Holidays, Holidays

Holidays, holidays, tis the season for holidays. Halloween is over, not much to talk about there except I love the seasonal decorations that are everywhere. Where I live, I seldom get any trick or treaters. I still buy a bag of candy just in case but end up eating it myself. Then if you celebrate these days, there is All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day. They are sort of related to Halloween I think but I’m not sure. Next up is Veterans Day, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve. And of course my sons birthday is in December and my dog Max will be twelve this month.

When the weather has cooperated I have been getting out and doing what I love best, taking photographs. With my new camera and lens, I have been able to better express myself through photography. Although I have been taking pictures since I was a child, I still want to to develop my talents more every day. I see some of the fantastic art on Flickr and it motivates me to do better. I have two friends that are professional photographers and they inspire me to be more creative.

When I’m not out taking photos, I spend time reading, surfing the Web, shooting my firearms, and being active in my Church. I am an elder, treasurer, department head, and go-to guy for all the technical things that need to be done. I designed and maintain the church website and well as the church Facebook page.

My formal training was as an electrical/electronic engineer and I have spent my whole professional career in one field or the other of engineering. I have been employed by the power company as a nuclear engineering technician at the Surry Nuclear Power Station here in Virginia. I have also worked for the Navy in the overhaul of A-6 and F-14 aircraft, in the IT department with Public Works, and with Training and Doctrine Command with the U.S. Army at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.

But as you might have surmised, I have been retired now for more than 7 years. But I do pretty well at staying busy and it sure is great to have all those hours to do the things I really enjoy, like not having to commute to work every day.

That’s about it. It is a bleary day here in Virginia and I hope I can find things to do to fill my time.

God Bless.

Schooners , Snakes, and Potheads

I have two friends who are professional photographers and they often steer me towards interesting things to photograph. First let me say that I am not a professional photographer, but I have been an avid photographer since I was 12 years old. So while I don’t make money at photography, I do know a little bit about composition, subject, and lighting. Anyway, one of my friend photographers told me about the annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. The race starts in Maryland and ends here at the Hampton Roads Bridge/Tunnel. The boats then tie up at North Landing in Portsmouth. Since I have always wanted to be a sailor, especially sailing, I went down to North Landing to see the schooners as they came in.

I arrived a couple hours early so I stopped at Olde Towne Coffee House for some coffee and a crumble muffin. After breakfast I walked down to the dock and met a couple who had a beautiful Siberian Husky. After talking with them for a while I learned that they used to race in the Schooner Race ten years ago. I had a very interesting conversation with them about sailing, the technical aspects of which I know very little. The husband had a portable marine radio with him so I got to listen to some of the radio chatter. I could keep track of the race in real-time thanks to my smartphone and a web site which had a real-time map of all the boats with their tracks and current position, speed, etc. From the website I could see that the Schooner Woodwind home-ported at Annapolis Maryland, and a past winner, was leading the pack, followed by the Pride of Baltimore.

The weather started to turn bad just as the Woodwind appeared around the bend of the Elizabeth River heading to dock at North Landing. She had crossed the finish line already, having won the competition. She had her sails furled (drat) but she was a beauty nonetheless. Here are a few pictures of the Woodwind.

As for snakes, this is the story.  My cousin Roxanna, who lives in Ripley, NY but is down in Virginia visiting her son, invited me to Sandy Bottom Nature Center to visit with her and her son who is the Park Ranger in charge of the park. Sandy Bottom is an awesome park with lots of fun stuff to do. Hiking, fishing, boating, camping, and a great Nature Center building with a wonderful teaching program for youth and adults alike. They have an impressive collection of reptiles, amphibians, fossils, relics, and assorted other stuff that is fascinating.  When I arrived, Roxanna’s son was showing a small snake to a group of scouts. It was a hands on show so all the boys got to touch the snake. Having owned a snake, a python, I thought I knew a lot about snakes. I could differentiate between venomous and non venomous snake by the shape of their head, pit between eyes and nostrils, and pupils. But Marc, Roxanna’s son, told me one thing I did not know. The bottom of the tail (behind the anus) of venomous snakes looks the same as the rest of the belly. If the snake has a cross pattern (like a diamond shape) it is non-venomous. There are three species of venomous snakes indigenous to Virginia. They are the rattlesnake (canebrake), copperhead, and cotton mouth. The Nature Center had beautiful specimens of each one. I took a few photos with my smartphone.

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After looking around the rest of the Nature Center Roxanne took me on a long tour of the park. It was a beautiful day and as I said before, the park is awesome. It was nice spending some time with my cousin as I rarely get to see her. Anyway, it was a great day and I managed to get a few good photos. See if you can figure out why the title mentions potheads.

 

The Neon District and Why Norfolk Rocks

I have lived in Chesapeake, Virginia for over a decade and for the most part love living here. Chesapeake is a largely rural city and lacks a lot of the things that an urban city like my neighbor city Norfolk abounds in. Among those things Norfolk has is an abundance of art and cultural resources and fine dining and entertainment. The adjacent city of Portsmouth also has more art and cultural resources and restaurants than Chesapeake. The good thing about Chesapeake is that it is very close to both Norfolk and Portsmouth so I can enjoy the suburban living of Chesapeake and partake of the arts, culture, fine dining, and entertainment of both Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Norfolk especially has an abundance of places to eat. You can partake of just about any cuisine you can imagine. Chesapeake, on the other hand, is more a Sonic and Burger King kind of city. It is even hard to find a good hot dog in Chesapeake. Did I mention that another adjacent city, Suffolk, also outshines Chesapeake in the areas mentioned? Sad, but true. Norfolk has a major Zoo, sporting venues for college football and basketball, professional Hockey, and semi-pro baseball, a botanical garden, and an actual downtown.

It is the downtown of Norfolk and the art aspects that I want to talk about today. Norfolk has some beautiful architecture, including the Chrysler Museum, a world-class art museum. Norfolk has recently undertaken a project to paint many of the old buildings in downtown Norfolk in what is now being called the NEON District. Many volunteers have gotten together to paint fantastic art on the walls of buildings in over 30 areas of Norfolk from the Chrysler Museum to Granby Street in the heart of the city. I first heard about this project on local television and I had to go take a look. I am a lover of great architecture and especially enjoy murals and painting done on buildings.

Here are a few of the photographs I took of some of the fantastic art adorning buildings in Norfolk. All of them are within walking distance of each other.

 

 

Out and About

I decided to take a ride the other day and just go where my instincts pointed me. I ended up in the little towns of Holland and Franklin, Virginia. They are both quaint small towns located off U.S. 58 as you head west. I was hoping to find some interesting things to photograph. The weather was quite nice for a change and I really enjoyed just taking in the scenery.

Our Sunday school Bible class has started with a new book by Beth Moore titled A Woman’s Heart – God’s Dwelling Place. It is about the Tabernacle of the Old Testament. I have done the first weeks materials and am really enjoying it. I am also attending a Wednesday evening Bible study led by our Pastor. It covers the Acts of the Apostles and our Pastor really brings new understanding to my previous knowledge of the book of Acts.

That’s about it for now. I really enjoy this time of year. So many things to do and the weather is gorgeous. My brother Skip called and we are thinking of going to Skyline Drive in the Appalachians to take in the Fall colors. It has been quite a while since my last visit and it is one of my favorite places to visit.

God Bless.

College Football Go ODU!

Last week I went to my first college football game. I have been to high school football games, NFL football games (1), college basketball games, but never a college football game. My brother Jeff called me and invited me to go as he had an extra ticket. So off I went to see my first college football game. The teams that were playing were Old Dominion University (the home team) and visiting North Carolina State. ODU is a Division 1 NCAA team, while NC State is in the Atlantic Coast Conference. So ODU was playing the big boys and as it turned out, they were the big boys that day. Both teams had records of 2-0 and the stadium was packed to capacity and everyone was expecting an awesome game.

The weather was perfect, we had great seats at Foreman field and the atmosphere was electric. The rules for college football are somewhat different than those for the NFL, but for the most part, it was what I expected. There were a few surprises however. There were no turnovers, very unusual, and only two penalties in the entire game. Both teams utilized the no huddle offense, so the game proceeded at a quick pace, which I really appreciated. The ODU Monarch Marching Band was awesome, as were the cheerleaders. Although the final score was NC State 38, ODU 14, it was still a great game and I really enjoyed it. Did I mention ODU has a canon that they shot off twice? My brother warned me about it the first time but the second time I was caught unaware and jumped out of my seat.

Anyway, I took quite a few photos with my Sony a6000 and a 55-210mm telephoto lens. I also captured some video. Some of the photos are below along with a link to the video. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

Video of ODU Offense in Action

A Painful Week

Three days ago I was unfortunate to have stepped barefoot onto a swarm of fire ants. As a child living in Florida I well remember fire ants and stayed far away from them. I had no idea they had moved as far north as Virginia. Too bad I had to find out the hard way. When I first stepped on them it felt like I was being shocked. I immediately saw them and luckily I was only a few feet from the pool (the reason I was barefoot) and jumped in. I guess I was fortunate as I was only bitten about 30 times. The good news is that the pain went away within a few hours but the itching soon commenced. Fortunately the itching was not on a par with poison ivy or chiggers. But the bites look really nasty. I will spare you any photos of the damage. If you want to get an idea of what a fire ant bite looks like, try Google.

While I wait for my ant bites to heal I have been trying to stay busy. I took a ride out to one of my favorite places nearby and took some photos. I am still experimenting with my new camera. My lens collection now consists of the original 18-50mm lens, a 50mm f 1.8 lens, and a 55-210mm lens. I bought a camera backpack from Amazon to store all my equipment. I have not had an interchangeable lens camera since my film days. I’m really enjoying the versatility I now have. Anyway, the photos I am posting are from two little burgs named Rescue and Battery. They are very quaint, peaceful, beautiful places. I saw a home for sale there and I was thinking it would be nice to live there.

Anyway, here are the photos I took. I hope you enjoy them. God Bless.

I Love Where I Live

I have lived in the Hampton Roads area since the 11th grade, which means since 1966. You figure out how old I am. Before that, as a Navy brat, I had lived in Newport, Rhode Island (my birthplace), upstate New York, Texas, Florida, and finally here in Southeastern Virginia. Although the area has seen tremendous growth since I first came here, not all of which has been good, I would still be hard pressed to find a better place to live. We are very close to the ocean and a 4 hour drive to the Appalachian Mountains. There are no really big cities in Virginia, which is fine by me. It is not as rural as it used to be, but it is still a wonderful place to call home.

There is a lot of history in Virginia, a lot of it very close to where I live. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, from the first English colony at Jamestown, to the Lost Colony at Roanoke, North Carolina, there is a lot to see and do, and most important of all, take photos of. Yesterday I took a little trip up to Smithfield, which is a beautiful, quaint town with lots of Colonial and Victorian houses and shops. It is also home to the world famous Smithfield Meats. Smithfield is also home to St. Luke’s Church. Historic St. Luke’s is the oldest church in Virginia and oldest church in British North America of brick construction.  Anyway, as I said this area is a photographers delight and Smithfield is a typical example. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took of the area.

Night Photography

Since I received my Sony mirrorless a6000 camera with its 18-50mm kit lens, I have been taking more photographs than before. This new camera is a big step forward in capabilities than my old Panasonic. Since I have gotten my Sony I have purchased two news lens; a F1.8 50mm and a 55-210mm telephoto. I have to admit I love the ‘nifty fifty’ the best. I love the shallow depth of field and low light capabilities of the 50mm. Last evening I went down to the waterside at Portsmouth with my tripod and 50mm and tried my hand with some night scenes. The results, in my humble opinion, were pretty good. Take a look for yourself at a couple of them.

Fall is fast approaching. The leaves are starting to change colors and the temperatures are dropping. I will miss Summer but I love all the seasons. They are all chapters in the book of Gods creation of the Universe. Soon I will be doing fall foliage photos and before you know it winter scenes. Can’t wait. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Making the most of Summer

While Fall doesn’t officially arrive until September 23rd I have noticed that it is getting cooler in the mornings. So I am making the best use of the final month of summer. The city of Portsmouth was visited last weekend by the USCGC Barque Eagle. The Barque Eagle (WIX-327) is a 295-foot barque used as a training cutter for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. While I missed its entrance and docking, I did get down to have a look. There was only one open house, which I missed, so I couldn’t go on board. But I did take quite a few pictures. It is a breathtakingly beautiful ship and I would love to have the chance to sail with her one day.

This weekend, there were two events that occupied my days. The first one was the Seawall Art Show at Portsmouth waterside. There were many vendors with some fantastic art to view and buy. There was one photographer there whose work was wonderful. I should have gone back and bought one of his photos. I think I took one of his business cards so I might go to his gallery yet and buy something. There were different live musical groups there and I listened to the Top Hats Orchestra while I was there. They play mostly big band music and they were very good. One of the vendors was selling fish with all the trimmings but I wasn’t really hungry although the smell was trying to convince me otherwise.

Sunday I attended the annual Tefft family picnic at Red Wing Park in Virginia Beach. It is one of my favorite parks and we have had a lot of picnics there. I have 5 brothers but two of them couldn’t make it. But the rest of my brothers and their families were there. The weather was beautiful and as always my brother Jon, who is a great cook, made it a big success. It is always amazing to see how fast the young ones grow up. I need to spend more time with my family. After I left I stopped at the beautiful Japanese Gardens which are a part of the park to take some photos.

So I have had a great summer so far. The weather has been great, the pool as always is relaxing, I have gotten to see my family, and enjoyed several events. The only downside to my summer has been that my Golden Retriever Max has been diagnosed with cancer. He has been on chemo and prednisone and is doing OK, although the chemo has its side effects, the main one being that it is affecting his vision. He will be 12 years old soon and I hope he will be around for a few more years, God willing.

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Hope everyone has a wonderful summer. Take care.

Vacation Bible School

Our church is holding Vacation Bible School this week. Today is the last day and so far it has been a great success. We have  had well over 20 children every night and they have had a great time while learning about God. The volunteers who put together VBS did a fantastic job this year, as they do every year. I have never seen a happier group of children. The theme for this years VBS was ‘G-Force- Gods love in Action’.

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We had lots of music, outdoor activities, group crafts and storytelling. And lets not forget the great themed snacks the children enjoyed. The best way I can describe how great VBS is is with pictures. So I will finish with a few pictures I took with my new camera and lens. God is Great!