is one of the best seasons to take photos in. The variety of colors, the change of landscape, and the new season always brings new opportunities when taking landscape photos. I have been trying to take advantage of this season. I put in about 20 miles on my bicycle last weekend trying to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and the amazing views. At times while I was riding I would slow down and take in all of the fantastic views.

I took these photos last Saturday. When I stepped outside, I knew the weather would be a perfect day for photography. I headed straight to Marshall Park in Uptown Charlotte. It was a little tricky getting there because a running marathon was happening last weekend. I did manage to get some great shots.

Up Early

nature, Photography Work, travel

“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.” – John Burroughs

I am not a fan of waking up early. Last year I was able to start my day at 7 am. This year I have to get up at 6 in order to make sure my kids make it to the bus on time. There is a big difference between 6 am and 7 am! While it might only be am hour, it is a very valuable hour. I do have a little time after my kids leave to drink coffee, read and relax before I have to get ready for work.

I took this photo at a time where I actually enjoyed getting up early. My family and I were staying at Fripp Island, and I woke up early one morning to catch the sunrise. It was a beautiful morning, and I tried to capture it as best I could.