Massanutten Storybook Trail (Fall Foliage Hike)

During a hiking trip to West Virginia and Virginia, we stopped by the Massanutten Storybook Trail, which is a short hiking trail in the Massanutten Mountain, west of the mountains in the Shenandoah National Park.

The hiking path to get to the overlook is paved and only about a quarter mile long, so it's great for families with small children. Along the way to the outlook and past the outlook are some nice spots that require a bit of climbing to get a good view.

You can click each image to see a bigger version.

Massanutten Story Book Trail with Fall Foliage.

Massanutten Story Book Trail - In the background, you can see the Shenandoah Mountains.

This is what part of trail right before the overlook looks like...

 With a paved trail and a setup like this, the Massanutten Story Book Trail is a really easy hike.

With a paved trail and a setup like this, the Massanutten Story Book Trail is a really easy hike.

The access road to the trail is somewhat hidden and looks more like a driveway than anything else. The road itself is curvy and shows some beautiful foliage...

 View at the road from my trusty old Benz.

View at the road from my trusty old Benz.

They city you overlook from the trail is Luray, VA, which is also worth a visit, not only for the Luray Caverns, but also for the Luray Singing Tower pictured below...

 Luray Singing Tower - Located across the street from the Luray Caverns.

Luray Singing Tower - Located across the street from the Luray Caverns.

First Timers: Nicola Ferris

I do a lot of work with young girls and women who either want to become models or just want to feel like a model for a day. One of them is the beautiful Nicola.

We set out with the goal of creating a handful images she can use to start a portfolio and learn a little about posing and expressions in front of the camera, what we got were some stunning final images and a young woman who was very shy at first but quickly warmed up to the camera and became more confident with every shot, but see for yourselves...

Before and After Picture using the same lighting. The Before picture is a common "Polaroid" to send to agencies.

To make the experience complete, we worked with Make-Up Artist and Hair Stylist Dawn Newsome. She is an amazingly talented artist and always a pleasure to work with.

For the photo shoot itself, we decided to go with different styles to show versatility and decided to go with two headshots and two body shots. All pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and if this is something your daughter or your son would be interested in, use the Contact Form.

Landleben - Impressions from rural Germany

In May, I spent a few weeks with some friends and family in a very rural part of Germany. Here are some impressions.

Germany is very densely populated, so even the rural parts are developed enough to get some light pollution during night shots. The ones below were taken at my mum's beach house:

As you can see, the sky is pretty clear, but there is still a lot of light spill from the horizon line, making it look like the sun just set when it was in fact past midnight when I took these shots.

Rural in Germany means that it's about a 30-40 minute drive to the nearest bigger city and on the way there, the roads are lined with fields, occasionally interrupted by a small village or industrial area. Those of you who know me, know of my affinity for anything industrial, so you'll be surprised that I did not take any pictures of industrial buildings. The thing about industrial areas in rural Germany is that they don't look industrial at all, they look like your standard warehouses with everything industrial neatly hidden behind the walls. I have worked in a few of those when I was a teenager and trust me when I say that the production floor of any factory in Germany during production looks neater than your closet. If you want to see real industry, go to the cities. In any case, here are stock photos I took of some rye fields:

Aside from fields, what else do farms have to offer? Animals of course. My friend Martin and I were out hunting for an old wind mill that we remembered was somewhere in the area. What we found was even more exciting - a small herd of cows including a calf with a wind mill in the background:

And what would a trip to rural Germany be without having an all-you-can-eat right by the waterfront?


Sunrise in Washington D.C.

Last weekend, the photo sharing site Flickr and the United States Military invited a few photographers to come see the sun rise over Washington DC. Arlington National Cemetery opened early for us and we had a military escort accompany us to Arlington House to take pictures. Unfortunately, someone had forgotten to open the gates, so there wasn't much time left when we got to the location and everyone was scrambling to set up in time. (A big shout out to Flickr for providing coffee and donuts that early in the morning)

 Tele-Zoom of the Sunrise with the Washington Monument as a Silhouette

Tele-Zoom of the Sunrise with the Washington Monument as a Silhouette

 Wide-Angle of the Sunrise with the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument in View

Wide-Angle of the Sunrise with the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument in View

After catching a few sunrise shots, I was trying to catch some of the early morning mood over the graves, but unfortunately we were restricted as to where we could venture off and how long we could stay, so my friend Qiwu and I decided to head to Capitol Hill instead to catch some early morning views of the monuments. While waiting to get into our cars, Qiwu caught this picture of me:

 Looking a bit tired from getting up at 4am, but this is easily one of my favorite pictures of myself. All the credit goes to  Qiwu Liu  for making me look good.

Looking a bit tired from getting up at 4am, but this is easily one of my favorite pictures of myself. All the credit goes to Qiwu Liu for making me look good.

We first headed to the Jefferson Memorial, which was completely abandoned except for the odd runner of late night partier passing by. I have been trying to get some no-people shots of the memorial for a while. Now I know the trick: Be there on a Sunday morning before 7am. 

 Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.

 Interior of the Jefferson Memorial

Interior of the Jefferson Memorial

Next we headed over to the Lincoln Memorial, where street parking was plentiful. It's nice to be in DC and not having to scramble for a parking spot or park several blocks away. By the time we arrived at the Lincoln, the first buses had started shipping in tourists, but I was glad to catch a good shot with only a few people that were easy to take out in Photoshop. Seems like 7.30am is already too late to get an undisturbed view.

 Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

 Interior of the Lincoln Memorial

Interior of the Lincoln Memorial

About two minutes after I got some fairly undisturbed shots of the interior, the first busloads of people started making their way up the stairs to the memorial. Less than a minute passed between my last undisturbed shot and this one, so timing is everything.

At this point, taking pictures without people in them had become a futile endeavor, so Qiwu and I decided to just sit on the steps by the Reflecting Pool and enjoy the weather while watching more or less attractive people pass us by at different velocities ranging from slow strolls to military runs, with most of them stopping to take their obligatory travel pictures and selfies - "Lauren checked in at the Reflecting Pool at 7.43am".

And here comes the interesting part. Someone invented the zoom-out selfie device, so your friends at home don't just see a frame-filling face of you, but also what's around you:

 As odd as it may look, it keeps you from asking strangers to take your picture just to find out that they were able to bend the laws of physics by having everything in front of you and behind you in focus, while you look like an out-of-focus blob

As odd as it may look, it keeps you from asking strangers to take your picture just to find out that they were able to bend the laws of physics by having everything in front of you and behind you in focus, while you look like an out-of-focus blob

While we were enjoying ourselves, we were lucky that some marines walked by:

On the way back to our cars, we passed by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. What we witnessed was an emotional scene of a man remembering his fallen comrades, saying each of their names while stroking over the engraving in the stone: