A Walk To A Thinking Spot

The mid morning sun has driven away most of the clouds. As I walk the gravel road that leads into the forest I’m aware of almost everything that moves just inside the trees. Several squirrels and a few chipmunks scurry around looking for the first of fallen acorns. The birds flitter from branch to branch. The buzzing of insects is all around. A few leaves tumble down from the canopy. The sounds of nature fill the air. The rapids in the Gauley River below roar and the voices of the other park patrons blend into the chorus. There are five females, two males and three children all near the playground. I can’t see them. But I know that they are there. I can follow the concentration of the bird noises which grows softer where the humans are present. Deeper into the forest the chaos of the outside world fades away. I can smell the horseshoe fungus growing in a black locus tree. The smell of Wintergreen tells me a large birch tree is nearby. As I drop over the hill the forest opens up into a small clearing. A stump left behind by the park rangers is the perfect spot to enjoy the solitude. A place where the unbroken chain of thoughts and contemplation can lead me to a place where inspiration lives. And then it happens. An idea is born and it grows into a dream. And the dream was wonderful. I’ll open the little file in my memory and tuck the dream safely away for now. I began to walk back to my big blue truck occasionally peeking into the file in my memory checking on the little fledgling dream. He has to be kept safe and warm while I prepare a place for the dream live.

If your mind can conceive and your heart can believe, then your will can achieve.

Our dreams are possible only if we work to make them real.

Friends if you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I would love to hear about your dreams and what you’re doing to make them real. I also want to invite you to follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook.

The Battle Of Carnifex Ferry

The long awaited pictures from the reenactment of the Battle Of Carnifex Ferry are finally done! Tonight’s post is going to be more about the pictures themselves than the history. However, I do want to encourage you to Read more the battle here. I also want to encourage everyone to get involved with keeping history alive. If we forget the history then we are in danger of forgetting the hard lessons learned. Too much blood has been shed for us to forget so soon. This goes for my international friends as well. You have your own history that you should be proud of and that should not be allowed to be forgotten.

With that said, let’s get started on the pictures. The turnout was very small. Only fourteen reenactors came out to memorialize the history. When I was a kid you couldn’t find a place to stand and watch the living history.

Above is the Southern camp. The reenactment group has went to great lengths to keep everything period accurate. Canvas tents and breakfast being made on an open fire.

The lady in the picture has to be one of the hardest working people on the face of this earth. She chopped firewood for hours on end. Her clothes are wool. The temperature was in the 80s ( Fahrenheit) and the humidity is very high. I never really saw her take a break.

I imagine that the commanding officer wouldn’t be to happy to have an unmanned weapon in his camp. But, I really liked the Aesthetics of the musket and pistol belt on the wooden table. I began to think about the calm before the storm.

If it weren’t for modern truck in the background I would have thought that I had fallen into a time slip and been transported back to 1861. With the bayonet fixed the musket is a very intimidating weapon indeed.

Another view of the Southern camp and their hard working camp caretaker.

It’s time to inspect and drill the troops. I don’t think that the commanding officer is to easily impressed.

This young man is obviously the camp sniper. All of people involved with the reenactment were very accommodating and ready to give me a great pose.

More close order drill in the Southern camp.

It was about that time I noticed the Yankee spies on the road. Those sneaky devils!

While on my way to check out the Northern camp I encountered a ghost on patrol. I hope my paperwork is order otherwise my accent is going to land me in hot water.

I had actually asked him if I could get view looking down the weapon. He quickly explained that even though the group takes all precautions that it was strictly taboo to point a weapon at an observer. The musket is real and on days when there’s a battle the actors do fire powder charges at each other. (No projectiles ). He did agree to pose as if he was ready to level the weapon.

I was also fortunate enough to encourage a person that I believe is the Yankee General.

On approach to the Northern camp I discovered that they have their own sniper. He’s a dead-eye for sure!

I imagine that in real life the soldiers had this look often. I’m not sure what the actor had on his mind but the image made me think of a young man contemplating his role in previous battles. God be with the “men of conscious”.

The young man here also seems to have that “one thousand meter stare”. I was so pleased with the way the image turned out. He looks like he just stepped out of a tin type.

This is the wall. In the days before tanks these barricades were a mainstay of trench warfare. The logs did a pretty good job of catching bullets.

The cannon seen here is actually part of the park.

I found out a day too late that they wouldn’t be demonstrating the large brass cannon that they brought until the next day. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend due obligations with my day job. As I said before in years past it was standing room only and the reenactment had hundreds of actors and a full scale battle. This year only fourteen soldiers turned out. If you’re a person in the United States and care at all about the history that brought us this far please consider becoming involved with keeping history alive.

A Mountain View

I never get tired of the rugged beauty of my home deep inside the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. The dense forest seems to swallow most of the small communities. It is easy stand on one of many overlooks and imagine that the world hasn’t changed in three hundred years. On the morning that I took the feature image with my Canon T5 the mists were hovering around the the sandstone tower. I look at the large tree growing on top of the ancient and weathered rock and I know that it’s probably sixty feet tall or taller. ( about 18 meters). It’s smaller than the ones growing around the base. It’s hard to believe that I’m in a public park about five minutes from the main road. I have my camera case setting next to me on one of the wooden benches. I was here to try and get some cool pictures of the Civil War reenactment group. (In an upcoming post) I was rewarded for being there early by finding out that an international whitewater rafting event was occurring in the valley below. It was a real challenge for me and my 300 mm lens but I did manage to pull off a shots of rafts as they exited the rapids. (also in an upcoming post). The warm morning air and humidity allowed my ever present coffee to fill the air with a rich aroma. I could waste a whole day in this spot just absorbing the peace and quiet. Once my coffee tumbler was empty I stepped back to the big blue truck in the parking lot and placed in its holder. I was about to travel back in time and find the encampments of the Blue and the Grey as they prepare for the yearly clash in an effort to define the future of a nation.

Taking In The View From Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park.

As I stand on the overlook at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park the storm clouds begin to thicken and turn dark. In spite of the history made here this is a beautiful place where you can enjoy a sense of peace. (I am hoping to get some good photos of the reenactment of the Battle this year. There will be more about the Battle at that time). Behind me a family is playing on the swings but the wind blowing in my ears drowns out the rhythmic squeaking of the playground.

In just a few short weeks they will start draining the lake for winter. That signals the beginning of the rafting season. The Gauley River below will be full of brightly colored kayaks and rafts navigating the Class IV rapids. Mother Nature’s rollercoaster! I have been told bottom of the trail that goes down to the river. In a few places you’ll find virgin timber. I remember seeing the massive stump of an American Chestnut in one of those spots. It was at least ten feet thick when it was alive. Today I just needed to absorb the view and let the wind blow in my face. As I breathe in the peace and tranquility of the mountains the storm clouds offer me the courtesy of a warning shot. The first few large drops of rain land at my feet and I know that it’s time to aim my big blue truck for home.

The Thrill Of The Hunt

I’ve been a hunter for most of my life. These days I’ve replaced my rifle with a camera but the basic skills are the same. If you sit still long enough they will come to you. But there’s a trick. You have to be able to become a part of the environment. Sitting in the woods with a camera isn’t enough. They can hear your heartbeat long before you can here their approaching footsteps. On a calm day they can smell you from hundreds of yards/meters away. If you don’t belong there they will know and stay away. Learning to belong to the wild places takes some time and practice but being at peace with creation is a very positive experience. Keeping your mouth closed and your ears open helps prevent them from smelling your breath. The birds will tell you where he is. As he walks towards you, the forest falls silent. Control your excitement. A racing heartbeat is a sure sign that you don’t belong. When he comes into sight he’ll snort and try to get a fresh scent of you. Be steady and move very slowly. His ears will twitch as he tries to pinpoint your heartbeat. Easy does it. Focus. Now, take the shot. He heard the shutter snap and he bounds off to be hunted again. Each time will be different but you’ll never lose the thrill of the hunt.

Crossroads

The symbolism of the crossroads is well known. A person stands at the intersection pondering a decision wandering which way to turn in order to reach a goal. Crossroads are everywhere in life. I have observed a certain amount of anxiety associated with life’s crossroads. But, isn’t a crossroads as much an opportunity as it is anything else? It’s an opportunity to change your course, continue ahead or, for some situations it’s a place to turn around and correct a past error.

The most probable cause of the anxiety is not knowing what lies ahead. There are resources we have access to. Maps, compass and the knowledge of those who have been there. For life’s crossroads I turned to the Bible and church elders.

There’s no need to be anxious about coming to a crossroads. It’s really all a matter of perspective and planning.

Waiting for the thaw. 

I’m Setting here in my recliner with my dog and we’re dreaming of warmer temperatures.   The Arctic blast has turned my mountain into an icy prison.  We’re looking forward to the smell of the moss covered forest floor and a game of chase in the yard.  On days like this I like to go into my archive and pull out pictures of warmer times.  The image of ground pine here was taken in August at Carnifex Ferry State Park in West Virginia.  The trail that leads to the Gauley River passes through a stand of virgin timber.  It’s been a little over a decade since I was all the way to the river.  Perhaps when winter is over I take you dear readers on a virtual tour.